FIFTEEN REVIEWS FOR THE PREVIOUS CHAPTER ARE YOU KIDDING ME GUYS THAT WAS AMAZING THANK YOU SO MUCH!
I don't think saying thank you for every chapter would be enough to express how grateful I am, you're all fabulous.
Also, little reminder that this is a break for me from writing about prison camps and people locked up in houses and I'm purely writing this for comedic (I hope!) reasons so if there is something you're not happy with because it's really not correct or factual I apologise but THE POINT OF THIS FIC IS TO MESS AROUND WITH IDEAS I'M SORRY IF THIS STORY SEEMS FALSE OR CHEESY BUT THAT'S THE WAY IT'S GONNA BE
Thanks for the crit though :) I'll remember that for future thingies.
Lots of new stuff in this chapter as always, and Alfred gets a promotion woo!
If it wouldn't be a problem, please check out my other USUK fanfiction which is really not like this one, so yeah…
Also can I just say neither me nor Alfred are good with the feelings so that's probably why it seems really cruel I'm sorry I just can't people :(
You're all super great, and I'll update on Friday as usual!
Alfred thought it was bad that he had to turf himself out of bed at eight in the morning to feed himself and haul himself to work was bad enough. Alfred thought whisking plates in and out of the dishwasher like a Frisbee champion and frying eggs in the pans he'd bothered to clean was a task to be taken seriously. Mornings were not his thing, they had never been particularly beneficial in his experience, especially because school always started at a ridiculous hour, and because his mother was relentless when it came to trying to wake him up.
The fact that he was woken up at six in the morning was just too much.
He sat up, rubbing his eyes and groaning, to see a fully dressed Arthur leaving the room and making for the kitchen. His uniform was on, including his shoes, and his hair looked brushed to full flatness as usual. Alfred was surprised that his school called for uniform as his hadn't, but he guessed it was just a disciplinary thing they had to keep the kids in order. However, he was more surprised that he was now awake and that he was going to have to start doing stuff at six in the fucking morning.
Compared to Arthur, Alfred was a visual mess. His eyes were half open and bleary; his mouth slack as he tried to get a conscious grip and actually himself up, and his hair was scruffier than usual and stuck up around his head like a straw coloured halo. Grumbling and rubbing his eyes again, he reached for the bedside table and jammed his glasses onto his face before standing up and staggering into the kitchen. It was a little too early in the morning for him to remember that he was only wearing pyjama bottoms and that the other person living with him didn't much like it when he was less than properly clothed.
"Morning sport," He grunted as he met Arthur in the kitchen, reaching for the coffee maker and trying to turn it on. Arthur was nursing something in one of the pans on the cooker, and Alfred was praying that it was eggs. "Sleep well?"
Arthur clearly wasn't up to pleasantries at this hour. "I closed my eyes and remained inert for eight hours, so I suppose that counts as sleeping well."
Alfred just smiled vacantly and nodded, hoping that whatever Arthur was cooking would be done soon. However, as the smell of whatever was in the pan reached his nostrils, his stomach was starting to get a different idea of what they were going to have for breakfast.
"Slow down, Dr Lecter, what are you cooking in there?" The acrid smell was enough to wake him up, and he abandoned his attempts at making himself some coffee to peer over Arthur's shoulder at the shapeless mass that was making distressing hissing noise in the pan. "What is that? People?"
He continued poking industriously at the… thing… and didn't look up at Alfred. "Sausage," he said blankly, and Alfred spotted an empty packet by the sink. "Want some?"
"Uh, Arthur," Alfred tried to put it in a way that would send Arthur into a puce-coloured rage again. "Are you sure they're meant to be that colour?"
The 'sausages', which were slowly turning a ripe shade of black, hissed at him in return. Whatever Arthur was doing to them, Alfred was pretty sure they didn't like it.
"Of course," His self-assurance was almost pitiful now, and Alfred could see him struggle to think of something to say. They were burnt, and he knew it, but was determined not to say anything in case Alfred started laughing. But, right now, Alfred was more concerned about the volatility of those carbonised masses than about how funny this situation was. "It's what it said on the instructions."
Alfred snatched the packet from the side of the sink, and read through it carefully. Theoretically, what Arthur was doing was right. So why did it look like he'd found a recipe from the Satanic Cookbook?
"Arthur, uh, what temperature is that pan on?" He was still frowning at those sausages, trying to work out how many he had put in there.
Arthur pointed to the dial, which was twisted up to its highest setting, and Alfred paled.
"Are you sure that's a good temperature to cook them on?" Alfred asked cautiously, now watching Arthur try to unstick the things from the bottom of the pan with his spatula.
"Sure," Arthur's confidence was worryingly strong. "They'll cook faster like this."
"Arthur," Alfred reached around him before he could move and turned the dial down to almost zero. "That's not how you cook sausages."
A scowl was sent in his direction, but Arthur was now occupied with turfing the sausages out onto a plate and trying to scrape the remnants off the bottom of the pan. He appeared to sniff. "Yes it is."
"I'd really love to agree with you pal, but you've gotta keep them on a low heat so they cook all the way through, not just on the outside."
"They cook on the inside like this as well," Arthur protested, still scraping chunks of sausage and carbon onto his plate. "Just they cook faster."
Alfred eyed the pile of charred meat now piled onto a plate. "Arthur, chum, I really don't think you should be eating that."
"Arthur, I honestly wouldn't eat that if I were you."
"Well it's a good thing you're not me and that you're not having any of this." Arthur snapped in return, grabbing a fork from the side and sticking it into what looked like a carbonised resident of Pompeii with a satisfied expression.
As Alfred stared with a horrified expression at Arthur, the boy dug his fork into the pile of… stuff… and put it into his mouth.
Alfred waited with a roiling stomach for Arthur to drop down onto the floor and start convulsing.
There was a long silence, before there was a mighty crunching noise and Arthur's face twisted into a smile worryingly more convincing than his rare and genuine ones.
"S'good." He muttered through his teeth, chewing ferociously and almost pausing to consider his options before he swallowed it and gave Alfred a superior look. "They taste just fine."
As Arthur appeared to be digging in to the sausages with obvious gusto and no apparent morbid side effects, Alfred didn't object and just waited for the Brit to start coughing up black bits somewhere in the near future. Instead of trying to take the plate away from him and force some less burnt toast down his throat, Alfred just decided to let him be. He was concerned that if this awful cooking behaviour persisted he would have to start denying Arthur access to the kitchen, but for now he just decided to leave him to his own devices. From past experience with cooking incidents similar to this one, Alfred had gained enough knowledge to work out when something was cooked and when something wasn't, and although those sausages looked like something one might feed to lions at a zoo, they didn't look like they were liable to affect Arthur in any way.
"Fine," Alfred got himself some toast, spreading it with a thick layer of Nutella as per usual, and crammed it into his mouth as fast as he could. "What time does your bus arrive?"
Arthur blinked as he swallowed (with some notable difficulty) a mouthful of his breakfast. "Bus?" As always, Arthur knew the answer to that question, and just had to wait for Alfred to deliver it to his doorstep.
"Isn't that how you got to school?" Alfred finished his toast in record speed, dumped his plate in the sink, and leaned against the counter, looking straight at Arthur. If the boy had noticed his lack of upper body clothing and had been as flustered about it as he had the day before, he wasn't showing it at all. Neither was he showing any emotion at all, really. He just ate those sausages with alarming crunching noises like he ate what was basically coal for breakfast every morning, and that this was perfectly normal behaviour.
"I used to walk," Arthur too finished his breakfast, though with a little more of a sour expression than Alfred had finished his, and it had been apparent that, despite his wonderful acting, Arthur had not much enjoyed those sausages.
Sighing as he realised what was going to become of him now, Alfred slouched over to the doorway and leaned against it in a bored fashion. "If I give you some money and pack your lunch, will you take the bus and give your ol' pal Alfie an extra two hours in bed?"
Arthur smirked. "Only if I get to cook my own breakfast every day."
Recoiling with the thought of a kitchen covered in blackened Hot Pockets, Alfred shook his head. "That's not gonna happen, not in a million years," He paused, trying to find a way out of this situation. "Can't you just walk?"
"Can't you just stop being a twelve year old and take responsibility?" Arthur placed his retorts carefully as one places stones in that funny curling sport, waiting for the final shot to be played. "It's not that far a drive, plus I believe you work on weekdays?"
Alfred like to pretend that his job was more of a hobby than anything else, and that he really did enjoy serving sleazy old guys and blushing eleven year olds, but that would be too many lies for one day.
He pulled a face. "Hero's doesn't open until eleven, and I need my beauty sleep, y'know."
Arthur snorted. "Evidently you've been having some sleepless nights lately."
Not wanting to set off another argument in which he would obviously and theatrically lose, Alfred just went back into the bedroom and decided to get dressed. When they had got home after their grand shopping venture, Alfred had been expecting Arthur to at least try his clothes on and get a good look at himself in the mirror just to check he didn't look like a complete idiot. Instead, while Alfred had whipped up some instant noodles, Arthur had spent a good twenty minutes folding his clothes up and putting them away in the chest of drawers, and had not touched them since. Even now, dressed in his school uniform, he looked entirely uninterested in the amount of money Alfred had spent trying to make him look a little more presentable for those wishing to take an interest in him. Arthur disappeared into the bathroom, possibly to brush all those burnt bits of sausage out of his teeth, and Alfred forced himself to get dressed.
Faded t-shirt, jacket, jeans. He was done- his hair was messy and his eyes still a little unfocused as he had forgotten to make himself that coffee, but he looked just fine. While Arthur was bustling around in the living room packing his bag and whatnot, Alfred began to pace around the bedroom, trying to think of ways he could stop Arthur's awful cooking habit. Cordon off the kitchen? No, that was what you did with small children and troublesome Chihuahuas, not how you treated a 'young adult', as his mother said. Takeaways for breakfast? Definitely not, if Alfred kept up the immense totals of pizza he consumed in a week, he would be able to build Arthur a separate house out of pizza boxes. Learn to cook? Highly unlikely that he would carry that out, but it was worth a shot. If he downloaded some recipes off the internet and followed them to the last comma, he would possibly have a chance at cooking something a little more edible than Arthur's attempt at breakfast.
"Are you done powdering your nose?" Arthur called from the other room, evidently impatient because Alfred really wasn't hurrying himself in any way. If Arthur wanted a ride to school, Arthur would get his ride to school when Alfred was done doing whatever he was doing. Which, at the moment, wasn't much at all, so he really had no excuse he could procure to try and make the Brit wait a little longer. "It's half seven; we need to go."
Groaning and complaining under his breath, Alfred reappeared in the living room and slipped his sneakers on, not bothering with his bomber jacket or some other article of clothing that he knew Arthur completely detested. Arthur was stood by the door carrying his bag with an impatient expression, tapping his finger against the wall as Alfred gave him a sheepish look.
He clapped his hands and grabbed his keys from their not-so-safe home between the cushions on the sofa and joined Arthur by the door, staring at it like he really didn't want to do this. To be honest, it wasn't that difficult a chore, and Alfred could do with being early for work for once, so, in a way that really wasn't something he wanted, he was benefitting from this.
"Right then," He gave Arthur one last look; taking in the neat tie, the buttoned up blazer, immaculate trousers that Alfred certainly hadn't ironed those creases into, and an expression of plain boredom. "Let's assemble the cavalry, shall we?"
"Please don't tell me you're the general," Arthur muttered. "Because then we've got no hope in surviving."
Despite the fact that Alfred was trying to be a good Samaritan and stop being so much of a dick towards Arthur, he always played along with the jokes and the games, and never did he just shoot what Arthur said down in a blank, bland way. Sure, Arthur had just called Alfred incompetent for the second time that morning, but at least it was in a way that was marginally acceptant of Alfred's words, so it didn't matter as much.
They descended the numerous stairs of the apartment block (as if they were in a sitcom, the lift was closed), without speaking, and Arthur seemed to ignore Alfred pointedly until they reached the car, where a little smile crept its way across his face as he spoke.
"Be this our chariot?" He said, with the tiniest hint of humour in his voice. "For I do not think she will be capable of carrying us into battle."
Alfred raised his fist and pulled a goofy face. "Fear not, fair squire, she is stronger than she looks!"
Getting into the car, Arthur balanced his bag on his knees and snorted. "Hah, I doubt that."
"At least you're not complaining that I called you a squire instead of a valiant knight." Alfred started the engine, already feeling less reluctant about doing this. Arthur seemed to be in good spirits despite his quips that Alfred's Ford, and he was determined to make sure the good mood lasted.
Arthur did his seatbelt and stared calmly out of the window, appearing to lose the venom he had injected into his words previously. "I don't see myself as a knight." He stated. "Wouldn't want to carry around all that armour."
Pulling out of the car park, Alfred bashed in the postcode of Arthur's school into the satnav. It wasn't a long drive, only about five minutes or so, but made ample time for some good ol' Arthur and Alfred Conversation Time.
Inclining his head towards Arthur as they stopped off at the first of many traffic lights, Alfred frowned. "You seem happy this morning."
"Do I not seem happy every morning?" Arthur leaned back in his seat, not looking at Alfred. "Maybe I should make it more obvious, possibly grin like a loon at anything remotely funny like you seem to enjoy doing."
"Okay, besides that, you just seem a little more relaxed than you did yesterday," Alfred turned a corner, almost debating on turning the radio on, but decided that Arthur's opening up to him was a little more important than this week's number one. "Is it because of school?"
Arthur gave him a dry look. "My school is the hiding place for social outcasts and general mishmash of people going nowhere, I doubt I'm twisted enough to enjoy that."
"Sure, so what's more tedious; school or shopping with me?"
He laughed at that. "Shopping with you."
Four minutes to go, then no Arthur for the rest of the day. "Didn't you used to shop for clothes when you were younger?"
"As the children's home was run by middle aged women who claimed they knew exactly what wouldn't make me look like a sad little abuse case, I was often subjected to wearing clothes that had been bought for me."
Alfred could see how the decisions of said overly confident middle aged women had influenced Arthur's awful dress sense, and he hid a smile. "At least you'll be glad to wear something that doesn't look like an Addams Family prop, right?"
Arthur rested his arm along the edge of the window, and let out a long breath. "Right."
They descended into silence for the following three minutes, and as Alfred pulled up outside the school along with the many other parents possibly more eager than him to turf their child out into that awfully drab looking building.
Alfred, despite his claims of insensitivity, was starting to worry.
When he had gone to school, the building he had sat and ignored teachers in had been the most modern of its time; all glass and metal, and with sports facilities every thick-skulled mathematical failure could use to their required extent. The teachers had been kind but strict, and Alfred had had his fair share of merits as well as detention, especially from that one drama teacher who insisted he had promise for the future and that he really should consider a career in Broadway. There had been bullies, smokers, the general wrongdoers who really weren't going to make it past the supermarket counter in terms of careers, but none of them Alfred had ever had any incidents with. No-one had fought, well, except this one German lad who had insisted in arm wrestling tournaments to prove his superiority over everyone else, and, save his final exam grades, Alfred's time there had been pretty good.
This school looked like the opposite.
The gates were half open, black and unwelcoming to boot, and the buildings themselves were squat and square, the windows blank rectangles cut to minimum requirement. Whereas Alfred's school had appeared stylish in its minimalism, this collection of structures looked dull and lifeless. A couple of kids had already turned up and were loitering by these gates; probably just the resident emos and nerds desperate to get in before they were preyed on by any of the older kids, and apart from that everything looked dead.
After a moment of staring in open-mouthed shock at the place Arthur sat down in and learned all those fancy words, Alfred turned to him with a confused expression.
"Please tell me that's a Muggle-proof cover and that what I'm really looking at it a three thousand year old cathedral made of gold and diamonds the size of my head." He didn't want to admit it, but he wasn't all that comfortable with the idea of Arthur walking through those morbid gates for a day of what looked like military training.
"I'd love to disagree with you," That appeared to be Arthur's favourite thing to say to Alfred. "But that's it."
Alfred continued to stare at him with a baffled expression. "Are you sure you're okay going in there?" A kid with various piercings and a murderous-looking haircut slouched past where the car was parked. "It looked dangerous."
Getting out of the car and slinging his bag over one shoulder, Arthur looked completely chilled about entering what looked like some sort of prison compound. "Don't be ridiculous, I'll be fine, just remember to pick me up at quarter to four. You can remember that, right?"
Alfred wound down the window and poked his head out to reply to Arthur. "Sure thing, kiddo. Please don't get stabbed or anything, and remember that the kid with the ear spacers is probably a serial killer."
"It's not that bad, no-one cares enough to try and steal my lunch money or anything." Arthur looked uncomfortable about talking to Alfred through the window as he was getting a couple of stares, and Alfred was surprised that he was still hanging around.
Alfred frowned, panicked now that he'd forgotten one of the most basic of fundamentals a kid needed for school. "You do have money for lunch, right?"
The Brit waved his arms unenthusiastically. "Free school meals for those hopeless orphans too poor to buy their own burgers."
"I can always make you something if you like; I'm awful at lasagne but I make a mean BLT." Alfred offered with a grin, relieved that Arthur did actually have a means of sustaining himself through the day, and that Alfred wasn't going to be penalised for forgetting about his lunch.
Arthur gave him a blank look, decided talking to Alfred wasn't worth the funny looks, and turned around without so much as a 'bye', swallowed up by the coalescing crowd of students that was rapidly gathering in and around the school grounds. A couple of the kids gave him curious looks, but Alfred was out and away from that place before any of them could get their graffiti cans out or something, and was speeding away to his work.
Watching Arthur's back retreat into that mass of scary punk kids had been unnerving, and Alfred hadn't much liked the way he had just disappeared like he neither mattered nor existed. Despite everything, especially considering how sure of himself Arthur always looked, Alfred was worried about him. Suppose one of those kids started acting nasty, and Arthur got seriously hurt with a pen knife or something? None of the teachers looked like they would give a shit about him, and Arthur was certainly not the kind of person to just say when they were being pushed around by another kid. No matter what Arthur tried to appear to be, no matter how much he tried to be strong, Alfred knew that kid wouldn't last two minutes if pitted against another one of those kids in a fight.
Alfred was shocked at how much this distressed him.
The thought of Arthur coming home with bruises was harrowing enough. The fact that Arthur would have to go to that place every day was even more harrowing. The notion that Arthur may not be safe in that place was worrying, because it was the only place where Alfred couldn't act as a guardian to him. He couldn't sit there in the back of the classroom and make sure no cocky little snot decided to sock him in the face, he couldn't make sure Arthur was at least acting like his normal self. He had no idea what went on behind those awful walls, and he was just going to have to wait for an opportunity to ask Arthur what it was like there without the Brit showering him with lies. He knew he could seem outwardly cold and selfish towards the boy, but Alfred F. Jones was in no way shallow. He was understanding of his duties to make sure Arthur made it through the rest of his teenage years without so much as a broken nail, and he was willing that, if it meant Arthur would be safer, to take more of an interest in his school life and how he got on at school. If that meant an awkward conversation with a teacher, so be it. If that meant he would have to attend at parent's evening instead of his mother, so be it. He was going to make sure Arthur Kirkland didn't end up working in some café like he was, and he was going to stop acting like he didn't care, because that kid had some unresolved feelings for him that he needed to tread very carefully around if he didn't want to hurt either Arthur or himself.
He supposed, with distaste, that what the counsellor had said may not have been entirely true. She seemed just as interested in Alfred's behaviours as she was in Arthur's, and the way she so easily let go of the fact that Arthur loved him was concerning. She must understand that dating a minor wasn't really in Alfred's best interests, or Arthur's for that matter, and that they really needed to start being friends before anything else. As he stopped at the lights again, tapping his fingers on the wheel, he thought long and hard about the situation with Arthur. A professional woman had told him this kid had romantic feelings towards him, he didn't know how on earth she had managed to work that out, but he was determined to find himself a little more proof before he said or did anything stupid.
First of all, he needed to start talking to Arthur more. Arguing over breakfast items (despite how awful Arthur obviously was at cooking) was not a good way to start a morning, and despite how they had had some sort of chit chat on the way to Arthur's school, Alfred knew quite well that they needed to be talking about more serious things. Alfred needed to get into the habit of asking Arthur how his school day was, and if he needed any help with his homework. He was going to stop being the older bossy boots who really had no clue about how to deal with Arthur, and he was going to try his absolute hardest to make sure that kid was as happy as he could be.
This little revelation took some time, and Alfred stopped a little too long at the lights for the comfort of the cars lining up behind him. The honking of horns drove him out of his daze, and he hit the gas as he drove through town, through the high street, to the café in which he worked. Seeing Arthur walk through those gates had reminded him of when he had first walked through those café doors to see if they needed any fresh young recruits. He just hoped that he would see Arthur walking through the gates of Harvard instead of serving drinks to the town's cheapskates.
Quite surprised by his revelation, he drove a little slower as, unusually; he needed more time to think. Neither of them had got off on the right foot, he supposed, and now he was learning more about Arthur in irregular chunks rather than the gentle flow friendship may have allowed, he was getting a little more concerned about their relationship. He wanted Arthur to at least see him as a friend, as someone he could trust, and that maybe they would stop inadvertently insulting each other if they both calmed down a treat and started to get along as normal human beings. Though Arthur wasn't normal, and what he had been through was harrowing and traumatic to say the very least, Alfred was going to try his best to stop Arthur from being so callous. And, who knows, with a good attitude towards other human beings and some compassion, Arthur could find himself a nice girlfriend. Or boyfriend, if he decided to go that way. He doubted Arthur had such a deep love for him that he would be impossible to peel away from him- the boy would find himself some other person to read classic texts with and cook awful food for. Though he was going to support Arthur in any way he could as a guardian, he really wasn't in any position to do what Arthur's subconscious and that strange counsellor were telling him to do.
Sighing as he pulled in to the staff car park, cutting the engine and leaning back in his seat with a thoughtful expression, Alfred had a revelation similar to that of several days prior. Arthur didn't need some big boy who would cook him his dinner and buy him clothes, he didn't want a best-buddy-type guy who would take him to the zoo and to baseball games. He needed a strong support to lean on even if he didn't want to, he needed a guardian who wasn't such a total ass he couldn't tell him anything, however bad. Arthur Kirkland didn't need a repeat of the past, no matter what Alfred thought about it or what his subconscious wanted him to do.
Rubbing his eyes under his glasses, he laughed quietly to himself. "I gotta be his goddamn hero," He muttered, digging for his identity badge but not really feeling enthusiastic about working today. "But I guess it's for the best."