“Hey..._____?” Arthur asked later on that evening as he sat on top of his bed with his back pressed against the wall, you leaning against him with your head resting on his shoulder. Next to him sat Alfred’s video camera that he had managed to take away, and he made sure to close the door and lock it after he walked back into the room.
“Yeah?” you asked, removing your head from his shoulder and lifting your gaze to look up at him.
Arthur remained silent for a few moments before he shifted in place so that his entire body was facing you and took both of your hands in his. “You...You never told me the exact cause of all of your problems,” he said softly to you.
“Hmm?” You looked up at him in a bit of confusion. “What do you mean?”
“W-Well, I asked you a few months ago why you began procrastinating, doing bad at school, having all these anger problems, and you told me that it was a personal issue,” Arthur explained, looking at you with a bit of concern. “Do you think you can...tell me now?”
“O-Oh...” you murmured, your gaze filling with sadness as it continued to meet his. You let out a sigh and stared down at your hands, which were still tightly grasping his. “I didn’t want to tell you at first because I still didn’t think I knew you all that well to tell you. But now that I love you and you became the most important person to me...I-I think I can tell you...”
You lifted your head to look up at Arthur. “Do you promise not to tell anyone else? Not Alfred, not your mother, nobody?”
Arthur nodded and moved closer to you so that his side was pressed against yours and he was able to wrap his arm reassuringly around your shoulders. “I promise, love.”
You sighed and nodded, dropping your gaze down in front of you. “Okay.”
After a few moments passed between the both of you in silence, you began quietly. “Back when I was younger, probably in 2nd grade or so, I met this girl in the playground named _____. She was the same age as me, and after playing outside with her for a while, we quickly became friends. It didn’t take long for me to realize that we shared a lot of common interests, and from that day on, we were almost inseparable. All the time, every day in school, we were always together. If we had to work on a project, we worked on it together. In every class, we always sat together. On field trips, we were always partners. At recess, we always played together. At lunch, we always sat together. Anything you can name, we did together. Some other people sometimes called us “long lost twins” because we were that close.”
You paused to take a breath before you went on. “From the very beginning, _____ understood me. I didn’t have any friends at that time and she was always there for me whenever I needed help, and she was always able to make me feel better when I cried or felt like crying. We visited each other’s houses a lot and I thought of her parents almost like my parents because they always cared about me so much. Around that time I was doing really well in school. I was very smart and I never stayed up past 10 p.m. I always did my homework as soon as I got home and didn’t stop even to have dinner until all of it was completely finished. I was organized in every possible way, and my life didn’t seem like it could've gotten terrible.¬¬"
You took another pause, feeling your throat start to tighten, and you dropped your voice down so that it was barely above a whisper. “But something terrible did happen eventually. It was in the beginning of December in 7th grade, and _____ had invited me to come over to her house to play a game sort of like soccer in her front yard. It was pretty cold that day and there were cars that drove along the road from time to time, but other than that everything seemed perfect. So we went out to her front yard with a soccer ball she took out of her garage, and then we were just kicking it back and forth to each other like normal. But then...”
You swallowed, feeling your breathing start to become ragged. “Then...I was kicking the ball, but I kind of misjudged where I meant for it to go, because it flew out into the road by accident. I told _____ I was going to go and get it, but she insisted that she be the one to get it since she said it was closer to her. So I waited patiently, watching as she went out into the road to pick up the ball. But right as she bent down to pick it up, a big van came driving down at top speed out of nowhere, and _____ didn’t even have time to try and run out of its path before it slammed fiercely into her.”
You paused again, taking in a deep, ragged breath as you shut your eyes tight and felt tears start to form in them. “I was able to hear a loud, piercing scream just before the car hit her, and all I was able to see after it sped past was a dislocated heap on the floor covered in blood. I didn’t know whether I should've ran to her to see if she was alive or yell to her mother to call an ambulance to try and save her. But her mom came outside anyway to see what was wrong, and the look on her face was one of pure horror.
“I ran over to _____ and crouched over her and all I was able to see was a twisted face, open mouth, and glazed eyes. I grabbed her by her shoulders and shook her fiercely, not caring about the blood, trying to get her to wake up, but by the time the ambulance arrived, she was already gone.”
You took another pause, trying in vain to steady your breathing, before you continued. “Her mother was an emotional mess. She called my parents from work and told them to pick me up and take me home. I was yelling and screaming at them, telling them not to take me away from my friend, that I still wanted to see her, but they took me home anyway. I didn’t believe that she was really dead until about a week later. After that I was falling apart. I was crying every day in such a large amount that I lost the ability to speak, I locked myself away in my room, and I was so depressed that my parents decided to let me stay home that week, but it didn’t help at all. When I came back to school, I lost the ability to concentrate, and I was no longer able to pay attention because the picture of _____’s dead face and the image of the car slamming into her haunted me every second of the day, and it still haunts me today. I stopped doing my homework, I was unable to fall asleep because I kept on thinking about her, and I never felt so lonely in my life. I-I realized that I no longer had somebody who cared for me as much as she did, and my life continued to deteriorate in the years after that. I wasn't able to find a way to fix my problems no matter how hard I tried...a-and no matter what, I was unable to put the memories that I had of _____ behind me, and they only made my life even more complicated than it had already gotten....”
You found that you were no longer able to continue as you felt fresh tears make their way down your eyes, and you let out a sob as you covered your face with your hands. “I miss her so much!” you wailed as your body shook under the force of your sobs. “I know it’s been three years since she was killed but it still hurts me as if it happened only yesterday...”
Arthur continued to watch you cry for the next few moments, his mind still registering everything that you said to him. Finally, his eyes filled with sadness and he reached out to wrap his arms tightly around you, pulling you close to him and gently massaging your back. “Oh, _____, I'm so sorry,” he murmured. “I-I had no idea...”
“And I keep thinking that _____’s death was all my fault!” you cried, your voice muffled into Arthur’s shirt. “I should have convinced her to let me go out and get the ball or I could've at least told her to wait for a few seconds so both of our lives could've been saved! But then she died and it was all because of me...!”
“None of this is your fault,” Arthur said softly as he rested his chin on top of your head. “What happened is what happened, and you can't change it. Do you think your friend would've wanted to see you so upset over her death even after all these years?”
“I-I guess not...” you muttered. “But...she was my best friend, and she was so important to me....”
“I understand,” Arthur murmured as he gently began to rock you back and forth. “But _____, you have to remember that you’re not the only one who loses someone they really care about. I know that it was a very tragic moment for you, but you have to find a way to try to pull through it and put what happened behind you.”
“I know...” you replied quietly, tears still falling freely down your face. “But...it’s just so hard, especially when I have a new friend. Many of the things we did together, like our snowball fight and calling each other through the phone, reminded me of _____, and it made me upset again...”
“_____, I want you to remember that you're not facing this alone,” Arthur said as he grasped you by your shoulders and pulled you away from him just enough so that you were able to look up and meet his gaze through tear-filled eyes. “If you're ever feeling upset or troubled because of something going on in your life, you should feel more than free to tell me about it. It hurts me to see you upset like this, and I promise I will do whatever I can to try and cheer you up.”
You continued to look up at him for a moment longer before you let out a sniff and once again wrapped your arms around him, pressing your cheek against the side of his neck. “Arthur, I love you so much...” you murmured. “You always know just how to make me feel better, and I know I can always go to you whenever I feel down because I know you’ll completely understand my problems. I'm so happy I met you...”
“I am too,” Arthur replied softly as he returned the hug. “You seem like an entirely different person to me now than you were five months ago.”
“Same with you,” you giggled. “When I first met you I only thought of the negative things about you, but I never realized how much you really would've been able to influence my life and how much you would've been able to help me. I can't believe there was once a time when I thought of you as someone who got on my nerves.”
Arthur let out a chuckle and pulled you away from him just enough so that he was able to kiss your forehead, causing a tiny blush to appear on your face. Unsatisfied with this action, you grasped his collar and pulled him down so that your lips were able to meet his in yet another kiss, causing his eyes to go slightly wide and his face to turn red.
“Arthur, you're blushing,” you teased after you had pulled away from him and caught the expression on his face.
“I-I'm not,” he muttered, crossing his arms stubbornly and drifting his gaze off to one side.
“You are!” you giggled as you poked him in the cheek. “You're so cute when you blush~”
“I wouldn’t call it ‘cute’,” he huffed as he continued to keep his gaze fixed on the wall.
“I would,” you said playfully as you leaned forward to kiss his nose, causing his face to turn another shade darker. “You're so stubborn sometimes, Arthur.”
“I'm not stubborn,” Arthur retorted. “I just get annoyed, that’s all.”
“_____, cut it out,” Arthur said as he shifted his gaze to meet yours, trying vainly to hide the tiny smile that was appearing on his face.
You let out a giggle and leaned forward to once again wrap your arms around him, savoring the warmth he was able to give you. “You're so adorable. I love you, Arthur...Thank you for everything you’ve taught me, especially how to love.”
The tiny smile on his face grew by just a bit as he returned the hug and pulled you close. “I-It’s nothing, _____.”
“You say that all the time,” you observed amusingly. “You always act like it’s no big deal when in reality it means so much to me. And I still haven’t been able to find a way to thank you for everything you’ve done for me.”
“You can thank me by staying with me for as long as possible,” Arthur murmured as he pressed his cheek against yours.
You smiled. “I'd like that very much.”
The both of you continued to sit there hugging in silence for the next few minutes until Arthur lifted his head to get a glimpse of the wall clock, finding that it was already well past 9 p.m.
“I think you should head home, _____,” he said as he grasped you by your shoulders and pulled you away from him while you met his gaze in confusion. “It’s quite late into the evening and you still have to take the long commute home.”
You continued to stare at him in silence for a few seconds before you frowned and let out a huff. “I don’t want to go home,” you muttered, dropping your gaze down to your lap.
Arthur looked at you in surprise. “W-What do you mean? You have to go home. It’s—”
“No,” you retorted once more as you lifted your serious gaze to look at him. “That’s not my home. My home is supposed to be a place where I'm not lonely, where there are other people living in it that care about me and protect me. I'm sick of living in my real home. It makes me angry and lonely all the time, especially since I know that my parents don’t care about me.”
“W-What?” Arthur stammered, his eyes slightly widening. “O-Of course they care about you! They—”
“No, they don’t!” you cried, turning your head away from him and glaring angrily at the door. “If they cared about me even the slightest bit, they would at least make an effort to get out of work early just to spend some time with me, not come home after I’ve fallen asleep and leave before I wake up! And they have been lying to me for years by saying they love me when in reality they don’t give a crap about me! I could run away from home and they wouldn’t care! They would barely even notice I'm gone!”
Arthur was silent for a few moments, watching your still figure next to him on the bed, before he asked quietly, “So...what do you suggest you want to do?”
You continued to remain quiet until you turned your head around to look at him. “I want to live with you.”
Almost instantly, his eyes widened in shock. “Y-You, I...W-What?” he stuttered, barely able to believe that this was what you really wanted. “You can't be serious!”
You nodded. “I am. Your house is big enough to hold five people unlike mine, and you probably have a guest room somewhere that I can take. And besides, we’d be able to see each other a lot more frequently and we wouldn’t have to go to school so early in the morning just to meet each other. Plus, your house is a lot closer to the school than mine, and the thought of me leaving you for one whole minute to go back to my empty life back home makes my heart ache. Please, Arthur?”
Arthur continued to remain silent for a few moments, debating on whether or not he should've agreed with what you were saying, before he sighed and ran his hand through his hair. “_____, I don’t know if my mum would allow this,” he said. “This is a fairly big issue, and since she doesn’t know you all that well, I highly doubt that she’ll—”
“Just tell her about my situation!” you begged, grabbing his collar and looking at him hopefully. “Tell her about how my parents are never around and how I hate being at home, and to further convince her you can tell her that we’re in love.”
Arthur continued to stare at you uncertainly for a few moments before he finally sighed and dropped his gaze down to his lap. “Alright, alright. But don’t be surprised if she doesn’t agree.”
You removed your hands from his collar and smiled. “Okay.”
And so Arthur had left the room and gone off to find his mother, leaving you sitting on his bed waiting patiently for him to get back. After about fifteen minutes, you heard the creaking of the door open as he returned back into the room, and when you lifted your gaze to look at him, you saw that he carried a frown on his face.
“Mum says that it depends on how you think you’ll deal with moving,” Arthur said. “She says that if you really want it, you can, and she’ll free up a guest room and give—”
“Oh, Arthur!” you cried in happiness, jumping out of your seat, running up to him, and throwing your arms around him before he even had the chance to finish. “Of course I really want it! Living with you would be one of the best things that have ever happened to me!”
“R-Really?” Arthur asked, a bit surprised from your sudden hug. He pulled you away from him just enough so that he was able to look down and meet your excited gaze. “Are you sure you want this? It might be stressful for you, gathering all of your things and moving to an entirely different place...”
You shook your head. “Trust me, living in my house by myself that’s owned by parents who care more about drinking than they care about me would be a lot more stressful than living with the person I love more than anything or anyone else.”
Arthur stared at you in silence for a few moments before a sincere smile made its way to his face and he leaned forward to gently kiss your lips. “I love you, _____.”
“I love you too, Arthur,” you murmured, wrapping your arms around him. “There's nobody else in this world I’d rather live with than you...”
“Me too,” he replied softly, leaning forward so that his forehead was able to touch yours. The two of you continued to gaze into each other’s love-filled eyes for the next few minutes before Arthur pulled away and frowned. “You should at least leave a note letting your parents know that you’ve gone. You don’t want them thinking that you’ve been kidnapped or killed.”
You shrugged and removed your arms from him. “I guess so.”
After getting a pen, a piece of paper, and a notebook for support, you sat once again on Arthur’s bed with your back leaning against the wall. You held the notebook with the blank page on top tightly in one hand and the pen in the other, gazing down blankly. Next to you sat Arthur with his arm wrapped affectionately around you.
“What do you think I should write in here?” you asked as you shifted your gaze to look at him.
He gave you a tiny smile. “Write exactly what you think of them. It’s not like you might ever see them again.”
“Yeah, but they might get mad...”
“They don’t know where I live, so they can't find you. And like you said, they probably won't give it too much thought,” Arthur pointed out.
You nodded. “Yeah. You're probably right. I’ll put this note on top of my bed after I leave, since my room is the place they rarely check during the night.”
“Remember that you still need to go home tonight and gather all of your things before you can come to live with me.”
You smiled as you drifted your gaze back down to the paper. “That won't be hard. All I basically have that belongs to me are clothes, towels, some books, my laptop, and my cell phone. Everything else I don’t really care about.”
Arthur chuckled. “Well, if you insist.”
Oh, how you loved it when he laughed. You turned your head and gave him a tiny kiss on the cheek. “I love you.”
“I love you too,” he replied with a tiny blush. “Now start writing before it gets too late.”
You nodded and turned your gaze back down to the paper, thinking your words over in your head, before you began to write, Arthur’s arm still wrapped warmly around you and your side pressed against his.
Dear mom and dad,
If you're reading this, that means you’ve probably noticed by now that I'm no longer in the house. Well, before you can go to the police and report me missing or do something pointless like that, I'm going to admit proudly that I ran away. Living in your home had been a terrible, lonely experience for me, and only now do I begin to realize how inconsiderate the both of you had been in raising me. Your constant absence during the majority of my childhood had made me unaware of one of the most important emotions in life—love. It took months for me to realize what it was like to actually love someone and know what it feels like. The love that you supposedly gave me was false, because if you had truly loved me, you would have taken another job that would've allowed you to spend more time with me, and you would have spent New Year’s Eve with me instead of drinking with friends. You may ask how I know this or you might deny, but the way you cover up your lies is very vain. I never felt any real love toward either of you, and you seemed more like strangers to me than my parents. I’ve been able to meet someone who I know understands me and helps me in a way that the two of you never will. He loves me more than anything and I love him just as much, and he has a family that I know will be more of a family to me than you ever were. As unreal as it seems, he has brought me nothing but happiness in my depressing, lonely life, and I know that he would've been the only one in the whole world who could've ever been able to teach me how to love.