Guys, I did it! It only took a month and a half, but I finally got over my depression about the end of Merlin enough to actually make a joke about it! :)

Also, I want to apologize to all the people who reviewed the last chapter. I spent the entire month of January either sick or traveling (or both), and by the time I realized I hadn't yet responded to your reviews, it was much to late to do so. So a great big "THANK YOU!" to laytonloverdg, whitecrossgirl, GracefulLikeAGazelle, EnchantedWorlds, Januscars, cosmic-s-h-o-o-t-i-n-g-stars, Motaku1235, hanayou343, xPrincessoftheSkiesx, Merlinisawesome, Bottled Sunshine, Zida7, Book girl fan, and pingipenguin for your thoughtful words, encouragements, and rants about the finale! ;P

Description: If Gwaine doesn't shut up, Arthur is going to kill him... Or he would if they weren't both already dead.

Disclaimer: Never have. Never will. And thank you so much for bringing up that painful subject. While you're at it, why don't you give me a nice papercut and pour lemon juice on it?

Dedication: To laytonloverdg, who gave me the prompt for this fic. Thanks bunches! :)

Warning: Tag to 5x13, so mentions of character deaths. Also, excessive idiom usage (If you see a figure of speech and don't know what it means, assume it's referencing death. ;P).

Sleeping with the Fishes

"Rise and shine, your Royal Die-ness!"

Arthur jerked awake at the call, blinking heavily to try to clear the cobwebs from his mind. "W-what?" he spluttered once he'd caught a glimpse of the speaker. "Gwaine, what are you doing here?"

"I drew the short straw."

"Huh?" was Arthur's ever-intelligent reply.

Gwaine smirked. "Or did you perhaps mean your question in a more metaphysical way? As in, 'Why was I put on this earth?' or, 'What is my purpose in life?'" He frowned thoughtfully. "Or 'death,' I suppose…"

Arthur's brow furrowed in confusion. "Gwaine…"

Finally, the other man took pity on him. "You're dead, Arthur," he said, demonstrating the tact for which the Knights of Camelot had always been famous. "You've kicked the bucket, pushed some daisies, and you're sleeping with the fishes now." He paused and glanced around. "Literally."

"Wait, what?!" Arthur cried, his eyes huge. "How can I be dead if I'm talking to you?"

"I'm dead too," Gwaine replied cheerfully. "Been so for a couple hours now, actually."

"No," Arthur said, shaking his head in denial. "No, this is some kind of elaborate joke you've set up—probably with Merlin's help." He scowled as a thought struck him. "Where is that useless manservant of mine, anyway?"

"Far as I'm aware, he's still topside. What's the last thing you remember before waking up here?"

Arthur bit his lip in concentration. "Merlin and I were flying on a dragon to the Lake of Avalon…" he murmured.

"You got to ride on a dragon?" Gwaine interrupted, pouting just a little bit. "I had to piggyback on Percy…"

Arthur glared at him before continuing. "I can't remember anything after that. Where am I now?"

"The Lake of Avalon."

"Oh, so we made it in time?"

"Er… Not exactly…" Gwaine replied. "But Merlin seems to have some kind of obsession with this place, so I guess he decided to leave you here anyway." He frowned, then muttered, "Not like Percy. I'm pretty sure he just got tired of lugging me around and decided this looked like a nice place to dump a body."

"Wait," Arthur said, trying to keep up with Gwaine's ramblings. "You're saying that I'm in the Lake of Avalon? That I'm really dead?"

Gwaine nodded and patted his shoulder sympathetically. "If it helps, you're in a wetter place now."

Arthur watched, dumbstruck, as a small group of fish swam by in the distance, before shaking himself out of his shock. "You said Merlin has some kind of obsession with this lake," he said slowly. "What did you mean by that?"

Gwaine shrugged. "Well, he dumped Lancey and his girlfriend here, so…"

"His girlfriend?! Since when does Merlin have a girlfriend?"

The other man held up his hands to forestall the king's questions. "All she'll tell me is that it's 'complicated.'" He paused, then added with a wry grin, "Oh, and I'd be careful to stay on her good side—she's got a beastly temper."

"Right," Arthur replied, forcing himself to focus on the problem at hand. "Well, not that this hasn't been fun, but I really need to get back to running my kingdom. So if you could just tell me how to get out of here…"

"No can do, your Ghostliness. Once you shuffle off this mortal coil, there's no putting it back on."

Arthur frowned. "But Lancelot–"

"Lancelot was a special circumstance."

"And this isn't?" Arthur narrowed his eyes. "Gwaine, if you don't help me get out of here, I swear, I'll…"

"What?" Gwaine interrupted, raising his eyebrows. "You'll send me to my watery grave? Bit overkill, don't you think?"

Arthur ground his teeth in annoyance. "I order you to show me the way out."

Gwaine snorted. "Really, Arthur? I barely listened to you when we were alive—what makes you think I will now that we're dead?"

"Because I'm the king!"

"Yes, and I'm a nobleman who turned into a peasant who turned into a nobleman who turned into a corpse." Gwaine grinned. "Titles don't matter much down here, mate."

"Oh, what would you know? It's not as if you've been fish food much longer than I have."

"True," the knight agreed. "But I do know that you have no power down here. Without your army to back you up, what's to stop one of us from declaring ourselves ruler instead?"

Arthur rolled his eyes. "I could take any one of you."

"Yeah? Tell that to Little Miss Waterbender over there…"

At that, Arthur whirled around, coming face to face with a young woman—a young woman very much out of his manservant's league, in his opinion.

The woman smiled at him, though Arthur could've sworn he saw a feral gleam in her eyes. "Is there a problem here?" she cooed pleasantly.

"He's trying to leave," Gwaine tattled, shooting Arthur a smug look. Arthur resisted the urge to stick out his tongue.

Hearing this, the woman's smile turned understanding. "I know it's not easy," she said softly. "I still remember the day I first woke up dead—I spent nearly an hour trying to hold my breath before realizing that I didn't have a breath to hold. But it's not so bad," she continued. "And you have friends down here."

"But what about my friends up there? What about Gwen? And Merlin and Gaius and my kingdom, for heaven's sake?"

"I know it's hard to hear," the woman murmured, "but your friends will manage without you. Besides," she added, brightening slightly, "when Camelot's need is greatest, you'll be allowed to return to her."

"But when will that be?" Arthur asked impatiently.

"Oh, not for awhile, I'm afraid. But someday."

"Guess you're stuck with us for now, then," Gwaine said with a smirk, throwing an arm over Arthur's shoulders. "Till life do us part?"

Arthur rolled his eyes toward the surface of the lake. "Kill me now."

It's the anachronism that makes it believable. ;P

This fic was basically me trying to stuff as many puns, out-of-place references, and death-related/water-related expressions into one story as I possibly could. I'm quite happy with the result, and I hope you are too! :)

Oh, and Hipster!Gwaine—quoting Shakespeare and The Godfather before they were cool (or invented! ;P).

If you liked it, I might write some more stories in this 'verse. Arthur and Gwaine are, of course, the squabbling children who get into trouble. Freya is the no-nonsense mother who, nonetheless, looks out for her children (I think that, since she no longer turns into a monster at night, she now has a lot of pent-up aggression that manifests itself in a fiery temper.). And Lancey is the longsuffering father-figure.

Thanks for reading! I'd love to know what you thought! :)


P.S. I also published a Merlin one-shot a bit ago called, "Three Little Words," that focuses on the different ways the main characters of Merlin show that they care. Feel free to check it out! ;D