Francis looked around at all the faces, not finding those caterpillar eyebrows he knew so well.
Thin lips pressing together, Francis slipped through the crowd, having to elbow a few people in the chest along the way.
He flashed apologetic smiles and managed to slip inside the building.
The voices were muffled as the door closed behind him. They reached “Three!” when Francis finally spotted that mop of gold exactly where he’d expected.
Blinking, the Englishman turned, looking briefly surprised at having been found.
“One! HAPPY NEW YEAR!”
The words were drowned out by the pops and booms of fireworks above. Arthur flinched at the noise but looked back out the window. Francis remembered hearing him say in passing that he liked watching fireworks but hated the noise.
“Too loud” was all he’d said before shaking his head and going back to his cubicle.
Some of the others liked to joke on Arthur’s sensitivity to sound by dropping things on his desk by his head and sneaking up to him just to shout in his ear. Sometimes Arthur would need to excuse himself to somewhere - anywhere - silent and recoup.
Elementary school playground bullying never ended it seemed to Francis.
He sat next to Arthur and gazed out the wide window to view the fireworks with him.
“Do you have any resolutions?” Francis asked after some minutes.
Arthur scoffed. “No one ever follows through with those.”
The smile never leaving his face, Francis said softly, “Well, I have one, and I think I shall start early.”
It looked like Arthur was about to make a crack but then thought better of it. “What’s your resolution, then?”
Francis moved closer. “To ask the man I fancy on a date.”
Eyes trained out the window, Arthur’s face burned red. “Oh?” he squeaked. He then cleared his throat, emerald eyes darting Francis’s way for a fraction of a second. “And who might that sorry bloke be?”
Francis’s smile grew. “A polished man with a bit of a rough attitude.” The smile became a smirk at how red Arthur’s face became. “But I’m not sure if he’d say yes.”
“He might,” Arthur murmured. “Might as well ask, yeah?”
“Yeah.” Francis held out a hand and felt his heart flutter in his throat when Arthur finally turned to face him and placed his hand into the Frenchman’s. “How would you like dinner tomorrow night?”
“Lovely.” Arthur said the word quickly as if to keep himself from coming up with any reasons to answer with a negative. “In the meantime… it is New Year’s…?”
“Oui, and who are we to turn down tradition?”
Arthur, other hand going to Francis’s shoulder, leaned in. Francis placed his free hand at the small of Arthur’s back and met his lips with his. Soon, they were dancing slowly, the fireworks outside firing off an irregular, staccato beat.