Change the World
"Hey, toss that over here, would you?"
Arthur scowled. "Watch where you kick your football! That almost hit me!"
"Hey, you're in my gym class, aren't you? That British kid who always says football instead of soccer ball! I'm Alfred F. Jones, by the way." The fool had the nerve to beam at him and wave.
"Yeah, I know," he replied irritably.
"So who are you?"
"It's nice to meet you, Arthur!" Was it just him, or did Alfred just wink?
"… Just take your ball."
"Do you still remember how we met?"
Arthur looked over at his boyfriend with a slight frown. "You nearly elbowed me in the face the first day of gym class."
Alfred waved his fork at Arthur dismissively, the piece of watermelon at the end threatening to slip off. "I meant the first time we talked."
"You nearly hit me in the head with a football."
"The first conversation we had that was longer than half a minute?"
"You wanted to apologize for spilling your coffee all over my lab report."
"You thought it was a good idea to accept the drink Francis, Gilbert, and Antonio had prepared for you as a confidence booster and ended up getting so drunk you started singing songs from the American Revolution before you threw up on the floor."
Alfred pouted. "Why isn't any of this romantic?"
"Because you're a fool." Arthur leaned in for an affectionate kiss, leaning his forehead against Alfred's. "And I guess I was stupid enough to fall for you."
"How are you going to change the world?"
"I'm trying to do my history summative, Alfred. Can this wait?"
"You've been working for hours! Can't you take a break?"
Arthur sighed and rubbed his eyes. He shut the book he was looking at and picked up his phone, walking over to his bed so he could lie down. "Fine. What did you say?"
"How are you going to change the world? Like, what do you want to do or be when you're older?"
"What brought this on?" Arthur chuckled, rolling onto his side and closing his eyes. He was so tired from a day of research and writing.
"You know Mattie, my half-brother? The one that lives in Canada? He took his SATs last week."
"Isn't he the same age as us?"
"But we're only 15! That's crazy!"
"He wants to do really well so that he has the option of coming here to study. He's such a hard worker, but I don't even know what I want to study yet …"
"You have plenty of time to decide," Arthur said soothingly, imagining Alfred sitting in his dimly lit room, textbooks sitting untouched in a corner, Xbox glowing. "There are plenty of people who don't decide what they want to study until they get to university and try some things out."
"I don't want to waste my life," Alfred worried. "We only have a few more years until we turn 18, and then it's all up to us …"
"You'll be fine. Turning 18 should be a reason to celebrate, not something to be worried about."
Alfred gave a nervous laugh. "Yeah, I suppose. 18's a big year, huh? Is there anything you want to do when you turn 18?"
"Get mindblowingly drunk," Arthur said dryly. "And I've always wanted a few tattoos."
"Whoa, no way! Good boy Arthur Kirkland wants ink?" Alfred teased, his tone light. "Tattoos of what and where?"
"… This is going to sound stupid."
"I won't laugh, I promise!"
"I've always wanted to cover myself in words," Arthur admitted, burying his face in his pillow. "Shakespeare, song lyrics, quotations …"
"Dude, that's awesome!"
"Thanks, I guess."
"Hey, are you doing anything tomorrow? Can I see you?"
Arthur yawned. "I'm tired. Call you in the morning?"
"'Kay. Sweet dreams."
Arthur hung up and hugged the pillow to his chest, history books forgotten.
Growling irritably, Arthur wrapped a blanket around himself and staggered downstairs to the incessantly ringing doorbell, not caring how ridiculous he looked. He flung the door open, ready to slam it shut again in his visitor's face.
Alfred was standing on his front porch, a worried look on his face, hand poised in midair to ring again. "You're alive!"
"What do you want?"
"Uh, I brought your homework, but you don't really look like you should be out of bed. What are you doing up and wandering about?"
"I came to open the door for you, you dolt!"
Alfred grinned sheepishly. "Oh yeah. Well then, you better go back to bed and I'll just drop this off in here or something."
"Wait, don't – Alfred!" Arthur stumbled a few steps after his spontaneous guest before a wave of dizziness hit him. "Ugh …"
"You alright?" Blearily, Arthur looked up to see Alfred hovering over him with concern. "Here, I'll help you. Is your room upstairs?"
"I can walk up stairs myself," he hissed, trying to shrug off Alfred's hand on his arm.
Alfred just pulled him closer and put his other hand to Arthur's forehead. "Shit, you're burning up. You get sick really easily, don't you? You miss school all the time."
"Shut up. It's none of your concern." Arthur tried to back away, but ended up tripping over the blanket tangled around him and fell to the ground with a startled gasp.
"Don't be stupid." Alfred almost sounded angry. Arthur didn't have the strength to do anything other than squirm feebly as Alfred picked him up like he weighed nothing, carrying him up the stairs bridal style. "How can your family just leave you home like this by yourself?"
"They're used to it," Arthur mumbled once he was lowered onto his bed. "And they all have their own lives …"
"That's no excuse." With a frown, Alfred hovered in the doorway. "Don't move. I'll make some soup and bring it up."
"No! You really don't have to. I'll be fine."
"You're not fine," Alfred said firmly before leaving the room.
Arthur snorted in embarrassment, turning away from Alfred. "We're out here watching the sunset because it's beautiful, not me."
Strong, warm arms closed around him. "You're beautiful."
Arthur squeezed his eyes shut.
Soft lips against his neck repeated, "You're beautiful, Arthur. I love you."
"… I love you too."
"I can't believe we're finally graduating."
"Why are you crying?" Arthur scolded, reaching up to wipe away Alfred's tears. "This is supposed to be a happy occasion."
Alfred leaned down and kissed him on the cheeks. "You're crying too."
Arthur huffed in exasperation and pulled Alfred's lips to his own.
Someone wolf whistled. Arthur released Alfred to glare at Francis. "Mind your own business, frog." Francis just laughed and winked.
"I'll miss you," Alfred said, tears slowly making their way down to drip onto his shirt.
"You have your dreams." Arthur smiled up at Alfred and tried to wipe away his tears. "Go on and become the hero you always wanted to be."
"I'm not sure politicians can be heroes," Alfred laughed awkwardly. "I'll try, though."
"You'll change the world," Arthur assured him. "I know it."
"Why can't you come with me?"
"You know your path, Alfred, and I know mine."
"Why English Lit?"
Arthur pulled his boyfriend down for another kiss.
Matthew walked towards him, a frown on his face. "Alfred, you look terrible."
Alfred just shrugged. "I'm glad you ended up coming, Mattie. It'll be cool sharing a house."
Matthew gave Alfred a piercing look. "Arthur?"
"It's … nothing. Don't worry about it."
"Did he dump you?"
Alfred hesitated for a few more moments before breaking down, his face crumpling as he started crying. "Mattie …"
"Oh, Alfred. I'm sorry." Matthew hugged him tightly as Alfred clung to him, tears pouring down his face.
"He just … disappeared," Alfred whispered. "I haven't heard from him in months, not since graduation, and I moved out here the day after, so I haven't been able to go check on him …"
Matthew held onto Alfred until the sobs subsided.
"Mattie, you here?"
Alfred cocked his head and listened. He heard a squeak and a thump, followed by someone that definitely wasn't his half-brother laughing. "Mattie?"
"Alfred!" Matthew appeared at the top of the stairs, face flushed, a large dress shirt hurried pulled around him. "I thought you went out tonight?"
"I, uh, brought someone home," Alfred explained, gesturing vaguely behind him. "But I see we already have a guest over." With a huge grin on his face, he bounded up the stairs and past Matthew. "Who is it?"
"You're drunk," Matthew accused as he followed Alfred. "You reek of alcohol!"
"No worries," Alfred said breezily, leaning against the wall as he fumbled with the doorknob to Matthew's room.
"This isn't good for you, Alfred." Matthew put his hand over Alfred's. "You need to stop destroying yourself like this over Arthur."
"Who's Arthur?" Alfred laughed wildly as he wrenched open the door.
"Wait, Alfred, you really don't want to -!"
Francis lay stretched out on Matthew's bed, his hands bound by rope to the bedpost. "Why, Alfred, hello there. Come to join us?"
"He most certainly has not," Matthew said firmly, stepping around Alfred so that he could push his half-brother out. "I'll deal with you in the morning, Alfred."
Alfred stumbled back out into the hallway, colliding with a solid chest. He looked up hazily. "Hey there, Ivan. What's up?"
"Why don't we leave them to it and have fun, just the two of us?" Ivan smiled at him. Alfred just nodded and let Ivan lead him to his open bedroom door.
Matthew came downstairs the next morning to find Alfred sitting on the couch, staring blankly at the wall across from him.
"Alfred?" He asked softly.
His half-brother didn't move.
"Alfred, I know you're probably really hungover, but that's your own fault. I'll fix you some breakfast, okay? I have to make pancakes for Francis anyway."
"He would have liked your pancakes," Alfred said almost dazedly.
Alfred shook his head slowly. "Was Ivan here last night?"
Matthew winced. "Yes. You two were rather … loud."
Alfred went back to staring at the wall.
"What's wrong?" Matthew sighed and sat near Alfred's feet. He looked up and noticed with alarm the silent tears making their way down Alfred's face. "Talk to me?"
"He's gone, Mattie. He isn't ever coming back. I got a call this morning."
"From who? Ivan?" Matthew was bewildered.
"Arthur. He knew all this time – knew he was sick, knew he wasn't going to make it – and he hid it, every single fucking day so that I wouldn't find out, so that I could be happy with him – and now he's dead, dead dead dead and it was all for nothing, wasn't it?"
Matthew stared in shock at his half-brother.
Matthew watched as Alfred broke down.
A/N - Written in slightly under 2 hours with no beta, so I apologize for any mistakes orz. I haven't been able to write in a few weeks, but I was listening to Lauren Alaina's cover of If I Die Young and with strawberrylaugh's Die Young fic ... yeah.
Critiques/comments are welcome, as this is my first USUK fic =)