Disclaimer: I do not own Merlin or any recognizable characters, I make no profit from this story and no copyright infringement is intended.
Important: Can be read as slash, but mainly a brotherhood kind of fiction. Please give it a chance! And the plot was supposed to be fast paced, to match how I interpret the decisions and experiences in war. This being said I have no experience in this field and I am open to corrections and constructive criticism. In no way do I mean any offence to any soldier or member of any force which supports its country.
A/N: I wrote this after my neighbour made me sit through Black Hawk Down with him twice. There is so many emotions in war and I just felt that at the time I could really do something with this. If there are any similarities to the plotline of Black Hawk Down, then I mean no copyright infringement and I make no profit. I just thought it was interesting to see the characters work this way and I hope you enjoy it as much as I did, much love x
Upon Your Honour
"We have to move now," Merlin nods as Arthurs words ring through his ears, amongst the sounds of distant gun fire and mingling shouts from various militia personnel, their side or not it has become impossible to tell, "we have to move now. We're sitting ducks. We have to move now."
"I heard you, Arthur," Merlin speaks almost calmly as the blonde turns his head and finally looks at him, glancing at Lance their only other companion as Merlin's words simmer over the unbearable popping sound of gun fire that just won't stop, no matter what they've tried. Merlin knows Arthur was talking to himself; he also knows it had to be said anyway.
"Good," Arthur nods once again and pulls back a little behind their cover, turning to both of his soldiers as they hold their guns tight to their chests and refuse to look away from him; its all riding on him now, their lives are sitting in the palm of his hand, depending on the quick reflexes of the finger he has resting on the trigger of his gun, "we're heading for that covering there, where the wall has broken off and left a corner. When we get there turn and cover whoever is behind you, do you hear me? You stop and cover them. I'll reassess when we're there."
Merlin can feel his head nod and the helmet move just out of time due to the looseness of the strap, always having hated the feeling of it tightened under his chin; it choked him, making him feel sick, just like bike helmets when he was a kid and his mother had been overprotective enough to make him wear one, even though the general populous thought they were useless.
"Merlin," Arthur shifted in his crouch and a hand reached out to Merlin's shoulder, gripping rather tightly as Lance glanced between the two of them for some form of explanation, deaf from an explosion that had gone off too close to his head as the three of them ran from the sight of their crash, "you know what you're doing; we trained for this, we lived this, we survived this. You know where you have to go. When you get there, make sure you're covered from the front and then check for Lance to follow. When you're clear to go on, you go. You know Lance will be there, do not stop, do you understand me?"
"Arthur, I… I can't," Arthur watches Merlins' face carefully, knowing every trace of fear and desperation mapped out on it, hearing the lump catching all of the mans words as they struggled their way to freedom, competing only just with the gunfire still echoing in his head, making him wonder if that's the only place its real anymore; for a second he wishes to be Lance, "I'm sorry."
They both know that this isn't how it's supposed to be. Arthur is the leader, Merlin follows, Lance watches their backs. It's interchangeable, but one thing always stays the same; Arthur will lead, Merlin will protect him, Lance has unquestionable loyalty. This time, Lance can't hear, he's a liability that might just have one of them killed. Merlin doesn't want it to be Arthur, knows it can't be. Arthur's thoughts are the same; he doesn't want it to be Merlin, knows it can't be.
"Lance," Arthur is shouting and Merlin is watching desperately as he grabs Lances arm and makes sure he has his complete attention, "when I arrive over, you follow me. When you get there you stop, turn and cover Merlin, do you understand? You stop, don't forget."
Lance nods and Merlin makes eye contact with Arthur one last time, exchanging nods as the blonde rises on his haunches and starts sprinting towards the wall, back hitting the side facing them as he peers around the corner and signals to Lance.
"Hey," Merlin is yelling at him now, watching his face whip towards him in confusion as Arthur looks towards their position frantically gauging what seems to be wrong, "you stop. Don't forget that. Don't forget."
Lance has nodded and is gone before Merlin has even had time to take a breath, and he sucks in a shaky one quickly as the slightly darker man stops and turns to cover him, dragging his own butt from the ground and running as fast as possible only to slam his back against the wall hard as he skids in the dust to a halt.
"–e've got you covered, you can come in," Arthurs radio is crackling as he finally calms enough to be able to hear again, seeing Lance tap Arthurs shoulder to alert him to their safe arrival, within seconds Arthur has radioed back their position and Merlin holds his gun steady, preparing to move again, "hold to the east, they're coming in."
"There's no fire," Arthur is saying to himself again, shaking his head and moving to cover his ear as if wanting to unblock it, "keep watch, move fast, no current fire, being covered. No current fire."
"Got it," Merlin knows he's playing at an old game, sure Arthur is aware that he knows the blonde is talking to himself; but its important to Merlin, spectacularly important, that Arthur is in control and unafraid like he always is – Lance looks at him questioningly, "we run in. Follow and do not look back, just run."
And Merlin feels Arthur staring at him as he relays unspoken orders to Lance, and then the small breeze as Arthur, by far the fastest of the three, runs because his life depends on it. When Lance starts, and the shuddering realisation that fire has again started clamps itself into his heart, the shouts of Arthur calling his name are all he hears as his legs obey orders his head hasn't yet processed.
Dust is flying and the only thing he can see as he's running is the corner of Arthurs' vest that he's desperately yanking on as Cedric, Owen and Will stand firing at something behind them, Jack Valiant and someone he just doesn't recognise dragging at Lance to get him behind their set perimeter.
"Arthur!" Merlin is frantically tapping the blondes cheeks and his response is a twisted smile and a groan of pain as the bullet he took in the leg makes itself incredibly known, "open your eyes and look at me, come on, you're fine, you're going to be fine."
For a moment he almost can't believe the bullet is there. It all happened to quickly there was no time to process. He had seen Arthur running, his legs had driven him forwards, and all of a sudden it was as if Arthur had tripped, and Merlin's hand had reached out and gripped his vest, dragging the half running blonde with him into the shelter, "You're going to be fine."
It's another old promise, one of those games they played millions of times before, in dreams and nightmares and all the realities in between, "not this time… just… not this time…"
Arthur is screaming and in his head, Merlin can feel the pain that seems to radiate in heat waves right off the blonde, "we need a medic! For Christ's sake we need a doctor over here!"
"There isn't any," Will is shouting at him over the sound of the current gunfire as he chucks his gun on the ground and picks up another rifle that had been leaning, unused on the wall beside a fallen soldier, "no one else can get through!"
Arthurs screaming forces Merlin to turn his face back towards him and away from Will whose desperate shouting and general hopelessness has suddenly taken hold of the few men within earshot, "we're stuck here, Merlin. We have what we've got, and the small amount of time that it takes for them to realise that before they come storming in here."
And for once, the gun fire suddenly stops dead in his ears and the blessed ringing of silence is all that he can hear, a pumping heart beat and a rush of adrenaline taking over his senses before Arthur's sickening screams drag him back into the deafening reality.
"Just shut up, Will! Shut up!" the screaming softens and turns into panting and Arthur's hair is sticking tightly to his sweat soaked forehead, "give me a knife and a rag, I'll cut it out and tie it off, minimise the blood loss until we can get him to a medic."
"You weren't listening were you, Emrys?" Valiant's command sounds out over the temporary base, "we can't get out, and they can't get in. We're bloody stranded."
"Merlin," Arthur is rasping now and Valiant turns back to the opening to fire as he realises Merlin is no longer paying him any attention, "just… leave it. Take my- just take my gun, and fight like there's no way in hell you c-could lose."
"Never," a single tear drops down his cheek; he can feel it, a small stain on his career, and after so many a small frown passes over Arthurs face, and a hand blindly gropes at the vest trying to yank it off, "pocket..."
Merlin's hands move so deftly it's like he has never experienced shock in his life. And from the pocket a jagged edged and crinkled photo emerges of the two lads smiling in their shining new uniforms, ranks hidden beneath hats as they smile those crows feet smiles and clap each other on the back. They show mateship like those damn photographers are always trying to do in a service picture.
"All I got," Arthur wheezes out, still panting and contorting his face, "keep it."
"On my honour," Merlin smiles a little, watching others buzz around Lance as he comes to, head wound and all, picking up a rifle and heading for the firing line, "until we move you."
"You won't," Arthur's weak smile and attempt at an obviously painful laugh weaken Merlin's resolve just a little bit more, "but you have to move. You just have to go. Find the girls, yeah?"
"Yeah," Merlin smiles and feels that tear again, always hot on the side of his face running over that tiny scar he'd given himself one day, an accidental nick with a flick knife that Arthur had given him nothing but grief for the entire weekend off, "but we'll do it. We have to move."
"Alright then," Arthur coughs and splutters and wheezes again, but none the less, raises a hand about a quarter of an inch above the ground he's lying on, "we move; from life to life and stay as long as we can, upon your honour."