Hey all, time for a new chapter! Huzzah!

As usual, thanks to all reviewers: XxBleedingSoulxX2828 , HamburgerWithTea, Yuu-chi, MashednotHashed, kooliobutterflyhahaha, mudkiprox, xxalexisurgodxx , hetalia-deathnote-kuroshitsuji , Trumpet-Geek, SCBunnyGo, Deidara'sgirl19 , TheWonderBunny , KnowYourSecrets12, IchigoMelon, cat'akai, HetaliaBitchezz, and Koi.

At Yuu-chi: Yes, I agree that Arthur definitely gets more attention, since it's from his point of view. I tried last chapter to show Alfred's feelings too by having him tell how strongly he felt about Arthur . . . but this chapter, it kinda goes into both of their heads about what they're thinking, so hopefully that will be a bit more helpful in revealing Alfred's side of things. And thanks for your input :)

Disclaimer: Disclaimer: Axis Powers Hetalia © Hidekaz Himaruya (not me!)

Ch 14: Why I Love Him

Alfred called out to Arthur one last time, but it was no use. The Englishman was gone, and Alfred was left quite alone on the beach, unsure of what to do. A part of him wanted to chase after Arthur, but then, he worried Arthur might just be angry with him for not giving him some space. Arthur had said he needed time to think, so Alfred would grant his request . . . for now, at least. But if Arthur wasn't back by tomorrow, Alfred would seriously have to go looking for him. It's what any hero would do!

But for now, Alfred settled back down on the sand, watching the tide creep ever closer to the castle they'd built. The sea was already beginning to erode it away in the front, and by tomorrow, there probably wouldn't be anything left of it . . .

Alfred hoped his relationship with Arthur would fare better.

But the problem was, he just couldn't figure out what Arthur was thinking, or what he wanted, or what his feelings were . . . he thought he knew—he thought Arthur liked him. At least, Arthur always seemed to enjoy being around him (even though he tried to hide it by acting perturbed), and he always blushed when they got close, and he even seemed jealous at the party. . . and yet he'd gotten angry and ran away when Alfred tried to take things to the next level! Geez, it was getting pretty annoying. Were all British people this crazy? Alfred had no idea what to think. Of course, if Arthur had been anyone else, he probably would've given up on him by now. But Arthur was worth fighting for, so he wouldn't throw in the towel just yet. Besides, he wasn't a quitter anyway. For him, it was all or nothing. Life was all or nothing.

Taking out his camera, Alfred sneaked a quick peek at his camera, particularly the picture he'd snapped of their kiss. Arthur's face was priceless—totally hilarious! That picture was so perfect—he'd have to make it his cell phone wallpaper; that way, he could flip it out all the time to remind Arthur. After all, that kiss deserved reminding: it had been a truly incredible moment. The highlight of the day, in fact, and everything after that seemed distinctly un-awesome by comparison. He hadn't expected Arthur to run away like that. In fact, he'd planned out this whole day just for Arthur: Alfred would charm him, and it would be all romantic like in the movies . . . and he thought Arthur would fall into his arms like in the movies too, but it didn't happen. He wasn't sure where Arthur was at the moment, but perhaps he'd checked into a hotel. Alfred had hoped the night might end in a hotel room as well, albeit one in which both of them were present. . . . But that was life: unpredictable. Then again, that's what made it so interesting.

If it were completely predictable, it'd be boring, wouldn't it? Alfred thought to himself. That was one of the reasons Alfred like Arthur so much: he was unpredictable. Sometimes he'd have no problem with Alfred holding his hand, while other times he'd jerk himself away from a simple touch. But maybe that was because Arthur was having difficulty sorting out his own feelings. Well, in that case, leaving him alone was probably the best thing Alfred could do. Hopefully, Arthur would manage to decipher his emotions. And hopefully, he'd come to the right conclusion . . . that the two of them belonged together! There was no doubt about that. No doubt at all.

From the first moment Alfred had met Arthur, he'd felt some kind of connection. He couldn't really explain it, but . . . he just wanted to spend time with Arthur, and get to know everything about him. And then he'd found out how entertaining it was to annoy him and tease him and see him get all flustered—Alfred never got tired of it! He wasn't really used to people like Arthur. Most of the people he knew were partiers and fun-lovers, not nearly as responsible as Arthur. But then again, Arthur always seemed a little depressed as well, and Alfred just wanted the chance to brighten his mood. More so than annoying him or riling him up, Alfred just wanted to see Arthur smile. That was what made all his efforts worthwhile.

And he'd thought today's events would do just that. He thought Arthur would be smiling at the end of the day, not storming off, troubled and confused. Alfred had tried his best; he knew Arthur hadn't been exactly pleased with the birthday party, so he'd brought him to a private beach. And he'd totally let Arthur call all the shots, helping him build the sand castle just like he wanted. He thought that would make Arthur happy. But maybe he'd been wrong all along, and maybe Arthur didn't really want to be with him . . . the thought brought a lump to his throat, something he hadn't really experienced before. Rejection was something he hadn't experienced much before, to be honest. And he didn't want to start experiencing it now. He wanted to be with Arthur, no matter the difficulties. He'd never been in a serious relationship before, but secretly, he'd always wanted to know that kind of love. The kind that was eternal and unwavering and unconditional . . . but what if Arthur didn't want the same things . . . ?

Brows furrowed, he pondered it for a few moments.

"Nah!" he finally exclaimed, laughing. "Can't be. Arthur's crazy for me, I know it!" That was right—Arthur absolutely couldn't resist him, and he knew it. "He'll be back soon. He can't stay away from me for long!" So Alfred would wait. He hated it of course (he wasn't exactly the most patient person in the world), but for Arthur, he'd do it. When Arthur came running back, he'd be waiting with open arms. He could just picture that half-embarrassed, half-joyful look Arthur would have upon his face. Arthur could hardly say anything to Alfred without blushing as red as a cherry.

"What a dope," Alfred admitted, laughing. "But that's why I love him."

x x x

It was already dark outside, and Arthur had rented a room in a hotel he didn't even know the name of. He hadn't been concerned with petty details like that; all he wanted was someplace where he could be alone. He'd run a fair distance away from the beach, and picked the first hotel he could find. He knew there wasn't really a need to run and hide, since Alfred wasn't chasing after him. In a way, that notion sort of stung him. Maybe part of him wished Alfred would come dashing in to comfort him. Anyway, that was why Arthur was there in the first place: to try and sort out his feelings about the man. He was tired of lying to himself, and he wanted to figure it out—once and for all—what Alfred truly meant to him.

After taking a quick shower to get the sand off of him, Arthur collapsed upon his bed. He was completely exhausted, but he knew he had to pull himself together. To figure things out now, he'd have to think back to the times he'd spent with Alfred. And he did: he remembered how Alfred had saved him during the fire when they first met, and he recalled how he'd felt some kind of pull to stay with Alfred even afterward. He could have gone back to London, but he chose to stay . . . was that just a business decision or something else? He was fairly devoted to his work, but he admitted that wasn't the first thing on his mind when he'd made the decision. And he agreed to stay at Alfred's home too. Typically, he wasn't very keen on staying with strangers at all, and he didn't even think it proper to impose on people that way. But he'd agreed to it with Alfred, mainly because he'd been curious to know more about him.

So there was something about him from the start . . .

And then there were all the times the two of them had spent together. Well, actually, it had only been a few weeks, but it somehow felt much longer than that. Touring the gardens, watching the drive-in movie, attending Matthew's graduation, horseback riding in the fields, and now the beach . . . Arthur had probably done more memorable things in just the last month of his life than he had in years before. These were certainly the things he'd remember most in the future. Not the daily grind of work and business, but the way he had rested his head on Alfred's lap in the vineyard or the way Alfred had kissed him as the camera flashed at the beach. And there was definitely a part of him that didn't want such things to end, even though he knew he'd have to go back to England sometime. But he was having—for lack of a better phrase—the so-called "time of his life." He hadn't even realized what he was missing until now. Finally, there was someone who actually cared for him, and wanted to spend time with him, and look after him . . . wouldn't it be foolish to abandon all of that?

But then again, it might also be foolish to accept Alfred's feelings as fact. Maybe Alfred liked him now, but what about in the future? Alfred was still very young, just barely past being a teenager, and his feelings might fluctuate at any time. Up until now, it seemed Alfred hadn't ever gone for a steady relationship—especially not one with another guy. So what if Arthur decided to go along with this whole crazy thing, and then Alfred up and changed his mind? No matter which way you looked at it, it would be taking a huge risk. But might it not be worth it in the end?

After all, when will I get another chance like this? Arthur thought, knowing he'd never felt like this about anyone else before. Actually, he'd never imagined he'd be attracted to another guy, but Alfred was something special. So maybe what the two of them had was special as well—too special to be simply dismissed or ignored. Arthur had to admit he liked to think about it that way, like it was all destiny they'd met on the night of the fire . . . Arthur had always been a romantic at heart, even though he tried to stifle it by valuing reason and logic so heavily. But at times like these, his romantic leanings couldn't help but shine through.

Of course, before he could decide on whether or not to take a chance with Alfred, he had to decipher how strong his own feelings were. He could no longer deny he felt something for Alfred, but was it just a physical attraction, or perhaps a simple crush? Sometimes it was difficult to differentiate among such things.

After all, what was a person to you, when he was the one thing that your mind kept drifting back to? When your pulse would begin to race of its own accord, and the blood would shoot up into your face with such an unbearable pressure, and your palms would become all hot and sweaty (and this worried you because what if he tried to shake your hand when it was like this?), and his laugh would send shivers up your spine and make you want to record it and play it over and over again, and you found a smile forming on your lips despite his stupidity— because it really wasn't stupidity at all, of course, and really you werethe stupid one for not realizing that all along, and he—

I can't take this! Seizing a pillow, Arthur threw his head against it and screamed. Really, he screamed the stuffing out of the thing. And then he pictured Alfred screaming back at that drive-in movie, and it made him want to scream even louder. He wanted to walk out onto the empty beach and scream to the ocean—but he worried that Alfred might still be around. Because the screaming he wanted to do wasn't just mindless yelling. There was something he wanted to scream. A phrase. A simple little phrase, but he couldn't bring himself to say it, or even to think it . . .

"Damn him, damn him . . ." Arthur murmured, hugging the pillow close to his chest. It's all his fault. My life used to make perfect sense, and now look what a bloody mess he's made of it . . . But even as Arthur found himself inwardly cursing Alfred, his tongue unwittingly rolled about his mouth, hunting for any lingering taste of the man. He had a craving for it—that sweet taste of red wine and dark chocolate and cherry popsicles . . .

Dazedly, Arthur rolled over on the mattress. His face burned and he could feel his body trembling. Who the hell was he kidding? This was no ordinary feeling. This wasn't something he could just shrug off. It couldn't be a petty crush. The mere fact that his mind had spent so much time churning over the entire situation meant that something big was up. He was just too scared to admit what his heart knew to be true.

Sitting up again, he heard his cell phone beep as it received an incoming message. He didn't really want to check it, but he ultimately did, just in case it was a message from his boss. Of course, he shouldn't have been surprised to find it was nothing to do with work. When he opened it up, he discovered that Alfred had sent him the picture he'd snapped—the one where they were kissing. Arthur couldn't stop himself from smiling at it. In the picture, he just looked so shocked and amazed at the moment Alfred kissed him, like he was witnessing some kind of crazy magic or something. Well, maybe it was a sort of magic, in its own right. Either way, it was a feeling he knew he'd never forget for the rest of his life.

Rummaging through the contents of his bag, he found the shark plushie Alfred had given him, still looking as disturbingly cute as ever. But he also found a seashell at the bottom of the bag, one he had picked up on the beach. It was a conch shell to be exact, and on a whim, he pressed it to his ear. As expected, he could hear the sound of the supposed "sea" inside it. Of course, it wasn't really the sea, but . . . Heh, he thought, I know exactly what Alfred would say about this. He could imagine the entire conversation in his head:

"Listen. You can hear the sea, Arthur!"

"No you can't. It's just an echo of the blood rushing through your ear."

"No way! It's obviously the sea! Just listen—see, that's what the sea sounds like, isn't it?"

"Yes, but just because it sounds like the sea doesn't mean it is the sea."

And then Alfred would look at him pointedly. "Yes it does."

Now, as Arthur lowered the shell from his ear, he realized what he'd been missing all along. Arthur had tried to understand his feelings by rationally explaining them away, but in the end, emotions are what they are. Arthur could try to deny his feelings or call them something else, but in the end, there was only one thing they acted like, so there was only one thing they could be. That's right, this feeling could only be—


Arthur exhaled a breath he hadn't realized he was holding. It felt like a confession, to speak that word out loud, and a wave of overwhelming relief washed over him the instant he uttered it. It felt as though a great burden had been lifted from his shoulders. He was finally being honest with himself.

Slowly, his mouth curled into a wide grin, and he clutched his pillow to his chest.

"Love," he repeated, eyes on the blank ceiling, "I'm in love. I'm in bloody love!" Suddenly, he felt quite hysterical, like he was on a tremendous high. But then again, that was the effect Alfred F. Jones had on him—the effect of a swift and potent drug.

Once he realized this, there really wasn't much else to discuss. Love was love, and only a fool would give up a chance to experience such a thing for himself. As annoying and obnoxious as Alfred could be, there was something so endearing that Arthur just couldn't ignore. He was worth the risk, no matter the consequences.

It was all such a sudden decision that Arthur couldn't even begin to sort out all the details. What would he do? Would he finish the business deal, but stay in California? It seemed crazy to just stay here on such a whim. But maybe Alfred would be willing to go back to England with him? Maybe they could have a long-distance relationship? No, no, that would never work; he could never stand to be so far away from Alfred for so long . . .

What would Alfred suggest? he wondered. Well, he'd probably suggest not thinking about it for now, and just living in the present. What a bloody fool. Flipping open his phone, Arthur glanced at their picture once more. But of course, that's why I love him.

x x x

Know this chapter was a little shorter, but hope you guys enjoyed it nonetheless!

I'm excited the Hetalia: Paint it White movie is coming out this holiday season *squee* I hope it's good! Although I heard it has more FrUk than USUK, but ah well, you can't always get what you want . . . but have you guys seen that scene from the Hetalia PSP game where Arthur rescues Alfred! It's sheer AWESOMENESS! And pretty hilarious too. Just type in "Gakuen Hetalia Endings: America and England" in the youtube search engine, and it should come up. Just a little something to watch when you're procrastinating on homework, as I so often am :D

Next Chapter: Will Arthur finally scrounge up the courage to tell Alfred how he feels . . . ? Will Arthur finally stop being so tsundere . . . ? Well, probably not, but oh well. That's what he does best. He'll just have to overcome it a teensy bit, I suppose . . .

Well, until next time! And please review~~! Thanks for reading!