30 Meetings

Story One: The Diner on the Corner

By: Liete

Disclaimer: I do not own Hetalia or any of the characters portrayed.

A/N: This is the first of what will be 30 short, non-related stories about how Alfred and Arthur meet. Some will be more romantic than others.

Arthur was supposed to escape the endless rain by moving to New York. Since his arrival the week before, it had been raining everyday. All day. He wanted to blame it on his ex, the one he'd left behind in England, but it's ridiculous to blame the weather on one person. An end to a relationship doesn't make the rain fall.

He woke up too early that morning, having forgotten to set his clock back an hour the night before, and only realized when he was in the subway and his train was not due for an hour and half rather than just half an hour.

There was a diner on a corner just outside the subway exit, and, since he hadn't even had his usual cup of tea and crumpet before he'd run out into the rain, he decided that sitting in a diner instead of waiting in the cold of the subway was more appealing.

The diner was mostly empty, but the few patrons inside didn't even glance up to see who walked in when the bells above the door announced the entrance of a new person. They're too wrapped up in their own lives, their own problems, not wanting to invite in a new distraction. He ran a hand through his hair, brushing large drops of rain from the strands (he had yet to buy a new umbrella), and slid onto a stool at the counter. A young, distracted looking man took his order (Earl Grey), and left Arthur to his own devices.

A man was sitting on a stool near him arguing sales with someone on his mobile. A frazzled woman ignored her screaming child while she tended to her baby instead at a table nearby. A young couple made eyes at each other, sharing the same glass of orange juice in a booth in the corner. They cared not for the heartbroken Englishman with whom they shared the same space.

The young man returned and haphazardly placed a cup of coffee, coffee, not tea, in front of Arthur and walked away.

"Excuse me! I asked for tea, not-" he started, but decided against pursuing it further when he realized that the man was too busy flirting with an attractive woman who had just entered and walked up to the other end of the counter. He could rave and scream and get his way, but he'd rather be a gentleman. It was too early to be arguing.

He was sick of arguing.

Arthur sighed and retrieved a few cups of creamer, placing the proper amount of money on the counter, and relocated to a booth by the large windows. Even with all the creamer, the coffee was still bitter. Americans. But the warmth and caffeine were a comfort anyway. There was a newspaper on the table, and Arthur briefly skimmed it before he stopped and abandoned the idea as a depressing one. Murder, rape, murder, theft, fire, murder. No one cared about good news, it was others' misery they wanted to read about. Better to stew in his own misery with his dreadful cup of American coffee than to take comfort in the misfortunes of others, knowing his life wasn't as bad as theirs.

His heart skipped a beat when someone stopped outside the windows where he was sitting. That coat was just like his ex's. But looking up, it was not his ex. Just a woman checking her hair and makeup in the reflection she likely sees in the large windows. Arthur sighed, chastising himself for getting hopeful over someone he never wanted to see again.

In that time, another person had entered the diner, but the patrons looked up when this person spoke. He greeted them all individually, quelled the fussing of the screaming child, and they all greet him by name. Alfred. He turned to Arthur and paused. Arthur blushed slightly and stared pointedly at the rain that was now coming down in torrents. When there was no greeting for him, Arthur looked up to see Alfred talking with the young man behind the counter, gesturing in the direction of Arthur's booth. The young man shrugged and nodded meaningfully in the direction of the attractive woman eating a piece of toast. Alfred laughed and shoved his hands into his pockets, turning to walk in Arthur's direction.

Arthur panicked and downed what was left of the coffee, intending to leave at that instant, but Alfred slid into the booth across from him and smiled brightly.

"Never seen you around here before. What's your name?" Alfred asked with genuine curiosity, not just feigned interest for the sake of politeness.

Arthur regarded the man for a moment. Blond hair, a strong frame, but bad posture. Ill fitting jeans, unzipped hooded sweatshirt over a white undershirt, wire frames in front of the bluest eyes he'd ever seen. Good looking, but sloppy. Not his type.

"I'm afraid I have a train to catch," Arthur clipped shortly and stood up. He hadn't wanted to be noticed that morning, not really. He was happy in his solitude, in being just another face in the crowd. Not mattering to anyone, not to the general public, not to his ex.

"Are you gonna be here tomorrow morning then? I'll come earlier!" Alfred asked just as genuinely and stood as well.

Arthur sighed and checked his watch. He still had at least forty five minutes before his train was due. He could stay and chat, but he was tired of getting his hopes up and trusting in the integrity of people who always let him down. He turned to find the American smiling expectantly.

"If the sun comes out, I'll be here," he said shortly. The forecast promised rain for the entire week, so he knew that he wouldn't be coming back. Surely Alfred would realize that he was being sarcastic and back off.

"Awesome! I'll be here waiting then!" He looked so genuinely pleased that Arthur felt a little guilty that it would be raining the next day and Alfred would be waiting for someone who would never show. But if he didn't know that life was full of disappointments, he'd learn then.

The following morning, brilliant, near blinding sunshine poured in through the uncovered windows, rousing Arthur from sleep before his alarm went off.