Disclaimer: Don't own Merlin. I also don't own the rights to Okubyou na Yubisaki.
Chapter 1 of 3
Based on the Japanese manga: Okubyou na Yubisaki.
Arthur turned at the sound of his name and looked up, to see Percy leaning out of the windows of one of the classrooms on the second story. "What do you want, Percival?"
"Hey!" Percy looked around the crowded quad nearly frantically at that. "You know I hate my first name!"
Arthur just smirked, tightening his hold on the strap of his backpack. "You wanted something?"
"I borrowed that magazine you were looking at the other day." Percy announced, waving said magazine around. "Wanna borrow it?"
"Sure." Arthur nodded, remembering the newest Ducati models that everyone was raving about. He'd been planning on getting a new motorcycle, but had been waiting to check these models before deciding.
"Catch!" Percy called, throwing down the magazine.
It came fluttering down on those walking, causing a couple of girls to squeak and hurry out of the way.
Arthur, in his hurry to grab the wayward magazine, felt his backpack smack into someone, and muttered a distracted "Sorry", not even paying attention to the one he'd hit as he bent to his knees and picked up the magazine, glaring up at Percy. "Hey! You didn't have to throw it! That's dangerous!"
Above him, Percy laughed.
Rolling his eyes in annoyance at the buffoons he called friends, Arthur shook his head, ignoring the girls who were whispering to themselves.
"You dropped this, just now." A voice to his right announced.
Arthur's gaze went to the key cupped in a slender, pale hand, and then his blue gaze trailed up that hand, past the even slenderer wrist (adorned with some bracelets that seemed kinda odd yet attractive) to the dark haired young man bending on his knees next to him.
He was white like moonlight, with dark black hair cute in a fashion that covered too much of his face, and his eyes were piercing blue.
"Ah...thanks." Arthur took the key from the guy who seemed vaguely familiar. "That was close. This is my house key." The keys jingled in his hands. Arthur looked up at the silent guy and winced when he saw the slight redness of the nose...and realized that this was probably the guy he'd smacked his backpack into. "Your nose is red." He pointed out helpfully. "Sorry about that, by the way. But you didn't pay much attention to where you were going either."
The man snorted and rolled his eyes. "I'm sorry if I didn't expect your choice in literature to be raining down from the sky."
Arthur tilted his head. "You're forgiven."
Rolling his eyes once more with a small smile, the boy left, easily drawn back into his own world as he hitched his backpack strap higher up his shoulder. He was quickly joined by a pretty, dark skinned girl, who kept shaking her head and fussing over his nose.
Arthur watched them go before pocketing his key and heading towards home for the day.
He wondered why the nameless student seemed so familiar.
Had he seen him somewhere before?
It bothered him, somewhat, that he was unable to put a name or a place to that face.
Then again, a lot of things had blurred in Arthur's life.
Half a year ago, his elder brother Leon had died in a traffic accident. No one knew exactly what had happened, but from the best that his sister Morgana and he could come up with, Leon must have been hurrying somewhere. He'd brought his cigarettes at his favorite convenience store and then had rushed out onto the street.
To die in such a stupid way...
Arthur sighed and shook his head, getting into his Ferrari and driving to the large Townhouse he supposed he could call home. The blonde entered the house, nodded to the butler who took his bag, and collapsed on the couch, the magazine on his lap, his head hard against the pillow, and his mind in a completely different place.
Leon's attitude had always been so awkward, and yet he'd had a shocking amount of friends, so Arthur had had his hands full with guests during the funeral. He, as a rule, despised most people, especially now that with Leon's death he was named the Heir of the Pendragon fortune. People were leeches, they were mosquitos, and they were only with you for what you could get them.
Arthur had always been popular, but with the death of his brother his popularity had grown to uncomfortable measures...and there were always those who whispered amongst themselves and wondered if Arthur hadn't had anything to do with Leon's death for the benefit of the millions.
It made Arthur hate people even more.
And resent his brother for being at fault for everything.
Though maybe, maybe, that was a little childish of him.
Maybe it was his cold attitude towards his brother's death, but Arthur really couldn't take the people coming up to him offering their condolences for his brother's death. He didn't want to hear how sorry they were and how sad they decided he must be.
In fact, whenever they'd try to talk to Arthur about the death he'd flat out tell them that he didn't feel anything in particular about the death. Death was death. His brother was dead.
What else was there to say?
It was one of the reasons why people called him cold...and were kinda scared of him.
But they didn't know.
They didn't know that Leon hadn't only died in such a stupid way and forced the whole family to disintegrate even more than it was before...but he didn't even have the common decency to stay dead, or stay in his grave, or even freaking cross over.
Leon, the idiot, appeared every friday in the home.
The day he'd died.
And Arthur was the only one who saw him.
"Hello brother undearest." Morgana called as she entered the house, already attacking her prim and proper all girls' school uniform. "Who's life have you made miserable today?"
"The usual." Arthur replied without much heat, rubbing his fingers over his closed eyelids. "Don't you have a boyfriend with a ridiculously phallic name you can terrorize?"
"Lance isn't coming to pick me up until later." Morgana replied, used to her brother picking on her boyfriend. She sighed, leaning a hip against the wall and pulling her tie from around her neck. "You think I'll be able to rape him soon? His virginity is becoming...tiresome."
Arthur snorted. "Morgana, has it ever occurred to you that you are the man of that relationship?"
"All the time." The dark haired beauty replied. "But Lancelot Du Lac is a gentleman, he's handsome, and studies prove that a man who is a virgin is less likely to cheat on you than a manwhore."
She was glaring at him.
Arthur knew that without looking at her.
"I'm not a manwhore." Arthur replied. "I'm just not a monk."
She snorted. "You can say that again."
"When's father coming home?" Arthur changed the subject of his sex life. It was rather uncomfortable talking about it with his younger sister. "Sometime this month?"
"Not sure." Morgana replied with a shrug, not seeming interested in the subject. "Check the calender. I think he penciled it in before leaving."
"Right." Arthur nodded.
There was silence.
"Okay, great family time, we should do this more often." Morgana decided, throwing her necktie on the ground and continuing to strip herself of her much loathed uniform while on her way to her room.
Arthur shook his head at her and tried to busy himself.
He waited, waited...
And when the clock struck eleven thirty...
...Leon appeared rushing down the stairs in his clumsy, disorderly fashion.
And Arthur was waiting on him, putting on his jacket.
Every friday at this time, Leon would appear, just like the day he'd died. He still wore the same clothes, his hair was in the same messed up style, and he still tripped over the doorstep and barely caught himself from falling down the few steps outside.
Just like every friday.
Arthur sighed and ventured after him, walking down the street to Leon's favorite convenience store, waited outside and watched as his brother exited, pocketing a box of cigarettes. The young blonde then sighed and followed the apparition as he hurried on.
He'd followed Leon a number of times, but always managed to lose him in the same place.
Always around this bend.
Turning the corner, Arthur froze when he came to the zebra crossing, and noticed a young man standing by the tree near the crossing.
It was the guy from school.
Even though his back was turned to Arthur, the blonde could see in his slouched posture that he was lost in sad contemplation.
Arthur didn't even realize that he'd headed towards him until something made noise as he stepped on it.
The young man turned around, and as he saw Arthur his eyes widened as deep shock ingrained itself on his every feature. And then...and then the shock melted away into embarrassment and he looked downwards.
Arthur raised an eyebrow as he stopped in front of him. "That was a bit of an overreaction, don't you think?"
The other boy snorted and yet didn't look at him.
"You...." Arthur narrowed his eyes as suddenly he remembered where he'd seen that nervous expression before. "Were--you were a friend of Leon's, weren't you? You---you used to come to our house before."
"I'm Leon's...yeah." He nodded, finally looking up at Arthur.
"Ah." Mystery solved.
The other boy was looking at him curiously before smiling. "I wondered why you looked----. You're the younger brother Leon was always so proud of. And you're also in the same school and grade as me. You're the prat that bruised my nose."
Arthur scoffed. "It was an accident." He then frowned. "Wait. If we're in the same grade that means you were kinda younger than Leon. How did you two became friends?"
"I was his junior at his part time job." The boy replied, pulling a strand of face-covering hair behind one of his ears, betraying the fact that he had some incredible ears. The hairstyle was probably also designed to try and hide them. "I'm Merlin Emrys, by the way."
"Merlin, huh?" Arthur kinda felt sorry for him. He must have been picked on a lot with that name.
For a second shock registered on Merlin's face, and then he smiled, tenderness entered his eyes as he gazed downwards. "Your voice sounds a lot like Leon's. Just then, hearing you, I kinda tricked my mind for a second and thought it was him."
For some reason...that bothered Arthur.
That really bothered him.
"Alright. Whatever. I should..." He shrugged, shoving his hands into his jacket's pockets and about to turn before he hesitated. "Hey, have you ever seen ghosts before?"
"Eh?" Merlin blinked, confusion on his every feature at the change in subject. "I don't really, uh, have an affinity for the occult."
"Is that so?" Arthur mumbled, turning around. Then that's useless. "Me neither."
"Why do you ask?" Merlin asked from behind him.
"No reason." Arthur shrugged, continuing to walk away. "Doesn't matter."
Something about his name being sounded in that voice cause the blonde to turn.
"I think, well, Leon...he wasn't the type to have regrets." Merlin scratched the side of his head shyly, in a kinda of weirdly cute manner. "And isn't that why there are ghosts? Spirits who regret something they did or didn't do and try to rectify it somehow?"
Arthur thought about that over but didn't comment.
It sounded like Merlin understood Leon very well.
It made something churn dark in Arthur's stomach.
He---he didn't like the way Merlin's eyes were still filled with affection as he looked at him, as if he was making him out to be Leon or something. That was probably why he'd reacted so shocked when he'd seen Arthur---he must have, for a split second, thought he was Leon.
Arthur's fist clenched inside of his pocket.
It made him think of Leon, the awkward, less intelligent, boring and kinda annoying older brother he hadn't paid much attention to...or so he'd made himself believe.
He remembered Leon smiling at him, congratulating him for coming first in the exams, grinningly telling Arthur how all of the girls were half in love with Arthur and wanted Leon to introduce them to him, and he'd always, always told him how proud he was to have a brother like Arthur.
And Arthur, Arthur couldn't help resenting him.
Even though Leon wasn't half as bright or good looking or popular...he was always smiling.
How...how could he always be so happy?
Especially with their family?
Leon had had little wit, was always falling behind in his studies, and never had a girlfriend, and yet there had always been a crowd around him.
Arthur had always had a lot of friends, but Leon, Leon had always had more.
And Arthur had always known that Leon's friends were different from his friends.
They acted differently towards Leon than Arthur's friends did.
And Arthur had resented him even more.
The blonde took in a deep breath as he looked at Merlin.
So he's in the same school as me... He frowned. Before, he used to come to the house with colleagues from Leon's part time job.
Merlin's cellular rung, and he gave Arthur an apologetic smile. "It was nice talking to you. See you around sometime." And with that he answered the phone and began to walk away. "Gwen, I'm on my way. Stop complaining, I'm sure Gaius hasn't found some new sickness that you might have come down with. Just sit still."
Arthur continued to watch him until he turned the corner and disappeared.
At school on Monday, Arthur hung back after the last bell.
"Yo! Pendragon!" Percy called as he arrived with Valiant, eyeing what he was looking at. "Movie information? What kinda of movies do you watch?"
"Adult movies." Arthur replied in a monotone way.
"Come on." Percy chuckled as he flung an arm around Arthur's shoulder in an overly friendly manner. "It's not like you have to go to the movies to vent!"
"Yeah!" Valiant agreed, envy creeping into his voice. "Why don't you introduce us to some girls next time instead of hogging them all for yourself?"
"You can have the girls." Arthur replied, bored with their conversation already.
All they talked about was girls.
Girls who were interested in the Pendragon name and the bucks that came attached to it.
Not the boy behind the name.
He wasn't interested in talking about that sort of thing.
Anyway, he had a movie to get to.
"See you losers later." Arthur shrugged off Percy's arm and walked away, heading to the parking lot.
He'd lied when he'd said he was interested in seeing an adult movie, but it couldn't have been helped. If he'd shown those two the types of movies he'd been looking at they would have laughed and thought it was a bad joke.
If the movie didn't have blood, cursing, and sex, they didn't really consider it a movie.
And he didn't want them trampling over something like this.
Once again wondering why he was friends with them, Arthur made his way to the small cinema downtown that was playing the indie, acclaimed thought-provoking movie. He was used to coming to these places by himself, and it was a part of his routine to have home after dinner.
Not that anyone would even realize he wasn't there.
Or would be waiting for him or anything.
The blonde pushed that out of his mind and went in to watch the movie, and then when that was over, he found himself buying tickets for the next movie showing and viewed that as well.
So when he finally came out of the room, it was later than he'd expected.
Turning at the sound of his name, Arthur blinked in surprise to see Merlin.
"What a coincidence!" The lanky boy smiled, coming up towards him. "Are you here by yourself?"
"...Yeah." Arthur nodded, trying to get over the shock of seeing him.
And, of course, of how he was dressed.
Merlin wore a tight, form-fitting blue shirt that read Animals are Friends...not Food, tight black skinny jeans, and had a necklace with a red pendant that could have been a dragon, but Arthur would have had to get closer to determine whether it was or not, and he didn't feel like it.
"Me too." The raven-haired boy smiled brightly. "I really like this director, but there isn't anyone I know with the same interest in movies. Not even Gwen, and that's that she's my best friend." His grin grew brighter. "So you also watch these kinds of movies?"
"Y-yeah." Arthur nodded, unable to believe that this was the same kid he'd met before. When he was smiling...wow...he was actually kinda really cute. "It separates a lot of likes and dislikes." He cleared his throat and continued on with a stronger voice. "I thought it was pretty good. It's kinda like it was both plain and flashy at the same time."
"That's right!" Merlin nodded vigorously in agreement, smiling so much his eyes seemed smaller. "It didn't make much sense sometimes, but it was still very dramatic." He tilted his head to the side. "Did you watch the first one? The one with the beast-like old man...what was he called?"
"I saw it." Arthur grinning as they began to walk to the exit together. "He did look like a beast."
"It even said romantic drama in the movie's commentary." Merlin snickered. "Can you believe it?"
"Don't make me laugh." Arthur sneered. "It should be a B-rated scary movie, shouldn't it?"
Merlin burst out laughing, apparently agreeing full-heartedly.
So busy laughing, Merlin didn't pay much attention to where he was going, and his foot slipped on one of the steps. If it hadn't been for Arthur's quick reflexes, the guy would have toppled down the rest of the steps.
"Watch it!" Arthur grabbed onto Merlin, stopping his descent.
"T-thank you." Merlin blushed slightly, looking down at his feet. "I'm kinda accident prone so..."
In other words he was a big klutz.
No wonder he'd gotten along fine with Leon.
Arthur sighed, a little annoyed for some reason, and turned his back on Merlin, beginning to walk.
Damn it...I should just hurry up and go home.
"So, Merlin..." He then stopped when he realized he was talking to himself. "Hey!" He turned, seeing Merlin a ways behind, gazing intently at a movie poster. "Hurry up! I'll leave you behind!"
"Sorry!" Merlin exclaimed, looking a little frazzled as he hurried to his side. "I just got attracted to that poster..." He then paused and just looked at Arthur, smiling. "I'm going to eat something before heading home. If you're not in a hurry..."
Arthur paused, studying the smile on that face.
Now that he'd thought about it, he'd never actually gone home with someone after seeing a movie. "Sure."
Merlin smiled brighter. "Great. There's a place close to here that I like a lot."
Arthur just shrugged and fell into step with the slightly taller, much lankier boy, silently listening to him talk about what he'd loved about the movies and what he'd found utterly ridiculous.
It was...actually really nice.
He was content to be silent, nodding his agreement to the raven-haired boy's words, and even snickering sometimes as he remembered certain parts of the movie.
But sometimes...sometimes he just zoned out what Merlin was saying and just looked at him and the apparently eternal smile on his face.
The only other person he'd ever seen like that had been Leon.
"This is it." Merlin nodded towards the dinner.
Arthur looked up at the large sign stating Dragon's Dinner and thought it a little gauche, but he didn't bother telling the other boy that as he usually would his friends.
For some reason he didn't want Merlin to stop smiling.
They ordered their food and Arthur had to admit that despite how cheesy the place might be, the food was really good.
"You know, I just realized that I've been in Leon's room a few times, but I haven't really spoken to you before, huh?" Merlin asked, twirling the fry in his hand.
"Leon and I never had the same friends." Arthur replied coolly, taking a sip of his drink.
"Well, it looks like you have a lot of friends." Merlin smiled, a nostalgic expression in his haunting blue eyes.
"Say..." Arthur leaned back in his seat, feeling vaguely annoyed.
"Hm?" Merlin looked up, curious.
"You recognized me, from before." Arthur didn't know why he felt this needed to be asked. "Did you notice me that much?"
Merlin paused, a curious look on his face as he tilted his head slightly. "It's not like I was staring at you or anything." He chuckled. "But you were Leon's brother, so..."
For some reason, that answer really pissed Arthur off.
Standing he grabbed the foil from his burger and crushed it in his fist.
"Are you going?" Merlin asked, that confusion growing.
"Yeah." Arthur nodded, unable to stop the dark anger in his stomach from growing, or showing in his face. "I can't stand it when you keep comparing me with Leon. How I look--how I sound--you can't even say anything about me without bringing him into the conversation."
"Oh." Merlin's face fell slightly, but he didn't deny it.
And that pissed Arthur off even more.
Merlin sighed and turned, looking out of the glass.
Arthur gave a growl and walked away.
Damn Merlin for ruining the whole day!
And Damn Leon!
Damn Damn Damn Damn Leon!
Arthur sighed as he found himself in front of a classroom he'd never ventured to before because he'd had no need to. As a rule, Arthur never sought anyone out, because it made them feel special and they started to think they had certain privileges...and it was tiresome putting them straight.
Arthur hadn't been able to get him out of his mind.
Which was why, after asking a couple of people if they knew which class Merlin Emrys was in, he found himself leaning in the doorway of the classroom early that morning.
Everyone's eyes were on him.
As they always were.
Everyone noticed him.
Everyone but Merlin.
The dark haired boy was leaning with his jaw against his closed fist, a sad, nostalgic expression on his eyes as he stared vacantly outside of the window by his desk.
Of course he'd be the only one oblivious to Arthur's presence.
That annoyed the blonde.
That annoyed him very much.
But...but what annoyed Arthur more was the sadness in those piecing blue eyes as Merlin sighed and looked away from the window, down at his desk. The boy--he had the most beautiful smile---and yet he radiated sadness at the moment as he closed his eyes tightly, as if trying not to see some torturing vision.
Arthur leaned back against the doorframe, hesitating as he watched Merlin.
The boy, still oblivious to his observer, opened his sad blue eyes and turned his gaze once more to the window.
"What's Pendragon doing in our classroom?" Someone whispered.
"Who cares?" One of the girls was fluffing her hair. "He's so hot!"
"Hey, Pendragon." One of the boys smiled as he came towards him. "Did you come to our classroom for something?"
"Yeah." Arthur nodded, clearing his throat. "Could you get Merlin for me?"
"Merlin Emrys?" The guy asked, surprised. "Do you guys know each other?" He didn't wait for an answer, turning his head and calling back into the classroom. "Hey Merlin!"
Merlin didn't even twitch.
"He didn't hear that at all..." The guy sighed, shaking his head. "That guy's always in a daze."
Merlin continued to look out of the window.
Arthur suddenly wanted to know what could keep Merlin's attention so fixed.
He wanted to know badly.
"Merlin!" He called out.
Merlin jerked rapidly, nearly falling off of the desk, before tearing his gaze from the window and looking around the classroom, eyes wide when they finally landed on the blonde heading towards him as if he owned the whole damned school. "A-Arthur?"
"Don't get so scared every time I call your name." Arthur ordered, stopping by Merlin's desk and leaning his hip against it, ignoring everyone else and how they were watching attentively.
He'd come here for Merlin.
And Merlin alone.