I walked down the street, trying not to fall asleep as I trudged along through the thin snow. A long, hard day at work, coupled with my thin, freezing cold form wasn’t the best combination in the world. I’d stop eating as of late, partially out of unhappiness with my own looks, but also out of stress. My boss was killing me at work. I’d made it past irritable and was just dead tired now.
“Mattie,” I called as I walked into the house, “I’m home.” I heard pot and pans moving in the kitchen and knew the Canadian was cooking. I poked my head into the kitchen and smiled tiredly. “Hi honey.”
“Hi sweetheart,” Matthew said, turning to look at me. “_______!” I looked up at him and blink. “_______, are you okay?” I nodded and sat down at the table, rubbing my temple with my right hand.
“Yea, I’m just tired,” I replied, resting my head on my arms. Matthew padded over in his sock clad feet and rested a large hand on my upper back.
“You look more than tired chérie. You’ve been looking unhealthy,” he said, rubbing my back gently. I winced internally every time his fingers rubbed over my spine and shoulder blades. I shrugged and leaned up.
“I’m just working too hard,” I replied, ignoring my stomach as it disagreed with me. Matthew’s eyebrows scrunched together in concern. “Smile sweetheart, frowns don’t suit you.”
“How can I smile when I’m worried about you?” he retorted softly, grabbing my chin and making me look at him. I smiled and sighed tiredly as my eyes began to droop of their own accord.
“I promise I’m alright. I just… need to rest,” I told him in between a yawn. He huffed slightly and I hugged him. “Please darling. Don’t fret over me.” The Canadian wrapped his arms around me and kiss my forehead.
“Alright dearest, Will you at least eat something? You’re starting to look thin,” he commented, lifting his hand and pushing my hair away from my face.
“Not tonight. I’m just not hungry. I’m going to get some sleep, is that okay?” I asked, knowing if I even glimpsed food I’d give in. He huffed again and I kissed his cheek. “Please.” I begged weakly.
“Alright,” he gave in grudgingly. I smiled and kiss his nose. “I’ll be in there in a little while. I’ve got to look over some papers and call Al about something.” I nodded my head and hugged him.
“M’kay, love you,” I said, reaching up to flick his curl. He jerked back just in time and smirked at me.
“Je t’aime aussi mon amour,” he replied and kissed my cheek. I smiled and headed towards our room, trying not trip. I slipped out of my work clothes and pulled on one of Matthew’s overly large T-shirts. I flopped onto our bed and just managed to pull the comforter over myself. I let my head hit the pillow and was instantly asleep.
Matthew listened as _______ stumbled to their room. He scrunched his eyebrows together in thought and worry as he went to put up the leftovers. He’d seen her coming home from work the past few afternoons and was even more tired than the night before. He was worried about her but wasn’t sure how to approach her about it. He walked into the living room and grabbed his cell phone and dialed his brother’s number.
“H-hello?!” Matthew cringed at the volume of his twin’s voice.
“Al? What’re you doing?” he asked, trying to catch some of the background noise.
“Huh? O-oh um… n-nothing important. Whatcha need?” Alfred asked hurriedly He could’ve sworn he heard an English accent whine “Alfie.” The voice was hushed quickly.
“It’s _______ Al. I’m worried about her,” the Canadian said, playing distractedly with his fingers. His twin sobered up at the mention of his brother’s girlfriend.
“Hang on Matt,” he said. Matthew could tell that Arthur was the other voice by now and Alfred was trying to sooth the annoyed Brit. “Sorry ‘bout that,” Alfred said, now completely alone. “So what’s wrong with __(n/n)__?”
“I-I’m not sure. She’s been really tired and she looks sick. She doesn’t really act it. She doesn’t have a fever or a cough or anything, but she looks awful Al.” Matthew walked to their bedroom and looked at their bed from the doorway. _______ was laying there, her breath coming in short heavy pants.
“Hm? Is she thinner, like you said, almost sickly looking?” Alfred asked. Matthew walked into the room and to the bed. He pulled the covers back and bit back a moan of distress.
“Y-yea,” he replied shakily, running a hand lightly over her thin hip and thigh. Alfred groaned softly making Matthew jump at the sudden noise. “What is it?”
“She’s probably not eatin’ dude. Arthur told me about stuff like this a while back. She’s tired ‘cause she doesn’t have any energy,” he informed. “Has she eaten anything when she comes home?”
“N-no, nothing at all,” Matthew said, eyes saddening as he looked at _______. She was abusing herself and Matthew had no idea how to help.
“Alright, Well, I’d just try and talk to her tomorrow about it. just try to get some sleep until then okay?” Alfred said, suddenly sounding anxious.
“Alright, talk to you later.” The men hung up and Matthew knelt down next to _______. “Why are you doing this?” he whispered, brushing a hand down her cheek. She sighed and subconsciously leaned into his touch. He stood up and changed quickly into a pair of maple leaf pajama pants. He slipped under the comforter, taking his glasses off and setting them on his night table. He wrapped his arms around _______’s waist and winced at the bony feeling of her waist. He closed his eyes and slowly fell into a light sleep.
I winced slightly at the sharp pain in my stomach. I moved my hand to try to ease and quiet the loud growling in my abdomen. I whimpered as the gnawing pain twisted and turned. I didn’t want to wake Matthew; I had to stay quiet.
I shut my eyes, praying sleep would take me back into sweet, blissful oblivion. My stomach had other ideas and it felt like something was stabbing my middle over and over again. I bit my lip, trying not to let any sound escape. I groaned softly, however, and wiggled a bit, trying to ease the ache. Another whimpered managed to escape and I tried curling in further on myself.
“_______?” I cringed as I heard Matthew’s groggy voice behind me.
“S-sorry honey. J-just cramps,” I mumbled, trying to lay as still as possible. Matthew unwound his arms from around me and turned me gently to look at him.
“_______, what aren’t you telling me?” he asked softly. I swallowed and felt tears well in my eyes.
“I-I’m sorry Mattie,” I sniffled, my breath shaking as my chest clenched. Matthew’s eyes widened slightly and he sat crisscross and helped me to sit up. “I h-haven’t been eating. I just feel s-so overweight and the stress at w-work isn’t h-helping a-and…” I trailed off, crying into my hands. Matthew wrapped his arms around me and pulled me into his lap.
“Shh _______. You definitely aren’t overweight,” he whispered into my hair. “Vous êtes beau et parfait. (You are beautiful and perfect).” I buried my face into his shoulder and shook silently with sobs. I calmed down after a few minutes and Matthew rubbed my back. “Come on sweetheart. I know what you need.” I looked up at him, tears streaking down my cheeks, and saw his bluish-violet eyes shining in the dark.
“What do you mean?” I asked, crawling off his lap so he could jump off the bed. He held out his hand to me and I took it.
“Well, judging by the sounds coming from your stomach, you need something to eat and I know just what to make,” he said replied with a grin. I gave a shaky smile as he gently pulled me out of our bedroom and to the kitchen. I sat down and watched Matthew pull ingredients out of the refrigerator and pantry. He mixed it all up and poured the semi thick batter into a pan.
When I smelled it cooking I knew he was making pancakes. My stomach growled loudly and I wrapped my arms around my middle. Matthew looked over and I blushed in shame. He gave me a smile and flipped the pancakes. We sat in silence for a few minutes as he slid pancakes onto a plate and poured some more batter. He walked over with the stack of five pancakes and a bottle of maple syrup.
“Alright you, eat up,” Matthew said, sitting at the table and pouring a decent amount of syrup on the fluffy stacks. I whined desperately as I tried to cut up the stack as fast as I could without making a huge mess. Matthew held back a chuckle and quickly cut up the pancakes. “Open up,” he said, holding the fork in front of me. I latched onto the fork and moaned at the heavenly taste.
Matthew made the best pancakes ever. I didn’t know if it was because he was the personification of Canada, or if it was because Francis had taught him, or what! But this man could cook pancakes like nobody’s business. They were always just right. They were so fluffy and warm. It was almost like eating a flavored cloud. They were perfect. I sighed as the moist pancake and syrup coated my tongue and made its way down my throat.
“Gosh Mattie, don’t ever let me miss out on these again,” I said, shoveling another forkful into my mouth. He chuckled and stood up, walking over to the refrigerator. He pulled out the milk and poured a glass.
“This is one problem solved,” he said, walking back over with the milk. I was nearly three fourths done with the stack as he set the glass in front of me. I downed half of it and then looked up at the Canadian.
“One problem?” I inquired, stuffing my mouth with some more pancakes. He nodded, making his curl bounce.
“Mhm, you’re eating again, that’s that problem taken care of. Now to pull you away from work and all that stress,” he replied, cupping my jaw and stroking my cheek with his thumb. I smiled and blushed softly, giggling quietly.
“Well what do you propose hm?” I asked, finishing the pancakes and licking my fork clean. He eyed me as I dragged my tongue across the utensil on purpose.
“I was thinking a vacation,” he answered, leaning forward and winking. I laughed and dropped the fork, kissing him quickly.
“Sounds like the perfect plan to me.”
“H-how are you not f-f-freezing?” I said, my teeth chattering as I watched Matthew grab his snowboard and walk over to me. He shrugged and lifted his goggles onto his head, minding his glasses.
“I’m Canada. The Great White North. I was born here in the cold. Francis found me pretty much buried in snow when I was little,” he informed me with a grin. I smiled at him and reached for his hand. He grabbed it and laced our fingers together.
“A-are we g-going ins-s-side?” I questioned, looking at him pleadingly. He nodded and pulled me close.
“Yes we’re going in,” he replied. He leaned down to kiss my nose. “Geez you’re cold,” he muttered. I tried to answer him but my lips were trembling too badly. He kissed me softly, letting warmth radiate through my mouth and face. “Let’s get you inside.” We stumbled through the snow to the large cabin he’d brought us to. After I’d gotten better and my eating habits had picked back up, Matthew had taken me out of work for a month and brought me up to a cabin he’d built himself way up north in Canada.
“I c-can’t feel m-my t-t-toes,” I stuttered, shivering from the cold outside. Being away from work had definitely helped with the stress; it was nice not having to worry about paperwork twenty-four seven, but now I was absolutely freezing. Matthew opened the door and ushered me in quickly. I began shedding the layers I’d had on, letting them drop to the ground in a heap. Matthew helped me out of the jackets that were now plastered to me and helped me slip out of the many pairs of sweatpants I was wearing.
Once I was stripped of everything but my T-shirt and pair of thin sleeping pants, Matthew picked me up without warning, making me yelp in surprise. He walked me over to one of the big, comfy armchairs and set me down in front of the fire. A mug of hot chocolate was already waiting on me. I grabbed the cup and took a long sip. The warmth spread through my system, filling me up and fighting away the chill.
“You stay here and I’ll be right back,” he told me, kissing my forehead and heading upstairs. I sat in front of the large fire, letting my body slowly warm back up. I wriggled my toes as they began to feel tingly, the feeling coming back to them. I finished off the hot chocolate, popping the marshmallows in my mouth last. I listened as Matthew came back down the stairs and turned to watch him enter.
“What’d you do?” I asked, standing up and rubbing my arms. He smiled gently and pulled me into a hug.
“Mmm, you’re warmer, good. And you’ll see. Follow me.” He wrapped an arm around my waist and tugged me up the steps. I followed without question, enjoying the close contact. He walked me into our bedroom and I could see steam rolling out of the bathroom doorway. I looked at Matthew and grinned.
“Thank you Matthew,” I murmured, leaning up to kiss his jaw. He blushed red and nodded, trying to pull away so I could take my bath. I grabbed his hand instead and pulled him towards the steamy room. I smiled as the steam washed over me and pulled me towards the bathtub. I slipped out of my clothes and stepped into the hot, bubbly bathwater. “Coming Mattie?” I asked as I knelt down and sunk to my neck. I giggled as I heard him yanking off his clothes as fast as he could and dip into the water behind me.
“Come here you,” he growled playfully, wrapping an arm around my waist. Well, this ought to warm me up, I thought, spinning around and splashing water as I pressed my lips to his.