2011 Spring Fever Fanworkathon
Prompt 30 Fanart or facfiction: In America's opinion, England is the cutest boyfriend ever. England does something or being so insanely adorable and awesomely cute to the point of making America gushing (in his own trademark way) and pounces him.
A/N: Again, I'm not sure this is what the prompter really wanted, but it is the story that sprang forth. (Maybe I'm just no good at following directions?) I hope this makes the requester happy though, I truly do! So, I've had the idea about doing a fic about England and America getting ready for work together since the last group creative activity, the "slice of life" prompt. I just didn't have time to write it back then. Also, the is the prequel to "Public Displays of Affection" also written for the 2011 Spring Fever Fanworkathon.
Also, for me, this is kind of cracky.
Steam fogged up the narrow bathroom. The pedestal sink with enameled tap handles and an actual plug for the drain made the place feel ancient, even if it was a newly remodeled room in a Parisian townhouse turned bed and breakfast.
Clad only in a white towel tucked around his waist, America eased his teeth into the plastic troughs that held whitening gel, then bit down. The oddly tart medicinal flavor hit him as the gel oozed a little. He ran his tongue over the plastic covers and carefully inspected his face in the bathroom mirror, using an open palm to wipe a patch of steam away.
His skin looked a little bit dry after the shave. He pulled a simple elastic headband up over his forehead to keep his hair out of his face. He dug through his travel toiletry case and pulled out a tube of an avocado and Black Sea mud moisturizing face mask. A quick unscrew of the cap and gentle squeeze had a nice dollop of the brown cream in his hand.
He rubbed it on his face, careful to leave clear margins around his eyes and mouth, relishing in the soothing cool of the mud. It would take about 15 minutes to dry before he could wash it off, and another 15 before the whitening strips could come off. Hopefully, Arthur would be downstairs searching out tea from their innkeepers for at least that long.
There was no way he would let England see his... beauty routine. How could a crusty old man like Arthur- who never plucked his eyebrows- possibly understand the kind of self care required by the nation that had dreamed up the fantasies of Hollywood? Besides, they were still only a few months into a romantic relationship after years and years of being just friends with benefits. Things were still tentative and awkward between them and the last thing Alfred wanted was to make Arthur change his mind about exploring their softer feelings for each other.
Speaking of eyebrows, Alfred leaned forward into the mirror and inspected his. The line was good and even, no maintenance needed at this time. His eyes shifted upwards and looked at the roots of his pulled back bangs. Not too bad. His golden highlights would need touching up in a couple of weeks, but when his hair was down it wouldn't be noticeable.
Swiping an emory board from his case, he perched upon the closed toilet lid and began gently smooth the edges of his finger nails. He would get them buffed at the salon when he got back to D.C. He let his mind wander to the night when he accidentally had told Arthur he loved him after a particularly intense round of sex. He had instantly realized his mistake and covered his mouth and clenched eyes in horror. For decades the unspoken rule had been never to mention feelings, and he had been certain that Arthur would leave him because of his slip. Only when Arthur's shaking fingers had pried Alfred's hands away from his mouth so he could answer demands about his sincerity did America have hope. If the the urgent kisses pressed over his face hadn't convinced him that disaster had been averted, whispered echos of his words had.
Of course they had both fallen in love over the years.
Of course they had hid it from the other.
Typical. Pot and kettle had never done very well at trust. Even now, particularly now, when so much depended on this working out, they danced around each other nervously.
Beyond the locked bathroom, the door to their bedroom creaked open and slammed closed again with the sound of the chain lock being slid back into place. America paused in his filing to listen.
"Alfred, I have returned. You still aren't in there are you?" England's voice was muted by the the thick wood of the door.
"Sorry," Alfred said carefully trying to talk around the treatment in his mouth, wincing as he swallowed some of the gel. He kept it short to sound as normal as possible.
"Are you quite alright? It has been some time and you sound a bit odd."
"Uh huh." America resumed filing.
"In any case, come out here and get the coffee I carried up for you." The floorboards creaked as Arthur shifted his weight outside the door.
"On the pot," America carefully enunciated. Literally it was true.
"Oh, dear. Terribly sorry," England said quickly, his voice hinting at pink cheeks. "I'll just set it on the dresser then."
America rounded a corner of the nail on his index finger and smiled at how prim England was. It used to annoy the hell out of him, but these days he saw all of England's little quirks in a warm and fuzzy light. He was just too adorable. And he had brought him a cup of coffee. What a sweetie!
A foot swung up to rest on his knee and he started inspecting his toenails. Hmmm... needed a bit of a trim. The bottoms of his feet showed that callouses were building up again too. It was time for another pedi. He imagined Arthur coming along to get one too. He almost gave away his musings with a laugh at the thought of England soaking his hairy legs and toes in a foot spa. That image and the picture of England's reaction to a complete stranger touching his feet were hilarious.
"America?" came Arthur's voice sounding cautious and a little embarrassed.
"Sorry to disturb you, but your coffee is getting cold, love."
"Do you, er, want me to hand it to you?" England asked sheepishly.
America panicked as the door handle rattled. That lock was ancient and broken. If Arthur figured out the door was unlocked the jig was up. "Stay out! I'm squeezing out a steamer in here!" he yelled, sounding mostly clear.
"Disgusting!" England retorted, retreating into embarrassed outrage. "Serves you right if that burnt bean juice goes rancid!"
"It's the stinky express, stay out, dude!" Alfred added for good measure.
After that, all was quiet, save for the faint sounds of England moving around the room.
America looked at the claw foot tub glumly. He had ruined the morning's mood entirely AND his coffee was getting cold. However, the main objective of not getting caught looking girly had been achieved. But for how long?
Well... it wasn't quite the full time for either treatment, but he better finish up, no telling what when England would try the door again.
America spit the teeth trays out into the garbage and swished water in his mouth repeatedly to get rid of all traces of the chemicals. He pulled back his lips and examined his teeth in the mirror- yes definitely whiter. Sparkling even.
A turn of the tap and the sink's spigot ran until the water temperature was comfortably tepid. Then with many wild splashes he cleared his skin of the face mask. Moping his face with a fluffy towel, he pulled the band from his hair and shook his head.
He winked at the mirror. There we go: White teeth. Glowing, healthy, smooth skin. And artfully messy hair. Perfect.
He tucked his emory board, headband, and tube of mud into his case so that clues to his ablutions would not be on display. Alfred pushed the door open, ready to kiss Arthur into forgiving him for his uncouthness.
"Finally!" England breathed, pushing past him. "You aren't the only one who needed the loo!" The door slammed shut and the lock Alfred thought was broken clicked into place.
Alfred blinked at the door, shook his head, and shuffled over to what looked like his coffee on the dresser. The white porcelain cup stood out sharply against the vivd blue and yellow striped wall paper.
"Ack!" England shouted. "Water – everywhere! My socks got wet, you prat."
Alfred sipped at the luke warm beverage and winced. Cold coffee was nasty. "Sorry about that, Artie." He set the cup down and headed over to his bags that were piled against a 18th century oak armoire.
"Oh, so now you can talk beyond grunts and nasty colloquialisms?" Arthur snarled through the door. "Augh! How on earth did mud get into the sink?"
"Old pipes," Alfred temporized, mentally kicking himself for leaving evidence.
Ignoring England's dismissive snort, America pulled out a white oxford from his suitcase and gave it a good shake. It was supposed to be a "no iron". It looked okay, he guessed, and slid it over his shoulders leaving it open for the time being as he switched his towel for a pair of red of boxer briefs. The towel stayed where it fell as he searched for his pants under the bed. He found them making friends with the dust bunnies hiding on the hardwood floor under the Queen Anne bed frame.
Kinda wrinkled, but they would come out as the morning wore on. He looked so good no one would notice.
Alfred was trying to smooth out the creases with his hands when the bathroom door banged open and England minced out, clearly unhappy about his wet socks. He shot the towel an offended look. "Do pick that up, will you?" He positioned himself at the ironing board and started working on a white oxford shirt, spraying a little starch onto the cloth.
America chuckled and complied. He was a slob, it was true. If he was gonna be England's main squeeze, he would have to work on that. "Sorry, Babe."
"Just what did you do in there?" England asked mildly. "The air was surprisingly fresh, and whatever it was you were doing, I wager more water got on the floor than on you."
Alfred shrugged and sat on the bed, holding his wadded up pants in both fists. Not telling, even if England was trying to be nicer. That just meant he was on to him. "Just getting ready."
"Do tell?" Arthur smiled as the steam from the iron wreathed his face. "For two hours?"
"Wasn't that long." Alfred grinned, drinking in the sight of a softly smiling and relaxed Arthur as he slowly worked his shirt into crisp panels of perfect smoothness.
"No need to fuss." Arthur carefully draped the finished shirt over a wooden hanger. "I completely approve of putting effort into one's grooming." He crossed his arms and considered the cream bed spread where the rest of his garments were all laid out and ready to be worn. "You needn't hide it."
Alfred noticed that in his own way, Arthur had put in his own "appearance" time this morning. His clothing for the day had been carefully prepared, and every article was flawless. His pants had precise creases in their fronts, the patterns in his tie matched his perfectly non-pilled sweater vest, and the brown leather of his wing tips gleamed with a highly polished sheen.
If he thought about it, it was really the same amount of care he had put into his physical appearance. They both had their appearance kinks, just different ones.
Happiness swelled in Alfred's chest as he realized that he really could be open about his personal habits with England. This was all going better than he had hoped.
"Well? At least tell me about the mud? Surely this wasn't from a long lack of cleaning behind your ears?" Arthur put a hand on his hip and cocked it.
Alfred felt his grin taking over his face as he looked at England in his white boxers, undershirt, and black knee socks with sock garters. He was just so cute standing there in his perfectly wrinkle free undergarments with those bushy eyebrows and uncontrolled shocks of wheat colored hair.
He just couldn't stand it.
He tossed aside the pants and sprang from the bed, wrapping his arms around Arthur, pulling him into a tight hug.
"Ooof!" Arthur exclaimed, reflexively returning the hug. "What's all this, then?" he asked, face pressed against Alfred's chest.
Alfred nuzzled Arthurs's neck. "I've got it so bad for you, Sweetheart." He slipped his large hands under the shirt and rubbed gentle patterns on the bare skin of Arthur's back.
"Mmm," Arthur replied happily. "I'm quite besotted myself." His forehead ducked under Alfred's chin. A damp sock rubbed along Alfred's bare calf. "Who could have ever imagined such a happy circumstance?"
"I did." Alfred breathed in the fresh scent if Arthur's hair.
"Even when we were just fucking?"
"Especially then," Alfred admitted. The empty physicality had broken his heart, but being as that was all he could get at the time he accepted it.
"My poor darling." England rubbed the tips of Alfred's ears in apology. "I should have expected that from you. You always were a hopeless romantic. I'm sorry, love."
Things were getting a little heavy for Alfred. Time to lighten the mood. "And you've always been a cutie pie!"
Arthur squirmed away. "Hardly."
"Oh, I'm pretty sure." Alfred scooped up his pants and started shimmying into them. "Ador-a-ble!" he drew out the syllables obnoxiously.
England sputtered. "I am not – and don't try try to distract me with those outrageously wrinkled clothes. You are not going to the conference dressed like that."
"It's normal for me, honey." Alfred leaned against the double hung window and crossed his arms with his most boyish grin.
"Yes, but now you are arriving on my arm, so to speak, and I will not been seen with such a mess!" England stalked over to the ironing board.
America gaped. "You're gonna tell them about us? Already?"
A cloud of steam hissed from the iron as England tested the water level. "Like we can hide anything from that nosy lot. Now hand me your pants."
Arthur laid a leg of the pants up on the ironing board and lined up the seams. "No doubt you will manage to undo all my hard work on the ride in, but we must try to make you presentable at least."
"I can't help it," America whined. "That rental car is so tiny I have to scrunch up."
"Hush," England admonished. "Now come watch so you can learn how to do this for yourself."
America did as he was told and wondered if this meant teaching England how to thin his brows was also fair game. Somehow, he didn't think so.
A/N: I had this image by Haku in my head when I was writing the ironing scene: . Go five images down to see the ironing one. Squee! I just adore her art.
Please do leave a comment if you can – I love love love hearing what people think!