A Hetalia Axis Powers Fanfiction * Presented by FanSlewFantasy 2011
Everyone knows that season
That grey season, in which you swear most of your time is spent weaving through a veritable mouse maze of buildings and lights, yellow taxies carding down too-small streets and flaying tall sprays of water over the hem of your coat as you go. When the sky seems like a myth, a distant memory, blacked out by thick cloud that sinks below the skyline and smothers everyone. The people walk with hunched backs and no nonsense haste, no friends stop to chat, no strangers have the inclination to offer a tight, impersonal smile to you when you pass by. I hurried too, though not to escape the grey, the press of fog, or the cold. I hurried for a different, much more poetic reason. It glittered and glimmered to me, like bright lights winking and breaking the blur of winter as I broke through the crowd in Times Square. My footsteps slapped over slick tarseal, I wove through the small throngs of people bearing shopping bags and off season tourists in a wild whirl of excitement. I wanted to whoop, to yell and scream and dance.
They didn't understand, these bleak robot people. They didn't understand at all…
The delightful ghosts of fluttering steam that plumed from shiny gutters escaped them, the intricate beauty of billboard LEDs blinking through shattering mist and visually singing were ignored. Even the smell in the air, the wet, cold smell of winter was wasted on blind eyes and closed minds. I thought as I rounded the corner, almost colliding with a stiff-lipped man bearing a broken umbrella, that any person who could walk these streets in winter and not see the flying metropoliptic beauty didn't deserve to live on planet earth. The oily rainbow this city painted on the canvas of existence was no more or less perfectly beautiful than any natural juxtaposition. Just the mere fact it existed was enough, the mere fact I was experiencing it, running through it, feeling it on my skin and in my hair was electrifying.
I felt alive.
Moisture condensed on my glasses but I didn't wipe it off. My lungs were endless; I leapt over gutters and darted in front of cars. The honking of horns was a symphony, the green 'walk now' light a runner up in the dash to be. Wet hair clung to my face, my bomber jacket was soaked through but there was money jingling in my pocket.
I could have gotten a cab if I wanted to.
I didn't want to.
Running down more streets, taking out more strangers and drawing soon to the old, stone apartment blocks I slowed, finally feeling tired, finally removing my glasses and wiping them on the bottom of my shirt. My hands were shaking, my anticipation bubbling awkward laughter in my chest. I realised I was a little cold, and my fingers blue and numb. But it didn't matter, my face was flushed, my heart was hammering. My breast felt ready to explode with joy.
But I decided against that. It would be too messy and unpleasant for all involved. I settled on shoving my hands excitedly in my pockets and resuming a light jog down cobbled streets lined with skeletal trees instead, fat drops of water falling from slick twigs and plopping in puddles on the ground. My breath silvered, crystallizing on the air. My apartment building was looming ahead, and I thought I had never seen anything so wondrous in my life.
When I clattered in, I didn't bother to wipe my feet or anything, much to the disgust of the doorman.
"Sorry!" I called over my shoulder, already halfway up the stairs and trailing a small river behind me. "I'm in a rush."
He pulled a disgusted face, and went back to reading his magazine.
My apartment, 1D, was on the first floor, and only when I rounded the corner and looked down the corridor did I stop completely in my tracks, allow my hectic body calm, and just remain still.
He hadn't noticed me, back my way, looking instead out over the city through the full length window at the end of the passage. In the low lit, beige wallpapered building he looked out of place. A splash of colour, his pale yellow cardigan and cotton blue scarf popped dramatically, as though he was from an altogether different world. His black bootleg jeans were tucked into a tatty pair of cream Uggs. He had a suitcase, battered and covered in stickers, by his foot.
"Arthur…" I breathed his name and stepped forward, footsteps muffled by the carpet. "Arthur!"
He heard me and turned around, I got a split second glance at his pretty face, before it loosened in shock and gemlike eyes widened. He caught me recklessly, and as soon as he regained his footing shoved me back away indignant, face burning pink, spluttering nonsense. I wasn't letting go so easily though, favouring to cling for dear life. In the struggle, he kicked his suitcase. It toppled, and I laughed.
"Shut up! It isn't funny!" his fat accent, spoken like he had a potato in his mouth, was the most beautiful thing I've ever heard. "Let go of me! Alfred you're soaking wet! Did you go for a swim before you got here? LET ME GO!" he jerked away finally, and when he did I noticed that his front had a large, Alfred shaped wet patch on it. The buttons stretched across his front were dripping, and the white shirt he wore beneath was transparent with water.
"Ah cock it." He plucked at his wet clothes in exasperation. "Alfred what were you thinking!"
"I got your message and I ran home as soon as I could. And I couldn't wait to see you so I hugged you. No big, pretty self explanatory."
He paused in his fussing and regarded me with a quirked brow.
"You ran here?"
"From the Library?"
A bemused batter of lashes, his thick eyebrows tugged into a crease I had always longed to touch. "That's a long way to run in the rain…" he glanced his eyes up and down me, I beamed at him. "You should have taken a cab."
"Couldn't wait!" shrugging, I tossed wet hair off my forehead. He sighed heavily and rolled his eyes.
"Helpless fool, you're going to get yourself a chill. Come here." Efficient, feminine hands worked on the knot on his scarf, he looked disgruntled, but oh it was so adorable I didn't care. Everything about him, from his slender body and pale blonde hair to his voluptuous eyebrows and pearly pouted lips were much, much too flawless to pay attention to a wee sulk. There looked to be some kind of aura around him, fluctuating a rich gold colour and reminding me vividly of books and tea and games of chess.
Swiftly, wordlessly, and with tight and snooty precision he pulled of his scarf and threw it around my neck, knotting it firmly. My heart leapt, his hands flattened the ends and he frowned at his work, regarding it.
"That's better." His tongue licked his lip thoughtfully; he tossed a few messy straws off hair out of his eyes. "Alright then. When you're ready we can go in." he picked up his suitcase and met my eyes. I noticed with a jelly leg shiver he was wearing my dogtags around his long, snowy neck.
"Um, right…" I fumbled in my pockets for my key, before remembering it was a keycode entry flat. I stabbed the code in instead on the little keypad (incorrectly twice) and finally, after far too long, we were inside.
"Well." I touched his scarf and swallowed excitedly, the soft blue wool beneath my fingers smelled like soft sponge cake and tea, with a little tang of apples thrown in. "Welcome to my home. Feel free to make yourself comfortable."
I met Arthur in a queue, a queue very much like any other, altogether coincidentally and in a manner that would have been slighting, should I not have been reading a particular novel at the time.
It was a grocery queue, the worst kind I found, because being stuck hungry and bored in a giant warehouse of foodstuffs was for me convicted torture. I was, as a tourist in London, unsure how the Brits handled these sorts of situations, at home I would have just opened a packet from my trolley and started chowing down, but I wasn't sure how they would take that here. No-one else was doing it, and I did not want to be ejected from the line.
Instead, I passed the time by digging in my bag and withdrawing a book. A small paperback novel I had taken from work before leaving. Eat, Pray, Love. It was supposed to be one of those inspirational books, you know? One of those life changing works of literature that, upon reading, can only improve everything about your daily existence. At age nearly 19, my second year out of high school and still working in the local library, (with not even a girlfriend to boot…) I could really have used one of those life changing books alright.
What can I say, I was a little disappointed with how my life had turned out. More than a little, actually. Hugely, is a more appropriate word.
That holiday had been, to my family, a 'self realization trip', but I knew that really, it was an escape. A sombre reminder that there was a life even more dreary than my own.
It was A last ditch attempt to find some motivation to get up and enrol in a college, maybe find a hobby, get a wife… not that I wasn't more than capable of all these things, it was just one of those ruts I suppose, where none of the opportunities offered to me were appealing enough, nothing could get me excited enough, nothing could rouse me enough to actually merit any effort on my part. College seemed too mainstream, hobbies were boring, and a wife would force me into a high paying should sucking job in one of the offices, into a rigid life where my boring drooling shitting baby at home was the only bright light in a miserable night of excel spreadsheets and casual Fridays (roughly translated: you may now wear a Simpsons tie with your suit, mister Jones.)
To put it simply, I wasn't sure if I wanted that.
I was at a crossroads in my life, I had to decide to take the boring, mature route, or if I should stay where I was, in a land of books and games and far away countries. Of heroisim and my own all important opinion. I had to decide if I should end my life now, and enter the grey conformist box, or if I should just remain in a coma, only to wake up when I'm seventy and realise I had dreamed my life away.
So there I was. Standing in the line at Netto, nose in a book and swinging my basket recklessly by my side.
I have to say, that at that moment, reading about the somewhat boring-in-her-own-special-way protagonist and feeling my masculinity somewhat waning with each passing second, things were looking grim.
"Hey, watch it!" The man standing behind me gave a loud, fat mouthed warning when my basket collided with his shin. "Don't just go around waving baskets at people! Who the bloody hell do you think you are?"
He looked pissed, and less than interesting in grey jeans and a argyle sweater. Strange, I had never seen one of those worn by anyone under sixty, but he looked, oh, maybe thirty? He was carrying a basket containing scones, tampons, tea, a box of iceblocks and KY jelly.
"Sorry." I muttered, stilling my basket and turning back to face the front. "It was and accident."
"Psch…" I could hear him rolling his eyes. And slowly, painfully, the line inched forward.
It wasn't that I disliked London, I pondered, book dropping by my side as my attention was snagged by a passing whim. It was just… very much like New York. Grey, drab, boring… where was the excitement? The life? Where was the wild romance, the fierce intrepid traveller? The man who had explored caves and found jewels, or the wild rambling ferocity of a rainforest? Where was the fun?
That was the problem with life. It was very rarely fun.
"Eat pray love?" a familiar, accented voice jerked me from my musings. It sounded surprised, both at my choice of reading material and the fact he had blurted the question to a stranger. "Is that what you're reading?"
"Yes, why?" I turned back to look at him, he flushed and narrowed his eyes, arms crossing over his chest (his basket slipped down to the crook of elbow) and looking away.
"Oh." I bit my lip, studying the unremarkable white cover. "Well, if you're thinking about reading it, I can tell you now it's not what it's cracked up to be… its certainly less than enlightening."
Thinking to myself how at least, in this dull world, I was a person nice enough to save unpleasant strangers from five of six hours wasted reading this book, I turned back. My job was done. I missed the flicker of interest twinkling in his eyes, the drop of crossed arms and the first, very first crinkle of those two regal brows in my presence.
"What did you say?"
"Huh? Oh," the line shuffled forward again, only two more before me. "I was saying that it's a pretty unremarkable book. Everyone else seems to think it's the business but I dunno…" I waved it at him and he blinked in surprise. "I'm not sure that anyone can write a recipe for happiness in a book. Or a map to happiness, or a plan to happiness… gosh, even advice is pushing it. All this 'inspirational, life-changing' business should stop. People need to find happiness on their own."
He seemed surprised by my small tirade, and I wondered for a brief and horrific moment if it was, in England, unacceptable to get into conversations with your fellow linees. I did it all the time at home, mostly with elderly ladies who liked telling me about their cats, but he seemed astonished, and very new to the idea.
He adjusted quickly though.
"Oh, I see…" his basket dropped and he met my eyes. "So hey, you're a yankee, aren't you?"
"I'm American, yes."
"Oh, well, I'm Arthur." A rigid, nobleman hand was presented, I took it, perplexed, and he gave it a squeeze.
"Pleased to meet you, I'm Alfred Jones."
He smiled, and my heart bumped a bit in surprise.
"Would you like to go for a cup of tea sometime then Alfred?"
"It's… pretty tidy."
He seemed genuinely shocked when he walked inside.
"'Course it is! These apartments have maids." I closed the door behind me and tugged off my dripping jacket. The water beading on it patterned dark patches on the short blue carpet. It was dull and dark inside, my hand splayed and groped for the switch on the wall. The air conditioning… I had forgotten to turn it on this morning, and so the air was as cold as outside, maybe even more so. In the grey light filtering in through my one large right wall window, I saw him shiver.
My finger found the switch, and I pushed it up. The room illuminated.
A small flat, alluding to space with white walls and simple furniture. Plenty of book shelves, some potted plants by the window and even two tall indoor trees standing either side. My kitchen to the left was petit and box-set, the faux marble tops spotless. Fuzzy cushions on the sofa, plenty of mohair blankets cast over the back and the walls decorated with posters and photos. My small but efficient television sat on the breakfast bar, the fireplace dominating the space it should rightfully have in front of the sofa. He seemed neatly impressed. His suitcase was placed by an armchair, his arms wound around his body.
"It's cold." He said lightly, pleasantly, turning to give me a gentle smile. "Can we light a fire? What's for dinner?"
"Sure." I wiped my glasses and smiled back. "And I dunno. Wanna order Chinese takeout? We can get delivery."
The crinkled nose was clearly interpretable as distaste, but he shrugged anyway and rubbed the pierced shell of his ear.
"Yeap, we can eat it off my best disposable crockery too, if you want."
"Gee… how nice."
I gave a soft chuckle, unable to help myself anymore. I approached him and held out my arms for a longer, more intimate hug. He didn't resist, and it was nice. His hair… I had forgotten the smell of it. Tea tree oil. The feeling of his cheek pressed against mine, like delicate crepe paper. There was a fine dotting of small pimples around the side of his face. My hands stroked the small of his back.
"Yeah?" eyes closed I swung him a little, heart still light and dreamy.
"Oh, right." Reluctantly, I slipped him free. He adjusted his hair and turned back away, but I didn't miss the small dimple quirking the corner of his lip, or the pale flush on the bridge of his nose. A small grunt, he studied one of my posters on the wall.
"I didn't know you liked comic book heroes."
"Yah, I used to."
"I prefer movie heroes now." I crouched down before the maw of the fireplace, setting some wood and newspaper from the on hand basket and spidering my fingers along the top of the ledge to find matches. "Hey, did you want a drink?"
"Tea would be nice."
"Ah… I haven't got any." An apologetic look, he blinked at me as though he questioned if those words could be used in a sentence. "I don't drink tea. But I have coffee and hot chocolate?"
He raised his brows and sighed. "Fine. Hot chocolate then."
"Excellent." The fire caught and I stood, sliding the matchbox closed. "And what do you want for food? If you don't say we really will have Chinese."
And that was how the two of us ended up on the sofa eating panda express and sipping hot chocolate beneath a thick, faux mink throw. The rain had since broken outside, the room warmed a little, and neither of us had suggested turning on the TV. We were much too busy talking, catching up on everything we had missed.
"Yeah so I go back in June to finish my last paper, and then I'm done. Its about time, if I had know it would have taken so long to get approved I would have just taken the extra last summer." He sucked beef chow main sauce off his finger and sighed. "It's nice to have a holiday though, really it is."
We lapsed into silence and I reached for his discarded box of egg-foo-young. Outside, water bulleted down harder, creating a cosy warm atmosphere in my room. As clichéd as it sounded, the ambience was superbly romantic, the moment breathtakingly perfect, yet for some reason, rather than throw myself at him fiercely, I waited. I knew that when he was ready, he would give a sign. Until then, I stayed away. I didn't want to scare him off, after all. It had taken so much to get him to come here.
"Are you still at the library then?" he asked, setting down his food carton, having clearly finished. "Or are you looking for a college."
"No, I'm still at the library." Having scraped all the other boxes clean I immediately leapt on his left-overs. "But I got promoted. Its pretty good pay now, actually, and I'm sitting behind a desk so I don't need to be walking around with a dumb trolley all the time. I'm wondering if I should stay there." Surreptitiously, I sucked on his plastic spoon before shovelling some food. A faint, sweet taste lingered, and my spine prickled at the thought that this was what his mouth tasted like. "My mom wont like it, but it pays as much as she earns and she managed to raise a kid on that salary. There also chance of a further promotion in the future, and if I stay there I won't have to… uh…"
"Grow up?" he offered helpfully, and I pulled a face.
"No. That's the wrong phrase."
"I know what you mean."
"Yeah…" I gazed into the fire, the low dancing flames jigging merrily around a lump of charred wood. Fire always exuded a delightful perfume, to me. Calming and sleep inducing. I loved it.
"I won't have to change. I can carry on being just me."
Arthur knew, I had told him many times before, that college meant a boring job and a boring job meant wife and kids, and wife and kids meant stuck in hell. But more than that, he knew. He agreed. I knew all about his situation, his life prior to meeting me, and I think that to question his wisdom on the matter would be, based on that knowledge, foolish. Maybe that was why I was so drawn to him.
Because he really got me.
"I think you should keep it then."
He spoke with firm resolve and gave me a rare, tooth revealing grin. I choked on my mouthful of noodles and he laughed, reaching out a hand and wiping my mess off my face with his finger.
"Are you okay?"
"Yeah, fine." My eyes were watering, and in the coughing fit that had ensued that smile a noodle had lodged itself in my sinus and was playing up hell. "I just… your smile. It's so beautiful."
He smiled for me again and looked away. His pink cheeks, his hand lifting to secret away the offending curve on pretty lips.
"No, don't hide it!" I pushed his hand away and he giggled, tumbling backward with an 'oomph'.
I followed, the empty food box falling to the carpet, the blanket slithering over our bodies as we wrestled, twisting and tumbling on the piece of furniture. Finally, I had him pinned firmly, his eyes glittering beautifully and his lips pink and wet. Even his ruffled hair looked beautiful. A delicious squirm announced itself in my chest.
When our eyes locked, I melted. His eyed fluttered for a second; he tilted his head expectantly…
And I kissed Arthur Kirkland for the second, infinitely more wonderful time.
I can't pinpoint exactly, the moment I fell in love with the man.
He was exotic and haughty and spoke with a broad accent that made my toes curl. I thought about it the whole night until finally, at four am in the morning, I rolled out of bed and got ready for coffee at ten, bleary eyed and headachy, anxious in a way I hadn't been for years. It wasn't often I met someone who wanted to talk with me, and I had never been invited out to coffee or tea. What did that mean? Did he like me? I didn't think I was that much of a blatant gay, but maybe I was after all and just didn't notice.
In any case, I couldn't still my shaking hands, stuffed into the pocket of a big tan bomber jacket, when I stepped out onto the bleak London streets that morning. My footsteps were almost hurried, bustling in subtle panic and barely restrained, the world was blurring around me oddly, like the one instance I shared a toke with a friend in high school.
Matt, I remember abstractly. His name was matt, and he was very beautiful.
Expectation for something, I'm not sure what. I had spent so long not really feeling anxiety, or excitement, or the thrill of the unexpected that the sensations were foreign. I shouldn't have been so excited about this. Really I shouldn't. He didn't seem like a nice man, or a fun one. He seemed rather stuffy and superior.
But he was a stranger.
He was new and interesting.
And for reasons unexplained the thought of sharp green eyes made my heart melt awkwardly and sluice sweetly through my ribs.
And so I suppose I shouldn't have been surprised that when I clattered in to the Starbucks, dripping and tired and dying for a coffee, I lifted my head and truly saw for the first time in my life.
The man sitting by the counter with a large low fat chai-latte and reading H.G Wells was only an angel, and when he looked up and saw me in the door he smiled.
He smiled so beautifully.
I was taken.
How had I not seen it before?
"Hey." I approached him shyly, shaking out my hair and wiping my glasses briefly on the hem of my shirt. "Have you ordered a drink already then?"
"Well obviously." He cocked a thick eyebrow and gave me a borderline condescending look. "So hurry and place your order. I have to get home by four, my girlfriend and her kid are coming over."
"Oh." I felt myself droop a little, then a sharp reprimand kicked. I realised that I had no right to be disappointed. I hardly knew the guy. Just because the light filtering through the window happened to light his hair just right and cast small glowing threads of liquid gold through pale blonde, just because the sweater he wore happened to be a soft grassy green that flattered beautiful, black lashed eyes, didn't mean I had to instantly loose my heart to him. Really. The notion was ridiculous.
It was after I ordered my coffee, and the two of us started talking, that I realised maybe there had been some reason in my instant reaction. Maybe there was some method, in my hysterical heart doing ballet in my chest.
We had… not so much in common. But the small differences, like coffee vs tea and burgers vs fish and chips, were nothing to the much deeper, more platonic similarities.
Arthur loved travel. He loved fantasy novels and history. He spoke with confidence and excellent balance in all his words. He thought clearly, and sometimes, my points and arguments looked weak and spindly beside his stout, well phrased retorts. We talked about a lot of things… places we had been, places we wanted to go. Books of course, the sort I liked and the sort I hated, he listened to me rant for hours about the crappiness of mainstream literature and then giggled, telling me I sounded like football team hipster trash. I asked him where he got the 'football team' from, and he fell self consciously silent for the first time since we met.
He laughed at all my jokes, though I'm not sure he found them funny.
Four o'clock came and went, and we were still sitting in the café passing time. It was raining, but I was used to the rain and it was obvious, based on the serene expression he wore, he was too.
"So." The conversation lulled and I got the opportunity to ask the question niggling at the back of my mind. "Arthur…"
"Yeah?" a small corner was broken from the forth slice of brownie slice he had bought that day and popped neatly between pretty pink lips.
"Eat, pray, love. What did you think of it?"
He laughed. A loud, shaking laugh that made my heart jump and my palms sticky.
"Silly bugger, I never read it! What do you think I am, a girl?" he rolled his eyes dramatically, I felt my face colour in embarrassment.
"Well you asked me about it, I assumed…"
"No, no. You were mistaken. My girlfriend read it. Ever since she did so she's been spouting crap about changing her life and getting in touch with her spirituality and fuck… I dunno. Sounds like bullshit to me." He glanced at me sideways, and offered a cool smile. "I was getting ready to take the utter piss out of you, you know. You're lucky you are a level thinker."
I was a little offended.
"That's kinda vindictive, don't you think? Going around making fun of strangers based on the stuff they read."
"If you had my girlfriend, you would be vindictive too. Crazy oppressive jealous cow. I might dump her." He tilted his head to the side and pouted. "Well, I would. If I didn't totally rely on her for support."
"What do you mean?"
"I don't have family, I live on her money and she's supporting me through Uni. She's nuts, but I need her. As much as I want to get away, I can't. I'm trapped."
I wondered what it was like to be Arthurs kind of trapped. Trapped with walls too tight and close, as opposed to myself trapped in the endless Purgatory of freedom.
"Yeah…" he sighed heavily and pushed his slice away, as though he was no longer hungry for it at all. "I mean look at me. I'm so desperate for a break I sit in a café for a day with a stranger. What a charming way to spend an endless Winters day."
"Shh… just relax." I eased my hands over his shoulder blades, pulling his face firmly against my chest and letting my heart race to its fullest capacity. "And listen. Can you hear that?"
"Yes… it's fast."
"This is what you do to me." My lips found his hairline, I pecked along from his forehead down to his ear, tugging the piercing there and earning an anxious and firm pat on my bicep.
"Alfred, please, please don't do that?"
"Why not? Does it feel bad?"
"No, it's just… just…"
The faux blankets beneath us rustled as I backed off, he winced and rubbed his forehead, apologetic.
"I'm sorry." He mumbled. "This is my first time with a man."
"I'm a good teacher." My fingers laced with his and I nudged my nose against the neat button of his own. "You trust me right?"
"Of course I do! I just… it's the first time we have really…"
"Kissed?" I offered. "Made out? Fucked?"
"God Arthur…" burying my face in the side of his neck to hide my grin I pulled him on top of me, my hands roaming the slip of his waist and rolling over soft swells of ass in unbuttoned jeans. His shirt was gone, I had seen it onto the sofa with my pants and top already, the soft honey of firelight flattered his slim shoulders and pale torso, but cast deep shadows where he was hunched in embarrassment. Sitting up and straddling my hips, he chewed his lip and gazed fiercely at the square of floor beside my head. I took of my glasses and popped them on the bridge of his nose when he wasn't expecting it, and he nearly slipped sideways off me.
"Cock, Alfred!" flustered, he felt over his face as though the idea of glasses was novel to him. I couldn't contain my laughter, and only when he himself had calmed down did I fall silent again, lying there contentedly, admiring him, and daring to walk my fingers up his waist and to his chest. His breathing eased, his eyes slid shut and his head rolled forward. Slowly, he let himself melt at the hips and fold against me. We kissed. Once, twice, three times. I breathed his name against his lips.
"Do you love me Alfred?"
"Of course I love you."
The rain fell harder, the fire cracked and a soft whine dripped from his lips.
"I don't know." My fingers dared to creep to his nipples, running around the edges, nudging them to bead beneath my touch. He didn't say anything, nor make any move to signal I should stop, so pressing my thumbs against them I rubbed. "I just know that I love you. Call it chance, call it choice, call it whatever the hell you like, but I'm so happy you came here." Some more brief kisses and my shivery heart tried a peculiar 'jump out of my throat' sort of thing. "For some reason, you're the only interesting thing in my otherwise grey life, and you're the only reason I see the beauty in the most hideous of things. When I'm thinking of you, even the city is glowing and bright."
I wasn't sure how to elaborate on that much further, I hoped he wouldn't ask. I didn't think I could explain how the days in which I spoke with him, or remembered my time in London, seemed like glittering moments of diamonds in a bed of dull sea-buffed glass. How diesel spills in gutters glowed in pulled ribbons of rainbows, how even rusting arthritic buildings were lacy and elegant ambitions for the sky. Nothing was ugly, in a world where Arthur lived, and nothing was boring, nothing was the same. Indulgence in wild laughter, in fantasy worlds of pages and places yet to travel… maybe one day when I learned his way to weave with words, maybe some time when I'm a little drunk and feeling concise, I could tell him.
But right now all I wanted to do was make love. Slow, deep, passionate love.
He nodded, and stroked his hands over my collar.
"Then tell me, how are you going to prove it?
It was my last night in London.
I knew this was coming.
Four days ago, I wouldn't have felt so ill about it, and would have happily gotten on that plane home without a second glance.
But now… every time I thought of leaving I thought of the man I had been with the day before. His glittering smile, his flawless skin and hair. His lips and the sweet curves of his body packaged in fluffy wool wrapping. He had an air about him, a sort of bitter sweetness that got under my skin and drove me thirsty for more. The things he talked about were so exciting, and when he laughed my heartbeat raced.
I hadn't picked up 'eat pray love' since the supermarket. I quite simply didn't feel I needed any help.
It was cruel, I thought as I forced myself to smile, that my final days in this dry, grey city should be so sweet and full of life. Snatched away harshly by the call of reality (that dull and strict mistress) I mounted the stairs to the house, address corresponding to the scribbled note in my pocket, and rapped on the door.
It took a moment, but He answered the door looking much more casual than I had seen him so far. It was eight thirty pm, and apparently his evening wardrobe differed rather drastically from the trousers sweater combos he favoured for coffee and the supermarket. Tight jeans, black boots with fur trim and a T-shirt that jingled with safety pins and buttons. His messy blonde hair was more tousled than usual, his ears heavy with piercing I never knew he had. I swallowed my surprise and he gave me that same small smile, to reassure me it was the right house and the right person answering the door.
"Hey…" I looked him up and down and noticed for the first time he was shorter than me. Something suddenly occurred in my brain, a question I hadn't asked yet because for some reason knit and formal cloths had always given me the impression of an elder sort of a man. Being the super tactful person I am, I asked him.
"How old are you?"
He frowned, reaching behind the door and swinging a heavy satchel over his shoulder.
"I just turned twenty three."
I remembered assuming he was close to thirty, in the supermarket that one time, but as I got to know him I was no longer so sure.
Maybe he was older than that. Or maybe younger. Maybe I had just assumed he was ageless.
"Yeah, how old are you?"
"I turn nineteen in July."
"Just a kid then." He chuckled and shut the door behind him. "You're taller than me though. Shall we walk?"
I hopped down the front stairs after him, and we walked out side by side on the street.
"Shall we talk?"
I let my constant spill of words decorate the night.
By the time we found ourselves in the heart of the city, I was hungry for something sweet. He pulled me into a kiosk on a corner, with neon lights and fridges humming around their chilled contents, and pushed me excitedly to the crisp rack. Even though it was a cramped shop, with sticky linoleum floors and uniform white shelves that looked anything like what they were supposed to (sterile), I had to double take a look at every thing. In humming blue light it seemed to radiate, to glow and emanate a strange, unnatural aura. The air was thick with the smell of soda and fish and chip fat. It was bleak, but god, oh god it was like I was seeing in colour all over again. Like I was discovering the world in this tiny room, one greasy pack of snack food at a time.
"I didn't bring any money. Buy me some salt and vinegar?" he held up a packet of chips and I frowned.
"I'm the hungry one…"
"Please? You can share?"
"Are they as bad as most other English food? Cause if they are, I don't want any."
He looked put out, I felt kind of bad for the insult, and took his small bag anyway. Lily Allen was playing in the back room, the lyrics oddly significant and in her heavy, bizarre accent I found them almost heralding, pregnant with static and lulling from the speakers of some Cornershop owners cheep radio.
When she was twenty two the future looked bright
But she's nearly thirty now and out every night…
Panic prodded me in the gut again, and I remembered that tomorrow I was leaving this place, and the days spent with Arthur just walking the streets and talking about nothing meaningful but everything important would become memories, a flat 2-d representation of what I had thought true happiness might be.
One day I will be thirty.
I pressed the scary thought away and approached the counter.
The woman who served me was very beautiful. Dark skinned, dripping in otherworldly cloth and gold jewellery, he soft doe like eyes wore that same anciently British look of every man woman and child here, though it was obvious she was not born in the country.
"Rocky-road ice cream please." I asked her, "And these."
She smiled, and dug around under the counter for an ice cream scoop. Arthur's hand on my shoulder made me jump.
"So… what did you want to do tonight?"
I dared to reach out and comb my fingers through his hair. Maybe it was too forward, he froze, cheeks darkening significantly, and pushed my hand away.
"Just be with you." I told him. He stared at my hand accusingly, obviously lost for words.
"Your ice cream Mister." The woman called my attention back to her. I paid up and took the dessert.
The two of us dropped out of the shop and onto the streets again.
"Oh, Alfred…" he drew my name out like taffy, long and lax and sweet. "Oh Alfred, Alfred… Alfred~"
My hand rubbed up and down his thigh, fingers tight enough to leave faint red lines behind, one arm pulled him closer to my chest and open lipped, a little off time, we shared tongue.
This was the third time we had done it, but we weren't counting. They all just blurred together, eventually, into one long session of sex very much like the border between our bodies. It was melting, hands and lips and skin everywhere, I didn't bother to wonder anymore if I was touching him or myself. There was nothing between us, nothing at all. I was deeply inside of him, and the way he sighed and moaned and called to me was deeply, primally satisfying. Surely, I was not so good of a lover?
The tattoo of seamen over my stomach and the mounting tension in his abdomen muscles once more though, proclaimed different. His arms wound around my neck and his teeth sunk into my throat. Hoarse breathing, beneath us floor boards creaked slowly and in slow motion we twinned, ebbing and rocking, touching, exploring, worshiping…
He was hot inside. And wet from my own cum. He clenched and flickered around me again as a fourth orgasm stole an ecstatic moan from his throat, I thrust a little faster in an attempt to draw it out. The man had enviable climaxes. They lasted much longer than mine, and his seamen shots which had first ribboned out in thick white spurts but now trickled weak and clear across my stomach, were numerous every time. The touch of sweat was delectable on his skin when I licked across his neck, the heavy perfume of his hair drowning me blissfully.
"I'm going to love you every day." My breath buffeted against his neck "In every nation, in every single possible way. I'm going to make love to you in Montreal." My teeth skated the rim of his ear and he shivered "And in Auckland, and in Paris, and in Hong Kong. I'm going to fuck you in Tokyo, and Egypt, and Norway, and Cairns. We can bang in Rio, and in Madrid, and even in Moscow, if you want to. Does that sound okay to you?"
"You forgo-ah… Be…jing…"
"Beijing it is then." My mouth slipped to the base of his ear and he wined, between his legs, I shuddered my hips, reminding him of the way we were joined right then. That I was inside him. That here on this messy faux mink blanket we were one, locked together and embracing and kissing and touching and his hands exploring, roaming the planes of my shoulders and chest. He let me pull him on top, his forearms resting on my chest.
"More." His lips were swollen they looked like cherries, glossy and dark and full. "Slowly…"
"Mmm." a fierce kiss. He sighed, and lifted his hips briefly in an insistance I go.
"Come on Al…"
"Hang on, okay." My arm found his waist and I toppled him backward again.
"Dirty boy, trying to ride me…" flat palm massaged his jizz into his chest and stomach. "Like I'd let that happen to me." My one hand slid between his legs, pulling open his thighs and readying a place for me to slip inside.
That evening he walked beside me, wearing a blatant 'if you fall in I'm not saving you' expression. I wobbled, and carried on shuffling along the edge of the boardwalk along the Thames. My hand resting on his shoulder was clawed, the half drunk alcopop bottles he held (cherry for me, orange raspberry for him) were not really very good assurance that I was in a suitable condition to be doing this, but if I didn't do it now, I would never get the chance. The soft breeze lifted the hair on the back of the neck and thrilled me in a strange, adrenaline threaded way. On the other side of the river London glittered, the sweeping wheel of the London eye reaching for the stars and loosing its self in the black salt spilled curtain of the sky. Inky water rippled beneath me, his footsteps were soft on the damp wood.
"Mm? Hey don't look at me, pay attention to where you are going."
"Wanna come visit."
"Wanna come visit me in New York some time?"
He stopped walking, and I almost lost my footing.
"You, do you want to come visit me in New-"
"Yeah, I heard you, I mean… what?" he frowned at me as if he genuinely didn't understand my request. "Why are you asking such a thing?"
Suddenly I felt very stupid.
"Well it's just… I really liked being with you. And I think I'm going to miss you when I go home. And I'd like to see you again. I don't want his to just be some kind of holiday fling I think…" I hopped off the beam I was on, so I wouldn't topple off in my fluster. "I want to stay like this. You and I. Do you know what I mean?"
He looked very much like he had know idea what I meant. A strange taste rose at the back of my throat. It had a thing gauze of sherry flavour over the top, I hoped I wasn't about to throw up in front of him. My face burned and my eyes did too. Goddamnit! Please don't say I had screwed everything all up already?
"… Never mind." I finished weakly, utterly dejected and reaching for my drink. A quick glance at my watch it was almost one am. Only four more hours until I had to be at the airport. "Just forget I said anything."
He pulled my drink away and stared at me, as though he had only just seen me for the first time. It was uncomfortable, and the glittering lights of the night made his cast even more condemning, the oily darkness shadowing the expressive hollows on his face and rendering everything about him unreadable. My bomber jacket, heavy with the smell of him, rustled in the wind.
"You want me to visit you in New York?" he repeated flatly. I looked away, ashamed.
"Don't worry, I wasn't thinking straight."
"… I'm not sure I want to do that Al."
"I know, I know, its okay." I splayed my fingers pleadingly, just wanting to get my drink back so I could turn and run away, never have to see him again, never have to be reminded of my humiliation. "Just… can I have…"
"But, we should meet somewhere else, yeah? Egypt, or India, or Italy." A soft shadow fell in the corners of his lips, I inhaled sharply, as if my lungs were scalded. "Travel a little. How does that sound?"
My mind spun. Travel? With Arthur? It would be a long time before I could afford that, and I didn't doubt the same would be true of him. But the thought that one day, maybe, I could just…
Become separate from the drag of daily life.
Made butterflies explode into being in my gut. The man holding out my drink was holding out so much more. He was holding out a promise, and unspoken salvation. The secret of an experience coming not today, not tomorrow, maybe not even ten years in the future.
"I have a lot of things I have to organise, al. a lot of responsibilities and a lot of plans. Being with you, seeing how you perceive the world entirely different to anyone I have ever met before… it has totally captivated me. That first day in the supermarket. You surprised me."
Our fingertips brushed when he passed me back my bottle.
"You see things differently to anyone else I've ever met. You are wild, and always looking for something new, something fresh. You get bored easily, and you know soon, if I don't make some adjustments, I think you will get bored of me."
His sweet smile softened.
"But when you leave, give me your email address. One I've organised a few things, I will send you a message. We can meet in Thailand or Indonesia, perhaps Australia."
"Do you know how long it will be?"
"Maybe a week. Maybe twenty years. Can you wait for me?"
Even the shush of water lapping at the boardwalk posts seemed to halt for a moment as I let the words soak in.
"Of course I can wait for you…"
"Will you promise?"
I paused for a second, frantic excited mind trying to find something to show him that I was serious. That this meant the world to me. Something I could do or say, anything at all…
I remembered the café. Sitting opposite him, his finger stretching and pointing curiously at something around my neck.
My father's Army Tags.
… Did he die in a war?
I'm so sorry…
My hands flew up to the chain and couldn't get them off fast enough.
"Here!" I thrust them forward, they clinked metallically and he jumped, as though I had just punched him. "Take these. Then when we meet up I can get them back. If you change your mind, keep them."
"Alfred I can't take these!"
"Why? Is there a chance you may not give them back?"
He thought for a moment. I almost cried with joy when finally, a slender hand received them, and raised the chain to drop it around his neck.
I couldn't help myself then. I grabbed his arm and jerked him forward. It was sworn, it would be done.
I sealed it with a lip bitten kiss.
"Hnghhh…" I groaned and rolled over, the bed I was laying in was soft.
"Alfred get up and pack your bags, our plane to Bali leaves in four hours."
Arthur's insistent voice, from far away across eons. I struggled to remember what had happened the night before, but was reminded when the smell of skin and love flooded my senses. Arthur was here, we were going to fly away.
"Finally?" I breathed and rolled over, keeping my eyes closed to savour the feeling of soft hands caressing my cheeks and lips purring over my own. "We are really finally going?"
"Really. Now move. Move! Are you goddamed deaf?"
A sharp knock to my shoulder, I jump, head snapping up, and am surprised to find myself standing in a supermarket, basket of food dangling loosely by my side.
"Hurry up, wanker. It's your turn."
The man behind me is impatient, he looks fucking pissed. My heart does a strange, hurtful thing when I look at him. His green eyes, thick eyebrows, beautiful petal lips. Those features don't become a scowl like he is giving me, rather than look at them I shuffle forward, emptying my basket onto the conveyer and digging around in my pocket for money.
"Hey, you dropped this, stupid." A crinkled book is shoved into my hands. Eat pray love. The lady at the counter scans my stuff one item at a time with languid assuredness. I stare at the man behind me, unsure what to say.
"Arthur?" he looks at me like I am insane. "Who the hell is Arthur? My name is Michael."
He reached past me for a grocery barrier and started loading his things onto the belt.
"The cheek of American tourists. By God. You lot should never be allowed to leave your hell of a country."
With an awkward, waxy feeling inside my stomach, I took my bag of food and left.
When I got outside, I saw it had started to rain.
Cos you're a shooting star
As I look from afar
You broke into this life and left a scar
Cos I'm looking for direction
Through mirrors and reflections
And from where I stand
My only chance is you
A/N: thank you to my beta, titoes. i like this story, actually, although im not sure... i hope you understand it? im trying to teach myself how to play with plots, deaus ex machina, and time at the moment, and am still working out the kinks. hopefully i will get better. my beta didnt get it, i had to explain it to her. :/ but yeas...
i do not own hetalia or the characters, yo.
generation vice will be updated within the next 24 hours, fo those of you who are interested.