Falling in Love in New York City
There had never been a time, at least that he could remember, when Alfred had to quite literally roll out of bed, sluggishly kicking his legs in order to untangle himself from their cozy grasp. One hour; he had gotten just one hour of sleep and at that moment, no matter how wonderful the night before had been, he understood that it just wasn't worth it. Fun with Arthur be damned, he needed his beauty sleep. He could already hear the disapproving grunts from his modeling instructor the moment she got a load of the bags under his eyes. It probably would have been wiser to just stay up all the way through.
Twenty minutes later, he sat up on the bed, rubbing at his eyes as his head continued to loll back and forth with the permanent drowsiness he was sure to host for the rest of the day.
With much effort, Alfred managed to stumble onto his feet, sway a bit, before heading off into the general direction of his bathroom. Although the apartment was rather cold, he paid no heed as he made his way across, shirtless; somewhat hoping that it would help fend off the sleep that continued to stubbornly ebb its way in. It hadn't made that much a difference as he lazily scratched at his belly, smacking his lips in an attempt to will the morning breath away. It was going to be one hell of a long day.
As far as obliviousness went, Arthur was shocked that the American had waltzed all the way across the kitchen and hadn't even noticed him standing there with a steaming cup of coffee in hand. He decided against making his presence known. Instead, he opted to ogle the tussled bed head, hair sticking up in awkward angles. He found that, as much as he liked how Alfred looked without his glasses, he'd much rather see him wearing them. Without the spectacles, Alfred's youth was too obvious to ignore. It screamed high school; and it made Arthur rather sick to his stomach.
As for Alfred, not even a freezing cold shower was enough to get him fully awake, much to his dismay. He honestly wished he could just bail and do something fun, after catching a few hours of sleep that is. With Arthur spending his time in his apartment, he could think of a thing or two to do. Like that date he had promised himself a few days ago, or was that the day before? Lost nights and disorientation, just what he needed.
A good teeth brush later, he combed back his wet hair and slipped on the pair of jeans he always kept in his bathroom for the sake of emergencies. Another day to face, and an overwhelming one at that. Arthur made him nervous all over even when he kept his cool, but this was something entirely different from the coffee house 'dates'. He was a guest. "Damn it."
"Alfred?" There was a knock on the bathroom door. "You may come out whenever you like. Your coffee is about to get cold."
"You made me coffee?" Said door was yanked open without warning, making Arthur nearly stumble onto the freshly bathed American. A freshly bathed American who smelled utterly refreshing. Arthur would have liked to admit that the first thing he noticed was how bright Alfred looked first thing in the morning, even if he looked about to pass out, but if he were to be completely honest, he'd have to say his eyes wandered directly to his hair. The usually neatly combed hair was pulled back for the exception of that somewhat charming cowlick, and it made Alfred look all the more dashing.
Second thing he noticed was his glistening washboard chest. But that was beside the point.
"I didn't necessarily make it for you. After an all-nighter I needed some caffeine." Arthur scowled at him as he pushed himself off the wall, making his way back into the kitchen, taking a seat at the small table. A newspaper rested near his mug.
"Didn't you hate coffee?"
"Not my drink of choice, but I can bare it."
Alfred followed, rubbing the remaining bits of sleep from his eyes. The makeup department was going to have to do wonders once he dropped by; he'd probably skip last period so he could come back and get some shut eyes and call Marco to cover for him again. At this rate he feared for his job. "Coffee's good. I make good coffee."
"I wouldn't expect otherwise from a barista." Smiling at Arthur, Alfred took a sip from his mug, immediately turning his nose and how stupidly bitter the thing tasted. "Alfred?"
"I wouldn't expect otherwise from someone who only makes tea.—Tastes like shit with a dash of concrete."
Alfred was sure there was a huge bruise beneath his mop of hair the size of Texas from where Arthur hit him with a decorative rock of some kind after his little wiseass comment. It was true, however. Arthur could be good at other things… none of which he could name… but making a decent cup of coffee wasn't one of his fortes. He'd have to take the coffee making duties into his own hands; which was the obvious thing to do considering his line of duty. That aside, it was nice of him, yeah, but now he was both ready to fall asleep at any given moment and about to gag his toast.
The rest of the day went uneventful. Test aside, he spent lunch break with the guys and an over-excited Elizaveta who came too close for comfort when she decided to mention their late night conversation a matter of days ago. His instructor did flip her lid and sounded off on the responsibilities of being a model and how much of a poor example Alfred was to the whole class—and it was during History that his eyes began to droop shut, missing half the lecture on Alexander the Great. Without hesitating, he excused himself with the rest of his crew and made his way back to his apartment in record speed. That didn't stop him from thinking on the way back. And he thought about a lot of things, most of which made me sigh dreamily like the teenager he was.
It was Friday night, Arthur was crashing at his place, and the fact that he wanted to get back and sleep kind of put him off. He was known for his boundless energy and to just give up on a weekend night was against his own personal religion. Maybe all he needed was a cup of coffee, a proper one, and he could run for another few hours, take Arthur out on that date he had thought about and show the guy a good time. He looked like he needed it. Plus it gave them the time to talk about whatever it was that had happened in the airport. Sounded like a plan.
Alfred made sure to call Marco and explain the dilemma, being completely honest with him about what was what. His coworker wasn't ecstatic about the idea of working double shifts, but being the nice guy he was, he cut the kid some slack. It would come and bite Alfred on the ass later, Marco was the master of payback, but he was grateful for the chance.
The backup energy reserve decided to kick in then, sending him into a mode so hyper he didn't really understand where the hell it came from, but he rode it out. Whenever his body decided to crash later on, it was going to be ugly, but until then he was going to ride the adrenaline rush and do what he had to do. Fishing for his phone, he called up the Brit boy wonder. Alfred let the phone ring till it went to voicemail, did so four times in a row while furrowing his brow. Maybe Arthur was napping, being the old man he was. He pocketed his phone again and figured he'd surprise him when he arrived home instead.
Arthur leaned against the window of Alfred's trendy apartment in a pair of fluffy slippers, cup of tea nestled warmly against his cold hands. It was his fifth cup that day as he tried to fight the urge to pop in a cigarette again; he had gone through a quarter of a box already. Stress levels were through the roof again, high enough to tip the balance of his earlier decision, forcing him to weigh them again and finally choose. He had thought he made the correct one when he chose to leave, but the transition of that internal monologue to where he was currently standing was enough to tip his entire world on its axis. Maybe he was somehow meant to be with Alfred—the magnificently infuriating American that made his days just a little bit brighter. Not that he'd ever admit to it aloud. Alfred's innocently bright eyes promised him a new beginning, fresh and unknown but maybe that was exactly what he needed.
His heart always nudged in his chest whenever he got a load of that brilliant smile and warm hands. So what if he was young, it wasn't anything new. Couples with significant age differences were all the rage nowadays. He could see himself falling in love and dating without wanting to pummel his partner to the ground. He could also see Alfred leaving him as the years progressed, the young and vibrant model leaving the old man behind because he was cramping his style.
He grabbed another cigarette. No matter what he thought or chose, there would always be those possibilities. Nothing lasts forever, not even true love.
"Pull yourself together, you old sod. One step at a time."
Scenario after scenario played in his head. So many outcomes, good and bad though mostly murderous… but he had to do what he had to do. Tango was not meant for three, Arthur noted. As long as either Francis or Alfred was there, he'd continue to dance in heels that would impede any proper advancement in his life, leaving his feet too bloodied and wounded to walk on. Someone had to be cut out of the equation for it to work. In Arthur's head, it was clear who that someone had to be.
It was probably stupid. Maybe he was relying on false hopes, but at this point in time desperation meant nothing anymore. He was done pretending and relying on someone who just viewed him as some sort of sick trophy of adventures past. If he ended up alone, then so be it. He could always fly back home and live beneath the London Bridge.
Drawing his phone, he found two missed calls from Francis, probably wondering why he hadn't arrived yet. He called back, wincing at how terrible his bill will be once it came in; he briefly wondered why he never bothered with long distance. To no surprise, it went right to voicemail. Probably had no reception, wherever he was.
"Hello,youhavereachedthevoiceinboxofMr.Bonnefoy.Iamnotabletoanswerrightnowbutdoleaveamessagedetailingyoursituationandwhatyou'rewearingbeneathyourclothingafterthetone." Arthur deadpanned, his mind automatically translating the French message into English, something he instinctively did whenever the bastard ranted in his native language.
He took a deep breath. No hesitating; that would only make him chicken out.
"Francis, it's Arthur. I do hope you landed safely and that you had a pleasant flight—now enough with the pleasantries. I would much have preferred to tell you this in your presence, but our current predicament impedes it, so a message would have to do. Also, I probably would have caved your face in but that's beside the point." Arthur stopped for a moment, took a drag and walked into the kitchen. "These past few months have been, without doubt, the worst in my life. In fact, no, that's a lie. They haven't been that bad—I've clearly been through worse… but where you are concerned, you distasteful frog, hell pales in comparison." He stubbed out the cigarette and leaned against the counter, a smirk now tugging at his lips.
For a brief moment, the thought of getting fired crossed his mind but he pushed it right back down. He wasn't going to let anything derail him from his decision to end it. His sanity just wasn't worth being put on the line again. "Since you have outdone yourself with your chivalrous deeds and warming gestures, due note the heavy sarcasm I am implying here, I would like to inform you that I am done." A shaky sigh, a hand pressed against his face and Arthur could feel the fear bubbling in his chest. But he wasn't going to stop. "I am done. Saying it was a pleasure to be your partner would be a blatant lie, and some of us may be flawless liars but I sure as hell am not." With that, he slammed the phone shut.
Arthur's heart nearly stopped when the phone began to vibrate immediacy, but it was a relief to see it was only Alfred's number. He didn't pick up. Once it was done, he called Francis again. Voicemail. "I forgot to mention that I apologize for saying these things over a message, it's not a very gentlemanly thing to do, I'm aware. But manners and etiquette is left for those who deserve them and are equally polite and respectful in turn—not little fuckers like you." Hanging up again, he gave a sigh, a small shout that he couldn't really describe and slumped against the counter. He wasn't ready to talk yet, not trusting his voice as Alfred called again and he let it go to voicemail for the fourth time.
Emotionally drained didn't even begin to describe how he felt at that very moment. It hadn't been as hard as he thought it would be, getting the words out. He admits that it was a rather cowardly move of him to do so in a message, but sometime's it was the only way to get things done. And it was done. Arthur was free. And he didn't feel any different. No birds chirping to express joy, no fireworks… the amount of let downs was incredible by then. But he noticed how easy it was to breathe now. The eternal knot that tied in his throat whenever he thought about the situation was gone; it was still sore, but it was gone.
Maybe, just maybe, things would begin to brighten up.
The front door slammed open, startling Arthur to a point that he nearly knocked over a china set he had been cleaning earlier for his tea. Alfred burst through the door; grin ridiculously wide and bright and absolutely… crazed. He jogged across the living room and directly into the kitchen, coming oh so close to hugging the startled Englishman.
"You bloody idiot! You scared the living daylights out of me!" To prove the point, Arthur clenched his chest, blinking rapidly. He didn't deny it, some irrational part of his brain expect to see Francis bursting through that door with bloody murder written in his eyes. "Aren't you supposed to be in class, you overgrown buffoon?"
"Let's go out." Alfred wouldn't let Arthur finish, hands waving all over the place like a kid on Christmas. He was running on high and he wasn't going to wait for his brain and body to finally catch up with the exhaustion. "You and me, let's go out to eat or shop or something."
Arthur looked at him questioningly before glancing at the clock above the stove. "It's not even three o'clock yet."
"So? The night is young!"
"That doesn't make any sense."
"Do I ever?"
That one got an honest to God laugh out of Arthur. "True enough." He hesitated then, slid his phone inside his pant pocket wearily as he looked long and hard at the jumpy American across from him. With each slow blink he tried to analyze the situation to no end, his mind too bothered to make sense of anything. In the end, Arthur nodded and turned on his heels figuring that popping a blood vessel wouldn't solve a thing. "Let me shower and slip into something decent. Anywhere specific?"
"Coney Island." Making a beeline for the fridge, Alfred made sure he reached for the most sugar loaded soda can he could find. "You gotta try the corndogs, man. And the French fries are the best! Don't even get me started on the footlongs—"
"We're driving up to Brooklyn to eat." Arthur sounded insulted even to himself. He was half expecting some metro trendy restaurant like the one's Francis would take him to in the Manhattan area.
New beginnings, Arthur. Suck it up.
Alfred was unfazed by his tone of voice. "There are rides, too. The boardwalk is real pretty and stuff." He walked over to drop himself on the couch, turning on the television to let Arthur take his time getting groomed like the businessman he was. "I don't know, we can go somewhere else if you want." Arthur could hear the petulance even with his back turned towards him.
With a sigh, Arthur grabbed the most casual of clothing Alfred had brought over from his apartment and made for the bathroom. "Coney Island is fine. Be out in twenty."
Resisting the urge to punch the air, Alfred settled for a grin while he tuned into some show about two guys killing monsters who drove a really sweet muscle car. He half noted that he could easily see himself getting hooked on the program before shouting over his shoulder, "Take your time. Don't want any broken hips."
At the same time some red haired lady appeared in the backseat of their car, causing the driver to swivel momentarily, Arthur yelled back with something unintelligible. Sounded something like bloodyidiot; then again, it could just be some word affiliation kicking into gear since Arthur always said that as a comeback.
Once the credits rolled and Arthur was still in the shower, Alfred figured he might as well go get ready himself. If this was going to be their first date, he wanted to make sure he made the best impression. Or, well, not date. Since Arthur was still bitchy on the whole subject. Either way, Alfred was armed and ready to make the stodgy Brit swoon with his all American charm.
AN: Did you miss me? No, guys, I am not dead. I just took a longer than necessary hiatus with overall fic writing. Along with life, a new fandom and everything else I kind of… fell behind on updates. But worry not! I'm not dropping this baby any time soon. Consider this your early Christmas present! Thank you for everyone who's been so kind and left such wonderful reviews, it seriously means a lot. ~ So, again, have an early Merry Christmas! To those who celebrate it, anyways. ;D