Disclaimer: Well, according to the law I don't own Hetalia…this is sad but probably for the best as I don't speak Japanese and if I did the series would be full of this stuff.
A/N: This one gave me some trouble. I've had this little bunny bouncing around my head for quite some time now because I really wanted to write a piece about someone on a train. This is what ended up happening when I finally found a character… I love this pairing to pieces but they are really hard to write so kudos goes to any USUK writers out there. Another kudos to PinkMenace1227 for being a lovely Beta!
There's just something about trains. There was just something about them that made them the right place to go every time he lost his temper. Perhaps it was the blurred scenery and fast pace that gave him the illusion of having a destination; maybe it was the fact that he didn't have a destination and he knew it; maybe it was going fast and going nowhere: that mindless movement that was enough to get anyone to stop thinking.
Because sometimes he thought too much.
Water droplets slid down the smooth glass of the window he was looking out of. It wasn't raining—that would have been too perfect—but it had been before he'd gotten mad, like a foreshadowing of things to come. He regretted it now of course, he regretted a lot of things, but he would have been lying if he said he hadn't seen this argument coming.
They got into them frequently, arguments. They got into them very frequently. Sometimes warranted, sometimes not, but they both had relatively short fuses and they both knew how to set each other's off.
Rarely did he ever board a train though.
His ride came to a halt in front of another station (the fifth one so far, three away from the end of the line) with a slight squeaking of wheels. He watched the new passengers swarm on, looking down at their shoes and trying to avoid eye-contact with their fellow travelers.
The sigh he emitted clouded the window, now free of any water droplets. Was everywhere like that? he mused. No matter where he went would everybody avoid his eyes? It seemed like a sad sort of world to him. So many good things came from just meeting someone else's eyes: smiles, laughs, muted hello's, tiny signs of acknowledgement that assures people that there are others. If avoided such small things—things that lead to things much greater—could be missed.
The café was busy. It was the morning rush so that was to be expected, but it was still busy.
The white noise of dozens of tired grumbles melded together and he tried to block them all out and enjoy his morning paper. Already though five people had tripped over his computer bag and the chair across from him had been occupied (and vacated thankfully) twice.
Suddenly the chair opposite him was yanked from his table for the third time. Annoyed by the sudden interruption his eyes flicked up to the intruder.
His eyes met sky-blue ones, hidden slightly behind glass frames.
The owner of the eyes smiled sheepishly as he eased himself into his chair. "Hi," he murmured, almost apologetically, but not quite.
He nodded. "Hello." He replied.
Sadly his lips twitched into the ghost of a smile. Yes, things much greater.
By now the assorted people had climbed aboard the train, eyes still firmly glued to the dirty floor below them as if it held the secrets of the universe. Somewhere behind him a mother tried to quiet a squalling baby and as the train began to move again the newcomers were jostled around before they were able to find their footing or locate seats.
It seemed to him quite like life: arriving to the next hurdle only to have the ground jerked out from beneath you before you can clear it.
"Is this seat taken?"
He looked up. Gesturing to the empty seat in front of him was an old man in a black cloak, this combined with the white square located at the stiff collar at his neck gave his occupation away. Still, not one to be impolite he shook his head allowing the preacher to take the seat.
The two sat in silence. He carefully avoided eye contact despite his past musings. And the train rumbled on to carry him towards nothing, and away from another regret.
It wasn't until after the sixth stop that the preacher began talking.
"You look like someone running away from a problem."
"You just don't care, do you?!"
"What do you mean I don't care?"
"I mean you should stop acting like a toddler for once and fucking do something yourself!"
"Excuse me for being busy trying to help pay the rent!"
"Oh please your sorry excuse for a job can't even pay for the groceries; without my income we'd be starving and on the streets."
"Fuck you, Arthur! I'm trying here!"
"Not hard enough!"
He turned away from the window slowly, reluctant to be drawn from his thoughts, yet thankful at the same time for being brought back to the present. He arched a sizeable eyebrow at the preacher, "And how do you suppose that, father?"
"Am I wrong?" the Preacher pressed.
He shrugged wordlessly.
"So it's a domestic problem is it? Argument with the wife?" the Preacher was grinning slightly, a small twinkle in his eye; one that spoke of understanding.
It bothered him, if only because he really wished to be left alone; that's why he had boarded the train in the first place, to be alone. Alone without being alone, surrounded by people who were too wrapped up in their own misgivings and issues to worry about a man in the corner. He also knew that this preacher wouldn't understand, not because the nature of his problem was particularly complicated—the Preacher was already spot on about that, he had had a domestic—but it was who he had the problem with that wouldn't be understood by the Preacher. Hoping it would be enough to be left alone he looked the Preacher in the eye and shook his head once.
The Preacher flinched ever so slightly away from the enunciated word. The smirk was gone now, as was the glint in his eye. "Ah." was all he said.
"You don't approve." He didn't ask it, because there was no need to; it was perfectly obvious what this man thought.
The Preacher cleared his throat and shifted a little awkwardly in his seat. When he finally looked up from his lap his expression was neither chiding nor disapproving. "No I don't approve."
He rolled his eyes and was about to turn away again when the preacher continued. "But you don't look like you need a preacher, just a friend."
His eyes snapped back to the preacher. He would be lying if he said he wasn't surprised; people here were a great deal less tolerant about "his lot" then they were where he came from. Of course, he'd grown used to it, for every three people he encountered that were disapproving there was always at least one person who supported him or didn't care either way. However most of the churchgoing folk he ran into were less than tolerant.
"I'm sorry?" he replied, still a bit stunned.
The preacher sighed. "I don't approve, but I recognize that it's not my place to say. You look like you need help, not admonishment and I'd rather relieve you of your burdens then add onto them."
He studied the preacher for a moment. The words were sincere and though he hated to admit it, the preacher was right. He was in need of some help.
He visibly deflated in his seat. "You're right."
The preacher smiled. "I thought so. What happened?"
"I HATE you!"
"I wish I'd never met you!"
"Just go away!"
Running a hand down the length of his face he thought of how to explain. "We got into an argument," he started. "We argue a lot, over stupid little things mostly and we know that; we just like to bicker, we don't usually mean anything by it. But lately it's all we seem to be able to do."
"And todays argument was particularly horrible?" the Preacher guessed.
"It's just…" he glanced down at his hands which were carefully folded in his lap. "I love him. I honestly and completely love him despite the fact that he's an absolute idiot at the worse possible times and that he annoys me to no conceivable end most days. Lately though it just seems so…different.
"I don't know if it is because his feelings for me are changing or if I am really capable of making him that furious." He took a deep breath. "And today I said some exceedingly hurtful things, and he said his fair share as well. I didn't mean any of them. I don't even remember why we were fighting."
The Preacher smiled and readjusted the robes on his lap. Slowly the train rattled to a stop at the seventh station.
"How long have you been together?"
He smiled out the window—he liked to watch the boarding people, it was entertaining to see the different characters who road trains. "Almost two and a half years now, with one disastrous two week break up in the middle."
"And your er, partner, what's he like?" the Preacher asked.
His smile deepened slightly, but he kept his gaze fixed firmly on the landscape outside the window.
"He's the second most infuriating person I know. He's childish at best, obnoxious at worst and can be a pig-headed idiot. He loves junk food too much and always teases be about my cooking, and is still into those stupid comic books and videogames.
"Yet at the same time he's never anything but honest with me. And he does care. He can be such a charmer too and he knows it. His mood tends to be infectious as well. And despite all his faults I love him, and I hope he still loves me. More than anything."
"So I was thinking of going out dancing tonight."
He met the blue eyes shining with mirth with a sharp glare of his own. He was trying to read and enjoy a nice evening in but of course the other would just ruin all of his plans. "Good for you," he replied tartly, hoping to convey his opinion through his tone. "Hope you have fun."
The man above him grinned crookedly. "Well I need a hot date Arthur."
His eyes narrowed and he went back to his book. "I'm sure you'll find someone."
The other groaned exaggeratedly and flopped beside him dramatically. He managed to squeeze himself between the arm of the chair and the object of his affections. "I'm sure I could too, but I want to take you, tight-ass."
"Git." He slapped the shoulder nearest him. "I don't want to go out anywhere tonight. I plan on sitting up all night and reading, so you'll just have to go out dancing without me."
The other pouted and snatched the book from his grip. "C'moooon! I refuse to let you sit in here and collect dust on a perfectly good Saturday!" The smile on his companions face had returned, and he found himself yanked up unceremoniously by the arm.
He was spun around a few times, protesting all the while and trying to ignore the others pleas. He didn't want to go out anywhere with anybody and he was adamant about that. Somehow amidst a flurry of pleads and childish whines he found himself pinned against the chair his sides being mercilessly tickled by a man who was hell-bent on getting what he wanted.
"Alright, alright!" he finally gave in, breathless with laughter. The beaming smile on the others face grew even wider and brighter at the answer. "You win you absolute wanker!"
"Yes!" He was yanked to his feet in one motion and spun around using the momentum form the same movement. "Put on your dancing shoes Artie, we've got the whole night ahead of us!"
He could feel the tears building in his eyes and he tried to blink them away before he focused back onto the Preacher. The man was staring at him with a contemplative look in his eye. Then the Preacher leaned forward: elbows braced on knees, hands folded together.
"When you love somebody," the Preacher finally began, "it's easy to hurt them, because you know them as well as you know yourself. You know all the correct buttons to push so, to speak. It's because you love them that you can hurt them so deeply. But if your love is requited then that same love can also heal the wounds."
He nodded. The Preachers words were true, unfortunately they were nothing he couldn't figure out himself. They certainly emulated his relationship up until now. How he wished he hadn't said what he had; if he had controlled himself then he might still be sure it was the same relationship. Leave it to him to fuck something like this up, only he was capable of doing it.
"Do you know why I became a preacher?"
His look turned vaguely amused—as they had only just met there was no way he could possibly know—and the Preacher returned the subtle look with a smile that revealed his awareness of the question. He shook his head anyway signaling the Preacher to continue, admittedly curious as to what this story had anything to do with his issue.
"I became one, because of love."
His amusement turned to surprise. "I don't quite understand," he admitted.
The Preacher smiled again. "I didn't expect you to, you see," here the Preacher leaned back in the seat though eyes remained connected to his, "growing up I was quite the skeptic. I didn't believe very much without considerable concrete evidence, so concepts like love and God were foreign to me.
"Most people, I've learnt, believe in God. If you walk up to someone on the street and asked them 'do you believe in God?' the answer, nine times out of ten, is 'yes'. What they believe about Him is up to their own interpretations, but they still think, however remotely, that He is there.
"This blind faith was strange to me. This love and obsession for a mythical entity who in all probability—according to fact—did not exist. I didn't understand it, but I wanted to. I'd always heard about 'the glory of God' and 'God's love' but I myself had never experienced anything more than a parents love for a child. That is why."
He continued to stare at the Preacher. There had to be more to the sotry than that.
"What did you find?"
The Preacher smiled. "Faith.
"God's love comes from faith, he loves you for having faith in him, for believing in him; of course God is a more complex being and there is much more to it but…" the Preacher stopped himself mid-tangent. "Anyway, my point is that you have to have faith. Have faith in love, believe in it, trust it, and believe, trust and have faith in those you choose to love."
The Preacher leaned forward again, eyes boring into his with a look of such sincerity and intensity he almost had to look away. But he didn't, almost couldn't really. He kept his gaze locked with the Preachers and listened.
"Have faith in the one you love. You love him, feel that love and how strong it is; put your faith in it and talk to him, apologize, it's the best thing you can do for you both."
Just as the Preacher finished speaking the train slid into the last stop this way on the line. Eighth and last: his nowhere.
Evidently this was not the same case for the Preacher. "Well, this is my stop. I hope you'll do good on what I said?"
He smiled, the spell of the Preachers eyes breaking, but the weight of his worlds remained. "I will, thank-you."
The Preacher nodded. There was a short silence as the Preacher regarded him one last time. 'What is your name?"
Without hesitation he replied: "Arthur, my name is Arthur."
"Well Arthur, good luck to you." A pause. "And just so you know, while I am a bit…disapproving, never will I ever believe that love, in any form, is a sin." And he with those parting words he was gone.
Arthur turned in his seat to glance out the window and onto the platform as the train pulled away, hoping to get one last look at him. All things considered he shouldn't have been terribly hard to spot but Arthur barely got a glimpse of the hem of a black robe before the train moved too far back along the track and the eighth platform disappeared.
It had begun to rain by the time Arthur arrived back at his station and he swore violently as he was soaked through. It'd most likely be raining all the way to the apartment.
'And just when I want to make a sodding impression. Damnit!" Hurriedly he grabbed a newspaper from an abandoned stand and lifted it above his head through he knew it wouldn't do anything. The paper was soggy within two seconds.
A sudden sense of urgency swept through him, reached forward into his chest, gripped his heart and began and began to tug him forward, west, towards home. It was overwhelming and took his breath away like he was going into a panic. The intense emotion left him with only one thought and one option and without any more preamble he was legging it towards home.
Home for him was a shabby apartment just big enough for two, bought on a student and English teacher's monthly salaries. Home for him was currently becoming clearer through the sheeting rain, the drab apartment complex growing slowly larger as Arthur steadily grew closer.
Arthur's newspaper was nothing more than a semi-dissolved tissue in his hands when he reached their door. He was almost doubled over panting; in some corner of his mind he wondered how he'd managed to make the distance in his rain-drenched suit weighing him down, but then he remembered the Preacher's words and remembered that he loved the man behind that door.
He loved him. He had to believe in that.
So he took a deep breath and opened the door.
The first thing that hit him was a warm blast of air. The heating had been turned up so high that he could feel it right through the dripping clothes hanging from his thin frame and he felt a shiver run down his spine at just how good a feeling it was.
The second thing was a paper airplane.
Despite his initial plan to stay as cool and stoic as possible, until groveling became a necessity, he smiled at the childish gesture. He scooped the paper creation up from the floor where it was becoming slightly soggy from the large puddle he was creating. A note was printed in surprisingly neat penmanship along the edge of the left wing: I'm the kitchen; want to talk.
Arthur gritted his teeth and let a deep breath whistle in and out from between them. A thousand doubts had begun to flit through his mind about all the hundreds of things that could go wrong, the thousands of way he could mess up.
No. He refused to think like that. He loved him. He still loved him and he hadn't left while Arthur had been away; it was a good sign.
As nervous as he was he didn't bother to peel off his sodden jacket, barely remembering to toe off his shoes before he shakily made his way into the apartments small kitchen.
The third and final thing that hit him was a pair of sky-coloured eyes hidden slightly behind glass lenses.
"For some reason I knew you'd be a leftie."
Arthur (confused because he didn't really recognize the other's voice, though in later years would vehemently deny this) cautiously raised his gaze from the paperwork in front of him, to the blue-eyed American who shared his breathing space. "I beg your pardon?"
The young man grinned wider and dropped into the chair across form him ungracefully. "When we met yesterday, you somehow struck me as a leftie."
Arthur was very thankful for the convenient rush of memory that took place at the man's words. Yes, they had met yesterday hadn't they? Still that didn't mean much. "And how did you suppose that?"
The man across from him shrugged. "Just seemed to fit I s'pose." He reached a hand across the table. "Should probably mention that the names Alfred too."
He grasped the offered hand firmly. "Arthur." And he finally looked Alfred in the eye.
For his dignity's sake, Arthur would refuse to acknowledge to himself that he was figuratively swept away by the eyes of the man before him. No one deserved to have eyes in that perfect shade of blue; the kind that reminded you of the first sunny sky after weeks of rain. The fact that thin panes of wire-rimmed glass separated those eyes from the rest of the world didn't make that much of a difference in the intensity of the colour nor did it seem to affect the expressiveness of them, and Arthur had never known what anybody had meant when they had described eyes that 'sparkle' until he'd met Alfred because Alfred's eyes didn't just sparkle, they shone.
They weren't shining now. Yes, they were still that breathtaking blue, but they weren't shining; Alfred was barely even looking at him, staring more at his forehead than at his own eyes. Arthur didn't blame him, he stared back silently almost afraid of what would happen should he speak first.
Eventually Alfred sighed, and lowered his gaze to the floor. "Hi," he said. His voice was uncharacteristically quiet, gentle, as if not knowing how to approach the situation.
"Hullo," Arthur replied.
They sat in an awkward silence for a little longer; both avoiding the others gaze as they, instead, pretended to get more acquainted with the familiar surroundings of their kitchen. It was a while before they looked at one another again.
Slowly Arthur turned his head from the cupboards back to where Alfred was standing. He was already looking at Arthur, leaning casually against the countertop beside him with both hands fisting in the pockets of his sweatpants. Their eyes met.
"I can make dinner." Arthur blurted. It wasn't what he'd meant to say but when Alfred's lip lifted up in a small smile he knew it was a start.
"You'll kill us both if I let you do that," Alfred quipped back. Already the tense atmosphere of the room was dying down in a way that only happens between two people who have known each other for a very long time. No real words of apology needed to be said, no groveling needed to be done, Alfred hadn't pushed Arthur into guilt-ridden words, and with words of casual familiarity both realized that anything that had happened in the past wasn't meant. Even as Alfred pulled out the cellphone in his pocket the water was moving farther under the bridge. "I'll call for Chinese or something if you're really hungry; it's too late to be cooking."
Arthur scowled at the mention of his cooking skills. "My cooking is just fine thank-you," he insisted. "But go ahead, call if you must."
Alfred smirked. "I am."
Everything was far from over. The argument had still been bad and would need to be addressed sometime. Even as Arthur fell into the familiar routine of his life with Alfred he realized this. But for now he was content to lean back and leave it up to fate. He had faith. That was all that mattered.
Additional A/N: Well now that that's over…the Preacher wasn't even meant to be a preacher at first…he was meant to be a little old lady…yeaaaah. Well please drop a review, flame, whatever. Tell me if you liked it hated it, want me to change it, anything as long as it's a review. (I have a goal of getting to at least ten reviews on a fic so maybe…if you please? *shakes empty tin can* Alms for the poor?)