Title: The Scion and the Relic
Rating: PG13 (for this part)
Pairing(s): Arthur/Percival (eventually)
Character/s: Arthur, Uther
Summary: Cyberpunk AU. Mercenary Percival takes a job protecting Uther Pendragon's heir, but what initially looks like an simple protective detail quickly turns into something far more complicated.
Warnings: None for this part
Word Count: 842
Prompt: #408, random AO3 tag: touch-starved
Author's Notes: Continued on from part 1. This actually went in a different direction than I had originally planned because of the random tag list I got. I saw "touch-starved" and realized it could add an entirely new nuance to my original outline.
The glass gave away everything and nothing. Through it, Arthur watched the transports blur between the buildings, knowing at least half of them were owned by PenTech, uncaring what or who they might carry. The specifics didn’t matter. He organized from a distance, directing the fleets via voice commands in the clean room Uther had gifted him upon his graduation from university.
“You can do anything in here that you could accomplish at the office,” Uther had said, standing back so Arthur could survey the room without hindrance. “Everything is shielded, so you may even touch the computer if you wish.”
Touch, but not operate, because what Uther meant by shielding was really more of the glass that had disconnected his existence from the rest of the functioning world since he was a small child. He could run the computer vocally, but no physical interface had yet to be created that allowed him to lay hands on it without suffering harm. Glass was the only barrier that prevented all the metals society used in everything from triggering his allergic reactions. He couldn’t even shake hands with most people because of all the enhancements they bought these days. A single chip could make him break out in hives. Someone geared up with all of the latest gadgets had the potential to send him into anaphylactic shock.
The specialists had a long, overintellectualized name for his disorder, but for Arthur, only one word mattered.
Isolated. The story of his life.
The internal comms beeped, breaking him from his observations. He angled away from the view – he’d refused to have them painted with privacy protections because then he wouldn’t even be able to touch his own damn windows – and said, “Answer call.”
“You haven’t left.”
His father’s disapproving tone filled the room. Not for the first time, Arthur was very grateful he’d never bothered to get cameras installed. He didn’t need to worry about schooling his reaction when he was alone.
“I told you yesterday. I’m not going.”
Uther huffed over the line. “There is no reason you can’t attend.”
“Yes, there is.”
“And what is that?”
“I don’t want to go.”
The invitation for Avalon’s thirtieth SEROL gala (Symposium for the Education and Recovery of Old London, but honestly, Arthur sincerely doubted anybody even knew what the acronym stood for these days since improving surface conditions was a non-starter for almost everyone he associated with) had come over two months ago. Arthur had made his intentions about his attendance clear at the time, but apparently, Uther had completely disregarded his feelings on the matter.
It wasn’t the first time he’d done so. It would hardly be the last.
“As my scion, you must make an appearance,” Uther said.
“And as PenTech’s CSO, it’s my responsibility to remain vigilant when the rest of Avalon is preoccupied,” Arthur retorted. “We have a dozen shipments getting made this evening alone. Someone needs to monitor them.”
“That’s what you have an assistant for. Tell George to inform you if anything seems awry.”
“Have you met George? He’ll be comming every five minutes if I give him that parameter.”
“I already told Morgana you were escorting her.”
Inwardly, Arthur groaned. Using his half-sister was Uther’s oldest trick, mostly because it usually worked. They might fight, but there was very little Arthur wouldn’t do to make her happy. And she looked forward to the gala every year. It was one of the few times she could loosen the stranglehold Uther had on her. He might view Arthur as the immediate heir, but Morgana was the one who was most likely to provide future generations and they all knew that. He wanted her only to marry into the best of families, to sustain the power of the Pendragon name, which meant curtailing her baser desires.
Like swanning down to the surface whenever she could escape. She did it more often than he was sure Uther realized, mostly because she’d become much better at covering her tracks. The gala was one of the few Uther-approved Avalon events she actually enjoyed.
Without an escort, she would be stuck with Uther as a companion for the night. No fun would be had by anyone, and Morgana would likely hold it against Arthur for months to come.
Arthur sighed. “Give me five minutes. I’m sure Morgana will love the extra time to get ready.”
“You know your sister all too well,” Uther said with a smug chuckle. “Oh, by the way, I’ve hired a new security detail for you. He’ll be joining us tonight, though in an unofficial capacity. I thought you’d like to get to know him before he starts here tomorrow.”
“What?” Arthur hadn’t had any sort of bodyguard since leaving university. Working from his clean room required very little interactions beyond their control. For Uther to do this… “Father, you can’t really expect—”
“You have five minutes to join us in the landing bay, or I’ll send him up there to fetch you personally, Arthur. Don’t disappoint me.”
The connection closed.