Author's Notes: I'm not the biggest AU fan, but I traded story ideas with a cousin of mine who also has an account on this website. She had posted some of this on her profile before, but I wrote it and will keep it here.

I'll see if I want to continue this. It is fun.

Enjoy the long prologue. I promise it will get way more interesting later. :)


Alfred stood with stiff shoulders in the doorway of that building. He didn't want to be here. He really didn't need to be here. But most of all, if he had to be here, he wished people would stop giving him those weird looks like he was crazy or something.

It was one thing to suggest therapy. And Alfred understood why his parents would want him to get some, what with all the talking to someone who wasn't there thing. But that's all it was. A suggestion. People weren't actually supposed to be serious about them! Hell, it was a nightmare made real when his dad walked in the door and told him to get ready to go. And when Alfred had asked where, he was just fixed with a very serious expression that sealed his fate.

A squirming like a thousand worms wiggled around in his stomach as he waited in the front office of the building. There were cucks around. Every last one of them in the room (save for him, of course) was cuckoo. Why else would they be here? Unless their traitorous parents dragged them all the way to the city to see "one of the best shrinks around."

Bah. Like he cared.

A door opened up forcing Alfred to look up from the pile of useless magazines on the coffee table when a wave of cold air bitch slapped him in the face. Holy moly, his neck craned back to impossible levels when meeting the violet eyes of a very tall, very big nosed, very unpleasant looking man. The man glanced around with a controlled little smile on his pale lips, eyes zipping around the faces in the room.

"Is there an Alfred Jones present today?" he asked, and it shouldn't have been possible that his voice sounded creepier than his appearance looked. It was a childish voice full of laughter and secrets.

His mother touched his arm which he abruptly pulled away. She frowned down at him. "Alfred, stand up," she ordered quietly.

He shook his head like a rotating fan on turbo.

"Alfred, listen to your mother," his father said a bit harsher.

Again the fan rotation.

"Don't start this again, young man. We're already here and I don't want to be part of a scene. Stand up."

"Ma, I don't need this."

"Alfred," she warned.

"I don't. I'm not crazy. I'm perfectly fine. This is how I deal with stress."

"Don't be ridiculous. Stand up. That man is waiting," quipped his father, now starting to look displeased.


Alfred had been more than willing to continue this scene to a much louder extent, not even caring if the crazy people thought he was acting nuts, because, really, who cared what crazy people thought? But his words fell short as an ominous shadow hovered over him making his skin crawl. He hesitantly looked up to see the smiling face of the man with a terribly hard to understand Russian accent.

"You must be Alfred," he stated, lips slowly peeling back in a smile as the Russian grinned down at the nervous and angry looking blonde squirming below him.

"...Where did you get that idea?" Alfred mumbled, scooting back in his chair away from those large hands. They looked about ready to drag him from his seat and into that back room to do God knew what. Electroshock therapy no doubt. Well, if he was gonna go, then he was gonna go with a fight.

A giggle slid up from the fair-haired man's throat which sounded totally unnatural. "You are the one making the biggest commotion. You would be surprised how many people fight to get past that doorway," said the man and pointed to the back hallway where he'd come from. Alfred scowled but never removed his eyes from those hands.

"Ah, pardon my manners. You must be Mr. and Mrs. Alfred Jones. It is a pleasure to meet you. I am Ivan Braginski." He pulled out one slab of a hand and Alfred flinched, ignoring very hard when Ivan laughed towards his reaction. His parents stood up and shook it before tugging on the top of Alfred's shirt. He grumbled but stood up anyway.

"Likewise. You... sounded different over the phone. I almost didn't recognize you by your voice," laughed his mother. Alfred gaped and stared at her with large eyes. They'd talked this over on the phone? Traitor! How could they do this so sneakily and not tell him? What... what... sneaks! This new tidbit of information just made him scowl harder as his parents discussed stupid, unnecessary things with his 'to be therapist.'

His dad's hand to his back jerked him from his own little world as he motioned for Alfred to follow the Russian who was disappearing being the doorway and front desk. "Be good. It's only for an hour and a half. You can take it. We'll be waiting right here to pick you up when you're done."

There was a very abandoned feeling that Alfred experienced, and it took all he had in him to mask that with childish anger. He pulled his back away and didn't even so much as spare another look back towards his jerky parents before he begrudgingly made his way down the hallway. It wasn't much of a comfort that they were leaving him alone with someone so... odd, but it was another thing to have Ivan waiting for him outside his office with that weird, expecting smile on.

"After you," Ivan said politely, holding open the door that sealed his fate. He said nothing as he walked inside.

At least it wasn't a dungeon or a classroom, which were coincidentally the same thing, like he'd been expecting the psychologist's office to be. Was this where they sent crazy people before they locked them up in an asylum? Kinda nice, actually.

"Sit anywhere you like," said Ivan as he walked past him to a rather nice looking black, leather chair. He sat down and started sifting through some papers. Alfred blinked before looking over at the only piece of furniture in the room other than Ivan's chair. Oh, ha ha, hilarious. He sighed and strolled over to the red chair and sank back as deep as he could. At least if he was going to be bonkers, he'd be bonkers and comfortable.

Alfred waited and stared at the clock, hoping that Ivan would waste his whole session looking at papers. But alas, fate was cruel, and Alfred's heart stilled when five minutes later he had those two perceiving eyes focused solely onto him.

"Well, well. What could have possibly happened to you to make someone such as I be in the company of a high schooler?" Okay... Alfred took it that young people weren't who Ivan treated the most.

He shrugged. "Nothing."

A few more paper shifts and a disbelieving but amused hum. "That is not what your parents have informed me of. Unless they lied, of course."

"That's it. They lied. That's what liars, such as my parents, tend to do, unfortunately. This has been a great conversation. Can I go now?"

Ivan's smile pulled further up his face. "How amusing. You must really not want to be here."


"Well I assure you, dear Alfred, that I am a very pleasant person when it calls for it," Ivan informed and giggled to himself, his hand going up to hide some of them. Alfred grimaced. There was nothing normal about a grown man giggling.

"And when it doesn't?" he asked for the hell of it.

There was most definitely a temperature drop as Ivan's eyes darkened, his smile seeming to become strained and tight. A visible shudder passed over Alfred's frame under that look and he had an uncontrollable urge to make a dart for the door. This was like being in a horror movie. Instead he sunk deeper into his chair with a guarded look and curled his fingers over the sides of his chair.

"Let us try and avoid that, if at all possible," Ivan said on an airy breath before that cheerful, polite smile came back onto his face. He picked up his pen and acted like that creepy Mike Myers Freddy Kruger moment didn't happen. "Now then, shall we begin by finding out what abnormal habits you are showing?"

After a moment where Alfred found his voice again, "I'm not abnormal."

"I never said that you were. I have been told so quite a few times by your mother. But she has said that you were talking to yourself."

"Is it a crime to talk to myself?" Alfred bit out and wiggled uncomfortably in his chair. Man, he could be riding his bike or throwing shit at cars right now. All he was doing was "getting in touch with his feelings."

"Debatable," Ivan said and scribbled something down. That action made Alfred feel very paranoid. "Why do you feel the need to talk to yourself?"


Ivan smiled over his clipboard patiently. "Because why? That is a very broad answer."

"Because I feel like it?" Alfred offered helpfully with a tint of sarcasm.

"And why do you feel like it?"

"This is so stupid!" Alfred grumbled and wiped a hand over his face. "All you're doing is repeating my answers back in the form of a question. How do you expect to make any progress?"

Ivan hummed to himself before setting his pen and paper down, folding his leg over the other. "It bothers you?"

"... Of course it bothers me. It's stupid and repetitive."

"Yes, I could see how that could bother a person. It is moronic and recurring." Alfred all but glared at the overly intrigued man who he was sure was now a little sadistic. Ivan chuckled to himself. "I am sorry. I could not resist. Alright. How about you tell me what is wrong then?"

Alfred looked down at his hands in his lap dejectedly. "Nothing's wrong," he stated again after a moment.

"Ah, but now you are becoming the repetitive one. How about you tell me how nothing wrong started to make you talk to yourself?"

Alfred paused. He had been curious as to why this Arthur chap was sticking around, this figment of his imagination following him everywhere he went (Alfred being the only one who could hear him and now recently SEE him too), and he wracked his mind back to the first time he had seen him in his mind's eye. Blue eyes looked up hesitantly to find Ivan staring patiently with his hands clasped and resting against his lap. Alfred narrowed his eyes suspiciously.

Fine. He would tell this Ivan guy what he needed to know and go home. The faster he got this over with, the faster he could get back to his old life. The life he wanted before Arthur Kirkland ever made an appearance.

"His... his name is Arthur."

"Oh?" Ivan sounded not the least bit surprised and intrigued, but Alfred could tell he already knew that. Probably from his traitorous parents over the phone.

"Yeah... so... He, um, he started bothering me about a month ago. When I was- when I was in an accident."

Pen and paper were back up again. "Do tell."

One Month Previous:

"Stop touching me."

"I'm not touching you, Alfred."

"Mattie, I just felt your hand cop a feel on my left butt cheek. How can you stand there right now and look me in the eye and tell me that you didn't just go for the gold?"

"It wasn't on purpose. You're the one walking so close to me. Besides, why would I feel up my own brother?"

"Because I'm such a catch?" Alfred yelped when a fist smacked into his bicep, holding it protectively and shooting an unappreciative scowl towards his equally annoyed brother. What a jerk. How could he look at him behind his glasses, which totally made him look like a poindexter (Alfred didn't have to worry because he definitely could pull off the whole 'glasses look'), like Alfred had actually deserved that punch to the arm? It was preposterous.

They continued walking down the narrow little street in silence, hoping that they wouldn't have to talk to each other until getting to the grocery store when conversation was needed. Alfred huffed at the mere thought of being sent out to pick up groceries of all things. "That's women's work," he had replied to his mother and had received a rough tug to his ear and a shot glass full of dish soap. What, almost out of high school and he was still getting soap in the mouth as a punishment? What was next? Would she send him to sit in the corner without supper? Or perhaps she would try to spank him in front of all his friends.

Alfred's shoulders shuddered at the thought. His mother would actually do that if given the chance. He knew she would.

"Now you're copping a feel on me!" Matthew protested, nearly running himself into the fence boards next to him. He wanted to escape such close proximity with his brother. Alfred leaned away from his shorter twin with an appalled gasp.

"What kind of sicko do you think I am, Mattie?"

"The kind that's touching my butt. Keep on your own side of the sidewalk," Matthew frowned, bumping his shoulder roughly with his sibling as if to make a point. Alfred stumbled, teeth poking his lip as he pouted as best he could.

"… But there's glass over here," he finally said, feet skirting around the broken beer bottles scattered on his side of the sidewalk and out into the bike lanes.

"So walk on it."

"I can't walk on it. Do you know what that will do to my shoes? They'll be ruined. Absolutely ruined!" As if to prove how drastic his brother's suggestion was, Alfred threw his hands overdramatically into the air. Matthew frowned, looking displeased by Alfred's antics.

"So. They're just shoes."

Alfred blinked, turning his attention back towards his brother with befuddled eyes. The bemused fog cleared slowly from his blue orbs as he scooted around a rather large piece of glass and caught up with Matthew who was looking over the shopping list. Nasty. There were all kinds of vegetables on it. A man needed meats and fats and sugars to grow chest hair and raise his sperm count. Only little girly boys such as his brother were vegetarians.

"Hey, switch with me."

"I'm not walking on the side with glass, Alfred," droned Matthew without so much as batting an eyelash or looking up from the list.

"No, not that. Switch shoes with me," Alfred chimed, leaning forward to get a better look at his brother's face to gauge his reaction. Matthew quirked an eyebrow before looking absolutely surprised that out of everything Alfred could have said, that was the strangest.

"Huh?" That was the only response that seemed excellent for a reply.

"If you don't care about shoes, then switch with me. I'll give 'em back when we get to the store. I just don't want glass chips all stuck in mine."

Ah, so that was his reasoning. Matthew turned back to the list and continued to act as if nothing had happened. "No."

"Why not–"

"Because that's weird, Alfred. No."

Great. Alfred huffed and kicked roughly at an empty beer bottle lying in front of him. It wasn't weird. They had the same shoe size. Hell, when they were running late to school sometimes they would even grab each other's shoes by mistake, just so they wouldn't be late. "No, what's weird is the fact that you've been walking this whole time reading and haven't tripped over the gaping cracks in the cement." It was true. They were atrocious because of the earthquake that had hit twenty-two years ago.

Sighing, Matthew turned to frown at his twin and pointed to the other side of the street. "If you're having such a hard time standing next to me then why don't you just go on the other side of the road or something?"

"Great idea. The best you've had in… wait, that's your only great idea," Alfred said before slapping Matthew hard on the rear, a pained cry peeling from the blonde's lip. He quickly trotted to the other side of the street to see Matthew rubbing at his butt with a look of shock ghosting over his large eyes. "And that time was on purpose!"

"Real mature," Matthew grumbled and continued walking, wincing only once at the sting. Damn, did Alfred have an arm. He could do a lot of damage if he didn't control himself, the fool.

Meanwhile, said fool was shoving his hands in his pockets and not even bothering to put any of his energy to even look in the general direction of his stingy brother obsessing over what kind of stupid vegetables he was going to eat and mentally gloating about how unglass-like his shoes were. Was it possible that Matthew was just not in the mood to handle a lifetime's worth of liveliness packaged in the size of one (almost adult) human being?

Nah. Couldn't be that.

He was probably just adjusting to the move and the new house with the plain white walls and unnaturally rickety shutters and tiny bathroom that was on the floor next to the attic. Exactly, who the hell creates a fairly large house with only one bathroom and decides to put it by the attic? Whilst going through many reasons as to why Matthew had been behaving more irritated the past week, the move being top suspect number one, Alfred fished out some bubble gum from his pocket and popped it into his mouth.

The move hadn't been that bad, really. It was just a step down from where they'd been before. Sure, they used to live in a big city with lots of people and excitement and things to do, hot girls on practically every street and smells from top quality food shops wafting over the sky and…

He bit his knuckle and withheld a depressed whine. Man, their lives sucked now. They now lived in some dumpy town about a third of the size of the city which was, mind you, almost an hour drive from here, with a rent house and small everything. Small streets, small cars, small houses, small meals. It was like a town built for people shrunk down with a ray gun.

Alright, perhaps he was over exaggerating, but the pain still pierced just as deep.

"Um," said Alfred, not wanting to walk in silence anymore. Well, there was a sound of dogs barking and quite possibly a human baby crying behind the fence next to him, but still. It was too quiet for Alfred's taste. He glanced over hesitantly towards his brother, you know, just to see if he was still mad at him and stuff. Matthew's eyes caught his and it was awkward again. The list was nestled safely back inside of his pocket, no longer distracting the boy from what Alfred was about to say.

… What had he been about to say again?

"Um," said Alfred again, hand pulling at his shirt in a weak attempt to let out the waves of uncertainty at his ability to say the right thing at the right time. There was definitely quite possibly something in the way his mind functioned that had always kept him from saying the right things to people, his brother being no exception. But with how close they were, not excluding the twin thing because they probably wouldn't even have been this close had they not been twins to begin with, saying the right thing to Matthew was always a must-do.

"Does your butt still hurt?"

Oh. Oh, precisely just like that. He wanted to bury his face in his hands and run out into oncoming traffic. Without the city, though, that idea was useless, for this town did not have an exceedingly obscene amount of car movement.

"Oh. Um. No, it's– it's fine now," replied Matthew timidly. The words came out clumped and uncomfortable making Alfred stare straight ahead with stiff shoulders.

"That's good. I didn't mean to hit you that hard… Okay, so I did, but if your butt was still hurting now from what I did, then it'd… it'd be a problem with walking and everything." He almost choked on his air at how lame he sounded and he most certainly didn't notice the perplexed features of the woman walking her dog past him.

Matthew remained silent.

"Because, you know I can buy you some ice at the store and–"

Matthew laughed despite himself. "I get it, Alfred. Don't worry about it."

Alfred looked across the pavement at the way his brother's eyes squinted behind his glasses, shining with that impossible ability to make Alfred smile too. His lips tweaked up to mirror his twin's, his looking slightly bolder due to the confidence he usually radiated on a daily basis. Matthew had always been the quiet one.

But Alfred never forgot that you always had to watch out for the quiet ones.

"How much farther anyway?" Alfred asked, placing his hand to his forehead to block some of the glare from the sun. They needed to get back soon so they could start dinner.

"I don't know," Matthew muttered, looking around the unfamiliar streets. "Maybe a couple of blocks? Mom said it wasn't that far…"

Alfred groaned at how unconfident his brother sounded. He didn't want to walk around all evening looking for some stupid grocery store. "This blows! I don't see why we couldn't just take the car."

"Um, because dad needs it to get to work, Einstein," elegantly replied Matthew. Alfred rolled his eyes.

"He could walk."

"All the way to the city?" Matthew asked with a raised eyebrow.

"Or take the train. Either's cool. No one's putting a gun to his head." It was just a suggestion. Yeesh. There wasn't any need to try and bite his head off. All Alfred was trying to say was that if they had the car then both he and Matthew wouldn't have to walk around some ugly-ass streets with the ugliest sounding animals making noises behind the fences.

"You don't even have your license so a car would be pointless anyway," Matthew piped in. He cut Alfred off even before he could protest. "And no, it's not the same borrowing what's going to be rightfully yours when we get the money. You don't even know if you'll pass the test or not."

"I will."


"I will," he insisted. Matthew rolled his eyes. "Me driving will be a lot more productive than you putting me down."

The Canadian scoffed. "I'm not even going to go into detail how incorrect your sentence phrasing was, but if you want to be productive then find the store."

"I will."



The rest of the way to the store (an hour and seven minutes, even though it was fourteen blocks from their house) was spent with relative bickering. Playful bickering, but bickering nonetheless. When walking into the store, the list coming up once more, that was when the real bickering started. Alfred was not wholly satisfied with the items on the list, and as such an unsatisfied person, he placed various packages of suspicious foods into the grocery cart. Most of the time Matthew saw him and went into a rant about not having enough money and how bad the foods were, but Alfred had managed to slip in some soda when his twin was looking at the cheeses.

The worst of it all, though, was not the squabbling, but the trip home. Try carrying bags upon bags of food in the setting sun in a town you are unfamiliar with. Yeah, Alfred's point exactly.

"Where are you going?" Matthew asked, withholding a groan when some grocery bags started to slip from his sweaty fingers. He was staring at Alfred's back when he had started heading down the opposite side of the fork in the road.

"I'm going home, what's it look like?" responded Alfred without skipping a beat.

"Home's this way."

A gruff, quick laugh. It could've been a scoff, but Matthew preferred to hear it as a humorless laugh. "I don't think so," said Alfred matter-of-factly.

"I'm positive. See, we went left, left, left, right. So now we need to go right, right, right, left."

Turning around, Alfred raised an eyebrow and leaned against a lamppost. He almost had to juggle the bags around in his arms to keep them from tearing. Plastic just wasn't what it used to be anymore. Fixing his brother with a rather dumbfounded look, Alfred shook his head and said, "Mattie, I think I know where we're going. It was right, right, left, right, left, left, right."

"No. You're forgetting when we stopped for you to tie your shoe. You weren't looking then. It was left, left, left, right, left, right, left, left, right." Matthew set his bags against the pavement and wiped some sweat from the side of his face. Alfred couldn't remember the last time he'd seen his brother walk this much in a day; he looked exhausted. Ha. And people called him the lardass.

"Are you implying that I can't look up from tying my shoe? Is that what you're implying? Because I remember. It was right, right, left–"

"Alright, enough, enough!" Matthew announced, rubbing at his eyes in annoyance. Alfred frowned, not liking to be interrupted, but gave his brother a minute to breathe. He shifted his feet and moved the groceries around when a ball of cabbage was getting a little too close to his mouth. He scowled down at it. Never in a million years so don't you even try it, he warned inside his mind.

"Look, I don't want to wander around dark streets for God knows how long with a mountain of groceries. Just go my way. I know where we are anyway, so we'll be home in fifteen minutes tops." Alfred tried to sway his twin into getting a move on. He could already feel his stomach having a boxing match with his other organs in its food-deprived state; prolonging it would only hurt the issue even more. There was some hesitance behind Matthew's eyes as he gazed towards his counterpart, lips pulling back in a tight line of doubt.

Luckily the mention of walking for a long period of time kicked the boy's butt into gear, considering how tired he was already. He sighed heavily and picked up his bags again, moving to follow after Alfred who was leading the way.

"Saddle up. This is going to be one quick trip," assured Alfred confidently. He knew where they were going. Many people such as Matthew and the entire population in the surrounding area didn't have much self-assurance that Alfred knew what he was talking about half the time. But he did. And it was moments like these when his mental GPS kicked in that was his time to shine. And shine he–

"Alfred, you moron. We're lost!" Matthew growled with very little energy, the sun nearly set over the horizon.

… didn't.

He let his blue eyes dart around the different streets nervously, biting his lip, the bags making ardent noises in protest when he spun around with a false smile to placate his brother. "Define lost–"

Groceries tumbled from the shopping bags as they fell from Matthew's hands, the boy's shoulders slumping in frustration. He looked about ready to cry. Heaven knew if Matthew cried then Alfred would go into a panic. He'd never been good at dealing with tears either. "Why did I trust you? Why do I do that? Maybe you're not the stupid brother like everyone says, because I have to be even stupider than you to be persuaded by the words of a stupid person." He fisted his fingers through his wavy, golden locks and crumbled against the sidewalk in a crouch.

Alfred set his own bags down as gently as possible – which turned out to be rather harshly, actually – before scrambling over to his brother and patting his shoulders awkwardly. "H-hey now, Matt. Come on, we're not lost. I can say we're a lot of things, but lost ain't one of them."

Matthew made a garbled noise behind his hands, the sound coming out muffled. "Please don't try to calm me down, Alfred."

He shifted his sneakers against the gravely cement before looking back to where he'd placed his groceries. No doubt that the dairy products were good and warm by now. Alfred glanced around before standing back up and moving to pick up the bags. He even grabbed a couple of the heavier ones that Matthew was carrying along the way. As he did so, his twin peeked up from his spot on the side of the road and cast a curious gaze at his brother. Alfred gripped his fingers tighter over the groceries, the weight now evident against him.

"Get up."

Matthew all but stared. "Why?"

"Because I found a short cut."

"… Where? When?"

Alfred turned to move, already making his way towards some broken boards by an alley way. "Do you wanna sit on the ground all night or will you follow me already? Man, you're such a slow poke." As Alfred began his descent down the trashy looking, narrow road, Matthew wiped his face off with his sweatshirt and slowly started picking up his groceries.

"What other choice do I have?" he muttered under his breath, just wanting to get this over with. Whenever Alfred got into one of those adventurous, explorer moods, Matthew found it best to just not fight against the current. He'd tried that once when they were smaller; it didn't end well was all he would ever have to say about that.

"How short is this short cut?" called out Matthew from a good distance away. Alfred continued forward, not even so much as bothering to turn around and look at him.

"About ten minutes," Alfred replied, lying between his teeth. Inside he got that panicky feeling again. Damn damn damn damn he KNEW IT he absolutely knew it. How could he possibly lead them both into the dark unknown just to get Matthew to stop crying or what may have about to have been crocodile tears? This wasn't productive at all. No, no, no. It was a thousand giant steps back from productive. And now Matthew was silent, dear merciful Jesus in heaven, he was so silent he must have just taken what Alfred had been saying for the truth.

There should've been a fortune cookie that said Steer clear of Alfred F. Jones. He's a big fat liar who is going to get you lost in the dark and possibly sexually molested by dumpster hobos.

At least everyone would get a fair warning before coming into contact with him. He let out all kinds of despairing sounds inside his mind but made sure to keep them there and only there when walking deeper into the alley, past crates and garbage and fences that looked awfully unstable.

"Just a few more minutes," he said and rearranged the larger bags in his arms. Alfred felt his voice lilt off at the end, not even able to keep up his charade to full capacity. Matthew hummed quietly in response but didn't make any other noise. Alfred smiled over his shoulder with big fat brother guilt in his tummy. "Almost there."

He turned the corner and froze mid-step, neck craning up in astonishment. He distantly heard footsteps approaching him from behind until they stopped as well, obviously for the same reason why he'd done it first in the first place. "Alfred…" Matthew uttered in horror.

"Not a problem," Alfred quipped quickly.

"B-but… Alfred, we have to go back. This is ridiculous. I don't know how you expect us to get past that with all of these bags, but it's not happening. Let's go back while there's still some light out," Matthew insisted and sneezed, dust from all of the dirty items littered about creeping into his nose.

Alfred walked up to a seemingly endless wall of crates, wood, old trinkets, and quite possibly a half-built tree house that just seemed out of place. Alfred knocked against the wooden boards. Huh. Nice and sturdy. He'd always wanted a tree house but could never keep the attention span to build one himself. He was actually very tempted to abandon the groceries and attempt to haul the ancient thing back to his house. Hey, it was about the size of his bedroom.

Who the hell shoved all this stuff like a dam in an alley way anyway?

"We can hop over this stuff. Watch."

"I don't think that's a good idea," warned his over-cautious poindexter brother. Alfred slid the bag handles further up his arm and started climbing. Matthew gawked before dashing forward, eyes large and uncertain. "Get down from there! This stuff looks old! It's going to break."

"It seems fine." And to prove his point Alfred tapped the plank below him for effect. "Look, nothing. Climb aboard."

Matthew remained rooted to the ground. "Alfred…" he repeated again uncertainly.

"Mattie…" whined Alfred in a mocking manner as he stood on the lower planks of the tree house. He grinned at the glare he received before inspecting everything below him. Alfred let out a whistle of appraisal, seriously surprised at all of the things sitting around at the dead end of some alley way. "This stuff's older than shit. Why the hell would people shove it back here instead of chucking it into a quarry or a wood chipper or something?"

"I don't know– will you please come down?" Matthew jumped out of the way when one of the bags broke and fell off of Alfred's arm. He frowned. This wasn't anything to joke about. Who even knew what was over the other side of all the primordial boxes and furniture?

Alfred laughed, opening his mouth to let out a joke or two about the situation, when he could clearly see the distress on his brother's face in the light of the setting sun. Man, what a party pooper. He looked like he'd just sat on a fifty foot long stick. Sighing in exacerbation, Alfred started maneuvering around the crates and the tree house to get back down to his brother. He made a mental note of where all this stuff was, though, wanting to come back and take a good look when the sun was up in the sky. He could barely see anything right now for crying out loud!

Setting a few bags against the tree house, Alfred blindly looked for a sturdy place to put his foot when the board he was holding onto broke free, the nail old and rusted and certainly not reliable in the slightest. Alfred's face contorted in every which way possible as his manly arms flailed to grab onto something to stop his fall. Matthew yelped, yelling out something that smeared against Alfred's ears like thick cream cheese. When all creaking stopped, dust blurring into the air, Alfred caught his footing and gaped with wide eyes. Behind him was a jagged board sticking out, the ends frayed with splinters and the like.

Both he and Matthew stared at it in shock before Alfred let a small smile creep onto his face. "That was a close one if I ever saw one."

"… Not funny. Can you please come down now? And don't drop anymore groceries on your way down. We're going to get in so much trouble if mom finds out you wasted her money to climb a tree house."

Alfred dusted off his jacket. "Yeah, yeah. You sound like a pre-menopausal woman squawking in my ears." With the grace of a two-legged Rhinoceros, Alfred took another step around the board of death and reached for the bags set atop the tree house. When he grabbed them and held them up, he grinned victoriously down at Matthew. "Piece of cake."


Alfred paused. Creak? What creak? What creak?

Alfred watched as Matthew's eyes widened, bracing his feet back and his face looking near comical. But even with such a distorted face Alfred could tell that anyone wearing an expression like that and looking at him couldn't be a good thing.

Crea-ceaaa– SNAP.

Ooh. That's what the sound was. It was so obvious in the brief nanosecond that wood was not toppling onto Alfred's head and shattering his skull. Of course. The support beam of the tree house was breaki–

There was an incomprehensible amount of darkness. Thick, inky darkness that obscured Alfred's vision and made that splitting pounding in his head all the more noticeable. He couldn't even open his eyes it was so painful. It felt like the time he had tried to be Superman and jump off the roof of his house. Not a good idea when he thought back on it. Broke his femur and knocked himself out. Wait. Was he knocked out? Was that why his body felt so heavy and fucking sore all over?

Alfred felt his heart jolt in alarm. Who the hell had knocked him out? Oh, if he ever found the sonofabitch who thought it was funny to just hit someone over the head and leave them in the dark, then they had another thing coming.


Alfred stopped the mental images of him kicking the ass of some unknown person when a voice dulled in the back of his ears. It was so faint and muddled that he couldn't understand it, much like talking in the water of a swimming pool. Someone was laughing, a high pitched noise that sounded like nails on a chalkboard.

"…retarded. What an…idiot…" More laughter.

What? What was going on? Who was a retarded idiot? Alfred wished to any power above that he could move his arms or open his eyes. But his head hurt too gosh darn much! He lay perfectly still and tried to assemble the voices into separate people. There were a couple, both sounding different than the last. Soon they started to become clearer.

"I'm not surprised. The boy is dumber than…grab his…not there you…!"

Fingers clung onto his arm and Alfred all but sucked the air back in through his teeth. The hand retreated, that same voice scolding whomever had touched him. Damn, that pain smarted. It wasn't just his head that hurt anymore, but his whole body. The chiding and angry voice sounded strange to his ears. It sounded foreign. Now where had Alfred heard a voice like that before…? Oh yeah, James Bond! Was the boy British? Wow. Alfred had always wanted to meet a British person, and an African person and a Dutch person and a Vietnamese person and a–

Okay, so he wanted to meet a lot of cultural people. So sue him. But he wanted to meet a British person most of all.

"You're hurting him! Look at that, he stopped breathing. How daft can you be to grab him by the arms? He fell on his bloody front you buffoon!"

"Hey, you asked me to help you so I'm helpin'. Be grateful I didn't leave him in the street to get hit by a bicycle or something," the other voice responded, voice alive with amused laughter that sounded way too happy for the fact that he had apparently fallen on his face. So did that mean someone didn't knock him out? Well, whatever. He'd just kick this person's ass for laughing at him instead; that should even things out.

"The lot of help you're doing. You merely pulled him by his feet next to a fire hydrant, Gilbert."

"Hey, I didn't do that by myself. You helped me," accused the laughing voice, Gilbert apparently, not sounding nearly as amused as three seconds ago.

There was a thoughtful pause and then, "You're absolutely right. I want my five cents back. You haven't done a damn thing I haven't been capable of doing myself."

"No way! A deal's a deal!"

The two started to scuffle and fight over the five cents – and really, who cared? It was just a nickel for Pete's sake – before falling on top of Alfred. Oh, the pain! Air pushed out of his lungs so quickly that the force actually popped his eyes open. The world was so bright, the only thing visible being the blurry black blotches coating his vision and shapes of feet and hands kicking and hitting each other. He attempted to roll over, coming face to face with some cement and coughing violently. Smart. Everyone just have a party right on top of his chest why don't they?

Seeing Alfred gasping for air, the two people stopped their roughhousing and scurried over to his face. He squinted and got an eyeful of sandy-blonde hair and two large green eyes. "You alright there, lad?" he asked and started to help straighten Alfred up. He winced, body protesting in every which way. What the hell had he done to feel like this?

He felt hands patting at his shoulders and dusting him off, Alfred rubbing the back of his head painfully. His vision started to come to like puzzle pieces falling strategically into place when he spotted two boys that looked around his age, if not a little older, in front of him. The boy with scraggly blonde hair was looking him over rather seriously in a very much uncomfortable way.

"Are you alright? Can you understand what I'm asking you?" the British boy asked him very slowly. The boy behind him pushed him out of the way and frowned down at Alfred with two of the ugliest eyes he'd ever seen in his life; they looked like blood splatters.

"Move it. That's not how you talk to an injured person." He cleared his throat and grabbed Alfred roughly by the shoulders, shaking him. Ohhh… that was terribly painful. Alfred felt his eyes bug open at the feeling of his skull scraping against his spinal cord. "Wake up! You're safe now. You're lucky the awesome me was around to save your candy-ass from–"

"Who are you calling a candy-ass, candy-ass?" Alfred growled and shoved the albino away. Bad move on his part because the world had started spinning then, his back meeting the cement once more. Distressed and furious curses echoed above him as he was pulled up once more by the softer touch of the British boy.

"Is there something wrong with your brain? You're going to kill him!"

The albino scoffed and folded his arms. "Fine by me. He has some nerve insulting his rescuer like that. I have half a mind to find that driver and have them run him over again."

"Are you about through? I paid you already and your services are no longer needed, Gilbert. Why don't you hurry along on your way or find a way to be useful at the present."

Alfred blinked through the fog of his eyeballs and watched Gilbert and mysterious-British-foreign-boy argue. After a moment, though… a very long moment because they were no longer looking at him anymore, Alfred put the words together. Was he– had he just been hit by a car? That Gilbert person saved him from a hit and run?

… Wait.

"Hey, wait a minute," Alfred said and furrowed his brow together. Both of his occupants didn't even pretend to glance in his direction, too involved in their own bitter words and horridly unpleasant glares. "You didn't save me at all. You're not my rescuer. I still got hit by a goddamn car! What kind of bullshit logic is that? You're the worst rescuer I've ever seen!" His words were clipped and drained of any semblance to annoyance. He just sounded like a half-drunk person who'd just been stupid enough to take a dare and tried to bite a piece out of a rock.

They continued arguing much to Alfred's irritation. On wobbly legs, face scrunching up in a tremendous amount of pain, Alfred stumbled to his feet and saluted down to them. Only from this angle did he notice the very strange way they were dressed. They looked like those parts out of all those old movies, you know the ones. They had the rusted colors on the screen since colored movies weren't created yet, and that boy on the corner yelling "Extry, Extry! Read all about it!" Yeah, those kinds of movies. Gangster movies.

Why were they dressed like people from the Great Depression era?

Regaining as much composure as he could, Alfred winced and moved to leave. "Thanks for helping… drag me out of the street I guess. But I think I'm good to go now. It's been cool." Gilbert and the British person looked up at him then, the blonde's face falling in dismay to see Alfred leaving. Alfred nodded towards him. "Mr. Holmes." He frowned down towards Gilbert then nodded as well. "Candy-ass."

Gilbert bared his teeth and attempted to stand up but was held down by his kinder companion. Alfred stumbled down the street, trying in vain not to bump into people. Hm. Strange. They all seemed to be dressed old fashioned like from those old movies. How peculiar. Alfred lethargically glanced down at his own outfit. Well he'd be damned, he was just like them. Was it Halloween, he thought absentmindedly.

A tug to his arm made him hiss before stopping, turning halfway to see Big Ben with a crinkle between his MASSIVE eyebrows, looking thoroughly unhappy. "What's up?" Alfred muttered, the pounding in his head reverberating through his teeth when he talked. What an odd feeling he wished he never had to experience in his life.

"You are in no condition to be walking around after what I just witnessed. For goodness sake, boy, sit down this instant. Let me call for a medic or a physician."

Alfred blinked down to where the boy was gripping him before slowly blinking up towards the person's face. They shifted, somewhat uncomfortable with being this close to a stranger. Alfred let a smile pull onto his lips before tugging his arm free. "Dude, it's fine. I'm good to go. I can walk stuff like this off easy. I'm sure you've seen a lot worse happen to people at Hogwarts," he laughed at his lame attempt at a joke.

"Hogw…?" The boy looked puzzled before shaking his head and gently guiding Alfred down to sit against the cub of the sidewalk. "I insist. I'm sorry, but I cannot allow you to meander around in good conscience."

Good conscience? Since when did getting hit by a car have anything to do with this guy's conscience? The only reason he would have to feel bad was if he hit him with his car, but Alfred highly doubted that. This guy looked much too motherhen-like to plow some stunningly handsome boy down in the prime of his youth with his station wagon. For crying out loud, mysterious British boy dressed like his grandfather.

"I don't need a doctor," said Alfred. Despite that, he felt a nagging at the back of his head that he probably did. Or maybe that was just the rapid amount of blood filling his brain tissue. Whatever, it was too hard to tell the difference between the two.

"I somehow doubt that," muttered the stranger. He knelt down and began to lightly prod around Alfred's head.

"I said I don't need a doctor!" Alfred protested and pushed against the man's face. He heard an aggravated growl from the man before he shook him off.

"Will you hold still for one moment? I am seeing if there's anything major wrong. Just tell me if it hurts, won't you?"

Alfred wasn't quite sure what compelled him to listen to that oddly calming voice, but he nodded and shut his eyes, letting this stranger's hands roam freely around his head. Maybe it was the fact that he smelled of cigarettes and heavy duty laundry detergent, something that seemed oddly soothing to Alfred. Or maybe it was the feeling he got that if he didn't do as he was told, this man would bother him till the end of time to clear his 'good conscience.' Alfred snorted.

He let out a quick breath at the feeling of rough but controlled hands finding the bump at the back of his head.

Or maybe it was just that bump. It had probably given him brain damage because under no circumstance should he let this weird person be touching his face.

"What's your name again…?" Alfred asked, feeling disoriented as he watched the unhappy and somewhat nervous expression of the boy in front of him, their faces way too close together.

The man craned his neck curiously before removing his hand with a displeased frown. "That's quite a large knot there. I'd better find a doctor after all."

"What's your name?" Alfred asked once more, eyes getting heavier with the remaining vestiges of blackness.

Dusting off his trousers, the man straightened up. "I will be right back. Please don't move."

With a heavy sigh Alfred snagged onto the man's pants, a very uncharacteristically unmanly yell coming from his mouth as he stumbled to the ground. Wide green eyes peered at him in shock as he looked towards Alfred. "I'm not saying it again. What's your name?"

"A-Arthur Kirkland," Arthur answered slowly, skeptically.


Grinning, Alfred shut his eyes and nodded. "You have an old man name too." The blackness came back to him as his head smashed into the cement once more, Arthur's voice sounding alarmed and bothered in the distance of his ears. That made Alfred want to laugh some more. He'd met the guy for only five minutes – or at least, what seemed like five minutes. Who really knew when his head was jacked up like it was now? – and he'd already seen him flounder about and say more curse words than Alfred could even count.

Well, at least it was Arthur who had saved him from a car and not someone like Gilbert. He could tolerate an idea like that.

But man oh man did his head hurt. Icksne the rain check on the doctor. Hopefully Arthur was quick to finding that doctor. Alfred didn't know if he'd want to die wearing the monkey suit he had on. Those brown pants and Gatsby cap did nothing to compliment his eyes.

When the pain started to become too much, Alfred had started to hear voices again. But they weren't British or whatever the hell that Gilbert person had been. They did sound just as far though. Alfred contorted his face in a mixture of hurt and irritation. No. Come on. He didn't want to wake up yet to still see that he was on the pavement waiting for Arthur to come and assist him and his brain malfunctions.

The sound picked up, voices sounding not nearly as urgent as Arthur's had, but not nearly as placid as Gilbert. They sounded… like they knew what they were doing actually.

Even though it felt like his brain was falling apart, Alfred's curiosity got the better of him (like always), and he peeked and eye open. He was greeted immediately with the blackness of the sky, litters of stars dotting the darkness like fireflies.

Well that was new. Maybe he'd been laying on the curb till nightfall came. Blurs of whites dashed around his unfocused eyes, instructions being ordered over the sound of what appeared to be Matthew and his parents. Oh, so these were ambulance medics.

"Where's… Where's Arthur?" he asked, voice sounding groggy and perplexed.

One of the medics looked down at him in confusion. "I don't know any Arthur, sir. We received a call from your parents over there."

Alfred furrowed his brow in confusion. But didn't Arthur say he was going to get him a doctor. Fingers gently placed themselves to his bloodied lips. "Don't talk right now, kid. Just relax. We're taking you to the hospital, alright?"

Alfred shut his eyes and nodded as he was being lifted onto a stretcher, far too tired to protest.

He welcomed the thick darkness for the third time when being loaded into the ambulance, a small thought sticking like a tiny post it to a giant bulletin board in the back of his mind.

Why wasn't he wearing the same outfit on that sunny afternoon on the curb anymore?

The thought was wasted as he dozed off, noticing only a broken tree house left behind.

Author's Notes: So Alfred was knocked unconscious by the collapsed tree house, and met "Arthur" and "Gilbert" while he was knocked out. Yes, they're both figments of his imagination, which is set in the 1930s. That explains why when Alfred woke up briefly when he was being loaded into an ambulance in the alley way, that he was confused. I guess since he had a concussion he was disoriented and couldn't quite differentiate between what he had just dreamed with Arthur and Gilbert, with what is really going on around him (ie tree house accident and Matthew).

So I guess Arthur doesn't leave him alone now and Alfred's parents send him to therapy. Lol

I don't know. Hopefully that isn't confusing.

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