Please pardon any errors and enjoy the conclusion! :) A bit of tease, and the rest is behind the cut.
Alfred struggled to keep his head remotely level, mind seeming to slosh violently as he shifted slightly, lip quivering as pain prickled down his spine. Thoughts seemed leak from his ears before he could grasp them, the flames beneath his skin burning white hot; for a moment, air seemed to escape him, forgetting to breathe.
Unemployment foreclosure pain pain go away hate this hate this economy blame guilt blame prices go up down all around failing falling hot hot it’s so hot
Arthur had yet to respond, eyes still glowing incandescent green and a smirk placed neatly upon his features. Suddenly, he stood, straightening his cuffs (still smiling, always smiling) and brushing invisible dust from his vest. He circled Alfred’s chair, the latter taking uneven, shuddering breaths as he tried to fumble through the haze, gaze disoriented and glassy. The elder trailed a finger along the blonde’s back, moving agonizingly slow, a soft, happy hum wafting through the silence.
“Poppet, my poppet, dressed in red and black/
Poppet, pretty poppet, never going back.”
Semi-spoken words that haunted the room, slowing the heartbeat like winter’s cold; those hands were on his neck, hair, shoulders, Arthur, sing me another—
“Doll, my pretty doll, hear ye toll the bell? /
Doll, my precious doll, none will hear ye yell.”
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For Romano-- sorry my valentine was so late. Hope this makes up for it. <3
He wouldn’t believe.
Buenos días, Lovinito.
There was no reason too, really: why get his hopes up?
Warm breath against the back of his neck, sunshine lips murmuring barely distinguishable phrases, brushing sensitive skin.
No one cared about the Southern half—it was the North they really wanted, the North with its strong economy, beautiful culture, the oil paint that seemed to leak from opulent fingers onto pure canvases—
Mmmm—ahh—tan caliente estás.
He knew that he wasn’t the favorite, that he wasn’t the one they cared about—why did everyone have to point it out for him over and over?
Calloused fingers around his own, skin pressed against skin, arm curled around his waist, pulling him closer—
He couldn’t help but hate his brother for it.
The mouth was pressing kisses against him now, little flirtations, rapidly devolving into something a little more—
He couldn’t help but love his brother for it.
Bésame, mi amor, bésame.
He knew it wasn’t the other’s fault: he was just tired of being promised a fairytale, the fairytale his brother already seemed to be living.
So, he decided that he wouldn’t believe.
Because it would bring him nothing but pain and more unhappiness, and por Díos, he already had enough of that.
It was just so hard.
Those calluses were trailing up his thigh now, following each little curve and dip, words of liquid heat in his ears, mouth still breathing bésame bésame bésame
Someone seemed intent on trying give him his ‘happily ever after’ anyway.
Te amo, Lovinito.
It wasn’t chess.
No; those damn commies were too good at that game for him to call it chess.
“It is your move,
The other’s accent was thick, heavy; but his English was flawless, as always. Alfred had never spoken perfect Russian, and never planned to; however, the fact that those violet eyes had trumped him made him angry, furious even. He calmed himself by thinking it act of subservience, you must speak my language or I won’t speak to you.
That, or he was being mocked.
Those irises swimming in glass full of formaldehyde, blood tinting the liquid scarlet as they were suspended indefinitely in a Limbo-like existence, wide and unseeing for eternity and more—messy, dirty, garnet staining his hands—
“Do you plan to move today,
Alfred restrained his smile, the soft, strange expression unusual to his normally over-radiant countenance; it was polite, cold like winter’s wind.
War's not hot, but cold—cold like the feelings, cold like lifeless corpses, cold calculations of triage, life is worth this much, number, numbers, death toll, wounded count, why is papa gone—
“I do,” he said, fingers gently moving a piece forward, setting it on the intended square with a muted click, smile frozen in place, “Though I like to put more thought into moves than others might; I suppose that’s just a failing of mine.” He chuckled, a sound the bubbled from the chest, dripping from the mouth in little bursts. “Your move,
Ivan returned his smile.
Hands wrapped around a fleshy throat, clenching harder, harder, something was cracking, breaking, barely breathing, come now, in out, in out, in out, those blue eyes were glazing over, blonde hair framing the portrait of the dying—
The Russian surveyed the board, sights darting over the squares as he determined the next best move, eyeing the white king with a marked concentration.
“You play well,” Ivan said, airily, as if the remark was as unimportant as the rest of the world clustered around them, watching in barely restrained horror as they played, “Had I known this, perhaps I would not have let you play White.” Alfred couldn’t help himself.
“Well, I did learn from Bobby Fischer.”
The other paused, rook poised over a space on the board; his hand twitched, as if in a barely perceptible spasm before he returned the piece to its place, smiling at the American as he chose a knight instead. There was a certain hardness in his gaze, the quirk to his lip stern with carefully repressed anger.
“Is that so?”
Alfred watched as the knight was moved, now much too close to his king for his liking; he rested his head on his hand, languidly analyzing the scene before him.
“I only learn from the best.”
Oh he’d learn from the best, he’d learn his place, beneath him, beneath him, gasping for air, sobbing, dying as his filthy capitalist system dissolved through his fingers, and oh he would make sure to wrap that dead body in RED sheets—
“As do I,
It was game in a game, each fighting for dominance through their stares, unyielding lavender versus depthless azure; neither blinked, acting as if their eyes were only made for each other.
Alfred picked up a bishop and made his move, eyes never flinching from the Russian’s face, refusing to concede.
“Your move, again,” he said, carefully softening the words to a purr, “Rus—sia.”
And he’d break that man just like he broke up his name, syllables and bone would be scattered across the floor, drizzled with crimson, and the man would beg for forgiveness, yes, that’s right, beg beg beg for it—
He could taste the radiation in Ivan’s glare, searing his palate with the burning flavor, that which killed and excited instantaneously, leaving you breathless for release, but craving more.
And he’d pick up that pig with his dirty money and free trade and strip him, kill him, and build him up again, and he’d be a doll, pretty and soulless, with dead aqua eyes and pale peach lips, because his blood would be strewn across the floor—
Alfred glanced down at the board, eyes narrowing a fraction; he had been too involved in the other game, too lost in his own thoughts. His carelessness was evident, and he couldn’t help but hate the other for noticing.
But the bespectacled man noticed a few things as well.
The sick gleaming in the other’s eyes, skin pale, stretched yellow and thin over his features; he was drowning in his coat, the once pristine clothes now slightly shabby, and his frame was gaunt, devoid of life and energy.
Ivan was being careless too.
He could do it he could do it he could do it it was right there—
“Well,” the Russian laughed, voice rich with a child-like edge, peppered with acid, “You still have much to learn. It is hard to defeat an empire, after all.”
He could hear a gasp from the audience before it was quickly silenced, a hand covering a squirming mouth, a harsh whisper in German—
What would he do now, Alfred could hear them think, how would the Hero respond to such a claim? Empire? The exact thing he was trying to prevent?
There will be bombs, they said.
There will be death, they said.
What do we do, what do we do, they said.
Alfred pushed his chair back from the table, straightening his suit with steady hands,
“You’re right,” he murmured, soft, almost chaste against a slightly callous cheek, “Unless it unravels at the seams first.”
And he made his move, knocking the dark king over with a mere pawn.
It was Christmas day, 1991.
Okay, I had to look up all the Chess information, since I don't know how to play myself, but I think I got most of it. X3
-Caïssa- the goddess of chess, often mentioned in association with luck
-Bobby Fischer- he beat the reigning champion, who was from the Soviet Union, in 1972; Fischer was considered a hero and the event is often mentioned in its Cold War conatation; it was called the Match of the Century
-The Soviet Union was offcially dissolved on Chirstmas Day, 1991 (How appropriate! XD )
Merry Christmas, France! ~ <3
He lay on the bed, arm slung over his eyes, hair ruffled and askew from its normal perfection. His suit jacket was neatly hung over the nearby chair, shoes cuddled together on the floor below; he had loosened the tie around his neck, but it was still hanging on, crooked and near falling off. His socked feet shifted, rubbing against the softness of the comforter, and he felt himself sink further into the mattress, molding around his frame. He felt the sleepiness at the back of his mind, giggling as it tugged at him insistently, come play, no, only for a little while—
Truthfully, he wanted to go home; but, officially, the conference was still going on, so stay here he would. However, given the spectacle this morning, he highly doubted that it would continue, especially given what happened after the Canadian had left.
It had been a long time since he had seen those looks.
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Alfred didn’t know where they were going, and he almost didn’t care.
He wanted his explanation.
But where could he even begin—
There was the barest brush of mouth against skin, scarlet dribbling in morbid beads from slightly parted lips, and the back of his mind he was screaming, because something was wrong, someone, anyone, what was going on—
“Isn’t the sky beautiful today, Alfred?”
The American was shocked into silence, thoughts lost as he tried to process his brother’s question; the other didn’t turn.
“It looks endless; like a depthless sea of blue,” Matthew mused further, unperturbed, “I haven’t seen sky like this in a long while.” He paused, as if in thought, before chuckling softly, “Or perhaps I just haven’t noticed it since then.”
“Since that day on the river.”
And Alfred knew exactly which day he meant, a day that, to anyone else, would have been meaningless, a breath in a boundless sky. True, the river had been beautiful that day; he and Matthew had sat and watched the horizon fade from azure to flaming oranges and pinks, a lush red licking around the fading outline of the sun. Reflecting off the water’s surface, the light had danced upon their clothes, playful; they had sat silent, enjoying the peace of the moment. Yes, Alfred remembered this, but this wasn’t what marked that day.
It was what followed in that inky night.
“Matthew,” Alfred ventured, becoming increasingly frustrated, “What does this have to do—”
“You asked me for an explanation, and I’m giving you one,” his brother replied, tone uncharacteristically serious and drawn, “You must trust me.”
“I—I trust you, Matthew,” Alfred finally said, softly, “You know that; it’s just—well, y’know.” He could see a vague reflection of his brother’s smile in the window, the details smeared over with vapor and dirtied handprints.
“Tell me what happened that night.”
Alfred leaned back into the headrest, allowing his eyes to slip close in order to better remember; the background came together in fat splatters of paint, dark and heavy, dripping along his consciousness.
“It started to storm.”
He honestly wasn’t sure where it had come from, the darkness descending upon them too quickly; he had sprinted back to the house, his brother trailing pitifully behind, as the rain ran in rivulets down his back, soaking his hair. He had yelled at the sky, challenging the thunder with childish arrogance as he raced down the muddy path; he was invincible.
“We went back to the house; he—Arthur was waiting for us.”
He wasn’t happy, that much was obvious; even after Alfred had laughed off their appearances, giving an excuse for their lateness, Arthur still hadn’t smiled.
Hadn’t said a goddamn word.
“‘Matthew, my boy,’ he finally said, ‘why don’t you—’”
“—go upstairs. Your brother and I need to talk; alone.” Alfred’s smile had fallen then, and he had felt himself barely shiver from a chill; this wasn’t good. Frame tremulous, Matthew had hesitated before nodding in grudging assent, lightly ascending the steps while looking back at his brother, worry obvious in his blue-violet eyes. As soon as Matthew had vanished around the corner, Arthur had leveled his gaze at the young blonde, eyes incandescent with licking anger. Alfred had swallowed thickly, only standing straighter in response.
“What is it, Arthur? Is something--?”
“—and he backhanded me; didn’t even have the decency to slap me with his open palm. And goddamn, did it hurt; it hurt so much.”
“Think you’re pretty clever do you?” Arthur had hissed, words slipping from his lips like venom, “Thought you could hide it, did you?” He violently tossed a fold of papers in front of Alfred, who had been holding his smarting cheek in astonishment. With shaking fingers, he had read the documents, realizing in quickly mounting horror that they were the records detailing the arms munitions at Concord, letters from the revolutionaries there, dated only days previous. He had looked up, eyes wide, papers slipping from his slackened grip and scattering across the floor.
“Wh—where did you find these?” he had somehow managed, voice barely above a breath. Arthur’s lip had curled, expression sneering and cruel.
“That is none of your concern.”
“—and suddenly, I felt angry— no, I was furious. I knew where he had gotten those letters.”
“You went through my things again!” Alfred had near yelled, stumbling back to his feet, hands clenched into fists; there was a note of frustrated desperation in his tone, someone too close to the breaking point, “You said you trusted me!” The elder country’s eyes narrowed, cold, impassive.
“And I was wrong; I couldn’t.”
It was getting hard to breathe.
“Until you get all these foolish ideas out of your head, I won’t be able to; a rebellion,” Arthur had snorted, “Don’t make me laugh. You’re my colony and you’d better damn well act like it!”
“—it was like I cracked then; like I was vomiting up all my anger and hate from all those tax acts, the constant surveillance, the tension—and I said it. God, why did I say it?”
“I HATE YOU!”
Cheeks flushed, countenance streaked with hot tears, face twisted with a splintered rage. Wide-eyed, Arthur had parted his lips to speak, but no sound came out, struck dumb by the outburst. But not even the silence had stopped Alfred; there was no stopping it now.
“I won’t take this any more!” the blonde had screamed, body rigid with adrenaline, “I am not your subordinate! I’m your brother, your son, your equal!” Alfred had hoped Matthew could hear him, could hear all things he had been to afraid to say before.
“I’m my own country!”
“It was then I realized just exactly what I had said.”
Trembling from the quickly fading feelings, Alfred had pressed fingers against his lips, as if it would take the words back. Tears were still slipping down his cheeks, shameful and weak, and he had wanted to run, far away from this moment, this house, from Arthur—
“Is that so?”
Alfred had felt his stomach plummet at the words, heart lodged in his throat; he had crossed the line. He had felt it in that too soft tone, plush with acid and laced with unspoken threats. Arthur’s gaze had finally caught his own.
The other had been smiling.
“He yanked me down by my hair, until I was prostrate before him; the floor was cold, but I was sweating. I was terrified.”
“So you think you can be a country, do you?” Arthur had whispered low into his ear, giving another hard yank on the younger’s skull, “Well then, I’m sure you know what that means, don’t you, poppet?”
Dragging him by the hair, Arthur had thrown Alfred against the wall, fingers digging into the other’s fleshy throat.
“I’m sure you already know how your mind is torn to pieces by your people, how every piece of you belongs to them. I’ve been bearing the brunt of the opinions of those filthy brutes you call your ‘people,’ and your pain has been limited, at best.” And, in his young arrogance, Alfred had spat at him, unable to believe that his people would do that to him, for he was invincible.
“No; I don’t believe you.”
“I was so young—so very, very young.”
“The floods will fill your lungs with water,” Arthur had continued, voice deep, mesmerizing, “and the fires will char your insides black—”
“Please; please, stop,” Alfred had whimpered, head pounding painfully, but he had only brought it upon himself, and it would not be stopped.
“And they’ll tear you down, build you up, and throw you away, because you are nothing to them.”
“I’m my own person, I am!” Alfred had gasped, darkness slinking into his vision as his consciousness began to spin.
“I begged; I begged, pleaded, ‘Stop, stop—’”
“S-stop—”the blonde had near slurred, barely conscious, but his master only laughed, and it echoed into Alfred’s very being.
“You belong to me, love.”
“I DON’T BELIEVE YOU!”
With a sudden burst of strength, Alfred pushed the other away, swaying wildly as he wrenched the front door open and rain into the driving storm, lighting outlining his form as he sprinted towards the forest, the tears ever-flowing from frightened azure eyes.
“That’s the last night I ever spent in Arthur’s house.”
Alfred opened his eyes, back to the dirty cab and the bustling city. Matthew was looking at him now, hands folded into his lap, gaze discerning.
“There’s more,” the Canadian said, a statement of fact rather than a question. Alfred’s brows knitted, confused.
“More? What are you talking about? That’s how it happened—”
And suddenly, Alfred felt himself doubting; there was a nagging thought, buried deep within his mind, layered over with years to heal the broken cracks. He held his head, trying to shake the feeling away.
“I know there’s more because I was watching.”
The American looked up at his brother in shock, mouth dry with the realization; what had really happened, then? Matthew took in Alfred’s appearance, the disbelief etched into his features.
“‘I don’t believe you!’ you screamed at Arthur,” Matthew supplied softly, watching the past unravel in the other’s mind, “But as you reached the door, Arthur, he, he said—”
“You’ll be sorry,” Arthur had whispered, incensed, eyes glowing with a sickening glint as he grinned, “When you’re bound to me, you’ll be sorry.”
Alfred remembered that now; he had pushed it aside in the beginning, too confused and angry to contemplate its meaning, but now—
“Bound?” Alfred managed, tongue feeling numb and useless in his mouth.
“He never actually was able to do it,” his brother said, quietly, resigned, “Because you won the war. No one else did either, because they thought you had already been taken for the first time, and after the first time, the power diminishes significantly.” Alfred couldn’t even begin to comprehend this.
“Bound with what?”
And Matthew sighed, brushing his hair aside to reveal a long scar along the side of his neck, white and jagged; his eyes had stoned, pebbled into void orbs as he turned back to the other.
I'm really sorry guys; I know I'm really late on the update this time, but its been rough at my house for the past week or so, so I hope you'll understand. :) But please don't worry; I don't abandon a story once I've started it, so rest assured, this will be finished. :3
Anyway, I know this isn't a full explanation, but it felt like a good stopping place (and was almost 6 pages in Word). Please feel free to read, review, and comment~ <3 I love all of the comments that I get. I'll do my best to update next weekend.
~Till next time. :3