Arthur Kirkland was not an idiot. He saw his days stretched before him like blank snow, ready to be tainted and bloodied. He also saw Alfred F. Jones giving him a look. The look[so painfully curious, stop it!]
It repulsed and intrigued him in equal parts until he ended up focusing on a small crevice in the neck of the boy in front of him, not daring to move his eyes off the safe haven of clueless flesh.
Why would he be giving me that look? Arthur busied himself by writing down his homework and colour-coding his notes to maximise efficient study time. Alfred used to ask Arthur how he could be such a good student, but learning is easy if you aren't stuffing food down your face for half of your waking hours.
"Tomorrow I'll discuss the project in more detail-" The bell dismissed the class and everyone hurried out. It appeared Alfred wanted to stay behind and talk to Arthur. Arthur followed the crowd. It was noisy in the hallway, teenagers scattering like rats in the daytime as they searched for their friends in the lunch line.
Arthur hated lunch more than he hated the dinner table- confrontation. He stood in line, waiting, letting people pass him, drawing out his time like an endless string. It can wait, it can wait, it can wait.
"Hey, Artie, how you've been doin'?" Of course. Of course he had to be behind him. The whole fucking baseball team loomed over Arthur now, jeering at Alfred and smirking as the sunny blond tried to push them away with an easy-going smile on his face.
"Good luck," a tall, white haired boy winked lewdly at Alfred before the whole team cut some underclassmen and left the boys alone.
"We aren't doing this, Alfred." He saw the smile die; the hopeful eyes became cloudy with desperation.
"Why the hell not?" If Alfred was angrier it would've been a threat, but it was a plea. "You can't just ignore me forever."
Arthur turned to the front of the line, moving forward as a few more kids were admitted into the cafeteria.
Don't talk. Don't say anything. Don't breathe. Instead, Arthur placed a hand on his wrist and felt around for the bone. Encouragement. You've come far.
The lights in the room were too bright, and he squinted as he searched around for something edible. It was crowded, people laughing and dumping fries on to their plates, cheering as someone fell into the soda stand.
Chocolate milk- 160 calories. No. Too much. He wanted the milk though. No dinner, then. Breakfast tomorrow-toast. Whole wheat. No, carbs go straight to my stomach. No breakfast- tea? He saw Alfred piling food on his cheap paper plate - flimsy and soaked with ketchup and oil. Three burgers, two containers of fries, and an order of fried mozzarella sticks, overcooked and oozing with cheese.
Well, that was certainly too much. How could he maintain a figure like that? If Arthur wanted to have a body like that, he'd have to make some serious cut backs. Exercise more often- and Arthur really didn't feel like doing that. So he just clutched his milk tighter, mentally declared Alfred a pig, and sat down.
Arthur used to have plenty of friends, well more like acquaintances, but hell, it was somebody. Now he sat at a table of strangers, each giving shifty eyed glances and hoping that someone would breach the walls of general detest and speak up.
He kept his gaze on Alfred, how he laughed and patted his friends on the back. Touching, touchy. Arthur's old friend, Kiku, politely sat with them. Arthur remembered when he introduced the two. They hadn't really been good friends at first, casual and stiff in their interactions. Now look at them. Kiku was nodding at sport jokes even though he didn't understand them. Face turning a delicate pink as the subject shifted to girls. Alfred definitely knew about that, didn't he? Their whole table looked over at Katashuya and her friends.
Alfred seemed entranced by the quiet girl who also sat at the table. She was so thin, thin, thin, and brilliantly nice. So in control of herself with small smiles and bright green eyes. Arthur used to have bright green eyes, too. Now they were faded and lacklustre, bored and worried and betrayed.
The minutes ticked by, and Arthur grew stronger. If he could make it past lunch without opening his milk, then he would have the control he desired. But it was taunting him, drops of condensation teasingly running down the side and pooling on the table. It formed an unspeakable ocean between him and his temptation. He knew he was just weak and worthless. Why did he even need to buy it? It was too much.
Yet, this was a battle he could win. He did not have to peel back the soft, paper flap on the carton. He would leave it to condense away, sail far on the sea it was creating.
Students began to stand up, grabbing their trash in clenched hands, greedy, greedy, greedy. Arthur stood up. He grabbed his milk and headed towards the rubbish bin, tossing it away heartlessly. Dinner? Maybe, now. He was craving cheesy, scrambled eggs and toast, but no no no toast. Eggs? No cheese. Egg whites and green peppers.
His stomach grumbled, reminding him that he ventured too far off. He had been too secure with Alfred. Too in love. Then he was dumped like trash because that was what he ate. He would gobble down waffles and pancakes, slurp up ice cream, dripping, sticky on his fingers. Licking those off too- so greedy. He'd even eat fast food, overlooking the grease. God, he was disgusting.
Arthur's next class was physics. He was awful at it, but with his newfound free time, he was almost surpassing Alfred- not because of interest, but because of dedication. Addiction to succeed. To not be worthless and unattractive. He wanted a smooth, flat stomach. Not that little, tiny, huge, bump of fat he'd acquired over the past few love-struck months.
"Turn in your assignment, take out the notes we left off on." Arthur flipped open his binder, grabbing the crisp sheets of paper and a sharpened pencil.
Taking down definitions was easy. The peak value of an alternating quantity in either the positive or negative direction. The body whose surface absorbs all radiations incident on it and thus neither reflects nor transmits any radiation.
Arthur was a blackbody. He wasn't warm anymore. Didn't give off anything. Absorbing everything. Taking, taking, taking in too much. Class ended. His hand was sore and his paper was full of things he wasn't sure about. His eyes were quicker than his mind, and he'd ventured off into dangerous charts He was on a boat, lost at sea with the chocolate milk that was too much.
One more class. Then, home. Sleep, rest, relax. Homework. No dreams, Arthur hates those. He couldn't even control his mind. How pathetic.
Arthur's last class was an elective. He had chosen it just to be in another class with Alfred. How dumb, how stupid, idiotic.
Arthur felt so heavy, a little dizzy, but heavy all the same. His feet were weighted and wrong as he clobbered towards his locker. No one dared to get close to him; he looked upset. Then again he always looked upset now. Perpetually frowning, deep in thought. He used to be more open. Not friendly, but open. Like an old book, worn and familiar and comforting. Now he is just the mean librarian that hunches over it, protecting the book as if it was a child.
Finally, he was there. He took his seat next to his ex…ex-something. Right over his heart is an X so it had to mean something, it had to, had to. The soft kisses and warm embraces. Smiles, so many smiles - tender moments, arguments, storming away, letting the rain wash over his face to persuade unshed tears and draw them out.
Thinking too much. You're thinking too much. Alfred wasn't thinking of him at all. He was thinking of slim-waisted girls, not greedy, greedy, greedy bastards. Always taking never, ever giving.
"Can't ignore me here, can ya?" No, he'd been ignoring Alfred for weeks. This was the easy part.
"Okay everyone, we've got a guest speaker today." Cue the time to start tuning out.
Arthur pulled out some assignment meant for home and finished it. Lots of time left. The small hand raced the hour, a premeditated murder of minutes.
Alfred was breathing over his neck, sucking up his air selfishly. Arthur's hand was grabbed and a white, crumpled paper was thrust into it.
why do ya look so scared all da time?
He didn't. He didn't. Arthur was not scared of anything other than control. He was not afraid of Alfred, with his broken promises and shattered hopes- like glass, so fragile like glass.
He ripped the paper into well-thought out shreds. Creating a suspicious noise but not caring anymore. The white pieces scattered like snow, covering the dirty linoleum. He sent a glare back as a response. Sucking in his fat, fleshy cheeks to nibble on the insides. Draw out the raw tingle and blood. Kept his mouth closed and his eyes clear.
He didn't know what else to do. The classroom was small, but he sat in the back. Ahead of him was the blonde bob of the girl he had grown to despise. She was too nice and delicate. Arthur remembered when he was delicate. Never nice.
His stomach growled again, loud enough for Alfred to hear. Only Alfred, though. It was still a secret, tucked away under baggy sweaters and layers.
Alfred tried again, sliding a note smoothly across the table top.
why didnt ya eat today? sick?
Arthur was bored. Just bored, not yearning. He responded.
Alfred breathed a sigh of relief. Arthur had no self-control. Worthless. Can't even hold my tongue- fingers- brain.
Only a few more days and the want will go away. The growls will lapse into silence, and the struggle will become pleasure. He loved feeling empty and clear. Like air could just flow through him, uninhibited. No obstacles. Just bone stretched tight to make up for no flesh.
He clenched his hand and felt his resolve slipping through it. He could hardly control himself with Alfred, obviously. He couldn't control his father's drinking or his mother's absence. He couldn't control his brothers' teasing, and beating, and leaving. But, he could control himself. Barely. The marionette was missing some strings, but it still danced along.
can we talk? will you talk to me? Desperate scrawls.
Arthur read it, wanted to nod. His head longed to nod. Ached to. Then he smoothed down his shirt and felt the sad incline of...skin. It stuck out way too much. He isn't flat. He wanted to mirror a board. Instead he was like a river, overflowed and wide. Bloated with gluttony. He crumpled the paper and stuck it into his folder.
He could see Alfred digging around in his deep pockets for more scraps to write on. But the end of the day came, and Arthur left without a goodbye.
He couldn't afford a car. It didn't used to be a big deal, because Alfred was close by and they'd ride home together the way best friends do. Then love and his whore friends got in the way and tangled with the wires of Arthur's heart and head. So now, he took the bus home with the underclassmen. With the kids who were too young to drive, or too poor to.
The ride was long and bumpy. Highlight: You are sitting alone.
His stomach was going crazy, two weeks with little more than [tea, tea, tea, tea, apple, twelve red bell pepper slices, two and a half scones, ten long, green celery sticks that tasted like dew in his mouth] 766 calories. That number is too high. Too large, too ugly. No self control.
His phone vibrated in his pocket. He slid it out, expecting a text from his father; don't wait up.
No; instead, it was from the pesky, sunny, lovely [no self control] American.
dont worry, ill help u get betta
His fingers twitched to respond. He pulled the strings back sharply, felt one break. It fell to the ground and curled around him. Why?
Arthur Kirkland found it very hard to sleep. His mind liked to play funny jokes on him, replaying the memories- editing the sad parts until it's just a continual stream of happy. Funny joke. He was semi-aware of the dangerous path he was walking down again, leaving health and friendship behind like clots of dirt in trainers.
It was a path that had always been there, since he was small and weak and hopeful. To when he was in love [so in love] and warm and happy. He veered off the path. Saw what life could be like. Only to have it snatched away so quickly, just because he couldn't control himself. Even Pandora got a second chance at love.
It was silent and dark as Arthur thought of all these things.
"Don't worry; I'll be your hero!" I don't need a hero. "Why are you sad? I'll fix ya right up!" I don't need to be fixed. "You can count on me." "You can trust me, for real." "I'll be there for yoou-" [stop singing, you bloody twit].
No, no, no.
He believed it. He had believed it and now he was alone and starving and he knew it but he didn't stop it and that was the point.
"Do you think you're better than everyone else?" Yes, yes. I can control myself. Watch.
Arthur Kirkland did not stick fingers down his throat. He did not force it to come up in chunks and spews. He resisted. He had control, not regret, not remorse, not afterthought.
A shiver ran through him, and he snuggled into his blanket and pretended that he didn't feel his stomach rolling over- so large, so...tangible.
He knew he wasn't handsome. But maybe if he was just a bit more jaw dropping, then it wouldn't have mattered. It wouldn't have come down to sticks and stones. Maybe if he was a bit stronger and didn't need Alfred so much. Didn't smother him.
The blankets were the only thing smothering now. He got out of bed, not sure what to do. His feet led him to the small bathroom across the hall that he and his youngest brother shared.
The counter was child-proof. No razors, rounded edges. Bubble gum toothpaste was smeared across the top like blood, and Arthur wiped it off with his palm then rinsed his hand off with cool water.
He stared at the mirror. Blinked twice. He slowly pulled up his shirt, staring at the protruding stomach. Is it a trick of the light? He turned, watched the smooth skin stretch over his pant line. Just barely, but it was there. He wrapped a hand around his hip and squeezed the extra fat. He couldn't even see his hipbones.
He felt dead, he couldn't be alive. He double checked on the scale. 8 stones and a few pounds. He wasn't tall. Not tall at all [not short, either]. That was a lot. He felt heavy; it felt like there were eight rocks in his stomach, weighing him down as he sank to the bottom of the chocolate milk sea.
Arthur had a new goal, 7 stones flat, flat like a tossing rock. Just try harder. Venture down to the dark basement and spend some time with the treadmill. Start jogging again.
Stop obsessing. Crawl back into bed, slip under the covers and let them strangle him to death.
The next morning was a slow ordeal. First, it started with talking.
"Good mornin', dad." He pushed it out of his mouth, forcing a casual tone.
"What do you think about a trip this weekend? You can bring that boyfriend of yours." Sunny smile. Too familiar, [but Alfred's is far brighter].
"Maybe, I'll ask. He might be busy with sports and such." Arthur hadn't told them yet, told them that his heart had been broken seventeen days, twenty one hours, and a few minutes ago. It was the way it ended that stung. Alfred had been Arthur's best friend - only friend, really. A few others conversed with him, but every second it had been Alfred, Alfred, Alfred.
If he had just resisted, they still could have had a friendship, shaken, sure, but mutual want was a real bitch. It would've been better than the crumbled pieces they had now.
"Arthur, what's on your mind?" He glanced over at his dad, saw his clear eyes. Not bloodshot, for once. He was curious and worried. Things fathers should be.
"I'm fine," He lied anyway. For that, he could only blame himself.
Arthur got up from his bed, feeling anything but well-rested. "Well, make sure you ask Alfred." His dad grunted as he picked himself, dusting off his pants. Then he left.
Arthur took a shower. Very warm, warm enough to burn off his skin. He liked it that way, it felt as if you could sweat off weight. Brushed his teeth, his hair, and the sleep out of his eyes.
Layers were important. For now, it hid the fat, but soon it would hide the progress. Today was a button down day, with folded grey sleeves and a tawny waistcoat. Naturally oversized, because they were secondhand from his older, larger brothers. Dark slacks and he was ready, but he stayed in his room for twelve extra minutes so he could use being late as an excuse to skip breakfast.
His dad will throw away the toast [that I've been craving, craving, craving] and cover the eggs in plastic wrap and stick it in the refrigerator for Arthur to eat later. Of course, Arthur will just push the too-yellow clumps down the disposal.
Deceit was as commonplace as smiling in the Kirkland family, and his father would not be hypocritical about it, lest he be called out on the whiskey in the apple juice bottle, or the vodka in the soda can. So when Arthur stumbled down the carpeted steps, his father just wished him a good day.
The bus wasn't so bad in the morning. Most of the people were catching up on the sleep they missed staying up late to message their friends. Arthur would know; he used to do that kind of thing. It stopped, and more children flooded in, cramming into seats like pack rats. A kid with a bright red, runny nose sat next to Arthur.
He sniffled, sucking in snot and trying to be polite. His winter hat's pom-poms bob prematurely as the bus starts again.
"Bit old to be riding the bus?" The kid inquired after a few moments of silence.
Arthur sighed loudly, then shifted around in his seat so he didn't have to look at the kid's honey hair and eager eyes. Too much.
He didn't feel hungry today; he told himself today would be a good day, no more hurt, pain, or feelings of rejection. Enough of that nonsense. He was brave and in control. He was cleverer than the whole lot of teens filling the building.
He was a star in his own way.
He hurt, sure. But he could overcome that in a snap. A snap of bone, of will, of morale.
No, a snap of sanity. Bordering the bridge of no return, and still, hopping around indecisively. It's an easy decision.
"Eyebrows!" He turned his head and is soon looking up at the school's most popular [i.e., only] albino. Arthur was too smart to respond, and twisted the numbers into his locker and watches it open magically.
"Think you're too awesome to answer?" Gilbert laughed, as if it was all a joke, or a dream. A sweet dream fading away from reality and consequences.
Arthur grabbed his books for his first few classes, heaving a bit under the heaviness.
"Here, I'll carry those for ya, it's not awesome at all to watch weaklings struggle." Gilbert puffed out his chest and snatched the stack away, leaving Arthur irritated and wondering. Surely, this could not be an act of kindness.
And it isn't. Gilbert walked a few more steps, before leaning casually against a wall. Arthur noticed but it was too late. He dropped the books into the old cafeteria dumpster and dashed off to avoid the infamous Arthur Kirkland wrath.
He couldn't just leave the books there, so he fished around for them and ended up late and dirty. People could smell the old, moulding food on his hands and clothes, and kept their distance even more than normal. Even Alfred commented on it.
"Dude, did someone barf on you?" Arthur grimaced, and tried not to let it bother him.
"No, your fucking prat of a friend threw my books into the trash. And I couldn't just leave them!" Alfred stiffened, but didn't reply. He looked away toward the sun; it was blinding and nice and neither of them were thinking about much until the teacher called out.
"-and I'll be assigning partners. If you don't share a study hall, outside time may need to be invested." The teacher looked at a long list of confusing-to-pronounce last names and sighed. He didn't want to attempt the moody blond boy up front's last name.
"The person you're sitting next to is your partner." Arthur quickly looked to his left, hoping he could get out of working with Alfred.
No one was to his left; he sat at the edge of the room.
"Guess we're gonna be partners." Right then, Arthur wanted to tell him what his father said. Invite him to spend a weekend together like they used to when the days seemed much shorter and the nights brighter. But he didn't. He was nothing without control.
I suppose we are. Arthur made a point not to look at Alfred. He didn't even know what the assignment was, but like hell he'll ask that smiling jerk. Arthur will just stay behind and ask the teacher, then do the work himself and turn it in without so much as a single word to Alfred. Yes, that could work.
"Do you wanna come over after school? Ma misses you." It wasn't subtle. It was forced and his lips were dry and cracked. Maybe he missed Arthur the way Arthur missed...no, misses him.
"I can't. I have things to do." Arthur was still looking away because Alfred is too handsome right now. He didn't want to be selfish but if he looked into those blue eyes he was going to want them all for himself. Greedy, greedy, greedy.
It was Friday. The word twisted around and poked holes in Arthur's mind. A month ago, he could promise you Fridays would be spent in Alfred's lap, sharing a carton of sweet cookie dough ice cream [450 calories, sickeningly too much] and arguing over what movie to see the following night. It always came down to super heroes versus the artistic documentary. A slow kiss and a hand job and the choice was Arthur's.
Now Friday's were spent finishing up homework, doing a few sit ups, and sleeping. If you went to bed hungry, you woke up feeling so good, so good, so good.
"What disorder would you like to do?" Arthur asked after figuring out what the task is.
This time Alfred played the blushing virgin, and didn't meet Arthur's intense, forceful gaze.
"How about avoidant personality disorder? We went over it last week." It was soft and worried and Arthur chewed the words carefully, thinking of what to say. Of course he knew how Arthur was. Before Alfred, he was just a clam, but the caring words of another pried him open and dried him off.
They didn't talk for the rest of the class.
Lunch was the same, an internal battle, this time easily won. Small skim milk [120 calories], dinner- bell pepper [46 calories]. No snacking. No skim milk, toast for dinner[138, all carbs and calories], still no snacking. Arthur pretended he was out of money and sat down without the milk.
One kid at his table opened his mouth and Arthur thought for a moment that he was going to say something. But it was just a slow motion, open-mouthed sneeze and nothing more.
He watched Alfred still, wondering how the airhead knew he didn't eat lunch yesterday. He stared at the mop of wheat hair in front of him, willing him to turn around.
Do you feel my eyes? Do you? Are you just ignoring me? Ignoring my… wants. No I don't want you.
Blue eyes snapped back, almost too fast but Arthur managed to look away. He could see the American boy frowning [probably at my lack of food], but he didn't do anything. Didn't come over and tell him he's worth something. So the game continues.
It was strange; Arthur was sure that soon, he'll look like a skeleton, but he'll feel so complete when he does so.
It's all about control really. To be able to have what you want and still deny yourself of it. It may be sick, or wrong, but it helped heal wounds and filled gaping holes with hunger before it painted over those with misty indifference as well.
I don't want to be ugly and fat, not anymore. He almost felt like taking a razor to his eyebrows, to his hair, to his wrists. But he didn't, won't ever, really. It was enough to be in charge of weight. Soon, soon, soon, he'll get to the point where he'll be happy and so tiny and small that he can just wrap his hands around his waist in a complete circle. A small smile graced his fat face.
He felt it before he saw it. Alfred stomping over to him and pulling him aside- outside the cafeteria and into the empty halls.
"Just what the hell is this?" He slammed Arthur against a wall, so angry, so mad, so hurt.
"I don't know what you're talking about, now if you'd please release me-" Arthur replied coollyand curtly, taking the victory in stride. Alfred obviously had no self-control. Sad, really.
"Don't pull that shit with me, not right now." Arthur didn't understand why the other is so mad. Why he was being so selfish right now. Honestly, Arthur could be doing so many other things.
But still, his blue eyes smouldered and he continued. "Why aren't you eating? Why do you feel like-" Alfred paused, trying to find the words through the anger, placing a hand against Arthur's lumpy stomach. "Like a ghost." Irony is a crafty son. Alfred was never fond of ghosts.
"Do I now? Why aren't you trembling?" Arthur was just teasing, trying to rile up the American. It didn't work; he was too focused and angry.
"I said no more shit! When was the last time you ate?" Alfred's tight lips said 'don't you lie to me'.
"This morning, I had a rather large breakfast, now if you'd just let go-" He was dropped back on the ground, feeling pain in his lower back. He wasn't surprised.
Arthur didn't go back to the cafeteria; nothing was waiting for him there.
AN: Hey guys, thanks for reading. Feedback is always encouraged :) Beta'd by the awesome RamenNoodlesXD and the fantastic Semebay, but any remaining mistakes are my own fault.