Prompt: Day 2 - 'True Love’s Kiss'
Word Count: 1732
Rating/Warnings: K? Very brief mention of abuse/suicide (though it doesn’t happen to either of the boys, it just comes up in discussion)
Summary: After an incident, Alfred tries to calm Arthur down and ends up doing something a little different instead.
Notes: I'm attempting to write a one-shot for each day that eventually connects up into an entire story. Because it was too difficult to make it in order according to prompts, the stories will be out of chronological order ;u; This story comes quite a while after Hike.
Alfred had draped his warm, oversized letterman jacket over Arthur’s shoulders, but the English boy had yet to recover from his shock. He was becoming far too pale, and Alfred began to worry that the boy would simply keel over soon.
“Hey,” he said, voice tight with anxiety. “Hey, Arthur. Look at me. Are you okay?”
Arthur slowly looked up, his eyes unfocussed and his chest heaving as he tried to calm himself down. He opened his mouth, but merely moved his lips before closing it again. A tiny whimper escaped him. It was a sound that Alfred had never heard from anyone before, ever, and to be honest it gave him the chills.
“Arthur!” Alfred gripped his shoulders and gave him a little shake. “You’re not hurt, right? What’s the matter?”
He’d taken a first-aid course in the past, but now Alfred suddenly found himself wishing that he’d paid more attention back then. Arthur was definitely not okay, but he couldn’t think of anything else to say or do to help him. At the very least, he had to get Arthur to respond, right? He couldn’t remember...
“Let’s get some coffee,” he announced, tugging Arthur to his feet. “It’s cold out, and you’re still shaking.” Alfred slung his arm around the other boy’s shoulders without thinking, pulling him tightly against his side. It still never ceased to surprise him that Arthur was almost the same height as he was; the Briton just seemed so much smaller and frailer. He contemplated saying that out loud just to get a reaction from Arthur, but decided against it. He didn’t want to piss him off. Who knew what he would do in this state.
Alfred led Arthur down the street, keeping him close. He could feel that Arthur was beginning to calm down, his shoulders relaxing under Alfred’s arm. Upon spotting a random coffee shop, Alfred steered the other boy inside and led him to one of the booths. “What do you want?” he asked, sliding into the seat opposite Arthur. “I dunno if they’ll come take our orders or not, so I’ll just go up there to the counter. Coffee?”
He waited a moment to see if Arthur would answer, but when he merely drew the jacket around himself more tightly and crossed his arms across his chest Alfred went ahead and ordered. When he returned to the booth, Arthur was huddled over the table with his head pillowed on his arms, shoulders hunched.
“Arthur.” Alfred’s tone was unusually serious. “What were you even doing out there?”
There was no response from him, and Alfred sighed, leaning forward and imitating Arthur’s pose. They sat in silence for a while, until their coffees were brought over.
“Rough night?” the waitress joked, placing the mugs down in front of them.
“You have no idea,” Alfred grumbled, sitting up. “Thanks.” He waited until she was gone and then dumped three sachets of sugar into his mug. “Drink up, Artie,” he said, prodding the other boy’s head before taking a long sip of his coffee. “It’ll probably help calm you down, or warm you up, or whatever. Either way, you’re going to tell me why you’re being so weird tonight.” When there was still no response, he pushed Arthur’s mug closer and wafted the scent of coffee towards him.
“That smells disgusting, Jones.” Arthur’s voice was still shaky, but at least he was talking now. He slowly sat up and reluctantly reached out to grip the mug with his hands, leeching the heat from the ceramic.
“Have a taste,” Alfred encouraged. “It’s good.”
Arthur obediently brought the mug up to his lips and took a cautious sip. Instantly he spluttered, pulling a face and almost dropping the mug. “That’s disgusting,” he repeated, placing the mug back down on the table but unwilling to let go of it and lose his heat source.
“Add some sugar,” Alfred advised, absently emptying two sachets into Arthur’s drink. He took another long drink and then leaned forward, eyes serious. “Arthur,” he said quietly. “What were you doing out there?”
“I don’t have to tell you anything.”
Alfred looked annoyed. He drained his mug and scowled. “Well considering that I saved your ass tonight, you have to tell me something at least.” A terrible thought suddenly occurred to him and he reached across and gripped the other boy’s hand tightly. “Arthur, were you—”
“It’s not what you think,” Arthur interrupted, drawing his hand away. “I wasn’t going to do anything stupid. I’m not like that.”
“I don’t know if I can believe you or not.”
“Well that’s hardly my problem, is it?” Arthur fiddled with the handle of his mug. “There are things that you can’t understand. I can’t explain them to you. But I’m not the sort of person to go looking for ways to end my own life. You should know this by now.”
“It is my problem,” Alfred insisted. “We’re friends, right? How do you know I can’t understand whatever it is if you haven’t even tried talking to me about it?”
Arthur looked away. “I can’t tell you.”
“Is someone hurting you?” Alfred guessed at random, feeling sick. “Is it your brothers? Guys at school? Your parents?”
He never even saw it coming. Arthur decked him straight across the face so hard that Alfred was stunned for a few seconds. He stood, livid. “Don’t you dare ever insinuate that my parents would do such a thing!” he hissed, flexing his reddened hand. “Just—fuck off, Jones!”
He turned to storm out of the coffee shop, but Alfred quickly darted after him and gripped his wrist. “Don’t go,” Alfred pleaded. “I'm sorry, okay? I know that was out of line. I’m just… I’m really worried about you, Arthur. I want to know what’s wrong. I might not be able to help much, but if you don’t tell me then I won’t be able to help at all!”
“Why are you so insistent?” Arthur snapped, but his shoulders slumped and he turned to Alfred with an unreadable expression. “We’re just classmates. You called me a ‘loser’ at camp.”
“I care about you!” Alfred all but shouted, dragging Arthur towards him by the wrist. He must have tugged too hard though, because the next thing he knew he was tumbling backwards, landing on his ass. Arthur ended up in his lap, staring up with wide, green eyes.
Without thinking or hesitating, Alfred leaned down and kissed him.
“Oh my God,” he babbled as he drew back, “oh God, oh gosh, I’m so sorry, I didn’t mean to—I mean, I meant to but not like this, I just—”
Arthur flushed a brilliant red and scrambled backwards off of the American’s lap, looking down at the tiles. Alfred quickly climbed to his feet and awkwardly offered the other boy a hand up. “C’mon, Arthur, say something,” he said, laughing nervously. “You’re not mad at me, are you? I said I’m sorry!”
“I’m not mad,” Arthur said slowly, accepting the hand and finally looking up. “But,” he added, “you have to take responsibility for what you just did.”
“‘Take responsibility’?” Alfred echoed, looking at him in confusion.
Arthur primly adjusted the letterman jacket around himself and cleared his throat, his face bright red. “Normally I wouldn’t k-kiss… until at least the third… um, date. But since you… did that, you have to take responsibility now.”
“Does that mean I gotta marry you?” At Arthur’s enraged, embarrassed face, Alfred held up his hands in surrender. “Kidding, kidding… well, how about dinner now, then? We could eat here, right?”
“I suppose we could,” Arthur grumbled, crossing his arms over his chest. “I expect somewhere somewhat higher class for the next da—dinner! For the next time, I mean. If there is a next time.” He turned away, flustered, and hurriedly returned to their booth.
Alfred grinned and did as he was told, collecting a menu and depositing it in front of Arthur with a gallant bow. There wasn’t all that much to choose from, but eventually they ordered their food. Alfred sat quietly for a moment, fiddling with his empty mug. “I do like you, you know,” he said, reaching for Arthur’s hand. “Maybe not love, yet… but I definitely like you.”
Arthur looked uncomfortable and withdrew his hand, placing it in his lap instead of on the table. “I… don’t know if I can like you,” he admitted carefully. “Things are very complicated. But I do want to try liking you.” He glanced up shyly.
It would be an utter lie if Alfred said that the statement didn’t disappoint him, but he smiled anyway. “Take your time,” he said. “I’ll be around for a while.”
Their food was brought out and Alfred turned the conversation towards harmless everyday matters. It was strange to feel the air between them shifting towards the unknown, but at the same time he was positive. Arthur hadn’t outright rejected him, after all. While he’d never actually resolved to confess, he was kind of glad that things had turned out the way they did. He was on a date with Arthur Kirkland. Well, sort of, anyway. He was babbling something about school when Arthur interrupted him.
“I wasn’t being serious,” the Briton mumbled, playing with his food. “About what I said earlier. You don’t have to take responsibility for anything.”
“I want to,” Alfred cut in, stopping him before he could say anything else. “You have no idea how much I want to. I… I kissed you, so I gotta man up and take responsibility! Though it’s not as if you’re horribly ugly or anything, and you’re… cool.” Damn his inability to articulate his thoughts!
Arthur flushed and rubbed at the back of his neck uncomfortably. “Alfred… I don’t know if I’ll be able to tell you. About me, that is.”
“That’s okay.” Alfred leaned forward, abandoning his meal for the time being. “You can tell me when you’re ready. It’s nothing I can’t handle. But I won’t push you, okay?”
Arthur looked thoroughly unconvinced, but nodded jerkily. He seemed to focus slightly behind Alfred, but by the time the American turned around to look Arthur was shaking his head and clenching his hands tightly.
“I’m not crazy,” Arthur mumbled under his breath. “I’m not.”
Alfred pretended not to hear him, and they continued their meal in silence.