Genre : humor, romance, angst
Pairings: pre- USUK
Warnings: Gakuen AU, human names used, language because Arthur has a potty mouth, preteen angst
Summary: Arthur did not know how everything had gone so wrong. But he did know he never should've kissed Alfred Jones just to have a first kiss.
Note: This is a part of my Persistence AU and takes place about four years before The Art of Persistence. This story is meant to chronicle the 'Fight' Alfred referenced in the original story that took place between the pair in middle school. It is one of the rare stories in this universe that will be seen through Arthur's eyes. Enjoy and remember comments are love!!!
If you asked Arthur how exactly everything had gone so horribly wrong, he wouldn’t have been able to pinpoint an exact moment. He didn’t know if things had gone to shit all of a sudden or if it had been a gradual process that had gone unnoticed until it was too late. He didn’t know if it had to do with middle school, with all of its politics and teasing and terrible cliques, or if that had played only a small factor. And he really didn’t know if his annoyance and jealousy of his best friend, Alfred Jones, which had led to everything going wrong, had to do with the fact that Alfred was everything that Arthur wasn’t or because they had kissed a few weeks ago to see what it felt like and Arthur hadn’t been able to stop thinking about it since then. What he did know was that he was confused and upset and had yelled at Alfred. And he’d said a lot of stupid stuff that didn’t seem to be as big of a deal now as they had when he’d been yelling them. And Alfred had yelled back before storming off to be with his new friends, who were so much different than Arthur, without so much as a glance back.
Arthur had stared after Alfred for a moment before the sniggering and stares from the other students became too much and he’d retreated to the small library their school had in loud stomps. He had been angry the whole way, all up until he threw himself in an empty table in the corner of the library. Then, then the guilt and confusion started to form, guilt that he had yelled at Alfred for something so childish Arthur was too embarrassed to even replay the words in his head, and confusion about why he would even say such things. Confusion as to why seeing Alfred sit down and smile with the pretty Maria from his history class instead of Arthur had made him so angry, hurt and make a whole scene that he was sure would follow him for the rest of the year.
Arthur, by nature, was not a very greedy or spoiled person; at least he did not think so. He’d grown up with two older brothers, a younger brother and money had never been plentiful between his parents. He’d never been someone who needed to have the latest and greatest game system or trainers and was perfectly happy with used books and CDs. Peter may have complained about hand-me-down clothes, and Patrick and Rhys constantly griped about not having cars, but Arthur didn’t see a point and was content with what he’d had. He’d never felt especially stingy or slighted from what he could remember, and he had certainly never been called a selfish child by his parents. So, he could not understand why he’d gotten so upset because he didn’t have Alfred’s attention that lunch period or past ones. He groaned and plunked his forehead down on the wood of the table, wrapping his arms to cradle his head, wishing the earth would just swallow him up and end his miserable existence.
Alfred had been Arthur’s best friend since he was nine years old, fresh from England and desperately wanting to go back. He’d found the idiot about to jump off his roof, a ridiculous sheet tied around his neck like a cape and wearing what looked like swimming trunks. He had, of course, shouted at the boy in both alarm and anger and had been forced to run to tell his parents, after the idiot jumped, that a boy had killed himself down the street. Obviously, Alfred had only sustained some mediocre damage and a broken bone, not death, from his stunt, but jumping off the roof in front of Arthur had somehow bonded them together as friends. And a friend was something that Arthur could admit he’d desperately needed that first week in America. And now, four years later, their friendship which had seemed so strong as children was falling apart—and Arthur could admit it was nearly all his blasted fault. He tugged at his hair, undoubtedly ruining all of his hard work that morning in trying to tame it, and groaned at how messed up everything was.
Arthur was the first one to admit that he wasn’t the easiest of persons to get along with, but it had never seemed as big a problem until he started middle school, where having a group of friends as large as a herd of wildebeests was the determining factor on whether one was a loser and got picked on or not. He’d come to school with a best friend, who was a year younger and therefore useless to middle school politics that first year, and Angelique and Santos, both of whom didn’t have his same lunch hour; while that had seemed quite enough friends before, he had quickly learned it was anything but. It had been horrible, but he wasn’t about to let a bunch of uneducated prats push him around; he had persevered and looked forward to when Alfred was at the school with him again.
Alfred was different from Arthur though. Alfred had no problems making lots of friends and he did just that when he started at the middle school that year. Arthur had tried hard not to be selfish or irrationally angry that Alfred was so much more friendly and able to make friends so easily compared to himself, and for a while he had done fairly well. He was thirteen years old, certainly that was too old to throw a tantrum about something as silly as his friend making news friends, especially if he wanted to be taken seriously by his teachers and parents. And some of his new friends, like Elizaveta and Kiku, were quite agreeable, not at all immature or childish (though Elizaveta did get a little crazy when she talked about romances between students).
But then that kiss happened; it was supposed to just be a silly, thoughtless experiment that wasn’t supposed to mean anything and was just meant to show them what all the fuss was about. A kiss that was just supposed to give them the ability to say they’d had their first kiss already if they were ever asked. A kiss that had made Arthur’s stomach go all flippy and his head go all fuzzy; being flippy and fuzzy were two things Arthur did not want to be. Alfred had blushed but the only other mention he made afterwards was that he was happy that he didn’t have to be nervous about ‘not kissing’ anyone anymore—he certainly hadn’t look flustered or confused or anything else Arthur had looked and felt. So he had tried to forget it and act like Alfred, carefree and unworried should kissing someone present itself in the future; he had failed utterly.
He couldn’t even grasp now why he had yelled at Alfred about how he was a bad friend and should’ve been spending more time with him—and he couldn’t even imagine why he’d chosen to yell all that with an audience of unforgiving teenagers. He felt like a right git and he was beginning to wish he had never agreed to Alfred’s stupid idea to kiss each other so they could say they’d done it. It had messed everything up and made Arthur act like a bugger (and certainly not because he may have liked liked Alfred because that would just make everything worse and it had just been a stupid bloody kiss, you didn’t start liking someone from one bloody kiss!). And Alfred…he had looked so confused and hurt when Arthur had yelled. Hurt and then angry, angrier than Arthur had ever seen Alfred become, especially with him. Alfred never got angry with Arthur, even when Arthur may have felt he deserved it, he never did. Until now at least.
Arthur took a deep breath and lifted his head off the desk as he heard the bell ring, signaling that lunch was over and it was back to the classrooms. He briefly toyed with the idea of skipping, but if he did then word would get back to his parents and he’d make them angry with him as well. He sniffed and tried to keep his back straight as he wondered away from the library and back to his locker for his bag and books—he could hear some sniggering but he thought it was relatively mild considering what an arse he’d made of himself. He grabbed his books and bag out of his locker and made his way to his most hated class of the day—geometry.
“Aww, is wittle Arthur gonna cry because his friends don’t like him?”
“I only thought girls were clingy, Kirkland!”
Arthur glared at the group of taunting boys and took his seat near the front of the classroom, blocking as much of their words out as he could as they continued to make comments about training bras and how much Arthur would like them. Some of the other students laughed along but it quieted down once the teacher came in—he tried to soak in why the different angles of triangles were so important and took studious notes, but was certain he didn’t grasp a word of it. He’d have to ask Alfred what—Arthur frowned and shook his head, pressing his pencil to the paper hard enough to break the lead from the pencil. When the bell rang again, he was the first one out of the room and took a less used corridor to reach his next class; there were only so many comments about him being a girl or him having a vagina he could take before he punched someone and he had no intention of being suspended for fighting.
He took a deep breath and entered his next class, praying the rest of the day would just get done with and maybe, maybe Alfred would get knocked around a bit in gym and forget the whole ruddy day had ever happened though. He doubted it.
The rest of the day continued in a similar manner; Arthur was teased and taunted by the crueler students and he took in absolutely nothing of what the teachers lectured for the rest of the day, his mind circling around that argument in vicious circles. He’d already lamented on what he would go back and do differently if he had a time machine (or a Tardis to be specific…the Doctor’s Tardis was so much cooler than any other type of time machine) and replayed all the stupid things he’d said hundreds of times. He’d tried to think about how he could pass the whole thing off as a joke and he also had tried to come up with words he could say to Alfred once he actually saw him. ‘I’m sorry’ didn’t quite seem to be enough in Arthur’s mind—it wouldn’t be if Alfred had been the one to say all those nasty things to him. Nothing came to him though, and by the time the final bell rang, signaling the end of another school day and sweet freedom for most of the students (Arthur genuinely liked school, he didn’t understand why other students always felt the need to cheer when another day was over…), his stomach was a mess of knots and aches. If he had anything apart from bile in his stomach, as his lunch period had obviously been occupied with his sordid fight and he’d had no time to eat anything, he probably would have thrown it up by now.
He gathered up his things and made his way out of the classroom, his hands gripping the books he was carrying tight enough that his knuckles went white. Most of the students were too busy trying to find their bus or their parent’s car so they could get home to taunt him further, which was a relief. It was much easier to search for a person’s head when he wasn’t being tempted to break people’s noses. He exited out the back gates of the school and glanced around hurriedly for Alfred, hoping he could catch him before his mum came to pick them up—it would be too awkward to try and apologize and explain with her in the car as well. He squeezed passed a group of giggling girls and walked towards the curb where Alfred’s mum usually met them, scanning the crowd for the familiar head of blond hair, but he couldn’t spot it. He adjusted the bag on his shoulder and worried his bottom lip in between his teeth, the swooping feeling of guilt settling in his stomach once again.
Resigned to an uncomfortable car ride, Arthur sighed and started walking past the buses towards a semicircle pick-up zone at the back of the school—Alfred’s mum hated picking them up at the front, said all the screaming, oblivious teenagers made her entertain homicidal thoughts. He turned the corner past the last bus and spotted a few cars waiting for their kids, but it was a dark green, nearly black, SUV that caught his attention. A SUV that was currently driving away from the school—without Arthur inside it. He blinked for a moment as he watched Mrs. Jones’s car pull out onto the street and drive away from the school, back to their neighborhood, the swooping guilt in his stomach halting and tensing into a tight knot.
They’d—he’d left Arthur there! Arthur held little doubt that Alfred had told his mum that he was getting a different ride home or was staying late after school or some kind of other bullshit excuse just to abandon him. That-that utter prick! It wasn’t like they lived close by their school and he could just walk home to ‘learn his lesson’! The guilt started to fade to the background and red-hot anger filled its place, Arthur’s eyes narrowing as he followed the car until it turned out of sight, his hand clenching around the strap of his bag hard enough to leave crescent shaped indentations in his palm. He turned away from the curb sharply and stomped his way back up to the front office of the school, promising that if anyone else even mentioned the word ‘panties’ as he passed he was kicking the shit out of them, suspension be damned.
He couldn’t believe Alfred had just left him there! Yes, Arthur had been a right prat and he felt awful about all those stupid things he’d said but—but that gave Alfred no right to just leave him without a way home. He knew Arthur’s parents wouldn’t be home for hours still and his brothers didn’t have cars to pick him up in (not that they even would anyway) and-and—Arthur clenched his teeth as he rounded the corner back to the front of the school, the buses having left already and leaving only a few stragglers around the gates. He walked towards the front office and hurried in the door, frowning at the questioning look an office aid gave him as he approached her.
“Can I use your phone? I need to call my parents.”
“Are you all right?”
“I’m fine, I just need a ride home. Mine left without me.” He hated the way he eyes widened in fake sympathy as she nodded and made a show of lifting her phone up onto the counter so he could dial.
“Oh of course, dear! Just be sure to dial ‘9’ first.”
“Thank you.” Arthur dialed his mum first and then his da, disappointed that neither answered their cell phones but not unsurprised. He left messages for both of them, explaining that’d he’d gotten caught up with a teacher regarding some extra credit and had missed his ride home, before he hung up the phone and met the even more sympathetic woman’s eyes. “They’re at work—how long does the office stay open?”
“Just until 3:30, do you have a friend or sibling you could call?”
Arthur shook his head, his anger towards Alfred building at every word the aid said. “It’s fine, I left messages, I’m sure they’ll get them, I won’t have to wait long. Thank you for letting my use your phone.”
He turned away and walked back out the door, heading past the gates until he could sit down on a small bench that rested outside the school in the main pick-up zone. There was a good chance one of his parents would check their voicemail before actually getting home, but that still left Arthur basically stranded for the next two hours. He sighed and fished out his notebooks, figuring if he was going to be stuck there he might as well make his abandonment productive. He opened up his geometry notebook and glanced over at the homework he’d been assigned. It was all a bunch of shapes and numerical gibberish and no matter how many times he tried to do the problems, it never turned out the way it was supposed to. He may have been pants at the subject, but he was fairly sure that triangles didn’t have angles in the thousands—he huffed and shoved the notebook back in his bag, not caring that he crumpled up the edges a bit. Usually, Alfred was the one who made sense of all those numbers and shapes to him—Arthur frowned and pulled out his history book with enough force he gave himself a paper cut.
He was angry, angrier than he could remember being in a long time—he was even angrier than he’d been that time Peter had dumped his gross, green silly-putty all over his favorite Iggy Pop t-shirt and left it out in the sun. He didn’t blame Alfred for being angry with him for their stupid fight, he really didn’t, but for him to just leave him there…it wasn’t as if Alfred had never caused a stupid fight between them! In fact, if Arthur thought back, it usually was Alfred who did something foolish and had to apologize; and while Arthur may have given him his fair share of grief, he’d never do something like this, something that could end up very badly. Didn’t Alfred pay attention to that special program they’d had about students getting kidnapped from their schools, how predators lurked and waited for the opportune moment, such as say a student left behind at school by his utter git of a ‘friend’?
If he ended up raped and murdered because of this, Arthur was going to make sure he haunted Alfred for the rest of his life.
Arthur watched as most of the teachers and administrative staff headed out to their cars and began their journeys home, glancing up from his history homework every so often when he heard a car drive by, hoping it was his parents, that they’d gotten his message and hurried to his aid. It wasn’t though, and he found himself getting angrier with each passing car. The vice principal came out to check if he was still there and put on her best worried expression as she sat down beside him; Arthur did not glance up at her, he was embarrassed enough as it was. The last thing he needed was to be on first-name basis with the vice principal!
“Mr. Kirkland, do you know when your parents might arrive to pick you up?”
“No. I left messages…they work a lot.”
“Well, not to worry, I’ll stay here until they come. Come on, in you get. You’ll be more comfortable doing homework inside, at a table, than on your knees on a concrete bench!” She smiled kindly at him and rose to her feet; Arthur grabbed his bag and books and followed suit.
“Thank you, ma’am.”
“It’s my job, Mr. Kirkland. Now come on, I’ve got some paperwork to do and you’ve got homework. I’ll ring your parents again if they’re not here in the next hour.” She ushered him back inside the front office and told him he could use her secretary’s desk, which he thanked her for with a polite smile. It was much cooler inside the office and it was easier to write out his homework on a solid, stationary surface—he tried to push down the hot sweep of anger, mortification, and guilt (for making the vice principal stay late) he felt coursing through him and finish his work.
He wished, again, that he’d never agreed to Alfred’s dumb plan to be each other’s first kiss. And he wished he didn’t feel so stupidly hurt over everything and that seeing Alfred laugh so easily with Maria from history didn’t make his stomach cramp or drop. He wished his parents picked up their damn phones when he called and didn’t just ignore him like they always seemed to do—and he wished he could do his bloody geometry homework without Alfred’s help. But wishes were pointless and certainly weren’t going to make him feel any better today. He scowled darkly at his history homework and continued to scribble down his answers.
By the time his mother arrived, he’d finished all his work, except geometry, and had read through the required reading in English for the next week—he was terribly hungry as well. His mum had looked worried and annoyed at him but her motherly instincts held out and she pulled him in for a hug, thanking the vice principal for staying so late with him so he wasn’t alone. The walk out to her car had been quiet and uncomfortable, but it wasn’t until he was buckled in and she was pulling the car out onto the road that she finally began her worried scolding. Arthur frowned at the dashboard but didn’t say a word; he knew she had probably been frantic when she got home and none of his brothers knew where he was. Her phone was dead you see, and his father was stuck at work still—she had called the Joneses and Mrs. Jones had said that Alfred told her that Arthur was getting a different ride home that day. Arthur glared but corroborated the story.
“Sorry mum…I forgot to tell Alfred I didn’t have to stay after school today and I didn’t meet him because I had to discuss a project with my teacher.”
His mum huffed but gave him a relieved sort of smile. “I’m just happy you’re all right! I was worried you had just walked home and—oh you know there are just despicable people out there! You be sure to thank Mrs. Columbi for staying there with you tomorrow. I wonder if I should make her a fruit basket or something—”
His mum trailed off about the pros and cons of gifting a teacher with a fruit basket as thanks for watching her child and Arthur turned to stare out the window as they made their way home. She asked him a bit about his day but he wasn’t in the mood to discuss the complete cock-up today had been and had given monosyllabic answers until she got the hint. She filled the silence with how well Peter had done in his swim practice that day, which she had to listen to while searching frantically through the house for Arthur. He only half listened, and then stopped listening all together when his mum pulled into their driveway and he saw Alfred standing there, somewhat reluctantly, with his own mum. He looked away quickly and made a great show of getting his bag and exiting the car; he slammed the door with enough force to make the car shake (which his mum gave him the ‘Look’ for).
“I’m so sorry, Maggie! I think the boys just got the days mixed up, I swear I wouldn’t have left him there if I knew he needed a ride!” Alfred’s mum always called Arthur’s mum Maggie instead of Margaret, which his mum hated. “Are you okay, Artie? Please don’t be mad, I promise I’ll make you a ton of cookies to make up for today!”
“Mary, it’s fine and he’s fine. I know you wouldn’t have left him.” His mum sounded so much different than Alfred’s mum did; Arthur tried to focus on that and not on how he wanted to punch Alfred’s unapologetic face in. “Mrs. Columbi, the vice principal you know, she stayed there with him so everything turned out all right.”
“Oh good! And you two, you be sure to tell each other the right stuff next time! Lord, you both nearly gave your mothers heart attacks!” Mary Jones smiled and reached in to give Arthur a hug, something he had grown accustomed to over the years; Arthur glared at Alfred angrily and was pleased at the uncomfortable look that passed over the younger boy’s face. He was probably worried Arthur would tell the truth and then he’d get grounded or something, the selfish git. “You sure you’re all right, Artie? Your face is all scrunched up.”
“I’m fine. I’m sorry I worried you too, Mrs. Jones.” His mum had already hurried inside the house with a harried good bye to Alfred’s mum, no doubt concerned at the loud crashing and swearing they could hear from coming inside the house. “I have to go now, my brothers are probably destroying what’s left of mum’s sanity. Thanks for coming over to check on me.”
“Of course, sweetheart.” Arthur could hear her turn to Alfred as he walked away without a single glance back at Alfred. “Do you think he looks all right, Al? He looks kind of—oh I want to say constipated but that’s not very nice!”
“He’s probably just being sensitive or whatever. He’s been a jerk all day.”
“Al, baby, are you two fighting or—” Arthur shut the front door and stomped up the stairs to his room, not hungry anymore and wanting to break something, preferably something one of his brother’s owned. Alas, his mum caught him half way up and told him to set the table for dinner, her voice making sure he understood that her request was very much a command to obey. He muttered under his breath but complied after dropping off his bag at the top of the stairs. His brothers were, of course, not helping at all, so it was just him and his mum in the kitchen; he glared at the plates his mother gave him with such vengeance one would have thought they had offended his honor in some way.
“You sure you’re all right, dear? You’ve been glaring an awful lot since we got home, more so than usual.”
“I’m fine. Mum?”
“Can you get me a bus pass? For next time I mean, so this doesn’t happen again.”
His mum stopped mixing a bowl of salad and pinned him with an all-knowing look. “Did you really ‘just forget’ the days, Arthur, or are you two fighting?”
“We’re fine, I just don’t want this to happen again, so bus pass, yeah?”
“I’ll talk to the school tomorrow. But Arthur, if you’re in a fight with someone, you don’t avoid them until the problem goes away. It’s natural you know, even if you and Alfred are close, to fight every now and then.”
Arthur didn’t say anything further; he got what he wanted out of the conversation and had no desire to talk about fighting or Alfred or anything else relating to the two. He didn’t want anything to do with Alfred for a while frankly—he was too angry and too confused and too hurt to want to be his friend right now or fix their fight. He just wanted a damn bus pass—and for high school to come as fast as it could.