Author/Artist: chromatic_coma @ animusia
Character(s)/Pairing(s): (in this chapter) France, America, England ;; France/England
Genre: Friendship, Romance, Slice-of-Life, Angst
Warning(s): Kissing, Swearing, Homosexual Relationships, Original Character, YMMV Characterizations, Angst
Summary: A lot has happened in the past ten years, and for some it was impossible to keep promises that were once so central and vital. As their high school reunion captures them all by surprise, the Bad Touch Trio will have to re-learn the meaning of friendship and love.
Part I Chapter I - Part I Chapter II - Part I Chapter III - Part I Chapter IV - Part I Chapter V - Part I Chapter VI - Part I Final - Part II Chapter I - Part II Chapter II - Part II Chapter III - Part II Chapter IV - Part II Chapter V - Part II Chapter VI
Scarred Heart in Hand, Part II Final
…A smile which faded as soon as Arthur turned back to the dancers, and found Alfred, bowing to Chelles and excusing himself. It was now or never…
Slowly he walked over to the table where Alfred was currently fanning himself with a napkin, and munching on a cookie that had been on his plate. Alfred had apparently not noticed him approaching, so when Arthur got within hearing distance he cleared his throat loudly.
Alfred looked up, and proceeded to choke on his cookie. Typical. Arthur rolled his eyes, pulled up the seat across from Alfred’s, and smirked at him.
“Are you going to sit there and stare in awe all evening, or are you going to say something?”
Alfred thumped himself on the chest, and gave one more hacking cough, winking at Arthur to let him know he was okay.
“Artie… oh man, whoa, I… I can’t believe you’re actually here!”
Arthur’s smirk relaxed into warmer smile; Alfred had not changed in the least. His face was still young and bright, his eyes still as deep a blue as the vast sky.
“Wow. God, this is so cool.”
Arthur laughed, “Is that all you can say?”
“Hold on sec…” Alfred murmured, rising from his seat and reaching out to touch Arthur’s face. He tapped him on the nose, and then inched his hand upwards, stroking one of his eyebrows. Arthur pulled away quickly, huffing, and Alfred laughed.
“It really is you. How’ve you been?”
Arthur snorted, “Are you daft, of course it’s me! And I’ve been doing well, thank you for asking.”
“And how have you been…?”
Alfred grinned. “Everything’s good. I finished my Masters in Computer Science last year and got a job working for General Motors, actually.”
“Yup. Working on designing simulations and stuff to make cars safer.”
Arthur smiled. “That would be something you would do.”
“How do you mean?”
“You’ve always wanted to be the hero, right?” Arthur shrugged, “You’re saving the lives of millions of people by preventing the accidents from happening.”
Alfred beamed, “Fuck yeah, I am.”
The two shared a laughed, and Arthur leaned back in his seat.
“You look tired,” Alfred observed.
Arthur hummed, “A bit. I’m going to be leaving soon. I wanted to talk to you before I left.”
“Dammit, if I’d known you were here sooner, I would’ve come up to ya. But I didn’t see you here before.”
“I only just arrived an hour ago. And you were dancing with Chelles, which would have been rude to interrupt…”
Alfred looked up at him quickly, “Oh, no, it would’ve been fine! She and I aren’t, I mean, we’re not like dating or anything!”
Alfred gave a forced chuckle, rubbing his neck sheepishly. “Too forceful?”
“A tad,” Arthur grinned, rolling his eyes.
“I just didn’t want you getting the wrong idea about us.”
“Of course. Does that mean that you are dating someone else?”
“Nah,” Alfred said with a flick of his wrist, but there was still something stiff about his posture that told Arthur there was more to the truth.
“But there is someone you are interested in,” he said, not asking. Alfred shrugged.
“Who is it?” Arthur deadpan, and Alfred laughed.
“I’ll give ya a hint, but you can’t tell anyone who it is when you figured it out. If you figure it out, that is.”
Alfred’s hint wasn’t verbal; instead, he put his hands in front of his chest and gestured a giant semi-circle.
“Alfred, that’s hardly a polite thing to say about a woman, much less one that you supposedly have affections for. Poor Katyusha…”
Alfred sobered up, putting his arms on the table and leaning in, his voice dropping to a whisper, “It’s not like that, man, I’ve just always wanted to do that. And it’s not… I mean, I like her for a lot more than just her body. She’s really sweet and nice and beautiful and she’s so shy but also really interesting to talk with if you get into a subject she likes…”
Alfred trailed off, and there was no mistaking the goofy grin on his face, or the pink color in his ears. Arthur smiled, and patted the other’s forearm gently.
“You should tell her. Every moment you don’t is a moment you waste.”
“I guess… Hey, where’re you going?”
Arthur, who’d stood up, pushed his seat in and raised his eyebrows,
“I’m going home. I thought I just told you that.”
“Yeah, but… so soon?”
Arthur sighed, “It’s not as if I’m leaving for England again. I’ll be around.”
“Good. Then we’d better get to spend a whole day together soon, yeah? And Mattie will wanna see you too. He’s off dancing with Gilbert now, and as much as I’d love to interrupt them, I get the feeling that’ll put me on a lot of peoples’ bad sides.”
Arthur nodded, “Probably. You could always find Katyusha and ask her for a dance.”
“With her crazy brother around? I’ll pass.”
Now the Briton frowned, remembering a conversation he had had with Ivan right before he left, “He’s not really so bad, when you get to know him…”
Alfred looked at first incredulous, and when Arthur could not hold back a yawn he chuckled softly,
“Go on, old man. I don’t want you falling asleep on me, so get yourself home.”
As an afterthought, he added, “Will you need help getting there?”
“Francis is taking me, thank you.”
“Ooo, Francis.” Alfred sing-songed. “So you plan on being up for a while, then.”
Arthur was ashamed at how quickly his cheeks flushed. “Of course not!”
Alfred laughed, and clapped him on the shoulder before pulling Arthur into a hug that was even tighter than Antonio’s was.
“So, how is Alfred doing?” Francis asked once the school doors had shut behind Arthur. The latter took a moment to adjust to the cold bite of the wind before he answered.
“He’s fine. The same as ever, actually. But I guess you probably knew that.”
“I cannot say that I did,” he confessed, and Arthur quirked an eyebrow at Francis, taking his offered hand as nonchalantly as he could. Because he was certainly not embarrassed about taking the other’s hand, it was a perfectly natural thing to do.
Francis chuckled as they started walking to his car, and it took Arthur a moment to reassure himself it was because of the look, and not because of his internal conflict.
“Well, I am afraid I sort of… lost contact with everyone.”
“Everyone?” Arthur repeated, suddenly confused. “Even Antonio and Gilbert?”
“Well, not Antonio. Though I have not seen him face to face in a long while, either…”
“But why?” Arthur asked incredulously, “You were here!”
“So I was,” Francis murmured with a heavy tone, pausing in front of a sleek black sedan that Arthur assumed was his. “I guess I do not really have an excuse, it is just how it happened.”
Arthur paused for a moment, before sighing and walking around to the passenger side door, getting into the car once Francis had unlocked in. They remained in silence as they buckled their seat belts, still in silence as Francis turned the key in the ignition and started the car, and still in silence even as they took off down the street.
“So… How is Gilbert doing, then?” Arthur asked finally when the silence began to get to him. He could see Francis’ lips quirk up into a smile.
“He is still as oblivious as ever. He truly cut off all ties, even with his own brother, if you can believe it, so tonight was a bit overwhelming for him.”
“I can imagine…”
“Mhmm,” Francis hummed. “Matthew had sent me an email earlier this week; apparently he still feels as strongly for Gilbert as he ever has.”
“I can’t imagine why.”
Francis chuckled, “Everyone has someone out there for them, Arthur. And if Gilbert is the one for Matthew, it is not our place to judge.”
Arthur gave a noncommittal grunt and leaned back against the headrest of his seat, prompting Francis to continue the story.
“He was asking me for advice, and I told him to be frank. But it would seem as though Matthew had chickened out, because by the time I had arrived they were still on opposite ends of the room, and neither showed any inclination to bridge that gap.”
“That sounds like them.”
“Yes. So, of course I had to intervene in the name of love. I sent Gilbert off to ask Matthew for a dance, and by the time I went to say goodbye they were so close they might as well have been one.”
Arthur chuckled softly, and looked out the car window, only to find their surroundings to be slightly unfamiliar and completely unexpected.
“Where the fuck are you taking me? Did we just pass the town limits?”
“Relax, Arthur, you are being far too paranoid.”
“You’re kidnapping me!”
Francis laughed, leaning over and placing a palm on Arthur’s knee, “Do you trust me?”
Arthur felt his cheeks heat up, and was grateful for the cover of darkness that would have made it impossible for Francis to see their rosy color.
“Of course not,” he scoffed, rolling his eyes.
“Then, why have you allowed me to keep my hand on your leg?”
Arthur, taken off guard, spluttered and could not come up with an answer quickly enough; Francis was already laughing.
“J-Just… focus on the road! Hasn’t anyone taught you to keep both hands on the steering wheel at all times?”
Francis complied, removing his hand as his soft chuckles tapered off.
“Actually, Arthur, I am bringing you back to my apartment. I would like to spend more time with you.”
“And if I don’t want to?”
“Well, we are already well into the City. Actually, my house is only a few minutes away. Unless you would rather I turned back around…?”
“Yes, please,” Arthur snapped bluntly.
“Too late,” Francis countered in a jovial tone. “Your window of opportunity has closed. I am sorry, Arthur, but it seems as if you are stuck with me.”
Arthur made an exasperated noise, but after a pause and a huff he demanded, “I am going to sleep in a different room, just so you know.”
“But Arthur, my apartment only has one bedroom.”
“I don’t care,” Arthur retorted, “You will do the polite thing and sleep on the couch.”
Francis laughed and shook his head, “Alright. But do not come to me in the middle of night looking for comfort.”
“Likewise,” Arthur said with a delighted smirk, as Francis pulled into a parking space in front of a very tall building.
Francis, after shutting off the car, undid his seatbelt and smiled, “Welcome home,” to Arthur, before leaving the car and helping Arthur out from the other side.
“I don’t need your help,” Arthur grumbled, but he did not shy away from the arm around his shoulder; when Francis laughed in his ear, he felt his cheeks go warm again.
“Oh my, are you blushing?”
“No!” he protested, a little too loudly. “I’m just tired…”
Francis surprised Arthur by sobering up, and the two walked into the building. In the elevator Francis hit ‘9’, and within a few moments they were at his apartment door, and Francis was digging in his pocket for the keys.
It was a spacious apartment, Arthur observed. The furniture was, as expected of Francis, modern and sleek, mainly in blacks and whites and with a few splashes of red to give it character. There was a clean kitchen visible past the large entrance room, and off to the side there was what Arthur presumed was a hallway.
“What do you think?” Francis asked as he led the other in; Arthur hummed.
“It fits you, I suppose. Expensive looking, but without much going on.”
Francis mocked offense, and rolled his eyes, “Well then, perhaps I should not tell you that I was lying earlier.”
“I do have a guest bedroom that you are welcome to stay in tonight-“
Francis cut himself off, and suddenly he was standing very, very close to Arthur, “Unless, of course, you decided that you would like to spend it with me?”
Arthur hesitated, before pushing Francis away and scoffing, “You wish.”
Francis sighed dramatically, “Very well then. Would you at least like a change of clothes? And perhaps something to drink?”
“Ah, well…” Arthur remembered the promise that he had made to himself earlier, and weighed it against the fact that alcohol was probably not going to do anything good for his headache the next morning.
Then he realized that he had nowhere to be and nothing to do the next day, and he smiled, “That would be very much appreciated.”
Francis returned the smile, and then proceeded to lead Arthur down the hallway on a tour of the apartment. He pointed out the bathroom and hallway closet, before stopping in front of one of the bedrooms.
This room was just as modestly furnished as the living room had been, but the difference in design style had been obvious. While the outside had looked very modern, and verged on being cold, this room was friendly and warm. The bed was a handsome, wooden bed that Arthur figured was at least full, if not queen, sized, and was dressed in a red and orange comforter set that somehow matched the light beige shade of the walls. The room was carpeted in a plush mahogany carpet that Arthur imagined would be very comfortable under one’s feet, and there was a small bureau with a large mirror and three drawers up against the side wall.
“This would be your room.”
“For the night,” Arthur added quickly, and then he found the he was embarrassed by the need to say that, especially when Francis gave him a strange, questioning look. He dropped it quickly, however, sighing deeply and nodding,
“Yes, for the night. Now, then, would you like to see my bedroom?”
Arthur shrugged, and Francis decided to accept that as a ‘yes’, apparently, as he took Arthur’s hand in his and pulled him into the room down the hall.
“And this would be my room,” he introduced, turning the knob and pushing the door open. Arthur was almost in awe; while the rest of the house was modestly, if not handsomely, furnished, this room was packed, almost to bursting. The most prominent element was, appropriately, the bed; it was king sized and made of cherry wood, and there was a quilt on it now that had seemed to be too small for it; Arthur realized that it was because it had been one on his bed the last time he had seen Francis’ bed.
And then, suddenly, everything in the room became familiar; in the corner Arthur could see the two beanbag chairs Francis used to sit on with his friends, and on the bureau there were old photographs beside old knickknacks.
Arthur chuckled, squeezing the other’s hand, “You really are packrat, aren’t you?”
Francis gave a boisterous laugh, “Guilty as charged, Arthur. Now, then, let us get you some more comfortable clothes…”
He release Arthur’s hand and went into one of the drawers of the bureau, taking out a simple cotton pair of pajamas.
“These should fit,” he mused, “after all, it appears as if we are the same height, now.”
Arthur hadn’t noticed, but now that he knew, it became painfully obvious that he was perfectly eye to eye with Francis. He had forgotten how beautiful and blue those eyes were…
Shaking it off, Arthur agreed, “Y-Yes, well, I have grown since I was eighteen. Surely you didn’t expect me to remain the same short height.”
Francis shrugged, “I do not think I considered it. Feel free to go into your room and change, and then you can meet me out in the kitchen for a drink.”
Arthur nodded, and Francis shut the door behind him when he left.
A few minutes later, after Arthur had taken his time to relish the weightlessness of having the tired clothes off his body and had changed into the loaned nightclothes, he padded slowly across the hardwood floors of the hallway and headed for the kitchen area, where Francis was sitting on a stool, waiting for him with two glasses of champagne in his hands.
Waiting for him with two glasses champagne in his hands, and without a shirt on.
Taking one of the glasses, Arthur tried very hard not to stare, rolling his eyes and scoffing,
“You tease. You want sex that bad?”
Francis laughed at took a sip, “That depends; what do I have to answer to make you say yes?”
“I should have expected this,” Arthur muttered, sitting up on a stool and taking a sip, “Once a pervert, always a pervert.”
Francis hummed and took another small sip, smacking his lips lightly, “Well, actually, I have been celibate for the past ten and a half years.”
Arthur almost choked on the champagne he’d been drinking, a coughed a few times until he recovered. Francis was giving him a look that tried to be stern, but came off as more amused than anything else.
“C-Celibate? Arthur gasped, his coughs turning into laughter, “You?!”
Francis shrugged, “Well, I tried and succeeded in seducing several beautiful woman, and the occasional man, even. But I could never bring myself to get past a shirtless make out session.”
“Fft, figures,” Arthur snorted.
“And do you know why I could never get into it, Arthur?” Francis asked softly. Arthur did not meet his gaze, and instead watched as Francis traced his finger around the rim of his champagne glass.
“No, but I assume you’re going to tell me anyways.”
“It is because every time I am in bed with a partner, all I can think of is you. The way your blush spreads down your chest, the way your nipples stand erect and how sensitive they are, the way your erec-“
“I get it!” Arthur shouted, already feeling his cheeks heat up dangerously. “You didn’t do it because you were thinking of me. So what?”
Francis’ eyebrow quirked and he sighed heavily.
“Well, I was hoping that would mean something to you.”
Arthur downed the rest of the glass in one sip and stood up, “Well, no, it doesn’t, so if you’ll excuse me I think I’ll be heading off to bed now.”
But Arthur did not expect that things would be so easy, so he was hardly surprised when Francis grabbed onto his wrist and held him in place. What did surprise him, though, was the sudden music, soft and slow and all too familiar, that tugged at his heartstrings when it started up.
When Arthur looked, Francis was putting a small remote down on the countertop, presumably belonging to whatever music stereo system was now crooning that song. Their song, Arthur realized.
“Dance with me.”
Arthur did not respond, and so Francis asked again, his tone much softer as he ran his fingers through a lock of Arthur’s hair.
“Dance with me, and I will let you be for the rest of the night. Just one song.”
Arthur sighed, “You should have asked me earlier. I’m tired.”
“Please?” Francis pleaded, and Arthur sighed.
“One dance, Francis, and that’s it.”
Francis nodded, bringing Arthur’s palm up to kiss the back of his hand. Then, not wasting another second, he pulled Arthur to his bare chest and started to lead them in a gentle sway, still standing right there in his kitchen.
Arthur found the entire situation to be ridiculous, but Francis’ body was giving off comfortable warmth and his arms were strong around Arthur’s waist, and soon he found that even though there was some force involved it was gentle, and almost wanted.
And then Arthur came to the conclusion that he was far more tired that he had realized, and probably even a little drunk, because there was no other way in this whole wide world that Francis could have managed to get Arthur back in his arms on the very evening that he had returned from England, as if he had never left.
‘But,’ a small nagging voice in his mind reminded him, ‘you want this. And you’ve been dreaming about this since you got on that plane and left a decade ago.’
Wordlessly, Arthur rested his head on Francis’ shoulder, telling himself he was just tired and it was comfortable. Thankfully, Francis did not question it.
A moment later, Arthur felt the comfortable weight of Francis’ head rested upon his, and they remained that way, moving slowly back and forth while leaving no space between their bodies, for what felt to Arthur like ages and yet, like nothing at all.
“Arthur…?” Francis murmured heavily beside his ear, his voice as thick as honey.
“The song ended…”
And in the way Francis trailed off, Arthur heard a soft plead, a subtle question. So, he answered the only way he could; his lips quirked up into a smile, which brushed just so against Francis’ neck.
Arthur could feel in Francis’ smile in the way that the other’s body had somehow become lighter in his own.
Then Arthur pulled back, to Francis’ obvious disappointment, and pressed his fingers gently against Francis’ gently, stroking his stubble with ashy finger pads.
“Don’t think this means that we will be sleeping in the same room,” he murmured, surprised by the huskiness of his own tone. “But…”
The hand slid from Francis’ cheek to cradle the back of his head, and Arthur leaned in slowly, finally pressing his lips to Francis’ own, which were parted in his shock and surprise.
Then Arthur allowed his other hand to rest upon Francis’ warm, bare chest and the other finally snapped out of his shock and began to kiss fervently back, making up for all the years of missed affection in that one moment of intimacy.
And in that moment, even though the kitchen tiles were cold underneath Arthur’s feet, and even though his skull was pounding just as powerfully as his heart, Arthur got the feeling that they were going to be alright.
All of them were going to be alright.
A/N: What else can I say, really? Thank you to everyone who's gone on this journey with me, to everyone who's reviewed every chapter, and even to those who have not. You guys are all really amazing ♥
And yeah, who doesn't love a happy ending? :)