A/N: Whew, so, welcome to my first Hetalia fanfiction, and man was this a bumpy ride. I started this two weeks ago, and had planned on having it done in time for Alfred's birthday. Needless to say, I failed, but I'm still proud of this one-shot turned three-shot 13,000ish word monster I managed to crank out in a little over a week. A lot of late nights were involved in this, so I hope you guys enjoy it. I'll post up the other parts as I finish editing them. Happily I have everything written, so it shouldn't be a long wait! :)
This was inspired by the BP oil spill. I've gotten all of my information from various internet sources, most of which are probably out of date by now. Which is okay, since most of this was supposed to reflect a change over time from April 24th to July 4th.
Warnings: Un-betaed except by myself, use of human names, use of fan names (In Jansen's case, as the Netherlands didn't have a formal English name), and a bit of French abuse. Nothing major, and I've provided rough translations below. (Understand that I am not fluent in French and that these came from online translators.)
Oh! and the obvious shonen-ai warning, but it's faint. I fail at writing romance XD This is mainly humor/hurt/comfort.
Disclaimer: Hetalia: Axis Powers and all the characters involved to not belong to me. If they did, we would see a lot more of the Netherlands, who from only one comic strip I have come to love.
On April 23nd, 2010, Arthur Kirkland wasn't concerned.
"There's oil in the Gulf."
Those six words (contractions don't make two words into one, damn it!) were going to be the bane of Arthur's existence. It was a phrase that had been uttered in his ear far too many times over the course of an hour by nervous businessmen, concerned politicians, and angry Americans. Angry Americans such as the one standing in front of him, arms crossed over his bomber jacket and glasses falling off the tip of his nose.
Arthur resisted the urge to roll his eyes at such an obvious statement. Instead he slowly put down the papers his tired eyes were reading over, looking at the blond who was standing in front of his desk. Arthur disliked the way Alfred was looking down at him, blue eyes flashing of glasses still precariously perched on the tip of his nose. Arthur had a hard time thinking of a time his past colony looked so fierce. There were few things that got Alfred Jones truly angry, but endangering his precious country was one of them. The United States had its fair share of oil spills in the past. Even ridiculous, joking Alfred could appreciate the damage they could cause.
Exxon Valdez, anyone? Alfred's far Northern state is still recovering from that incident.
Needless to say, Arthur's reaction to this whole ordeal was the exact opposite of Alfred's, treating the situation with almost boredom. It may have been this attitude that only helped fan the flames.
"It's a tiny spill in such a relatively huge sea," Arthur commented, lacing his fingers and resting his chin a top them, his elbows on his desk. When that comment didn't make Alfred relent, Arthur sighed in annoyance. "It was an oil pipeline, you git. There's going to be some oil spilling from the explosion and subsequent collapse of Deepwater Horizon. I have sent out a ROV - a Remotely Operated underwater Vehicle, to you - to find out if any oil is actually leaking. Now will you go back to your own nation and let me work in peace?" Arthur picked up his pen, his tone one of finality. This conversation was over in Arthur Kirkland's book.
On the other hand, Alfred considered it to be the farthest thing from over. Alfred tapped his foot, annoyed. His lips were pressed together tightly as he thought. "Arthur," he began after a moment, his thick country twang making Arthur twitch in annoyance, "you don't even know if there is a leak? Can't you send one of those underwater robot things -"
"Yeah, those. Can't you send one of those to go plug up the well, just in case?" Alfred asked with added fancy hand movements, supposedly trying to mime putting a giant cork in the well.
Arthur let out a long sigh, setting his pen down and rubbing his temples. For someone who is so passionate about protecting his country, Arthur thought bitterly, he pays such little attention to details involved with protecting said country. In a case such as this, it was true Alfred saw only the big picture - There's oil in the Gulf of Mexico, and Arthur is sitting here doing paperwork as if it is nothing. Obviously he hadn't gotten the memo that Arthur had deployed two previous ROVs to cap the well, both of which failed. Arthur proceeded to inform Alfred of this fact.
The American pulled over a chair, its feet scraping against in the floor in protest, and flopped down in it. "Well obviously the robots didn't work, so why not try something else? And hey, what about the oil already in the water? This could be a big problem!" Alfred asked stubbornly, still not satisfied even knowing that Arthur had at least tried to cap the pipe first. He pushed his glasses up in thought before sudden excitement and optimism came over his features. "Hey, what if -"
Arthur tuned him out at this point, picking up his pen to return to work. Alfred's worrying was bothersome, but his idiotic ideas to fix what was more than likely nothing would take the word annoying to a whole new level. What kind of nonsense was he spouting? Arthur was sending out the ROVs to check for a leak. If there was a leak, then it was more than likely not spewing oil at a massive rate, otherwise they would have noticed by now. Due to how long the ROVs were taking getting back with a report, Arthur felt assured that the leak, if there was one, was not of immediate importance.
"Can you please just shut the hell up? We have it under control," Arthur snapped finally, stopping Alfred in the middle of some asinine idea about borrowing giant robots from Kiku.
Alfred scowled, obviously not happy with that answer. "If we had it under control there wouldn't be oil in my god damn Gulf!" Alfred nearly yelled. Yes, he was certainly not happy one bit.
"Technically it's Mexico's Gulf if the name is anything to go by," Arthur replied snarkily, mentally patting himself on the back as Alfred fumed. Arthur one, Alfred zero.
"Hey! Just because it's named after her doesn't mean a damn-"
Both men jumped a little as the phone sitting on Arthur's desk began ringing loudly. Oh thank God, Arthur thought, grateful that Alfred finally shut up. Arthur picked up the phone and pressed it to his ear, listening for a moment. He held up a finger to stop Alfred from asking who it was, clearing his throat. "Yes, this is Arthur. Mmm?"
Alfred leaned forward, as if he could catch more of the conversation that way. Arthur swatted him away, annoyed at the invasion of his personal bubble. Alfred had to settle to listening to Arthur's half of the conversation, much to the younger nation's dismay. His natural curiosity was driving him up a wall.
"What's the consensus? Mmm hmm. What about the damage? Right right, to be expected." Arthur leaned back in his chair, glancing at the fidgeting Alfred out of the corner of his eyes. "Is that all?"
Alfred didn't like waiting. He fixed Arthur with a pointed stare that was clearing asking what was going on. Arthur waved him off again before ignoring him completely. Fed up, Alfred pushed himself out of the chair to pace the room, arms tucked behind his back. He knew Arthur was doing this just to annoy him, to make him fidget. It was working.
While he wasn't looking, Arthur rolled his eyes at Alfred's antics. "Uh huh. Fine, begin clean up immediately, and file an official press report on it. I expect regular updates on the situation, and call immediately if anything changes. Farewell." Arthur returned the phone to its cradle with a resounding click. Before he could blink Alfred was leaning on his desk, low enough to meet the shorter nation eye-to-eye.
Arthur huffed, disliking how close Alfred was. Did he have no sense of personal space? Arthur solved this problem by leaning back in his chair. "The ROVs checked thoroughly and found no sign of oil leakage from the well or any of the broken pipes. Now will you please quit worrying about it?" Arthur snapped. Alfred let out a breath he never knew he was holding as Arthur continued on. "I've deployed some ships to take care of the oil spill, and have already made plans for compensation for the damage caused by the oil and the explosion. Are you satisfied now?"
Alfred grinned a little. "So there's no leaking?" Alfred asked once more, to make sure heard Arthur correctly.
"None, you twat. Like I said, I'm also sending out ships to handle clean-"
Alfred laughed and reached across the table, surprising Arthur by pulling him into a quick hug. He smacked the older nation on the back all friendly-like, nearly knocking the wind out of Arthur. As Alfred pulled away he laughed at Arthur's completely befuddled expression. "Forget the ships. I'm the U.S. of freaking A. I can take care of simple clean up duty myself," he replied cheekily, waving Arthur's offer off. Knowing that there was no leak was a weight off of Alfred's shoulders.
It also seemed to make him rather stupid, in Arthur's eyes. In fact, Arthur found himself scowling at Alfred's cocky attitude. "My gods, can you bloody well make up your mind? First you're yelling at me to do something, then you brush me off when I offer to help! You're a bloody ingrate," Arthur snapped, slamming his pen down angrily and standing up. Tea. He needed a nice big cup of Earl Grey. Once more Alfred laughed as he watched Arthur storm towards the double doors that lead out of his office. Roughly Arthur pulled one of the doors open, holding it for Alfred.
"Hey, what kind of hero would I be if I depended on another country, especially for something I can handle myself?" Alfred commented, having the audacity to ruffle Arthur's hair as he walked by.
Arthur couldn't help but think that, by that logic, Alfred had just claimed he was too incompetent to handle a simple pipeline leak. Had Alfred not been completely freaked just a minute ago? It was an amusing thought, one he was looking forward to rubbing in Alfred's face. He never got the chance because Alfred, the Almighty "U.S. of freaking A.", went and added, "Don't worry about it, Old Man. Just pay me back for the minor damage done and we'll be even."
Between ruffling his hair and calling him "old man," Arthur's mood went from sour to worse. He immediately began spouting obscenities that would make a sailor blush. People down the halls stopped what they were doing to peer around the corner at the short blond screaming at the top of his lungs. All of that yelling basically amounted to telling Alfred to get out of his office. Alfred, damn him, was cheeky enough to laugh. With a promise to return once the Gulf was cleaned to discuss compensation, Alfred left. His absence was a minor relief. Good riddance, Arthur thought, storming down the hallway in the opposite direction as Alfred. A nice big cup of tea was calling his name. With Alfred gone he could get some tea and return to his work in peace, no more distractions. The crisis was averted, so to speak.
Arthur was blissfully unaware that the next morning, April 24th, he would be awoken by a rather panicked phone call at five in the morning -
"Kirkland, sir, it seems there were some miscalculations yesterday. We have detected a potentially serious leak..."
Arthur groaned. He was dreading telling Alfred.
On May 1st, one week later, the Netherlands pulled America aside after the world meeting was over.
It was a peculiar instance that did not go unnoticed by the other nations. While Jansen was not an antisocial nation, Alfred was also not one of his regular correspondences. A couple of the nations exchanged glances, shrugging it off. Others took to fervent whispering behind their hands about Jansen's sudden interest in the USA. One or two nations didn't even take notice, Feliciano in specific, whose mind was on pasta as usual. Regardless, despite this wonderful bit of gossip, all of the nations began slowly filing out of the meeting room in groups of twos and threes.
One nation didn't move. Arthur hovered by the table after the meeting was over, his curiosity piqued. What in the world did Jansen want with Alfred? Pretending to read over his papers from the meeting as the others filed out, Arthur ran that question over and over in his head. The Netherlands had little to no interest in America aside from trade. If Jansen was to discuss trade issues though, he would have simply approached Alfred after the meeting. Jansen was not known for being particularly coy. What would be so serious that he would drag Alfred aside?
Arthur bit his lip, deciding to indeed wait until Alfred came back to question him. Much to Arthur's dismay, another country lingered past his due as well. The room was completely empty except for the nations of England and -
"Mon cher, worried about Amerique?"
The lilting French made Arthur cringe. That accent was nearly incomprehensible! Tilting his head slightly so he could keep one eye on the door, Arthur spared a glance at the male who settled himself into a free seat beside him. Francis looked a pristine as usual, his blue uniform the epitome of perfection with not a single thread out of place. He flipped his golden locks out of his face, resting his elbows on the table and peering at Arthur with a teasing smile. Arthur snorted in annoyance. Didn't Francis have anything better to do? Actually, knowing the Frenchman far better than he wished, Arthur guessed he really didn't.
"Hmm?" Francis prompted when Arthur didn't reply. He was obviously not moving until Arthur answered his question, to Arthur's annoyance.
After a long moment of Francis staring at him, Arthur scowled and moved his chair away from the Frenchman. No wise person would trust Francis sitting so close to them. "None of your business, damn frog. Go bother someone else," Arthur snapped testily, turning away to watch the door again.
Francis chuckled. "Then it is Amerique who is plaguing your mind, oui?" Francis asked, leaning back. He turned his blue-eyed gaze to the door, thoughtful. "I suppose I cannot blame you," Francis commented after a moment, sighing. "He has not appeared too well lately. He seems a little pale, non? Do you suppose the current situation is taking a toll on him?"
That comment took Arthur back. Green whipped around to meet blue, Arthur searching Francis's eyes for a sign of a joke. Francis looked serious, simply raising an eyebrow at Arthur's sudden jolt. Alfred hadn't been acting differently recently, had he? Arthur racked his brain, trying to figure out if Alfred seemed off. He was still downing a dozen of those horrible, greasy burgers a day. Alfred had no shortage of asinine ideas on everything from the Middle East to International relations to alternative energy, all of which were instantly shot down by some nation or another. Arthur had lost track of how many times Alfred had used the word "hero" in one hour, every single time in reference to himself.
In short, Alfred seemed perfectly fine.
"I've noticed nothing wrong," Arthur mumbled, his voice holding a little less strength. In the back of his mind he was suddenly questioning himself. Was Alfred worse off than he let on? He had accepted the Briton's offer to assist processing the oil flowing into the Gulf, but he avoided speaking with Arthur directly if he could. Arthur had assumed it was because Alfred was angry at him, but what if it was because he was feeling ill?
Francis saw Arthur's doubt in his face. Being the affectionate creature he was, France reached out to caress his cheek gently. It was this sign of affection which snapped Arthur out of his thoughts. Quickly he put on a mask of indifference, swatting Francis's hand away. Francis sighed, jerking his hand away. Typical. "Angleterre," Francis began as he stood. "Must you always be so aloof, pushing people away who try to help?"
Arthur glared up at Francis. "Help? Help? All I have seen you do since walking into the room is throw around some horribly tasteless jokes about nearly every nation's sexuality, attempt to get everyone drunk by spiking the drinks, mock me about worrying for Alfred when it is perfectly justified, and to top it off you just tried to make a move on me, you git!"
Francis gasped dramatically at the accusations, causing Arthur to roll his eyes. "I did not just try to make a move on you! I patted your cheek!"
"That's one step before sexual harassment in your book!"
"I was comforting a country in need!"
"Oh come off it, making me sound like some pansy. You're always looking for excuses to come onto me."
"If you would stop gazing at me, mon cher! I -"
"Oh drop the dramatics! I am not staring at you ever! You're a narcissist, only ever thinking of himself! And quit calling me mon cher! We are NOT lovers!"
"But it suits you, non?"
"Oh will you -"
There was a loud cough. Both men stopped their quarreling instantly, heads whipping around to look at the door that was now open. There stood a tall, spiky brown-haired figure - Jansen, the Netherlands. He mumbled something around the pipe jutting out of his lips as he strolled over to where he had been sitting at the end of the table, his blue and white scarf flapping behind him. Jansen was a rather formidable nation, taller than most countries and dressed in a tan jacket and shorts. Several admitted to avoiding him purely for his brash and occasionally rude nature. This nature even showed in the way he completely ignoring Arthur and Francis, beginning to gather the papers he had left behind when he pulled Alfred aside.
Kiku often vouched for him. "He's not that bad," the island nation would mutter, "If you got to know him." At this point someone would say something in complete opposition and the outnumbered Kiku would have to sigh and relent. What good was convincing people who didn't wish to be convinced?
However, back to the point at hand.
Arthur looked at the door, then over at Jansen. Where was Alfred? Francis seemed to be thinking the same thing, brows furrowed. He coughed a little, patting England's shoulder as he strolled towards the door. "Bonne chance, Angleterre," he whispered quietly. At times, even Francis knew when to shut up and take his leave. Angelterre could work out whatever was bothering him on his own, hopefully. Francis could just feel that Arthur desperately wanted to get a word in with Jansen, and he was right. Arthur didn't even spare Francis a second look as the romantic nation strolled out of the room.
Silence descended except for the sound of Jansen shuffling with his papers. It took Arthur a moment to regain his composure enough to push himself out of his chair. He was only just standing when Jansen's voice rang out.
"Man, you screwed up."
Few nations were that straight-forward, or that rude. Generally comments like that were sprouted at him from France's lips in the heat of battle. Even Alfred wasn't that blunt with his words. Instantly Arthur clenched his fists, angry someone dared to use such a mocking tone with him.
"Excuse me?" Arthur asked, keeping his voice even as he could. He had to remind himself that he was a gentleman, and that gentlemen did no just up and punch someone when annoyed. No, they asked for explanations, then punched people when warranted.
Jansen tapped small pile of papers on the desk before folding them in half, gently shoving them into one of his jacket pockets. Once that chore was done, he crossed his arms over his chest and fixed Arthur with a sharp look. "You screwed up," he repeated slowly, as if speaking to a child. He pulled the pipe from his mouth, blowing out a series of smoke rings in Arthur's direction before replacing it between his lips. Arthur coughed a little as the smoke hit him, fanning it away with his hand.
"Alfred's stubborn as a mule, throwing all of this 'heroes don't need help' bullshit around," Jansen continued, taking another deep drag on the pipe. Smoke billowed from his lips as he spoke. "He's so prideful. It's annoying. Guess he got it from you, huh?"
Arthur scowled. "Where do you get off?" he snarled, patience worn thin.
"Save it, England," Jansen replied cockily, leaning on the table and meeting Arthur's eyes. "Here's where everything stands - Alfred's being a moron and not accepting help on the spill. I have three oil skimmers standing by waiting to help, but if he won't take it then that's his problem. We all know this problem is going to get out of hand fast."
"What do you expect me to do?" Arthur asked, turning his head away from the smoke. "If he needs help, he'll get it."
Now Jansen laughed, but it held no humor. It was completely mocking. "Gods, how annoying. Do you really think he will ask for help?" questioned Jansen, raising an eyebrow. He sighed, shrugging before Arthur could even answer. "Look, the point is the oil is still flowing and it's getting worse. What I expect you to do is convince him to take up my offer. Get him to shove that egotistical attitude of his and take some help."
"You talk as if I am his father and can make him magically change his mind," Arthur scoffed.
"At one point, weren't you?" he shot back, snorting in amusement at the look of shock on Arthur's face. "A long time ago, before Alfred went and left you?"
The bitter memories attached to those words left Arthur speechless. A gun aimed at his head, Alfred towering over him. Rain. It made Arthur upset just thinking about it. How many years had he spent brooding over that, and people still threw it in his face? He pressed his lips together tightly, hands shaking, nails digging into his palms. Jansen watched Arthur silently rage before scoffing, turning towards the door. He knocked shoulders with Alfred as he strolled out.
"Think about it," Jansen said, but it wasn't directed at one male or the other. Alfred watched in confusion as Jansen walked away until he turned back to the room, seeing Arthur glaring at where Jansen had been standing. Anyone could see the wheels turning in his head, trying to put together what he had missed.
Arthur meanwhile took a deep breath, letting it out slowly through his nose. Thank gods he had a full bottle of gin waiting for him at home. He was fully ready to get out of here, forget that conversation ever happened while drowning his self-pity in the alcohol he had sitting on his counter-top.
If only he had it with him now.
While Arthur had been seething, Alfred moved to grab his bag from the chair closest to the door, the ridiculous book bag decorated with buttons featuring various patriotic phrases and symbols. Now he stood there looking uncertain, torn between walking away and asking what happened. Arthur turned his gaze to his ex-colony, as Jansen had so viciously reminded him. A long silence passed as Arthur stared at his face, unblinking, remembering Francis's words.
"He seems a little pale, non?"
"What is it? Do I have ketchup on my face?" Alfed's words jarred Arthur out of his thoughts. The younger nation looked away, disliking Arthur's critical stare. Using gloved fingers Alfred rubbed at the corners of his lips, trying to remove any traces of food that might have lingered behind.
Arthur shook his head. "Nothing. Why did you not take Jansen's offer, you twat?" Arthur asked bluntly, crossing his arms.
"What?" Alfred asked, looking back at Arthur quickly, wondering how he knew. His face darkened a little and he looked away just as fast. "Oh, he told you?"
"You're avoiding," Arthur commented, picking up his notebook and beginning to gently store it away in his suitcase. "Why are you avoiding it? Accepting his help is nothing to be ashamed of -"
"You stay out of it," Alfred replied curtly, looking back at Arthur. "These are my waters, my foreign affairs. You're paying me back for the explosion and the spill, and I've got my own ships at work. If you've got a problem with how I run things, then too bad."
"Why you look here -" Arthur began, but was sharply cut off.
"We're handling it!" Alfred snapped, his face flushed from rising temper.
That did it. Arthur stormed over and grabbed Alfred forcefully by his jacket, pulling him down just enough to stare him down eye-to-eye. Up close, Alfred didn't look as tan as he usually did. He had the beginning of dark rings under his eyes. When did those happen? Why hadn't Arthur noticed?
"Listen to me, you git. I've already sent out four ROVs to manually activate the blowout preventers and none of them have worked! We are not handling it! Do you realize what's going to happen? The entire Gulf will turn into a dead sea!" Arthur yelled in response. "Swallow your bloody pride and go take Jansen's offer, damn it! You can't be the bloody damn hero all the time!" Arthur was trembling, shaking from frustration, anger, and fear. Arthur would never admit to the last one.
Alfred seethed, slapping Arthur's hands and pushing him away. "Where do you get off telling me what to do?" Alfred yelled at the top of his lungs, "You always do this, ever since I was young."
"Don't you start!" Arthur shouted, voice shaking, but Alfred continued on.
"You told me how to act, what to do. You never cared about me, only that I was molded in your image. You were always telling me what to wear, how to behave, what to eat. I was nothing more than a symbol of the great British Empire!" Alfred threw his arms up and out, a theatrical movement to go with his sarcastic, mocking tone.
"Will you listen to yourself? Have you forgotten how much I sacrificed for you, how hard I tried to make you happy? I was trying to raise you right!" Arthur shouted, anger rising. Could Alfred really not see that Arthur was trying to help him?
"Oh come off it! You were only concerned I'd leave you, like I did! You were doing nothing more than trying to win me over!" Alfred snapped, "Quit acting like you're my father, big brother, whatever! It's been over two hundred years since I declared my independence. See, this was why I fought for my freedom, you bastard! You're a domineering, self-centered jackass who never thought of anyone but yourself. and you can't accept that I've grown up and can do whatever the hell I -"
Neither man spoke. They just stood there, immobile, as if neither could believe what had just happened. It was so quick, there and gone in the blink of an eye. That little, momentary spark that lit up his pent up anger was all that was needed for Arthur to lash out. His palm came down and Alfred's head snapped to the side, his cheek blooming a rosy shade of red instantly. His glasses skidded across the floor, knocking into the wall. Panting from the sudden outburst, Arthur slowly pulled his hand back, rubbing gentle circles over his sore palm. His fingertips and palm were also red where they had connected with Alfred's skin.
The two nations tilted their heads to stare at each other, each one asking the other why they did that. Why did Alfred have to say those things? Why did Arthur slap him? Arthur opened his mouth and shut it, like a fish out of water. Swallowing audibly, Alfred just shook his head in disbelief. Both of them were at a loss of words.
Alfred was trying to process the situation. Arthur just slapped him. They were never on the best terms after the Revolution, but never to the point of physical violence. Slowly Alfred reached up, rubbing his cheek and wincing at the sting.
Arthur stared openly for a long time before finally buckling, being the first to look away. After his outburst he felt drained, tired. All he wanted to do was go home, sign some paperwork, and sleep. Arthur raised a tired hand and rubbed his face. He couldn't look at Alfred anymore, at the damage he inflicted. "Do what you will, Alfred," Arthur whispered, turning on his heel. "I'm sending two more ROVs in to try the blowout preventers. If those don't work, we have a containment dome we are planing on installing over the pipe. I'll send a message when we have an update on the situation."
Alfred didn't try to stop the older nation as he strode back to his chair, his head held high in a weak attempt to retain some dignity. Quickly Arthur snatched up his suitcase and brushed past Alfred without ever looking at him. The door slammed shut loudly behind Arthur, leaving Alfred alone for the first time all day. When Arthur left, everything fell apart. Alfred let his strong facade drop, running his shaking fingers through blond locks. Moving sluggishly, his body sore and stomach sick, Alfred walked over and slid down to the floor by his glasses. He leaned on the wall, head tipped back, face scrunched up in pain, and coughed.
That was the last time Arthur and Alfred would speak for two months, because by the end of May Alfred quit showing up at the world meetings.
A/N: French translations:
Mon cher - My love.
Angleterre - England
Amerique - America
Bonne Chance - Good Luck
I believe that is all of them. Please review. I'd love opinions on this! I'll get the second and third parts up as soon as I can :) Until then, ta ta!