Arthur Kirkland let a deep, prolonged sigh escape the barriers of his chapped winter lips, setting the lavender feather duster upon the counter top. Wiping a drip of sweat from his scarlet face, the Briton staggered over to the other end of the kitchen, opening the cupboard and pulling out a packet of tea. As he heated the water on the kettle, the man couldn't help but gaze out over the rest of his house, perceiving the fruits of his labor. The room was exceptionally clean; Arthur never allowed it to become filthy, but even this was a prodigy in the making. Indeed, if one were to wipe every last inch of the room with their bare hands, neither a speck of dust nor an inkling of one would be present, of this he was sure. At long last, after days and days of grueling preparations and exhausting turmoil, Arthur had created the perfect, fool-proof environment for his upcoming Christmas festivities.
And fool-proof was precisely what he required, no more and no less, for it was, in fact, a fool that created reason for such hard work. Arthur strolled on over to the edge of the bar, emerald eyes scanning over the letter he had received the previous month.
It's me, again… You know how bad I am at writing letters, so I'll just cut to the chase. I've been going over my list of gifts to the others, and when I came across your name, I just couldn't think of anything to get you. Therefore, since you're such a difficult person to buy for, I'm going to visit you instead! Be sure to buy extra hamburgers and coffee, I don't think I'll be able to survive off of nothing but burned scones and tea. I have to go now; you know, hero work and such.
`Thanks again, Arthur! See you Christmas!
Oh, the nerve of that man! Never did Arthur receive such a blasted headache than when he was with that infernal nation. Demanding that bitter coffee, that greasy, grimy, unpalatable concoction known to most as a 'hamburger'… his stomach gurgled in discomfort just thinking about it. A slight shiver rolled down his spine, though he remained unsure of its cause, be it the frosty weather or the thought of Alfred gulping down soda after confounded soda…
His inner ramblings were interrupted rather abruptly by the high-pitched whistling from the heated kettle. Arthur clutched the handle tightly, his hand uncontrollably shaky from all of the manual dusting, and tilted the kettle ever-so-slightly, pouring himself a steaming cup of Earl Gray. Clearing his throat, the nation made his way over to the couch and sat down, inhaling the pleasurable fumes wafting upward from the teacup. He raised the cup to his lips, parting them just enough to allow a little stream of tea into his mouth, and swallowed. Instantly, the warmth of the drink spread throughout his entire body, and he couldn't help but close his eyelids over his green eyes, enjoying the blissful peace of the moment. It wasn't often that the Englishman got the opportunity to experience such rare silence, so he grasped this chance by the horns and gladly endured it head on. Leaning back against the soft embrace of the couch, he brought the cup up to his lips again.
Knock Knock Knock!
A violent pounding sounded at the door, sending a jolt along the inside of the estate. Arthur spluttered, a dribble of tea running down his chin. Such an obnoxious, naïve voice, loud and unbearable… the Brit knew it could be none other than his American headache, Alfred F. Jones. Indeed, as he regrettably rose from his spot on the sofa and clambered on over to the door, he found himself face-to-face with his former colony.
Well, not really face-to-face, more like face-to-collarbone. The younger nation stood a good few inches taller. He differed from the Englishman in many ways, both inward and outward. Alfred's eyes shone crystal blue behind his thin-framed glasses, and his eyebrows were… well, slimmer. The American was a much more heroic man, therefore incredibly obsessed and flamboyant at times, and had a taste for food that was exceedingly impartial to Arthur's palette. It seemed that the only similarity between the two was their blonde hair, though Alfred's was more of a dirty blonde. Arthur gave an inner grunt, feeling slightly agitated at both the height difference and the unannounced early arrival.
"And what, dare I ask, are you doing here?" he questioned, crossing his arms.
"Oh, you know… the usual…" came the reply, leaving his host clueless. Alfred's sapphire eyes seemed pretty fixed on Arthur's lower face, and the American's left eyebrow rose slightly.
Arthur's face reddened. "What are you staring at?" Then he felt a tingling sensation upon his jaw, and brought a hand up to wipe away the tea that had splashed onto his face from his previous perplexity. He felt Alfred's gaze soften, focusing less on the droplets of the beverage and more on the conversation itself.
"All of the plane tickets were sold out," he explained, making his way past Arthur and into the house. "Today was the soonest available flight. My suitcases should arrive by the end of the day." He strolled leisurely on over to the dining table after grabbing a sugary, carbonated beverage and sat down, gulping down half of the bottle.
How convenient… Arthur thought, using his rare sarcasm, shaking his head as his guest took another sip of the cola. "Be glad that I finished the preparations today. I'd hate to see how you would've reacted to the lack of grease and sugar in my diet."
Alfred ignored the somewhat snide remark, gazing around at the décor of the household. Indeed, with the single stocking above the mantle and the evergreen branches clustered here and there, it seemed a rather simple-yet-festive room, ready enough for the arrival of Christmas. He breathed in the nostalgia, reminiscing. Upon the sound of the clanging of metal, however, the American returned his attention to his host, who was busy sticking a platter of some unknown substance into the oven. Nervously, he cleared his throat and smiled brightly. "S-say, Iggy… what are you doing?"
"Making lunch." The Briton spoke no more, and Alfred's stomach began to churn incessantly, making him begin to regret the cheeseburger he had ingested previous to his arrival.
"W-W-Wait, Arthur!" Arthur continued to "cook", setting the kettle onto the hot stove and preparing to boil some coffee, leaving Alfred completely horrified for his life. Desperately, his eyes darted around the room, at last falling upon an empty space in the corner of the room. "Um… you can't cook yet!"
Arthur's eyes narrowed and he turned around to face the American, fists clenching in irritation. "And why the bloody Hell not?"
"Because you managed to forget the most important aspect of Christmas," his guest replied, grabbing his jacket and scarf. "Come on, we're getting you a Christmas tree!"
"What do you mean I don't have a-" Arthur's green eyes averted to the corner of the room, which released a rather dead aura. In all of his hectic preparations, he had really blown it- who forgets the Christmas tree at Christmas? "Umm…"
Alfred shoved Arthur's own coat and scarf into his face, grabbing his wrist and whisking him out the door. "So, where do you propose we go looking first?" he asked once they were out in the snow.
Arthur released a monotone sigh, his headache beginning to plummet upwards. "There's a decent place about ten blocks down." The Englishman felt his right hand warm exceedingly quick, and glanced down to find his wrist still enclosed in Alfred's clutches. "L-Let go of me, you aggravating git!" he shouted, his face a bright shade of crimson. He felt the grasp fall, and his hand simultaneously numbed again, giving cause for both relief and regret inside the heart of the Briton.
The two arrived back at their own block promptly three hours later. When shopping with a man such as Arthur, one would find themselves on the brink of suicide. Alfred constantly pointed out more-than-eligible evergreen trees, yet Arthur would either ignore him or chew him out, leaving even the American in a bored slump. At last, the Brit had chosen a tree, which appeared perfectly fine at first glance, but there was a slight tilt to it, and it seemed a bit… too tall. However, once Alfred had pointed such facts out, Arthur had been too proud to choose differently, so he put his money down on the faulty evergreen.
"Hey, Arthur? Would you mind carrying the tree for a while?"
"Not a chance. Besides, you need the exercise."
Alfred's eyes only narrowed for a split second, for he was suddenly cheerful again and began to whistle a carol, namely "We Wish You a Merry Christmas", heard all around his own nation around this time of the year. Arthur groaned, his head agony increasing. After what felt like hours on end (though was actually only a few minutes), the pair arrived in Arthur's front yard, legs refusing to move forward any more as their eyes widened to the size of grapefruits.
All that remained of Arthur's glorious estate were the half-gone blackened back walls. The front wall and the left side of the house were no longer there. The inside of his house, now visible from the outside, was completely black, burnt to a crisp, and the stove was still engulfed in flames. Not a single stocking, nor any of the evergreen branches, had managed to survive.
A group of people stood crowded around his house. One of them approached Arthur, clearing his throat. "It seems as though the cause of the fire was either the stove or the oven. We should be able to repair your house, and you have insurance, but…" He coughed into his fist. "Well, it won't be completely renovated for another week or so…"
Arthur said nothing, still completely frozen from the shock, eyes wide and mouth agape. At last, after a few minutes of silence, he gulped and whispered, "Bloody… Hell…" The Briton dropped to his knees, staring up at his burning estate, flabbergasted.
Alfred approached his host, placing a hand firmly on his shoulder, and watched the house as well. His voice was monotone and had neither emotion nor melody. "…and a happy new year…"
Author's Note: Yeah, this will be continued. I hope you enjoyed it. This was my first time writing USxUK, so I hope that I did a substantial job. R&R, and expect the next chapter up either later in the day or tonight.