A/N: There needs to be more USCan! /shakefist

Forever And A Day

When they first meet, Matthew is nine and Alfred is ten and when the latter catches sight of the former's eyes, he sees the most prettiest indigo irises in his life. And perhaps that's too much, given his age, but surely something must have compelled him to walk up to the lonely boy sitting on the swings and ask: "Aren't you cold?"

It's winter and the sky is dark with the promises of a soon-to-come snowfall. The park is deserted save for the two of them, but Alfred doesn't mind so much. Matthew is only wearing a cotton long-sleeved shirt and faded jeans and gray sneakers.

He sits next to the boy and reaches over, offering him one end of his scarf. (It's littered with red, white, and blue stripes - quite patriotic, really.) He offers his name and a smile along with the gesture, "I'm Alfred."

Matthew glances sideways and, at the other boy's expression, softens. He takes the end of the long scarf and wraps it around his neck. "I'm Matthew."

He smiles behind the red-white-and-blue fabric.

When Matthew is eleven and Alfred is twelve, they meet each other in school. Matthew is in sixth grade and Alfred is in seventh; they make eye contact in the crowded hallway, just two strangers who happen to pass each other by on the first day of that school year. Then a second later, familiarity strikes (those pretty indigo eyes) and Alfred grins at the other boy.

Matthew smiles back shyly and even waves.

Alfred purposely turns to walk next to him, their feet falling into synchronized steps. He's supposed to be heading down the opposite side of the hall, but he has Matthew and he finds the boy more important. He's never been good with priorities, anyway.

He shows him the way to the science room - it's Matthew's first day in the middle school, after all - chattering all the way.

("I can't believe we're going to the same school! And you look different from the last time I saw you, you know. I almost didn't recognize you! But then you looked at me and I told myself, Hey, haven't I seen those pretty eyes bef-")

And when he realizes that he's rambling too much, his cheeks redden and he splutters over his next few words. "A-Anyway! This is the science room, so you should probably go in now. I have to get to class, too, but I hope we see each other a lot in the hallway!"

"All right," Matthew says softly. "Thanks for the help, Al." He offers him a small, grateful smile.

Alfred beams. "No problem! It's the hero's job to help others, after all!" he exclaims.

They depart and Alfred walks away, trying to ignore his drumming heart.

When Matthew is thirteen and Alfred is fourteen, the latter suffers (or maybe benefits) from his first fantasy. He dreams that he is walking with Matthew in a white, white room; just walking to nowhere in particular, hand-in-hand. Then Matthew suddenly turns to him and presses their lips together in the sweetest way imaginable, and Alfred wakes up with a faceful of his pillow.

At school, Matthew is waiting patiently for him at his locker. When he catches sight of the older boy, he smiles, waves, and calls, "Hi, Al."

Ignoring the blush on his own cheeks, Alfred tries to wave back with a slightly strangled-sounding, "Hey, Mattie."

He decides that these feelings are probably not normal.

When Matthew is fourteen and Alfred is fifteen, Matthew is starting to come out of his metaphorical shell and starts to quip witty remarks. He's transformed from a small, rather effeminate-looking boy to a hockey player who's a little taller, whose cheeks are a little more angled, whose fingers are more calloused from so much writing, whose dimples are starting to show from smiling so much.

Alfred grows out his Superman t-shirts and transitions to wearing Letterman jackets, faded jeans, and converse. He hasn't lost his innocent boy charm, as he is told, and only laughs awkwardly when someone mentions it.

They both have to get glasses.

They become next door neighbors after Matthew's parents decide that it was time for a change. Matthew steps out from their car holding a suitcase, then is promptly tackled by his overexcited friend.

"I can't believe you're moving in next door, Mattie!" Alfred is almost shouting in glee.

Mrs. Williams glances at the two boys and smiles fondly.

"C-Can't breathe, Al..." Matthew croaks.

Alfred relinquishes his (death) grip on the younger boy with a sheepish smile. "Sorry!" He doesn't sound very repentant. "Do you guys need help moving in? The hero can help!"

So he spends the rest of the afternoon helping carry furniture into Matthew's new house, inwardly delighting at whenever his arm brushes Matthew's and when he happens to find those indigo eyes staring at him.

He realizes that these feelings really aren't normal.

When Matthew is sixteen and Alfred is seventeen, they are practically inseparable. Borders become blurred: Alfred doesn't have to knock when he enters Matthew's house and bedroom, and Matthew finds himself coming over to the other's house more often.

One morning, Alfred wakes up from a dream that leaves Matthew's name just on the tip of his tongue. His eyes flutter shut and he basks in the afterglow of the rather nice illusion - it was a field of flowers this time, and he and Matthew were lying together side by side.

That's when he realizes that he's in love with Matthew Williams.

On Valentine's Day, Alfred asks to meet up underneath the bleachers after school. Matthew does so curiously, although not complaining, and when he's finally standing close enough, Alfred places his hands on his shoulders, leans down, and kisses him.

Matthew kisses back and Alfred almost jumps in joy.

When they pull away, Alfred says, "I really like you."

Matthew laughs. "No, really?" he counters breathlessly.

When Matthew is seventeen and Alfred is eighteen, they celebrate their first anniversary. Alfred isn't shy about their relationship and proudly announces the moment they walk through the school's entrance: "Mattie and I have been dating for a year!"

Most of the students just smile to themselves and shake their heads - not that Alfred cares about what they think.

He's too busy relishing in the way Matthew's cheeks tint pink from the outburst.

After school, he takes him out on their thirty-seventh date (not that he's counting) to a little diner.

"Two mugs of hot chocolates, please," Alfred tells the waitress with a cheeky smile, and the woman takes one look at their intertwined hands on the table before smiling and leaving to get their order.

"Hm, no burgers this time?" Matthew asks teasingly, indigo eyes crinkled in a smile behind wiry-framed glasses.

"No pancakes this time?" Alfred returns, and smiles and strokes his hand.

"You ordered for us before I had the chance to ask."

"I was trying to be helpful, Mattie. That's what heroes do best, after all."

And yes, he admittedly hasn't grown out of his strange hero complex. But Matthew tells him that it's kind of cute, so he finds that he doesn't really care.

By the time they've finished their hot chocolate, it's dark out. By the time Alfred pulls up in front of their houses, it's raining.

He opens the door for Matthew like a real gentleman, and, once they're outside, presents him a promise ring.

Matthew chokes out a yes before nearly bursting into tears, hugging Alfred tightly.

The agreement is further sealed with a kiss under the rain.

That night, they make love.

When Matthew is eighteen and Alfred is nineteen, the latter has graduated and moved out to be closer to the college he'd chosen. Sometimes it's Matthew who visits his apartment, and sometimes it's Alfred who drops by and bursts into his room (just like the old days), but neither can deny that they aren't seeing each other as much as they used to.

Alfred drives two hours just to watch Matthew graduate, remembering to bring a camera to take pictures of his boyfriend making the valedictorian speech.

Matthew's parents tell their son how proud they are, and Alfred shouts over the cheers of other students, "I love you."

Matthew smiles and kisses him and whispers against their lips, "I love you too."

When Matthew is twenty and Alfred is twenty one, they have both left the neighborhood that they grew up together in. They live a state apart, attending their respective colleges.

Matthew goes to his classes everyday with a folded picture of Alfred in his pocket, and Alfred goes to sleep every night thinking of soft golden tresses and indigo hues.

They see each other sparingly, both slowly becoming engrossed with studies - Matthew pursues literature; Alfred peruses himself with medicine - and their forty-ninth date comes seven grueling months after their forty-eighth.

(Alfred really isn't counting.)

"I wish we lived closer," Matthew sighs, leaning his head on Alfred's shoulder. He fits neatly into the older man's side. "I miss you so much."

A cool autumn breeze floats by; Alfred feels Matthew shiver, so he wraps an arm around him. "Same," he says, a hint of weariness creeping into voice. "I want to carry your house and then put it next to mine."

"What about college?"

"I'll carry those, too. I'm a hero, after all."

Matthew laughs. "I keep asking myself when you're going to grow out of that hero complex."

"I thought you said it was cute?" Alfred says with a mock pout.

Matthew just smiles warmly before turning and kissing him. There are some children who stop to wonder what they're doing, but Alfred really could care less at that moment - Matthew's kisses have never failed to short-circuit his brain.

That night, Matthew comes home with him to his apartment. They sit on the couch and watch a horror movie.

What starts out as Alfred clinging to Matthew for dear life turns into wandering hands, which turns into lingering touches, which eventually leads to the two of them completely ignoring the movie in favor of becoming one in the most intimate way possible.

The next morning, Alfred watches with a self-satisfied smirk as Matthew rushes to get dressed, unable to hide the slight limp in his gait.

When Matthew is twenty four and Alfred is twenty five, the former surprises the latter by appearing on his doorstep one morning. At his feet, there are several bags, and when Alfred splutters, "Wh-What?" Matthew merely shrugs and answers, "I managed to graduate early."

Alfred takes three seconds to stare confusedly before his lover's words finally sink in; then he surges forward and practically tackles the other blond in a giant hug.

"God, I love you," he murmurs into his hair.

Matthew's arms tighten around him. "I just missed you too much."

When Matthew is twenty five and Alfred is twenty six, Alfred gets his first job and they celebrate by drinking for the first time. Surprisingly, it's Matthew who first suggests the idea. Alfred grins - "That's a great idea, Mattie!" - and subsequently buys a six pack of beer (and a bottle of wine, at Matthew's insistence).

That same night, they get utterly smashed.

Alfred wakes up the next morning in a swarm of sheets and empty cans alike, half naked, his head pounding with the worst headache ever. But then he glances down next to him at the slumbering angel in his arms and feels a little bit better.

An hour and several painkillers later, Matthew is cooking pancakes in nothing but an apron and low-riding pajama pants.

Suddenly, Alfred's hangover isn't that bad anymore.

When Matthew is twenty six and Alfred is twenty seven, they go on their sixty-fifth date.

When they get home from the Italian restaurant, Alfred gets down on one knee and asks meekly if Matthew would like to be the Lois Lane to his Superman.

Matthew, smiling widely through teary eyes, affectionately calls him a moron before saying yes.

With the slip of the ring onto his finger, they become engaged.

When Matthew is twenty seven and Alfred is twenty eight, they have their first fight. Alfred comes home from a stressful day at the hospital; Matthew continuously asks him if he's all right.

"I'm fine!" Alfred abruptly snaps. "Just leave me alone right now, okay?"

"I just want to make sure you're okay," Matthew says, hurt evident across his face. "If you want me to leave you alone, you could have said so without yelling."

Alfred doesn't reply, coldly ignoring him as he fills out the last bits of paperwork.

Matthew avoids him for the rest of the night.

When the older man finally resigns himself to bed, he wraps his arms around his lover from behind and whispers into his shoulder, "I'm sorry."

Matthew keeps his eyes shut and pretends to be asleep, but he does put his hand over Alfred's and squeezes it, a gesture that speaks, I forgive you.

Come morning, Alfred has his arms wrapped protectively around Matthew and Matthew is pressed snug against Alfred's bare chest.

They both forget about the silly fight.

When Matthew is twenty eight and Alfred is twenty nine, they go to a rather formal ball as their seventy-ninth date. There, Alfred gets down on one knee in the middle of the dance floor and asks Matthew if he would spend the rest of his life with him.

(It's been two years and maybe another ring wasn't necessary, but Alfred buys another nonetheless just so he can feel that warm feeling when Matthew says yes again.)

Matthew speak; he instead smashes their lips together, the affirmative lost in the kiss, and Alfred relishes in sliding the sparkling ring onto his soon-to-be husband's finger.

When Matthew is twenty nine and Alfred is thirty, they finish settling in their new house in California. Two weeks later, they have finalized their marriage plans. A month later, they're standing in front of the altar, reciting their vows.

("I promise to love you more than my comic books, fantasize about you more than flying like Superman, cook chicken soup for you when you're sick, and not complain about when you get bossy, because sometimes, it's kind of hot."

Answered by:

"I promise to love you more than pancakes and maple syrup ["Pfft, yeah right!"], keep my bossiness to a minimum, hold you when we're watching a scary movie, and kiss you when you're looking at my lips."

"I'm afraid I don't know what you're talking about, Mattie."

"Alfred, I've known you for twenty years now. Trust me, I would know.")

And when the priest finally tells them that they may kiss, Alfred gladly does.

Their respective parents wipe tears from their eyes, smiling at their boys. Some of their old classmates (a woman named Elizaveta, in particular) cheer loudly.

"Hey," Alfred whispers between their lips, looking intently down on pretty indigo eyes, "do you think I can count this as a date?"

Matthew looks curiously up at him at the question, although a smile tugs at his mouth. "Sure," he says, just to indulge his lover (best friend, boyfriend, husband).

"Great." Alfred beams. "Because then that would make this our one hundredth date." And before Matthew can laugh at the silliness of that simple proclamation ("You've been counting?"), he leans down and captures his lips again.

Matthew finds himself lost in the sweet kiss under falling rose petals.

When Matthew is thirty five and Alfred is thirty six, they sit together on their porch, a photo album filled with memories open across their laps. It's begun to snow, white little snowflakes dancing in the air, and Alfred should feel cold. But he doesn't, knowing that he has Matthew there beside him.

An old, tattered scarf hangs between them.

He smiles behind the red-white-and-blue fabric.