Title: What are Friends for? Part 4
Character/s: Merlin, Arthur
Summary: Arthur finds out a few things about his inheritance.
Word Count: 850
Camelot_drabble Prompt: 424: so close, yet so far
Author's Notes: since it's been a while, so far: Arthur gets kicked out of his house because his father found out Arthur was gay. With nowhere else to go, his credit cards cancelled, his car repossessed, he goes to Merlin's flat.
I plan on continuing this story, hopefully not in fits and starts. parts 1-3 are here: https://archiveofourown.org/works/25807849/chapters/62688859
Disclaimer: Merlin characters are the property of Shine and BBC. No profit is being made, and no copyright infringement is intended.
Over the next few days, Merlin tried to be supportive. Arthur should have gone to class, but instead took to staring at Gaius’s herbs and going through most of Merlin’s liquor stash. Merlin would come home after a hard shift at the hospital, his nursing classes kicking his arse, and find Arthur snoring away in the lounge.
The git was gorgeous even when he was at his worst, but Merlin’s sympathy was wearing a little thin, not because Arthur didn’t deserve it but because Merlin was so very tired. With classes and shifts and homework, it didn’t help that Merlin was awake half the night thinking about Arthur in the next room. His hand hadn’t had that much work-out in quite some time, and he’d need to buy more lube next time he went shopping. His dreams were all too vivid, and he worried that he’d been calling out Arthur’s name in his sleep. He worried, too, about what would happen when Gaius returned, and Arthur moved into his room with Merlin. That could be a nightmare.
Finally, the day before Gaius was supposed to return, Merlin lost it. A long shift, his supervisor telling him that he needed to step up his game if he expected to graduate, and all Merlin wanted to do was put his feet up and watch some telly and not think about anything.
When he arrived back at the flat, Arthur looked up at him, bleary-eyed, close to being pissed from the looks of him, and said, “You… umm… look like hell.”
So did Arthur but Merlin wasn’t about to tell him that. Arguing would have taken too much energy. Still, Merlin said, “Fuck off. It’s been a day.”
Collapsing onto the couch, putting his feet up on the coffee table, no matter what Gaius would have said about it, Merlin laid his head back and closed his eyes. He wasn’t sure he even had enough energy to make it to bed.
Not quite listening, he could hear Arthur pick up his glass and swallow more of the swill he’d been drinking. Finally, almost unintelligible, Arthur mumbled, “Gaius… coming home tomorrow. And umm, Morgana, too. Should be quite a crowd.”
“Great,” Merlin mumbled back. He didn’t open his eyes, didn’t want to move at all.
Beside him, he could feel Arthur shifting around, the sofa dipping a bit as Arthur leaned close. “Look, Merlin, I’m… not the best of roommates but I… umm... you go out. Have… fun, find a… bloke.”
Merlin opened his eyes at that, then jerked back a little as Arthur was right there. Trying not to bump noses, unable to decide whether to lean in and snog the life out of Arthur or yell at him, Merlin said, “You’re off your face.”
Pulling away, scowling as the anger of it all began to wake him up, Merlin snapped, “When do I have time to go out? With classes and my shifts kicking my arse, I’ve barely time to breathe. Besides, I’ve got to look after you since you won’t do it. But since you won’t remember this in the morning, I wish you’d do something, go back to class, even go out on the pull. Anything to get past this… whatever it is.”
Blinking at Merlin, looking as if he hadn’t expected that kind of response, Arthur curled into himself, burying his face in his hands. “I… what if I made a huge mistake? What if I’m not… maybe my father is right. Maybe that therapy….”
That just made Merlin angrier, at Arthur, at himself, at Uther who deserved a special place in hell for what he was doing to Arthur, Merlin all but shouted at Arthur, “Don’t you dare, don’t you fucking dare even think such a thing. If you like blokes, then you do. That therapy is dangerous.” When Arthur didn’t fight back, just huddled deeper into himself, Merlin grabbed Arthur’s glass and set it out of his reach, then took the bottle, too. “Okay, that’s it. I’m cutting you off.”
“You’re… not my keeper.” Arthur said, then mumbled so softly that Merlin could barely hear him, “Can’t pay you… back. My account frozen… my father arranged… can’t get to… it for another year. I’m… umm… broke.”
Shit. Now, Merlin was awake and ready to stomp over to Uther’s house and beat him bloody.
“Oh, Arthur, I’m so sorry.” Scooting over, putting his arm around Arthur’s hunched shoulders, Merlin said, “Look, you can stay here as long as you need to. We’ll figure out something.” Under Merlin’s hug, there was the muffled sound of hitched breath and gulping back tears. “Hey, hey… don’t…. You can pay me back when you are a big shot lawyer. With interest. Lots of interest.”
Glancing up at Merlin, Arthur’s face wet and splotchy, Arthur said, “You’re… good friend.” Then he tucked himself into Merlin and said something Merlin wasn’t able to hear clearly. It sounded like ‘love you’ but it could have been ‘thank you’, so Merlin took what he could get.
Whispering into Arthur’s hair, Merlin said, “I love you, too.”