Arthur was speechless. Alfred hadn't really just said that, had he? Maybe he hadn't heard him correctly or something... No, he had definitely said it, and he was standing right there in front of him, smiling and blushing - Alfred Jones was blushing - and clearly waiting for a response.
"Bu-but-," was about as far as he managed before the American laughed.
"Ah, you don't have to respond to that," he said, rubbing the back of his neck. "That was stupid."
"No, no!" Arthur offered quickly, holding up his hands. "It wasn't stupid, it was nice. Nice." God, Arthur, what is wrong with you? You're such an idiot. "You're funny." A pause. "I mean, what you said wasn't funny, that isn't what I meant."
Alfred laughed again, and Arthur suddenly wished he'd stayed in the bathroom a little longer. Better yet, he could just go back in there now and lock the stall door and never, ever come out again. Yes, that sounded like quite a good plan right about now.
"You're cute, dude," Alfred told him, smiling brightly. "I'm glad I asked you out. So, I gotta go, man. See ya tonight."
Arthur pretended to not notice the way the other boy's face lit up red at the nickname, or the way he nearly tripped over his shoe as he walked away backwards, then turned and sprinted down the hall faster than Feliciano retreating from a fight. He also pretended that his heart didn't always hammer at his ribs whenever he talked to Alfred, and that he didn't feel foolish for falling so hard so quickly. Then again, he pretended a lot of things, so maybe God would forgive him for all the lying he did, even if it was just to himself.
With a soft smile, he headed in the direction Alfred had just disappeared in, not caring that the teacher chewed him out in front of the class for being late. Once he saw Alfred's smile out of the corner of his eye, everything seemed surreal anyway. Or, it did, until a white slip of paper was pressed into his hand.
"To the dean, young man," the teacher said, crossing her arms. "We do not permit skipping at this school."
Right as Arthur turned, he saw Alfred toss a white piece of paper that was very similar to the one he currently held in his hand across the floor until it floated down in front of his feet.
This boy, the Brit thought, trying hard not to smile as he turned back around to where the teacher was writing something on the whiteboard. "But, ma'am," he said, surreptitiously reaching down for the paper and shoving it in his pocket. "I had a tardy slip..."
The teacher turned back around, raising an eyebrow. "Really?"
He nodded and took the paper out of his pocket again, ignoring the snickers from Alfred's side of the classroom as he held it out for her to take.
"Oh... Well, you should have said something quicker, Kirkland." She nodded and took the referral slip from his hand, gesturing for him to sit down. "Are you feeling better?"
"Yes, ma'am," he answered as he took his seat. A faked clinic pass, Alfred? Not bad...
"Nothing major, I hope."
"Good, good." With that, she resumed teaching, and Arthur slumped in his seat, holding his head in his hands. That was a close one...
"That was a close one," someone from behind him verbalized his thoughts in a joking whisper.
He turned in his seat and came face-to-face with Ivan, who was smiling childishly at him. "It is a good thing Alfred was sensible enough to think of that, da?"
"Oh, yes, Saved my sorry hide, he did."
"He probably got it from Gilbert."
Ivan smiled at him again, nodding once to signal that the conversation was over.
Arthur spent the remainder of the class in silence, staring at the clock. If he could get through the last of his classes without busting an artery from excitement, then he'd feel pretty proud of himself.
Then again, he got to go on a date. Tonight. With Alfred Jones.
He didn't think there was a such thing as not letting his excitement show, so, to assuage some of his jitters, he smiled. It wasn't much, but it helped, and from the corner of his eye, he saw Alfred do the same.