Alfred buried his head under his pillow. Arthur had waited for some kind of response but when Alfred hid himself, he sighed and sat up.
"Do you have a name?"
Alfred mumbled something into the mattress and Arthur frowned.
"Gimme a minute." Alfred pulled the pillow off his head and turned his head to peek up at Arthur. He opened his mouth to say something but nothing came out. He cleared his throat. "I'm uh… This is a lot."
"You killed me."
Arthur shrugged. "I don't remember that."
Alfred ignored him. "You're immortal."
"So are you."
Alfred shut his eyes and pulled the pillow back over his head. He blew out his lips and thumped his hand on the mattress. "Are we supposed to do something? I mean… We're immortal. Are we supposed to join some kind of club? Be best buds?"
"I don't have an answer for that." Arthur lay back down and pulled his pillow closer.
"So we sleep on it?" Alfred shifted enough to check the time on the clock. It was barely past one in the morning.
"Sounds like the best course of action right now." Arthur took a breath. "So… good night."
"Isn't this exciting?"
Alfred turned the page of his comic book. He had long figured out how to tune out the security detail and the various political figures he always found himself with, and that moment was no different. It was something about national parks or a recovering economy, or something like that. He could only remember so much considering people were always tossing stupid ideas and stories around. "Yup," he said when he realized the president was waiting for an answer. He turned another page.
"This is history being made," the president told him.
Alfred hummed a response and turned another page. He couldn't count how many times he had heard the same thing before. He was always watching history being made; he was a part of history, everyone was a part of history.
He just lived long enough to see the results. While mortals looked forward to the unknown future with anticipation and excitement, Alfred found that he was bored with it. He would see the future that no one else would. He would live while everyone else died.
Alfred knew that he would see the future. He didn't have to worry about dying early, didn't have to dream about what it would be because his life would be too short to see inventions and projects through to their completions.
He would see everything in the end. Why worry about the present?
"I don't remember you." Arthur pulled on his trousers and zipped the fly. He looked towards Alfred and shrugged when he saw his frown. "I've killed a lot of people. I can't remember all of them. I'm sure it's the same with you."
"Nope. Totally different."
Arthur looked at Alfred and shook his head. "I'm sorry for you."
"I don't need pity."
"I'm not about to give it." Arthur stopped speaking when there was a knock on the door. He walked over and opened it before the woman outside could say a word. "Thank you." Arthur took the tray of food from her and shut the door.
"When'd you order room service?" Alfred pushed aside the blankets and stood up.
"Get dressed first." Arthur set the tray on the small table by the window and Alfred looked around for his underwear. "I called while you were sleeping."
Alfred found his underwear by the door and pulled them on.
"Your jeans are under the bed."
"Thanks." Alfred grabbed them and walked over to the table. Arthur had already sat down, so Alfred took the seat across from him. He pretended not to notice how Arthur looked disapprovingly at his underwear.
Arthur didn't wait any longer to jump right into the conversation they had been putting aside since the early morning. "When were you changed?"
"When did you become immortal?" Arthur lifted the cover from the tray in front of him and prodded at the eggs with a fork while Alfred sat silently. Arthur didn't look at him when he grabbed a forkful and started to eat, and Alfred took a breath.
"I don't really remember." Alfred took his own fork and pulled his plate closer. "I just woke up one day. I don't remember becoming…" Alfred shrugged and grabbed a biscuit. He crammed it into his mouth and chewed slowly so that he wouldn't have to say anymore.
"That's too bad." Arthur set down his fork and reached for the cup of tea still on the tray. "I'd always wondered if there were more like me. Now that there is…" Arthur narrowed his eyes at Alfred thoughtfully. "I wonder how they did it."
Alfred swallowed half of the roll and spoke through the rest that still filled his mouth. "No one should know."
Arthur sipped his tea and nodded. "You're right. It's enough that we exist. No one else should be in this position." Arthur set his cup down and reached for a muffin. "You should hurry. If they're anything like mine, I imagine your guards will be eager to hunt you down if we don't finish quickly."
"We've gotten out twice, we can meet again." Alfred shoved a piece of bacon into his mouth and Arthur shook his head.
"The representatives from England leave tonight. We won't see each other again."
"What about the next meeting? We can meet then."
"We only have one day overnight."
"We can make it work. I'll drop you a cell phone. We're gonna be in Germany. There's this department store by the conference center. I can drop a cell phone under one of the tables on the bottom floor." Alfred brushed his hands off on a napkin. "Table nine, how's that? I'll drop it under table nine, and I'll call you on it."
"I can do that, but I wonder why it's so important."
"Well, we can't talk a lot now. And there're some things I can't think of."
"That works for me." Arthur picked his cup back up again. "Is there anything you want to ask before next time?"
"Are you really a redhead?" Alfred blurted. Arthur blinked, and Alfred continued. "I can't remember that well, but I didn't think-"
"-you weren't red when you killed me," Alfred finished lamely.
"They didn't have dye back then." Arthur pointed at Arthur's hair. "And what color is yours?"
Arthur nodded and checked the digital clock on the stand by the bed. "You might want to hurry and finish. It's almost seven."
Alfred tossed a log into the fire pit and watched the sparks fly up and scatter in the air. It was almost dark.
A clicking sound alerted him to the chipmunk that was peering inside the tent behind him, and he looked over his shoulder to smile at the small animal. It scratched at the zipper and he shooed it away. It scampered through the trees and past a nearby camper, where a man in khaki shorts and a t-shirt was staring at him.
It would be nice if the government at least pretended they didn't follow him everywhere. They always stood out. When he camped, they drove giant RVs and parked in the lots around his tent. When he went hiking, they had their shoulder holsters on under their new brand name sweaters. When he went to the store, they followed closely to make sure he didn't get in trouble.
Alfred left the fire and went back to his truck to dig through the cooler in back. He found a package of hotdogs and took them back to the fire. He tore open the plastic and ignored how the agent stared at him.
Alfred picked up a stick he had found and sharpened earlier and stuck it lengthwise through the hotdog. He held it over the fire and tried to think of things he could do without the agents getting on his nerves. If he went kayaking, they would find a motorboat to follow him in. He could go fishing—they could only stare, which was creepy, but then they were always creepy (especially when he wanted to go swimming).
Alfred could always try to outrun them on the nearby hiking trails. It was always funny to see them try to catch him when he was serious about losing them. A lot of times they'd get annoyed for his random attempts to lose them, but he always laughed them off. He always claimed that he was simply trying to keep in shape with a twelve mile run through the woods.
They probably didn't believe him, but it didn't matter in the end. They still found him, and he was still stuck with his guards.
Alfred stared at the cell phone in his hand. He wanted nothing more than to feel it buzzing in his hand when Arthur called him. He was desperate to see him again, desperate to have more answers.
He hadn't thought that being away would be so lonely, but when he had returned home from Switzerland, he had found that his existence really wasn't anything special. He didn't speak with many people because his guards were paranoid about him releasing national secrets, and his break from duties (and his separation from the only person like him) really put his solitude into perspective.
Alfred had explored the department store cheerfully, grabbing snacks and sodas for his hotel room. His guards followed at a distance, and Alfred had been able to sneak a couple cell phones into his basket without them noticing.
Alfred had gone to the restaurant on the lowest floor to grab something to eat, and he had sat at the table with nine on it. His guards had sat down two tables behind him, and he was able to program the cell phones without them noticing. Before he left, he simply slid one under the seat cushion.
Alfred jumped when the phone rang. He pressed the green answer button and pressed it to his ear.
"Where are you?"
Alfred tried not to let his excitement be heard. "On the other side of the city, there's an inn. Bach-something."
"Be right there."
Alfred looked at the phone after Arthur hung up, and he wondered if he should keep it. For security purposes, destroying it was his best bet. However, if Arthur needed to call him for directions then tossing it would be a stupid idea.
Alfred dwelt on the thought for the entire forty minutes it took Arthur to get there. Arthur knocked only once before Alfred crossed the room to open the door, and he had barely passed through the door before he noticed the phone in Alfred's hand. He took it and dropped it on the floor before crushing it under his foot.
"So, did you think of more questions?" Arthur set his bag down and removed his jacket. Water dripped from his hair and Alfred looked towards the window. Had he not closed the window, he probably would have realized it was raining out. That would explain why it had taken so long for Arthur to arrive, if he had been trying to stay dry.
"I've got a few." Alfred took Arthur's jacket to hang in the small closet.
"Good." Arthur slipped out of his shoes then took his bag to the table by the curtained window. "It's always nice to have something to talk about."
"Yeah." Alfred pushed the remains of the cell phone aside with his toe. "Can we… Well, last time we talked we had y'know first. This time can we talk more first?"
Arthur nodded and opened his bag. He pulled out a large bottle and placed it on the table. He motioned for Alfred to sit across from him. "There're usually a couple cups in an icebox," Arthur started, but Alfred had already grabbed them and sat down across from him.
"What're we drinking?"
"Something I've held onto for a long time." Arthur popped the cork and took one of the plastic cups. He filled it halfway and then traded it for the empty cup. "I've always waited for a special occasion, and it seems I finally have one." Arthur poured some into the empty cup and Alfred took the one on the table. "Sadly I can't think of a toast." Arthur set the bottle down and raised the cup to his lips, but Alfred grabbed his wrist to stop him.
"To us," Alfred offered.
Arthur paused for a moment, then he nodded and lowered his cup. He tapped it against Alfred's. "To us."
Alfred drank all of it in one gulp and Arthur laughed.
"You should learn to be patient."
"Why?" Alfred set his cup down and Arthur filled it.
"Enjoy it more. This is the only one in existence, as far as I know. We won't be getting more in the future." Arthur took a sip from his cup and sighed contentedly. "So. I guess we should start our little question and answer session."
Alfred leaned forward without hesitation. "When did they find you?"
Arthur cocked an eyebrow. "Who?"
"Your government." Alfred felt the answer was a little lacking and added a "duh."
Arthur snorted and leaned back in his chair. "That's a good question," he started, "I'm stealing it from you later." Arthur took another sip from his cup and drummed his fingers on the arm of his chair. "It was during a war," he remembered. "I can't remember how old I was, but my physical body was still young. Something had happened to me. I almost think it was a stray arrow, but I don't even know if we had arrows back then." Arthur narrowed his eyes and pursed his lips while he thought. "A woman found me lying in a forest and took me to her house. I'm sure she thought she nursed me back to health, though you and I both know that's not true."
Arthur poured himself some more to top off his cup. "To make a long story short, I decided to stay and see what a "real" family could offer. My physical growth was slow, but luckily she didn't notice. I was only with her for a few years before soldiers attacked the house. She was killed, I—of course—lived, and since then I've had the honor of living with the royal families and being passed between government offices." Arthur placed his cup down on the table. "Now, same question for you."
Alfred didn't hesitate. He had been sure that Arthur would want to throw the same question back at him, and he had already thought back and planned his response.
"The Revolution." Alfred leaned on the table and crossed his arms. "It was before you killed me. I was shot in the field and got back up, so they put me in a few more battles before they handed me over to Washington."
"George." Alfred's mouth tilted up into a small smile. "He was great. He had some issues, but who doesn't? I miss him sometimes."
"He was a good man," Arthur muttered. "I never met him, but he seemed very levelheaded."
"He was. Nicest guy I ever met." Alfred grinned and looked at the window. He peeked through the crack in the curtains at the streets below that were darkened by rain. "One of my names is Jacob Washington. I'd go for George, but I think I'd stick out a lot with that." Alfred laughed.
Arthur smiled hesitantly. "If you like his name so much, why do you stick with Alfred?"
Alfred shrugged. "I've always been Alfred Jones. It's on all my real documents, too."
Arthur's eyes widened slightly. "You told the government that name?"
"You mean you didn't tell yours that you're Arthur?" Alfred turned away from the window to look curiously at Arthur.
"Of course not!" Arthur looked repulsed by the very idea. "My name is my own, and they can't take it from me! I gave them some stupid name like Phillip."
"Oh." Alfred sighed. "Guess I was a bit stupid back then."
"I have always been more paranoid than most, so don't feel bad." Arthur reached down for his bag. "I brought some sandwiches if you'd like. I was hoping we'd be doing more talking than anything else."
Alfred grinned and reached for one of the sandwiches that Arthur returned with. "We should do this every meeting."
"Yes." Arthur chuckled. "We should."
"Alfred, if you get hurt in the future, can you try not to scare Martha?"
Alfred stiffened and stopped moving. He had been on his way to the gardens behind the house, but Washington's voice had stopped him in his tracks.
"Sorry, sir," Alfred muttered when he looked back, but Washington frowned at him.
"There's no need for "sir." You know that." Washington sat down in a chair by the door and exhaled. "But honestly, Alfred. I thought Martha was going to faint! What on earth did you do to your hand?"
Alfred grinned sheepishly. "It got caught up in a plow. But it's all better now!"
"I know it's better," Washington grumbled, "I can see it! But Alfred, be more careful in the future. And if you get hurt, come to me at least. Martha hasn't quite gotten used to the idea of… you."
Alfred nodded quickly. "I'll remember that."
"I'm not like those bastards that kept you fighting, and I hope I don't have to keep reminding you of that." Washington groaned and pushed himself to his feet. He slapped his hand on Alfred's shoulder and held onto him. "You deserve much better than that."
"You're not going to the next conference."
Alfred looked up from the wooden flooring he was putting down in his kitchen to see one of the president's secret service agents standing in the doorway. He was a creepy guy who always wore glasses to hide his eyes. Alfred had only seen them off once—his eyes were grey (sniper eyes), and there was a scar above his left eyebrow. The scar made him look more intimidating than his bulky six-foot-seven frame already did. He was the perfect guy to protect the president.
He was also Alfred's babysitter when there was bad news.
"What's up? Someone suspicious again? Do I need a new name?" Alfred set the wooden plank in his hand down on the floor.
"Your guards informed us that you ditched them in Germany. And in Switzerland." The agent pressed his index finger against his glasses to adjust them. "Quite a few times, in fact. This is an issue."
"I wanted a burger." Alfred shrugged and picked up the plank to set in with the others already in place. "They're annoying."
"Who was the man you met?"
Alfred stiffened and the agent shook his head.
"You know better. You're under house arrest until we decide on a course of action."
Alfred finally noticed the case by the agent's feet, and he swallowed. "Is that necessary? It's not like I can go out with anyone anyway."
"You've never been under house arrest before. The president feels that you need to experience some hardships in order to respect the freedoms and advantages that you have been given." The agent knelt down and opened the case to reveal a black strap with a small plastic box attached to it. "If you try to remove this, we'll know." He looked up. "Give me your leg."
Alfred stared through his bedroom window at the streets outside. He had hoped that the bracelet would be the extent of his punishment, but he could see the agents' cars parked down the street (three of the houses in his neighborhood were occupied by agents, but more had moved in since his house arrest had begun). One car had a couple agents sitting within, and one of them looked up at his window and grinned.
Alfred gave him the finger, but he only laughed.
Alfred knew there had to be a way out.
The first time Alfred slipped out of the alarm, they were in the house before he had put the scissors down. He had smiled and shrugged, but no one was amused. They sat with him while the new alarm was on the way, and Alfred's attempts to lighten the mood failed. He wondered aloud if he would be able to get a burger delivered, and was shocked into silence by the open hostility he received. He had been punished before, but he had never been treated with glares and demands to "shut up and sit down."
The second time, he moved faster and had almost reached the nearest McDonald's when they collected him. They took him home and retrieved another alarm, ordering him to behave "or else."
The third time, they put him in solitary confinement.
Alfred sat alone at the dining table. His glass of water was untouched, and he stared down at the surface.
Washington had been great. Better than great. Alfred had enjoyed the time spent with him, when he was able to freely roam about without fear of getting into unwanted fights or hiding himself.
He could already see that things were going to change far more than he had ever feared. He could see the greed around him, and could see the truth behind the words of those who wanted to grab onto the power that Washington had once held for the people.
They didn't care. They could pretend to care, but Alfred could see through them. Things that Washington had always warned about were coming to pass, and the country was dividing itself.
Alfred had put too much faith in the words of one man.
Mortals were just that: mortal. They could say pretty words and promise great things, but like them, their words would eventually die.
Alfred never would.
Alfred was alone for almost two weeks before he received a visitor. The president stepped around the magazines and food wrappers on the floor and stood above Alfred. He cleared his throat, but Alfred didn't look up from his book.
Alfred turned the page.
Alfred grunted but kept reading.
"I'd think that you'd want to talk after two weeks!"
"I've been without human interaction for so long," Alfred droned, "I've forgotten how to communicate."
The president tore the book from Alfred's hands. "Stop being a child!"
"Stop being an asshole," Alfred shot back.
The president's face tensed and he flushed red with anger. "I don't know what you're hoping to accomplish, but you're not getting what you want. You have duties just like the rest of us. You have secrets that can't afford to be told."
"I never asked to be your dog," Alfred pointed out. "I never asked to be anyone's dog."
"But you have these responsibilities, and they're nothing you can do about it." The president dropped the book on the floor and sighed. "You'll remember soon enough."
The door slammed behind the president when he left. Alfred waited a moment before he picked the book up and flipped through to find where he had left off. His fingers trembled.
Nine more weeks passed before he was released.
They gave him more guards.
Alfred had a personal guard as well. The guy played a new group member (the teenager was gone), and he followed Alfred everywhere. They shared a room so Alfred couldn't just lease, and Alfred was monitored at all times.
They had tagged him before he left the states, much like a dog. They claimed it was in case something happened to him, so that they could identify his body. It was a cute story, except they all knew it was to track him.
While the government wasn't able to implant actual GPS locaters, the chip inside him acted almost like an alarm. If he tried to get on a plane without paperwork, he would be detained. Metal detectors would pick it up. Government scanners would be able to find him. All they had to do was aim a handheld scanner at his shoulder and they would be able to find out whether he had a chip or not. It made it easy to keep him from donning disguises in public when all they had to do was scan people passing by, or set the scanner to at least look for any of the small amount of radiation that the chip gave off. When they found the chip's presence in an area, then they could start scanning people.
It was confusing, but the new guard that had inserted himself into the group—Steven—made sure Alfred knew everything. He made sure Alfred knew exactly what he was getting into, and he emphasized how hopeless he should be.
Alfred knew that he was screwed. He had lost a means of escape and that meant no Arthur. It meant that he was isolated again, even though everyone seemed to think that keeping him in public made it better.
It sucked more being in public. He could see what he wanted, who he wanted, but he was unable to get to him.
Alfred at least took comfort in the fact that he wasn't under hotel room arrest. He could still leave, go out to eat, whatever he wanted that didn't include talking to people that weren't Steven. He actually managed to find his way to a local diner to grab a burger when they went to the next meeting in Spain, and Steven sat a table away instead of right across from him.
Alfred was taking a bite from his burger when he saw Arthur standing outside the large window that faced the street, and it took him everything he had not to choke.
Arthur held up two fingers and pointed past Alfred, then he was gone.
Alfred finished his burger and tried to pretend that his heart wasn't pounding in his chest. Arthur had probably been pointing at the bathroom behind him. He wiped his hands on a napkin and left his table to go inside.
There were three stalls in the bathroom, and Alfred stepped into the center one. There was a window above the toilet that had been opened, and Alfred was sure he could just fit through it. He shut the stall door behind him, and then he heard Steven walk in the bathroom.
It was stupid. They couldn't do anything to him. He was immortal. Putting him in solitary was like a slap on the wrist. It didn't hurt him, and while a weaker minded person would give in to the isolation, Alfred wasn't like that. He became more determined every day.
They could lock him up as many times as they wanted, but they wouldn't stop his "misbehaving." They would only encourage it.
Alfred stood facing the toilet and undid his zipper. He waited until Steven had moved into the stall next to him, and then he carefully reached for the window frame.
Steven should have heard his heart racing. Steven should have known. Alfred was sure he did know, and it terrified him. He almost didn't go through with it, except that cold hands grabbed his wrists. He swallowed and stepped up onto the toilet seat before he pushed himself through the window and almost landed on top of Arthur.
Arthur didn't waste any time. He pulled Alfred to his feet and started running.
Alfred dropped onto the bed in the motel room and sighed loudly. Arthur checked the locks on the door and looked out the peep hole to ensure that no one was outside. He hung his jacket up on the door and looked back to the bed.
"Rough night?" Arthur asked.
"Month," Alfred corrected. "Rough month."
Arthur clucked his tongue and sat down beside Alfred. "Poor thing. What happened?" He placed his hand on Alfred's shoulder.
That wasn't what Arthur had expected. He recoiled and pulled his hand away in shock.
Alfred smiled bitterly at him.
"They put you in prison?"
"It's okay now," Alfred assured him, but Arthur wasn't going to listen.
"It's not okay. Why the hell did they put you in prison?" Arthur turned to face Alfred and grabbed his shoulders. When Alfred hesitated, Arthur squeezed. "Alfred."
"They know I was ditching them to see you and got mad."
Arthur tensed. "Do they know?"
"They don't know what you are. They just know you hang out with the crowd from England."
Arthur looked only slightly more at ease. "How long were you there?"
Alfred would have like, but he knew from Arthur's expression that he wouldn't be fooled. "Eleven weeks."
Arthur didn't say anything. He simply let his hands slide down from Alfred's shoulders to his waist, then he pushed Alfred back on the bed so he could lie on top of him.
Alfred wrapped his arms loosely around Arthur and pressed his chin against Arthur's forehead. "It's alright, Arthur," he mumbled, "really."
Arthur didn't move.
"If we run, they can't find us."
Alfred turned his head to face Arthur. Arthur was staring at the closed window curtains, away from Alfred.
"What're you talking about?" Alfred asked.
Arthur sighed. "We don't lose them anything. I think we should run."
"We'll get pretty damn far when we run out of cash and they freeze our accounts."
Arthur shifted to look at Alfred in surprise. "You don't have a secret account?"
Alfred blinked. "You do?"
"I've been alive for over a thousand years. I had to do something with the riches I've come across."
"Riches?" Alfred frowned. "You're really showing your age."
"Hush." Arthur placed a finger to Alfred's lips and narrowed his eyes. "We're getting off topic. Alfred, we can leave now. We can't let them get you back."
"Arthur, I'm fine-"
"Solitude isn't good for anyone, mortal or not." Arthur grabbed Alfred's arm. "Alfred, do you want to come with me, or do you really want to go back to them?"
Alfred carefully pulled his arm from Arthur's grip and used his other hand to touch his own shoulder. "The chi-"
"Cut it out." Arthur took Alfred's hand. "It'll hurt like hell, but it'll heal. Alfred, we can do this. You just have to say the word."
Alfred still hesitated, but that was likely from fear, and the idea that it might not work. "I want to go with you."
Arthur nodded and tightened his grip on Alfred's hand. "Then we'll go."
"So what's your name?" Alfred looked over the sunglass stand at Arthur. Arthur had found some dye to change his hair from the dark red to blond, while Alfred had decided to try out a dark brown. They stood in the airport terminal, looking through sunglasses and books to amuse themselves until their plane was ready to depart.
Arthur looked up from the book he had picked up from a shelf and frowned. He looked around to be sure no one was nearby before he responded. "Arthur Kirkland. You know that."
"Just making sure."
Arthur narrowed his eyes and reached in his pocket for money. Alfred tried on a pair of aviators and grinned.
"Why would I change it? No one knows it. In fact, I should be asking you what your name is." Arthur motioned to the passport that was sticking out of Alfred's jacket. "You're the one that has a name to worry about."
"I picked an awesome one!" Alfred informed him. He pulled out his passport and opened it for Arthur to look.
Arthur raised his eyebrows in surprise. "Interesting choice."
"I like it. Has a nice ring to it."
Alfred waited while Arthur paid for the book and his sunglasses, and then he walked out of the store with him. He stopped in his tracks and Arthur almost ran into him.
"What?" Arthur touched his arm. "Does your shoulder hurt? It should be healed by no-"
"It's fine," Alfred said quickly. He continued walking. "I just… Jeeze. Thought I saw myself walk by or something." He laughed and Arthur slapped his arm. "Ow."
"Serves you right." Arthur checked his watch. "Now hurry up or we're going to miss our flight, Mr. Kirkland."
"Yeah yeah," Alfred grumbled, but he grabbed Arthur by the shoulder and hurried him along. "Don't get your panties in a knot."
"That's honestly impossible," Arthur retorted.
Alfred snorted. "Pervert."
"I wouldn't talk if I were you." Arthur pulled his boarding pass from his pocket. "Now shut up. There are children around."
"Whatever you say." Alfred quickly pressed his lips to Arthur's cheek, then they passed under the sign that said "MONTREAL" to board their flight.
"I don't see what's so special about this place." Arthur walked past the men that were trying to pull everything from the boats to take to the nearby village. "England is better."
"England needs resources, and the New World gives them to us," one of the men said. Arthur ignored him and continued walking towards the forest. He would have taken one of the horses, except they were all being used to move supplies.
Arthur had only been to the New World a handful of times, not nearly enough to remember exactly where the trails headed. He wasn't sure where he had missed the path, but it wasn't long at all before he found himself in a small field without a building in sight.
Arthur sighed and pressed the palm of his hand against his forehead. He didn't envy having to backtrack, even if it was just because people would guess he'd taken a wrong turn somewhere. It was rather shameful to get lost so easily.
He had just turned around to re-enter the forest when there was a cry and a groan. He stopped and looked over his shoulder for the source, but he couldn't see anything. He waited a moment before continuing to the forest, but another cry made him give up on the forest in favor of finding out what the source of the noise was.
It didn't take Arthur long to cross the field and stumble upon a small stream. Beside the stream was a young child. Arthur stared at the child in shock, then quickly knelt to check the bruises on the child's face and hands. The boy stared at him with wide blue eyes and cried out, and Arthur lifted him into his arms.
He didn't know what to do. The child wasn't someone he could care for, and he wasn't in a position where he could do anything with him. He would have to give him to one of the families.
Arthur wasn't sure why he even cared. It may have been a distant memory, from a time when a lone woman pulled him from pain and solitude to care for him and give him a name, but his actions defied his beliefs. He didn't care about humans, as inferior a race as they were. However, he couldn't just ignore a child that had clung to him, fingers clenching his shirt and face pressing against his chest.
He echoed words he had heard centuries before, not knowing why he did it. He would be rid of the child soon enough. "You can live on—happily—as Alfred."
Thanks for the comments, guys! Hope you enjoyed it. I'm not sure if I'll add a couple oneshots to this down the line, but for now it's complete. Now for some author notes.
Alfred did take Arthur's last name and kept his first. If it wasn't clear, Alfred saw Matthew at the end of the fic.
Also, for the sake of accuracy, The Maine probably wasn't attacked. It's been looked through quite a few times, and they're sure that there was a flame/spark on the ship that ignited the ammunition (or whatever) and resulted in the ship sinking. At the time, the media really pushed to blame the Cubans despite the military's attempts to get them to calm down, and a lot of anti-Cuban sentiment kinda resulted.
I may revisit this au in the future, but people are welcome to ask questions. I'll answer everything that comes my way, and if people have suggestions/ideas for what they might want to see in any additions to the AU, I'll gladly look into them. Just keep in mind that it will be at least 5-6 months before this au would be continued (if at all).
Thanks for reading!