And if your plane fell out of the skies, who would you call with your last goodbye?
We do our best to say our last goodbye. But when there is no one to say goodbye too what do you do then? Sit and wait for the end to come or do you reach out to a stranger and pretend that for one moment before the end you have someone to say goodbye too.
Arthur was on the worst date imaginable. Not only was his date, Sophia, insane but his evil step sister and his ‘friends’ were on the other side of the restaurant laughing at him, instead of saving him from his doom.
If Morgana didn’t call him soon with her fake story of distress that only he could recuse her from than Arthur may have to go to drastic measures sneak out the bathroom window, after paying for dinner of course, he is a gentleman after all.
Sophia was blahing on about how she wanted to get into some school, Avalon? Because her father had gone but they had wouldn’t let her in because her father had cheated or something. Arthur had given up on staring at his friends and trying to ‘puppy dog eyes’ his way out of this date so instead he just stared at his phone praying for it to ring.
When suddenly it did.
Arthur nearly fell out of his chair in shock and relief; that he barely noticed that the number that appeared on his screen was not that of any of his friends.
“Hello?! Morgana?” Arthur could hear crushing and something close to screaming in the background before it was cut off with the sound of a door closing.
“Sorry, not Morgana? Merlin, though it does start with an ‘M’.” there was a nervous laugh at the end of the sentence, Arthur let it pass that he could tell the voice sounded nervous over the phone when he couldn’t do that face to face with any of his friends.
“Merlin? Who are you? And how did you get my number?” Arthur was starting to think this was a joke, a prank call that Morgana no doubt orchestrated.
“Yeah Merlin, Merlin Emrys. I’m… I don’t really know how to answer that one. I’m a uni student or I was or soon I won’t be? I don’t know. As for your number I just pressed a bunch of numbers.”
“Why?” Arthur was sure this was a prank call but he didn’t want to hang up on this boy even if it did mean being forced to listen to Morgana brag about how she ‘got’ him, as long as he met the boy at the end of it.
“To say goodbye.” It was a simple statement but it seemed to leave Arthur gasping for air. In that moment Arthur’s world slowed down, the people around him slowed in their movements and their speech came out barely audible sounds. Arthur watched as a pair of twins catapulted peas into their grandfather’s soup with their spoons. He watched as Sophia ordered another bottle of wine, 1976 a good choice for someone who was suppose to be living out of a box as she had informed him at the start of the date. But as Arthur’s world slowed, it seemed Merlin’s sped up. The crushing and screaming that had been blocked by a door seemed to become louder and to be followed closely by banging, very loud banging.
“Sorry. I dropped the phone. Kinda hard to stand still at the moment.” The nervous laugh was back.
“Where are you?” Arthur had every intention of driving to wherever this boy, Merlin, was and saving him from those god awful noises.
“I’m on the 6:25pm red eye to London from Paris.”
“You’re on a plane? You’re not meant to be on the phone while on a plane! It throws off the…” Arthur broke off mid sentence because he didn’t know why phones weren’t allowed to be on while on a plane, just that they weren’t.
“What? Throw off the magnetic field? I think the blown engine already did that.” It wasn’t spoken in jest or in panic-y fear it was just simple fact. And it’s what scared Arthur the most. Panic-y fear he could talk through. In jest, he could hang up and know it was just a prank call. But calm, rational simple fact he could not deal with. This boy, Merlin, must have picked up on this.
“It’s alright you know. You can hang up if you want, I’ll just push random buttons again.”
“What do you mean ‘it’s alright’?! I can’t just hang up. If this is for real then I need to find someone to fix the plane!”
“Well that’s very honorable of you but air control or whatever, the people at the airport they already know. They said we have half-hour before we crush into the river Thames and well I’ve been talking to you for eighteen minutes.” Merlin’s voice went smaller as he must have moved the phone from his mouth to check the minutes.
“Eighteen minutes? That can’t be right it’s been less than that, surely?” Arthur checked his own phone for the time and it was in white eighteen minutes. As Arthur brought the phone back to his ear he thought he heard the word ‘prat’ but was probably mistaken.
“How are you so calm?” Arthur wasn’t on the plane and he was freaking out more than Merlin.
“I don’t know. I guess I’ve accepted it already. We all die someday, today just happens to be mine. Look the lady next to me demanded that I tell my love ones goodbye, and I didn’t have the heart to tell her I don’t have anyone so I pretended to dial a number and well you answered. So I guess you get to be my loved one for twenty-eight minutes.”
“Why only twenty-eight minutes?” Arthur knew this want the important part but he didn’t want Merlin to go.
“Because I feel bad about leaving the old lady by herself! You’re not focusing! I’m trying to say goodbye to you and your being a selfish prat!”
“Arthur! Are you even listening to me? Oh my god you’re on the phone? Arthur we are on a date and you’re on the phone! You’re such a selfish prat!” Sophia threw her glass of 1976 wine in Arthur’s face and stormed out of the restaurant. Arthur could hear the mutterings of nearby tables and the laughter of his friends across the room, but above all that he heard the intake of breathe next to his ear, Merlin could obviously hear what had happened.
“Oh god! You were on a date? I’m sorry. You should have just hung up or not answered. Why did you answer?”
“Shut up idiot! If I had wanted to be on this date I wouldn’t have answered. I thought you were my step sister saving me from this insane date. Besides I think considering the circumstances, you are far more important than the crazy that is Sophia!” Arthur could see Morgana, Gwen, Lance and Leon making their way over towards him from their table. Lance and Gwen were holding hands and smiling fondly at each other. Leon had tears in his eyes but a smile was lighting up his face, so they were from laughing no doubt. Morgana however seemed to be the only one who had noticed that Arthur had not moved or stopped speaking into his phone.
“Sophia, is a crazy person name, surely you knew that? As is Vivian, so you should watch out for that one too. Your step sister, Morgana right? That’s what you called me when you answered. And you’re Arthur. Funny Merlin and Arthur.”
“Arthur and Merlin.” Arthur corrected without much thought.
“Yeah I can tell you wouldn’t have let anyone tease me about my name if we had met before. We would have been best friends, I’m sure of it. Perhaps in another life and another time. Thank you Arthur. For answering your phone. For forgetting your date. For not hanging up. For being my loved one, for twenty-nine minutes so I could say good bye and pretend like someone cared.”
“I do care. Merlin? Merlin!” But the line was dead and when Arthur at his phone the time read thirty minutes and twenty-two seconds. Arthur could feel tears in his eyes and from laughing like Leon. Real red hot burning tears. His vision blurred as he stared at his phone, praying that it would ring again and Merlin would say sorry for lying and he didn’t mean to take it so far, it was just a joke and did he want to get a coffee so Merlin could make up for it? But it didn’t happen. Instead Arthur sat staring at his phone thinking about a face-less boy named Merlin and how yes they would have been best friends if only they had met before.
Arthur’s friends sat around him not noticing his tears and his lack of response.
“Who were you talking to?” Morgana’s question cut through the haze of Arthur’s mind, just like it did when he got in his ‘my mum died because of me’ moods and no one else noticed.
“Merlin.” Arthur looked up and was caught in Morgana’s green eyes and she held him there.
“Who’s Merlin?” Leon was the one who asked but Morgana was the one Arthur answered.
“I don’t know. A uni student or he was or now he won’t be? I don’t know.” Arthur repeated the words Merlin used earlier for his same question.
“Merlin’s a strange name isn’t it?” Gwen piped up next.
“No! Merlin is a great name.” Arthur almost growled out then bit the inside of his mouth at the look Morgana gave him.
“Sorry Gwen.” He didn’t look at Gwen as he spoke but from the small smile that graced Morgana’s face he knew he was forgiven.
“Merlin? Oh that’s just who we need. Then we could reopen Castle Camelot again!” Lance laughed good naturedly as he slapped his hand against Arthur’s left shoulder.
Arthur remembered Castle Camelot quite well. It was a tree house that he and Lance named Castle Camelot, where he was ‘King Arthur’ and Lance was his loyal knight ‘Sir Lancelot’. Then Leon had joined the ranks and was knighted by Arthur’s plastic light saber Excalibur, that he had won in a ‘Star Wars’ Jedi competition. The Morgana had come along and demanded that she and Gwen be allowed to play as well. Morgana declared herself queen of the druid and Gwen had become Arthur’s Queen, even though Arthur thought girls were gross, but it went with the theme.
When they were thirteen Arthur had the door to Castle Camelot nailed shut and informed the others that could never go back into Castle Camelot because it was under a curse and only the great and mighty warlock Merlin could break the terrible curse. And no, Morgana could not try using her druid powers, he was King and they would wait for Merlin!
Arthur smiled at the memory, mostly because after that Gwen had said that perhaps they shouldn’t be married anymore and just be friends. Arthur had been more than okay with it because he still thought girls were gross.
“Where did you meet this Merlin?”
“And how soon before we can ask him to break the curse without sounding weird?” Lance and Leon laughed at Lance’s question and Morgana merely raised her eyebrow in waiting for her question to be answered.
“I think he would have liked Castle Camelot and would have broken the curse without a second thought.” Arthur didn’t know if what he was say had any truth to it but it felt like it was. Besides who was going to pull him up on his words, no one here knew Merlin nor would they.
Merlin was dead and it broke Arthur’s heart to think he’d never get to know his face-less warlock.
The news about the plane crushing into the river Thames was limited. Something about the pilot and co-pilot being very brave and noble for giving their lives to try and save not just the passengers on the plane but also the people of London.
Uther, Arthur’s father, had been furious at how the situation had been handled and
Was demanding to know why it had happened in the first place. It was all part of Uther’s job, but Arthur couldn’t help but feel a surge of pride shoot through him when Uther rages about the injustices of it all at the dinner table, because Arthur likes to pretend that it isn’t because of Uther’s job but because Arthur’s friend Merlin was on the plane. It’s the only time Arthur has ever seen Morgana and Uther agree on anything.
Morgana was just as determined to help in the after math, volunteering at the hospital during the day with Gwen and going over Uther’s statements at night. Leon and Lance helped at the hospital too but they joined the search and recuse when it was released that not everyone on the plane was accounted for and a young woman, Freya, was recused two days after the crush. Arthur couldn’t bring himself to leave his room, much less leave the house and be of any help to anyone. Morgana often came and sat with him in his room but she never spoke, which Arthur thought was worse than when she glared and commanding he listen to her. No one asked about the boy Merlin, who had saved Arthur from the evil, insane Sophia. And Arthur had taken to calling Merlin ‘his warlock’ in his head because it hurt to think his name.
At four in the morning, Arthur received a call from an over-excited Gwen insisting that Arthur need to come to the hospital now, only to realize what she had said and apologizing for being rude and he didn’t have to come right now, only if he wasn’t doing anything but of course he wasn’t doing anything it was four in the morning but that doesn’t mean he can’t be doing something because she was… Arthur had just hung up at this point and pulled on pants and shoes. As Arthur pulled on his t-shirt he text Morgana that he was on his way and to tell Gwen she didn’t need to be sorry.
Arthur wasn’t sure why he was at the hospital, the only reason he could think of was because Gwen had called and asked and she may be Lance’s girlfriend but she would always be his ‘Queen’.
It was on the second floor that Arthur found Gwen, Lance and Leon. Gwen was handing the two boys blankets, they looked soaked to the bone. Leon noticed him first.
“So his highness has finally left his chambers?” Leon leaned forward in a mock bow then laughed and ruffled Arthur’s hair. Arthur hated being shorter than both his ‘knights’.
“Why are you so wet?” Arthur edged away from Leon, who was trying to hug him.
“Because we thought it would be fun to go swimming in the Thames just before dawn. Why do you think we’re wet?” Lance rolled his eyes as Leon got hold of Arthur and was attempting to use him as a towel.
“Oh really can you two not go anywhere without acting like twelve year olds?!” Arthur turned to see Morgana standing in the doorway of a room with her hands on hips. Her hair was pulled back off her face and tied in a knot at the side of her neck. Arthur could just see behind her into the room but as far as he could see the room was empty.
“Oh and can you not go anywhere without turning into the ‘fun police’? You used to be fun.” Arthur adopted the same pose as Morgana and tried to win their age old staring competition. He would have won too if he hadn’t be interrupted by a loud crushing noise.
“I’m sorry. I’m fine. No really Dr. Gaius, I fine.” Arthur heard the voice before he turned. Arthur’s positive he knows the voice. Turning to look in the direction he had come in from, the first thing Arthur noticed was the older man in the white coat signifying him as a doctor, helping up someone with a mop of black hair. A table cart lay on its next to the boy, he tried to put it right as he rose but just ended up back on the ground.
“Really Gaius, I was like this before, it’s not anything new.” The boy was still talking as he turned towards Arthur and his friends. The boy didn’t notice them but Arthur was too absorbed in studying him to care. Along with the mop of dark hair, the boy also had large ears and striking cheekbones. He was taller than Arthur, much to Arthur’s distaste; really did everyone have to be taller than him!
“Hmm it would seem your friends are still here.” Dr. Gaius pointed towards Arthur and his friends; it was only with this that the boy finally took notice of them all.
“Morgana! Gwen! You’re still here? Oh Lance and Leon!”
“Of course we are.” Gwen smiled sweetly at him and Lance nodded his head.
“Yes we wanted you to meet our other friend. That is my step brother, Arthur.” Morgana just pointed towards him and waited.
“Hello.” Arthur was nervous; his palms were sweaty, he couldn’t remember the last time he was nervous.
“Arthur?” the boy looked from Arthur to Morgana and back again. Arthur tried to smile at him. It must have come off better than he thought because the boy’s face broke into a grin so big the Cheshire cat would be jealous. Then his arms were around Arthur’s neck and Arthur could feel the same grin against his neck. Arthur's not sure who moved in first but truthfully he didn’t care.
“If it’s alright with you I’m going to take that goodbye back, okay?”
“Yes that would be nice, Merlin.” Arthur’s heart put itself back together when he said Merlin’s name.
“Sorry I ruined your date.” Merlin pulled away from Arthur’s neck but couldn’t step back because Arthur’s arms had somehow wrapped themselves around Merlin’s waist.
“It’s okay, girls are kind of gross.