Arthur loved lazy, sunny mornings, where he would wake up and find that there was nothing to do but go back to sleep. As a nation, these mornings were few and far between, but that only made them more enjoyable when they did come around.
Yawning, Arthur stretched languidly, taking care not to disturb the still-sleeping figure beside him. The light of the morning turned Alfred's hair a soft shade of gold, and he looked oddly youthful without his glasses on, his face smooth and unlined as if he hadn't a care in the world. Arthur knew only too well how carefully the perpetually smiling face masked his troubles, and his green eyes were uncharacteristically gentle as they looked down at Alfred.
His bed seemed less empty with the younger nation dozing next to him, tangled in the cotton sheets and hugging the navy comforter to his chest. Alfred had a manner in which his very presence could set a room aglow, and his personality filled Arthur's Victorian-era house with exuberant warmth and happiness. The pale yellow walls of his bedroom seemed sunnier, and indeed, the London sky itself shone gaily as if it were happy to have Alfred F. Jones underneath its blue expanse.
Feeling oddly refreshed and comfortable, Arthur draped one arm around the other man, turning his gaze towards the window and at the familiar London skyline. He could never grow tired of it – Westminster Palace and Big Ben, the ever-changing weather, the vivid red Double Deckers – this was his home and he knew every inch of it, from London to Durham to Liverpool.
As he stared out the window, he felt a curious nagging sensation that something was oddly amiss – something that he could not put his finger on. He frowned slightly, brow furrowing as he tried to realize what could possibly be wrong on such a beautiful Monday morning, waking up next to Alf—
The peace of the morning was abruptly shattered as Arthur bolted upright, flinging the covers from his body and accidentally jostling Alfred awake.
"Whassamatter?" Alfred asked groggily, still sounding half-asleep as he cracked open one bonny blue eye. "Fire? Flood? Alien invasion?"
"It's Monday!" Arthur exclaimed, panic lacing his voice as he snatched his shirt off the floor and wrenching it on. "Why did you turn off my alarm?"
Alfred simply laughed, completely unaware at how close he was to death by strangling. "Iggy, it's Labor Day!" he said cheerfully, lying on his stomach and propping himself up by the elbows as he watched Arthur struggle with his tie. "We don't have to work. It's a holiday!"
"You arse," Arthur seethed, dropping on all fours in a desperate attempt to find his socks. "Did you forget we're in bloody England? Labor Day's an American holiday and I sure as hell don't have the day off!" In full panic mode, he almost flipped the bed over as he dove underneath the frame in an attempt to find his –
"…Looking for these?"
Stopped short by that teasing, deceptively innocent voice, Arthur looked up in dread to see Alfred grinning like a Chesire cat, wiggling Arthur's socks like some bizarre trophy.
"Give me those," Arthur huffed, getting to his feet and expectantly holding out his hand.
Alfred's grin widened as he shook his head mutely, fully enjoying himself.
"Alfred. You can't hold my socks captive," Arthur reasoned, although he knew that 'reason' was not something the American nation responded to. "For God's sake, it's already 10am; Cameron's going to be cross with me as it is and I really need my socks because my other pairs are at the dry cleaners' –"
"Come and get them!" Alfred smirked, a playful glint in his eyes as he held the socks tantalizingly over his head.
Well, there really was nothing else for it. With a warrior cry that would have done the Vikings proud, Arthur forsook his dignity and lunged.
"Give it to me, you git!"
Thump. Whump. Crash.
"Surrender!" Arthur cried, slightly out of breath as he wrestled the blonde, thumping at him senselessly and otherwise trying to gain the upper hand.
"Death first!" came the valiant cry, and with that exclamation of defiance, Alfred summoned all his might and flung Arthur's socks.
Arthur watched them fly out the window.
A moment passed, in which the only noises that could be heard were Alfred's wheezing attempts to breathe (Arthur had still not removed his elbow from Alfred's sternum, making breathing rather a chore.)
"My socks," Arthur lamented, a helpless expression on his face as he rolled off Alfred and lay flat on his back, staring mournfully at the ceiling.
Alfred laughed triumphantly, his cheeks flushed from their mock battle as he curled into Arthur's side. "Now you have to stay home with me," he said, the satisfaction clear in his voice.
"And why is that?" Arthur scowled, wriggling away from Alfred's snuggling.
Alfred only snuggled closer. "Because I know you," he said, smiling happily as he closed his eyes and made himself comfortable. "You won't go to work without your socks; 'a gentleman must always be suitably dressed' and all that. Am I right?"
"Bollocks," came the scoffing reply, although a faint blush was beginning to creep up the Englishman's face. "No one will even notice I'm not wearing socks."
"Yes, but you'll know," Alfred said, putting on an air of grave sobriety, "and it'll torment you inside, slowly eating you away until you go crazy…"
Arthur shot him a disbelieving look.
"Pleaaaase stay home with me?" Alfred whined, changing tactics immediately and turning his pleading blue eyes towards Arthur. "Just tell Caminon that you had to meet with me for…a matter of national security!"
"Cameron," Arthur corrected, glaring at Alfred. "I'm not faking a state of emergency just so I can stay home and play hooky with you, for Heaven's sake!"
Alfred's lower lip quivered. "But it's not hooky. It's a holiday," he protested. In a further attempt to dissuade Arthur from going to work, Alfred loosened the Englishman's tie. "You're so predictable, Iggy," he teased affectionately, wiggling the red tie from around the Arthur's neck. "You've worn this tie every Monday for the past month."
"Well yes, it's my Monday tie," Arthur huffed, watching as Alfred flung the article of clothing onto the floor. "You just enjoy throwing my stuff away, don't you?"
Alfred simply grinned.
Sighing, Arthur relented at last, flopping back against the pillows and staring up at the familiar pale yellow ceiling that he had woken up to for the past several decades. "So what is this holiday for anyways?" he asked, curling his arm around Alfred's shoulder.
Sensing victory, Alfred hid his grin of triumph before answering. "Labor Day? It's a holiday to thank the working people of America. You know – the laborers."
"I see," Arthur said drily, a wry smile twisting up the corners of his mouth. "Then it is ironic that most people have to work anyways."
"Well, they still have to make money," Alfred protested grumpily. "McDonalds is a multimillion dollar franchise, you know!"
"Ah yes, the sweet smell of American capitalism!" Arthur said dramatically, laughing as Alfred pulled a face and punched him in the shoulder.
"Forget it, I don't want to spend my Labor Day with you!" Alfred grumbled, rolling out of bed and crossing his arms.
"Oh, I was only joking," Arthur scoffed, sitting up and wrapping his arm around the American's waist in an unusually affectionate manner. "Don't be daft. So how did this holiday start in the first place? Don't tell me you just decided you didn't want to go to work one day."
"You know, you're on some pretty thin ice right now," Alfred said indignantly, but he found himself smiling despite his attempts.
"Mmhm," came the mischievous reply, as Arthur tucked his chin against the crook of Alfred's neck, soft breath tickling the other's ear. All thoughts of work clearly forgotten, he began to nip the skin that lay along the other man's collarbone, laughter rumbling from his throat.
"If you really want to know, Labor Day started when…when these workers died in the 1894…Pullman Strike so – ngh – Grover Cleveland passed Labor Day as a national…Arthur, you're not even listening," Alfred finished breathlessly, a faint flush rising to his cheeks as Arthur continued to run his lips along Alfred's neck.
"How can I? You're distracting me," Arthur replied, grinning roguishly as he tightened his embrace on the blonde man. "Maybe it wasn't such a bad idea skipping work after all…even if you did throw my socks out the window. Winston Churchill gave me those socks, you know," he added, growling slightly as he gave Alfred a particularly hard nip.
"O-Ow! That hurt!" Alfred whined, wiggling in Arthur's tight embrace. "Jeez, I'll buy you a new pair of socks!"
"Yes, but they won't have been given to me by Winston Churchill, would they?" Arthur remarked lightly, swinging one leg around Alfred so that he was straddling his lap. "I think you ought to be punished for that."
"Gah! They're just socks, Arthur!" Alfred protested, resisting slightly as Arthur placed one palm on his chest and pushed him back against the mattress.
The Englishman chuckled lightly to himself, a decidedly mischievous expression on his face. "I think I rather like this holiday," he smirked, unbuttoning his white shirt and throwing it back onto the floor, where it joined his Monday tie.
Alfred couldn't help a grin. "America: 1, England: 0," he teased, placing his hands around Arthur's slim waist and gently caressing his pale skin.
Arthur laughed. "Oh, believe me, England will be in the lead by this afternoon."
Alfred curled his arms around Arthur's waist and pulled him down on top of him, smiling as their lips brushed together. "I don't doubt it," he laughed, his blue eyes glimmering in the light of the morning.
Written for aph_fluffathon on LJ for the prompt: 'Labor Day Celebration with AmericaxEngland'.
Partially inspired by the song "Light of the Morning" by Band of Skulls - an excellent song!
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