The 'Hug'

Chapter 2

Alfred was jostled awake as the plane was about to land when one of the flight attendants startled him awake. He winced as he realized his headache hadn't gone away as he'd been hoping, before wondering just when he had nodded off.

"I'm sorry sir, I didn't mean to startle you." The young woman said. "But we are about to land so I thought it best you get yourself situated." She said with an apologetic smile. Alfred nodded and flashed her his usual wide grin in thanks, the woman walking away to leave him to his business.

Once the plane landed and his things carried off, mostly by himself, he quickly found his brother and the two made their way to their rented car. They stuffed their bags into the trunk and backseat, Alfred surprised to see that Matthew had already gotten his bear situated in the back without having noticed it. The bear cocked his head as he looked at him before asking his usual question, likely looking for someone to give him some food. Alfred answered and tossed him a candy bar he'd had on him, motioning for the bear to not to say anything, knowing his brother might not agree with his choice of snack.

"Hey Matt…." Alfred said as he shut the car door as gently as he could to keep from making things louder than necessary. "You mind drivin'?" he asked, his brother looking surprised.

"Y-yeah, sure. No problem, eh?" Matthew said, getting in the driver's seat. "You don't usually let me take control though…" he said, suspiciously looking over his brother with worry clearly on his face. It was true that his brother was more of a go-getter and didn't often let anyone else take the reins on things, even their little games of catch.

"Yeah, but I can never get the hang of these backwards roads and directions." Alfred said as he sat in the passenger seat, reclining the back a little. "Don't know why Arthur doesn't just use my system. It'd be so much better. Maybe he'd stop bein' such a grouch to me if he just admitted how awesome…" Alfred began before his brother playfully shoved him on the shoulder.

"Stop. We haven't even seen him yet. And he's only grouchy when you start saying that sort of stuff to him." Matthew said as they drove, Alfred making a grunting noise as a response as he looked out the window. "But it's still true. Don't know why you don't use my measuring system either…" Alfred mumbled, earning a heavy sigh from Canada.

"We've had this conversation several times Alfred. Get over it." Matthew said, wincing as he slammed on the brakes to avoid rear-ending a stopped car he hadn't expected. "Sorry, sorry…." He mumbled as Alfred winced and held his head from the motion. "Your headache still bothering you too?" Matthew asked before answering his bear to keep Kumajirou from trying to climb into the front.

"Now it is…" Alfred grumbled, but Matthew could tell he was still out of sorts. Alfred readjusted and was about to nod off when his brother's voice woke him. "You know you still have that accent you were talking with earlier. I know you don't realize it sometimes, all nations do that sometimes, but if you're going to keep trying to pull this act like you're not feeling poorly around the others – especially Arthur – you should try a little harder with the accent." Matthew said, earning a sigh from Alfred.

"Oh, man…" Alfred whined, sounding more like his usual speech. "I thought I was back to usual before I got on the plane. No wonder I got some funny looks from the pilots. Pretty sure they never heard me use any other accent." Alfred said as he thought back on how the pilots had seemed a little surprised. "Oh well. They know who I am so it shouldn't 've been a surprise…" he said around a yawn.

"Yeah…" Matthew said with a laugh. "Well the hotel for the conference isn't too far away and you can get some sleep." He said, glancing over to find his brother with his eyes closed already. The rest of the ride was short, Matthew dreading the task of trying to wake his brother once he parked. Alfred could sleep through one of his own earthquakes and waking him was usually quite a process. But Matthew couldn't stifle the laugh that escaped when it seemed his bear had enough of sitting in the back with the bags and had climbed over the armrest to land on America, his weight hitting a sensitive area that had Alfred wake up immediately.

"Gah! Matt! Get your bear off…." Alfred grumbled as he gasped from the unexpected hit, not appreciating the lack of sympathy from his brother. Alfred pushed the polar bear off him and tumbled out of the car, holding himself while lying on the ground.

"Well Bonjour America." Alfred heard, cracking open an eye to see France standing nearby with an amused look on his face. "Whatever could be ze matter?" he asked as Canada got out of the car, still laughing.

"Nothing. Go away." Alfred muttered, getting to his feet. But Francis continued to linger, looking over to his former colony for some answer. "Mattie, don't…" Alfred warned but his brother had already started explaining to France. Alfred chose to take the mature route and simply ignored them as he grabbed his stuff, his headache making things louder and brighter than they should have been.

"Oh hon hon hon…" Francis said as he helped Matthew with his things. "Are you sure you don't need help America? After such a hit to one's vital regions…" he began to tease, America shaking his head.

"Ha ha…" Alfred said. "You'd have the most experience with dealing with that kind of injury, huh France?" Alfred teased back, finding the banter easing his grumpy mood and making his attempt to keep things normal easier for him.

"Oh, I think he got you there France" Matthew said with a smirk, the older blonde smiling at the light-hearted atmosphere. "Well, perhaps…But you two are more than welcome to join me…" France began, but received identical eye-rolls from the two North American countries as expected. "No? Well, you are better company than Angleterre at the moment. Or any time really. He's no time for our usual talks when he's hosting and a complete bear." France said with a shrug, Kumajiro turning to look up at the word 'bear' but not finding any treats offered to him, continued to follow Canada. Matthew laughed at his bear's moodiness over having to walk to the room rather than be carried like usual.

"Well, maybe that's just special for you France" Alfred said, thanking the woman behind the desk once they received their room cards. "Only you get that particular brand of English gentlemanliness or whatever…" He said, readjusting his grip on one of his bags. His strength made carrying them easier than should have been possible for anyone else, even for some of the other nations. But his focus was more scattered than usual and France had to catch one of the bags to avoid getting hit with it. "Oh, oops?" Alfred said as Francis handed it back with a chuckle.

"Anyway. I'll be seeing you two later for dinner, yes?" France asked as they reached Matthew's room. Canada opened his door to let his bear inside, the animal making straight for the bed to curl up on. He dropped his bags, Francis handing him the one he'd carried for him.

"I'll be there." Matthew said with his usual soft smile to Francis as he walked inside. "It's in an hour right?" he asked to be sure, receiving a nod from the European nation who then turned to Alfred.

"Oh, um…I'm not really all that hungry. I'll get to it at some point maybe. See you around." Alfred said with a small nod of his head before he continued down the hall to the elevator to get to his own room. His brother and France stood speechless as they watched him leave before Francis turned back to Matthew.

"I…don't think I've ever heard him refuse food." He said, looking curiously at Canada who looked worried. "The only time that's happened was when he was still small and went to comfort Angleterre instead of partaking of my delicious food." France said, Canada well aware of how his brother had chosen Arthur as his caretaker, unable to staunch his desire to be a hero and comfort those he saw as troubled.

"I'm…I'm sure he's already eaten. He probably has some last minute stuff he wants to work on and doesn't want anyone to think he's lazy." Matthew said. "But, just in case…I'll check in on him later." He said, France silently nodding before he said his goodbyes. Canada sighed as he shut his door, looking over at his sleeping bear as he wondered how to gently encourage his brother to take it easy.

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