Author/Artist: chromatic_coma @ animusia
Character(s)/Pairing(s) [in this chapter]: England, France, Prussia, Canada, Hungary, America, Russia,[N. Italy, Germany, Spain, Austria] ; France/England, Prussia/Canada, America/Russia, Austria/Hungary
Genre: Comedy, Drama, Romance
Warning: Human names used, fail!attempts at humor, language
Summary: Arthur is a young screenplay writer and director who wants to make a name for himself, but will that be possible with a flirt like Francis Bonnefoy as his star?
Chapter Summary: The story is coming to a close, but will our heroes ever get over themselves?
Save the Drama for the Stage, Chapter 10
“Only two days left to get your tickets to opening night of Distance, and they’re selling quickly! Get your tickets now and see the newest masterpiece by the director critics are calling a young genius, Arthur Kirkland!”
Alfred really, really hated his job. Sure, Uncle Berwald paid well, and it made him happy which was good because he was family and if there was anything Alfred cared about it was his family, but otherwise the grueling job had no redeeming factors.
It was hot. The American wiped sweat off his brow so often that his trousers were getting darker from him drying his hands on them. His glasses kept sliding off his nose, too, which was incredibly annoying.
Worst of all, though, was how dry his throat always got. He would shout all day in the heat and in the end his water would be warm and gross.
“Good afternoon, comrade.”
The Russian smiled, holding out a bottle of juice. “It is very hot today, da? I thought you might like this.”
Alfred looked from the bottle to Ivan and back again. It was… thoughtful. Alfred was suspicious, but he was far too thirsty to care as he accepted the bottle.
The first sip was very, very refreshing; Alfred found himself smacking his lips when he swallowed.
“Thanks, man. I needed this.”
Alfred caught himself a moment too late, but Ivan was smiling and it wasn’t creepy and so he found he couldn’t take it back.
“You are welcome!”
The following silence was awkward for Alfred, as he scrambled to find something to talk about.
“So… uh… are you going to see the play?”
Ivan suddenly (finally) frowned, “No. The tickets cost too much.”
“Oh… but, do you want to see it?”
“It seems interesting. It would be fun to see people I know not being themselves.”
Alfred recognized the wistful expression and, possibly against his better judgment, slipped a ticket into Ivan’s palm.
“Don’t tell anyone. Consider it me paying you back for the juice or something…”
But Ivan was beaming, now, and Alfred couldn’t help but smile.
Suddenly, Ivan looked up, his violet eyes peering right into Alfred’s clear blue ones.
“You will come with me, da? And we will… sit together?”
In that moment he looked so young and so hopeful, Alfred couldn’t let him down.
Opening night was in two days. As in the day after the next day. Arthur was only confident because he knew that his actors, as much as he gave them a hard time, were fairly competent and could carry the show…
Oh, who was he kidding? The blond Briton was completely nervous, finding new flaws in everything from loose seams in costumes (Feliks was not amused) to squared millimeter sections of canvas that weren’t painted (Feliciano bursted into tears and ran into Ludwig’s arms to be comforted).
It was Elizaveta, of course, who stepped up, taking the director by the arm and pulling him to his desk and his hot cup of tea.
“Relax, Mister Kirkland, everything is perfect. All the lines are memorized, all the costumes, sets, and props are completed, Eduard has checked all the lights and they’re fully functional. Everything is ready for opening night and for tomorrow’s dress rehearsal, so there is no need to stress.”
“Y-Yes… yes, of course.”
Elizaveta smiled encouragingly, “Exactly. Now, then, do you need a break?”
“…Everything is ready?”
“Well, in that case… I suppose taking a rest won’t hurt. The rest of you… just, be prepared for the dress rehearsal tomorrow!”
Arthur nodded sharply, and a few similarly determined nods were returned, so he headed back to his room.
Francis’ words were bothering him. Arthur Kirkland, though he was too proud to admit it, had never learned French (he had taken French class, of course, but the instructor was unknowledgeable and Arthur had used that time mainly to work on his first script, not paying any attention whatsoever). It had never bothered Arthur that he didn’t know French; he never considered that language to be all that important. After all, the greatest writer of all time, in his opinion, wrote in English, and so would he.
He didn’t regret it, that is, until the moment two nights ago when Francis had said whatever he’d said and had not spoken to him since. Arthur tried to remembered the words, but by the time he’d gotten to a French-English dictionary the words were a blur of foreign sounding syllables that he could not separate into words.
Even though the words were easily forgotten, the way they were said was something that haunted Arthur since the door swung shut behind the Frenchman. There was heaviness in his tone, a weight hanging over his eyebrows, that made him look and feel so much older than his real age… it hurt Arthur in ways he did not know he could be hurt. It was guilt, he knew, because not only did he get the strong sense that Francis blamed him for something, but he found that was blaming himself for something too.
But, as Arthur lay in his bed and stared at the ceiling, he was getting frustrated with his inability to figure out what it was that he felt guilty for. There was no one action, no one thing that he could point to and say that it was the source of his troubles. The only thing that came to mind was his (admittedly drunken) accusation of Francis’ lying, but he’d apologized for that when the truth had come to light and Francis was probably worse off after that than he’d been before.
So it was not one thing that had upset Francis and made Arthur so guilty. It had to be more than one thing… maybe… maybe everything…
Because Arthur had never complimented Francis, despite the fact that he was the best Aaron that had stepped up on his stage. He had never told him how well certain gestures flowed with the dialogue, as if Francis had been in his mind seeing Arthur’s vision and portraying it to a T. He rarely even ever treated him with courtesy; grunting in reply at every Bonjour and never thanking the man for any kind gesture he might have performed, insisting that he could have held his own doors open or the like.
Realization slowly dawned on Arthur, and it felt like the warmth was being sucked from his body as he understood. He had been, in his own honest terms, nothing short of a bastard to Francis, and the man was probably sick of putting up with him.
Arthur buried his face in his pillow, mind abuzz with thoughts. What was he to do now? What did he want, anyways? Francis’ intentions… were obvious, he concluded with a flush. But was he after the same thing? Could he… be with Francis?
Whatever it was he wanted, Arthur knew, he had to figure out soon.
Opening night was here. Francis stared at the closed curtain with apprehension bubbling in his stomach, though his poker face was in place. The show was only running for two weeks, and if things went well, he would be back in Paris once it was over, on the threshold of a theater in his mother country, this disheartening experience behind him.
Not that this was not a bad theater at all, Francis reflected. Most of the cast and crew members were warm and welcoming and friendly; while he wasn’t exactly one of them, he certainly could feel like he was.
In fact, it would have been so easy for Francis to have stayed here, in London and with this rambunctious group of people, had it not been for their director. Certainly, Francis made a mistake thinking he could use Matthew to get Arthur’s attention, but he had apologized for it. And really, other than that he had done nothing but be himself; he had even worked to tone down his alleged “Frenchiness” for the other. Francis no longer knew what he could do to please Arthur, and so he had quite shamefully given up.
“Bonnefoy- Francis, can I… speak to you for a moment?”
Speak of the Devil.
Francis turned around, to find Arthur Kirkland, composed in appearance except for the tenseness of his muscles, very visible in his wrists. He was nervous, of course; Francis expected he was going to be given a pep talk that ended in a heavily implied ’or else’.
But Arthur’s cheeks were beginning to turn pink, as he focused his shaky emerald eyes on Francis’ azure ones.
“Y-You haven’t been acting very well lately.”
Ah, there it was. Francis pointedly decided not to answer.
“But…” Arthur continued hesitantly, “I believe that is… my fault.”
Arthur looked away quickly. “Yes, well… I suppose I haven’t been treating you very well. The truth is, you are a very… gifted actor. I am glad you joined us for this production.”
Francis briefly wondered if his ears were betraying him, but Arthur’s mannerisms made it all too plausible that this was actually happening.
“Merci beaucoup. I can honestly say that I have enjoyed my time here as well.”
The silence that followed was heavy, and Francis wondered if this was going to be a pattern. The area around them was alive with people running and hustling to have everything perfect, but the Frenchman felt as if their corner of the set was frozen in time.
“Francis… I… am sorry. I have been treating you horribly since you arrived here, and… for the most part, you do not deserve it-”
“-Thank you, mon cher-“
“Wait, I’m not done yet!” Arthur cleared his throat sharply, cheeks bright red. “I still… want to wish you luck…”
Before Francis could finish the sentence, Arthur grabbed his gently by the necktie and had their lips pressed together in an unexpectedly passionate, dizzying kiss.
It’s funny; Francis never realized they were the same height…
The performance was perfect. Well, nearly perfect; Gilbert suddenly got the hiccups during the scene while he was huddled under his rock costume, but Elizaveta and Francis managed to be loud enough so that he went mostly unheard.
Otherwise, though, everything went flawlessly. Critics were already clamoring to interview Arthur about the show, and the actors too were getting their fair share of attention.
“So, what’d you think, Mattie? Wasn’t I awesome?”
“Awesome at being a distraction, maybe.” Matthew teased, and for that Gilbert ruffled his hair. There was beam on his face, though, bigger even than Arthur’s. Matt couldn’t help but smile himself.
“Oh, hey, look, it’s that cute guy I was stalking before when I saw you and Francis together!”
But Gilbert ignored Matt’s incredulous look, and waved in the air, calling out, “Vash, Vash!”
The disgruntled blond turned around, glaring at Gilbert.
“So, you came to see my show, did you?”
Vash scoffed, “You weren’t in the show!”
“I was so. I was the rock.”
Matthew resisted the impulse to snort at how proud he sounded about it.
“Wait… so you were the one who was making that distracting sound?!”
“I had hiccups!”
Before either of them could get another word in, a blonde woman with a short haircut and tight dress came over to them, slinking her arm around Vash’s waist.
“Hey, what’re you doing here hun?” She cooed, and Vash flushed.
“N-Nothing. We’re going now.”
With that, Vash stalked off, and the young woman winked and waved before striding after.
Gilbert recovered first, snorting and laughing, “Wow, he’s whipped. Who’d have thought it, huh?”
Matt simply shrugged, and Gilbert led him off to make out somewhere quiet.
“So, monsieur, what did you think of my performance?”
Francis had found Arthur sitting at his desk (which had been moved backstage for the show) after everyone else had left, thumbing the small bust of William Shakespeare and smiling.
The Briton cracked an eye open, only to close it a moment later.
“I’m impressed; it wasn’t complete rubbish this time.”
There was teasing in his tone, and Francis realized the lightness of it gave it something of an alluring lift. He grinned, sitting on the director’s desk.
“I wonder if your good luck wish had anything to do with it,” he started, eyelids low and face centimeters from the others. “Perhaps we should… try it again…?”
Arthur opened both eyes now and gave the other a confident smirk. “Don’t push it, Bonnefoy. I hear Lady Luck is not very generous.”
“On the contrary, I feel like the luckiest man in the world at the moment.”
Arthur sat up a little straighter.
“Well, at the very least you’re earned yourself a congratulatory kiss. But if you stay rigid again this time, I swear it will be the last kiss you will ever have.”
“I would not worry about that, mon amour.”
Seconds later, when their lips were locked in a contest of passion, there were no more worries left.
A/N: To those of you who has make it this far, thank you so much for joining me through this adventure. It was certainly an adventure for me, being my first multi-chaptered fic in nearly three years. I really wasn't sure I could make it this far, and so I really have to thank you all for the encouragement and pride you instilled in me.
Dedications are in order: To moirae, who not only betaed my first fic, but who was my original inspiration to get out of my comfort zone of writing. I'm sorry Hallie; I know you meant for me to do deeper plots, but this was pretty out of my comfort zone too.
To thruthosewords, who is SpeakingThroughWrittenWords on ff.net, for writing several FrUK drabbles in which Francis was, indeed, an actor. That is where my inspiration for this fic originally came from.
To windweaver1092, the England to my France and the reason why I ever even got into this pairing. Thank you for all your support, love.
Finally, to everyone who's ever read a chapter, left a comment, or mem'd an entry. Thank you guys all so much!!
An epilogue will be up soon. Until then, I hope you all enjoyed this story <3