Edit: Thanks to everyone who pointed out that I accidentally used "Gilbert" instead of "Arthur" a few times ;w; I wrote this at three AM while writing another story at the same time so I got confused I think -o-
"Can you lie next to [him], and give [him] your heart, your heart…?
As well as your body;
And can you lie next to [him] and confess your love, your love….?
As well as your folly…"
Alfred slept in his own bed that evening, although for some reason his felt an ache in his heart, almost as if something was missing. He couldn't get Arthur out of his mind, the way his blonde hair had looked when he'd left, sticking out every which way, and the smiles he'd given Alfred that had seemed so different from all the others. The tender kisses they'd shared, the way he'd let Alfred sleep curled up on top of him, the gentle caresses and light kisses he had peppered him with…it had all felt so perfect in that moment, in that blissful, hazy moment after they'd made love. For the first time, he had felt all those silly clichés, the butterflies the flittered around his stomach, his heart skipping beat, the tightness in his chest when he thought of the other men Arthur had to sleep with-he was actually jealous. He dreamt of Arthur that night once he'd finally drifted off to sleep, a pleasant dream, of them at a seaside, Arthur scolding him as he splashed the shorter man, walking down the beach with their fingers laced together loosely, watching the sun set into the water…he recognized the beach, it was one that his mother had taken him to as a child over in California, several hours away from their little town. It was the place that he'd always associated good memories with, and had always wanted to bring a date to…and now he wanted to bring Arthur there. That meant…oh, hell.
He loved Arthur.
But Arthur was a prostitute….he made money selling his body to strangers, and anyone with a lick of sense would know better than to give your heart to someone like that. He'd always been taught through movies and books that prostitutes couldn't love…but then what would that look in Arthur's eyes be? When he looked at Alfred…it seemed like he saw only him, like he was the only thing that mattered. Alfred sighed, forcing himself to get out of bed and shower, groaning as he got dressed in his work clothes. His shift started at 5am that day…and in the end he didn't get off until 5pm the next day. First he had just been making up for what he had missed out on when he was "sick", but then one of his co-workers hadn't shown up and so his boss had "asked" him to pick up the other man's shift as well. When he finally stumbled onto the bus that evening he was practically dead on his feet, having ended up working about 36 almost straight hours. He dozed off briefly on the bus, one of the people shaking him when he got to his stop (which happened to be the end of the route). He shuffled off the bus, hardly paying attention to his surroundings at all…until someone grabbed his shoulder just as he made it to his apartment building. The man was older, with a bit of a beer belly and smelling strongly of alcohol-Alfred squirmed, trying to tug back his arm, the world seeming to swim for a moment.
"Hey there, what's a cute l'il thang like you doing so far from the house? 'S it your night off?" The man slurred, leaning in closer to him. "How 'bout you make an exception fer me…I can pay ya real handsome."
"Ah, n-no sir, I'm afraid you're mistaken, I'm not from th-there, I live here, now if you'll excuse me I must be going-"
Alfred tried tugging away from him, but he was so exhausted and the man was bigger than he was. The drunkard just sneered, tugging him closer and gripping onto his wrist painfully tight.
"Wasn't 'xactly giving you an option-if I pay ya, it should be fine, yeah?"
He dragged Alfred away from the steps to the alley at the side of the building, and no one stopped him-in this part of town, no one would assume it was anything but a business transaction. Alfred tried screaming, but the man shoved a grubby hand over his mouth, his other hand undoing the buttons of Alfred's shirt. He removed his hand, but not a moment later his lips crushed onto Alfred's, the smaller squirming beneath him helplessly. He felt tears pricking in his eyes, closing them and trying to distance himself from what was happening, but then the man just reached back and groped his butt which made him gasp, drawing him back. The man just smirked against Alfred's lips, drawing back and running his hand down Alfred's chest to his pants, but before he could get the button undone Alfred stared screaming, as loudly as he could. The man scowled, covering his mouth with his hand roughly.
"Little bitch! I oughtta-"
"Get the fuck away from him!"
Alfred's heart skip a beat at the sound of Arthur's voice, several tears slipping down his cheeks from a mixture of relief and sudden worry for the smaller man. Arthur looked pissed, however, and while he was small his emerald eyes were glinting dangerously and his stance spoke of experience in the area of street fighting.
"What the fuck do you think you're doing? He's not some slut you can catch a quick one with, and there's a place down the street for bastards like you if you want some arse, but he's off limits, you hear?"
"A-Artie..?" Alfred gasped once the man had removed his hand, sliding down the wall a bit, his legs shaking.
"Piss off, shorty." The man grumbled, glaring at Arthur, but the smaller man just scowled, darting forward and slamming the other man up against the wall, his arm across his throat. The man gasped for air, but Arthur's eyes were hardened emeralds, holding a fierce anger in their depths that surprised Alfred. He gasped softly when the man started gasping and choking for air, reaching out and touching Arthur's shoulder.
"A-Arthur, don't, you'll kill him! J-just let him go, I don't want to see you getting in t-trouble or put in jail…"
Arthur gave him a look, growling under his breath as he turned his gaze back to the man, releasing him rather reluctantly and shoving him to the ground with a look of disgust.
"Get the fuck out of my sight."
The man took the opportunity to run away as quickly as he could back down the alley. Arthur watched to make sure he was gone before turning back to Alfred, his features softening and worry clear in his green eyes.
"Are you alright, Alfred? He didn't hurt you did, he-I swear, if that wanker hurt you I'm going to-"
"N-no, Artie, he didn't hurt me…he just t-touched me, and I couldn't shake him off, I've been working since…since yesterday morning…" He leaned forward onto Arthur, trembling slightly and clutching onto his shirt. "Thanks for saving me, Artie."
Arthur frowned a bit worriedly shaking his head and holding Alfred close.
"Don't worry, Alfred, it was no trouble at all…why don't I help you up to your apartment, you look completely bushed."
Alfred just nodded a bit, chuckling at Arthur's odd wording and the slight accent that was still discernible when Arthur was worried or upset. He let Arthur loop his arm around his shoulder, his head drooping onto Arthur's shoulder as he helped him into the elevator, Alfred telling him what floor and apartment number. Arthur fished the key out of the pocket of his jacket and then helped him over to his bed, his cheeks flushing pink as Arthur helped him out of his work clothes and leaving him in only his boxers. He closed his eyes wearily, practically asleep already, but then he felt Arthur's weigh lift from the bed and he reached out automatically, grabbing onto his sleeve. His eyes opened a crack, his vision blurred since his glasses weren't on-when did Arthur take those off? He couldn't remember.
"Could you…I mean, do you mind…staying with me? I know it's prolly a lot t' ask but…it'd make me feel better, jus' having you here…" He yawned widely, his eyes fluttering shut again and his words starting to slur from pure exhaustion. "Mm an' set my alarm to seven….got work 'n the morning."
"Of course I'll stay." Arthur said and stripped off his jacket, t-shirt and jeans. He sighed softly as he sat back down on the bed, changing Alfred's alarm to the correct time before he laid down next to him, Alfred immediately snuggling up close and wrapping his arms around him snugly.
"As I said, it's nothing…" Arthur whispered, unable to help the small smile on his lips as he kissed Alfred's forehead, stroking his hair gently. "Get some sleep, love…it's ridiculous, him expecting to work so early after working for so many hours. Your boss sounds like an absolute twat."
"I'll be fine, Artie…" Alfred mumbled sleepily, nuzzling up against his shoulder. "'sides, it means I get more money…maybe…just maybe one day I can get out of here…just maybe…"
Arthur couldn't help smiling fondly at the little smile on Alfred's face, the way his finger's relaxed and his features softening as the exhaustion finally caught up with him. His legs had ended up tangled with Arthur's at some point, and his arms were wrapped firmly around his waist, almost as if he were a giant teddy bear. He sighed softly, brushing his golden bangs back slightly-Alfred really was just a child, and he looked so young when he was asleep. Arthur wasn't exactly sure how old…but he couldn't have been more than twenty. He sighed again, closing his eyes. It made him sad to see someone so young, with the burdens and eyes of an older man. He should have been at college, not working illegal hours for some bastard who probably made more in a month than Alfred made in several years. He frowned to himself, not entirely sure why he felt so protective Alfred, or why he had been so frightened earlier…no, he knew full well what it was, but he refused to admit it, even to himself. He was a man of the night, after all…he couldn't afford to love.
"There, you've seen it, shouldn't you get going now?"
"Not until I've at least spoken to this arsehole you work for."
Arthur just walked into the building, Alfred following him with a rather frustrated sigh. He had woken up that morning, still rather exhausted, but got ready for work anyway. Arthur woke up just as he was getting out of the shower (Arthur making a rather lewd comment that set his face on fire), and then he noticed Alfred yawning, and the deep bags under his bright cerulean eyes and he stated that he was following Alfred to work, and he wouldn't take any objections. He wanted to complain to his boss, telling him to stop working Alfred so hard, but Alfred had been trying to convince him not to the entire bus ride over. Arthur, however, seemed rather determined.
"Alfred, that git had you working for thirty-six hours! Not only is that illegal, but it's dangerous to your health-and then to ask you to come in the next morning?"
"Money is money, Artie-'sides, I can't afford to lose this job." Alfred replied, shrugging as he walked into the small room where the Janitors' supplies and lockers were kept. "You really should get going before my boss finds you, he won't appreciate you following me in here."
"Not until I give that wanker a piece of my mind." Arthur huffed, and Alfred just looked at him, shoving his small bag into the locker and removing his coat. He sighed, going over to clock in at the machine on the wall.
"You'll just cause unnecessary tro-"
The door swung open and Alfred froze as a man walked in, his black hair gleaming with product and his suit crisply ironed. He smiled at Alfred, although it held no warmth or actual affection.
"Ah, Jones, there you are, I was just about to-Arthur? What are you doing here?"
Said blonde had frozen as well, staring at Alfred's boss with a look of horror and recognition. His boss, whose name was Mr. Sherwin, just gave him a look, everyone silent for a long, tense moment before Alfred cleared his throat nervously.
"Ah, did you need me, sir?"
"Hm? Oh, I was just checking to make sure you were coming in." Sherwin said distractedly, still looking at Arthur, and then he reached forward, grabbing Arthur's wrist and pulling him away out of the room. "Now, Arthur, why don't we go discuss something in my office."
"Wait! I'll only go with you if you give him the day off, paid!" Arthur blurted out without entirely thinking, and he could see Alfred's jaw dropping almost in horror. Sherwin just gave him a looked, frowning.
"He had a day off just a couple days ago-"
"Please, sir…he worked over thirty hours the past two days, he's not going to do very well as tired as he is."
"There's never been a problem before, and I don't see how it's any of your business." The man grumbled, but then he sighed and waved his hand in dismissal. "Fine, one day…but I expect you in work bright and early Sunday, Jones, you hear?"
Alfred could do nothing but nod, staring as his boss dragged Arthur out of the room, the other shooting him a very small smile before the door shut behind them. He put back on his jacket and grabbed his small bag, heading out of the building, but instead of heading straight home he sat on one of the benches out in the front of the building. He was worried about Arthur, not really liking the way Sherwin had looked at him, and grabbed him…so he figured he'd just wait outside for him. He must have dozed off because next thing he knew Arthur was standing right in front of him, looking completely worn out.
"What are you still doing here, Al?" he groaned, shaking his head. "You should have gone home, something could have happened with you sleeping here."
"Ah, I-I'm sorry, I was just waiting-what happened to your face?" Alfred gasped, shooting to his feet and cupping Arthur's cheek gently, the cheek slightly swollen and reddened…like someone had hit him. He frowned in concern. "Did he hurt you? Oh, dear, we should get ice on that…and maybe you should rest, you look worn out-come back to my place, I'll fix you up and then you can nap for a bit."
Arthur was silent, letting Alfred drag him along to the bus stop and then up to his apartment. He was quiet the entire time, even when Alfred tried to talk to him or ask him anything…he seemed almost defeated, in a way. Alfred didn't know why, but he swore he'd find out, after he got Arthur's face tended to and had him take a shower, wrapping him up in his favourite robe which only made Arthur seem that much smaller. Alfred left him to get dressed, grabbing some ice from the fridge, but when he came back instead of taking the ice Arthur simply tugged him down onto the bed…and starting sobbing into his shirt. Alfred put his arms around him immediately, rubbing his back in soothing circles, rather shocked by the outburst.
"Artie? Arthur, what's wrong, are you okay-did he hurt you somewhere else?"
"N-no…well, kind of, but it's not that he h-hurt me, it's just…f-fuck…." Arthur choked, burying his face in Alfred's shirt, his voice slightly muffled. "I don't know wh-when, but….I'm going to have to l-leave you, Al, you won't ever s-see me again…I won't be able to s-see you, and I…I'm scared, Alfred, I've only been scared a few times, but…th-this is by far the worst."
"What? What on earth are you talking about…?" Alfred said, his eyebrows furrowing as he frowned deeply, holding Arthur closer to his chest, still rubbing circles into his back gently. "Leaving…did something happen? It isn't…" his eyes widened as suddenly everything seemed to fall into place, the way his boss had looked at him, his possessiveness, the letter he'd been delivering... "Oh, God, oh Arthur, no….no, you can't let him have you! He's not a good man, he….you just can't!"
"I have to!" Arthur cried, his voice choked. "D-don't you think I know what kind of man he is? I don't want to go with him, Al, believe me, but he'd offered to pay a decent money to the house in exchange for my body…I can't turn down that money, Alfred. Some of those people are like family for me, and that money would help with improving conditions for them. If I can do this for them…then I will."
"But what about you, Arthur?" Alfred whispered, his own eyes tearing up at the defeated, almost hollow look in Arthur's eyes. "Can't you be happy too? There…there's got to be a better way to help your friends, something, anything other than giving yourself to that man. I'll even do all I can, I'll donate whatever excess money I have after rent and food. I'll…I'll figure out something, but you just can't do this."
"No, Alfred, I can't ask you to do that, I won't." Arthur said softly, closing his eyes so he didn't have to see the sad, tear filled blue orbs above him. "From what I can tell, especially giving your living conditions, you hardly have enough to support yourself. Alfred, I…why are you even bothering to help me so much, to give up so much for me…we barely even know each other. It's not like I don't appreciate the sentiment, but I just can't understand it. I'm scum, a whore, the lowest of the low, and you're a bright kid, and upstanding citizen, who's incredibly handsome, why…why would you waste your time and money on me?"
"Because….because you make me feel like I haven't in years." Alfred whispered, looking down but keeping his hand on Arthur's cheek, taking a deep breath before he continued. "Ever since my parents died, I've focused on simply only doing what I had to survive, to get food and keep a roof over my head, but…b-but when I'm with you, I actually feel happy, and I want to take care of you, I want you to be happy too, because I…I think I love you." He bit his lip, his eyes watering more. "But it's foolish to love someone like you…and expect you to actually love me back."
Arthur looked up finally, and Alfred could see him tense up, almost as if he wanted to believe that he hadn't heard him right, that Alfred had been lying.
"No…no, Alfred, God, no, please don't tell me that now….fucking hell." He choked, covering his face with his hands. "It's going to make it that much harder to leave you. You shouldn't love me, don't, I'm…I'm not worth it, I'm not worth a single ounce of your thoughts or a space in your heart, Alfred. I'm a whore, a filthy slut, I'm one to be used and then cast aside, not loved…why can't you just be like everyone else, fuck…"
"I'm sorry….I-I'm sorry, I know I shouldn't have said it, it just came out…" Alfred bit his lower lip harder, enough to break the skin. "But I don't think that you're scum, or that you're not worth anything…I think you deserve far more than you have, far more than a penniless kid like me could give you…b-but I'd try, and…fuck, I don't even know anymore." Alfred rested his head on Arthur's shoulder so that he couldn't see his face, see the tears and the sad frown. "I can't control who captures my heart…b-but I know that if you hadn't come around, I'd probably have never loved again, I would have lived out the rest of my life alone, simply working my life away. It's not like my life is going anywhere, and…hell, if I hadn't gotten this job, then…I would have ended up like you, Arthur. I've considered it before, several times….I may have once been a bright, upstanding kid, who could have had anything and everything he wanted, but I'm not any longer…but I don't think that living this way has changed the person I am inside, and I think the same goes for you."
"I…I'm glad that you told me, Alfred, but…I just can't act on these feelings." I want to so bad, I-I want to say I'll always be with you, and that I'll turn my entire life around for you, but I can't." he clung onto Alfred tighter, his voice choked and quiet. "I don't want to go, Alfred, I'm so scared. I don't want to leave you, not now, not ever, and I certainly don't want him to own me…I just want to stop time and stay here with you forever."
"Then…then let's run away!" Alfred said, lifting his head up and cupping Arthur's cheeks and tilting his head up so he could look at him. "We'll-we'll go somewhere far away, maybe even to a different country, somewhere he'd never find us. I-I'll pull all the money I have from the bank, and we'll run away, buy a little place maybe, just the two of us-"
"Stop talking like that! I told you, I can't just abandon my friends!" Arthur snapped, but then he paused. "But…I can't just abandon you either….bloody hell, I just don't know what to do…"
Arthur clung onto him, going silent for several minutes, simply thinking, and then he pulled away abruptly, getting up off the bed and grabbing his jacket to leave.
"You should just forget about me, Alfred. Find some pretty girl or guy and just…just be with them. It's what's best for the moth of us."
"No! Arthur, please, don't do this!" Alfred cried out, stumbling and almost falling to the floor as he got off the bed, grabbing Arthur's sleeve just before he got to the door. "I haven't wanted anyone…anyone, other than you, and once you go…I probably never will. I'll go back to living alone and talking to no one, working fourteen hours out of the day." He sighed, looking into Arthur's eyes pleadingly. "Arthur…please, we can find a way to make this work…"
Arthur just sighed, turning to face Alfred completely and cupping both of Alfred's cheeks in his hands, shaking his head.
"You'll find someone, Alfred, don't talk like that….there are plenty of people out there, I'm sure you'll find the one for you someday. But I just can't be that one, I'm no good for you, Al, and somewhere deep down you know that all too well…" He kissed his chin lightly and then hesitated before pressing a soft, loving kiss to his lips. "Goodbye, Alfred."
"Arthur! Please, don't leave me!" Alfred cried, but Arthur just opened the door and walked through. By the time Alfred had finally forced himself to start moving again and open the door again, Arthur was already well down the hall, and he didn't even look as Alfred cried out his name desperately. Alfred crumpled to the ground and starting sobbing, wrapping his arms around his legs and burying his face in them. He berated himself for being so foolish, for falling in love with someone who could only hurt him, who would never be able to love him back…but he just loved Arthur so much, and he knew that now, knew why his heart had soared when they'd kissed and why he'd been so jealous. But Arthur didn't want that…and it hurt so bad, it physically caused an ache in his heart. He knew that Arthur was a good person, even if Arthur himself would never believe it, and he also knew that even if it had only been a few days, he loved Arthur with his whole heart, and that he wouldn't be able to get over him anytime soon. He cried himself to sleep in the doorway of his apartment, only stumbling to his bed when his landlord kicked him awake none-too gently. He went into work the next day, even though he was supposed to have the day off, ignoring his boss and co-workers' queries as to why. He pushed himself to work as hard as he could, so he didn't have time to worry about Arthur or miss him. He worked as many hours as he could, only to go home and maybe put a bit of food in his stomach before passing out on his bed to troubled dreams. He knew from running errands that Arthur was being moved to a separate house at the edge of the city, and that was when he knew that was it, that he had lost any miniscule chance he had of having Arthur. He picked up even more work, his dreams making his sleep something he now dreaded, and he didn't see Arthur again until the day he was set to be moved.
"For being such an exceptional employee, Jones, I've decided to give you a raise!"
Alfred stared at his boss, for some reason not feeling as elated as he'd expected to by the news. Money didn't seem to matter anymore, work was just a way to busy himself, to stop those thoughts from getting through. He forced a smile on his face as he looked at the other man.
"Thank you, sir, that's very kind of you."
"Well, it's only natural-you've been putting in such a splendid amount of work these past few weeks, and you deserve a little something for tha.t Also, I hope that perhaps the incentive could get you working mo-"
Sherwin paused when Arthur walked into the room, and Alfred saw him scowl briefly before his smile was back on his face. Alfred's heart pounded in his chest, closing his eyes briefly and taking a deep breath, forcing himself to look forward, to not look back at Arthur again. His stomach was twisting himself into knots just at thinking of how close Arthur was, and he could feel Arthur's gaze on his back. He swallowed, forcing the smile to return to his face as he looked at his boss.
"Well, thank you, sir, for the raise…um, may I get back to work?"
"Yes, yes, of course-I have to have a little chat with Arthur anyway."
Alfred nodded, trying to ignore the twinge in his gut at the almost cruel smile on the man's lips, but he simply forced himself to his feet, walking to the door. He could have sworn he heard Arthur mutter an apology under his breath when he'd passed and Alfred froze just before he walked through the door….just as Sherwin smacked Arthur across the face hard enough to cause him to cry out and fall to the ground. He scowled, gripping on Arthur's blonde locks and tugging on them to force Arthur to look at him, causing a whimper to escape the other's mouth.
"Knock before you enter, haven't I said that repeatedly, you dumb whore? Just because you're the best in the area, it doesn't mean shit because you're mine now, and you will follow my rules or else suffer the consequences, have I made myself clear?"
Alfred had turned when the first slap rang out, his blue eyes having flown open wide as he stared at the scene before him. He was frozen, part of him wanting to simply leave, to run away, but when another whimpered escaped past those beautiful lips he felt a pang of guilt in his heart and without thinking he stepped forward until he was right between them.
"You're hurting him, sir, I think you should let go." He said quietly, but firmly, even though he didn't glance back at Arthur, knowing that would only hurt him more. Sherwin just glared at him, tightening his grip and causing a louder whimper from Arthur.
"You got your fucking raise, Jones, now get the hell out of my office or I'll fire you so fast your head will spin!" Sherwin glowered, and Alfred heard Arthur beg softly.
"J-just go, Alfred…please…"
Alfred swallowed and looked back at Arthur finally, his heart aching painfully in his chest, and he bit his lip, taking a deep breath and looking back at his boss, knowing he was going to regret this later.
"Go ahead and fire me, sir, but I refuse to stand by and let you hurt him like this."
"Alfred, no-AH!" Arthur started, but he choked off with a yelp as Sherwin tugged on his hair more, glaring at Alfred heatedly.
"What was that, you arrogant little shit?" He began, fuming. "You don't even know this whore, why the hell would you risk your precious job for him? Go the hell back to work before I do something I'll regret!"
"I…no, sir, I'm sorry, but I just can't do that." Alfred said, reaching out and grabbing the older man's arm, even though his heart was pounding like a jackhammer against his ribcage. He was screwing his entire life over for a guy who'd never return his affections…but he didn't care. "Let Arthur go, you're hurting him."
"He's a fucking whore-MY whore-and I can do with him what I please, you brat." Sherwin almost snarled, prying Alfred's hand off of him with his other, shoving him. "And you'd better get out of my office right now because you're fired! I never want to see you near this building again, do you hear me? Get out!"
Alfred just shook his head, standing his ground determinedly. He was shaking slightly, but he tried not to show it, because he knew that if he wanted any chance to prove himself to Arthur, this was it. He swallowed, glaring at Sherwin.
"I don't care if he's "yours", he's still a human being and he deserves to be treated like one."
"You think this is a human?" Sherwin laughed, tugging on Arthur's hair more, causing a few tears to fall to the floor, and Alfred felt his gut wrench at the sight. "He's basically a living blow-up doll. He has no emotions, no thoughts of his own, just a filthy little whore that no one cares one whit about. He's hardly even worth all that money I donated, he's nothing. You're nothing, and that's all you'll ever be, y'hear?"
"Alfred, please…just go, please…go…" Arthur whimpered, a few more tears falling onto the carpet, and the was the final straw for Alfred. He glared at his boss-former boss now, he supposed-his fists clenched at his sides.
"He's not just that! He's far…far more human than you could ever be-he has emotions, and he doesn't deserve to be treated like some object simply for your enjoyment!"
"Oh, really now? Getting a little feisty, aren't we, Jones?" His boss sneered. "Tell me, Alfred, what do you think whores do? I'll tell you what they do, they pleasure people, 'entertain' them for a living. So, my dear boy, that is exactly what he is. Why don't you get your head out of your precious fantasy world and…wait, tell me, why do you even care? What is this whore to you, Jones?"
"He's…and acquaintance." Alfred finally settled on after a moment of thought, keeping his gaze locked on Sherwin so he wouldn't have to look at Arthur. "But that doesn't matter, because anyone would see that what you're doing is wrong. Prostitute or not, no one deserves to be treated like this. I said before, he's still human and he has the same rights as one, regardless of what he chooses to do."
"You say he's an acquaintance, but you wouldn't risk your job for an acquaintance, no. Let me think-ah, do you actually have feelings for this dirty whore, Jones?" Sherwin laughed, loosening his grip on Arthur's hair slightly as he looked at Alfred. "Do you love him? Well if you do, I've got a newsflash for you, boy-he's a whore, whores can never love, their incapab-"
"Fuck you, I love him!" Arthur exclaimed loudly, and the room fell silent. Alfred turned to look at Arthur, his heart skipping a beat, not quite believing what he's said, but the look in Arthur's eyes….Arthur loved him, he actually loved him. Alfred looked at him, simply looked, and then he spun to face Sherwin again, grupping onto his arm tightly.
"And yes, I love him back, and you will let him go."
Sherwin just scowled, shaking his head and gripping Arthur's hair tightly once more, causing Arthur to yelp in pain.
"Like hell I will! I bought him, he belongs to me now. I don't care if you two love each other or whatever bullshit, he's not going to leave with you!"
Alfred bit his lip, taking a deep breath, knowing that he was going to do something very stupid, but also knowing that it was the only thing that he could think of to help Arthur. He pulled his arm back and punched Sherwin across the face with all the force he could muster. The older man fell back, landing on the ground roughly, and he released Arthur's hair. The young man sat on the floor for a moment, stunned, and then he stood and grabbed onto Alfred's hand, pulling him out of the office and running with him all the way out of the building, not stopping for a single moment. He tugged him onto the first bus that stopped, paying their fare quickly and sitting down. The moment they were seated Arthur flung his arms around him, hugging Alfred close.
"Y-you idiot, why the hell did you do that?"
"I don't know…I don't know, I-I panicked, I was just so upset, I…I wasn't thinking rationally, I haven't been sleeping very well and…" Alfred clung to Arthur tighter, taking deep breaths to calm himself down, having realized the enormity of what he had done. His breathing had quickened, and he realized that he was shaking, even though he was also relieved, because Arthur was there, Arthur loved him. "Oh God…I just punched my boss, oh God…"
"Shh…Alfred, it's alright, it'll be alright, I'm here." Arthur whispered, stroking is hair soothingly and closing his eyes. "He deserved it anyway, he deserved far worse than that for the way he treated both of us. Let's just get you home so you can rest, and then we can leave in the morning. He's already paid off the money to the House, and it'd look suspicious to withdraw it now, so I don't have to worry about that. We can go away together, and you won't have to worry."
"We…we should just go tonight, h-he'll probably call the police when he wakes up, he'll be l-looking for us." Alfred whispered, taking several deep breaths and clinging onto Arthur tightly. "I'll drain my bank account so he can't trace us…i-it's not much, but I have been working a lot of overtime lately…"
"Alright…I have money saved up too, we should have enough." Arthur turned so they could face each other, kissing Alfred's forehead softly. "Don't worry, I'm not going to let him get to you, I'd sooner die. We'll be okay, I promise."
Alfred looked into his eyes, nodding and after a moment kissing Arthur's cheeks lightly, resting his head on his shoulder with a soft sigh and closing his eyes.
"I'm sorry…I shouldn't have done that, and…I shouldn't have let this go on this long. I've messed everything up…I'm sorry."
Arthur just wrapped his arm around Alfred's shoulders, rubbing his arm lightly and saying softly.
"No, what you did back there…it was a very brave thing, so don't go talking like you did something wrong, okay?" he kissed his temple, saying even softer. "I love you, Alfred…thank you for standing up for me, you really are my hero."
Alfred opened his eyes to look at him, a very small smile making its way to his face.
"You really mean that?" He laughed quietly, closing his eyes again and cuddling up closer to Arthur's side. "…back when I was a kid, I used to pretend I was a superhero. I used to run along the beach with my towel, pretending I was some superhero on a quest to save the day. Mom…she always said I was going to be a hero of some sort when I grew up. I'd stopped believing that…but maybe, just maybe, I can be a hero to you."
"Hmm what's this maybe, Alfred? You already are my hero" Arthur whispered, smiling softly and kissing his forehead. He chuckled, poking his nose as he teased. "Although you may be too cute for one, who knows."
Alfred smiled, and they got off at a stop near Alfred's place, gathering up everything they needed, Alfred leaving his key in the door before they left. They also stopped by Arthur's little house, most of his stuff thankfully already packed since he was supposed to moving out that day. They took a bus downtown to withdraw their money from the bank, and then looked up the longest busline west, managing to catch a Greyhound going to Sacremento. As soon as they bought the tickets and stowed their bags they sat down, Alfred falling asleep shortly after the ride began, leaning onto Arthur's shoulder, their fingers tangled loosely together and soft snores escaping his mouth. Arthur watched him sleep with a fond smile, stroking his hair gently and eventually looking out the window, watching the countryside pass them by. They had no idea where they were going, but they had each other…and for that, they were both grateful.
"Oh, lead me to the truth, and I will follow you with my whole life…"