Merlin walked in long strides, looking at his feet. He held a worn leather messenger bag against his chest and a big amber orange umbrella over his head. He was simultaneously counting his steps, replaying his krav maga combat from that morning in his mind, and going over the emergency protocol in case something came up during his allotted days off.
The step count indicated he was nearing his building. He straightened, closed the umbrella and hoped along the last few feet to his front door. There was a big, wet lump on his doormat. Keys in hand, he nudged the lump carefully with the tip of his bespoke shoe. It unfolded slowly, revealing Galahad As A Dozing Homeless Man.
“For fucks sake, Harry!”, whispered Merlin in an angered rush. “Wake up! Wake up, you twat!”
“Merlin?”, he blinked and seemed to wake up fully when he recognised him. “Merlin! You’re home! Jesus fucking Christ, I was freezing. Help me up, will ya? I think I might have a broken rib or two”.
Merlin huffed and rolled his eyes before sticking the umbrella under his arm, pocketing the keys and offering Galahad a hand. Even with his injury, he stood up with agility and wrapped the ratty blanket he’d been cocooned in around them both.
“Did you miss me?”, he asked has he gently bumped the tip of his nose against Merlin’s.
Merlin gave him a low, upset grunt, a stern look and a light shove off the way to open the door. As he stomped up the stairs to his apartment, he admonished Galahad:
“There are perfectly good medical facilities and personnel at the headquarters, in case you forgot”
“I haven’t forgotten. As you know I have a spottles memory for details. I even remembered you were off today”, he replied as he joined Merlin at his door. With an unamused rictus, Merlin opened the door and let Galahad in.
Merlin was never delicate in anything. He wasn’t one for sugarcoating. Everything he did was sharp, efficient, calculated. The cures he gave Galahad, though, were particularly and unnecessarily harsh.
“When are you going to stop doing this?”, he asked when he finished patching Galahad up.
“Jeopardizing missions!”, almost yelled Merlin. After a bit, he mumbled pointing to Galahad ribs: “Jeopardizing your physical integrity”.
They looked at each other in silence. Merlin was patently annoyed and Galahad seemed mildly shocked and hurt. Merlin shook his hand in an exasperated, dissmissive manner, and went to sit on an armchair. Galahad sat up on the table he’d been lying on and scrutinized him for a while.
“I am doing nothing, Hamish. I’ve sent my reports, I’m off duty, I just wanted to see you”.
“Three broken ribs. You’ve been eight months out and come back unannounced with three broken ribs. Laying on the ground, in the rain, with three broken ribs”.
“Three?”, Harry gave an impressed whistle.
“Is this a joke to you? Am I a joke to you? I have nobody outside the agency, inside the agency I have colleagues, coworkers, but you… You are my friend and my only family. Would it be too much to ask that you keep yourself safe and sound? Why, why, why are you doing this?”
Harry was silent for a beat. Then he spoke softly:
“I’m doing this for you. I told you, I wanted to see you”.
“You could have gone to the headquarters first. You could have come tomorrow for tea or a game of cards…”
Harry hopped off the table and kneeled in front of Hamish, waiting for their eyes to meet to talk again.
“I don’t want tea or games of cards. We’ve had that for about three years now. I wanted to come here and see you. I wanted you to tend to my wounds. I wanted to tell you all about it, maybe rest my head on your lap, maybe have your fingers combing my hair. Ever since I met you I nearly died several dozens of times, and each time what I’m thinking is to come back here, to this room, and have something other than tea and games of cards with you”.
Hamish was avoiding his gaze, head resting on his hand.
“Don’t. Don’t come saying pretty things, making your big, fancy declaration of love when I’m pissed at you. You think I’ll soften because you’ve finally taken your head out of your arse and realised there is something going on between you and me? No, sir. I might want to snog you senseless right now, but this is not how things work. You take some ibuprofen and antibiotics, fuck off to sleep right now and try again in the morning”. When he turned his face to Harry and saw him just kneeling there, smiling, he had to contain himself, although he wasn’t sure if it was from kissing him or slapping his entitled, gorgeous face. To make him move, he added: “It’s an order!”
Harry looked at him with a glowing grin, stood up and saluted. But, instead of leaving, he gently pushed Merlin’s chin up with two fingers, bent down and gave him a chaste, tender kiss on the lips. When he straightened up, he winced at the pull of his fractured ribs, taking Hamish out of his momentary stupor:
“Don’t make me say it again, Galahad, off to fucking bed now!”
“Yes, sir”, he said. He winked and left for the bedroom.
Hamish sat back and sighed, allowing himself a moment of respite after what had just happened. Then he stood up, undid his tie and headed for the only bedroom in his flat.