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Breaking Drought

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"Another glass?"

Matthew sips tea from a delicate china cup painted with tiny roses. A gift from Arthur, no doubt; the kind of gift that Alfred keeps locked in a store cupboard somewhere, covered in dust and cobwebs and memories that he will forever insist, even to himself, are entirely unpleasant.

"Yeah, thanks," Alfred murmurs, grabbing the large pitcher of water from the centre of the table, filled with ice and slices of lemon, and pouring. His fourth, if he is keeping count correctly, definitely the second jug, and his mouth still feels like he's swallowed half of the dirt in the dust bowl. His lips are chapped with drought, skin splitting like dry fissures in the earth, and he tastes blood every time he licks them. It leaves his mouth tasting unpleasantly sour and he raises the glass, gulping more and more water to try to wash it away, like it will somehow seep from him into his soil.

It isn't enough, but he sets the empty glass back down on the table with a soft clink and glares at the wireless set as it segues to the news report. He already knows what will be said. The same thing they've been saying since the crash.

Recession and drought, and between them he feels as though he's going to crumble into nothingness. He drums his fingers against the table lightly, making the china rattle and earning himself a soft, reproachful look from his brother.

"You look ill," Matthew says, a sad little twist to his lips. He leans over and switches off the wireless, a look of distaste on his face, apparently as sick of the news as Alfred is.

Alfred snorts derisively. "Ain't none of us look particularly pretty right now," he says. Matthew clothes hang more loosely on his frame, same as his own; he actually needs the braces to hold up his pants now. He thinks that the expressions on the faces of the other nations as he stood in front of them are seared on the backs of his eyelids. They've all been hit hard by this.

Except Russia, but Alfred refuses to think about him.

Matthew opens his mouth, looks about to say something, only to stop, looking away as he finishes off the dregs of his tea. He sets the cup down precisely on the saucer, so proper. He wouldn't look out of place in one of the posh tea rooms in London that Arthur insists on taking Alfred to every time he visits. They always make Alfred feel impossibly clumsy, like everything is a size too small, chairs and cups and those awkward little tongs that they use for the sugar.

And now Matthew is staring down at his lap and Alfred feels like kind of a jerk because he appreciates the invite, really he does, but his tongue feels swollen in his parched mouth and all he can think to say is Sorry, I'm sorry this happened, sorry I made this happen and that hardly leads to the best conversations, especially when its all he's been saying for months now, for years. He can't even feed his own people so what hope does he have of helping anyone else's?

"I'm not very good company right now," he says instead, leaning back in his chair, the antimacassar rumpling up beneath his head, and staring out of the window at the flawless blue sky that he has come to resent. He longs for rain clouds and storms, the electric hum of them across his skin, life awakening beneath the dead ground at last.

Matthew shrugs, gives him a lopsided smile. "It will pass," he says with more certainty than Alfred feels. "I mean, it can't last forever, eh?"

Alfred blows a stray strand of hair out of his face and nods, slumping back down in his seat, long legs stretched out in front of himself and he's long since stopped even trying to hide the patches sewn into his pants to make them last just that bit longer. "Yeah, I know," he agrees, wishing he sounded half as confident as his brother, and isn't that an irony? Matthew is the shy one, the sweet one, and he's supposed to be wishing that he had half of Alfred's boundless energy.

He frowns, lips twisting into a bitter expression. "Just seems like everything comes all at once. The war and then the depression and drought and famine. I mean, what's next? What if this just drags on and on and I never come out of it?"

"It isn't just you," Matthew says, a touch of irritation in his voice. "The rest of us have had to suffer everything, and in worse condition too. I mean, you came out of the war better off than you were before."

It makes Alfred frown, mingled guilt and his own flicker of annoyance. "I know that! I'm not totally blind. I just..." He huffs, folding his arms on the table and dropping his head against them. "They know everything. They've seen everything, but as soon as this happens, just watch them clamour to be the first to rip me a new one. Because obviously I should know better, I should have seen this coming." He sounds like a kid complaining about his parents, but if he can't complain to his brother about the nations that raised them, who can he complain to? "Of course, they never made any mistakes at all when they were my age."

"I don't think that it was quite the same when they were your age," Matthew replies, a long suffering tone to his voice. "They didn't have a manufacturing industry for one thing."

Alfred waves his hand dismissively. "Didn't they ever have, I don't know, a surplus of lances or something?" It's quite a ridiculous thought, but it's more amusing than anything else has been recently so he runs with it. "And that causes a world crash in the prices of lances and some bastard decides that knights are just pointless so he's not going to buy anymore and you have all these... these lance making people clamouring for government aid."

"I think government aid back then consisted of an axe to the neck, but I see your point." And there's a smile quirking Matthew's lips which is so much better than the polite blandness or irritation that he'd been displaying earlier. Matthew had learned some expressions from Arthur far too well.

"Heh, yeah, probably," Alfred agrees, smile curving his lips even though he feels the skin crack and tastes copper on his tongue.

Matthew pours him another glass of water and pushes it towards him, but Alfred shakes his head. "No. I'm fine," he says, even though it would soothe his throat. "I'll slosh as I walk if I drink much more."

"You look like you need it," Matthew says, and there's an odd look in his eyes for a moment, but then it's gone like it never was.

Alfred snorts but takes the glass, running his fingers over the condensation along the rim. "If this was alcohol, I'd think you were trying to get me drunk."

He takes a gulp, throat bobbing and Matthew isn't quite quick enough to avert his gaze from where he's been staring. It makes Alfred pause momentarily, before flicking his tongue out against the rim of the glass, licking away the mist from the side, pressing the glorious coolness against his forehead, flaky skin absorbing whatever moisture it can, and he sees the way that Matthew's breath comes a little faster.

He practically pants when Alfred takes another gulp, cool droplets beading on his lips, soothing the dryness for a few blissful moments. Alfred pauses, moving to set the glass down only for Matthew to grasp his wrist lightly, stopping him.

"Keep going," he says, and there's a hint of pleading there, the kind that Alfred can never resist, especially when there's a faint touch of pink to his brother's cheeks. It makes him look better, healthier. He keeps drinking, finishing the glass off quickly. The water settles heavily in his stomach.

Glass chimes against glass and the full cup is pushed towards him again, Matthew staring at him with a hungry expression that is almost entirely unfamiliar to Alfred. It's the kind of expression that he would more expect to see on Francis.

His gaze flicks between the water and Matthew's face, confused and curious. Matthew gives him a tiny smile, shrugs and leans over, swiping his thumb over Alfred's bottom lip. "You don't look as ill when you're drinking," he says, sounding embarrassed to admit it. "It makes your lips look less chapped."

Alfred feels himself flush a little at the comment, but he dips his tongue out to swipe across the pad of Matthew's thumb, gratified to see his pretty eyes widen in surprise. Matthew withdraws quickly, looking as awkward and gangly as he had looked refined earlier. "I mean..."

"You meant what you said," Alfred replies, sudden realisation dawning on him. He reaches for the glass and drinks it down, gaze fixed on Matthew's face, his reaction, the way the light flush deepens. He almost yelps when he feels a foot slide against his leg, trailing up his calf to his knee. He keeps drinking, feeling the liquid inside him every time he moves. He shifts a little uncomfortably, pressing his thighs close together only to have them nudged apart by Matthew's well worn boot. It rests against his leg, a warm weight, rubbing idly as Matthew pours another glass of water.

"You're joking," Alfred says, staring at the glass which suddenly looks rather forbidding. "I'll be pissing like a racehorse."

The movement is sudden, the sole of Matthew's boot pressing firmly against his dick, moving up to push, just a little, against his stomach, making Alfred groan softly, feeling the urge to piss shoot right through his cock, like Matthew had wrapped a hand around him and started stroking. He's surprised by how similar the sensations are.

He meets Matthew's eyes and the smirk on his brother's lips convinces him that Matthew knows that quite well.

"It's spring, Alfred," Matthew says softly. "Just think, all that rain falling over your lands, damping down the soil," Matthew says, his voice husky with desire that makes warmth pool in Alfred's groin. "Like all the snow melt and gorged rivers are pooling in you, running through you to your land, over the dead soil." He presses his foot against Alfred's stomach again, and Alfred squirms at the feeling, somewhere between desperation and arousal, between pleasant and mortifying. Matthew smiles, warm and hungry. "I want to see you like that, Alfred, full and swollen and all that water, all that life in you."

"Oh god..." Alfred groans and he pushes into that foot, just a little, feels it coil like arousal in his gut. He reaches for the glass, knocks it back, albeit more slowly now, feeling every drop settle inside him. He feels so full and he whimpers as Matthew shifts, the minute press and release against his bladder and he feels hard even though he knows that he isn't. His cheeks are hot flushed with acute embarrassment because how can he be liking this, even a little bit? But oh, it feels good somehow, knows it will feel better when Matthew moves his damn foot and lets him piss.

The pressure is gone for a moment, but the relief is drowned out by the sight of Matthew reaching to pour another glass of water, and the fact that he can hear the water falling into the glass, and he can only focus on the state of his bladder and how swollen his stomach feels.

He eyes the glass with the kind of trepidation that he'd eyed the new tanks when they'd rolled off the production line, like something that might come back to bite him in the ass. Or bladder in this instance. His gaze flicks back up to Matthew's face; he's watching intently, face flushed with desire deep as the dark lakes on their border, and it's been so long since Alfred felt as though he was wanted, as though there was anything to desire about him and he doesn't want it to end, not yet. He grabs the glass, sips from it, a slice of lemon hitting his tongue and sending a burst of sharp sourness across it. Across from him, eyes lust darkened, Matthew licks his lips, pink tongue flicking out to wet them, plump and full and all Alfred can think for a moment is how they'd look wet with his saliva or wrapped around the rim of the glass.

He thinks that he might whimper as he drinks again, certain that he can't take much more. Where the hell is it going, because surely his stomach is full, his bladder almost bursting and his cock feeling swollen and thick with the liquid? He pauses, breathing deeply, closing his eyes to try and regain some composure. This shouldn't feel so erotic, should feel vile and disturbing, drinking and drinking until he's half drowned himself, wanting his brother watching him with that hungry look, but despite himself, despite those thoughts, he picks up the glass and finishes it, wanting more of the way that Matthew is looking at him, more of the water that his land so desperately needs.

He only manages to half muffle the yelp that escapes him when Matthew's foot once more presses up against him, bare this time; he can feel his brother's toes rubbing against the front of his pants, trying to nudge down the fly, pressing and pushing and he feels everything move and shift inside him. He bites his lip, breathing quickly through his nose as Matthew fondles him, dragging sensation from places he didn't even know could be stimulated in such a way.

"You're gorgeous," Matthew murmurs, and that brings more colour to Alfred's cheeks than anything else, makes him rock up against Matthew's foot, crying out when he feels something break inside him.

"I- I gotta..."

He stumbles to his feet and bolts, stumbling towards the bathroom at a pace usually reserved for dodging enemy soldiers, slams the door back against the wall and thanks his stars that Matthew has an indoor toilet because he needs to go and doesn't think he'd make it to the end of the garden. There's a few drops of urine staining the front of his pants by the time he pulls them down, freeing his cock, grabbing it with delicate fingers and releases the first stream into the pan with a sigh of absolute relief. He gasps at the feeling, almost a moan; it feels like release, feels like coming hard, fingers wrapped tight around his dick and the skin so sensitive, coming and coming and coming.

He doesn't even hear the footsteps until warm weight presses up against his back. He falters, the stream stopping for a moment, the pressure still caught up inside him, and his voice catches in his throat with a grating noise of frustration.

"I want to see," Matthew murmurs against his ear, and it's so easy to forget that they're pretty much the same height when his brother is normally so reserved, but like this, feeling Matthew's cock pressed against his backside, knowing that he's looking down over his shoulder at Alfred's cock, it makes Alfred feel small and shy. "Go on," Matthew nudges and Alfred tries to find that feeling again, the relaxed, almost peaceful sensation from the most basic of functions but it's lost now, and he's so confused and it won't come.


He feels Matthew blink, his eyelashes brushing against Alfred's neck above his collar. "Let me," Matthew murmurs, mingled amusement and lust, his voice low and husky, rubbing up against Alfred like a hungry bear.

He cries out, can't stop himself, and Matthew's slim fingers wrap around his flaccid cock, moving over it with light touches, like he's exploring and wanting to memorise every vein and bump, nudging at the tip. Matthew's other hand wraps around his waist, prodding and pushing at his belly below his navel. Alfred moans low, eyes fluttering shut as each press sends a jolt through him, and he can't even tell the difference now, between arousal and this desperate need.

Finally, Matthew's fingers flicking over the head, squeezing just right, the perfect touch, he starts to piss again with a strangled cry of what is unmistakeably pleasure. He drops his head back against Matthew's shoulder, shivering slightly as calloused fingers hold him while he relieves himself, and he can almost feel every ridge of Matthew's fingerprints against his cock, and everything is so sensitive, so sweet, and he empties himself, like his rivers empty into the great lakes, like they empty into the ocean and everything between the rain and the sea is left green and fertile and alive.

He feels drained when he finally stops, at least as drained as he has felt after a good fuck or fumble in between meetings or after work. His breath his warm and moist on his lips and it won't last for long, he doesn't think, they'll be cracked and bleeding again soon enough, but oh, it's like he can feel the movement of every bit of water, every river and creek and every cloud that has to come. It will come, some day soon.

Finally, he comes back to himself, settling into his skin, feeling it move and flex with him. He makes a low noise and shifts, Matthew still against his back. "That was..." he begins, pausing, shaking his head to try and regain some coherency, "weird," he admits with a wry little smile.

He feels the awkward tense in Matthew's body and grasps his brother's hands before he can pull away. He rubs his thumb against the swell of bone in Matthew's wrist lightly, staring down at their hands, resting against his cock still. It's strange. He feels so empty now, so drained, but content too, comfortable. "Not bad weird," he insists quickly. "I just... I don't think I can describe it properly," he says with a brief, bright laugh, shaking his head and after a moment, Matthew's voice joins his in laughing, a lighter sound, mingling with his own.

"Yes, I suppose I see what you mean," Matthew replies, his amusement gentler now, sated. "I didn't um, I didn't scare you off did I? I didn't mean to... it just happened. I've been worried about you and you looked so vibrant like that." He squeezes Alfred's cock lightly, as though he even has to explain what he means. Matthew's not hard anymore, Alfred realises. He catches his lip between his teeth, presses back against Matthew experimentally and hears him groan.

Alfred turns upon hearing that and glances down, grins widely at the sight of the damp patch at the front of Matthew's pants. It still isn't quite a match to his normal world beating smile, but it's getting there. "Scared, me? What could possibly scare me? I mean, I'm going to be fine!" There's that long suffering expression that he recognises so well on Matthew's face, and even like this, after the weird thing that's just happened between them, it feels good, feels almost normal. "You'll see. I won't let this keep me down!"

Matthew snorts, pulls away, his movements awkward now, lacking the confidence of earlier. "You always jump straight into things. Never thinking."

Alfred smirks, straightens his braces and tucks himself back into his pants. They'll need washing but that's a thought for later on when he might possibly be mortified and might possibly jerk himself off to the memory of this and it probably won't feel half as good. "I didn't hear you complaining about me jumping into this," he points out.

Matthew scowls slightly, washing his hands methodically. He probably cleans under his nails every morning. Alfred slides up behind him, mimics the way Matthew had held him, hand against his stomach, the other drifting lower, promising. "You know what I thought about while were were... you know?"

Matthew gulps, looks up and meets his gaze through the bathroom mirror, and shakes his head. "What?"

Alfred squeezes, rubbing his cock to earn the smallest of moans. "Well, there's all that tea in the kitchen... and you've had a drought too haven't you? Like you said, the depression's hit everyone."

Matthew's cheeks flush and it's cute in a way, how he can go from hunter to hunted so quickly, but there's still that darkness in his eyes that practically begs for Alfred to push him, nudge him just that little bit further. "Oh."

"Oh," Alfred agrees.

Matthew seems dumbstruck for a moment before smiling again. "I think the kettle will need warming again, but there was that one packet of tea that I've been wanting to try. It seems like a good ah... opportunity."

Alfred nods his agreement, squeezing again, all smooth promises and sweetness. "No time like the present, right?"