"Shit, indeed," Freya's voice was stony but not wary. "I didn't call anyone,"
Merlin felt his shoulders relax. He hadn't even realised he had tensed them.
"But I think I should," Freya continued. Merlin bit his lip and clenched his fist. He forced his other hand on Lance's shoulder to stay relaxed, he didn't want to scare the boy. "His boy needs to be in a home. In school. Playing with other kids his age and living his life without -"
"Please don't let the smug's take me Mister Merlin!" Lance's frightened screech cut over Freya's words. "Please Mister! Please!"
Merlin crouched to the boys level again and shushed him. "It's alright Lancy, I wont let them take you. It's alright," Lancy just whimpered and buried himself in Merlin's arms. Thinking fast, Merlin considered all possible escape routes. He could grab his pack and lance and just leg it. Idiot, Merlin thought, you cant 'leg it' anywhere the way you are. What was he going to do? A small surge of panic was starting to wallow up from the pit of his stomach. You shouldn't have told Freya about Lance, you idiot. You should have just left the hospital and found him yourself. Absolute fucker that you are.
The small noise of thoughtfulness from Freya cut Merlin's thoughts from spiralling out of control. Snapping his head round to where he thought she was, he growled out, "He isn't going anywhere. He's staying with me. You don't know anything about him. Just leave us alone,"
"But Merlin, he needs to be in a bed every night! He needs -"
"I know what he needs!"
Freya took a quick step back as the scrawny blind man rose to his feet and fixed a black glare straight at her. Her heart pounded in her heart as his sightless eyes didn't waver from her's. How did he know where she was?
"I know what he needs," Merlin repeated, quietly, almost gentle. "He needs everything you says he does. Food, a bed, an education and so much more. I am not selfish, I want these things for him. But cant you hear him?" Merlin paused. Lance was whimpering still. His soft sobs were pitiful. "And you can see him," Merlin was frowning now. His eyes drifting away from Freya's face. Freya looked down at Lance. He was clutching on to Merlin's hand like a vice. His red rimmed eyes were huge and watery. Tears making tracks in the dirt on his face. Snot was dripping from his nose but the boy dared not move to wipe it away. He seemed to be trapped in a paralysing fear. "Taking Lancy back to any place like that will only terrify him. I look after him. I teach him what I know. I make sure he's fed. We know all the safe places to sleep. He's happy like this. And if the day comes when he isn't, then I'll help him off the streets. I will. That's a promise,"
Freya opened her mouth to speak, planning to argue, then stopped. She glanced down at Lance again. He was watching her, eyes fixed on her every move. He was still crying but his whimpering was fading quickly. Not because he was calming down but because his scrawny frame was freezing. He truly was terrified. She briefly wondered what had happened to the boy. Wild and dreadful things passed through her mind as she imagined. This boy had gone through hell.
With difficulty, she finally found something to say. "Merlin, I..." she paused, considering the consequences of what she was saying. Then forced the words out, "I believe you. But he can not go on living in the streets," She quickly continued, cutting over Merlin's no-doubt explosive reply, "Nor can you!"
It was Merlin's turn to open his mouth then shut it again. Freya watched as the colour rose in his face. He was trying to force his rage into a controllable substance. His desperate attempt to keep from scaring Lance more. Freya saw her opportunity and kept talking. "If you got yourself off the streets, then Lance can go with you. Obviously, he's attached to you. So, why doesn't he live with you. Of course, there will be legal issues. Adoption, being one. I don't see why that cant be possible. If you could just -"
"I can't," Merlin cut over her stiffly, forcing the words out from between his teeth.
She blinked in surprise, "Why not?"
Merlin said nothing. All his previous rage had bubbled away into nothing. He looked lost, causing Freya - who had become used to seeing this man rage and scorn - to be slightly alarmed. Obviously, he didn't want to let her know anything. His sightless eyes lie fixed on the floor he couldn't see and his body stood weak and flimsy.
"Maybe, its best we don't talk about this anymore tonight," she murmured.
Merlin nodded. "Lance cant stay here tonight, can he?"
"No," Freya said slowly. She had hoped to take the boy to a home straight after seeing Merlin. But she saw it wasn't going to be that easy. "I'll take him home with me, if he's okay with that?" She met gazes with Lance, who hadn't moved from his stance of fear. "Lance? I don't mean to take you to a home, I promise. Just spend the night at my place. Lance?"
The boy didn't move a muscle. His eyes were fixed on her face but nothing seemed to register. His blank expression underlined with terror.
Merlin had felt the boy freeze up. The boys body going rigid under his hand. Merlin frowned and listened to the boys breathing. It was short and quick, not quiet panicked yet. The boy stank of garbage and the slight scent of urine. The old plastic smell of his jacket made his nose twitch. The plastic under his hand was cold and damp. But the faint warmth of the boys body was seeping through. The childs body warming up quickly from the frantically beating heart in that small chest.
"Lancey?" Merlin crouched down to the boys level again. His hand on the boys shoulder to guide him and placing his other hand on Lance's other shoulder. Turning the boy to face him. Or he hoped the boy faced him. Merlin stamped down the sudden surge of angry at his eyes and forced himself to focus on the terrified boy in front of him. "Lancey," Merlin waited. He felt the boy shift under his hands and take a deeper breath. A small choking sob tried to escape his throat before Merlin heard him swallow.
"Yes, mister?" Lance squeaked.
"You're met Freya," Merlin paused, listening to the boy grunt. He shifted under his hands again and Merlin felt the muscles in the boys shoulders flex as he seemed to glance over at Freya and back at Merlin. Merlin grunted back and continued, "I trust her. And when I trust someone, you know they'll look after you, don't you?"
Merlin felt the boy half-way nod before he stopped and choked out a feeble reply, "But you never trust anyone, Mister Merlin,"
Merlin snorted. The bubble of laughter making Lance jerk under his hands before the boy relaxed and giggled uncertainly. "That might be true," Merlin laughed, then his voice became serious, "So you know that she..." he trailed off. His eyes straining to hear her there. Shuffling her feet in a restless manner and then stilling. She must realise he's 'watching' her. He placed his lips in a tight line before continuing, directing his next words to her, "She's worth being trusted. Because she knows I need her to look after you. To keep you safe and to make sure you are not harmed,"
"Of course," Freya said. Merlin was relieved to hear the genuine sincerity in her voice.
Lance breathed a sigh before saying, "Okay. But we'll come see Mister Merlin tomorrow, yeah?!" The last word was panicked.
"Of course," Freya said again. "I'm working tomorrow. I can drop you off here in the morning and you can stay with Merlin all day,"
Merlin's hands were still on the boys shoulders as he felt the small body relax almost completely. Merlin had to bite his lip and turn his face away as the sudden and surprising sting of tears caught in his eyes. Lance had so much faith in him. It was almost too much to bare. Controlling himself quickly, with a inward growl at himself for being a weakling, Merlin smiled and said "I'll be seeing you tomorrow than, Lancey. Its getting late, you need to get yourself to bed,"
"Okay, Mister," Lance agreed. Merlin almost laughed as he heard Lance start to yawn before clapping his mouth shut with a click of teeth. Merlin let go of the boys shoulders and rose. Nodding in Freya's direction, Merlin gave her permission to take him.
Freya took a deep breath before saying cheerily, "Come on then, Lance. Have you ever been on the train before? We have to take the tube to my home,"
Lance hummed uncertainly. But Merlin was glad to hear his little footsteps go towards Freya and the door she just swished open. Although, he went cautiously.
"You'll be fine, Lancey," Merlin called after them. "I'll be right here waiting for you in the morning. Don't worry,"
"See you, Mister," Lance's small voice came from outside the door.
Then the door clicked shut.
AN: Oh god. Hi...
I'm really sorry for my pathetic attempt at this story. I cant promise that updates will be a regular occurrence, I just don't have time to write. I'm sorry. But I do have an idea of where I'm going with this now (literally just from writing the last half of this chapter). I'm putting down notes so I don't forget. And I'm sorting out a kind of system.
While I'm here I'll just mention that if I'm reading any of YOUR stories, I don't think I can get round to them any time soon either. Which is a shame because everything I follow and favourite is AMAZING! I will get there eventually, but theres just so much. Bare with me.
So, I hope you've all enjoyed this chapter. And I hope that you can actually remember whats happened in the story so far! :/ If not, you can always re-read. ^_^ Hehe... sorry.
See you when I see you! :) xxxx