Chapter 16: I've Got a Dark Alley and a Bad Idea That Says You Should Shut Your Mouth (Summer Song)
The warm grip on his hand was all he could focus on. Arthur ducked his head as his cheeks reddened.
He and Alfred were so close, and yet the mental gap between them was much too far. Within the past few months, they had become total strangers to each other. Arthur had changed, found out some things about himself that he really didn't want to let go of.
He wasn't sure if they could still be friends, let alone lovers.
With a gasp, he allowed himself to be abruptly tugged forward, outside of the building and into the clean courtyard. Snow littered the ground, a few flakes groggily falling from the gray sky.
As the other turned to face him, Arthur saw that Alfred wasn't wearing his usual, daily smile. His mouth was a straight line.
They were going to have a conversation, and a serious one at that.
Arthur put on his best poker face, but still allowed the other to hold both his hands. Before he began, Alfred let out a short breath of white steam.
And then the story started.
"I'm in love with you."
"I don't believe you."
"Then I'll make you get over your trust issues."
Chests aching, palms were held even tighter and eye contact remained, no matter how strenuous the act became.
"Tino's my cousin. He agreed to pose as my boyfriend so I could make you jealous. We were never anything serious. He's always had a thing for this Berwald guy actually."
Nervously, Alfred bit his lower lip, uncomfortable under Arthur's steady gaze.
"When we noticed that we were pushing you towards Francis and Mattie, we thought it was working, but instead we were just making the situation worse. When I saw you kissing Francis-."
Arthur held up his hand, interrupting the incorrect statement.
"That's an initiation tradition for our group. It wasn't romantic at all."
"I learned about that after. I also saw you got a bit of a personality change too." At this, he managed to pull out a small, yet genuine smile.
"What's different?" He questioned.
Alfred smiled as well, sending a sharp bang through his chest.
"You're happy. You're more relaxed. You're not the Knight of The Monarchy that just argued everything without really focusing on the conversation. You're not forcing yourself. You're more you."
The Brit didn't speak for a while, unsure of what to say.
"I was a Knight?" He asked finally, focusing on the less serious aspect.
"What's a Prince without a trustworthy Knight?"
Arthur scoffed, and finally broke eye contact, staring down at his black Converse to hide a blush. Absentmindedly, he picked at a rip in his skinny jeans.
He had changed. His personality, the way he dressed and the way he spoke. All of that had undergone a transformation, but his feelings were too stubborn.
Alfred was doing it again, making him feel at ease, breaking his walls down so that they could simply laugh together and everything will be alright.
He had done that so many times before for little things. But this….this feud was a huge one. Their entire relationship depended on the outcome of this talk.
Their relationship really depended on Arthur.
"You've changed too."
"You've gotten sneakier Alfred. Or, do you go by the name of Flighter now?"
In a gesture of surrender, the athlete raised both his hands up.
"You caught me. Did anyone tell you or did you-?"
"I figured it out myself. You almost threw me off with the contacts though. I thought they were blue contacts instead of normal clear ones to replace your glasses."
"Glad to see you're still a smarty, Artie."
"And you're still a Fat Al. Never kiss me after eating that many sweets again. You tasted like Jolly Ranchers and Snickers. Sour candy and chocolate is not appealing to me."
Alfred smiled, taking a step forward. Gently, he rested a hand against the shorter's cheek, guiding his head up.
"But, that means I can kiss you before I eat that many sweets."
Green eyes widened and Arthur backed up two steps.
"I…We…The two…We've changed Al. Both of us. We're strangers now."
"Isn't dating used to find out more about the other person?" To this Arthur had no answer, he let Alfred grasp him once more, one secure arm around his waist and the other guiding his chin up until emerald green eyes met daring, stubborn sky blues.
"We'll find each other again, just give us time and a chance."
But it were the unspoken words that really mattered.
And so, Arthur Kirkland acted against what his doubtful side told him to do, and lunged forward, pressing their lips in a heart-searing kiss.
It was a gentle embrace, filled with a sense of relief and joy at the end of conflict. Tenseness in shoulder melted away as skinny arms snaked around the athlete's neck, fingernails running through the small wisps of blonde hair.
A small laugh passed from the taller to the other as Arthur stood on the tips of his toes to properly reach the other. A slap to the shoulder ended the chuckle, however, and cherry red lips were caught once more.
Playfully, Alfred nipped at his lower lip as Arthur's grip on his neck tightened. As a strong hand snaked under a shirt.
The cock blocks arrived.
"Hell yes! Get some SB!"
"Let's go Al! Like, you can totally dominate blondie's ass!"
"Oh my God Feliks! Shut up! They'll see us!"
"Bruder! Don't let the jock tower over you like that! Kick him in the balls and make him kneel before you!"
"Gilbert! I will actually kill you!"
"Mon amis! We have it! Plot development! Finally!"
"Get it cousin!"
Sighing, the two broke apart, sharing a dark of annoyance.
"I hate all of my fucking friends."
"I hate mine too.
Slyly, Alfred brought his hand down to Arthur's, holding it loosely. Green eyes glanced down act the display of affection, then back up at his boyfriend's face.
Alfred wiggled his eyebrows.
Arthur pretended to barf.
But their hands remained clasped.
Chapter 16. 2: 7 Minutes in Heaven (Atavan Halen)
When the pair arrived in the cafeteria, the lunchroom once again went silent. Food was everywhere, on the walls, tables, doors, students. The few lunch monitors present were hiding out in the kitchen, probably calling the police on their cellphones.
Alfred coolly stared down the entire lot, eyes resting on those present at The Monarchy table.
But all eyes were glued onto the pair of adjoined hands at his side.
Noticing this, Alfred raised their hands up.
"In case you're blind, or sitting way in the back, we're holding hands. Alfred Franklin Jones and Arthur Kirkland are dating. If there's any issue, you come to me. If you start spouting bullshit tho', I'll beat the effin' crap outta you. We're all too damn old for this shit. Except for maybe the freshman. We're not in middle school anymore. Get over your cliques and be you. Hang out with who you want to hang out with. Date who you like. Be proud of yourself and don't ever let someone bring you down."
He spoke like a leader directing his troops, strict yet caring for your best interest. His small speech was heartfelt, poorly written, but you could tell that it was genuine.
But, this was high school.
Crowds were too ignorant for that genuine stuff.
"They're trying to corrupt the system!" Someone screamed.
"The system has been corrupted! They're fixing it!" argued another.
Shouts of mutiny and revolution ran throughout the building and students began to put their hands on each other. A big brawl was to begin, but Alfred didn't linger to see who would throw the first punch.
"Let's go. No use in talking to them now." The couple turned and high-tailed it out of there as soon as food began to fly again.
"Where are we going?" Arthur questioned, breathless.
"Home. I cannot be here when those cops arrive. Classes will probably be cancelled anyway."
"Aww. Is smarty Arty scared?"
The Brit smirked. "Actually, I was going to say that we're going in the wrong direction. Security cameras everywhere in the front of the school. We have to go up to the roof instead."
"How do you know?"
"Gilbert taught me," Arthur said with a shrug.
Pressing a quick peck to his cheek, Alfred quickly switched directions.
2 hours later, when they were in the Kirkland kitchen, snacking on leftover pastries that were in the pantry, an interesting question arose.
"So, couldn't we have avoided this whole thing if you were just honest from the beginning?"
"You could've just told me you liked me instead of going through that whole thing with Tino."
Alfred bit into two cookies while muttering,
"I was just a boy then. I wasn't thinking."
"And you're a man now?"
Wincing, Arthur threw a napkin at the blonde.
"Men don't speak with their mouths full."
Hetlia High was falling apart. Revolution posters were everywhere, on the walls, in the hands of students, even on the foreheads of some of the more liberal teachers. Officers scrambled to restore order, directing the orderly students to safer areas.
The Sophomore Slumps, however, were in the center of the mess, screaming their hearts out with their supporters against The Monarchy and their allies.
"Down with the system!" They shouted.
"Uphold the system!" The monarchy countered.
("Free V-Nasty!" "Oh my God Feliks shut up!")
Wild shouts and glared were shot across the room at a rapid pace. Elizaveta was already wrapped up in a fight with the three Duchesses, yanking out extensions and smearing lipstick. Antonio and Romano were all over Sadiq, yelling words of venom and throwing punches at everyone that opposed them.
Gilbert and Francis, unfortunately, were the worst off. Underneath a particularly gruesome dog pile, they struggled to protect Mattie.
But the Canadian managed to do well on his own. Thinking fast, he slipped away just before a tackle could bring him down.
Things were getting crazy. At this rate, someone would get hurt. Badly. With this fact in mine, he ran to get the nearest officer and did what no one expected him to do.
Well, it wasn't exactly lying, as he would object later. He was simply avoiding certain parts of the truth.
He directed them to the main fiasco, explaining who was fighting for self-defense and those who were the attackers. (He couldn't help Romano and Antonio though. They were clearly vicious.)
On Elizaveta's behalf, he pressed the truth into a very thin line.
"She's up against three girls!" He protested.
"She's stomping them into the ground."
"But you weren't here when they broke her nose!"
The policeman nodded, running over the break up the feud.
A small sigh of relief escaped him as all students were dragged from the scene.
Now, there was one last thing he had to do.
Pulling out his cellphone, he began to call the two people that were the reason for the fiasco.
The Romeo and Juliet of Hetlia High
The Prince and his Knight
The Sophomore Slump and The Comeback of The Year
2 Days Later
"Ow, ugh, Reme it pains."
"Si, Mami, me duele mi brazo."
"SB! Your mama's burning my hand!"
"Hush! All of you! Be good boys and sit quietly!"
Within the Kirkland living room, there was an interesting array. Of teenagers and children, all groaning with dismay. Some were injured, nursing colorful bruises. Others felt pity, and helped out by doing whatever an injured teen chooses.
Romano Vargas, his grandfather beside him, held out caramel toned knuckles allowing them to be disinfected.
"Thank god the wounds aren't too serious. I was worried you wouldn't be able to use that skateboard again."
Reddening, Romano leered down at his bandaged ankle, avoiding eye contact with his grandfather.
"It's just a sprained ankle…ain't nothing compared to Francis' broken leg…I'll be fine on a board…Didn't know you cared that much."
Julius's eyebrows rose in disbelief. Pressing a hand to his grandson's shoulder, he squeezed reassuringly.
"Why wouldn't I care? It's one of the few things that makes you happy. I may not like it, but you enjoy it."
As red as his favorite fruit, Romano cleared his throat, muttering something about "Crazy old men."
"But, of course, skateboarding is for wimps. Horseback riding, fencing and hunting is for real men. If you ever want to give up that dumbass skateb-."
"No thanks old man."
Fondly, Antonio Carriedo looked over the display from his spot on the opposite side of Lovino. Cradling an icepack against a heavily bruised arm, he carefully adjusted himself as he leaned over.
"What do you want bastardo?"
As Romano questioned this, the Italian began to turn and what was intended to be a sly whisper in his ear turned into a full out kiss on the lips.
Shrieks of glee escaped the mouths of three people on the floor: Feliks Lukasiewicz, Gilbert Beilschmidt, and Elizaveta Herdervary. Next to the three, Roderich Edelstein winced and clutched at his tea cup.
Feliks ran a hand through his new pixie cut as he laughed. Due to excessive damage done to his glorious locks in a horrid catfight, he had persuaded Leah to give him a discount haircut. (With the help of Elizaveta of course.)
"Like the new hair Beyonce?"
"Hell no," He grumbled. "Beyonce may able to wear a blonde pixie cut but I cannot. I swear I'm gonna kill Natalia next time I see her. Who the hell chews five pieces of gum just to put them in someone else's hair?"
"What about Ivan?" Gilbert questioned. An involuntary shudder ran through the Slumps in the room when the famous college freshman was mentioned.
"Never mind. Never mind. Not even willing anymore." Feliks winced as a shock ran through his shoulder. "God this sucks."
"You think so?" Gilbert pulled up his shirt and revealed a mural of colors. His stomach could've easily been mistaken for an abstract piece of art.
"Gil put that thing away and lie on the floor. " Matthew said, disgusted, as he brought a container of ice packs. Not too gently, he began to lay them across the German's torso. Elizaveta watched one, commenting absentmindedly,
"I still think Francis and I got the worst of it. He's in the hospital with a broken leg and black eye and I've got a broken nose, sprained wrist, broken ankle, stubbed toe-,"
"And a hideous bob cut." Feliks finished.
Self-consciously, Elizaveta patted the pink flower in her short hair.
"I thought it was cute."
"A cheap, blonde weave would be cuter than that thing. Don't lie to yourself."
Roderich stood, and leaned over his girlfriend, pressing a calming kiss to her temple.
Cheeks stained red, she grinned, hugging him around his legs.
"You guys are worse than them."
A loud groan ran through everyone in the room. All knew who Gilbert was talking about without names being mentioned.
"Does anyone know where my son is?"
"Probably being de-virginized."
Romano snickered at this comment, but confirmed that the two had actual gone to visit Francis in the hospital.
It wasn't the best of visits.
"Arthur, mon ami, it is a simple favor!"
"No Francis! What the bloody hell is wrong with you?"
The Frenchman pleaded from his bed, looking at Arthur with wide baby blue eyes.
"Just cause a scene, si vous plait! Cause a scene so I can call the cute volunteer nurse in-!"
"But I'd get kicked out!" The Brit protested. Alfred caught him by the shoulders, dragging him out.
"Which one is it cuz? I've only seen two. There's a brunette and a blonde."
Francis grinned, calling the athlete his savior.
"The brunette. Tell her that I'm thirsty or something."
Alfred laughed as he dragged his boyfriend out of the hospital, briefly stopping to talk to the nurse.
Once they stepped outside, Arthur scowled. Cold bit at his nose, turning it a deep scarlet. He hastened his pace so he would be walking faster than the athlete. Alfred allowed this for the first few minutes, then caught up as Arthur's shoulders relaxed.
"You really shouldn't be letting him flirt like that."
"It's better that he's honestly flirting with her instead of coming up with some insane plan."
Arthur reddened as Alfred rested his hand on his waist.
"We…We really did something daft didn't we?"
"But we both received a lot from it."
He spoke the truth. No matter from what perspective Arthur looked at the past few months, something good came out of the Sophomore Slumps crazy antics.
He had real friends. People he knew he could trust and depend on when things got rough. Friends that would be there for him even if his relationship didn't work out. Hell, he got a brother. Gil would officially be an adopted Kirkland soon. They would really be family. (And Elizaveta's brother could marry Gil's sister without any anguish on Elizaveta's part)
He got Alfred back. It was a long, perilous journey but they were finally getting to patch things up. But, there were still many faults in their relationship. Hopefully, they could work everything out before it was too late.
As if sensing what he was thinking, Alfred squeezed his hand.
"We'll be fine Artie. We'll just take it slow."
"Slow, huh…I guess that's the best way."
"Going slow is what wins races after all."
Arthur gave him a small smile and shake of his head.
"I want to go to a concert."
There was only one band that Arthur needed to see.
"Let's go. Just the two of us. Let's be alone together at a Fall Out Boy concert."
Yes. That's what he wanted, what he needed. He needed that sense of closure that only that band could give live. To end this journey of self-growth, he would have to see the band that helped him along the way. He had to see them with Alfred.
Arthur Kirkland was, and had always been, a man of pride. This fact was evident in the way he carried himself, the way he spoke, how he was so sure about his opinions, and unafraid to express them when asked. But, it was because of his friends, that this arrogance had been altered into a friendlier form. He was no longer scared of making a total fool of himself, since they all did it for him quite frequently. He wasn't afraid to look like an idiot. He knew what he was. He didn't need anyone to tell him.
Arthur Kirkland was a Sophomore Slump.
END: Sophomore Slump Or Comeback Of The Year
It's over. Thank all of you so much for the reviews, faves, alerts and those 2 community adds! You guys have been so supportive throughout this entire fic and I honestly wouldn't be able to finish this without you all. (A whopping 90k! I have never written that much for a fic before!) It's been an epic ride, and I'm sad to see it come to an end. I hope you guys enjoyed Sophomore Slump or Comeback of The Year!