Prompt: Day 5 - 'If I Didn't Have You'
Word Count: 1721
Summary: While they might not come to a complete understanding, Alfred and Arthur attempt to talk.
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;
Hike | How to Make Friends | The Fight | Crush | Lights | Coffee | Date | Explanations | Talk | Those Three Words | Make You Better | Marigolds | Think of Me | Promises
They hadn’t spoken to each other in over a week.
Was that normal? Arthur had no idea. He had never been in a relationship before, so he wasn’t particularly well versed in the art of Arguing While in a Relationship. Though Alfred had said some hurtful things, Arthur knew that he had been just as bad. He hadn't tried hard enough to make Alfred understand.
Were they even still in a relationship? He wasn’t sure. Were they supposed to officially announce that it had ended, or was that just assumed? Had he been dumped already?
“Arthur, darling, aren’t you going to school today?” his mother called out from the doorway of his bedroom. “You’re not ill, are you?”
“I don’t feel well, mum,” he mumbled. And he didn’t. Everything—guilt and hurt and fear and insecurity—was welling up inside of him and churning around in his stomach. It had been his fault, right? He hadn’t been spending enough time with Alfred, even though he enjoyed every moment he spent with the American boy. He hadn’t paid enough attention to his… boyfriend. It was his own fault.
But still, a small, petty part of him argued that Alfred was simply too pushy. He was too impatient and he didn’t want Arthur’s attention to be on anything other than him. He was selfish and besides, he was one of them. One of the jocks; part of the group that took pleasure in tormenting Arthur.
But then again, Alfred wasn’t anything like those other jocks, was he?
Damn it, he was feeling guilty again. Arthur groaned and rolled over, half-heartedly attempting to smother himself with his pillow. Light, tittering laughter reached his ears and he quickly covered his ears.
“I don’t want to talk to you right now,” he muttered. “I’m angry with you.”
He was going to go to school, he decided. At least at school he could distract himself from the horrid little creatures that followed him everywhere. Arthur got up slowly and found that he still had ample time to get ready to leave, seeing as he usually left quite early.
He wandered into the kitchen to find that his mother was serving breakfast to his brothers. “Oh,” she said upon seeing him. “I thought you weren’t feeling well, Arthur?”
“He’s never ‘well’,” one of his older brothers snorted. “He’s sick in the head, remember?”
Arthur simply shrugged. Even though she was reprimanding his brother, he could hear the note of doubt in her voice. Great, his own mother thought that he was insane, too. Instead of staying and subjecting himself to his brothers’ cruel humour, he quickly made his way towards the door and slipped his shoes on.
“Don’t you want some breakfast, dear?” his mother called anxiously. “There’s plenty of eggs left, and I can quickly fry up some bacon for you. I know, you love mushrooms, right? I’ll fry some for you. It won’t take a minute.”
“Don’t bother, mum.” Arthur’s voice was flat. He adjusted his backpack on his shoulders and turned. “Bye.”
He fled the house before his mother could say another word.
Arthur arrived just in time to get to his first class. He went to his usual seat in the front row by the window, and waited. No one sat next to him, but then again he didn’t expect anyone to. Alfred only sat with him in the classes that he didn’t share with his other jock friends, and ever since their argument… Alfred hadn’t come near him at all.
He wanted to say that he was used to it, that the years of rejection had made him numb. But that just wasn’t the case—being with Alfred had shown him exactly what he had been missing out on. In hindsight, Alfred was just too cruel. He’d shown Arthur a taste of what it was like to be close to another person, only to tear it away. It was far too cruel.
Still, Arthur wasn’t one to give up. He battled his way through one class, then the next. He determinedly took notes and completed the in-class exercises without giving into the urge to look at Alfred. At morning tea, he took his time in collecting his books from his locker and dawdled towards his next classroom without bothering to eat. He hadn’t brought lunch, anyway. He went through the rest of the day in a similar fashion, just as he had for the past week. He didn’t need Alfred. He was fine; he’d always been fine.
But… he couldn’t deny that he missed Alfred.
After school, he collected his books and made his way towards his Occults Club classroom. It was nice to have somewhere to hang out after school that was away from everyone else. It was times like these that Arthur was grateful for his bad reputation—the Occults Club was the only club with a single member, and it meant that the classroom was all his.
He pulled out his English homework and immediately became immersed in it. Arthur enjoyed the subject immensely and had vague plans to study it once he finished high school. What he’d do with a degree in literature, he hadn’t decided but he’d enjoy it regardless.
He didn’t even flinch. “What do you want?” he sighed, “can’t you see I’m busy right now?”
“But Arthur,” the faerie continued, “don’t you want to know?”
“No,” he muttered, “I don’t want to know. Because you lot have already ruined everything. Alfred hates me.”
“Who says I hate you?”
Arthur whirled around in his seat, wide-eyed. The faeries circled above his head, giggling. “We tried to tell you,” they tittered. “We asked if you wanted to know, but you didn’t! So you got a surprise.”
“I hate surprises,” he sighed. He finally summoned the courage to look at Alfred directly.
The American was frowning and chewing on his lower lip thoughtfully. “Who were you talking to?” he asked.
“I already tried to tell you once before.” Arthur tried to make his facial expression as blank and uncaring as possible. Inside, his heart was pounding. What was Alfred doing here? He knew that Arthur always came here after school! “You didn’t believe me then, so I shan’t waste my breath telling you again now.”
Alfred had the decency to look away, ashamed. “Can we… you know, talk? About, you know?”
“No.” Arthur turned away and picked up his pencil, even though he was screaming at himself internally. Why should he have to listen to Alfred? Alfred hadn’t cared when he’d tried to explain himself, after all. But he did miss having Alfred around, and he did wish that they could be on good terms again… “No,” he repeated quietly. “I don’t want to talk. If you wanted to listen to what I have to say, then you should have listened back then.”
“Arthur…” the normally bubbly American sounded tired and apologetic. For a moment, Arthur wondered if he would simply walk out, but instead he pushed the door shut, locked it behind him and slowly made his way over to where Arthur was seated.
“I noticed… you haven’t been eating lunch,” Alfred mumbled, setting down a bag of McDonald’s on the desk. “It’s not good to skip eating. I know that you like the fish burger, so…” He wordlessly reached into the paper bag and pulled out some burgers and chips. Alfred carefully arranged the food on the desk between them, making sure to avoid getting oil on Arthur’s textbooks. “Here.”
Arthur wanted to reject the food. He wanted to tell the American to leave and never come back again, because if he could leave so easily once then what was stopping him from leaving again? “Why do you care that I’m skipping lunch?”
Alfred blinked. “Well… you’re my boyfriend. Of course I care. I… r-really like you.”
And just like that, Arthur’s cheeked reddened and he ducked his head. “We’re still… boyfriends?” he asked quietly, keeping his attention firmly on the desk top.
“Of course we are!” the American reached out and gently lifted Arthur’s chin. “Just ‘cause we fight, doesn’t mean that we broke up or anything. Everyone fights, yanno. It keeps relationships healthy.”
“But you still don’t believe me.” Arthur focussed on Alfred’s nose instead of his eyes. It was a good nose. Straight and strong. It suited Alfred’s eyes. It suited his whole face. Yes, he could continue looking at that nose for a while.
“I’m sorry,” Alfred said softly. Arthur’s eyes were immediately drawn up to meet Alfred’s eyes. They were filled with remorse and earnestness. “I thought… I just thought you were, I dunno, making excuses or something. I didn’t think you wanted to have an us. You… do want an us, right?”
“Of course I do.” His words came out as barely a whisper. Arthur brushed Alfred’s hand off and fiddled with a chip. He squeezed it between his fingertips and watched distantly as the oil oozed out and began trickling down his thumb. “I wasn’t making excuses. I wasn’t lying.”
“I wasn’t lying,” Arthur repeated.
“So…” Alfred hesitated, and absently ate a chip. “You really see things, then? You… see spirits and stuff?”
Arthur nodded reluctantly. “I’m not crazy,” he said, almost pleadingly. “Honestly, I’m not crazy.”
They sat in silence for a long while. Arthur continued to gaze at his boyfriend pleadingly. He wasn’t sure what he would do if Alfred doubted his mental state. He was fine—he just saw things, that was all. There was nothing wrong with him. He watched, pale and anxious, as Alfred wordlessly picked up his burger and began to eat. Arthur’s stomach churned as he waited for some kind of acknowledgement, but there was nothing. Maybe Alfred just didn’t want the food to go to waste. He’d probably leave as soon as he was done, and he’d never attempt to talk to Arthur again.
But then Alfred set his half-eaten burger aside and reached across the desk. He gently clasped Arthur’s hand and looked up fiercely. “You’re a lot of things,” he said, his voice sounding unnaturally loud in the silence of the room. Even the faeries were quiet, watching from their perch on the stack of Arthur’s textbooks. Alfred leaned in closer, eyes bright. “But I know you, Arthur, and you’re definitely not crazy.”