Disclaimer: I do not own the characters used in this fanfiction, or the song that inspired it.
Sora Resi: You'll know in a short while, and this time I mean it! Aww, you're sweet. Thank you for sticking around this long and being so nice!
Jowliet: Nooo I dooon't! Maybe you know, maybe you don't. ;) Thank you, I'm so sorry for being away so long!
Little Octopus: Aw, darn you, reading my stuff in school. Tsk tsk. Let's see if you're correct, shall we? Thank you!
alguien22792: I'm so sorry to both you and him! I'm sorry you're confused. *passes you a cookie
NecroBrits: … Reviews are awesome.
Arthur was still for at least a few minutes, with his lips still puckered in a comical fashion. His eyes were glued to the house as it stood, innocent, despite interrupting them. Slowly, very slowly, he looked back down at Alfred, who only appeared to be vaguely frightened.
"What was that?" left his mouth before he could think that the boy probably didn't know either. Minutely, Alfred only shrugged, and Arthur sat up. He gazed at each window of the house, wondering whether it was necessary to investigate.
Normally he wouldn't think anything of it. However, he still was, and probably always would be, rather shaken up over the entire Francis ordeal. So he stood, and soon after Alfred followed.
"It's probably the cats." Alfred dismissed, but he sounded weary. Arthur still wasn't sure.
"When was the last time they were here?"
It took a while for Alfred to answer. Trees rustled and long grass whistled as yet another wavy breeze passed through the yard.
"... I don't remember."
Arthur frowned unconsciously, and he stared at the house in trepidation. It was probably the cats. Or the wind. Or something. Nothing to be alarmed at, yes. Of course. He swallowed his stupid fears and grabbed Alfred lightly by his shirt.
"Well, come on, then." he mumbled, beginning his pace back inside. It took some effort to not slow his walk in puzzlement, but he was determined to continues his strides and see just what that noise had been. Alfred followed obediently despite his evident caution, as Arthur could feel his feet wanting to dig into the ground.
His hands were shaking when they came in contact with the sliding glass door. What was he so afraid of?
They were both glad to find that the living room was void of any company. However, it was also disturbingly quiet. Normally there would at least be the sound of summer meandering inward, but not this time. No, they even heard to scrapes of their feet on the carpet as they shuffled further in, they even heard their own breath, quiet, but hasty. As quietly as he could, Alfred shut the door behind them.
"I have a bad feeling." he whispered, more to himself than anyone else, but he did know that Arthur had heard him. The shorter blond nodded, succinct in his actions as his head whipped to the stairs. He swore he heard a sound just then, but he had been too preoccupied with his thoughts. His throat made an audible gulping sound.
They stayed still.
Then, the sound of long, practiced footsteps, creaking the wood above them. Suddenly, Alfred's heart was beating at a racing rate, and Arthur's hands became clammy.
Whoever it was, they didn't sound very heavy, for their weight was very gentle on the wood. If Alfred was correct, he could assume that they were in the guestroom.
Making his feet light as feathers, Arthur crept to the front window and brushed the curtains aside. He bit his lip, expecting to see Matthew's car, but for it to only be absent. Not only that, but the house phone was upstairs, and neither of them had a mobile. Should they just leave? That would definitely be the safer option. But...
Alfred had a bad feeling. Arthur, he had a strange feeling that he could not describe. Something was telling him to go upstairs, to venture into his temporary room. It was odd, it was like a knot in his gut that would only be relieved if he toed up those stairs. It was cliché, but it was dark. It sort of terrified him, but he wanted to dissect it.
His toes curled of their own accord, and he gazed up those stairs, appearing longer than they really were. What awaited him up there, he wondered.
At that point, he was hardly floating. His burning, chapped lips were parted to let in the salty, grimy air, and his fingers were pruned to the point of bone.
His vapid eyes bored into the hidden sun, there but weakened behind a sheet of clouds that was both a godsend and a hellspawn. If it rained, he was done for. Or was he, already? He couldn't remember a thing. All he could find to think about were the small things, like the way his breath sounded broken and quiet, or how he could feel his hair waving about in fleeting symbols, suspended in the heavy water that felt like toxic air.
Even through the thin film over his senses, he could clearly hear the sound of creaking, swelling wood, rattling through planks upon planks. He wasn't sure what to think of it. Was that a good thing, or a bad thing?
The left side of his head pounded like a beady, tiny drum. He felt like he didn't know anything anymore. His entire body felt like a weak, strung out thread, separated at its miniscule seams and split into three.
At that point, he didn't think he existed anymore.
That is, until he was grabbed by the scruff of his shirt, and until he was slowly lifted into the air, where the seabirds cawed and the sails danced an ambitious dance.
He put one socked foot on the first stair, and it creaked a creak that groaned in echoes throughout the entire house. When his hand found that wooden curl at the end of the railing, it was easy for his eyes to find security in that touch and to focus on the wall at the top of the stairs. Its simple white, if he were a more knowledgeable person, would have reminded him of the clean slate that was his life at that very moment. It would have tapped his shoulder and told him to turn around and just let things be the way they were, just leave them untouched, to not go upstairs, to not do it, don't... but in his head he painted that wall, and up he went to the second step. It creaked, too, and suddenly the stairs felt like they were going down instead of up.
Arthur let his eyes glance to the side at Alfred, who was blindly grabbing fistfuls of his shirt, probably in an effort for something to hold onto. He stared at him a moment, and the boy stared back with eyes that were wider than normal, but still somehow half-lidded, like he was in a daze, too.
The older boy gathered his courage and ascended the second stair. He quelled the butterflies in his stomach that were overflowing and tickling the bottom of his heart, those same white, translucent butterflies that made him think of his recurring "nightmare". It made him think of the fluid excitement pooling in his gut so many times over since he lost himself, and it almost made him go back down those stairs to gather more of it. But oh, no, he needed answers, and why he knew they were above him, he did not quite know.
The concept was cliché, of course, as many things were in life, but he felt like there was some sort of invisible force pulling him forward.
Then, it felt like something crashed into him, and sent him back down to the floor.
Not only did it feel like it, but it happened while he was staring at a dumb wall.
Alfred yelped and Arthur felt his heart stutter, and he looked to the floor in question only to find a fat, fluffy, white cat teetering on its paws in fright. Burger swayed in his run as he dashed under the couch, and Arthur raised his eyebrows in astonishment. All that remained of him was his brown-striped tail, curled and in the light.
A smile probably would have crept onto his face if he hadn't been so on edge.
Arthur almost resumed his task in climbing the stairs, but something held him back, and that something was in the form of the sound of a window scraping shut. It seemed to snap him out of whatever bravery had overtaken him, and quickly he walked backwards until he was next to the other boy, who had been frozen in place the whole time. The wood above them creaked with weight, and blindly, he continued to walk back until the backs of his legs touched the couch.
It never ceased to faze him that one moment, he was ready to face such an enigma, but the next, he was nervous and afraid. It felt like something had flickered into focus, before dying, and exploding into ash.
Those creaks, which were, decidedly, the footfalls of someone just a bit heavier than a cat, continued until they were in the hall, until there were no walls separating them and only stairs. As quietly as he could, and with fibers crawling down his spine, Alfred began to shuffle into the next room, gesturing animatedly for Arthur to follow. However, all he could do was stand still, uselessly gazing at the foot of the stairs instead of the top.
When there was finally someone atop those stairs, though, he lost a bit of his fear and looked up. Alfred made a startled noise, and Arthur merely blinked.
"Um." left his mouth uselessly. His left eyelid twitched, and he began to feel a familiar uncomfortable sensation. Suddenly, he felt like he was once again assaulted with the smell of salt, and he felt like everything he knew had been drained out of him.
Slowly at first, but then regaining his usual pace, Alfred crept back into the room and stood silently by the stairs. In his usual habit, he scratched the top of his head.
"What are you doing up there?" he asked, and when he said it, his voice cracked the slightest bit.
"... Looking for you." said Kiku, who to Arthur was noticeably younger, and almost tiny. He appeared timid, even at the top of a flight of stairs with his gaze above everyone else. His eyes were still as vapid as the last time he had seen him.
Slowly, as if his legs had become jelly, Arthur plopped onto the couch that was luckily right behind him, and silently, yet shakily watched an awkward scene play out.
"Uh, okay." Alfred said, tentative. "Why?"
It didn't fly over Arthur's head that the small boy's chocolate eyes flew to him for the briefest flash of a second. Slowly, he lowered his eyelids in some odd sort of calm, boring his eyes into the ebony-haired boy in a way he knew communicated something more than the situation brought on.
Kiku appeared put on the spot, and he began to fiddle with his hands.
"There was a boy chasing his cat, and the cat ran in here. So I told him that I knew you, and it would be alright if I came in here and got the cat-"
"You two know each other?" Arthur said, interrupting him in such a way that was scarily unlike himself.
Both Alfred and Kiku jumped, and their heads whipped in Arthur's direction. Kiku rubbed his hands together nervously, and Alfred looked like he was ready to just up and flee the house. He nodded before he replied.
"Yeah, I'll tell you later."
Then the two went right back to staring at each other, and Arthur furrowed his eyebrows when he got the feeling that they were both ignoring him. He would have stood up and gotten between them, if only he didn't feel two inches tall all of a sudden. Instead of acting on something that wasn't even there, he chewed on the inside of his cheek and used his heel to kick Burger's tail under the couch. No one was taking his cat away from him, especially not his therapist reincarnated.
That was one sentence he never thought he would have to say in his life.
Alfred then threw a sidelong glance Arthur's way, and he looked rather pointedly at the couch in which Burger was hiding. Arthur threw an intense glare back at the other boy, and evidently that still worked even through the Kiku-induced haze, for he quickly turned back to Kiku.
"We haven't seen it." he said evenly.
"He was just upstairs and he ran down here. You must have." Kiku nearly begged, and Arthur wondered if he was even after the cat at all. He seemed far too frantic for that.
Arthur allowed himself a slight smile when he felt Burger shift around underneath him.
The next time he opened his eyes, his weak body was placed comfortably atop a crude bed with a worn blanket. The sheets themselves smelled of salt and sweat, but he didn't care much, especially not when the only thing his blurred eyes could focus on was the flickering of a scrappy candle flame. He lay there listening to his own raspy breath for an innumerable amount of minutes, staring at that flickering, orange glint, that light in the dark.
He shut his eyes once again, and found that he could see his own heartbeat, in little red, veined blurs in his peripheral vision, where every time he looked they faded away into black. Upon opening his eyes, they disappeared, but instead he was gifted with a terrible feeling in his head. Instead of the tiny drum from earlier, the only thing he could feel was the sensation of metallic feathers brushing around inside his skull, lithe but sharp as a razor. It occurred to him that there was a bit of drool escaping his parted lips, but he didn't care. Not in the least. All that mattered was that he was alive, even though he was sure he neither looked nor smelled anything close to being so.
Trying to turn his head proved difficult, and when he finally accomplished such a feat all he was rewarded with was a blurry canvas of browns and grays. Almost instantly, he snapped his eyes shut. Perhaps some more rest would do him good. He clamped his crackly mouth and waited for miserable sleep to come. He waited for a long time, and at one point he could swear that he heard the whispers of the candle flame. It told him tales of his home, gone away since his buoy had deteriorated. It reminded him of the loneliness of being stuck, spread wide apart, open for the sea to take him in.
So what did he do to deserve being here? Just how gracious had be been, floating atop the skin of the sea?
Movement was heard to his left, farther from the candle. His eyes screwed tighter at the pounding sound of clunking footfalls that matched his painful heartbeat to a tee. Then, those footfalls got closer, and closer, until they stopped, directly in front of his face, and he smelled nothing but the stink of alcohol, felt nothing but the coolness of ocean spray.
A calloused hand found his cheek, and he felt the breeze at this person's movement. That hand forced him to face the sky, and slowly, out of pure curiosity, his eyes crept open. Of course, all that greeted him was an elaborate expanse of blurs, but this time, it was in the form of a luxurious blood red, and a filthy yellow.
Kiku appeared less than happy to be under the door frame. However, while a normal person would appear mildly affronted and angry, he only looked as though he was about to be sick.
"Are you sure?" he asked, standing straight in the way that he did and appearing ill at the prospect of talking to people any longer than he had to.
"There has honestly not been a cat in here." Alfred said, sounding casual but irritated in the slightest bit. Perhaps it was because he was caught between two sets of prying eyes, one green, one brown. He found it a little amusing, how when he first woke up, he had expected it to be a nice, relaxing day in which he hung around with his cool English friend and played a few video games. Evidently, not on his life. No, instead he got the life kissed out of him in his backyard, and his old 'friend' from so long ago had shown up at his house.
That day, in Alfred's point of few, was the exact embodiment of everything that was not normal.
"He was so distressed. I feel so sorry for him-"
"That's real sad, buddy, but uh, there's really not a cat here." he stated, beginning to shut the door.
Before Kiku could have a door hit his nose, he managed to shout a single phrase.
"If you say so. Goodbye then, Alfred, Arthur-"
The locks on the door clanked when it was finally shut, and when there was a solid wall between Alfred and the Japanese boy, he huffed out a breath of relief. Still, he couldn't deny that his heart was pattering a lot faster than it normally was.
Gingerly, he looked to his left, only to find Arthur kneeling on the ground and attempting to drag Burger from the recesses underneath the couch. All he could see was the back of his head and his shoulders, sticking up above the coffee table, and all he could hear was a myriad of hisses and gentle chides. Attempting to calm himself, Alfred fixed his glasses, and slowly crept into the other room. If there was one thing he knew for certain, it was that he desperately needed to sit down and think things over.
Arthur dug his fingers into Burger's full, white fur, but he wasn't paying much attention to it. His grip slackened, and he found himself staring at the stitching of the couch. Little coos to the cat left his mouth, but by now that was nearly automatic, and he wasn't paying attention to them in the least. The only thing that was on his mind was one nagging question, one sinking suspicion that frightened him in a way nothing ever had. In all of his memory, Arthur could not recall meeting this younger Kiku, not once. Yet, the fact remained that the tiny Japanese boy had known his name.
As time wore on, his breath began to even out, and the tips of his fingers began to warm. Sometimes he was covered in a damp, yet warm blanket that smelled of dust, and other times he was left to stare at the blurs of the tiny flame alone. It was often unbearably cold, and within those times, or nights, he would assume, he would tremble to the point of migraine, and he would squirm so much that he would fall out of bed. Inside him resided a simple mindset, one that nagged him to no end and pulled him into the dark. He was not ready to die yet.
No, he refused to do such a thing. That was why he had clung to the drifting float, and why he had let the sea present him to the sky. It was why he relished in the feelings he got, the ones in which he felt cool fingertips brush across his forehead as they carded through his filthy hair, or the ones when he was lifted back into bed after a terrible fall. However, it was also the reason for the nauseating scent of salt burning his nose, and the potent ache in his bones. Still, he would not relent, and he would not succumb. No, heavens no.
And in a certain light, he was infinitely grateful for such a mindset, as despite its pain, one day, it granted him the gift of clear sight once again.
After standing around with an anxious cat pacing at his feet, Arthur had decided that he ought to put the issue in the back of his mind. It wasn't as though he was about to chase after Kiku in the angry sun, nor was he going to press the issue with Alfred. Burger attached a paw to his leg, and although he was distracted, he thought to give himself a slight smile, even though the cat surely couldn't read it.
That was a concept that was worrying, yes, but... the thing that truly concerned him, was the way the two of them had been looking at each other.
He was past the point of being seasick. Instead, it honestly felt like he had become indebted to the salty waters, as if they themselves had kept him alive, when in reality they had done the opposite. It was becoming an obsession, really. Often, he stared up at the planked ceiling with lidded eyes, listening to the deep blue lap and knock into swinging, faded wood. He felt when it picked up and tilted him, and he smiled during the storms, when everyone outside his little room would panic and yell, when they would scurry around, screaming like chickens missing their heads.
However, there was one voice that distracted him from the sea. It would call orders, and it brought with it a confident clanking of boots that often squeaked and scratched. That voice wasn't very deep, however, nor was it very high. It had a tone to it that relaxed him despite its thick coat of aggression. Yes, that voice was like a second sea to him.
So, when he opened his eyes and found that red blur to be stable, and when he heard that voice yell out from somewhere distant, he morphed his dry lips into the biggest fraction of a smile he could manage. His slumbering, rambling arm drew itself upward from its perch at his side, and as he gazed, fascinated, at blond, filthy, unruly hair, his pale fingers and overgrown nails pinched worn, yet extravagant royal red fabric, and pulled.
The man in the red coat whipped around and blinked, astonished, before glaring his acid green gaze at him. At the utter disdain in the semi-stranger's look, the sea-drifter quickly lost any inkling he had of a smile.
"You know Kiku?"
Alfred paused in his scavenging of the fridge.
"You know Kiku?"
Arthur narrowed his eyes as he scrutinized the other boy. That was definitely off topic, his inner voice told him. Alfred was definitely avoiding the subject. He felt like a petty, jealous lover with his fists on his hips and his face twisted into a red hot scowl. Perhaps that was what he was. At least, in his mind. Arthur was pretty certain that Alfred hadn't really absorbed the situation, nor the morning's events properly. The boy was distant as always, in his odd way of being so.
"Yes." he said lamely. Alfred raised one eyebrow and looked as though he was about to reply, before snapping his mouth shut at Arthur's sudden, pointed look.
"But that's not any of your business." Arthur said tartly, before feeling like a bit of an ass afterward. He was only trying to defend himself and figure out his own problem. In a way, it felt like he had become a cold-hearted detective, assigned the case of his own life. So it was at least semi-reasonable that he avoided the subject too, right? After all, it seemed that no matter what he did, the boy could not get a grip on his situation.
Alfred was still for a moment, before frowning.
"Well." he said simply, before grabbing a cold bar of chocolate, slamming the fridge door shut, and padding over to the stairs.
That night, Arthur had dreamed of something ferocious. Upon awakening, he was certain that he had been writhing in his bed and squirming, for when he opened his eyes at the very turn of midnight, he found himself with one leg slung onto the floor, partially covered with his blanket, which was also on the floor.
Then, he blinked, and finally, he adjusted himself into a somewhat orderly position. Although he was by now used to abnormal dreams, this time, it was absolutely bizarre. A tiny part of him found it amusing that sleep always seemed to rescue him right at the point of interest, yet this time, he had found it a little frightening.
This time, it had stopped him from feeling the barbed metal of a rusted sword being plunged into his abdomen. He turned over, and he snickered into his pillow, still feeling a bit shaky.
After all of this, now he was dreaming about pirates, like he often had in his childhood.
(Climbs out of your TV.) I'm alive!
Okay, so, a lot of you were right about who was in the house. However, I bet you weren't expecting the other concept of this chapter. Nosiree, even I wasn't expecting it when I first started this fic...
Ah well, ships, amiright?
What's your take on all this? How do you think it all connects together? Please, by all means, leave your comments with me.
Every significant character has a role in all of this. So, who do you think was the man who was floating in the sea? You might be right about that, too.
To make this a super long AN, I feel like I should explain my absence. So, firstly, I was planning on finishing my other gargantuan fic, but that got sidetracked as I had a vacation to Indianapolis. So on the road trip I began another short series that came to mind as I was staring out the car window, observing the landscape of good ol' Utah. (Basically garbage, sand, and tiny bushes.) I had it in mind a while, but I thought it would be good to finish it all on the trip.
I didn't finish it all on the trip.
So that led to me pining on it afterward for a month or so, as I'm just terrible with making my fics short and digestible. Then, something short of a miracle happened. Needless to say, it distracted the hell out of me. You know who you are, you butt. I was interrupted and wasted like, a week, doing nothing but staring at Skype. So there. It's been, what, two and a half months? Of course, the majority of the wait is solely my fault, as I am a terrible person. But eh... hm. I think I put enough on the table. (Looks at 40,000 word oneshot.)
ALSO I'M POSTING THIS CHAPTER ON MY BIRTHDAY HOW ABOUT THAT HAHAHAHA SIXTEEN BABY.
Look forward to disgusting teenage drama and carpet burn.
Until next time.