The clock tower at noon. He’d confirmed it multiple times. Even as a torrent of rain began to fall, he’d made sure to be at the designated spot. He watched as others scrambled to find shelter or huddled under their brollies as they walked through the rain.
Arthur was convinced that today would be the day. He had a dozen roses in hand and enough conviction to overcome his anxiety. He would ask Alfred to be more than just the friend he spoke with on a near daily basis in his favorite coffee shop. Arthur hated coffee, and he put up with the same weak cup of tea day after day because Alfred liked going there. He never failed to voice his distaste, but he didn’t insist that they go somewhere else, either.
Alfred Jones. The student he’d met by chance on his first day in the States. Alfred had made offensive remarks about his eyebrows and his accent, and Arthur had called him an insufferable bastard. That should have been the end. Instead, Arthur had run across him again when he’d admitted to himself that he needed additional help with physics. Alfred became his tutor. Despite their initial clash of personalities, they fell into a comfortable pattern and became good friends.
Arthur, meanwhile, also fell in love. After over a year of meeting with Alfred nearly every single day, he was fairly certain that his feelings were reciprocated. It had taken him awhile to work up the nerve, but he was finally ready to confess his feelings.
But it was long past noon, and the chill of the fall air was cutting through his sopping wet coat. Alfred was never very good about being punctual, and so Arthur was confident that soon he’d come running across the plaza with his hair sticking to his forehead and a silly excuse at the ready. He clutched at the roses and glared at anyone who dared to give him a funny look.
Just when he was ready to call Alfred to give him a few choice words, his mobile chimed, informing him that he had received a new text message. He ripped the phone out of his pocket to see that it was from Alfred. When he opened the message, his heart clenched.
“Sorry, bro. My new gf wanted to stay in today. Coffee tomorrow, right?”
Arthur stared in blank disbelief at the text, reading it over and over. Gf. Girlfriend. Alfred had a girlfriend.
He slowly lowered the phone back into his pocket and stared at the roses in his hand instead. The raindrops on the petals only added to their beauty, but they would never reach their intended recipient. Arthur’s face twisted into a frown—his chest felt so tight that it was painful.
When he felt his lower lip quiver, he lifted his head, taking a deep breath and rapidly blinking. The rain was picking up, and he closed his eyes and let the drops pound against his face. No tears. At last, he started to walk back through the rain, leaving the roses on a bench for someone else to find. He shoved his hands into his pockets and kept his chin held high.
But for all his defiance, he didn’t know how he’d be able to face Alfred again.
America is a sadist, England decides. It’s the only possible explanation for why America would invite him for a visit in the middle of summer to sweltering heat and oppressive humidity and then insist on spending the time outside instead of inside in front of the air conditioner. He could retreat back inside, but then he knows that America would just pursue him and drag him—carry him even, if necessary—back outside.
Although he hasn’t bothered to silence his many complaints about the heat and his general dissatisfaction with it, he has also dutifully remained outside—albeit on a chair underneath a large umbrella instead of pulling weeds in the garden as America is doing. England has heard enough comments about his pale, scrawny legs and he has a feeling he’d faint if he tried to do anything strenuous in that heat anyway.
“How’s the lemonade?”
England lowers his glass to regard America, who wipes at his forehead with the back of his arm. England huffs and holds up his glass for America to see.
“My ice has already melted.”
“Eh? That so? It is getting pretty hot, isn’t it?”
England scoffs. “That is an understatement.”
America doesn’t respond, instead wiping at his forehead again and staring up at the sky. England nearly comments on how America is wasting time, but then America pulls his t-shirt, slightly covered in dirt and damp with sweat, up over his head and tosses it to the ground, revealing America’s chest and abdomen. England pauses then lowers his lemonade glass to the adjacent table.
America lets out a deep breath, but England watches instead as beads of sweat trail from America’s neck down his chest and across his abs—all of which are finely tuned—to vanish under the waistband of his jeans. England licks his lips, though he dismisses the action as merely removing the traces of lemonade there. America bends down to pull weeds once more and England watches the muscles in America’s back flex with each movement he makes, his skin glistening with sweat. Perhaps the heat is not such a terrible thing, after all.
England grabs his lemonade glass again, his hand shaking slightly, and he gulps down a large amount of it to soothe his suddenly dry throat. While the view is lovely, England would rather that he enjoy the same view inside America’s house, both sweating for an entirely different reason.
America stands upright again and grabs his discarded shirt, removing his glasses before he wipes at his face.
“Ahhh, it’s really getting hot. What do you say we go inside for awhile?”
England lets his gaze rove over America’s body—more beads of sweat making the same trek from America’s neck down to his jeans—before he lowers his glass, smiling.
This Could Get Messy
Rather than let this blog be empty because I don’t have the time or energy to write, I figured I’d slowly upload some old ficlets. So if you think you’ve read this before, you probably have. :)
The man of the hour was arriving, someone said, and Alfred lowered his champagne flute to turn to look. He couldn’t help but smile as he spotted the person everyone was looking at, and he set his flute aside and straightened his tie.
“He’s the one. Arthur Kirkland. He’s the guy that’ll get you places,” Alfred’s friend said, and Alfred turned to smile at him.
“No problem, I got this.” He flashed a thumbs-up before he set off into the crowd.
It was the first time he’d ever attended a party for that company, but it was hardly his first time meeting the CEO. He was already very well acquainted with Arthur Kirkland—very well acquainted.
He was trembling violently, believing that he’d completely blown the interview and was going to be laughed out of the office. He was just a stupid intern, thinking that he could work for the famous Kirkland family. But Arthur was smiling pleasantly—perhaps too pleasantly.
“Intern, hmm? Yes, you’ll make a fine aide, won’t you?”