May 30th, 2014
May 30th, 2014
England entered the coffee shop quietly, making sure to push the sunglasses as far up as they could go in order to best conceal his gaze. He slipped into a table near the window and unfurled the newspaper he’d been handed on his way into the tube that morning. Carefully, he peered over the top of the page and set his sights on his target: a young, blonde male with glasses, a ratty sweatshirt, trainers that were a size too big and jeans that were a size too small. He was seated at a small table in the middle of the café with a mug in his hands and a soft look in his eyes as he stared out towards the window rather pensively.
Wait, all right, enough with this pretend espionage detailing—since when has America ever looked pensively at anything?
He had received word from national intelligence that America had been spotted wandering the streets of London. There were no records of any official business he could have been in town for, so they had wanted to check with England to see if he had come for a personal visit. Which, of course, he had not; the stupid boy had made it pretty clear in the past that if he had free time he wouldn’t want to spend it in such a dreary city. So why in the world had America shown up at a coffee shop in East London?
His first guess had been that America must have been up to some espionage of his own; it was becoming quite a nasty habit of his as of late, whether he spying on other countries or on his own citizens. But it certainly didn’t look like the lad was up to anything devious—he hadn’t made much of an attempt to subdue that “I’m an American!” vibe constantly emanating from him and he hadn’t even pulled out a laptop or a mobile so he wasn’t communicating with anyone and did he just sigh longingly at that bag of tea in his hands?
England’s thoughts stuttered as he connected that small sound with the normally loud and obnoxious man it had come from. That was no ordinary sigh of boredom or early morning sigh of defeat. That was the kind of sigh England let out whenever he would look through old photos of the two of them together, back during days past when they actually spent time together (even if it was for the sake of a global war). It was the kind of sigh that came after he would daydream of America showing up like this one day, completely unannounced, except he’d be at England’s front door with flowers rather than at a random café in the city holding a bag of tea and sighing like he was some fool in love.
Yes, England had been around for long enough to know what prompted that kind of a sigh. Of course, America certainly wasn’t thinking about him, that’d be preposterous, there was probably some other tea-loving bastard he fancied. Absolutely. Yet even with this definitely true fact in mind, England felt his face turning a telltale scarlet in response. He quickly raised his hands to cover the face that had betrayed him, felt his pulse beating rapidly under his cheeks, and let out a silent moan of defeat.
England slid his sunglasses off his face, tucked the paper under his arm, and backed out of his seat noisily enough to make the American jump. All eyes in the café turned to England for a moment, but only one pair widened in shock at the sight of him.
“Eng—” America stuttered, quickly lifting a hand to his face to cover his red cheeks—“er, Arthur!” England narrowed his eyes at the boy and America laughed awkwardly in response, moving the hand in front of his face to the back of his head as he tried to ruffle his hair nonchalantly. “Hey, uh, what’re you doing here?”
“I hardly think you should be the one asking that question, you bloody—” England replied haughtily, ending his statement by whapping America on the arm with his newspaper.
With a nervous chuckle, America rose up out of his seat and said, “I can explain.”
England rolled his eyes. “Yes, please, explain why you decided to take a holiday to this café in my city—”
“Your city? Are you the mayor now?”
“—so that you could stare at a bag of tea like it was your long lost love?”
England didn’t think it could be possible for America’s face to get any redder, but he was pleasantly surprised to see that he was wrong. “Oh,” America said quietly. “You… saw all that?”
What was this? Was America actually embarrassed for the first time in his existence? England felt his pulse race again with the fleeting thought of how cute he looked with beet red cheeks but, more importantly than that, he felt a smug grin stretching the corners of his mouth.
“I did indeed,” England answered, his eyes narrowing mischievously. With a shrug of his shoulders he added, “And if you don’t want the other nations hearing about your illicit tea love affair at the next World Summit, it might be in your best interest to buy me a drink.”
Now America was the one narrowing his eyes, though his gaze had taken a steely turn. “You suck, you know that?” He shook his head and started walking toward the barista. Over his shoulder he asked, “Still take it with milk?”
“Yes, thank you,” England called in response as he sat himself down at America’s table. He took a moment to straighten his jacket, picked up the tea bag sitting in front of America’s seat, and tucked it into his suit pocket with a private smile.