Title: Off Screen

Authoress: Ankaris123

Disclaimer: APHetalia is property of Hidekaz Himaruya. Lays chips and Wonderbread also fall under their respective copyrights.

Summary: One-shot. AU. "It's always this ruining friendship thing that stops them. They'd be better off if they made a deal that if one falls in love with the other, they'd confess right away so all this other drama doesn't have to take place." One-sided(?) AlxMatt.

A/Ns: -apologizes repeatedly for lack of updates- Everything I write suddenly speedbumps me halfway through the chapter. I must have half a dozen one-shots under development in my folder…oh well. I just wanted to write this, ahaha. I have nothing against cheesy things because I think I write cheesy things sometimes. I don't think I've watched a soap opera since…ever. Anyways, the imaginary tv drama mentioned below doesn't reference any existing series and any similarities are probably coincidences.

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Friday nights were designated T.V. nights as an unspoken rule in their shared household. The beat-up two-seater was uncomfortable and lumpy, and the clunky television set which came with the apartment was so outdated it was collectable vintage. It wasn't as if they haven't anything better to do with their time (both were college students in the middle of a particularly nerve-wracking midterm period) but this is what they did on Fridays, so they did. The simpler the tradition, the harder it was to stray from it.

Alfred leaned on his hand, prompted up on the armrest; the bag of Lays crinkled noisily in his lap. Sparing a glance to his right, Matthew was as usual curled up with his knees tucked under his chin, watching the cheesy soap opera with an unwavering gaze.

He turned back to the bright screen, licking the chip crumbs off his fingers.

On screen, one of the female leads sobbed hysterically into a mint green face towel in the tiny bathroom over her unrequited love. In the next scene, a group of her girlfriends dragged her bodily to the bar with little protest.

"I want to tell him, but what if he doesn't love me back? What if it ruins our friendship forever?" lamented the half-drunk blonde to her friend.

"You should tell him! What if he loves you back?"

"And what if he doesn't?"

In spite of himself, Alfred almost nodded in sympathy.

He wasn't going to beat around the bush. He, Alfred Jones, was in love with his best friend since kindergarten, Matthew Williams.

After three high school years thinking nothing of it, the feelings grew more prominent, more factual, after numerous dates and short flings. Oh, dating other people was fun, but that was all it had been, fun. Alfred never experienced that special feeling people in love always crooned about until he realized that was exactly what he felt around Matt. Someone had once described it as the irresistible urge to make them smile at every opportunity–no matter if it resulted in self-humiliation or not–because it felt so damn good when the person you liked smiled at you and knowing you were the one who put that smile there. Another had described it as the impulse to kill off everyone else who dared to touch them, yourself being the exception, but that was another story.

On screen, the heroine of the episode, drunk off her rocker, was taken home by the object of her affections. Her singing voice was terrible, alcohol hadn't improved it.

Alfred supposed that the reason to why he hadn't confessed was that he secretly harboured the same fear as the character flailing on the T.V. He was being a coward but he preferred that to being a heartbroken, best friend -1, hollow wreck of a human being.

On screen, the male lead tended to his friend he had laid carefully on the living room couch, wiping her brow while she murmured nonsense in her sleep. There was a brief close-up as he gazed longingly at her slumbering face, leaning ever so slowly in to steal a kiss. Cliché dictated that a badly-timed interruption from the comic relief side character would follow, cockblocking the characters and the audience. The camera shifted away just in time for the front door to slam open, revealing the aforementioned character archetype whose costume was better left not described.

Watching shows like this often prompted Alfred to wonder if it could be applied to reality, that perhaps there was a chance that Matt was also in love with him and they were mutually oblivious about each other's true feelings. This theory led him to look for signs in the other teen to whether he was treated any differently from other people. In soaps, the two people were usually so caught up in their despair and/or love that they were blind to these shows of affection.

It had taken one day to prove that, yes, Matthew did treat him differently from other people, but as Iggy pointed out rather impudently this was probably because Matt preferred to be polite and respectful to others in general and after years of dealing with Alfred, it just wasn't worth the trouble. Being curt with Alfred was more effective than being polite any day. Alfred liked to think of it as a result of their long-lasting friendship that Matthew was so casual with him.

Part two of his theory was a bit harder to investigate. Basically, from general observation (of trashy episodic dramas), when two people were mutually in love and mutually oblivious to each other's feelings, they tended to grow apart and/or argue frequently often as a by-product of jealousy or spectacular cases of misunderstanding. From what Alfred could deduce, they have kind of deviated from each other since their high school days (which might have been caused by their enrolment in different faculties and having lectures in different areas of campus) but if anything, Alfred was clinging to Matthew even more, and they did argue a lot more than usual (then again, complaining about how to divide up the electricity, gas, and grocery bills probably had nothing to do with jealousy or misunderstanding on the most part).

Shifting into a different sitting position again, Alfred huffed disgruntled at his conundrum. His love life was a blob of uncertainty. Every time an optimistic thought crossed his mind a giant 'but' was just around the proverbial corner. He giggled at the pun(?) and then coughed loudly twice to cover it up.

On screen, the girl woke up, turned and was astonished (complete with a gasp) to find her best friend fallen asleep at her couch-side. As taking advantage of people in their sleep was a reoccurring theme, she leaned over and stroked his shiny hair lovingly until he woke up. A minute passed in different camera angles as they stared surprised into each other's eyes. As both opened their mouths at the same time to speak, it cut to the commercials.

"It's so stupid."

"Huh?"

Stretching his legs out, Matthew wiggled on the discomfiting cushion. The Wonder bread commercial reflected brilliantly on the lens of his spectacles.

"They are obviously in love, I don't get why they don't just confess already. It's always this ruining friendship thing that stops them. They'd be better off if they made a deal that if one falls in love with the other, they'd confess right away so all this other drama doesn't have to take place."

Alfred sat there, unmoving, stunned by his best friend's words.

Was this some sort of hint? Or was he just making bitter comments about the show because he hated cheesy soap operas? Should he say something, confess? Or was he just reading into it too much?

He settled with a nervous laugh.

"Yeah, but if that happened, there wouldn't even be a show."

He swore his heart skipped a beat when the corner of Matt's lips curled up into a teasing grin. There was good-natured humour in his violet-blue eyes.

"Of course, you would defend it, wouldn't you? Only people like you would watch this crap."

"Hey, you're watching it too."

"True, but I'm not the one snivelling over it, you big sap." After inspecting his face with his clean hand, he cursed inwardly. Dammit, he did shed a tear or two over it, damn. Was it his fault that he sympathized so strongly with the characters? Matt better not tell anyone.

Laughing, Matthew reached over to rub away the tear track, his thumb leaving a burning trail on his cheek. Thank god the lights were off.

"So…, think they will confess?"

"Probably not, I think they should though."

"Too tongue-tied, maybe? They could shrug it off as one of those awkward things that just, well, happens, I guess. Could see it happening."

"Your tongue's not only useful for talking," Matthew pointed out deviously, turning his attention back to the T.V. set as the commercial break ended. "Actions speak louder than words, eh?"

The two by-passed the fumbling-for-words stage completely. Taking the initiative, he leaned in tilting his head slightly, grasped the other softly by the chin, and pressed their lips together.

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A/Ns: Indeterminate ending! Yay! Take it how you will, heehee. This came out rather differently from what I first had in mind.

Thoughts? Questions? Complaints? Drop a review, if you will! And of course, thank you for reading.