Title: The Fight
Prompt: Day 11 - 'Someday My Prince Will Come'
Word Count: 1454
Rating/Warnings: K+? Some vague violence.
Summary: Arthur doesn't need to be saved, but sometimes it's nice to know that someone cares.
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
It wasn't hard to see that Arthur Kirkland was rather strange.
It wasn't that Alfred looked at the other boy all that often--not at all! But he had to admit that Arthur was interesting, and was definitely very different to the rest of his friends. Their tentative acquaintanceship was slowly developing, but it was obvious that Arthur was holding back.
Alfred paused and backtracked out of curiosity, wondering who would be speaking to Arthur with such undisguised hostility and ridicule. He peered around the corner, only to see Arthur being cornered by several jocks.
To his credit, Arthur didn't appear to be backing down. He stood straight-backed as he always did, green eyes flashing with contempt.
"What do you want?" he spat. "I don't have time for the likes of you."
"This will only take a moment." One of the boys reached forward and gripped Arthur tightly by the upper arm. The shorter boy let out an indignant noise of protest, but it was ignored. Alfred knew that he should have done something, but he felt frozen. He couldn't go up against his friends—not for someone he barely knew. Arthur was becoming his friend, but… These guys were the ones he hung out with on a day-to-day basis. These were the ones he shed blood, sweat and totally manly tears with every time they played a match. He couldn't stop them from whatever they were doing. Besides, maybe they were just going to talk to him. Maybe they weren't going to do anything too unsavoury.
They were all good guys, right?
But then again, Arthur was beginning to look horribly cornered, glancing around nervously without finding an escape route. Though his facial expression was fierce, his body posture screamed of nervous defensiveness.
Arthur gave a quiet yelp as he was yanked forward. Almost immediately, he was tugged backwards by his backpack.
"Let's see what you've got in here."
His backpack was pulled from his shoulders and unzipped. The jocks gave no warning before tipping it upside down, emptying all of the contents onto the floor. Alfred gritted his teeth as they began to laugh, carelessly treading on top of the spilled notes and books. One of them picked up a notebook and Alfred quickly ducked into an empty classroom as his friends left, clapping each other on the back and whooping quietly.
Alfred felt incredibly guilty. Those were his friends, and he couldn't stop them from picking on Arthur. He was well aware of the Briton's reputation within the school, but that didn't justify him being cornered and humiliated. As he poked his head out of the classroom door, there came a tell-tale mutter and the sounds of paper being shuffled.
Arthur was trying to pick up the pieces of his pride, and Alfred couldn't bring himself to face the other boy.
There was something that only Alfred could do, though. That afternoon he managed to swipe the stolen notebook, which had been carelessly left on one of his friend's desks. Out of morbid curiosity, he guiltily flipped through the notebook. It wasn't to see if the rumours about Arthur being crazy were true or not! He just wanted to… Survey the damage.
And there was damage. Most of the book was fine; it had been half empty anyway. But the first dozen or so pages had been littered with graffiti: cruel messages and several inappropriate doodles were scrawled across the paper.
The attack had been cruel and, to his knowledge, completely unprovoked. Alfred had to wonder how many times it had happened to Arthur in the past. Crazy or not, no one deserved to be treated that way.
After school, he reluctantly wandered towards the Occults Club classroom. He wanted to see if Arthur was okay, but at the same time... He couldn't think of Arthur without remembering the cowardly way he'd left the English boy to fend for himself. Some hero he was.
He was certainly in awe of the way that Arthur had handled himself, though.
Timidly, he knocked on the classroom door and eased it open, peering through the gap. Arthur was seated at the same desk that he always seemed to be sitting at, idly flicking through his mathematics textbook. He glanced up quickly, tensing, but relaxed when he saw Alfred.
"Oh," he said, as if it was difficult to believe that Alfred had chosen to come and see him after school, "it's you."
There was an awkward silence. Alfred gave a weak grin and came inside, shutting the door behind himself. "Um, yeah," he mumbled, "it's me. How're you going, buddy?"
A strange expression crossed the Briton's face, as if he knew exactly what Alfred was hinting at. "I'm… Well, all right I suppose."
"That's good." The American made his way across the room and turned the chair in front of Arthur's desk around. He straddled it and lay the notebook down on the desktop. "I, um… I found this. It's yours, right?"
"Yes." Arthur reached out to take it and flipped through the first few pages, keeping his expression determinedly blank. "Thank you, Alfred," he muttered after a moment, tucking the book into his backpack, "but you needn't jeopardise your place on the team for me."
A wave of shame and something not unlike protectiveness began welling up within Alfred's gut. Somehow, Arthur knew what he'd done; yet he wasn't angry. It was sad to think that Arthur maybe didn't think enough of himself to allow himself to feel wronged. But Alfred was definitely angry with himself, and he silently swore to intervene next time the other boy was targeted. Arthur didn’t deserve any of this.
It turned out that Arthur didn’t need any help, though. The next time that Alfred found him cornered by the other footballers, he was shocked to find Arthur fighting back—and winning. The English boy was fast on his feet and his blows were both accurate and graceful. Alfred stood there, gaping, as one of his friends went down, groaning and clutching at his groin.
Arthur was fucking amazing.
But he was also going to get into a lot of trouble if this continued, so Alfred rushed in and quickly hauled the smaller boy out of the fray. “Guys!” he shouted, gripping Arthur tightly in an effort to keep from being hit. “Guys, I think the teacher’s coming!”
The jocks immediately dispersed, knowing that if they were caught in a brawl then they would be immediately suspended from the team. Alfred stood by awkwardly as Arthur wiped at his bleeding lip and straightened his uniform.
“I don’t need you to step in,” he muttered, dabbing gingerly at his lip. Alfred offered him a crumpled tissue from his pocket.
“I didn’t know you could fight like that,” Alfred said lamely as he scrabbled for something to say. “I mean, you looked like you were winning and all, but it’s not good to fight! What if they report you?”
“Then they’d have to report the fact that there were several of them ganging up on the freak, who beat them single-handedly.”
“You’re not a freak,” Alfred protested. He watched the other boy raise one bushy eyebrow. “I’ll stick up for you though, if you do get reported. I’m not gonna let them say that you attacked them for no reason or anything, I mean, they’re the ones who provoked you—” He cut himself off and looked away guiltily, his face beginning to flush.
“I know what you saw.” Arthur gave a soft sigh and slowly began repacking his backpack. “I don’t blame you—I expect your friends are rather unforgiving.”
“How long has this been happening?” How had he never noticed? This couldn’t just be a recent thing, right? They’d been doing this the entire time he’d been friends with them, and he’d never once noticed.
Arthur shrugged. “Normally I wouldn’t have allowed it to escalate this far. I wouldn’t have allowed myself to engage in a physical fight. I’m just… so sick of them, though.”
“Well, I’m not letting them do anything to you ever again,” Alfred announced. “Where do you sit?”
“Where do I sit…?” Arthur looked confused. “Do you mean… in the next class I have? English?”
“Nah, man.” The American shuffled his feet awkwardly. “I mean now. You know, lunch?”
“Lunch?” There was a long pause, before Arthur looked up again. His lips quirked up into a crooked half-smile and Alfred’s couldn’t help but store away the memory carefully. It was an awfully endearing smile, and probably very rare, too. He hadn’t really seen Arthur smile much before, and he knew that he wanted to see it more often from then on.