Title: The Vault of Emrys
Author: Kitty O
Arthur Pendragon sighed as he grabbed hold of the key and turned off the car, sitting back and taking a deep breath. He grabbed his key chain in his hand and put his head back into the rest, taking another breath and rubbing his free hand down his face. He guessed he would have to get up now and go inside the house, but the truth was that he felt that climbing out of this comfortable seat was just beyond him.
But he had always been stronger than he looked (and he didn't look like a weakling by any means), so at last he grabbed the door handle and climbed out. He shut the door of his silver little car, then remembered and opened it again to grab his briefcase, then re-shut it. He nodded to a man in a suit a little fancier than the one Arthur wore from across the street, but the man didn't acknowledge him, so Arthur shrugged and turned towards his front door. He fiddled with his keys – and dropped them. He caught them again in the blink of an eye, and then laughed at himself a little.
There was a day a slip like that would have bought him a one-way trip to the morgue.
Entering the house, he called out, hoping his wife would hear him, "Guinevere?"
A short, pretty browned-skinned woman with shining eyes popped her head out of the other room. "Arthur!" she said happily, beaming, wiping her hands on her blue jeans as she came into the foyer to hug him and kiss him. "How was your day?" she asked.
"Tiring," he answered.
"Poor Arthur," Gwen said, putting her hands on his pale cheeks and pulling his head down so that she could plant a kiss on his soft blond hair. "I haven't done anything all day, so you sit down and I'll make you an early dinner. Sound good?"
He nodded, closing his eyes in pleasure at the prospect of sitting down and relaxing.
She walked him over to the sofa and went into the kitchen.
"What are we having?" he called.
"Not really sure," she answered. "But I went shopping just yesterday so we should have something ready to be cooked. I promise it will be good."
He reached over and grabbed the book that he assumed she'd been reading, since it was open, spine up, in a highly disrespectful way that Gwen would never allow to happen for more than a few minutes, and because the seat where he sat was still warm. "I like your new haircut," he called, flipping through the pages.
"I didn't think you'd noticed," she called back.
"Course I did," he said, and then looked up from the sofa and out the window to see a man pass by, looking like he had a direction in mind. It wasn't a big deal, of course… People walked across this window all the time. But this man was walking towards the same spot the man in the suit had been standing. Was he still there?
It still wasn't a big deal, but Arthur dropped the book and forced himself to get into the feet and go into the kitchen.
"Gwen?" he asked.
"Yes?" she said. "Arthur, I feel like baking. Perhaps I should make a cake."
He laughed. "Your either trying to fatten me up, butter me up, or you need to find a job again."
She grinned. "I suppose I'm a little bored around now," she said, and her smile faltered a bit. "It used to be so peaceful, you know," she said, "just sitting around and recuperating, but now it's starting to get a bit dull. Why don't we…"
"No," Arthur said.
She raised an eyebrow. "I was going to suggest we have cake tomorrow instead."
He didn't believe her, but he shrugged it off, and true to her easygoing nature, so did Guinevere. "What were you going to ask?" she said. "Earlier."
"Oh, I wanted to know if you'd noticed any strange people hanging around the street recently."
"No, it's not very busy. Why?" she asked, turning away from Arthur and opening the refrigerator door again. Arthur moved back a little, rocking on his feet.
Just then, the hail of bullets started.
Arthur hit the ground before he even had time to consciously recognize that he was being shot at and that the window to their side door had just shattered too close to him for comfort. His tiredness evaporated like a puddle at middday. Guinevere too threw herself to the ground in the blink of an eye; for a second he thought she'd been hit. More shots rang through the air, but Gwen was crawling across the floor, uninjured.
They were firing through the side door, which was where Arthur and Gwen had just been standing. They were obviously watching windows. Arthur flipped the table so it provided some slight cover and gestured between its legs for Guinevere to come over.
She crawled next to him and checked the outside of the kitchen quickly by craning her neck. No one had snuck into the house that way. "What did you do?" she griped to Arthur, pursing her lips.
"Me?" he said, not amused. "Me? You're the one who's been wanting to go back and—"
A few more shots, not as enthusiastic. They ducked instinctively. A part on the edge of the table blew apart.
"They're probably just hoping to hit us before they come in, make their job easy," Arthur said, pressing close to the counter. "Can we get to the guns?"
"No," Guinevere answered, brushing her black curls into a ponytail swiftly. "We wouldn't make it; they're past the window."
"We'll go out the back."
"Give it a few more seconds of silence. They might think we're dead. Give me your cell."
Guinevere fished it from her jeans' pocket and handed it to him. He quickly pushed five numbers in rapid succession: 22658. He pressed the device to his ear.
"I'm sorry," said the tinny voice on the other end, "the number cannot be completed as dialed…"
"Emergency," said Arthur. "It's Arthur Pendragon, Camelot!"
There was a pause. Gwen was tense, waiting for more bullets. Then: "One second, sir." Another voice, a masculine one: "Is this an emergency?"
"This is Arthur Pendragon, my wife and I are being shot at. We're going to try and make it out the…" He paused and looked at Gwen.
"Back door," she said. "We'll cut across the neighbors' field."
Arthur continued, "Back—"
"I heard," said the man. "Stay alive, we'll send help within fifteen minutes."
Arthur hit the end button. "They aren't firing."
Gwen leaned slightly, squinting. "They're approaching the house," she hissed, slamming back into the counter to avoid being seen. "Let's run."
She leapt to her feet and hit the back door in the blink of an eye, tearing it open. Arthur was right behind her, her phone with its pink cover pressed to his ear again, for he'd finally dialed the usual number for emergencies.
Gwen rushed, a brown streak, through the grass of their yard and scuttled over the neighbor's wood fence. Arthur was talking into the phone, slightly winded – he was getting out of shape – babbling about being shot at and their street address and the nearest officer.
"There, they're running!" shouted a gruff voice, and Arthur cursed and dropped the cell phone. He might have stepped on it in his haste to climb over the fence after his wife, but he wasn't sure. It was harder to run in his suit than in her t-shirt and those comfortable jeans she was always going on about, but he was glad that he probably wouldn't have to worry about her getting away.
"Stay away from the neighbor's house," he shouted. "They might shoot."
She didn't respond to him, but he knew that she had heard and would listen. Arthur was right behind her, looking over his shoulder and wishing that he carried a gun with him like he used to do. He would like to head for a busy place, but he would never make it to his car, and he lived in an uncongested little subdivision. He heard gunshots behind him and prickled all over, waiting for pain.
This had all been his brilliant idea. Move to someplace with only a few neighbors, stay out of trouble, get normal jobs… Maybe he should have listened to Gwen.
There were perhaps two men following them. Hadn't he spotted more out by the side of the house when he burst out the back, though? Gwen was faster than all of them—she'd get away, Arthur was sure. She'd better. He pumped his feet harder and kept hunched, making himself a smaller target. It was hard to run while shooting, though, as he knew, so he kept weaving and bobbing and speeding and hoping to get away.
Gwen slipped through some trees around a house and into the street. Arthur was behind her, but he looked back. The men were falling behind. If they ran around again, they might lose them.
"Gwen," he gasped, nearly right behind her. "Go around the front!"
She sprinted in front of the house, a brick affair that was a bit more expensive than theirs—but still for sale, and nobody lived there. Gwen started to go around, but Arthur stopped directly in front of the door.
"Wait," he said, taking a moment to think about his new idea.
Breaking and entering?
He'd done worse.
Arthur kicked the door; it burst open. It had always had a bad lock. That's why they hadn't bought it themselves. "Gwen," he said, but she was right behind him.
They slipped inside the darkened house and shut the door, locking it.
Gwen threw herself into Arthur's arms when he gestured, and he pulled her into the dining room and pressed into the wall, shielding her with his back. He put his face into her hair and they waited, chests bumping into each other with the heavy breathing. All around them was dark. They heard footsteps. They didn't hear shooting.
Gwen's ear was pressed to the wall. She heard someone rattle the doorknob of the front door.
She closed her eyes and her arms tightened around her husband.
Then, she heard the mumble of voices and whoever it was let go of the knob. The voices disappeared quickly.
Were they gone? Or just waiting?
After about five minutes, Arthur pulled away and gave her a look. "Wait here," he said. "And if something happens, run. I think I heard them walk away, but…"
He unlocked the door, peeked out and waited for gunfire. Nothing. He slipped out and looked around. Nothing. He walked forward and then turned and walked backward, eyes searching for any sign of life and flickering around the front of the house. Nothing.
And then he ran into someone soft and gave a small cry of alarm. Gwen, hearing it, came running at once – despite what he'd told her. Arthur's heart rate hit the roof as his wife appeared in the door, but he wasn't dead yet, so he turned.
And was finally facing a police officer.
Two other men walked through the splintered door of the Pendragons', kicking around the debris in the kitchen. Their comrades had run off after the escaping couple.
"Search around," one, a man in a suit a little nicer than Arthur's, told the other. "Closets, bedrooms… The fridge. They left that open."
"They wouldn't leave it lying around," the second man argued. "They aren't stupid."
"They didn't expect to be shot out, and people can get lazy," his partner snapped, sneering. "We check everywhere, like we were told. Check the walls and the drawers for secret compartments. Search under the chairs."
The other man, a big, hairy, unkempt fellow, shrugged and wandered into the living room to start his search. The smoother one, left behind, decided he would start in the kitchen.
"And get ready to hide," he said, "if the neighbors aren't hiding themselves, then they'll be over to check what happened."
"We could just take care of them," the other called.
"No extra bodies this time," the suited man said, righting the now-shot-up table. "It'll slow us down."
"Fine," the bearded man replied. "We should find it quick then… I don't know where I'll hide; their closets are tiny."
The first man chuckled to himself, shutting the refrigerator door.
A/N: Okay! Made it through the first chapter, have you? And so now I shall tell you what the rest of the story will contain. No slash, of course. Arwen is there (married, hard to avoid) and some Mergana, but romance will not be the focus here AT ALL. I've got some plans to draw a lot of parallels to the show with this fic, but with the major difference that Morgana never turned evil (you'll find out why) and Arthur and Merlin never met (yet)...And Arthur and Morgana aren't related. I'm not usually one for modern AUs... But it isn't a modern AU. It's a SPY AU.
I'm not sure where this is set. I don't feel I know enough about England to set it there. I was thinking of just never specifying, or even setting it on some made up place. What do you think I should do?
This is my 100th story, so I have it planned to be something different, cool, and fun - and hopefully well written and true to characters (characters with a few tweaks in them - observant Arthur? It's like a miracle).