This is my first modern Merlin fic set in the near future. It's most a Mergana pairing (plus the usual canon relationships) although one half of that duo is unfortunately absent during this first chapter.
T rating. It's all fairly harmless – a little sexy in places – lots of innuendo but nothing graphic ... so I think that's about right.
N.B. Mobile/Cell phones are now mini personal computers or 'Comps' and, like the hybrid phones of today have a multitude of uses.
Uther asks Morgana and Arthur to spy on a rival restaurant, but the pair find themselves attracted to it's staff and philosophy and have to rethink their loyalties.
In this future world - power is everything but, what sort of power are we talking about and who's really in control of it?
Chapter 1: Speculating
Morgana rolled onto her back on the largest of the living room couches, lifting her mini-comp above her head to read the latest e-novel, whilst crossing one designer Jean covered leg over the other.
"How on earth can you read like that?" Arthur had somehow managed to tear his eyes away from the giant screen for long enough to notice her shift of position but, glancing back at him, Morgana found her half-brother's attention was now firmly back on the football as he slouched back on the smaller settee - hands running through messed up blond hair. He suddenly sat upright with a yell, hands waving madly.
"Offside? No way! Get some laser treatment, you idiot!" Morgana smirked and turned back to her own screen.
The front door of the Pendragon family mansion slammed loudly, and the pair quickly sat up and tried to look more dignified, whilst Morgana exited the novel in case the arty subject matter was seen. Numerous swear words were now audible from the large hallway and she exchanged a knowing glance with Arthur across the spacious living room, whilst he pulled a face and reluctantly switched the big screen off.
"The two faced bastard!" Uther shouted as he stormed into the main living room. "Do you know what he's done?"
"Who?" asked Arthur calmly.
"My so called ally, Leodegrance, that's who?"
"What's he done, Uther? Out-bided you on Ebay again?" Morgana asked innocently.
"Enough of your cheek, my girl. This is serious - this is business. He's refused to sell me his shares in 'Kilgharrah's' - says he's changed his mind."
"What?" Arthur asked, now genuinely shocked. "Just about selling them or about helping you with the take-over bid?"
"What do you think?" their father snarled, pacing around the room like a caged tiger.
"Why has he changed his mind?" said Morgana, suddenly interested in the news about the newest and most successful restaurant that was making it's mark in London.
"He says that he believes the business will thrive better under its current management – says he sees a long and bright future for the company."
"But the restaurant's founder died recently, leaving it ripe for a takeover. I thought that was the whole point?" said Morgana, walking towards the drinks cabinet.
"Yes, it was," Uther spat. "but Leodegrance, idiot that he is, believes the hype that says that this mystery director of theirs remains in charge - despite the death, which means that I now have to face the board of 'Camelot' and tell them that our main rival is likely to remain out of our control."
"It's just one little restaurant," said Morgana with a yawn. "There are others you can buy, I don't ..."
"It is not ... little ..."
"Morgana's right ... well, partially," Arthur interrupted with a glare, whilst she smiled sweetly back at him. "Give them six months without their founder and then see what happens. By then, I'm sure their board will be begging for your favour." Uther grunted and seemed partially mollified, calming even further once he'd take a swig of the whiskey Morgana had poured for him.
"Talking of food ..." said Arthur with a broad grin and Uther gave him a grudging smile.
"Definitely not in the mood for a restaurant tonight," he continued. "Ask Cook to rustle up something, would you, Morgana? We'll eat in tonight." He finished his drink and stood up. I'm going upstairs to change," he said, before turning back to his children briefly, eyes flicking over their casual weekend clothes. "I strongly suggest that you two do the same." Morgana raised her eyes again and followed him out.
"Seriously, I don't know why he's so worked up about it," she said to Arthur when she came back in from the kitchen. "I know he had his heart set on acquiring the place but ... there are so many other businesses he could focus on."
"Yes, but you know what Father's like?" said Arthur. "Hates the idea of anyone beating him at anything and values loyalty above all else. The fact that 'one of his own,' would ...?" He frowned, hunting for the right phrase.
"... commit treason?" Morgana supplied sweetly and Arthur laughed.
"Yeah, that about sums it up."
"So, was this Leodegrance an old Oxford buddy then?" she asked, referring to one of the two major Universities that now had more importance in the lives of the rich and powerful than at any time during their long history.
"Yes, but one who 'shock-horror' married a woman from 'the other side'," said Arthur flicking his fingers to indicate the quotation marks.
"Oh great," she grumbled. "Even more ammunition in Uther's war against all those educated at Cambridge."
"And to think you wanted to attend," Arthur said with a false smile.
"It really isn't fair," she growled. "Seeing that my real father was educated there and would have easily persuaded mother to let me go."
"Morgana!" Arthur scolded, always upset when she said anything that denied their blood relationship.
Uther had had an affair with her mother whilst still married to Arthur's but, even with the whole situation out in the open, Gorlois was still happy to marry Vivian anyway and raise Morgana as his own. Unfortunately, both her parents had died when she was ten and Uther, having only had one child with Ygraine, was keen to adopt her into his own family officially.
"Yet, Uther still considers the Oxbridge Ball the highlight of the social calendar," she continued in a bored voice, "despite the fact that almost everyone of these 'mixed marriages,' was initiated there."
"Including your parents; Cambridge father, Oxford mother," Arthur teased.
"Of course," she said, pulling a face, "As if Uther would ever associate with a woman from Cambridge."
"So, how are you getting on with Vivian?" Uther asked his son over dinner. "I haven't seen her for a while."
"Fine," said Arthur his expression unreadable as he kept his focus on his plate. "I was planning to take her out next Saturday, in fact. Co-incidentally, she keeps going on about Kilgharrah's – asking if we can go but, considering everything, perhaps that's not such a good idea?"
"No, actually, I think you should go," Uther said thoughtfully. "Check it out for me – see if you can answer a few of my questions about the place. You could go too, Morgana."
"I'm not playing chaperone for those two," she replied haughtily whilst Arthur huffed a laugh in response.
"Of course not, you can take a date too. You know, I was introduced to a very nice young man the other day – the son of my friend Benwick – a handsome lad – you'll like him." Morgana and Arthur exchanged another look, both annoyed and amused by Uther's constant attempts to pair them off with the 'right sort of family'. In order to keep the peace, both usually went along with it until they could find an easy way out; usually biding their time, or 'persuading' the other party to finish with them first.
That was Morgana's favourite part – making her new beau's life as unbearable as possible and then watching him squirm as he rushed to break up with her. Arthur always found that harder – something that surprised Morgana who would have thought him arrogant and self centred enough to put anyone off. Apparently, she was in the minority, as all the girls loved her brother and he seemed to find it ridiculously hard to push them away. Saying that, she had no idea how Arthur had managed put up with Vivian for so long. Yes, she was beautiful and very rich, but was probably the most high maintenance woman Morgana had ever met – and she had met her fair share.
"You want us to go and give your rival restaurant our business?" Arthur asked, amused at Uther's suggestion.
"Well, I don't recommend you make a habit of it but ... see if you can find out more – get chatting, use your charm. It's another one of those newfangled social places with the high class bar and casino attached – you know what to do."
"Don't you have your research assistant Aredian for that sort of thing?" Morgana asked.
"He works better behind the scenes," Uther countered. "Anyway, your age will work in your favour in this situation– give you a far better excuse for asking such questions."
"So, you don't believe the stories about this reclusive director then?" Morgana asked.
"No, it makes no sense in this day and age. Someone with that much power and influence preferring to remain anonymous? Impossible."
"Unusual, certainly," said Arthur with a grin at Morgana who again, raised her eyebrows but, despite their amusement, she knew that Arthur was as curious as she was. Ever since the end of the twentieth century a whole new breed of upper class had evolved due to a mixture of education, business skills and contacts so that now, almost eighty years after the 'Thatcher Years', this elite class sought money, power and fame by making the right deals, sending their children to the right schools and universities, and marrying into the right families.
The cynical members of the population said that Britain had returned to the 'bad old days' of a class system that rewarded those that were lucky enough to be born into the right families. Then again, unlike those ancient days, anyone with brains could earn a place at one of the universities, even if their family had never attended - even if it it was a little easier if you were born at the top. At least that's what Uther always preached; Morgana was beginning to have her doubts, her suspicions about her adoptive father's ideals becoming more marked as she became older and mixed in more varied circles .
"I expect it's just some sort of publicity stunt," Arthur continued. "I expect one of the board members you've been dealing with is really the new owner and is just trying to make the competitors uneasy."
And apparently succeeding, Morgana thought with a grin.
"Ready for your blind date?" Arthur asked with his usual teasing smile as she walked into the living room the following Saturday evening.
"Are you ready for your date with the Pendragon tamer?" she retorted with her own smile and he pulled a face in response. Her half-brother was looking very smart, she admitted reluctantly; black trousers, dark red fashionable shirt under his jacket – ties currently considered unfashionable, much to Uther's despair. For her own part she was keeping it simple tonight wearing a 'little black dress' which was flattering but not overtly sexy. She tended to reserve such outfits for the men she actually chose to date - the ones she made sure Uther didn't know about - the ones she picked for their looks, mad sense of humour or just because they were the type she knew he would disapprove of. The old fool actually thought she was his loving, devoted daughter and did everything he asked and expected of her when, in fact, the reality was very different. Arthur knew about most of her 'friends' as well as her frivolous hobbies and probably disapproved but, apart from a little teasing, he didn't say or do anything to reign her behaviour in. Something she was most grateful for.
"So?" Arthur asked quietly, looking toward the door. "Have you given any more thought about showing your photographs?"
"I don't know," she said with a sigh. "I really want to show people what I can do – mix in those exciting artistic circles but, I just don't know who I can trust to keep my identity a secret. There's no way I can risk the news getting back to Uther – you know he'd disown me if he found out."
"Well, I think they're pretty good but ..." His eyes darted to the door again. "You're a braver person than me to even risk practising such a thing." She looked at Arthur, surprised at such an admission from him and gave him a weak smile in lieu of thanks.
Uther did not approve of the arts – a snobbish attitude which seemed to be prevalent amongst most of the Oxford crowd. Why waste time, money and resources on such frivolous pursuits at the expense of 'real' education? As such, the only extra curricular activity which was considered valuable at that university nowadays was sport; the competitive or fighting sort, of course, and so many of the activities Morgana had wanted to pursue had been turned down by Uther as unsuitable, including her childhood hobbies of dancing and photography.
This, of course, all added to the simmering resentment she felt towards her adoptive father. He might have wealth, power and status but she had not been that young when her parents had died and still had the memory of the obvious affection and love they had showered on their only daughter – something Morgana never felt she had received from the cold and cynical Uther Pendragon.
The doorbell rang and the siblings looked up at each other nervously. Arthur steeling himself for an evening with the beautiful, but vain, Vivian and Morgana for an evening with someone she'd never even met before.
Chapter 2: Dining. Morgana and Arthur take their dates to Kilgharrah's and find both the food and the staff exceptionally tasty!
A/N So much for my rule about not having two complex fics running at the same time! Lots of setting up here, including numerous clues about upcoming characters and chapters.
I'm planning to keep my A/N waffle to a minimum on this one and so, if you want to know more, please check out my profile page for info/hints and update news. I will also respond to any questions that appear in signed reviews or PMs.