Title: Let Your Dreams Flood In
Fandom: Hetalia-Axis Powers
Author: Me, Vinnie2757~!
Genre: gentle, breathy romance, fluff, more fluff, more gentle, breathy romance, some minor angst, sleepiness
Rating: K+ for one or two swearwords
Warnings: None, other than the fluff and minor angst (but then, what's USUK without angst?) Oh! And human and nation names.
Summary: In which Alfred watches Arthur sleeping away a lazy Wednesday afternoon, idly musing and thinking his affection one-sided. It isn't. Gentle, breathy USUK fluff.
A/N: So this is me demonstrating my ability to fail to match title and summary to the fic itself. Title comes from the Poets of the Fall song, Sleep. Go listen to it, right now, go on, it's a fabby-dabby-doozey song! Notes at end.
Let Your Dreams Flood In
Arthur had fallen asleep.
If he was sat up, he'd be like that Greek statue of the guy thinking. Except, you know, he was curled up on Alfred's couch on his side. One arm was resting on his waist so his hand hung over his stomach (he's getting fat, Alfred mused idly, and pokes at his own belly with a slight frown.). His lower leg, the one against the couch, was stretched out, but bent to fit to the loveseat. His socks blended in with the upholstery, Alfred noted, and he wondered whether Arthur had planned it. It would be like him, certainly. His other leg is curled up to his body. His other arm was curled into the nigh-on 45-degree angle that was the niche between chest and thigh – not that Alfred was measuring it or anything! – and his fingers were curled gently against his forehead.
He was utterly adorable. Alfred had already taken a few photos. It wasn't as if he was stalking Arthur or anything, far from it! It was perfect blackmail material, that was all. (But then, he speculated, would Arthur have fallen asleep if he didn't mind Alfred seeing him asleep? Arthur would already know that Alfred was going to be taking pictures, and therefore he couldn't call them blackmail because Arthur wouldn't care.)
It totally didn't become his iPhone's wallpaper, nor his work laptop's wallpaper. Nor did that picture come when Arthur called him, text him or sent him an email. It was just blackmail material.
That was all.
But, oh, it was adorable.
Now that the (blackmail) photos had been taken, Alfred had settled in to watch the older nation sleep. He'd muted the television so any loud bangs or explosions or screams or laughter of whatever-they-were-watching wouldn't wake him and destroy the beauty of England sleeping away a Wednesday afternoon.
He must be getting old, to need a nap during the day, Alfred mused, and resolved to tease him for it upon England's waking.
There was a soft smile on the Englishman's lips, one that was honest and content and unmarred by his Glasgow Smile (it was fading now, finally. Arthur had made a point to stay away from Scotland, or at least, be alone with him), and there was a tiny, imperceptible blush on the very tips of his cheekbones. His hair fell jaggedly across his forehead, dark eyebrows (they weren't all that thick, Alfred though, touching his own that had been waxed into shape by the White House's make-up artist – not that anybody needed to know – they were just so dark) slanting gently, relaxed, not frowning. It was all Arthur seemed to do nowadays.
Arthur groaned, low in his throat, and shifted. Alfred held his breath, thinking oh shit, what if he woke up? He's going to kill me! but Arthur merely shifted onto his back, spread-eagled.
He was even more adorable now, because, after a couple of tiny hitches in his breath, he started to snore, very, very gently, a tiny, adorable snore that sounded something akin to a purr. Alfred had told him as such on the first time hearing it, and Arthur had punched him, but his ears had gone red, so Alfred considered Operation: Compliment Iggy a success!
It wasn't really a surprise that Arthur snored. Any nation that had broken their nose (maybe on the receiving end of a particularly vicious punch, or maybe, as had been Alfred's case, a delightfully painful Glasgow Kiss) snored. Arthur had been doing it for centuries, since before they met, even. Arthur vehemently denied it of course, but even Alfred snored (of course, he was stopping it with one nasal strip or another).
He looked so young, so carefree, lying as he was upon the couch. One arm, that thinker's arm, it had come up to hide his eyes from the daylight of Wyoming. His other arm was resting on his stomach still, with one leg hanging off the edge of the couch and other remaining bent up. Alfred watched the gentle up-down, up-down, up-down of Arthur's breathing, musing, as he was wont to do, about the last time he had seen England so young, so free of stress.
Maybe that was why he napped during the day. Not because he was so old he needed to, but perhaps because he was so old he wanted to be young again. He was one of the oldest nations to exist in their current forms, certainly. Even Liet was only a thousand! And boy, did that make Alfred feel like a child around them.
Arthur frowned slightly – and oh, how Alfred had been hoping not to see that frown for the rest of this little moment – and groaned again, shifting his shoulders in obvious discomfort. Alfred blinked at the display before tearing his eyes from Arthur's face to the cushions and biting back a laugh.
"Silly old man," he whispered under his breath, on a gentle exhale, reaching out to tug the television remote from under Arthur's back. "Honestly, falling asleep on the remote, are you that old?" He ran a finger down Arthur's nose as he spoke, smoothing out the wrinkles of his frown till that beautiful, soft smile returned. It was probably just his imagination, but Alfred liked to imagine that Arthur's blush had deepened and that the smile was that little bit stronger.
Instead of indulging in such flyaway thoughts, he set the remote down on the coffee table at his back and crossed his ankles, returning to the pastime that was currently eating up a lot of time, a lot of time he didn't necessarily have, but a lot of time he didn't mind losing nonetheless.
There was something beautiful about him when he was asleep, which was a thought America had had a lot over the course of the afternoon. Even when Alfred had been little, even when he was a colony, if Arthur had been asleep, Alfred hadn't dared wake him. Sometimes, when Arthur was going to go back to England, or when he'd just arrived, he'd just sit there, on Arthur's bedroom floor and watch him as he snored away the night, sprawled out across his bed, sheets twisted and skin glittering with sweat because America was so much hotter than the 'motherland' (and America would invariably get trodden on in the morning, because he'd invariably fall asleep on that floor and Arthur would invariably not look where he was putting his feet before he stood up, and he'd invariably say, "For God's sake, love, why didn't you just climb in?"). If he had a nightmare, if he kept his wits about him enough not to scream the house down and wake Arthur and the servants and the dogs and possibly his neighbours several miles away, he'd dash down the corridor, slip through the door of Arthur's bedroom and tuck himself into the niche of Arthur's body and he'd relish the smell of tea and soil and magic and musk on his father-brother-ally-friend's skin. He'd drop like a light and wake wrapped in Arthur's protective embrace with the English nation's lips buried in his hair and a lullaby being hummed into the very edge of his consciousness.
As he got older and Arthur got smaller, the watching would be more guilty, more secretive, and Alfred would wonder why something Wasn't Quite Right in America's belly when he watched the older man sleep. But he did it anyway, because doing so, watching the soft noises and tiny movements he'd make were a lullaby to him, the eye of an unseen storm.
And then, as with all things America and England, the rain and the mud and the scratch in the musket came, and Alfred thought he'd never see him sleep again.
A century or so later and Arthur would be so tired as to fall asleep standing, catch a few hours shut eye between bomb raids. He'd fall into his makeshift, barely-adequate bed, or flop against the damp, murky wall of a trench, perhaps even against Alfred himself, in the later years, when Alfred was there. It wasn't the same gentle sleep of a day well-spent; it was the restless, fitful sleep of an agonised, haunted nation who felt defeated and lost and alone and one that was too hurt to feel capable of doing anything about it.
Alfred would, of course, do anything he could to help Arthur, even if it was just to curl up around him when Arthur finally dropped, to feel the Englishman's heartbeat pounding against his chest and listen to his laboured, tearful breaths ad be unable to do anything but stroke his back, his hair, hold his hand, kiss his temple when he was as deep into sleep as he was going to get and not know how low the American's defences had gotten.
Alfred was a Hero; it was his duty to make sure Arthur was safe. It was a vow he'd held to to the best of his ability for over half a century.
He did not dare wake Arthur now. The Englishman had gotten so little sleep recently; the bags under his Kryptonite eyes (because England was Kryptonite, wasn't he? He was America's only weakness) were the biggest Alfred had seen since the fallout of the War to End All Wars!
And repeat: He was a Hero; and if a Hero sat and watched the oblivious object of their affections, then by golly that was what he'd do!
Arthur rolled back onto his side, one arm cradling his head, the other on the couch, rather than his stomach, and both legs curled up.
"I know you're watching me," the Englishman whispered. "I know you've been watching me since I dropped off."
Green eyes opened half-way and peered through the mess of dirty-blond hair and lowered eyelashes at the floundering American with and odd softness. The smile was firmly in place now, soft and gentle and oh! how Alfred had wanted to see that smile directed at him again!
"Am I so very fascinating?" Arthur asked, closing his eyes again. "That you've had to watch me sleep for four-hundred years?"
Under normal circumstances, Alfred would have a witty retort at the ready; something about his eyebrows maybe, or drawing on his face, or his snoring, even, but Arthur looked so pleasantly content in his new home on Alfred's couch, and if it wasn't for those half-lidded eyes, America would have guessed that he'd fallen asleep again.
He had no response that didn't destroy everything he'd worked so hard since the declaration of war in 1917 to achieve.
"I used to watch you sleep," Arthur offered with an awkward half-shrug. "When you were a tot. I used to wonder what you dreamt about."
'You,' was on Alfred's lips, but his bit the admission back. "When I was little, old man?" he teased instead. "Isn't that slightly paedophilic?"
Lazily almost, Arthur threw one of the throw cushions at him. "It was when you had nightmares, mostly. Sometimes, though, I'd just stand in your door and watch you sleeping, before I left. Making sure you were okay. Git," he added, half-hearted, too content to really care about it.
"I had nightmares about you leaving," Alfred blurted out. "And your ship would sink, and I'd be alone again. I didn't want to be alone." He paused, then choked out, "I don't want to be alone."
He'd done it now, hadn't he? The barriers holding back 400 years worth of tears on the account of abandonment and over 200 on account of being in love with him were destroyed, and the tears welled in his eyes at an incredible pace. Through it all, he caught Arthur's expression.
It was an odd cross between shock and amused annoyance, a wide-eyed frown that, had it been any other situation, would have made Alfred laugh.
"You stupid sod," he chuckled, when the words sank in. "You don't have to be alone. I've been here all these years, haven't I? I'm not going to leave you now."
Alfred blinked, and Arthur stretched out his arms, even though he didn't sit up.
"C'mere, love," he whispered. "Silly thing," he chided, when Alfred fell into him, sobbing into his chest. "You get worked up over the silliest things, you know that?"
Alfred merely clutched him tighter.
Arthur chuckled and raised Alfred's chin with a hand cupped around his jaw. The American looked up obligingly and Arthur kissed him chastely, a soft-closed lipped kiss, first on his lips, then beneath each eye, bumping his nose against Alfred's glasses, before kissing the corner of his mouth. Alfred sat, wide-eyed and frozen throughout the little display. Arthur stroked his thumb across Alfred's cheekbone, and twitched his fingers behind Alfred's ear, not quite a stroke, but not a tickle either.
"Go wash your face, love. You're all blotchy. It's unbecoming."
Numbly, Alfred rose to his feet and made for the door.
"Oh, and love?" Alfred looked back. "Delete those photos of me sleeping, would you? You can see that any time you want, why would you want a photo?"
Alfred left the room, a silly grin stretching across his face.
The Statue that Alfred refers to is The Thinker, by Auguste Rodin. I know it's a French statue, but for the longest time, I thought it Greek. It seemed appropriate that Alfred did too.
The iPhone. You know, I don't know if they can have wallpapers. I don't have one. Let's imagine they do, for the sake of the line.
It's in my head!canon that Arthur sports a Glasgow Smile, courtesy of his brother, Scotland. Mainly because I was watching Gladiator and Maximus's loyal servant-guy, whatever-his-name-is, his actor has one, and then I couldn't get the image of Arthur with one out of my head. And plus, Arthur's 1144 years old (I worked it out, if you take his first birthday to be the year the first kind of England came about in 866), so he won't be completely devoid of scars like Himaruya and various ignorant fangirls like to think he would be.
It is also in my head!canon that Arthur's eyebrows, whilst being thick, aren't as thick as Himaruya shows them as, they're just a lot darker than his hair – which, by the way, I see as being a really bad dye-job.
As for Alfred's eyebrows – he's such a poster-boy, he must be made-up.
A Glasgow Kiss is British slang for a head-butt. I don't know whether it's common knowledge outside of Britain, so I thought I'd mention it.
Lithuania, according to my BFF, celebrated his 1000th birthday this year. With fireworks that could be seen from space. Since she's the resident Liet-land expert, I'm taking her word for it.
To the best of my knowledge, I am the only person who's made the connection between England and Kryptonite. Why this is, I don't know, because that is one of the biggest images I've had in my head since I got into this fandom.
"I know you're watching me," is an almost direct quote from The Sapphire Rose by David Eddings. It's the third in the Elenium trilogy, and is said by Queen Ehlana. If you like fantasy novels, go read it. It's a fabulous little series, and one of my favourites ever. Seriously.
200 years of being in love. I imagine Alfred as having fallen in love with Arthur around the time of the American Civil War. I don't know, something about the split personality it produced bringing the deepest parts of Alfred to the fore, reflecting his base needs? I don't know, just a random little thought I had.
Fail ending is fail.