Brief AN on this story. Unlike the saga I have running, this is specifically on Franz and Albert. This is a oneshot, so there's no after it, 'kay? Hehe. :3 It's the first time I've done a legitimate FranzxAlbert pairing, so it's new and a little awkward, but I, in all honesty, and not to sound self-centered, really like it. So, read and review.

In this story, Franz and Albert are in the 12-14 age range, a couple years before Gankutsuou takes up.


"Love comes from blindness, friendship from knowledge." - Comte de Bussy-Rabutin

"Franz? Earth to Franz!" The voice nudged him out of the submissive state that Franz d'Epinay found himself in. "What are you staring at me for?" That voice belonged to none other than his best friend: Viscount Albert de Morcerf. He'd been friends with Albert, best friends, for a long time. They'd met at his Father's funeral. Not that he remembered much of that time; he only recalled how distraught he had become when he found out his Father really had died, how Mother would cry in her room when she thought he wasn't watching, the way that none of the servants would meet his eyes. That time had been a time of utmost turmoil for Franz. And that's when he had happened upon Albert.

He had been a very short little boy with a mop of chestnut hair flopped haphazardly upon his head, bright yet dull blue eyes that seemed to have just the slightest hint of gray in them, and the uncanny knack to be a crybaby even though he had no idea what the funeral was about.

A smill smile lifted the corners of Franz's lips as he raised the glass to his lips, parting them to let the cool liquid fill his mouth. The rich, deep scent of strawberries assailed his nostrils on a passing breeze as he swallowed his chilled drink, setting the glass down silently. Strawberries, the scent of summer. It was delicious a scent beyond words. "Nothing, Albert. I was just thinking, that's all." He picked up the spoon to his right, sinking it into the glass of strawberry wine ice. "It's a beautiful day out, today." With carefree fingers, he began to stir the melting, syrupy confection.

"Yeah... It's too hot, though." Franz looked back up to watch the brown-haired boy dig his own spoon into the slush, shoveling spoonfuls into his mouth afterwards.

"Albert, don't eat so fast. You're going to get a headache," he muttered on a tone of laughter, shaking his head. Blonde hair sneaked into his face and he pushed it away impatiently, not wanting to defile the strands with the sticky strawberry substance. He dropped his hand onto the back of his neck, wiping away the perspiration there. Despite Albert's ravenous eating habits, his friend was right. It was just a little bit too hot out today. Which had been the main reason they were now both tucking into their ices, settled outside on his own back porch. He leaned back in the ornamental chair and flinched mentally as it squeaked. He would have to get that fixed; he made a mental note to inform the servants of this labour.

"So, what do you want to do today, Franz?" Albert had chosen to completely disregard his own statement about not eating fast, and had now subtly changed the subject. He couldn't stop the smile from twitching at his lips again.

"It doesn't matter. I'm fine sitting here."

"Ugh! I don't wanna just sit here, though. You're so boring, Franz!" Albert's voice was layered with annoyance beyond irritation, but Franz could also hear the sarcastically joking tone beneath it. "If I wanted to do something boring, I would have gone to see Eugénie!"

"There you go again, comparing me to Eugénie. What am I, your girlfriend?" he retorted with the same lighthearted tone, but he couldn't quite ignore the sudden pang of hurt that settled somewhere just below and to the right of his heart. And it wasn't just because of what he was saying, but it was because he knew what Albert's immediate response would be.

"How can you be my girlfriend if you're not even a girl? Franz! Is there something you're not telling me?"

"No!" he shot back, feeling sudden awkwardness seizing his mind and body. He knew Albert's immediate response, and that hadn't been it. It usually involved: "Ew, Franz! Don't even think like that! That's gross!" It had been something Franz had oh-so-subtly hinted at every once in awhile, but nothing had ever changed. D'Epinay knew it too well; he haboured hopeless love for someone who was too blind to see it. But... Was Albert's sudden change of answers due to something more or could it have been just a by-product of the strawberry wine ice?

"You're blushing!"

"I am not!" He turned his head away, now, in fact, feeling that very warmth spreading across his cheeks. "Well, I wasn't," he murmured, rubbing his hand across his forehead. The day was hot and he was suddenly feeling more stifled than before. His shirt felt too heavy as it was; clinging to his body irritatably and rubbing him the wrong ways. His hair was sticking to the back of his neck before he pushed it away, fanning it out, before using that same hand as a makeshift fan to cool off. "We should go swimming, Albert," he stated quickly, taking his turn to change the subject. It was much too hot to just sit and be stared at, holding a normal conversation.

"Yeah! Swimming! But... I didn't bring swimming trunks," he trailed off uncertainly, pausing in scooping his desert to look towards Franz.

He could feel the colour burning brighter in his cheeks just at the simple statement. Great. He had started to blush and now he was rolling further and further down the path of no return. He was fairly good at controlling his emotions- until they got the best of him. Then, and only then, could they get out of control. "You... you can borrow a pair of mine," he forced out, coughing quietly into his hand. Then, as he felt Albert's eyes staring a hole into him even more, he accidentally-on-purpose dropped the spoon onto the ground, earning a clattering that took his friend's attention. "Whoops..." He took that perfect opportunity to duck under the table, hiding his face from his friend.

"You're so clumsy, Franz," complained that certain person loudly, as Franz was still able to hear him even in his position now. You're one to talk, he thought but didn't dare to voice his opinions outloud. Albert, just like at his Father's funeral, still held the quality of being... easily offended. Crybaby, a voice in his head nagged, but he refused to acknowledge it. It hurt his self esteem to mentally downgrade his best friend.

Sighing (somewhat shakily, he had to admit with mild embarrassment), he curled his fingers around the cool-to-the-touch spoon that rested on the cement ground.

"Come on, slowpoke! I wanna go swimming now!" Impatient as ever, Albert was. Franz didn't remind him that it had been his idea to begin with.

"Okay, okay, calm down, geesh." He straightened up again, setting the utensil down on the tabletop before he stood up. "Come on and get changed." Waving a hand dismissively, Franz started back towards the house. His blush had died down, thankfully enough, and he could have looked the brunette in the eye if he had so wished to. But he didn't want to. He didn't want the process to be renewed all over again.

He pushed the door of his home open quietly, breathing out a sigh of relief as the cold air from the interior blasted into his face. It may have been hot outside but they still had the pleasure of a running central air system. The cool that radiated throughout the room as Albert shut the door quickly behind them made him want to forget all about swimming and just stay inside with a book. It was almost mind-numbing, that quick shift between sweltering and frigid, and it wasn't a particular feeling he needed to feel again.

"It's... cold in here," came the voice from behind him and he had to nod his agreement.

"It really is."

"Let's hurry up and go back outside before we freeze!"

The snort pushed itself into the air before he could so much as think about it, shaking his head. "You, my friend, are one of the oddest boys I have ever met. I do hope that you realize that, Albert."

"What? I'm coooold now! It's not my fault you're house is so damn cold..." He staggered forward from a sudden blow delivered to his right shoulder, one that actually left the faintest ghost of pain behind it. Or maybe it was just the aftershock. Albert had never punched him before; nothing beyond their scuffles that they'd had daily so long ago. He could remember them now...

"Franz! Franz! Cut it out!" Albert had yelled, tugging on his shirt sleeve. "Give it back, Franz, give it back!"

Franz couldn't even remember what he had stolen; a game piece or maybe a book.

"Come on, Albert! You gotta do better than that!" When Albert reached a clumsy, dirty hand to grab at his belongings, Franz swiveled on the spot, laughing as his blonde hair danced into his face.

He could indirectly remember the pang of guilt that stabbed his chest when Albert had fallen face first onto the bright, green grass.

"Fra-a-anz!" shouted the voice, albeit wild sputtering around the grass and dirt. He looked down, humour lighting up his face as Albert scrambled to right himself, face red with embarrassment and anger. "I hate you, Franz!"

Love and hate were two totally incomprehensible subjects back then.

"Oh, Albert. You're about as lethal as a catapillar! And about as slow as one, too!"

Suddenly, the breath was knocked out of him as Albert tackled him football-style. His breath escaped his lips with a loud whooshand a yelp that he would still be ashamed of even later in life. His back hit the ground beneath them with a painful thump, which in turn, caused his breathing to be less easier to catch. "Al-" He broke off into a stuttering stop as blades of grass and blocks of dirt was smothered in his face, slipping down into his open mouth. He couldn't find the breath to yell Cut it out!at his friend as he tried to cough the nasty objects out of his mouth. Albert's fists pounded on his chest, and although there wasn't enough strength behind it, it wasn't a good feeling.

"A-Albert...!" he squeaked, bringing his arm around to shove it towards Albert, only he misjudged his strength. His flesh met with flesh and Albert jumped away, yelping. "Albert?" Jerking himself into a sitting position to see where his friend had gone, grass rained down from on top of his head and face. Shaking himself impatiently like a wet dog, his eyes finally settled upon his friend whom was sitting a few feet away, eyes tear-filled. "I'm sorry! I'm sorry, Albert, I didn't mean to! Lemme see."

"Gho awhy, Frahz!" The boy's voice was muffled by his sleeve being pressed over his nose and mouth.

"Come on, let me help!" Somehow, unobtrusively, Albert was in tears the next moment. "What hurts? Is your nose bleeding?" Struck by the sudden sight of blood, it was the first logical explanation that came to his head. The brunette nodded mutely, but didn't look up."Come on!" Franz grabbed the boy's sleeve, tugging on it. "Come on; we'll get some tissues!"

Albert had let himself be dragged away into Franz's house without so much as a word...

"Helloooo? Earth! To! Franz!"

He jumped, blinking back into the present. He was standing in his bedroom with Albert, whom had an annoyed expression on his face that made Franz wonder what he had just missed. "Huh?"

"I said, would you hurry up? I'm gonna go change." Without another word, Albert stalked out of the room, leaving only a bemused blonde in his place.

"Okay..." Shaking himself mentally, he grabbed the pair of swimming trunks from his dresser drawer before slipping out of his khakis and into them. He pulled off his shirt, gratefully, balling it up and shooting it like a basketball for the hamper. He missed. Sighing, he slipped away from his spot by the wall to pick them up, putting them meticulously into the hamper afterwards. Only then did he mosey out of his room, crossing his arms across his chest. Albert was right; it was too cold in here. But, there was no way he was going to put on that shirt again, gross.

He was just at the door when Albert caught up with him, in the most irritating way possible. His friend decided that sticking his ice cold fingers into his ribcage was the proper way to thank him for the swimming trunks. "Albert! Your hands are like ice!" he spat, slapping his friend's hands away. "Get off."

"Geez, Franz, I was just joking around. Don't snap at me."

Forcing himself to take one very deep breath, he shook his head. "Sorry. I was just thinking about other things." Had he really just gotten worked up over remembering Albert beating him up? Yes. Yes, he had.

"Like what?"

"Nothing important, really..."

"Okay?" From a sidelong glance, he could see Albert was watching him. He smiled faintly. Albert smiled, too.

Franz felt funny. It wasn't like this was just another one of those moments where they shared time together. Something about this felt much more real. More intimate, like they were closer. And for the likes of him, he couldn't figure out why it felt that way. Because it only was another moment where they shared time together. Nothing more, nothing less.

But then, who was he kidding? It was probably just Albert's smile in itself. Sure, Albert had the tendancy to cry a lot (and there wasn't anything wrong with a sentimental man, he himself just wasn't) but when he smiled, that smile was enough to light up a room. He just couldn't describe it. But when Albert was happy, he was happy.

He was, that was, until Albert walked straight into the lake. His eyes went wide for a split second as he came to a grinding halt, blinking in surprise. And then he was laughing. Like seriously, legitimately, laughing out loud. When in reality it honestly wasn't that funny, some part of his brain was refusing to accept that. So, when he wiped tears of mirth away from his eyes, he expected fully to be attacked with the water. But it never came.

"A-Albert?" he chuckled, peering into the murky lake. "Geez, watch where you go, goofball..." Shaking his head, he tried unsuccessfully to wipe the smirk from his face. "Okay, Albert, you can come up now." Waiting for his friend to resurface, he never did. Uneasiness prickled at the back of his neck, making him shuffle his weight from foot to foot. "Albert?" When he still received no response, panic set in and then did he dive into the lake. Could that dummy really have gone and hit his head? Got knocked out or something? He wouldn't put it past Albert to do anything like that. And he called he himself clumsy. Please.

The water was clear for a few feet, and although the lake was rather deep, Franz caught no sight of Albert. Thoroughly filled with dread and anxiety, he broke the surface to take in a much needed breath. If he was out of breath, then what about-

"Got you!"

He had no more than the time to yell in surprise before he was forced under the water. The sudden lack of oxygen had him breathing in pure dihydrogen monoxide, burning his lungs all the way through. He clamped his mouth shut just a moment to late before hauling it to the surface, choking and spluttering into the clean air. His lungs were on fire and his eyes were stinging. "Were you... trying to kill me?" he shouted, voice cracking halfway through. The blonde trailed down into a frenzy of coughs, trying to catch his breath.

"I didn't mean to do that! I thought you'd, well, you know... You're always ready for an attack!" Albert was stuttering, stumbling through his words. Franz knew he hadn't purposefully tried to drown him. But the panic had turned to anger, and it was making him lash out.

"Why are you always attacking me! I'm... not always ready! God, Albert, I thought you were in trouble! When you didn't come back up..."

"I came up behind you after you dived in... I was just playing, I'm sorry..."

"I thought you died!"

"Oh, come on, Franz; you're being absurd!"

"Absurd? You go as far as this and you call me absurd?" He was really angry. He couldn't tell if he was shaking from his near-drowning or from the fury throbbing away in his chest.

"I said I was joking! I'd never do anything to hurt you!" Franz stopped. His body stiffened for only a moment before he felt his shoulders sag. His breath, not nearly at its normalcy, rushed from his lips noisely as he dropped his head into his hands. "Franz... What's wrong... You've been really tense, all day..."

He just shook his head. "It's nothing, Albert."

"Just tell me!"

Pause. "You wouldn't do anything to hurt me...?" his voice trailed off uncertainly, and he hated that. He hated how seriously doubting and vunerable he sounded at the same time.

"Of course I wouldn't, but Franz... where is this going?"

"Albert, I wanna tell you something..."


He looked up, but only slightly, not able to quite meet Albert's gaze. "There's someone I like... There's someone I've liked for a long time, Albert..." He watched the confusion flitter across his friend's face as he blinked. "Albert... that person... has been you..." He had looked away, subconsciously, before he finished the statement. The blush was starting to form once again as he nervously trailed his fingers over the water. He'd hinted at it so many times before. He'd never said it. He knew Albert hadn't seen it. But... there it was.

He didn't know why he had brought it up so quickly, on this day. When he could have at any other time, on any other day, it just had to be today. Maybe it was the hot weather, the lake...

"R...Really... Franz?" came the timid voice from behind him and he looked back, instinctively, tentatively, before dropping his brown eyes to the water again. His own reflection looked... scared, nervous, to his own eyes.

"Really, Albert..." he murmured.

"F- H... How long...?"

"Umm..." He felt the blush deepen. "Since we were probably... five? Or six, maybe..."

"F... Five...?"

"Yeah... You remember that day, at the ocean... We were supposed to be swimming and you, umm, weren't so good at it." Laughing awkwardly, he rubbed at the back of his head. "You... the tide? Remember, Albert? You almost drowned..."

"And you..."


"Albert, Albert!" Franz cried, staggering as he dragged Albert's limp body onto the sand. It gave way under his feet, and his legs, already shaking, gave way, too. He dropped onto the sand like a ton of bricks, being careful not to jarr Albert's small body in his hands. "W-What do I do...?"

He looked around through the wet hair sticking to his forehead. None of the adults were around? What was happening? Where was Mademoiselle Clowes? And Messieur Laroche? "A-Albert?" He prodded his friend's lifeless body, trying not to cry. "Albert, wake up!" Biting into his lip, Franz was hit with a sudden idea. He'd seen something... the nanny had done something to somebody one day... was it CBS? No... CP... CPR! Franz had once seen a person as limp as Albert come back when the nanny had done that. But... what did he do?

"She... just looked like when Mommy used to kiss Daddy..." he murmured. Was that the key to waking up someone you cared about? Kissing someone? Franz knew that it made him feel better, when he was hurt, to get a kiss for comfort. So it would help Albert, right? Right?

"Wake up, Albert, please..." he murmured, leaning down, closing his eyes to wish with all his might. His lips pressed softly against Albert's... He tasted of sea salt...

"You saved my life..."

Franz was once again jolted back to the present when his friend spoke. He laughed quietly. "I hauled your butt out of the water and tried to perform some makeshift CPR on you, yeah. But, you weren't actually not breathing... You choked yourself awake, or something. I didn't do that part. All I thought CPR was was just a kind of kiss." He smiled at the fond memories that should have held only sadness. He could smile about it, now.

"Thank you, Franz..."

Blinking, he glanced up. "For what?"

"For saving me that day."

"Oh..." Slightly crestfallen, he still smiled. "Like I said, that was nothing."

"And... thanks for sticking with me... for all these years... For being by my side. I... couldn't have gotten here without you, Franz." He looked up, trying to catch his friend's expression, but Albert had turned away. "I might be being silly, but... if you like me, then... what I feel for you, must be the same, right...?" Then their eyes met, with only a slightest spark of hope.

"Well," he mused, wrapping an arm around the boy's neck to tug him close. He heard the quiet gasp and knew he caught Albert off guard. "I can't say for sure, as I'm not an expert on these things, but... I'd really like to think that it is!"

It was in that moment, where their eyes met and where their smiles matched one another's, Franz had returned. He had returned to Earth. He wasn't stuck up in the clouds anymore, destined to live life with foggy ideas and uncertain visions. The clouds had cleared. He had come back to this place, his home. The place where he truly belonged. And, in was in that moment, that Franz knew for sure that he would continue to stay on Earth, with his best friend, Viscount Albert de Morcerf, for eternity.

Comments please! I want to IMPROVE or STAY THE SAME, based on you, the readers, opinons.