A/N: So I thought this over for a while…I decided I wanted to hold off on my idea for the War of 1812, just because it's depressing and I want to have a few happier stories up. Hahaha…I seem to write angst a lot. I realized just a little bit ago that England cries a lot in this. Normally I don't make him cry, just because he seems to have stronger characterization than that…opps. Anyhow, I do hope you like this one!
Axis Powers Hetalia and all its characters belong to Himaruya Hidekaz.
Rating: T, just to be safe - some stuff can be implied, and there's a little coarse language in it as well.
Pairing: ArthurxAlfred, slight FrancexCanada, other pairings if you look closely.
Summary: A valiant fighter returns home to the ones he loves.
He looks out the window of his bedroom. Arthur Kirkland lives in rainy London, England, far away from where he will be tomorrow. Far away from Washing, D.C. Far away from the United States of America.
"Yes. Will you be able to make it? I know, I know…it's short-notice," he sighs, rubbing at his forehead. "But it would mean a lot if you could come." A moment of silence reigns before the person on the other line answers. Arthur laughs quietly with relief, the tension on his body slowly fading to a dull clench. He cannot relax until two days have passed, and everyone has come, and he is there… "Great! I'll see you then. Thank you, Kiku." He hangs up and closes his cell phone, tucking it into his pocket. Just a moment after, he plops down on his couch and groans.
"This is quite a bit of work…why does everyone have to live so far away?" He rubs at his eyes despite the fact that he knows it will not soothe his tired body. Only one person could ever help him. And that one person was miles away, flying over the desert, finally allowed home… Arthur falls asleep on his couch.
The room was silent. Arthur knew something was off. The dark shade over his eyes can only mean he is troubled by something. The Englishman stares at him from where he's sitting on the sofa. "Arthur," he says softly, in a tone he has never heard him use. It's enough to make him stand and clench his fists. "Arthur, I…I've been called for duty. I have to leave in three days."
Arthur's mouth dries up. His tongue feels fat and clumsy as he stumbles over his words. "F-for how long, Alfred?" He's silent for some time. All of his patience and forced-calm crumbles. He screams at the top of his lungs, "How long?!"
"T-Two years," Alfred steps forward slightly, hanging his head. "Two goddamn years…"
His lower lip quivers. His body shakes violently. An onslaught of tears assaults his vision as he falls to his knees and calls out to the echoing ceilings, for all to hear. "Dear God, no!" He curls into a fetal position on the floor. "No! No!" Arthur sobs deeply, uncontrollably—the first tears he has cried in a long while.
He feels a strong pair of arms wrap around him, consoling him, settling him enough so that his ragged and quickened breathing is steadier. Alfred dabs at his tears with a tissue and holds him close. "Shh, Arthur…shh…I'll be back, I promise." He is trying to smile, but he knows Alfred is weighed down with trouble. He knows that the smile he's receiving is forced, to calm him. And he knows that when he goes to bed that night, Alfred will slip from his bedroom and cry silently out on his porch.
Arthur shoots up from his place on the couch. The morning sun streams through his window. 'I must have fallen asleep on the couch,' he groans as he stands, rubbing his lower back.
"I'm coming, I'm coming! Jesus, wait one bloody minute, won't you?!" He pries the door open angrily, only to be greeted by the driver of his ride to the airport. Checking the time, he realizes that he will be late. With a yelp, he runs off and dresses himself in new clothes, grabs his pre-packed suitcase, and rushes out the door.
The airport is crowded with people. He shoves through, with one goal in mind. Arthur boards the plane to Washington, D.C. While the ride is long and tiring, he stays up through it all; making plans, going over lists of many things. When the plane lands and he is allowed off, Arthur rushes to his ride and over to a large, sprawling home he remembered two years ago. Though he spent little time there, it was memorable. He turned the key on the door and stepped into the echoing mansion that Alfred's parents left him many years ago. Arthur walked up the wide wooden staircase and wandered among the halls, poked his head into each and every room—stopping at the master bedroom. Alfred's bedroom. Everything was the way it was before he had left. Nostalgia flooded him. He stepped back from the doorway and walked back down the stairs. There was a lot more for him to do.
Everyone starting showing up, one after the other, sometimes together—Matthew was the first to arrive, whilst Kiku was the last—and Arthur found that despite their exhausting flights, they all pitched in to help. Decorations hung from every corner. Francis, Toris, Elizaveta and Yao all planned the meals for tomorrow, setting aside what they needed for each. When everything was done, they had drinks, toasted, and most went upstairs to their bedrooms. No one dared to touch Alfred's. Even Arthur would not—no, not until the American man returned home. That was only when he belonged in such a place. And so, Arthur slept on the couch for a second night.
"Arthur," Alfred murmurs against his shoulder, holding him against his chest. Both refuse to let go. "Arthur, I have to go now."
"Please, no," Arthur tightens his grip, pressing his face into the side of Alfred's neck. The stubborn elder refuses to let go. "No…"
Alfred's arms slide down his body. He is letting him go. It takes some time before Arthur slowly, very slowly, releases the American. Alfred grabs his things, presses one last good-bye kiss to Arthur's lips, and takes his time towards the door. Arthur trails after him like a lost puppy. When the door shuts behind him, Arthur slides down it, buries his face in his hands, and cries for the second time in his life.
"Arthur," a suave voice croons, shaking Arthur Kirkland to alertness. "Arthur! It is time we get up for breakfast, non?"
"Get away from me, Francis," Arthur slaps Francis' hand away and turns his back to him.
"Ah, so rude! You wound me with your words, Arthur!" He dramatizes, turning his head away with the back of his hand to his forehead. "Now wake up, before I kiss the life out of you!"
Arthur jumps from the couch in an instant. Matthew shakes his head and sighs, "Don't harass Arthur, Francis…"
The Englishman wanders through the kitchen, where Kiku is making breakfast for everyone. He gives a curt "Hello," before continuing on into the dining room, where most others are already sitting. Arthur takes his seat as far away from Francis as he can get. Everyone finishes breakfast as quickly as possible, jumping right on cleaning up the mess. They then focus on the specific jobs set aside for them. When he has finished setting up tables and chairs in the backyard with Gilbert and Ludwig (who both get to work on setting up the canopies to go over them), Arthur moves upstairs and dresses in a dress shirt and a pair of dark brown dress pants, moving back downstairs to assist others.
Matthew wanders about, "Has anyone seen my keys?" He is to pick up Alfred in a few hours.
"On the dresser in our room, Matthew," Francis chirps over his work on frosting a few pastries.
"Ah, of course," he rushes up the stairs, nearly tripping once, and grabs the keys off of the dresser, tucking them into his pocket.
"Since when did you share a room with Matthew, Francis?" Arthur glares, but Francis only smiles and laughs.
"I have been seeing Matthew for some time, yet you find it strange that we share a room?"
"Yes. I worry for the poor boy…"
"You worry far too much!" Francis laughs, turning back to his work and putting his full concentration on making beautiful whirls with the frosting.
Elizaveta cleans the dishes made by Francis, Toris and Yao as they become dirty again. Everyone in the house does minor things—prepares seating, sets out silverware, clears the yard of fallen debris from two years of neglect—small things that hurries the big project along. While the others smile and chat, Arthur cannot. Not yet. His ability to smile a real smile walked out the door two years ago, but will return, in just a few hours…
Matthew walks out the door at precisely two-thirty, Eastern-Standard Time. The sound of his door slamming, the engine bursting to life…Arthur knew what was next. He knew that it was time, and his heart pounded in his chest like a frantic drum beat. All around him, the final preparations were made. Everything was in place. Everything was, quintessentially, perfect.
When Matthew returns, the door is slammed twice. Once, faintly. Twice, loud and clear. It sent everyone into an excited frenzy of whispers and squeals. And Arthur stood in front of them in the backyard, just a few feet away from the stairs leading off of the porch. Quiet steps, hushed voices.
"Hey, Matt, why do I have to wear this blindfold?" Everyone falls silent. Arthur half-closes his eyes, willing them to stay open, mesmerized by the voice he has longed to hear in person for so long. Alfred's voice is not the same over the video camera.
"Um, well…you'll see," Matthew laughs quietly. He pushes Alfred—dressed in his camouflage uniform—through the door, showing the man with a thick black cloth wrapped over his eyes. Arthur holds his breath, so stunned, amazed, and does all he can to keep as silent as the crowd and wills his wetting eyes to stay dry at the very same time. And then, several minutes of silence has passed, with Alfred's puzzled face before them. "Go ahead, Alfred." Matthew nudges his brother forward. "You can take it off now."
Alfred does just that. He pulls it off in a rush, eyes widening at the sight before him. All his friends, all there for him, all at his home…and the love of his life, standing before him, staring up at him with joyful grass green eyes. He flashes an immaculate, shining white grin. Everyone smiles right back.
"Alfred…" Arthur takes a step forward. His voice had shaken as he spoke.
"Arthur," he laughs quietly, "You look like you've seen a ghost!" And Arthur rushes forward on that last word, 'ghost', wraps his arms around Alfred's neck and wraps his legs around the other man's hips, clings with his chest pressed against the slightly taller man's collar bone, buries his face in his sun-yellow hair, laughs and cries and clings and loves, while the crowd behind them claps gently, whistles and cheers and joyously calls, happy that their hero has returned to them.
Alfred pets Arthur's back. He murmurs in his ear, "I love you, Arthur…I love you," repeats. Arthur never answers, but he says this again and again, never once faltering until the crowd has stopped clapping, and he realizes that he must put Arthur down in order to continue on with what they all gathered at his home for. He attempts, but Arthur holds tight. "Come on now, Arthur…it's time we got on with this." Reluctantly, Arthur loosens his grip enough for Alfred to pry him off, setting him down to his side, where the smaller man stands clinging to his arm as if he may get lost, though these are his friends, and all he really wants is to stay with Alfred at all costs, to never lose him again.
They walk into the crowd together. They speak with everyone together. When they have made small-talk with Ivan, Alfred pulls Arthur aside and mutters, "Why'd you invite Ivan?!"
Arthur looks terrified. "I didn't…"
In the meantime, Ivan has been speaking to Toris, Raivis and Eduard. "Are you enjoying yourselves? That's wonderful! Now later, we should dance together." They all looked horrified. Yao observed with cold jealousy at Ivan's interest in the three brothers.
Chatter and small-talk, catching up, all of this takes place. When everyone has had a chance to talk with Alfred, they sit down at the collection of tables all set up in one straight line. The food was set up on large serving platters for all to reach out and enjoy. While others had their own chair, Arthur sat on Alfred's lap. It was embarrassing, at first—he wouldn't lie. Ivan had stolen the seat intended for Matthew, so Arthur gave up his chair for the Canadian man. He would have gotten another, if it weren't for Alfred's insisting he share with him. Denying it all he wanted did not help. However, Arthur was glad to say that he did not let Alfred feed him. That was the last thing he would be dragged into, he hoped.
When all had eaten and caught up further, it seemed it was time for everyone to dance. This was a tradition at their parties – everyone would get a partner, and would dance with them for three songs. Arthur and Alfred always danced together. Seeing as they were a couple, now. So they got up and danced. Two fast songs, one slow, left as the last.
Francis danced with Matthew, twirled him sometimes and held him close in varying moments. Ivan had forced Toris to dance with him, but eventually Yao's glaring had unnerved Toris enough that he ran off with the excuse that he was sick, with Feliks trailing after him excitedly. The Russian had merely shrugged, but before he could move to force his company on Eduard, Yao forced himself in front of Eduard and Ivan settled for his Chinese friend. Happily, the two danced together. Others mingled, but they did find that Austria always danced awkwardly with his ex-wife, who was busy smiling at all the other couples at the same time, and therefore did not notice his painful expression. Gilbert was never too far away.
Thus, when the dancing was concluded, they all separated from one another—all but Arthur and Alfred, who stood staring at one another directly in the eyes, unspoken words but speaking eyes. Some had planes to catch. Others had to wait quite some time. Francis would be returning home with Matthew (which Arthur screamed about) to catch his flight the next day. By midnight, everyone had left the house. Everyone was kind enough to help with the picking up. All that was left for Alfred to finish was putting the tables back in his basement.
The two sat down together on the stairs of the porch. They sat staring at the sky, laughing quietly, holding hands. Close together, yes. This was what Arthur missed the most. He missed the sheer closeness, being able to know that Alfred was alive. "Arthur," Alfred begins, turning over to look at Arthur straight in the eyes.
Arthur turns slightly. "Yes?"
"I want to know if you'll stay with me." Alfred begins, wetting his lips. "I want to know if…if you'll live with me, instead of the both of us traveling to one another. We're so far away. I hate not seeing you. When I came home, I expected it to be just me, but…you were here. And it made me realize that I want to see you here when I come home or wake up every day…not just when I come home from war." He waits patiently for Arthur's reaction. Several minutes pass, all painfully slow, until the Englishman replies.
"Alfred—" Arthur begins, only to be interrupted by the blue-eyed man next to him.
"I mean, you don't have to if you don't want to. I'd totally understand if you said no," Alfred continues on, not looking at the man he sits next to.
"Alfred," Arthur grits his teeth when Alfred continues on.
"It is asking a lot from you, you'd have to get your stuff from London, and I did ask really suddenly—"
"Alfred!" Alfred turns to look at the seething Englishman when his name is shouted. "Dear God, if you're going to ask me a question, let me answer!" Arthur crosses his arms and puffs air from between his teeth.
Alfred chuckles quietly. "Sorry."
"If you're done," Arthur snaps the first part, glaring, "Then I'll be glad to answer you." Alfred sits up straight immediately. "Alfred, I would like nothing more…than to wake up next to you every day." He smiles and laughs as Alfred whoops and pulls him into his lap, snuggling him against his chest. "Alfred! Bloody fool," he laughs as Alfred kisses his neck several times, nipping once or twice.
"Well, I can't really help it," he whines. Arthur rolls his eyes and turns around in his lap, bringing their mouths together in a sweet, gentle kiss. They move only slightly, one pursuing the other, no search for dominance. It was their true reunion, bringing them together once more. When the kiss is broken, Alfred's eyes are half-lidded. He smiles at Arthur, "You don't know how long I've waited for that."
"I think I have a feeling," Arthur murmurs, removing himself from the American's lap. He walks up the steps, opens the back door, and gestures inside with his head. "Well? I thought you couldn't help 'it'."
With a grin, Alfred chases Arthur inside, catching up to him at the stairs, where they join hands. Arthur leads his lover up the staircase, down the long hallway to the left, and pushes open the door to Alfred's bedroom. He peers inside, taking a deep breath. "Arthur," Alfred smiles as he tugs him forward, through the doorway. And Arthur cannot help but smile. He would be waking up in this bedroom—his bedroom—for the many long years to come.