(Full Summary: The US government's witness protection program, WITSEC, has never had a witness die while under its protection. After innocent civilian Arthur Kirkland witnesses a murder ordered by the desperately ruthless Vargas mob, the United States government puts him under the care of US Marshal Alfred Jones. Will a hero's protection be enough to keep the record clean?)

Prologue

Despite how much time Arthur Kirkland spent in New York City for his job and his social outings, it wasn't in Manhattan where his life changed forever. No, it was in the small park a few blocks from his New Jersey apartment that he cut through on his way home where he stumbled onto a crime scene.

It was any Thursday; he'd been forced to work late as seemingly all of his clients' agents called him from every different time zone, demanding an hour of his time each to complain about how their author was being treated. When Francis showed up to take him out to lunch and told him he would have to extend his deadline on his newest dime novel romance while mooning over his latest fling, Arthur knew it could only get worse from there.

He just never thought it'd get to murder so quickly.

The sky was dark and the streetlights were dim, which should have been a sign that Arthur would've been safer to go around the park along the well-lit roads with the friendly houses and shops, but it was cold and he was tired and he just wanted to get home. He walked slowly, shoulders hunched and hands in his pockets, watching his feet. The sidewalk was icy; it probably saved his life. Otherwise, he wouldn't have been paying as close attention to his surroundings, and he might not have heard the panicked gasps or the low laugh until it was too late. As it was, he stopped walking just before emerging from the deep shadow cast by the lamppost on the other side of the long hedge on his side and looked up.

On the dead grass half-covered with last week's snow in front of him, a large Middle Eastern man was sprawled on the ground, scrambling backwards on his elbows, dragging his useless and very bloody legs and babbling in something Arabic-sounding. The low laugh belonged to the smaller man that still managed to loom over him, dark hair and tan skin and holyshit that's a sword.

Arthur ducked down and hunkered as close to the bush as he could, pulling his dark coat over his head to hide his light blonde hair. He watched helplessly as the laughing man with the fucking sword stood over the other and planted a foot on his barrel chest. The man on the ground froze, his babbling carrying over into hyperventilating.

Even though Arthur was crouched at least thirty meters away from the scene and the swordsman was speaking quietly, he still heard him clear as crystal. "I'm only doing this for your own good, Sadiq," the man said with a strangely happy tone. "You're too chatty. You knew that one day that big mouth would get you into trouble." He leveled the sword against Sadiq's neck, and both Arthur and the victim's breathing stopped. "You know, Sadiq, it could be worse," he said lightheartedly; Arthur saw the flash of teeth as he grinned. "It could be Gilbert." Then he slashed the sword across his throat, and Arthur clenched his eyes shut and held his lips closed with his teeth until the sound of Sadiq's gurgling convulsions stopped. Then he made himself open his eyes again and stay, no matter what his pumping heart told him. If he moved now, he might draw the swordsman's attention to himself now that his target was a corpse. He wouldn't bet on a second wind of luck when a live sword was involved.

When he looked again, the murderer was wiping his sword clean on the man's shirt. "You weren't very nice, anyway," he said to the body, and two things hit Arthur at once:

He has a Spanish accent.

I need to call the police.

He backed out of sight as slowly as he could, kneeling inside the second bush in the line of hedges (camellias, his mind told him) and pulling out his mobile with hands that he didn't realise were shaking until he pressed the '0' instead of the '9'. He took a deep, but quiet, breath and dialed the right numbers carefully, cupping his hand over his mouth and receiver to block his voice from hitting the cold night air and the Spaniard's ears.

"911, what's your emergency?"

"Murder," Arthur breathed as loud as he dared. "Lowell Park, First Avenue and 28th Street. Please, please hurry, he's got a sword-"

"Someone will be there shortly. Are you safe?"

Arthur held in the dictionary's worth of sarcastic quips he had in answer to that question and leaned forward carefully, looking through the blessedly thick and well-trimmed evergreen leaves. The killer had put his sword into the sheath strapped onto his back and was trying to heave the much larger body onto his shoulders. It was late enough and the park was secluded enough that he didn't have to worry about hurrying too much. He hummed as he wrestled with the dead weight; he hadn't noticed Arthur at all.

"As safe as I can be," he finally whispered back. "Just hurry, he's trying to get rid of the body."

"Two squad cars are on their way. What's your name, sir?"

"Arthur Kirkland." Why was he still on the phone with this daft woman? "Can I hang up now?"

"We have your coordinates, so yes."

"Brilliant." He snapped his phone closed a millisecond before he thought about the noise made by a phone snapping closed.

The Spaniard's head whipped up and towards him, and his heart stopped in his chest again as the white teeth of his grin grew. "I see I have a peeping Tom," he said lightly, getting to his feet from where he was squatting next to the body and drawing his sword in one fluid motion. Arthur was paralyzed in his camellia bush, watching as he whirled the sword around in the air a few times, steel blurring into a silver streak as he walked towards Arthur's hiding spot slowly. "It makes me sad to have to kill an innocent, but it would make me sadder to get caught, I think." Arthur took in quick, shallow breaths through his nose. "Then again, maybe you're not so innocent," he considered as easily as if he was deciding what to eat for dinner, sliding a hand down the flat of his sword.

Where the fuck were the police?

"Come out, cielito. You can't hide in the flower bushes forever." He grinned wider somehow and stopped in front of the first bush in the line of the hedge. He plunged his sword into its depths just as a police car came screaming up the street on one side of the park, followed by sirens on the other side of the block. The Spaniard looked up at the flashing lights and muttered something angry in Spanish, pulling his sword out of the tangle of branches and dropping it on the ground, backing away with his hands in the air. His grin turned into a steadily deepening scowl as three officers came at him from all sides, guns trained on his chest and shouting orders. The fourth officer saw Arthur in the bush, much more visible through the leaves at the back angle, and holstered his weapon to help him out. Arthur's legs were cramped from being in the same position and from shock, so he let the officer lead him to one of the squad cars numbly.

His gaze caught on the paling body bleeding out onto the dirty snow and brown grass, then were drawn up to the killer's shining eyes. He was pressed bodily against the other police car and cuffed as he was read his Miranda rights, but he was looking right back at Arthur. When their eyes met, the killer gave him a blindingly wide smile.

Arthur looked away and followed the guiding hand of his officer.


It took most of the rest of the night for the police station to get his statement and send it on to NYPD. As one of the kinder ones explained to Arthur, Antonio Carriedo – the Spanish killer – was a hitman working for the Vargas mafia. He had been on their wanted list for a while now, even though he had already been arrested twice; lack of conclusive evidence and mysterious changes of heart in the juries kept him from being convicted. With an eyewitness in Arthur now, they hoped to put him behind bars once and for all.

"Of course, we'll have to put you under protection now," the officer who had explained things and made him tea said. They were sitting side by side in the waiting area, watching the other officers, both from Newark and NYPD, scurry around. Apparently Carriedo was a bigger catch than Arthur had ever thought. "You've heard of the Witness Protection Program, right?" Arthur nodded, staring blankly at the cup in his hands. It wasn't very good tea, but he appreciated the effort. "With the way the Vargas's have been ever since their old boss fell a few years ago and his grandsons took over, I wouldn't want you to be out and about by yourself for a long time." The officer pushed himself upright, a movement which seemed to cause the large man more effort than it should. "We'll get your paperwork filled out and applied for as soon as we can so we can get you away from here quickly."

Arthur blinked as he tried to think past his sleep and shock-addled brain. "You mean I have to quit my job?"

The officer shrugged. "For now, at least, until the trial. A case this big, you never know if it'll take a month or three years." He pursed his lips together and stared at the wall over Arthur's head as he thought. "Why don't I get someone to take you home so you can get some rest? You've had a long day."

Arthur smiled weakly up at him. "You could say that."


Arthur ended up falling across his bed with his shoes still on and sleeping throughout the next day and only woke when he realised someone had been hammering at his door for two minutes straight. He straightened himself up from his bed and wiped at his eyes, stumbling to his door and undoing the chain blindly to open it.

Francis stood with his fist in the air, mouth open to yell up a storm at him until he looked at Arthur. His expression quickly changed from fury to concern, and he ushered Arthur back inside, closing the door behind him, and sat him down on his couch. The entire time, Arthur stared and mumbled blearily at the floor, barely opening his eyes and yawning every fifteen seconds.

When they both sat down, Francis took Arthur's hand in his and faced him. "What on Earth happened to you?"

Arthur yawned again. "Saw someone get killed last night," he said, too tired to be anything but blunt. "'Parently it was some big mob hitman guy and I've got to go into witness protection or summat." He shrugged. Francis, who had pressed a hand over his mouth since the first sentence, clenched his other hand in a death grip over Arthur's.

"Can you tell me about it?" he finally said, hand falling away from his mouth. Arthur avoided his eyes.

"It was in the park across the street on my way home last night," he murmured. "He killed some kind of inside man snitch, according to the police. He killed him using a sword." Arthur laughed shakily. "He almost killed me. Would've killed me, actually, if the police hadn't shown up."

Francis was speechless for the first time in his life. While he may not necessarily like Arthur, that didn't mean he wished for him to get his life turned upside down like this. He just ran his thumbs over the back of Arthur's hands and let him pitch forward and bury his face in Francis's expensive silk shirt.


That was the last time Arthur saw anyone from his old life.

After Francis calmed him down and promised not to tell anyone but his boss what happened, he left. Barely moments later, the officer stationed in the unmarked car in the parking lot knocked on his door. She told him that his paperwork had been sent to the OEO and he might as well start packing his toothbrush and a few sets of warmer clothes.

"Warmer cloths?" he asked curiously, hand idly turning the doorknob. "Why?"

The officer, a blonde woman with a long ponytail, grinned. "Because, Mr. Kirkland, you're going down to Dixie."


{A/N: So this is a kink meme thing I'm working on for this prompt: "While working overseas in America, Arthur is a key witness to a gruesome murder performed by one of the most ruthless underground mafia organizations in the country. The government gives him a new name and relocates him to a new town, where he finds himself under the supervision of the local Chief of Police and his rookie officer, Alfred. Arthur gets used to his new life with the help of the Chief and Alfred, and while he and the rookie constantly argue and bicker, over time they develop a close friendship.

But just as everything seems to be settling down for Arthur, news leaks out of his location, and the group he's supposed to testify against makes their way to his city to eliminate him."

I am obviously taking a few liberties with this prompt, although I'm not telling y'all what they are quite yet ^^ This will be a much slower paced, softer, more serious fic than any of my others, and (hopefully) will be a lot more concise than anything else. At this point, it's set at about ten chapters.

And yes. This is the main reason 'The Baffled King and the Idiot Hero' hasn't been updated.}