A. The first letter of both the alphabet and the actual word 'alphabet'. What an excellent letter it is. Think of how many great words begin with it. So it's probably a really lame testament to my status as a student of English Literature (and American Studies, which, incidentally, begins with the letter 'A'), but... A is my favourite letter. Ha, that's how cool I am. YEAH.
Anyway, 'A' is for many things; conveniently, it is for both Alfred and Arthur, who, conveniently, have human names starting with the same letter. And, conveniently, therein was my starting point. Trufax.
A is also for August – the nearest of the only two months of the year beginning with 'A', in fact, and so why I chose to begin posting this fic now despite the fact that it's set in October (the autumn, incidentally, lololololol).
A is also for alliteration – which is, for anyone who isn't familiar with the term, the literary technique of stringing together several words beginning with the same letter (although not necessarily 'A'). Lame as it may be to have a favourite letter, I take this a step further; alliteration is by far my favourite literary technique and, given the theme of a recurring letter, there is going to be a lot of it in this fic in addition to a deliberate concentration of words beginning with 'A'. Just a fair warning.
A note on the structure of this fanfic: This is my first "multi-chaptered" Hetalia story, called this way for two reasons. One: It wasn't originally meant to be a one-shot that just got too monstrously long to be contained by one single chapter like O America or Pater Noster. Two: It follows a deliberate, ongoing narrative set over the course of a few days instead of being like every single of my other Hetalia fics and flitting around different historical events and settings.
Each chapter is broken into three short "segments", each headed with a word beginning with 'A' relevant to the section. The fic will have eight chapters in total; whilst the narrative is structured in third-person, the first four chapters/half will focus on Alfred and follow his perspective whilst the latter half will focus on Arthur.
As an aside (three 'A's in a row!), this fic is set in post-war Great Britain in 1954. So, you know, watch out for Alfred's occasional 50s slang words. XD Additionally, despite the use of the character's human names, this is not an AU – it's canon, more or less, but their country names will not appear very often because this fic is more about their personal relationship and not (for once) about their history/abusiveness/childhood trauma.
Lastly, the M rating: Less for the reasonably-mild yaoi scene straight off the bat in this chapter and more for one very, very naughty word courtesy of dear Francis. ;)
A is For…
"You… you're sensitive t-tonight."
Alfred panted it down close to Arthur's ear, pausing long enough to give him a chaste, swift kiss on the cheek; half-expecting to get a shove back for his trouble, a slap to the shoulder, an angry hiss that he wasn't sensitive tonight, thankyou very much—
Instead Arthur arched upwards, pressing flush against him, arms tangling tighter still about Alfred's neck; his shoulders sloped up and his head fell back and his mouth opened in something that was maybe meant to be a moan but was instead given life as little more than a strangled gasp. This was, in fact, testament to Alfred's observation – Arthur was usually more vocal than this, and that wasn't just limited to groans and shrieks. He was perfectly capable of giving an entire lecture about something completely unrelated to what they were doing while they were doing it – Shakespeare or Wordsworth or the fact that Alfred had been wearing the same shirt for four days. Oh, and he complained. A lot. This position was hurting his back, that position didn't feel as good, Alfred was wearing far too much cologne—
But tonight he was quiet; or without anything to say, at least. He'd been somewhat subdued all evening, in fact, and it had been difficult to talk him into bed – Alfred had had to literally pry the book out of his hands and use the not-so-subtle sledgehammer ultimatum come-on ("I want you. Right now.") to inform Arthur that his casual statements of "Perhaps later" and "Let me just finish this chapter" weren't going to cut it tonight. Of course he'd flushed and gotten flustered and Alfred had practically carried him up the stairs and then he'd been sulky for the first five minutes or so but then he'd settled and things had been fine. Finer than fine. Too fine.
And it was odd.
Not that their sex was bad or that they didn't enjoy it – it just wasn't usually this sickeningly perfect. Arthur didn't cling and arch and gasp because it just wasn't in his nature to behave like that even at a time like this – on the contrary, he was usually fairly aggressive, biting and digging in his nails to leave marks that took days to go away, often high up on Alfred's neck and jaw where he couldn't hide them. Seeing him this quiet, this gentle, was bewildering.
Alfred leaned down, pushing the bend of Arthur's back flat again so that he was against the mattress, and kissed him on the forehead; he could feel the flail of his legs behind him, the now-and-then bump of his knees, every tremble and quiver and shudder. He felt the buck of his chest and the clench of his stomach and the deep exhale of his breath – but most of all he felt the yielding of Arthur's body, the absolute acceptance of Alfred's dominance when he didn't struggle against being pushed down again.
Alfred moved his mouth down and caught Arthur's in a kiss and wrapped his arms around him, holding him as tightly as he could, Arthur still clinging around his neck; oh, he was close, he was so close, feeling that his every thrust went deeper than ever before, that he was hitting places within Arthur that didn't even exist, things like his fairies that were simply too beautiful, too perfect, to possibly be real in so ugly and unkind a world—
Fanciful thoughts – sort of stupid – but the mere suggestion that no-one else had ever seen or felt or experienced Arthur this closely, this deeply, before, no-one other than himself, was enough to make him let go utterly. He rode his orgasm into Arthur completely, feeling that he was becoming more and more undone with every short moment of it – as though he would break at the slightest touch by the time Arthur shuddered to a standstill in his arms and his stomach was suddenly soaked and there was silence.
Arthur took Alfred's face in his hands and panted, whispered, something that sounded very much like "Alfie, Alfie, I love you", so quietly Alfred thought that maybe he had merely imagined it; and then Arthur kissed him and nothing else mattered.
No answer. Alfred propped himself up on his elbows and looked down at him, worriedly checking to see that he hadn't crushed him. Ah – he was fine. His eyes were closed but he was definitely breathing. Asleep, then?
"Artie? Are you awake? Hey! Artie!"
"My name is Arthur."
Acting. Alfred grinned and rolled off him.
"Well then, Arthur, don't ignore me when I'm talking to you and pretend to be asleep. It's seriously uncool, Arthur." Alfred paused. "Hey, do I have to emphasise your name like this all the time, Arthur?"
"Don't be so obnoxious," Arthur muttered blackly; he sat up. "And please refrain from calling me by that awful shortened… colloquialism."
"A what now?" Alfred blinked at him.
"Nothing. Never mind. Just don't call me "Artie" again." Arthur found his pyjamas folded under his pillow and started to pull them on; they were a rather dull, plain shade of green, the colour lacking the authoritive kick of his military uniform or the vibrant gleam of his eyes.
"Ugh, why do you always have to kill the mood by putting on jammies?" Alfred sighed, propping his chin on one hand and watching him.
"I rather think that you calling them "jammies" kills the mood more than the garments themselves do, Alfred," Arthur said curtly. "Colloquialisms again, you see."
"Nuh-uh," Alfred insisted. "You're totally, absolutely, unquestionably the one killing the mood with your weird old man... thing of not being comfortable sleeping naked and completely ruining the whole concept of sexy after-sex maybe-leading-to-more-sex snuggling." He stuck out his tongue with an air of finality. "So there."
Arthur rolled his eyes.
"If you say so," he sighed. "Incidentally, all this proves is that you didn't learn anything in the army. It's always best to be prepared – and wearing at least something whilst sleeping is a valuable survival skill."
"Sur—what? Those... those are not a "survival skill"!" Alfred pointed very animatedly, somewhat outraged, at the pyjamas – the fuel of his ire.
Arthur merely gave a snort.
"It would benefit you to at least put on some underwear," he said coolly.
Alfred wriggled deliberately.
"Not gonna," he replied simply.
"I can see that," Arthur sighed. He lay down again and turned over, presenting Alfred with his back as he settled under the sheets. "Night then, love."
There was a long moment of silence. Clearly Arthur just intended to go to sleep. Alfred lay and stared at his back for a while, examining every detail he could see by the dim light of the bedside lamp; the way Arthur was lying made him look oddly curvy beneath the covers, a peculiar optical illusion when Alfred knew that he was small and flat and narrow, having just seen and felt and experienced all of him.
The sex had been amazing – perhaps some of the best they'd ever had in all of the twelve years they had been together – but Arthur had been strange during it and he'd been strange before it and he was being strange now, Alfred thought. Of course Arthur was always a little bit odd, somewhat eccentric at times, but Alfred knew all of his oddities very well because he'd known him for centuries and so his particular peculiarities were, in Alfred's eyes, normal in Arthur-Land (or just England, come to think of it). This was different. Arthur was (sometimes sadly) a remarkably good actor and Alfred, often oblivious, had to admit that sometimes he misread his behaviour because he wasn't always terribly perceptive, but tonight...
Alfred couldn't shake the feeling that Arthur seemed unhappy.
He leaned over to him and kissed him behind his ear, breathing in the fragrance of clean, plain, unscented soap on his blonde hair.
"Yeah, fine, Arthur." Alfred rubbed at Arthur's shoulder through his awful green pyjama shirt. "Are you... um, you're alright, aren't you?"
"Of course I'm alright." Arthur reached up and patted Alfred's hand. "Don't fuss now, Alfred. It's late."
Acting. Alfred frowned but decided not to push. Prying only ever served to make Arthur close up even more determinedly. Besides, maybe it was nothing. Arthur was moody sometimes and it was as simple as that. Perhaps he would be happier in the morning once he'd slept (provided his backside wasn't aching tomorrow and he consequently yelled at Alfred for being too enthusiastic).
"Can we cuddle?" Alfred asked, nipping at Arthur's ear.
"If you stop doing that immediately and if you put on some knickers, yes, we may cuddle."
"Fine, fine." Alfred fished around for his underwear, found them tangled up with his slacks and pulled them on one-handed. "There, I'm decent, you prude."
"I am not a prude – I am tactical. Now, if you are so inclined to have some strange dream involving those dreadful hamburgers you love so much which just so happens to make you ejaculate in your sleep that I, frankly, do not even want to know the details of, your own undergarments will take the damage and my pyjamas will be spared the indignity."
Alfred scowled as he got under the covers.
"That happened like one time!" he protested.
"One time is one time too many," Arthur said flatly. "Now go to sleep."
"You're lucky I put up with you," he said dryly, working one arm underneath Arthur and dragging him towards him. "And you said we could cuddle so come here."
He pulled Arthur close, pressing his face between his shoulder blades; to his dismay, he noticed that Arthur was tense in his grasp, rigid and defensive as though he didn't want to be touched.
"Arthur—" Alfred began in a gentler voice.
"I'm alright, Alfred." Arthur headed him off quickly, sounding somewhat exasperated, and wriggled in Alfred's arms enough to turn over and face him, relaxing into a comfortable position against his chest. "You needn't worry yourself."
"But..." Alfred trailed off as Arthur kissed him on the tip of the nose and then settled properly, closing his eyes.
"Goodnight," Arthur said. "Oh, and you're still wearing your glasses. Don't forget to take them off."
So there was really nothing else to say. Alfred sighed inwardly, removed his glasses and reached over to put them on the night-stand, turning off the lamp as he did so. He curled around Arthur, guarding him with his embrace, not satisfied until they were tangled together as closely as veins of ivy, old and thick and jealous.
"I love you, Artie," Alfred sighed, his chin on the crown of Arthur's gold head.
No answer. He couldn't be asleep already. He had to be acting.
Arthur had always hated the practice of shortening things to either nicknames or initials or... what was it he had called them? Something about cauliflower? No, that wasn't right... Well, Alfred didn't remember the long fancy word but he did remember that Arthur had always been awkward about abbreviations and the like.
For example, it was 'William Shakespeare', not 'Bill' or 'Old Shakey'; the 'First and Second World Wars' as opposed to 'WWI and WWII'; that his own official title, if you please, was in fact 'The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland' and not 'UK' (and, incidentally, that Alfred was a lazy arse for constantly signing things simply 'USA' instead of 'The United States of America'; which was all fine for Arthur to say when he personally had about six names and titles to pick from on an official level, one for practically every letter of the alphabet, Albion, Britannia, and not that he was sure that Arthur had a title beginning with 'C' but he had heard Francis once call him a "complete cunt"...).
The point was that Arthur didn't like shortened nicknames so, when dealing with him, you picked either 'Arthur', 'England', 'Britain' or 'United Kingdom' and you didn't have a problem with him; his eye tended to twitch at 'UK', he scowled at 'Artie' and he flat-out punched Alfred in the face the one time he tried 'Iggy' after sitting in on an entire conversation between Arthur and Kiku which had, actually, mostly been about tea and the different species of butterfly about at this time of year – it had been several years ago now, long before the war, but Alfred could still feel that fist near-splintering his cheekbone to this day.
Therefore, by default, Arthur also didn't use shortened nicknames. He never called Matthew 'Matt', he never called Gilbert 'Gil' and he never called Alfred 'Alfie'.
And yet he had last night – or had Alfred imagined it? It had been so quiet and breathless, after all, and Alfred himself hadn't been exactly in his right mind at the time – or in his mind at all, come to think of it. Perhaps Arthur had been trying to say 'Alfred' but he'd been so short of breath that he hadn't been able to finish the name's last syllable properly and it had only sounded like 'Alfie'.
Alfred huffed a sigh. It was stupid, but... he hoped that he hadn't misheard, that it hadn't been a mistake, that Arthur had truly meant to call him 'Alfie'. It was insignificant, really, but Alfred had always felt that shortening someone's name like that was a sign that you knew them, a gesture of friendship and closeness, that you were so utterly comfortable with them that the walls of formality fell away and they didn't need to define themselves with their full name in front of you because, really, they were a part of your existence and you were a part of theirs. That was why Alfred always chanced calling Arthur 'Artie' despite knowing that he didn't like it—
And, despite knowing that there was no chance of it ever happening, why he'd always hoped that maybe one day Arthur would relax enough, be comfortable enough, to call him 'Alfie'. Or 'Al', but maybe that was going a bit far.
Of course, Arthur didn't understand this Alfred F. Jones School of Thought© high concept and merely bellyached that he had a name and if Alfred would please use it then that would be lovely – and by that point Alfred was either too irritated or too distracted by something else to try and explain it to him.
Still... he wondered. He wondered if he'd heard correctly.
Arthur had gotten away from him during the night and Alfred rolled onto his back and felt about blindly for him, fingers finding the slope of his side and feeling him shift irritably in his sleep at the prodding sensation. Alfred opened his eyes and turned onto his side, finding himself face-to-face with Arthur, who was still sound asleep with something of a frown on his face, his thick eyebrows knotted together as though he was worried – or grumpy.
Typical Arthur, grouchy even in his sleep. It was a shame he seemed to scowl all the time; his smile, his real smile, was a rare and lovely breed (although he was quick to snap his pout back on if he caught Alfred admiring it). Alfred remembered seeing it the day they'd won the war – not his victorious smirk, not his dry grin, not his sarcastic plastered-on beam but his true, relieved, happy smile, his hand warm in the American's after so long spent around cold guns.
That war. They had been together since that war – since 1942. Of course Alfred had always loved him but not like this, never like this, never so intensely and devotedly and admiringly as he had come to do so against the backdrop of the worst war the world had ever seen. He had only ever seen him fight selfish wars before then, wars to expand the scope of his Never-Setting-Sun Empire, wars of pride to defend his claims of ownership of others, Canada, China, America himself; but in that war Arthur had suddenly emerged from the collapsed corpse of Europe as Germany crushed it underfoot as unselfish and noble, standing up to Ludwig alone long after Francis surrendered and willing to give up his Empire in return for victory. All those names, those splendid names and history's millstones, those distinguished titles like 'Albion' and 'Britannia', had meant nothing to him then. Alfred had fallen in love with Arthur Kirkland in 1942 as they fought side-by-side because he'd known then that he hadn't been looking at an Empire, at a nation driven by a desire to protect only his own name (whichever of them he wished to protect).
He had been looking at a soldier – another man amongst all of his men, a man ready to give his life if that was what Europe's freedom cost.
That was the man asleep next to him now.
"Hey, Artie." He leaned over and shook Arthur awake – or, at least, roused him to semi-wakefulness, seeing the dim glimmer of green as he slitted his eyes open enough to constitute a reasonable excuse to scowl at Alfred. "Artie?"
"Shove off," Arthur grumbled, pulling the covers over his head. "And my name is Arthur," he added after a moment, his voice muffled through the covers.
"Yeah, yeah, don't I know it," Alfred agreed cheerfully. "Just letting you know I'm gonna go take a shower, baby."
He heard Arthur give a disgusted groan beneath the sheets – probably at his use of the term 'baby', which Arthur hated more than he hated 'Artie' (although perhaps not as much as 'Iggy') and blamed the 50s for wholeheartedly.
"Unless you wanna come join me?" Alfred suggested teasingly, poking at him.
"I said shove off," Arthur muttered darkly; there was some movement beneath the sheets and Alfred guessed that Arthur was trying to swipe at him. He missed, of course, and Alfred waited for another response – but Arthur fell still again, probably going back to sleep.
Alfred shrugged, deciding to leave him alone for now – it was no fun teasing him if he was too sleepy to get properly annoyed – and went to fetch a towel before heading to the bathroom to shower. It was a strange thing, but waking up and (perhaps falsely) remembering that Arthur had done a totally un-Arthur-like thing and called him 'Alfie' last night suddenly made Alfred extremely determined to get him to say it again (or perhaps at all). Of course, if it had happened, Arthur would undoubtedly deny it and then make a point of being on his guard to ensure that he didn't ever say it.
No, this demanded a little more strategy. Alfred tipped his head back and closed his eyes, enjoying the stream of hot water on his face as he thought. He was good at this sort of thing, if he did say so himself. 1942 – that had required a strategy. He had vowed to make Arthur his before the year was out – and he had ultimately succeeded, of course, because the hero always wins – but it had needed the strategy of not being as much of a dick towards Arthur as he was towards the others (which had been difficult because Arthur was perfectly capable of being a dick himself at times) so that he conditioned Arthur into accepting his niceness (which totally hadn't been flirting) so that he didn't immediately think he was joking when he eventually got the balls to tell him that he liked him. It had been tough going at times – Alfred simply seemed to possess an absolute talent for making Arthur want to strangle him – but it had been worth the effort in the end. Arthur hadn't laughed in his face or accused him of lying or, most importantly, turned him down. Twelve years later and he was in Arthur's shower using all his stuff.
And so... perhaps the employment of the same strategy was in order. Back in the war there hadn't been much room for blatant displays of affection in the form of presents and dining out and long walks taken hand-in-hand – really, not being as much of a dick had been the best he could do, given the circumstances – but now he was free to utterly overwhelm Arthur, who was actually a pretty hopeless romantic underneath his Stiff Upper Lip, with that sort of stuff until 'Alfie' was the only thing he could say.
Yes, this was a totally flawless strategy for Plan Get-Him-To-Call-Me-Alfie:
Acquire Arthur's absolute adoration.
YAYZ FIRST CHAPTER!11!11!1
Hope you enjoyed it. This fic is basically about Alfred's henceforth attempts to trick Arthur into calling him 'Alfie'. We shall see how well this goes for him given that his "opponent" is smarter than he is. XD
I think I have mentioned this before in some other fic, but 'Albion' is a very old name for England/Britain – we're talking pre-Medieval here, although it was still sometimes used after that.
Iggy – I totally understand why fans call England this. It's short for 'Igirisu' and it's kind of cute (you know, when you aren't remembering that Iggy Pop exists). However, despite the original-Japanese-language of Hetalia itself, I honestly see NO REASON for the fandom phenomenon of America calling England 'Iggy' in fanfics, etc. Even if he is prone to fanbrat Japanese in fics set in the modern day, I don't think America would overlook his own language – the one that he shares with England, incidentally – to call England 'Iggy' every two sentences (and it really does tend to be that often). And, even if America did pick up 'Iggy' from Japan in modern-day fics, there is still NO WAY he would call his ally a nickname derived from the language of his enemy during the 1940s – it would be like America calling everyone "Comrade" during the Cold War.
Anyway, my point is, America got punched in the face by England for trying it once in this fic. Consider it a universal punishment. XD
This fic will be updated weekly, I think. Please come back to witness the initiation of Alfred's oh-so-brilliant plan! :)