Oh my the final chapter! It felt so strange when I finished this chapter and realized I was done. This story turned out being about 67 pages in all over the course of 4 months and six chapters longer than anticipated. Whew! I hope you enjoy~!
A few months later:
The air is particularly sweet this morning. Yes, it is definitely a beautiful day. Which made it even more of a pain that America had to be here at Canada's house again working out yet more kinks in the new Employment Opportunity Program. Reformation took a long ass time and Canada was so insistent about it.
"Come on, Alfred! You have to take some interest and be more responsible. This is the reason you got into financial troubles to begin with," he had told him. More than once. More than a few times. If Mattie wasn't careful he was going to turn into the next Engla-
America doesn't let his mind go there. It brought up too many strong emotions and it was too beautiful of a day to brood.
If nothing else, he did have to hand it to Canada. Things were starting to run much more smoothly. There was still a long way to go but things were looking up. The money he received from Canada, Japan, and very reluctantly from France did wonders as well. Though once again, Mattie was very strict and made sure he used the money properly. It was all a bit of a bother but he was still free and that was just about all that mattered.
Though he was starting to wonder... If he remembers correctly each country gave a certain amount and it almost felt like he was receiving too much... Not that he would complain, but he can't shake the feeling and it bothers him.
Speaking of things that were bothering him, where was Canada? He had been waiting in Canada's parlor for what feels like ages. Where had he gone off to? All he wants to do is leave and go doze in the sun for a while. Agitated, America gets up, brushing himself off. Maybe he was up in his office? It didn't hurt to look, better than waiting anyway.
America barely knocks before bursting into Canada's office. "Hey, Matthew you in here?"
A quick sweeping glance around the room tells him that Mattie is most certainly not. How annoying. America enters the room anyway, deciding if he had to be bored he might as well snoop a bit to entertain himself.
There are quite a few papers on the desk. America grabs some of them and leans against the desk, starting to browse over them. Most of them were super boring and lame things he can't exploit or has no interest in. He's almost through the stack when he finds one that all but stops his heart.
After reading the first few lines he realizes he is holding a page from the treaty. The page on which everyone had signed to be exact. The first signature is Canada's, small but clear. Then is Japan's, elegant and narrow with the name printed in Japanese characters next to it. France's signature is simply the bold stamp which lacks personality. Then comes his, big and proud as always. That should have been the last name on the page. It isn't. America's hands start to tremble. Beneath his name is one final signature, no-nonsense yet graceful.
Arthur Kirkland, United Kingdom.
"Hello? Alfred, where are you?" Canada's voice calls out to him, breaking through a trance of sorts.
America finds his voice. "In here!"
A moment later Canada enters the room. "I wish you wouldn't always wander around. It's hard to find you when you do. I wasn't gone that long, really."
Alfred silently flips the page so Canada can see what he is holding. It takes a second but soon Canada's eyes go wide with recognition. "Wh-what are you doing with that?"
America points to the final name. "What is this?"
Canada swallows hard. "It's... uh... You weren't supposed to see it."
Fear spikes through Alfred. "Why? Are you hiding something? Did you make some sort of deal with him?"
Canada quickly shakes his head. "N-no! Nothing like that! I guess I can't really keep it a secret anymore. Two weeks after the whole... incident, England came to visit me. At first I didn't want to talk to him. It took a lot of persistence for me to hear him out. I guess I sort of took pity on him in the end. He was just so... He told me he wanted to join the treaty."
America stares at Canada uncomprehendingly. "But why?"
"That's what I wanted to know. I wasn't sure if it was some kind of trick. But he kept on talking... begging... and he seemed so sincere about it. He said he had been wrong and still wanted to help you. But he knew you wouldn't want any help directly from him so he made me swear not to tell you about it. The money he has been sending is split equally into the share Japan, France, and I give you."
America stares at the signature again, baffled. "...I don't understand. After what I did... Why?"
Canada walks over and takes one of America's hands in his own. "Because... just like me... he cares about you very much."
Canada blushes softly. "I guess... Well, what he did was wrong. I am not trying to defend him. I myself am still very angry about what he did to you. But you should have seen his eyes Al. They were so... they ached so deeply. I don't know where he got lost, and I'm certainly not saying you should forgive him or anything, but don't feel too harshly towards him if you can manage it. In the end... he loves you and that's all there is to it."
America's mind is reeling. Still, one thing becomes clear almost immediately. He leans in and kisses Matthew's forehead. "You're very kind Mattie. We're going to have to reschedule this meeting. I have some heroic duties that must be attended to immediately."
He presses the page of the treaty into Canada's hands. "I'll be back."
Canada holds his hand out. "W-wait, Alfred!"
But America has already run out the door.
Canada puts the paper on the desk and sighs. This was good. Al hadn't seen the way England had groveled and begged just to make him listen. He didn't see the tears and the hurt. It was beyond painful to see Arthur like that. It was no wonder Francis currently felt very hostile about his tricking him into signing the treaty.
Still... it had been kind of nice having Alfred all to himself for once. His relationship would never be the same as England's relationship with America. There was something very strong underlying everything, all the fights and name calling. Something unbreakable...
Canada taps the desk lightly. No, that wasn't any reason to give up. Even if the two of them patched things up there would be a long road to getting back to where they had been. As selfish as it might be Canada is just a little bit happy that for a while longer at least he will remain Al's savior.
Things had not gone well for England after America had escaped. Alfred knows that. Russia had leaked the story to some of the other countries, regaling the tale with sadistic glee, and it had simply spread. There was a lot of gossip, a lot of nasty comments made. Apparently some harassment as well. It was surely a very uncomfortable and humiliating period of time for Arthur.
On top of that England had become very hermit like. He rarely came out, avoided seeing other countries whenever he could. Said he simply wanted to be left alone for a while. He hadn't even shown up to the last big meeting. Of course America had been concerned... but a part of him was still struggling with forgiving him. Now it seemed it was time. Perhaps past due.
No one answers the door when America knocks and rings the doorbell. He tries the door and finds it unlocked. It seems eerily silent and America can't bring himself to announce himself. He starts to search the house room by room. Finally America finds him in the study in which he had received the phone call that had ruined England's meticulous planning. His back is turned to the door, head bowed slightly. He seems to be doing his needlework. America can't help but vaguely wonder if England is still working on the rose.
America pushes the door open further, not quite sure how to start. The door creaks and England freezes halfway through a stitch. "So help me Ireland, if you've come to mock me one more time I am going to-"
He turns and his voice dies. For a moment the two of them look at each other, not knowing what to say. The needlework falls to the ground. Not a rose. Hard to say what it is yet, but definitely not a rose. England stands uncertainly and takes a step forward, his eyes lighting up. "Ameri-"
He cuts himself off, as if he had started saying something he shouldn't, and hesitates. "...What... what are you doing here?"
"Canada. No, not really because of him... Um, I found out about the treaty thing."
England hangs his head. "I see. I guess you're probably here to tell me I can't be... Please forgive my selfishness trying to force myself into Canada's treaty. I... I'm really sorry."
England begins to tremble and tears start to slide down his cheeks. "I'm so sorry Alfred. I don't know what came over me. I went kind of crazy and I started doing all these things I would usually never do. I'm sorry. So, so sorry. Please believe me! I... I don't need you to... to understand but at least let me help on the treaty. You never have to talk to me or see me again but please let me just... I want to... I want to do something for you, make it up to you."
He starts to wipe his face. "I just..."
America crosses the room wordlessly. England hugs himself and looks up at him. "Heh... I thought I ... I mean, I never thought you'd be in my house again. I'm happy. I'm really happy right now. God I'm such a bloody idiot."
England begins to sob. "I'm so pathetic, please don't look at me right now. Crying like... like a baby. I have no right to feel so sorry for myself. I'm just so sorry. I messed everything up. I ruined... God, what do I do?"
He collapses to his knees, hands over his eyes. "What do I do Alfred?"
America sighs irritatedly. "Well you can start by not crying. It's really lame. Then again you're always crying. You're so unmanly."
England tries to calm his tears but it doesn't work very well. America sighs. "You're hopeless. Look... I'm not here to tell you that you can't be part of the treaty. In fact its been pretty helpful."
England's eyebrows knit together in confusion and his hands fall away. "...Then why...?"
America looks down at him. Had this pathetic, broken man really lorded over him? Nearly defeated him? Seeing Arthur like this makes it easier to say what he came to say.
"I want you to stay on the treaty. So it doesn't seem like a very good idea to be in conflict with one of my allies right?"
England's breath catches. Just what was he saying?
America looks away for a moment. "...I'm not sorry, okay? What I did... I feel like it was completely justified and I won't apologize for my actions. Maybe I didn't have to be quite that harsh but I do not regret anything I did that day. However, it was totally unnecessary for Russia to go blabbing it to whoever. The whole affair was a private one and he really had no right, so I do apologize for any grief anyone else has caused you because of that. It was unfair.
"I also... I don't trust you completely. Not right now. Probably won't for a while. What you did was... It was low and it was a shitty thing to do. Not to mention I got molested by a hell of a lot of people because of you. Including you. But I guess... I guess you weren't trying to be cruel or anything and in your own freakish way were...I don't know, kind of trying to help. Well, you had your reasons."
England's heart hurts. Please, please don't let this be another lie. Don't let it be a lie. "Are you saying... what I think you're saying?"
America shrugs. "In the name of the future, let us put that incident behind us and bury it deep, deep within the earth then pour a thousand tons of concrete on top of it and never, ever speak of it again."
Tears well up again and England begins to cry so hard he is rendered speechless. He had been forgiven. He had been resigning himself to the idea that America would never forgive him in a million years, that Alfred was gone from his life forever. And now he was forgiving him just like that.
Maybe it was a lie... If so he doesn't care. It was the most beautiful lie England has ever heard.
America waits for England to calm down, embarrassed for him. He scratches the back of his head. There was one more thing he wanted to say but he's afraid it will make England start crying again. Oh well... He crouches down in front of him. "I also wanted to tell you that... I really do need you after all England. Just... a little bit."
England looks up at him, eyes bright with tears. He reaches up with trembling hands and falls forward, collapsing into America, hugging him as tightly as he can. If America tried to push him off that was alright. But he can't know what those words mean to him. America doesn't push him away. Instead, after a very awkward pause, he starts to stroke his hair.
"I'm sorry I made you cry so much."
England rests his chin against America's shoulder. "That's okay. You're the only one in the entire world who is allowed to make me cry like this."
After what feels like an uncomfortably long time America finally pushes England away. He stands, his knees popping as he does. "Hm... I guess... It's become apparent to me that neither of us feels quite the same way about the other... So... How about we start fresh somewhere in the middle. Friends?"
He offers his hand. England looks up at him and he knows that he could never love someone more if he tried. He knows America doesn't feel that way. Still, friends was progress from brothers.
It was alright. Someday he would find a way to make him say those three words, more precious than 'I need you'.
I love you.
After all, now there was hope again.
England wipes his tear stained cheeks one last time then takes America's hand. America helps England to his feet and the two of them clasp hands for a moment.
England finally smiles hesitantly. "Do you... want to stay for lunch?"
America pauses before answering slowly. "... Yeah okay."
The two of them start to walk out of the room. Suddenly America puts his arm around England's shoulders. "So now that we're allies again, you should tell me what your fairy technology is!"
"Fairy...? Oh." England supposes he just means the fairies. He smirks. "No way. That's classified. As if I would tell you. You're too dumb to understand."
America looks at him in disgust and withdraws his arm. "I am not too dumb! I don't need your stupid invisible technology. I'll just make my own!"
England laughs. "As if that will ever happen."
It would take a while to fix all the damage both of them had done. But if they had done it once it could be done again. They would find their footing with this new dynamic, figure out the new rules as they went along. However, some things would never change between them and these are the things that would always be most precious to both of them.
Five minutes later in the kitchen:
England starts looking through a cupboard. "So, what do you feel like eating? I could do fish and chips."
Russia appears behind America and puts his arms around his shoulders. "That sounds disgusting. You should make something else."
Both of them cry out in shock.
Alfred tries to loosen Ivan's grip around his neck. "Let go you freaking creep! What are you even doing here!?"
England tugs at his coat, trying to pull him off America. "Damn it, go home Russia!"
And so America's financial troubles, for the time being, came to an end.
AN: Yes, surprise gooshy ending -laughs- Sort of. And of course I had to end on something silly because this was originally supposed to be funny though it didn't completely turn out that way somehow. Which is fine by me, I like how it came out. My first goal was to end this without America ever hooking up with anyone which I succeeded at. If you want you can believe that he went on to eventually fall in love with England, or Canada, or even Russia (-laughs-) but that is neither here nor there.
Thank you all for taking this journey with me. I had so much fun writing this story and it really has a place in my heart. I'll miss it but I'm excited to take on something new. New Horizons, a Pirate!EnglandxAmerica fic is my next project. Look out for it sometime in the near future! (And of course if you read You And I will Fall in Love, I will be working on that as well).
Thanks for the reviews, the alerts, and just for reading~ I hope you got as much enjoyment out of this story as I did.