|Caffeine and Cigarettes
Author: RoseWalker PM
After Arthur gives Merlin an unpleasant revelation, Merlin doesn't know what to do. One shot. Arthur/Merlin, Arthur/other, Merlin/OC's Smoking, drinking, one night stands, obsession and major angsty-ness.Rated: Fiction M - English - Angst - Merlin & Arthur - Words: 4,185 - Reviews: 20 - Favs: 29 - Follows: 5 - Published: 02-14-10 - Status: Complete - id: 5746038
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
You tell me you dont love me
Over a cup of coffee
And I just have to look away
"Sorry I'm late." Merlin puffed heavily as he plonked down his coffee, nearly sending the liquid inside sloshing over the table. "I got held up. Y'know the way it is." Merlin paused when he realised Arthur wasn't looking at him. The blonde was staring intently at his own coffee, which looked like it had gone cold. His knuckles were white from where he was holding the handle a little too tightly, but never raised the piece of crockery to his lips. "Arthur?" Merlin asked, worry hitching his voice. Blue eyes finally looked up. Arthur looked slightly guilty in a way that made Merlin frown.
"Merlin, we need to talk." That made Merlin pause. Those three words sent shivers down his spine and the way that Arthur had said them…
"No we don't. What is there to talk about?" He gave a nervous chuckle and his normally bright smile wavered. Arthur gave a long huff and closed his eyes breifly before looking back at Merlin directly.
"Look Merlin, I don't know how to tell you this. I guess it's only fair that I'm honest with you." Blue eyes held each other, even as Merlin picked up his coffee to take a sip. "We can't be together any more. I… I don't love you." The coffee cup paused. "I'm sorry. I hope we can still be friends." And wasn't that brilliant. Arthur honestly did sound sorry but Merlin couldn't quite hear it anymore. He looked into the blue depths opposite, trying to find the joke there, trying to find the lie that this was. When he found none, he had to look away.
A million miles between us
Planets crashing to dust
I just let it fade away
Instead of a table between them, a great chasm seemed to open up and no matter what Merlin tried he couldn't quite fall in and let it swallow him. He just had a sickening feeling of vertigo as his stomach seemed to drop away from him, even as he sat still. Glancing back up, it was almost as if he wasn't looking at Arthur now just some stranger who slightly resembled someone he used to know.
He didn't feel the coffee cup leave his hand, he didn't hear it smash on the table and he didn't feel the hot liquid splash over his jeans. He couldn't feel anything. The world took on an odd angle and he found he wasn't breathing, his lungs burned painfully. He took a halting gasp but the world he had loved, just bare moments before, became even more distant, as his whole universe crashed down around him with the shattering of his coffee cup.
Sound seemed to fade completely. He only had a slight ringing in his ears, that and his racing heart beat. He was vaguely aware of Arthur calling his name. At least he thought he was; he could see the blonde's lips moving. He let the sound become even more distant: if he couldn't hear it then it wasn't real. At the edge of his consciousness he noticed a waitress coming over to clean up, looking worried at the pair of them, but she was the least of his worries. He had to get away. Merlin stumbled to his feet as if he was drunk, his chair falling backwards. Arthur reached out to help him.
"Don't touch me!" His voice came out almost slurred and he could almost believe he was drunk. He wished he was, and then maybe he could have imagined this moment was a dream or druken hallucination. However, he knew he was all too sober. He stumbled out of the café without looking back.
I'm walking empty streets
Hoping we might meet
I see your car parked on the road
He didn't know what else to do. He couldn't go back to his flat. Not yet. Not where he had been. He didn't know how long he had been out. An hour? A day? A week? Time just didn't seem to have any influence on him now. Sometimes everything seemed to pass in a blur and sometimes it was if it was moving through syrup. In his wanderings he hoped he would just happen to bump into Arthur, and he would say to him… What would he say? Merlin had no real plan; he just hoped he would meet Arthur.
At some point he realised that it was actually dark, and had no idea when that had happened. There didn't seem to be anyone else around. The roads were silent. Merlin couldn't even find the effort to look at his watch, despite the fact that his feet kept moving. He couldn't even feel them now, not really. He vaguely remembered the pain earlier. Blisters had formed and had probably been rubbed away again, his feet raw and more than likely bleeding. But he had walked through the pain, welcoming it. It let him feel something. But even that had left him now and he was back to feeling empty.
He hadn't cried. He wondered if he had forgotton how to. There was nothing in him left to cry anyway. His hands were tucked into his jeans pockets and hadn't moved, his jacket was tied round his hips and he hadn't even thought to put it on. He couldn't feel the cold either, though he suspected he might be going blue by now.
Finding a loose slab on the pavement, Merlin tripped and nearly fell over. He only just managed to pull his hand out of his jeans and catch himself against a car. The jolt of pain up his shoulder brought him back to his senses momentairily, long enough to realise that he had actually fallen against Arthur's car. He ran an idle finger over it breifly. Trust his subconcious to bring him here, or was it fate pulling his strings like he was a limp puppet. Either way he hated it.
The light on at your window
I know for sure that you're home
But I just have to pass on by
Glancing up to look up at Arthur's house, Merlin noticed the bedroom light on. There was a shadow behind the curtains moving around. Merlin knew that shadow, knew it intimately. It was Arthur for sure. So there was no chance of accidently bumping in to him then. His heart seemed to make a funny, twisting motion unsure of what to do. There was dissappointment on one hand and relief on the other. His stomch however, remained feeling sick and empty. He took a few cautious steps towards the gate in the hedge that blocked the way to the front door and grasped onto it. The cold iron bit into his flesh but he could barely feel it.
How long he stood there simply watching the movement of the shadow, Merlin could never have said, but it must have been a while. He guessed that Arthur was on his mobile and was pacing up and down. And then he had begun getting undressed. In the back of his mind Merlin knew it was wrong to be watching him like this, but his memory wouldn't forget when he had been on the other side of those curtains, when watching Arthur reveal golden skin had been alright, when it had been a pleasure and not just a need.
His eyes took their fill of what they could, knowing he was never going to get any more than this ever again. For a few moments, Merlin thought about walking right up to the door and hammering on it until Arthur answered. His foot even raised to make the movement forward, his weight braced on the metal, but the simple latch that held the gate shut seemed too much of an effort to contend with. The idea melted away like a snowflake in a fire. It wouldn't have gained him anything, perhaps an argument at best.
Merlin turned from the gate and walked away.
So no of course we can't be friends
Not while I'm still this obsessed
I guess I always knew the score
This is how our story ends
"I hope we can still be friends."
Arthur's last words still echoed painfully around his head. Friends. How could they be friends? They had been so much more than that, how could Arthur expect him to settle for so much less? His heart ached for the blonde that had encompassed his life. He loved him with all his being and even though he had been tossed away like a piece of rubbish, Merlin still loved him more than anything. He could never settle for anything less. It was all or nothing. But why did nothing have to be so painful?
There was no way he could be a friend to someone that everytime he looked at him he would desperately want him, want to kiss his breath away, want to make love so they could be one being. How could he be a friend to Arthur when he was still completely obsessed by him?
On reflection, Merlin knew this was inevitable. He had heard of Arthur's habit of finding a partner and giving up on them a while later. But the blonde had seemed so honest. He had admitted he had never been with a man before and Merlin had taken it all in his stride because Arthur had said he loved him. Clearly, he had been a fool to trust those big blue eyes and charming smile. It was all so Arthur could get another notch in his bed post. And Merlin had fallen for it and he still couldn't hate the man, he wondered if Arthur had left his other conquests like this; a trail of broken hearts. He had honestly thought this would be different.
But Arthur had ditched him. Just like the rest. That was just how it was. Their fairy tale was over and now Merlin had to finish the story on his own.
I smoke your brand of cigarettes
And pray that you might give me a call
I lie around in bed all day just staring at the walls
The packet of ciggerettes lay on the side table. Merlin looked at them breifly before picking it up and pulling out one of the white sticks and putting it between his lips. He sighed as he flicked the lighter, the flame a little higher than it should have been. He inhaled deeply, coughed then swung his legs around to lie back on the bed before taking another drag and exhaling slowly, watching the smoke dissipate in the air.
How many packets was that now? At least as many as the days that had passed, he guessed, if not more. He never wanted to smoke. He always told Arthur it was a bad habit and he should stop. The only reason he had started was that it reminded him of Arthur, the taste of the cigarette's was his small link. It was a bad reason to start; Merlin knew it but now he couldn't stop, didn't want to stop. Maybe it would help him to his end quicker.
Grey eyes that had once been a striking blue looked down at the packet still clutched in his hand. The same little box Arthur used to carry, probably still did. He flicked the ash into the tray at the side of the bed. It was still full of butts and really needed emptying but Merlin didn't care. It didn't matter that his room was a mess, that he was a mess. Nothing mattered anymore.
As his eyes fell into focus he realised he was staring at the phone and he lingered for a moment. He had been praying to whatever deity that would listen that it would ring and it would be Arthur on the other end apologising, saying what a mistake he had made and would Merlin take him back. But it seemed all the gods must have been out to lunch or something as no call came. When the phone did ring, it was usually his friends or family. He listened to them then put the phone down. He had given up answering it at all now.
He finished the cigarette and stubbed it out before he curled back onto the bed. He stared blankly at the wall, his eyes shifting in and out of focus, and saw things in the patterns that shouldn't have been there. This had become the highlight of his day. What else was there to do now?
Hanging round bars at night wishing I had never been born
And give myself to anyone who wants to take me home
The blue shirt. It made his eyes stand out and made his skin look pale rather than pasty. He couldn't do much about the bags under his eyes but they rarely got noticed, especially with the eyeliner someone had suggested to him once. It made his eyes look more mysterious, according to the man, whose name he couldn't remember anyway. He pulled the shirt on over his head and smoothed it down, leaving the top couple of buttons undone, revealing his long throat and angled shoulder blades. Merlin had always thought of himslef as too angular, glancing at the cheekbones, to match but apparently, that was some of his allure. He found a necklace that seemed to fit just right against his throat and ran his fingers through his still damp hair. He nipped into the bathroom and threw on some aftershave then picked up his jacket and walked out the door, letting it lock behind him.
Weeks had passed, or was it months now? It didn't matter, he just found himself sitting at another bar with another drink in hand. Jack Daniels on the rocks. He didn't drink mixers anymore. What was the point? It only dulled the burn; it didn't stop him getting anymore drunk. He always wanted to forget, but it just dulled his memory, only for it to return with aching clarity as he tried to get over another hangover. Merlin was surprised he still had them, considering that he was drinking pretty much every night. He was also surprised his liver was still functioning.
The nights were spent alternating between wishing he was dead and wishing he had never been born in the first place. That was when he was at the bar anyway. He spent his days alone in his bed. His nights were spent in a slightly different way. He spotted the man eyeing him up further down the bar and turned to look at him properly. Yes, he would do. Blonde and blue eyed, quite easy on the eyes too. The man nodded his head towards the toilets and Merlin nodded. He knocked his drink back then jumped off his bar stool and followed the man. He was pushed against the wall the moment he was through the door, a tongue in his mouth before he could even breathe. Finally, the kiss pulled away and trailed down his neck.
"Wanna come back to my place?" The man breathed against Merlin's neck. He must have made some sort of noise of agreement because he was soon being led out of the bar and tumbled into another bed, being taken roughly but not painfully, hoping to feel some sort of cheap imitation of life.
It had yet to work.
So no of course we can't be friends
Not while I still feel like this
I guess I always knew the score
This is where our story ends
"So you gonna tell me your name?"
"No." Merlin pulled on his trousers and shirt.
"You're not even going to leave me your number?"
"No." Merlin walked to the door.
"Who's Arthur?" Merlin stilled, his hand part way to the door handle. He sighed heavily and turned around, looking at the blonde still lying on the bed. The more he looked the more he realised he definitely didn't look like Arthur. He was too old, the hair too short, the lines around his eyes too deep, his face too rounded. It was always the same story.
To begin with when he had first started doing this, he had specifically gone for blondes. But the longer he went at it, the less he tried. Sometimes they were dark haired, sometimes green eyed. Now, it didn't even matter if they were male or female. If they wanted him, that was enough. But that was it. He never gave them more than the one night. He wanted to find someone who made him breathe again, made him feel like he was alive. None had. So he carried on doing it. Anything to try and feel something. And sometimes he slipped up.
"He's just… no-one." He turned back to the door.
"So that's it?" The man did sound rather disappointed. "We could be so good together." Merlin gave a slight resembelance of a smile.
"Sorry. We end here. In another life, maybe we could have been good." With that he stepped out of the room.
You left behind some clothes
My belly summersaults
When I pick them off the floor
Spring cleaning. He needed to get rid of some of this stupid restless energy that kept building up. His room had gotten to the state where he couldn't walk safely in it. Blindly, he began tidying up, clearing away dishes and papers and laundry. Finally, he picked up a t-shirt, one he recognised that wasn't his. He paused, his hand shaking for a moment. Then held it to his face and inhaled deeply. God, it still smelled of Arthur.
Closing his eyes, he simply held the t-shirt, a piece of his former lover. His stomach flopped all over the place in feigned excitement. He was getting goosebumps from a t-shirt. He opened his eyes once more and looked at the red piece of fabric. Tearing his eyes away and looking around the room, he lost all interest in tidying.
Taking his usual routine back up, Merlin lay down on the bed, curling up on his side, but this time holding the t-shirt close, and with something resembling a smile.
My friends all say they're worried
I'm looking far too skinny
I've stopped returning all their calls
"Merlin honey, it's Morgana. I'm sorry my step brother is such an arse. Come out to dinner with me and we can talk about how men suck, ok? Call me."
"It's Will. Heard about the big screw up. Come out for drinks with me and the lads. See if you can manage a whole pint before you fall off your chair yeah? See yas."
"Merlin, it's Gaius. You really need to call me. You're job is still here waiting for you. Bye."
"It's Gwen. We heard about Ar- well, we're worried if you're ok. Don't forget, we're here if you need us. Anytime ok. Even if it's the middle of the night, we'll listen. That's what friends are for right? Love you. Bye"
"It's Morgana. Still haven't heard from you. Don't let Arthur get to you. He's a stuck up prick. Call me."
"Stop being a twat! I'll come round and kick your arse. Come on man. You're better than he is."
"Merlin, it's Gaius. I'm sorry, but I've had to give your job to someone else. Come and talk to me. Bye."
"Merlin, it's Gwen. Please talk to us. We haven't heard from you in ages. Please. We just want to know you're ok. We're still here for you. Bye, sweetie."
"Merlin, it's Lance. Come on, I know it's hard but Gwen is killing herself with worry here. Just call us so we know you're ok mate."
"Merlin, it's your mother. Answer this phone right now… alright so you're not there. Please phone me. I've had Gwen on the phone in tears worrying about you. They said someone saw you and you looked like you haven't been eating. I'm really worried love. Please call me."
"It's Gwen. Merlin, please. We're all worried sick. We've tried coming round but the door's always locked. Have you locked yourself in? Please talk to us. We just want to help you move-"
Merlin looked down at his answer phone. He guessed it must have been full up now. Some of those messages were from ages ago. He didn't reply to them. He couldn't stand the pity in their voices. Couldn't bear to see them. Not even his own mother. He would be too ashamed to see her. For her to know what he had become; a smoking, alcoholic, male slut. It was better that she didn't know. It was better that none of them knew.
He caught a glance of himself in the mirror. Perhaps he had become thinner than normal. He shrugged and carried on doing what he was doing and left the phone alone.
And no of course we can't be friends
Not while I'm still so obsessed
I want to ask where I went wrong
But don't say anything at all
He wasn't expecting it when he happened to bump into Arthur. He'd had to go shopping. All his food had run out and even he wasn't stupid enough to not eat, although it had been tempting.
"Woah, watch it- Merlin?" Merlin looked up to see that familiar face, the face he still loved so much and his heart ached for it. "Um, I wasn't expecting to see you, uh, how are you?" As soon as he said it, Merlin could see that he regretted it. Arthur could plainly see he wasn't right, and it wasn't as if he had tried to hide the fact either. "You know, I meant what I said. That we could still be friends. I hope you will." Arthur gave a sad smile.
Merlin stood there silent. Words formed on his tongue, questions, 'why did you leave me?', 'did I do something wrong?' but they never got any further. Merlin pulled his eyes away, knowing he could never be friends with this beautiful man.
By the time he looked up again, Arthur was leaving.
"Well, see you around." And still Merlin couldn't say anything.
It took a cup of coffee
To prove that you dont love me
Merlin watched as the man he loved more dearly than anything else in the whole world, crossed over the road and into 'their' café. They had met there; Merlin had thrown coffee down Arthur's shirt. It was a double sided memory. So much happiness laced with so much pain.
Watching through the window, Merlin could still see Arthur, see him as he ordered his cappaccino, see him as he picked up the mug, see him as he sat down opposite a stunningly attractive blonde girl and see him as he leaned over the table and met her lips in a kiss.
The whole world seemed to stop. Merlin couldn't breathe.
Somehow, he made his way home without dropping his shopping or getting run over. A few people had asked him if he was alright but he ignored them. He got to his flat and shut the door. He switched on the kettle with shaking fingers and pulled out a mug. Finding a teaspoon, he chucked in some instant coffee granules and plenty of sugar. Finally, he poured over the hot water.
Looking down at the steaming liquid, Merlin's stomach suddenly rebelled and he couldn't bear the thought of drinking it. Instead he picked up the mug and flung it against the wall. He watched as the mug shattered into hundreds of pieces and the coffee dripped down the walls like dried blood.
Backing up against the cupboard, Merlin let himself slide down them and braced his head in his hands.
At last the damn broke. All the emotion flooded out of him at once, and he howled his pain into the empty room. His whole body shook with the force of it and he curled himself up into a ball, slowly rocking. His tears streamed down his face as the coffee continued to trickle down the walls.