Arthur groaned under the covers and cracked his eyes open a bit. There was a little light peeping into the room from the windows and it only made his throbbing headache worse. He tried vainly to remember what had happened the night before. He knew he'd gone out drinking with Francis after the meeting…and why he'd done that was still a mystery to him. It might have been because he had to give Kaoru (note: this is hong kong's non-canon human name. Some people of the fandom call him this) back to Yao. Arthur had been quite reluctant to do so; he'd grown attached to the little bugger, fireworks and all.
The house had seemed empty without him, but Arthur had two other kids to look after. Thank god his good for nothing brothers Ian and Rhys weren't living with him anymore. He couldn't imagine their influence on his kids. Arthur reluctantly pushed back the warm quilt and sat up, rubbing his eyes. The room was cold and he groaned again as a wave of nausea swept over him.
"Ugh, that is it! I quit drinking and I mean it this time!" he said aloud to the empty room.
"Mmh…mean what?" asked a silky low voice from next to him. That sound had Arthur shooting up from the bed and plastering himself against the bedroom wall. He knew that voice far too well.
"YOU! Wha-what the bloody hell are you doing in my bed?" Arthur shouted, pointing an accusing finger.
Francis rolled over and propped himself up on an arm, giving Arthur the most dubious look ever. "What? Can you hold your liquor so poorly that you can't even remember what you did the night before?" His voice wasn't thickly accented, but there was enough to make it somewhat difficult to understand him. Francis yawned, stretching out on the bed.
"I dragged your ass home after your embarrassing display at the pub. You were bawling so hard over losing Kaoru I came this close to slapping you silly. You know, you should really watch how much you drink, it can't be a good influence on Peter and Alfred, and besides-,"
"GET THE FUCK OUT OF MY HOUSE!" Arthur was livid, screaming at the top of his lungs. He was furious, both at Francis and himself. Just what the hell had he done last night? The mere thought of what it might be was almost enough to make him puke.
Francis shrugged and sat up. He looked back over at Arthur, looking pointedly down. "You might want to put something on before your abusive screaming wakes the children."
Arthur's face flushed red as a tomato and he ducked into the bathroom, locking the door. "Just get the hell out of here before I personally decide to kill you," Arthur's muffled voice said through the door.
"Oh yes, as if you haven't been trying that for years…," Francis muttered. He sighed and scooped up his pants from the floor. "Hmm…should I have told him what we did last night? …oh ho no no, I'd better not. He'd kill me for sure if I did."
He was buttoning the top of his pants when he heard the bedroom door crack open a bit. Two pairs of eyes peered in, then vanished as quick as they appeared. Francis walked over to the door and pulled it open.
"It's alright, children. You don't have to hide." His voice was kind as two little boys appeared in the doorway. "Alfred, Peter, what's the matter?"
Both boys were still wearing their pajamas. Alfred, the older one (about 6 years of age) and little Peter (he was 3) looked up at Francis with wide eyes.
"Mister Francis, is Arthur okay?" Alfred asked. "He sounded angry."
"Naw, he's not angry at you," Francis said, kneeling down so he was on the boys' level. "He's probably just mad at me."
"Why's that? You're a nice person! You give us candy!" Alfred said in earnest.
Francis ruffled the boy's hair, smiling. "I appreciate that compliment, Alfred, but I'm afraid your daddy doesn't see me that way." He stood, picking up his shirt and slipping it on. "I'd better leave before your daddy gets mad again. Bye bye, Alfred, Peter. Take care of him for me."
Francis left the room and down the stairway, then the sound of a door opening and closing was heard. Peter, who wasn't quite able to talk well yet, walked around Alfred and up to the bathroom door. He knocked several times with his little fists on the wood.
"Arfur! Arfur! You...okay…? Arfur…?"
The bathroom door cracked open. Arthur poked his head out and looked down at Peter.
"Peter…Alfred…I'm sorry. I probably woke you two up. Listen, I'll make it up to you! If you both can get dressed all by yourselves, we'll have waffles for breakfast!"
Both Peter and Alfred's eyes widened. Alfred crossed the room and grabbed his brother's hand.
"We can get dressed all by ourselves! Right, Peter?" Peter only nodded; he wasn't sure if he could, but the promise of sticky waffles was enough to make him try.
"Alright then you two, go get dressed. I'm going to take a shower first, then I'll come down, okay?"
"Okay!" both boys chorused. They ran from the room and down the hall eagerly.
"Don't run in the house! You'll trip!" Arthur called. There was another chorus of okay. Arthur smiled, shaking his head. Those two…Arthur owed it to those boys. They were really what kept him going.
A long hot shower was just what Arthur needed to clear his head. He needed to calm down from that horrible morning shock. What the hell had happened last night? He could usually remember (which was another good reason to quit. He didn't want to be reminded), but this time for the life of him he couldn't. Just how plastered had he gotten? What if Francis and he…
Arthur violently shook his head, spraying water everywhere in the shower stall. No, that idea was absolute nonsense. He scrubbed more vigorously. There was no way that stupid prat would dare try anything like that. Arthur sighed, turning off the water and leaning up against the wall. Knowing Francis, he might have…
There was rapid banging on the bathroom door. Arthur could hear two little voices through the wood.
"Arthur! Arthur! We're all dressed!"
Arthur slid back the stall door. "Good boys. I'll be downstairs to make waffles in a bit." He heard shrieking and the thud thud thud of Peter and Alfred running back downstairs. He smiled again, reached out for his towel when another huge wave of nausea hit him. He clapped a hand to his mouth but that wasn't gonna hold it. He barely had time to get to the toilet before puking his guts out.
Clutching the sides of the bowl, he shakily wiped his mouth. "That bastard…," he wheezed. "He must have given me something…"
Another wave sent his head back into the toilet. After that, it seemed to be subsided. Arthur stood, his appetite suddenly nonexistent. He wrapped his towel around his waist and opened the bathroom door. He had a hand on his stomach, the queasiness still lingering.
"God Almighty, I hate hangovers…," he muttered, opening up the closet and pulling out a shirt and pants. "Why do I always end up with the shit end of the stick? That bearded bastard even got the better of me…"
Arthur slammed the closet door shut, angry again. He dressed in frustration, mumbling the entire time.
"ARFUR!" shouted a voice. Arthur jumped and turned around, still buttoning up his shirt. Peter was standing in the doorway, his jacket hanging on by one sleeve and no shoes. He didn't look happy.
"Oh no…did Alfred dress you?" Arthur asked, chuckling at Peter's misfortune. "Come here and we'll get you fixed up right."
Peter waddled over to Arthur, looking quite mournful. Arthur knelt and fixed Peter's clothes, straightening his jacket and shirt.
"There we go…now, where's your other shoe?" Arthur asked, looking behind Peter. "Is it in your room?"
"…Arfur…do I not get waffles?" Peter inquired. "Since…since I cunna dwess myself?"
"Don't worry about that. You'll get as many waffles as you want. But first we need to find that shoe. Would you go look for me please?"
Peter's eyes lit up, happy that he was still getting waffles. He nodded furiously. "Okay! I'll find it! I'll find it!"
Peter turned on his heel and tromped out of the room. Arthur was close following. Peter and Alfred slept in the same room, since it was a small townhouse. A few seconds later Peter appeared out of his room, holding up a little shoe quite triumphantly.
"See, see? I toldja I'd find it!"
Arthur smiled. "Good boy. Do you need me to put it on for you?"
"No! I can do it myself!" Peter flopped down on the carpet and tried to jam his foot into the shoe. After a bit of struggling, he managed to get it on. He was beaming, quite proud of himself. "See, see? I can do it myself!"
"Hey!" Arthur swiveled his head and saw Alfred standing at the top of the stairs, a pout on his face. "You two are slooowwwpokes! Hurry up already!"
"Alright, alright…now, how many waffles do you boys want?"
"10! Or…more than 10…I dunno…I can't count higher than that…" Alfred said, a little disappointed.
"Shtacked as tall as me!" Peter shouted, jumping to his feet. He pulled on Arthur's pant leg, his signal for wanting to be picked up. Arthur obliged, lifting Peter and setting him on a hip. Alfred ran over to Arthur and started pulling on his pant leg too.
"Come on, come on! Hurry up, slowpoke!"
"Okay, stop pulling. I'm coming, I'm coming…"
As it turned out, Peter and Alfred were the only ones who ate the waffles. Arthur'd made blueberry and plain, and coupled with melted butter and sticky maple syrup, the boys had made quite a mess. Arthur had just stuck to his morning tea, not really feeling that peckish. His bout of sickness had quelled any hunger he might have had.
Arthur could hear the clinking of silverware on plates behind his paper. He had given the boys three waffles each and more than enough syrup to ensure a pleasant mess.
"Arthur, why aren't ya eating?" Alfred asked in a sticky voice.
Arthur looked over the top of his newspaper. Alfred had syrup all over his face and stuck in his hair too. Peter wasn't much better; he had a napkin stuck to his cheek. He folded up the paper and smiled forcefully.
"Oh, I'm just not that hungry right now. Look at you two! You've made quite the mess of yourselves! You know what that means, right?"
Alfred cocked his head a bit then his eyes suddenly went wide. "Oh no! I don't wanna bath!" He jumped from his chair and took off into the living room. Peter squealed and followed his brother, thinking a game was being played. Arthur took chase.
"Oh no you don't! You little buggers get back here!"
Alfred and Peter giggled and squealed as Arthur dove for them. Peter ran into the couch as he turned to run, falling over in surprise. Arthur leapt at the chance and scooped him up.
"Ah-ha! Gotcha!" Arthur said victoriously. Peter giggled hysterically as Arthur swung him around. "And now…for the other one!"
Alfred jumped and crawled under an end table. Arthur made a snatch for him, but couldn't quite reach.
"Come on, Alfred! You're going to make the carpet all sticky!"
"NO! I don't wanna a bath!" Alfred scooted further under the table, a frown on his face. Arthur sighed and straightened.
"Alright, but you're going to be sorry later. If you leave that syrup in your hair, it will turn into more syrup. You'll be known as Syrup Head for the rest of your life!"
Alfred's eyes turned panicky. "WHAATTT? I don't wanna turn into syrup! Ehhh…" He was tearing up at the thought of his head potentially becoming a sticky glob of brown goo.
"Well, the only way to make sure that doesn't happen is to take a bath," Arthur said, putting a knowing hand to his chin. "But since you don't want to…"
"NO, NO! I'll take a bath, I'll take a bath!" Alfred scrambled out from under the table, tears streaming down his cheeks. He looked terrified as he charged upstairs to the bathroom. Arthur sighed, shaking his head and picking the paper napkin off Peter's cheek.
"I hate doing that to him…alright then Peter, let's get you cleaned up!" Arthur hitched Peter up higher and followed Alfred up into the bathroom.