Three years later.
My alarm clock went off, bringing me out of my dreams. Lying in bed I looked at the window across the room from me. It was early in the morning still, but I was always wide awake. I sighed deeply as I thought back to the past three years.
All of my problems didn't dissolve overnight. Alfred and I may have gotten back together, but we still fought. Sometimes more often than other days that resulted in the band suggesting that we seek couples therapy, but I refused. We would figure this out on our own. That's how we came up with "time-outs". For awhile we would be apart, calm down, and return to sort out our feelings. So far it's worked and I find we're spending less time on time-outs and more time together.
Three years. Yes, I suppose we had come a long way. I had already graduated college a year ago and Alfred was getting ready in a few months to do the same. My job at the local community college was only a stepping stone until I became a full-fledged college English professor. Yes, that meant my punk days were over, however I still listened to the music quite often and my tattoo remained, by popular demand (from Alfred only). Sometimes I would slip back on my piercings, change into my old clothes, and sneak off to a punk event. And if Alfred ever got mad at me for coming home smelling like drugs and alcohol, I took him out to a jazz concert to make it up to him.
One of the problems that caused us to rip and tear apart was because we were constantly by each other's sides. Then we were separated for a year. Now that we were back together, we had changed drastically. We weren't sure how to function while keeping our new hobbies. But Alfred had been kind and agreed that I could remain with my new band and do my own thing and I, in return, agreed as well. What right did either of us have, any way, to say the other couldn't do what they liked?
While I had become a punk, Alfred had become involved with counseling. He took the job over one summer when I brought home a flyer of counseling for youths abused by their families. Amazingly, Alfred went. When he came home, he was so inspired, he actually changed majors. His dream of becoming an astronaut had changed to him becoming a hero for children.
"I don't mind," he had said. "I think I might have hated being in space anyways. Mainly because you wouldn't be there and we'd be separated for months at a time. Not cool."
With this sudden new track in his life, Alfred had found the courage within him to come out even more to me. He sat me on the couch one evening and told me how he had found out he was a child born out of marriage.
"Do you remember in seventh grade when we had to take those DNA tests and learn about traits and genes and stuff?" Alfred had started. I nodded, vaguely recalling the first year I was in America. "Well, when we did it, my blood sample wasn't the same as my parents. At first we brushed it off. But then when we did the gene tests, a lot of my genes only matched up to my mom's and had random ones that were not like my father's. As the testing went on, my dad grew really nervous while my mom tried to keep me from telling him anymore results.
"Then one day, my dad took me to the hospital and had some official tests done. That's when he found out. At first, he threw the Bible at me and called me a sinful child, so that's how I kinda lost faith. How we all did. Then he beat my mom. It got really bad some nights… A lot of times I ran away from home… But Matt would always find me. That's why I can't stay mad at him… He was always the only one by my side…"
By this time, Alfred had begun to cry and I merely held him. It felt nice to comfort my boyfriend, to finally feel that we had met and come to the same conclusion. Trust. Love. We could both honestly say that it was on the same level for each other.
But this didn't mean all of our problems dispersed, either.
Slowly I smiled. I wasn't scared of knowing not everything was perfect. It never would be. Not for anyone else, at least. But it was perfect for me. I had the love of my life, a supportive band, wonderful friends, and my family back. Well, they had never left. My parents and I had sat down and I told them how I felt neglected by them all these years. Alfred was there, holding my hand, while I cried and told them how alone they made me feel. My mother cried and held me while my father paced. For awhile, I thought perhaps he hated me. As it turned out, later that night after Alfred had gone back to our apartment, my father sought me out.
He came into my room and held up a picture of me and Peter when we were young. He then told me of how I had never once let him down. And that Peter was always with him. Therefore, he never lost a son, even by the hands of his own. We cried and healed and moved on. Life always had that convenient habit of never staying still.
I rolled over onto my back, turned my head to the side, and smiled. A sleepy Alfred lifted his head from the pillow. His arm was lightly wrapped around my waist. He yawned before nuzzling into my neck with a loopy smile on his warm face.
"Good morning," I mumbled. Alfred caressed my face and I always leaned in to the touch. "Did you sleep well?"
Alfred nodded before shifting over so he was resting his head on my heart. I looked up at the ceiling, closing my eyes. Alfred had begun swirling his fingers across my bare chest. We were still quite naked as our romp from the night before had left us little energy to even cuddle like we always did. But once I realized I was still naked, Alfred had realized it too.
"Hey…Arthur?" Alfred started.
I shook my head, sitting up with a hand on his head. "No, Alfred. We have a wedding to go to, remember?"
"Oh yeah," Alfred smirked. "Well then what are we waiting for?"
As I watched Alfred head to the bathroom, I thought of when we could possibly be married. I had been thinking of it more and more for a solid year now. Perhaps I should kick myself in the arse and ask Alfred myself. However, I was still unsure if we were ready. When could you tell? I asked my parents, but they avoided the question and my brothers said I was still too young to even think of marriage. Funny considering all three were married and Shane wasn't much older than me.
We moved from the apartment to the car and met up with everyone at the reception hall. The same uniforms were on as always and nothing had changed. Well, aside from Francis and Matthew were still dating and Elizaveta had broken up with Roderich. To date Gilbert. Yeah, that threw us all for a spin too.
Roderich was a good sport and agreed to stay in the band, as long as Gilbert and Elizaveta didn't do anything. Well, more Elizaveta because telling Gilbert not to do something was impossible. Still, we were a team and made sure that nothing got out of hand. The band couldn't stand to be broken apart anymore.
My other band had, though, but we remained friends. Dev, nice guy that he was, slowly started turning more Goth than punk, which didn't sit well with the others. I could care less, so long as the guy was still my friend and wasn't a douche like Zeke had always been. He only got worse after I got back together with Alfred. I guess I missed the memo that Dev had a crush on me and I was some "bastard" who ignored his feelings for months. Yeah I felt bad, but my heart knew where it wanted to be and Dev understood that.
But I digress. Thinking of the past wasn't what I needed to do right now. The band and I had walked into the reception hall and were setting up. Judging by the amount of tables and chairs, it was a rather small congregation. We had been told shortly before the guests arrived that this was actually for a homosexual couple, to which Alfred and I turned our stares at Elizaveta.
"What?" she asked sheepishly, though that smile she was hiding behind her sheet music said otherwise. "I just thought it would be cute…"
Shaking my head, I warmed up on the piano to try and hide my blushing smile. The others began to set up as well, but Alfred scooted over to sit beside me.
"So, what're you doing after this?" Alfred asked casually.
I glanced at him with a raised eyebrow. "You know what I do. I have to make a lesson plan for Monday's class. Just a quiet evening in. Why?"
Alfred shrugged, finishing putting together his saxophone. He let a few notes play to see if it was ready. "Just wondering. Can I come too?"
I scoffed. "Alfred, we live together. I think you're more than welcome to join me in writing up another English lesson."
With a beam and a chaste kiss on my cheek, Alfred thanked me. I blushed when he called me "sexy" and swatted at him to get off of my piano bench. The guests were here now, but we weren't scheduled to start until the newlyweds arrived. For some reason, I was starting to get very excited. And nervous. Mainly because Alfred and I were slated to perform a duet. Now if it were on the piano and saxophone I wouldn't be so anxious. There were many times back at our apartment that we played together, especially after a fight. Jazz truly was the way we came together, stayed together, and continued to love together.
No, we weren't playing our instruments. Unfortunately, the band had coaxed me into singing. While Alfred was usually God awful whenever he sang some other ridiculous pop song that came on the radio, and he knew every single one, but when he was serious and actually put in effort, he was very good.
"Ladies and Gentlemen," Francis said smoothly, his voice capturing everyone's attention. "I have the pleasure to announce the new married couple has arrived!"
The audience applauded. I looked over in time to see the couple arrive. They were two women that looked very happy. I felt myself smiling, imagining myself in that position. I glanced at Alfred who was also smiling and clapping. The boy that was always so slow with everything and oblivious to my subtle hints of wanting him to pop the question.
"Arthur?" I looked up to see Alfred holding his hand out to me. "You ready to go?"
I took his hand as we went up to the microphone. There were two provided and we took one each. I introduced us to the audience and gave a quick congratulation to the couple.
"Our first song is regarded by most as a break-up song, but we don't see it that way," I continued. "We actually see it as a song about the trials of love, but nothing can take love away from you."
Roderich, who had moved to play the piano, began to play with Elizaveta, Matthew, and Felix backing him up. Then Antonio and Gilbert came in strong with their horns. I was lucky that I didn't have to start first. I could sing punk music all I wanted, maybe even do a few screaming songs, but love songs? Those always made me weak in the knees and feel horribly embarrassed.
"The way you wear your hat," Alfred sang. I smiled as he said these lines always made him think of me. "The way you sip your tea… The memory of all that… No, no, they can't take that away from me."
Now it was my turn. I told myself to not be shaky and like always, when I got stage fright I turned to look at Alfred. "The way your smile just beams."
Of course Alfred had to smile at this part. These lines were just like him, or so he self-proclaimed. I gave a snarky smirk as I turned away from him. "The way you sing off-key."
"I ain't flat, the band's sharp," Alfred interjected.
"The way you haunt my dreams," I continued singing. I could feel Alfred smiling behind me. "Oh no they can't take that away from me. We may never, never meet again on this bumpy road to love."
"Still I'll always… Always keep the memory of. The way you hold your knife."
"The way we danced 'till three." I had turned back to face Alfred, smiling with a secretive blush at that double meaning sentence. He took my free hand in his, entwining our fingers.
Now we sang in harmony together. "The way you changed my life. Oh no they can't take that away from me."
"Not without a lawyer, anyways," I said with a smirk.
There was a music interlude and the two of us began to dance together. The audience had joined in long ago, changing it to be like a slightly swing dance along with us. The married couple was happily enjoying dancing close just like Alfred and I were. He twirled me once, but not so much to make me feel too feminine. Dancing became a norm with us as well. Nothing like a cold night, some soft jazz, and my boyfriend holding me close while we danced. Yes, we had grown a little sentimental as we grew older.
The song continued and we reached our final climax of the song. Gilbert and Antonio let out the last notes on their horn and the band came to a full stop together. The audience applauded, Alfred and I gave a short bow, and we returned to our instruments. Or I thought Alfred had, but as I took my seat at the piano, I heard Alfred's voice over the speakers again.
"Thank you everyone! Thank you so much!" I turned in my seat to look at him, wondering what he could possibly be up to. "I bet some of you could tell that Arthur and I are dating. We have been now for about three years."
The audience gave a polite applause and I had to look away. Turning to the band didn't help; they only gave me cheeky smiles and clapped too. Alfred continued talking and I had to resist the urge to yank the loud mouth away from the microphone. Now was not the time to jabber away.
"The two of us kind of have a tradition of surprising the other while up on stage. He got me about three years back and I have yet to return anything." Alfred smirked at me, removing the microphone from the stand. He started walking over to me. "So, um, Arthur, I have something I want to say."
I blinked up at him, wondering what he was going to say now. Out of my peripheral view I could see Elizaveta quickly scrambling for a camera I didn't know she had tucked away in her uniform. My face began to heat up as everyone else had turned their full attention to me. Damnit, Alfred, you know I hate these things.
"Arthur, you've been my best friend and the only man I've ever cared for enough to tell…everything to," Alfred started. Oh God, he was serious. My heart sped up as an inkling of what was happening started to settle in. "So…um…damnit, I'm… I'm not good with words…"
I honestly, from this point, do not recall anything else that happened. Alfred dropped to a knee, my blood vanished from my body, and all I heard was Alfred's voice and my own heart in my ears. He mouthed the words, "Will you marry me?" and I think I died again. It is very possible I fainted from the lack of blood in my face. It had all drained to somewhere else in my body. It certainly wasn't in my head or chest because I couldn't think and I was having difficulty breathing.
Somehow, through all of this, I managed to speak. I stared at Alfred with a shaky breath, whispering just loudly enough for only Alfred to hear. "It's…not going to be all rainbows and sunshine…"
Alfred offered a small smile. "I know… But if we work together and…keep the music in our life, we can find those days where we can laugh and love and all that jazz."
God, I hope I wasn't crying. It sure felt it as I let an almost hysterical laugh escape my lips. "You promise…there will be jazz…?"
"Always," Alfred chuckled.
Could it be real? I had been so long without happiness, even when Alfred and I had first begun dating. We had hidden so much and then opened ourselves so fully that it was almost impossible to believe that we were really at the stage where it was okay. It was okay to wake up in the morning and know you hadn't spent the night alone. That every evening there was someone at home waiting for you and excited to see only you. That it was time to say it's okay, I want to show everyone you're it. For the rest of my life. Only you and always you. And one day, when there's no one left, we will still have each other.
Hoshiko2's cents: So that's all I will write for this universe. There was the one-shot I put up last week for Valentine's Day, but nothing beyond this. I made sure to include a few loose ties I totally forgot to put in as well as showing the progression they've made. I wasn't going to hold out and explain everything, but you can see they've changed a lot.
The song they sang was from the first FST called "They Can't Take That Away From Me" and reminds me so much of those two singing. It's adorable and I highly recommend you hear it.
So to wrap everything up, I want to explain one last thing about this story. This story was meant to show progression of Arthur and Alfred as a unit. They changed so much together, but apart they were stagnant or changed in a way far more destructive than helpful. This was just a slice of life kind of story and the point I wanted to get across with telling it from a first person point of view was to keep Alfred's thought process a mystery, save for the few special chapters it showed his side. It was to get more involved in Arthur's head because, as a writer, I connect more with his personality so it was easier to do.
I'm starting a new series "Rainbow Veins", so please read it if you enjoyed this series. That one will be a lot sadder, but will feature our two favorite boys again. Thank you so much to everyone for sticking by me and reading everything and giving me the confidence to keep going. You guys are all seriously the best.