Title: Ready or not, here I come!
Character/s: Merlin, Will
Summary: Merlin and Will play hide-and-seek.
Warnings: Minor character death
Word Count: 1005 words
Prompt: #169 I'm here
Author's Notes: Beta'd by the awesome thehatmeister. Written for the 'kidfic' square and the 'injury and illness' square for Merlin Tropes Bingo.
“...ninety-nine …hundred! Ready or not, here I come!” Merlin hollered. He opened his eyes before blinking furiously. The light seemed harsh after having closed his eyes so firmly for so long. Still blinking, Merlin started searching, not wanting to lose any time.
He’d never admit it when Will could hear it, but Will was very good at hiding. But he was also one year older and a big cheater. When they played Monopoly, he’d wait for Merlin to go to the bathroom so he could steal money. Luckily, one day Merlin had caught him at it. It had ended in a scuffle and his mum yelling at them both.
Merlin wasn’t sure how Will could cheat in hide-and-seek, but he would find out.
After a quick scour through the living room—as if someone would ever hide in the same room as the person who was “it”—he crept towards the kitchen. Empty except for the cookie jar. Relief swept through Merlin. Mum had said that if they were good while she ran some errands, she’d give them some cookies.
“As if we won’t eat the cookies as soon as you’re gone,” Merlin had thought, and the look Will gave him told Merlin that he was thinking the same.
“And,” his mum had added, “if you don’t eat the cookies before I’m back, I’ll make the both of you hot chocolate.”
Their plans had died a quick death. Mum’s hot chocolate was the best and a rare treat. For that, Merlin could wait on the cookies until she got back. But Will…
He heard a muffled thump right above his head. Aha! Found him!
Merlin ran upstairs. There were only four doors, and Will was neither in Merlin’s bedroom, the bathroom, or mum’s sewing room. Of course. Will had to go and hide in the only room that was forbidden territory: mum’s bedroom.
He didn’t want to break any rules, but Merlin also really, really didn’t want to lose. He glanced around. Mum was still gone and there was no one watching him. Merlin raced inside and slammed the door closed. No need to be silent anymore.
“I’m here!” But no Will emerged. “Will, I know you’re hiding in here. I found you. Reveal yourself, those are the rules!”
He was getting annoyed at Will. Why did he always do this? Instead of just following the rules, he always had to push them. Sometimes it was fun—like when Will shared some of the delicious apples of Old Simmons—but when Merlin was the victim? Less so.
With a sigh Merlin dropped to his knees. Not under the bed. Or in the closet, or behind the desk. He wouldn’t have…. No. But as Merlin looked at the stairs leading towards the attic, he knew Will had.
Merlin was not allowed to go to the attic on his own and Will definitely wasn’t. The one time they had gone on expedition and mum had found, she’d been absolutely furious. And that is how you cheat at hide-and-seek.
Merlin walked to the foot of the stairs. “Will! Come back right now!” He tried to imitate his mum, but sounding authoritative was harder than it seemed. And Will was as stubborn as a donkey. There was only one solution. Merlin had to climb up and drag Will back before mum came home and found out.
Angry and already feeling guilty, he climbed the stairs. It took a while, because he was trying to go slow, as if being extra-careful would make everything up. Eventually, though, he did reach the top.
“Will, I’m here. I found you, so reveal yourself,” he repeated. His hand searched the wall and found the switch. The light flickered on.
He ran over to the far left corner and, once again, dropped to his knees.
Merlin pushed at the heavy bookcase, but couldn’t get it to move.
“Just…wait a second, Will. I’m going to get this off you.”
But he pushed with all his strength, and still the bookcase wouldn’t budge. New plan.
“Don’t worry, Will. I’m here now. Everything’s going to be okay.”
He stood up and crouched behind where Will’s pale head was resting on the floor. He could only take Will’s left hand, because the other was stuck under the bookcase. He took it in both hands and pulled as hard as he could.
“Come on, Will. Wake up and help me get you out.”
He pulled and pulled and pulled until his hands had become so sweaty he lost his grip and fell on his butt. Will was still lying in the same spot.
“Just…wake up, Will. Please?”
He shook Will’s shoulder, but Will wouldn’t wake. Merlin started sobbing. Why wasn’t Will waking? Yes, the bookcase was heavy and it must hurt, but it’s not like Will was bleeding. And everyone knew that when you were hurt badly, you bled lots.
“Will, this isn’t funny. Are you… Is this a prank? Stop it, now!”
Again, he shook Will’s shoulder, and he poked him in the face, and even tickled him in his left armpit, but nothing worked.
Merlin began to cry. He didn’t know how long he sat there, next to Will, waiting for him to wake up or stop pretending, when suddenly his mum was there, pulling him away. He looked up at her, but she was looking at Will with an open mouth.
“Merlin, go downstairs.”
“Merlin, now!” For the first time in a long while, mum raised her voice at him, and that while she wasn’t even looking at him.
Merlin walked towards the stairs. Before he climbed down, however, he looked back one more time. Mum was kneeling next to Will, holding his hand in hers, rubbing his fingers softly with her thumb. With the other hand, she was fumbling with her phone.
He turned around and made his way down. He was halfway down the stairs, when he heard her voice again.
“999?” And that’s when Merlin knew something was really wrong.