Alfred's head stayed buried in his pillow for a long time. It felt like years he stayed, screaming angrily into the darkness behind his eyelids, the sound of his rage muffled by the pillow over his mouth. And then the image of Arthur lying on the bed, badly injured, filled his mind and he jumped up in the sudden remembrance that Arthur could be dying or suffering from something of that magnitude, (he exaggerated the possible outcome, but only because he was so worried). He rushed to the guest bedroom, stopping just short of entering the room.
He peered into the room, to see if Arthur was still alright, still alive. He sighed in relief when he saw that Arthur's chest rose and fell at a normal rate, his breathing calm. The boy he loved was still on the bed, still pressing the ice pack to his black eye, although his good eye was closed. He seemed to be lost in thought. Something about the way he looked, so vulnerable in the darkness of the room, made Alfred’s heart flutter. Alfred knocked on the open door to let Arthur know that he was coming in.
Arthur's good eye flew open and the illusion of his peacefulness was shattered. He turned his head quickly and hissed at the soreness that erupted from the movement. He rubbed his hand along his neck, attempting to minimize the pain. "Oh. Hello," Arthur mumbled. He tried to be as nonchalant as possible, although it was very difficult. His heart thumped in his chest. Alfred had said something wonderful and terrible a few minutes ago. The thought of the good or bad that could happen next bubbled in Arthur’s mind. Maybe Alfred would take his words back. Or maybe he would confirm them further. Arthur blocked the thoughts from his mind and tried to concentrate on the person in front of him.
"Hey, Artie," Alfred said, speaking softly while tiptoeing into the room, standing just inside the threshold. Arthur frowned. "You know I hate that name." Alfred smiled apologetically. He walked over to Arthur and sat at the edge of the bed. Arthur watched him, the beating of his heart growing faster as Alfred got closer. The room was silent for a few moments. Then, Arthur tried to sit up, breathing in sharply and wincing at the wave of pain his chest and midsection suffered. Alfred watched him, wanting to push him back down. Something stopped him, though, probably the idea that he might hurt Arthur further if he did as he wished. "Don't strain yourself," Alfred warned. He went back to staring at his lap, thinking about what to tell Arthur.
Arthur was able to sit up. He placed his hands on either side of him to steady himself and slowly backed up against the head board. After a moment, he was able to sit up without having to support himself. He leaned back against the head board and sighed, holding the ice pack to his eye more gently than before. He turned his head upward, staring at the ceiling, the question he wanted to ask stuck in his throat. Eventually, the words were spoken. "Did you mean what you said?" Arthur asked quietly. Alfred turned to look at Arthur.
Arthur brought his face downward, facing Alfred. "Did you mean it when you said you loved me?" Alfred was silent, nervously cracking his knuckles. Arthur flinched each time they cracked, although Alfred didn’t notice his reaction. Finally, Alfred responded. "Yeah, I meant it. I…I don't know why or, or how it happened, but… I fell in love with you. I don’t know. I thought… I thought I was… And then I saw you… And my heart just… It…,” Alfred sighed and ran a hand through his hair, chewing on his lip and thinking about how to continue. “I… I understand if you don't feel the same. I wouldn’t blame you if you never wanted to see me again." The silence that followed threatened to choke Alfred. He looked down at his lap, unable to face Arthur.
Then, when Alfred thought he might just run away from that room, tired of waiting for an answer, Arthur leaned forward and grasped Alfred's arm gently. Alfred looked at him, mentally preparing himself for rejection. He was surprised, albeit pleasantly so, when Arthur smiled slightly. "I think I love you, too." Alfred's eyes went wide. This was unexpected. Wonderful, but unexpected.
"Or, actually, I don't think I do. I know it." Alfred grinned broadly. Arthur's smile grew, as well. They were both silent, staring into each other's eyes for a while longer. Nothing needed to be said, really. Everything was communicated silently, through their gazes. After a few minutes, Alfred reached up and cupped Arthur's chin. He pulled Arthur's face closer to his own.
"Say it, then," Alfred murmured, inches from Arthur's lips, a slight smirk curving at his lips. Arthur shivered at the warmth of Alfred's breath spreading over his lips. "I love you, Alfred," Arthur whispered, reaching his hand out to caress Alfred's cheek. Alfred closed the distance and pressed his lips against Arthur's.
Alfred could honestly say that the kisses he shared with Arthur that night felt far more amazing than any other kisses he'd ever shared with anyone else.