I'VE RISEN FROM THE DEAD MY PRETTIES.
Sorry for the long cliff hangar.
In my defense, junior year was a brick wall to the face. And learning how to not park my car like an ass. And my laptop broke, so I had to rewrite the stuff I lost.
I said I would finish this, and I am. No looking back. Lez go.
Thank you all for encouraging me to finish :) The random reviews/favorites/folllows motivated me to get off my ass and stop watching BBC's Merlin (and procrastinate on my applications...)
His cheek was pressed to the wood. There was the slamming of silverware and the clattering of plates, the sound of a glass shattering onto the floor and the commotion of chairs scooting back and feet racing around the table. He heard Peter scream. Shit. Bad idea. Why had he imagined the kitchen table and not somewhere else? He wasn't that good at plans.
"Alfred," he heard over and over. "Alfred!"
There was the noise of a door slamming and then a louder, "Is he here?!"
He sighed. Somebody peeled his eyelids open. He thought it might be Francis. Prussia made gagging sounds, and he heard a stream of either French curses or prayers. There was definitely a stream of Italian curses.
"Is he here?" he heard again as footsteps went pounding into the room. "Oh, thank God."
"Emil?" Tino asked tentatively. "Leon?"
"Don't ask me. He went into this, like, complete fit at the Circle."
Relief cursed through Alfred like cold water, and sighed as it washed through him. So the traveler had been united with Emil.
"Hold on," the Counter muttered. "Move, Tino. Who the hell did you bring over as guests? Well, you, short one – no, not you. You. What's your name?"
"I'm not short," Arthur snipped.
"Okay, I'm-Not-Short, move. You and your girlfriend. Boyfriend. Some odd mix of the two. Whatever."
"What are you doing?" Francis asked. Alfred felt his hands under his armpits, hesitant to lift him up.
"What's it look like?" Emil snapped.
Alfred was removed from the chair and laid gently down on the floor, flipped over on his back. Through half-lidded eyes and the pounding in both his stomach and his head, he smiled grotesquely up at the Counters hovering above him.
Antonio managed a weak smile back, but Arthur looked livid, face red and eyes flashing. Gilbert frowned and kept swallowing nervously. Francis looked as if he wasn't quite sure what to do, face ashen. Alfred dimly noted him clutching onto Arthur's arm, as if he wouldn't be able to stand without it. Lovino…he didn't even know if Lovino was looking at him. His head was being tossed in a blur of movement, hands ripping through the air and mouth spouting an incoherent tangle of curses.
"Move back," Emil repeated. "I've got this."
Alfred closed his eyes as a cold feeling washed over him. It wasn't unpleasant. No, no, more like…like jumping into cold water on a hot day. Or drinking ice water. Or – or – a slushie. Yeah, but he was swimming in it. No, he was slushie. Was his blood slushie? Yeah. His blood and everything else. The world was slushie. Blue slushie. Red slushie. Some mixture of the two, purple slushie, but he liked lemonade slushies a lot too, so maybe he was purple lemonade slushie.
"I am purple lemonade slushie," he murmured.
"Did he hit his head?" Leon asked.
"Unfortunately: no," Emil answered with a note of distaste. "Just…weird. Good god, can I wash my hands? My brain? His mind…good god, good god!"
"What's wrong with it? You, like, see it?"
"Slippery." Emil shuddered, and then gagged. "Alright. Alright, god, he smells like a rotting –" he heaved, braced himself on the floor.
Leon make a clicking noise, looking down at his Counter. "You, like, gonna get up or what?"
"Yes," Emil breathed onto the floor. But the scent of the traveler turned his stomach over, went up his nose and spun his brain, round and round and round and round and round and round and round and round –
"Fuck," Leon muttered, rolling his eyes. "You did it again."
"No," his Counter moaned. "No, I only just brushed it… it was so slippery…"
"What is it?" Gilbert asked.
The traveler didn't even look up, just picked his Counter up and slung him over his shoulder. "He totally just touched your friend's head, that's all." And he went out into the living room, where Tino waited head poking in through the doorway.
"The timey's got his timepiece, Francis."
"Arthur, mon ami, please."
"I thought I gave you Alfred's timepiece. With special instructions on what you should do with it. Which was nothing but to keep it safe."
"And it is safe, safe in its owner's hands –"
"When it's safer in mine," Arthur snapped. "Do you know how many Holes he could have possibly opened up?" He leaned down, hand outstretched for the chain peeking out from Alfred's bloodied shirt.
Alfred's eyes snapped open and he jerked back. "Slushie!"
"OH MY GOD," Leon cried in outrage. "WHAT THE FUCK, EMIL, YOU, LIKE, TOTALLY PUKED ON MY FAVORITE SHIRT."
"I touched it," Emil muttered in defeat.
Alfred had such a firm hold on the locket watch that it was cutting into his palm, the chain taut around his neck.
"There is no way," he pronounced slowly, carefully, "that you are taking this from me again."
"How can you be trusted with this?" Arthur hissed. His face was practically purple, his eyes hard like glass. Francis had backed up against the wall, hands over his face.
"Do you even know what I did?" Alfred snapped back.
"Got suggested unhelpfully.
Francis flinched and turned his head, eyes squeezed shut. Alfred made sure not to look at him, else the guilt eat him.
He waved his hand and got to his feet, scowling at his bloodstained shirt. "Well, I mean –"
"You mean what?" Arthur snapped. "How many Holes did you open up, timey? How many?"
It was Alfred's turn to look away. Arthur took his chin and forced him to look him in the eyes. They were a terrifying, blazing green.
"How many?" he repeated, softer. More dangerously.
Alfred swallowed. "I don't know. I – I used it more than a few times."
He couldn't stand the disappointment on Antonio's face, the shame on Francis', the raw anger on Gilbert's and rage on Lovino's. It made his gut twist. He had just done what was right…surely it was okay to – to – to –
Arthur's face was beet red. Normally he would have found it funny, but now he was scared.
The Englishman jabbed a finger into his chest. "You – you are going to be the one who causes time as we know it to collapse into itself."
It hurt him, and Arthur knew it.
"I was – the Axis –"
"I thought you were helping us."
"I am, honest –"
Out of the corner of his eye, he saw Antonio shake his head. "That's not helping, amigo. That's not helping at all."
"I thought I could trust you," Arthur continued. "Instead, you –"
"Totally saved my life?" Leon stood in the doorway, shirtless, with only his Counter's jacket pulled over his shoulders. He gave Alfred's back a hearty pat. "Thanks, dude."
Alfred held out his arms. "See? If you won't listen to me, maybe you'll listen to him – before, he was dead as a doornail!"
Arthur's eyes narrowed. Alfred took it as permission to continue.
"The Axis killed him before his Counter could get to him. I was just going to fix it. I couldn't just let him die."
Arthur's eyes slid to Leon's. The traveler shrugged.
"I was walking down the street when he got shot in front of me. It was totally scarring." He leaned back against the wall, crossing his arms.
Alfred pretended not to see Lovino's eyes narrow.
"It's true," the traveler protested. "This dude goes BAM!" - he made a finger gun at Leon - "and if I didn't go and - you know - do something, he would have -"
"Died, yes," Arthur spat. "We've gotten that."
Alfred's face fell.
"It doesn't justify what you've done."
He looked to his shoes, hand clenched around his timepiece. Some part of him wanted to scream and scream and scream at them to understand. But his throat was too tight, and the only sound he made out was a 'please' so quiet and strangled that no one heard it.
His timepiece was his whole life, and it was cursed.
He was cursed.
Arthur shook his head and muttered something unintelligible before turning away.
"I'm sorry," Alfred mumbled, apology weak and strained.
Arthur waved him off. Francis pointedly turned his face away.
The traveler pursed his lips.
"Hey, now, that's, like -" Leon tried, but Alfred just smiled at him before brushing past and letting himself out the front door.
Alfred needed to apologize to Peter, explain what happened, and to Berwald and Tino for scarring their child and bleeding all over their kitchen table. But he couldn't. The words were stuck in his throat.
He shuddered on the front stoop, face pressed to his knees and hands wrapped around his shins. His timepiece was outside his shirt, dangling under his nose. It felt as if it taunted him.
Alfred brushed over its nicked, silver face.
A sense of deja vù came over him, and a bitter smile twitched at his mouth as he brushed the three overlapping lines with his thumb.
Matthew's watch was heavy in his pocket.
He took it out and, examining its still ebony hands, wondered exactly what Matthew would think of him now. Would he think him a villain, too?
The watch didn't give him an answer, and a sigh escaped his lips.