23:19 – Sunday, January 22nd 2012
To: otaku no hi (at) hotmail . com
From: frying pan warrior (at) hotmail . com
Message: I literally couldn't help it…
So, this has happened – a rough draft of the confession scene. I got a little carried away after you guys left today...
By the way, please don't mind how Angie was acting earlier. She has nothing against you or your creativity; she's just a little sore because she shipped FrUK and now that's died a very spectacular death. I know if it had been Arthur and Francis in the library yesterday, she'd be singing a very different tune. She'd have no problem with you making a few sketches from the video, or us listening to that audio a few times to try and figure out what the heck's going on. So don't let it get to you: it's not what you're doing, it's just what's happened that's making her kind of down. I know you tend to let yourself feel guilty about things which aren't your fault, but she's not mad at you, I swear, she's just a little disappointed.
I mean, I feel bad for her, I honestly do. FrUK was her OTP, and God knows I'd be a mess if my ship sank like that. And I'm really glad and proud that she's handling this so well – I know if I were in her situation I'd be exactly 100% more homicidal. (She's new to yaoi, bless her – she hasn't given as much of her soul to the rainbow side as we have.)
But I think that those of us who do like USUK should get to celebrate. I mean, you of all people should be allowed to have this moment: you ship those two harder than you ship yourself and Heracles for goodness's sake! (I know you're still in denial about him, but somewhere deep down you're shipping it.)
So I don't want to ignore Angie's feelings or rub this new canon relationship in her face – but I also want to just get to enjoy this happy turn of events. Two people we all care about have found love, and it's a very special occasion. I know Ange just needs some time to come to terms with it, so maybe let's just keep our celebrations on the down low out of respect for her loss. (I think I can convince her that she and Francis make a much better couple than him and Arthur, anyway.)
I'm not, however, saying that Ange doesn't bring up a valid point regarding the questionable morals of our situation. Yes, maybe we shouldn't be using other people's lives as a basis for a manga unless we ask their permission first. I mean, I'm not a monster (I'm NOT!), and I know technically it's probably not 100% right to be doing this, especially before we consult the boys…
But I honestly don't think it will be that hard convincing them to let us make the comic.
I know we're still deciding whether to make it full on yaoi, or just BL – but either way, I think we'll be good.
If it's yaoi then I'm sure we can sell the idea to Arthur, because that guy is a kinky bastard. He pretends to be so prim and proper, but he devours all the yaoi manga I give him, and I know he's started looking it up on his own online by now. (He let slip something veeery interesting about plant-tentacles the other day…)
And if we decide we're not comfortable with actual lemon about our classmates/friends, then I'm sure that both Alfred and Arthur would be all over the idea of a romance manga about their relationship. Judging by what we've seen recently, I would say they're both huge romantics, and I think they'll be so touched and excited by the idea of the comic that they'll totally ignore all the stalker shit we had to do to make the book happen.
I'm even willing to bet actual money that one of them would fund a start-up company for us to begin making more manga, if we said they could have more comics about their love life. Those delightful saps! (Or pervs, in Arthur's case)
So, all in all, I think it not only fun, but also prudent for us to study the video footage and audio recordings we acquired, and get together a couple of sketches and a rough draft of this library scene. It's something we can present to the boys in order to get official permission and a moral allowance to start this project.
And on that note, I humbly present this hasty and inadequate account of the beautiful (and baffling) USUK library confession.
And can I just take a minute to thank you now, more than ever, for coming up with those country codenames. I love you for this gift, Kiku. Not only have those codenames proved to be useful, but they just add such a cool flair to the characters! I will worship you forever for that moment of genius when you looked at Ludwig and Feliciano and called them Germany and Italy. X3 It just works so well at our international school! It's genuinely one of my favourite things about the Academy because I get to see you draw attractive boys from round the world wearing their country's traditional outfits and military uniforms. Yummy.
We spent all weekend listening to that audio recording I got from the library, and that transcript we worked on was just sitting there on my hard drive – and I couldn't just let it lay there all bare and plain. It was practically a crime! So I just had to flower it up.
It's not completely fangirlised yet. I don't think I even used the word "trembled" once. "Sparkle" got a few appearances, but come on: nobody would deny that Alfred's eyes actually do that.
I just wanted to give the blank script a little structure and flesh it out with the bare essentials of how they were positioned, when and how they looked at each other, what their voices sounded like as they talked, etc. That way we can get a vague idea of the flow of the scene, and maybe how long it'll be, that sort of thing.
Also, I just couldn't help myself. (I feel that I should mention that, because you know me too well, and are quite capable of reading between the lines of my bullshit to the fangirly truth.)
Obviously it's written in third person point of view so we can get as much descriptive detail as possible – but I also included some good, old Austen-esque, free indirect speech. A) Their personalities are just sooo enticing to write! And b) I really wanted to get a look at things from both boys' perspectives, so I switched views between the two of them. That way we can get a little of everything: tsuntsun!Arthur, deredere!Arthur, adorkable!Al, sweeping-you-off-your-feet-charming!Al. Make it a full on roller coaster ride of attraction for the readers.
However, I had to make some editorial decisions when focusing on the boys' points of view here. I know we're all still undecided about what exactly led to this confession (I mean, they were enemies and then strangers, how did they jump to THIS?). And I know we spent all day analysing the audio, but some of the more confusing comments still need further studying – I mean, the whole "Gentleman" and "Hero" thing (usernames on a wesite?), and all that stuff about fantasies (just wtf?)...
For the purposes of this rough draft, I went with Nhi's idea that they were partners in the school's anonymous email exchange project, and indirectly confessed their feelings about each other, and now they're meeting for the first time since they realised who they were emailing. (I love how Nhi sits there reading something else and pretending not to care, but then she'll randomly comes out with the most insightful, fangirly comments of all of us. XD )
So, when the need arose, I based a few invented details on this premise of the email-relationship. If it turns out to be wrong – well, then, I'll just have to write it all over again!
I hope to God that Nhi's right, though, because that is just the most adorable, and magical, and manga-y situation I've ever heard in real life. The only reason I can't get fully on board with this proposal is that I just can't let myself believe something so perfect could be true. I suppose that it really is the only option that makes sense, though.
I know Mei said it could be some other website where they met – not necessarily the school emails. And I also like Feliks' idea that they've been secretly getting to know each other in person for a while, and got a little friendly over MSN/email or something which led to this confession – but nobody could agree on a specific point when they might have started this acquaintanceship. Plus, I don't think Alfred would have been able to hide something like that from you and Toris if he really does love Arthur this much (which I don't doubt that he does). He would have been too eager and confessed it all in his excitement. It must be a recent development, I'm sure of it – which fits with Nhi's emailing idea.
Emma's "pre-established relationship + stranger roleplaying" idea is hot, but, again, I think you, at the very least, would know if Alfred had been dating Arthur already.
So, like I said: in this version, I've gone with the basis that they have been anonymously emailing, unknowingly confessed their feelings for each other, and this is their first meeting in person.
I've included a few personal comments/notes throughout the narrative, in brackets.
Oh, and I've started with the beginning of the dialogue since this is where our definite knowledge of events comes in. I know we'll have to set up the look of Founders' Library beforehand – it's such a grand old library so it would be a shame to waste it as the setting. However, I was too excited to write the dialogue so I left that background detail crap out for now.
The one thing we really need to set up is the fact that the bookshelves down in the philosophy section are like half shelves: they've got the books on top, but the bottom half is a solid counter, which juts out a bit, so you get that shelf/ledge/counter/whatever-you-want-to-call-it, at about waist height. I always just use it put my bag and books on – but it's really important for the make-out part in this scene, so we need to establish that there's a ledge here on which the boys can perch/lean/sit. …At the perfect height for one person to wrap their legs around the other…*drooool*
Also, I really want to highlight the fact that the library aisles are only open at one end, and closed off at the other where the bookcases reach the wall. It's not so important in terms of this scene; but in reality, it caused me such a panic when I realised they would leave their aisle, and there was no way for me to escape! I can't run down my aisle in the opposite direction and slink in to an abandoned aisle, because it's just a dead end. But if I left my aisle when I heard them leaving, they would definitely have seen me! I NEVER thought my little cave of books would work, but they were just that wrapped up in each other that they didn't even notice a house of books on the floor… (By the way, I made the photo of my yaoi-fangirl-stalker-book-house my background on my phone.)
The first few lines of dialogue are from Mei's memory. So much drama…We all said she must have misheard, and she swore it's what they actually said, and there was some real conflict escalating. And then suddenly Toris, of all people, comes to the rescue, and realised it was a Captain America quote. And by God, Mei is never going to let us forget that we doubted her in matters of BL...
Anyway, without further ado, because I could babble on all night, I present to you: …um…
We need a name for this story…
Arthur was so nervous that he didn't even have the presence of mind to stop and take a deep breath before rounding the corner of the last bookshelf – and suddenly it was too late to calm down and compose himself because here he was, in the last, most secluded aisle of the library, with Alfred F. Jones.
His momentum from storming through the building evaporated in an instant, and he juddered awkwardly to an unnatural stop, as if walking in on a scene he knew he shouldn't be a part of. [Liz: DAMN those prepositions at the end of sentences! Meh. I'm leaving that there for now, we can sort it out later.] He reeled himself back to keep a safe distance from Alfred, practically throwing himself against the shelves behind him, and clutching the counter ledge for dear life.
[Liz: I want something here about how Arthur's usually comfortable in the library, but suddenly it seems intimidating. "The familiar bookshelves on either side loomed traitorously around him, enclosing him like a tunnel." Or maybe a cave – since the bookshelves reach all the way down to the wall and have a dead-end. So basically, it's like he's trapped. But then he looks at Alfred and it's like Alfred is the light at the end of the tunnel, and with Alfred is where he feels comfortable now, so the library goes back to normal, because wherever Alfred is, it's home. But…I don't know…Might be a bit excessive for the introduction. This may just be me getting a little carried away with the fangirling…]
Alfred was further down the middle of the aisle, hidden from view of the rest of the library unless you came looking. He was leaning against the counter of the bookshelf opposite, but when the newcomer arrived, he looked up and stiffened. No beaming smile appeared on his face, and Arthur couldn't decide if that were a good or a bad thing. But his eyes – those bright expressive eyes you could notice from a mile away (or maybe that was just Arthur) – sparkled visibly with hope (or maybe that was just Arthur).
There was an unspoken understanding that they would not be moving closer any time soon. So Alfred allowed himself a shaky inhale, and, full of so many hopeful butterflies he could barely hold still, he fixed his eyes on the fidgeting blonde boy, and began.
"Wonderful weather we're having."
The few heartbeats in the silence that followed would never be forgotten, by either of them.
"Yes…But I always carry an umbrella."
It was little more than a murmur. But just like that, it lit up Alfred's face so brilliantly that the dark winter day outside was forgotten. If you ever asked Arthur, he would have thought he remembered that the sun was shining outside at that moment.
Relief and joy flooded through Alfred's veins, and suddenly his fluttering nerves and remaining worries didn't seem quite so important anymore. Yes, he was still nervous about talking to the English boy right now. Yes, it was still awkward and embarrassing after all they'd said to each other over email. And yes, he still couldn't quite believe it. But all that really mattered right now was making the most of this moment.
It didn't matter that Arthur wasn't smiling – Alfred knew how the other boy liked to save his real face behind a scowl, and he didn't blame him for being a little guarded right now. It was just all the more reason to spill everything that was dancing on his tongue – say everything he had planned to say until Arthur understood him and felt like smiling back.
"This weather, huh?" Alfred beamed, nodding his head in the direction of the nearby window, dark with an early winter night.
Arthur glanced at it, face clouding in confusion as he turned back to the American.
"But…" He paused, wondering which of them was missing something right now, and feeling thoroughly left behind. "You just said it was sunny. Even though it's been cold and horrible all day."
Alfred leaned forward conspiratorially, and Arthur's body followed, drawn in magnetically. Alfred looked up and down the aisle exaggeratedly, a grin playing on the corners of his mouth. Finally he looked back up at Arthur, their eyes meeting and locking properly for the first time. "You're supposed to say 'Mm,'" Alfred said in a loud stage whisper. "And then I say: 'D'ya ever get homesick?'"
Arthur paused, lost somewhere between Alfred's eyes and his words.
Suddenly it clicked. [L: I wish I knew what clicked! I am still so confused about Alfred's comment, but judging by how he looked on the video, it meant something to Arthur.] A deep red blush burst into bloom across his face and his voice got caught in the skip beat of his heart.
Alfred laughed at his companion's expression, clearly pleased with the reaction of stunned silence, wide green eyes and pink flush.
"So…D'ya ever get homesick?" he ploughed on, feeling a little sorry for Arthur's nervousness but too excited and eager to give him a moment to catch up.
"…N-not really. I l-like it here," said Arthur, voice finally coming to back life to stutter along in time with his stammering heart. (He felt like cursing himself for the awkward stutter, but it was his own fault for playing along with Alfred's game in the first place. Not that he had really registered his decision to play along – it just sort of happened.)
"Me, too," smiled Alfred. He leant back against the bookcase again, looking around fondly at the library for effect, before letting his eyes settle once more on Arthur. "There's nowhere else I'd rather be. Than right – "
"All right, that's enough!"
Alfred laughed as Arthur clenched his fists at his side and glared off to the side.
"But that was your fantasy!" whined Alfred playfully, with the grin he just couldn't keep off his face anymore. [L: I am so confused about Arthur's fantasy…Talking about the weather with the guy he likes? I've never heard anything more sad and British in my life…]
By the impressive frown on his face, it was clear that Arthur didn't appreciate Alfred's thoughtful attempts at making his dreams come true. Or at least, he was putting on a good show of pretending that he didn't. Arthur was nothing if not a stickler for tradition, after all, and it was very traditional for him to pretend that he hated Alfred.
"Look, if you're just here to humiliate me then – "
"Oh, nonononononono," the American interrupted, shaking his head. He hooked the startled eyes of his companion with an uncharacteristically serious look of his own. "You know that's not what this is. No taking the easy way out by pretending you're all offended and suspicious."
"But I am offended and sus– " Arthur tried again.
"You just don't wanna deal with how awkward this conversation is gonna be right now, and want to run away," Alfred cut him off once more.
It seemed that he had been well prepared for everything Arthur would try and convince himself, knowing that the English boy was too modest to believe that this could actually be happening. After all, Arthur thought, how could he believe it? He was Arthur Kirkland, and he was supposed to believe he was living a moment straight off the silver screen. How could he have expected something so perfect to be real? He'd not really understood that this could all actually be true.
But Alfred was determined to show him that it was, and always had been. And, if Arthur was up for it, always would be.
[L: So this is where I arrived in the aisle behind them. Mei and I switched places like ninjas, then she went off to sort out possession of the video footage, and I started the actual audio recording. Everything before this, we're just going by Mei's memory of their conversation. That second bit about the weather/fantasy is still pretty weird, but Mei promises it's what they said, and after the Captain America thing at the start, I'm going to go with her on this one.]
Arthur blinked at the other boy, leaning back a little in surprise. It really looked and sounded as if Alfred were serious about this, which was almost more unbelievable than it happening in the first place.
It took him a minute, but eventually he remembered to put his eyebrows back in place and frown again. "I do not run away."
"Good. Because I know it's embarrassing," Alfred persisted, looking away and blushing slightly. "You don't think I feel it, too? But just…think about how awesome it's gonna be tomorrow and next week and…all after that if we can just get through this part."
Both of them were blushing furiously, looking determinedly away from each other, and each hoping that their racing heart wasn't as treacherously loud as it felt.
Alfred clutched the ledge of the bookshelf behind him. He had lived everyday so confident and self-assured that life was just easy for him. But for once, the American was white-knuckled and tense and finding it harder than he expected to say the things he wanted. These conversations looked so easy on T.V. and in movies, but it was much harder to get the words out in real life.
And yet, he wouldn't change anything about this. Not for the world.
Every burning heartbeat, every anxious thought flitting through his head, every long second of awkward silence: this was his first real moment with the real Arthur he'd always wanted, and everything about it he would treasure and remember. He suddenly realised how true it could be when people say they've never felt so alive. He was actually getting to experience a cliché! [L: I can see Alfred being really excited at living out movie clichés, so it's part of his character to notice this stuff. It's not just my poor writing resorting to clichés, I swear…]
And he may have been a little too nervous to be confident about all this, but he was still deliriously happy to experience it.
"So I know it's lame and annoying," he continued. "But let's just do this super awkward bit and get it out of the way and then we can move on." He looked up at Arthur, meeting the other boy's gaze with a smirk. "I promise I'll make it worth your while."
Arthur stared in disbelief.
"Oh God," he groaned, literally facepalming, which made Alfred feel rather proud of himself.
"Told ya I was good with those cheesy quotes," Alfred grinned, watching Arthur slide his hand down his face and master his expression once more.
"Well, would you please stop. It's embarrassing." He quickly cast around in his mind for another complaint before Alfred had time to carry on this ridiculous train of thought. "And cruel! I told you in my email I needed time before I could talk to Alfred. Uh…you. What did you not understand about that?"
"Arthur, you like me and I like you. What do you not understand about that!" Alfred challenged. Arthur's glare vanished, replaced by those dazzling green eyes and warm pink blush that seemed to be hiding just below the surface of his usual grumpy facade. "I'm sorry for pushing you, I guess, but I don't want to waste another second being strangers with you when we know what it's like now. We have a lot of time to make up for and I want to get started now."
It was almost scary how easy it was to look Alfred in the eye and believe him now, Arthur thought. He really should have a better handle on himself – but that face, that face that he always knew could do this to him, was doing just that.
"You're horrible to me," Arthur huffed, managing a half-hearted frown as he looked away at the dark window at the end of their aisle.
Out of the corner of his eye – certainly not because he was watching Alfred's reflection in the darkened window, absolutely not! – he saw Alfred perk up, reassured somehow by Arthur's grumpy comment that he was forgiven. (Either Alfred knew him too well, or Arthur was just not very good at hiding himself from the boy anymore.)
Alfred had the decency to look away modestly after such a cheesy outburst. But when Arthur kept quiet for too long, his body began fidgeting as it sparked with all the pent-up adrenaline of the moment. After a few more moments of silence, he grinned at the back of Arthur's head.
"I knew it was you."
Arthur rounded on him, having summoned his scowl back from where it had been trying to hide away in his excitement.
"You're not allowed to say that," he said haughtily. "If you'd really known then you would have said so in the email. Now you're just lying to make yourself sound clever."
Alfred looked scandalised. "No way! I totally knew it was you! I just didn't want to say that in case just maybe it wasn't, and you thought I'd be disappointed you weren't Arthur."
"A likely story," Arthur scoffed, turning his nose up in the air.
"Dude, why else would I have chosen to meet here?" Alfred defended himself. "I know there's that camera over there," he explained, nodding at the bookshelf against the far back corner of the library. "And I knew 'The Gentleman'" – he said exaggeratedly, gesturing with air quotes – "would be too nervous to just come meet me, so I gave you the chance to go look at the video and check me out, see that it wasn't a trap or whatever.
"Which means," – he paused for dramatic effect, holding up a finger with confidence – "I knew The Gentleman was one of the only three students at the school who has a key to the surveillance room." He held up his head proudly, not needing to watch as Arthur's face went blank as he absorbed this information.
There was a moment of silence as Arthur weighed this declaration in his mind.
Alfred looked at the other boy in confusion. Arthur glanced up through lowered lashes. "They took Francis's key away," he explained.
Alfred laughed. Alfred's laugh. And for the first time, it was okay for Arthur to smile back.
"Duh they did" said Alfred, calming down finally.
The two boys looked at each other for a while, neither one moving or making any effort to speak. Just allowing themselves to look at each other for once, instead of stealing glances, faking frowns, hiding the truth. It was stupid how good it felt – how much of a relief it was to be allowed the chance. They still gripped the shelf ledges they leant on, not quite ready to give up that lifeline and move forward yet, towards each other. But they were getting more and more ready, more and more excited to let all of this begin.
"When…When did you figure it out?" asked Arthur. "If I'm to believe you have such incredible powers of deduction," he added, because they were still Alfred and Arthur and not meant to give in to each other so easily. Especially if they wanted to.
"Pretty early on," said Alfred, looking absent-mindedly at the bookshelf in front of him as he thought about it. "I mean, I thought from the start 'Holy crap, this sounds like it could be Arthur!' 'Cause you write just like you talk, and you were a grumpy loner and everything. But then when you said you had a crush on Alfred I was like 'Oh, it can't be him then.'" Arthur frowned, cursing himself for making Alfred feel like he wasn't good enough to have anyone he wanted in the world. Especially Arthur.
"But it just…it just sounded so much like you!" the American continued, almost wistfully. "I tried thinking of it as other people instead, but you just kept coming back."
He trailed off for a minute, a soft, fond smile warming his face at the memory of their emails. Arthur found himself gazing much too longingly at him when Alfred could just look over and catch him at any moment. Usually he was much better at being inconspicuous about his long looks.
"And then just before the shorts thing, when you were talking about your brothers, I thought 'If I wasn't in love with Arthur I'd definitely think this was him.' And I just couldn't ignore it anymore.
"And besides…" There was a long pause, and that fond smile melted onto his face again. It was a smile Arthur had never seen on him before, and the thought that he had brought it there was nothing short of magical, if truth be told. "I just kind of knew…it had to be you." Alfred looked over and their eyes were fixed together. "You were exactly how I thought you'd be," he smiled.
Arthur blushed some more, and managed to look away, though not as soon as he would have liked. There really was no chance of him saving face now. Self-preservation didn't seem to want to stick around when it came to Alfred. (And the implications of that were a little worrying. Was Alfred really so good for him that his body would just shut down and let itself be openly smitten?)
"…I…" Arthur paused, feeling only his heart pound instead of his thoughts working.
But suddenly, something that Alfred had said popped to the surface of his mind and clicked into place…activating an anger switch.
"You told me about my shorts on purpose!"
And all Alfred could do was giggle. Fucking giggle, just to add insult to injury.
"Little bit, yeah," he grinned. And it wasn't even a smirk or some other demeaning version of a smile, it was just a fucking smile, like it was all so good and happy!
And Arthur genuinely forgot all his nervousness as good old reliable anger thoroughly took over the pumping of his blood. He marched the few remaining paces to Alfred and was so torn between wringing his neck and punching him that he could do neither.
"You put me through hell, you sodding wanker!" he raged. "I couldn't change my shorts because then 'The Hero'" – air quoted with a rather noticeable amount of contempt – "would know I must have read those emails, so 'The Gentleman' must be Arthur!" He ended his rant with a sound somewhere between a growl and a snarl, hoping his furious expression was enough for Alfred to feel ashamed of himself.
No such luck, of course.
"Just a little payback for you wearing those shorts in the first place. You don't know how crazy it makes me."
And with one well-aimed cheesy line, the fire was smothered out of him.
Arthur went bright red and scuttled back a few steps to clutch at the bookcase behind him for some moral support. He looked away hurriedly from the boy opposite, but somehow he could see the smirk on his face, feel the blue eyes burning into him. It almost felt hot where they rested on him, or maybe that was just his cursed blush heating him up again.
Alfred allowed himself a moment to enjoy the adorable flustering, then he rolled his eyes and shook his head fondly at the English boy's antics.
"It wasn't just about the shorts, Arthur," he sighed, dramatically. "By that time I knew it was you I was emailing, and I was trying to tell you how…awesome and…stuff you are." Arthur jumped visibly, but didn't look up. Alfred sighed again. He didn't mind the effort, this was all worth it. And, to be fair, it's not like he could really blame Arthur for being self-conscious right now.
"I was trying to tell you how perfect you are even though you don't know it, alright?" Alfred admitted, determined to get them where they needed to go even if it meant saying some embarrassing things. "Why do you think I kept saying 'Tell Arthur from me' about the shorts? I knew Arthur would be getting the message! I even said 'I don't want another second to go by that Arthur doesn't know that' or whatever. Because I knew another second wasn't going to go by, because Arthur was reading it. I wanted you to know! Because you seemed to think Alfred would never like you, but I was trying to explain that fuck yeah he would!" Arthur made a strange jerky movement with his head, as if he'd wanted to look up at Alfred in surprise, but then caught himself just in time and tried to look everywhere else at once. "I wanted you to know that I think you're amazing. I was trying to give you confidence so we could meet sooner," Alfred finished. "I've been ready – I was just waiting for you."
Arthur's eyebrows knit together and twisted, frowned and lifted, his heart eager to write itself all over his face. "Why…" He made himself look up because he really was no coward, he was just a little bewildered by this whole situation. "Why wouldn't you just tell me it was you."
Alfred smiled, looking both sympathetic and sheepish over Arthur's distressed face. "You'd still have been totally embarrassed," he said, reasonably. "Besides, I left you a shit ton of clues. I'll friggin' go over the emails with you and point them all out. I'm surprised you didn't figure it out, too."
"I did," Arthur was quick to jump in. "Not at first but…it got more and more…difficult to deny it. But by the last few emails…I knew. I just…I couldn't believe it. I still don't. I couldn't believe I could be that lu-ah-unfortunate," he finished quickly, hoping his slip up had gone unnoticed.
Again, that was some wishful thinking.
Alfred grinned. "Lucky," he said, enjoying the way Arthur's ears turned red. (That colour was really growing on Alfred.) "You were gonna say 'lucky.'" Arthur ignored him resolutely, so Alfred decided to play peacemaker once more. "But I'm the lucky one, remember?"
That got Arthur's attention. The shorter boy looked up, green eyes open and bare and finally looking as if they were ready to take in what was right before them.
But then Alfred made the mistake of grinning, proud of his new cheesy line, and Arthur turned his unguarded stare into a calculated eye roll and a groan.
Although Alfred was sure he saw a smirk hidden away in the corner of his mouth there.
"Anyway," Arthur huffed, once his eye roll had very much made its point. "If you knew it was me first, don't you think that's a bit underhanded? Using your anonymity as a way to get more information out of me, make me gush about Alfred?"
The words sounded like an accusation, but there was just no feel to it in Arthur's face. The little gold flecks in his eyes seemed to twinkle in the light, and it almost looked like he was playing a game of pretend. And it almost looked like he knew that Alfred knew that it was just pretend, and he didn't mind it…But that was a little bit too subtle for Alfred, so he brushed it off.
"Now you're just trying to find things to complain about," said the American. Arthur pouted (Alfred was sure that was the right way of describing that word, and he hoped to God he got to study that look more often, just to make sure). "Look, Arthur, this is real. You and me right now, and every other day you'll let me bug you from now on. I know you don't believe it – you think I don't feel the same? This is…this is insane and I can't believe it. So I'm just gonna make this real easy for you."
One deep breath. More for effect than anything, because it was actually surprisingly easy to gear himself up to say this – natural almost, like he had always been meant to say it.
"Arthur Kirkland, I'm in love with y–"
"No!" Arthur interrupted, looking horrified. "No, we've been over this – you can't say that to someone unless you know them!"
Why he was so desperate not to let Alfred tell him something that was true, and that they both wanted to say and hear, was beyond the American boy. But he was happy to be persistent if it meant he got Arthur in the end.
"But I DO know you now!" Alfred insisted, not caring about the nagging tone that was edging its way into his voice. "I know it's only been a week we've been writing to each other, but it's sort of been a week and two and a half years, and I'm just…Can we just be what we're supposed to be now? Fucking together already?"
For a second he didn't understand the shocked eyes and red glow that practically radiated off of Arthur at this outburst. Then he played it back in his mind and heard it.
"I-I-I don't mean…f-f-fu…I meant, you know, goddamned together. Just…"
It was his turn to stumble to a stop for once, heart racing but legs trembling and not knowing quite what to do with himself.
But Arthur was merciful and let it slide.
"I know," he practically whispered, and not even Arthur could tell if it was because he was embarrassed or just didn't trust himself to speak. "I…Yes."
Alfred hoped that that "yes" meant what he thought it did.
Taking courage from it, because to him the world was all good now and he had no reason to worry anymore, he crossed the narrow aisle and turned around to lean against the bookshelf next to Arthur. And God, did it feel foolishly good just to be this close.
Arthur watched him suspiciously, growing tense and red in the face as Alfred sidled up beside him.
"Soooo…" Alfred drawled, and Arthur could tell by that obnoxious grin that nothing short of embarrassing would come from this next statement. "You have a crush on me?"
"I-I do not!" the shorter boy spluttered. Alfred raised a sceptical eyebrow at him and Arthur blushed. "I-I mean, I do – but that's not how I wanted to say it. 'Having a crush' is such a stupid turn of phrase, but I didn't know the right words to say…A-and I had to make myself sound like any old student so I chose a common, asinine phrase to describe it. And besides, you're lucky: having to tone down my normal way of speaking in those emails meant I couldn't use all the 'bloody's and 'git's that I wanted to in my emails, either!"
Alfred nodded thoughtfully, letting this information sink in as Arthur continued to fidget nervously beside him. (But he wasn't making any effort to move away, at least.)
"So what then?" Alfred asked after a short pause.
Arthur looked up, his impressive dark eyebrows drawn together in question. He looked adorable – so frigging touchable – but Alfred was trying to take it slow for him, because that was how Arthur wanted to play it. Like the careful perfectionist he was.
"If you don't just have a crush on me how would you say it?"
It looked like it took a moment for the question to register, if Arthur's big blank stare was anything to go by. Then suddenly that blush reappeared on his face – that blush that was becoming ridiculously familiar in such a short space of time, and which Alfred was falling in love with just as quickly. It was kind of unfair how head over heels he was already, and yet Arthur was still revealing new quirks to make him fall harder. Alfred was pretty sure he didn't have anything left to give of himself, but Arthur just got more amazing by the moment.
At least Alfred could make up for it by finding new ways to make that blush happen.
"You think I'm a jolly nice fellow?" Alfred teased with a smirk, nudging Arthur's shoulder with his and watching the British boy squirm. "You like me? L-word me?" He grinned, and Arthur managed a scowl. "For me, even if you won't let me say what it was, it was at first sight." (He was getting pretty good at knowing just the right thing to say to sweep that scowl away.) "I know you think it's stupid and you said you don't believe in that stuff at first sight, but for me –"
"I!" Arthur blurted, then snapped his mouth shut. Alfred kept quiet, urging Arthur to continue to fill the awkward silence. "…I know I said I don't, but I do…I was just…being…I was nervous and felt stupid about it, but I didn't mean – "
Arthur looked up at him, and Alfred was glued to those eyes again. How long had he waited to see them like this – have them looking back at him, not shying away or scowling. It wasn't just the colour, that amazing green you could pick out from a mile away; it was the intensity, the sparkle in them. Having this pair of eyes look at you properly made you feel like someone worth looking at. They made Alfred feel…the way he wanted to feel. He was already addicted.
"So, I was thinking…" he found himself saying. Adrenaline was tingling through his body, he almost felt electric. Sure, he'd planned this part, but this was where his nerves started to kick in. "This is all kinda embarrassing. I mean, we both know all the things we said about each other, and we can't take it back or pretend we didn't mean it so much." It was true – they'd each let slip a lot of romantic drivel about each other without realising, and finally talking face to face, the reality of it all came flooding in quite humiliatingly. "So it's really awkward right now, right? And I think we need to just…skip over this weird bit so we don't waste time being all nervous and shy when it's kind of pointless." Arthur tilted his head in confusion, and suddenly Alfred forgot all about his nerves in the urge to do what he was about to suggest. "So I know it's not the gentlemanly or heroic thing to do but I think we should kiss now and get all the awkwardness out of the way. I know we should probably do it right and wait for the third date or something – "
"Third? What are you, a prude?"
And now it was Alfred's turn to widen his eyes in surprise and go speechless as Arthur smirked at him.
"Ha ha ha! Wow…" he laughed, breathlessly. "Okay then."
Their backs stayed pressed against the bookcase, heads turned towards each other, hands grasping the counter as they tried to keep a grip on which way they world turned. Somehow, they'd gotten so close that all they had to do was lean in and their lips were together – and Alfred F. Jones was kissing Arthur Kirkland.
It was short. Their first kiss didn't need to be anything other than a brief brush of lips because just that one touch, after all this time, was enough to make it perfect. Finally it was here, and that was all that mattered.
When it was over they found they couldn't quite pull away just yet. Their heads managed to get barely an inch apart before the heat in each other's eyes, their closeness, the soft breaths against each other's faces – it drew them back in for a second quick kiss, and a third, and a fourth, little pecks and soft touches of lips broken only by the need to look up and steal a glance at each other's eyes again and make sure it was all real and admire that bright green and that sparkling blue.
Alfred let his body be drawn round to face Arthur's, pulled in without even noticing that he was moving. His hand reached out to hold Arthur's waist, but only when Arthur gasped and jumped in surprise at the light touch on his hip did Alfred realise that he'd moved at all.
He looked down at his outstretched hand, sheepishly – it was a bold move so early on, and he certainly hadn't meant for it to happen. But Arthur didn't look embarrassed. He just looked a little shy as he lifted his own heavy hand, tense with adrenaline, and watched in a daze, as it landed on Alfred's wrist down by his waist. Both eyes followed it as it ran slowly up Alfred's toned arm to his firm shoulder [L: he has nice arms, okay. Leave me alone!], both feeling something amazing from the simple movement even though Alfred's thick brown jacket separated their skin.
After a long moment of electric silence, Arthur's hands found the lapel of Alfred's jacket, and pulled him down into a hotter, longer, noisier kiss. Alfred's body melted into Arthur's in response, one arm wrapping around Arthur's waist, his other hand running up the shorter boy's back and pulling him closer.
There was nothing between them anymore, pressed so close together, and Arthur didn't feel awkward, just intensely alive, as one hand curved around Alfred's neck and the other ran up into his golden hair.
[L: Here I want something about how Alfred has always been referred to as the golden boy of the school, but right now he's really shining for the first time. But I don't know how to word that without it sounding insanely cheesy. Do we really care about cheese in a scene like this, though? Personally, I think it should be smothered. And Alfred keeps talking about cheesy lines, so maybe it fits?]
It was too much. They were teenagers and they'd never touched anyone else before because they'd been waiting for each other, for this moment. And now it was here, they just couldn't stop themselves.
Moving in unison, Alfred pushed Arthur backwards just as the English boy stepped back and hopped on to the counter, wrapping his legs around Alfred's waist and dragging him closer than the American was pressing already. Everything about them was trying to get closer – drawn in with each gasp, each smack of lips, thighs pressing into hips, hands clutching everywhere, none of it was enough.
There was a tongue against lips, mouths opening and inviting each other inside, and suddenly everything was so warm, and exciting, and new, and desperately close, and so, so, right, and –
BANG BANG BANG BANG BANG!
Loud crashes from a nearby library aisle shattered the moment. Alfred darted backwards, pressing himself against the opposite bookshelf, just as Arthur jumped off the counter, fixing his shirt and trying to remember how to breathe.
[L: WHY, LIZ, WHYYYY? I RUINED EVERYTHING! I'm so sorry! I know you all forgive me for knocking those books over but I will hate myself for all of you. WHYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY?]
There was a long, tense moment that should have been quiet – but the heartbeats pounding in their ears, the heavy breathing and the silence itself, were thunderous.
But no one appeared at the end of their aisle, jeering and pointing. No footsteps or talking could be heard anywhere in the long, empty room. The world didn't collapse around them…
They glanced up at each other, shyly. Then Alfred chuckled, looking younger and sweeter than Arthur had ever seen him – and the English boy realised something.
Alfred wasn't some big scary school celebrity. He knew that – he'd known that for a long time – but it was finally starting to sink in. Right now, Alfred was just a nervous teenager with an awkward, hopeful crush. All because of him. And really, the least he could do to help the poor boy out was be honest.
So Arthur smiled back in relief and, to be honest, just plain happiness.
Alfred stared at the smile – at Arthur actually smiling at him, because he could make him happy – and an ear-splitting, eye-sparkling beam lit up his face in return.
He stepped forward, Arthur too busy smiling to wonder what antics he was trying to get up to next.
"Hey," said Alfred. "How about this for a movie quote?"
All of a sudden, he grabbed Arthur around the shoulders and waist, and dipped him down so low and fast that Arthur had to cling to his neck in fear of falling.
Arthur looked up, and Alfred smiled.
"I can't wait to tell you I love you."
Arthur forgot to pretend to be annoyed. He didn't even feel flustered. With those one of a kind blue eyes gazing at him so deep and sincere, it really was enough to make even Arthur Kirkland give in.
So instead of flailing or scowling, he just chuckled, turning it into a smile as he looked up with hooded eyes. "Mmm," he hummed, happily. "Give it a few hours."
Alfred blinked. He'd expected the English boy to get all hot and bothered, but here was just playing along with the dramatic movie moment. Or, one little part of Alfred hoped, maybe he meant it? The mischievous light in Arthur's eyes, the way he craned his neck up and pulled Alfred into a long kiss, made it seem like it could be both.
They stayed like that for one perfect moment and then finally Alfred let Arthur up carefully.
Arthur brushed some imaginary wrinkles off his clothes, fixing Alfred with a hooded glare.
But his eyes and one corner of his mouth were smiling.
"You're horrible to me."
"Yeah, I know," Alfred laughed. "I'll make it up to you, I swear. I mean, I just did another one of your fantasies for you right there – me coming in and sweeping you off your feet just 'cause I love you." Arthur gaped at him. "And we can act out all your other little daydream scenarios, too!" Alfred babbled, pleased by the look on Arthur's face, which was somewhere between stunned and moved. "And we'll do my fantasies, too, right?"
Arthur managed to flail without moving. "I-I-I-don't be so crude!" he stammered.
Alfred laughed. This guy was too much fun. He was going to enjoy every minute of this. (Even if it lasted forever, which he kind of hoped…)
"Woah, I didn't say my fantasies were crude! They're just a bunch of meet cutes, except we already know each other. Why, what are your fantasies all about?"
Arthur blushed furiously, scowling determinedly at the dark window.
"I've decided I actually hate you."
Alfred laughed some more. He was feeling so light-hearted it just came naturally, joy bubbling away under the surface and ready to burst out at any moment.
Arthur scowled at the taller boy. "Look, are we…"
He cut himself off, the sentence hanging almost tangibly between them until Alfred couldn't take it anymore.
"Are we what?"
"Are we going to go watch those Disney movies or not?"
Alfred's face went completely blank for a second. And then it broke out into an ear-splitting smile which even he could tell was his biggest one yet.
"Sure!" He beamed brightly, heart-fluttering at the pink dusting Arthur's cheeks, despite his efforts to look indifferent. "What should we watch first? Lady and the Tramp? Pocahontas? Maybe Mulan! Or Enchanted?" They pushed off from the bookshelves and headed out of their aisle. "Oh, and just FYI: I think we should do the heroic thing and confess our love to the whole school – help break down all those boundaries and stuff."
Arthur blustered out some angry, indignant noise about how they would do nothing of the sort, and shoved against Alfred's arm in annoyance.
But not too roughly.
And he didn't move away afterwards, choosing quietly to keep close and let their arms brush together.
Maybe even letting his hand slip into Alfred's, just to see what it felt like.
And to get used to their perfect fit.
The end! (At least of what we've got so far.)
That was pretty much the tensest moment of my life, when I heard them shuffling around and getting ready to leave their aisle and I had to hide behind the pile of books I'd built… But I don't think I even needed to bother: they were so busy gazing into each other's eyes as they walked away they'd never have noticed me.
I don't know for sure if they were holding hands, but I decided they were, so now they are. I genuinely think I saw it, but I really have to be suspicious of myself because my wishful thinking tends to override reality… Remember when I was convinced I saw Antonio making out with Lovino but it just turned out to be him eating a tomato? That was embarrassing…
Anyway, like I said, I haven't made it too flowery yet. We'll obviously make it nice and colourful when we work on it properly.
I'm thinking that for metaphors and similes I'd like to go with a running theme of the idea of opposites. It just really works for these two, I think. They're not really that different deep down, since they're both good, wonderful people; but on a superficial level – the level you'll see at the start of the comic – you've got the quiet, volatile bookworm and the loud, exuberant popular kid. So focusing on the opposites theme gives the story a running, underlying sense of tension, which just makes everything so much more hot…Tension, mmmmmm.
Like maybe something about "a rose and its thorns" – because Arthur is so lovely and beautiful but you have to work your way up through the prickly bits to get there, as Alfred has done. "Sun and moon" – maybe focusing on how Alfred has always been the shining personality of the school, and Arthur in the shadows? Or how Arthur gets to bask in Alfred's real natural warm glow now that they're together, it's not just the artificial light of the golden boy popularity.
I really want to do something about green and blue. I mean, nobody doesn't notice their eyes – they've both got brilliant eyes – and it really lends itself to some nice imagery and comparison with the earth and the ocean and sky.
Arthur's fantastic green eyes are the earth. He's beautiful and mysterious like a deep forest, but also, like the earth itself, he's firm, stable, confident (stubborn). And yet, underneath it all, there's a churning fiery mass ready to erupt at any second. But it's still…home. Like the earth can be dangerous, but in the end, it's where we all belong, it's welcoming to us. So Arthur seems like a massive grump, but in reality, he's the most loyal and reliable and wonderful person you could ever get to know. If you take the time to work for it.
Then for Alfred, I don't know whether to think of him as the sky or the ocean. He works so well for both, and his eyes really are as blue as either. God, they're such a nice blue. Do you think you could get a picture for me? I'd love to try and paint them. Anyway, as I was saying, Alfred as the sky really fits because he's so open. Like the sky, he connects everyone because he can be friends with any sort of person. He's got big dreams and he's like a celebrity round here, so he's up high, like the sky. And he complements the Earth(Arthur) – you can't have one without the other, they need each other.
But I also like him as the ocean. On the surface it's beautiful and fun, and the deeper you go the more there is to learn and know, and the more enlightened you feel. It's really worth getting to know him, but it's very difficult to get too far. Only Arthur can do that. And again, the ocean and the earth fit together. They support and feed each other, they're part of this planet, they're necessary for this planet.
Just like the love between USUK is necessary for this world. Which it is! I mean, they're not my OTP, personally, but they sure do know how to work the fangirls. Without even knowing that they're doing it, of course. It just comes naturally to them – like they're characters straight out of an anime!
I'd also love to look into the theme of "OTP" itself, see if we can make that work. They mentioned Disney at the end, so there are a lot of potential references we could make with fairy tale romances and destined love. I think that would be really cute, and just highlight the fact that these two are so meant to be together. And then, of course, I heard them arguing over something about Romeo and Juliet when they were leaving the library – but I'm not sure how to work that in without it sounding too fluffy and childish. I mean Romeo and Juliet is a little cliché, even for me.
The problem is that I don't want it to come off as too innocent and cutesy because that would make the lemon afterwards feel really awkward. (I mean, if we go with lemon…) I just don't want us to shoot ourselves in the foot by making it all sweet and innocent with the Disney pairings theme, and then try and include sex after. That would be awkward and inappropriate.
It's tricky writing Arthur's tsundere-ness. I mean, he changes his tune every three seconds: one moment he's all big-eyed and blushing and dere-dere, the next he's pretending to be offended and angry just to save face. I know it's just because he feels self-conscious, it's not done out maliciousness – but it would wear me out if I were Alfred. But, then again, I suppose that boy has enough energy and persistence to work through Arthur's mood swings. Actually the challenge of figuring him out will probably keep Alfred entertained and interested and constantly on his toes, despite his short attention span. I have every expectation that they'll enjoy dancing around each other for many years to come, even though their feelings seem to all be out in the open now.
Besides, Alfred really does love Arthur, and Arthur is obviously faking the temper – everyone can see it – so I suppose it doesn't matter.
Well, my dear roommate has been suffering through my frantic typing for long enough this evening, and I am exhausted from all the excitement. Plus the anticipation for tomorrow! Oh…my…days… I mean, are they going to announce it to the whole school? When they were walking away in the library Alfred said he wanted to tell everyone – something about breaking down barriers? – but he hasn't even told you that he's dating Arthur yet. Maybe they're going to wait a while, but I hope it's not long. Perving in secret is fun, but it's making Angelique uncomfortable and I don't want to scare her way. She has proved to be invaluable to our cause! We would never have known there was a DIP KISS if she hadn't been able to get us that video!
I mean, a dip kiss! Goodness, Alfred is so adorkable.
Sure, Arthur gets through these dramatic moments by pretending to be grumpy and tsun tsun – which is pretty obviously cute. And because Alfred looks all cool and like he knows what he's doing, he seems in control. But in reality, he's just as clueless about how to act as Arthur is!
So how does he figure out what to do when he's confessing? He thinks about movies. What do they say in movies, what do they do in movies, how do they act in movies? He's a geek, so he turns to his fictional heroes for help! He doesn't know how to do a confession, so he thinks about how it happens at the cinema – cheesy lines, dazzling smiles, jokes, dip kisses. Yeah, it makes him look more charming and cool than Arthur, but he's just copying his movie heroes, which is just as cute as tsuntsun!Arthur.
I mean, A DIP KISS! Alfred, you beautiful boy! Just keep doing what you're doing and we'll reap all the benefits.
Well, Arthur will reap all the benefits.
Well, I guess that means Alfred will actually reap all the benefits. (Tee hee! Implications XD)
Either way, everybody wins because those two are together and in love.
And everything is beautiful and nothing hurts. Let us never forget.
P.S. Don't think I haven't noticed that you never gave us the details of your little "not-a-date" with Heracles, which kept you away from our special operative fangirl mission yesterday. When we got together to study the library audio and video recordings, you clearly wanted to fangirl over the sudden canon USUK. So I let it slide at the time and didn't pester you for info on your day with Heracles.
But know this Honda Kiku: by the end of the week you will spill everything.
SWEET DREAMS! X3
1. The Gentleman and The Hero Ask Blog
Yes! I have jumped on the bandwagon and started an ask blog for the characters.
Set in the present day (so several months after the events of the story, which took place in January 2012), Alfred and Arthur have started a blog on tumblr, to try to reach out to more students at school and teach them the joys of acceptance and tolerance.
At least, that was their noble purpose for the blog originally. But then Elizaveta told the yaoi fangirls of the web, and now it's just a blog where you can ask them whatever the heck you want.
I thought it would be a great way for you to hear more about their lives outside of the closed environment of their emails. So please feel free to come check it out, ask them your questions, and get some answers.
You can find it at:
ask-the-gentleman-and-the-hero .tumblr .com
(You know the drill, people: remove the spaces.)
2. Thank you.
Writing this story has been a great experience which I will never forget. And a large part of that is all thanks to my reviewers.
Thank you all from the bottom of my heart for reading/reviewing/enjoying the story!
You've made my life for the past few months, and I'm sorry I couldn't reply to everyone's reviews. It just started turning into a mission. I promise I read everything, and get feels from all your comments.
I've been obsessively reading USUK fanfics for the past several years, so I know what it's like to follow a fic that I love. I'm glad I could do that for other people, and become a more active part of the fandom.
Also, the only reason I've been able to hone my characterisation of Arthur and Alfred is because of everyone else's fanfics. If I can write the boys decently it's all because other people have created and shared great stories that gave me insight into the characters, and made me want to explore them more in my own stories.
So thank you to all the other writers out there who keep me entertained and emotional and chronically single, and loving every second of it.
3. Pimping myself (?)
Due to ffnet's crazy rampage, I will not be posting my next story (in fact, 2 or 3 hopefully upcoming things) on this site. Just out of sheer terror that they will be deleted with no warning just for containing some adult situations. I really don't like how they're treating us... So, if you ever want to read anything else by me, please check out my tumblr or Livejournal. Links to both are available on my profile page here.
Thanks again for reading my story!
~ Teenage Mouse