My first Merlin fic! I'm so excited :D I've actually have a lot of Merlin fics planned (and a muli-chapter Sherlock), but school kept getting in my way. Stupid school -.-* Anyway, this fic features insane!Uther, protective!Arthur, and unfortunately, magic-less!Merlin. It just wouldn't have worked if Merlin had any magic… (However, whenever I write more Merlin fics, our warlock will have his magic returned. Yay!)

So this is a birthday present to my dear friend. Happy seventeenth! I was going to post this as a one-shot, but it's still not completely done and since you're about a million miles away… Well, yeah :'( So I hope you like this Sasha! Happy birthday! I love you, sister! *heart sign*And to everyone else, I hope you like this too!

Disclaimer: I do not own Merlin. *remembers the way it ended* *goes and cries in a corner* Yeah, I don't own Merlin... D'X

Like Drowning on Air

The man stepped back to admire his work.

It had been at least a year since he's done this, but his hands worked effortlessly, as if it had been only yesterday. From all the fantasies he's reincarnated, it might as well been yesterday. Of course this one was better. This fantasy was real and it was flawless.

The boy –he's never taken a boy before; it was quite interesting how he needed to conjure a different strategy to capture him efficiently– is certainly his best work yet. The rope was tightly secured on his wrists, the tools were ready to be used, and not a soul had seen the two males (one of which being unconscious) leave the house and enter the woods. The boy was perfectly subdued and the opportunity could not have come at a better time. Nothing could go wrong.

The kidnaped boy, though bloody and beaten, gave the older man a glare. He struggled to get out of his bonds, but they were too tight around his wrists. Thanks to the drugs he received from his kidnapper, the boy's vision was as blurry as his mind felt and it hurt when he looked around too quickly.

"What do you want?" The boy croaked out, his throat dry from misuse and lack of water. When was the last time he drank something? Or eaten for the matter? The black-haired boy couldn't remember.

"How on earth," the older man mused, completely ignoring his victim's question, "Did you manage to befriend my son?"

The boy in the wall blinked. What? That's what this was about? The man's son?

Had it really been only yesterday when everything was normal? Well, yesterday morning had been normal. (Or as close to normal as life ever gets for the boy.) He wasn't sure what exactly happened. One moment he had been running up the stairs to retrieve something for his friend, the next he was waking up in a dark room, strapped to a table with the manic man standing over him and smiling. That smile will haunt the boy for the rest of his life. Most likely, his very short life.

Suddenly, pain exploded in his gut. The man had punched him. Again. He doubled over, knowing that he would've been on his knees had it not been for the ropes which held his arms firmly above his head (and in turn, holding the rest of his body up).

"Answer me!" The man's voice was murderous.

"No-! I don't- know!" Came the strangled reply.

They had been over this already. All of yesterday afternoon was filled with these questions. The psychopath wouldn't take "I don't know" for an answer. Neither would he take any of the boy's sarcastic remarks. After the fifth slash on his arm, the boy decided that sarcasm probably wasn't the best response to give. Apparently, neither was the retelling of how the two boy's (the man's son and the man's victim) friendship had formed.

"How does Arthur not see you for what you really are?" The boy murmured to himself, not realizing he spoke out loud.

Another punch was thrown, his time it was aimed at his jaw.

"You don't get to say his name!" The man practically screamed, his voice in hysterics. "A no-good, lowlife shouldn't utter the name of such a marvelous man. No one on earth is worthy of my son!"

"News flash," the boy wheezed, "This is the twenty-first century. We don't worship men like gods anymore."

His captor sneered and the boy quailed, suddenly afraid. He didn't want to be drugged again. Please... Not again.

To his surprise, he wasn't drugged. Instead, the man spoke to him, using his name –well, his nickname technically– correctly for the first time since they met nearly a year ago, saying it as if it were the foulest word in the dictionary.


Merlin flinched. No one had ever said his name like that before…and it terrified him. It wasn't the first time he wondered if this man would kill him.

"I am Mayor. Yes?" Arthur's dad's voice was calm. He spoke as if on a business meeting. But Merlin could hear the underlying malice under it. He could practically feel the desire this man held beneath the surface. The desire to tear Merlin limb from limb. To lacerate his body over and over again. To gaze into Merlin's eyes and watch as the life was drained out of them slowly and painfully.

Merlin swallowed thickly. "Yes...sir."

The man smiled coldly. He liked being called 'sir.'

"So that means what I say goes, yes?"

Merlin, however afraid he was, tried to answer truthfully (albeit, timidly), "...Not all the time sir."

Apparently, he didn't hear Merlin. His focus was on the area surrounding Merlin: the stone wall. Dark pleasure was alighted in his eyes. As Merlin glanced around himself –his brain was finally starting to clear– he realized in horror that this wasn't just a hole in the wall, he wasn't just tied up. The wall was hollow. And the rope binding Merlin's hands wound up to the ceiling. A picture was beginning to form and Merlin didn't like it. Not one bit.

"Uther?" He asked hesitantly, using his kidnapper's first name.

"You should be happy," Uther said. "Proud at the very least."

"Wh-why?" However, Merlin wasn't sure he really wanted to know the answer.

Uther ginned. It was the type of grin a mad-man would have. One that knew he was crazy and fully accepted it as normal. Using it to do anything and everything he pleased in the most malevolent way possible.

"You're the first boy to be brought down here." Merlin's captor pointed to various spots on the wall beside Merlin. "Jeanette, Morgan, Cleo, Hannah... And Merlin."

Merlin stared in absolute terror at the finger pointed at him. He remembered all those stories he heard when he first arrived in the small town. All those girls that had gone missing? Didn't they have the same names?

"You," Merlin said horrified. "It was you. You kidnapped those girls."

"Well aren't you a smart one? No one's figured me out yet. And no one will. Except-" he shook his index finger at Merlin "-you were starting to figure it out. Whenever my son would invite you and that blasted girl over, I could practically see the wheels in your little head whirling and twirling." Merlin didn't answer him, but his silence was enough; Uther was right, Merlin had been thinking there was some connection to the missing girls and Arthur's dad. (Not that he though Uther himself had done the kidnapping. Only been a part of it…somehow…) "I had to stop you before you could tell anyone. And with you being a friend of Arthur's, well... That just made this even more enjoyable."

Uther picked up a brick, causing new waves of fear to surge through Merlin. He stared at the brick as if not really seeing the object in his hand. Finally, Uther turned to Merlin, a curious expression on his face.

"But what I don't understand is, why you? Out of all the rich, proper friends Arthur could choose, why you?" Uther searched Merlin's face earnestly, in an honest attempt to understand his son's choices.

Merlin couldn't answer. He wished he could; he really wished he knew why too. Merlin honestly had no idea why Arthur chose him of all people as a friend.

They started off on the wrong foot, practically hating the other. When Merlin and his family first moved to "Arthur's Town," the two boys nearly beat each other up the very first day. (Okay, Arthur nearly beat Merlin up.) However, all that changed when they were to be partners on the history project the school assigned. The two-month-long history project. Merlin remembered feeling nothing but dread. Arthur was a prat and a bully; there was no way the two of them would ever get along. However, that supposed fact was proven false when, somehow, Arthur and Merlin actually became friends. It wasn't until Arthur saved Merlin from near-death drowning experience –curtsey of Arthur's former friends: the school bullies– that the two boys realized how close and strong their friendship was. Merlin repaid Arthur by helping him gather the courage to ask Gwen out, who liked Arthur just as much as he liked her. (They both kept denying their obvious feelings.)

Most brothers would not help their best friend get their own sister, but Merlin was always considered different. It was possibly because Gwen wasn't his real sister; her family just adopted him when his parents died. Merlin had been nine when they had drowned. Ever since, Merlin avoided bodies of water as much as he could. (It was much easier to avoid boats and cruise ships than large areas of water.) Thankfully, his family had been very close to Gwen's. Gwen, Merlin, and Elyan already felt like siblings, curtsey of knowing one another since each of their births; it wasn't that difficult for Merlin to accept them as his new family. Painful, sometimes awkward, but not difficult. So of course he'd help Arthur get Gwen. But now... Now he wasn't sure if it had been so wise.

"What are you doing!?" Merlin cried out suddenly.

Uther had begun staking the bricks on top of each other...right in front of Merlin. Uther didn't answer, but Merlin didn't need him to.

"No! Stop! Please stop!" Merlin thrashed, trying to unbind his hands. One of his bare feet managed to kick Uther in the nose.

Merlin's psychotic captor roared as he fell backward, off his hunches and onto his rear. He clutched his nose as he glared at Merlin.

"You'll pay for that," Uther sneered.

"Please no!" Merlin was well aware he was crying, but he couldn't stop himself. He didn't want to die. He didn't want Gwen to die either and he knew that the moment Uther found the chance, he would capture Gwen and do to her exactly what he's done the previous girls (and currently doing to Merlin). There was no way Merlin would allow that. Not to his sister.

"You're smart, you should know begging will not help." Uther stood to his feet and grabbed Merlin's forearm, squeezing it tightly. The blood dripping from his nose somehow made him much more terrifying. "Now stop moving or I will break this twig you call an arm."

Merlin obediently stopped squirming.

"Good boy," Uther said as he ruffled Merlin's hair. The boy tried to squirm away from the hand atop his head, but it was difficult since he was tied. At least his strength was starting to return, the drugs Uther had given him almost out of his system. Of course, that was when Uther reached into his pocket and produced a small syringe. Merlin began thrashing again, the threat forgotten.

"No! Not that! Please-"

"Shut up, boy!" Uther hissed. He glanced down at the syringe, squinting. "How old are you again?"

Merlin didn't answer.

Uther tsked, "Oh, come now Merlin. You don't want to be overdosed do you? Nasty business, being overdosed. Wouldn't you want to go out with a bang? Nothing boring like being overdosed."

If he could, Merlin would've throttled the man. 'Nothing boring like being overdosed.' Why on earth wouldn't Merlin want to die peacefully and boringly? It might not be "fun," but at least it wasn't painful. Merlin opened his mouth to inform the maniac that he would rather be overdosed right here, right now that say his proper name, but Uther apparently thought ahead. Quick as lightning, Uther once again grabbed Merlin's "twig-of-an-arm" and squeezed. His eyes said everything. Answer truthfully or your bone gets crushed.

A noise that was a mixture of a whimper and a groan came unbidden out of Merlin's throat. Painfully he whispered, "Seventeen."

Uther nodded. "Oh that's right, summer birthday, isn't it?" He didn't wait for Merlin to answer. "Can't believe this peasant shares Arthur's birthday; shouldn't have held him back a year," Uther muttered to himself. Merlin wisely decided not to comment. The only noise he made was a soft grunt when his head was forced to the side and tilted at an uncomfortable angle. He knew what Uther was looking for. Without any hesitation, the syringe was stabbed into Merlin's neck.

"There. That should be good."

The bone-chilling coldness crept up Merlin's spine once again. His arms started to tingle, his head pounded, and his vision –which returned to him not too long ago– was beginning to blur, while darkness clouded his peripheral sight. Merlin heard the bricks being piled on top of one another and the sons of mortar being slathered on and his stomach did a queasy flip-flop. He was truly going to die down here, wasn't he? He'd never see Gwen again. He'd never see Arthur or Elyan or Gwaine or anybody. He'd never get the chance to tell Freya how he feels… He's going to die down here and no one will ever know.

Just before he slipped into unconsciousness, he heard a question being asked of him.

"I could spare you a lot of pain, if you simply told me where the Gwen girl is. I'll release you if you tell me."

But Merlin knew Uther was lying. He couldn't –wouldn't– betray his sister like that.

"Never," he whispered. Then the familiar blackness washed over him once again. It was almost like drowning, he realized in muted terror. But rather than water, it was blackness that surrounded him and filled his lungs. Suffocation was like drowning on air.