Title: Returning from Beyond the Pale
Pairing/s: Gen, but unrequited Gwaine/Merlin if you squint
Character/s: Gwaine, Arthur, Merlin, Gwen
Summary: Modern AU. An accident brings Gwaine face to face with the one man he feels hurt Merlin the most - Arthur.
Warnings: Angst, past homophobia, hurt Merlin.
Word Count: 884
Prompt: #92, reconciliation
Author's Notes: Ohmigod, I'm so sorry for where my brain went with this prompt. I love Arthur to pieces, and I love Merlin, but my brain latched onto Gwaine's dislike of nobles and his devotion to Merlin and it just kind of ran from there.
Under normal circumstances, he would’ve found a cute nurse to charm to get the information he wanted.
These were not normal. These were as fucked up, beyond the pale as circumstances could possibly get. Gwaine called in every favor he was owed to make sure he knew exactly where to go—and guarantee he wouldn’t get stopped going in—once he reached the hospital where Merlin had been admitted.
He ignored the lift and the cluster of people waiting for it to head straight for the stairs. Those he bounded three at a time until he got to the fourth floor and could flathand the door open without breaking stride.
“Merlin Emrys’s room,” he said to the first person he saw who looked like she might actually work there. “Where is it?”
The nurse pointed down the hall. “Four-twelve.” When he took off toward it, however, she lifted her voice to add, “But you can’t see him right now. His doctors are still in there. You’ll have to wait in the waiting room with the others.”
He cursed under his breath, though he knew had to comply. What mattered was that Merlin was getting the care he required, and if he had to wait for doctors to decide what that would be, then he’d wait an eternity to see him.
He almost changed his mind when he saw who else had the same idea.
Gwen was the one who noticed first, which meant he had no chance of disappearing before he got spotted. Her eyes widened at the sight of him, but when she rushed to her feet, Arthur looked up from where he’d had his head buried in his hands.
He looked like hell, and Gwaine could only think, Good. Others would call him unfair, but they hadn’t been there when Arthur found out about Merlin, they hadn’t seen how the way Arthur had shunned him afterward had hurt so much of what was good and right in Merlin. If Arthur felt guilty about Merlin being in hospital now, Gwaine wasn’t going to stop him.
“I’m so glad you’re here.” Gwen enveloped him in a hard hug he returned automatically, as he continued to glare at Arthur over her shoulder. “The more friends he has waiting when he wakes up, the better.”
“Has there been any news yet?”
She disengaged with a shake of her head.
Behind her, Arthur had risen though hadn’t moved closer, his gaze bloodshot and wary. “How’d you hear about the accident?”
Gwaine cocked his head. “He’s the best man I’ve ever known. I make it my business to make sure he stays that way. The better question might be, why are you here?”
“Gwaine, please, you don’t—”
“No, Gwen.” Arthur cut her off with a tired wave of his hand. “He has a right to be angry.”
Fury he’d thought he’d never feel again roiled its way to the surface. Gwaine affected a mock bow before he threw a punch at Arthur and got himself thrown out. “How gracious of you, my lord,” he sneered.
“You think I don’t know what a bastard I was?” Arthur snapped.
“No, I think you don’t care.”
“Why would I be here if I didn’t care?”
“Guilt, perhaps?” If Arthur hadn’t turned his back on the best friend he’d ever had, just because he felt betrayed because Merlin had never felt safe admitting his sexuality to a man who’d been deeply bred in homophobia, Merlin might not be lying on a hospital bed fighting for his life right now.
“Merlin forgave me for what happened,” Arthur said.
“He shouldn’t have had to.”
And there it was. The crux of everything that had driven a wedge between them. Once, Gwaine had thought Arthur might be different. Merlin thought the world of Arthur, so because Gwaine loved Merlin, he gave him the benefit of the doubt. But then the truth had come out and Arthur had shown his true colors, and nothing Merlin could say to Gwaine could ever make it better. He wasn’t surprised Merlin had forgiven Arthur. Merlin was better than all of them.
Slowly, Arthur edged forward until he was within striking distance, like he knew just how badly Gwaine wanted to flatten him. “When he wakes up, Merlin is going to need every friend he has,” he said carefully. “I know you hate me, but I think you love more Merlin more. For his sake, can we put this behind us and move on?”
Everything in him wanted to tell Arthur to fuck off. He didn’t think it would be so out of place considering their history. He would do it, too, if Arthur hadn’t made two very good points in his request.
Merlin would need all the support he could get after he woke up.
And Gwaine loved him too much to deny him anything.
“We can move on.” That was as much as he was willing to concede. He lifted a warning finger. “But if you let Merlin down just one more time, I’ll see to it you pay for it for the rest of your life.”
“Don’t worry.” The bleak gaze that met his carried in it the weight of every bad decision Arthur had ever made. “If I fail him again, I’ll do it myself.”