After ages of smoking weed and therapist appointments, after over a year of blood tests and relapses, and after meeting Arthur again, after everything, Merlin was stable for the first time in four years. At least as much as he ever would be, he thought, although not bitterly like he used to. He was better. He swore on it.
He was clean from narcotics for a year, and from self injurious behavior for three months.
All because of his own damn self.
Not to say that he didn’t have a wonderful group of friends, not that his now ex boyfriend wasn’t excessively charming, and not that the world wasn’t relatively not falling apart, but he kicked bipolar’s ass. His medicine was working. He wrote regularly, he’d held his current freelancing job for a year now.
Now Arthur was leaving. Two months after
Gwaine called it quits. Because of course Gwaine had met a pretty red head without a mental illness and with a steady income. Because of course Morgana’s husband left her 6 months pregnant with no options, and because of course Arthur wanted to help. Of course.
But here he was, wishing for one last time, that Arthur would say yes to his frankly bullshit plan.
“Absolutely fucking not.” Arthur said, not bothering to look up from his phone.
Merlin sighed, rolling his eyes and very nearly pulling the phone from Arthur’s hands.
“You’re being an ass.” Merlin said when Arthur pulled away from him.
“You’re looking more replaceable by the second.”
“Fuck off, Arthur.” Merlin replied, his tone lacking any actual bite. Arthur apparently didn’t deem him worthy of a response, as all he did was continue to swipe away at his screen.
Merlin wasn’t having it.
“We need to go!” He enthused as he propped his feet onto Arthur’s lap, wiggling his toes just to bother him.
“A roadtrip across the nation? For shits and giggles before I leave? You’re so cliché.”
“Not cliché, I’m both practical and fun.”
“You’re only fun when you’re crazy.”
They sat in silence for a moment, both recalling Merlin and his, well, incidents.
“You know you aren’t actually crazy right?” Arthur asked.
“Of course, just like how I know you’re always going to be an asshole.”
“It’s actually called not being emotionally constipated and not taking it out on my friends.”
“Sounds specific. Wonder who you’re talking about.”
“Don’t be a dick, Arthur.” The resounding knock on the door broke off the insults and Merlin got up and allowed Gwaine to enter the room, his hair in a bun and his arms loaded with grocery bags.
“Hello ladies,” Gwaine said as he closed the door with his foot.
“Hello, Gwaine.” Arthur and Merlin said in unison.
“Gwaine! Tell Arthur the roadtrip is a fantastic idea!” Merlin motioned at Gwaine enthusiastically.
“Arthur,” Gwaine started seriously.
“Merlin’s plan to hit over half a dozen national parks before you cruelly abandon him? Brilliant, jaw dropping, spectacular.”
“Gwaine!” Merlin squeaked.
“Just telling the truth.”
“Because you definitely know how to keep to the truth?” Arthur asked, back to scrolling on his phone, a smug grin on his face.
Now, Gwaine went a little red in the face, embarrassed from his most recent spat with his newest girl, a blonde that worked at the bar he frequented. That was, in fact, a story in and of itself, but this, this was Merlin and Arthur’s story. They got to ignore Gwaine as much as they pleased.
“Dickwad,” Gwaine muttered as he put the groceries down and beckoned Merlin over to help.
They got into their rhythm and chatted aimlessly as Arthur ignored their requests for him to help. Arthur was an ass like that.
Merlin half adored it, half despised it. Mostly though, he was just fond.
Arthur eventually got up to help them out with the overflowing recycling and it was all so, domestic. So, clearly what Merlin craved.
He was about to throw it away though, toss it like a bag of old onions and call it quits. Except that he had one chance. Like that Eminem song.
God, he was really losing it.
“So, the trip?” Merlin asked. Arthur turned to face him and rolled his eyes as he ducked his head.
“The trip.” Arthur repeated.
“We’re going.” Merlin said, emphatically.
“Sure, it’s not like we’ve got jobs, or responsibilities or -“
“I’m subletting.” Merlin interjected.
“My room in the apartment, I’m leaving it for Elyan.” He continued.
“I’m not being completely crazy.” Merlin finished. Arthur stared for a moment, a little shocked.
“How are we traveling?” Arthur settled on asking.
“Van. Rented for a bit until I can get my own.”
“Ever heard of renovating a Sprinter and hitting the road?”
“Sounds a bit too too hippie, even for you.” Arthur smiled, a million watts brighter than the sun and just as precious.
“You’re just jealous that I’ve got the guts to live on the road.”
“Sure, sure.” Arthur stopped in his tracks for a moment, then continued.
“Really!? Because -“ Merlin exclaimed, his heart suddenly became a marathon runner that was out of breath.
“Shhh! I’ll go. But you run every plan by me, and we don’t take longer than two weeks, Morgana is expecting me and expecting.”
“Obviously. I have an itinerary! I’ll airdrop it!” Merlin bounced twice on his toes and pulled out his phone as Arthur looked on, clearly exasperated at Merlin’s excitement.
Frankly, Merlin didn’t care to be embarrassed, he hadn’t failed, and he got his next last chance, he could keep Arthur for a little while longer. Just a bit. Then he’d move and keep moving. He’d survive. He had to.