Quick oneshot and a break from 'When in America'.
This is number 68 on a 100 theme challenge: Unsettling Revelations.
Edited by the wonderful Nerro who has drilled into me the difference between ';' and ','...
"No more screwing around! Global warming is now more real than ever!" America slammed his fist on the table to emphasise his point, "If we don't act now in five years, or whatever, half the world could be under the sea."
"Yes America… but building giant refrigerator around Antarctica seems rather irrational, wouldn't you agree?" England sighed, sipping his tea with a newspaper in his hand.
"You didn't raise your hand so nobody cares. Anyone else?"
His eyes seared with intensity behind those wired frames. England had only ever seen him look so resolute on the day he seized his independence. And yet it seemed like he wanted this even more. Most countries could not fathom as to why he was so worked up when the majority of his continent was safe from the rising water –but England knew – America must have realised it too and that's why he'd held this meeting.
England was sinking to his frozen grave.
He sighed, pretending as if the meeting had nothing to do with him, "It's not too late, America, we can still encourage different sources of energy and promote the environment. However, the process will take time."
"'e iz right, mon cher," France said with a grim expression, "But we don't 'ave much time left. Do we?" His eyes rested on England.
England was the last to leave after cleaning America's scribbles off the board; he slammed the door in frustration on his way out. France was waiting outside; he chuckled to himself while watching the display before him, and approached his old ally. "I believe zat L'Amérique figured it out."
"Oh really? Do you think so?" he asked with the usual sarcasm dripping like venom from his mouth, "It's about bloody time he did." An uncomfortable presence in his throat caused him to pull out a handkerchief and cough deeply into it. France's face fell, and he looked for a second as if he would cry. That barking sound was far from healthy.
"Let me see zat," he held out his hand but the Island nation pulled his wrist away and shoved the material back into his pocket.
"England!" In three long and quick strides he was beside the British nation and had his hand down his pants. Well. In his pocket.
"Get the bloody hell off me! France! Let go!" he thrashed around, loathing the physical contact and the lecherous look on his ally's face.
"AH HA!" France pulled the white handkerchief from his pocket and danced away from England's flailing arms. He clawed at the Frenchman to get it back. France sighed, looking at the blood stains on the fabric, "I didn't know it waz zis far already."
"Well it is!" he snatched the offending item with the gap between his fingers and shovelled it into his pocket.
"Hey, what was all that screaming I heard before?" came the thick, Texan accent belonging to no one other than America. Both countries turned to his presence. "Did France assault you again? Dude! That's not cool! You know we're dating now, right?" he whined, and England smiled slightly, trying to record every memory he could of the idiot he called his boyfriend.
"I waz just-."
"That's exactly right America," England approached him and placed a hand on his shoulder as if he had just earned a gold star from a teacher, "Let's go, I feel a headache coming on."
America frowned and looked at his lover. England was paler than was natural, his uniform neither immaculate nor totally symmetrical or even perfectly pressed like it usually was. He seemed untidy and his eyes had lost their defiant lustre. He was sick and they both knew it. "Okay, let's get you back to mine."
"I'll talk to you later France." England turned away from the nation.
"Oui, au revior (Yeah, bye)." He watched as the two left and muttered to himself in a haze of nostalgia, "Your path waz paved by blood, it iz fitting zat you should drown in it." While the sea levels rose around his borders so did the fluids in his lungs; it was disgusting, but it was a truth they had both become accustomed to in the past month.
England was dying.
America was constantly glancing over at England as if he would fall six feet under any second now, and he wanted to be there to prevent it.
"Are you alright, Alfred?" England asked with a drawl.
"Me? Yeah, great!" America grinned, but his knuckles had turned pale from clutching the wheel so firmly, and his cheeks were flushed despite the cool, autumn weather, "I'm juuuuuust awesome." He hummed absent minded, and checked his rear-view mirror like England had always taught him to do, "How are you doing?"
"Fine, thank you," England looked out the window and watched the suburban areas pass them, the houses shot by like bullets, "I think I'll have a bath and go straight to bed." He was mostly talking to himself but the former colony caught his words and let out a shaky sigh. Without a doubt England was sick. It frustrated him so much that he couldn't do a thing to help the person he loved most in the world. He felt powerless and useless.
"It's been a long day, you rest up," he grinned, pulling into the driveway of a surprisingly unremarkable house.
The next day when America came to bring England his tea (their typical morning custom) he noticed the Brit was wearing glasses and reading 'Pride and Prejudice'. Not that the glasses weren't hot as hell on him, but he had never needed them before today.
"What's up with the glasses? It's not cool if we both wear them." He placed the China on the bedside table and sat on their bed.
"I only need them for reading, America," he sighed, "You can keep your oh so important image, I shan't wear them outside the bedroom," he then continued with biting sarcasm, licking his thumb and flicking the page irately.
Feeling the irritation lunging at him like daggers, America grinned and ripped the book away, replacing it with his own hands. The book skid to the side. England's eyes followed his copy of 'Pride and Prejudice' to ensure it wasn't damaged, then looked back to glare at his lover who grinned at him in return. He bent down and kissed the island nation who didn't protest.
"You're sexy with glasses," he stated, and Arthur chuckled.
"That's good to know." He smiled seductively while Al slipped the glasses from his face. His eyes were hazy, vision failing him as the lights in his country dimmed or went out after coming in contact with the rising water. Placing a hand on America's cheek, he breathed a trembling sigh of relief. As long as Alfred was here, as long as he could feel him here, he didn't need his sight. The evacuation plan would need to commence properly today.
He kissed England's forehead, lips lingering, then he pulled back and placed a large and familiar hand on his head, combing his fingers through his hair without protest.
"I'm gonna protect you Iggy," he whispered, but Arthur wasn't ready to admit his defeat. Still, Alfred could feel his fragility; an ephemeral being that was once eternal.
"You do that." He sat up properly, swinging his feet over the far too enticing mattress, allowing his toes to be swallowed by the soft carpet. He had a serene expression for a brief moment, then shuddered violently. His boarders were being devoured by the suffocating sea. It was so cold… he was so cold… suddenly Arthur bolted from the bed.
"England!" Alfred shouted following after him to the bathroom but the Brit had enough sense to lock the door while he hacked his lungs out. His vision blurred, his tears made the floor look as though it was moving beneath him. He felt dizzy. He coughed until a hazardous amount of blood flew out and splattered onto the white porcelain sink. Alfred was banging on the door so hard that the hinges had started to detach. He quickly washed down the crimson evidence, and without rinsing out his mouth he opened the door to meet his fretful lover.
"Sorry about th-hup!" he was pulled into a winding embrace that left him breathless.
"I love you!" Alfred almost shouted as if this would be the last time he could say it. England leant into America, wrapping his arms around his back. Had Arthur always been this thin? He'd never been exactly buff but there used to be some toned elements to his physique, now he was brittle and cold; like an icicle. "I love you so much and I'm going to help you."
Tears found their way to both nation's eyes and Arthur whispered, "It's too late, love."
"I love you," he whispered again desolately.
"Don't say it like that!"
"I'm not going to lie to you. You're not a child anymore, America."
"You're not leaving!"
"NO!" he shouted, reminding Arthur of the single tantrum he'd thrown as a child, "Don't you fucking give up!"
Arthur's shaking hands knotted into Alfred's hair. "I wouldn't dream of it."
That night the Brit tossed and turned in his sleep. He saw people screaming and running. A wall of water like a hand stretching across the shore then collapsed, clawing at the ground. It was a horrific nightmare. The power lines were hit by the engulfing water, falling with sparks flying as England was cast into eternal darkness, swallowed up whole.
Arthur sat up quickly and grabbed at his head. He was shivering as the land was further dissolved into the frozen sea. "Alfred…" he whispered, feeling the space next to him until he touched the body he searched for. "Al…Alfred!" he begged. "Light…" he croaked, voice hoarse, "Light!"
"What…WHAT!"America sat up quickly, the click of a bedside light could be heard but made no difference to the Brit who chanted, 'light!' as if being tortured. He grabbed at his eyes and gave a hysterical cry, hands desperately roaming his face as if it would help restore his vision.
"There's light, look! Arthur!" he held the man who was shivering. He was like ice to the touch, unnatural. Dead.
"It's okay, Iggy. Shhh…" he whispered, "…It's going to be okay." And then he knew that somehow the remaining lights within his country had been restored as his vision returned if not slightly blurry. He glanced up at Alfred who looked as if he would cry at any moment.
"I don't know what-!"
"Shhhh, it's okay England. I'm here. I'll protect you." He held his lover securely and waited for the embrace to be returned. Arthur slipped his hands around Alfred's shoulders and shivered. Neither had felt so afraid before.
The Brit moved away, wiping the tears from his red face and covering his expression with his palms. "I'm so sorry America."
America felt his stomach knot and grabbed at Arthur's hands, tearing them from his face and entwining their fingers 'don't hide your face from me'.
"I love you so much England," he reminded the man, determined to tell him every moment from now onwards so that he would never forget it, "I'll always love you."
Tears fell again from Arthur's eyes as he freed one hand and traced the edge of Alfred's face. "The power's going out. Soon my country will be cast into darkness," he said softly, "I'm not going to pretend this isn't happening Al, even if you want me to. I can't. I'm scared." He gripped onto his lover's shirt and buried his face into it with a shuddering sob. "I'm so afraid," he admitted, "Don't pretend this isn't happening. I need you to be here for me. Please… Please." America couldn't suppress the tears any longer, so he let them fall and caress his cheeks, falling to the base of his jaw and onto England's hair. He couldn't deny this any longer and it made him sick. There was nothing he could do to save or protect England. For America it was the first time since his childhood that he found himself feeling helpless and incapable of controlling the outcome of a situation.
He remembered as a young boy he would reach out his arms as Arthur left him and promised to be back. It hurt then, but now, as he came to terms with this reality, the pain became unbearable. He didn't want to lose the most important thing in the world to him.
"I'll always be here for you." He kissed to top of the nation's head, enveloping him and hoping that some of his warmth might cling to his icy skin. "I really love you."
Three days later during the G8 meeting England fell asleep once more, snoring softly on the table. The entire room because silent except for Italy who was cooing at a kitty he'd snuck into the room…again. "America, would you wake him up? Mien Gott, if he's going to sleep during meetings he shouldn't come at all!" Germany barked irately.
"Oui, zis iz ze second time today," France added gently, afraid of setting the agitated former colony off. America looked like he was about to snap at Germany when a hand was placed on his shoulder. He looked up to see Canada shaking his head at him as if to deter him from shouting, not because it was inappropriate considering that all their meetings ended with argument but because England looked worn out and needed rest.
"Maybe he should see a doctor, da?" Russia suggested, concerned as he was not entirely unaware of what was happening to the Island nation.
"What can a doctor do? 'e iz a nation!" France snapped uncharacteristically. England was one of his oldest friends and it pained him to know he would fade.
"I'll take him home." America stood, chair scraping against the wooden floor as he did. He lifted England bridal style, and Japan, who couldn't resist despite the tense atmosphere, snapped a photo quickly before hiding the offending item. "Meeting adjourned," he called back coldly; as if he was in charge. Arthur slept, cradled against the American, clinging to his warmth.
At Alfred's house he put the Brit to bed then piled on extra blankets before leaving to make a cup of coffee. He turned the radio on, trying to blur out any depressing thoughts with mind numbing pop music. Unfortunately he got the news instead. 'It looks as though in a fortnight England will have sunk to the-' click, he changed stations, 'Canada has offered to take migrants seeking refuge from the inevitable sinking of En-' click 'We say our goodbyes to England-' BAM. Without meaning to America pounded his fist on top of the radio which crumbled. "Shit!" he cried. The kettle whistled but he couldn't hear it. He slid down the adjacent wall until he was curled into a small ball. Hopeless. Pathetic.
Arthur woke up to the sound of a crash. He rubbed his eyes and looked around; how had he ended up in America's room? Shit, he fell asleep at the meeting again! He stood up quickly but regretted it when his stomach churned. He grabbed a handful of tissues and covered his mouth with them, hacking into the paper until abnormal amounts of blood came out staining the white and his lips. He groaned and lay back, pulling the blankets over him for temporary relief. It was getting worse. His eyes were straining easily and completely useless in the dark. People were starting to leave; jets were taking them away making the country fall silent and straining his hearing. He was afraid of never seeing America again. Never hearing his voice. He would feel his presence but soon he would be too weak to lift his arms. He curled into a ball and cried.
By the next week England's vision had faded but he'd become accustomed to the idea. America led him everywhere by hand and talked to him more to make up for the loss of one sense; he was doing his best to avoid the subject matter. However, by the Friday his body felt like lead, completely weighed down by the water at his boarders. He was unable to return home and see his beloved country again. He would never see England again; London, Bath, Canterbury or even Brighton. His beloved cities.
Arthur breathed a laboured breath, taking in the scent of Alfred's room. It was like vanilla and icing sugar, it smelt childish and reminded him of when his lover was just a boy. He heard the bedroom door open then close. "Hey, I brought you tea and those cookies you like."
"Biscuits," he corrected his lover but smiled at the gesture. He sat up and held out his hands to accept the drink he could not see. "Honestly, I don't know if I can stomach them right now. Sorry, love." He felt the cup in his hands and drank deeply, warming his insides with the slightly too sweet tea.
"That's okay; you just do whatever you want," Alfred's tone was more cheerful than his expression. He looked run down, sleeping less than England as he felt the need to watch him carefully. He was never tired of simply watching him breathe, feeling the rhythm of his heart-beat and his body moving in sync with his own as they exhaled together. Arthur could almost see the sad expression and lifted his free hand to his lover's face, caressing his cheek slowly, Alfred leaned his head into the touch which was feather light, shaky and cold. "I love you."
"I love you too."
"I mean it, I'm never going to love anyone more than you."
"Damn it." He didn't want to cry again as the almost transparent touch to his face reminded him once again of England's frailty. He was so useless. He wasn't a fucking hero, he was just a frightened little boy. Tears slid down his cheeks and along Arthur's palm.
Feeling guilty England placed the saucer clumsily on the table beside them. "America, just know that you've made me so happy. I don't regret a minute of my time with you. I'm lucky to have met you… to love you and to have been loved by you. Thank you."
If it were any other situation Alfred would have bragged that 'of course England was lucky to be loved by someone so awesome' but instead he wrapped his arms around the shoulders of his lover. "Don't thank me, just live," he begged, "I'd give anything."
Arthur brushed his fingers through his hair, nails gliding along his skull gently. "I know you would." And then the tears came once more.
That night they made love. Not their usual rushed sex which lasted a maximum of fifteen minutes but a long period, with foreplay and words of adoration. Arthur had forgotten that Alfred could be so gentle and Alfred had been so willing but afraid of worsening his lover's condition.
"I love you," Alfred whispered as if his boyfriend would suddenly forget.
The Brit slipped his arms around his lover's waist and drew him close. "I love you too."
They slept soundly in each other's arms.
The next morning England couldn't lift himself from bed. His limbs were numb and heavy and breathing became an arduous chore. He almost found himself wishing for a swift death, however in that moment of weakness he felt Alfred's hand on his own, stroking his skin. He could no longer hear the words of affection. It was like when he'd taken a young America to the beach and pressed shells to their ears to hear the ocean. All he could hear was the distant echoes of moving water, crashing and churning.
Tears fell from redundant eyes as he realised the previous night would be the last time he heard his lover's voice. He felt Alfred's finger trace along his palm and concentrated on the sensation, feeling the words 'I love you' written with his index finger. Arthur held his palm flat and Alfred threaded their fingers together. He then mouthed the words 'I love you too' but the movement was slugish.
France visited that afternoon, talking to Alfred and reassuring him that he would be there for the Superpower. He took Arthur's hand, squeezed it then came close to his ear and whispered, "mon cher, au revoir." He pressed a soft kiss to his forehead and straightened up. Arthur felt the warmth of breath on his neck and the hum of a voice that sounded suspiciously like France then the lips brush his exposed skin. His heart wrenched and he willed his hands to lift to show some sign of recognition to his old friend.
England's fingers twitched and tears were forming in the corner of his eyes. France took his hand and wrote on it as he had been instructed by America to do so. 'Goodbye my old friend, you are very dear to me'. Arthur's breath hitched and faded into a shuddering sigh. France let go of the cold limb and turned as if to hide the tears from his blind friend. America was standing at the door, watching as France covered his mouth with a hand and mourned over his loss. "I'll walk you out," he offered and the other nodded, following the man to the door then enveloping him in a tight embrace.
"Be strong, for Arthur," he begged and America's lip trembled.
"Yeah." And then he left with final parting words.
America slept next to England but it was cold; almost unbearably so. He held onto his hand, never letting go. It reassured them both. England felt a tug pull on the corner of his lips during the night when he woke up, unable to breathe or wheeze a cough. He struggled to tighten his grip on America's hand who bolted up immediately, not having slept a wink. "England! What's wrong?" he shouted despite the other not being able to hear him.
With one final effort he whispered in a voice so soft and cracked it fell like lead after reaching the American's ears, 'I love you, America' and then his grip loosened and fell limp.
"E-E-England?" America shuddered softly. "England!" he yelled, shaking the body. "No… No! Wake up! Stay with me!" He refused to release the hand that was clenched around his own. "ENGLAND!" he screamed in the most unbearable torturous cry. He placed his head on his chest but there was not hum of a heart beat or sound of tired breathing.
England was dead.
All over the world messages played of the end of the United Kingdom of Great Britain, who would – from now on – only be spoken of to fill the pages of text books.
Thank you for reading! Reviews are appreciated.