Peace on Earth

"This is nice," Arthur says quietly. Alfred glances at him with a lopsided smile and silently offers a gloved hand. Their fingers lock together in front of the puffing heater and the old, faithful truck rumbles deeper into the night, following the strings of Christmas lights.

"I like this one," Alfred comments as the radio changes tunes and Christmas Canon plays peacefully. A little snow spirals down onto the warm windshield and crystallizes prettily on the glass before the wiper blades swish the designs away. Arthur hums in contentment and takes a sip of his hot tea out of the thermos Alfred packed for him. It has too much peppermint syrup in it, but for once, Arthur doesn't really mind. It must truly be a Christmas miracle, as very little can check Arthur's tongue when it comes to bad tea.

The night is so peaceful though, and each quiet little moment hangs sweetly between them, like glittering baubles on evergreen boughs. Arthur can't bring himself to gripe, and Alfred has ceased his never-ending stream of chatter, at least for the time it takes for the Trans-Siberian Orchestra to croon through the chorus.

"It's a little bit funny, but being here right now reminds me of Christmas Eve in the prison camp," Arthur says with a smile a little sad around the edges. Alfred laughs a bit hollowly.

"My Christmas present reminds you of being in a prison camp? Wow. Here I thought I was being pretty romantic," Alfred jokes in a rare moment of self-depreciation. Arthur rolls his eyes half-heartedly and gives the lad's hand a squeeze.

"It's not a bad wartime memory. You remember the story, surely. There was a man who carved a violin out of some old bed slats. It was Christmas Eve, just like tonight, but it was raining instead of snowing—"

"And he played Silent Night. Everyone joined in really slowly and then—"

"Ludwig sang along in German outside the door of the barrack. He was crying. I'll never forget that," Arthur says thoughtfully.

"We've seen a lot of Christmases together since then," Alfred muses. The song changes to a livelier tune and Alfred smiles at Arthur again, thinking of some long ago Christmas with a scratchy record player waiting for Arthur under the tree, under a big, shiny red bow. Maybe Arthur remembers and maybe he doesn't. Each year has brought gifts and memories and special moments of deep love that seem especially meaningful when the snow is thick and the fireplace is crackling.

"I like this Christmas the best," Arthur finally replies, his green eyes lit softly with icicle glow as they roll slowly past a particularly festive yard.

"You say that every year," Alfred replies, smiling all the same. Arthur squeezes his boy's hand again and lets his shaggy blond hair press against the cold chill of the window.

"I say it every year that I spend Christmas with you, because it only keeps getting better," Arthur says quietly. His blush is cooled by the glass and he doesn't meet Alfred's eyes, but the American knows he has just been given his gift for the evening.

Theirs is an eternity of Christmases, decades of both decadence and despair, miles and miles of twinkling lights stretched over years of eves spent just like this one, together and in love on all those lovely holiday nights, both snowy and sometimes even a little silent.

"Merry Christmas, England," America says gently, sincerely.

"Merry Christmas, love. This was a wonderful present."

The truck rolls to a stop in front of the brightest house on the block, Alfred's own stately home. Arthur leans across the stick shift and kisses America, his breath still crisp with peppermint tea. They kiss until the truck is covered in snow dust and they feel like they are entirely alone on the earth. In the cup holder, Arthur's peppermint tea goes cold, and the fuzzy little lumps of marshmallow in Alfred's hot chocolate simmer down to foam. This Christmas Eve kiss is special to both of them, for they have long suspected it is this kiss that has the power to bring a little peace to their worlds.

A/N: Happy Holidays to everyone! Hope it's merry and bright and filled with love for all. And remember! If you live in England or America, every time you feel warm and fuzzy on Christmas day…it's because Alfred and Arthur are getting it on. ;)