Arthur Van der Linde-Morgan was just a normal teenager with average problems, well the problems he tells his friends about are anyway, He wasn't the most popular but he wasn’t a total loser either, at 17 years old Arthur was an arts student and a punk rock type, despite his cold exterior, he was a very soft person and had a protective disposition to those close to him, he was the dad-friend of the group, always having band-aids and other stuff along that nature in his bag. His childhood best friends John and Abby weren’t any more different than him, except John was a drama major, and a few months younger than Arthur. He had a childish personality but was the joker of the group, always willing to help others and tried to put a smile on everyone’s face, Abby however was the head of student council and was trying to get an English major, she was a bubbly person and Arthur loved both of his friends dearly, they were like his second family after all. Walking in the morning to his bus stop Arthur checked his phone, an iPhone hand-me-down from his stepdad Micah. Step-monster more like Arthur thought bitterly, rubbing his chin scars absently as he texted John, asking him about his night and sharing a meme he saw that he thought John would like.
“Scarface: LMAO AFJHDJVHJKDB” John key-smashed “Scarface: dude, u have ur jersey? Its spirit day today. I didnt bring mine cause fuck that shit lmao” the bus arrived, the kids at Arthur’s stop started filing inside, the smell of old fake leather, B.O and weed assaulted Arthurs nose. God he hated the bus “Artyfarty: fuck really??? Is that 2day? totally 4got lol, were not missin much. Abbys gonna be pissy we didnt dress up tho” Arthur replied laughing softly to himself as he found his seat and settled in, thinking about Abby scrutinous gaze over John and him not wearing jerseys. Arthur plugged his headphones in and pressed shuffle on his playlist, he looked out the window at the passing trees and farmers fields covered in snow in his semi-rural town. His thoughts drifted to home, his awful manipulative stepdad, and his pop Dutch and how clueless he can be sometimes.
How easily he can be cowed by that man... I don’t know anymore. Arthur thought to himself. Better not to dwell on dark thoughts. Think about somethin’ nicer than that Artie c’mon now. Arthur thought of last years pride festival, how pretty his local Queens and Kings looked, how happy everyone was, how much his ribs hurt from laughing with John and Abby, arthur rubbed his arm and checked his phone again, seeing a text from Abby, he snorted already knowing what it would be about. “Abbs: hey fuckr u bettr have ur jersy on! i work hard 4 this student council shit. luv u” Abby said, Arthur knew Abby wouldn’t get overly angry if he and John weren't wearing their stupid scratchy jerseys. “Artyfarty: ;0 maybe i dont wat u gon do bout it lmao” he replied cheekily, pocketing his phone and waiting for the bus to stop before he shuffled off to the front of the school, waiting for his friends. Looking over the railing, he saw a sea of loud Niners clogging the halls like the plague they were, all of them wearing jerseys.
Ugh, don't they have anything better to do?? Arthur thought bitterly, already knowing his walk to first period would be loud and anxiety inducing, he didn’t need any stupid grade nines to be fucking with his day further. He felt a tap on his shoulder and turned, Abby was standing there with her hands on her hips, half serious scowl on her lips, Arthur snorted and she dropped her foul expression, hugging Arthur tight around the middle, He leaned down and kissed the top of her head and mumbled a greeting against her brown hair
“Good morning to you too big guy” she said, looking up, with her arms crossed lightly “I see you aren't wearing a jersey, do my ideas suck that bad?” she said, covering her face jokingly, pretending to cry. Arthur laughed and shook his head, floppy hair swishing with the movement “No Abbs, jus’ didn’t have one y’know. Plus you got as many niners participatin’ as you could ever need. If people even need niners at all” he said shuddering as he thought of the aforementioned sea of flesh, their obnoxious music and hallway-clotting tendencies. John strolled up behind Abby and startled her with a whispered “hey” right in her ear, she spun around and slapped his chest. “Asshole! You scared the shit out of me!” she complained with a laugh, Arthur trying his hardest not to choke on air, John snorted with laughter and kissed her forehead and grabbed Arthur's hand and kissed it gently.
“Love you Abby, you too Arthur” he said with a grin. Arthur huffed and pulled John into a hug and giving him a kiss on the head too then letting him go with a smile. Arthur’s favourite part of the day was being able to give his friends kisses and hugs, nothing could beat casual platonic affection at least, not to Arthur. The bell rang and Arthur groaned, rolling his eyes he hugged his friends and hurried off to his first period class, parting the sea of niners with a loud bellow of “MOVE” and storming off, facial expression murderous towards the kids that dared to talk back to the hulking teen.
First and second period went like a breeze, however Arthur’s lunch period was very loud considering he shared third period lunch with the obnoxious ninth graders, they crowded around his table and threw bottles and blasted the latest soundcloud rap album at ear shattering volume. With a thunk! a water bottle collided with his head, Arthur cleared his throat loudly and levelled a glare at the ones who got too close. He stood up slowly and intimidatingly with a low snarl of “watch it” when he handed their now crumpled water bottle back to the niners. They didn’t hang around long after that. He saw Abby and John come into the cafeteria and smiled at them, pulling their seats out for them and waved as the rest of their friends arrived, Sadie joined them and pulled up a chair beside Abby, holding her hand and kissing their girlfriends temple, Abby blushing and giggling at their affections. Javier strode up with a smirk, arm around Charles who was looking shy and waved at the table.
“Saw those little cabrones running away and just knew it was my boy Artie hmm?” he said, referring to the fearful Niners, their awful music and screeching within earshot. Arthur hummed and shrugged “It was just the usual man, they were playing Lyrical Lemonade as loud as fuckin’ possible, they actually managed to hit me with a godamn bottle this time too,” Arthur said, cringing the table shuddering at the mention of the shitty souncloud rap group. John looked over concerned at him, hearing that he was hit with a bottle. Javier patted Arthur’s shoulder with a solemn nod, “A moment of silence for our bro’s lost brain cells” he laughed, Arthur laughed along with him to the visual he filed the idea away for his sketchbook later. John scowled in the direction of the niners, still pissy about Arthur getting hurt. He bit into his sandwich lovingly made by his dad and stewed in his anger quietly, thinking to himself about how great his dad’s cooking is. Arthur chewed his lunch, joining in on the table discussion sometimes, but mostly reserved, noticing John’s pinched brow, He reached out and grabbed his free hand and squeezed gently. John didn’t want to let go, Arthur didn’t bring it up and just sat in simple silence with his friends, laughing at jokes until the fourth period bell rang, when he reluctantly let go of John’s hand, kissed him on the forehead and packed his bag, heading off to class.
Arthur liked to think of himself as a brave man, but when faced with his stepdad Micah, he was a shuddering coward. The screaming and threatening body language of his stepmonster from hell shook Arthur to the core every time he stepped through his front door, never knowing his stepdad’s mood until it was too late. He bent down to greet his gangly dog Boadicea, shes a good girl, a little stupid but in an adorable kind of way. He sighed softly through his nose and set his bag down, kneeling to play with her ears as she let her tongue loll out, happy at the attention. Arthur stopped petting her and she shook her body, little bits of her brown hair going everywhere as she trotted off, tail wagging happily. Guess he’s not here… probably at his house again thank god, He thought.
The only saving grace about his stepdad is that him and his Dad Dutch lived in separate houses, Dutch was a largely independent person, liking to live on his own sometimes which was nice when Micah was busy laying into Arthur for one perceived offence or the other.
“Arthur? Is that you son?” Dutch called from the kitchen, he popped his head around the doorway and smiled at his son “made your favourite, Micah is... on a trip this week so it's just us ok?” Arthur grinned at his dad and hugged him. Dutch chuckled and kissed his head, “I hope you're this happy about the KD and not your stepdad being gone. Set the table and let's eat hmm?” he said rubbing Arthur’s shoulder, squeezing gently to emphasize the light joke. Arthur set the table and helped his Dad divvy out the KD, cooked just the way he likes, the noodles soft and squishy with the cheese extra stringy. Even if his Dad can be a bit distant with his writing, he always makes time for his son and Arthur loves him for that.
Chapter 2: Arthur Gets His Big Boy Juice
Arthur goes to the clinic to get his testosterone shot, small bits of home fluff
BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP BEE-
Arthur groaned and turned off his alarm, letting his arm rest across his forehead as he looked around his room, Fairy lights decorated the bland white space of his ceiling, their copper wires like veins across the space of his room , small picture frames of his favorite photography shots adorned the walls along with posters and flags from bands and beer companies, along with a pride flag on his door. Arthur’s room was painted a cool greyish-blue, helping to calm his mind after a stressful day. He had his little desk set up in the corner with his sticker-cluttered laptop sitting on top of it charging indefinitely because of its shit battery life, he could get a new one but his Dad bought it for him and it still worked alright, besides it was the only laptop that ran Minecraft and Skyrim well enough. The desk originally was a pale cream colour, but years of painting had tuned it a mismatched collage of colour besides, he liked it better that way. A little chaos never hurt anyone.
He sat up and pulled a pair of sweatpants over his boxers, putting a loose black shirt over his torso and stretched. Checking his phone as he shuffled downstairs to make breakfast for his dad and himself, scrolling through Instagram and Tumblr to see if his art and comics had gotten attention overnight
Not that they’re any good he thought bitterly to himself before shaking the negative thoughts out of his head, trying not to let his Saturday get ruined before it even began. He fed Boadicea and got started on making scrambled eggs and toast, starting the eggs first and mixing them in the pan making more than enough for the both of them. He added bacon bits and some green onion, put the bread in the toaster and grabbed the margarine and jam, Blueberry for himself and Strawberry for his dad and scraped the pan with a spatula, scrambling the eggs. Dutch came downstairs and gave a mumbled good morning to his son as he turned on the Keurig, scratching his stubble as he waited for the water to boil, the toast dinged and Arthur grabbed the pieces, buttered them and plated them alongside the eggs.
Dutch hugged his son and kissed his temple, thanking him for the breakfast as he shuffled off into his study to try and get finished on his writing deadlines, coffee and plate in hand. Arthur made himself a cup of green tea and watched YouTube as he ate, volume low to let his Dad concentrate on his work. After he finished, he put his dishes in the sink and rinsed them and walked to the study, knocking gently on the door,
“Hey dad, are you done? I’m doing the dishes I may as well do yours while i'm at it”
“Yeah Arthur give me a second, I'll bring them right out, you can get started on them. I can dry them after, make sure you walk the dog before you leave for the doctor’s ok?” Dutch replied, slightly muffled through the door. Arthur hummed and got started on the dishes, almost done scrubbing the pan by the time Dutch came out with his plate and mug, Dutch kissed his temple and shuffled off to the study again mumbling his thanks and praise for the good breakfast. Arthur finished up and jogged up the stairs to put on proper clothes to take Boadicea out for her walk, she was already shaking with anticipation by the time he was halfway down the steps. He snorted at her, put on her leash, shucked on his coat, and headed out the door bracing for the chilly morning walk.
Arthur thought idly as he walked around his block, breathing in the fresh air his mind drifted like gently lapping waves, ebbing to and from the present moment. When Boadicea went to the bathroom he snapped right out of his thoughts to clean it up- he wasn’t the type of person to leave his dogs business in other people's yards- and circled towards the town park, the only place aside from home where he could dispose of the little baggie of Boadicea’s business. The soft crunching of the fresh, thin layer of snow was calming, the silence helping Arthur feel at peace. He kept a careful watch over Boadicea to make sure she wasn’t getting too cold and that her paw pads weren’t leaving little blood specks in the snow. They wouldn’t stay out too much later in the cool -5 degree weather, he disposed of his trash and made a swift beeline back for home, wiping his dog’s paws off and stomping his boots before heading inside. He took his coat and Boadicea’s leash off and put them both away before shutting and locking the door. He picked at the side of his thumb as he walked back upstairs to sketch before having to leave for the doctors office, today he was getting a t-shot and he shuddered at the thought of being prodded by needles all day, but to him it was well worth it considering how handsome and comfortable he was with himself now.
The visit to the doctor’s was exactly as Arthur thought it would go, they asked him how he was eating, how he was doing in school. Then he got the needle pokes and took a few suckers from the sweet ladies at the front and was sent on his way. Arthur’s thigh was a bit sore on the drive back home but he was happy and feeling comfortable, his favorite music playing as loud as he dared through the car’s speakers, bass shaking the windows and making his hands vibrate on the wheel. At the stoplight he tuned down the volume conscious of the other drivers around him, the light changed and he made his way across the intersection. He took the long scenic route home, not in any particular hurry since he didn’t have much to do and he was slightly bored, he saw that his gas was running low so he pulled into a gas station and filled up the tank. He paid and shot John a quick text, “Artyfarty: hey johnnyboi, u free to chill? Just got my shot and m kinda bored lmk im in the neighborhood” the response was almost immediate “Scarface: sure bro! Aaaa!!!! Happy 4 u man! Gotta ask pops probably yes ill be out in ten” Arthur smiled to himself and put his phone away, heading off to John’s place, a joke already formulating in his mind for when he pulled up.
y'all say,, fluff time?
also i want to apologize for how short these chapters have been. I'm trying my hardest.
Arthur pulled into John’s driveway, honked the horn, and leaned his head out the window,
“GET IN LOSER! WE’RE GOING SHOPPING!” he shouted
John nearly slipped down the small staircase because of how hard he was laughing, Arthur grinned at him and put his head back inside his car when he saw Hosea make his way outside to hug his son goodbye and to talk to Arthur.
“You boys be safe, Arthur my boy try not to cause too much trouble,” he joked with a wink. The both of them laughed.
“Alright Mr.Matthews, I’ll try not to cause too much of a ruckus. Any specific time you want me to drop him off by?” Hosea thought for a moment, one hand on his hip and the other scratching his cheek
“Mm, 9:30 at the earliest please and thanks, you boys have fun and drive safe alrighty? Love you both” Hosea smiled and waved them off as Arthur pulled out of the driveway, turning onto the street and making his way up the hill. John plugged his phone into the AUX cord and played some Indie music at a lower volume as arthur rolled his window back up.
“What’s the plan my dude? Wanna hit up Strawberry n’ Chill at the mall for a bit?” John asked, leaning back in the seat and resting his arm on the door. He looked over at Arthur as he hummed in thought.
“Mmm...Sure, my boots are comin’ apart so I need new ones anyway, is it chill if I get some while we’re there dude? I can pick somethin’ up for you from Zumiez if you want?”
John nodded with a grin,
“Please man, I can spot you the cash later, I got paid yesterday”
“Nah, you could buy us lunch an’ all's forgiven” Arthur joked with a wink and a chuckle, John snorted and looked out the window at the passing trees as they drove further away from home God he's cute Arthur thought to himself as he turned onto the main road out of town.
Arthur chewed his lip nervously as he found a spot to park at the Strawberry Mall, he’s always been nervous about being in tightly packed spaces especially when parking a car. They ended up finding a safe space to park and he shook his nerves off as he grabbed his backpack, keys, and wallet and waited for John to grab his things so he could lock the doors. The boys made their way inside, walking leisurely towards the layout map of the mall.
“Aight, where we wanna go first man? You thinkin’ shoes or clothes first? Or do ya wanna grab some snacks?” Arthur asked
“Uhhhh… Shoes cause that’ll take a hot second.” Arthur nodded with his hands in his pockets as they made their way towards Walking On a Cloud. He hoped to god they had his size still knowing how quick larger sizes sold.
The smell of leather and shoe polish permeated the small shop, a few customers were milling around inside the store so Arthur shuffled quickly towards the back where the boots were kept, scanning the plethora of boots he picked out a pair of casual boots, black in colour with plaid trim and fluffy interior. They looked snug and cozy, flagging down a worker he asked if they had any in his size and they nodded and walked off towards the back. Arthur sat down with John and waited for the worker.
They came back, a few boxes under their arm one size larger than Arthur asked, and the size he had asked for. Trying them both on he found he liked the larger size more.
Making his purchase he looked over at John and saw him on his phone and laughing, Arthur smiled and paid, making his thanks to the worker and giving a small tip for their trouble.
They stopped by the washrooms so He could swap out his shoes and stowed the old ones in the box and put it in his backpack.
The duo leisurely walked towards Zumiez talking idly about weekend plans,
“Whatcha up to tomorrow?” Arthur asked
“Eh, Pa’ wanted to go to chapters to pick up some new novel that came out, was about like, a space fantasy adventure or sum'n I think.”
“Cool dude, I think I heard about that one, Pierce Browns the author yeah?”
“Mm, I think so, You know I can’t read for shit” John laughed and bumped Arthur’s shoulder and grabbed his hand casually, swinging their arms together and grinning like a fool as they walked through the hallways.
Arthur squeezed his hand gently and idly rubbed his thumb across John’s knuckles, he reluctantly separated their hands with a final squeeze as they walked inside the store.
A worker greeted them casually from behind the counter, they were folding the new shirts that had come in and tagging them their larger gauges glinting slightly in the light, rap music was playing softly over the speakers Arthur sat on the couch as he watched John pick out a few shirts to try, a few from RIPNDIP and a few from Lurking Class, along with some oversized hoodies.
John tried the clothes on and settled on the yellow RIPNDIP shirt and a black oversized Lurking Class hoodie, he showed Arthur each time he tried something on and it was fun for the both of them. He thought John looked really cute with the sleeves of the hoodies hanging over his hands and shoulders, much too large for him but it fit his style somehow. Arthur paid and the cashier shared a knowing look and a wink with Arthur before they walked out of the store, purchases in hand.
“I really like that hoodie on ya Johnny, I bet it's real comfy” he said chuckling at John fruitlessly trying to shove the sleeves up his skinny arms. John hummed in response, nodding enthusiastically,
“Dude you have no fuckin’ clue, You can have the other one if you want. I bought ‘em too big ‘cause I knew you’d like to try at least one of ‘em, that and I could say they were yours” John said with a wink
“Well you aren’t wrong man, they look soft as hell, skaters really know how to make good shit. Must be cause they get hurt so often eh?” Arthur processed what John had said and snorted “oh you cheeky little shit c’mere” Arthur kissed the top of John’s head and squeezed his shoulder, “Could just ask me if you wanted my hoodies man, you didn’t need to buy wholeass new clothes to pretend when you could have the real thing” he chuckled.
John shrugged and took his hand, leading them towards the food court, arms swinging gently and thumbs rubbing each others knuckles, It was really quite peaceful.
How am I so lucky to have a guy like him in my life, god dammit I think i’m catchin’ feelings. For fuck sake . Arthur thought to himself, face flushed slightly with the fluttering in his chest at the close proximity and soft touches from John.
The food court was really fucking loud, unbearably so. Arthur’s hand shook slightly in John’s, the other man squeezing gently to ground the taller as he ordered their food, a stir fry bowl with egg rolls for Arthur and a classic burger and fries for John. Arthur loved that he took charge while he was upset and couldn’t function as well in cramped spaces, it was what made him really appreciate him and was also what scared him about making a confession to him, he really didn't want to lose what they have, this easy and casual affection with each other.
Arthur ate and tried his hardest to focus on what John was saying, just friendly small talk and exchanging of memes, taking it easy for his sensory overloaded brain, Arthur felt slightly guilty about John having to keep quiet and baby him, he loved hearing him talk excitedly about his interests, that adorable smile that split his face when he got really into his topics of choice, the way his dimples made his cheek scars crinkle slightly when he grinned really wide. Arthur realized with a start just how smitten he was with his best friend, he just barely managed to keep his thoughts internal as he finished his meal and waited for John to finish up his fries.
“I can take away the trays dude its ok” Arthur said when he saw John standing up, hand about to grab his tray. Arthur picked his up and made to grab John’s but he moved away with his tongue sticking out childishly,
“No, we can throw them both out its fine,” he said as Arthur grabbed their stuff, backpacks slung over one shoulder and the bag of shirts in his one free hand as they threw their trash away, earning him a kiss on the cheek and held hands while Arthur’s face was absolutely burning on the way to the car.