Sorry for the wait! but you guys have been so lovely and leave such wonderful reviews! Seriously, the reviews. Lizilulu (the main writer) gets a ginormous grin every time she reads them! This inspires her to write more. Reviews = Writing. Tell your friends. Tell your family. Tell your super genius dog who happens to enjoy reading amazing fanfiction. Comprende? awesome :). We love you guys! This will be the last chapter of Football and Friends, but we will have the next part of the Merlin Holmes Series up soon :). So soon. (though not till after midterms). We already have it planned out; we just need to make the words happen. HUGE thank you to Chrisybee who helps me edit. without her I would be nothing.
The car ride back to the flat was short and silent. John could practically see Sherlock analyzing Merlin's every breath. John had to admit that Merlin's breathing did sound tight and a little wheezy, but that was normal after an asthma attack.
"You're probably exhausted, why don't you head off to bed?" John suggested as they entered the flat. He handed Merlin's things back to their owner and the room was silent except for the sound of Sherlock and Merlin's bedroom door clicking shut.
Then someone knocked on their door.
"Come in!" John called.
Mrs. Hudson entered the room looking confused; followed quickly by Anthea. "She says she's not a client..."
"It's alright Mrs. Hudson, she's one of his minions." John said casting a quick glance towards Mycroft.
Anthea held out a plastic drug store bag to Mycroft who took it looked over its contents and then held it out for John. "Merlin's medication." Then he added when John gave him a blank stare: "They gave me a few prescriptions when we were at the hospital."
"When did you even... How did you... Never mind." John said giving up and taking the bag from Mycroft.
"Medication? Hospital? What is he talking about?" Mrs. Hudson demanded.
"Merlin had an asthma attack at school and was taken to the hospital." John explained as he took out the medication and started reading the labels
"It's just some steroids they want him to take right now and a stronger inhaler." Mycroft explained.
"Poor dear." Mrs. Hudson said.
"He's resting now." John said trying to ease her worry. "He should be fine."
Once Mycroft had left with Anthea controlling half the world from her blackberry and Mrs. Hudson had tottered back down stairs, John declared it was time for him to turn in. Sherlock entered his and Merlin's bedroom, trying to be as quiet as possible, only to find that the lights were on and Merlin was sitting in bed reading.
"Shouldn't you be sleeping?" Sherlock asked. Merlin looked sick and exhausted. He had changed into some sleep trousers and a sweat shirt. Sherlock noticed that he was wearing the blue scarf.
"Every time I close my eyes I see his face."
"Are you having nightmares again?"
"I can't even get to sleep." Merlin answered looking miserable as ever.
Sherlock nodded and turned around as he began to prepare himself for bed. He remembered when he had to babysit Merlin. Merlin was about five at the time and demanded a bedtime story. After a half an hour of Sherlock refusing and Merlin throwing a tantrum Sherlock finally caved and read his science textbook until his baby brother fell asleep.
But things weren't that simple now and Sherlock doubted fairy tales or the scientific method could chase away Merlin's nightmares.
Sherlock left the bedroom in his pajamas. He turned on the Telly and set the volume to low as he watched for a bit then went to work on one of his experiments instead.
Merlin came out of the room and poured himself a glass of water; when he saw the Telly was on he sat down on the couch.
Sherlock watched out of the corner of his eye as his plan went into action. He watched as Merlin's tired eyes watched whatever crap Telly program he had turned on keeping him awake but not making his brain work.
Sherlock meandered over to the couch and sat next to Merlin. He made comments to whatever talk-show was on. He listened as Merlin laughed and as the night progressed Merlin became quieter and less responsive until Sherlock looked over to see that he had fallen asleep.
Sherlock smiled and settled down to watch the conclusion of the program.
The next morning found John and Sherlock at the kitchen table. John had bags under his eyes and Sherlock looked a little worse for wear. It had been a tough night for everyone. Merlin had nightmares that had woken Mrs. Hudson up. The poor boy was sick, exhausted from an asthma attack, and still had the remainders of whatever they gave him in the hospital to 'take the edge off' he had finally dropped off into a deep sleep only an hour ago. The flat was as near to absolute silence as it had ever been.
Until Merlin's alarm went off for school.
John looked up from his breakfast and Sherlock looked up from his microscope. Their eyes met. John cursed and Sherlock got up off his stool to see what damage had been done. Before he could even get to the bedroom door it opened Merlin, still dressed in his pajamas, stumbled out.
"Merlin go back to bed." Sherlock instructed.
"I have to go to school." Merlin mumbled and shuffled towards the door.
"Is he sleepwalking?" John asked. The whole situation was almost amusing.
"Mostly... I think." Sherlock said as he tried to direct Merlin back to bed. John watched as Merlin mumbled something about school and Sherlock answered him softly as he nudged Merlin back to the bedroom.
It was ten-thirty in the morning when the door to 221b Baker Street was flung open with a bang that shattered the peaceful silence of the flat. John jumped as detective inspector Greg Lestrade, Donavan, and Anderson barged into the flat. Sherlock looked up from his microscope looking barely interested in the proceedings.
"We know you have it Sherlock..." Lestrade began.
"Hand it over freak." Donavan said.
"I'm sorry. What are you talking about?" John asked, trying to wrap his tired mind around what was happening.
"Sherlock was at the crime scene yesterday..." Lestrade began.
"While I was at work?" John asked quickly trying to get all the facts straight. Sherlock nodded and Lestrade continued.
"We think Sherlock stole some evidence."
"We know he stole some evidence." Anderson said.
"Why is he even here?" Sherlock asked not even bothering to look at Anderson.
"We're not afraid to search your apartment Sherlock, we've done it before and we'll do it again." Lestrade answered.
"Oh, do you have a warrant?" Sherlock asked in a mock serious tone.
"There are children... Missing! Does that mean anything to you, freak." Donavan said, almost yelling.
"Sherlock, please just hand it over." Lestrade said, trying to calm everyone down.
"What exactly do they want?" John asked.
"One of the missing girls, Sharon, knew the kidnapper and wrote about them in her diary. They haven't recovered it from her room yet." Sherlock explained quickly. "Sorry Lestrade, I don't have it."
Lestrade rolled his eyes while Donavan and Anderson both began to retaliate loudly.
"Would you SHUT UP! I have a sick child trying to sleep!" Sherlock shouted to be heard over the yelling.
The room got quiet. Both Donavan and Anderson looked shocked while Lestrade just looked interested.
"When we said you had evidence we were really hoping it wasn't alive." Anderson said.
"Where is she, freak!" Donavan demanded as she started to scan the flat looking for clues.
John turned to Lestrade,"You can't be serious?" He said looking incredulously at the detective inspector.
Lestrade gave him a look that clearly said 'I really want to believe he didn't kidnap kidnapped children, but I wouldn't put it past him either.'
When John turned his attention back to what has happening in has living room he saw Donavan and Anderson cornering Sherlock against Merlin's bedroom door.
"There is a perfectly understandable explanation for all of this." John said trying to help Sherlock put some distance between Donavan, Anderson, and the door.
"Then start explaining." Anderson pointed accusingly at Sherlock.
"I don't have to explain myself to the likes of you Anderson!" Sherlock shot back.
"It's his brother." John finally shouted.
"What's going on up here?" asked Mrs. Hudson from the doorway.
"Just visiting our favorite consulting detective." Lestrade said.
"How's Merlin?" She asked.
"Merlin?" Donavan asked.
"Yes, Sherlock's younger brother, Merlin." John explained.
Anderson took advantage of Sherlock letting his guard down during this lull in the action and managed to shove him out of the way and barge into the bedroom. Donavan somehow managed to slip in after him and they both stared in shock at what they found.
Merlin blinked up at them tiredly and, as if he wasn't pathetic looking enough, launched into a coughing fit. "Sherlock." He croaked. "Wasgoin'on." He said mostly asleep.
"I think you've done quite enough detective work. Playtime is over." Sherlock said his voice barely over a whisper. He was angry, that much was obvious. To their credit, Donavan and Anderson both looked scared. It was obvious from one look at Merlin that he was related to Sherlock.
"Sherlock?" Merlin's weak voice uttered at the intruders left the room.
"It's alright Merlin. Go back to sleep. You're ok." Sherlock responded softly.
"Can I have some water?" Merlin asked before sniffling and whipping his nose in his sleeve. Sherlock winced but nodded as he left the room.
Sherlock smiled while Anderson and Donavan got torn apart by Mrs. Hudson in the living room. They were both staring at their shoes, shame-faced and nodding.
"How is he?" Mrs. Hudson asked when she spotted Sherlock.
"Just wanted some water." Sherlock answered.
"You're a good big brother." Mrs. Hudson said as she patted Sherlock's cheek. Donavan's look of incredulity and Anderson's looks of shock were comical.
"John could you..." Sherlock began but then stopped when he saw John half-way across the kitchen with a glass of water.
"I got it." John answered before disappearing into the bedroom.
Then Sherlock turned to Lestrade.
"If I had known... We really thought you had it... I'm sorry. I should have stopped them."
"Yes, you should have." Sherlock said as he sat back down to his microscope. "Merlin will have nightmares all over again now that he's seen Anderson's face."
Lestrade rolled his eyes, "Sorry again. Tell Merlin I'm sorry too. I hope he feels better soon. Ok Donavan, Anderson lets go."
"Yes please leave before Anderson triggers another one of Merlin's asthma attacks."
Once they had left the flat was quiet again. Sherlock worked at his microscope while Mrs. Hudson puttered around the flat tidying up and muttering that she wasn't the house keeper. John came back into the room with the empty glass in one hand and something pink in the other.
"Sherlock, what's this? I found it among Merlin's books but it doesn't look like something he wound have." John help up a pink diary with the letter S embossed on the front.
"That is exactly what it looks like John." Sherlock said smiling and not looking up from his microscope.
Sherlock had already solved the case. He had managed to do all the detective work from he flat (It was quite obvious. The butler...). He had even made a quick run into the police station just so Donavan and Anderson could see his smug look. After at least five hours of uninterrupted sleep Merlin was feeling and looking a lot better.
Then at 4:30 someone knocked on Merlin's bedroom door.
"Come in!" Merlin called not looking up from the book he was reading. He was sitting, legs crossed, on his bed reading a book by Terry Pratchett and eating a grilled cheese he made himself.
Sherlock stepped into the room, he handed Merlin a tissue. "Blow." He instructed. Merlin took the tissue from Sherlock's plastic gloved hand, did as he was told, and gave the used tissue back. "Someone's here to see you." Sherlock left the room.
Merlin's head snapped up to look past Sherlock to the girl standing behind him. Freya. Merlin face turned red. Great. Freya had just seen Merlin being handed a tissue and told to blow by his big brother like a child. All for one of Sherlock's stupid experiments.
"Thanks." Freya said quietly but Sherlock just continued out the door not saying anything.
"Don't be offended. He's like that with everyone." Merlin explained as he put down his book and set aside his grilled cheese. He gestured to the empty bed next to him and Freya sat down next to Merlin.
"I came to drop off your school work, from today. All the boys had football practice and Gwen had trouble getting in contact with her dad for permission to leave the school." Freya rambled.
"What about swim practice?"
"It was cancelled, my coach's son had a doctor's appointment." Freya pulled out some of Merlin's books and a folder with hand-outs and worksheets from teachers.
"How are you feeling?"
"Much better, thanks."
"Everyone was really worried about you."
"Really, I didn't think people noticed me."
"With those ears. Merlin come on." Freya said laughing.
This is why Merlin liked being around Freya so much. She was quiet, but when she did talk it was worth listening to. She was special.
"But really, everyone was asking Arthur about you and Mrs. Hunith was on the verge of tears. She really thought she almost killed you. And I..." Freya rambled, and then stopped like she was just realizing what she was saying.
"You what?" Merlin urged.
"I... I was worried too." Freya finished quietly.
"Well you don't have to be. I'm fine now."
"I know. I'm not very good at making friends. It would be just my luck to have one of my only best friends die on me." Freya gave a nervous laugh and looked down at her hands. Merlin was touched, and then we wasn't. He was annoyed. Best friend? Why wasn't that enough? Where did this come from? What was this?
Merlin's face must have conveyed his confusion because when he came back to focusing on Freya's face she looked taken aback. "Is something wrong?" Freya asked.
"No nothing just thinking about... something. It's not important." Merlin said. Not like you, you're important.
"Oh, well, I was noticing that you were looking better." Freya said in an attempt to make conversation. "Then when you were sick I mean. Not to say that you looked bad when you were sick, or normally for that matter..." Freya rambled on.
"Merlin, Mycroft's here!" Sherlock yelled.
"That's my brother." Merlin explained getting off of his bed.
"You have two brothers?"
"Yeah," Merlin paused, "They're both pretty strange, so..."
"Merlin, stop exaggerating." Freya said rolling her eyes as she grabbed her bag and waited for Merlin at the doorway.
Merlin hoped Sherlock and Mycroft would be on their best behavior, but even then there was no guarantee. Merlin led Freya out into the living room.
Sherlock was still hunched over his microscope doing an experiment that had something to do with Merlin's snot. John was sitting on his chair reading the paper and Mycroft was sitting at a table looking as diplomatic as ever.
"Hello Merlin," John began, then he spotted Freya, "Who's this." John asked then stood up to shake Freya's hand.
"Freya, she's a friend from school. She came by to drop off some school work." Merlin pretended not to notice the snort from Sherlock at the word 'friend'.
"Nice to meet you, I'm John. I live with Sherlock and Merlin." John said introducing himself politely and shaking Freya's hand as she smiled softly.
"This is Mycroft, my oldest brother and you already met Sherlock." Merlin explained gesturing to the men in turn. Mycroft nodded but Sherlock didn't acknowledge the fact that there was anybody he didn't already know in the room, but Merlin doubted he didn't already know more about her then Merlin did.
Mycroft stepped forward and shook Freya's hand. "Pleasure to meet you." He said softly. Merlin took one look at Freya's face and almost laughed. She looked terrified and it didn't help that Mycroft was giving that creepy, all-knowing stare. It was like he was looking into her soul and finding out all her secrets. Which -in a way- he was, but Merlin wasn't about to tell Freya that.
"Do you want any tea?" John asked kindly.
"No thanks." Freya said not looking at John, her eyes fixed on Mycroft like if she looked away Mycroft might shoot laser beams into her head to steal her human intelligence. Merlin had been watching way too much Dr. Who. "I should get going. My mum will be getting worried."
Merlin could see how badly Freya wanted to get away from Mycroft and the bad part of it was Merlin could almost sympathize. He quickly guided her out the door and down the stairs so they were standing next to the outside door. It was only until then that Merlin realized they were holding hands. Merlin let go quickly, ready to pretend it had never happened, and Freya let out a breath she didn't know she was holding.
"I should be going." Freya said. She had been trying to leave but now she wanted to stay.
She hugged Merlin, said goodbye, and then left. When Merlin got back upstairs everyone was staring.
The silence was deafening at first, and Mycroft was the first one to break it. "Freya seems like a lovely girl, and I mean no offence when I say this, but I would feel much more comfortable if, while you had her or other female friends here, that you kept your bedroom door open. I hope you understand my concern."
Although Merlin really wanted to say no, (he really didn't understand, but didn't want to have Mycroft explain the whole thing to him) he nodded. "I understand, but Freya's not like that. Not that we're... together or anything. But if we were, which we aren't, Freya wouldn't try anything... like that."
"Merlin, I don't know if you've noticed, but Freya and yourself are teenagers whose minds are compromised by the many hormones that come with being a teenager. If Freya thought you were giving her the right social queues, I doubt there is much she wouldn't have tried." Sherlock said sounding board as he went back to his ever-so-interesting microscope.
"You don't know anything about Freya." The second the words were out of his mouth Merlin knew it was a mistake. John rolled his eyes, Mycroft raised an eyebrow as if to say oh-don't-we-Merlin?, and Sherlock's head shot up from his microscope and stood up from his stool.
"Well I managed to find out quite a bit about your friend Freya. She's well-muscled so she's an athlete. The muscle is evenly distributed throughout her body and she's quite lithe which says she's a swimmer. She's poor, her clothes are worn and a little shabby but neat. So she's trying to hide it, not surprising considering the people she goes to school with. She had food wrapper sticking out of her bag which was from Beetroot which everyone knows is a vegan take-out restaurant. So she's a vegan. She made an effort to get all of it off, but she missed some of the dog hair on her clothes. So she has a black dog, a big one I'd say based on the fact that what little amount of dog hair she had was fairly widespread, but it was all exactly the same color so it all must be from one dog." Sherlock finished listing his deductions with the same smug look as he always did. "Did I miss anything?" Sherlock asked Merlin.
"Yes, you did in fact." Merlin said as he headed towards the room he and Sherlock shared. "The most important parts too I might add."
Merlin laid down on his bed and stared at the ceiling. True, he hadn't known Freya was poor and he wasn't surprised she had never told him, but he knew everything else Sherlock had said. It was also true that Sherlock had missed the most important parts of Freya. Sure Sherlock knew she was a swimmer, but he had no idea just how good she was. Sherlock had no idea how much she loved strawberries or how quirky her sense of humor was. Merlin smiled up at the ceiling thinking of all the things about Freya he knew that Sherlock didn't, of all the moments they shared and conversations that had just been between Freya and him. Things that made Freya special to him.
Merlin hadn't left his room since Freya had left the flat. He could hear Mycroft and Sherlock talking in the living room, probably about him. Not that he cared. They'd be talking about him whether he was in the room with them or not. Anyway Merlin was too busy doing the homework Freya had brought him.
About an hour after Freya had left there was another knock at his bedroom door. Merlin scrambled towards the door knocking over his desk chair in the process.
"Freya!" He said as he flung open the door hoping Freya was going to be on the other side. He was more than a little disappointed to see that it was not Freya, but Arthur. "Arthur?"
Arthur looked behind him as if to check that there was nobody behind him. "Why would Freya be here?" Arthur asked as he stepped into the room. Merlin quickly picked up the chair and gestured for Arthur to sit before sitting on his bed.
"No reason." Merlin tried to brush it off nonchalantly.
"Did she come by earlier?" Arthur asked grinning like a cat cornering a mouse.
"She did, didn't she!" Arthur shouted triumphantly. He pointed at Merlin and almost jumped up from his chair in his excitement.
"It's not a big deal." Merlin was blushing.
"No, of course not. Girls are always coming into your flat, it's not like she made it to your bedroom anyway." Merlin said nothing as he tried to avoid eye contact with Arthur.
"She did! Merlin!" Arthur shouted. "Wait, you guys didn't do anything did you?" He asked looking momentarily disgusted.
"No, we didn't do anything."
"So you admit that she was here."
"It's not important," Merlin said even though it most certainly was. "What happened with the game yesterday?"
"We lost." Arthur answered but he didn't look nearly as disappointed as Merlin would have thought. "I wasn't there, but from what I hear not even Coach Leon's heart was in it. Everyone was pretty worried... from what I heard anyway." Arthur added quickly.
"What about practice today?"
"Coach Leon couldn't think of anything for us to do. Not after everything that happened yesterday. We just had a scrimmage with the girls' football team."
"Morgouse is the captain, right."
"Yeah, she's pretty good... For a girl I mean."
"How did we do?"
"Well we uh..."
"We made a few mistakes. Small ones."
"We lost the game."
Merlin let out a loud laugh, upon seeing the look on Arthur's face he quickly schooled his expression back to something approaching serious. "Did you lose by a lot?"
"Only seven to one." Arthur said quickly as if hoping he would be misheard.
"Only?" Merlin couldn't help himself as he burst out laughing. "I'm sorry, it's just you got beaten by a girl. No, a group of girls. Seven to one and they were all girls!"
"They are a very good team." Arthur tried to reason.
"Are you afraid of her, Morgouse I mean?"
"No!" Arthur answered a little too quickly. "Besides it's not like you're not afraid of Cenred."
"Who isn't afraid of Cenred? He's creepy and he always wears those stupid leather trousers. I'm pretty sure he wears them under his school trousers."
"While that may be true, it still makes you a girl's petticoat."
Before Merlin could come up with a witty retort Sherlock opened the bedroom door. He had his coat and scarf on and that look in his eyes that could only mean one thing: he had a case. "John and I are going out, we probably won't be back for dinner so make something for yourself."
"Thanks for the heads up."
"Oh and Merlin, just a piece of advice, you'd better call Freya today or tomorrow. You know, to tell her your still interested." Sherlock said his last sentence in a mock whisper, for Arthur's benefit no doubt.
"It's alright if Arthur stays, right?" Merlin asked Sherlock before he left the room.
"Yeah, as long as you and Arthur keep it PG." Sherlock did his stupid wink thing that he only did when he wanted people to think he was human.
"Sorry about that. I told you he's strange." Merlin said once he heard John and Sherlock leave the flat.
"Yeah I got that." There was an awkward silence until Arthur noticed something on Merlin's desk. "You have a PS3?"
"Yeah... How did you know?"
Arthur held up the video game called Extreme Fencing he had found on Merlin's desk.
"Yeah that was a gift from my brother's secretary. I mean Anthea." Merlin clarified at the confused look on Arthur's face.
"Want to try it out?" Arthur asked.
They had only been playing Extreme Fencing for about five minutes but both boys already loved the game. Between the cool medieval theme and of course the chance to beat the living daylights out of cyber versions of each other.
"Merlin you're horrible at this. Stop cowering, I can't effectively beat you when you're huddled in a corner like that."
Merlin had to admit he was quite horrible at this game. He usually played the games that challenged his mind and were not just violent. But he had to admit he did like this game. He made a mental note to thank Anthea the next time Mycroft kidnapped him for whatever reason.
It was only after Arthur had killed Merlin's character for the fourth time that they collapsed on the floor laughing at how much Merlin's character looked like George, their over informative football teammate who spent most of his time on the bench with Merlin during games, and the weird grunting noises Arthur's character made whenever he successfully landed a hit.
"When does your dad expect you back?"
"I told him I was going to be hanging out with friends. He doesn't really care when I come back, as long as it's before midnight and I don't come back drunk."
"Oh darn I was really hoping to get plastered tonight." Merlin said sarcastically.
"How much would that take? One glass."
"Hey, not just one."
"Please Merlin, if you took one whiff of a barmaid's apron you'd be singing 'God Save the Queen' with the best of them."
"There's nothing wrong with being patriotic." Merlin reasoned looking a little scandalized.
"You know Merlin my life was boring before you landed yourself on the football team. I still have no idea how you did it, you have to tell me your secret someday."
"It's all part of my charm." Merlin said smiling cheekily.
"Oh charm, is that what that was?"
"Couldn't miss it if you tried, could you."
"Listen, I have a favor to ask of you." Arthur said looking a little nervous.
"You have to keep this a secret, do you understand Merlin? You. Cannot. Tell. Anyone."
"Okay okay, stop acting like a girl. Just tell me already."
"You know Gwen..."
"I knew it!" Then seeing the look an Arthur's face Merlin quickly sobered "Sorry, continue."
"Well I've noticed how close you two have become, friend wise of course. I was just wondering if you could help me, you know..."
"Get with her?" Merlin finished flatly.
"Yeah." Arthur sounded a little bit defeated.
"Sure." Merlin agreed. "Under one condition."
"It's not as though you need any help with girls." Arthur said teasing Merlin.
"Unlike some people I am perfectly capable in that department yes. If I help you with school and Gwen then you need to help me with football."
Arthur looked at Merlin thoughtfully for a few moments then nodded. "Sure, deal." Just as he said it Arthur's phone buzzed. He made a face as he looked at the message. "Sorry it's from my dad, and today he does care when I come home. He has some sort of important guest tomorrow and I need to be ready for them. Sorry, looks like I have to go now." Merlin reached forward to hug him as Arthur reached out to bump fists or to shake hands or something. Arthur stopped abruptly "Whoa. What are you doing?"
"I thought you were going in for a hug."
"I'll see you on Monday." Arthur finished as Merlin showed him to the door.
"Yep and we'll start on Mission Queen Guinevere."
"We're not calling it that."
"Why not? It's a good name!"
"You are so weird."
"Don't insult perfection."
With that Arthur rolled his eyes and left the flat.
Merlin sat on the couch and turned on the telly to watch Dr. Who. Merlin was sure that his future was about to get much brighter. And much more interesting.