"The door is inside of you… Is that even possible?" Francis asked. Arthur scowled at him.
"Well apparently it is, twit!" he shot back, "Otherwise I wouldn't be in this situation!"
"Alright, d'accord. What do we do about it?"
Arthur stared at him, feeling all of the anger and energy leaving him in one fell swoop, "I… I don't know…"
Once again he sank to the floor, the cold from the stones seeping into his body and serving as nothing but a cold reminder of his reality. At least, what was now his reality. The door would serve like a whirlpool inside of his mind, sucking him into the world of his so-called dream over and over again until the only thing left of his original life would be a cold husk. He would just be dragged deeper and deeper…
"So," Francis took a seat next to him, folding his long legs, "Tell me about this door?"
"Why should I?" he mumbled, drawing his knees up to his chin, "There's nothing I can do."
"You don't know that, Angleterre. That's what you said before you discovered what had gone wrong."
Groaning he buried his face into his legs, "Fine, you bloody froggy wine bastard. It's like a door between two points in space and time. If it's stable enough you could use it for travel, which is how Ivan keeps getting into my house…"
Francis nodded, looking as if he were actually listening for once in his life, "And where is this door taking you?"
He rubbed his eyes, "Its… weird. Very odd. Almost exactly like things are here."
"So… something akin to another dimension?"
"Yeah," Arthur put a hand on his head, thinking, "Its exactly like this place actually, except that I'm not a nation. Just another bloke living in a flat in London. There are some of the others two, only their not nations either by the looks of things. But… when I'm there, I don't remember a thing about being here. Which is really, really off track now that I'm thinking about it."
Francis leaned in closer, "Tell me more. Maybe something will come to you."
"Well, Alfred is there," he started, "Still annoying as all hell. And Matthias. Supposedly Gilbert and Antonio too although I haven't seen them in person. And I'm just some radio personality, living on my own and trying to write a book."
"But I am not there? Angleterre, I'm crushed."
He snorted, "Thanks for reminding me I have at least one thing to be thankful for…" Arthur stopped, head slowly turning to look at the man by his side, "Why are you here?"
A chuckle, "That is quite the loaded question, is it not?"
"That is not what I mean, you git face! I mean the first time you came here and found me unconscious. Why were you here at all?"
"You weren't answering my calls."
"I never answer your damn calls."
"I was curious."
"About what? We've known each other for centuries and unfortunately that means there's not much room for discovery any more."
"Would you come with me on a date, Angleterre?"
Arthur froze, green eyes wide and staring at Francis, "Wh-what…?"
It was as if every cell in his body had suddenly been set on hyper-sensitive. He was all too aware of how close they actually were, how at some point the Frenchman had started rubbing small soothing circles into his back. Of Francis' breath, warm and just brushing past his neck. His heart pounded. This wasn't right! In no plausible circumstances would Francis ever say something as idiotic and foolish as that! He must still be dreaming. That must be it. He closed his eye tight, willing for everything to go away. Yet when he opened them again Francis was still there, the only thing gained from his effort black spots in his line of view.
Francis shrugged, sighing dramatically, "Of course, you could always leave me alone and cold. This is you we're talking about of course."
But an answer was never given. Instead the only response was a slow exhale of breath as lids fell heavily over green orbs as a more then subconscious wish was granted. A small limp body found its way into warm arms as consciousness melted away to spend its time in another life.
Today was the day. It was finally here! Arthur couldn't keep the smile from his face as he rummaged around in his closet for something to wear. It just… God, it had to be perfect. Alfred was meeting him at the café around the corner at one, which meant he had until at least one fifteen to get there and still be earlier then him. He glanced at the laptop currently taking residence on his bed and the grin on his face only doubled. There was his beauty, his pride and joy, all typed up and e-mailed to Alfred last week. And not just some silly short story, or a compilation of poems. A real novel.
Catching sight of himself in the mirror he stopped, taking the time to look at his reflection. Still shirtless he frowned at the way his favorite pair of jeans, dark denim and frayed at the cuffs, hugged his hips just a little too tightly for his liking. But maybe that's what being an author did to you. Made you want to buy quick snacks down at the market so you wouldn't have to bother getting up from your work for meals. He sighed, running a hand down his chest over his pale skin. Maybe he would take up jogging. Or buy one of those horrid bicycle machines and use it to hang clothes on in the pretense of exercise. Oh well.
In no time at all the smile returned to his face. It didn't matter, not today. Because, whatever the outcome, good or bad, he had finally accomplished what needed to be done. And Alfred's certainly wasn't the only publishing house in London if things didn't work out.
Returning to his closet he eventually yanked a black t-shirt out of the back. Arthur's lips quirked at the thing, worn from age and use, and pulled it over his head. It fit comfortably around his shoulders, band names decorating his torso as well as an impromptu Union Flag. However many hours he had spent making the thing was worth it. He loved his clothes.
Taking another glance into the mirror he ran a hand through his hair before waving off the idea as futile. And it was only Alfred besides. Pulling a jacket over his shoulders he slid his laptop into his bag and slipped the strap around his torso.
"Okay, Arthur, okay…" he walked into the kitchen, making a beeline for the door and stuffing his feet into a pair of old and experienced sneakers on the way, "One step at a time. You can do this."
The wind seemed to sense his arrival as he stepped outside, strong gusts of lukewarm air buffeting at his clothes. Pulling the collar closer around his neck he set off down the street at a brisk pace, feet thumping the pavement like an endless bass beat. Passing the strip club across the street he sneered at it. It didn't even make sense, building one here. But then again maybe if his book actually got published he could get a better apartment…
A few minutes later Arthur found himself nudging his way into the small corner café, procuring himself a steaming cup of oolong and flopping down into an empty seat by the window. And goddamn if he could see the obnoxious neon colors of the club from his seat. Deciding to ignore the world outside of his own personal bubble for the moment, he sipped his tea and pulled out Pride and Prejudice while he waited for Alfred to show up.
He didn't have to wait long. Sooner then later the man walked up to him, flicking at his book before sitting down, a grin plastered on his face, "Still reading those pussy books, Arty?"
Arthur scowled at him, "They are no such thing! These are fine pieces of literature!"
Alfred rolled his eyes, "They're so dull!"
"You just lack culture."
"Whatever," waving a hand dismissively Alfred leaned back, lets get talking about the important stuff."
His heart rate sped up in his chest, his grip tightening on his cup. This was i-
"I'm in love!"
Arthur stared at him, the balloon of expectation in his chest quickly deflating, "You're what…?"
"In. Love!" Alfred exclaimed again, "And it's all thanks to you, buddy!"
"Thanks to me? What are you talking about?"
A strong hand clapped him on the back, "All thanks to you! I must have caught your gay or something!"
His face heated up, "Alfred, you dunce! Being of a different sexuality is not something you can catch! Now try to speak intelligently for once in your life and tell me what's going on!"
"Well we haven't been talking to much so I haven't had time to tell you, y'know?" he stuck a thumb over his shoulder and pointed at the strip club, "Remember the first time I went into that place?"
He rubbed his eyes, his patience rapidly thinning, "Yes, unfortunately. So?"
"So now I'm in love!"
Arthur gaped at him, "… You're telling me you fell in love with a stripper?"
"Not like that! I mean sure, he's hot and everything but he's such a great guy!"
He took a deep breath, "Alright. Jut tell me everything from the beginning."
"So I'm in there, yeah? And the music's blaring and the lights are flashing. Its fantastic. And then I see him. And I'm just like, 'Woah, dude. That's a guy.' But I can't take my eyes off him! So we start talking, and now I'm in love!"
He would be needing another cup of tea. He could already tell, "So that's it? One conversation from this stripper and now you've gone head over heels?"
"Dude, he's not 'the stripper'. His name's Mattie and the club thing is just to help him pay off student loans. He's going to Oxford!"
Shaking his head Arthur rubbed his eyes, "The Oxford stripper? Sounds like a bad romance novel… And he drives for over an hour just for a job in London?"
Alfred shrugged, "Its just a weekend job. He stays with a friend during the day."
"Good lord… I don't know whether to be happy or disturbed."
"Then be happy!" The man started bouncing up and down like a child who had just come within sight of the candy counter, "Please, Arty, please!"
"Of all the bloody… Yes, I'm happy for you. Now can we please get down to business?"
"To defeat, the Hu-!"
"If you do not stop singing this instant then I will throw you out this window!"
Alfred pouted, as was his normal reaction, "Geeze, fine. Just trying to be happy here."
He leaned back in his chair. Maybe it would be better just to end it all then spend another second with Alfred, "Are you going to tell me or not?"
Reaching into his bag Alfred slapped a piece of paper on the table, "You're in, dude!"
He blinked. Blinked again, "What?"
"You. Are. In. Congrats! You're going to be published!"
"Goddamn it Alfred if you are just screwing around with this then so help me!"
Alfred laughed, holding up his hands, "I'm serious! Even I liked it!"
Arthur was really getting a hand of this blinking thing, "You read it?"
"Yeah," Nodding, he pulled a pen from his pocket, "I couldn't just hand it over without reading it first. I usually hate all of that romance soul-searching shit but it was pretty good!"
"I… I'm going to be published…" He couldn't, just couldn't believe it. It was almost like some crazy dream and any second he would wake up, alone and a horrible writer. Just to be sure he pinched himself, but when he opened his eyes everything was as it was before. Definitely not a dream. Alfred was taking one last look over what he assumed was to be his contract, and here he was, sitting and waiting to finish the deal.
Slowly a grin spread over his face, "So where do I sign?"
And in a deafening roar of light and sound, the world went mad.
Well, I didn't give up on this story in the end. A thanks to all those who didn't think this story deserved to be forgotten.