What's in a Name
Chapter 19 [Final]
"Hey, you've reached the awesome Alfred F. Jones! I'm out doing something heroic right now so leave your message after the beep, okay?"
"Al? What is wrong with your answerphone message? It's probably one of the stupidest things-!"
"WAIT! Wait, I'm here! Don't hang up!" The voice cut him off, panting and sounding half asleep.
"Alfred? About time, I told you I'd call." Arthur scoffed down the phone at the appearance of the American's voice.
"It's two in the morning!" Alfred yawned.
"Shit! Sorry!" Arthur swore, "I forgot about the time difference! Did I wake you?"
"Nah. I only just got into bed. What's up?"
"Well, I just wanted to say that I've arrived. I'm sorry; I really didn't mean to call so late. These long flights really mess with my head; I can never remember which way I have to change my watch. Guess I got it wrong."
"That's okay." He yawned again. "It's not like I didn't want you to call. How's England?"
"Wet." Arthur groaned, "I should've known that it would be raining. It's bloody December! Other than that it's okay. A bit chilly, but nothing I can't handle. London's grown a bit since I was nine." He chuckled.
Another voice sounded down the line, a bit gruffer than Arthur's.
"Who was that?"
"Eurgh. My brother." He sighed and sounded as though he'd placed his hand over the receiver before yelling away from the phone. "Sorry, I should let you sleep. Phone you again soon?"
"Yeah." Alfred shifted under the bed covers, getting more comfortable on the pillow.
"Okay then. Good night."
Just because I accidently called you at some God forsaken hour in the morning, does NOT mean you have to do the same for me just to spite me. (I don't care if it was Gilbert's idea, you didn't have to actually do it.)
Anyway, I'm writing because it's easier to tell you my address this way. You never seem to understand what people are telling you over the phone properly, so I thought that this way would prove to be a better solution than me shouting at you.
(The address is on the card enclosed with this letter – don't throw it away or you'll forget it!)
I've managed to get a job at the local GP's office while I'm staying here. It means that I won't have to depend on my brother to buy the food. Besides, he's moved back up to Scotland this weekend for his work. Git, just up and leaving me to get sorted by myself. I didn't even know where the local shops were until I had walked around the streets several times.
How are the others getting on? Is Peter alright with Tino and Berwald? William said I should have brought him home with me, but that would have just been impractical with his school and everything. (William's my brother, by the way.)
Gil's not causing too much trouble at work is he? He always seems to be able to annoy Elizabeta to no end.
Also, I hope you're not skipping out on your college course. I managed to go and see the Globe Theatre the other day while I was walking around. That actual Globe! It was incredible! I wish you could have seen it with me!
Stay well, Al.
I'm sending some Christmas presents along with this for next week. I hope these all get there in time for it.
"Hi Alfred. Don't call me that."
"Aww, lighten up man! It's Christmas!"
"Yes." Arthur smiled, sliding down so that he was more comfortable in his chair. "Merry Christmas."
"You too! You should feel the buzz here, Arthur! Francis is throwing a massive party!"
"That sounds… interesting…"
Alfred laughed, "I know what you're thinking, and yeah I kinda suspect it too, but it's better than going back home. I don't think I could stand mom's dried out turkey again."
"So what've you been up to? It's been Christmas there for five more hours than it has here!"
"Well, we've already eaten and well… argued… but that isn't any different than any other time of the year."
"Yeah, my brothers and I. Will's back down from Scotland until the New Year and Edward's come over from Wales for the next couple of days."
"Did you get the present I sent?"
"Sure did! It's awesome! Where did you find it?"
"In a little shop around the corner from me, it sells all kinds of things. I got Peter's in there too. Did he like his?"
Alfred turned to look at the pre-teen, who was, once again, arguing with Gilbert over something or another. "He hasn't taken it off since he unwrapped it. It's kinda cute really. He looks like a little sailor."
There was some shouting from Alfred's end of the line, followed by Gilbert's manic laughter.
"Apparently Peter doesn't like being called cute…"
"Are you surprised? He is my brother."
"Did you like my present?"
"It hasn't arrived yet. The post has been up the creek again over here. Strikes and whatnot. It's ridiculous, really. Fancy striking around the holiday times, bloody idiots."
"I swear you've gotten more British since you left."
"Well what do you expect? Of course my accent's going to get stronger when I'm back over here. Wait- you can still understand me alright, can't you?"
"Well I don't know what some of the stuff you're saying means, but you're still speaking English. It's better than what Francis is like anyway." There was another loud thump and what sounded like Alfred dropping the phone and then scrambling to pick it up again.
"What was that?"
"Francis threw his Christmas present at me."
"The rather large book you sent him."
Arthur grumbled, and Alfred could just picture the glare the Brit was telepathically sending the Frenchman. "Tell him he's a git from me."
"Do you mind if I talk to Peter for a bit? The other two want to have words with him as well."
"Sure thing, I'll go and get him ."
"Thanks. Oh and Al?"
"Merry Christmas, love."
Alfred chuckled, searching the room for where Peter had disappeared to. "Yeah, Happy Christmas, Arthur."
Oh my God! You won't believe the party we had! It was awesome! (I hope this hasn't got lost in the mail too.)
First off, Mattie came over. He's staying with me for the rest of the winter vacation. He said that mom was getting annoying again. He showed up a little bit after we got off the phone to you.
It's weird, even with his crutch he can still get around like you wouldn't believe! I got a little bit worried actually; Gil kept following him around and flirting! Well if he thinks he can get his hands on my little bro then he's got another thing coming!
Both Gil and Lovino brought their brothers along. Is it me, or is Ludwig really strict for a younger brother? I thought he was older than Gil at first! Feliciano was funny. He spent a while complaining because the dinner didn't include pasta. He might look like Lovino but they're completely different (except for maybe the tomato thing. Is that Antonio's fault? He dotes on both of them.)!
Anyway, Francis got all drunk and ended up stripping (like we all knew he would!). At one point he disappeared and when he came back there was some chick draped over his arm (we still don't know who she was). Don't worry though, we managed to get Peter out of the way before all of that happened and Liza made sure that Francis got what was coming to him (she hit him with a frying pan I think).
I'm writing this from my sofa. I should probably be sleeping, but it's not the most comfortable place in the world (Matt's using the bed because of his leg).
I hope you don't mind, but I did take you up on the offer of using your bike. Not much though! Me and Antonio went around to deliver Peter's thank you cards for him (that and I wanted to show off your present! Seriously Artie, it looks exactly like my old jacket! I still can't believe it!). Were you the one who taught Peter to always write thank you cards when he gets presents?
Has my present got to you yet?
I wanna know what you think of it.
Oh yeah! I'm writing instead of phoning this time because I thought I'd be all proper about this. You know? All that formal stuff. You like that kind of thing, right? I bet I'm doing a really bad job of it though.
Happy New Year!
Phone or write back soon, yeah?
From your hero!
Happy New Year to you too. Have you made your resolutions?
Who taught you how to write a letter?
Still I suppose it was quite entertaining to read.
That frog better not have made a bad impression on Peter, or I might just have to kill him. Idiot. Thank Liza for me, will you?
Also, say hello to Matthew for me. If Gilbert gives him any trouble then feel free to beat the wanker up. Though I know that you would anyway, which is definitely a good thing. Still, I find it hard to imagine you being the protective big brother, you've always seemed so laid back. (Dense, remember?)
I hope it's not too uncomfortable sleeping on your sofa. Though I suppose it is better for Matt to sleep on the bed. I can't imagine what he has to go through with his leg. It's awful. My heart goes out to you both.
I don't mind you using my bike, I did offer, after all.
And it was my mother who taught Peter to always write thank you cards. She was always polite that way and did the same thing herself. I find it quite sweet that Peter still keeps it up, though I suppose he won't for much longer. He is growing up after all. He'll be thirteen next year.
Now, on the topic of your present:
I love it.
How you managed to get it delivered undamaged is beyond me, Alfred, but it's here. I've been using it already, actually. My brother's scoffed at me about it, but that's their problem. And let me tell you, good English tea tastes the best when it's served in a proper cup and saucer from a good tea pot. (You must be laughing your head off while reading this, but it's true. What impression did I give off for you to come to the conclusion of giving me a tea set for Christmas is still mystery to me.)
I've been out here for nearly a month now but I'm only just getting used to being back in London. It's so different from being in our little town. The only green is in the parks, which is nice, but they can be quite a trek away if I want to truly relax.
Work's different too.
They've got me working at the reception because I don't have any proper training. They don't deliver medicine to their patients here apart from in special cases; they have to pick it up themselves. It's quite boring if I am perfectly honest. But it's money nonetheless.
I hope all is well with you.
I will speak with you soon.
"You've reached Arthur Kirkland. I can't answer my phone right now. Leave a message at the tone."
"Hi, Arthur. It's Al. I need to be quick, I should be in class and Felicks is starting to moan at me again. But I thought I should tell you. They caught Braginski. Well, I say 'they', it was actually Mattie! Turns out the bastard has been following him ever since then, but didn't make any moves until yesterday. I still don't know all the details and I'll let you know when I do, but from what I heard Matt managed to pull some awesome move on him before the cops came along and arrested him! He's totally my little brother alright! Anyway, there's going to be a court case and everything and they've already got us all being witnesses. It's going to be a big trial. Anyway, I've got class. Talk to you later. Bye!"
Alfred groaned, the memory of the trial was not pleasant. "Well it started off all calm, and it looked like he was going to cooperate, but then he was called and he kinda went crazy."
"Y'know, like lashing out at people and stuff."
"Oh my God! Was everyone okay?"
"Yeah." He sighed, rubbing his temples. "He got taken away after that and the trial had to carry on without him. Natalia got sentenced pretty quickly. Three years, I think she got. Braginski got seven, taking everything into account."
"That's outrageous!" Arthur yelled down the handset, hearing Alfred flinch on the other end. "Sorry. But still! He tried to kill your brother! He set fire to the house while we and his sisters were inside! Have they got no sense? What about all the people he hurt?"
"At least he's been put away. They took away his licence too, but I bet that won't stop him from riding, even if his bike was confiscated. Apparently he's going to get monitored, tagged or something, I dunno."
"You sound exhausted."
"Yeah. Well it's been pretty draining, I guess."
"You didn't get in trouble did you?"
"No, no. I haven't done anything wrong since three years ago, they said. Even if I did practically break into that house and get into a fight. The others were all fine too. Most of the gang members who were there got off saying that they'd been intimidated into joining and doing what Braginski told them to do. There were a few who got short sentences, but nothing major."
"That's fine then."
"You didn't get a mention, so don't worry about that either."
"Oh. Well, that's good I suppose."
"It was actually Matt who got the most attention for catching the bastard. It was amazing Arthur! I mean, if you take Mattie's disability into account. Apparently Braginski tried to jump him and Matt hit him flat in the face with his crutch! I think one of Matt's friends was there too and helped out a bit, but Matt did most of it! Man, I never thought my little bro would turn out to be so awesome!"
"He's okay then?"
"Yeah, he's good. Back living with mom again. She's getting all prissy about him graduating this year 'cause he wants to move out. She's way too protective over him! The guy just caught the gang leader who's been giving the cops a run for their money for over three years and she still thinks he can't look after himself. She's mad."
"I guess she wants to look after him while she still can."
"Maybe." Alfred yawned, the events of the last few days finally catching up with him. "As long as she doesn't start nagging at me. I get enough of that from you."
"Oi! I'm trying to be sympathetic over here!"
He laughed, "There's the Arthur I know and love. Listen, I'm pretty beat so I'm gonna go. I've got an afternoon class that I need to be awake for or Toris is going to go crazy. Talk to you later."
Arthur sighed, smiling into the handset. "Alright, love. Take care."
"Alfred, what the hell have you sent me?"
He could hear him laughing down the phone and felt like throwing it across the room.
"I've never been so embarrassed in my life! My brother answered the door to it!"
"You mean you didn't like them?"
"That's not the point, git! Do you have any idea what I had to put up with after they arrived? Where on earth did you find the number for that place anyway?"
"Internet." Alfred was much too calm for his liking. "Oh, come on, Arthur! It's Valentine's! Did you really expect me not to send you anything?"
"I didn't expect what looks like an entire rose bush to turn up at my brother's flat!"
"It's not an entire rose bush! I thought you liked roses. Besides, I didn't want to just send a card. That's would've been lame!"
This was really starting to give him a headache. "Look, Al, it's not that I don't like them, because they're beautiful, really. I just feel like… well… I feel like you're treating me like some girl."
Argh! Damn that came out worse than it should have.
He could hear Alfred shifting uncomfortably on the other end of the phone.
"You're not some girl." Was the response after a long pause. "And I've never thought of you like that either."
"Oh. Well that's good then."
"Did you read the card that was with the flowers?"
"There was a card?"
"Hang on a second." There was some rustling then Arthur's voice reappeared. "Found it. Want me to read it now?"
"Wait until we're done talking."
"...Did I upset you?"
"Well it wasn't exactly the reaction I was expecting."
"It doesn't matter."
"I should've sent you something."
"Don't worry about it. Hey, Arthur, I've got some stuff to do. That I've got to make sure Gil's not trying to pull any moves on Mattie again. I'll talk to you later, okay?"
"Okay. Look, Al, I really am-"
He had already hung up.
Happy Valentine's Day!
I hope these found you alright. I bought them from a shop I looked up on the internet. It's a nice little place that near to your address (their name's on the card apparently), you should check them out.
I wanted to do this properly, but seeing as you're on the other side of the ocean, that's a bit hard, right?
Anyway, it's our first Valentine's together. (That still looks strange to me. Guess it's because we haven't seen each other in ages!) So I wanted to do something a bit romantic.
I asked Francis but he just came out with a load of stupid French stuff that sounded lewd, so I didn't take any notice.
Anyway, I know you like roses, so I bought a whole bunch of them. Red ones are the romantic ones, right? I did get that right didn't I?
I really hope you like them!
(If not, then sorry…)
What I'm trying to say in all this is that I love you Arthur. I know we don't say it to each other very often (or at all), but I really do.
Even though you're over there and I'm still stuck here at college I'm still thinking of you (the others tease me about it enough). I'm probably the world's worst romantic, but I'm going to try my best for you, even if I end up looking like a complete idiot. I wish more than anything right now that you could be here with me, but that would be wrong for me to push anything on you. So until you're ready to come back I'll send you my support in any way I can, starting with these.
I love you Arthur.
"Hey, you've reached the awesome Alfred F. Jones! I'm out doing something heroic right now so leave your message after the beep, okay?"
"Alfred you bloody idiot answer your phone!" He yelled down the receiver, fed up for the life of him with Alfred's answerphone message. "I read the card and I'm sorry! Okay? Jesus Christ. Look, I don't know what to say when it's just me talking, it makes things much too awkward. And just because I had a go at you before doesn't mean I'm still mad now! Fucking hell, answer the phone, git!"
He sighed, running his hand through his hair in a futile attempt to calm down.
"I'm sorry Al. I shouldn't have said all that stuff before. I was stupid and didn't look at the full picture. What I said… I didn't mean it. I was just surprised that a giant bunch of flowers turned up on the doorstep and then I had to deal with my brother mocking me about it. Argh! I'm just making excuses! Look, the fact is that I'm sorry. You know how bad I am at this kind of thing. What you said in that card, it was so sweet of you. All of that romance stuff, even if you make a hash of it, I'll always appreciate it. You were right, roses are my favourite, and how you can remember all of those little kinds of things about me I don't know. I wish I was there with you as well. God knows I do. Just please don't ignore me. I can't stand it. But if you want me to leave you alone for now then I will. It's always going to be hard for me to express thus sort of thing Alfred, but please believe me. I do love you. Even if I don't say it, please remember that."
"So did you get it?"
"Hello to you too."
"Yeah, yeah. Did you get it?"
"Yes, Alfred. I got it."
He cheered so loud that Arthur had to hold the phone away from his ear.
"So do you like it?"
"You sound like a five year old."
"Oh come on, Arthur! At least sound a bit more excited!"
"I'll sound excited when I feel like it. But yes, I do indeed like it. Actually, I rather love it."
There was another cheer.
"Can you stop that? I feel like I'm going deaf."
"Sorry. I just wasn't sure whether you'd actually like it."
"When was it taken?"
"The day you left. Francis only just decided to tell me that he'd taken it."
"I'm not sure I like the idea of that frog taking photos of us when we're not paying attention."
"I'm just glad he finally gave it to me."
"I bet the other's all got a flash of it first."
"Who cares if they did? It's not as if we don't have enough stuff to blackmail them all with."
Alfred was silent for a few seconds before speaking again. "You've been away for five months now."
"Yeah. It feels longer though. Especially if it keeps raining like this."
"I thought it always rains in England."
"Not all the time! It's expected to be a hot summer this year. Not that that means anything."
"Well, if it's any consolation, it's been raining here too."
"Good to know."
"Oh! Peter wants to talk to you."
"Yup, I still pick him up from school you know. Just to keep him out of Tino and Berwald's hair until they finish work."
"That's nice. I'm glad that they're all doing well."
"They're always asking about you. You should ring them once in a while too."
"I'll make a note of it."
"Well, I'll hand you over then."
"Thanks, love. Talk to you soon."
I feel like we haven't spoken in a while now. It's really weird, thinking about it. You've been away for, what, half a year now?
It feels so much longer though!
Tino threw a birthday party for Berwald the other day. (He said thanks for the card by the way.) Francis ended up under Liza's constant watch. She doesn't let him drink at our parties anymore after what happened at Christmas.
Peter brought one of his friends from school. I think her name was Lilli. It turned out that her older brother, Vash, already knew Roderich, funny huh? They argued for half the night!
I've finished college for the year now. Seems like only yesterday when I started here (which kinda contradicts the whole feeling like you've been gone forever thing). Felicks said that I've been weird since day one so I probably failed the exams, but Toris thinks that they went okay for all of us. Felicks is just annoyed because it's not just him and Toris at college anymore.
I'm trying to get a job now. Tino said that I could have one at the surgery if I wanted but I kinda want to strike out on my own, you know? I want to know that I can actually do something by myself.
How's stuff going for you?
Your brother isn't bullying you is he?
I forgot to say before that someone's moved into the flat opposite yours. He's this Greek guy called Heracles (I think). I see him talking to Kiku quite a lot so I think they get on or something. There's this other guy living with him too, dunno what his name is though. He's weird though, goes around wearing a mask. All I ever hear him doing is arguing with Heracles. It's annoying really but kinda reminds me of you and Francis fighting (I sound like an old man).
Hey, Arthur, when you get back I'm going to treat you to something. Whatever you want (so long as I can afford it). It's kinda lonely now that I don't see anyone at college anymore and that Peter's living with Tino and Berwald. I meet up with Kiku and we play video games sometimes, but it's not like when we all used to go round and crash at yours.
(Actually, I caught Gil trying to get into your apartment the other day. I think he was running away from his brother again… Antonio and Lovino showed up after that to get him to go back home. It was weird.)
I go and sit in there sometimes. (I keep it clean, don't worry.) You don't mind do you?
Oh yeah. Matt finished school as well. He's going to come and live with me next year so he can come to college here. Turns out mom got a new boyfriend somewhere and started getting even more controlling than she used to be. She stopped looking after him properly. Dad actually came and intervened for once, so Mattie's staying with him until September.
I'm not going to ask you to come back, Arthur. That wouldn't be very heroic of me. Still, I miss you and I want to see you. So even if you're away for another six months or whatever, I'll wait for you to come home.
He slumped back in his sofa, covering his still unbelievably blue eyes with one hand. It was stupid how long it had taken him to write that letter. Why was it so damn difficult to say one little thing? Let alone post it!
Argh! It was too early in the morning to worry about these kinds of things. Maybe another couple of hours of sleep would clear his head.
Alfred stood up, rubbing his eyes under his glasses and draining the last few drops of coffee from his mug. He thought he heard a car door slamming outside, but was too worn out to pay it any mind. Even if he didn't sleep, just the lie down would do him some good.
He was just about making his way to his bedroom when someone knocked hard on his door. Really, who called this early on a Sunday morning?
If it was Francis again then he swore he was going to punch the French bastard square on the nose.
He yawned, turning on his heel to open the door, preparing himself to confront his landlord. He had no right to come knocking and demand things from him when there was sleeping to be done.
He yanked on the handle, glaring at the opening space into the corridor. "Francis, I'm not in the mood for- oh…"
"You know, for once I think I should thank the frog."
Arthur was standing in the doorway, leaning on his soaked umbrella, proud smile fixed on his face. His hair was complete drenched and dripping down his face, the occasional drop catching in his abnormally large eyebrows. But his eyes still shone the brightest emerald.
"After all," He held up a slightly soggy looking piece of paper, his smile widening slightly, "he was able to save this before it got sent all the way to England. And my brother would have a field day if he read what you wrote in this."
Alfred stared at the man in front of him. Arthur was back? He blinked, thinking for a second that he was dreaming, but no, Arthur was still there when he opened his eyes again.
"What are you doing, git? You look like you've seen a ghost. Although that can't be true, you're not screaming yet." He chuckled, flashing his pirate-like grin at the younger boy before being pulled forwards suddenly.
They vaguely heard the umbrella fall to the floor with a wet clack. Arthur was soaking wet, but Alfred didn't care. He just wanted to hold the man in his arms and prove to himself that he was really there.
Arthur's arms were wrapped around his neck, letting his fingers rope through the taller man's hair as the gap between them vanished completely. He allowed himself to be lifted off the ground slightly by Alfred, though the action was an awkward one, until their eyes were level with each other.
The kiss was sweet and something that they had both longed for since that day at the airport six months previously. It had been so long that Alfred could barely remember the warmth of the other man's mouth when they melted together. But he had always remembered the feel of holding Arthur, the strength that he held in his lean body, even if he was smaller.
When they finally broke apart the grin returned to Alfred's face, lightening up his features, the tiredness he had felt ten minutes before completely disappearing.
"Hello to you too." He hummed, remembering one of the Brit's greetings. "You didn't tell me you were coming back."
"I wanted to surprise you." Arthur chuckled, picking up his things and following Alfred into the apartment. "So, what was all this about treating me when I got back?"
"Err, well yeah. I thought that we could go out and do something nice, you know?" Alfred felt he face heat up slightly at the reference to the now slightly crinkled letter in Arthur's hand.
"Hmm? Well, I suppose that would be nice." The Brit breathed out a laugh, noting the pink tinge to Alfred's cheeks. "But for now, I think I need some rest. I've just got off an aeroplane and I'm living five hours ahead of your right now. My body clock is broken."
"Fair enough." He followed Arthur to the sofa, falling onto it after him. The smaller man leant over slightly, resting his head on Alfred's shoulder and closing his eyes.
"Oh, and by the way." He spoke quietly, his exhaustion starting to show through.
"I missed you too, Al."
Alfred glanced down at Arthur, seeing the peaceful look on the older man's face. He smiled, pressing a kiss to his sandy blonde hair before gently leaning his head against the messy mop of hair.
Yeah. He was back, alright.
[A/N: So this is it. This last chapter.
I would've put this up sooner, but I've just moved into my student accommodation for University and did want to get the first chapter of my new fic up first, but I'm not close to finishing that yet, so I thought I'd be nice and put this up first. ^-^
It's kinda sad seeing this all come to an end. I'll miss this AU now that it's done.
Look out for the new fic, ne? =D]