lady-feste-pendragon asked: May I have a tiny Traveler!Martin drabble since you're stalling?
You got it! Sorry it took so long. I hope this is ok…I wanted a Martin and Arthur interaction and couldn’t think of much else that woudn’t spoil what I’m writing right now.
Martin tightens the grip on his drawn-up legs as he hears the sound of rapid footsteps. Unfortunately for him, there aren’t many places to hide around the airfield - he knew he’d be found rather quickly.
"Martin! Martin are you here?"
He flinches as Arthur’s voice reverberates throughout the empty hangar. Martin hasn’t ever heard Arthur call him by his actual name since he started working here. That means he knows it’s something serious. Very very serious.
He pushes his face against his knees in shame. Arthur isn’t supposed to be anything but his carefree happy self. And not Martin’s breakdown has caused him unnecessary stress.
Martin feels a gentle touch to his shin and he raises his head to find Arthur there, watching him with concern. It doesn’t fit on his face - makes him look far older than he has any right to look.
Martin gives him a weak smile, one that doesn’t go anywhere near his eyes. He knows it’s not at all convincing, but he hopes it’ll help Arthur revert to using his usual nickname.
"I didn’t mean to upset you," Arthur says tentatively, as if the words don’t quite fit. And they don’t. Arthur’s hardly ever upset anyone before; he tries constantly to do quite the opposite.
Martin wipes his eyes before shoving his head back into the cocoon created by his legs and torso. “You didn’t. It’s just…it’s stupid.”
Arthur doesn’t say anything, and Martin can practically see the gears in his mind turning, the crease in between his eyebrows deepening. Martin was serious about that, though Arthur might not be able to recognize that. Arthur hadn’t upset him - Martin’s stupid, anxiety-filled mind had.
Arthur had come in to the portacabin this morning without his mother, looking uncertain. When Martin - alone behind his desk - had asked what the look was about, he informed them that Snoopadoop was very sick. That, of course, wasn’t Martin’s cause for upset, but rather, it was Arthur’s continued discussion.
"I really really love Snoopadoop, Skip. Like. Loads and loads. But everyone has to die right?"
At this he’d looked at Martin, waiting for a sympathetic head nod. Martin didn’t respond, instead staring without blinking at his desk as the words filtered through his mind.
"I just mean. We’ll all die eventually. I’ll die and mom will die and Douglas will die and you will die - though hopefully none of those are soon - but it’s ok because when we’re all gone we can meet up together afterwards."
"You mean-," Martin cleared his throat, "by afterwards you mean after you all die."
"Well yeah, Skip. I’ve heard a lot about the time after death and it’ll be awesome because we can all fly GERTI and she won’t break down because she’ll be brand new and we won’t be low on money because it doesn’t matter about money after you’re dead and-,"
"Oh my god."
"I’m sorry, Arthur, I just. Oh god. I have to go."
Martin groans, pressing his forehead impossibly harder against his legs. Just thinking about it is both embarrassing and horrific. He doesn’t want to think about all of that. He wasn’t supposed to have to think about all of that, not for a long time. And now he’s been hit in the face with it and handled it in the worst way possible.
It wasn’t Arthur’s fault. Martin is so glad that he’s handling this so well. But, well, it scares him terribly. Perhaps Arthur is right about the afterlife being a real thing and being as wonderful as he says, but Martin will never know.
Worse still, maybe Arthur is wrong and even if Martin had a chance to find out, it would be useless. Once his friends are gone, they’ll only be available in his memories - another set of faces to add to a stupid scrapbook. He wants more time with them. He wants them to be with him forever. He wants to fly and laugh and not worry about the limited time they all have while he’ll have to carry on.
It’s not fair. None of it. He always does this to himself, but for this reason he feels this desperation more than ever before. These people - MJN - are so much more important to him than anyone else has ever been. They’re a family, something Martin has wanted for millennia, and all too soon they’ll be gone.
"I’m sorry Martin. I know some people don’t like to talk about that. Mum certainly doesn’t. She made me leave when I tried to earlier."
Martin shrugs, slowly raising his head to peek at his friend. “It’s fine, Arthur.”
"No it’s not. I don’t want you to be sad. If it makes you feel better - I know for a fact that none of us are going to die for a really really long time."
Martin’s mouth comes up in a half smile at Arthur’s ridiculous tactic. “Is that so?”
"And you’re absolutely positive?"
Arthur jumps up, spreading his arms wide. “One hundred percent, Skip!”
Martin wipes his face again and smiles tentatively up at Arthur. “Well that’s good to know. I was worried.”
"I could tell, but it’s ok. Now we’re all better." He stops, glancing back at Martin uncertainly. "Right?"
Martin pushes himself up, engulfing Arthur in a hug. He may not have forever with them, but he has right now, and he intends to make the most of it. “Right,” he whispers.