I'm sorry for the lack of an update. Basically, I suck. Also, I have decided to FINALLY WRITE ANOTHER CHAPTER OF PORCELAIN MASK (not that I think many people are reading it). Essentially, I am trying to not be a dead!fic writer. I'll get Porcelain Mask and this finished (I have no idea how long this'll be though) and THEN move on to new fics! Anyway, read on!
Extra-long chapter for an apology (also, my personal favourite chapter).
(Also, once again, sorry for sucking)
A high pitched squeal tore through the relative quiet of the evening with all the masculinity of a ballerina soaring through the air with rainbows and pink and purple glitter shooting out of her arse. Arthur winced, wondering whether the screech had managed to take out most of the world's population of bats, before turning around to look for the source of the noise.
'Please be a monster' he prayed silently, to all and any Gods that would still listen to him 'I'm allowed to kill monsters, just don't let it be Merlin, or Mordred, or-'
A very distressed looking Gwaine was standing over a nearby puddle, staring into it with the utmost horror, so much so, in fact, that Arthur quickly glanced into the puddle to make sure that it wasn't actually a monster of some sort.
No such luck though.
There was a stifled laugh from beside him, and Arthur turned back around to see Merlin and Mordred smirking at each other, sending occasional evil grins at Gwaine's back. Images of the possible consequences of whatever the hell they had done this time flashed through Arthur's head, a disturbing number including fire and explosions.
"Merlin" Gwen said slowly "What did you do?"
Gwaine seemed to busy staring in abject horror at his face (something Arthur did quite a lot) to explain whatever had happened, and so it was Mordred who finally complied and answered Gwen's question.
"Well, we thought that Gwaine's hair was getting a bit ridiculous" Mordred began, with the air of one discussing the weather instead of what was basically the largest part of Gwaine's personality (barring immaturity and general stupidity). "So we thought we'd" Mordred gestured at himself and Merlin "would help him out and give him a free haircut using magic while he slept"
"Oh God…" Leon moaned, bringing a hand up to his face in what was either horror or exasperation (it was kind of hard to tell with the hand in the way).
Arthur mentally seconded those two words and added on one of his own that began with the letter 'f' and rhymed with 'duck'.
Looking closer at the back of Gwaine's head (who had stopped staring at the puddle, and was now glaring at Merlin with a glint of what was probably murder in his eyes). Arthur had to supress a snort of laughter (he wasn't suicidal; he wasn't going to laugh at Gwaine's hair. Much.), as the large majority of his chestnut waves, or waterfalls of purest brown, or whatever the hell Gwaine was declaring his hair as this week had been almost sheared off at the front, replaced instead with a haircut even a mildly unattractive hedgehog would find difficult to like, despite the resemblance.
Gwaine continued to glare at Merlin and Mordred, and without speaking a single word (Hey! Every cloud has a silver lining!), the smirks on both of their faces died quicker than Mitt Romney's dreams on election night, as if for once, they'd finally grasped what they had done.
Gwaine took a step forward.
"Ah" Merlin said, as Mordred backed away rapidly "I might not have thought this through…"
This was not good.
Gwaine was not killing Merlin and Mordred.
Now on a normal day, Arthur would say that this was probably a good thing (depending, of course, on how irritating Merlin had been during the day in question).
Gwaine was sitting in the corner, quietly talking to Merlin (Mordred had wisely run away before Gwaine could get too close, expecting (as Arthur had) to be murdered instead of talked to), whose grin just kept growing larger and larger with each passing second. Some small, sensible part of Arthur's brain wondered whether he should step in to stop this – whatever this actually was – but the much larger, lazier part of his brain just continued to stare with increasing trepidation at the 2 of the Musketeers of Doom and Destruction (the third still probably hiding somewhere).
It was like when you accidentally brushed against a pencil while working, and the pencil slowly begins to roll towards the edge of the table, and you know that you should probably just reach out and grab the pencil before it moffats off the desk and you have to expend much more effort to get it back again, but you're just too lazy, and you watch that pencil edge ever nearer to the edge, as a vague sense of alarm begins to fill you.
Merlin nodded once, and quicker than you could say 'Can we panic now?', Gwaine's hair had returned to its normal, lustrous, state.
That looked suspiciously like a deal being made to Arthur.
Arthur supposed that the pencil had just fallen off the desk with a large 'clatter', before rolling so far away from the desk that it had managed to fall into the deep depths of hell itself.
The next game of I-Spy that was initiated (this time by a bored looking Percival) was quickly (and rather violently, truth be told) interrupted by Arthur, who had thrown a stick of celery so hard at Percival that, owing to missing his head, had shot straight into the air, just past Aithusa, taking out a passing seagull with an indignant squawk that almost rivalled Gwaine's earlier shriek in pitch and loudness. Arthur was just beginning to wonder whether it would be an abuse of his power if he declared I-Spy to be punishable by a slow and painful death when he heard the sound of running water, along with the sound of liquid being drunk in large quantities. The sense of general doom and despair that usually heralded the arrival of Gwaine suddenly started to spike, and Arthur looked up, speculating as to whether Mordred had managed to explode Leon or something.
Merlin had alcohol.
Merlin had alcohol.
Arthur's eyes slid from the slightly chipped mug Merlin was holding to the large crates behind him.
Merlin had large quantities of alcohol.
Merlin gave another burp, and the indignant seagull from earlier started to swell like a balloon, small and beady eyes bulging in surprise and irritation, as it tried to use wings (that now resembled overstuffed pillows) to fly away. It had only risen about 6 or 7 feet into the air when it gave one last, desperate squawk, before exploding in a shower of feathers with the force of a small bomb.
Arthur's glare only increased as a bit of seagull gut splattered onto his nose, though Merlin only seemed mildly amused by it (and Gwen gave a small giggle too). Gwaine poured some more of the liquid into Merlin's mug, grinning widely at Arthur.
He was going to kill Gwaine.
"This is your fault Gwaine, it's always your fault!"
"That's not fair! He wouldn't have returned my hair to normal unless I gave it to him! What was I supposed to do? Go around looking like a reject from the porcupine species for the rest of my life?"
"That would just be an added bonus."
Unsurprisingly, mixing magic and booze did not end well for any parties involved. Although at first everyone (except Arthur, and to a lesser extent, Leon) had found Merlin's drunken magic usage (and occasional seagull splattering) moderately hilarious, that had ended the moment that Merlin had accidentally (they assumed, though his grin while he had done it had said otherwise) set fire to the remains of the seagull. Shockingly, the smell of roasted bird carcass was far from alluring, and the general level of amusement of their group had gone down as fast as the offer of a bacon sarnie at a bar mitzvah.
"I don't see what you're complaining about" Gwaine said, stretching "Merlin looks quite happy to me"
Arthur sighed in exasperation. Seriously, just because something made you happy when you were drunk did not mean it was a good thing to do. He was pretty sure that going on a swing while drunk might actually be quite fun, but he was equally sure that it probably wasn't that much of a good idea to go on one while drunk (How likely was it that a drunken swinging session would end with broken bones, blood and/or fire? Probably all three if he was being especially pessimistic).
Gwaine however, didn't seem to grope this relatively simple concept.
"Look Gwaine" Arthur began "Imagine that you're on a swing, and-"
"Don't interrupt, I'm on a swing"
Arthur stared in utter disbelief as Gwaine closed his eyes, swaying backwards and forwards slightly with a blissful look on his face. Arthur raised his eyebrows in exasperation and irritation.
"Gwaine, why don't you go stargazing in some cave or something?"
Somewhere in the deepest and dunnest part of the universe, deep underground in the pit of fire and screaming, just left of the lake of eternal torment and a couple of blocks down from the river of pained souls (and if you looked closely, you could just about make out the pencil from earlier bobbing up and down in the brimstones like some satanic rubber duck), a demon must have just looked around, turned to its fellow agent of evil, and asked "Is it just me, or is it a bit nippy down here?"
Because Hell sure as hell was freezing over.
Absolutely nothing had happened.
For over 6 hours, no arguments, no games of I-fricking-Spy, no fire, and even no lethal stabbings with fruit/vegetables.
Arthur gazed cautiously at Merlin, who was making huge blue bubbles rise high up into the sky, where they would hang for a few seconds like slightly transparent moons until they popped. Gwen and Mordred were playing hangman in the dirt, as Leon and Percival were arm wrestling (unsurprisingly, Percival kept winning.) Was it too much to hope that the rest of the evening would remain this peaceful? The previous couple of times, these moments of calm had simply turned out to be refuelling stops for the madness of their lives, before it returned greater and more powerful than ever before. Maybe this time it would stay calm. Arthur thought their relative peace was probably due to Gwaine having wandered off to God only knows where.
Of course, it was all too good to last.
And so, the quiet of the dusk was broken.
And absolutely no-one was surprised at this.
And of-freaking-course, it was Merlin who did the disrupting.
Everyone was even less surprised at this.
Merlin had stopped making bubbles, and was instead gazing pensively at a large and fat insect (that reminded Arthur inexplicably of Gaius for some reason) sitting on a rock, looking nervously up at the (drunk) greatest warlock the world had ever seen.
"Do ants ever get sad that they're ants?" Merlin asked.
Was it too late to choose homicide over suicide?
It turned out that when Merlin got drunk, not only did he have the tendency to explode passing bids, he also liked to ask 'the important questions in life'. However what Merlin called 'the important questions in life' were what Arthur called 'what the hell is wrong with you?' questions. Sometime between being asked if fruit screamed in pain when you ate it (but beyond your range of hearing), and being asked what would happen if hair bled when cut, Arthur had begun to give up what little hope for humanity he had left (which wasn't very much, admittedly).
"And why is it that the evil witches keep attacking Camelot?" Merlin asked as Arthur wondered whether poison worked faster than asphyxiation "I mean, haven't they noticed that it never works? Or maybe they're all masochistic and enjoy being exploded occasionally… Also, I think they're getting worse and worse at attacking. That said, Morgana was definitely the worst. She actually managed to take over Camelot, even if it was only for a short bit of time…"
There was an odd 'schwlop' sound and Percival gave a yelp and leapt off the rock he was sitting on as if it had suddenly burst into flames. Which it actually had.
Merlin hadn't seemed to notice.
"…then there was Nimueh. She managed to poison me that one time, but that was probably the furthest she got, before I managed to explode her at least-"
Feeling faintly alarmed that Merlin had the ability to explode people as well as seagulls, Arthur and the others shuffled away slightly (similar to that awkward movement everyone makes when someone farts but you don't want to tell them that they've created a fart that reeks so much you begin to wonder whether the fart maker hasn't actually died, and has begun rotting for the last couple of days).
"-then there was that incident with Sofia as well, but that wasn't really much of an invasion, per sae."
"Sofia?" Leon asked, frowning slightly as he tried to remember the woman Arthur had been about to elope with (Arthur gave an involuntary shudder at the memory). "What happened to Sofia in the end?"
"NOTHING YOU CAN PROVE!"
"What if you are the butter?"
"WHAT IF EVERYONE IS BUTTER!? I'M JUST AN EMPTY TUB OF MARGARINE IN A SEA OF BUTTER!"
"WHAT IF SOMEONE SPREADS YOU ON TOAST?!"
"You know what? I give up."
Making a mental note to find a spell to raise the dead so he could kill Gwaine over and over again (as soon as he reappeared again), Arthur continued to listen to Merlin's blabbering. Mordred still seemed to find the whole situation quite amusing, and after being forbidden from drinking by Leon, he had decided to just settle down and watch Merlin rambling. However, sometime after the inexplicable butter rant, it seemed that Leon had just given up trying to keep everyone sensible and had gone to sleep, muttering about how he wasn't paid to babysit as well as quest. He was quickly followed by Gwen, while Mordred had kept awake (probably to watch Arthur suffer).
"Why do strangers keep attacking you Arthur? Did you do something to piss off all the strangers on the planet?" Merlin asked, pointing at him with a stick of celery, a serious expression on his face.
"I don't know why strangers seem to hate me" Arthur replied exasperatedly "Maybe it's because the universe has collectively decided that I should be punished for some reason which I am yet to be informed of."
"Do you know any strangers, Arthur?"
"Hey Arthur, why can't you get gloves for your head?"
"Hey Arthur, if someone accidentally killed you while trying to stop you from committing suicide, would your death be suicide or not?"
"Hey Arthur, why does 12am come before 11am?"
"Oh wait, hats. Huh."
"Hey Arthur, is it still murder if you resurrect the person afterwards?"
"Hey Arthur, why is it AN hour, not A hour?"
"And while we're on the subject, why is it A unicycle not AN unicycle?"
"What is a unicycle anyway? How do they work?"
"Hey Arthur, why is it a pair of trousers when there's only one set?"
"Hey Arthur, how come 'fat chance' and 'slim chance' mean the same thing?"
"Hey Arthur, why don't sheep shrink when it rains?"
"Hey Arthur, why are you getting your sword out?"
Arthur hadn't signed up for this.
When he was first told that he was going to be King of Camelot, he knew it wasn't going to be all smiles and roses. He was willing to die for Camelot, and he knew that it was likely that he'd be hurt badly at some point, but this?!
If Merlin said 'Hey Arthur' one more time, Arthur was going to kill someone.
He needed some time alone.
He pushed himself up into a sitting position (instead of the lying down wishing for death position he had adopted earlier), trying hard not to look at Merlin (he was this close to exploding in a ball of irritation and rage.)
"Trying to leave?" Mordred said, grinning lazily. Mordred had seemed immune to the physical incarnation of irritation that was Merlin, and had even enjoyed it somehow (despite the exasperated looks Percival kept sending him) "Can I come too?"
"Oh come on!" Mordred said "You can't just walk off without us!"
Arthur stood up.
"The Blond Knight rises" Mordred muttered, before pushing himself into a standing position too.
"The Dark Knight ris-"
"Percival, please shut up."
"Come on Arthur" Mordred said in what he clearly thought was a coaxing tone "I won't annoy you that much."
"That much" Arthur said in disbelief "That much! All you've done since I fell of that bloody cliff is annoy me! You and Gwaine! And let's not get onto how Merlin seems to be attempting to drive me into insanity. Or actually, let's! First, it was the fat jokes, then it was messing with my hair, and now the stupid questions. AND THAT'S NOT EVEN INCLUDING THE FUCKING I-SPY! FOR THE LAST HOUR, IT'S BEEN 'HEY ARTHUR' THIS, OR 'WHAT IF' THAT, AND YOU KNOW WHAT, I PHYSICALLY CANNOT TAKE IT ANYMORE! I DON'T KNOW WHY TREES DON'T HAVE TAILS, OR WHY FRICKING SOCKS DON'T HAVE INDIVIDUAL HOLES FOR EACH TOE! AND YOU KNOW WHAT? WHEN WE FINALLY GET BACK TO CAMELOT, I'M GOING TO BLOW THIS FRICKING CLIFF TO KINGDOM COME! SO PLEASE JUST GO AWAY, AND LET ME HAVE ONE FRICKING MOMENT OF PEACE! PLEASE, I JUST WANT ONE MOMENT OF PEACE WHERE I'M NOT IN DANGER OF EXPLODING OR LOSING MY HAIR! PLEASE!"
There was one glorious moment of silence.
There was an inhumane scream as Arthur launched himself at Merlin, who looked appropriately scared for about a second, before apparently remembering that he was a sorcerer and vanishing with a 'pop'. Arthur flew into the wall of the cliff, and jumped up quickly, heart pumping fast, looking around for Merlin. He spotted him about 6 feet away, and dove at him again. Merlin tried to run, before tripping (apparently running while drunk was not a good idea. As with swinging). As Arthur flew through the air, he was stopped by Gwen making a grab for his legs (she had woken up after all the shouting). Unsurprisingly, this did nothing except knock Arthur off course, sending him straight into a sleepy Leon who had just awoken. The congealed mass of people that was Gwen, Arthur and Leon landed with a THUMP onto Percival, who was sitting the other side of the rock to Mordred, sending Mordred shooting upwards like a seesaw. Mordred flew a good 6 feet straight up (and about 10 feet left). Luckily, his fall was softened by Merlin, who had seemed to be trying to run away from the chaos. With a shrill screech, Aithusa joined into the fray. Yes, fire always helped matters.
Just a few feet away from the writhing group of people, Gwaine walked in, whistling absently.
"Hey, you know that you can't actually stargaze from inside a cave anywa-WHOA!"