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Absolutely Barmy

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The restaurant was a nice place, Francis would admit grudgingly, a bitter taste clinging to his tongue, making him wish for something to wash his disappointment away.

With its silky cream sheets gracing sturdy applewood table tops and the ornate spindly chairs pushed neatly under, it could have been a place he would have patronized with pleasure had he known of it previous. As it was, it had been introduced to him only that morning by Antonio and he'd only been given a reason to visit the place by Gilbert who had snagged him a, 'sweet blind date'- in his words. But his pleasant mood from the first time he'd laid eyes on the elegant place died a slow death as the night grew older and there was no sign of this so-called date, Marcy.

When Francis had arrived at seven sharp in a cashmere sweater and pressed corduroy pants to no pretty lady awaiting him, he had graciously waited.

Five minutes- she'd probably been held up by traffic; it had piled up with the coming of snow, he told himself decidedly. Another six crawled by sluggishly, wherein he waved off the waiter with less and less confidence, saying," She'll be 'ere" Until the minute hand clocked upon its fifteenth minute, Francis had realized that his date was a no-show and sullenly sank into his seat, suddenly very disappointed and very bitter.

He called the waiter over finally- he noticed him eyeing him with a sympathetic look in his pitying eyes- and pointed thoughtlessly at the first words his eyes fell on.

"Le filet mignon, monsieur?" the waiter asked and Francis sighed a woeful," Oui, merci."

"Avec du vin?" he asked him tactfully.

"Certainement."

Within a few seconds of his order going out, a bottle of sparkling wine surrounded by ice in a bucket was placed before him, along with a wine glass, and he nodded absentmindedly at the brusque notice that his food would be about in a few minutes.

"Cheers, Francis," he toasted to himself morosely after he skillfully pulled out the cork and poured himself a generous serving of the alcohol. He stared at the bubbles in the glass unseeingly as he carefully swirled the glass by its stem.

Then, he slugged down the drink like his life depended on it and poured himself another glass,

The effects of the alcohol were welcome and pleasant as he felt a buzzing slowly go off under his skin, in his veins and, feeling less like he was about to break down, he whipped out his cellphone and jabbed at the first contact on the screen.

"'Ello, Gilbert?" he mumbled into the receiver as he cradled the phone to his ear and used both hands to pour himself another glass that was almost full to the brim. He took it by the stem gleefully and a few red droplets splashed over the side and stained the cream sheet and ugly pin. Oops, he sniggered, and hastily dragged the bucket over to cover the unsightly thing. "Bonjour, Gil!"

"Hey!" Gilbert's german-accented exclamation filtered through the phone. Francis could hear the strains of the television running in his ear but it gratifyingly was muted as Gilbert's voice sounded a bit closer than before. "Francypants! How's the date going?"

There was a pang in his chest that he muted viciously with another belligerent swig of his drink (Oh, if his mother could see him now; she'd scold his ear off for his lack of manners in public.) and he deadpanned, with only the slightest bit of slur to his words," She didn't show."

Choking and spluttering, then, Gilbert's voice, incredulous and stunned," What!? Marcy's a no-show!?"

Francis hummed around another mouthful of wine and gulped it down. "Non!" he hiccuped then giggled," No sign of zhis 'Marcy' character. She must 'ave decided she had better zhings to do than go out with an old dog like moi!"

He punctuated this with a flourish as he smacked his lips at the bitter-sweet tang of wine again on his tongue and at the back of his throat. It burned a way down to his stomach with a relish and Francis found that he didn't really care that Gilbert was cursing at the other end in coarse German- My, my, Gilbert, manners- and he only caught the tail end of his tirade.

"-n Gott, Francis, are you drinking? Stop. I'm telling you right now. You know how idiotic you become when you get drunk! Save yourself from the embarrassment!"

Francis sniffed haughtily and glared at the phone with bleary eyes where it sounded like Gilbert was picking a fight with his clothes and losing.

"Zhat was last year, Gilbert," he groused," I've learned to 'old my alco'ol!" He took a deep swig of his glass just to prove him wrong and he coughed into his sleeve when the liquid set fire to his windpipe instead. With watery eyes, he shook the empty wine bottle and demanded that the waiter fetch him another bottle when he conveniently arrived with his steaming filet mignon.

"Merci," he harrumphed preoccupied and cut the call on Gilbert's colorful language rudely, ignoring the fact that his stomach was rumbling in displeasure under the relentless onslaught of alcohol, and the unpleasant curdling of his appetite consequent.

Quite a shame, though, he thought with a bit of regret when the alluring smell of well-cooked meat and spices only made him queasy. He picked at the fries at the side and nibbled on them morosely. His unoccupied hand reached up to brush away his blond hair where they fell into his eyes and kneaded his nose bridge where an annoying headache was blooming.

Stupid Antonio, he thought sourly, stupid Gilbert, stupid Marcy, Clare, Danna, Allie, Adele, Helen, and everyone else.

Who needed girls anyway? They were annoying, whiny, clingy and, really? It was a good thing none of those girls accepted his overtures. They would no doubt leave within a week or so.

He took a deep swig of his drink.

Stewing in his self-pity, he groaned and flopped forward in his seat before his head lolled to the side a bit and caught sight of a man at the table diagonally in front of him, a table of two away.

Francis was pretty sure that he had been glaring at him just now but he'd quickly looked away when Francis had felt the stare on his person.

He examined him under a bleary shrewd eye. He was... Not bad-looking, he would admit. A sandy-blond mop of hair that looked stylish but upon closer examination was rebelliously fly-away. A cute nose over a stiff upper lip. Flashing bottle-green eyes. Shame about the eyebrows, though, Francis thought, put-out, He could do with a plucking. They looked like great fuzzy caterpillars when they were furrowed together like that. His fashion sense was alright, though. He looked like he was fond of rock from the way he dressed- brown leather pants and jacket with a checkered neckerchief topping the look off.

A cup of something sat in front of him and the man was staring moodily at the table top.

Like the shameless, forward tipsy, brilliant person that he was, he had a stroke of genius to talk to him. Bien sûr, of course.

"Hey, you there," he called impatiently. No response, but the man's eyebrows furrowed even more, like there was an annoying fly buzzing around his ears- Of course, it didn't occur to the drunk fool that he may have been the fly. "Hey! Excusez-moi? I'm talking to you!"

When there was no response, he harrumphed and picked out one fry to flick at him.

"Hey-" It landed one table short, "'Allo-" It fell on the table near the man's cup (The man's eye twitched, but Francis didn't see.) "Oi-" The last fry flew true and it sailed through the air and landed in the man's cup.

When the man's head snapped up, black, with eyes burning with green murderous fire, Francis cheered, slurred.

"Bloody hell, sir, what are you doing!?"

Francis only grinned dopily at the displeased tone of voice, (sounding very close to decking him, though it sounded like he was inviting more conversation to his wine-addled mind) and he quirked an eyebrow at the harsh, distinct, and decidedly English lilt to his words.

He's British! Francis thought gleefully, bringing the glass up to take a sip as he eyed the fuming man who was glaring daggers at him, How delightful!

"Cheerio!" he chirped, his accent swiftly mauling the English phrase he always heard," Pip pip."

If anything, his careful consideration of the man's nationality rankled him some more. His face became as black as a thundercloud and his scowl was something fierce. It looked like the hair on his head bristled with outrage.

"Pardon me!" he spluttered in indignation, cheeks coloring a ruddy red. "Well, I never- Who do you think you are!?"

Unfortunately, the words reminded him of his life at the moment and his cheerful mood dropped like a mask. He sniffed into a napkin and sighed theatrically, looking imploringly at the man who suddenly looked insecure in his rage at the change in mood.

"I am," he declared tragically," but a loveless man. A man whose 'eart aches for amour yet receives none."

He rested his weary (and aching- God, he shouldn't have drunk so much wine) head on his arms, propped up on the table, and looked sideways to the man. "Tell me, do you wonder about love sometimes?"

The other man, whose eyes were wide and questioning and angry at the same time, cocked his head to the side somewhat hesitantly," E-excuse me?"

"Do you believe in love?" Francis bemoaned again, louder this time.

"I- Er-"

"Because I 'ad- once!" He shouted at him, and the other man's mouth closed from his mutterings with a click, green eyes wide ("Oh, o-of course.")

Francis continued," It is a beautiful zhing, ne est-ce pas? The tug of one's heart? The passion? The feeling of holding une belle femme close?"

"I apologize, I don't speak French-"

"I treasured it!" He ranted," I loved the feeling of love. I used to be a Casanova, you know!? But now- Now!" His voice crested in his woes," Girls do not flock to me anymore! Not one! Am I too old? Am I not a good lover!?"

Throughout it all, he had been taking great swigs of his drink, which he poured continuously and fervently like his life was on the line.

He barely noticed that the other man had stood up from his table in a panic and was hovering over him now, trying to shush him, shove him upright in his seat and tug the glass from his tight grip all at once.

He didn't notice that the man's green eyes were flitting about the room wildly in his distress, grimacing at the ogling bystanders ("Oh... My... I did not think this was proper behavior in the West." "Oh! Pasta and a show!"), before eventually falling on the approaching steely-looking security guards who had just entered the room and were making their way towards the buggering drunk man with strong frowns on their faces.

The man's jade eyes flashed with relief as he tried to move away to allow the security guards' closer proximity to the ranting Francis.

"Oh, thank goodness. For the love of God, please, I can't stand him! He won't shut up-!"

Then, he paused in his tirade as one security guard restrained him as well while his partner hauled Francis up, confiscating his wine (which the Frenchman grabbed at piteously).

He felt his ire rise for an entirely different reason as he looked to the guard in askance.

"What!?" he yelled, outraged," You think I'm associated with this barmy nut job!? This- Frog!? Why on Earth would I ever be friends with him!?"

And he stifled a scream of frustration as he and the woozy Frenchman were deposited outside the restaurant, with a strict warning to never come back because they had been effectively banned. Bloody wonderful.

...

Francis came to from his impromptu drop into unconsciousness to a man shouting about the injustice of the world to the clear, night sky in a furious, heavy Brit accent and- Oh.

Oh.

Oh, mon dieu.

He buried his face in his hands and groaned a long and distressed moan that was part his embarrassment and part a magnificent hangover.

Of all the idiotic things he's done in his life- This! This topped the cake. Getting himself and a complete stranger kicked out of a restaurant.

Mon dieu. What had come over him!? He remembered flashes of cream, brown and green, hazy figures he could see moving through a fog-addled mind. He had- and he was- and he made-! Oh, no, no, no. Mon dieu. What a mess.

Embarrassed, hiding his face with blond strands of hair, he looked up at the raging English man- Oh, mon dieu- and mumbled," Sorry," in a quiet and ashamed voice in between one of the man's pauses to suck in another lungful of air to shout again.

Surprisingly, his weak apology paused the man in his diatribe and, as he watched, the man's shoulders suddenly slumped, as though he'd given up on something- raging, most likely- and was utterly resigned to the disaster that was Francis' life that he'd pulled him into.

He flopped onto the ground, slushy snowy grass staining his leather pants darker, edges of his leather jacket brushing the ground morosely and he sighed, utterly defeated.

"Sorry," Francis sighed again softly and kneaded his nose bridge to ward off his headache.

He felt, more than saw, the gusty exhale of the other man and heard a mutter that sounded like,' In for a penny, in for a pound,' and, before he could puzzle over it too much, he had said louder, in a resigned and hesitant voice that broke the thick, buzzing silence between them," Oh bugger it all. Fine," he said crossly, What's your problem?"

"Excusez-moi?"

The man huffed," Why did you decide to get rip-roaring drunk today? And-" he added sternly, eyebrows starting to furrow again in his incredulity," Don't give me that bullocks that it was because of girls. Do not. Or else, I swear to God that I will deck you."

Francis looked skyward and refused to meet the other's eye. The chilly air was making his head feel better, shaking off the cobwebs and dragging his common sense back from where it had taken the backseat.

"Eh-" He tip-toed around the subject and cleared his throat," That is-"

The other man's eyes widened in his horrified dubiousness and his mouth automatically ticked up in a scowl again that Francis could feel burning a hole into his shoulder.

"Bloody hell! Bugger it all!" He sighed, tolerating, as though he was starting to suspect that Francis was all idiocy and stupidity all the time," You are barmy."

"Oi."

"You're an absolutely mess," he snarked, relentless," Spit it out then. Give me your sob story."

When Francis looked at him sidelong, questioning, the man only grumbled to himself and crossed his arms impatiently.

"You started this bloody mess," he grumbled at the look, sniffing imperiously," I'm only seeing this through on a cock-up on my account, obviously. Besides, you're not totally a dodgy character. Just wonky in the head."

Francis acquiesced. And took the liberty to continue the last of his tirade- albeit in a calmer and more subdued way- in the next few minutes.

When he trailed off, the wind in his sails dying away, he simply sighed and looked to the sky, not denying that the rant made him feel the slightest bit better.

Peripherally, he noted that the other man was also looking at a star in the distance as well, looking to be lost in thought as much as he had sounded attentive and hummed at all the right places to placate Francis' anger and murmured his consoling when Francis got to the part where he was rejected by girls three consecutive times in a row.

The lounged in an almost peaceful, lightly moody silence and Francis was honestly feeling better than he had before before an abrupt spotlight on them, from an incoming car- that was looking more familiar the more Francis squinted at it- interrupted them.

He leaned forward, musing.

"I think I know that car..."

The owner honked the horn at them once, twice, jarring them both to their feet (The other man was frowning at the encroaching car, muttering about 'lack of politesse nowadays' and sounding so much like the crotchety old man he'd started to to equate him to during their talks that he rolled his eyes) and the person with very recognizable white hair and vampire-white skin and worried ruby red eyes, who leaned out of the open window was a sight for sore eyes.

"Gil!" he grinned and tried to lope forward, only to stumble the first step, making the person beside him curse and tug him upright again with a quick,' Be careful, you wanker.'

"Francypants!" Gilbert exclaimed, gaining a shrewd glint in his eye as he gave both him and the Englishman cursory looks. "Thought you were gonna end up in the slammer tonight. And... Kesese, who might this be?"

Francis coughed; the Brit coughed, and they both gave each other side glances awkwardly in realization.

"And you may be?" Francis prompted the other man, embarrassed- He had just spilled his life story to the man and he hadn't even known his first name, for shame.

"Arthur Kirkland." Was the stiff response," Pleasure to meet you."

"Francis Bonnefoy. Likewise."

The exchanged a rough sketch of a handshake under Gilbert's incredulous gaze and Francis worked not to meet his suggestive eye as he introduced himself to Arthur Kirkland- Huh, the name fit him, strangely enough- with an enthusiastic and prideful," I'm Gilbert Beilshmidt."

"So! Francypants. Wanna go now? You made me miss my show. You owe me now."

Francis laughed," Honhon. Certainement! Merci beaucoup, Gil."

Gilbert waved him off with a customary flap of his hands and a teethy smirk, understanding him easily from all those years of him gabbing in French most of the time," No prob, man. Hop on. You owe me some wurst."

They both grinned before Francis' attentions was redirected to a soft cough beside him and he started in surprise and a bit of mortification. Arthur- that felt a bit weird, referring to him as such- had been shuffling uncertainly during his and Gil's conversation and he now saw how awkward and less belligerent he was now in the face of new company.

Although his face was still creased in a faint frown, he had adopted a prim, constrained posture and the small smile he gave Francis was tight around the eyes. He fiddled idly with his jacket cuff.

"Well, I'll go now, shall I?" he announced politely.

He looked so proper and distant and Francis knew that he probably wanted to get home already but still, he hesitated. It was... Strange but the man felt like a friend already, or as much a friend an acquaintance he had met a few hours ago under the effects of alcohol could be. Not like Gil and Tony were in that crazy way but... in a sort of mad, nit-picky, harrumphing mutual friendship way.

He was 'barmy', he groaned to himself, borrowing the funny English word, Yes, he was.

With Arthur looking at him politely but stiffly and Gilbert, lewdly and shrewdly, he finally stuttered out a halting invitation to dinner that made Arthur's cold facade drop briefly.

"Pardon?" he said with the beginnings of a frown etching his face he was starting to get acquainted with," I wouldn't dream of intruding."

Gilbert, perhaps picking up that odd, desperate vibe that Francis was giving off, joined in on the cajolingly only slightly dubiously.

"Nah, it'd be cool with me. And besides, the more people to appreciate the deliciousness of wurst, the better!"

Francis nodded in agreement and waited with breath strangely bated at the crumbling resolve on Arthur's face.

"Fine..." he harrumphed, scowl lightening a bit at Gil's earnest 'Kesese!' and Francis' victorious 'Honhon!' He shook his head, suddenly tired and resigned and all the more welcoming for the gleam in his bottle green eyes that was lit the next their eyes met. Arthur scoffed at his grin and brushed off grass blades and slush from his pants, straightening the checkered neckerchief he was wearing primly and tugging at the cuffs of his leather jacket with finality. "As long as there's tea. You didn't let me finish it before you got us thrown out."

"Honestly," he sniffed as he followed Francis into the car, though it was half-hearted and more teasing than when he had been scolding him genuinely," You people are all wankers."

Gilbert revved up the engine and shot a mad grin at him through the mirror, chortling. "Get used to it," he snickered. "You'll be seeing more of us in the future, I reckon," he prophesied but the two in the backseat didn't notice the enigmatic statement as Arthur had launched into a lecture about "the proper uses of 'Cheerio. My God. When I heard that, I wanted to pour wine all over that smug face of yours. You don't say that in that way. It was so irritating-" and Francis was sulking and protesting the treatment. Gilbert rolled his eyes and shook off his last reservations of the guy- he was all right. At the very least, it'll be like Lovino all over again, when Antonio first introduced him to the group.