Moonlight streaming through the curtains caught and reflected off the switchblade in his trembling hands. His shoulders heaved with every shaky breath he took, staring past the blade at nothing in particular. Even if something had caught his interest, he no longer would have seen it; all he could see was you. You, you, you, repeated over and over and over again in his head as your image flashed behind his eyes, the shy waitress that plucked up enough courage to meet his gaze when taking his order. Even as he all but growled, you smiled and treated him with a kindness unknown before that encounter, a warm cup of coffee he hadn’t ordered ready to go before he headed back out into the rain. The waitress who awoke from her daze when he walked back through the door later that week, grinning as she told him to sit wherever he’d like. The waitress who gave him a free pastry and a wink whenever he turned up during late evenings sporting a fresh bruise to the cheek or tousled hair. The waitress who made time to stop by his table regularly for a short chat or quick joke despite the seven other tables she had the one time he visited during the busy hours.
A distant car honking coupled with the conversations of dozens of strangers he’d never meet outside his apartment forced Arthur from his thoughts. Drawing another breath, he pushed himself off his bed and headed for the window, staring out at the world before him. Even after nightfall, they were everywhere. People, here, there, everywhere, he couldn’t escape them. Good people like you, bad people like him. Those who smiled brightly and greeted everyone with love him their hearts and those who would sooner throw a punch at a lowlife or thrust a knife into a rival’s abdomen. He could handle people and all the trouble they brought. You, however, could not.
Not if he could do something about it.
Once he’d wrapped up business that needed to be handled the week before, Arthur had set out to his new favorite spot where he was certain, having previously memorized your work schedule, he’d find you working hard and eagerly waiting for him. A roar of sirens interrupted his brisk pace, police cars flying down the road and around a corner out of sight. Nothing out of the ordinary, leaving Arthur to push it out of mind as his thoughts wandered back to you and the cafe he could find you in at on just the next street corner. This late on a Thursday night meant all would be quiet and he could have your attention all to himself. Or at least, he would’ve, on any other night. Upon nearing the cafe, Arthur realized that wouldn’t be the case. Not with the broken glass littered across the road, sidewalk, and dining room or with the police cars and ambulance waiting outside.
Chills wracked his body as he wildly searched for you amongst all the strangers at the scene. You ended up finding him, running straight into his arms while your name caught in his throat, ready to call out for you again. Clinging to his torso, you told him how men had barged inside and held everyone at gunpoint, how your coworkers and customers had feared for their lives, how you had feared for your life. Arthur cursed himself for not being there, shaking with fury as he held you. He wanted to scream as you whimpered how you had noted his absence that night, thankful that he wouldn’t be in harm’s way like everyone else.
“God no,” he murmured into your ear, shushing your cries. “Nothing and nobody would have hurt you if I’d been here."
What the hell was wrong with him? He questioned by the window, fury still burning as he recalled your terror. Why hadn’t he been there? The gang could’ve done without him for the night. Though, what the hell was wrong with you? Anger growing stronger, he’d found out you’d returned to work as soon as the cafe reopened earlier that week. You could’ve been hurt not a few nights before and yet there you were, greeting regulars with that smile of yours on Monday night. It was clear you’d been shaken up yet you continued the charade of being a-okay while chatting away. So many people, so many things that could hurt you and take away the warmth you’d brought into Arthur’s life. Thursday had proved that, under the correct, nauseating, horrific conditions, Arthur could lose you forever, leaving him all alone again.
He leaned away from the window and hung his head. A gasp of air, then another. He wouldn’t accept that. One more wobbly gasp. He couldn’t. He pulled himself up, standing tall with a venomous glare at the world outside before turning sharply on his heel, stalking towards the door. Arthur snatched his coat from off the couch and shoved his arms through the sleeves while locking the door. Rushing down the street, hands and switchblade burrowed into his pockets, he made his way to the cafe, to you. He was no longer trembling or short of breath. It was all so simple now. In order to protect you and all that you gave him, you’d simply have to stay beside him from now on. No more wondering if you were getting enough sleep at 4 am, no more worrying about meals when you’d mentioned having skipped breakfast and lunch to make it on time to your shift, and no more worrying about if you’d make it home alright when taking the train home. Pulling the cafe door open, your eyes widened with glee as you greeted him warmly.
Arthur couldn’t help but return your joy, realizing that he would no longer have to share you with anyone.
Not sure what this was meant to be, a test more than anything? I sat down and wrote whatever came to mind in one go and this was the result, so maybe just wanted to see what I could do. Either way, I hope you all liked it! I’ll be back later this week with a set of headcanons or two and then we can move forward with some proper stories!