Regular font indicates the present.

Italic font indicates flashbacking.

Bold italic font indicates thought.

Bold regular font indicates writing/typing.


It was quiet.

A little too quiet, for the likes of a certain Briton.

So far, the heist had been going along smoothly; Japan had been able to override the security system for the Metropolitan Museum of Art, allowing England to slip inside undetected and knock out the guards with ease. After disabling the security cameras and wiping any trace of digital fingerprints, England was able to make his way towards the highlights of the museum's artifacts without interruption.

The silence is a tad unnerving, he thought as he walked past the exhibits, his coat fluttering behind his slim frame like the feathers of a crow while his boots echoed throughout the empty hallway with every step he took, the dark lighting of the surrounding area making the Tudor rose in his lapel glimmer like blood. While I know I should take certain things for granted, I cannot help but feel suspicious.

England almost jumped when he felt his communicator vibrate against his hip, a soft sigh of relief escaping from his pale lips when realizing he wasn't in danger. Call it paranoia or fear, but a heavy feeling had settled in his stomach with every moment he spent cooped up in the infernal museum.

"What is it, Japan?" He asked when he flipped open his communicator (a silver pocket watch that displayed the masked face of his partner as opposed to the time) and readjusted his own mask, always fearful that it would somehow slip off his face. "Miss me already?" He teased in an attempt to distill his shaken nerves.

A polite laugh escaped the familiar Kitsune mask shown on his screen. "I take it you installed the chip into the security system as I requested?"

"Yes," England replied, a small smirk etched onto his features when his emerald gaze caught sight of a sign which read 'Highlights of the Collection' not far from where he was. "The guards have been knocked out, bound, and gagged. I'm about to enter the highlights' section of the museum, meaning that the Ganymede jewelry cannot be far ahead. Any sign of our American nuisance?"

"No, England-san," Japan answered, turning his head to the side so he could presumably glance over the live security feed on his computer. "No sign of America-san."

Another sigh of relief escaped from the Brit, his eyes closing in bliss behind his black mask decorated with silver tree branches while the smirk on his face grew wider. "Glad to hear the bloody wanker is nowhere in sight," he said as he redirected his gaze towards the hall bathed in a soft glow of lighting, his steps lighter against the floor as his worries lessened. "Perhaps we can finally get away without his commercialized ass messing things up?"

"Hopefully," Japan responded, resting his gloved hand against the cheek of his fox-mask. "Though it's good to keep your guard up if something goes awry, that way it will take less time for you to think on your feet. Regardless, I'll make sure to contact you again in case my feed gets cut off or America-san arrives."

England nodded as he closed the watch and slipped it into the pocket of his tailcoat, the heavy feeling in his stomach fully diminishing at the sight of the Ganymede jewelry resting defenselessly in its glass container. The Brit thanked himself for having enough foresight to disable the security surrounding the particular artifact while he was in the control room, otherwise it would have been much more difficult and time-consuming to disable it manually what with having to maneuver his hand around the alarm-triggering lasers surrounding the treasure.

"'Ello, love," he murmured, his gloved hands carefully tugging off the glass top and leaving the glass resting against a wall. The jewelry was priceless, what with it dating back to 330-300 B.C and being a combination of gold, rock crystal, and emerald; the apple of any artifact collector's eye, and the prime target for any notable thief to 'procure'. "What wonderful doors you'll be able to open for me."

With a shaking hand, he lifted up the 13-inch necklace and carefully wrapped it up in fabric to prevent it from being broken, taking extra caution in depositing it into the bag slung over his shoulder given like hell he was going to risk it being harmed when he and Japan had gotten this far trying to steal it.

He was so busy paying attention to the welfare of the necklace that he failed to register the sensation of his communicator vibrating against his hip. An action he would later regard upon recollection with a facepalm and a 'by GOD was I moronic!'

With this, I can finally do it, the thief thought excitedly, slipping the other pieces of jewelry (bracelets, earrings, fibulae brooches, and a ring) into assorted pieces of fabric and storing them into his bag, missing the sound of footsteps echoing closer and closer as his enthusiasm continued to peak. With this, I can finally-

All thoughts faltered in his mind when he felt a pair of arms wrap around his waist and pull him close, his back colliding with a solid chest before he could react.

"'Ello love."

Shit.

The Briton stomped harshly on the man's white boots without another moment to lose, relishing the satisfying screech of pain that escaped from his enemy before he spun around and shoved him away, successfully escaping his grasp in the process.

"Well, look what the cat dragged in and pissed all over," England snarled, his grip tightening on the strap of the bag wrapped over his shoulder while he glared at his nemesis doubled-over in pain. "Hello, America. Does mummy know you're breaking your curfew?"

"I can say the same about you, England," America spat once he recovered from the surprisingly-sharp blow, his gloved hands crossing over his toned chest as his blue eyes narrowed behind his white mask dotted with blue stars. "I didn't know your retirement home let you stay out so late."

The Englishman growled and started walking backwards when the American began to walk towards him, the adrenaline rushing swifter through his system with each resounding 'CLACK' the hero's white boots emitted. "I'm not as bloody old as you make me out to be!"

America laughed, the dim lighting dancing off his futuristic-looking jumpsuit. He glanced over England's attire as he continued to come closer at a slow pace, the smug glint in his eye indicating that he was unable to help savoring the Brit's reemerging panic given how rare England went out of his way to always have some form of backup plan. His confidence—which was somehow more prominent than normal, if that was even possible—proof enough that the hero was the one to have a backup plan between the two of them. "I don't know, those clothes of yours look like a failed version of cosplay."

"It's steampunk, you foolish twat," the thief snapped, motioning to his black tailcoat complete with grey cogs in the place of buttons, his dark pants with chains hanging near his pockets, and his knee-high green boots decorated with gear-studded straps of leather. He mentally cursed when he felt his back collide with a large lunette window overlooking the entrance to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, his brain going into overdrive so that he could come up with a way to escape. Perhaps he could use America's tendency to succumb to his emotions and engage in banter to his advantage and buy him some time? "And you want to talk about failed versions of cosplay? Try looking in the mirror, 'Captain America'!"

The Briton could practically see the American bristle like a cat that got stepped on its tail, his blush as vivid a shade of red as the fabric on his arms and legs. With his fabricated-blue torso, white gloves and boots, and blonde hair slicked to one side, he did somewhat resemble Captain America. However, the amount of logos attached to random places on his attire deterred his image and made him appear more like personified commercialism as opposed to the Marvel Avenger. "You're just jealous because the hero gets product placement," he informed, pointing to the brands dotting his arms varying from McDonalds to Starbucks.

"Yes, 'God bless the land of the free'," England drawled, sarcasm lacing his tone as thickly as his accent. He knew how he could make his dramatic exit (since he needed one for his long-term plan to succeed), though he'd need to be quick and careful unless he wanted to break his legs. "Where advertising is almost as prevalent as idiocy."

"Says the guy who didn't realize I showed up until the last minute," America retorted, smirking at how it was the Brit's turn to blush. Since his masquerade mask covered the upper-half of his face, it undoubtedly gave the hero a nice view of the villain's cheeks that were as red as a Mediterranean tomato. "I have to say, you're not very aware of your surroundings for someone who's supposed to be a thief-"

A swift kick to the nuts ended America's statement as soon as he started it.

"And you're not very aware of your surroundings for someone who's supposed to be a superhero," England hissed as he retracted his foot from between the hero's legs and broke through the window he was previously leaning against, the bag containing the Ganymede artifacts still held tightly within his grasp.

He wasn't sure whether or not the hero shouted for him to stop considering the world seemed to blend together in shards of glass. He barely had enough time to position his body in a tuck-and-roll position and prevent himself from going two-dimensional on the stairs leading to the museum, but it seemed luck was on his side that evening for he managed to land in the plants situated beneath the windows with nothing more than a few cuts, bruises, and a sprained ankle.

A moment passed before England gathered enough strength to hide himself in the large bushes he landed in, the bag pressed tightly against his chest as his pulse thundered in his ears. Knowing the superhero, he would immediately dart off in any direction he saw fit instead of simply checking the bushes under the window regardless of how badly his genitals were injured. It was just the way he worked, jumping into a situation without thinking things through first (or at least that was the conclusion England had come to in the months of encountering him.)

Still, he didn't want to imagine what would happen if America found him given how much stronger the hero was than him (not to mention it'd be difficult to run with a sprained ankle); the villain was unable to stop his heart from skipping a beat when he heard the entrance door open and slam shut with a resounding 'BAM', his eyes closing in fear behind his mask as the hurried footsteps became louder and louder, his hand clamped over his nose to prevent the hero from possibly hearing his breathing.

The footsteps abruptly stopped around the place where England hid, making his heart come to a complete stop in his chest cavity. He dared not breathe lest he be discovered and his plans foiled.

The Brit couldn't remember the last time his bones felt like Jell-O than when he heard those footsteps hurry in a random direction. He didn't care what way America went, as long as he was as far away from him as possible. He wasn't in the mood to continue their shenanigans, not when he could be possibly apprehended for his crimes due to his temporarily-weakened state.

"At least the moron is still as predictable as ever," England whispered hoarsely, standing up and climbing out of the plants with trembling limbs. He made a mental note to donate some damn fertilizer to those bushes since they saved him from a fate worse than a few scratches, bruises, and a sprained ankle.

Without another word, England ran/limped in the direction of him and Japan's rendezvous point. He made off, dare he say it, like a thief in the night.

~na na na na na na na na na na na na na na na na~

"I'm relieved to see that you're back in mostly one piece," Kiku mentioned as he finished wrapping linen around Arthur's foot. He set the roll of medical fabric aside and took off his black-rim glasses since he was finished with close examination of the injury and they were threatening to slip off his nose anyway. "Thankfully, it's just as sprain as you initially thought, Arthur-san."

"Are the artifacts still intact?" Arthur wondered out loud as he carefully stood up from where he sat on the cot, wincing at the pressure he initially put on the sensitive appendage before he leaned on the end of the bed for support. "I tried my best to keep it together."

The Japanese male spun in his chair on wheels so that he could direct his attention to the stolen items placed on his observation table. "Hai, the Ganymede jewelry is still valuable as it was undamaged in the fall. I conducted a few tests to guarantee its authenticity, and the artifacts are legitimate."

"So he couldn't have been informed beforehand, because he would have probably swapped the real thing with an imitation or found some other way to gain the upper-hand," the Brit said, grabbing a bag (not his thieving bag, since it could be recognized by someone well-aware of his crimes) full of normal clothes to change into as Kiku had already changed out of his criminal attire and hid it elsewhere. "That eliminates the idea of him having a spy of some-sort."

Either that or he was so sure in catching me in the act at the right place at the right time, that he sought no need in replacing the artifacts given he would apprehend me anyway. But if that were the case, why didn't he simply arrive before me and catch me before I could remove the glass? Arthur thought, slipping off his black coat and stripping his long-sleeved green dress shirt off his torso when Kiku wasn't looking (he knew the male was sensitive about the showing of skin, even if it was between close friends/partners in crime). The 22-year old quickly snuck beneath the blankets of the medicinal cot and traded his formal black pants for a pair of casual blue jeans, and covered his chest with a T-shirt and an oversized sweater.

It isn't like him to risk something being stolen simply for the purpose of arriving 'fashionably-late', he continued to think while slipping on some socks and tenderly nursing his feet into a pair of sneakers, his head of messy blond hair appearing even messier when he poked his head out from beneath the covers. Or is it possible he was informed beforehand of my plan, pretended to go off in a random direction, but is actually trailing me to this location as we speak to finally put me behind bars now that he'd have actual evidence that I wanted to steal the jewelry?

A knock at the door caused his words to catch in his throat before he could even voice his idea to Kiku.

The brunette sitting at the desk sensed the blond's distress and did nothing else except make a 'shhhh' motion with a finger to his lips.

Though Arthur was unable to understand why Kiku was so calm and keeping the bloody stolen jewelry out in plain sight, Arthur nodded and did nothing except hide his bag reserved for thievery inside his bag reserved for his change of clothes.

The door opened after a moment, Arthur's panic vanishing as soon as he realized that it was just his best friend.

"Alfred F. Jones, you need to stop barging in on us in the middle of the night," Arthur sighed, running a hand through his tousled blonde locks in exasperation. "You nearly gave me a heart attack."

"Sorry Artie," Alfred laughed as he opened the door a bit wider, his eyes crinkling in delight when seeing his best friend huff at his nickname. "You guys still up at this late at night?" Alfred asked the two, leaning on the door with a smile lighting up his features. His line-of-sight trailed to the jewelry resting on Kiku's desk. "Woah, what is that? Looks old, dude."

"Ah, just something I've been working on for my artifacts' class," Kiku replied, adjusting the lamp on his desk so that the bespectacled American could see better. "Our current assignment is to replicate an artifact from a country we've been assigned, and I was assigned to Greece."

A low whistle resounded from Alfred as he walked over by the Japanese student and looked at it over his shoulder. "Pretty damn impressive, looks like it could belong in a museum."

"I hope it does," Kiku nodded, picking up a gold earring with tweezers. "I've spent countless weeks researching it on the internet and at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, where Heracles-san (a close friend of mine who works as a curator there) told me it was being displayed."

"I didn't want Kiku to feel like he was the only one still awake," Arthur commented, yawning as he lay on the cot. "So I decided to stay up with him, what with us being roommates and all. I figured I could study some more while I was at it."

Alfred laughed, sitting down on the other end of the cot and ruffling up the Brit's hair. "Dude, you need to stop looking for excuses to stay up late. It's not good for you and we both know you don't need extra studying hours."

Arthur couldn't help but blush given the close proximity to the American. "Alright, alright, I'll try going to sleep earlier, now will you please stop messing with my hair?"

"It's already messy enough as it is," Alfred teased, sticking both hands in Arthur's hair and fooling around with it some more. "Like anything I do will change it."

"You know it bugs me, that's why you keep on doing it," the Brit reminded the American, his blush worsening when he laughed. "Seriously, I don't want cheeseburger crumbs in my hair or something!"

"I don't eat that much-"

"You do and you know it!"

"Kirkland-"

"Jones-"

"Alfred-san, Arthur-san, could you please release your sexual tension somewhere else? You're distracting me from my project."

The two males blushed from the tips of their ears to the tips of their feet when hearing that statement, both entirely at a loss of words to say.

After a moment, Alfred emitted an over-exaggerated sigh, before dragging a protesting Arthur out of the cot.

"Come on, Artie-"

"Where are we going?"

"Somewhere where we can release our sexual tension in peace~"

"H-h-he wasn't serious when he said that-!"

"I know, but we should really let him work. Those jewelry thingies look awesome."

"They really are. Hey, are you limping?"

"Yeah, kind of crushed my nuts by hitting a pole on my way here. Wait—why's your ankle bandaged?"

"Tripped up the stairs between one of my classes."

"How do you trip UP the stairs?"

"Don't act like you've never done it!"

The door to Arthur Kirkland and Kiku Honda's dorm closed with a satisfying 'bang', leaving the quiet Japanese male to himself as he overlooked the priceless piece of history residing on his desk.

He couldn't help but smile a bit as he rested his hand on his cheek, the light from his lamp reflecting off the gold of the necklace, sending yellow shadows cascading off the ceiling.

"Those two are so oblivious. In more ways than one."


Author's Note: Sooooo yeah, that happened. That's chapter one, it turned out much longer than I expected. Sorry if it's confusing or if it's rushed, I literally came up with this idea last night when I was trying to sleep. My brain tends to give me the best story prompts when I'm trying to sleep. It's both convenient and inconvenient.

This is my first USUK fanfiction I've ever written, and I hope you've enjoyed this chapter of 'Excelsior'. And before you ask, yes, I'm fully aware that 'Excelsior' is a famous Stan Lee quote, while the intermission is the Batman theme song. I just put that in for the fun of it, though I will admit that America's hero outfit is based off Captain America's costume, and Captain Amazing's outfit from 'Mystery Men'.

Regardless, please favorite/follow at your leisure, and reviews (whether positive or negative, since I'm fond of constructive criticism) are much appreciated. I'll try my best to update it soon.

Until then? Stay awesome.