So here we get a full chapter from Arthur's POV. Kind of a day in the life sort of thing, but an unusual one? Something like that, haha. (And I'm supposed to be good with words...:P)

Thank you for all of your lovely support. As I've said before, the legal situations in this may or may not be possible. This comes into play later when I take a little creative license with the term pro bono. Just wanted to say that again.

Much love, doze

Arthur woke grouchily the next day in the throes of a splendid hangover. His alarm clock flashing 6 a.m. He got to his feet, made it to the toilet, and the rest was history. He had another court case today, and under normal conditions he wouldn't have bothered getting out of bed until nine. But he had gotten no work accomplished last night, having given into his desire for a few shots of something strong, and then woken up with his face smashed into the kitchen floor some ungodly hour in the middle of the night.

It had been a bad idea to take Alfred to the bar, a terrible idea. Even though all his other memories had gone fuzzy, he could still recall the bartender embarrassing him in crystal clarity. If he had more free time on his hands, he would search for a new establishment for his drinking needs.

It had just been a very long time since Arthur had worked in counsel with anybody. Not that Alfred could really be considered counsel; he wasn't an actual lawyer, nor had he done anything remotely useful at the courtroom. Still, strangely enough, his company wasn't unwelcome. Arthur thought guiltily that maybe he just liked having Alfred around for the ego stroking. But surely he had enough of that from the clients? He couldn't possibly be so warped that he required a personal pet ego stroker, could he?

Arthur picked out one of his pinstriped suits, with a nice navy green tie that brought out the darker shades in his eyes. The suit was brown and rather unconventional for him. It verged on 'attempting to be stylish'. His loafers, supple brown leather and worn soles, were familiar enough to give him confidence, though.

He fiddled fruitlessly with his hair for some minutes, before giving it up as a lost cause. Then he made his way down the couple blocks to the office.

It was nice living so close to where he worked. Work was never far, both physically and mentally. He couldn't recall the last time he took a real vacation. There never seemed to be a good time, and there was nowhere he really wanted to go, anyway. The beach house would be just as empty as the city flat, after all.

Arthur nodded to the receptionist on the first floor, keeping his head down. He'd learned over the years that she was terribly observant, and would comment if she saw the telltale bags under his eyes that betrayed his late night drinking. Easily, he could scare her off, but it took effort. He couldn't be the only lawyer on a first name basis with his bartender.

In the lift, he slouched against the wall, rubbing his temples. Many a time, he had thought about starting his own office so that he could do things his own way. In boxers with a bottle of whiskey if he wanted to.

The lift doors glided open on the 37th floor of the Plaza and Arthur greeted Marlene with his smarmiest grin. She just shook her head, but apparently had nothing to say regarding Alfred. He had almost hoped she would berate him again, just so he could get into with somebody.

See, the true and very much denied reason that Arthur Kirkland had never started an independent practice was this: He hardly had any normal human interaction as it was, and the only place he'd found anything remotely close was at Thompson Lang, at the office.

For better or for worse, Arthur was a loner with no plans to change it. His personality wasn't one that encouraged small talk, and it had honestly taken him years to get Marlene to say more to him than "You have three missed calls.", "Are those billable hours?", "Should I add that to your calendar?".

His summer associates hadn't been any better. They were too frightened of him for conversation or too in love with the idea of his salary for him to bear. Against general opinion, Arthur did not have to host summer associates. In fact, he wasn't even sure why he participated in the godforsaken program after his experiences.

He rounded the corner and came across Alfred, crouched at his little desk, gnawing up the end of a pen as he read something on his computer.

At first, Alfred was just like the others. Skittish. Stupid. And Uninteresting. Arthur had withdrawn from him in a bad mood, dreading another mock-up babysitting experience. But then... well, he wasn't really sure how it had happened. His mood started to lift when he anticipated getting to the office. His palms would get sweaty. He'd switch his briefcase from hand to hand, and god if Alfred didn't perform some kind of voodoo to get him to smile at 8:00 a.m. beginning of the work week.

Once Alfred had found his footing, he was his own force to be reckoned with, bumbling smile and all. It was difficult to hate someone so resemblant of a puppy dog.

He didn't intend to let Alfred know anything was awry. But Arthur treated Alfred differently from the other summer associates because Alfred was different. Simply that.

It took Alfred a minute to notice someone was watching him. When he did, he glanced up and grinned. "Hullo Arthur," he chirped. "Guess I made it into the office before you today, didn't I?"

"One in a million." Arthur replied, watching Alfred's smile grow wider. It still confused him that Alfred almost always was genuinely happy to see him. Even Marlene couldn't say that.

"Yeah, but I'll relish it." Alfred made a fist like he was capturing the day in his hands. He tilted his head to the side. (Puppy dog all over again.) "Are you going to court today?"

"I'm afraid so. And before you ask, no, you can't come."

Alfred pouted. "Crush my dreams, why don'tcha? Anything you need from me?"

"Peace and quiet."

Alfred snorted. "We both know that's an impossibility at this point. This is me we're talking about!"

"I'm always asking you for the impossible," Arthur reached reluctantly for his office door. It was just so easy, talking with Alfred. It had been a mistake bringing him to the bar, but quite possibly a mistake he would endeavor to make again. Call him pathetic, but it was nice talking about whatever so freely.

He entered his office, letting the door close quietly behind him. The morning sun slanted through the blinds, drifting across his couch, sprawling over his bookcases, and glinting off his model ships. In his collection that had matched so perfectly just days ago were two new specimens. His boyhood prize and the starter of his obsession winked coyly at him, small and tacky. And Alfred's gift ship, beaten and marked, glimmered beside it. Overall the table, in fact the office, felt much fuller.

Arthur set to work, resigned that it wouldn't be his best material. His mind was all over the place, and he couldn't care less about Mr. Heighn's latest white collar crime. No matter how many dividends it paid.

Even money had gotten to be a tiresome subject for Arthur. He didn't honestly know what to do with it anymore. Living in the city was frightfully expensive, but Arthur's services were frightfully expensive as well. He came off every year with a bigger bank account and had vague plans to do something spectacular for his retirement in another thirty years. But that was about it.

It had used to be so important to him, but now, well... He was practically set for life. The only reason he was doing this job was greed or maybe boredom. When Alfred had asked, it had annoyed him so much that he'd answered sharply. Truthfully, he wasn't sure why he was a defense attorney. Not anymore.

A knock interrupted him from his philosophical mongering. "Yes?"

"Arthur?" Alfred put his head around the corner, looking annoyed. "Sorry. Do you think you could help me with something really fast? It's okay if you're busy."

Arthur blinked. "What's going on?"

Alfred scowled, an unnatural expression on his features. "Mr. Bonnefoy is harassing me. I'd appreciate if you'd talk with him to get him off my back."

That was all he had to say. In hindsight, Arthur reflected that Alfred probably chose his words strategically. But in the moment, he was already shoving Alfred out of the doorway.

"Ah, Arthur, I was hoping to speak with you." Francis smiled widely at him from his spot perched on Alfred's desk.

"You felt the need to harass my associate, it was that important to you?"

Francis merely shrugged and began walking away. Arthur wasn't through with him, and went charging behind.

"What are you doing here?" he demanded. "You have not scheduled an appointment and I refuse to waste anymore time with you."

He and Francis had a particular history. A particularly terrible history.

"Calm down, Arthur," Francis drawled, rolling his eyes. He settled on a waiting room couch dramatically. "I merely came to present an offer."

Arthur blinked, running through his list of active case. None of them involved Francis, or settlement offers with the DA. "What are you talking about?"

"Your boy." Francis waved a hand back towards Arthur's office. "I have a place for him this summer."

Arthur's eyebrows disappeared in his fringe. "You came to steal my summer associate for the DA's office. What kind of offer is this? Leave, Francis."

Francis scowled, "He wouldn't have to stop working here. You hardly need him all the time. He was playing Flappy Bird over there last I checked. Tremendous waste of talent in my opinion."

Arthur bristled. "No, I'm not considering this."

"I was afraid you would say that. Then I will just have to propose to Alfred. I am sure I could tempt him with some real law work."

"No!" Arthur said too quickly, flinching as he gave away his cards. He was a better actor than this, but Francis's whole proposition had caught him off guard.

Francis smirked. "Attached to this one?"

"It's a matter of principle, frog. I wouldn't expect you to understand, as you have no principles. You can't just march in here and proposition my associate, alright? Are you telling me the DA's office can't find other young guppies to do their grunt work?"

"You're depriving him an opportunity, Arthur," Francis pointed out. "Imagine what kind of doors it would open on his resume. Working here and the DA's office. He could almost get hired anywhere after law school."

"That's irrelevant," Arthur growled, clenching his fists. Alfred would get on just fine with Arthur's recommendation alone. He didn't need to be galavanting across the city, working for the DA as well.

"Is it? Why don't we ask him then?" Francis played lightly with a pedal of one of the fake waiting room flowers.

Arthur felt his body go rigid, teeth clenching. He hated being backed into corners.

"What's the matter? Think he won't want to stick around anymore? Your friendship and lovely disposition aren't enough for him?" Francis stood up, but Arthur cut him off before he could continue down the hall.

Francis raised an eyebrow.

"If you must know," Arthur said, feeling vastly uncomfortable with the whole business. He had to force himself not to play with the buttons of his jacket. "I have not had a summer associate as... eager and competent as Alfred in quite some time. I see no reason why you should take that away."

Francis nodded, putting a hand to his chin. Like he was bothering to consider Arthur's argument. That would be a first. "Yes, yes, I see what you mean, Arthur. But the person you're describing is just what the DA's office is seeking in temp associates, so..."

Arthur scowled, losing his patience. "You're doing this to mess with me. Don't you have anything better to to do?"

"The DA's office is always on the lookout for talented-

"Oh spare me the shit," Arthur snapped. "Get out. Now. The answer is no."

Francis was unimpressed, and for a moment Arthur was certain he'd fight it. But then he shrugged, "Let's hope Alfred doesn't find out you've taken away his choice from him. The inimitable Arthur gets greedy with his new toy. I shouldn't have expected more."

He strode out, before Arthur could think of what to say. Infuriated by the whole incident, Arthur stalked back to his office for his things, slamming the door. Work to be done and all that fucking jazz. God, he wished he was facing Francis in court today. That greasy, cheating frog would wish he'd never been born.


Alfred's hesitant voice stopped him before he could reach the lift.

Irrationally, Arthur's heart rate spiked. Perhaps Francis had already gotten a word into Alfred. He looked back to his summer associate. Alfred's phone was discarded and he leaned forward with a furrow between his eyebrows.

"Are you okay, Arthur?"

The question surprised him, and he took a moment to judge Alfred's sincerity. Was Alfred just looking for a segue into asking about Francis? What other motive would he have? He couldn't possibly be concerned.

Yet Alfred's blue eyes were wide enough and innocent enough.. Oh, it would be a nasty trick in court if he learned how to harness that. Juries would melt for him.

"I'm... fine." He said with a soft sigh.

Alfred cocked his head, sighing too. "I hate ruining your day."

"Excuse me?"

Alfred just shrugged. "I shoulda sent Francis away. I almost did, but he was so insistent." Alfred's gaze hardened in annoyance. "And he wouldn't get his ass off my desk."

"I said I was fine, Alfred."

"And you think I can't tell when you're lying?"

Arthur wanted to smack him over the head for such an impertinent statement, but he was running out of time. "I have to leave. Tell any client callers that I am in court."

"Will do. And Arthur?"


Alfred just grinned at his exasperated air. He was getting much too comfortable. "Catch."

Arthur reacted without thinking, his fingers curling around a small, red paper square. "Twinings?"

"For later." Alfred winked and then laughed at what must have been the expression on Arthur's face.

Nonetheless, he tucked the teabag into his jacket pocket, adjusting his tie.

"Is that a new suit?" Alfred seemed really just intent on making him late.

"No, it's an old suit that I haven't worn recently." Arthur answered, cursing himself to hell and back because he was just as bad. Letting Alfred make him late.

"Oh." Alfred paused for an indefinite period of time. "I like it."

Flattery? To get him another day in court? Alfred may not have realized it, but Arthur had decided to bring Alfred back to court while they were still in court yesterday.

"I don't believe I asked for your opinion, Jones," he said stuffily.

Alfred threw his head back, spinning his office chair around. "It was a compliment, Arthur. Free of charge. I know you don't have the word 'free' in your vocabulary, but try to imagine it."

"I'm leaving," he said, feigning irritation.

"Go on. Leave." Alfred joked without any fear in the world. "You'll be back."

"However unfortunate, you are right. I'll be back."

"Unfortunate for who?" He heard Alfred mutter, but it had to be a trick of the acoustics.

0 0 0

It was just one of those days in the courthouse. Arthur's case dragged on and on. He actually fell asleep during the prosecution's opening argument. Luckily, his client was too anxious to notice and the prosecutor was too in love with his own voice to see anybody else. Arthur knew it was shacking up to be a terrible day, when he wasn't even sure what he'd said for his own opening argument. Pointing and talking loudly and making demanding gestures. Frowning till his face froze that way. The theatrics were there, but he was on autopilot.

Around lunchtime, the judge called a recess and Arthur wandered off as far away as he could get from Mr. Heighn the walking Ken doll. As usual, he had nobody to talk to. There were restaurants only a block away, but he didn't feel like sitting at a table by himself. He unfastened the button of his jacket, preparing to sit in the lobby and attempt to get some work done. His fingers brushed the tiny square bag in his pocket, and he paused halfway to sitting.

You know, he might do with a cup of tea. There had to be a place to get hot water around here.

It took Arthur a bit of searching, but he eventually found a dumpy kitchenette near the judges' quarters. Helped himself to the 2 percent in the fridge and the sugar bowl on the counter. With movements efficient from use, Arthur made himself a cup of Twinings and leaned against the counter to enjoy it.

The murky scent of black tea always did work wonders for him. Loosening the knots in his shoulders and even sometimes bringing a smile to his lips.

He found himself thinking it was terribly ironic. Today's case was going horribly- horribly enough that he might lose. He was in a bad mood. The sky was overcast, threatening to storm. And yet here he was, enjoying his tea. All the more proof that, in the span of a day, Alfred had become the only good thing about court.

With some reluctance, Arthur downed the last dregs of his tea.

Perhaps he shouldn't have been so quick to dismiss Francis earlier. The last thing he wanted was to share his associate with the DA's office. But... who was he to dictate what Alfred should and shouldn't do? It if had been him as a young law student many years ago, he would have resented the interference beyond measure. He would have walked out immediately to join the DA's office just to spite his employer for meddling.

Arthur felt his phone buzzing- the alarm to return to the courtroom. He placed his glass in the sink and drew up his court persona. Enough distractions.

0 0 0

Half sick with hunger, Arthur dragged himself away from a furious Mr. Heighn. It had been close. His cases were always close. But close only counted in horseshoes. And that extra 2 million to line his pockets had disappeared like the sweet smell of flowers on a summer breeze.

He ought to get something to eat. All around him the world danced with black spots. He hadn't had anything but a cup of tea all day, and he was really beginning to feel it. Whether it be force of habit or his sluggish brain, he ended up at the bar on 32nd. Once he realized it, he was too tired to head anywhere else.

The bartender supplied him with his usual sans questions. Arthur was almost too stupid to drink it, dropping his cheek to the bar unprofessionally. Oh, it just made it worse. He hated losing. And he hated Francis. It was simply too much hatred for one day.

"Hey, you're back." Arthur heard the bartender's thundery voice bounce strangely over the wood. Outside, it had started to rain. As the evening crowd swept in, gusts of wind and water accompanied them.

"I am back. Can I getta Coke?"

"You don't drink?"

"Not tonight."

Arthur frowned groggily as the place got louder. At least the bartender was occupied. He tended to hover and bug Arthur otherwise.

"You guys sell burgers?"

"Just appetizers."


"Of course. Anything else?"

"Nope. Biggest basket you have should be good. I'll be over there."

"Yeah, your friend's having a bad one today."


He wasn't even drunk, but it took Arthur a minute to realize that someone had said his name. He raised his head off the counter, praying to whatever existed that it wasn't the damned prosecution. He had had that experience before, drinking to their victory and his loss, faking smiles all night. It was terrible.

"It's Alfred." Alfred announced himself unnecessarily. His tie was loose, drooping around his neck, and his white shirt was coming untucked. His suit jacket was splattered with little dark spots from the rain. His smile glimmered neon white. "Mind if I join you?"

Arthur struggled for an eloquent way to say he did mine. He was going to get plastered, and Alfred didn't need to see that. Last night would look like fine dining in comparison.

"Yes." He grunted. "I mind."

"Too bad. We are not in session and I have flaunt-able freewill." Alfred settled in the barstool beside him. Arthur really hated it when Alfred decided to be clever.

Arthur sighed, dropping his face in his hands and rubbing at his temples. "Well, I won't be much for company. I'm going to get outrageously pissed."



"You're going to get outrageously pissed responsibly." Alfred perked up goofily when his basket of fries arrived. "But first, tell me what happened."

"I..." Arthur felt like his brain was failing him. He was supposed to be good at witty comebacks, but Alfred was here? Again? Of his own freewill? He couldn't escape fast enough the other day.

"Is this the losing routine?" Alfred interjected when Arthur was not forthcoming. "Here, have some of my fries. It's healthier."

"Fries are not healthier." Arthur said. It was all he could think to say, propping his head up with his fist.

"Healthier than drinking on an empty stomach," Alfred retorted, nearly knocking over Arthur's whiskey as he shared the basket.

Arthur grumbled curses at him, but his hunger got the better of him and he accepted a few fries, which became ten, which became... more than ten. He could feel the heat of Alfred radiating at his side, driving away the cool and the damp. Alfred bantered with the bartender for a little while, giving him time to gather his thoughts and realize that he didn't want to gather his thoughts.

Even without the whiskey, he felt warm. The french fries burned his fingers. The salt stung his chapped lips, catching in the corners of them. Every once in awhile, Alfred accidentally brushed his arm as he talked with the bartender, sending shivers cascading down Arthur's spine. He tried to dredge up the awful feeling of a guilty verdict, but even that had faded so much that he hardly noticed it.

The losing routine, indeed.

He would be perfectly alright, if this became the new losing routine. He stole a few sips of Alfred's Coke, because it was the perfect complement to fries. Alfred noticed, but wasn't upset, waving for a second straw.

Even though he didn't really need it at the end of the night, having only two slurps of whiskey, it felt strangely nice to hear Alfred on the phone with the cab service. To act the invalid for now. He had no idea what to say. Recognizing that any of it had happened at all was an embarrassment that he couldn't come back from.

As he stood on the pavement next to Alfred waiting for his cabbie, Alfred broke the silence. "Did you like the Twinings?"

Once again a clever answer eluded him.

Arthur nodded, his voice barely a whisper. "It was lovely."

"Lovely?" Alfred laughed in delight. "Well, if it's that easy to make you happy, what have I been doing all this time?"

Arthur swallowed, shifting from foot to foot. He was stubborn by nature. Of course, he would never share his associate with the DA. It was perfectly in character for him. He didn't need another excuse.

But the true and much denied reason was this: He didn't know what he would do if Alfred chose Francis over him. He didn't know what he would do if Alfred walked out before the end of August. And as embarrassing as it was to consider: If Alfred had become the best thing about court, it...

Well, it just seemed to Arthur that Alfred wasn't far off being the best thing about everything.