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Chapter 2

Saturday, 6:10 AM

Wally lay in bed asleep, his fiancée Linda in the bed beside him. Linda stirred, waking Wally into a half-conscious daze. He felt her rustling next to him, a warm tingle rushing up his spine. Through half-lidded eyes, he rolled over and stared at her laying so peacefully, the morning sunlight through the window cascading across her auburn hair. He smiled lightly, a sudden urge coming over him. He rolled over lightly, gently running his fingers through her hair. She moaned softly, her head moving slightly at Wally’s touch. His other hand made it’s way under the sheets…

A minute later, Wally was attempting to disprove the theory that he was the "Fastest Man Alive" in every endeavor. As their bodies moved together, he caught a quick glimpse of green out of the corner of his eye, followed by a soft crunching noise. His head snapped around to the right, his eyes locking onto the form of J'onn, leaning back against the wall, a small bucket of popcorn in his hand. Unfazed, J'onn took a kernel of popcorn, held it up like he was about to eat it, then motioned with his fingers.

"Oh, don’t mind me, Wal. Please," he continued "by all means, keep going."

Wally moved to… dismount his bride-to-be but suddenly her hands shot up and grabbed his hips, forcing him back down on top of her. A soft "Don’t stop" escaped her lips, Wally’s mind now racing. To his horror, the bedroom door opened and Kyle walked in, dressed in his full Green Lantern outfit, McDonald’s soda cup in hand. Kyle waltzed over next to J'onn, taking a leaning position almost identical to the Martian. Kyle leaned over, as if whispering, but his voice rang out loud and clear.

"He… he’s doing it wrong…"

"Shhh…" J'onn admonished, his eyes still locked on Linda and Wally. "That may be, Kylie, but it sure is fun to watch him try…"

Both green figures laughed lightly, sharing what appeared to be some kind of private joke. Wally was frantic, anger quickly rising in his mind. Just as he was about to scream for them to leave, the closet door opened. If Wally was upset when Kyle walked in, he was completely flabbergasted now. Batman strolled out of the closet, small video camera in hand, and slid sideways across the floor until he was standing to J'onn’s side opposite Kyle, his camera trained on the couple the whole time.

"How long have they been at it?" Batman queried, his eyes and camera still focussed on the bed.

"About 3 minutes," J'onn replied, popping another kernel in his mouth.

"He’s doing it wrong," Kyle chimed in for the second time.

"I see that," was Batman’s smirking reply.

Wally was at the end of his wits. He started to jump out of the bed again, only to feel the vice-like grip of his fiancée’s hands clamping down on his hips again. He turned to her, lying beneath him, eyes closed, lips slightly apart. She either didn’t notice the trio of onlookers or didn’t care. He clamped his own eyes shut, willing the hallucination to disappear. A few seconds of concentration focussed solely on the "task at hand" and Wally forgot about them…

…at least until the snickering started.

Wally opened his eyes again, staring intently at the trio. Obviously unconcerned by the eye-daggers flying in his direction, Batman turned to the other two.

"You know, I think someone needs to teach this boy how to properly make love to a woman." Batman suddenly dropped the camera to his side, staring directly at Wally. "What'dya say, West? Willing to let a real man show your woman what it’s supposed to be like?" he smirked and took a step forward. Strangely, his foot fall didn’t sound like boot hitting wood flooring, but instead it sounded like a electronic twittering.

Unconcerned with details for the moment, Wally turned his growing frustration toward the Bat-shaped man stepping toward the bed.

"You take one more step, Batty," Wally growled, "and I swear to God I will kill you where you stand."

Before Wally could actually contemplate the fact that he had just threatened one of the most dangerous men alive, Batman paused. Batman’s smirk turned into a full fledged grin -- an almost homicidal grin, but a grin nonetheless -- and he lifted his foot, moving it out in a cartoonish motion and purposefully bringing it down in a defiant step. Again, the boot twittered electronically on the floor.

Wally’s brow furrowed as he attempted to wrap his brain around what he was seeing. And hearing. Batman’s other foot raised up, now looking like Shaggy creeping away from the Haunted Pirates. Again, the boot twittered as it his the floor.

Wally finally placed the twittering sound as he sat upright in bed, his eyes instinctively locking on the phone on the nightstand. He looked over to his right where Linda should have been and saw only empty bed. He looked to where the trio had been standing and saw only blank wall. Shaking the final images of the dream from his mind, he reached over and grabbed the phone.

"What?!" He half-screamed/half-growled.

"W-Wally?" came the timid, if not familiar voice.

"Kyle?! What the fu--" Wally stopped suddenly, it occurring to him that yelling at Kyle for something that happened in his dream was pointless. He sighed lightly, running his hand down over his face and scratching his chin. "Sorry, bud. What'cha need?"

The voice on the other end of the line was still somewhat timid. "D-did I wake you up?"

"Yeah, man. But don’t worry about it. In fact, it’s probably better that you did…"

This time, there was a slight laugh. "Why do you say that?"

"Never mind," Wally muttered, not really wanting to relive the whole thing. He looked over at his clock. "Kyle, it’s 6:15 in the morning. Why are you calling me at 6:15 in the morning on a Saturday?"

"W-well, uh… it’s that Saturday…"

"I know, Kyle. What’s the problem?"

"Well… uh… it’s just that… um…"

"Spit it out, Rayner!" Wally’s dream aggravation was gone, but it was quickly being replaced by early-morning-just-got-woken-up annoyance.

"No one’s responded!" Kyle answered hurriedly.

"What?"

"No one’s responded to the invite. I don’t think anyone’s coming…"

"Kyle," Wally replied much more calmly, "of course no one has responded. No one ever responds. You know how it works. The invite goes out and everyone just shows up. It’s always like that. And don’t worry, they'll show up. C'mon, man, you know how much the guys like these Saturdays…"

Wally continued to console his worried friend. He knew that the real issue was that this would be the first Third Saturday that Kyle was hosting alone. He'd done several in the past, but he always co-hosted with Wally. Wally had to admit, it was a little nerve wracking the first time hosting one alone. I mean, you're inviting a handful of the most powerful people on the planet to your house for a night of games and relaxation. Not exactly something Miss Manners can help you with. 

"Look, Kyle. If you want, I can come by at noon or so and help you get set up…"

"No!" Kyle interrupted, "I mean… I can handle it… I just…"

"It'll be fine, Kylie," Wally was trying desperately not to sound condescending, but at 6:15 in the morning, he wasn’t even sure he was being coherent.

Kyle sighed on the other end of the phone, then spoke in a much calmer voice. "You're right, Wally. I’m sorry. I guess I’m just a little… I dunno… nervous?"

"It’s cool, man. I’ll see you tonight. And hey, if you need me, call…"

 

Saturday, 9:17 AM

Kyle stared at the phone for the eighth time in the last hour. "I’m not gonna call Wally!" he reminded himself. He'd been fine for last few weeks, planning and organizing everything down to the last detail. It would be a hit, he knew. Now, however, he was really beginning to wonder.

"Why did I pick October?!?" he admonished himself. The October Third Saturday was always a bit of a blowout because it was usually the last one they had until the next year. November was Thanksgiving, December was Christmas… everyone was always a little too busy at that time of the year to organize a get-together. So the Third Saturdays Club (as Kyle -- and only Kyle -- liked to call it) always went on hiatus until January.

In the early days of the current incarnation of the TSC, Kyle never had a problem with hosting. When it was just him, Wally and J'onn, it was more of a small get-together. Now, it had become this seemingly big event. Sure everyone treated it like no big deal, but you were playing cards with the most well-known and quite possibly the most powerful man on the planet, as well as the possibility of having an honest-to-god King show up…

"Arthur won’t show," Kyle reminded himself. "Arthur never shows…"

For once, he seemed somewhat relieved by that. Buying munchies and beer for his buddies was easy, but what the hell do you buy for a King? Never mind that Kyle never really thought of Arthur as a king, but for some reason, that thought had entered his mind this morning. What kind of beer does Royalty drink?!

Kyle shook his head. Starting to stress now over the drinking habits of underwater monarchs wasn’t going to make things any easier. God knows, he’s had enough go wrong already.

At 8:45, the Deli had called. They told him that his cheese tray was ready to go, but that their delivery truck hadn’t shown up yet, so the meat tray may not be ready until later tonight.

At 9:15, the Bakery had called. The cake might not be ready until after 4 PM. When probed as to why, considering they had promised a 10:00 AM ready time, they admitted that they had been expecting a delivery truck for about an hour and a half and there was no word as to why it hadn’t shown up yet.

An now, at 9:17, the Party Shoppe called and said that his decorations were on their way, but that the custom sign was not in the shipment and that they would deliver it later.

“Delivery Truck late?”

“Sí, Señor. How did you…?”

“Lucky guess.”

Kyle hung up the phone. So, unless a Secret Society of Evil Delivery Truck Drivers had formed over night and conspired against him, something was wrong. He picked up the TV remote and clicked the station over to News Channel 9.

“… and luckily, none of the monkeys were hurt. And now, we take you back to Bunny Charles in Traffic Copter 9. Bunny, is it still a mess down there?”

“Well, Dave, to call it a mess would be the understatement of the year. For those of you just joining us, traffic on the GW Bridge has been deadlocked since about 6 this morning, when a tractor-trailer veered across all 4 lanes and smashed into the side of the bridge. There are crews out there now trying to keep the truck from falling into the water, but it will probably be a while. As you can see from Traffic Copter 9, Dave, traffic is backed up all the way across the bridge on both sides…”

Kyle muted the TV and stood in shocked silence as the images of the 18-wheeler balancing off the edge of the bridge flashed across the screen. While most people watching the broadcast were probably intently watching the teetering truck, Kyle’s eyes moved across the screen to the backed-up traffic. Most specifically to the what-looked-like 50,000 white panel trucks all lined up behind the tractor trailer, stuck on the bridge.

“Of course,” he muttered to himself. He turned off the TV, then walked to the kitchen, the ring forming the Green Lantern suit around his body as he walked. He opened the fridge, grabbed a bottle of water and shut the door. As he did, he noticed his hand-written itinerary for the day tacked to the door.

9:45 – Be home! Deco. Delivery
10:00 – Pick up cake
10:30 – Pick up deli trays
11:00 – Music shopping @ Virgin (S&J hate Pop! Think Classic Rock!)
Noon – Home – put stuff away (EAT SOMETHING!!)
12:30 – Beer Run (Manhattan)
1:00 – Liquor Run (Bronx)
2:00 – Visit John S. – pick up Poker Chips.
3:00 – Visit Alan – pick up "Special Poker Table"
4:00 – Home (Call Jen)
5:00 – Clean up apt.
6:00 – Setup “dry” stuffs (Table, card stuff, munchies, etc)
6:30 – Shower and get ready
7:30 – Set out wet/cold stuffs (Ice, dip, drinks, etc).
8:00 – PAR-TAY!! (Woo Hoo!!!)

Ok, so it wasn’t so much of an “itinerary” and more of a “guideline,” but at that moment, it looked like it didn’t matter. Already the morning was shot, thanks to the tractor-trailer on the bridge. Kyle opened the bottle, took a drink then sighed. Closing the bottle, he willed a holder on his costume belt, dropped the water bottle into it then flew off toward the open window.

“I still say it’s a conspiracy…”

 

Saturday, 9:28 AM

“My Liege?” Valerina called, entering Arthur’s bedchambers. Arthur walked out of the washroom, tying the cord around is robe.

“Valerina,” Arthur said in mock condescension, “what have I told you about that.” He couldn’t help but smile at the young woman’s blushing cheeks as a look of confusion bathed over her features.

“A-about what, my liege?”

“About that! What have I told you about that ‘My Liege’ stuff!”

Valerina dropped her head slightly, a knowing and embarrassed smile appearing. “I am sorry, My Lie… sir.”

Arthur clicked his tongue, chuckling lightly. “Better… it’s still not ‘Orin’ or even ‘Arthur’ as I prefer, but it will take some time to undo all those years of ‘Proper Palace Manners’ the old nannies at the school seem to insist on teaching all of you young ones. Anyway, young Valerina, what is it?”

Valerina’s head straightened, as she remembered the real reason she came into the King’s bedchambers. “There is an incoming transmission, sir. From the… ‘Watchtower’, I believe.”

Arthur’s face suddenly became serious for a second, then lightened as he placed a gentle hand on the young handmaiden’s shoulder. “Thank you, Valerina. Please, return to your duties.”

“Yes, My Lie… King Orin,” she corrected with a bow. He chuckled again as she hurried away. He walked over to his bedroom monitor, punching in the commands for the vid-phone. He would have preferred to keep such technology out of Atlantis – but for Clark and his 400 objections.

"Speak of the Devil" Arthur thought as the image of the Man of Steel himself appeared on the monitor, big cheesy grin on his face. Arthur stared for a minute, realizing that the grin was, in fact, a little too Big and Cheesy, even for Clark.

"Hey, J'onn" Arthur addressed the image with a light laugh.

"Superman" suddenly morphed back into J'onn’s normal shape, an annoyed look on his face. "Damn, I thought for sure I’d get you with that one."

"Not quite, J'onn," Arthur replied, still chuckling.

“I’ll fool you yet, Artie.” J’onn laughed. “Hey listen, the reason I’m calling: I was wondering if you could do me a huge favor.”

“Sure, What’s up?”

“Well, I was wondering if you were available for the next…” J’onn looked off-screen for a second, presumably at a clock in the Monitor Womb, “uh… two and half hours or so?”

Arthur paused, wondering where this was heading. He hoped that on the exterior it looked more like he was trying to think over his schedule, but realized that J’onn probably knew the truth. “I suppose. Why?”

“Uh… I was kind of hoping you could come fill in for my last bit of Monitor Duty. See, there’s something going on in Detroit that I really ought to…”

“Sure,” Arthur interrupted with his answer, knowing all too well how bad a liar J’onn was to him. He smirked at the screen as J’onn’s face lightened. “Give me about 5 minutes to get ready and I’ll meet you there.”

“Thanks!” J’onn replied.

 

Saturday, 9:33 AM

Arthur walked into the Monitor Womb, calling out as he entered. “Hey J’onn!”

The Martian spun around in the viewing chair, greeting his friend. “Hey!” he beamed, suddenly morphed into Vulko, Arthur’s primary advisor in Atlantis. Vulko/J’onn bowed low. “My Leige.”

“Shit. Not you too?!” Arthur muttered, shaking his head.

“What?” J’onn asked, morphing back into his normal form.

“Nothing,” Arthur chuckled. He walked up to the chair, his eyes looking over the various screens. “So…” he mused, “what’s going on in… Boston, was it?”

“Uh… Detroit,” J’onn corrected, eyeing the screens. “It’s… uh… a case ‘Jones Investigations’ is working on. Pretty low-profile right now, but I got a call that one of my suspects was just seen buying a plane ticket, so there’s kind of a time issue. Anyway, I won’t bore you with the details. I really appreciate this…”

“Don’t mention it,” Arthur replied slyly, rather surprised with how well his friend had gotten in coming up with stories off the top of his head. Arthur climbed into the chair as J’onn made a rather big deal about hurrying his way toward the door. “Oh, and J’onn?” Arthur called out, waiting for the perfect moment when J’onn was almost out the door.

J’onn paused in the doorway, slowly turning to look at Arthur. “Uh, yeah?”

“Next time,” Arthur replied, smiling, “just tell me you want some extra time to sleep before a Third Saturday party.”

J’onn froze for a second and then dropped his head, laughing. “Was it that obvious?”

“J’onn, there’s only one day a month that you act this… giddy. It didn’t exactly take a… well, Batman to figure this one out.”

Both men chuckled, J’onn nodding his head. “Ok. And hey, have you thought any more about coming tonight?”

“I don’t know, J’onn. I… we’ll see.”

“Ok, no pressure. Just think you’d enjoy it…”

“Thanks. Go get some sleep. I’ll talk to you later.”

J’onn strolled out, heading for the teleport tubes. He knew Arthur would pick up on the Detroit thing, he was just hoping that Arthur hadn’t had the time to see who was relieving him at the next shift change.

 

Saturday, 9:47 AM

Kyle flew back along his normal zigzag route back to the apartment. The truck crisis now averted and the traffic finally cleared up, he could try to get back onto a schedule for the party. He mentally started shuffling his schedule around as he approached his building.

"I’ll call Alan and John when I get back and see if I can pickup their stuff this morning, then zip over to Virgin by noon and be ready to pickup the food this afternoon… I can still work this out with a little… oh SHIT!"

As he flew up the street, he saw a large white delivery van in front of his building. Normally that wouldn’t give him pause, but the large "The Party Shoppe" logo on the side of the van reminded him that the delivery was for his apartment. The fact that two bulky gentlemen appeared to be loading a few large boxes back into the van is what concerned him most. He shot through the window of his apartment like a bullet, immediately dissipating the Green Lantern suit as he ran toward the door.

"Shit, shit, shit, shit, shit, shit…" He bounded down the staircase and stumbled out the front door, just as the van started to pull away from the curb.

"HEY!! WAIT!!! STOP!!" He ran down the street, frantically waving his arms as the van trundled off down the street. It stopped at the corner as the light turned red and Kyle took off running as fast as his legs could carry him. He made it up to the driver’s side window of the fan, now completely out of breath.

"Hey… *huff*… sor-sorry… I was… *pant* … bathroom… and… ready now… *huff* delivery…"

The driver turned to eye him warily, then turned to his compatriot in the passenger seat. The passenger lifted up a clip board and started scanning. Suddenly, horns started blaring as the light turned green. Kyle turned and shot a menacing glare at the sports car honking right behind the van as the van’s passenger obviously found what he was looking for.

"Uh… Mr. … Rayner?" he prompted, looking out to Kyle.

"Yeah… *huff* that’s… that’s me. Sorry guys…"

"Yeah, we are too. Call the office and tell them to reschedule the drop off. We'll see if we can get back here this afternoon…"

"WHAT?!?" Kyle screamed incredulously.

"Sorry buddy, but we've got 26 other deliveries to make this morning. Read the agreement. If you're not there, you have to reschedule…"

"BUT I’M HERE NOW!! My apartment is just back up the street!"

"Sorry," the driver grumbled. The van roared off, forcing Kyle to jump back to avoid his foot getting run over.

"Son of a BITCH!!" Kyle howled. The driver of the sports car honked again and glared at Kyle as he rocketed past.

"Oh, fuck off…" Kyle muttered, stomping back toward his apartment building.

 

Saturday, 10:05 AM

How could so much go so wrong in such a short period of time! All I wanted was to put together a Third Saturday like no other. All my plans, all my schedules -- wasted.

This is complete bullshit.

And the Party Shoppe?!? What the fuck!? I mean, yeah, they rescheduled -- for "some time after 3 o'clock." What the fuck is that?!? Jesus, next Tuesday is "some time after 3 o'clock"!!

So now, I have to be back here by Three, and stay here until someone decides to show up. Never mind that I still haven’t heard from the Bakery or the Deli about when the other stuff will be ready. Fuck!

AND John and Alan were both expecting me this afternoon to pick up the stuff and now I don’t know when I’ll be by and I still have no earthly idea what kind of music to get and… GOD DAMN IT!!!

That’s it. I give up. I’m callin…

NO!!! No! I’m NOT calling Wally. I can do this! I don’t need any help. It’s just a few minor set backs. A few bumps in the road. I've handled worse before! Hell, I've faced intergalactic demons and over-powered psychos! I’m the Green Fuckin' Lantern! I can handle this!!

Ok, call John and Alan. Setup a time this morning to come pick up the stuff. Run to the music store and pick up a few CD’s. If Supes and J'onn don’t like my choices, screw 'em. It’s my party! Then, swing by the deli and bakery and get a time frame… see, I can do this!

I still think it’s a god damned conspiracy…

 

Saturday, 11:45 AM

"… so you see, Kyle, this table has held the elbows of most of the Justice Society and even a good portion of the original Justice League…"

Alan Scott was on a roll. He had what could only be described as the World’s Most Perfect Poker Table. Kyle had to admit, it was a beautiful table: round, polished mahogany frame, smooth green felt that was still in perfect condition, hand-carved ebony chip trays and drink holders. And, as Alan was explaining, the table has had quite a rich history. Kyle understood that this was a special table for Alan and for many of the others that had used it on a regular basis. He was appreciative for the loan, and he fully understood the emotional attachment Alan had for this table. He wanted desperately for Alan to understand just how fully he appreciated this amazing gift of charity…

But that didn’t stop Kyle’s eyes from repeatedly glancing toward the clock in the hallway, his precious minutes ticking away…

 

Saturday, 11:55 AM

The incoming teleport indicator flashed on the Monitor Womb terminal. Arthur glanced at the clock and was amazed that the time had flown so quickly. He realized that he had no idea who was relieving him on duty, so he swung the chair over to the terminal and pulled up the schedule…

"Shit. Figures," Arthur muttered to himself. It occurred to him that it made perfect sense, but that still didn’t help matters. On a hunch he scrolled back through the schedules for the last several months and, amazingly, one name always popped up for duty on the Third Saturday evening shift. With J'onn in control of the scheduling, however, not all that surprising. Of course it was…

"Oh! Hello Arthur!"

A year earlier, Arthur had thought that voice bordered on divine. That glorious mixture of Pride, Strength, Knowledge, and Royalty all wrapped up in a distinctly feminine chord. Now, it just sounded condescending as hell.

"Hello, Diana," he greeted over his shoulder, closing the schedule list and logging out of the terminal.

"What are you doing here? I was expecting J'onn," she probed, more curious than concerned.

"He had an emergency involving a case," Arthur lied, figuring that his best bet was to continue along the same story J'onn had tried on him earlier. "He asked me to cover for him so he could go check it out."

"Ah. Nothing too serious, I hope?" Diana probed, strolling over toward the terminal to log in.

"No, I don’t think so. He seemed to have a handle on it." Arthur stood up from the viewing chair, swinging it around to a ready position for Diana. She turned and noticed the chair now in position behind her, Arthur’s hand moving it into place.

"Oh, thank you, Arthur. That’s very kind of you."

Arthur bit his tongue. He was trying desperately not to just snap and scream at her. It finally dawned on him that this was the first time they had been alone in the same room together since…

"Anything major going on?" Diana interrupted his thoughts, her eyes scanning over the various screens.

"Huh? Oh, uh… no. Not a lot happening in the world today," he replied civilly. He didn’t know if she was merely trying to be civil about the whole thing or if, as he suspected, she simply didn’t care any more: about what happened, about how she had treated him, about what she had said…

About him.

"Arthur?" She placed a gentle hand on his arm, her eyes filled with concern. "Are you Ok?" Her hand sent warm tingles up his arm, the soft skin of her palm resting gently on his wrist. The feeling flowed over his skin like mercury, rushing up his arm and across his chest. In an instant, all of the emotion, all of the love he remembered from their time together washed over him like a waterfall. His mind racing, he slowly pulled his arm away, his eyes staring blankly ahead at the row of television screens.

"Arthur?" That calm, soothing tone penetrated his ears and invaded his senses. Away from her touch, the loving emotion was replaced by the burning animosity pounding in his chest.

"No, I’m pretty fucking far from 'Ok' you stupid, arrogant Bitch!" his mind screamed. He coughed lightly, shook his head as if trying to clear away a bad dream, then turned to look at her, his face calm. "Huh?… Oh, sorry. Yeah, I’m fine. Sorry, I've got this… council meeting waiting for me. Big decisions… kinda have me… preoccupied."

She looked at him, her eyes searching his. Neither of them knew exactly how long they stood like that, but it was Arthur who finally broke away. "Right, so… have a good evening, Diana." He turned and started to leave, his mind yelling at him to take her head off and his heart screaming for him to go back to her… back to that touch.

"Arthur?" she called quietly to his back.

He froze, much in the same way J'onn had earlier, only Arthur didn’t turn back around. "Yes, Diana?"

"What happened between us?"

There it was: the question he had been waiting for and dreading at the same time. His heart leapt up into his throat and he turned to face her. "What?" was all he managed to croak out.

"What happened, Arthur? Why don’t we talk any more?"

Arthur was incredulous. Why don’t we talk anymore? Was she serious?! Against his better judgement, he took a deep breath and stepped forward, trying to sound as calm as possible.

"Why don’t we talk any more? Why don’t we talk any more?! What the hell kind of a question is that, Diana? I think you made it pretty fucking clear why we don’t talk any more! You said…"

"Arthur, I…"

"NO!!" Arthur bellowed, pointing his finger at her. "No! You don’t get to interrupt. Last time, it was all about you. You were the one who came in, ranting and screaming. You were the one who got to speak your mind and then storm out! And I sat there and listened. I listened to every word while you stood there with your sanctimonious ramblings and self-righteous condemnations. This time, you're gonna shut up and listen to what I have to say!"

Diana’s face tightened. Arthur knew that getting angry with her was the wrong way to handle it. Diana would get defensive. Diana would start screaming back. He didn’t really want to get into a shouting match with her. But the floodgates were open, and everything he’d had pent up inside for months just came rushing out.

"You were the one, Diana. You were the one who called it off. You were the one who said you couldn’t take it any more. You were the one who called me a sneaky, underhanded bastard. You were the one who said that I was ashamed of us, of what we had. But I was never ashamed, Princess. I was never ashamed of what we had! I never took you or what we had for granted. I cherished every moment, every embrace, every kiss. I reveled in the fact that we were together. I was ready to stand on top of the waves and proclaim to the world how I felt about you! Then, you come out of no where and tell me it’s over! You came in and ripped my heart out of my chest and stomped on it! You called it off! I tried that night! I tried to get a word in edgewise. I tried to get an explanation. I offered to sit down and talk it out, but you just screamed louder and walked out the door. I had absolutely no say in what was happening! Princess Diana made her proclamation and that was final! It was you!"

"No, Arthur, you don’t understa…"

Arthur bulldozed on, blocking out her interruptions. "Then… THEN, you pull the ultimate slap in the face! THEN, you fucking ditch me in the battlefield! In the middle of a goddamn fight, you just walk away and leave me to deal with it by myself!! I mean, hurting me personally is one thing, but that was just goddamned unprofessional!! You took our personal squabbles into battle and let them affect your decisions, and left me to die in the field! What the fuck was that?!? Huh? So after all of this, after everything you did to me, you have the audacity to sit there and ask me why we don’t fucking talk any more?! Well, you know what, Princess? Fuck you! That’s right, FUCK… YOU! I’m sick of it. Sick of your bullshit. Sick of your lies. Sick of whatever problems you have being forced off on me! You can take your 'talk' and shove it straight up your condescending ass!"

He turned, his face red with rage and headed for the door again. He knew she would respond. He knew that she would start yelling any second, giving her own little version of things, making her excuses…

"I’m sorry"

Arthur stopped and recoiled like he’d been shot in the back. Slowly, he turned back to face her, his brow furrowed in confusion. "W-What?"

"I said: I’m sorry, Arthur."

All of the anger, all of the rage, all of the animosity flew away as she said the two words he never expected to come out of her mouth. He watched, frozen as her head dropped, then raised back up, a look of sorrow and pain on her face.

"I never meant for this to happen. I never meant to hurt you like this. I never meant for things to turn out like this. I… I’m sorry."

Arthur’s heart pounded in his chest, calling out for her, yelling at him to run to her, hold her in his arms and tell her it would all be all right. It screamed at him to forgive her, to understand…

His mind slammed the door.

"Yeah, well… ’sorry' just doesn’t cut it any more, Princess." He turned around and walked out.

To be continued...

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