"Hey, Mattie? You seem a little...off. You okay?"

Matthew shook his head, blinking a bit as his mind wandered back to reality. He let out a small yawn from his mouth before offering a faint smile, tilting his head a bit. "Oh, yeah, I'm fine. Why?"

Alfred chuckled lightly, pointing at his hand. "You're...kind of letting your ice cream melt."

It took Matthew a moment but he jumped a little bit upon realizing that Alfred was right, and he held out his hand away from him so the sticky, sweet substance wouldn't drip on him anymore than he already had. He found his napkin and took the cone into his other hand, then upon realizing that it didn't do much good, handed it to his brother.

It was sort of nice, sitting in the park and eating ice cream with his brother as though they were kids. It had been ages since the two of them had actually sat down and done something together, and even if Matthew half resented Alfred for not being around all the time, he couldn't help but enjoy this moment.

He began to wipe the ice cream off his hand when Alfred spoke up again. "You sure you're okay? I mean, no offense little brother, but you seem like, out there. Like outer space out there. What's bothering you?"

The Canadian shook his head again, folding the napkin up and clutching onto it in his hand. "It's nothing, really. Nothing you should worry about at least. I'm okay."

"Somehow, I don't believe you," Alfred rolled his eyes, giving him a not so gentle nudge with his elbow. "Come on, spit it out. What's shaking, man?"

Matthew scooted away just a bit for good measure. "It's just..." he bit his lip, thinking of what was proper to say and what wasn't.

Truth be told, there was a lot bothering him. First of all, it bothered him to no end that Alfred seemed to waltz in and out of his life without a care in the world, coming and going as he pleased, leaving Matthew to worry about the apartment all on his own. He rarely called to give him a heads up or left him a note, or even a text message. Which always left him to worry, even if Alfred always insisted that he was fine and that Arthur, his significant other, was kind enough every so often to give him a buzz. But that shouldn't have been Arthur's job. And that was quite annoying.

Then there was the matter of Matthew's date tomorrow. Sheesh, how long had it been since he'd been on a date? Actually, had he ever? He distinctly remembered one where he went out with a Ukrainian girl, whom he remembered to be very lovely and sweet, but the two of them mutually agreed that it felt off to both of them, and just decided to go back down to being friends. (Which he still was, they chatted and got together whenever time allowed.)

But nevertheless, how could he even tell Alfred about it? Sure, Alfred was his brother and all, but still, did that really mean he could tell him, and ask for advice? Alfred was rarely even present in his life save for the few visits here and there, like today. How could he trust him to answer honestly? He had a boyfriend, true, but it still felt off to ask advice. Alfred felt like sort of a stranger to him right now, at the very least.

"Alfred, I'm just...nervous, okay? Can we leave it at that?"

"What? No!" Alfred looked at the two ice cream cones in his hands longingly for a moment before throwing them down, earning a small scowl from the Canadian himself. Alfred put one of his now free hands on his shoulder, giving him the most concerned look he'd seen on him in ages. "Why are you nervous?"

The younger of the two shrugged, running his fingers through his hair. "I...I have a date tomorrow, all right? And I just haven't been on one in a really long time, not since Kat, so..."

The American grinned a bit. "That was ages ago. But lucky her! How'd you score that one, little brother?"

Matthew put his face in his hands. "It's not a her. It's a he."

"What?"

"It's a boy, Alfred! I'm going on a date with a boy."

There was a pause. "Oh...oh, oh, right," Alfred removed his hand from his shoulder, taking a small pause, as he laced his fingers together. He set them on his knees, shaking them gently. "Oh. Well, still, good for you!"

"You don't sound so happy anymore."

"No, no, I am, really, Matt," he quickly said, and then looked back to him. "You just surprised me, 's all. I mean, I totally thought you were into girls, no offense. But if you're into guys that's okay too! I mean look at Artie and I, come on I mean-"

"Alfred," Matthew interrupted. "It's not the fact that it's a boy I'm worried about. I don't think I love him. I'm not sure I even like him. He's just this guy that kept showing up at work, and he wouldn't leave me alone until I agreed to go on a date with him. He told me to give him one try and he said if I didn't feel anything for him after that, he'd go away and leave me be. So finally I snapped and gave him my number."

He took a sharp inhale of breath, waiting for a retaliation before looking up, and he felt his heart sink as Alfred ran his fingers through his hair, clearly looking a bit distressed. "Matt..."

"I got nervous, okay? I mean, like I know how to handle that. He kept asking, what was I supposed to do?"

"Tell someone?"

"Al."

"What?" Alfred rolled his eyes again, tone changing slightly. "Mattie, you have no idea what this guy is like. For all you know he could be some drug dealer who plans to murder you after this so called "date". I don't like this, Mattie."

"He said his name is Gilbert and he's in college, though he didn't tell me his major. He's German and he's twenty-one."

"And you believed him?"

"He didn't give me a reason not to."

Alfred let out an audible groan, clearly displeased with Matthew's course of action. He sat back on the park bench, putting his hands over his mouth, and let out a very agitated sounding sigh before sitting back up and glaring. "Jeez, Mattie. When he said he wanted to date you without knowing you, was a very good reason, thank you very much!"

"Says the guy who chased Arthur around like a puppy until he agreed to go to coffee!"

"That's different!"

"How so?"

He grabbed the Canadian by the shoulders and shook him lightly. "Matt! We're not talking about me! We're talking about you! This guy sounds completely insane, and I don't like the idea of you seeing him! Please cancel on him, and if he bothers you again, I'll deal with him."

Matthew pulled his hands off his shoulders. "Alfred, I'm not a kid anymore. I can handle this. Trust me, I'm not going anywhere with him where there aren't any people around. I'm making sure we're going to fully public places where he can't try anything. I'll be fine."

He could see how conflicted the American was in his eyes, how they seemed to shift left to right, almost as if in a frenzy. That was one thing he could at least trust about Alfred, he worried about him and for that, he was mostly grateful.

"...Okay. But if he tries anything, anything, you give me a buzz and I'll be there so fast...!"

"I got it Al, I got it."

Alfred gave him a soft, hesitant smile before ruffling his hair, and then his smile broadened to a grin. "Then I hope it goes well, little brother. I hope it goes well."

Matthew bit his lower lip, then returned the gesture with half the effort. "Me too."


After that, the brothers stuck around for a while to catch up with one another, talking about whatever and whenever they'd done things, Alfred's part of the conversation drifting back to Arthur somehow, which Matthew found both annoying and endearing all in one bundle.

Matthew, usually stuck to how his own college work was going, and hinted on how he was struggling to maintain both the grades to pass and to work, which Alfred, if he noticed, kept quiet about. Matthew didn't honestly mind, for he couldn't think of anything worse than hearing some sort of sympathy from his elder brother.

Eventually, time waned and the brothers headed back, in which on the drive Alfred told Matthew about how his own schooling was going and how he'd gone from working at one place to another, apparently now working at some sort of music store. It would've been nice to know that earlier, Matthew thought, but Alfred promised that he would be home more often, though the younger decided not to hold his breath, just in case.

Other than that, Matthew was very content with just having his brother around. Being the only family he had left, he could hate him all he wanted while he was gone, but when he was around he drained the sweet water of having a family member to hang around with. As independent as he strove to be, it was nice to rely on someone for your happiness every now and again.

When finally night came, Matthew popped the question.

"Alfred?"

"Hm?"

He laced his fingers together, trying to keep himself from fidgeting. "Alfred, I know you don't want me seeing Gilbert and all, but...but is there any advice to...you know, get this to go well? Just in case I...do end up liking him?"

Matthew didn't think it would honestly happen, that he would like Gilbert, but he wanted to be prepared, just in case. He felt a little guilty for asking such a question, and could clearly see yet again how conflicted Alfred was, torn between giving good advice to help his younger brother, and protecting him all the same. But finally, he smiled, and then gave a small shrug of his shoulders.

"Just be yourself. Gotta love that."

And then, with nothing else, he went to bed, leaving Matthew to be frustrated, yet so happy with the answer.


oH MY GOD

So after nearly a year of not updating, I present to you (finally), the next installment of Courtly Persistence.

You'll have to forgive me. I've just been seriously off my rocker with PruCan lately, but it's thankfully come back and it makes me so happy! I don't really know what happened, I got a burst of inspiration for this and decided to run with it, and then, about half an hour later, it's here!

I'm actually really happy with the way this turned out (sorry it's not too long), but because I wanted to show that despite how Alfred's presence is not always in Matthew's life, that he really does strive to care because I have seen too many fics where he doesn't, which is opposite of what I think.

So basically I wanted to take the time to use this chapter to sort of tie up a few loose ends, and establish some work between the brothers. Next chapter is the date! Which, will hopefully be longer.

Also if I've made an error somewhere, please correct me! Like I said, it's been nearly a year and so much has happened lately. Plus, I do believe my writing style has changed quite a bit since I last wrote this, so hopefully you can overlook it.

Anyway, to anyone who still reads this fic, I thank you, and hopefully this will keep you going until next update! Which will hopefully be very soon (PruCan to come!)

Read and review~?

-IchigoMelon