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Harder than it seems Ch.13
America walked out into the garden of his Virginia house, absentmindedly tugging on the collar of his white dress shirt and blue sweater vest combination. At least England had let him roll the sleeves up to his elbows and wear nice looking jeans instead of khakis like he was.
"Hey Arthur? You out here already?"
"Over here, love." England was standing at the far end of the yard, inspecting his rose bushes with a critical eye. He was wearing his Oxford shirt and green sweater vest combination along with khaki pants and loafers. Not very special to America, but that was only because he seemed to wear the get-up almost everyday. "Do you think we should stand here or by the large oak and bloodroot?"
"I don't know... I kinda like the sky in the background here... OH! Dur. I came out to let you know I finally got A.J. into that dress you got her. Don't think she'll be in it for long though." At that moment a high pitched squeal and laughter rang through the garden. Alice came running past her parents, apparently chasing something. She would be turning six that December and was a running, jumping, joyful troublemaker if her parents ever knew one. America caught her and quickly lifted her up. He blew loud raspberries into her stomach causing her to kick and shake with laughter, nearly knocking out the small berets in her hair. Since about age two England had been cutting it in the same fashion as his own in order to "maintain some semblance of control" over the choppy locks that graced both of the green-eyed figures. America didn't mind too much, since it made A.J. look almost exactly like his favorite Brit.
"Daaaaadddyyyy! I need to catch Flying Mint Bunny!"
"What did Flying Mint Bunny do?" England asked as he carefully straightened his shirt cuffs and his daughter's berets. America put the girl down and she jumped back to face them.
"He chewed on my dress! See?" She twisted around and pulled the back hem of her white spring dress to show off the small teeth marks. England knelt down to inspect the frayed edge and groaned.
"I just bought this too... No matter. We still need to take the picture while the lighting is good enough." That was the whole point of getting dressed up in the first place. America and A.J. whined and looked up at England with puppy dog eyes. Every so often, England would hire a professional cameraman (though this time it was a woman) in order to get a good shot of America and he. The last time he had done this, Alice had been only one so there was really no reason for them to be complaining. The Englishman crossed his arms and stood his ground. "Calm down, you two. The faster we take it, the sooner you can get back to whatever video game you were playing before hand." They both cheered and hugged England's waist.
They arranged themselves nicely in front of the rose bushes, Alice locking her smile on until she heard any possible variation of 'done'. America wrapped his arm around England's waist and propped the other on his hip before turning on his mega-watt grin. England placed his hands lightly on Alice's shoulders and placed a reserved but visible smile on his face. The photographer, having worked with young children before, silently snapped a few before speaking.
"Okay, I think I –"
"YAY!" Alice cheered before trying to bolt away. England grabbed hold of her shoulder straps and made to pull her back, but she quickly raised her arms and slid free of the garment, much to the shock of her British parent.
"You – CHEEKY MONKEY! Alice Joan Kirkland, get back here this instant!" Alice ran back into the house, England hot on her trail while America was practically choking with laughter. The photographer even bothered laughing at the scene.
"Um. I was gonna say I think I got a few good shots, so you should be good. You should be able to pick these up in a few days or so." America calmed himself enough to speak.
"Great. Thanks a lot. He really likes this sorta thing so we gotta do it every so often." She nodded and packed up her equipment to leave. When America went back into the house, he could still hear England chasing their child back and forth across the levels. When a high pitched 'Nooooooo' was heard, America could picture England finally catching her and pulling the dress back over her head. Sure enough, England came down the stairs looking slightly disheveled and carrying a giggling Alice in one arm.
"Is she...?" he asked breathing heavily.
"Yeah, she's gone." America said with a restrained laugh. England sighed and allowed Alice to jump out of his grip and run into the living room. America stripped himself of the sweater vest and kissed the (temporarily) defeated Englishman on the forehead. "Don't worry, she said we got some good ones." England brushed him away and grumbled to himself.
"Which one dearest?" England called back. He had it ingrained into his child's system to refer to them both as her fathers, at least when not alone. Or when America was in ear shot.
"Big Daddy!" America grinned and jogged into the room.
"I need help with my game." She was playing Barbie Horse Adventures: Wild Horse Rescue and was having a bit of trouble on one level. "I can't find the last baby horse." She looked up to her gaming father for advice and America took a quick glance at the scenery.
"Have you checked around that bunch of trees?" Alice quickly investigated the area and jumped up when she found the lost foal.
"Thanks Daddy." America sat down on the couch to watch her play a bit more, wondering how he let a 1 out of 5 star game into his house, and smiled brighter when England came into the room. He gestured for him to join him on the couch, which he did with a quick eye roll.
"What now?" America asked with a pout.
"I'm right as rain. I'm just the only person that seems to care about preserving memories." America laid his head back against the couch and groaned.
"Artie, it's one picture. I think we take enough in one year to make up for it." England hit his thigh in retaliation.
"Goodness sakes, sit up. I only do it because we won't see Alice like this forever. She's growing up so fast." America nodded but shrugged. There was a comfortable silence for a good ten minutes, while Alice continued to search for all the missing horses from her ranch. England glanced at his partner for a moment and furrowed his prominent eyebrows in worry. America was biting his lip and looking off in the distance. England kept looking and sure enough he saw it. America was thinking about something very hard. Before England could stop the flow of thought, America's cogs fit into place and the potentially dangerous light came on.
"Hey. I got an idea." America said smiling brightly. England's hand was grabbed and they were suddenly moving down the hallway. Suddenly America stopped and turned back. "A.J.?"
"Uh huh?" She answered.
"You remember Daddy's cellphone number right?" A.J. sang it off with practiced ease. Her parents had taught her all the emergency information (their numbers, the house address, etc.) by singing it to different tunes. The house address, for example, was to "Dona Nobis Pacem", which she went ahead and started humming for practice's sake. "Good job, baby. If you need us, call that ok?"
"Okay!" the young girl smiled and got back to more pressing matters. Someone had found one of her horses before her and she had to race them for it.
America dragged England by the hand toward the basement, but before he could open the door, the irate Brit stopped them.
"America, what the bloody hell are you doing?" he angrily whispered. America smiled and whispered back.
"Well, I was thinking, since we only get to see A.J. this age once, why not just do it over?" England looked confused.
"What are you going on about? We can't just make Alice re-live her life."
"No no no. I mean... do it again." America wrapped his arms back around England's waist and started kissing his face gently. Meanwhile England was trying to get at what America was saying. He wasn't about to turn back time and raise an infant again... oh.
"Oh good Lord. America, you can't mean –"
"Uh huh." America whispered with a smirk. He opened the basement door and started pulling them down. "This is where you keep all your creepy magic stuff right?"
"Well most of it is back home but – THAT IS BESIDES THE POINT! What the bleedin' – You can't expect me to just go along with this out of the blue!" America rolled his eyes and simply picked the struggling man up and over his shoulder with a quick pat on his backside.
"Come on Mommy." he said with a laugh and bounded down the stairs.
"AMERICA! Can we please talk about this before we do something rash – Don't you DARE touch my magik circle!" Meanwhile, up the stairs, Alice was too preoccupied with her race to hear England's screams and America's laugh clearly, so she didn't bother listening in.
Well this is it. This is the end of this series. Don't worry though I have a sequel planned out so you will see dear Alice and our favorite Anglo-American pair again. Thanks so so so so much for everyone who has followed me for months and watched this story grow. I love each and every one of you 3 (especially the ones who comment and review ;D)
Hetalia and all related characters belong to Himaruya