Rating: PG-13 for language
Character/s: Merlin, Arthur
Summary: Art was just a lorry driver lost in the wilds of Wales.
Word Count: 1290 (sorry)
camelot_drabble Prompt: #209: Stranded
Author's Notes: Inspired by the very last scene of Merlin when we see Merlin trudging down the road just as a lorry drives past.
It wasn't enough that his lorry broke down but that it had to break down in the middle of fucking Wales, miles from anywhere. Of course, it was late Saturday evening and the nearest towing service was closed. His dispatcher wasn't much help either, told Art to stay there until help arrived, told him to maybe sleep in his lorry. The git.
He'd not seen anyone either on the road, except that old grandad shuffling along the verges a mile or so back. Certainly no cars or buses or better yet, a bloody bollocksing repair van.
There was nothing to be done. He was stranded until morning.
Sitting there a while on the step grate, engine off – as if he could turn it on but of course, he couldn't as the fucking thing was fried – he listened for a sign of something besides sheep grumbling in the distance.
But all he saw was the grandad slowly walking along the side of the road. The man looked about a hundred or more, clothes rough, his white hair long and tangled, definitely down on his luck, little more than a tramp. But at least Art might be able to ask the old dosser where the nearest pub was. Or village. Or dual carriageway. Or railway back to London.
Art really was quite lost. The diversion had sent him thoroughly off his game, and when there was a second and a third, he'd given up and taken to the local roads. Which was a huge cock-up. And on top of all the other shite in his life, Art began to wonder if someone or something was out to get him. He'd taken the lorry job to get away from London and his now ex-partner, the fucking nutter, and what with finding a new flat and his father being such a pillock, Art's day, month, year, hadn't gone well. He'd not been that experienced a driver when they hired him, and if he didn't know better, he'd have said that Killy, the despatcher, sent him deliberately down the wrong motorway. As if he'd wanted Art to fail or get lost or maybe drive round and round looking for an exit until the fairies took him. The pillock.
The tramp was closer now, and Art stood up, not wanting to startle him. "I'm a bit lost, mate. Could you point me to the nearest pub?"
At first, grandad didn't slow down, didn't appear to have heard him at all, but as Art took another step closer, the old man looked up. Giving a little moan, he quickly retreated to the edge of the lorry and held on with one hand, his other clutching at his chest. Even at a distance, Art could see blue eyes, glowing a bit in the dying light, and a mouth open in astonishment or pain.
Art hadn't wanted to hurt him and he certainly didn't know enough about CPR if the old man was having a seizure. But standing there doing nothing wasn't an option either.
Hurrying over to him, Art put out one hand, ready to catch the old man if he should fall. "Are you all right? I didn't mean to startle you."
Grandad's mouth closed, opened, closed as if he didn't know what to say. Clutching at his clothes, swaying a little as if in shock, he shook his head. Voice sounding as if ill-used for decades, he said, "Artur, þu you bist?" He sounded foreign, perhaps a refugee or a traveller of some sort.
"Sorry?" Art stepped back out of reach. He didn't want any trouble, even though the tramp looked like a breeze would tip him over.
Letting his hand fall back to the lorry's edge, the old man cleared his throat and tried again. "Laetemest. Beþence mé?"
"Sorry, mate, I don't understand."
Shaking his head, the tramp closed his eyes, his face crumpling a bit as if saddened by Art's reaction. Then he opened his eyes again, blue mixing with bright gold, and as old man passed his hand over his face, Art had to blink at the change.
It must have been a trick of the light. Art could have sworn that the grandad's beard was white and long, but it seemed thicker, blacker, shorter. The man's skin was smoother, too, less rough, and his hand, the one still clutching at his chest, was young. No liver spots or wrinkles.
Art blinked again. It couldn't be.
The old grandad looked as young as Art himself, with a scruff of black beard and smooth skin. Even the once long white hair was short and black, and there were ears, too, no longer hidden.
It had to be a trick.
Or Art was having an hallucination, brought on by worry or maybe something he ate or the lorry's engine might have been spewing poison without him knowing.
Stepping back, and again, wanting to run but not sure he should turn his back on whatever this creature was, Art must have said something, must have growled out his fear. Then his body caught up with his terror as he swung around, hoping to escape.
But he couldn't move. He was stuck fast.
It was a horrible dream and he wanted to wake up but somehow he knew it was real. Heart beating hard enough to burst his chest, sweating, he pulled and pulled, trying to tear away before it was too late. He could feel himself screaming although there was no sound. It seemed something out of the movies or a horror novel.
He was going to die. Whatever was going on, some kind of alien invasion, or maybe he was hallucinating and once he woke up, it would be okay, but it wasn't. It wasn't.
The old/young man looked like he wanted to be sick or maybe ashamed of what he was doing but it didn't matter. As Art watched in terror, the alien grew closer, raised his hand to touch Art's face, his voice soft as he said, "I'm sorry, Arthur, I'm sorry."
Art tried to flinch away, tried to draw back or turn in terror but he couldn't move. And as the alien came closer, Art's mind was skittering close to madness. It couldn't be. It couldn't be.
And then the alien's mouth was on his, kissing him as if starving, with tongue and lips and longing. Murmuring words that didn't make sense, 'love' and 'remember' and 'at last', and Art thought he'd faint from the fear.
Then the alien old/young man drew back, eyes glowing bright in the darkness, and said, "Arthur, come back to me. Eftgemyndge mé." And kissed Art again.
Something changed, something Art couldn't explain. But he could breathe again, could feel the softness of Merlin's mouth, the hardness of his hands grasping Arthur. The fear seemed to leach away and he felt whole as he hadn't in a very long time.
Merlin didn't stop kissing him, and Arthur didn't want him to. It was as if Arthur were flying on starlight and hope and the feeling of finding something he hadn't realized he'd lost.
When Arthur finally drew back, it was to Merlin's worried face. But Arthur just smiled at him, giving Merlin another quick kiss. "Took you long enough."
His face falling a bit, then smiling again, Merlin said, "You have no idea."
Arthur wanted to chase away whatever demons Merlin had lurking under that grin, and he knew eventually they'd have to talk about their pasts and their futures, but for now, it was enough that they were finally together.
He pulled Merlin close, gave him a thorough, messy, incredible kiss, full of love and lust and more love, and then said, "Merlin, take me home."