A/N: Okay, due to the controversy in this one-shot I write and the original doujinshi I based on to write this piece I have to say several things. Yes, I'm well aware that some people had gotten angry at me because of this and honestly? I don't regret writing this piece at all despite all that. I'm not going to defend myself and run away, because yes, there are too many similar conversations to be coincidental. I'm aware of that. And to answer "you can at least credit the original author". You can go to my profile page, read it and find that I've provided a link to the doujinshi and its rightful doujinka, I'm not going to delete that statement. Ever. I do not 'claim' that the idea was originally mine. As I do not 'copy and paste' it right on it. You can think of this as the 'written' version of the doujinshi. And unlike the original doujinshi, I do not sell this written fiction piece or take profit out of it. You can say this is a fanwork out of a fanwork. So, do I steal it? I don't know, you can find all over FF stolen ideas for stories that no one knows who started it first. You can judge me whatever you want, but I will simply state, that I do not regret writing this piece at all. I pour my soul into what I write, I put my emotions into it that it becomes what it is. I love this piece and I'm not deleting it.

Oh, and really? Anonymous reviews? You could've at least logged in and say what you want to say to my face. I'm not a coward, I'll face anything you'll say to me right on.

Summary: America was a beloved brother, a close friend, a strong ally, anything, but a lover. England's love is simply, simply different from that of America's. USUK

Everlasting Ephemeral

Arthur was rushing down the hollow streets, his leather shoes dampened by the numerous puddles filling in each holes and cracks of the London streets. Each step birthed vivid splashing noise as the hard soles plunged into the watery surface. Endless droplets of water dripped down from his jawline to his chin, trickling down and onto the wet ground. His coat and a pair of previously neatly ironed trousers were now soaked at the hem up to the knees and were messily clung to his skin beneath the fabric. The rain poured down like waterfall, he could hear thunders from a distant. London never changed, in the perpetual rains aspect.

Bloody rain, Arthur clicked his tongue in annoyance.

He was not in the mood for a storm at the moment. Although he was too used to the rainy climate, he had to admit it was inefficient to have them every single bloody day. Arthur Kirkland, though he was the representative of the United Kingdom of Great Britain, even he couldn't change the weather at will, much to his chagrin. He was already nearby his destination, however, and had begun to feel less grouchy knowing the bar was just around the corner.

He sped up his steps, dashing through the walls of rain. At some point, he suddenly shut his eyes by instinct, taken aback by a thick glob of water that harshly hit his face and nearly wounded up in his emerald orbs. He automatically brought a hand to his face and halted his steps. Then loud laughters caught his ears. Slowly opening his eyes, he felt something bumped onto his legs and noticed a blonde boy in soaked white shirt had bumped onto him and ran away laughing with his two friends beneath the thick rain.

Arthur watched them quietly until the blonde boy slipped and fell on his chest, plunging into the puddles. Arthur reacted immediately to the boy's side, outstretching his hand to hold the boy's wet tan arm and help him up. "Are you alright?" He asked, worried hinting in his voice. The boy grunted, wincing at his scrapped knees. He got up, Arthur was still holding his hand. The boy didn't look hurt, he only rubbed his scrapped elbows before looking up to Arthur and grinned widely, drops of water dripping down his soaked face. The older man was stunned by his bright blue eyes.

"Thanks, mister!" The boy exclaimed joyously. Then his friends called the boy.

Waving his hand towards Arthur, the boy ran away with his friends, energetic laughter graced their lively smiles before the rain swallowed the noise and concealed the children's forms from his vision.

And Arthur just stood there watching their backs vanished in the distant, feeling fondness for his nation's children despite their improper appearance.

And that blonde child reminded him of a fond memory…

Noticing his lateness for an important meeting, Arthur immediately began his rushing steps again, soon spotting a rather tasteless billboard with its letters lighted in purple neons. The neons hurt his eyes. He grunted softly to himself, thinking it was just the place that perverted frog had to choose of all the available high class english clubs in his beloved capital. Honestly, L'Amour just sounded like what he'd preferred for a club's name. It didn't take a genius to know who exactly owned the tasteless club anyway.

When Arthur entered the said bar, he was immediately abhorred by the sight of a more fervently purple and pink neon dots flashing to his already sensitive eyes. There were numerous lights dancing around the dimmed dance floor, lace curtains and transparent binds concealing the private chambers rowed at one side of the room. The walls and floors were covered by acrylic coating and they were the reason why the neons were reflecting all over the place. Arthur gingerly shielded his eyes.

Before he could let his eyes get used to the hellish colors, a busty woman in an obviously vulgar, skimpy bunny costume and rabbit ears headband approached him and tapped him on his soaked shoulder. The Great Britain representative turned and his cheeks soon colored at the lack of decency and clothe coverage. "Mr. Kirkland? The owner has been waiting." Said the woman, winking suggestively at the gentleman.

England coughed, nodding whilst turning his eyes away. The waitress smiled and took off his coat, calling another brunette in identical skimpy uniform to guide him. Arthur was walked into one of the private chambers, the white lacy curtains were tied and half of the room and a comfortable-looking sofa clothed in white fur came into vision. Arthur quirked his lush brows at the sight of his former enemy flirting with a blonde beauty, an arm circled around her tiny waist while the other hand moved up her exposed thighs. He only stood by the entrance, silently staring at the improper acts with arms crossed, waiting for the Frenchman to take a notice of his presence.

It took a total of ten-seconds for Francis to finally stop nibbling at the blonde's ear and notice the scowling Englishman. "Ah, L'Angleterre. Welcome." He said with a casual smile.

"…I thought you were waiting for me." Arthur irritably said, helping himself across Francis and his woman. The blonde seemed to remain calm as did Francis, flashing him a charming smile. Arthur gingerly gave her a smile out of formality, he was a gentleman after all.

The blonde seemed pleased with his etiquette, she began whispering something to Francis, of which it was incomprehensible to Arthur since she was speaking in french. He waited patiently until they were done.

"Oh, non, mon cher. Arthur here already has a lover." Francis stated, gently stroking her smooth cheek. The lady seemed a bit disappointed as she glanced at the Englishman, but smiled charmingly nevertheless. Then Francis said something to her in french, she nodded and excused herself, leaving the two men alone in the chamber.

"Not your lover?" England asked, although he already knew the answer. The whole world knew of the Frenchman's famous love escapades.

"Non. Maria is merely a friend of mine. What you witness is... consensual, however." Francis flashed him a smile.

"…bloody frog."

The Frenchman chuckled at the mockery, he was very much used to that nickname it could hardly bring him any feeling of anger. "What do you think, Angleterre? Isn't this place a heaven for lovers?" he asked, gesturing with his hands spread apart.

"Hellish is the correct term for that." Arthur blurted cynically. "And the way you decorate the whole place, it is obviously made to feed you frenchmen's perversion tendencies." Emerald eyes went to the numerous chambers cloaked by vaguely transparent binds and curtains next to theirs. They were transparent enough for people outside to see the outline of the activity occurred inside the chambers, and the people inside would most likely realize it if they were being watched. But somehow Arthur doubted they'd mind.

"Don't be such a party popper, Arthur. Just think of the amour!" Francis laughed aloud, taking a sip from a glass filled with blood red wine.

"Jokes aside…" Arthur sighed, knowing whatever criticism he threw at him, Francis would never take them to consideration. His sight lowered from Francis' face to the carpeted floor, his face darkened. "I… don't feel like going home tonight. Let me stay here for a while." He clenched his fists atop the other.

Francis looked at him with his lips tugged down, eying at the gloomy atmosphere clinging around the younger man. Sighing, he put down the glass carefully, bending his body forward. "Is itL'Amerique?"

England twitched, gritting his teeth. He nodded.

"Have you told him you're not coming home?"

"…I told him I'd be drinking with you." Arthur gave a soft reply.

"That means you'll still be walking home later. And I have to call him to take you home when you're too drunk to even walk." Francis gave an exasperated face, kneading his temples with two fingers.

"Francis…" Arthur suddenly called out, looking at the other man in the eyes. The frenchman was surprised that England had just said his given name. Clear green eyes stared earnestly at him, almost pleading. "Please."

Francis was silent.

"…for you to beg me…." He slumped into the soft cushion, an awkward laugh emerged from him. A small smile tugged on his lips as he looked at his former arch enemy. "You must love him so dearly."

"I do." England uttered, pressing his lips to his twined fists. He clenched tighter. "I love him."

"I love you, Arthur."

How could things be this way?

Of course Arthur loved him. He loved him so dearly. He was special, in ways others could never make him feel the same way. Only him. His dearly beloved. Not as the country of England, or the United Kingdom of Great Britain, but as his human self, as Arthur Kirkland. He was his special, dearly beloved child. His love was undying, even after that child had grown into adulthood and became independent, even after he left him… never gone a day Arthur hated or despised him for that, he loved him far too much. He was sure that even after centuries passed, his feelings wouldn't change. If to ordinary humans love was something ephemeral, then to Arthur his was an everlasting ephemeral.

He was a beloved brother, an adorable son, Arthur was the one who raised him, he watched him as he grew tall and strong to be a young man he could be proud of, he taught him his precious language, culture, his country's food and drinks and mannerism. He gave him that beautiful, strong name with all of his love and hopes put within that name: Alfred F. Jones.

He loved his smile, his laughter, his voice, his adorable antics and whims, the blue of his eyes, the sandy gold of his hair, his strong will, even his stubbornness. He loved them all. Even though he wasn't his big brother any longer. He only hoped he could continue to watch his darling child in the corner, wishing him a happy life even if he was not involved in it.

"Arthur." An awkward face greeted him, golden brows furrowed while his face contorted in both embarrassment and distress. "Arthur I said love you. I… I want you to be… damnit." He muttered as he hid his flushed face, pushing Texas up the bridge of his nose with trembling fingers. This kind of timidness wasn't like his usual beaming self, one of the reasons for England's surprise.

"I m-mean, w-will you…" He stuttered again, face contorted in frustration. He looked like he was in pain and about to cry, but all Arthur could do was stare in the awkward silence.

Ah… he mused wordlessly. His face reminded him of the one he had when Alfred was still a child, he always made that face whenever his childish egoistical whims kicked in or when Arthur had to return to his homeland. He was always weak against that face.

It made him want to grant him any wish he had.

It was a bit different though, the face lines and bones had matured and strengthened, stronger than that of a child's, and a new determination took over the frightened, unsure one. Although red still stained his cheeks and frustration was still visible. He found a pair of azure eyes staring intently at him. "Arthur." He called again, swallowing. The lump of his throat went up and down.

"Will you be my lover?"

"Arthur."

A blinding light hit his sensitive eyes almost as soon as Arthur opened them. Cursing incorrigibly under his breath, he brought up an arm to shield his vision from the light. And the next thing he knew, an unbelievably familiar headache hit him like a thunder would, jolting pained grunts up his throat. The reminiscent of him drinking with Francis popped in his head, that explained the terrible headache. He was drinking two bottles of those tasteless French wine(which was truthfully very, very nice) but he couldn't remember anything after that.

Bloody way of waking up, he mused irritably, though he was used to morning hangovers, they were still a real pain in the arse. The fucking light didn't help him the slightest.

"Arthur?" Suddenly a soothing shadow hovered over him and overlapped with the annoying light. A flash of dusky gold and a dark silhouette immediately entered his line of vision, sparing his eyes from the unwanted beam. Arthur sighed in relief, pulling out his protective arm and letting it flopped onto the soft cushion of a pillow. Ah, he finally noticed he was actually in a bed. His bed. The thought relieved him.

"Al… fred?" He drowsily scratched his hair, it must've become an amazing mess of gold locks.

He could hear a faint sigh from above him, a pair of annoyed blue eyes were staring down on his face. "Reaaally, Arthur. Ya've no idea the shit I went through to get ya home." Alfred spoke with his southern accent, clicking his tongue. Arthur only laughed.

"You git. Use proper grammar in my house." The Englishman smiled at the younger man, feeling his aching head becoming less painful. He wondered why.

The American ignored the last statement. "Good thing there's no conference today. It'd be a pain to hafta drag ya out." A big hand came to ruffle the Englishman's already messy tresses.

"Mmm," Arthur tossed his head, still feeling groggy. His eyes gingerly fell to the alarm clock by the night stand, noticing the short needle pointed at the eight while the long one to five. It was still early. He grunted, not wanting to get up, but otherwise he'd let the american die of hunger. He grudgingly got up, fingers pressing against the aching pulse beneath the skin of his temples. He tried to ignore the pain as he turned to his former colony.

"Are you hungry? I'll make you some eggs and bacons if you want."

He half-expected a twitch of an eye and an immediate impertinent refusal to his kind, generous offer for a delicious English breakfast, yet none of his expectation emerged on the the American's face and mouth. Alfred unexpectedly gave him a wide smile and cheeks flushed pink. And Arthur's heart skipped a beat.

"Anything. I'll eat anything you make for me." He exclaimed joyfully, pulling the older man into his chest too sudden for Arthur to react. His face was suddenly buried in a broad muscular chest and a pair of strong arms wrapped around his smaller body. He could hear the beats of America's heart beneath that warmth, beating fast and lively. Arthur could feel Alfred smile so pleasantly and full of joy as he embraced the Englishman with the gentleness of a lover.

And yet Arthur's heart turned cold.

His limbs turned stiff and his heart began pounding loud in his ribcage, it was not similar with that of America's, but more closely resembled to the pounding heart of a thief, dreading to get caught. In America's arms and warmth he turned scared and cautious, as if life was being sucked out of him. He felt uncomfortable to its most unpleasant. Suddenly he felt afraid, afraid if Alfred came to notice the strange rhythm of his heart beats and the cold of his skin, afraid he would question Arthur, afraid he would notice Arthur's… lies.

No.

Arthur almost instinctively withdrew, pushing the younger man a bit too quick and too strong that shock overlapped America's confused face. It took only a second for England to realize what he had done.

No!

"Y-you git! If you're holding me like that, how can I cook your bloody breakfast!" He exclaimed, desperately hiding his anxiety beneath a mask of annoyance.

"Oh!" Alfred muttered, a smile tugged on his lips. "M'sorry, shoulda known Grouchy Arty'll kill me if I mess with his cookin' time."

There was no hint of hurt, he hadn't realized it at all.

Arthur quietly sighed in relief.

It's fine, he's not found me out yet, he assured himself, feeling a sharp pang struck him in the inside. We can still be... together.

Straightening his back, Arthur noticed the stickiness of his skin, he had thought he had fallen asleep with his suit on but apparently Alfred seemed to have changed him while he was dead drunk. The thought of it brought a small smile on his lips, he remembered how he used to waking up in the kitchen floor with a terrible hangover, while a small America was asleep on his side, dried traces of tears gracing his adorable tired face. He felt sorry for making such a small child worry.

"I'm going to take a shower first." Arthur decided, suddenly became aware of the other's appearance as he turned. "Bloody-why are you still in your pajamas! Don't tell me you haven't taken a shower yet!"

"Hmm, 'cuz." Alfred got up, a sheepish smile on his face as he scratched the back of his head. "Arty's face's very cute when he's sleeping, so…"

The Kirkland's face flushed at the statement. "Stupid prat! Take a bloody shower now or I won't cook you anything!"

The American only laughed at his lover's outburst. Getting off the bed, he went and hugged the older man from behind, whispering seductively in his ears. "Then, should we shower together?" England twitched as hot breath brushed against his earlobe.

"G-git…" He muttered softly, feeling his back heated up.

He heard a chuckle. "Love you."

Emerald eyes froze as it widened. Icy sharp guilt stabbed through his chest.

Arthur allowed a faint smile and he bit down on his lower lip. "…me too."

"I'm good at pretension, aren't I." Arthur choked out, his cheeks flamed red and he hiccuped. A glass filled with dark garnet liquid in hand. Emerald eyes seemed absent and hazed, only slurred words came out of his lips.

Francis watched his company, barely even finished his first glass while the other had just gulped down his fifth. He watched with curiosity and a bit of worry, the Englishman seemed to have lost himself in alcohol, not caring of himself much less anyone else around him. Furrows formed on the bridges of his brows as he watched Arthur filled the crystal glass with thick red liquid.

"Angleterre, wine is meant to enjoy slowly, it's the etiquette."

"Sod off you damn frog, it's alcohol all the same, what's the difference…?" Arthur slurred, taking in a big gulp then glaring angrily at the flamboyant man. "Answer!" He demanded.

Francis decided it wasn't a good idea to oppose a drunken Englishman, especially when he was within the English capital, drinking with its country. "L'Angleterre, you're most likely the best manipulator I know. You're an actor by nature." He uttered as he sipped his wine. "Why, in the past, many fell victims to your treachery."

"I see, I must be such a brilliant actor aren't I…?" England gave out a hoarse chuckle, but his eyes remained oddly cold. "Hell, I was the great conqueror, the United Kingdom of Great Britain! I ruled over half of Europe, even the Asian feared me…! Me, Arthur Kirkland!" He began to ramble on random things while Francis listened quietly to him. He rambled and rambled on, in the manner of a drunken person.

"…heh, China should've seen it coming, I was the one who ruined his country with opium, whispering sweet nothings to his ears while all I want was to stab him in the back, take his beloved brother away from him. I, whom he thought was his friend!" He exclaimed, finishing his sixth glass then putting down the glass rather harshly. He slumped to his seat, letting his forehead dropped down to the cold wooden counter, his arms draped around his head. And then he went silent. Francis was beginning to worry.

"…I'm such a bastard, aren't I." He heard Arthur's trembling voice. "I know how painful it was losing a beloved one, and yet I did it. I took Hong Kong from China. This must be my punishment, eh?" Arthur raised his head, a hand clutched at the blonde tresses on his forehead. His beautiful jade eyes welling up with tears, a drop had made a trail down his cheek.

"Angleterre…" Francis mouthed softly.

A faint sob came from pale, trembling lips. "You know, I love Alfred." He choked out. "He was… he was the only one who can make me feel this way. So happy, so lonely, so… sad. He was special, like a brother, a son, a friend, I-I love him, so, so much." He hiccuped, no longer from the alcohol's influence, but of the intense pain he felt scorching his throat yet painfully froze his heart like a thousand needles.

"You don't know how much-how much I wished for us to be together again…I love him, Francis. I-I always wished…" Tears finally poured down, he frantically wiped them with the back of his arm. "Three hundred years. He and I parted ways, but never once have I stopped loving him, never. He's precious to me, even if this feeling is one-sided… But I'm-God, I'm so selfish!" A clenched fist struck the counter so loud it caused the rest of the club looking at the Englishman with surprise and curiosity.

But Arthur didn't care.

"I love you Arthur."

"…I know I was lonely. For the longest time, I have never felt such loneliness, my life was empty. I thought it was fine as long as I could see him smiling, as long as he's happy… I'm such a hypocrite." He sobbed. "Always, always… Countless of times I thought in my mind, how I wished I could go back to the past, back to when the both of us were still happy together… Th-that's why I…"

"Will you be my lover?"

Emerald eyes widened in horror.

"When he said… he loved me… I thought-I thought we could finally be together again. I was only thinking of my goddamn self-"

"Yes."

At that time…

He wasn't aware of how much his lie could hurt both of them.

The thought alone mortified him. His lie could've brought much more suffering, an assured destruction once the other came to know the truth. Arthur knew he would hurt America. His darling Alfred. After the longest time he had finally gotten what he wished for and yet it could be destroyed at any careless moment. The fact that Arthur had never once loved Alfred the way the younger man felt for him. That he only accepted his confession for his own selfish desire. England had come to realize the horrifying result of his little lie. If it was to be known to him…

…he would lose Alfred again.

"I…don't know… what to do." Arthur muttered in broken voice, tears flowed uncontrollably, overlapped and renewed the dried trails of his dampened cheeks. Soft whimpers and sobs escaped his shaking lips. Horror and mortification dyed his jade eyes with darkness and gloom.

The Frenchman only stared pityingly as the Englishman wept silently, drops of clear liquid dripped down to the hard surface of wood, forming miniature pools. His chest clenched tightly from within when he witnessed such heartrending thing, but nonetheless the pain and dilemma was brought by none other than England himself. He knew love made people do the unthinkable, and that this was only a result of a broken love. He had known England for far too long that he understood that the man truly loved Alfred from the depths of his heart, only it wasn't a romantic feeling rather like a family bond. Romantic love was much more like a fleeting, short-lived thing, while family affection rooted deep within, such could confuse one's heart. For once, he understood England's predicament for he was also, a nation.

"Arthur." Francis brought a hand to stroke Arthur's back. "We know that we are not like ordinary people. To us things like love and affection differs greatly with their common sense. Nations do not forget their history. A thousand years is no different from yesterday, we never forget. For us love and affection last forever, to the day we die. It's not odd that you think your feelings are no more than brotherly affection. It's not your fault. And I'm sure he won't hate you for that."

After all it's impossible to hate the one you truly love, Francis mused to himself, a sad smile gracing his face.

Arthur didn't reply, his shoulders shook beneath Francis' hand.

The Frenchman smiled bitterly. "I know it'll be painful, Arthur, but it's better for you to tell the truth."

He felt a clench in his heart as he heard Francis' words.

The truth.

"Mmm." Arthur sighed breathlessly, words cut off by a searing kiss.

Alfred was holding his head still as he assaulted Arthur's lips. It was a long, passionate kiss that left the Englishman breathless. He needed air, but the barbaric American was stronger and bigger than him and it took all of England's strength to push him and break the kiss. "You… stupid prat! I need to bloody breathe for once!" He panted, wet lips stinging from the bruising kiss. The American, however, only grinned teasingly at Arthur's outburst.

It surely pissed off the older Englishman. His cheeks reddened in anger. "Don't you dare laugh! Look at my shirt, I just ironed it this morning and it's ruined now!" England gestured at his soap-soaked apron and the long sleeves of his dress shirt. He was washing the dishes peacefully when the younger man decided it was the best time to cuddle and flirt at that appropriate moment.

"M'sorry, Arty, ya just look so sexy in that apron I can't help myself. Besides, ya've been ignoring me since this morning!" He pouted, cuddling their cheeks together. He didn't seem to care the fact that his favorite bomber jacket was stained with soap and bubbles.

"Git! You'll stain your jacket…" Arthur worriedly said, eying at the wet stains on America's beloved jacket.

"Don't worry 'bout that, Arty." Alfred brushed his worry with a gentle smile. He kissed the tip of his lover's nose. "It's my fault, I'll help you with the dishes."

The offer took Arthur by surprise, he wasn't expecting America would actually admit his wrong and even offer him a helping hand. The man in front of him wasn't the childish, unbelievable, and obnoxious young man like how he usually acted in the world conference. In front of England he became a kind, mature, gentle lover, a side England knew not of before. No. He became gentle ever since they started dating. It was like he returned to being the kind, timid child he once was in his childhood days.

Such a wonderful thing, and yet it felt so outrageously painful.

Alfred threw him a questioning look. He smiled as he asked. "What's wrong?"

The Englishman suddenly withdrew from his thoughts, he smiled back. A very convincing fake smile. "Nothing, Alfred… Thank you for the offer."

"Hmm," Alfred loosened his tight grip around Arthur's torso. "Then let's get movin'."

"Little brat, don't you fool around this time."

America gave a hearty grin.

"I know it'll be painful, Arthur, but it's better for you to tell the truth."

Tell him the truth?

And caused Alfred to lose his happiness? His smile?

No.

He didn't want him to lose his smile. The only thing allowed Arthur Kirkland to stand on his feet throughout the numerous wars, the battles, the political struggles, the deception plays, the loss of his colonies, all the bad things in the world was America's cheerful smile. Always, that smile always saved him in so many ways. He was the sun that lighted up his world, sweeping away his sadness. Arthur could've cared less if he had to stand the weight of his lie all through his life, even if it meant he had to continue pretending…

"Arthur?" Alfred had called him out.

"Y-yes?" Arthur replied.

America pouted. "Hey, are ya forgetting our schedule today? We're gonna go shopping today, right? Don't sleep on me!"

"As if I would, idiot." Arthur retorted, wiping his hand dry. The dishes were finished more quickly when done by two people, England thought it was a very nice change. He was always alone when he had breakfast, lunch, or dinner at home and he always cleaned the whole house by himself as well, to have another person by his side gave him warm, happy feelings. "We still have to tidy up the table before we go."

"Done that."

England turned, sharply. "You what?"

"I tidied up the table while ay were doing the dishes-heeey, I can clean too y'know." Alfred looked amused with the older man's surprised expression. Then he went to Arthur's side, gingerly fingering the thin ribbons at the nape of his neck. He pulled and undid it, and then did the same with the one around Arthur's waist. "So, Arthur," He whispered seductively. "Aren't ya proud of me?"

"Don't get cocky, prat." He scoffed.

America chuckled. "I know ya'd say that." Gentle blue eyes stared down to his.

"I love you, Iggy."

Arthur stiffened. He smiled bitterly. "I love you too."

Truly, like living in both heaven and hell, Arthur felt he had strayed to both unknowingly. He was so happy and terrified at the same time. Spending every day with someone, not waking up alone, having breakfast, lunch, and dinner together, shopping and doing little things like cleaning and cooking together. Arthur couldn't deny the happiness he felt frightened him more than anything in the world, more than the world wars, hunger, or economy collapse . There was fear growing steadily within him, becoming more and more intense as the days passed. And it was slowly pushing him over the edge.

Until the pressure choked him.

"Alfred."

"Yeah?" Alfred turned his head to the older man, the dim light of the lamp on the bedside table only revealed half of his handsome face. He hadn't looked sleepy, but he had tucked the blanket to both of their shoulders, snuggling close to Arthur as he draped his arm around the smaller stature of the Englishman. Texas was on the bedside table and those aquamarine depths looked clearer and more vivid. They reflected Arthur's face. "What is it?" America asked, stroking the short, golden tresses.

The Englishman was silent, his face felt warm at the gentle gestures. "…no. Nothing."

"Weird." Alfred smiled, a finger trailed on the flushed cheek. "Ya're so cute."

Arthur scowled. Alfred chuckled, giving him a kiss on the forehead.

"G'night, Arty."

Many times Arthur woke up in the middle of the night, clothes soaked in sweat. He had nightmares in those sleepless nights. The nightmares dug into his nerves and rendered him weak. They varied every night, many of them were the recollection of the past, the memories of the battlefields. The scars he received back then stung and burned on his skin like searing fire. He'd wake up gasping and shaking, and couldn't bring himself to erase the nightmares from his mind. Then America would wake up and soothe him back to sleep, often he would stay the whole night waiting for Arthur to finally sleep. He would hold him in his arms and kiss him and stroke his hair until he calmed down.

Arthur felt like a child when he was with Alfred. The American showered him with so much love and affection, and all he needed to do was accept them. He gave him more than he wished for. Both happiness and sadness. Every time he received such kindness and happiness he felt the guilt became heavier and heavier, the pain increased endlessly. All the more because Arthur had tried so hard to love him. But he just couldn't bring himself to feel the same way. He didn't know why he couldn't do it. America was sweet, kind, and loving. Why couldn't he love him? He just had to fall in love with him so he didn't have to be crushed under the weight of remorse.

And every time he felt he couldn't take it anymore and wanted to tell the truth, the thought quickly went down the drain as soon as he saw the happiness written on Alfred's face. He couldn't bear to erase that smile from him, he knew it would crush the both of them. He didn't want to lose this happiness, this togetherness. How he was very happy being together with him, but at the same time it tortured him . Every time he felt crushed by the guilt he went to Francis' place to drown in the sorrow.

"You've taken this too far, Angleterre, you should've told him long ago. Stop torturing yourself!" The Frenchman had warned him again and again.

"I know! I know…" The Englishman would reply, slamming his glass onto the table. "But I can't do it! I can't stand… hurting him. I can't… I can't…!" And Arthur always drunk himself to sleep.

And it became more and more painful.

As he became aware of the depths of America's love for him, it became harder and harder to keep up the pretension. It scorched him in the inside every time Alfred hugged him, kissed him, or made love to him. It hurt every time America told him he loved Arthur. It became unbearable. Then almost every night England would hit the bars, drinking and crying his eyes out until he passed out. Even Francis had run out of ideas of how to deal with such predicament. He could only watch in pain as his friend drown further into an abyss of guilt and remorse.

Arthur had come to realize this had to stop.

He was hurting himself and he was going to hurt a precious person if he kept on pretending. Pretending to love Alfred, pretending to be happy, while inside he was bleeding in anguish. He knew a relationship that was built on lies would only end badly. He knew he would hurt Alfred if he told him, but it would hurt him more if he found out the truth later on. He couldn't hurt Alfred any more than this… just because he wanted to be happy. Arthur had to choose the hard option. He had to tell Alfred the truth. He had to put an end to all of this pretension and deception.

That three seconds were like hell in its darkest, coldest depth.

Unbearable, it was unbearable to see how your beloved's smile slowly being pried away and shock overtook his previous happiness, morphing in what he could only recognize as disappointment and pain. And when it did, it was like being thrown into hell in a cruelest way possible. To watch a heart being broken and shattered to pieces right in front of you. Arthur felt like his was being twisted and turned in the inside. Fear began to eat its way to the pounding organ.

"Alfred…?" He took a step forward, outstretching his hand towards the younger man.

Alfred jolted and staggered back from the approaching hand, wide blue eyes reflected hurt. It was unintentional reflect but it made Arthur felt air was robbed off of him. He could hear a scream from a distant, a scream of absolute agony, a hoarse cry.

A scream that sounded oddly like his own voice.

Alfred staggered back, a hand was brought to his face as if to hide it from Arthur's eyes. "Sorry I…" He stuttered, voice broken. "I don't want to-I can't talk to you right now."

And time finally stopped.

It was like a blur of black and white and he became deaf. Every sound, any noise died down in his ears, only the noise of his heart beating like drums and bleeding his ears out. And he could only watch as America's back turned on him and moved… away. Leaving Arthur behind, alone and heart-ached. Something hot but felt freezing cold dripped down his cheek and to his chin, making a transparent trail. He brought his hand up and a drop of water splashed onto the pale skin, pooling in the middle of his palm. Bright emerald eyes widened. More and more drops fell, some to the ground, some to his palm. Blur hotness overtook his vision.

He's gone.

Arthur snapped his head up. No one was there.

Alfred's gone.

Something sucked the energy out of his body, rendering his legs weak. Arthur fell on his knees limply, wet eyes shot up to the blurred azure sky. Azure. Like the color of Alfred's eyes. "Alfred…" He called out weakly. And suddenly something struck him. Like a thunderous shot, furious sobs began pouring out of his mouth, he felt as if something tearing his chest apart and gouging the heart right out of his ribcage. He clenched the front of his dress shirt, tasting salty tears. He whimpered as he bent his back, his face held very close to his thighs. His lips parted in a silent scream.

Alfred, Alfred, Alfred…

Don't go.

A drop of water fell from the sky.

And soon, it was pouring again in London.

The rain swallowed his cries.

When Arthur opened his eyes, he saw the brown ceilings of his bedroom. A groggy feeling struck him, his body felt oddly listless and his throat very dry. It felt like a terrible hangover, except there was no headache, only unpleasant grogginess. The sheets stuck to his skin and wrinkled as he stirred, his hand reached up and flopped down onto the soft cushion on his left. He tossed his head gently to his side, he noticed the left side of the bed was empty and suddenly a feeling of loneliness nudged at him mockingly.

"Arthur-san? Are you awake?"

He tossed his head to his right and found a pair of cloudy black eyes looking worriedly at him. "Kiku?" The Englishman uttered in question. "Why are… you here…?"

The quiet man nodded, he sat on a chair by the bed, clad in his dusky purple kimono, his eastern clothing was in contrast with the English victorian styled room and furniture around him. "I'm here to visit you, Arthur-san. You've passed out for three days, don't you remember?"

Green eyes gleamed in surprise and confusion. "Three days…?" He disbelievingly inquired, a hand went through greasy bangs. "How could that happen?"

"I don't really know the details…" The Japanese man seemed reluctant. "But I heard they found you soaked and fainted in the morning after the rain stopped, you had a terrible fever. You hadn't regained conscious until now, we were very worried." He explained, eying reluctantly at him. He seemed to have something in his mind as he asked.

"If I'm allowed to ask, what happened to you back then?"

Arthur was silent. He only smiled bitterly and the shorter man went quiet at once. Japan was the quick-witted type. He could grab the meaning behind Arthur's silence and preferred to not push the matter further. Or maybe he just didn't know what to say, either one was fine for Arthur. He wasn't exactly in the mood to tell the bloody reason why he had broken down with a fever after standing beneath the rain for a whole night. Though he didn't really remember what happened to him after-

Ah… so it's been three days since then.

Jade eyes stared blankly at the ceilings, the memories flashed within his mind. So clear and fresh like it had just happened an hour ago. Sheer hotness shot up to his eyes again, blurring his vision. Kiku's dark eyes went wide and his jaw dropped slightly, but didn't dare to make a noise. Arthur realized this and gave him an apologetic smile. "I'm sorry. This is inappropriate for a man my age, crying like a damn baby." He said as he wiped his eyes.

"No!" Kiku quickly said, jolting up his seat. When he realized what he did, he flopped down again. Cheeks flushed in embarrassment. "I-I mean… it's fine to cry, Arthur-san. It's not an embarrassing thing to do. I won't tell anyone."

Arthur smiled, "Thank you. I'm fine, really."

But Japan didn't seem convinced. England felt slightly strange. Japan looked more fidgety and restless than usual. He was usually always calm and composed. But now his dull eyes had become somewhat smoldering. He was looking at his lap, furrows formed in between dark brows. Arthur eyed him curiously, before the Japanese man suddenly stood up and turned his head to face the confused man. "Arthur-san," He uttered in somewhat rushing tone.

"I have to go. I'm very sorry I can't stay for long; but Francis-san and the others will come to visit you soon. I-I have something urgent come up."

"A-alright, it's alright. I'll be fine by myself. Don't worry." Arthur replied, confused. The Japanese man nodded, excusing himself. He rushed out of the room with a strange determined look on his face England only saw him wore in the battlefields, what could've made him so serious like that, he could only wonder.

After Japan left, for the first time in a long while the house was silent, only England remained in such a big house. He had gotten used to the lively atmosphere and the pleasant noises from when Alfred was still around. Because he was loud and obnoxious, the house was never absent of laughter or Arthur's screams of protest. He would always come running, calling Arthur nicknames and hugging him from behind, giving him a kiss and laughing and smiling.

Arthur clutched at the sheets. They were so cold now. So stiff and cold and uncomfortable and empty. He glanced to his side and saw the left side of the bed was barely touched, the edges were still tidy and clean, so unlike the utter messiness Alfred usually caused in the morning. Arthur said nothing, stirring and moving his body to the left. He flopped down onto the pillows, breathing in. The smell was still there. Alfred's scent. A scent that so closely resembled the scent of warm sun in the morning.

A stain formed on the white sheets.

England closed his eyes and let the tears overflowed, escaping from his shut eyelids, soaking his blonde lashes. There were no sobs nor whimpers. He only closed his eyes and wept in silence, waiting for sweet drowsiness to take him into the comfort of sleep.

"Arthur."

He felt someone shook his shoulder.

"Arthur, wake up."

Arthur didn't reply. He whimpered and sighed softly, he was feeling too comfortable to wake up. He didn't even bother opening his eyes. He felt the pillows had turned somewhat solid and hard, but still warm and nice to lay his head onto. The warmth felt so soothing and comforting he didn't want to let it go. He cuddled closer to the source of the warmth, breathing in the strong familiar scent. The scent made him happy and yet sad and lonely. He could feel his eyes growing hot again, a droplet peeking out of the closed lid. He sucked in air, whimpering softly. He was still half-asleep.

"…Alfred…" He moaned out.

"Yeah, Arty. It's me."

As soon as the words registered into his drowsy mind, a sharp jolt went up his body, snapping his eyes wide open and sweeping off the last remaining of sleepiness. Feeling half-scared, he brought his head to look up to a bespectacled pair of sky-blue orbs. Eyes too familiar to him, the face he both longed and dreaded for. Arthur thought he might be hallucinating from the fever, or it might just be a stupid hopeful dream. He found himself gaping and unable to say anything.

The supposedly hallucination smiled, giving a gentle expression to the flustered man. He brought a gloved hand up his mouth and bit the leathery edge, pulling his fleshy hand down the brown leather glove. Another gloved hand took the one he held with his mouth, while the exposed one slowly reached for Arthur's face. The older man twitched as their skin made contact, the warm fingers caressed and squeezed his cheek lightly. A thumb went and wiped away the tears. Then the Englishman realized he wasn't dreaming nor hallucinating nor it was something his tired mind made up. This was the real Alfred.

Alfred F. Jones.

"Alfred…?" He called out shakily.

"The one and only."

"Why…" Arthur choked out in disbelief.

The American gave him a sad smile. He ran a thumb across Arthur's cheek to his chin. "Arthur I'm sorry. It's not you who's wrong." Arthur could see the hurt in his eyes, but also the reflection of his tired, swell-eyed self as well.

"It's me."

"What…? I don't understand." Arthur eyed him questioningly.

"You did nothing wrong, Arthur. I did." Alfred told him, earning an even more confusion on the other man's face. "I… used you."

Green eyes went wide.

"Because I love you." Furrows began forming in between honey-colored brows, his face contorted in pain. "I've wanted you for God knows how long. I want you no matter what. But I knew… I knew you just don't feel the same. I knew you only think of me only as your brother."

Then suddenly Arthur noticed that the hand and fingers that touched him were shaking.

"But I'm stubborn… and selfish. I knew that you were lonely, I knew you wanted us to be together again. I knew you couldn't reject me. So I used that to my advantage. I forced my feelings on you." Alfred looked hurt and looked like he was about to cry, like how he did when he confessed to Arthur. "I can't even describe how happy I was to finally have you in my arms. But then… I began to realize how much I hurt you for that. I saw you crying alone numerous times, I saw the guilt in your eyes every time I told you how much I loved you. That was when my stubbornness kicked in. I was confident I could make you fall in love with me. But the price for that stubbornness, was your suffering."

A tear had made its way down Alfred's cheek.

Arthur felt a tight vice-like grip clenched in his chest.

"I knew this was wrong. I was wrong for using your weakness. I knew love wasn't something forced. But I can't-I don't want to let you go. I love you, Iggy. I love you. I love you so damn much." He turned his eyes to hide his face, his voice trembled as he continued. "But my selfish love brought you pain. Watching you breaking day by day… I can't stand it, but still I-I can't let you go." More tears had trickled down his wet eyes, soaking his cheeks.

"When you told me the truth… when you thought you were the wrong one… I wanted to confess to you, but I also wanted to hold you and never let go. But if I did, I'd end up hurting you again… I told myself over and over again, I had to let you go, I had to, for your sake. I'm sorry…"

"I'm sorry that I lied to you." A lonely smile tugged on the corner of his lips.

Arthur hated that smile.

So sad, so lonely, so… heart-breaking. Alfred shouldn't have that kind of smile on him. A cheerful, care-free one was much, much more suitable for him. He wanted to wipe off the sadness. He couldn't stand seeing him sad. He didn't care if Alfred had lied to him, because he had too. He had lied to himself and Alfred. Even though their lies had hurt them both, Arthur couldn't bring himself to hate Alfred.

"Alfred…" Arthur outstretched a hand towards the younger man, bringing himself closer to him. He touched his wet cheek and gently made him look at him. Their faces only a few inches apart. Trails of tears went down his deep blue eyes as their eyes met. His face was devoid of emotion, but his eyes screamed forlorn. Without him knowing, a droplet of tear trickled down Arthur's own cheek at the sight, seeing Alfred sad was much more hurtful than the pain caused by their separation. Then it struck him as Arthur came to realize something.

It was lies that did this to them. Both had lied to the other for the sake of their own happiness, forsaking the feelings of others. Arthur lied so he could reclaim the happiness he had long ago, while Alfred lied to have the person he loved. It was wrong from the root to the fruit it bore. Their mistakes had caused them both pain. Their lies had brought them to unhappiness and neither could do a thing to mend the broken relationship. Now he understood everything.

Alfred clasped Arthur's hand, bringing it to his lips and kiss the fingers.

"Alfred." The said man looked up to him.

A gentle smile graced England's face.

"Let's start over."

He watched azure eyes lit up from darkness to hopeful glimmers. They were just like the clear blue sky peeking through the dark clouds after a fierce storm. His heart trembled with warmth as a smile slowly formed on America's lips. A beaming smile resembled the morning sun. Before he knew it, Arthur was pulled into a tight embrace, hearing his names being called over and over in disbelief and joy. And the warm scent invaded his senses, wrapping around him like a tender mist. He felt his whole body was surrounded by warmth, his heart pounded pleasantly in his ears. Slipping his hands up America's broad back, he finally realized.

Maybe… he had fallen for him since a long time ago.

A pair of soft lips kissed his hair, brushed against his forehead and temples, and moved to his eyelids. "Arthur," He breathed softly into the tender skin beneath his lips. "Arthur. Arthur. Arthur. I love you. I love you Arthur."

Arthur closed his eyes, and this time he mouthed the words that came from the depths of his heart.

End