A/N: So, erm, it seems like I'm still alive. And I have some rather bad news for you all. This is the last chapter of Dog Days! Erm, yes, well. After this chapter is posted I'll be throwing up a oneshot (or two, depending on how much I feel like writing). About a week from now I'll also be putting up another multi-chap, focused on USUK ^^ All the info will be on my profile page, and I do hope you'll check it out.
As far as this story is concerned, thank you for sticking with me through crazy updating times and randomly shortening chapters (sorry about that). I know there hasn't been much solid USUK, but this chapter will wrap everything up as nicely as possible. With USUK as well, so that'll (hopefully) appease you all. ^^ It's been fun writing, but now you'll want to go on and read the story. Enjoy! ^^
Arthur wasn't sure who had the worse reaction, Alfred or himself. He certainly didn't feel like he wanted to die. More accurate, in the nation's mind, would be to say he wanted to be a bloody human again. But while Arthur just lay there, stunned, Alfred looked like he was about to faint.
"T-That can't be true!" Alfred blurted out, like he had just been told his favorite television show had been canceled. The vet was only able to shrug, looking like he was far too used to dealing with frantic pet owners. "Artie is perfectly healthy, you can't die for no reason!" Alfred slammed his hands onto the table, unsettling Arthur. He glared at America, but the nation was too distressed to notice.
"Sir, I assure you that the likely hood of death is minor… But there is nothing we can do here. If your dog's condition continues to deteriorate-"
"Excuse me?" Alfred was staring at the ground, eyebrows furred into a rare frown on his face. The vet looked at him, confused.
"Arthur, here, is my dog. Come on boy, let's go home." Alfred gently picked up Arthur and walked out of the vet, not even stopping to pay for the check-up on his way out. Arthur didn't say or do anything, a little intimidated by this angry Alfred. He doesn't get angry, Arthur thought. Alfred can't, it's just not him. They walked out to Alfred's gas-guzzling truck (which he kept swearing he'd switch out for a more environmentally friendly car) where Arthur was placed gently into the passenger seat to be shocked once more.
Because, once Alfred turned the car on and pulled his seatbelt on, he started to cry.
When you constantly spent long amounts of time with America (not like England actually enjoyed it, it was only because the stupid git constantly came over for visits), you learned a few things. One was that there was hardly a time when he wasn't smiling, and those times could be kept on one hand (if you didn't include whenever the git watched a horror film or there was a storm about). The second was that only one nation ever had made America cry, and it was what's-his-face. Canada. Yes, him.
With those facts in mind, it made Alfred crying even more disturbing.
The ride back to Alfred's Washington home was quiet, to say the least. Alfred had recovered quickly, of course, shooting Arthur a painfully fake grin and saying how he must have gotten something stuck in his eye, and how'd he have to wash his eyes out more often. Considering it was an excuse a five-year old could see through, it fooled a total of no one.
Once they got to the home in question, Arthur was nearly left in the car due to Alfred leaving without opening up the passenger side. He reappeared two minutes later, full of apologies and 'I'm sorry's. Arthur was just glad he hadn't been forgotten for much longer; the humidity in the car was starting to kill him. Once they got inside, Alfred reached for his home phone and dialed a number, walking to the back of the house and into his bedroom. Somewhat confused and very interested, Arthur followed.
"Mattie! Pick up!" Alfred was moaning. Poking his nose through the door, Arthur looked up at the bed to see Alfred sitting down, a pillow between his legs, holding onto the phone like a teenager trying to reach his girlfriend. Except for the last part, it was pretty much true. And while it took Arthur several moments to remember who this 'Mattie' was, he eventually did and settled down on the floor by the door to listen in on the conversation.
"What is it, Al?" A soft voice asked. Alfred quickly sped into the conversation, using as many words as he probably could, though the point of his speech was simple: he was scared that Arthur seemed to be dying and he was lonely. "Listen, Al, Artie is probably fine. He just misses England, that's all," Mathew said. Alfred shook his head, his free hand holding his pillow in a stranglehold.
"That's not it, I'm sure. If it were, would he have been feeling worse sooner? I'm just really worried… What if Iggy comes back and thinks I killed his dog?" A pause, then Alfred let out a cry and continued. "What if Iggy never comes back? What am I supposed to do then? Who's house do I go over to when I want to spend time being called an annoying git? Where do I go when I want to be force-fed scones and nearly die from food poisoning?" Alfred sounded like he had just been told Christmas, Fourth of July, and Halloween had all been canceled. No, it was more then that. It was like the most important thing of his life had been ripped from his grasp.
"America. Get a hold over yourself! Listen to what you're saying, for goodness sake. Arthur will come back and his dog will be fine. You just have to wait, that's all." Mathew sounded exasperated, though Arthur didn't blame him. Alfred was being far too immature, after all. And to think he was over two hundred years old, ages for humans. Then Alfred's words sunk into Arthur's mind.
The git… He actually misses me? Well, no, that wasn't what surprised Arthur. No, it was more the sound of desperation that sunk into the island nation's mind. Alfred… He really did sound like he'd be completely lost without England, like his whole world would be completely destroyed. What's that supposed to mean? Arthur thought bitterly. He was the one who left me! Who left me heartbroken for over a hundred years? Him! Arthur let out a sneeze, and he heard Alfred shift on his bed.
"Mattie… I've got to go; Artie just sneezed…. I'll call you later, ok?" Alfred let out a heavy sigh and hung up, shutting his phone with a snap. "Artie, boy, do you want to come up here with me?" Arthur shook his fur out before padding over and jumping up on the bed, accidently landing on Alfred's lap.
Alfred gave him a small smile, running a hand through his fur. It felt nice, really. Alfred had somewhat tough hands, but his touch was soft and gentle… And the way he seemed to know exactly what Arthur needed, without any vocalization, made England wonder why the North American nation didn't have a dog in the first place.
"I really miss England, y'know," Alfred said suddenly. Arthur looked up at him and tilted his head. He had long since learned that acting like a dog was the easiest way to communicate with America. "I haven't seen him in so long… And I know I don't act like it, but I really do care for the ol' man…" Alfred let out a bitter laugh. "I'm worried, really. It's stupid. Arthur can handle himself, but he's just so small compared to me… I know he doesn't like to admit it, but, if I wanted to, I could crush him. He hates it, because he used to be a big empire… But he isn't. Not anymore." Alfred buried his face in Arthur's fur, breathing in and out, his hot breath tickling Arthur.
They fell into silence, Alfred just breathing in and out, and Arthur enjoying the feeling. How long had it been since they were so close? It felt like ages… America had grown up, after all, leaving nations like England behind in the dust. And sure, they were on better terms now, but what did that even mean? It meant a military alliance, good relations, and trade between the two nations. Nothing more, nothing less. And whom was Arthur kidding? He missed the days, way back when, when he could go to America and feel needed. When he felt like he was the best part of someone's life. And where had that gotten him, exactly? It had gotten him dethroned from his empire, brought him into ruin and over a hundred years of a broken heart.
"What am I supposed to do? I really just want to see Artie again, to grab onto him like I used to when I was a kid and never let go…. Tell him that I could never hate him." Alfred let out something that was a mix between a whine and a sob. "He hates me! He probably will never forgive me for the revolution... What am I supposed to do about that? When all I want is to get his forgiveness, be able to be friends. Are we even friends? I mean, I know we have an alliance and all, but what is that supposed to mean?" Alfred paused and seemed to recall that he was currently baring his soul to a dog. He sighed and pulled Arthur into a hug, which the dog didn't try to fight against. Usually England would have been mortified, but now… He just didn't know what to do. "I miss England. I miss his giant eyebrows, the huge stick up his ass… I miss being able to talk to him and know that he's listening, even if he doesn't seem to care. Damn it, I even miss him shoving his scones down my throat!" Alfred let out another wail and flopped back on his bed, letting go of Arthur and shoving a pillow over his face.
Arthur, through the two months where he had been transformed into a dog, had never wanted to be a human again so badly.
The two of them must have fallen asleep, though it was only noon, because Arthur woke up on Alfred's bed. He yawned and stretched, looking around blearily. Wait, stretched? Arthur sat up, looking at his arms, which looked completely alien to him. What happened? Arthur thought, looking around the bed. Alfred was still asleep, drooling slightly on his pillow. He had forgotten to take his glasses off, the git. Arthur smiled slightly as he pulled Texas off America's nose and set it gently on the bedside table. Then he realized what he just did.
"Yaah!" Arthur screeched, jumping out of the bed and tripping on the ground, unused to having only two legs and no tail. It was cold, damn it. It had not been this cold when Arthur went to sleep, he was sure of it. Then he remembered he didn't have fur anymore, which could probably explain that. Of course, despite America being a supposed heavy sleeper, he actually woke up very easily. And hearing someone shouting and tripping in your bedroom was a pretty good way to wake up.
"Get outta my house, thief!" Alfred shouted, reaching towards his bedside table for what Arthur assumed would be a gun. Then Alfred blinked, probably just noticing that things were all blurry. "What the hell? Artie, where are yah?" Alfred groped for his glasses and pulled them on, then swore heavily. "What the hell! Arthur? What are you doing in my room?" A pause. "What the hell are you doing naked in my room?" Arthur let out a growl, threatened, momentarily forgetting that he was human now, and had actual vocal cords.
"A-Alfred! I am Artie! I mean, I was the dog!" Knowing he was probably making no sense, Arthur suddenly went red. He wasn't wearing any clothes. In front of America. Arthur struggled to his feet, grabbing the sheets off of Alfred's bed. He was just able to throw them over him like some kind of robe when he fell back down, his balance completely shot after spending two months as a dog. Alfred looked skeptical, but the lack of any border collie walking into the room seemed to help.
"What do you mean, you were the dog?" Arthur sighed before giving him the short version of what had happened. It took only five minutes, and Arthur cut out the part about the original target being America. That would be something to share for later. At the end, the two fell into silence, Arthur still sitting on the floor. Then Alfred started laughing. "Dude, seriously? You turned yourself into a dog? Like, you think I'm going to really believe you?" Arthur, in all honesty, had never been more embarrassed in his whole life. What was he thinking? Of course Alfred didn't care about him! It was all just a sham, something the boy had said because he thought he was alone and would never see England again.
"Fine, if you're going to be a total and utter bastard about it, I'm leaving!" Arthur snarled, heading out of the room. It wasn't until he reached the living room that he remembered that he wasn't wearing any clothes. In fact, he was only clutching a sheet around him like a child hung onto a security blanket. Swearing, Arthur stomped back into Alfred's room and glanced around.
The messy nation had several shirts hanging off of various pieces of furniture, and while it was all going to be massive on Arthur, it was better then wearing a toga-like piece around Washington D.C. Ignoring Alfred's stunned stare, Arthur grabbed a black T-shirt and threw on a pair of blue jeans, blushing wildly as he did so. It felt strange to have clothes on, and it was not comfortable to be wearing blue jeans without anything underneath, but Arthur was not borrowing anything like that from America. He would already have a hard enough time scrapping up what pride he had left.
"Arthur!" Alfred cried out, but it was too late. The island nation had already marched out of the bedroom and was out of the house, fully intent on walking his way out of this mess. Quite literally, of course.
To say that this was bad would be an understatement. Arthur Kirkland, the representation of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, was walking around Washington D.C.'s absolutely amazing forest, having ducked into the trees the moment a car had come running, totally and utterly lost. Without any shoes. Somewhat hot, since he was wearing a too large black shirt and blue jeans that suddenly were a lot more annoying then anything else.
"This is bloody ridiculous," Arthur muttered as he stepped on a stone and cut his foot open. Swearing, he sat down on a nearby tree stump and held his face in his hands. America was never going to let him live this down, and things were just getting worse. How was he supposed to find his away around this completely strange forest, with an injured foot? He'd be lucky to last the day, at this rate. He half expected a bear to come charging out of the woods, hungry for nation-flesh. That painted a picture that Arthur would have to remove from his memory.
Letting out a cry of anger, mixed with sheer confusion, Arthur hit the nearest thing next to him: a tree. Of course, he did not have the strength of a certain annoying nation (which he was currently stuck in), and only ended up with a bruised and now bloody hand… And even more anger, which defeated the purpose of punching the tree in the first place.
"Why did this happen to me? Why now? Why in the whole bloody world do things like this happen to me?" Arthur shouted, trying to loose his anger by shouting at the trees. It didn't make much sense, but at least he felt better. "The bloody git doesn't even care! Heck, he's probably jumping for joy, glad that he doesn't have to worry anymore… I can't trust anything he says, can I?" Arthur didn't realize that there were stray tears falling down his face until they fell, dropping onto the ground and breaking in a silent crash. "He's a liar and a coward. He just plays with people for his own enjoyment… He doesn't care about me, or anyone else! Just himself…"
"You know that's not true," Alfred suddenly said, wrapping his arms around Arthur. He breathed in, burying his nose in Arthur's hair. Arthur felt his blood run cold.
"H-How much did you hear?" He mumbled. Alfred pulled away and England was worried that he was running away, that he was just some figment of his imagination, but the cheerful blood reappeared in his vision. He knelt down in front of Arthur, resting his hands on England's lap.
"Enough. Why did you run?" Leave it to Alfred to cut to the chase. The boy really had no idea about the definition of subtlety. At the same time, it was one of the cute (almost alluring) things about him. He never messed around with things. Well, not when he was serious.
"… You were nervous, and I didn't think you'd care. It's… It's hard to believe, but yes. I turned myself into a dog and have spent the last two months as a border collie." There was a pause while the two sat in silence. Alfred stared attentively at Arthur, his blue eyes piercing deeply, trying to understand the puzzle in front of him. Meanwhile Arthur did his best not to meet America's gaze, looking away nervously. Finally, Alfred shifted and stood up, yawning.
"Well, I don't know about you, but I'm tired. We should get back and check your foot, and then you can call your boss and tell him you're ok." Alfred reached down and moved to grab Arthur, but the island nation shoved his hands away.
"What do you think you're doing?" He screeched. America rubbed his head, shrugging.
"I figured you couldn't walk with your foot all cut… So I was gonna carry you!" Deciding to ignore the blatant destruction of his beautiful language, Arthur made a face that clearly said 'no way in hell'. "Ok, then. You can walk back to the car. Alone. On the dirty ground. Without any shoes." America started heading back, and got three yards away before Arthur gave in.
"Bloody idiot! It's your fault I'm out here like this, so get back here and take responsibility for once and help me back, damn it," he shouted. Alfred grinned and walked back, casually picking up Arthur, though the nation went pink. "Why," he asked, "are you carrying me like a girl?" America giggled. Giggled, like a little girl.
"So I can do this, of course," he said. He pulled England, who was being held in his arms bridal-style, into a quick peck on the lips. Arthur froze, his face going bright red, all the thoughts flying from his head. Alfred F. Jones, the young man he had raised like a little brother, had just kissed him. "Ah, I'm sorry, Iggy. I just figured you'd like it and I didn't know if I'd be able to tell you any other way and you just looked so cute-"
"What the bloody hell…?" Arthur cut off Alfred's stream of words easily, the younger nation falling silent with an 'eep'. Alfred swallowed, clearly nervous as he held onto England. It wasn't hard for him, but it was starting to look like a much worse idea now that he was actually doing it. "What did you go and kiss me for?" Arthur shouted, panicking. Alfred let out another 'eep' and dropped Arthur, a stream of curses coming from the blond. "What did you drop me for, you bloody git?" He asked. Alfred felt like he just wanted to wilt into the floor and die.
"I-I'm sorry! But you looked really cute and I thought you wouldn't mind and I really just don't know how to tell you I like you and I don't know anymore!" Alfred let out a shout and turned to kick a tree, and in his distress he forgot about his strength and managed to knock the tree over. In his defense it was a rather small tree, but it brought the two of them back to earth.
"D-Did you just say…" Arthur swallowed. "That you liked me?" Alfred turned back around and nodded, and just then England took in his appearance. The git hadn't even changed, he noted. He was wearing two untied sneakers, one of which looked around to fall off, and the clothes he had fallen asleep wearing that morning. It was clear that he had run out of the house to follow Arthur, only stopping in order to get his car.
"I'm sorry… Just, I didn't know how else to tell you! You aren't romantic or anything, and I didn't want to see like France…." Alfred trailed off, seeming to become aware that this was one time where his small talk was just going to bury him under a bigger mound of crap then he already was stuck under. The two fell into an awkward silence, Arthur still trying to wrap his mind around what Alfred had said, and America just praying that England wouldn't reject him.
"Well then. Pick me up, git." Alfred blinked.
"Pick me up. Can you not hear? Or do I have to speak in some terms you understand, since you don't seem to be able to comprehend actual English." This was the Iggy America knew and loved. The one that yelled at him for everything from his appetite, to his bad grammar. Alfred didn't hesitate in grabbing his love and pulling him back into his arms, bridal style of course.
"I knew you loved me back! Even when you yell at me, and you try to kill me with your scones!" Arthur scowled, but he seemed fine in Alfred's arms. At least, he wasn't struggling to get out of America's grasp anymore. That was good enough. "Does that mean I can tell everyone we're dating now, 'cause I'm pretty sure it'll get France off your back," Alfred said. Arthur bit his lip, blushing at the thought.
If anything it would just encourage France to try to share his 'knowledge' about 'l'amour', something England really didn't need. At the same time, it would be nice for the other nations to learn that America was taken. America, taken by a small island nation no one really cared about anymore.
"O-Of course, America… If it means that much to you," Arthur muttered. Alfred let out a whoop of joy and jumped into the air, starting to walk back to the car.
"Awesome! Because I totally know that France is being a total stalker about you, he didn't stop asking if I had you locked up for weeks! And I know my bro will be super pumped… Once I remember what his name is, I'll call him. It'll be awesome, Iggy. You won't regret it!" Ignoring Arthur's cry of 'my name is not Iggy', Alfred continued to speak, talking about how every hero needed their girl.
Arthur sighed, knowing there was no stopping America when he got into one of his tangents, and loving every moment of it.