Arthur stared stubbornly at the stove before him, as if his mind powers alone could conjure a delectable five-star gourmet that would surprise every single nation. That day would come, he promised himself.
But as of now, he had no time to think about impressing the other nations.
Arthur groaned and slammed a pot full of water onto the stove. He didn't know what he was boiling water for, but some recipe ought to call for it. He just wanted to watch something boil and scorch just like how his blood was feeling at that exact moment.
It was supposed to be a simple, diplomatic conference between him and Alfred. They were supposed to discuss only current events and economic issues before turning their backs on each other and moving on with their day. However, Arthur was a gentleman and being a gentleman, he blurted out a request for Alfred to stay around for dinner without even thinking or hesitating. And Alfred, being the tactless, ignorant glutton that he was, gladly accepted even though he constantly complained about Arthur's food.
You'd think that boy would learn someday, but he just won't.
This time, Arthur was determined to finally cook something that Alfred would enjoy.
Arthur ran his long list of recipes through his mind, throwing out the meals that he had already tried feeding Alfred and failed miserably in. It only took a matter of seconds to realize that Arthur had completely run out of ideas.
"Bloody hell," he muttered, turning off the stove. He shoved the pot of hot water off from its hot spot and paced in the kitchen. There had to be something that he could cook that Alfred wouldn't puke out immediately.
It was against Arthur's morals to cook burgers.
It felt like he was serving mini heart attacks.
Well, then, what did that bloody idiot like to eat?
Arthur tried to remember if Alfred ate anything besides cola and burgers. He supposed that since Alfred had so many diverse cultures in his house, he would have experienced all the other nations' food.
Arthur glanced at a map that hung on the wall. He had one in every room in his house, so that whenever he was irritated with Francis or Alfred, he could easily drive a pencil through their respective countries and feel a secret, sadistic pleasure.
Arthur ran a finger over the countries.
Francis was immediately booted off the list. Arthur could be dying of thirst and he wouldn't accept any water Francis gave him.
Ivan…Arthur didn't want to be near that man at the moment. Though Ivan had calmed down after the Cold War, there was no denying that he was still a little sinister. Especially if Arthur asked him to help make food for Alfred, something might be slipped into the meal…
Herakles would sleep the whole time and shed cat hair into the food.
Elizaveta would bring her video camera and that would result into something awkward and unpleasant.
Both Vargas twins were too scared of Arthur to come near him even after all this time.
The Asians were all too proud of their cuisine to let Arthur botch it up.
Vash would shoot him for suggesting such a thing.
Antonio would've been a good bet, but if Lovino ever found out that he was hanging around Arthur, Arthur would have to sleep with his eyes open that night.
Well, Arthur didn't have anything against Ludwig as of now. Not to mention that much of Alfred's cuisine originated from Germany.
Arthur sighed heavily before picking up the phone. The things he did to make his mockers eat their words. He dialed Ludwig's number and waited patiently as the tone rang.
"Ludwig Beilschmidt speaking, how may I help you?" Ludwig's voice said efficiently.
"Ludwig, it's Arthur," Arthur said hastily.
"What's wrong? Are you being attacked? Do you have a cold?" Ludwig demanded sharply.
"No, I'm fine," said Arthur. "I just need some help."
"What is it?" asked Ludwig.
"I need your advice on cooking," Arthur said bluntly. "Alfred's coming over and I want to know what to cook."
Ludwig was silent on the other end for a while. He cleared his throat loudly.
"You have two hundred seventy thousand civil workers on strike," Ludwig said coolly. "Your inflation rate has risen three point five percent. Your military secrets are leaked on social networking sites. And you're worrying about what you're cooking for dinner for Alfred?"
"How do you know all those things?" Arthur demanded, his cheeks growing red.
"Unlike the rest of the nations, I actually pay attention to what everyone says in our conferences," Ludwig grumbled. "Why are you turning to me, anyways? I've got quite a lot to handle as well."
"Because you're the only one I can turn to!"
"For food suggestions?"
"Yes!" Arthur cried.
"Just take Alfred out for a meal! He wouldn't care."
"I would," Arthur protested. "And don't you dare suggest Francis," he added swiftly when he heard Ludwig about to speak.
Ludwig let out an exasperated sigh. Arthur bit his lip nervously.
"So…could you help?" Arthur asked desperately.
Ludwig hesitated on the other line. "Just a moment," he said.
Arthur waited, tapping his feet impatiently as the silence on the other end stretched longer and longer. He was beginning to suspect that Ludwig had cut the conversation short without Arthur knowing until he heard a voice on the other line. A voice that Arthur wasn't particularly keen to hear.
"The awesome Gilbert Beilschmidt speaking. Who is it?"
Arthur groaned. "Where's Ludwig?"
"West threw the phone at me and ran off before I could give it back," Gilbert explained. "Who is this? Artie? You want to go drinking again with me and Mathias?"
"No thank you," Arthur said coolly, remembering the last time the Danish invited Gilbert and Arthur out drinking. Admittedly it was fun until Arthur woke up the next morning with a hangover and the burning shame that came with the memories of the night before.
"Then what do you want?" Gilbert asked.
"I was supposed to be talking to Ludwig, but he obviously doesn't want to," Arthur said irately.
"He's kind of stressed out at the moment," Gilbert told him.
"Why? Is he having internal conflicts?" questioned Arthur.
"Feliciano almost blew up our kitchen and we had to fix it all day," Gilbert said. "Feli forgot that you aren't supposed to put a closed metal container inside a microwave for too long."
Thank goodness Arthur didn't call Feliciano. He wasn't up to remodeling his kitchen.
"So what was it that you wanted from West?" inquired Gilbert.
"I needed his help in cooking," admitted Arthur.
Gilbert laughed. "Did you finally realize how horrible your food is?"
"It's not horrible!" Arthur protested. "The others just don't realize how good it is yet!"
"That's because we still have our sense of taste," Gilbert said lightly.
Arthur stuck his tongue out, only to remember that Gilbert couldn't see. He was rather glad of it; his childish side shall not be witnessed.
"But why West?" asked Gilbert. "Why not Feliciano? Alfred likes Italian food."
"I didn't want my kitchen to get blown up," Arthur said coldly.
"Aw, it was an accident! Feli thought it was plastic!" Gilbert defended. "And try not to mention it around him. He was a sobbing mess for half an hour afterwards and kept apologizing like there was no tomorrow. No need for a repeat."
"I wouldn't dream of it," Arthur said dryly. "And I wanted Ludwig's help because Alfred's food is closely related to German cuisine."
"Slow down there," Gilbert said abruptly. "For Alfred? Why do you want to cook food that is like Alfred's?"
Arthur felt the back of his neck grow warm. "We're meeting up to discuss current events and he's staying for dinner."
"Oh, no wonder you're taking this so seriously!" Gilbert laughed. "Well, West isn't the only one that knows German cuisine."
"Who else? Roderich?" Arthur asked.
"You're not serious, are you?" Gilbert said flatly.
"Me, you talentless idiot!" Gilbert exclaimed with irritation.
"Oh, right," Arthur said lamely. He had never seen Gilbert as the cooking type. "You know how to cook?"
"Of course I do!" Gilbert said. "I didn't live with West all the time! In fact, back when he was just a tyke, I was the one getting his meals for him!"
Arthur furrowed his thick eyebrows. As destructive and hyperactive Gilbert could be, he might be able to help Arthur out through his Herculean task. Arthur made a mental note to tie all his furniture down to the ground and pad the walls so no Prussian could break through them for some reason.
"What do you want?" Arthur asked.
"What do you mean by that?" asked Gilbert.
"Well, obviously you wouldn't want to do this for free," Arthur pointed out.
"True, true," Gilbert said. "How about you go hang out with us someday?"
"When you say 'us…'"
"As in, Antonio, Francis, and me," Gilbert specified.
"We need to bond more!" Gilbert declared. "And I'm sure Francis and Antonio would agree too!"
"Is there any possible way to kick Francis out of the deal?" asked Arthur desperately.
"No way!" Gilbert said. "He's a cool guy! He's fun to hang out with. He even takes off your shirt for you when it's really hot and everything."
Arthur squeezed the bridge of his nose. No wonder Francis chose Gilbert and Antonio to be his best friends. They didn't understand any of his advances.
"On second thought, maybe I'm not so desperate after all," Arthur said.
"Suit yourself," said Gilbert. "Who else is there to ask?"
"The Nordics, perhaps," Arthur said.
"They eat rotten shark meat," Gilbert told Arthur. "At least, Iceland does. Alfred's taste buds are rather too delicate for that."
"True," Arthur muttered. He glanced at the grandfather clock. He didn't have enough time to scour the entire world for a proper chef. "Fine. I accept. But don't expect me to interact with Francis at all."
"That's okay!" Gilbert cheered. "Do you mind if I bring someone over with me?"
"It better not be Francis," Arthur warned.
"It isn't. It's Antonio," Gilbert said. "He's a little down today because Lovino yelled at him."
"He yells every day," Arthur pointed out.
"That's what I thought, but that didn't stop Antonio from being dejected," Gilbert sighed. "I was going to hang out with him today, but I can't leave a talentless cook in need. Besides, this might distract him."
"Are you kidding me?" said Arthur. "I might make his bad mood worse. He still hasn't gotten over the whole Armada incident."
"That was your own fault, old sport," Gilbert said simply. "Besides, he could bring in some Spanish recipes. Alfred likes Spanish food, I think. At least, he likes Americanized versions of them."
"Fine, fine, just come quick," Arthur said hastily. He slammed the phone down onto the receiver. Even though it was only Gilbert and Antonio, he had a premonition. True to his word, he began stowing away all the fragile decorum so that no one could destroy them.
The doorbell rang a lot sooner than Arthur had expected. He quickly hid the last embroidered silk pillow into the closet before opening the door.
"Artie!" Gilbert waved cheerily before stepping into Arthur's house. He dragged Antonio inside as well. Even though it had been twenty years since the Berlin Wall fell, Gilbert was still looking peaky because of its effects. "Antonio and I thought up some recipes for you on our way here."
"Thanks," Arthur said. "How are you, Antonio?"
Antonio let out a soft, heartbreaking sigh. "I'm okay," he murmured.
Gilbert slapped Antonio on the back. "I keep telling you, Antonio. Yelling at you is just his way of expressing his love."
"But he always seems so angry at me," lamented Antonio, kicking off his shoes.
"Come on, let's get cooking, okay?" Gilbert said, taking Antonio's hand and towing him towards Arthur's kitchen.
"So what did you two come up with?" Arthur asked.
"Well, I did most of the brainstorming because Antonio wouldn't talk," Gilbert said. "But they're still pretty awesome."
He took out a couple sheets of printed recipes and threw them on the kitchen island. Arthur leafed through them all.
"What's a churro?" asked Arthur.
"You don't know what a churro is?" Gilbert gasped. "You're missing out! They're good eats, old sport. They're long and hard and sweet!"
"I'll pass," Arthur muttered. "Mind you, Alfred's a picky eater."
"I know that. He wouldn't even try West's maultaschen when he was offered them. And West makes a mean maultaschen." Gilbert salvaged a recipe from the larger pile. "Antonio and I—well, mostly I—figured that he would enjoy this. It's not too different from his taste but it's interesting."
Arthur took the recipe. "A paella?"
Antonio nodded, his mood slightly improved. "I'm sure Alfred would enjoy it! It's very delicious."
"How hard is it? And what ingredients does it require?" Arthur demanded.
"Just look at the recipe," Antonio said. "It isn't too hard."
"And here's a dessert!" Gilbert said. "Sincerely yours, West and me. It's Erdbeerkuchen."
"Say that again slowly," Arthur said.
"Erdbeerkuchen," Gilbert repeated without slowing down one beat. "It's a strawberry cake. So it isn't unfamiliar to Alfred but at least it isn't English food!"
"If you weren't helping me, my fist would be in your face by now," Arthur said dangerously. He took the recipe for paella and Erdbeerkuchen. "Let's start with strawberry cake then, since it can be eaten cold."
"Awesome!" Gilbert said. "I hope you've got a lot of strawberries."
Arthur pulled out a box of strawberries from the fridge. Gilbert inspected them carefully.
"Haven't you got more?" asked Antonio.
"How many do I actually need?" Arthur asked.
"Five hundred grams of strawberries," Gilbert said.
Arthur groaned and pulled out the second and last box of the red berry from the fridge. "You're lucky I just went grocery shopping yesterday. If we were stuck without any ingredients…"
"Let's get to work then!" Antonio said, rubbing his hands eagerly.
"Hey, now," Arthur said immediately. "I don't need you doing everything. I just need pointers. I want to contribute as well. Give it an English style."
"English style? What would you, pour arsenic in it?" grimaced Gilbert. The doorbell rang to Arthur's surprise. "I'll get it!"
Gilbert bounded towards the door, nearly running into a wall on the way there. Arthur and Antonio followed curiously as Gilbert wrenched open the door.
"Francis!" Gilbert said jovially.
"Francis?" gasped Arthur in disgust.
"Bonjour, mes amis!" Francis sang, gliding into Arthur's house. "I was wondering where my darling best friends went!"
"I thought you said he wasn't coming!" Arthur snapped at Gilbert.
"I never told him to come!" Gilbert said.
"Ah, dear Gilbert, were you trying to hide from me?" Francis laughed, chucking Gilbert lightly under the chin. Gilbert slapped Francis's hand away.
"Anyway, I had stopped by Lovino's place to look for Antonio, but he chased me out of his house, so I went to Ludwig's instead," explained Francis, hanging his hat on Arthur's coat rack.
"Lovi?" Antonio's eyes lit up at the sound of his former charge's name. "How is he doing? Is he mad at me?"
"He's always angry at everyone," Francis sighed.
"Get out of my house," Arthur ordered.
"Why? Are you hiding something from me?" Francis laughed.
"I'm hiding from you, you blasted frog!" Arthur snapped.
"And yet you steal away Antonio and Gilbert," Francis sighed melodramatically.
"I haven't the time to deal with you," Arthur growled. "So I'm warning you only once. You better scram or I'll beat your head with a ladle."
"A ladle? You're not brewing up some poison, are you?" Francis asked.
"I'm cooking," Arthur said tersely.
"Ah, so you are concocting venom!" Francis said. He immediately dodged a large ladle flying towards his head.
"Get him out of my house!" Arthur shouted before disappearing into the kitchen again. Francis chuckled at Arthur's retreating back and turned to Antonio and Gilbert.
"So what is the Angleterre planning? It's not every day he decides to actually take cooking seriously."
"He's got a dinner date with Alfred!" Antonio said cheerfully.
"Does he really?" Francis exclaimed, his eyes lighting up with mischief.
"I do not!" Arthur called out from the kitchen. Francis followed Gilbert and Antonio into the dining area where Arthur was rummaging his pantries for flour and sugar.
"And you plan to cook the food all by yourself?" Francis asked. "What did Alfred do to anger you?"
"What are you talking about?" Arthur growled as he preheated the oven.
"Surely the boy did something so horrible that you must punish him by feeding him—sacrebleu! Careful, now!" Francis quickly ducked as a butter knife soared towards him.
"It won't taste awful this time!" Gilbert declared. "The awesome Antonio and I are helping him!"
"Well, there's nothing wrong with adding another chef, is there?" Francis said as he greased a pan.
"Wait—what?" Arthur said quickly. "No. Drop the pan. Now. I will not have four people making this! I'm supposed to make this myself! The Bad Company Trio cannot come anywhere near my food!"
"But then you'll burn it!" cried Antonio.
"What? No!" Arthur said. "I don't burn everything I cook!"
"I remember that time you burnt my cereal," Gilbert reminisced. "I still don't understand how that happened. It wasn't near any flames. I think food just spontaneously combusts when you're around, Artie."
"Put a sock in it," Arthur grumbled. He threw in the butter, sugar, and vanilla into the bowl. "What do they mean by a pinch of salt?" He scooped up a large amount of salt in one hand.
"Nein! Nein!" Gilbert cried. "Not that much! Did you always put that much salt in when the recipe asks for a pinch?"
"I don't know!" Arthur said, his face turning very red. "Well then, how much is a pinch?"
"This much." Francis immediately pinched Arthur's rear end. Arthur let out a shout of horror and dropped almost all the salt in his hands back into the container. He kneed Francis in the groin and kicked him away as Francis doubled over in pain.
"You know, that much is actually just about right," Antonio noted, scrutinizing the pinch of salt in Arthur's hands.
"There are much better and moral ways of showing me how much a pinch of salt is!" Arthur said hotly before sprinkling the salt into the mixture.
"You okay there, Francis?" Gilbert asked, nudging Francis with his foot. Francis grunted.
"I hope it never is the same again!" Arthur said to Francis as he ferociously beat the mixture. He smashed the eggs against the side of the bowl and squeezed the yolk out of them.
"So scary!" Antonio cried. "You must do it gently or else the eggs will be unhappy!"
"The eggs would probably be unhappier with the fact that they're being cracked in the first place, not the manner," Arthur said heatedly. He took a hold of the whisk and scoured the inside of the pot with it, nearly causing a tsunami wave inside.
"This should be made with love, not anger!" Antonio said.
"I am not making this in the name of love!" Arthur said defensively. "I'm just being gentlemanly!"
"And who wouldn't fall in love with a gentleman?" Francis sniggered, climbing back onto his feet. Arthur promptly punched Francis in the stomach and sent him sprawling on the floor again.
"Sift together flour, cornstarch and baking powder, mix into the butter and sugar mixture," Gilbert read out of the recipe. "Chop chop, Artie. The edbeerkuchen can't cook itself."
"If it could, it would most certainly taste better than what the Angleterre could ever make," Francis noted, crawling far from Arthur's reach.
"How much flour, Gil?" Arthur said loudly, ignoring Francis.
"One hundred twenty-five grams." Gilbert opened Arthur's pantry to look for flour. "Twenty-five grams of cornstarch and one teaspoon of baking powder." He tossed Arthur the large paper bag of flour. "You're so slow. Hurry up."
"I'm working as quickly as I can!" Arthur protested, flicking flour into Gilbert's face.
"Oh, are you challenging me to a food war?" Gilbert laughed.
"No, not now!" Arthur said quickly. "Maybe afterwards, outside, but I have absolutely no time for tomfoolery right now."
To all of their surprise, the doorbell rang again to the chime of Big Ben. Arthur groaned and slammed the whisk down on the kitchen island.
"Why is everyone coming now?" Arthur snapped, dumping the bowl of flour, baking powder, and cornstarch into the egg, butter, and sugar mixture. "Antonio, get the door."
"Okay!" Antonio hurried to the front door and threw it open. Before he could prepare himself, a fist flew into his stomach and knocked the air out of him.
"You bastard!" Lovino shouted, kicking Antonio in the shin. "What the hell were you thinking?"
"W-what's wrong?" Antonio gasped, massaging his sore muscles.
"You thought it would be all right to just leave me in your damn empty house while you ran off with the Potato Bastard's brother and the Perverted Cheesehead?" Lovino snapped.
"But Lovi, I thought you wanted time alone without me!" Antonio cried.
"I did!" Lovino said quickly. "But if you're not going to be near me, like hell are you going to be around Francis!"
"Why? What's wrong with him?" Antonio asked, closing the front door.
"He's a perverted cheesehead!" spat Lovino as if it was the obvious.
"No, he's not!" Gilbert sang, waving at Lovino with a wooden spoon. "Francis is our best friend! You should get used to your lovebird's best friend!"
"That's very true," Francis purred, wrapping his arms around Gilbert's waist from behind. Gilbert didn't notice a thing.
Lovino blanched at the sight. "Stop that! You're so perverted!"
"Stop what?" Gilbert asked confusedly. "Pour the cake batter into the pan and bake it for twenty-five minutes, Artie."
"Fine. And can you stop doing that, Francis?" Arthur growled as he shoved the pan into the oven. "You're sickening me and Lovino. Look at him; he wants to throw up."
"Why?" Gilbert asked, trying to wriggle out of Francis's embrace. Francis held on tighter.
"Lovi~, you didn't deny that I'm your lovebird. Do you think of me that way?" Antonio said excitedly.
"What? No—hell no! Stop it!" Lovino slapped Antonio's face and backed away from him. "I'm surrounded by rapists!"
"My house has been seized by idiots!" Arthur exclaimed exasperatedly. When no one paid attention to him, he angrily sliced the strawberries with vigor, secretly picturing every strawberry as Francis's head. "Get out, Lovino! There are too many blockheads in here already!"
"There's no way in hell I'm leaving Antonio here to be tainted!" Lovino growled. "Come on, Antonio, let's get out of here!"
"No! You can't take him!" Gilbert managed to stomp on Francis's feet. Francis yelped and let go of Gilbert and Gilbert raced towards the two. "He has to help Artie make mixed paella!"
"Oh, you're right!" Antonio said brightly. "Sorry, Lovi, but I have some obligations."
Arthur was getting a headache from all this gibberish. He found it quite satisfyingly fascinating that the strawberry juice that poured out when he cut the fruit resembled blood. Picturing them as Francis's head certainly helped matters.
"Not that small of pieces of strawberry, Artie!" Gilbert warned. "Do you have red cake glaze?"
"No!" Arthur snapped. "Why would I have that?"
"Because you're making a cake!" Gilbert retorted.
"I didn't even know I was making a cake until now!" Arthur protested. "Go get some!"
"I'll call West to help get some." Gilbert whipped out his cell phone and pressed speed dial. Arthur rubbed his temples and took in deep breaths. Alfred better enjoy this meal or else Arthur might just have to throttle several nations.
"Hey, West, can you get me some cake glaze and bring it over to Artie's?" Gilbert said to the phone, pressing one finger to his ear to block out the sound of Lovino yelling at Antonio and Francis. Gilbert frowned. "Wait—this is Elizaveta? Did I press the wrong speed-dial number?"
Arthur slammed his head against the wall repeatedly. How Gilbert led Prussia to be one of the most powerful nations in Europe back in the day escaped Arthur.
"I need cake glaze because I'm helping Arthur make a cake for Alfred!" Gilbert answered the unheard question. "No, it's no special day. Arthur just wanted to make Alfred dinner or something." Gilbert raised an eyebrow. "Well, he says it isn't, but between you and me—and maybe Antonio and Francis—I think it is a date."
"No it's not!" Arthur shouted, hitting Gilbert across the head. Gilbert cackled and dodged Arthur's blows.
"Yeah, Lovino and Antonio are here too. Of course they are, when are they never fighting? I reckon that they'll make up sooner or later though; it lasted a while."
"GET YOUR HANDS OFF OF ANTONIO, YOU PERVERTED CHEESEHEAD!"
"Yeah, Francis is here too. Okay, yeah, I have to call West now. Bye!" Gilbert turned off the phone and began to call Ludwig.
"Stop! Not near the window!" Arthur rushed towards the fighting trio and shoved them away from the fragile glass windows. "If you must fight, can't you at least take it in the backyard? Where no one will see you? And nothing breakable is there?"
"Let's make the paella now, Arthur!" laughed Antonio, racing towards the kitchen. Arthur groaned and squeezed the bridge of his nose. Why was no one listening to him today?
"CHIGI! GET AWAY FROM ME!" Lovino ran through the kitchen and hallways as Francis chased after him, his arms outstretched.
"I said 'cake glaze,' not a taser!" Gilbert yelled into the phone over the din.
"Make him bring one anyways!" Arthur shouted to Gilbert. He reckoned he would need to use it on Francis.
"No, never mind, bring a taser too!" Gilbert said hastily.
"Okay, first you have to make a broth from seafood, chicken, onions, garlic, bell peppers and bay leaf," Antonio said quickly.
"I don't have seafood," Arthur said.
"No seafood? But that makes the paella!" gasped Antonio. "Dios Mio, we're doomed! What are we going to do? Why do you have no food in your house?"
"Can't we just deal with the chicken?" Arthur said desperately.
"That's blasphemy," lamented Antonio. "But if we have no other choice…"
"How do I make a broth?" Arthur asked.
Antonio stared blankly at Arthur before slowly shaking his head. "Step aside, my friend."
"Just tell me what to do!"
"Non, that wouldn't work. Only skilled hands can do a task like this." Antonio raided Arthur's kitchen and pulled out the needed ingredients. "I suppose now I must put my past behind me and forget about the horrible things you did to me with the Armada and help you anyways…"
Arthur groaned. He knew something like this would happen. Lovino came through the kitchen, screeching again as he continued running away from Francis.
"Where did Gilbert go?" Arthur asked, looking around.
"He went upstairs to look for something!" Francis replied swiftly before disappearing to find the little Italian.
The doorbell rang once more. Arthur swallowed down the urge to shout obscenities. He half considered ignoring the doorbell, but his 'gentlemanly' side forbade him to do so. He dragged himself to the front door and opened it.
"Arthur! Alfred didn't come yet, did he? Are Lovino and Antonio still here? Have they made up yet?"
"Elizaveta, what are you doing here?" Arthur sighed.
Elizaveta conspicuously hid her trusty camera behind her back. "Well, Gilbert told me what was going on here, so I thought I could uh, help!"
Arthur raised an eyebrow. "I'm fine, thanks. I need no more people in this house—"
"CHIGI! LET GO OF MY HAIR!" Francis had managed to capture Lovino in his arms and proceeded to tug Lovino's sensitive curl. Lovino thrashed and flailed, nearly knocking a portrait of Queen Elizabeth I off the wall.
"Hey! Stop that!" Arthur hurried towards them and gently took the portrait off the wall to stow away. Elizaveta took this moment to step into the house and close the door.
"ANTONIO, SAVE ME!" Lovino shouted.
"But I'm working on the broth!" Antonio cried.
"I don't care! GET ME AWAY FROM FRANCIS!"
Antonio rushed out of the kitchen, wearing a frilly plaid apron. He skillfully yanked Lovino out of Francis's arms and hugged him tight. Elizaveta whipped out her camera and snapped many photos of the two.
"Why the hell are you wearing a frilly apron?" Lovino grumbled as Antonio snuggled up to him.
"I found it in Arthur's pantry!" Antonio sang. "Oh! The broth!" He hurried back into the kitchen and Francis immediately attacked Lovino again.
"Has it been twenty-five minutes yet?" Arthur's voice rang out from somewhere. "The cake will be done in twenty-five minutes!"
"It isn't finished!" Antonio said.
"Where's Gilbert?" asked Elizaveta.
"He said he's looking for something in Arthur's attic," Francis said, finally letting go of Lovino and rubbing the many bruises on his body.
"Arthur! You're supposed to sear the red peppers on the pan, not burn them!" Antonio's voice cried.
"They're not burnt! They aren't ashes yet!" Arthur protested.
"Just because they haven't been reduced to ashes doesn't mean it isn't burnt!"
The doorbell rang another time. Curious, Elizaveta opened the door.
"Where's Gilbert? What's the emergency? I brought the cake glaze and a taser!" Ludwig cried, holding up two plastic bags.
"Ludwig! You've come too!" Elizaveta said excitedly. She peered around Ludwig, hoping to see Feliciano behind him. She was disappointed to see that he wasn't.
"What's going on here?" Ludwig asked.
"Who the hell is here?" Arthur shouted. "My house is going to be reduced to matchsticks at this rate!"
"Arthur, you're supposed to sauté the meat until it is golden brown! That doesn't look golden brown to me!"
"Antonio, stop shouting! I'm right next to you!"
"But you're shouting—"
"I'm going to drop these off and leave," Ludwig said summarily. "I had enough stress today—"
"West! You're here!" Gilbert appeared at the top of the stairs. He carried a bundle of lacy cloth. He hurried down the stairs towards Ludwig and Elizaveta. "And Eliza too! Look what I found! I think this would set the mood nicely—"
Before he could say another word, Gilbert accidentally tripped in the middle of the stairs. He toppled over and was about to crash down onto the ground before Ludwig quickly caught him. Gilbert's head knocked onto the banister and he fell into Ludwig's arms bridal style.
"Yahh," Gilbert groaned in pain.
"Bruder, are you okay?" Ludwig gasped. Both brothers were unaware that Elizaveta's nose was bleeding a storm as she snapped thousands of pictures of the two.
"Of course I am! I'm awesome! I don't get hurt!" Gilbert slid out of Ludwig's grasp and picked up the dropped items on the ground. "What are you taking pictures of, Eliza?"
"Nothing!" Elizaveta quickly turned off her camera. She didn't regret coming over one bit. She had good loot today and no doubt will have more.
"Anyways, since this whole thing that Artie is planning is a dinner date and all—"
"It is not a dinner date!" Arthur argued once more.
"Less denying and more sauté-ing, Arthur!" Antonio scolded.
"—I found a lacy tablecloth and candles!" Gilbert showed off his findings. Though the tablecloth was rather wrinkled and dusty and the silver candleholders seemed slightly chipped, they had a romantic aura to them.
"This will be so romantic!" Elizaveta gushed, wiping blood off her nose.
"What are you doing this for?" Ludwig asked, absolutely bemused.
"Arthur has a date!" Gilbert sang. "You have the cake glaze? Whoah! You brought the taser too!" Gilbert dug through the plastic bags and pulled out the box of cake glaze and the taser gun. "Awesome! HEY, ANTONIO! LOOK WHAT I HAVE!" He ran into the kitchen.
"Don't run with it, Bruder, it isn't a toy!" Ludwig cried.
They heard a yell and a crash in the kitchen. Ludwig and Elizaveta exchanged confused, startled glances.
"Dios Mio, Gil, you stunned Francis!"
"You bloody wanker, I was going to do that myself."
"I better leave," Ludwig muttered. "If you're staying here, Elizaveta, make sure Gilbert doesn't get in trouble…or molested by Francis."
"Of course," Elizaveta sang, though in the back of her mind she knew that if Francis was molesting anyone, her camera would be used first. Ludwig sighed and opened the door to leave, but was immediately attacked by an auburn-haired Italian.
"Vee~ Ludwig, you're here?" Feliciano sang. In the background were many clicking sounds of a camera. "I came here to see Big Brother! I didn't know you would be here too!"
"Hello, Feliciano," Ludwig sighed. "I'm just about to leave. Lovino is here, if you need him."
"Don't leave so soon, Ludwig!" Feliciano said. "Stay with me here! I wanted to check on Lovino but I also brought pasta for everyone to eat so I thought we could all be one big happy family!"
"Yes, Ludwig, you should stay," Elizaveta gushed in a low, dangerous voice.
"Who is at the door?" Arthur yelled. "The next person that calls on me, I will most certainly taser them!"
"Arthur's here too!" Feliciano said happily.
"No kidding, idiotic little brother, it's his house," Lovino grumbled.
"The cake! You forgot to take out the cake!"
"That was your job, Gilbert!"
"How is it my job? You said that you wanted to do everything yourself and add some English flair to it!"
Feliciano, drawn by the noise, skipped to the kitchen. Ludwig groaned and rubbed his forehead before reluctantly following him. Elizaveta felt extremely excited and accomplished before tailing them.
"Where's the rice?" Antonio was running through the kitchen, searching through all of Arthur's boxes and cupboards. "Do you have any rice?"
"I don't think so," Arthur admitted, putting on oven mitts.
"But that's what paella is! There is no paella without rice!" Antonio cried, wringing his hands in frustration.
"You should've told me that earlier so I could've gone out and buy some!" Arthur snapped. He took out the slightly burnt cake from the oven. "Do you have the glaze made yet?"
"I have!" Gilbert brought the bowl of dark red glaze mixed with strawberries. He slathered it generously over the top of the cake, arranging the strawberry halves in an artistic fashion. "Is Francis still down from the taser?"
"I'm—fine—" Francis grunted, still shuddering from the surprising electric shock.
"The paella! The paella!" mourned Antonio.
"I don't have time to run and get rice! We'll just pretend it's a dish that isn't paella!" Arthur snapped.
"I could run and get some rice!" Elizaveta offered. She'd do anything in the name of yaoi love.
"Could you? Oh, gracias, Elizaveta!" beamed Antonio. "You have saved a dish from being a complete failure!"
"It would already be a complete failure since the Angleterre is making it," Francis pointed out.
"Don't make me taser you again," Arthur said threateningly.
"Can I help?" Feliciano asked.
"No, it's fine! I've got all the help I need!" Arthur said hastily. "Any more and my entire kitchen will blow up!"
Unfortunately, that was the wrong thing to say to Feliciano at that moment. The memories of earlier that day flooded Feliciano's mind and his bottom lip started to tremble. Arthur immediately regretted saying anything.
"I d-d-d-didn't mean to!" Feliciano bawled, tears pouring out of his eyes. "It was an accident! I'm sorry! I'm sorry!"
"We know it was an accident, Feli!" Gilbert assured, garnishing the cake with cream. "I mean, no one would put a metal can in the microwave on purpose!"
Feliciano started crying even harder. Lovino headbutted Arthur continuously, knocking Arthur against the kitchen counter. Ludwig patted Feliciano's back awkwardly. Feliciano clung to the front of Ludwig's shirt, sobbing into his chest. Elizaveta was very glad she hadn't left just yet.
"I told you not to bring it up again, didn't I?" Gilbert said.
"It slipped out of my mouth," Arthur grumbled.
"I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm sorry…" Feliciano was rocking back and forth. "I b-b-brought pasta as an apology!"
"Maybe you should just serve the pasta," Francis suggested.
"No! I worked much too hard to just throw it all away!" Arthur snapped. "Rice! Elizaveta, get me rice!"
"Right on it!" Elizaveta burst through the front doors, speeding towards the nearest grocery store. She needed to buy the rice as quickly as possible so that she could return in time to take more pictures.
Arthur popped an Advil into his mouth and washed it down with water. He could feel the makings of a headache coming his way.
"Okay, this kitchen is not big enough for all of us!" Arthur snapped. "Some people are going to have to leave."
"I vote the Perverted Cheesehead!" Lovino piped up.
"Well, I vote out Ludwig. He has no purpose here and he isn't cute like Feliciano," Francis retorted.
"Hey! Don't kick out West like you're the boss of everyone!" Gilbert fought back.
"I'm this close to booting you all out of my house," Arthur snapped.
"I'm back with the rice!" Elizaveta kicked open the front door, dragging a large back of rice with her. "Did I miss anything? Did Feliciano and Ludwig kiss yet and I wasn't there?"
"You missed the opportunity to spend more time in my awesome presence—ow!" Elizaveta slapped Gilbert's head with a frying pan.
"I'm not responsible for any injuries you receive under my roof," Arthur said dangerously. He took the rice gratefully and threw it into the pan. "Alfred will be here any moment and I want you all out of here by then."
"Yes, every date should have some privacy," Francis said teasingly.
"Francis, I am very, very close to shoving a butcher knife up your—"
"You're too slow!" Antonio knocked Arthur out of the way before mixing all the ingredients of the paella together. "If you wait too long, the rice will be too burnt and then the whole meal is in ruins!"
"Leave it alone! I'm doing it myself!" Arthur snapped.
"I brought pasta! Does anyone want to eat it?" Obviously Feliciano's mood could change in less than a millisecond.
The doorbell rang once more. Arthur let out a yell of frustration. He tore the taser gun out of Gilbert's hands and marched towards the door. He threw the mahogany door wide open.
"Get away!" Arthur shouted before shooting the person.
"Augh!" Alfred toppled to the ground, twitching from the shock. Arthur's eyes widened and he gasped. He threw aside the taser gun and bent down next to Alfred.
"Oh my goodness! I'm sorry, Alfred, I didn't know it was you! I thought it was another idiot!"
"It is anther idiot!" Francis sang. Elizaveta hit Francis with the frying pan and forced him to be quiet.
"Why—why do you have a t-taser gun?" Alfred stuttered, curled up in a fetal position.
"I needed it for other purposes," Arthur said, shooting a death glare behind his shoulder. "Are you okay? Are you hurt?"
"Just electrified," Alfred said weakly. He crawled onto his feet, still shuddering. "What's going on in here? You're all red in the face and you look like you burnt your clothes."
Arthur looked down at his shirt and groaned. His shirt was covered in cake batter stains, oil, and broth.
"Cooking dinner had been a lot more stressful than I thought it would," Arthur sighed.
"You made dinner?" Alfred said, surprised.
"Of course I did!" Arthur said haughtily. "Why would I invite you to eat dinner and not cook?"
"I thought you just wanted to eat together, so I brought McDonald's." Alfred held up a large paper bag with grease stains on the bottom. Arthur stared at the bag of food for a moment before tearing them out of Alfred's hands and stomping on them with his foot.
"What the—Iggy, what are you doing? That's good food!" Alfred protested.
"I'll show you what good food is," Arthur said determinedly before closing the front door. "Let's eat." He led Alfred to the kitchen and to his utmost surprise, found it absolutely empty. The edbeerkuchen was set on a decorative plate and the paella was completely cooked and sitting in the middle of the table. Ludwig must have ran through the kitchen cleaning everything because it was sparkling clean.
"Whoah!" Alfred ran towards the food, his bright blue eyes wide with surprise and anticipation. "This actually smells edible! Where'd you get it from?"
"I made it, you dolt," Arthur snapped.
"Wait—you made it?" Alfred cried, aghast. He backed away from it immediately.
"With quite a bit of help," Arthur added reluctantly.
"Whose?" Alfred asked.
"Does it matter?" Arthur snapped. "Now do you want food or not?"
"Yes! Yes I do!" Alfred said immediately. "Feed me, Seymour!"
Arthur raised a confused eyebrow. Alfred sighed exasperatedly.
"You know, the talking Venus fly trap, asking to be fed—? Never mind. Let's eat."
Arthur scowled at Alfred, but when the younger nation's back was turned, he couldn't help but smile. He brought the food to the table and with glowing pride, spooned the rice onto a plate in front of Alfred.
"Eat up," Arthur said. "And leave room for seconds."
"I told you it would work."
Gilbert smirked at Francis, who was peeping through the window of Arthur's house. Francis was on his knees, trying to spy on Arthur and Alfred without blowing his cover. Gilbert leaned on the house, bearing a triumphant grin.
"I to-o-old you."
"I heard," Francis mumbled, squinting through the thick curtains.
"And you thought that 'the Angleterre' would never have a date," Gilbert teased, kicking Francis lightly on the knee. "A dinner date at home, at that."
"This is slightly cheating," Francis protested. "Neither of them knows that it's a date."
"Date: a meeting arranged in advance," recited Gilbert. "They arranged to meet in advance. They're having dinner. Dinner date. I win."
"We were talking about the romantic date!" Francis cried.
"We set up lacy tablecloths and candles. I think that will suffice," Gilbert sniggered.
Francis scowled and threw a pinecone at Gilbert. The Prussian nimbly dodged, hiding a chuckle behind his hand.
"Curse you," Francis grumbled, reluctantly shoving his hands into his messenger bag. He pulled out a stuffed koala bear that he had gotten from Australia and tossed it at Gilbert. Gilbert eagerly swiped it from the air and hugged it to his chest. Only The Bad Company Trio and Ludwig were allowed to witness his weakness for stuffed animals.
"Thank you kindly!" Gilbert sang happily. Francis rolled his eyes. Gilbert dug into a mulberry bush and pulled out two sleek bottles of rum. "How about we celebrate my awesomeness and Artie's first dinner date ever with a drink or seven?"
Francis smirked wryly before taking a bottle. He uncorked the bottle and held it up.
"To the Angleterre's revived love life," he declared.
"To the amazing me!" Gilbert laughed.
They clinked their bottles and downed their drinks just as Alfred and Arthur toasted theirs.
…I might possibly have had ADD while writing this….there was absolutely no planning or theme for this story. It was just, 'Let's be chaotic!' Seriously. This is the definition of 'hell's kitchen.'
I admit I had some fun writing this though...