Title: The Scion and the Relic
Rating: PG13 (for this part)
Pairing(s): Arthur/Percival (eventually)
Character/s: Arthur, Percival
Summary: Cyberpunk AU. Percival and Arthur get to know each other on the way to the gala.
Warnings: None for this part
Word Count: 1085
Prompt: #412, holding hands
Author's Notes: Continued on from part 3.
Though Arthur’s transit was designed for two people, Percival had to hunch slightly in the rear seat to keep from banging his head against the sloped roof. It put him directly in line of sight of the old-fashioned mirror Arthur had mounted, and he caught a glimpse of a smile from Arthur before he managed to hide it away.
“You should’ve insisted on riding with Father,” Arthur said. “His transit is much more luxurious than mine.”
“Luxury is often overrated,” he replied.
“You would’ve been guaranteed arriving at the gala without a concussion, too.” Arthur slid into traffic, then set the vehicle to self-drive. The next thing Percival knew, Arthur had swung his seat around to face him. “So how much is it going to take to get you to quit?”
Considering Arthur’s attitude about security, he’d expected some sort of attempt to get rid of him before he could demonstrate his worth. But this was more direct and much sooner than he’d anticipated, a fact that weighed in Arthur’s favor. Not that he didn’t already have a surprising respect for the scion. Once Percival had accepted the job, Gwaine had given him thousands of files on Arthur Pendragon. What Percival had learned made it much easier to put aside his worries about Gwaine’s motivations in seeking him out.
“Why don’t you want a security detail?” Percival asked instead of addressing Arthur’s offer. “You’re a powerful man. Powerful men have enemies.”
“If my father has hired you, you must know that I rarely interact with the public. Someone would have to try very hard to get close enough to me to accomplish anything nefarious.”
“And yet, here you are, locked in a transit with a complete stranger. All I had to do was apply for a job.”
His assessment drew Arthur’s brows into a thick frown. He clearly hadn’t thought of Percival as a threat.
“I’m very good at what I do,” Percival continued. “I also don’t believe your father would’ve bothered if he didn’t think there was a very good reason for it.” Even after hearing how much Percival had wanted to charge, Uther had taken him on and insisted he start as soon as possible. Attending the gala as an icebreaker had been Arthur’s sister’s idea.
Arthur shook his head. “My father has seen conspiracies surrounding me from the day I was born.”
“Because you’re his only scion.”
“Because he’s paranoid about losing even an inch of his power,” Arthur countered.
He hadn’t really believed using Uther would work, but he’d needed to test just how strained the relationship was. “Perhaps,” he conceded. “What is it that you want?”
The answer was swift. “Autonomy.” He stretched his gloved left hand, then balled it into a fist before relaxing it back to rest on his thigh. “Having a bodyguard getting in my way is both annoying and hazardous to that.”
“Because of your condition.”
To his credit, Arthur didn’t look away. “My world is very insulated, Mr. Wallis—”
The briefest of pauses. “I need to keep it that way for a reason.”
“So you understand why even your presence could be dangerous.”
Percival smiled. “No, it’s not.” He reached for the inside pocket of his jacket and nearly laughed when Arthur gaped at the envelope he extracted from it. “Here. This should explain everything.”
“Yes. You’re not allergic to that, too, are you?”
“I know it’s not standard for Avalon, but I thought it best, considering the circumstances.”
“What is it?”
“The report from the physio your father made me undertake. There’s a digital file available as well, but I thought you’d want to see this tonight rather than wait.” When Arthur still didn’t reach for it, Percival chuckled and slid his thumb under the seal. “Your father said you were cautious, but I think he was definitely underselling it.”
He pulled out the folded sheets of paper, but before he could offer them, Arthur took them from his grasp. Percival relaxed as Arthur read through it all. It would be hard to deny the word of his family physician.
“How is this possible?” Arthur said when he was done. He flipped back to the first page and scanned it again. “Everybody has some sort of tech in them these days.”
Arthur glared at him. “I can’t.”
“And I’ve chosen not to.”
“Do you honestly expect me to believe that someone who looks like you isn’t enhanced?”
“You don’t have to believe me. Believe your own doctor. Or your father, for that matter. Do you really think he would’ve let me get into a transport with his only scion if he wasn’t absolutely convinced I wasn’t a threat?”
Arthur’s vivid blue gaze jumped from the paper to Percival and back to the report again. His doubt was obvious, but Percival was a patient man. He’d had to be.
Abruptly, Arthur tossed the report aside. “There’s only one way to be certain.”
As Percival watched, Arthur peeled off the glove on his right hand. His nails were cut short, but the skin Percival expected to be delicate was oddly callused. For all of his isolation, Arthur hadn’t let himself go soft. Of course, one look at the body he tried to hide in his too-large suit was proof of that, too, but a man could sculpt his torso without letting it show elsewhere.
“Take my hand,” Arthur ordered.
It was a test. A dare, really. One that took serious balls to make. But one look into Arthur’s eyes, and Percival knew there was no other way to convince him.
Not that he would’ve hesitated anyway.
Percival slipped his grip into Arthur’s and squeezed. His fingers were longer, but Arthur’s palm was broader, and the way they joined gave neither man the advantage in such close quarters. The heat was a little unnerving, though. Percival was accustomed to the chill of Old London. Even in Avalon, much of what he’d experienced so far was sterile and brisk.
Arthur was not. Warmth leapt between them. From the slight widening of Arthur’s eyes, Percival wasn’t the only one to feel it.
“I’m looking forward to working with you, Arthur,” Percival said.
Their hands remained locked another moment before Arthur’s thumb slid gracefully over Percival’s and he pulled away. A smile, the first to come without any hint of mockery or melancholy, lit up Arthur’s features.
“I have to admit, I might have to say the same…Percival.”