The park is empty, no life in sight. Animals, greenery, even the sun has shied away behind a blockade of grey clouds. It feels eerie as you meet up with your good friend under a deciduous tree.
Alfred clears his throat before saying, "Can we talk?" Despite the smile on his face, you can immediately tell something isn't right.
"Sure." You follow Alfred to a nearby bench and take a seat next to him. It's nearing mid-afternoon on a chilly January day, with a veil of thin snow still covering the earth. Why Alfred wanted to talk to you outside in the cold is beyond you, considering Alfred dislikes the cold, almost as much as he dislikes ghosts and standing on a scale. "What do you want to talk about? A new game you got?"
Able to sense your attempt at lightening the mood, a genuine chuckle escapes Alfred's throat. "No, most of the games I want are coming out later. There's actually this one-" He nearly continues rambling over the subject of upcoming releases, but manages to hold his tongue. "Jeez, (Y/N), you really know how to get me off topic!"
"I learnt from the best," you tease, rubbing your shoulder against him. After receiving one of Alfred's pouty faces, you hold your hands up defensively. "Alright, alright, I'll stop. So, what is it that you want to talk about?"
The cheerful atmosphere disappears instantly. It's only the faint, freezing wind that is just barely chasing away the settlement of dead silence. It's unsettling, you realise. Whenever you're with Alfred, all the negative feelings are put to rest and replaced with happiness and no worries whatsoever. This atmosphere, this feeling, it isn't right.
A sigh drops off Alfred's lips like an anchor. He hunches over, wringing his hands and staring at the ground with a distant look in his eyes. "Do you remember how we first met?"
The question surprises you, considering your first encounter was ages ago, but you nod. "How could I forget? You nearly killed me that day!"
There's no chuckle this time, just a nod and a halfhearted smile. "Yeah, sorry about that. I was in a hurry and wasn't paying attention to where I was going. I didn't mean to crash into you like that."
"I know," you respond, understandingly. "But you bought me ice cream as an apology, so all is forgiven."
Another nod, another feigned smile. "That's good to hear." He finally sits up straight and turns to face you, but his expression is nothing like you have ever seen before. He looks dejected, as if life has finally bested him. Before you can question anything, Alfred takes your hands in his and gives them a desperate squeeze. "It feels like we've been friends forever, so is it okay if I ask you to do me this one favour?"
You notice the shimmer of tears pricking the corners of his eyes. It causes your heart to ache and you can't help but return his hold with a comforting one of your own. "Anything," you confirm, feeling more anxious than when you first arrived at the park. "What is it?"
He sucks in a quick breath, shivering at the shoulders. "Please, (Y/N), will you go buy me a Big Mac?"
"What?" The anticipation, the anxiousness, the fear of what was to come from the quivering lips of the unusually depressed American, all of that for a result like this?
Alfred sniffles, still looking as if he is on death row. "Everyone in my family is making me go on this stupid diet! I'm not even allowed to order anything from McDonald's or any of my other favourite places to eat! Whenever I try to sneak in a chocolate bar or even a bag of chips, Francis scolds me without end, Arthur starts cooking something totally weird and filled with green stuff, and Mattie hides one of my games! I still haven't found where he hid my GTA 5, and that was a week ago!"
You stare wide-eyed at the sobbing mess before you. This fucking idiot, is all that comes to mind. You feel the need to hit him for making you worry.
"So?" He sticks out his bottom lip and looks at you with a puppy dog stare. "Will you fulfill the wish of a man in pain?"
Your words are ice to Alfred's hopes and dreams, freezing over the entirety of his existence before shattering it down to nothing. Finally, he speaks:
"But... But why?"
You pull your hands back and cross your arms. "They're doing it for your own good, Al. Besides, if I get on your family's bad side, I bet Arthur will curse me or something." You click your tongue, now irritated more than anything else. "It's too cold out here, I'm going home."
As you stand up, Alfred follows suit. "Come on, (Y/N), help me out here! I just need something to satisfy my needs!"
"Eat a salad!"
"I've been eating salads for weeks! My teeth are going to start turning green if I keep eating them!"
"Not my problem!"
"I'll die if I don't get something good to eat!"
"You're just exaggerating!"
Alfred frowns and tears start to fall as you continue to ignore his pleas. "I thought we were friends, man! I thought you cared about my well-being and all that stuff!" He crosses his arms tight over his chest and puffs his cheeks like a pouting child. "I guess I was wrong. Maybe I shouldn't have bought you that ice cream way back then, since you won't even help me out in my hour of need."
His back is now facing you. He's gone from practically begging at your feet to resenting you, all in a matter of seconds. What a child.
You know what the consequences will be, and you know it will only make you look weak, but you can't watch Alfred go on like this. It's pitiful. "I suppose I can get you that Big Mac," you mutter in defeat. "But only this once, you got that?"
Alfred spins to face you, now grinning brighter than the sun. "Really? Thank you, (Y/N)!" He wraps his arms around you and gives you a deadly hug, nearly squeezing the life right out of you. He eventually lets you go and steps back, practically bursting with joy. "Dude, you're the best friend a person could ever ask for! Seriously, I owe you my life!"
"Really? Because you were singing a pretty different tune just a second ago."
He shrugs. "That's in the past. For now, let's just worry about the future."
"You mean when your family discovers I've betrayed them and they come at me with their torches and pitchforks?"
Alfred laughs excessively, now sounding like he usually does. "You're funny, (Y/N). Now, let's get going! We're wasting daylight!" He points towards the edge of the park and begins walking that way, urging you to keep up with his quick pace.
Unbelievable, you think to yourself. How can someone be so heartless as to make you worry like that? And all because he wanted you to buy him a greasy burger from a questionable fast-food restaurant? The sad thing is that you agreed to do it. Why? Because he's your friend, like it or not. He'd do the same for you if you found yourself in a troublesome situation.
That reminds me, I still need to hit him.