Title: When Love Walks In
Character(s)/Pairing(s): Arthur and Alfred, with some others mentioned/ArthurxAlfred
Disclaimer: The characters involved in this story do not belong to me, nor do they have any connection to real nation(s) or person(s). No infringement intended.
Note: this is a Hetalia office AU fic in the form of a series of fragments. Previously archived in http:/ community. livejournal. com/dnks_girls/15773. html
On that Monday morning, 28th of June, Arthur Kirkland first met his new Personal Assistant, Alfred F. Jones.
Arthur cursed as he entered his office complex that morning. He had a meeting in less than two hours, and he was not awake enough to think where he had put those files containing the materials for said meeting. His days had been hectic lately, moreover since his PA, his dear Mrs. Jones, had resigned due to family business four weeks prior and it seemed none of his new PA could live up to his expectation. The last one, a beautiful woman who could make a fortune as a supermodel but could not understand a thing about professional correspondence, had run away from his office in tears after he told her firmly that if she could not use her brain properly, she better stopped being a PA and started doing things that did not involve thinking at all.
Just thinking about the incident made his head hurt. Added to that the fact that it was six a.m. and he had only had three hours of sleep before some phone call came to inform that there was an unscheduled meeting waiting for him and he was expected to come with his presentation ready.
With a scowl printed firmly on his face, Arthur made his way through the desks of his junior staffs, noticing that they, too, looked tired but he could not spare any strength in him to care about it too much. With a slam, he opened the door to his office and froze in his step.
He did not expect anyone to be in his office so the sight of a blond haired young man in smart grey suit was enough to make him halt his step. As he watched, the young man straightened up and gave him a dazzling smile.
"Morning, Sir. I got notified that you would be here early so I got some set up done for you. I hope you don't mind," the smiling man said. Then, as if sensing that Arthur was still sending a murderous glare to his direction, he added. "I'm Alfred Jones, your new assistant."
Their meeting was not something really remarkable, and if Arthur were to be honest, he could say that it was simply disaster waiting to happen.
Arthur eyed Alfred Jones, the man who had just proclaimed to be his new assistant before he snapped his attention back to place. Briskly, he approached the man and offered him his hand.
"Arthur Kirkland, Head of Strategic Division."
Alfred promptly took his hand. "Alfred Franklin Jones, Mr. Kirkland, Sir."
"Do you have any relation to my former assistant, Mrs. Jones?" Arthur asked with a bit of interest.
"None that I can think of, Sir," Jones said. "Jones is pretty common surname."
Arthur stared at him a bit more closely. He looked a bit nervous, somewhat. Perhaps he had heard those stupid rumors about how Arthur Kirkland was a terror to his assistants. He knew those rumors, as well as some other rumors about him. They always painted him like he was some man eating demon or something. But, well, he thought, if Jones could not stand his leadership style, better have him gone as fast as possible.
"Alright, Jones, let's get to work. We have a meeting which, as I was told, simply could not commence without my presentation," Arthur said as he walked to sit before his desk. He noticed a steaming cup sitting on his desk and, hoping for tea, he took it, only to be disappointed when he saw the black liquid inside. He frowned and put the cup back to the desk before he told Alfred sternly. "And I don't drink coffee. I prefer tea."
Alfred turned his head a bit to stare at him with an incredulous expression as if he could not believe him saying that. He then shrugged. "Can't believe anyone would choose tea over coffee, but whatever floats your boat, Sir."
Arthur gritted his teeth. Oh, yes, perhaps it was better to have Alfred Jones gone as fast as possible.
For one thing, Alfred made lousy tea.
If there was something that Arthur really loved after a hard day at work, it had to be a nice cup of tea. Tea was his relaxation method. It reminded him of his mother, how she would drink her afternoon tea with him on the veranda as they talked. He knew his colleagues preferred coffee, but he seldom resorted himself to drinking it. He preferred the soothing characteristic of good tea to the strong bitter taste of coffee.
So it was really unfortunate that Jones could not even make a decent cup of tea.
The first day of their working together, he asked him for a cup of tea. Jones frowned at him as if someone asking him for a cup of tea was something really absurd, but he complied. He came back with a cup of steaming tea. Or at least Arthur had initially thought that it was tea.
After he took a sip, though, he decided that whatever thing inside that cup was definitely not tea.
"Jones!" he bellowed even though his assistant was only a few feet away from him, sorting through numerous documents to be archived. "What the hell is this?"
Jones blinked at him. "Your tea, Sir."
"This is not tea! This is…" Arthur spluttered. Then with suspicion he asked. "What kind of tea leaves did you use?"
"Uh, tea leaves?" Jones asked, seemingly out of his depth. "I just… took a sachet of Lipton and mix it with hot water and sugar. Should I have added some lemon or mint, perhaps?"
Arthur gaped at him. Lipton, he thought. Of all the things that Jones could have given him, he had decided it was fit to serve his boss some cheap, weak tea which tasted like rain water. He sighed and shook his head.
"Next time I ask for tea, you will bring me proper tea. And when I say proper tea, I mean you will have to brew it using the first grade tea leaves kept in the tin jar, understand?" he said. "I expect better next time."
Jones only stared at him and he looked nervous enough until Arthur nearly took pity on him. He knew he shouldn't have been so harsh on the poor guy—it was only his first day working for him after all. He should treat him kinder. But it was not right. Arthur Kirkland did not go soft toward his assistant.
He sighed and tried to banish such thought from his mind. "Just finish those documents, will you?"
And Alfred was loud.
Arthur pinched the bridge of his nose when he heard Jones laughing loudly as he made his way to the water cooler. He had spent his many hours since arriving in his office that morning in some heated meeting about the company's new project plan. The meeting was more than enough to give him headache and Jones' booming laughter only made it worse.
It had been two weeks since the first time he met his new assistant. During the time, Arthur had comprised that Alfred Jones was a decent enough assistant. At least he had not made him want to kill him or curse him to next century. But at times, Jones could be so annoying with his sunshiny smiles and jokes and laid back attitude. And he was so damn loud.
"God, Jones," he said as his way of greeting. "You surely know how to laugh out loud."
His voice made Jones, and several other people crowding the area of the water cooler, turn their head to his direction. Some greeted him and some eyed him warily as if afraid that he would suddenly snap at them. Arthur could sense how the conversations stop now that he showed up.
"I've been told that, Sir," Jones said, raising his paper cup of ice water to his direction as if saluting him. "Still, good cheer could brighten up one's day."
"Or give some poor man a headache," Arthur grumbled. He could feel a few people twitching at his words but not Jones. His new assistant merely laughed. Loudly.
"The poor man only has a headache because he's not laughing along," Jones said with a wink. Then with a more subdued tone and smile he said. "You need to cheer up, Sir."
Arthur could practically hear other people apart from Jones and him drawing their breath nervously. He could feel his eyebrow twitching, his annoyance rising. His nerve had been wrecked in that meeting and Jones' comment was like the icing of the cake. It was with utmost self control that he could hold himself back from snapping.
"Well," he said as he took a paper glass and filled it with water, noticing along the way how people seemed to subtly create some distance away from him. "Perhaps after I finish my deadlines I can cheer up. Or, in other words, my office in ten, Jones. I have lots of work for you."
After saying that, Arthur turned his body and walked back to his office with his cup of water. He could hear the hushed up conversations start again after his leaving but somehow he could not care less. Alfred Jones might be a decent assistant but, damn, how Arthur wanted to maim him sometimes.
It was even safe to say that Alfred's personality clashed with his terribly.
It took less than a month for Arthur to safely decide that he and Alfred Jones were polar opposites in term of personality.
It was not that Alfred was crap at his job. He was doing well, better than his predecessor, at least (though Arthur still thought that no one could ever replace dear old Mrs. Jones in his heart). He always managed to finish his job before the deadlines and he was proving himself to be a big help for him. But his personality, Arthur thought as he shook his head, dear God in Heaven, his personality!
Alfred was loud, while he preferred silence. Alfred was someone who had the principle of 'act first, think about it later' while he was very much opting for the opposite. Alfred loved to joke and flirt and got chummy with people; Arthur preferred to be left alone. Alfred was…
…well, better not continue or else he would go at it for hours—hours that he could use to actually do his paperwork.
So, basically, Alfred Jones was a good assistant. He admitted that. But their personalities simply did not match and he thought it would do nothing good for their teamwork. Something had to be done before it disrupted their fine working environment. And something had to be done fast.
So with a grim determination, Arthur decided to bring the problem to someone who possessed the right authority to settle it.
He had tried asking for a replacement, but his request was gently, yet firmly, rebuked.
Berwald Oxenstierna was a nice guy. Arthur had known him for years. They even went mountain hiking together a few times in the past. But Arthur did not deny that the Head of Human Resource Department could look so menacing with his glare and cold attitude.
"I'm not asking much," Arthur said as he was trying to plead his case. "He's good, I know, but I can't work with him."
Berwald frowned at him. "Why?"
Arthur sighed. Some people who did not know Berwald so well would be exasperated as hell with those monosyllabic responses that he seemed to love so much. He had known the man for years, and at times they still managed to exasperate him.
"We're incompatible," Arthur said. "Look at him and then look at me. We're polar opposites."
Berwald folded his hands in front of his chin as if thinking. "Hm…"
"You understand my position, surely," Arthur said, past caring that he sounded a tad desperate. "Some other man might appreciate Jones more than me. So could you requisite a transfer for him and a new assistant for me?"
For a moment, Berwald seemed to regard him carefully, and then he said, "No."
Arthur's eyes widened in surprise. "What?"
"From what I could gather, your teamwork looks fine," Berwald said. "So no new assistant for you. And I believe that's final, Arthur."
For a moment, Arthur could only gape. But when Berwald said something was final, then something was indeed final. And when it was final…
Arthur groaned and resigned himself to his fate.
Seeing that there was nothing else he could do, Arthur resigned himself to his fate and tried to work together with Alfred.
"Jones!" he bellowed loudly as he entered his office that morning, three days after his request for replacement had been rebuked. "I need those files on the market reviews for our product and similar products from our competitors from three years back. And when you're at it, have you dealt with my requisition forms?"
"Already done, Sir," Jones said quickly. He walked to his direction and handed him a thick manila folder. "I have taken liberty and also included the analytical review for our overseas product, Sir. And I've dealt with those forms, but I would need your signature for several of them."
Arthur took the folder and skimmed through the documents contained within. To be honest, he was impressed by Jones' work. The folder contained everything he needed, and more.
"Schedule?" he asked Jones.
"You will have a conference call with the New York branch at 10 a.m. and you are invited to join the Board Director for lunch. Dare I say that a promotion seems to be in your near future, Sir? And after that, there is a meeting with the marketing division at 3 p.m. and you have promised to have dinner with your mother at 6."
Arthur scrunched his face. "Damn…"
"Shall I call change the reservation for 8 p.m., Sir?" Jones asked.
"Yes, thank you, Jones," he said, smiling at the man. "You've been a great help."
The smile that Jones gave him could outshine the sun. "I try my best, Sir."
Arthur saw that smile and was reminded about his conversation with Berwald three days back. Perhaps it wouldn't be so bad, he thought, to give Alfred Jones a chance. Perhaps it wouldn't be so bad trying to work together with him. Perhaps it wouldn't be so bad having Jones as his personal assistant.
Perhaps… he should make more effort to get to know his personal assistant better.
"Jones," he said. "Your first name's Alfred, right?"
"I… yes, Sir," Jones said, blinking at him in incomprehension at the seemingly out of nowhere question.
"Do you mind if I call you Alfred?" Arthur asked.
For a moment, it looked like Jones' eyes would pop from their socket. So wide he opened his eyes. So clear was the amazement on his face. And Jones could only manage something a bit above stutter when he said, "I… would be honored, Sir."
Arthur smiled and patted the young man's shoulder as he walked past him. "It's settled, then, Alfred. Now let's go. You're crazy if you think I could stand a conference with those New York bastards without having my morning dose of tea."
He would have never guessed it before, but as time went by, he found that Alfred was a very decent assistant.
Arthur Kirkland had guessed, and afterward found out for real, that Alfred Jones was a decent assistant. But after working with him for several months, Arthur realized that Alfred was a very decent assistant, his loud personalities notwithstanding.
Alfred always filled his forms in triplicate. He managed to keep his schedule… well, scheduled. He could do archival work remarkably well. He knew how to prepare any files Arthur needed. All in all, Alfred was doing a very damn good job assisting him. And as time went by, Arthur found himself somehow getting used to Alfred's cheerful disposition and his oftentimes rash attitude.
He would never get used to Alfred's tea, though.
Before he knew it, it had become a regular for him to come to his office each morning to the sight of Alfred, grinning at him with the kind of smile that would put any salesman to shame. He would find his inbox and outbox tray sorted, his paperwork tidied up, and even his post-it notes arranged.
"I wonder if your room is as tidy as what you have made my office become, Alfred," he mentioned it to Alfred one evening. It was one of those rare days where they found themselves with no pressing work to be finished as soon as possible, so Arthur and Alfred decided it would be best to just enjoy it while they could.
Alfred snorted. He was sitting before Arthur, with his great desk separating them. "My room is twice as messy as Gilbert's cubicle, Sir. And if you ever see his cubicle, you'll understand what kind of mess my room is."
Arthur, who indeed had seen Gilbert Weilschmidt's cubicle numerous times and tried in vain telling him to tidy it up, frowned. "Oh. Then how come you're so tidy at work?"
"I'm paid to do my job and it includes being tidy," Alfred said as if it was really obvious. "And besides, it's… I don't know, I guess I just want you to be… comfortable, uh, satisfied by my work, Mr. Kirkland, Sir."
Alfred looked so nervous that Arthur nearly laughed. "It's outside work hours, Alfred."
Alfred blinked at him. "Pardon, Sir?"
"It's outside working hours so I won't mind you call me Arthur," Arthur explained. "Though if you dare calling me that in front of the board, I would sack you sooner than you can say 'ouch'."
Alfred continued to blink, as if uncomprehending. Then the biggest of smile broke on his face and he even laughed softly. He looked so happy, Arthur thought, and was subsequently confused as to what could have possibly made Alfred look that happy. Surely being told that he was allowed to call his boss by his given name should not make anyone look that happy.
"Sure, Arthur," Alfred said, still smiling. "I'll remember that."
He found out that Alfred was competent in doing his job.
Arthur nearly ran as he simultaneously tried to shove his arm into the sleeve of his coat. His one hand was still holding his mobile phone to his ear as he talked rapidly to Director Edelstein. Needless to say, he did not succeed much in trying to do all those things at once. At one point he even nearly lost his balance as he tripped on the tails of his own coat.
Then suddenly there was a pair of hands on his shoulder steadying him. Those hands then helped him putting on his coat, smoothing the heavy materials on his shoulders, and straightened his lapels. He smiled and was not at all surprised when he turned his body to see Alfred smiling back at him.
"Wait a moment, Sir," he said to his phone before he said, sincerely, to Alfred, "Thank you, Alfred."
Alfred nodded and gave him his briefcase and an aluminum flask.
"I've put the documents you need for the meeting in your briefcase, Sir. The red folder contains the printouts for your presentation. The blue one contains research materials to support your presentation. And the white one has several documents that could be useful for comparative studies for your case," Alfred said. "And, of course, your tea. Don't worry, I've learned my lesson and asked Ms. Wallis to brew the proper Earl Grey tea for you."
Arthur chuckled and took his briefcase and the flask from Alfred's hands. "You're a blessing, Alfred. If I'm not back until 9, you are free to go home."
"Yes, Sir," Alfred said, giving him a mock salute. "Good luck with your presentation."
With one last smile Arthur turned on his heels and continued talking to his phone. "Yes, Sir, sorry about that. I would be there in forty five minutes top. As I've said, we could do a great breakthrough should we apply this approach for our newest product and…"
As he talked with Director Edelstein, though, Arthur could feel Alfred's gaze on him, watching him walking away. And somehow, the thought caused some warm and fluttering feeling in his heart. Though he simply could not understand what might possibly the reason for such feeling.
He found that Alfred had a caring side that was simply remarkable.
It was nearly midnight when Arthur stumbled to his office that night. The meeting had progressed nicely. His idea had been approved and his presentation had received many praises from his colleagues and directors. All in all, it was a success for him.
But, boy, how he was dead tired on his feet.
He slumped to his chair and thought of taking a brief rest before driving back home. Or perhaps he should call a taxi. He did not think he had enough energy to drive. He even doubted he had enough energy to call the taxi service.
When he was mulling over the pros and cons of just sleeping in his office, though, someone knocked on his office door. It startled him a bit. He did not realize that there was still anyone in office aside from him.
"Come in," he said. And a second after that, the face of Alfred Jones peeked from the gap between his door and the wall.
"Sir?" Alfred called. "Arthur?"
"Alfred?" he exclaimed in incredulity. "What are you doing here? It's almost midnight."
Alfred rolled his eyes as he entered Arthur's office. Arthur could see that his assistant was out of his suit and instead wore a red sweater with jeans. He looked good in casual clothes, Arthur thought before he could stop himself.
"Pot, kettle," Alfred told him. "In case you cannot see it, Sir, you are also still in office."
"I had a meeting to take care of," Arthur said.
"Well, I have a boss to take care of," Alfred said. "Come on, I'll call a taxi for you. If you drop dead in your office due to exhaustion and they found your body in the morning, I would be the prime suspect and I still value my life, you know."
Arthur stood up and eyed Alfred carefully. "You actually waited for me?"
"Er, well," Alfred said as he took Arthur's briefcase and led him out of his office. "Actually I went home at 9, like how you told me. But… I cannot rest well knowing that you would come back dead tired from the meeting without anyone taking care of you so… uh, after I ate and showered I went back here to wait for you."
Arthur stopped briefly on his track to stare at Alfred. He found nothing but sincerity on Alfred's face and the thought that Alfred was willing to come back to wait for him really made him… happy.
He grasped Alfred's arm and squeezed gently. Offering him his most sincere smile, he said, "Thank you."
Alfred smiled back. And perhaps Arthur was too tired but he could somewhat hear a hint of affection in Alfred's voice when he said, "Anything for you, Arthur."
He found that Alfred was the best Personal Assistant he had ever had.
"Say it," Alfred said, grinning down at him.
"No," Arthur said. He tried to fix his gaze to his paperwork to avoid looking at Alfred but so far he did not get much success. Even without looking at him directly, Arthur could still feel Alfred's intense gaze being directed at him.
"Aw, come on," Alfred said. "I won it fair and square. So you have to say it."
"There is nothing to say," Arthur said resolutely though the corner of lips fluttered a bit as he tried to hold back his smile.
"Oh, I can't believe this," Alfred said. "The respectable Arthur Kirkland doesn't hold his end of a bet. Never thought I would see the day."
"Oh, fine," Arthur said as he put his paperwork down and snorted at Alfred's eager expression. With deliberate care, he said, "Alfred Franklin Jones, you are the best personal assistant that I have ever had."
Alfred punched the air and screamed, "Oh, yeah!"
Arthur chuckled. "Only you, Alfred Jones, would depend on such cheap trick like a bet on poker to hear your boss praising you."
"That's a great boost for my confidence, mind you, Sir," Alfred said.
"Yes, but you don't need to win a bet just to hear me telling you that," Arthur said with a smile. "You are indeed the best PA I have ever had, Alfred. I'm glad that I have you."
With that, Arthur went back to his paperwork, but he could still hear Alfred's softly spoken reply.
"And I'm glad I can work for you, Sir."
And Alfred made the best industrial strength coffee ever.
"I'm still not sure about this…" Arthur said warily. In front of him, he held a steaming cup of coffee. The scent was so strong and, strangely, soothing.
"Oh, come on. You need a wake up call and this…" Alfred pointed to the cup in Arthur's hands. "…is the best wake up call anyone could have. Industrial strength coffee, courtesy of the one and only Alfred F. Jones. Once tasted, never forgotten. Now drink it."
Arthur glared at his assistant. "Last time I checked, I'm the one with the right to order you around."
"And last time I checked, Sir, you said, and I quote, just give me anything to help me stay awake," Alfred said. "Pure caffeine in a cup, what else can you hope for?"
"It tastes like burnt tar," Arthur said and was surprised at the whine he could find in his voice.
"Nope. Other people's coffee might taste like burnt tar. Mine tastes like liquid heaven in a cup," Alfred said. He waved his hand as if trying to urge Arthur into drinking his coffee. "Go on. Don't tell me that you're afraid to drink coffee, Sir, or I might lose any respect I have for you."
Arthur sighed. It was nearing midnight—again—and they were in the middle of finishing a deal—again. He could barely keep his eyes open yet he knew he needed to finish his work. It was then that Alfred had whipped him his 'perfected blend of industrial strength coffee' which he said would surely make him wide awake and yearn for more.
Truthfully, Arthur did not really enjoy coffee. But at times, caffeine was simply the way of life.
Bracing himself, Arthur sipped his coffee. His eyes widened at the taste that hit his tongue.
"Fuck me," he said, too surprised until he could not control his words. "This is actually good."
"Told you," Alfred said with a victorious grin. "Just wait. Given time I would turn you to be a coffee addict. Soon you would scorn your tea. Soon you'll worship my coffee. Soon I'll manipulate you by means of my coffee. Soon I would take over the world, one cup of coffee a day."
"Soon you would have to go back to your paperwork," Arthur retorted with a scoff. He took another gulp of his coffee and slid a thick folder to Alfred across his desk. "Look at those project plan documents! Aren't they lovely?"
"Aren't you sarcastic?" Alfred grumbled.
"Get back to work, Jones! I'm not paying you to be a smart ass," Arthur said sternly. Then, with a lighter tone and a smile, he added, "And thanks for the coffee."
They became closer.
A year since Alfred started working as his personal assistant, Arthur decided it would do no harm to give him some little gift to show him his appreciation. Yet what he had initially intended to be a 'little' gift—perhaps a coffee mug, or some book, or some fancy stationery—turned out to be something… not so little.
And that was how Arthur found himself giving Alfred an elegant—and very expensive—wristwatch that morning in his office. Alfred's almost reverent expression at receiving his gift was more than enough to make him blush. Suddenly he felt so self conscious and somehow he was very tempted to shuffle his feet awkwardly like a school boy before the sight of his first crush.
"I hope you don't mind," Arthur said. "I just think of doing something nice for you after all the help you've given me this past year."
"Sir, I…" Alfred said. He looked up and smiled at Arthur, clutching the box of watch tighter. "Thank you. I really appreciate this."
Arthur smiled back. "Well, I'm glad you like it. And now… uh, let's get back to work."
"Sir, wait," Alfred said. Arthur saw him rummaging the pocket of his jacket to take a little box from it. Meekly he presented the little box to Arthur, who frowned yet took it nonetheless.
"What's this?" he asked.
Alfred grinned. "You're not the only one with the idea of giving something to celebrate our one year of teamwork, Sir."
Hearing that explanation, Arthur's frown disappeared to be replaced with curious expression. He opened the box and inside, he found a pair of gold cufflink embossed with his initials.
"Oh, Alfred, this is…" he tried to find some word to describe his feeling but finally settled with, "…really kind of you."
Alfred only continued to smile. "You've done so much for me this past year, Sir. And I thank you for that."
"The feeling is mutual, Alfred Jones," Arthur said with utmost honesty. Then he put the box containing the cufflinks, carefully, in his suit pocket and said. "Well, then, enough of this, let's get back to work."
He wore that pair of cufflinks the next day and he saw that Alfred was also wearing the watch that he had given him. They both caught each other's eyes and traded meaningful smiles. A year had passed since the very first time Arthur Kirkland met Alfred Jones, and already they had grown unbelievingly closer, already they had grown inseparable.
Their bond became stronger.
Arthur had spent five minutes straight observing Alfred that morning before he sighed and thought that he had had enough. Casual observer might not realize it, but Arthur had known Alfred long enough to be able to discern those hints of discomfort on Alfred's face that could only mean one thing. With a distinct slap he closed the proposal he was reading and directed his sternest glare at Alfred.
"Alright, Alfred," he said, making his assistant who was busy scribbling his appointment look up. "Go home."
Alfred stared at him. His pen poised in mid air as he regarded Arthur in confusion. "Sir?"
"You are ill and I don't want you coming back to work before you are one hundred percent well," Arthur said. "Go on, tell them I give you my permission to leave work early."
"I… you can tell?" Alfred said in amazement.
"What, that you have a blinding headache? Of course I can tell. Alfred Jones, you have been working for me for more than a year, surely I know you enough to be able to tell when you're feeling unwell," Arthur said. "Go home, Alfred."
"Oh," Alfred said simply. "I still need to arrange your schedule for the day though…"
"Go. Home. Alfred," Arthur said, putting enough pressure in each word to help carrying his point across.
Alfred sighed and put the pen and organizer in his hands down to Arthur's desk. Arthur did not miss the wince on Alfred's face when he did that. Yet another reason to insist on him going home before his dear assistant collapsed or worse.
"I think this is the first time you're telling me to go home instead of 'get your lazy arse over here, Jones' or any variant thereof," Alfred said with a chuckle.
"Don't get used to it," Arthur said, smirking.
"Wouldn't dream of that, Sir," Alfred said with a contemplative expression. "You know, it feels a bit creepy how you could know I'm unwell just by looking at me."
"What can I say, Alfred," Arthur said as he took his half-read proposal and started skimming over it again. "We have that bond."
Their teamwork was something to behold.
Rumors and gossips thrived really well in office environment. Arthur knew that. He had been victim of that. He had even, at times, used it to his own advantages. So he did not bat an eye when his colleagues started talking about him and Alfred. Perhaps it was because, for once, they did not talk anything nasty about him.
"We," Alfred said, nursing his glass of whiskey. "Have become legend."
Arthur snorted to his glass of scotch. They were sitting together in bar celebrating something that Arthur could not really remember. Alcohol tended to do that to him, making everything look all fuzzy and nice and suddenly memories (or anything that might involve brain) were not really important anymore.
"Good legend, I hope," Arthur said.
"Oh, yeah," Alfred grinned. His eyes looked a bit unfocused yet his grin was still as bright as ever. "We're like… like an invincible team. No, wait, that's not catchy enough…"
"Perfect partnership?" Arthur suggested. "Amazing associates?"
"You just love the alliteration," Alfred accused, waving his glass to his direction. "Anyway, we're amazing. And because we're amazing now we're celebrating… uh… we're celebrating something, right?"
"Can't really remember what, though…"
"Yea, but, you see. Celebration. Since we're celebrating and there is lots of alcohol and we're happy and…" Alfred said then he frowned. "I know I'm going to say something but now I can't remember…"
Arthur snorted. "Then just forget it."
"I can't," Alfred whined. "I've planned it. I should say something that would lead to something else until I can somehow sway you into kissing me."
It was a good thing that Arthur had swallowed his drink or else he would have choked. Instead, he just stared, wide eyed, at Alfred, who shrugged before he found Alfred's hands cupping his face.
"Might as well forget about talking and go straight to action then," Alfred said and not a second afterward, he was already kissing him.
Arthur could blame the kiss to the alcohol. He could blame it to the euphoria of their celebration. He could even blame Alfred. But a voice on the back of his mind told him firmly that he had no one but himself to blame when he grabbed Alfred's collar and deepened their kiss.
But as their relationship evolved, Arthur realized one thing.
That kiss, whether he liked it or not, had changed something between them.
It made him realize how he had come to care for Alfred so deeply in his heart. It made him realize that the sparks he always felt whenever Alfred was near him was simply due to the fact that he was lusting over him. It made him realize that his appreciation toward the sight of Alfred in his smartly cut suit was not caused by some professional interest.
It made him realize that along the years he had known Alfred Jones, he had changed his perspective about him, from a loud and nosy young man, to a competent assistant, to a friend, and finally…
Arthur sighed as he straightened his tie. Taking a deep breath, he then walked out of his office to the direction of the coffee machine. Like what he had predicted, he found Alfred standing there.
"Alfred," he called him to announce his presence. Alfred did not seem surprised. He merely turned his face a bit and smiled at him.
"Evening, Sir. Do you want a cup?" Alfred said casually.
"No, thank you, I want to talk," Arthur said. "About yesterday night."
The changes on Alfred's expression were minimal but they were there. Arthur could see how his jaw tightened, how his eyes became wary, how his eyebrow twitched. They all spelled apprehension to him. They all showed how anxious Alfred was.
Truthfully, Arthur knew the very same amount of anxiety also showed on his face. But he also knew he needed to do this.
"I'm sorry, Sir," Alfred said softly.
Arthur frowned. "Are you sorry for kissing me?"
"No," Alfred said. "But I'm sorry for making you feel bad. I'm sorry for causing you discomfort."
"But if…" Arthur said as he took a step forward, making the space between him and Alfred smaller. "…I'm not feeling bad?"
Alfred stared at him carefully. "Sir?"
"It's outside working hour, Alfred," Arthur reminded him. He took yet another step until there was nearly no space separating him and Alfred. Their faces were so close that should one of them want it, they could easily kiss. So very easily.
"Arthur," Alfred whispered.
"If I'm not feeling bad about the fact that you have kissed me. If I don't feel any discomfort," Arthur continued. "What, then?"
He could hear Alfred gulping. He could feel Alfred's hand reaching out before he felt Alfred's fingers circling his own wrist. He could see Alfred smiling down at him, so very full of life and affection and honesty and love.
"Then I might kiss you again," Alfred said.
That time, it was Arthur who took the initiative, who tilted his face upward, who caught Alfred's lips in a kiss. No alcohol to blame. No euphoria to be an easy excuse. He kissed Alfred because he wanted to. He kissed Alfred because he needed to. He kissed Alfred because he was in love with him.
Arthur Kirkland was falling in love.
"I think I'm falling for you," Arthur mumbled against Alfred's lips, in between their frantic kisses. He was amazed at how easy those words flew from his lips. He was amazed at how true they were. He was falling in love with Alfred Jones.
It was maddening. It was ridiculous. How he could go from hating... no, not really hating… from being annoyed at Alfred to being in love with him. How he could go from Jones to Alfred to finally Alfred. How they could go from strict boss and employee to friends to… what? Partners? Lovers?
He gave one last nip on Alfred's lower lip before he ended their kiss. He watched with affection how flushed Alfred looked, how dirty and debauched and hot as sin. How Alfred looked so perfect, so fucking good to eat.
"Yeah," he said as he traced Alfred's lip with his thumb. "I think I'm falling for you, Alfred Franklin Jones."
And as for Alfred…
Alfred smiled. He caught Arthur thumb between his lips and gave the briefest of suck onto the pad of Arthur's thumb. He grabbed Arthur's hand, kissing his palm, licking each fingertip, worshipping every inch of skin he could find with his lips.
When he finally talked, it was to say one sentence that made Arthur's heart burst in happiness.
"And I think I have already fallen for you, Arthur Kirkland."
(A/N: Hetalia office AU fic, what can we say, it's our not-so-secret kink)