TITLE: In the Wake of Ghosts
WORD COUNT: 749
WARNINGS: Off-screen deaths though not of MCs, due to the nature of the prompt.
NOTES: Written for challenge 2 for summerpornathon, where the theme was either fuck-or-die or post-apocalyptic. I chose the latter.
SUMMARY: Post-apocalyptic AU. In the wake of trying to hold survivors together, Arthur realizes he's not as alone as he thought he was.
DISCLAIMER: The characters depicted herein belong to Shine and BBC. I make no profit from this endeavor.
The truck raged over the bleached bones, crunching them for the eddies to bleed across the frozen moor. Gaius would lecture him about wasting fuel, but Arthur didn’t care. Too many people had died protecting the stronghold. Grinding the monsters responsible to dust was the least he could do to avenge their memory.
Though his eyes burned, he refused to cry. Nobody would see him out here, but he didn’t dare allow the weakness. The remaining survivors needed a strong leader. He was all they had, ready for the role or not.
As much as Arthur revered Uther for saving him in an early attack, he hated him, too, for leaving him to do this alone.
More memories, bitter and unwanted.
Arthur blinked to clear his vision’s sudden blurring.
Clouds roiled along the horizon. In his destruction, he’d lost track of time—like time meant anything when the world crumbled around his ears. The storms were minutes away. Jerking the wheel around, he skidded across the ice, his pallid knuckles aching as he struggled to control the vehicle. He floored it before he’d straightened, and bone dust billowed with the exhaust trailing behind him.
His rising frustration obscured the ride back. He barely felt the wind needling his flesh when he climbed out to open the gate, or remembered pulling into the murky cave that served as the garage. But when he got out the second time, a shadow flickered at the corner of his eye.
He reached for his weapon on instinct.
Familiarity checked Arthur’s swing, but Percival slammed into him anyway, pinning Arthur to the truck and grabbing his wrist in an iron fist. The short sword clattered to the ground.
“You didn’t tell anyone you were leaving,” Percival accused.
Unspent adrenaline hummed through his veins. “I’m fine.”
“That’s all that matters.”
He choked on the argument. They both knew actions had consequences. They’d learned that lesson from Merlin’s sacrifice.
A muscle twitched in Percival’s jaw. “You’re too valuable to lose. You know that.”
“Because someone has to be the leader?”
“No. Because not everybody who loves you died.”
Percival’s confession hung between them, tangible as his unyielding body, words surprising not for their content but their volume. Percival was his rock, always there, always watching, like today, yesterday, the days before that. He watched now, waiting as ever, and suddenly, Arthur was tired of grieving for all the people he’d—they’d—lost.
Their teeth knocked where Arthur crashed their mouths together, but the pain was welcome, the blood, too, as he pushed his tongue past Percival’s shocked lips. He couldn’t grab onto Percival like he needed, but he could squirm against him, force the contact, demand the response he could feel pulsing through their layers of clothing.
Percival groaned. His free hand scooped beneath Arthur’s ass, squeezing hard enough to electrify Arthur’s balls, then hiked him up until Arthur had to coil his legs around Percival’s hips. The world tilted, different, new. Not better. He doubted it could ever be better, but perhaps not so bleak, here, locked within the tight circle of Percival’s arms, his ass clenching at the press of the thick, long cock against his growing arousal.
His whispered name was a plea. For all his strength, Percival would never take from Arthur, a certainty that emboldened Arthur to give it freely. He reached between them, clawing away barriers, moaning into Percival’s mouth when he did the same. The same power that held him up wrapped around his shaft, and Arthur tore away to gasp for breath.
He didn’t have to think. That was the true gift. The pleasure roared, dispelled ghosts in favor of heated skin and hungry fingers. He kept his eyes shut, when Percival turned him around, when they were molded front to back, when he came against the window and shuddered within Percival’s embrace.
They remained so until Percival pressed a gentle kiss to his sweaty neck.
“We have to keep on,” Percival murmured. “Otherwise, what’s the point of their losses?”
Words Merlin would’ve uttered before he’d given his life to create the sanctuary they needed against Morgana’s monsters. Words Gwen might’ve shared before she’d been torn apart in front of him. More valid considering the weight of their absence, the stalwart presence of the man at his back.
He opened his eyes. The tears fell.
For now, Percival would bear it for both of them.
After, Arthur would be stronger.