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Title: When you Say you Love me.
Author: Me!
Pairing(s): UsxUk
Rating/Warnings: PG for language
Summary: Six ways to say I love you, all throughout the house.

--In the sitting room--

The skin-tingling sounds of music (dual bandoneon, violin, a piano’s staccato) drift down the hallways of Arthur’s home, interspersed with breathless laughter and the swishing of feet on hardwood flooring. Most of the furniture has been set against the wall so that the two of them can practice in peace, the room clear and free of obstacles that would have inevitably caused injury.

“I still don’t see why I have to be the girl,” Alfred says, staring down, his face set in serious lines, eyebrows drawn together. He snaps his leg to one side, trails his toes along Arthur’s calf, slightly clumsy but learning fast. Arthur shivers. “I’m taller than you!”

“You’re following because you don’t know how to tango.” Resting one clammy palm flat against the small of Alfred’s back, Arthur tugs and draws their hips close together. There is an almost electric heat as their bodies brush and slide, sensual energy, a delicious connection that steals his concentration, makes him struggle against the desire simmering in his belly.

But, ever determined to finish what he starts, Arthur brings his hand around to slap at the underside of Alfred’s chin with the back of his fingers. “Look at me! Let your body move on its own.”

“Damn it, Argentina told me this dance was sexy.” Eyes rising almost sheepishly, Alfred’s gaze catches and squeezes the beat of Arthur’s heart. Sweet and a little unsure, it is quietly wanting. Just like last time. Just like it had been for centuries.

“Quite,“ Arthur whispers, flushed, his feet unmoving and laden. The music trickles to a halt, the needle bouncing repeatedly against the center of the gramophone, but Arthur pays it no attention. He’s ensnared in Alfred’s noon-blue eyes, in the boyish blush that dots the younger nation’s cheeks, in the way his own knees tremble and shake. It’s all bollocks, ridiculous sap, but unavoidable.

The moment overflows like water in a cup as their lips slide together, and Arthur doesn’t know or care who went first.

--In the Kitchen--

Piles of broken, deformed, and somewhat over-cooked pancakes lay scattered about the kitchen counter, uneaten testaments to the determination of the man standing by the griddle, spatula firmly in hand. Squeeze bottles of colored batter sit near his arm, gooey mix oozing down their sides to pool on the black granite, forgotten for the moment as Alfred focuses all his attention on his current masterpiece.

He’d get it right this time!

“Alfred, are we going to have breakfast or am I to make due with tea?”

“Soon, babe, soon!” Alfred reaches out blindly for the bottle of pink batter and squeezes out something that resembles a mane onto the griddle, nodding at his work before nearly dropping it to the floor when he tries to put it back. “Genius takes time!”

“It also apparently makes a mess.”

Alfred chooses to ignore that in favor of overseeing the last moments of cooking, sucking in his bottom lip in concentration, rolling his shoulders. Every Sunday since Arthur had started staying over, Alfred made them pancakes for breakfast. At first it was just the boring yet tasty norm, happy round circles of goodness, but after a while Alfred had decided that he needed to do more. Bigger! Better! And thus his artistic creations were born. Airplanes, snakes, giraffes, fish, dinosaurs, light bulbs! And through it all Arthur would nod and smile and eat them with powdered sugar and butter, all with an air of indulgence at Alfred’s enthusiasm.

But not this week! This week Arthur would be thrilled.

“Aaaanddd…here we go!” Alfred reaches down and flips the pancake out onto the plate, letting out the breath he’d been holding as it lands safely in the center. Nervously, he leans down to examine the cake, inspecting it from all angles to make sure it looks right, but not finding it lacking in the least. Even the horn stayed on! Grinning like a loony, Alfred calls to Arthur over his shoulder. “All right, hon, close your eyes!”

“Close my eyes? If you made a pancake cock, I will question your sanity.” Arthur sets his mug down, one bushy eyebrow raised dubiously.

“Pervert! Close your eyes! I made this one just for you!”

“Very well,” Arthur sighs long-sufferingly and closes his eyes, though the corners of his mouth quirk upwards, giving away his amusement. Alfred’s own grin becomes wider as he very nearly prances over to the table to set the plate down.

“Ta-Daaaaaa!!” Alfred announces loudly, waving his arms about a bit to further illustrate his accomplishment. “What do you think?”

For a moment Arthur sits speechless, having opened his eyes to stare down at his plate in what could either be amazement or mortification, Alfred isn’t quite sure which. Finally, after the tension in the room becomes a bit too much for his fragile ego, Alfred taps the edge of the plate a few times with the tip of his finger, his smile faltering in the awkward silence.

“Don’t you…don’t you like it?” Alfred’s bare toes curl against the floor; his bottom lip is caught between his teeth, worried and self-conscious.

“It’s…a unicorn.” Arthur blinks a few times, glances from the plate, up to Alfred, back to the plate. “You made a unicorn pancake. You’ve spent the last hour making me this one unicorn pancake.”

Alfred looks away, the disbelieving sound of Arthur’s voice making his heart sink into his belly. “Sorry…I just thought that…”

His stammered apology is abruptly cut short by Arthur reaching up to push at the hem of his tank top, darting in moments later to set teeth playfully into the center of Alfred’s belly. Skittering backwards, Alfred tugs himself from Arthur’s maw and laughs, a fuzzy warmth (cotton balls and downy pillows) filling up his body like a cup in the rain. Arthur is chuckling when Alfred has regained his composure somewhat, eyes dazzling and fond in the early morning sunlight streaming in through the open windows.

“You utter twat.” Arthur shakes his head and smiles, holding out one arm in a silent command.

“Soooo,” Alfred smiles and sidles in close at the beckoning, sighing when Arthur presses his cheek to the muscles of his abused stomach. “You like it?”

“Certainly, though I may have to eat it with my eyes closed lest I feel guilty,” Arthur says, his voice slightly muffled.

“And you call me a twat.”

“Lovely, please don’t ruin the moment.”


--In the Laundry Room--

The stench could have knocked over an entire herd of Shetland ponies at a full gallop…and that was all the way from the adjoining hallway. It was horrific, it was vile, it was malodorous, it was nothing less than what he’d expected, but that didn’t make it any less ghastly.

But let it never be said that the once-and-always British Empire was afraid of a few dirty pair of socks and pants! Think of Alfred!

The younger nation had been particularly overworked these last few months, traveling almost ceaselessly until dark eye circles spoiled his usually bright and pink skin, his shoulders hunched and tense, showing the obvious signs of stress. He’d told Arthur the last time they’d spoken that he hadn’t slept in his own bed in over three weeks, his Georgetown home completely neglected as he attended to his meetings and banquets and presentations and luncheons and whatever other nonsense his bosses could find for him to do.

This was where Arthur, a weekend off, his spare key, and love come in.

He’d begun the excavation on Saturday in Alfred’s kitchen, scrubbing his way through the petrified food residue (it could have been spaghetti sauce in a previous life) before working his way to the bathrooms, finding himself only slightly disconcerted by a strange greenish ring he’d found in the toilet bowl. Once all that was finished he’d made the harrowing decision to tackle the laundry Sunday morning, knowing full well that it would probably be shocking, but fortifying himself with a few shots of bourbon he’d found in the liquor cabinet beforehand to take the edge off.

He was glad for the alcohol…because this was just terrifying. Well, no use faffing around. Time to get to it.

“My God, what is that thing?!” he exclaims, eyes widening at the almost sentient pile of dirty clothes propped haphazardly against the washer and dryer. It had to be two meters wide and half a meter high, with every piece of available clothing that Alfred has ever owned crying out for death within it. Because that was what it smelt of…death. Death and arse and French people and everything wicked and godforsaken in the world.

He should have drunk the whole bottle.

Taking a deep breath to calm himself (and only barely avoiding vomiting upon doing so) Arthur inches his way into the small room, glancing around for the detergent while wondering if he’ll contract leprosy by touching the wretched filth. Finally, steeling his nerve, he bends to begin separating the clothes into their respective colors, cursing his soft heart and affections the entire time.

Six hours and numerous contemplations of suicide later, Arthur is folding the last of Alfred’s pants into a neat little pile and carrying them into his room, nestling them cozily beside the mountain of clean clothes already set upon the bed. Arthur doesn’t know where half of them go and doesn’t bother looking, figuring that if he did the vast majority of the work that Alfred could damn well do the rest when he got home.

Not to mention he selfishly wants to make sure Alfred sees the fruits of all his labor. He faced his death in that laundry room! Death and dismemberment!

Suddenly the grandfather clock in the hallway rings out loudly (*bong* *bong* *bong*) startling Arthur into looking down at his watch despite the fact that he already knows the time. Bugger! He has a plane to catch back to London at four-thirty! Thankfully, he wasn’t that far from Dulles, but that didn’t mean he had any more time to dither.

He grabs a pink post-it note from the kitchen table on his way out, wrestling a mangled and chewed pen from his messenger bag as he locks the front door. Pausing there, he bites at his bottom lip, pen held aloft and ready for his inner muse. Fighting the rising blush bursting up out of his cheeks, Arthur finally scribbles his thoughts and sticks the note to the door with his thumb, dashing to the rental before he can second guess his sentimentality or think better of his reckless idea to stay at Alfred’s house and forget all his responsibilities.

I touched your dirty pants and still love you. You, Mr. Jones, are a fortunate man. Arthur.

--At the Front Door--

Alfred is setting out the roasted duck and prawn crackers he picked up from Won Kei’s when he hears the sound of Arthur talking with the old lady who lives in the apartment next door. Fumbling around for his matches, Alfred quickly lights the dozen-or-so tea candles strewn around the kitchenette and glances about (everything was perfect) before making his way to the front door. Pausing near the entryway, he peeks around the darkened corner, listening to the sound of Arthur’s keys jingling in the antiquated lock, of his briefcase being dropped to the floor, of his frustrated mumblings and half-spoken curses.

It’s obviously been a long day.

The pitch-black entryway makes it easy for him to hide out and watch as Arthur takes off his coat and loosens his tie, reaching back to rub at the nap of his neck, his eyebrows drawn together in a painful line. There’s weariness there, a tension, and Alfred feels his heart sink into his belly at the recognition of it. He hates seeing that look on Arthur’s face, in his muscles, in the way he holds his shoulders.

If only there really was such a thing as magic.

Because if there had been, he would have wiggled his nose that very second and whisked away all of Arthur’s troubles, leaving him be free to do whatever it was he felt like doing. Write crappy plays. Read trashy romance novels. Paint seascapes. Listen to the Buzzcocks while drinking warm beer and watching soccer. Go to boring museums. Eat Jammie Dodgers til he got sick. Do painfully English things. Whatever floated his boat.

But seeing as he can’t do that, running up and lifting the older nation from behind to assault him with sloppy kisses will have to suffice. However, that’s all Alfred gets time for, because before he can blink Arthur is on the counter-offensive, raging against his hold like he’s in a pub brawl with no holds barred. It’s practically everything Alfred can do to keep him at bay long enough to speak while legs flail and fists fly, one of the two slamming painfully into his kidneys with a sickening thud.

“Easy! It’s me! It’s me!” Alfred’s voice is higher than he might have liked, but Arthur’s foot has just come perilously close to making him a eunuch.

“Alfred?” Arthur freezes and slowly turns his head, squinting down through the darkness as his body going limp in Alfred’s arms. Now he just looks irritated, but no longer murderous, his natural state of being. Convinced that his balls are no longer in any danger, Alfred lowers Arthur back down to the floor with a relieved sigh.

“Fuck, I thought you were a burglar! What the hell are you doing here?”

“Because all thieves kiss their victims at the front door…”

“Belt up and answer the question.”

Shyly ducking his head, Alfred reaches for Arthur’s hands (still warm from his gloves, a little sweaty from being startled) and guides him towards the kitchen where a soft glow trickles out onto the floor. Arthur, seemingly still dazed from the unexpected welcome, allows himself to be led until he’s situated in the doorway, blinking big, cute, green eyes into the candlelit room.

Alfred waits to be told he’s an awesome boyfriend. Best in the world! Waits. Waiting for it.

*Chirp* *Chirp* *Chirp*

Uncomfortable seconds tick by before Alfred begins shifting from foot to foot, suddenly worrying that he’s done something wrong and not knowing what to say. He hates that! Though which he hates worse, being wrong or not knowing what to say, he's not entirely sure.

Good thing he's not wrong very often!

Despite all that, he's gearing himself up to apologize (though for what he hasn’t decided yet: maybe for leaving his shoes in the living room) when Arthur glances at him with...that smile. That smile. That tiny, adorable, sweet quirk of the lips that he only gives when Alfred has done something particularly good. That smile!

“You silly boy.” The fingers that caress Alfred’s face aren’t soft, but they are gentle as they ghost down his cheek and dart back up to tweak his nose, making him squirm in barely suppressed glee.

Alfred could have purred.

--On the Porch--

“1990 Grand Prix,” Alfred murmurs, motioning with his index finger towards the faded-red vehicle meandering its way down the road. They’ve been sitting outside on the porch swing (shoulders to shoulder, hand in hand) for the better part of two hours, talking about nothing while Alfred names each car passing by the house with an almost uncanny precision. It had started as a game of sorts, but when it became blatantly obvious that Arthur was never going to be able to keep up (though he had been able to name the 1976 Ford Cortina) it had turned into a challenge to see how many cars Alfred could name on sight.

So far he was running at somewhere around 95% accuracy.

“Almost looks pink,” Arthur says, taking a sip of wine out of the ridiculous Green Lantern mug they’ve been sharing.

Snickering, Alfred clears his throat melodramatically, takes a deep breath, and begins crooning, his tenor soft and clear in the gathering dusk. A sweet voice, it’s boyish and untested, but assured. “Pink, it’s my new obsession, yeah, pink it’s not even a question. Pink on the lips of your lover, cause pink is the love you discover.“ He shifts his weight on the swing, leans in to let his mouth brush against Arthur’s cheek, his body radiating trouble. Arthur is too dignified to respond to the flirtatiousness, choosing instead to roll his eyes and sigh, pointedly ignoring the heat trickling up his neck to heat his ears.

“Must you serenade me with your awful American ditties? At least use your mouth for something worthwhile.”

The words seem to stun Alfred, eyes frozen wide as tea saucers before he pulls back a few centimeters with a snort of quasi-shocked laughter; Arthur doesn’t even realize the implication of what he’d said until the guffawing starts in earnest. Groaning in disbelief, he rests his forehead in his palm.

The idiot.

All the while Alfred continues chortling, his face turning beetroot red, looking far too smug for Arthur’s liking. Far. Too. Smug.

Irritated, Arthur whirls and clenches his fists at his sides, hearing the mug fall to the porch and roll back behind them “Stop laughing, you pervert! You know I didn’t mean it that way!”

“You didn’t?” Alfred’s sobers every so slightly, bringing his hand up to draw his thumb and index finger close together. “Not even a little?”

“Not. Even. A. Little.” He crosses his arms and sniffs, determined not to give in to Alfred’s childish ways. Not this time, damn it all! The boy gets his way far too often (Arthur could blame it on his own parenting for this personality failing but chooses not to) and needs a long-overdue lesson in humility.

“Oh.” Alfred brings those fingers to his lips, looking thoughtful. A few cars drive by while they stare each other down, the engines a clattering backdrop to their epic struggle of wills, until at last the tension begins to crack and the younger nation chuckles. “Jesus! Look at you, Mr. Serious-Business! You realize you’re allowed to flirt with me, don’t you?”

“I..of course, I…you!” Arthur sputters, his concentration broken in the face of Alfred’s good nature. How he despises the idiot at times! His fingers itch to wrap around that graceful neck and squeeze all the stupidity out of him! “You conceited prat! You unmitigated fool! Can you not be serious for even one moment?!”

“Arthur,” Alfred rolls his eyes and leans in close, pressing the tips of their noses together. All patience and amusement, his face is that of an indulgent parent trying to explain a very simple concept to a very mopey child. So jarringly familiar. So familiar, in fact, that it stings Arthur’s pride a bit to see how very much like himself Alfred can be. Utter fools, the both of them. “What’s there to be serious about right now on my porch swing?”

The question is…a valid one, and Arthur feels his mind going blank, devoid, barren, even as he struggles to come up with some sort of appropriate response. He hates being at a loss for words! He invented a language for the love of Christ! Worrying his lip between his teeth, he glances about as though the porch, the street, the front door, the sky, or the stupid Green Lantern mug, held some sort of answer. Nothing was coming. Nothing helpful anyway.

Well, nothing like the truth to ease a situation.

“Well…there’s an appalling lack of alcohol.” He points to the empty mug on the ground for emphasis. “And your rate of accuracy is going down by the second.”

Alfred’s delighted laughter (bubbling, almost feminine) as he pulls Arthur up and into his arms, into his heat, into his scent, washes away any and all lingering protests. Leaves him feeling spotless and sentimental and fuzzy inside. Thus is Alfred’s ridiculous power, the infuriating ability to wipe his emotions clean as a blackboard over and over and over again.

“I’ve got another bottle of wine in the house. And the cars?” He raises an arrogant eyebrow. “2002 Honda Civic, 1999 Ford Taurus, and a 1987 Chevy Nova with a mismatched door and a cracked bumper.”

“Self-satisfied bastard.”

--In the Bedroom--

There are three piles. Yes, no, and burn it before anyone sees and finds out that I wore it in public.

Alfred hums absently, three-dozen ties draped like a rainbow of snakes over his left arm while his right holds the latest contestant up to Arthur’s throat with a critical eye. They’ve already made it through the older nation’s entire collection of suits, finally settling on a gunmetal grey double-breast with a soft grey dress shirt underneath. (Alfred secretly thinks that the colors make Arthur’s skin glow, but he isn’t going to say that out loud and reveal just how big a sap he really is). Now all that’s left is to decide the tie, and Alfred is determined not to let Arthur’s decision to let himself be dressed for their date go to waste.

Because it would probably never happen again, if all the long-suffering, upwards stares toward God are any indication.

Though to be fair, Arthur has been more than patient this entire time, blushing cutely as Alfred smoothed each piece of clothing into place like he was a sculptor, running his palms over shoulders, thighs, buttoning Arthur’s shirt ever-so-primly, pressing the collar into place with the pads of his thumbs. There had been a sensuality to it that Alfred loved, so different from the molten heat, the urgency of desire, in taking them off.

But Arthur’s patience is not limitless, and it’s quickly waning.

“Nah,” Alfred says quietly, tossing this newest entry away to join the rest of the discards in their pile of shame on the floor. Arthur just doesn’t have enough variety! If it’s not green, black, red or grey, than it’s a combination of any two of those colors in a pattern that’s been around since the 1700’s! Yaaaaaaawwwwnnnn! If only Alfred could have planned ahead and brought a few of his ties, then he could dress Arthur up in style.

He thinks longingly of his lobster print tie as the next one slips from his fingers (grey and green stripes) without ever even holding it up for inspection.

“The concert will have been over for a fortnight by the time you figure out what the hell you want to do.” Arthur rolls his eyes, but remains mostly still, only moving to glance at his watch.

“Not my fault you have shitty taste in clothes,” Alfred replies, grinning, though on the inside he’s quickly becoming a basket of nerves. There are almost no ties left and nothing looks right! Arthur won’t go to the symphony without a tie! What if he cancels their date altogether because Alfred can’t find the right tie?

The world is ending. This is how it ends. Not with a bang, but with a boring white and black pinstripe tie.


And it’s in this moment, this desperate moment of despair, that it happens. A lonely strip, clean and white as the newly driven snow, slips from his arm and onto the carpet, drawing his attention. Cocking his head, Alfred bends to retrieve it, running the silk through his fingers before biting his lip and grinning like a loony. Crazy. One short of a six-pack. In fact, he knows he’s grinning like a loony because Arthur is giving him that look. That look that says he’s questioning their collective sanities, Alfred’s for the display and his own for putting up with it.

But it’s perfect.

Hands shaking, Alfred slowly lifts the tie and glances up, feeling his breath catch in the back of his throat, his body going numb. His eyes. Arthur’s eyes are set off like new spring grass against the stark contrast of the white fabric, his eyelashes a dark nest around them. There are flecks of pale yellow dotting the endless sea of green that Alfred has never noticed before, making Arthur's eyes seem like a whirlpool, like the colors are mixing back on themselves in an endless eddy.

“You’re beautiful,” Alfred whispers, not able to catch the words before they tumble forth from his thoughts and into the open air. Awkwardness quickly ensues while he watches those eyes he so admires glaze over first with embarrassment then cloud with some unreadable emotion moments later. Uh-ohhhh. Alfred winces and bites his lip, fearing the scolding he knows is probably coming.

Arthur doesn’t take compliments well.

“Y-you…” Arthur stutters, shakes his head in disbelief, and tries again. And again. And once more until his voice finally breaks free, shaky as Alfred’s hand, a barely there whisper, but loud enough that Alfred feels as though his eardrums are going to shatter with the impact.

“Thank-you.” Ever modest, Arthur looks away in what can only be described as abject humiliation.

Well...that certainly wasn't what he had been expecting.

Part of Alfred wants to poke fun at this out of character behavior; part of him wants to tease. But there’s something in Arthur’s face that tells him this isn’t the time, and so he chooses instead to lean in and press his mouth to the corner of one of those eyes, nodding in silent affirmation against the skin, smiling into the crease.

“You’re welcome.”


Hope you all enjoy the random fluff! Now it's time to attempt Nano!


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