Title: Little Beasts (2)
Character/s: Arthur, Morgana
Summary: Arthur has to adapt to his new life.
Warnings: organized crime, feelings of anxiety, angst.
Word Count: 1k
Prompt: #253: My shot
Author's Notes: Part 1 Sorry for posting so late, today was awful :(
Gaius' face is a mask of solemnity when Arthur asks him to join them at the table, arguing how after all the years he worked for Uther he's basically a part of their family. Gaius disagrees on the spot, excusing himself to go to the kitchen and have dinner with Alice instead. It's Morgana who convinces him in the end.
"Humour us," she says, soft and tentative. A doleful smile pulling at her lips.
"Thank you," Gaius answers,
Awkward silences pervade their evening, the clink of knives against china filling the void. They make more than one attempt at starting a conversation. Their words stilted, withering on their lips. Arthur speaks once to praise Alice's cooking, adding how it's getting better with the years. Morgana casually mentions Gaius is still the best at patching up the men who come back broken and beaten after a night out protecting Camelot's interests. She says it like it's something to be proud of, a perfectly sensible subject to discuss at the table. Gaius only nods his head muttering about duty and things Arthur has to make peace with but he's not ready to. He realizes their conversations will be the same from then on. Discussions of casualties and fights and the sound of firing guns and sirens in the air. Their father's absence hanging between them.
He pushes his plate away losing his appetite, his stomach churning. He won't ever be ready. Morgana is more at ease, almost comfortable in this big old mansion full of emptiness and memories that cut you open if you're not careful and get lost in them. He presses the heels of his hands against his eyes, Arthur hasn't slept and they sting. If he had to take a guess he'd say they're red, black bags under them. He must look awful.
Morgana and Gaius are discussing the security team and Arthur takes himself out of the conversation, not wanting to know on whose life falls the duty to protect his. He looks ahead of him. His father's seat at the head of the table has remained empty, none of them dares to disturb it. Arthur believes if he sits down there these past days will turn real and he'll no longer be able to pretend.
"I'm afraid I must take my leave, it's getting late," Gaius announces getting up, forcing Arthur to look at him. Morgana nods in understanding.
He stops to pat Arthur's shoulder, says, "Sleep well my boy." This close Gaius looks older. It takes Arthur by surprise, in his memories he's a little boy and Gaius lets him go through his anatomy books, amused by Arthur's curiosity. In the present his face is decorated by wrinkles, hair white, steps much slower than the last time Arthur saw him. Gaius grew old and that means Arthur grew too, he became a man. So why does he feel so inadequate? Unfit to follow through. He walks around with Damocles' sword dangling over his head.
Gaius leaves promising to send someone to clean up the table. Morgana immediately takes the seat next to Arthur. Her expression unreadable, her piercing eyes hard to ignore. He picks up his long forgotten fork, examines his reflection on the tines, divided, one eye here, his mouth there, always distorted.
"Arthur, I think it's time we--"
He interrupts her. "Whatever happened to the people around here?"
Morgana slumps in her seat, narrows her eyes. "What do you mean?"
"The people who live here. I haven't seen anyone since the...The funeral." Arthur swallows. "And to be honest, I barely remember the new members of out staff you introduced me to but it'd be nice to talk to someone." He stabs a left over potato. It'd be more than nice to talk to another human being about stupid and trivial things that have no consequences in his life.
"I am someone," Morgana says.
"I meant a person who isn't you. Preferably someone who never tortured me by telling me if I didn't cover my feet before going to sleep the monsters under my bed would bite my toes off," Arthur says, the memory elicits a smile from him. Back then he was afraid.
"You were an impressionable five year old," Morgana tells him with a smirk.
"And you a terrible older sister for inflicting such images on my young mind."
Morgana laughs, all loud and easy and Arthur grins. The atmosphere turning into something much lighter.
"I don't know what I'm going to do," Arthur begins sobering up once they've regained their composure. "Suddenly I have all these responsibilities, people who wouldn't flinch if I ordered them to shoot, men and women who are expecting something out of me. And then we have the other families waiting around for me to fuck up so they can swoop down like vultures and take what's left."
"Arthur, you have to remember I'm with you but I won't lie, the situation is fraught." Morgana's words do nothing to reassure him. He runs a hand through his hair.
"I understand," he says unsure of his words. "What where you going to tell me before?"
"Hm. I didn't want you to find out this way," Morgana answers, she holds her hand up to placate Arthur before he even has time to react. "I was going to tell you this when I saw the right moment, but it never is. You know here it's do or die, Arthur. We live day by day. We never know if we're safe or not. Last night our men ran into people from South London. And Lance, you remember him, right? What am I saying, of course you do,"
"All the way here?" Arthur asks. If his father was still alive they wouldn't have dared to walk into their territory. He laughs out of desperation. Can feel a headache coming. "I can't believe it. This will get out of control if we don't do something about it. Did anyone else besides Lance got hurt?" Arthur hates that he even has to ask, hates that a person who grew up with him, who was his play mate now risks his life. Because yes, he does remember Lance. Him and anyone else working for his family could be the next casualty of a stupid war for power and money.
"No. Everyone got out safe from the altercation before things escalated. Lance only has a flesh wound," she says, shakes her head as if she can hear what Arthur is thinking. "This wasn't your fault. Don't even go there. You'll have to realize we can't leave this world. Not forever at least. It'll follows us. And I know how sad and sick it might sound but we have to do everything in our hands to live."
"Sure. Live with the knowledge you're gonna get shot."
"It doesn't have to be that way." Morgana grabs his hand, squeezes so hard Arthur tries to figure out if she's doing it to comfort him or to appease herself.
"I know. It isn't easy. I'm going to need time to adapt."
Morgana assents, falls silent. With one long meaningful glance aimed his way she leaves her chair, squeezing Arthur's hand one more time. "Good night. You should go to sleep too." Arthur promises he will, tries to smile but it comes out as a grimace. Everyone is telling him to sleep. To eat. To take care of himself. Arthur wants to forget.
"Morgana," he calls before his sister disappears for the night. Something's been bothering and only now, in the silence and familiarity of the dining room is he ready to voice his concerns.
"I'm afraid," he says, breathes deep, "I'm afraid the blood we shed will begin an endless cycle of vengeance and death."
"Me too, Arthur. Me too."
Morgana leaves him alone with his thoughts, the click-clack of her heels echoing in his head. He stays where he is, thinking of his father, his inheritance and the weight on his shoulder pushing him down every time he tries to walk and stand tall. He's alone with his thoughts until his eyes burn and fear has given way to numbness.
Once in his room he finds he can't sleep. He feels like the ceiling will collapse burying him, crushing his lungs. His body is tired but his mind is awake, running around in circles. He tosses the bedding away from his body, getting up. Blindly he reaches for his luggage still on the floor--he's delayed putting away his clothes--quickly finding what he's looking for.
The small bottle rattles in his hand. He opens it and tips it over above his open palm. Arthur dry swallows two pills and goes back to bed. Hoping the release of sleep is finally granted to him.