Notes Of A Love Song: Broken Strings

Immense forewarning here. This is not a happy-happy-sugar-coated-fairies-and-gay chapter. If you have problems with things like unconditional sex (AKA, rape), please carry on like this one never happened. Though it is a huge point in the plot.

When Arthur awoke the next morning, Francis was sitting on the edge of the bed, staring at the wall with a strange look on his face. The younger blond groaned and rolled over onto his back, covering his eyes with his hands as the night before came rushing back to him. He was ashamed of himself for asking for something like that. Gods, he felt like a slut, and no doubt Francis saw him as one now. He sighed and sat up, hands resting on his knees as he contemplated the man before him.

Truthfully, he hadn't been lying when he'd told Francis that he was curious. He was intrigued by the other, interested, and more than just sexually. There was something familiar about the Frenchman that Arthur just couldn't place. But it was a comforting familiarity, one that he had no trouble accepting. He leaned forward, blankets tangling around his waist as he wrapped his arms around Francis from behind. More than anything, he was scared of what the other had said the night before.

"I'm just already starting to regret what I'm going to do."

"So . . . Do you regret it?" Arthur asked quietly, tightening his grip on the other man.

Francis blinked, looking down and letting his hands rest over the ones that were splayed out over his chest, "Cheri . . . I . . ."

Arthur felt a flare of panic in his chest at the hesitation, "Look, it's a week until I have to leave to tour with Warsaw, right? So can't you just give me a chance until then? One week, that's all I ask."

"Cheri, there's more to it than that-"

"Just one week. I promise you can get rid of me after that if that's what you really want," Arthur whispered, "And until then, you can do whatever you like with me."

The older blond turned to stare blankly at him, "It's dangerous to say something like that, cheri," he murmured. "What I did last night and what I held back from doing are two entirely different matters."

"I just . . ." Arthur hesitated, at a loss for what to say, "I just want to mean something to you . . ."

You mean more to me than you will ever know, cheri, Francis thought, turning away again. "Fine," he said quietly, "One week, no more. And afterwards, you will have no right to complain should I choose to end this charade." He shrugged and turned to flick some of the hair out of Arthur's eyes, "Now, go take a shower, mon Arthur."

Arthur arched a hand behind his back, touching the swollen area above his rear with a hissing intake of breath. It hurt a bit to stand, and he chewed his lip slightly as he began to rinse out his hair under the warm water. He couldn't understand why Francis was regretting the night before, if anyone was to regret anything, it should have been him. But he couldn't bring himself to feel like that. He leaned against the tiles on the shower wall, closing his eyes and listening to the sound of the water cascading down to pool on the shower floor. Almost like rain. Rain, water, the river, the blue of Francis's eyes, they somehow all connected, and he wanted to know why.

He jumped as the glass shower door slid open, and turned to see Francis himself slip in beside him, closing the steam covered door once more. He gazed at Arthur with glazed eyes for a moment, as if thinking about something, before reaching out and catching his shoulder, tugging him close beneath the spray. Arthur's heart rate sped up, and he stared up at the older man with mounting excitement, "So, are you going to show me what it was that you were holding back then?" he teased.

Francis turned him again and lowered his hands to the other's waist, "Hands on the wall," he ordered.

The younger glanced over his shoulder at him, characteristic eyebrows raised as he complied, "What are you-"

"Quiet," Francis hissed between his teeth.

Arthur flinched at the tone, noticing something flicker through Francis's eyes that had not been there the night before, "Franci-"

"Don't talk," the other snapped, tightening his grip on Arthur's hips, "I'm going to show you exactly-" Francis pulled the smaller man back against him harshly, "-Why you shouldn't be with me!"

Panic flared up in Arthur's chest and he began to struggle, "Francis, stop!" He screamed as the older man suddenly forced himself inside, his eyes closing with the pain. The blond whimpered and bit his lip, drawing blood that trickled down his chin to fall into the water that he realized with a start, was already turning pink as it swirled down the drain. "Oh . . . Oh god," he gasped, tears forming in the corners of his eyes to stream steadily down his cheeks.

Francis pushed Arthur up against the wall, one hand reaching up to twist the showerhead around so that it still poured down on them, washing away the blood that dripped down between them. "You don't want this," he growled softly, "I'm not the person you think I am, Arthur."

"Franci-"

"Shut up!" Francis yelled fiercely, pulling back and thrusting back into him, making the smaller man cry out, "I'm cruel, Arthur! And I'm not going to standby and fail you again!" He repeated the movement, Arthur gasping with pain beneath him, "I tried so hard not to let it come to this and you forced me to it!" Leaning down, he bit at the other's shoulder, causing him to sob and writhe as Francis kept a firm hold on his waist, "You don't need people like me in your life, cheri!"

Arthur's eyes snapped open, his fingers clenching against the tiles of the shower wall. His heart hammered with fear, and his breathing had become hitched and ragged, but he summoned up whatever courage he had left, "That's not for you to decide!"

"Yes it is!" Francis ground into him again, satisfied as Arthur's back arched as he screamed again, "It's my responsibility to protect you! Even if that means protecting you from myself!" He groaned and thrust blindly into the younger man again, reaching around with a hand to grasp Arthur's length, "So I'll teach you not to come near me. Even if it means that you will never so much as show your face in my presence again," the older blond began to pump his fist over Arthur's member in time with his unforgiving movements.

The Englishman sobbed, his fingernails digging into his palms as he came harshly under the steady spray of the shower. His knees shook and he would have fallen if Francis hadn't held him steady. He gasped as the other man spilled over inside of him, riding his orgasm out with a strangled moan. Arthur whimpered again as the larger man pulled out of him, sinking down onto his knees in the water that still swirled with pink streaks. He felt sick, and he stifled a gag at the sight.

Suddenly, the water was turned off and Francis had grabbed his shoulder, forcing him to his feet and shoving him outside of the shower. The blond stumbled and fell onto his back with a huff as the wind was knocked out of him, laying there stunned for a moment before he noticed Francis looming over him again. Arthur gasped and tried to scramble to his feet, making it as far as the door before Francis grabbed him again, slamming his back against the door and hauling his legs up onto the his shoulders. "Francis stop!" he screamed, voice breaking into another cry as the other penetrated him once more.

Arthur steadily lost count of how many times he screamed those two words, pleading and crying for the Francis to stop. But the frustration and fury in the other man's eyes barely even dimmed as he took the younger again and again. Against the door, twice on the floor of the bedroom, against the wall, and over the desk. It was only after Arthur's voice had vanished and his tears had run dry that Francis finally pulled away. The thick browed blond felt faint surprise as the older man lifted him up into his arms bridal style and carried him gently over to the bed.

He barely registered anything as Francis tugged a t-shirt over his head and laid a layer of towels on the sheets, placing Arthur on top of them and beginning to carefully clean him. Emerald eyes stared sightlessly up at the ceiling as Francis wadded up one of the towels with a slight frown at the blood on it before walking away into the bathroom. He emerged a few minutes later with a basin of cool water and a washrag, which he soaked and rang out, placing it on Arthur's forehead as he pulled the blankets up over him.

"It's better this way, mon cheri," Francis murmured, running fingers absently through the other's hair and smiling sadly at the noticeable flinch that resulted, "One day . . . I hope you'll understand that." He stood again and left silently, closing the bedroom door behind him and locking it.

^-^ ^-^ ^-^

Arthur grew oblivious to the passing of days. Francis went in and out of the room at frequent intervals, changing the water in the basin and the washcloth on his head. He brought Arthur water and Ibuprofen, making sure he took both before he left again. After what must have been close to a day he approached with some applesauce and fed it to him when Arthur refused to sit up. How long this cycle continued, Arthur couldn't be sure. Soup, milk, water, and Jell-O all passed his lips without a word between them. Every once in awhile, Francis would remove the washcloth and place a hand over his forehead, which made Arthur realize that he was running a steady fever. A relieved look had crossed the older man's face when the fever had broken, but otherwise his face remained expressionless for the most part.

The curtains were drawn back after Arthur awoke the final time to reveal blazing sunlight. Francis leaned on the windowsill with a carefully placed look of disinterest on his face, "You leave tomorrow, Arthur. Your band mates are becoming worried about you. It would be best if you spent the night in your own room this evening."

The younger man rolled over so that his back was to the other and ignored the remark, closing his eyes again. Francis's hand was suddenly on his shoulder, and he flinched away from him and sitting up with a snarl. "Don't touch me," he muttered, eyes narrowed.

Francis merely smiled, "Everyone is out right now, so you can return to your room without them noticing," he informed, "And Gilbert and Feliks went out and bought you a new wardrobe I had them lay on your bed for you to take on the tour. You would do well to pack them tonight." He went to the door and held it open.

Arthur rose to his feet and sighed as he noticed that his back no longer throbbed with pain before he strode past the taller man and out the door without so much as a glance over his shoulder. He rode the elevator down and made his way to the room he had yet to use and collapsed onto his bed, arms crossing over his face as the tears welled in his eyes again for the first time since the incident. Silent sobs racked his body until a soft knock came against his door. He didn't answer, but tried to stifle the cry that welled up in his throat instead.

Feliciano's eyes widened as he pushed the door open anyways, catching sight of the older man on the bed. He closed and locked the door behind him before running to his side, "Arthur! Arthur, what's wrong?"

The blond shook his head and sat up, flinging his arms around Feliciano's neck as the other climbed up onto the bed beside him. The Italian started and held Arthur steady, rubbing small circles between his shoulder blades comfortingly. "I was an idiot," Arthur whispered hoarsely, "I was a fool, Feliciano!"

"Arthur-"

"I don't ever want to see him again!" Arthur screamed, hugging the other's shoulders tightly, "How could he do this to me?!" He sobbed and choked on his tears, "What he did . . . It's something that can never be fixed, or healed! There's this pain inside of my heart that can never go away and I . . ." The blond gasped and coughed, "I can't forgive him for that!"

"Big brother didn't . . ." Feliciano whispered in horror, wrapping his arms around his bandmate, "Arthur . . ."

Arthur didn't reply, screaming in frustration and anguish into the folds of Feliciano's shirt.

^-^ ^-^ ^-^

"Ludwig?" Feliciano said quietly as he slipped back into their room, "I'm going to stay with Arthur tonight, ve?" The German's head turned from where he'd been placing a sleeping Kiku in his crib with a frown, "What happened?" The auburn haired man shook his head wordlessly, "I . . . I can't tell you. It's too . . . Awful."

The blond narrowed his eyes, taking a few paces to close the distance between them and placing a hand on Feliciano's head. "I can't fix it if I don't know how to," he murmured softly.

"It's not something that can be fixed," Feliciano whispered, shaking his head again. He turned watering eyes to the taller man with a held back whimper, "Ludwig . . . He . . . He hurt Arthur, so badly! I don't know what to do and I-"

"Feliciano, how did he hurt him?" Ludwig asked, worry clouding his eyes.

"He-"

Feliciano stood beside the couch as he watched the scene out on the balcony with half lidded eyes. The sliding glass door had been pulled closed, so he could not hear the words that were yelled. But the body language and the utter fury on Ludwig's face was clear enough. Francis did not raise a hand as he was grabbed by the collar of his shirt and punched square in the face, blood staining the taller man's knuckles crimson. The door slid open again and Ludwig came back inside, slamming it shut hard enough to crack the glass as he left Francis behind, kneeling on the balcony with his hands to his nose, blood trickling out between his fingers.

The Italian grabbed Ludwig's arm as he passed, clinging to him and making a soothing humming noise in the back of his throat. The blond growled and tried to shake him off briefly before relenting and sinking down onto the sofa, pulling the younger man close. "Go to Arthur now," he murmured, "I'm going to have to drive that bastard to the hospital to get his nose taken care of." He snorted at the thought, "I hope it's broken."

The smaller man looked worried, "Don't wish such things on people, Ludwig."

"But he-"

Feliciano smiled slightly, "He's my brother, Ludwig. No matter what he may do, and what pain he causes, that will always be so." He shook his head, "There are some things that Arthur cannot understand about him, and I think that that's what hurt him the most. Whatever happened, Francis did for a reason."

"That doesn't mean he's not a bastard," Ludwig muttered sourly.

"I know," Feliciano smiled. He stood up and wandered towards the elevator, pressing the button to take him to the next floor down. "But don't take it out on him. There are two sides to every tale, Ludwig."

Arthur was in the exact same place Feliciano had left him, facedown on his bed with his head in his arms. The Italian busied himself packing the bags of new clothes into a suitcase with some basic necessities before he crawled over to lie beside the other. Arthur rolled over and wrapped his arms around him without a word, thick eyebrows furrowing together in a way that threatened the approach of another round of tears. Feliciano ran a hand through his friend's hair and hummed again, gently, reassuringly. "I cannot help you heal, ve . . . But I think that one day soon, it'll get better. That's . . . all I can really do for you," he whispered.

The blond choked and shook his head, "I wish that were true.

^-^ ^-^ ^-^

Arthur Kirkland had shooed Feliciano away when the sun rose, smiling and telling him that he was feeling much better. He knew that the Italian was not oblivious to his blatant lie, but he was grateful that the other acted as if he was. The blond took the time to finish packing, as Feliciano's quick job of it the night before was rather hasty and messy. He relaxed in the bath for an hour, keeping his eyes closed and avoiding a shower for reasons he didn't want to think about. He had a room service order of eggs, bacon, and good old fashioned English tea brought up before he worked on some early morning stretches and vocal exercises. It had been over a week since he'd sang anything, and he felt a little nervous that he would no longer be able to. But he was pleased to find that everything appeared to be in general working order.

The first few notes were a bit rough, but he persevered, singing whatever popped into his head until the words began to sound right.

"Let me hold you

For the last time

It's the last chance to feel again.

But you broke me

Now I can't feel anything." He paused as there was a knock on the door, thinking it was Italy again. "Come in," he called, tossing a brush he had just used into the suitcase as a last minute addition. Arthur started violently as Francis came in, leaving the door open a crack so that the other could clearly see Feliciano behind him in the hall. "G-get out," he stuttered, stumbling back against the wall.

Francis smiled, raising a hand to touch the brace and bandages across his nose, "Your friends gave me quite a talking to, you know. And I deserved it." He hesitated, "But I do not regret my actions, Arthur. It was necessary. And though you may never see it that way, I could not risk it ending any other way. I should have never allowed it to start in the first place even." He smiled again, "That's all I wanted to say. I'll take my leave now."

Arthur watched him go with narrowed eyes before he grabbed his suitcase from the floor and made his way to the elevator, Feliciano following close behind. A bus was waiting for them down in the parking lot, the word Warsaw painted on its side with in bright red letters. Feliks was hanging out of the window and waving at them, Gilbert close beside. Roderich, Antonio, Elizaveta, and Lovino came out a few minutes later, Antonio helping to heave everyone's bags into the storage area on the sides of the bus. Ludwig came out soon after, looking rather comical with Kiku in a baby-backpack on his chest, giggling as his adopted father walked. Ivan was the last out, and Feliks shot a glare at him as he climbed onto the bus behind Gilbert. But he was the guard assigned to Rotating Earth, not Warsaw, so he couldn't complain unless he wanted to lose his contract with Francis.

Arthur took a seat near the front of the bus, starting up a conversation with the young man with shoulder-length auburn hair there, who he quickly found out used to live in his neighborhood up until a few years ago. "Toris, correct?" he asked, intrigued, "I don't think I ever saw you around town."

Toris laughed lightly, "No, I went to a private school in London, and was only home during the summers." He waved a hand absentmindedly, "I was the one who got Feliks signed up with Francis because I lived there, though. We've known each other for; let's see . . . Sixteen years now, I think?"

The blond blinked in surprise, "Huh? Francis didn't live anywhere near there." The older man tilted his head to the side, "But his aunt did, right? Or something like that. He stayed the summer once, I think. He was always playing with this little boy who had this beautiful voice and-"

Arthur's hands rose to his ears, as if blocking out some noise no one else could hear, his emerald eyes widening.

"Because, I find you amusing, Arthur."

"You sing beautifully, cheri."

"That's a wonderful dream, cheri. I hope to hear you sing on stage someday then."

A rush of water and his mind went blank.

"And I'm not going to standby and fail you again!"

The blond gasped and stood up, feeling the bus beginning to move. He dashed towards the back, scrambling over seats and bags over Feliciano's startled call and Toris's worried questions. His fists hit the large back window and he looked out it desperately, catching sight of Francis on the front steps of the hotel, watching the bus pull out. "Francis!" he called, pounding against the glass, knowing the other couldn't hear him.

There was something he was missing, something he had forgotten that he should have remembered, though he didn't know what it was. He turned towards the front of the bus again, "Stop the bus!"

Ludwig stood up and grabbed his arm, pushing Arthur into another seat with a growl, "Don't stop the bus," he called to the driver. His eyes narrowed at the Englishman, "You have no reason to speak to that bastard, Arthur. Leave it be."

"But-"

"Leave it! Think things over and don't be rash! If you still feel like you need a heart to heart with him, god knows why, call him when we get to Washington. But not until then."

Arthur sunk down in his seat, "All right . . ." But his hand was already fiddling with his cell phone inside his pocket.

RANDOM AUHOR RAMBLE

The story is not dead! D: I just had major writers block on it for like, 3 months. :p the first scene was really hard, that's my only excuse.

Anywho . . . More importantly, are you all watching American Idol!?!?! I hate that damn show, except for the tryouts where I laugh at the flunkies. :] but this time, in the finals, there's that guy who looks EXACTLY like FRANCE! He has curly shoulder-length blond hair and the darker stubble and everything! I have never said this about anyone before in my entire life, actors or anything, but I want to marry that guy and have his France-san babies. Seriously. I hope he wins. :D

More epic developments next chapter, that will hopefully be much lighter than this one. Though Arthur still has a long way to go before things fall into place for him.

Oh, and the song was Broken Strings, Arthur sang a part of it as he was packing.