Every signal that you send, until the very end, I'm there.
He was floating in a sea of darkness. This was very odd, since he also felt incredibly heavy. Shouldn't he be sinking into the darkness? Well, that didn't sound very appealing. Time to get out of here—wherever "here" was—before the universe remembered that heavy things can't float and decided to drown him. Oh, wait, the darkness was less of a sea now, more of a wall and… Ugh, what did I let Gwaine talk me into this time? Pain all over, especially in his head, and his magic felt tired. Why would that be? And he hadn't been with Gwaine at all; he'd been with—
An attack, Uther's Faithful, drugged, guiding, danger, pain, leading, burning—
"Arthur!" Oh, that was pathetic, more of a squeak than a shout. Merlin forced his eyelids open with considerable effort, only to slam them closed again against the glare of the firelight. He tried opening his eyes again, gently this time, and slowly sat up. Fighting the dizziness and nausea, he squinted at his surroundings. Soon, his eyes landed on a slouched figure a few feet away, and he smiled. He debated whether or not he should wake his King. He guessed that Arthur could use the rest. However, judging by his friend's fitful movements and grimace of fear and pain even while asleep, it seemed Arthur needed to talk more.
"Oy, Prat," Merlin said in a much stronger voice. Arthur jumped and looked around wildly. When his eyes landed on Merlin, he froze. "Sleeping on the job again, are we?" Merlin smirked.
Arthur blinked once. Twice. Then a small frown lit his face, "I'm sorry, but which of us has done nothing but sleep these past two days?"
"Nothing but sleep?" Merlin protested, "Just because I'm better at leading a rescue unconscious than you are awake—"
"Well, that's what I keep you around for, isn't it?" Arthur smirked. Merlin thought he looked a little less tense, but the fear and anxiety were still there, in his eyes as the smile slid from his face. "Merlin, how much do you remember?"
"I clearly remember saving your sorry—"
"You know what I mean." Arthur gave him a look that allowed no lies, no hiding under grins and jokes and clumsiness.
Merlin sighed, "I'm telling the truth, Arthur. I knew they had me, that they were…" His eyes became distant and he glanced down at his injured arms. Then he looked up, meeting Arthur's eyes. "But I also knew they couldn't use me. So, I took myself away from there. I went back where… back where I belong."
Arthur held his gaze, searching for any hint of deception or evasion. Satisfied when he found none, he simply nodded. The two sat in silence for a few moments.
"We should probably try to sleep," Merlin said, "We've got a long trek home tomorrow."
"Home," Arthur sighed, "Alright." He moved away from his seat underneath the tree to lie by the fire near Merlin.
They both shifted and settled in to sleep. Just before he drifted off, Merlin sat up and looked over at his King once more.
"Arthur," he said. He waited until his friend met his eyes. "Thank you."
"You too." Arthur smiled, "Get some rest."
So whistle down the wind, for I have always been right there.
That's it! Thanks so much to my reviewers. You guys rock! Keep your eye out for future stories :)