Arthur Kirkland woke with a start, sitting up in bed and breathing hard. He put a hand on his chest, feeling his heart pound beneath his fingers. The lights of London drifted through the blinds on his window, casting long stripes over the bed and floor. In the near darkness of his flat, two words spilled from Arthur's lips.

"That's it!"

Throwing off the covers he stood and pulled on a shirt, walking over to the desk in the far corner and rummaging around for his mobile. Extracting it from the various outlines that littered the mahogany surface he dialed a few numbers and pressed the device to his ear. The tone trilled once, twice… he tapped his foot on the floor.

"Yeah?"

"You should have more decency when picking up your phone."

"Arty? Damn, man. Its one in the morning you know!" Alfred complained. Loudly.

Arthur rolled his eyes, "What does that matter? You stay up until three every night anyway."

On the other end of the line he could heard Arthur snickering, "Energy drinks, Arty! They are so badass!"

"Before we get into another conversation about your caffeine addiction I actually called to tell you something," He hesitated for a moment before continuing, "I just thought of a story. A good one."

"What, like that last thing you wrote? That kids story about the caterpillar and the frog?"

His face flushed angrily, "No, damn you! I mean it this time, this is the story I will make my first novel!"

"Yeah, sure," In the background American pop music started playing and he groaned. Ever since Alfred had spent a year abroad in the States he just wasn't the same. He'd even picked up that moronic accent of theirs.

"So why are you telling me this?"

Sighing, Arthur wandered over to the window and pulled up the blinds. Below London lay dormant, streetlights making everything glow. He leaned against the wall, gazing at the odd car that rolled by, "Well…" now came the hard part, "You do work for that publishing house so I was wondering if…"

"O-o-oh," Alfred's voice stretched over the phone, sounding smug, "You just want me for my connections. I see how it is."

He rolled his eyes, "Alfred?"

"What?"

"Shut up."

"Is that any way to talk to your lord and master super-awesome benefactor? You know, I think the phone cut out back there, what were you talking about? Publishing something or other?"

"Alfred, it is one am and I am in no mood for this!"

"Sheesh, calm down! You're the one who called! But seriously, you have to write the thing before I can help get it published."

Arthur pressed his head against the window, closing his eyes and letting the glass cool his face, "I know, I know…" he opened his eyes again, "… Bugger."

"What is it?"

A scowl crossed over his face, "They're building a god forsaken strip club across from my flat!"

The building had been abandoned for ages, some old boarding house that had been burnt out long ago. For as long as he could remember it had been empty, something you ignored when walking by and nothing you ever gave any thought to. Alfred laughed.

"Dude, that's awesome!"

"Not its not! This is a place where people make their homes, what do they need to put one here for?"

"Obviously that's the best place to put one!" Alfred said, "Escape from your home life right outside of your home."

"That's disgusting."

"What's the place called?"

Arthur squinted at the 'Coming Soon' sign, depicting a woman with her leg wrapped around a gun, "Lock and Load… Or something."

"I've heard of them! They're supposed to be awesome!"

"How on Earth do you hear of a strip club?"

"You really do live under a rock, don't you…"

He scowled, "What?"

"Anyways, these guys are famous!" Alfred continued, "They've got places all over London."

"Of course you would know that..." Closing the blinds again he walked back over to the bed and flopped down on the mattress, "What is this world coming to?"

"Either way we should totally go once it opens."

"Wh-What?" Arthur felt his face flush at the suggestion, "And why would I want to do that?"

"Because they've got girls and guys working there."

Spluttering, the red color in his cheeks intensified, "I-I- Don't say things like that!"

"God, Arty, calm down!" said Alfred, "Its not that big of a deal. What do I care if you like dudes?"

"Maybe you don't care but I do!"

"I've known since we were eighteen when you came out of the closet to me on graduation. Time to grow a pair and face the rest of the world, dude."

"Alfred..."

"I would march in a parade with you!"

He groaned, grabbing his alarm clock and gazing at the glowing red numbers. It was too late to be having a heart-to-heart about his goddamned sexuality, "Goodnight, Alfred."

"What? But you're the one who called me!" The pitch of his voice rose to uncanny levels as he complained, "You can't just leave me hanging here. Listen, I was just about to put on this wicked horror flick I rented and maybe if you stay on the phone with me then-"

"Goodnight, Alfred!" And with that he snapped the device shut, placing it on the nightstand. Shuffling around in the sheets he pulled the covers over his head, blinking in the darkness. His book. He still liked the way that sounded in his head. He could just imagine sitting at his desk, words spilling from his fingers. A grin spread over his face. Oh yes, this could be very, very good.

As his eyes drifted closed for the second time that night, the room was filled with the sounds of whispered words. Arthur's hands gripped the blankets, the story flowing and twisting in his mind.

"It was raining..." soft and low came his voice, "It had been raining for days, the heavy clouds soaking the city in mist and fog..."

Outside, the first raindrops of a storm began to patter against the sidewalk.

XXXXXXX

As consciousness slowly returned to Arthur's mind a small groan escaped his lips. His whole body felt sore. He shifted a bit, fingers groping around for the sheets and only meeting cold stone. Ah. That would explain the soreness taking over his limbs and the headache starting to pound behind his eyelids. Wherever he was, it was not his soft four-poster bed.

"Angleterre? Angleterre, wake up, s'il te plait."

At the sound of a disturbingly familiar accent his eyes snapped open, only to close again almost immediately. Industrial-style light fixtures. Not the best thing for the headache that had just about doubled in intensity.

Mumbling a few selected curses he rolled onto his side, clutching at his head. Faint traces of sulfur and other chemicals in the air helped to diminish some of the sleepy haze surrounding his thoughts, "Blasted frog... What the hell are you doing here?"

"You tell me, mon petit," Francis replied, "I wasn't expecting to find you on the floor in this disturbing place."

Arthur's eyelids slid open, revealing the world to his deep green pools. His head throbbed, but nonetheless he pushed himself up and glared at his unwelcome guest. Francis grinned at him.

"Good morning, Angleterre."

He scowled, rubbing his head and looking around. As his vision focused his own basement came into focus, various magical apparatuses scattered around his work area. On the floor a large white circle was scripted in chalk, complex and delicate symbols adorning the stone. The ones closest to him were smudged, and sure enough white streaks stained his cloak and clothes when he looked down. Grumbling to himself he tried his hardest to brush away most of the residue.

Next to him Francis stood, stretching, "What exactly were you doing down here? Sacrificing something?"

"Oh, ha ha. Very funny," Standing himself he ignored his headache and threw his cloak into the corner, "For your information I was attempting to close whatever trans-dimensional door that Ivan keep using to get into my house. Git."

Francis glanced warily at the ruined circle, "Did it work?"

Sighing, he bent down to take a closer look at his work. Everything looked in order, save a few spilled jars and the smudged part, "Can't tell right now, really. I'm going to have to wait till the next time I summon a daemon to check."

"Is that really what you do with your spare time?"

He decided not to answer, instead heading for the stairs. As he climbed he glanced back at the Frenchman, "Why are you here, anyway? Or did you just come to be bothersome as usual?"

For once Francis appeared speechless. Arthur raised a brow at the unusual occurrence but didn't say anything, waiting for an answer.

"Well, Angleterre…" he started, fiddling with his hair as they reached the landing to the first floor, "I was wondering if-"

"Wait, wait…" Arthur held up a hand for a moment before putting it on the railing for support. His vision twisted, tilted, spun. His head pounded like someone taking a pickaxe to his skull.

"Does the air feel heavier to you…?"

And with that he fell unconscious to anything and everything in this world. Even the strong arms wrapping around him, saving him from hitting the floor.


Well I hoped you enjoyed that! Its my first (published) attempt at writing England for longer then a cameo in other things so let's all hope it came out okay. And if you're confused... It'll all become clear eventually XD

I'd love to hear what you think!