Why had no one ever warned him that being a superhero involved so much dodging?!
And ducking, he added mentally, turning thought into action.
When Merlin emerged as Camelot’s magical defender, Arthur Penn’s first article jokingly referred to him as “Superboy,” in irreverent allusion to the American version of the modern epic hero, citing his ability to defy the laws of gravity and to create fire, his most frequently used tricks, as justification. The name had stuck, but reality had apparently missed the memo, because he was not, in fact, invulnerable.
There was one positive aspect to his humanity: it negated nature’s need to invent the magical equivalent to Kryptonite. Instead, the balance of the world was carefully maintained by the many and varied marks marring his once-smooth flesh, received in the many conflicts which were already starting to blur in his memory.
At least he’d never need to go on a diet or join a gym. The workout he went through on a daily basis burned through everything he put in his mouth and then some, leading to the scathing remarks his partner often made in regard to his wiry frame. It’s funny, but Arthur never once complained about his figure when he was in The Suit.
As if on cue, his royal blue cloak caught fire, and he threw it off, sparing a moment to send apologetic thoughts in his mother’s direction. What was that - the fifth cloak ruined this month alone? He decided it would be in his best interests if the rest of his outfit failed to follow this time, sending a spell to freeze The Shadow, a young sorcerer who had turned to dark magic after one too many bullies teased him in school. While Merlin could understand the sentiment, having endured his fair share of teasing when he was still a student, he would never condone turning his fury-driven powers on the innocent and the magicless.
He strode confidently over to the frozen young man. “You should really look into more constructive hobbies, friend. Have you ever considered gardening? The flowers can be quite rude at times, but at least you really can ignore them if you simply walk away.”
A strangled laugh stilled him, raised the hairs on the back of his neck. “Sometimes, Superboy - well. You remind me of someone.”
“Mr. Penn. It’s very dangerous for you to be out here alone. Where is your partner, Mr. Emrys?” He should have known the intrepid (pig-headed!) young reporter was lying when he told his partner he would wait until his return to investigate.
Arthur scoffed at Merlin’s query. “He said he had to go feed his neighbor’s cat. Who leaves in the middle of the workday to go feed some old biddy’s cat?”
Keeping his eyes on The Shadow, Merlin said, “It’s time for you to leave, Mr. Penn.”
“What? Why? May I not at least have a statement first?” Arthur sounded startled, but Merlin had no time for it. The young sorcerer in front of him was beginning to show the first signs of throwing off his freezing spell, and Merlin really would prefer not to have half his attention on Arthur Penn whilst dealing with a misguided reminder of his own inner demons.
“Arthur, go back to the newsroom.” Whether it was the rare use of his first name while in this persona, or the undeniable tone of authority with which it was uttered, Arthur obeyed.
“How do you put up with Muggles like him?” If Merlin ever actually had the opportunity to meet Ms. Rowling, he was going to share a few choice words. It was things like the term, ‘Muggle’ that made relations between the magical and the non-magical so fractious. For now, however, it was time to duck some more, because The Shadow had finally managed to break free.
Heat licked at his sides and, exasperated, he dove into a somersault, taking the time out of the line of fire to put out the flames lining his suit.
Thank goodness his mother was such a forgiving woman.