Title: How To Save A Life - Chapter One
Warnings: So much angst, the title is trying to slit its wrists right now. Emotional turmoil, depressing Arthur, etc.
Summary: Not sure how to summarize this one. Here goes: Arthur doesn't know where he belongs in life. Whether he's supposed to be alive or dead, he'll have to decide for himself. And as a fairly new transfer student, and someone that really has no clue what he's doing, the decisions he makes are going to be harder than ever. Okay, so that summary is a fail. Just know that this story is depressing and confusing and self-discovery, and angst, and the list goes on.
Oh yeah, this is a high-school AU. Sorry. And it's a messed up high school AU, 'cause I really don't know how a high school functions.
Arthur Kirkland was a name that everybody recognized, yet nobody liked. The student body president was an unfavorable asshole, always setting new rules and enforcing them with an iron fist. No one was exactly sure how he had been elected as the president, but most students blamed the female populace. No one had heard anything out of the teen when he had arrived in the school as a sophomore, and while the girls had been interested in the foreign transfer, they had forgotten about him when they realized that he was unwilling to talk.
Of course, they had been excited when the boy had decided to run for student council, especially since he had started speaking. He had appeared oblivious to the looks cast in his direction whenever he spoke, his accent attracting the female students and turning them into swooning brats. The girls had thought of him as cute and likeable, since he was willing to talk, and so it was assumed (correctly) that they had all voted for the Brit. So he had been elected at the end of his sophomore year, and entered his junior year as the president.
And the students had realized that he wasn't what they had expected. He had been quiet during the election process, and remained quiet when he was chosen. He had somehow avoided the Frenchman that was chosen as vice-president, and the people chosen as treasurer and secretary, but there were rumors that he had met the Frenchman in secret, and that there had been a falling-out before a relationship could even be established. Then Arthur had retreated into his office, only revealing himself during classes.
Then they had begun to feel the consequences of Arthur's position. Class funds were cut from various clubs and sports, and after he had snapped at a sophomore that approached him, no one dared to question him. They didn't know what he did behind the closed doors of the student council's offices, but they imagined that he laughed while he went through the various files and tablets, cutting funds and grinning gleefully.
In reality, Arthur pored over the documents that waited on his desk, his fingers tight around the thin blue pen that he held. He read through each page, day after day, correcting every misspelling, and frowning as he read through student suggestions and checked the funds available for the school. Once in a while he would nap, then wake later to finish the day's work.
It was during the first week at school that Francis found him sleeping on the couch in the office, mumbling something under his breath as he turned and grimaced. He prodded the Brit awake, and green eyes opened to glare at him under thick brows.
"Wha' th' hell d'you wan', Frog?" Arthur asked groggily as he pushed himself up into a sitting position, rubbing his eyes with the back of his hand. "What're you doin' in here?"
Francis crossed his arms and frowned at the teen before him. It was true that he was slightly resentful of the younger man, considering he had snatched the president's title from his hands during the school election. However, there was nothing he could do to the other (short of assassination) that would change his position, and so he left it be. But some things were simply inexcusable.
"I can't walk through this school without hearing your name on the lips of every cute girl and every determined athlete," Francis told him. Arthur ran a hand through his hair and messed it up more than it had been from sleep, and he looked around. "Is there a sport or club that you haven't cut the funds of? Students are complaining, yet you sit here and sleep!"
Arthur stared blankly at him. "They haven't told me about it," he said. Francis threw up his hands in exasperation and left the room, letting the door slam shut behind him.
"So be it!" his accented voice called from the other side, and Arthur listened as he walked away.
Once Arthur was sure Francis was gone for good, he slowly rose to his feet. He stood still and looking around the room, then leaned down and grabbed the book that had been on the couch beneath him. He tossed it onto the desk and listened to the thud, then looked around the room.
The office was bare save for the desk and a couple bookshelves. The bookshelves were piled with papers and folders, and Arthur slowly moved over to grab a stack. He set it down on the desk and sat, opening the first folder. The football team.
"No... It's soccer over here," Arthur remembered, and he sighed. He read through the file, turning the page and checking the finances and the member list. Only seven members. Arthur leaned back in his chair and held the folder in his lap, his pen held firmly in his lap. How could such a small team use so much money? Their record was poor, and they didn't really have enough people to compete. The money had better use elsewhere, where it would be used properly and people would benefit from it.
That didn't make the decision any easier. Arthur always hesitated before he pressed his pen to the paper, and inside he felt like he was suffocating. He wasn't stupid. He knew what people said about him, knew what they thought of him. He wished that they would have ignored him in the election, picked someone else that could do the job. Someone that didn't regret every time they had to cut funds to better the financial situation of the student body, someone that didn't feel the paranoia of being watched no matter where he was. Someone who wasn't worthless, and hated.
Arthur made the damned mark, and slowly shut the folder. He set it aside and moved onto the next, his fingers shaking slightly with every page turned.
Why had they picked him?
"Arthur, I made chicken for dinner!" His mother was the first to greet him when he returned home. Her bright eyes seemed to dim when they passed over him, and he almost apologized for being there. He turned his head away and looked past her, towards the stairs that led to his room.
"Not hungry." Her expression fell, and he felt like throwing up. Why was it he made everyone around him so miserable? "Sorry," he muttered, and he passed by her and hurried up the stairs. He held his bag tightly to his chest, the folders from school inside. He still had to finish his homework and look through more files, to get everything organized for homecoming. He was sure it was going to be another night with only a few hours of sleep, and a migraine the following day that no amount of aspirin could help fix.
He was right. He was up for hours that night, working at the small desk in his room and scribbling math notes down on a sheet of lined paper. He stared at his calculus notes for a long time, trying to remember what integrands and slope fields were, then he pushed them to the back of his desk and returned to the folders for student council. Homecoming. That was in just over a month. The students wanted something cool, something to set their school apart from the rest. He had read through the suggestions, from the insane to the drab, and knew that the students wanted something exciting.
However, most students didn't seem to realize that there was such a thing as money, and that everything had a cost. Arthur took up his pen and pulled a piece of paper over, scribbling on it quickly. There had to be some way to make everything work out. Half of him wanted everything to work out, and wanted to help; but the other half wondered if he should really try so hard. He had worked hard to beat Francis, but after he had won, his mind had frozen. Doubt had hit him hard, and he had taken a step back. He couldn't play the president! He was a failure in social situations, unwilling to talk, so many things that didn't fit a leader.
However, he was also unwilling to give up. People looked at him condescendingly as the president, so how would they look at him if he dropped out as soon as winning? He could make a difference. Maybe he would be seen as a better person. Maybe he'd be able to talk to people more.
In the end, Arthur fell asleep at his desk. He woke with the buzzing alarm clock, tired and drained, unwilling to get up. But he did, and he gathered the papers around his desk and packed them in his bag before he showered. He left the house without a word, avoiding his brothers when they tried to stop him, and leaving his mother's breakfast in favor of a piece of toast. He had the plans for homecoming in his bag, sealed in a large envelope with his neat handwriting across the front. He planned to present it, sure that his hours of planning would result in a plan that was acceptable to all.
He arrived to school early, and climbed the stairs to the main offices. The secretary motioned him in, and he headed straight in to see the principal. He dug the envelope from his bag and held it out, letting the principal take it and tear it open. The two remained silent as the principal read through the packet, nodding and humming every so often. After a few minutes, he finally looked up, sliding the packet back into the envelope and sealing it.
"This is good," the principal admitted. "You came up with this?"
"No," Arthur found himself saying. His voice lowered, and he shrugged. "Some students delivered it to me. I simply rewrote it so that it would be legible."
The principal said nothing, but he nodded and slid the envelope into his desk. "I'll send in for the necessary supplies," he said. Arthur nodded numbly and turned away, leaving the office and walking down the empty halls towards the student council offices. Why had he lied? He couldn't figure out why he hadn't simply admitted to the fact that he had been up until three that morning, working on figures and checking contacts and suppliers. He couldn't figure out why he couldn't force himself to put his name on that plan. All it would have taken was a simple "yes," but he just couldn't...
Arthur walked into the office and clicked the door shut behind him. He let himself fall into his chair, and then he cradled his head in his hands.
He needed something to kill the pain.
Homecoming at the Academy was considered the real beginning to the year. Various games were held against other schools, and the Saturday night of homecoming weekend was the dance, a semi-formal event that everyone attended.
This year was no different, though it may have been a little bit better than years past. It probably had to do with the party on Saturday night. The students had been treated to a surprise in school Friday morning, when an announcement had been made concerning the school's pools. The ropes were removed and floats were put in, turning them into pseudo-waterparks for the students that loved to swim. Even spotlights were put in for the night, so that students could swim into the darkness. There was going to be a barbecue before the dance, and after, a bonfire. Students had been invited to bring music to hook into the school's PA system, and the cheerleaders had promised to entertain at the party, after the football game was over and done with.
The students eagerly waited for the day's events to start, surprised at how much work had gone into decorating the school grounds. Bonfires, a fully decorated gymnasium for the dance, the pools were lit and warmed.
And the student body president was nowhere to be seen when the day finally came.
Arthur finished his homework Saturday morning, the curtains in his room drawn to keep the too-bright sun away. He had no intention of attending the party, and dance. He knew exactly how the students viewed him. He didn't want to face them, and he didn't want to be the object of their attention. He didn't need them mocking him both behind his back and to his face; he didn't want to be subjected to whatever they could come up with.
He sat in the silence of his room, curled up in the small chair in the corner. He had Harry Potter open before him, and he imagined walking the halls of Hogwarts. He would be great there! He would be powerful, and in control of everything. People would respect him for all the right reasons, he would be popular. He wouldn't be Brows. He would be Arthur. It would be so much better there, in a place where nobody knew him, where-
"Arthur, is something wrong?"
Arthur pulled his eyes away from the book and looked towards his bedroom door, where his mother called from the other side. "What?"
"I thought homecoming was today," his mother continued. "You seemed excited about this yesterday!"
"I decided not to go," Arthur said, his voice low. "Nothing's wrong, Mum. I'm just busy." He could hear her hesitation from the other side of the door, and then her footsteps left him, tapping away down the hall. He watched the door for another minute, and then looked back to his book. He swallowed and turned the page. He had to try and get inside it once again. He had to escape.