De-anon from the kinkmeme at hetalia-kink; requester wanted a realistic portrayal of obsessive-compulsive disorder, in a manner different from the usual portrayal of arranging things alphabetically etc. I decided to take it in the direction of the unfortunate phenomenon of obsessive/intrusive thought patterns. While this is often the basic problem behind the pattern obsession in commonly-recognised OCD forms, it may also take the form of an uncontrollable terror that one is going to do something one finds disgusting, such as committing blasphemous or taboo sexual acts - in this case, child molestation. It's a very unpleasant thing to suffer from, because actually telling someone that you think you're a paedophile is so taboo that it's near-impossible to bring oneself to ask for help, and unless you ask for help nobody will be able to reassure you that you're not one. Arthur is quite definitely not one in this fic, for the record.
Fic contains discussion of child molestation but no actual occurrences of same, and portrayal of deeply distressing mental disorders. Pairing involves rather warped implications of USUK, may become a healthier version in later chapters.
Much as he tried to forget it in the months to come, he could pinpoint the exact moment it started. Alfred had just looked up in exactly the wrong - or right - way, and the sun from Arthur's living room window gleamed off his hair and the rims of his glasses and he gave Arthur that stupid little smile, and Arthur felt his heart flutter even as his stomach tightened.
"N-no, I don't think so ... just a stomach cramp," Arthur excused himself, looking away and flushing slightly pink. He looked back at Alfred, whose brow had creased slightly in bewilderment, and found himself missing the smile. A face that lovely should never be sad, he found himself thinking.
He'd thought the same thing before, centuries ago, but with a decidedly different tone. Last time, he'd been patching up the infant Alfred's scraped knee and comforting the little boy with a hug. Now, he was blinking like a lovestruck teenager at Alfred - at his baby brother, his own little boy ...
"Well, it's been lovely seeing you, but I'm afraid I'm going to have to ask you to leave," Arthur said faux-brightly, standing up. "Shall I get your coat?"
"Wait, what? Geez, this is sudden - did I do something wrong?" Alfred objected.
"No, no! It's just ... you were right, I am feeling a bit off-colour."
Alfred peered at Arthur through his glasses. "Well, you do look a bit pale and sweaty - are you feverish?" He extended a hand to feel Arthur's forehead, and Arthur swatted it away.
"Careful there, it might be catching! I don't want you coming down with something. The world economy's in an unstable enough state without you getting sick."
"Hey! ... Well, good point. I should be going, in that case. Hope you feel better soon - if you're not okay by tomorrow I'll bring you some fruit or something," said Alfred, shrugging into his leather jacket. Arthur tried to keep his eyes off the way Alfred's muscles moved under his T-shirt, guiltily remembering the days when Alfred was a tiny pudgy little thing who could fit easily in Arthur's arms. "I guess you won't want me to hug you goodbye."
Arthur wanted nothing more, but restrained himself, showing Alfred out with a stiff wave from the front doorstep. Once Alfred was in his car and driving away, Arthur ran up the stairs and just made it to the bathroom in time to drop to his knees in front of the toilet and vomit up the cream tea he'd eaten.
He climbed unsteadily to his feet, stared into the mirror, wild-eyed and pale, and said dully "What the hell is wrong with me?"
He couldn't believe himself. He'd raised Alfred from a tiny child, he fondly remembered the days of Alfred's infancy. And now he was leering at the poor boy like some dirty old man? Poor naive Alfred, who'd lived several human lifetimes but never seemed to truly grow up? He was barely more than a child! Arthur felt sick again. How could this have come on so suddenly? ... Oh God, had it come on suddenly? This could have started at any time. He found himself thinking over every time he'd touched or held Alfred, even back in the earliest days of the colony, raking over every detail for anything untoward. He couldn't remember having thought anything inappropriate about the child, but surely his feelings couldn't have changed this quickly. His poor little boy, what might he have done?
No, he couldn't think like that. It was okay. It was all going to be okay. Sure, it wasn't something he'd expected and it was hardly going to be fun, and he wasn't entirely sure how he'd cope. But he could control it. Stiff upper lip and all that. A gentleman could control himself. If he'd lasted this long without doing anything, he could last forever. Now the problem would simply be ensuring nobody ever found out.
He stripped off and turned on the shower, setting it to cold. No, wait, not cold, he thought to himself, turning the dial. Hot. As hot as I can stand. I need to scrub this away.
He tried to put it out of his mind for the rest of the afternoon, distracting himself with a copy of The Hobbit, but found himself taking another hot shower before bed, and it took him a very long time to get to sleep.