Words For the Wicked
His room was dark, but his eyes were regrettably accustomed to it. Despite the comfortable amount of vision he had, he kept his eyes trained on his only window, covered by black curtains that did little to block the white-blue flashes of lightning coming from outside. In the distance, thunder boomed.
Arthur closed his eyes for the hundredth time that night, hoping, in vain, that sleep would come and he could spare himself the agony of knowing there was another body in the room. A mere three minutes later, his eyes were open again, staring first at his alarm clock,—it read three-twenty-one a.m.—then back at the window.
Another peal of thunder was the only noise accompanying the soft breathing of the two men within the bedroom, until, only a moment later, the soft patter of rain on the road began.
Arthur glanced beside himself where the black sheets of his bed were pulled down and rumpled—another reminder of the fact he had unwelcome company. Well, unwelcome wasn't the best of word choices, but welcome certainly didn't fit the bill; he had a hard time placing his exact feelings on the subject.
Sullenly, the Brit cast another glance toward his clock. Three-twenty-two. He heaved a sigh, prompting his companion for the night to turn around in the desk chair he currently occupied. As the cigarette he held was snuffed and the gray smoke slowly began to curl into oblivion, Arthur broke the silence. "Francis."
It wasn't a question, really, but the Frenchman replied with a curt, "Oui?"
There wasn't an answer for the longest of times, but Francis didn't seemed bothered by this. Eventually, Arthur forced himself to say what had been niggling at his brain since the conclusion of their endeavors earlier in the night. "Why are you still here?"
At this, Francis smiled, though it lacked any real mirth. He avoided the most obvious quip—that it was storming—and answered truthfully. "Because I want to stay."
The reply stung, but Arthur appeared unfazed. "So you can get another round?" he asked bitterly.
Francis caught on to the Brit's tone and chuckled humorlessly, lighting another cigarette. "Don't act like you would mind."
It was true, as unfortunate as Arthur found that; not only was Francis fantastic in bed, he was the object of Arthur's affection that traveled well beyond sexual attraction. Not that he would ever admit it. He knew Francis was only here for his body, and he decided that to be fine; he would give the Frenchman what he wanted, no matter how desperately he wished he could have something more.
"Shut your bloody trap, Frog," he snapped, holding Francis' stare despite himself.
Again, the elder blonde chuckled, this time in a more fond manner. "I won't hold it against you," he told him, lowering his gaze to his ash tray as he stubbed out yet another cigarette.
Arthur played along, untucking his legs from beneath the covers, thankful that, at the very least, Francis wasn't going to make him directly request it. "Of course you wouldn't, pervert."
Francis pushed his chair back from the desk and stood up, sitting back down on the bed beside Arthur, who pretended not to notice that the only thing separating their near-naked forms were the boxers they wore. "What can I say?" he began airily, wrapping an arm around the other male's waist and brushing his lips against his neck. "It's hard to keep away from such a pretty man~"
Arthur grunted, cocking his head a bit. "So that's why you spend so much time in the mirror, is it?"
Francis smirked, trailing the hand that wasn't currently resting on Arthur's side up his thigh. "Are you admitting I'm pretty, Angleterre?"
Arthur's response was a snort, but, as his companion's soft kisses on his neck became insistent sucking, his wording was not nearly so careful. "A-ah, 'pretty' is only the beginning."
He hadn't even realized the extent of what he'd said until Francis pulled back, eyebrows raised in amusement. "It is, hm?"
A vibrant blush adorned the younger male's cheeks. "You're also rude," he rebuked, harrumphing. "And prideful, and obnoxious. The list goes on and on."
Francis rolled his eyes, sitting up and straddling Arthur's legs. "You're rude and prideful and obnoxious," he retorted, letting his hands wander over the other's chest and taking delight in the content sigh he received. "You don't see me complaining."
Arthur decided not to reply, and Francis took the hint, treating him to a heated kiss and a sharp tug on his hair. Moments later, he found himself beneath the Frenchman once again. If it weren't for his thoughts being pushed out of his head by more pressing matters, he would have been wondering why he did this to himself, time and time again.
By the time soft pants and sighs had subsided, Arthur's alarm clock read four-o'-two a.m. in painfully bright digits. The aforementioned man groaned, turning away from the red neon and curling up against Francis' body.
The latter yawned, hugging Arthur closer. "It stopped raining," he said, eyeing the window pointedly.
Arthur's heart dropped. "Oh, yes, it has, hasn't it? I suppose that means you'll be leaving?"
"Mm, non, not yet." He smiled, peppering kisses over Arthur's face.
Arthur didn't speak—he simply hummed in satisfaction, letting the other press one last kiss to his temple and whisper in his ear. "Je t'aime."
That was all it took for Arthur to recoil, glaring daggers at the Frenchman. "Don't you dare say that to me," he snapped.
Francis sat up, giving him a bewildered look. "Quoi? Why not?"
"Because I don't want you to lie to me right to my fucking face." His voice cracked on the last word, and he made a frustrated sound. "You—you fucking bastard!" Again, his voice cracked, and he was mortified to find that he was crying.
"Don't you say a thing, Francis. I don't want to—"
"Wait, just stop."
"—hear you, of all people, telling me all this bullshit, because—"
"—I actually care! But I guess that's my fault, isn't it?" Arthur laughed bitterly, throwing his hands up. "It's what I get for—"
"Silvousplait, stop this."
"—falling in love with a man that'll fuck anything with a pulse, and—"
"Arthur, shut up and listen to me!" Francis snapped, sighing when Arthur finally stopped talking. "Angleterre, mon amour, I don't know why you think I'm lying to you, because, I assure you, I am not."
"Because you don't love me."
"Why would I say it if I didn't mean it?"
"How the hell should I know? To get a laugh out of it, perhaps? 'Ha, ha, Britain fell for that.' You probably tell all of your bed mates that! 'Oh, je t'aime, je t'aime.' Then you go and screw their friend or something."
Francis' eyebrows furrowed, and he looked a bit hurt. "Arthur, is that what you really think? That I leave you to go sleep with someone else?"
"That is exactly what I think," the Brit hissed, furiously wiping at his cheeks and growling.
At this, the elder male sighed, closing his eyes for a brief moment. When he opened them again, he was staring at the ceiling. "I haven't slept with anyone since we started this whole... I'm not sure what to call it—frequent visitation, I suppose. Whatever it is to you, I want you to know it's out of love on my part. If I'm just a body for you to use, then..." He trailed off and smiled sadly, finally looking down to find a thoroughly flustered Briton. Though they held each other's stares for the longest of times, neither of them spoke.
Arthur was searching Francis' face for any sign he was joking, but there didn't appear to be any. But he was wary, still—less so, to the Frenchman's credit, but wary nonetheless. He wanted to believe him— wanted to believe that his love was returned—but he didn't want to risk getting himself hurt if Francis turned out to be playing him. Arthur hadn't always been so wary and protective of himself, but, as a nation, the many millennia he'd lived had soured that naïve, open personality. Everyone from Antonio to Kiku to, most recently, Alfred had taken a toll on him. He didn't want to lose the only person he had left, even if he was just a fuck buddy, and if all Francis was after was to get him to admit he loved him...
"Angleterre?" Francis broke the silence, looking concerned. "Angleterre, you're crying again."
Presently, the Brit snapped out of his thoughts, waving the other's concern off. Fine. Arthur would play along with this. He'd see if France really cared.
"If you really...love me like you say," he began, sputtering on the word "love" in such an obvious manner that he, himself, winced at it, "then, tell me, when did you realize it?"
Francis flushed slightly, and Arthur didn't know whether to feel smug for catching him off guard or guilty for asking a question for his own selfish gain. Before he had time to figure it out, the elder male replied. "I-it's been quite a while, so I w-wouldn't remember exactly—"
"Ha," Arthur said accusingly, "you were lying. You don't remember because you weren't able to make something up on the spot." Once he'd finished his accusation, any bit of smugness he'd felt at calling the man out faded into a sharp ache in his chest. He was lying; he doesn't love me, really.
For a moment, Francis actually looked embarrassed, but he looked away and regained his composure. "Arthur, I remember, all right? I just...it was so long ago. It makes me feel rather hopeless."
Arthur's prominent eyebrows were drawn together in confusion now. "What? That's dumb. Why would—"
"It was that day in the woods," the Frenchman blurted out. Arthur watched as a dark blush began to creep up on his face, and he was slightly taken aback at having witnessed it.
"Wh-what day in the—"
"Remember? We were picking berries, and you were jealous that my basket held more, so you grabbed my arm and knocked the entire thing on your head." Francis smiled warmly, then chuckled, sounding a bit absent now that he'd relaxed into the memory. "I laughed and you got upset. To cheer you up, I told you that, since mine were on the ground now, you had more berries than I did. You were so happy; it was just the cutest thing, and—"
Finally, the memory registered, and Arthur interrupted the other with a half-formed proclamation. "Wait, that was the day we..."
"Met," Francis supplied, voice uncharacteristically soft.
Again, Arthur stared at him, eyebrows still furrowed, now more so in disbelief. In the absence of a real response, he broke that self-imposed silence with, "You've been in love with me since the day we met." It wasn't a question; Arthur supposed it should have been (because he should still be skeptical, shouldn't he?), but it wasn't.
Slowly, Francis nodded. "It's sort of silly, but I'd always believed in love at first sight, so I recognized what it was... Sure, it was rather dismal at times, throughout the years, given our history...but I never fell out of love." He gave a laugh: A sound caught between nervous and bitter. "There were points at which I hated you, but my heart never failed to ache whenever I stayed mad too long." Once more, he paused, this time to flash a sweet smile in Arthur's direction.
The Brit blushed, trying, in vain, to think of a response and recover his dignity. All he came up with was, "Wh-wha—that's—you—but..."
"What else can I say?" Francis shrugged, offering a light sigh. "I fell in love with a man my people hated. He's got a voice with enough power to move even the mightiest armies, eyes that emeralds envy, and a heart he never realized I've been after for centuries."
"Before you kick me out, I want you to know something." The Frenchman's voice lowered considerably as he took the other's hands in his own. "I know you've been hurt many times in the past."
"G-God, Francis, don't," Arthur choked, hating himself for tearing up again. Why did these sorts of things always happen at the worst of times?
Pursing his lips, the elder man gently shook his head and continued. "I know I've hurt you. I don't know if this means anything, but I'm sorry."
Arthur was quiet for a mere five seconds before he spoke up again. "Francis, let me go." Francis obeyed without a word and released the other's hands. Almost at once, Arthur threw his arms around Francis' neck, leaning in until their foreheads touched. "You bastard," he said, voice quivering painfully, though, for once, he paid it no heed. "I thought—I didn't know, and, well..."
The Frenchman's answering smile was enough for Arthur to regain his confidence. Despite his qualms, he closed his eyes and said, "I love you."
Francis' smile only grew warmer as he delivered a gentle kiss to the other's lips, prompting his eyes to open again once the brief gesture was concluded. Met with unusually shining green eyes (oh, how he loved Arthur's eyes—they reminded him of the woods they used to play and squabble in as kids), he gave a satisfactory hum and stole another kiss. "Does this mean you believe me?" he asked, only half teasing. Arthur nodded, so Francis continued. "Does this mean you trust me?" The response was just the slightest bit hesitant, but, again, the younger blonde nodded. "...Does this mean I can stay here the rest of the night?"
Arthur pulled away and lightly shoved him, laughing once. "Yes, you stupid git."
"Name-calling is rude, mon amour," Francis joked, laying down and pulling him into a sleepy hug.
Arthur simply snorted, but reserved any rebuke he may have had for a more appropriate time. Throughout the next few hours, he gradually fell asleep, and Francis mentally planned what he should do for their first date.
That night, Francis fell asleep to the sound of even breathing beside him, and the image of those smiling eyes that emeralds envy glimmering in his dreams.