Characters/Pairing: France, America, Canada, England; FrUK
Warnings: Holy crap cute.
Summary: Arthur Kirkland and Francis Bonnefoy take their adopted sons to see some fireworks for the first time. Slice-of-life family AU.
Notes: This was written for my lovely breagadoir . (It's basically to rot her teeth out.) She was having a tough time recently so this just popped into my head. I originally wanted to write it on July 4th but I was too lazy, so here it is 6 days later. It's still the same AU-verse as Not Necessarily Cause For Alarm and Fathers, Be Good. Please enjoy!
If there was one thing that drove Arthur Kirkland crazy, it was being dragged around by the hand by a child.
If there was something he hated it even more, it was pushing a double stroller.
So dragged around he was. Arthur had to stop himself from wincing as his now three-year-old son pulled on his fingers (painfully) and practically dragged him down the sidewalk.
“Daddy Daddy Daddy Daddy Daddy!” he repeated, shooting a bright smile to him in the dimming light as they trotted along. The sun was casting its final rays over the city, and little Alfred was pulling him right into their light.
“Should have brought your sunglasses, I told you,” Francis Bonnefoy said mockingly from beside him, curly-haired Matthew perched on his shoulders. Matthew had his hands folded on Francis’s head and was smiling off into the distance, eyes set on their destination.
“We’re almost there, Al, just be patient,” Arthur said as Alfred gave another indignant tug of his arm.
“Why aren’t we there noooooow?” Alfred asked, attempting to pull his hand away from Arthur’s in a fit of defiance. Arthur held fast and tugged the little boy closer to his leg, crouching down to his level.
“Alfred Bonnefoy-Kirkland, if you do not behave this moment, we’re going home, and Papa and Mattie will stay without us,” Arthur said in his Warning Tone. (It was a tone that Francis had pointed out he’d developed recently.) Alfred pouted, but he nodded and as Arthur stood back up, the pair walked more calmly, Alfred taking to looking at the houses as they passed.
The colorful masses of people celebrating the holiday became clearer as the little family reached the town commons. Across the street, at the local high school, a fair had taken the place of tennis courts and the football field, with possibly thousands of people wandering in and out of the chain link fence surrounding the enclosure. The street had been blocked off to traffic and the entire commons was covered in blankets, lawn chairs and strollers as families and friends waited patiently for night to fall.
“Wooooow,” Matthew said as they became part of the moving crowd. “Papa, how many people are here?”
“I don’t know, Mattie, how many people do you think are here?” Francis asked, holding onto his son’s legs. Mattie wiggled.
“A million!” Alfred chirped as he struggled against Arthur’s hand. “Look, Daddy, a puppy!”
“I see, Alfred,” Arthur said, concentrating more on not losing his toddler. Matthew just gaped at the crowd around him.
“I think there’s a billion!” he proclaimed suddenly, and looked down at his brother. Finally, Arthur bent down and scooped Alfred into his arms, much to Alfred’s chagrin.
“Daddy, I dunnwanna be carried,” he moaned, but Arthur had a firm grip on him.
“I don’t want you to get lost, you can get back down when we’re settled,” Arthur said. Francis smiled at his other son.
“Don’t worry, mon trognon et sucre, we will be ready soon to sit,” Francis insisted. Alfred pouted and Arthur sighed.
They’d finally managed to fight their way to the commons, where they found a vacated patch of grass near a lamp post. Francis let Matthew down and took the backpack from his shoulders, pulling out a blanket and laying it down on the grass. Matthew and Alfred immediately began playing near the lamp post, running around it and shrieking as their parents settled them in.
“Matthew, Alfred, come back here!” Arthur called. The boys ignored him in favor of playing more, this time making shadows in the dying sunlight. “Francis, can you get their attention?”
“Garçons! Revenez ici maintenant!” Francis bellowed, and finally both boys, startled at being yelled at in French (something that had yet to happen in their development of bilingualism) and retreated back to the checkered blanket.
“Désolé désolé, Papa,” Matthew said, but Alfred just grinned and plopped down on the blanket, wiggling out of his sandals.
“Qu'est-ce qu'on attend, Papa?” Alfred inquired. Arthur sighed.
“These boys have officially out-Frenched me,” he muttered, and Francis just laughed. Francis pulled Alfred into his lap as Matthew crawled into Arthur’s, and the four of them sat comfortably among the other families.
“We’re waiting for fireworks,” Francis explained. Alfred tipped his head up to look at his papa, and his blonde locks tickled Francis’s chin.
“Fireworks?” he asked.
“They’re big, colorful explosions,” Arthur explained.
“They go ‘boom’?” Matthew half-asked, half-informed, and Arthur leaned in and kissed the top of his head.
“Yes, they do. You’ve heard them before, remember? We heard some the other night,” Arthur said. “Now we get to see them.”
“We ever seen ‘em before?” Alfred asked.
“No, not in person,” Francis replied. “It’s exciting and very pretty.”
“Why are there fireworks?” Matthew asked, pulling off one sandal and tossing it to the ground. Arthur worked at taking the other one off.
“It’s a holiday, every July—“
“Here ya go,” a voice said, and Alfred looked up to see a cheerful police officer standing before him, holding something out to him. Alfred grasped it and stared at it in awe, giving a little wave before giggling. The officer handed one to Matthew as well. They were small American flags, on long, black, plastic sticks. Matthew waved his too, and held it in his hands, eyes drawn to the star pattern on top. Alfred was just waving his back and forth and giggling every time it moved.
“Que dites-vous?” Francis asked, wanting to give Alfred the hint without tipping off the officer. Alfred beamed up at the officer.
“Merci beaucoup!” he said happily. The officer laughed and Francis sighed.
“In English, silly,” he said, and Alfred giggled again.
“Thank you very much,” Matthew finally said, and the officer nodded to them both.
“You are quite welcome,” he said, and he wandered off, handing out more flags to children.
“Issa flag!” Alfred proclaimed. Arthur leaned in to Matthew and put his cheek to Matthew’s, while simultaneously looking at Alfred.
“Every July fourth, Americans celebrate their independence,” Arthur explained. “A long long time ago, this country was just a colony. But then they fought and became a country, and every year they celebrate it.” Matthew was still inspecting the flag and then waved it again.
“And there’s fireworks,” Francis pointed out.
“We’re Americans!” Alfred said, and he waved the flag again. Francis laughed.
“Yes, yes we are,” he said, and the words settled heavily in his heart. Neither he nor Arthur were born or raised in the United States, but here they were, celebrating a very American holiday with their very American sons. They weren’t official citizens yet, but they had lived here since a couple years before the twins were adopted as babies; they finally felt like they were beginning to belong.
The sun had already dipped low into the sky and stars were staring to peek out. The officer, who was only a few feet, away, suddenly grabbed his walkie-talkie and listened in to it. He then turned to the crowd, drew a breath and announced:
“The show will be starting in just five minutes, please stay seated!”
“Are things gonna go boom now?” Alfred whined.
“Hush, and wait,” Arthur said, and he clasped his hands on Matthew’s waist. Matthew didn’t mind, he just held onto Arthur’s arms and looked expectantly at the sky. Alfred was more restless but Francis had a good hold on him, so he gave up and leaned back against Francis’s chest, holding onto Francis’s forearms.
After what felt like an eternity, somewhere in the distance there was the faint smell of gunpowder, and then the tell-tale whine of a rocket being launched, and then—
“Whoooooooooa!” Alfred cried, while Matthew stared straight up, eyes wide and mouth hanging open. The sky exploded into a fountain of bright green light, and it shimmered all the way down to where the trees began in the distance. It was replaced by a flash of red that faded into white sparkles, and then smaller, purple fireworks that went off in pops in the sky.
“Daddy, look!” Matthew cried, and he pointed up.
“Yes, isn’t it beautiful?” he said, staring up. Every explosion seemed to make his heart speed up, but having Matthew’s warm body against his chest helped calm him. He’d never been the biggest fan of fireworks but, they were something he wanted his boys to experience. They were Americans, after all.
“Whooooooa! That was—woooooooow!” Alfred was saying over and over, leaning as far back as he could. Francis leaned back a little as well, using one hand to prop himself up, so Alfred could look practically straight up. The family of four watched as firework after firework exploded around them, lighting up the sky in colors and sparkles. Arthur wondered when Alfred’s attention would start to wane, as it was wont to do in repetitive situations, but Alfred was transfixed by the fireworks, and seemed content to just lay back and watch.
Arthur took a glance around him and noticed all the other families staring straight up, some with young children and some with older, and some groups of teenagers and young couples. People of all shapes and sizes surrounded them, all basking in the light from the sky, bright red and blue reflecting off glossy expressions.
Arthur turned back to face the sky, when he felt a hand on his shoulder. Matthew was gripping him tightly and leaning over to talk to Alfred, who kept asking if Matthew was seeing what he was seeing. Arthur turned himself to see that Francis had put a hand on his shoulder, his wedding band winking up at him from his left hand.
“Do you remember the first time we saw Fourth of July fireworks?” Francis asked in a soft voice. Arthur chuckled. It had been on their very first trip to the United States, just after they were out of college. They happened to come in July and the innkeeper at the inn they were staying at suggested they see the festivities. Arthur chuckled.
“Yeah, we thought it was so dumb,” Arthur murmured. They were sitting hip-to-hip, their sons perched in their laps. Francis glanced down and saw that Alfred had wound his fingers around Matthew’s and they were back to being amazed by the sight above them. Francis began rubbing small circles into Arthur’s shoulder using his thumb.
“I have to say, they’re a lot more beautiful now—“ Arthur began, but he was cut off when he turned back to face Francis and was silenced by a pair of lips. At first Arthur was surprised, embarrassed and almost angry all at once—why was Francis being so affectionate in public? Didn’t he remember what had happened to them the last time this happened—
But he soon realized that he heard nothing. No one was yelling at them or cussing; no one was tugging at their clothes or yelling obscenities in their faces. Everyone was just transfixed by the fireworks.
So Arthur closed his eyes and turned his head just a little bit, enjoying and savoring every little bit of his husband’s—yes, his husband’s—taste.
It wasn’t a long kiss, and Francis pulled away, opening his eyes and smiling at Arthur. The fireworks were still going off above them, and they were increasing in number. The final act.
“I love you,” Francis murmured, and Arthur grinned, his cheeks flushing.
“I love you, too.”
“And I love them,” Francis added, and he rubbed Alfred’s belly, making him squirm and giggle. “So, so much.” Alfred leaned his head back and looked at Francis.
“Papa, what’re you doin’? You’re missing it!” he protested, and he tugged on Francis’s arm. Francis laughed and nuzzled into Alfred’s hair, kissing the side of his head.
“I’m watching now, mon trognon et sucre,” Francis said. “And you, mon petit chou, are you enjoying it?”
“It’s so pretty, Papa,” Matthew breathed. Arthur brought his eyes back to the sky.
“You know when they get older they’ll hate those nicknames,” Arthur said softly. Francis chuckled. The final fireworks were going off now, and at the same time, the band in the gazebo near them began playing something happy and joyous—something that both Arthur and Francis recognized but couldn’t quite place, but was probably well-known among Americans.
Arthur slid his hand into Francis’s, just a little bit, and linked their fingers together along the worn old blanket they had brought with them. Francis made a contented sound but didn’t move his gaze from the sky, where the last of the fireworks were exploding in frenzy above them.
Soon, the fireworks dropped away and night resumed peacefully. Families began packing up their things and heading for their cars, parked way down the street. Their family, however, didn’t move, although Alfred immediately leapt from Francis’s lap and started chattering to people as they went by.
“Didya see it? It was so big!” Alfred said to a pair of teenage girls as they walked by. Francis and Arthur just watched as Alfred charmed every person who walked by.
“He’s going to be a real lady killer,” Francis commented. Arthur scoffed and made to stand, gently encouraging Matthew to get off his lap.
“I don’t even want to think about that right now,” Arthur muttered and he stood, brushing the grass from his legs. “Come now, boys, let’s go home.” Alfred came running back, a handful of the small American flags in his possession. He thrust them at Arthur, smiling wide.
“Happy Independence Day, Daddy! I got these for you!” he said, and Arthur took the bunch of flags, and although they were cheap, mass-produced pieces of entertainment, he couldn’t stop the warm feeling of pride spreading from his toes up into his body.
“Thank you, Alfred. We’ll hang these up at home,” he said, and Francis packed up the blanket and handed each boy a juice box as the family headed out into the night; Matthew and Alfred happily sipping juice boxes and waving little American flags, and Arthur and Francis, walking closely side-by-side, Francis hooking his pinky with Arthur’s, and together they walked home to live another year in paradise.
Sappy sappy sappy fluff, I hope it makes you happy! I just love writing this family, and FrUK is growing on me now. Le gasp! Btw, mon trognon et sucre and mon petit chou are both French pet names used for children; they mean "my core made of sugar" and "my little pastry/cabbage" respectively.