Part 29: link
Gwen sets her पर्स down on the table, sighing, happy with the results of her lunch meeting. Arthur is going to be so surprised. I can’t wait to tell him.
A pounding at her door startles her, and she looks up at it, blinking.
“Guinevere!” Arthur’s voice from the other side, shouting.
Quickly she stuffs the folder containing the drawings and Polaroids into a रसोई, रसोईघर drawer and walks to the door.
He’s pounding again when she gets there. Why isn’t he just knocking like a normal person? And since when does he even knock anymore?
“Arthur,” she says, opening the door, smiling at him.
He pushes past her, into the flat. “Where is he?”
She frowns. “Where is whom?”
“That man,” he says, storming across her flat to her bedroom. She follows, watching in shock as he looks under her बिस्तर before stomping back out to look in the bathroom, whipping back the शावर, शॉवर curtain.
“Arthur, there is no man here.”
He stops. “And what am I?” he says sarcastically, opening a hallway closet before heading for the kitchen.
She puts her hands on her hips, angry now. “From your current behavior, I’d say a child.”
“Who is he?”
“Arthur, stop,” she says, bracing her hands against his chest as he storms back out, his eyes still darting around her flat. “What are आप talking about?”
“Who was that wank
आप were having lunch with?” he demands, pushing her hands away.
She stares. How did he know I was having lunch with someone?
“Did आप follow me?”
“Yes. Who is he?” He crosses his arms over his chest and glares at her, his eyes stormy.
She lets out an exasperated breath and walks away from him. “He’s a friend,” she says. “Why did आप follow me?”
“A friend? आप were sitting awfully
close to your ‘friend,’ sharing secrets, your little heads bent together conspiratorially.”
“Yes. He’s a friend. Okay, we dated a hundred and fifty years ago, but that is ancient history and we are friends.
That’s it.” I notice he didn’t answer my question.
“Yeah, ‘friends,’ right. आप expect me to believe that?” he says crossly.
“I expect आप to believe what I’m telling you, yes,” she says, trying not to raise her voice, her hands on her hips again. “Don’t go jumping to conclusions before आप know—”
“I know what I saw!” he yells, waving his arms.
Gwen opens her mouth to keep arguing, but closes it decisively instead, making her teeth click together almost painfully. She stalks past him to the front door, hot painful tears pricking her eyes as she opens the door. “Get out.”
“What?” He is stunned.
“You are in no frame of mind to listen to any logic, to anything I have to say. So get out.” She points out the door.
“But…” he stammers.
“Go. When आप can discuss this like a rational adult, आप can call me, and I’ll think
about talking to you.” Her voice breaks as she struggles to control herself. I will not cry. Not until after he’s gone.
” She squeezer her eyes shut now, pointing.
“Fine. I hope you’ll be happy with that tosser,” he says, stomping past her.
“And I hope you’ll be happy with yourself,” she says quietly, sadly, as he passes her.
He pauses beside her and looks down at her. She opens her eyes and sees the pain and the hurt behind the anger in his eyes, but she does not bend, holding his gaze, her own eyes glassy, welling with tears she stubbornly holds.
Arthur walks out the door and she closes it quietly behind him, leaning on it, sliding to the floor, finally letting the tears fall.
She hears the crinkle of paper and the crunch of his teeth as he crunches down on a नींबू drop just outside her door. I hope his teeth rot out of his head,
she thinks. No… I don’t,
she amends, dropping her head to her knees, tears flowing freely, running down her legs as she sobs.
“What’s she doing?” Arthur asks Merlin, out in their प्रिय abandoned storefront the अगला afternoon. The दिन has been ridiculously slow again, and the lads have packed it in early. And Arthur has been dreading this time of day, the time when he used to enjoy watching Gwen walk past on her way घर from work.
“She’s reached the corner. She’s stopped. Why are आप hiding?”
“And?” He ignores Merlin’s question.
“She looks like she’s trying to decide what to do.”
“There could be cars she’s waiting on,” Leon suggests.
“No cars,” Merlin answers, unthinkingly.
Leon shoves his shoulder.
“Oh. Sorry,” he says vaguely. “She’s turning. Going a block up, I’d wager.”
“So she’s going out of her way to avoid me, then,” Arthur says simply.
“And now we know why you’ve been अभिनय a complete and royal arse all day,” Gwaine declares. “They had a fight. I’m guessing it was at lunch yesterday.” He looks at Arthur. “Must have been a big one, too.”
Merlin turns back to Arthur, his eyes narrowed knowingly. “Drag. What did आप do? And why am I just now finding out about this? Oh, right, because आप prefer to wallow in your misery in solitude, I forgot.” He rolls his eyes.
“I didn’t do anything!” Arthur yells, throwing his hands up.
“Yeah, right, mate,” Gwaine pipes up, blowing a puff of smoke at him before passing the cigarette to Ox, who just wandered up, sweaty and tired. He pushes Gwaine’s hand away, having vowed to quit since starting his training.
Arthur waves the nicotine बादल away. “I caught her having lunch with another bloke.”
“Is that all?” Merlin asks. “Mate, it’s just a lunch. Was she giving him head under the table?”
“Did she किस him?”
“She hugs everybody. Even Gwaine,” Merlin says. “So what’s the big bloody deal?”
“They were… just… really friendly.
“And आप don’t know who he was?
“Of course not.”
“Maybe he’s a relative,” Ox suggests helpfully.
“Or business lunch. Could be that Marcus Ryan idiot,” Leon suggests.
Arthur turns. “No, neither of those. I know that much. She told me they used
to date.” He snorts. “Yeah, right.”
“And how, exactly, did आप ‘catch’ her having this scandalous lunch?” Merlin prods.
“Arthur.” Merlin only uses his real name when he has reached the end of his tether with his best friend.
“I followed her.”
“Oof, आप are such
an idiot!” Leon says crossly, throwing his hands up and turning away, exasperated.
“What?” Arthur protests.
“How many birds do आप have to alienate before आप learn to stop being so possessive and jealous?” Merlin asks, raising his voice.
“What do आप mean?”
“Sophia. Elana. Vivian,” Merlin says simply.
“Well, be fair, Vivian was
all sixes and sevens,” Gwaine says.
“Okay, he can have that one, she was a total nutter,” Merlin allows. “Did आप give her a chance to explain? And did आप actually listen?
“Guinevere?” Arthur asks.
“No, Vivian! Of course
“Not really. She started to try, but I…”
“You were too busy being angry and jealous,” Leon supplies. “Fuck this. I’m going home. To Phil. My girlfriend.
Who I love
Because that’s what आप do,
” he adds, just to further twist the knife. He strides down the sidewalk, heading back to the pub.
Arthur is silent, Leon’s words stabbing him. He turns away and looks down the street, at the corner where Merlin spotted her. He imagines the बकाइन scent of her hair has traveled on the breeze, reaching his nose.
“You’re a jerk, do आप know that?” Gwaine asks.
Arthur wheels on them. “What, so आप lot are on her side?”
“Yes,” Gwaine जवाब immediately, nodding as though it is an obvious fact. “In fact, you’re lucky I haven’t punched आप yet, mate.”
Merlin puts his hand on Arthur’s shoulder. “Drag. All we’re saying is that for someone who constantly rails against people judging things द्वारा their appearances, you’re being a gigantic hypocrite.”
“Humongous,” Gwaine adds.
“We like Gwen,” Ox says. “She’s good for you, and for some unfathomable reason, she seems to really like you. Even maybe प्यार you.”
“You need to apologize and make things right with her,” Merlin tells him, staring levelly at him.
“I need to go,” Arthur says, striding away from his friends, head bent and his hands shoved in his pockets as he heads toward the alley and his motorcycle.
“Oh yeah, and thanks for making things awkward for me, आप fucking tosser,” Merlin calls after him.
Arthur spins around, his face stony. “What the fuck has this got to do with you?”
“She’s my bloody editor,
Drag. So thanks a lot, Shitbrain.”
Arthur rolls his eyes and storms away.
“Artists,” Gwaine says, rolling his eyes.
“Speaking of hypocrites,” Merlin says, turning to him and snatching the cigarette from his fingers and taking a long pull from it.
“Hey, I’m not as bad as he is!” Gwaine protests, removing the fag from Merlin’s fingers and pounding him on the back while he coughs and sputters, doubled over.
“That’s because you’re not as good
as he is,” Merlin chokes, and Ox laughs.
Gwaine glowers and shoves Merlin. “And आप don’t even smoke, आप twat.” They’re right. I’m a jerk. An idiot. She was the best thing in my life. The best thing ever. And now she probably thinks I’m a giant pillock and will never speak to me again.
He paces the floor of his flat, kicking empty bottles left from the पूर्व night’s solo debauchery. The brown empties spin on the floor as he kicks them angrily out of his path.
Iggy meows loudly, bashing his great नारंगी, ऑरेंज skull against Arthur’s shin. “Piss off,” he nudges the cat, shoving him gently with his boot. Iggy turns his back, flips his tail up and strides imperiously away: the cat equivalent of fuck you.
“You too, huh?” Arthur mutters, frowning at the cat as he hops into the windowsill to watch the insects या whatever it is he does up there.
Arthur flops back on the couch, grabbing a half-empty bag of stale crisps that he had abandoned last night when he passed out face-down on the sofa, pissed out of his skull. He slams his feet on the coffee table, knocking over a half-empty bottle in the process. It spills its flat contents on the table, and Arthur watches as the lukewarm lager runs along the मेज का ऊपरी हिस्सा, तालिका के शीर्ष पर and drips to the floor, soaking into the carpet. Mindlessly he grabs a handful of crisps as he stares at the blank screen of the telly.
He leans his head back and closes his eyes, groaning. No good. Her face is in my head. Her laughter is in my ears.
His hands twitch. Her skin is under my fingers.
He stands and goes to his massive stereo, puts a record on and blasts it. That should at least keep her voice away.
He hears pounding over his head as his upstairs neighbor registers his complaint.
“Piss off!” he yells at the ceiling, throwing a football up to bang into the ceiling before he slumps back down on the couch, hands absently reaching for his sketch pad.
He stares at the empty sheet in front of him, touches the pencil to the page, and makes one line before throwing the pencil across the room, where it leaves a mark on a lampshade before clattering to the floor. Why does it hurt so bloody much this time? It’s not like I haven’t been shown the door before. I feel like my दिल has been ripped from my body and stomped on.
He glances over at the phone, sitting on the side table, staring at him in an almost accusatory fashion. Call her. Call her now and apologize.
Arthur slowly reaches for the phone, his hand hovering an inch from the handset before he drops it and walks away, a string of curses falling from his lips. She probably doesn’t want to talk to me. What I did was unforgivable. She’s never been anything but good, honest, and trustworthy. 100 percent. Helped Ox, helped Merlin. Helped me.
Hell, if Phil hadn’t broken her leg, Guinevere probably would have brought her and Leon together.
He slumps back down on the सोफ़ा, सोफे again, angrily pulling at the laces of his boots. She loved me despite my shortcomings. My problems with my father. Defended me to her own father, even.
She gave me what I’ve been craving my whole life. The only other person to दिखाना me that level of unconditional प्यार is my sister. Damn you, Uther.
You can’t blame everything on your father.
Piss off, conscience. If he had taught me how to deal with my feelings, I…
He doesn’t know how himself. He can’t teach what he doesn’t know.
He didn’t even try.
She was helping आप figure that out. She keeps आप sane. Makes आप a better man.
Guinevere understood me. At least I thought she did.
He throws his boot. It knocks the already-abused lamp over and it crashes to the floor, shattered. For good measure, he throws the other boot at it as well, lobbing it to the floor to land on the broken pieces of lamp. Good. Now my heart’s not the only broken thing in here.
Sudden silence surrounds him as the needle has reached the end of the record. It retracts automatically, returning to its holder as Arthur reaches over and picks up the sketchpad again. He stares at it, puts it down, and picks up the phone before he can chicken out again.
He dials the number without even looking at the phone. It rings three times.
“Hello?” She sounds so sad. Disappointed. Disappointed in me.
“Hello?” she repeats.
He hangs up.
“Fuck!” he swears loudly, rubbing his face in his hands, now thoroughly disgusted with himself. No balls to even talk to her. I’m a coward. A jealous coward. A jealous coward who is throwing away the most wonderful girl in the world. With both hands.
What the fuck is
wrong with me?
Arthur stalks over and retrieves his pencil, mindless of the broken lamp. He steps on a shard and it stabs his foot. He actually welcomes the distraction from this new pain, a pain he can understand, stomping on the injured foot as he walks back to the couch.
He puts the pencil to the page and begins to draw, his hand working without his mind interfering. The lads are all mad at me. Freya’s going to kill me. Oh, God, Phil is going to verbally abuse me, torture me and then almost kill me, only leaving me alive so I can suffer more.
What’s different? Why can’t I handle this one? Why am I so angry with myself, so empty, so hurt? It
hurts. So much.
He glances at his foot, watching as a red patch starts growing on his मौज़ा, जुर्राब where he stepped on the broken lamp. Because आप प्यार her, that’s why. आप didn’t प्यार the others. And deep down, आप know you’re wrong.
He lifts his pencil, and Guinevere’s face is staring at him from the page.
“Look, I’m sorry,
Lance,” Gwen apologizes again. “I know आप were all excited about this, but, oh, I don’t know, I guess put the plans on hold.”
“No. We’re going to scrap them. I suddenly don’t like this guy. I don’t care how good he is, if he’s going to be an asshole, then…”
Gwen sighs, cutting him off. “Lancelot…”
“I’m sorry, Gwen…”
“Just hang on to them. Tell आप what. Give me a week. If he doesn’t come crawling back to me begging my forgiveness द्वारा this time अगला week, then
आप can scrap them.”
“Gwennie, why? Why bother giving this jerk a window of opportunity when it’s clear he’s a… a shitbag?”
“Lance, he’s not a shitbag. Honestly, आप spent too much time in America, you’ve got the most colorful vocabulary now.”
“Not a compliment. Arthur is just… complicated. Normally he falls all over himself to make me happy. I knew he was protective, but I guess I didn’t realize that he was quite this
possessive. But he deserves this opportunity, Lance. I can’t explain why; I don’t have the time या the energy right now. Just trust me. He’s a good man, really.”
“I don’t know…” he hesitates, hating the sound of the pain in her voice.
“One week, Lance. And he
must come to me.
I promise I will not seek him out.”
“Okay. But still: why?”
“Because I प्यार him, that’s why.”
Gwen hangs up the phone, reaches for yet another tissue, and flops down onto her bed, pressing the tissue to her eyes. Freya, आप picked a hell of a time to go to Venice.
Arthur angrily tears the page from his sketchpad and tosses it on the तालिका, टेबल with the others. No matter what I try to do, it always turns into Guinevere.
His eyes rove over the scattered pages. Her प्रोफ़ाइल here, her eyes there. Her lips, her hair, her face. Her bare back, surrounded द्वारा rumpled sheets. Her hand draped over the back of a chair. Her legs, tapering down to her lovely small feet. She’s all over his table, on his walls.
It’s been four days. Arthur hasn’t left his flat, calling in sick to work every day, listening to Gwaine roll his eyes on the other end of the line. His flat is cluttered and smelly, and so is he. He hasn’t showered, hasn’t shaved. He’s been living on lager, crisps, and lots of candy.
And drawing. Drawing, drawing. And painting a bit, covering the few portions of his walls yet un-touched, dabbling at the canvas he was finishing before he buggered everything up.
Everything he creates is something of her; he is a man obsessed. I miss her. But she won’t take me back. I was completely unreasonable and a complete prat. No, worse than that. I was a fucking arsehole.
Iggy has been registering his disdain for Arthur’s pain in the usual feline way. Waking him up द्वारा sitting on his chest with his furry arse in Arthur’s face. Demanding his meals yet ignoring him as much as possible the rest of the time. Crapping on the rug instead of in his box.
He hops up on the तालिका, टेबल and stares at Arthur. He paws at the papers, batting them around the table. He finds one of Gwen’s face and stands on it, almost purposefully. Then he plunks down, his fat body spreading out over the table, and rests his head on Gwen’s portrait, purring almost tauntingly.
“Shut up,” Arthur tells the cat, standing and leaving the table.
“I’m sorry, Mr. Gaius, I’m not feeling well today,” Gwen says. It gets harder to get out of बिस्तर each दिन that passes without hearing from him. She read and re-read the same chapter of Marcus’ awful book three times yesterday. “Hopefully I’ll be better tomorrow. Just a small stomach bug.”
She hangs up the phone and lies back on the bed, pulling the पलंगपोश, आवरण, coverlet over her head. I can’t believe he hasn’t even called. It’s been four days. Maybe Lance was right.
She burrows down into the bed, hiding from the world.
Her phone rings and she jumps a foot off her bed. She reaches over and cautiously lifts the handset, wondering if it will be Arthur calling and hanging up. For a third time. “Hello?”
“Gwen?” A woman’s voice. Not Arthur.
“This is Morgana.”
“Oh! Hello, sorry, I didn’t recognize your voice!” she exclaims. How did she get my number?
“Look, I’m not going to beat around the झाड़ी, बुश here. My brother is an arse. Whatever he did to you, I’m sure आप didn’t deserve it, and I want आप to know that I’m on your side and am perfectly willing to go over to that dank flat of his and knock some sense into that pierced head of his if आप want me to.”
Gwen actually laughs. “Thank you, Morgana, I don’t think आप need to drive all the way down here, but I thank आप for the thought.” How did she even find out? Gwaine? Merlin? Did she actually talk to Arthur?
“What did he do, anyway?”
“There was a misunderstanding, and he, um, overreacted. A bit.” Must have been Gwaine,
she decides, figuring Merlin या Arthur would have दिया और details.
Gwen sighs and tells her, pausing to let Morgana punctuate the story with cries of “No!” and “That shit!” and “What a baby!”
“He always was that way. Never liked to share his toys,” she says. “Not that you’re his toy, mind,” she amends.
“I knew what आप meant.”
“When did this happen?”
“And he hasn’t even called
you? I am going to kill him. Kill
him. Doesn’t he realize that आप are the best thing that ever happened to him and that letting आप slip away would be unforgivable?” Wow. I didn’t know she felt that way.
“Thank you,” Gwen says quietly.
“Gwen. You… आप center
him. He’s an artist. He’s a stereotypical troubled artist. He’s got his demons, but when he’s with you, the demons are manageable. I was hoping that with enough time, you’d scare them away entirely.”
“I only hope he’s all right.”
“I’m sure he’s sitting in the dark with that damn cat of his, brooding and listening to very loud music.”
“Surviving on कचरा, जंक, रद्दी खाना and ale.”
“Yes. Hey, don’t आप have a job you’re supposed to be at?”
“I called in sick today. Don’t आप have a job you’re supposed to be at?”
“I am at my job. I’m the boss; I can bloody well make a personal call if I want. Are
“No. Well, not that
kind of sick.”
“Hmm.” Gwen can hear Morgana’s frown.
“Thank you, Morgana,” Gwen says.
“For calling me. Talking to me. I… I don’t have many friends. And my closest friend is on holiday in Venice right now.”
“Well, now आप have one more. I’m a कुतिया, मतलबी and a pain in the ass, but I am your friend. And I think it’s time I do something.”
“Are आप going to call Arthur?”
“No. I’m going to do one better.”
“I’m going to call Merlin and make him go over
Part 31: link