Fandom: Hetalia Axis Powers.
Title: Twelve Christmas Days
Claim: Arthur Kirkland (England); Liam (Kirkland) (Northern Ireland); Francine Bonnefoy (Fem!France)
Summary: Arthur has been so focused on his oncoming text that he hasn't thought of Christmast approaching, which means his sister's call leaves him startled and umcofortable in his own skin. But at least someone cares (someone besides Liam, that is) and, perhaps, that would have to be enough because he won't crawl back to his parents. He's too proud for that.
Prompt: #20 - Even I have sleepless nights.
Notes: This is an AU strongly focused on Arthur (England) and Liam (OC. Northern Ireland).
I probably should start the "Liam/Arthur" fandom because I haven't read a proper hetalia fanfic in over two years by now. There will be a slight cameo by Fem!France (aká. Francine) who is Arthur's six-year older sister. Slights mentions of insommia (and Arthur bad example of not taking his medication).
Being a night owl since he was in elementary school, Arthur’s used to insomnia. It’s not just that he worked better during the night, it’s just that he couldn’t bring himself to sleep for more than three hours per day –or four, if he was lucky. When he was eleven and Francine spilled the secret to his parents they had saddled Arthur with a psychology first, then a psychiatrist.
He had hated his half-sister so much, then. Looking at the medicine on his night stand, he thinks that he hates her still.
Arthur had used Doxepin until he confessed to his psychiatrist the medicine no longer worked on him. It hadn’t been working for a long time, far longer than Arthur admitted. Dr Van Stuhl changed it. It didn’t work, but Arthur hadn’t brought the topic to her since he refused to have his doses increased – that, and he hadn’t been taking his pills as he should.
He refused to become dependent on a drug, of all things.
Incapable of sleeping and refusing to do nothing, Arthur worked. That was always his best approach to a restless night; work, work, work until he couldn’t stand and his eyes hurt so much he rather took them out of his sockets.
It’s past two when his phone rings, breaking the silence of his bedroom. Liam is sprawled on his bed, snoring softly, but after almost five months now that became a background noise for him. Putting away his mechanical pencil and his notebook with detailed, neat notes, he slides the phone screen after a pause.
“What do you want?” he growls, not caring for diplomacy. On his desk his notes about the importance of Chaucer’s works blurs. Arthur taps his mechanical pencil, his mind trying to cram as much information as possible. “What?”
There’s a sigh on the other side of the line. Arthur pauses. Francine is never quiet, or careful, unless she bears bad news. Even at two and something in the morning, Arthur’s mind hasn’t caught up with the idea that normal people don’t call after nine. He’s always up until four in the morning.
The silence on the other line stretches and Arthur wonders, for a moment, if his sister is still there of if she has given up on whatever her deal is by now. They haven’t talked since Arthur moved out to Oxford at the beginning of the autumn term. She helped him hunt down a nice flat, a gift for making it so far – a gift wrapped in an apology for things Arthur would not really forgive, so Francine had stopped muttering the words out loud.
On the bed, Liam stirs softly, rolling over his arm and his head lolls dangerously near the edge of the bed. Arthur smiles a little at the sight. It was almost cute.
“I said, ‘did I wake you up?’” Francine repeats, a little tired. Arthur could almost see her face crunched against her pillow, cursing his odd up hours, and wishing to go back to sleep. “Have you been taking your pills, Arthur?”
What she doesn’t say, she implies.
Francine and Arthur never got along when they were younger. She’s six years older than him and blamed him for her parents’ divorce. It doesn’t help at all that she held an uncanny resemblance to her father both physically and in personality. Arthur was the first born of a second marriage. Resembling their mother in personality and his father in appearance, Francine got the perfect punching bag to vent out her resentment in the way of a younger brother.
“What do you called, Francine?” he says instead, helping Liam’s head to find its way back to the middle of the bed.
She hated him. He hated her. They never called the other by their name unless it was something serious or important. She had picked him apart, poked into every weak spot and scratch at it until there was nothing but raw bone and tears in Arthur’s eyes. He returned the favour later, exploiting her insecurities and need for attention – any kind of attention. They were ruthless in their hate, equally ruthless in their love.
There was little anyone could tell Arthur to get under his skin. His sister had seen to that.
“Mattheu,” she says, cryptically. “That’s the name Ian and I picked for our child.”
Arthur wants to tell her that picking a name with a pregnancy of only three months is stupid. He wants to tell her congratulations. He wants to ask her why she really called him, and if she couldn’t sleep either. In the end he doesn’t say anything like that.
“I have a test in three hours,” he says, not coldly, but unkind. He doesn’t know how to show her affection, or gratitude, especially when she isn’t in front of him so he could see her face and guess what she’s thinking.
He doesn’t know how to thank her when she’s kind either, because that’s not what they do.
She sighs. Arthur readies himself.
“You can spend Christmas with us. Ian won’t mind and our house is big enough for…”
He doesn’t even let her finish when he press the ‘end’ button. Engrossed on his tests and essays, he had forgotten Christmas was coming, and Christmas meant going back to Manchester, back to them. Arthur hadn’t been thinking, but now he cannot take his mind off it.
Francine’s offering only confirmed how bad his situation with his parents actually was.
“Master,” the muffled call startles him and, like a naughty child, Arthur closes his notebook and puts away his mechanical pencil, aiming for innocence. “Master, why are you up?”
Only after he is halfway to the bed, Arthur realises what he’s doing. Liam doesn’t touch him when he sense the mattress sink, he pulls himself up, giving Arthur space to lie on his bed. They look at each other, dark green eyes a bit disoriented after just been woken up, and emerald green worried and anxious.
“My sister called,” Arthur says, reaching for Liam’s hand. When did he become so comfortable with the other in his personal space? When did he start reaching to Liam for the silliest of things? “She picked a name for her child. It’s Mattheu”
She also invited me over for Christmas because my parents probably will kick me out if I go back to Manchester without a degree in Economics or Pre-med.
Liam forms a small ‘oh’ and blinks, squeezing back when Arthur squeezes his hand. He’s still disorientated, and Arthur decides to take full advantage of that.
“Let’s get some sleep,” Arthur pulls him closer, but Liam doesn’t follow. Instead, he crawls out of bed and lays on the floor, his head leaning on the mattress near Arthur’s arm. “Liam?”
“You don’t like when I sleep in your bed. You don’t like when people touch you, Master.” Liam still touches him. His hair brushes Arthur’s arm, and soon Arthur lets his arm hang from the bed to rest over Liam’s chest.
He doesn’t like sleeping on his stomach either, but that’s the most comfortable position to touch Liam when he’s on his floor.
“I don’t like you calling me ‘Master’ either, yet you do all the time,”
“You are my Master,” Liam says, looking at the floor. “I cannot call you anything else unless you make a wish,”
Wishes are dangerous things. He loses a little bit of himself after every wish. He becomes duller, number.
“You won’t make a wish,” Liam says, later. “That’s okay, you are a good Master.”
“Sleep, Liam,” Arthur barks, and tries hard to forget that Liam doesn’t really have a choice in staying with him. He convinces himself that Liam could be sleeping inside his box, like he does when he’s angry at Arthur.
He almost success and at least in his dreams Liam calls him ‘Arthur’ and, sometimes, ‘friend’.