"I was saying how my mother left, wasn't I?" Lars asked. Matthew thought for a second, and then meekly nodded. "I remember the day well. I must've been eleven at this point. I remember peculiar things from that day; what lessons I had, exactly what I ate for lunch and every single conversation I had to the last word," he scoffed slightly at how odd that sounded, "maybe my mind thought that if it remembered everything else on that day in detail it would help me forget the main thing: my mum leaving," he speculated. He bit his lip lightly and looked at Matthew.
There was a short, silent pause as the boy tried to think of a way to phrase what he wanted to ask, "What did it feel like to lose your mum? What actually happened?" he asked, feeling slightly bad for prying so much into such an obviously sensitive topic. The man looked at him for a second and pondered the questions. He wondered whether he could actually remember exactly how he felt. If he could remember, was it possible to put into words?
With a sigh, he tried to explain what it felt like, "I felt like I'd lost a part of me. It was as though I'd lost my shield, my knight in shining armour but most of all: I lost my mum," he began, struggling to get across what he was trying to say, even with the wild gesticulations he was using to help explain what he was saying, "I know you have two fathers and I don't know whether you feel as though you have a mother figure so it's hard to explain," he took another deep sigh and gently shook his head. He then threw his head back and covered his eyes with his hands with a small groan, "It's like having your favourite childhood security blanket taken away. You don't feel safe wherever you go. You don't have something to hold on to; physically or just in theory. You miss the stories it has. You miss all the little quirks," he tried to continue to speak without avail. He was left with his mouth wide open, yet no sound was coming out.
Matthew watched as the man sunk back down and let his head drop a bit. Lars shrugged as if to say that he couldn't explain it any more than he already had. The boy gently rubbed the man's back as he spoke, "I understand what you're trying to say," Matthew muttered, "but it is just one of those things isn't it?" he asked to no one in particular. Lars looked up at him with questioning eyes. "W-well, what I mean is… you don't know what it feels like until you've been in the situation yourself," the boy stuttered. The slumped man silently nodded in agreement. "Maybe understanding that you'll never fully understand how someone else feels is a good thing," Matthew thought out loud. Lars' face made a quick flash to a smile as he nodded again.
"If everyone in the world could understand exactly how everyone else felt, all we would be left with is an emotional burden we just don't need," he expanded on what Matthew had said. "That's why I get so hesitant about telling you about my life. You don't deserve this extra emotional baggage," he apologised. Matthew gave a knowing smile and gently shook his head.
"You listened to me. It's only fair for me to listen to you. I know that I haven't known you long but I feel so safe here, I feel like you care and I feel like I can trust you," the boy began to explain, "the fact that you're telling me about this even though it's so hard for you. Doesn't it prove that you trust me too?" he asked with wide eyes. Lars laughed and wrapped one of his arms around Matthew's shoulders and gave a little squeeze. The boy looked less than impressed. "Why are you laughing? I was being serious," he whined lightly.
"Why would I have a problem trusting you?" he said with a bit of a chuckle, "It's me that you need to look out for," he joked as he playfully gnashed his jaw together. The boy attempted to put on that 'less-than-impressed' face but it was slipping. The more he looked at this man, this full grown man, joking around like a child, the less he could hold his laughter in. Then he realised something. He knew what the man was trying to do here. He was trying to divert Matthew's attention from his life story. Lars noticed a change in Matthew's facial expression and wondered what it was about. "What's up with you?" he asked casually.
"I know that you're just trying to distract me from the fact that you don't want to talk about your childhood," Matthew asserted. Taken aback by the boy's observance Lars sighed. He patted Matthew's hair, in a patronising way no less, as he shook his head. He laughed awkwardly. The boy wasn't looking impressed. "Can you please just carry on with your story? Please?" the boy asked demandingly, yet very innocently. The light atmosphere in the room had yet again gone and the only sound was that of Lars heavily sighing.
He wasn't going to let the boy manipulate him like this, he had to stand his ground, "No," he said with defiance, "we have to get ready, things need to get done today," he explained, referring to the shopping that needed to be done. He glanced at the clock. It was actually still quite a long time until the supermarkets opened, but he hoped that some smaller shops would be open earlier.
Matthew dramatically rolled his eyes, "Will you at least tell me how you got your scar?" he asked as he slowly lifted himself off the sofa, still feeling weak from the lack of food. Lars noticing Matthew's slight struggle gave him a hand. Matthew nodded thanks then continued, "So about your scar?"
"I got in a fight at a party when I was a stupid teenager," Lars explained with an air of odd nonchalance, "the guy had a knife," Matthew's eyes widened with shock and horror at this, but it didn't deter Lars, "If it wasn't for my friends dragging me away and telling me I was being an idiot I would've gone away with more than just a small scar on my head, I'll tell you that for sure."
Matthew still hadn't gotten over the fact the Lars had gotten involved with the sort of crowd that carried knives as a teenager. The boy's jaw looked slightly unhinged at that point. Upon gathering his thoughts Matthew managed to form a coherent sentence, "So… you got stabbed!" he exclaimed with shock.
"Not really stabbed, more… slashed," he thought, "he just managed to catch my forehead with that knife of his. It wasn't all that an impressive of a cut but it bled like hell, let me tell you. Had a fair few stiches in my head for quite a while," Lars laughed nostalgically. The boy's eyes turned into saucers once again.
"How can you mention that so casually?" Matthew gawped as he slowly shook his head. Lars just laughed a bit harder. Matthew's face however remained serious and he gripped onto the man's hand. Lars took this as a sign to sober up a bit, he didn't realise how much it worries the boy, even if it was far in the past.
"It was one of the things that helped me realise I needed to pull my act together and stop acting like the drunken, party going, pothead wreck I was at the time," Lars sighed, "in retrospect, it may have been one of the better things to have happened to me at the time…" he drawled off at the end of the sentence, "But we'll talk about that another time, how about we go get ready, okay?" he chimed, his mood going from black to white.
Matthew exhaled in a half worried, half relieved way. Who knew Lars had such a wrecked past? Apparently his life story only got worse from the point he left it. Matthew was beginning to understand why Lars didn't want Matthew to push him with telling him his life story.
The man's life sounded like more of a mess than his, and that was saying something.
Whilst getting changed, Lars realised that Matthew didn't have a full set of clean clothes, only the clothes he had on his back and a few extra items stuffed into his bag. It looked like laundry was another list to be added to the to-do list.
Lars had thrown some casual clothing on; some black jeans, a white shirt and his favourite blue and white scarf. Matthew was clad in his usual hoody and jeans. Getting ready had drained their time away and it was now almost half eleven, the shops were almost certainly open now.
"I'm afraid I only have a bike, so unless we do some creative balancing with the groceries on the bike, we'll have to walk," Lars said as he locked the apartment up. Matthew nodded as he looked around the corridor of the apartment block, it was quite nice he noted.
The weather still hadn't cleared from the morning and the sky was blanketed in grey and as the two males walked down the street, small splatters of water fell on them. Matthew was beginning to recognise the area less and less as they kept on walking. They ended up in what looked like a fairly multi-cultural area; the shop signs everywhere where in various languages with the shop windows displaying various foreign delicacies.
Lars slowed down as they approached a white painted shop with a foreign name that Matthew couldn't pinpoint what language it was. As the pair entered the shop the shop keeper, a medium tall blonde haired woman, excitedly yelled a foreign greeting to Lars with a cheerful tone. Lars replied just as cheerfully with a dazzling smile on his face. The two adults chattered away in a language that Matthew could only presume was Dutch for what seemed like forever.
Matthew had zoned out until he suddenly heard his name in the flurry of Dutch words and noticed that the two adults were staring at him; the woman had a beaming smile. She then spoke in English to him, "Hello, you must be Matthew," she chirped, "you must be the child that Lars has taken in so fondly," Matthew laughed at this; Lars on the other hand went a bit pink and coughed nervously. "I'm Belle; I've known this Dutch idiot for too many years now and I just want you to know that he's a good guy really. He's a softie under all those scars," she winked. Lars gave a bit of a scoff.
"I know, he's been really kind to me the whole time I've known him," Matthew mumbled shyly, not used to talking to strangers like this. Belle just smiled wider and leaned over the counter to pinch his cheek. Matthew was a bit taken aback and stepped back a pace. Lars rolled his eyes and playfully poked Belle between the eyes.
"Being a bit forward with him aren't you Belle," Lars chided, "and he's a bit young for you," the woman faked offense and slapped the man on the arm. The two gave each other that knowing "I-know-I-just-crossed-the-line-but-it's-okay-because-we're-friends" look. They both made eye contact then burst into hysterics.
"At least I'm not the one taking him into my home," she jeered back. Lars couldn't say anything back to that and just lifted his brows in a condescending way. Belle redirected her attention to Matthew, "Just assuring you honey: Lars isn't actually a paedophile. At least as far as I know…" the boy laughed at this and turned to squeeze the man's hand to show him that he didn't think he was a kiddy-fiddler (fortunately.)
"Aside from talking about paedophiles, I'm here to do some shopping," the man said, trying to get his to-do list back on track. He put an assortment of funny looking items in a basket he picked up by the till and spent a good five minutes trying to pick out his preferred brand of beer. Upon choosing, he made his way back to the till.
Belle scanned all the items with a smile and threw a packet of what looked to Matthew like chocolate sprinkles into the bag with the rest of the items too. "For your breakfast," she explained with a wink. Matthew not understanding why you'd need sprinkles for breakfast unless it was some peculiar European ritual failed to notice that Lars had paid and was already ready to leave.
"Don't think you're leaving without a kiss darling," the blonde woman said as she saw the tall man turn to leave. Lars sighed and kissed the women twice, once on both cheeks. She grinned with glee. "You can have a kiss too my little one," she cooed, staring at Matthew. The boy moved tentatively towards the counter and the woman moved over and placed a small kiss on the boy's forehead. He blushed a bit then turned away.
"It was nice seeing you again Belle; I'll be seeing you again next weekend as normal?" Lars proposed as he walked out of the door. Belle winked and made a clicking sound at the man as he left, making him chortle a bit.
"It was nice meeting you Miss. Belle," Matthew mumbled, trying to keep up his manners around the lady. Her smile softened and Matthew could swear that he saw her mouth 'How cute is he?' to Lars. It must've been his imagination.
They exited the shop with the bell on the door giving a shrill ring. The two walked down the pretty boulevard in silence before Matthew asked something that he has been curious about the whole time he was in the shop, "Is she your girlfriend?" he asked shyly.
Lars stopped and paused before descending into what could only be described as hysterical laughing: thigh slapping hysterical laughter. Once he regained his breathe, "Me and Belle as a couple, really?" he exhaled.
Matthew didn't quite understand why the situation was so hilarious and looked quite befuddled, "What's so funny about it?" he questioned with puzzled eyes.
The Dutchman wiped a few tears from the corner of his eyes, "Well, it doesn't help that I bat for the other team, if you know what I mean…" he rolled his eyes at how slow the boy was.
"Oh," Matthew exclaimed before his shocked face grew into a smile and then a big toothy grin, "I sort of saw it coming," they both had a good laugh before continuing their walk.
"Oh, and Matthew," Lars broke in, breaking the fragile silence, "the sprinkles go on your toast," he said plainly. That didn't help Matthew at all and now he wondered whether the Europeans just didn't understand breakfast.
The two found themselves at the entrance of the large supermarket, with Lars having grabbed a trolley before they came in. They stayed together and searched for items on the shopping list, struggling to find quite a few in the giant supermarket. On the search for one item, in the medicine aisle, Matthew accidently bumped into someone, "Sorry," he politely mumbled under his breath.
"Matthew…" he heard a voice strain, with what sounded like tears in their voice. Matthew looked up to see a slightly beaten, teary eyed, mess of an Alfred standing before him.
He was left standing there, speechless, unable to comprehend what was going on.
Author's Note: Oh wow, updates are slow. So slow. Got exams in eleven days, instead I'm watching Sherlock. Over and over again (trying to find hints of canon Johnlock, one can only dream). I should be working right now. Here's my baby of all that procrastination. Oh look, ALFRED. WHAT HAVE YOU BEEN UP TO.
(On a more serious note, life has been throwing quite a few curve balls at me lately. Very bad ones. REALLY bad ones. So if I randomly drop of the face of the earth, I'm so sorry guys!)
So yeah! Have a lovely day my little chicks and I will see you again, hopefully, soon. :)