Title: A Minor Detour, Part 26
Rating: PG-13 /R overall
Character/s: Merlin, Arthur, Morgana, Uther
Summary: Merlin had seen more than his fair share of explosions. They happened a lot around him, purely by chance, and always seemed to get blamed on him even when there was no conceivable way for him to be responsible.
Word Count: 985
Prompt: #348: Witness
Author’s Notes: Previous parts on AO3
Merlin had seen more than his fair share of explosions. They happened a lot around him, purely by chance, and always seemed to get blamed on him even when there was no conceivable way for him to be responsible. He made a convenient scapegoat for a lot of things, especially after he’d joined Camelot’s fleet and gotten on Admiral Pendragon’s bad side without knowing why. None of the explosions he’d witnessed, despite being real, physical combustions, compared to the violence of Uther Pendragon blowing up as he lost the last shreds of his temper and, apparently, his mind. He lunged right for Merlin, face passing red into purple, spitting curses that didn’t even sound like words.
Arthur stepped in front of him protectively, his fingers clenching painfully around Merlin’s as he dragged Merlin out of the way, but Morgana was faster. And better armed.
Even in his fury, Uther stopped short when his forehead met the barrel of a blaster; in fact, he actually recoiled backward at the first moment of impact, wincing. His hesitation didn’t last long. Quicker than a blink, he snarled and attempted to snatch the weapon out of his face, but once again Morgana got the drop on him. Merlin didn’t even see it happen, all he knew was that one second Uther was making a grab for the blaster and the next he was crouched on the ground, clutching his knee.
While he groaned in pain, Morgana lowered her foot back to the floor. The blaster had followed Uther’s head down as he fell and stayed aimed between his eyes.
“You are, so far as I am aware—and you know the Wander, I have exceptional experience in this regard—one of the most despicable people currently alive in the universe,” she told him, cold as the vacuum of space. “But I watched my mother die. It was the worst moment of my life, far worse than anything your paternal deceit and neglect ever put me through. I have no desire to make my brother suffer so for your crimes. I don’t want to make your son witness your death, but Uther: do not try me again. If I have to put you down in front of him, I swear by all the stars in the void that I will.”
If he’d had any lingering doubts, that would have settled them; Morgana was a Pendragon if ever Merlin had seen one.
Uther looked up at her, his rage no less visible or visceral for being impotent. “Murder me and you’re sentencing the Wayfarers’ Wander to destruction. The full wrath of Camelot will come down on this pathetic collection of scrap and everyone inside will be blasted into the nothingness that they are. You can watch it all burn into ice and know you were responsible.”
Morgana laughed, harsh and mocking. “You know killing you would be less trouble for me, not more. And probably for Arthur, too; he could go back and tell them all about how the Pyrrhic wasting prion drove you mad before you died and they’d welcome him and his crew with open arms. They’d be desperate enough to be able to show off their golden boy again, and let’s be honest, it’s not even hard to believe. So no, I’m not sparing you out of fear or sentiment. I’ve been fatherless since the Andromeda Wars, and I’ve dreamed of killing you nearly as long. But orphaning my little brother before his eyes isn’t how I want to start his time here.”
“He may as well be an orphan, he’s no son of mine!”
“Oh shut the smeg up,” Merlin snapped. He wasn’t just talking to Uther, either. “I’ve had it up to here with Pendragon posturing. Can I make a suggestion?”
Turning her head but not her aim, Morgana arched an eyebrow and said nothing; Uther snarled, “Nobody wants to hear from you,” but didn’t risk moving. Arthur’s hand tightened its grip again, but he didn’t let go or try to stop Merlin from speaking. If anything, the warmth of his skin against Merlin’s felt like support. Squeezing back a thanks, Merlin took his chance to push on before anyone else filled the silence.
“Don’t rush into anything. Killing Uther or releasing him to start a war with Camelot, either way, that’s a big decision. Why make it now when you could take a few days while he enjoys the hospitality of what I’m sure will be a very nice cell?”
Morgana favored him with a knowing smirk. “Thrown you in the brig a lot, has he?”
“You have no idea.”
“And tell me, why do you think keeping him prisoner is less likely to spark retaliation than the other options?”
“Well, first of all, even Camelot’s Fleet Admiral is required to have the permission of the Council before violating an outside planet or station’s sovereignty, and I doubt they’ve been kept in the loop on his personal vendetta here. That would be a strong bargaining chip for you, if you formally arrest him. Also, and really equally important, he’s such an arrogant, mistrustful, self-important jackass that no one left is actually capable of assuming command without him.”
“That,” said Morgana, “is very interesting to know.” Then she summoned a pair of Wayfarer soldiers and waved Uther into their custody.
Watching Uther get hauled away in electroshackles, blustering futilely the whole way, was Merlin’s new favorite sight in the entire universe.
It held that position for all of ninety seconds, which was how long it took for Morgana to say, “I should escort him down and see that everything’s done properly. You two may stay here, but do keep in mind that this room is monitored and there are things I don’t want to see,” and the door to close behind her. Because after that, a tug on his hand brought him around to look at Arthur’s face.
Nothing could compare.