I sat with my legs crossed and a steam cup of hot chocolate was being nursed in my hands. It was about three in the morning now, and with large eyes I stared at Arthur. His own intense gaze was fixed on the blazing fire a few feet away. We sat together on his couch in front of the large fire place. I pulled down at the large shirt I was now wearing for pajamas. Arthur, looking as handsome as every agents the flickering fire’s light, had no shirt on too, because I was wearing it. Hehehehe~!
At around twelve we had too much fun with a game I wanted to play. Because this place was rather larger than I thought, I came up with playing Hide and Seek in the dark. We didn’t even finish the first round. I hid first, and it was in Arthur’s master bathroom in the large shower. When Arthur found me, let’s just say, we had a nice long, hot shower together.
Now dry, and unable to sleep, we lit a fire and sat on his couch having small conversations.
“Are you going to tell me yet?” I asked, breaking the silence.
He blinked a few times before turning to face me and shake his head. I pouted, giving him my best cute-angry face. It didn’t seem to work because he just chuckled, and took a sip of his tea. “You have to tell me first.” He said looking back to the fire.
He was right, I did promise him I’d say first. So I scooted closer to him, and leaned on his bare warm shoulder. “Fine, but promise you won’t laugh.”
“I swear I won’t,” He said.
Sighing, and quickly down some hot chocolate, I gave in. “When I was younger, I wanted to grow up to be a fairy princess. Okay?” I stopped, and traced my finger along the cup’s edge.
Arthur looked down to me, silently edging me on. So I sucked in a breath, held my head high, and ignored the aching pain growing in my chest. “It was because of my Grandma, she told me all about what it would be like to be a princess, and she loved telling me fairy tales with happy endings, forbidden love, beautiful girls and handsome boys. Just a whole lot of sweet nice things little girls needed to be told. But, when she died that dream crumbled. So I decided I would make my own fairy tales, more realistic ones, without happy endings, or even an ending at all. That is one of the reasons why I write now.”
I waited for some sort of laughter, or a low stifled chuckle. But nothing came; I turned to him and saw him staring at me with a hard determined gaze. I shrank under his gaze, feeling like he was judging me. “That sounds tragic, (Name). Was she close to you?”
“Hmmm?” I looked back to the fire and realized he was asking about my grandmother. I smiled sadly and nodded my head. “Very close, she died when I was ten. I miss her all the time.”
“I was close to my own grandmother. She has yet to pass on although. But I haven’t talked to her in years, or anyone in my family for that matter. I left them all behind when I was younger.” I turned to look back at Arthur; he was nursing his tea again and then looked at me with a sly half grin.
“Enough of me!” I waved my hand at him. “Talk mister. I need the deepest darkest juiciest facts you have hiding up there.” I pointed to the top of his golden locks and then shifted to sit on my legs, eager to learn from him.
“M-me?” He stuttered and became more, what’s the word, panicky? Yeah, that will work for now. “Well, what do you want to know then?”
“Well,” I drawled with a grin. “Exactly how old are you Mr. Kirkland?” I teased as he flinched at my sword sharp words. He didn’t really like me calling him Mr. Kirkland anymore. Even in class, I just said sir for his sake.
“How old are you?” He somewhat snapped back but sighed. He already knew the answer so why was he asking? I was only just a senior in school, but I was seventeen, nice huh? I giggled at his emotions and unnerved expression. “How old do you think I am?”
“If I had to guess, that is, at first glance you look no younger than nineteen.” I said.
He looked at me with surprise and I watched a bit of that fear wash away with pride. “Really?”
“Yeah, but you can’t be a teacher at that age, so your job gives it away. Most teachers go to college for about four to six years before getting a real teaching job. So if you got out of school at the age of eighteen, and went right into college and all, I’d say you are close to twenty-seven. Right?”
He growled after giving a harsh and quick sigh. “I forget how bloody smart you are. You’re spot on.”
“Really!?” I sat up and grinned. “It’s all about the IQ baby! I’ve got too much and I can’t be stopped! I was right, oh my gosh. I’m so going to hold this over you someday. I am too strong!” Arthur gave me that classic WTF look but it was gone as he smiled.
“Sure you are, love. Because you don’t already do that enough.” He said.
Giggling I calmed back down to sit by his side. “No, I don’t. But tell me what you were like in high school. I want to know what kind of person you were so I can better judge you for it.”
“Isn’t that a little bit too harsh?”
He groaned and we both now watched the low flickering light show in the fireplace. “Fine, I’ll tell you about my last year of high school. Seeing how you are there now.” I listened to him pause and I turned to face him. His face was growing red and he frowned at the fire. “I wasn’t very good in high school.”
“Like, bad grades or something?” I asked.
He shook his head and looked over to me with a bitter laugh. “I wasn’t a good person. I actually moved around a lot. So I never really made friends that I planned on keeping. That was my mother’s fault. My father wasn't in the picture. He was an angry Scotsman, Just like my oldest brother. All of my brothers stayed with my father. While my mother picked me to take and we moved away, first to live with her parents. Then we went to other countries around the world, somehow we ended up back in England.” He stopped and took a drink from his tea, frowning at it.
“What’s wrong?” I asked.
“It’s cold; I’ll be right back, hold on.” Arthur got up from the couch and I turned around, watching him leaving into the kitchen and toss away his tea down the sink. He went out of my view, as he disappeared into the pantry. The clanking of glass bottles echoed into the room.
I thought he’d be getting more tea. But instead he had a bottle, and a tall clear glass to accompany him. He traced his steps back into the pantry, getting a second and third bottle. “Mixing drinks now?”
“Yeah, do you want some?” He asked, his tired eyes never looking up as he unscrewed and opened the bottles.
“Promoting underage drinking, are we now? You seem to be full of surprises today Arthur. What’s in it?” I asked.
“Oh just anything normal,” He went over to his fridge and pulled out a large jug of Arizona raspberry iced tea. “Just some highly flavorful cocktails of sorts,” He got a second tall clear glass, filling them both half way with ice. “The starting base is Raspberry tea, then you add Pinnacle Raspberry Vodka,” He mixed the two said drinks with ease. Setting them aside he grabbed the two other bottles.
“Isn’t Pinnacle French vodka? Don’t you hate all things French?” I raised a brow at him, and he grunted.
“It tastes good nonetheless,” He shrugged. The second bottle was full of a red looking liquid. He held it up, and shook it a bit. “This is a cocktail of other fruit juices,” He dumped it into the glasses. The third bottle he looked at then narrowed his eyes setting it aside. Leaving the counter again he went back to his fridge. I stared at the two tall glasses, full of a dark red cocktail of drinks. Arthur came back with a shallow smile, plopping fairly silly looking straws into the drinks.
He was back sitting next to me soon enough, handing me my own little ‘Vodka-Tea’ as Arthur put it. He really did like his tea, didn’t he? I took the glass and stirred it up some. “It’s funny that you think I have had alcohol before.” I grinned up to him.
Arthur looked really cute and silly drinking from that blue swirly straw. I had a purple one in my own drink, just as silly and tangled as his. “You haven’t?” He asked after finishing his long sip of the cocktail.
“No, I have,” I brought the straw up to my lips, but stopped turning back to Arthur. “I only ever drank at weddings or other special occasions at home. Once with Savannah, but she and I were only fourteen and we wanted to try some of her dad’s beer.” I took the silly purple straw between my lips.
At first, the drink was sweet from the Arizona tea, I tasted that first, then as the sweetness of the berries and fruit juice left, the aftertaste as I swallowed it down burned from the vodka. To get rid of the bitter after taste I made the mistake of drinking more. But after a while, I started to like it, it was good. “I like it,” I smiled.
“You should, it was one of my best selling drinks when I was a bartender.” He said it like this wouldn’t surprise me at all.
“You?” I scoffed taking another sip from my drink. Funny how I haven’t even dented the amount in the glass, but I’m already left with a light head. “Yeah right, you’re a teacher.”
“I am, but during college I was a bartender.” He said going for his own drink as well.
“Hmmm, interesting, tell me more about this, bartending.” I drawled out slowly with a sly grin. Arthur grunted, and gave a nod of his head. I scooted ever so closer to him, leaning on him with my legs tucked under me. He didn’t seem to stiffen at my touch like he does most days, instead turned to me with a soft smile.
“I’ll get to the bartending. But first I need to finish the whole high school question,” He eventually took my hand in his. Resting it on his lap as he sucked at the swirly straw and demanding more of his Vodka-tea. “Ahh, where was I now?”
“Got back to England after moving around a lot with your mom,” I told him and I looked behind him, and out the window wall. The lights of the City Corner shined and sparkled with the falling snow. This all seemed so cliché to me again and it rattled me to my very core. I saw that same old scene of the girl sneaking off to her lover’s home in the middle of a harsh winter. Once she gets there, she settles down next to him and they sit close to each other, falling even more in love. God I hated it.
“Oh, right. After we got back to England, I had only one year of high school left. And also at the time I only hand one pestering overseas friend.”
“Who was that?” I cut in, and he chuckled.
“I was getting there, It was Alfred F for fucktard Jones. I was in America for a year, and he worked his way to gaining some of my trust as annoying as he may have been. But he was two years younger than me and like the little brother I never really wanted. Alfred got me my job here too, I also went to college with him. He might be one of the only people I’ve truly enjoy being around.” I gave him a sketchy look with a raised brow. His eyes widened and he pressed out some laughter “O-other than you of course!” Arthur quick added and then swiftly down quite a bit of his cocktail.
Now I understand why with the drinks. I guess sometimes we all need a little bit of liquid encouragement to help us look back on our past. I stared down at my cocktail and took in a large gulp of my own. I turned back to the wide eyed Englishmen with a large toothy smile. “Good, it’s nice to know you like me hanging around all the time.”
He muttered something under his breath that I didn’t catch. And honestly, I didn’t really care or want to know either. “Anyways, after I got back to England, I was angry all the time, I still had good grades but I was, well a punk. I did a lot of things I regret and I would have been better off not doing.”
“Like what, Jay walking?” I teased and poked at his side. He jerked away from my jabbing finger with an angry looking smile, if that’s even possible.
“No, I did drugs, I drank a lot, went to bars, and dance clubs. Broke too many young girls’ hearts I suppose. I did all that when we started moving. I was angry, broke the law all the time. I dressed in torn dirty clothes and crazy colors. When I first met Alfred, he didn’t know anything about all of that until I saw him again after high school.” I looked at his glass; it was already half empty and still going. Mine wasn’t even close to being half empty, so I downed a large gulp.
“Did you have a criminal record?”
“You mean, do I? Yes, I still do but nothing has happened for a long while now,” He sighed, he seemed to be thinking back on all the mistakes of his life, should I be feeling guilty because I was the one making him do this?
“Really? I never would have guessed.”
“Good, I’d like to keep it that way if you don’t mind. The only thing I have left of those days is what little I smoke now.”
“Smoke? As in cigarettes?”
“Unfortunately,” He sighed.
I furrowed my brows together and eyed him. “I’ve never seen you smoke, ever! And you can’t if you’re a teacher.”
He nodded his head and started slouching, so unlike him being a gentlemen and all. “True, true. But that doesn’t mean I still don’t crave them now and then. I only ever smoked when I get overly angry, or upset. Just when things are a bit too much for me, and I calm myself down smoking.”
“When was the last time you smoked a cigarette?” I narrowed my eyes, forming a glare, I didn’t like this. Not one bit at all. And how come I never knew about this?
He scoffed bitterly and rolled his eyes. “Last week, but that was the first time in two months. I only had one, so you don’t have to worry.”
“What happened?” I asked, he didn’t say anything. So I asked again. “Arthur, what happened to make you smoke?”
“Don’t you remember? You’re friend and her creepy everything during you’re oral report.” He removed his straw from the glass, and gulped down the last of the cocktail leaving only slightly melted ice-cubes.
“Oh,” I said, and frowned. That was more of my fault. Okay, so Arthur smoked every now and then. I don’t like it, but I can only pity him. There is nothing I can do. It was his burden, his mistake, and his alone.
“Don’t worry (Name), really it’s nothing. I’ve gotten better at it. Before I smoked a pack a day, and a king size pack is full of twenty cigarettes. Now a king size will last me a year. Normally I’ll have one or no cigarettes at all in a month’s time now.” He told me, he gave me a sad but reassuring smile.
“Hm,” I took a shallow sip of my drink and nodded my head. I didn’t want to pry anymore into Arthur’s past for tonight. It seemed like something he really didn’t like talking about himself. I looked around the darkened room, taking everything in for a second time. My eyes landed on my bag over on the counters. I looked back to Arthur to find him watching me. “Hey, I’ve got something for you,” I said getting up.
He sat up on the couch watching me as I lightly walked over to my bag. I dug around inside it, and then plucked a small box. Inside was one of four gifts I gotten Arthur. I thought this one would be best for an early Christmas gift. I was leaving Tuesday, but Christmas was on Wednesday. It had blue wrapping paper and tided with a fancy red bow.
“Here,” I held the gift out in front of him. He looked at it for a few seconds then hesitantly took it and started tugging at the bow and paper. “I’ve always questioned you’re taste in music. But now I know why you like those punk rocky bands so much.” I smiled watching him.
He reached in the box, pulling out six CD cases. A smile worked onto his lips as he read the titles. “These are all limited addictions, o-or ones I don’t have.” He said flipping over some of the cases. “We have a Green Day here. Oh and look Sex pistols, I’ve always liked them. A Blink-182, very nice, their new album. Fall out boy? Very nice (Name),” He started sounding like a giddy little school girl again. “Black flag is here too? Wow that is really nice! And The Offspring too!”
I smiled, enjoying that he was happy with what I got him. “This is only an early gift.” I said
“You mean, there is more?” He looked to edger and full of hope.
“Well, of presents yes but I won’t tell you what they are! Not until Tuesday that is!” I watched his face drop just a tiny bit. I reached out and messed up his golden locks even more as I ruffled his hair with a soft smile. “Do you want the card to?”
“Shouldn’t that wait for the rest of the gifts?” He asked swatting my hand away.
“It could, but it goes with the whole music theme,” I pulled the red envelop out from behind me, and hold it before him. It was sealed shut with one of those old fashion wax stamps with the family crests imprinted in the wax. I always saw my dad do this, because he thought it was fun. So I wanted to give it a try.
He took the red envelop and flicked it open with ease, he was still eyeing me every now and then. It was like he was expecting Jackass to jump out from behind the couch and Falcon-Punch him out of the window or something.
He pulled out a card in the simple rectangle shape and looked over its cover. It was just a cream colored card, with calligraphy right on the cover saying Merry Christmas from the bottom of my heart.
He flipped it over after a few seconds, and I re-read to myself just what I wrote on the empty side of the card. You know it’s funny, I wasn’t going to get you anything at first, I heard him give a low grunt at that, so I tried holding back a few giggles. But then I thought to myself, you are becoming someone important to me, so I should show my gratitude right? Shower you in gifts like everyone else I care about? So I guess that’s what I’ll do. Because Arthur Kirkland, you rock my world every day as if I’m at a never ending concert and you only sing for me! Have a Merry Christmas full of love and affection, (Name) (Last Name)