Woo, the final chapter! Many thanks to all who've stuck around this long! And thank you for all the reviews, it's been overwhelming. You guys are awesome!
Disclaimer: Hetalia's not mine.
Matthew wiped his eyes, then replaced his glasses and hugged Alfred again. "God, what am I gonna do without you around?"
"Study in peace and quiet?" Alfred held his brother close, sniffing back tears. He was growing tired of tearful goodbyes. His head seriously hurt.
It would take some getting used to. They had shared a room for eighteen years, and a home for two. The thought of his twin not always being there was painful. But Alfred had known this day would come eventually, even if he hadn't thought it would be so soon.
"Call often, okay?" Matthew said.
Alfred nodded. "Every day! And I'll email and text and everything until you're sick of me. Well, if I can."
"And don't do anything stupid." He reached up to flick Alfred's still-growing cowlick.
"Of course not!"
Matthew gave a soft snort. "Right... I'll send you care packages, too, if you get shipped somewhere."
"Awesome! You'll send pancakes?"
"I don't know how good those would mail..." Matthew grinned. "You're gonna be so cool."
Alfred laughed. "Gonna be?"
Matthew kissed his cheek, then finally pulled away. "Get your ass on the bus before I decide to keep you here."
"I'm going." Alfred sniffled. "Seeya, Mattie."
Alfred hefted his bag and walked onto the waiting bus. Once he was seated and comfortable, he glanced out the window, but the people he could see milling about outside were nobody he recognized. He wondered just how many of the other passengers had the same destination, and wondered if they would become friends in the near future. Trying not to think about everything he was leaving behind, Alfred closed his eyes, concentrating on where he was headed, on what the future held. He firmly tried to remind himself that he really was fulfilling his long-time dream, and the future was not bleak at all.
Nope, not bleak. This was his choice, after all. No matter how much he wanted to, he just couldn't...
He couldn't think about that, was what he couldn't do. The future, he was thinking about the future. It was going to be awesome. He was going to be a hero, just like his grandfathers, his and Mattie's namesakes. He'd make new friends, and maybe even find...
No, couldn't think about that, either. It would be a while before he could even consider finding somebody else. Just the thought of another man in his bed made him feel kind of nauseated.
But he would make new friends, and he loved finding new friends. He had envied Matthew his experience at school, where he could easily do so. The occasional regular at the bar was not really a friend.
Leaning against the window, Alfred almost felt ready to fall asleep. In his excitement, he had not gotten much sleep the night before.
He felt the seat shift as somebody plopped down beside him. Sleepy and lost in thought, Alfred didn't move to introduce himself just yet. He hoped it was somebody nice for the long ride.
Alfred froze. Oh no... no no no...
"Sorry I took so long. I was saying goodbye to Matthew."
Alfred still didn't bother opening his eyes. "Why are you here?" he asked softly. "Should you even be moving around?"
Alfred took a deep breath. "Walking out of that room was the hardest thing I've ever done. Please don't make things worse."
"I wanted to talk. You left while I was still fairly upset and I didn't have a chance to say anything. Would you please look at me?"
Alfred squeezed his eyes tighter, then relented and turned, feeling a painful twinge at the sight of beloved violet eyes. He swallowed. "The bus isn't going to wait for you."
Ivan shrugged. "I can take a cab home."
"What are you doing here?"
"The same thing you are."
Alfred wished he would stop trying to be mysterious. "Joining the Air Force?"
Ivan shook his head. "You quit your job and are starting a new life. It is the same with me."
"You..." Alfred blinked, brain screeching to a halt. "You what?"
"Why not? Everyone thinks I'm dead. It seemed like a good time to retire without being harassed."
"But..." Alfred stared at him, barely daring to hope. "But you... how...?"
"My boys will be all right." Ivan smiled. "They understand. I have left my sister in charge."
"Wh-" Alfred's jaw dropped. "Now I know you're lying, nobody would be that-"
"The other sister, she's flying in. The boys are taking care of things until she arrives. And anybody who underestimates her will be surprised."
Alfred couldn't stop gaping. Sweet Katyusha as a mob boss? Ivan giving up everything... to be with Alfred? "You quit first and then came to me. And you're acting too happy. You aren't expecting to get a 'no' from me again, are you."
Ivan's smiling facade promptly dropped. "Actually, I'm terrified of being rejected again. That's why I didn't come to you sooner."
"Ivan..." Alfred bit his lip, heart aching.
"I don't want to sound like a creepy obsessive ex, Alfred, but... is there any chance at all? Can you get over what I used to do?"
"I..." Goddammit, his eyes were stinging again. Alfred did not want to cry any more.
"I would do anything for you, Al. If you want me to turn myself in to the police-"
"No!" Alfred shook his head. "God, don't do that. They'll put you away forever." He stared up into Ivan's wide, earnest eyes. They were looking a little damp, and Alfred winced. If he ever had to see Ivan cry again, he'd lose it. "You really quit?"
Ivan nodded. "I really don't do that anymore. Even if you tell me no and I walk out of this bus and never see you again."
Alfred let his eyes drop, staring at his knees for lack of something better to look at. He couldn't be with a mafia boss... but could he be with a retired one? Alfred would not have to worry about Ivan committing some horrible crime, or being in danger, and with Ivan's enemies believing him dead he wouldn't have to worry about himself being in danger, or his brother... The only thing left to get over was knowing what he used to do.
Oh god... could he ever get over that? Ivan had killed people. And apparently enjoyed it. And... Alfred shivered as he thought of all the things the mafia did. How could he possibly cope with that? And really... there was no guarantee they were completely safe. Somebody could always find out Ivan was still alive.
Alfred looked back up at Ivan, dimly aware that the bus was starting to move. He looked into his eyes again, chewing on his lip. Could he be with a former mafia boss?
A thousand images flickered through his mind. A look of confusion from the man answering the door and asking who had ordered pizza. Giddily telling Matthew all about him after their first long conversation. Their first 'date' at a fast food restaurant, followed by their first timid kiss. The exasperation when he mixed up which twin was which. Their absolutely perfect first time together. Every sweet little favor he had done. His laughter, once Alfred had coaxed it out of him. All of the embarrassing things he had put up with—which seemed even more embarrassing in light of what he was—because it made Alfred happy. How he trusted Alfred more than anyone else. Him laying on the ground bleeding, because he would die to protect Alfred.
Could Alfred be with a former mafia boss? Normally not. But if it was Ivan, he wanted to try...
"Where's my ring?"
Ivan blinked. "What?"
"My ring. Don't you still have it? I want it back."
"You..." Ivan's eyes widened. "Yes, I have it." He reached into a bag he had placed on the floor, digging around for a bit before straightening with a small velvet box. "Here it is."
"Thanks." Alfred took the ring from inside the box and slipped it on. "Oh, it fits! I don't wear rings, how'd you know my size?"
"Really? He knew about this?"
Ivan shook his head, still looking dumbstruck. "I asked Francis, a while back. He took Matthew on a grand all-day shopping spree. Made him try on clothes and jewelry they weren't even going to buy just to see how he looked in them, was the excuse. Then he reported back to me with the size."
"I remember Mattie bitching about that shopping trip... You really wanted it to be a surprise."
Ivan cleared his throat. "So just to confirm. You'll marry me?"
"Of course." Alfred grinned. Oh, it was foolish. He knew it was. The smart thing to do would be to hold off on that, to give being boyfriends in this new light a try for a while before diving in. But... dammit, Alfred wanted Ivan to be his husband! "It might be hard, knowing the things you have done... but as long as you swear that you're—ah!" He was cut off as Ivan hugged him tight. Alfred wrapped his arms around him, laughing with delight.
"I love you, Al," Ivan said, voice thick.
"I love you too, Vanya."
"I am not happy with you for making me cry like a little girl."
Alfred laughed helplessly. "I'm sorry. Payback for making me cry like a little girl." His laughter trailed off. "I wasn't kidding, though. This will be hard for me. I hope we don't fight too often about... you know..."
"I will never get mad at you for being upset for anything I have done in the past," Ivan said softly. "You can rant as much as you want. I will not try and make excuses for myself. And..." He paused. "And I would appreciate it if you do not break up with me again without sitting down and talking to me about it first."
"I won't." Alfred was starting to feel giddy. Ivan was really his again... But on top of the sappy elation, he felt a stab of guilt for just breaking up with Ivan and not giving him a say. It hadn't even occurred to him that Ivan would choose Alfred over his career. It probably should have. Though that thought led him to another... "You should have come to me sooner."
"I'm sorry." Ivan released Alfred—mostly, he still kept a grip on his hand—and sighed. "I didn't know what you would say. I didn't know what I would do if you rejected me twice in a row."
"I know, I meant... now I'm joining the Air Force, and I don't know if-"
"What does that have to do with anything?" Ivan frowned, puzzled.
"Oh, well, I just... uh..."
"I've known you were going to do that someday since the first time I met you. Does it matter you are doing it a bit sooner than expected? I will be proud of my Air Force husband."
"Oh." Alfred's smile returned. "Right. Okay. But what will you do?"
Ivan shrugged. "I will think of something. To be honest, I could live comfortably even if I never worked again. But I would be happier finding a new job. I'm sure my skills will be useful for something."
"Oh dear." He tried to imagine what Ivan would do with his resume, and was greatly amused.
"I have missed hearing you laugh." Ivan grew serious again. "Especially during that week. I swear, Alfred, I will spend the rest of my life making it up to you. I cannot stand knowing that you were tortured because of me."
Alfred winced, wishing people would stop bringing that time up. "I wasn't tortured."
"Being tied up in a dark basement for many days is torture. Being reduced to wanting me to kill you is torture."
"I didn't know it was you when I said that, you know that. And it was more acceptance than wanting... Can we please stop talking about it?"
Ivan nodded. "We shall think of the future instead."
Alfred immediately cheered back up. "Like planning a wedding!"
"Right. I will have to order a new suit."
"You have a million expensive suits!"
"I cannot get married in an old suit, it should be new." A slow smile spread across Ivan's face. Not one of his usual little smiles, but the type that often meant a very sensual kiss was in the near future. "And you are going to look damn sexy in your uniform."
"I know, right?"
Ivan leaned over to kiss him. Alfred returned the kiss desperately, pressing close, not caring who else on the bus was watching. He kind of did wish Ivan had chosen a different time to come to him. Like a time when they were someplace private. But he had Ivan, and Ivan had chosen to give up the life of a criminal for him, and they were going to be together, and nothing else mattered. A single kiss had never been so sweet.