At school, he's the hero of the baseball team, the captain and MVP. He's the center fielder that can sink a ball into the catcher's glove from up against the back wall with deadly accuracy and still be able to jump high enough to catch the almost-home runs. He's loved by all, and has the smartest, prettiest girlfriend in the entire school, Alice Thompson. There, he's Al, Jones, Jonesy, or what-not.
But at home, he's Alfred, the loser too afraid to confess to his own best friend that he is irreversibly in love with who resorts to writing about a better world. He comes home after school and holes himself up in his room, drawing little doodles of a cheery blonde girl with eyes blue as the sky and a smile that could brighten the night, and she is America. In her world, she has many friends and allies, and the most complicated yet loving relationship with England.
(England, who is so undeniably Arthur to the point where Alfred can't lie to himself anymore. Because America is who he wants to be, happy and loved and free, free to do what she wants and to love who she pleases.)
When he imagines this alternate universe of happiness and no pain, he becomes America, becomes that exuberant girl in her short shorts and crop tops. He is America for those shining moments, and he can be with England (Arthur) without fear of rebuttal or judgment. He can spend time immersed in those green eyes, that blond hair, and those fuzzy eyebrows.
The next day at school, he's greeted by Alice as he usually is, but her eyes are the wrong shade of green, her hair too sandy of a blonde, and her eyebrows too feminine and kempt. She's always wrong, never quite perfectly right, but he leans down and kisses her on the cheek anyway and threads their fingers together as they walk to class.
(Her accent is right, oh so spot-on, but the pitch—the pitch is too high. Too high and girly and posh and Alice and just not Arthur enough.)
Still, Alfred deals.
And he continues to deal until the pain of keeping the truth bottled inside becomes too much to bear anymore, and he politely asks to borrow the microphone from the principal during a school-wide assembly. At Principal Beilschmidt's confused expression, he explains briefly that he has something to announce that is of extreme importance to him.
"Um, hello," he starts, awkwardly, gripping the microphone with both hands as his palms start to sweat and his hands shake. "I-I know you aren't exactly used to me speaking at these assemblies, or even making an attempt to be known, but I have something I really need to get off my chest."
In the front row of the bleachers—the assembly is being held in the gym, as is customary—Gilbert turns to Francis and whispers, "Do you think it could be about the championship game?"
Francis shrugs and replies, "I do not know. We'll just have to wait and see, oui?"
Gilbert nods as Alfred takes a deep breath and continues with, "Over the past few months, maybe even the past few years, I've come to notice something that should've been obvious to me in the first place. But I've been lying to myself, and I've even been lying to you; all of you."
He looks at Alice, and she gives him a reassuring smile and a whispered, "Go on."
"The truth is," he says hesitantly, glancing away from Alice because she's just not right, no matter how hard he tries to look past it, "I'm in love."
The crowd gives a collective sigh of approval and Alice's face lights up, cheeks flushing with the most imperceptible amount of red. All of a sudden, Alfred feels like the biggest dick in the universe, but he has to tell the truth; the truth will set him free.
More confident now, he raises the microphone back to his mouth and adds, "With the student body president."
Then, there is silence. Piercing, deafening silence.
"I'm in love with Arthur Kirkland."