Yes, finally an update! This was published first on tumblr. Enjoy.
Pairings: EngCan, AmeCan/CanAme, mentioned others
Warnings: language, OOCness, smut, gay smut, multiple partners, and sad stuff
Belle = Belgium
Will = the Netherlands
Alistair = Scotland
It begins with Belle coming out of Matthew's hotel room just as Arthur gets off the elevator.
She's flushed and pretty, smoothing her mussed hair with quick hands while she looks down the hallway. When she glances the other way, sees Arthur coming toward her, Belle turns redder than her lipstick and holds out her arms for a hug when Arthur gets close.
"Arthur!" She says, and he smiles at her, a little uncertain, and kisses her upturned cheek.
She's never been good at keeping secrets, and he definitely knows that she is trying to keep him away from Matthew's door.
"My room is that one." Arthur says, edging around her, card key in hand. "Whatever it is, I'm happy not knowing." He can guess, from the sway of her hips, the satisfied glint in her eye, what happened. And he knows, from the way she usually smiles at Matthew, the way she just adores him, like he hung the moon (and, to be honest, Matthew would hang the moon, for her, if she asked), that Belle and Matthew have something of a very friendly relationship.
He's not jealous, Arthur thinks, when he enters his quiet hotel room. He's next door to Matthew's room. Arthur imagines Matthew still sprawled on his bed, probably fussing with a cigarette and lighter, putting more thought into whether or not he should smoke than whether or not he should wash the stain of Belle's lipstick off his mouth, neck, and chest.
Arthur shudders a little, rubs his neck, and absently brushes down the front of his trousers.
He's not jealous.
He knocks on Matthew's door, and Alfred opens the door.
"Arthur." Alfred smiles, eyes going a little wider. "How's it going, old man?"
"Not that old." He grumbles. "Where's your brother? He and I meet tomorrow."
Alfred blinks at him, slow and considering. Then a smile curls up his cheek, and Alfred says, "Yeah, Matt's right here."
And he lets Arthur in.
And he leads Arthur to the bedroom door of the suite, opens it.
And he pushes Arthur into the bedroom, where Matthew is blindfolded with his wrists tied to the headboard.
"It's a thing we do." Alfred says easily, slouching, hands in his pockets. "He's nice like that, yeah?"
Arthur's mouth goes dry, fingers curling into his palms.
There's a tremor in Matthew's bound arms, a tremble in his muscles. Cock hard, curving up to his belly, Matthew still has smears of red down his neck and pink in his cheeks.
"Belle didn't let him…you know." Alfred's at his shoulder, speaking low. "You could fuck him. Denmark prepped him because Matthew doesn't let him fuck him. But, the guy's got thick fingers and he had Matthew writhing—"
And Alfred's voice's voice fades the closer Arthur steps to Matthew. He brushes hair off Matthew's face and leans down, presses a kiss to the corner of his mouth, faint and testing.
Matthew's smile blossoms, a little shy and slow, and Arthur kisses him again. Only firmer, pressing harder until Matthew gasps and lets Arthur deepen the kiss, tongue curling against Matthew's.
He doesn't take his trousers off all the way, just slides them down enough so the zipper won't bite into Matthew's skin. And he kisses him as he slots between his legs, sweeping his hands down Matthew's sides. Arthur kisses, drowns in the soft, pleased sounds Matthew makes, the way Matthew arches up to him, the way Matthew murmurs please while Arthur spreads his legs, thumbs pressing into Matthew's inner thighs.
Arthur fucks him, slow and all rolling hips, pressing in deeper and deeper until Matthew sobs, begs him to go harder, faster, harder, please—
But Arthur kisses him, takes his time, and imagines the slow unravel in Matthew's face by the wrecked way he moans.
Matthew orgasms before him, untouched and then pliant while Arthur finishes. When Matthew catches his breath, Arthur unties his wrists, kisses down his veins, against Matthew's pulse. He pets his arms, kisses his fingertips, the lifelines across his palm. Arthur doesn't pull out, at least not immediately.
He touches the blindfold thoughtfully, but doesn't know if he wants to see Matthew's reaction when he realizes who it was.
Arthur kisses Matthew's cheek. And then he pulls out, pulls up his pants.
Alfred gives him a strange look, narrow and assessing. But Arthur just leaves quietly.
The next day, Matthew doesn't blush, doesn't stammer during their meeting, so Arthur decides that he must not have known.
He takes Matthew out to lunch after the meeting and they grab shawarma from a nearby food truck because Alfred had spent the entire morning session raving about his food trucks. They sit on the steps to the public library and complain about the paper-thin napkins while trying to keep chunks of meat falling into their laps.
When Matthew's smile becomes too much, Arthur just looks at the dappled sunlight on the sidewalk and then the people rushing by and nods while Matthew talks.
He gives Matthew his handkerchief to wipe his fingers when he finishes because the napkins were really terrible. Matthew promises to wash it and give it back even though Arthur says he can keep it.
(When Matthew does give it back, later, washed and warm from his pocket, Arthur is loathe to ever use it again so long as it smells like Matthew's detergent.)
When Matthew is meeting with La Fracophonie, the next day, Arthur and Alfred grab a late brunch an avenue over and manage to get a table in the corner of the patio, away from the street.
"Matthew's kind of a slut." Alfred shrugs, folding and refolding his napkin while they wait. He looks at Arthur and then quickly adds, "Not in a bad way. But he is. And sometimes he asks me to…referee. Sort of. You know?" Leaning forward, Alfred speaks quickly and quietly. "It lets him cut loose, play the field without all the responsibility. No one talks about it the next day. He likes it. I like it. And we get tired of fucking each other." He says it earnestly, a little shyly at the last part.
It is then that the waiter comes by with Alfred's waffles and Arthur's scramble and toast, so both of them break away and sit back.
Arthur knows Alfred and Matthew are still young, will definitely look ages younger years from then. And they're young in a time where they can afford it. They're an island, together, an ocean away from the ones who were born on the battlefield and grew up with narrow gazes and quick tempers. The ocean between them and everyone else protected Alfred and Matthew; Arthur's only delayed until he could conquer it, too.
So Alfred and Matthew can be brazen and bold, cavalier and charming.
Arthur knows he tried very hard to make things good for Alfred, wanted to keep Matthew shielded and safe.
(He failed at both, easily and quickly. It's hard to keep good. And the world became small very quickly, and then there were just no safe places.)
"Do you do it often?" Arthur tries to ask it carefully, does not look at Alfred when he asks.
Alfred answers, expression hidden by the downward angle of his face. "Not usually."
Arthur tries not to feel disappointed.
A few months later, during the G20 meeting, Alfred leads Arthur out of the hotel bar with an arm around his shoulders, gait easy and smile easier.
"Let go." Arthur snaps, but Alfred holds fast.
"I have something you might like."
"No, no. Don't turn around."
Matthew, in the process of taking off his shirt, freezes, his shirt still hooking around his elbows.
"Did you steal the spare cardkey? Al—"
"Get on the bed." Alfred pulls Arthur a little closer when he starts to speak. He gives Arthur a look to silence him. And, still looking at Arthur, Alfred says, "I have someone you like."
Silence rages in the room. Alfred's still grinning and holding Arthur a little too tight. Matthew says nothing.
"I'm not really in the mood tonight, Al." Matthew replies, quietly. "I had an early flight. I'm tired."
"That's unfortunate." Alfred actually looks disappointed, and Matthew's shoulders tense. "You sure?"
"Yeah." Matthew drags out the word, now fiddling with his cuff.
That's how Arthur and Alfred end up back in the bar, knees knocking together under the table, two sticky mugs of beer between them.
"Don't you ever put me in that situation again." Arthur hisses, the table jostling when he shifts. "How dare you—"
"I thought he'd go for it!" Alfred retorts, shoulders tense and withdrawn. Like he's gearing for a fight. Well, Arthur's furious enough to start one. His cheeks still burn from Matthew's silence. "He knew it was you. He likes you. I don't know what his problem is."
"He's not a whore, Alfred. He isn't going to be ready to get fucked at yours or mine pleasure." He tries to pretend his heart there isn't a lament tacked on to the end of that statement.
"Yeah, well. Sucks to be him." Alfred almost grins at that.
Arthur finishes his drink in silence.
It sticks with him, that he knew it was you, and Arthur wonders why Matthew kept silent, keeps silent.
He looks at Matthew, during meetings, studies him from the tip of his lashes and down the sharp line of his nose and across the curve of his mouth. He tries to find it when Matthew greets him, when he says goodbye.
I fucked you, Arthur wants to say, and I want to do it again.
They talk during break with Arthur leaning on Matthew's armrest. They talk during the speeches, sliding a notepad between them.
Arthur's hand on Matthew's forearm. Matthew's fingertips digging into his shoulder as he leans over to reply to Germany.
It's Matthew's cologne in his airspace, Matthew's laughter in his ears.
Arthur knows he is using the wrong word in his thoughts.
It happens again a year later.
Alfred drags him away from Francis and up to Matthew's room, letting them both in with a stolen card key.
Matthew is kneeling on the bed, hands on the headboard, back sloping and bare-arsed.
Arthur can't bite back a swear and Matthew sways, but he doesn't say anything even though it's clearly Arthur behind him. He's still blindfolded, the trailing ends of the red silk falling between his shoulder blades.
Arthur slides the silk away, kissing the revealed skin. He mouths over the freckles there, the scarring, following the bumps of Matthew's spine. He presses his cheek to the back of Matthew's neck, splays his hands on his hips.
He says, "You're lovely." He whispers it, broad palms sliding down Matthew's thighs.
Matthew remains silent, but he's smiling slightly when Arthur tips back his head for a kiss.
Maybe he clings when he fucks Matthew, whispering endearments against his skin, searing promises with each warm breath. He touches him, fingertips flicking over his nipples, down taut muscle, over the jagged ugly scar on his heart.
(He splays his hand against it, thinks I'm sorry, I'm sorry, and slows his thrusting down so slow that he's still, just rocking, lost in something from long ago.)
Matthew touches him, once, really, to take his hand from his hip and bring it to his belly. He rests his hand atop Arthur's tilts his head back, his breathing hitched and unsteady, cock flushed and dribbling as Arthur strokes him.
They come together, Matthew's voice at a whine and Arthur's almost silent.
When his heartbeat slows, he notices Alfred silent, sitting in a backwards chair, arms folded along the chair back, chin resting on his arms. He's frowning, thoughts elsewhere.
Arthur wants to ask to stay, but Alfred suddenly sits up.
"I'll buy you a drink, old man."
At the bar, Alfred casually presses the cardkey into Gilbert's hand while asking what the least shitty beer is on the menu.
Germany frowns as Gilbert flounces off, grin too wide, eyes too bright.
"Matt knows." Alfred says confidently, handing Arthur his drink. "He likes to pick at Gilbert's ego. Apparently he fucks better."
And then Alfred leaves him there, with that still-pretty-shitty beer, and in rumpled trousers, thinking about Matthew's hand on top of his.
Arthur asks Matthew the next day. He corners him during lunch and takes him out for coffee and cake and asks, "I want you to be honest with me. What are you two playing at?"
Matthew frowns, lightly, and picks at his cake with his fork. "We're not playing at anything." He says eventually. "It's just a thing we do. We get tired of just fucking each other."
"So you just fuck anyone else who is interested?" Arthur tries not to sound bitter, tries not to sound angry. But both things have always come easy to him, so he just manages to keep his voice low. But he's perfected the art of sounding cruel at any volume.
Matthew flinches. "No."
"Really." Arthur mutters, flatly. His heart thumps, helplessly. "I wasn't fucking you, you know. Fucking is the wrong word."
"I know." Matthew whispers. "Fucking is the wrong word."
And it takes the wind out of his sails, drags Arthur out of his furious little ball. He looks at Matthew.
Matthew looks at him, lightning quick, and then away. "Fucking is the wrong word."
"I thought we could all get lunch." Alfred says, Francis at his side. He looks at Arthur, then Matthew, and back to Arthur.
"Dinner, then?" Francis asks, looking between Arthur and Matthew, a smile growing. "Or do you two have plans?"
"I have plans with Will." Matthew says apologetically. He doesn't look at Arthur. "Sorry."
So, it's just Francis, Alfred, and Arthur at dinner.
(He sees Will and Matthew smoking in the bar later. The Dutch nation looks relaxed, taking up one side of the booth. Matthew's tapping ash into an ashtray, an easy grin in place.)
("Did you fuck him?" Arthur will whisper during morning session. Matthew will shake his head. During break he will say, "I would never do that to him.")
Matthew and Arthur stop getting placed next to each other during sessions. Arthur ends up giving his spare pen to a sheepish Alfred and the Italies sneak in extra cookies to share with Matthew.
"I'm going to put on weight." Matthew murmurs, holding flimsy-looking napkin filled with tiny jam-filled cookies. He offers them to Arthur. "How can I tease my boss if I can't even fit into my own pants? How can I even tease Alfred?"
They're standing outside the meeting room, being the first ones back but unwilling to enter just yet.
"You've always had a sweet tooth." Arthur says, taking a cookie. "You'd eat bowls of custard and cry for hours—not from a stomachache but because you finished all the custard. I ordered the cooks to stop sneaking you tarts, but you'd always have crumbs on your shirt."
"Alistair was the one who snuck me tarts." Matthew replies mildly.
"Of course he did."
They're still talking when Alfred shows up, his smile flickering for a second, and it becomes clear when he says, "You didn't tell me you had cookies."
"Jam-filled." Matthew's smile flickers, too, but by the time Alfred has bounded over, it's mild again. "Take two. I can't eat them all."
Kiku shows up and Arthur goes back into the conference room with him, Alfred close on his heels. Matthew comes in alongside Francis, unsmiling, with Francis saying something to him quietly.
Arthur knows Alfred intimately, in more than one way, though he usually doesn't pay attention to the nuances in his mood. Alfred tends to oscillate between feelings on bad days, but is usually genial and calm.
Arthur definitely notices when Alfred is tense and moody, slipping out of introspective to outright hostile.
And he is hostile when he pushes out of the chair, kicking it back with his heel, and goes to undo his pants, hand sliding to grasp his half-hard cock.
"I'm horny, too." He jokes, but his eyes are flinty, jaw tense. "Move over."
Arthur watches him while he slides in front of Matthew, idly petting the side of his face while Alfred settles behind Matthew.
There's nothing violent about it and he's touching Matthew's gently. Matthew wasn't tense, but there's a quiet ease that comes to him when Alfred slides in one finger, then two, and then getting more lube.
"Don't mind me." He says, off-handedly. "Arthur's looking a little lonely there, Mattie."
And Matthew dips his head, letting Arthur guide him to his prick.
Matthew's pressing kisses along the shaft, wet, warm kisses, when Alfred slides in, yanking out a moan from Matthew.
"It's been a while." Alfred whispers, staying still, rubbing Matthew's shoulder. His expression is soft, unhappy, and Arthur's confused. He has his fingers tangled in Matthew's hair, watching the dim lighting cast shadows on Alfred's face.
He starts to move, slowly, one hand on Matthew's rear. He's not looking at Arthur, more intent on watching the way he slides into Matthew and then out, at the way it's so easy to sink into Matthew, at how good it feels.
(Alfred says these things, and Arthur stays quiet, just watches the way Matthew's lips stretch around him, thumb brushing the corner of Matthew's lips.)
Alfred's hand eventually slides down the line of Matthew's back as he picks up pace, fucking Matthew harder and harder, until it isn't so much Matthew blowing Arthur, but Matthew becoming more pliant, moving with Alfred's motions. Mouth parted, he moans softly, warm and wet around Arthur's cock.
Alfred's hand reaches the back of his neck, thumb press hard at the base until he slides to the tangle of Matthew's hair. He presses down on Matthew's head, keeping it still on Arthur's cock.
Arthur swears, low and sharp, at the way Matthew's throat flutters. The pit of his belly twists sharp and hot.
And Alfred glances at him, then, gaze electric and cheeks dark. It's sort of unmerciful, all of it, from the silence in his eyes to the set of his jaw.
And then Matthew's breath hitches. And then he gags and Arthur jerks, slipping out of his mouth quickly and trying to quell the sudden coughing fit Matthew has by stroking his cheek, the curve of his jaw.
And then Matthew's cheek is against the bedspread, Alfred against his back, hips flush against Matthew as Alfred drives into him. He takes him hard, wrathful, and Arthur knows he's shouting at Alfred, but Alfred doesn't listen.
Matthew is in the bathroom and Alfred is sitting on the edge of bed, avoiding the edges of where Matthew came and where Alfred's semen dripped out.
Arthur follows Matthew into the bathroom and shuts the door behind him.
"It's not what you think." Matthew says, voice hoarse, a red spot on his cheek from where it met the bedspread. "It's no—"
Arthur kisses him, harshly, at first, until it peters into something softer, less like actual kissing and more of just sharing breath and lips brushing. He eases Matthew into the shower and closes the curtain.
He pulls away long enough to turn on the shower, lets the warm water run and smoothes the wet hair out of Matthew's face.
Matthew looks at him, wide-eyed and wary, and Arthur leans him down for a kiss, anchoring his hand on the nape of Matthew's neck.
Alfred is gone when they get out of the shower, warm and damp. Arthur pulls the dirty sheets off the bed and uses the unfitted sheet to cover the mattress. Matthew curls around him under the covers and Arthur turns off the light.
He doesn't sleep immediately. He stays up and runs his fingers through Matthew's damp, curling hair.
"Half a century ago you would have elbowed him in the nose." Arthur says quietly, tone distraught. He knows Matthew is kind, almost too soft. But he also knows Matthew is a fighter and can be a bastard effortlessly. "You let him."
"It would be better, Arthur, if we didn't talk about what we do and do not do to Alfred." Matthew responds. "You've broken Francis's nose for less. But when it's Alfred, you tend to wring your hands." When Arthur doesn't respond he continues, "And when it's me, you stay quiet so you don't say the wrong thing."
"I do not."
"I'm just saying." Matthew sighs. "I don't want to fight with you."
"But he hurt you."
"Not everyone likes slow and gentle sex, Arthur."
"That was not—"
Matthew sighs, again, and presses closer. "You just don't get it."
Matthew and Alfred don't have to try very hard to look alike. Arthur is ashamed to admit that he really can't tell the difference between them at first glance. It's their expressions that show who they are, and Arthur never pays too much attention to that anyway.
But when his fingertips slide over the scar on Matthew's heart, and Matthew jerks away, Arthur knows he's fucking Alfred.
And he stops.
"Why did you—"
"Bloody hell." Arthur says lowly. "You can even match voices now?"
And Matthew, from his spot by the window, looks over at him suddenly, his expression falling.
Arthur, lip curling in disgust, pulls away from Alfred, leaves him scrambling on the bed.
"I don't even know who to start on." He's shaking, a little, furious and humiliated. Both wear twin looks of shame, and Arthur realizes he hates them both.
"You should start on Alfred." Matthew says, standing up. "It was his idea."
"Way to throw me under the bus—"
"Oh, shut up." Arthur snaps. "If you," he points at Matthew, "avoid me, I'm not above doing something dire."
Matthew looks like he wants to says something, but he doesn't. He just leaves.
Arthur rounds on Alfred.
And, it says something about their relationship, about the type of man Arthur could be, that something in him softens at the way Alfred's curled in on his self.
But it doesn't stop the harsh way he says, "You're pathetic."
"I know." Alfred mumbles, arms wrapped around his body. "Matthew said the same thing."
"So is Matthew."
"Yeah, he said that, too."
Arthur huffs. "Just tell me why. Because I have no bloody clue why you would pretend to be Matthew and have sex with me."
"Because you only want to have sex with Matthew and I like you." Alfred doesn't look at him. "And I just wanted, for once, for you to do more than just tolerate me. Or treat me like I'm a disappointment."
"You are not a disappointment, Alfred."
"Then why can't you look at me like you look at him?" Alfred shouts, finally looking up. "It's been over two centuries and you won't forgive me for fighting you. You won't forgive me for waiting. You keep holding my government against me. And this entire time you look at Matthew like he's some god-given gift. Why? Why? Because he fought for you? Died for you? I died for you, too!" And Alfred slumps, small and quiet. "Shit." He murmurs, face in his hands. "Even when everyone teased us about being close, you treated me like an obligation. Do you know how hard it is to see Matthew—my Matthew—fucking everyone else every time he gets a chance? And then you show up, and Matthew adores you, always has. I just wanted to make him happy. I thought you'd use him and leave him. But no. You made love to him." Alfred says quiet after that, like swallowing a sour taste. "And he was practically walking on air."
"And I tried. I tried to spend time with you. But you were never there. And then I'd see you cozy with Matthew, looking love-struck and happy. And I just…"
"But to bully Matthew into doing this?"
And Alfred laughs, hollowly. "You always think I bully him. I just asked him. That's it. He agreed. He has a spine, you know."
And Arthur comes to sit next to Alfred on the bed, his temper pressed down. He's tired, now. And too old to think too much on it.
"I've always cared about Matthew." He could say, succinctly, what it was. But he's trying not to be unkind.
(Matthew would never say I died for you out loud. He'd think it. He'd probably dream about saying it. But he wouldn't. It's just not the same. It's just not correct.)
"I also care about you." He adds, touching Alfred's elbow. "But it's different. It happens." He wonders if he should apologize, but Alfred's not a child. He knows it wouldn't be sincere. He remembers what Matthew said about the Netherlands. He realizes it fits. "But I could never do that do you."
Alfred doesn't say anything. He just nods.
At length, he says, "Matthew's spare card key is on the table."
Arthur doesn't take it.
Arthur doesn't take the card key because he doesn't want Alfred to have proof of him going to Matthew.
He just knocks on his door.
Matthew answers and lets him in without a word.
"I'm not sorry." Matthew says quietly. "And, to be honest, I don't think you would have noticed. I don't even know how you noticed."
Arthur taps his heart. "You don't flinch when I touch you there."
Matthew just shrugs. "Alfred's self-conscious sometimes. And it was you, so it didn't help." He sits on the bed, hands folded in his lap. "I'm selfish, Arthur. I'm selfish and I don't think about what I do." He says this easily, like reciting it from memory. Like it's a fact. "We have to stop now."
"Fine." Arthur says coldly. "I am angry at you, too. But first, I have a question: Was it easy for you to just sit there and watch me and Alfred, knowing fully well that when I touched him, I thought I was touching you. I would've made love to him the way I would to you."
Matthew looks away, jaw tight. "It doesn't matter."
"Yes, it does. And the least you can do is give me an answer. I'm furious at you, but god help me if I can even begin to articulate it."
"Answer me, damn you."
"It wasn't." Matthew whispers. "I hated it. I hated you for not realizing it was Alfred. I hated Alfred for asking. I hated myself for going with it. I still hate myself. There. Are you happy? I wanted to throw up. I hated it. The entire time I sat there and told myself that I owed it to Alfred, because I love him, because I have to live next to him, because he loves me and I can't commit to him…" he trails off, voice getting softer. "…I don't love him enough for that."
He can't help but ask, before leaving, "And me?"
"Good night, Arthur."
At breakfast, the next morning, Matthew is awake and eating with Ivan while Alfred is at another table with a newspaper. Francis is already heading to join him, and Arthur knows by the time he sits down, Matthew will amble over with coffee. It's a tried and true tradition. Even after cold talks and scorn and whispered fights, if they all sat together for breakfast, it meant things could be okay.
And Arthur lets out a sigh of relief when Matthew starts to head over.
But Matthew hesitates, fingers going tight around that Styrofoam cup of coffee.
Alfred doesn't look up from his newspaper. Francis is checking his phone.
Matthew does sit down, across from Alfred, next to Arthur.
Alfred looks up, sees Matthew, and manages a small smile.