Title: Fireflies 2/18
Warnings: sex later on
Summary: In Arthur’s closet, tucked away in the back, next to his stash of cigarettes and whiskey, there are two things. One is an album of pictures he wished was empty and the other was of a leather jacket he swore to never keep. usuk/frukAU
Note: onto chapter two with hints of another love
Dreams are often most profound when they seem the most crazy. -Sigmund Freud
Once again, the city of London was covered in rain. Arthur's feet took him along Kensington Palace Garden walkway, hunched against the light rainfall. His normal route cut along Hyde Park, past the Palace residing within the bounds of Hyde Park, white against the emerald of the trees. Normally, the Brit would stop and take his time to look over the details of the palace, to memorise it and replicate it within his sketchbook again but he had no time.
He was late and Dr. Edelstein did not approve of unpunctuality.
The Broad Walk left the park and led him to Bayswater Road and through the packed streets of tourists, Londoners just trying to make it to the Tube in time for work and traffic. Arthur slipped easily through the crowd, knowing how to move, how to blend, how to exist within the people are never be noticed. The artist could observe and that made him invisible.
Dr. Edelstein's office was actually a three-story townhouse that blended into the large hotel to it's right, but placed on the end of the row of brick-buildings with the greying trim, giving way to much a much newer brown apartment building.
The top-most floor was not a full building but only a roof and through the window Arthur could see shadows moving about as he crossed the street. Below that, the second-floor's window was open slightly, allowing the light-yellow curtains to waver in the wind, the small window box filled with creamy-white Edelweiss.
Hurrying to the front door, Arthur's finger hit the call button three times. Once to let them know he was there, twice to let them know he wasn't just a wit or a lost tourist looking to get into the hotel and thrice just for his own amusement. He waited patiently outside, shaking his head slightly to free the shaggy blond hair of rain.
A tall woman greeted him at the door; a white apron tied around her back accentuated her figure. She smiled warmly at Arthur, tucking a long piece of hair behind her ear, touching the flower weaved in the strands, making sure it was still there. Rolling her sleeves back again and fixing her ponytail, she stepped back, inviting him in, her dark green eyes sparkling.
"It smells lovely in here Elizaveta," Arthur greeted, stepping inside, taking a deep breath of the warm air that filled the entranceway tinted with cinnamon, vanilla and whatever else the Hungarian placed in her bakery. The outside of the townhouse was deceptively small and inside it was rather large (not that a little designing from Elizaveta favourite Swedish interior designer and another friend of Arthur's didn't help).
The wood panelling was of warm rosewood as she led him to the kitchen -where once again he had to take another appreciative sniff of the air- and sat him down in the small waiting area off to the side comprised of a rustic leather couch and a coffee table covered an assortment of fairly recent magazines. The home itself was earthy and cosy, with velvety gem tones and bright patches of colour here and there, allowing for an elegant, yet well-loved look.
Taking his coat and hanging it up, Elizaveta returned to the kitchen; Arthur was pleased to note that she had already set out the kettle and teapot. As per his custom, he took note of the flower weaved into her hair. A carnation, colour stuck between rose-pink and red, swaying with every move she made around the kitchen.
"I'm glad you think so," she said, bending down to peer through the small window of her oven, "it's a new recipe I'm trying, some kind of bread." The Brit's smile only grew. A new recipe meant that he would be taking a sample home and not living off the local Chinese restaurant for one more night.
While the woman busied herself around the kitchen, Arthur let his eyes glance outside the large windows to the sprawling backyard. While it technically belonged to the hotel next-door, the couple in the townhouse had made an agreement that allowed them full-access for the mere price of Dr. Edelstein's piano talents at wedding receptions.
Relaxing into the leather, Arthur rubbed his face, his mind beginning to wander on it's own as it often did when without a pencil in hand and paper in front of him. Elizaveta's quiet singing was not helping, washing over him in calm waves.
It was Monday and Arthur had been shocked to receive a call from the Austrian doctor asking him to come in; they hadn't had a Monday session since four-months past. What did the man want? To talk about Alfred for the hundredth time in the past three years? Perhaps, and here Arthur had thought he had had troubles moving-on.
Turning slightly in his seat, Arthur cleared his throat. "Elizaveta?" he asked, her quiet song stopping, "Do you have any inkling as to why Edelstein asked me to come here today?"
Elizaveta hummed in thoughtfulness, taking a set of oven mittens from a hook on the edge of her cabinets and slipping them on. "I haven't heard anything," she said, opening the oven and drawing out the tray of freshly risen bread. The smell of spices infused the air, increasing the already compelling aroma ten-fold, causing Arthur to lose his train of thought for a moment.
"He didn't mention anything in particular, but he said it would be a short session," her voice suddenly turned steely and Arthur watched her hands tighten on the bread tray, "it has to be, we have Tino and Berwald over as guests for dinner tonight and he promised no patients today." There was a definite tone of bitterness and Arthur was glad it was not directed at him.
He was glad to hear a voice calling from the upstairs. "Elizaveta? Can you send Arthur up please?" The Brit waved a hand at her quietly, murmuring that he could find his own way, leaving the kitchen and starting to climb the stairs, going past the second floor, knowing the bedrooms were there and pausing at the door at the very top of the stairs.
Knocking as he let himself in, Arthur smiled. Dr. Edelstein's office was comforting as always, the walls covered in tomes save for the window that overlooked the busy Baywater Road below. A piano was tucked into corner, allowing the light to spill onto its keys, but its player was not at the bench, rather behind a desk.
Always as proper as the orderly books, the desk's papers were centred and organised and the frame of the picture on the right corner shone no matter sunlight or the full glow of the rain. This was one thing Arthur also enjoyed about the Austrian, no matter how frustrated he got, whether with patients, life or his family -but never his wife- he was always organised.
The brunet behind the desk was well put together with tailored shirts, neatly combed hair and sharp-rimmed glasses that hid his even sharper deep lavender eyes. Whenever the Austrian got out of sorts, Arthur noticed that a single piece of hair had a peculiar habit of standing on end, curling up away from the rest.
His wife often teased him, saying that this piece of hair was all the suppressed rebelliousness the doctor had, concentrated into this curl of hair. He never complained when she toyed with it, merely letting her tug and tease, the twitch of his lips either of annoyance or an attempt to keep down a smile.
Arthur enjoyed drawing them together, usually in Austen-esque settings of trimmed courtyards, horseback rides in the countryside and regal cottages. The two fit perfectly; Edelstein an aloof but wistfully dark aristocrat to have his heart charmed by the dear Elizaveta as the poor, biting and irresistibly enchanting woman.
"Ah, Arthur," the doctor stood up, putting his pen down and closing the small journal he had been scribbling in. With a gesturing of his hand, he gave a tight-lipped smile, "Please, have a seat, we only need to talk for a moment."
Taking a seat in the small chaise of worn leather, Arthur made sure not to lie down, fearing that this would turn into a session and he thought it better to stay away or face the repercussions of an angry wife's wrath. He touched the warm auburn blanket that was draped over it, smoothing it out while the Austrian took seat in front of him, legs crossing.
The Brit returned the smile softly. "So, Dr. Edelstein, what made you call? I'm doing really great right now, I even went a few days without thinking about him."
"I know, I know," Roderich's fingers intertwined over his leg, holding it close, "I'm really impressed with your progress and since we're seeing less-and-less of each other, I'd like to ask you to do something for me."
Arthur raised an eyebrow, watching as the brunet stood, walking to his desk, opening a drawer and puling out a small leather book, about half the size of his sketchbook. Walking over, he offered it to the artist. "I want you to keep a journal."
Taking the book and opening it, letting the pages flick by his thumb, Arthur looked up at him, frowning. "Roderich," the use of his first name felt odd, "why? I don't understand I'm doing really well, seriously. I think I'm even going to start dating again."
Roderich sat down again. "Arthur, I am impressed with your progress, but I just want to keep an eye on you and reduce our sessions to just one day a week. Think you can handle that?
"How much do you want me to write?" Arthur asked.
"One entry a day, nothing more. And more than one word, no slacking off." The Austrian stood up and Arthur did the same. "I will see you on Thursday."
When they arrived downstairs, Elizaveta had changed into a simple but elegant dress, humming as she prepared dinner around the kitchen. Spotting the two, she picked up a small cloth bundle, handing it to Arthur after he tucked the journal away in his bag. He hummed, smelling deeply and thanking her.
Elizaveta merely waved a hand. "No problem Arthur," she said, leading him to the door while Roderich hung back, offering a small nod as a goodbye, "please, enjoy and you know our door is always open to you, sessions aside."
The Brit smiled at her, cheeks glowing pink as she kissed them. Outside in the rain, Arthur took special care not to let the bread get too wet as he hurried once again through the green park, retracing his steps past the Palace and down Kensington's high street.
Night had started to fall on the city so that his path was lit by lanterns and the glow of the setting sun. Arthur huddled deeper into his coat, clutching the bread for warmth, wishing desperately that he were back at the Austrian's house, having dinner and enjoying the glow of company instead of the cold city.
Rounding the corner into Iverna Gardens, Arthur paused, seeing a figure huddled near his door, hiding under an umbrella; the bright red fabric almost an abomination against the dull colours of the street. Upon closer inspection, he recognised the Frenchman's figure and felt his face scrunch up slightly. And here he thought that he was going to get out of designing something for said "turtle".
"Ah, Arthur!" Francis' voice echoed down the street as he waved at the Brit as best he could, arms weighed down by papers, "I 'ave come to drop off a gift for you!"
The artist approached warily, eyes sliding over the papers. "What exactly is all this?" he asked.
Francis scrambled to find a manila envelope, holding it out to Arthur. "That is some background information and the rest of this is detailed blueprints of my 'ome." He held out the rolls of papers, dropping them into Arthur's grasp, causing the Brit to almost drop all of them and the keys he had been getting out.
"What exactly is all this for?" Arthur asked, a little ticked, "You haven't even told me what I'm trying to design!"
The Frenchman grinned at him and Arthur growled as he took a picture. "I want you to design me an aquarium."
Immediately, Arthur dropped all pretence of professionalism. "A bloody fish tank? You must be kidding. I did not go to the Royal College of Design for this-" His breath caught.
A finger found it's way onto his babbling lips, hushing him. Suddenly, Francis was much too close and Arthur found that the rain had stopped, now under the cover of the ruby umbrella. He automatically gripped the papers close to his chest, staring wide-eyed at the Frenchman who smiled softly at him, letting his finger fall.
"I simple wish for you to look over the envelope." He murmured, "That is it. Nothing more, then you decide if you want to design it."
Arthur's eyes looked down at the dark paper, then back up at Francis. "Would you like to come in for coffee?" he blurted out.
Rain fell around them as Arthur's heart lodged itself somewhere in his throat and Francis' blue eyes -those accursed blue eyes- continued to bore into him. Everything around him seemed very colourful for a few moments. The orange tint of the streetlights, the bright ruby of the Beamer parked down the way and those stunning eyes, every-shade and yet his find couldn't fix on them and the more he stared, the harder they became to read.
Suddenly, the rain was pouring on him again and the red umbrella was walking away. "Sorry Arthur," Francis called, looking over his shoulder, "but I 'ave a date tonight that I cannot miss. Au revoir Sourcils!" With that, and what Arthur would have sworn to be a wink, the Frenchman was gone.
It took a moment for Arthur's wits to gather themselves and for the flush in his cheeks to die down. He fumbled open his front door, unable to help but look back into the dark street, a small, unknown part of him wishing to see the red umbrella there.
Instead, his eyes fell on tiny pinpricks of light floating around his street. He took a moment to stare at them, rubbing his eyes once or twice to make sure it wasn't just a trick of the light as they could easily be mistaken for airplanes or stars. But Arthur knew what they were and it brought the smallest of smiles to his face. Fireflies.
I don't know about you Artie, but I think I've fallen in love with you.