Title: A Minor Detour, Part 4
Pairing/s: None (Probably eventually Arthur/Merlin because who am I kidding)
Character/s: Merlin, Arthur, Gwaine
Summary: Merlin wondered if it wouldn’t have been better to asphyxiate.
Word Count: 800
Prompt: #213: Eye Contact
Author's Notes: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 || All Parts on AO3
Arthur stared at Merlin.
Merlin stared at Arthur.
Arthur wondered how he was going to get himself out of the electroshackles currently holding him against the wall, through the forcefield making an impenetrable barrier out of the open side of his cell, past the scavenger crewmember who was supposed to be keeping an eye on them but was watching what sounded like some horribly fake porn on his handheld with his unoccupied hand kept firmly on his blaster, and through the forcefield making an impenetrable barrier out of the open side of Merlin’s cell, so that he could strangle the git.
Merlin wondered if it wouldn’t have been better to asphyxiate.
“Look,” he tried to reason over the faint hum of the forcefields and the extremely off-putting grunts and squeals of the guard’s entertainment, “it could really be a lot worse.”
Arthur didn’t say anything, but his glare darkened. He was imagining the sad little gurgle Merlin would make when Arthur throttled him. It would be very satisfying.
“I mean, sure we’re being ransomed off, but we’re alive! And the slop wasn’t particularly good, but food is food and at least it was better than dustfish, right? And okay, the nice cozy heat is kind of counteracted by the whole being stripped naked and shackled to a cold wall thing, but...” Merlin trailed off, realizing he didn’t really have anything to add as a positive there.
“It’ll be okay,” he said finally, earnestly. “Your father will get us back safely and yell a bit and then probably toss me in the brig for a few months, but that’s pretty typical, you know?”
Arthur softened in spite of himself. It was pretty much entirely his fault they’d ended up in this mess to begin with, and Merlin had found them a chance when Arthur couldn’t.
Just as he was about to relent and throw Merlin a less-than-full-strength insult to reassure him they were back on good terms, the door to the little hold-turned-brig slid open with the shriek of metal grinding on metal.
Their guard floundered out of his chair, trying to shut off his screen and tuck himself away at the same time, but the captain of the scavenger ship ignored him and stood just at the start of the forcefields where he could easily look back and forth between Merlin and Arthur.
The vulture’s name was Gwaine, and as far as Arthur was concerned he was a bigger pile of trash than anything he’d ever scrapped and sold.
“All right, gents. I’ve got good news and bad news. What do you want first?”
Merlin looked at Arthur, and Arthur glared at Gwaine, who shrugged easily.
“Good news it is!” Gwaine flashed Arthur a blinding smile that went entirely unappreciated. “Daddy wants you back after all. He’s willing to pay a frankly ridiculous random, I was really expecting a bit of negotiation, and he’s even throwing in the ship as long as I treat you like a gentleman. So I’ll be gracious and give you your pants back when he gets here, though as your father, he’s probably seen it before.”
Arthur ground his teeth to avoid saying anything that would invite Gwaine to stop being a gentleman, but Merlin took up the slack and said, cheerfully, “That’s very kind indeed, thank you!”
“Don’t thank me yet.” Their captor’s grin faded slightly as he turned to Merlin, but he slapped a smirk back on a second later. “Papa Pendragon says he’d sooner throw you out an airlock himself than pay your ransom. ‘I’ll give you twice that for the favor of being rid of him,’ he says. So unfortunately for you, you’ve just become worse than worthless to me.”
Even as Merlin was processing the terrible information, Gwaine turned away and instructed two of his crew, “Take him down and bring him to the bay.”
“Arthur?” His voice cracked uncertainly as the two men manhandled him out of the shackles and started dragging him, struggling futilely, away from the cell. “Arthur!”
“Merlin! I’ll pay for him,” Arthur called at Gwaine’s back. “I can get the money once I’m back at my ship, you have to know I’m good for it. I’ll come back for him, I’ll pay you to take him somewhere safe, I’ll pay anything you want, just bring him back!”
Gwaine and his men ignored Arthur. Merlin twisted against the hands pulling him along, fighting to look back at Arthur.
Arthur had to strain his own neck to track Merlin as he was dragged off. Their eyes locked. Merlin’s were blue and wide and desperate, and Arthur suspected his were the same as he yelled again, “Merlin!”
The doors ground shut, cutting off Merlin’s despairing gaze and leaving Arthur alone but for the echo of his frantic shouting.