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You look at me, it's like you hit me with lightning.

Merlin (C) BBC and Shine ltd.


Laser Beam

Morgana fiddles restlessly a bit with a couple of CDs, flicking through some of them before picking one up and putting it on the stereo. The equipment is worn with years of use; he's had it since forever, she knows. She almost sneaks a glance over at him; he's sitting in a chair, probably looking vacant and not paying attention to anything as usual. But she stops herself before her eyes can reach him, she will not be the first one to back down. Not now, not this time. Not in this silent war of who-can-ignore-the-other-the-longest. At least that's what this is, if you ask her.

She quickly presses play and puts on the big earphones. She rocks back and forth to the music and presses her hands tightly against her head to stop them from twitching. With her back turned to him she flips through more of his CDs, completely ignoring him and the fact that it might tick him off a bit. If he doesn't want her to mess with his stuff, he can just stand up and tell her, after all. Actually, that would be nice.

With the headphones pushed down around her neck she fumbles purposefully with a diskette and almost drops it. Her ears are strained for whatever noise he may make while she turns it in her hands a few times, checking that it's not damaged. But he says nothing. Doesn't even move, by the sound of it. She quenches the need to wring her hands in anger. Because Morgana does not wring her hands. She puts on another CD.

She is suddenly shaken violently by realising how much she bloody hates this. She feels it gripping at the very core of her emotions. The good thing about it being at her core is that she can hide it away from her façade. While anguish is burning away inside of her, she knows she looks perfectly calm, that her face is not red, her eyes are not glassy, her shoulders not shaking. Much.

She hates what she feels for Merlin, and she hates how she can sort it all into little boxes and hide it away so he never has to know. Merlin could never love her. He doesn't even like her, she thinks. All right, there might have been some drunken nights with a bit of kissing and a bit of hugging, but whenever the sun rises once again, things are back to normal. Merlin is pulling up his awkward shoulders a bit, cowering as if her eyes are laser beams. And Morgana is stiffening, ignoring him as much as possible and dismissively swishing her hair in his general direction. They go to different clubs, see different friends, read different books, like different food. Merlin is outgoing, smiles and jokes to break the ice; Morgana is always dignified and poised. Merlin is unafraid, shakes hands, claps shoulders, always touches people; Morgana keeps a cool distance, shies away from physical contact. Merlin lives with his messy honest buddies here in the city, Morgana lives with her family in a sterile house of lies in the suburbs.

She can't stand this, she suddenly decides. Screw this bullshit, as Arthur would've said. The music is still playing its way into her head, and she stares vilely at the stereo, willing its dusty speakers to explode and filthy buttons to fall off. She isn't about to spend time in the flat of the man she love-hates, she isn't about to give up all that calmly collected control, she isn't about to let Merlin destroy her. She grits her teeth and roughly yanks the plug of the headphones from the stereo, and not till the music spills out loudly into the room does she really realise she's done it. She recovers from the surprise quickly and prepares to turn towards Merlin and complain about his equipment, because the best defence is offence. The creaking of a chair alarms her that he has stood up. Is he looking at her? She turns her head, protest at the very tip of her tongue; she finally dares to look directly at him. He is looking at her. And it hits her like lightning. She can't tell if he's irritated, or perhaps angry. His lips are slightly ajar, as if he's about to say something to her. His eyebrows are drawn together, not quite enough to furrow his forehead, but enough to make him look tense, and tell her that there's something on his mind, something that actually holds emotion instead of indifference. Is he about to tell her off? To stop messing with his things, to get lost? She finds herself hoping he would. Just make it short. Get the fuck out. Out of my life, out of my bed. Get out of my head, Merlin.

She realises she has stopped all motion; her fists have uncurled to loose fingers, her mouth is still open, but the mean words on her tongue are gone. Her eyes do not hold the wounding thunder she wants to shoot at him. She has no laser beam. She is reduced to the little girl she is, having her walls dissolved into nothing. She feels left naked and weak, and she hates it so much she almost wants to cry. But she knows she won't.

"Could you turn down the music a little?"

What?

"…What?"

Merlin's lips quirk a bit, and no matter how hard she tries she can't decipher what his expression means. He repeats: "Could you turn down the music?"

Instead of standing there like an idiot, she turns on her heel and turns a button on the stereo. The sounds die down a bit.

He's smiling a bit now, his Smile of Jest. "As much as I like Slipknot I'm not in the mood for heavy metal right now."

You… you stupid bloody idiot, Merlin. You fucking retarded goose, coming up with your fancy smiles as if that can solve anything and everything. Don't you realise I hate you? "Stupid git," she says and walks around the table with every intent of heading straight towards the door.

"Leaving already?" He isn't jesting now. He has no idea how much he could actually hurt her if he wanted to. But he is just looking genuinely questioning, as if her presence even mattered to him to begin with.

"Yeah, I'm going home." She isn't, though. She generally spends as much time in the city as she can, because home has a way of smothering her like no place else. She might be heading down to the café, see if she can catch Gwen on the way. She needs a shoulder to cry on right now.

"Oh."

Right. You are the brightest goddamn light bulb in the universe, Merlin.

"Well. I guess I'll see you later?"

She shrugs on her coat. "Maybe."

She is not looking at him, but she can feel he is starting to get a bit exasperated. "Morgana," he says. She can't quite look at him, but she turns towards him, absentmindedly doing her buttons. "Why did you even come here?"

She's finished buttoning up now. She has nowhere to put her hands. She shoves them into her pockets. "I..." don't know? She doesn't, in fact. She has no idea. She guesses, maybe she wanted some sort of closure, some sort of idea where to take things from now on. How to approach him. How to get rid of him. In retrospect, paying him a visit to tell him off was not one of her smarter ideas. And could she even tell him off; did they even have anything? They didn't. It was just her and her silly charade.

"Morgana?" He looks so confused when she stares at him. He ought to be. She has just kind of marched into his apartment, violated his stereo a bit, and is now marching out again. She is tempted to pity him, but while he sometimes acts like a complete fool, she knows he is a lot smarter than he lets on. She knows him. And he knows a lot of stuff. But he doesn't know she knows.

And she'd like to keep it that way.

"Bye, Merlin." And then she leaves and smacks the door behind her.

All the way down the stairs it's like the lump in her throat grows bigger and bigger. This feeling isn't supposed to be here. She came here to prove to herself that it didn't matter if he didn't like her. That it didn't matter she could never have him. That she would have to get over him, let it go. But now she feels even sadder than before, and she realises she is stopping the tears by clinging to the image of Merlin, still.

This wasn't how it was supposed to go.

She is out on the street again, having passed through the main entrance, before she gets the tears and the flush under control. She plans to leave this building with her head held high, no matter how defeated she feels on the inside.

Not three steps away from the door she hears him calling out loudly from above: "Morgana!"

She starts, whipping her head upwards so quickly her neck almost snaps. He is leaning out the window. "Morgana," he says again, now sure that he has her attention. She pushes away the mildly distracting worry that he might fall out the window since he's such a clutch.

She croaks, "Yeah?" and then beats herself mentally, because Morgana does not croak.

"I'd really like to go have a cup of coffee with you," he shouts, and though his face is far away she can make out the tentative smile on his lips.

Before she can even think of a reply, she feels the fear. The fear of falling into this emotional rollercoaster all over again, being ripped apart by what others call "love". She won't make it out alive, not one more time. It has been one too many, already. She ought to say goodbye for good.

Merlin yells again: "Because I'd really like to talk to you." He sounds more timid, this time. The smile is still on his face, though, and he is leaning further out. Morgana just stares stupidly for a while. The pain from the uncomfortable angle of her neck is nothing compared to the knot in her stomach. She should go.

But Merlin is leaning out his window, smiling at her, inviting her out to a cup of coffee. She is but a puddle on the pavement.

Merlin must have caught on her softening up, because he is looking less apprehensive by each second. "Please?"

Morgana thinks it's stupid he says please, it's not like she could even say no anyway. She nods, and smiles back at him.

"Okay wait for me there, I'll be down right away!"

Inside her there's a little familiar voice that says 'Maybe this time', and Morgana throttles it with a passion. Each time she hears it, she knows she will be just as hurt, she will be left undone by an oblivious Merlin.

Now, there's a new little voice. And though this voice goes against all her stubborn pride and standard, this might just be the voice that can pull her out of this misery. 'Maybe this time you should tell him'. Maybe if she makes sure he isn't oblivious.

"I won't let you get away this time," she whispers to no one, and inside of her there's a tiny, almost unnoticeable shift. The stubbornness moves from escaping Merlin to catching him. She realises this isn't the end. This is just the beginning.