To say that the Sochi opening ceremonies was nothing short of spectacular would be an understatement.
The artistry behind the display of the Russian alphabet was beautiful. Over three thousand performers took the world on a journey through the highlights of Russian landscape and history.
The Parade of Nations took place shortly after the Russian national anthem and raising of the flag. Each country entered not in order of the English alphabet as usual, but the Russian one. Following Kazakhstan, Matthew entered Fisht stadium surrounded by his Canadian Olympic team. He held his head high and waved his flag proudly as cheers rose from the crowds. They marched around the circumference of the stadium, then took their seats along with the nations who had entered before them. They watched as proud nation after proud nation marched into the stadium, their countries being called out over the loudspeaker.
Then it was time for Russia to enter. Matthew thought he'd never seen Ivan look so incredible. He jumped out of his seat and cheered as loudly and wildly as he'd promised, his voice joining in with thousands of others as Ivan walked into the stadium carrying his flag, his team following behind him. The Russian team were dressed in long jackets lined with white fur. All of Team Canada cheered, waving little Russian flags as the Russians walked slowly around the stadium.
Team Russia took their place in the stands. Lights from around the stadium flashed in sync - red, white and blue. Once everyone was seated, the show continued.
Matthew was impressed. Ivan and his countrymen had put together a performance that rivaled his own.
The Olympic flame was brought in and passed between many different Olympic legends from past games. They lit the cauldron which burned brightly for all to see.
Towards the end, Ivan stood before the masses at a podium. His voice was low and strong as he welcomed all the world to his country in three languages - French, English, and Russian. He declared the games officially open, and saluted. The crowd went into an uproar of cheers and shouts.
Fireworks lit the Russian skies above.
The luge was one of Matthew's favourite sports. But he was never brave enough to try it himself.
He, like any Canadian, loved tobogganing. Sliding down a snowy hill on any kind of toboggan - be it a traditional wooden one, a saucer, or even a crazy carpet - was a favourite Winter passtime. There was not a single hill in all of Canada that was not covered in people every Winter, hauling their toboggans up, then sliding down, over and over again. But the luge.. the luge was a a bit different. A huge downhill track of pure ice while your toboggan - if it could be called that - had runners beneath it like a pair of ice skates. Those brave enough to lay on this toboggan and push themselves down the track were propelled to dangerously dizzying speeds. It was enough to make Matthew's head spin. He would never do it himself. But he loved to watch.
It was blustery and cold as Matthew made his way to his seat near the stop of the luge track. He could have picked any seat, but he liked to be at the top to watch the athletes at their starting point. The rest of their run down the track could be viewed on a large, flatscreen tv that hung overhead.
He settled into his seat and pulled his hood up over his head. He nestled his face down into his scarf and watched as the Olympic officials prepared the starting area for the athletes.
"Canada-san, may I sit with you?"
Matthew startled and looked up to see Japan standing next to him. The Japanese man bowed in greeting. The little Canadian's face broke into a wide grin. Relief flooded through him. Maybe Kiku wasn't so angry with him afterall?
"Of course you can!" He jumped to his feet and grabbed Japan's hand to shake it. Kiku looked as uncomfortable with the physical contact as he normally did, and they both sat down together. They watched as athletes and their coaches began to arrive, their luge sleds in tow. Matthew called 'good luck' as some of his own Olympic team passed by.
"It's not our best sport," Matthew smiled, speaking to Japan as he waved to his team members, "but it's always good to try."
"I agree." said Japan. "However, my athletes did not qualify for luge this year."
"Not at all?" Matthew blinked, and Japan shook his head.
"It is ok. We will make up for it in speed skating and ski jumping."
"Oh yeah! You guys are great at those sports." Matthew grinned, but he had to wonder why Kiku was there to watch the Luge if none of his athletes were participating. Perhaps he just liked the sport, the same as the Canadian?
"Germany, Germany! Wait for meeee!"
Both Canada and Japan turned to look at the sound of a familiar voice. Germany was walking towards the start with his sled beneath his arms. He looked to be discussing something with another man who walked with him - probably his coach, Matthew thought - when they both turned to wait for Italy to catch up.
Matthew's eyes widened. Germany's skin tight luge suit left nothing to the imagination. The large mans biceps were clearly defined. The muscles along his arms rippled as he hitched his sled higher. Italy caught up to the German, dressed in his own skin tight suit. His smile was as bright and happy and carefree as it always was. Nevermind that the two were about to compete against each other in a sport that both nations completely dominated every Winter Olympics.
Italy's body was lithe and toned. Not nearly as bulked up as Germany, but strong nonetheless.
Matthew felt his cheeks flush slightly at the sight of the two nations. He peeked at Japan, and saw a touch of colour to the dark haired mans cheeks as well. Good thing Russia wasn't there to catch him gawking at Germany and Italy. The two nations moved on to get ready for their turns down the track. Japan cleared his throat.
"I want to apologize for my behaviour the other day."
"Eh?" Matthew tilted his head.
"I should not have been asking you such personal questions, and then become offended when you asked one of me."
"Oh.." The little Canadian dropped his gaze into his lap. So Kiku HAD been offended. Now he felt just terrible. "I'm sorry, Mr Japan.. I didn't mean to offend you."
"No, Canada-san. I am the one who is sorry. Please, let us move past this so that we can enjoy the rest of the Winter games together. Team Japan enjoys the company of Team Canada."
"Really?" Matthew smiled. "My team seems to like you guys too! They're really happy about bunking with you guys."
Japan smiled in return, and they fell into conversation about various topics as they spent the next few hours watching the luge competition. Predictably, Germany won the gold medal while Italy placed with silver.
Later that afternoon Japan was to compete in the mens 1000 meter speed skate. Matthew promised he would come to watch. The Canadian had little else to do but attend whatever sporting events he wished. The hockey games would not be starting for another day.
He bought himself some popcorn from a concession stand to snack on, then made his way into the arena that was housing the speed skating. The air inside was only slightly warmer than the air outside, but to Matthew it was comfortable. He was lost in thought as he nibbled his salty snack and wandered his way through the crowds.
Despite Japan's request to forget about their conversation on the strange behaviour of Alfred and any possible feelings there might be, Matthew still thought he should do something. He should try and make his brother aware of Kiku's feelings somehow. Lord knows the American tended to be oblivious to everything except what was right in front of his nose. If Japan was hoping America's full attention would turn to him, he might be waiting a long, long time.
Matthew made his way down the steep steps of the stands in search of a spot to sit that had a good view. He kept his eyes to the steps below him, not wanting to take a tumble all the way down to the wall that surrounded the rink. When he glanced up momentarily he spied a familiar blond head about halfway down.
"Alfred!" He called. He waved when his brother turned to look at him. The American grinned and Canada hurried down the rest of the steps to take the empty spot next to him. He flopped into the seat and Alfred's arm automatically wrapped itself around his shoulders.
"Hey there, bro! Come to watch my guys win this thing? Oh! You brought popcorn!"
Matthew laughed and shook his head as his brothers hand buried itself in his popcorn bag. The American brought out a great handful and shoved it all into his mouth.
Canada had athletes in this event too, and Matthew knew they were fast, but he had to admit that the Americans were excellent at speed skating. Also Norway. Norway was known to mop the floor with everyone when it came to this sport.
"I dunno.. maybe Japan will win this year, eh?"
Both brothers watched as the skaters stepped onto the ice to the cheers of the crowd. Japan was dressed in a gold and black skin tight suit that was meant to be as aerodynamic as possible. Matthew was so glad he didn't have to wear anything like that for hockey.
"He won in Nagano. He said he's been practicing like crazy ever since."
Alfred chuckled, then waved when one of his best athletes from Team America skated onto the ice.
"Yeah, he's a little speed demon. He'll beat your guy for sure, but I don't think he'll beat mine." The American's hand buried itself in the popcorn bag again, then he munched on another handful. Matthew rolled his eyes. If there was an event for overconfidence, Alfred would always win.
"So where's the ruskie today?"
"Ivan?" Matthew nibbled a kernel, "I think he might be cheering for his team at the biathalon."
"Yeah? I'm shocked he didn't command you to join him. He keeps tabs on your whereabouts at all times, doesn't he?"
"No.." Matthew frowned. "I already told you we're not spending our time together as much here at the Olympics."
The loudspeaker crackled to life above them, speaking in both Russian and English, announcing that the first race was about to begin. It echoed around the arena. Four countries lined up at the starting point. The Canadian athlete was amoung them, but not Japan or the American skater. Their race would come later. Matthew pulled his little Canadian flag from his pocket and waved it, cheering encouragement to his Olympian.
While he was distracted, a finger hooked into the scarf around his neck and pulled it down, exposing his pale skin.
"Hey!" he exclaimed and pulled away, but Alfred was already laughing at what he'd seen. There were fading bruises around the side of his neck. Bitemarks and kisses from his heated tryst with the Russian the other night.
"Ha! I knew it. I knew he wouldn't be able to keep his hands off you. I bet he kidnapped you in the middle of the night to do that, right?"
"Uh.." Matthew blushed. It wasn't exactly kidnapping..
The announcer on the loud speaker said 'Ready.. go!'.
Four athletes shot off down the ice, their skates flying as they picked up speed. Matthew wanted to stand and cheer for the Canadian racer, but he was too embarrassed at being found out. Embarassed.. and annoyed.
"It's not really your business, Al." He began, carefully tucking his scarf back into place around his neck. "I don't understand why you're so wrapped up in what I'm doing with Ivan. None of your national interests are at stake. You know we've already all signed an agreement that states Russia can only visit Canada.. he can't occupy any land."
"Anything that has to do with my little bro always involves me." The American frowned. His arm was still around Matthew's shoulders. It tightened, drawing the smaller blond closer.
"You'd be better off with me, Mattie.." His voice softened, and sadness touched his icy blue eyes. "It'd be just you and me.. like it used to be. Don't you miss me?"
The American drew his handsome face in close, and for a brief moment Matthew shivered as he remembered the way his brothers lips tasted. The feeling of being held in Alfred's arms..
A loud cheer from the crowd startled the little Canadian and he pushed Alfred away. The first race was over. A Korean skater had won.
"It's not going to happen, Alfred." Matthew shook his head. He shoved the rest of the popcorn into his brothers arms in the hopes snacking would keep the Americans hands busy. "Whatever it was we had before is over now. I'm with Russia. Maybe.. maybe it's time for you to think about finding someone else too."
Someone like Japan.
Kiku was lining up at the start with his fellow racers. Matthew almost wished he had a Japanese flag to wave and show his support. Then he could maybe tape it to America's forehead to give him a not-so-subtle hint about who he should be thinking about.
He blinked when Alfred suddenly stood. The American was glaring down at him. The popcorn was tossed back into Matthew's lap.
"Russia is dangerous, Mattie. I'm sorry you're too brainwashed to see it. You started off your 'relationship' with him locking you away in the middle of nowhere. He beat the shit out of you while making you depend on him for everything.. He got you to the point where even AFTER you were rescued you still had this crazy idea that you belong to him."
Canada's face grew dark with a deep frown. How many times had they argued about this? It didn't seem he could spend any time at all with his brother anymore without the American badmouthing Ivan and trying to convince him to end their relationship. He never should have told Alfred the whole truth of what had happened with Russia. He KNEW Ivan could be dangerous and that what had happened a year ago was wrong, but the Russian had changed. Ivan cared for him. Ivan loved him.
The loud speaker gave the signal for the race to begin, and Kiku was dashing off along with three other racers. Neither of the North American brothers turned to watch.
Matthew felt his face growing hot and tears stung at the sides of his eyes. He blinked rapidly, willing himself not to start crying. He stared down at the crumpled bag of popcorn in his lap, unable to look at Alfred. He couldn't speak.
A hand rested on his head, then began brushing his curls away from his face.
"One day that bastard is gonna hurt you again. I know he will. I trust him as far as I can throw him.. which aint far. Fuckin' big bastard."
Matthew pulled away from Alfred's gentle touch. His hair fell back around his face just in time to hide the tears that began to drip down his cheeks.
"I'll be here for you tho, Mattie. No matter what happens, I'll be here waiting for you. I'll kick his ass. Don't worry."
Matthew listened as Alfred left, his footsteps fading away and drowning out amidst the cheers and cries of the crowd.
He felt foolish sitting there by himself and he did his best to cease his sobs, but his shoulders shook with them anyway. He buried his face in his hands and willed himself into disappearing. America's words had hurt him deeply, even tho he didn't believe any of it.
"Are you alright?"
A familiar voice above him. Then Ivan was crouching beside him, lifting his face from his hands to look into his eyes. Matthew sobbed and threw his arms around the Russian's neck, so grateful the man was there. He knew people would stare, but he didn't care.
An arm wrapped around his back, and another one hooked beneath his knees. He was lifted into the Russian's strong embrace and the bag of popcorn fell to the floor, forgotten. The little Canadian buried his face into Ivan's neck as the larger man climbed the steps of the stands and left the crowds behind.
Matthew wasn't sure where Russia was taking him, but he climbed more stairs to what must have been the top floor of the arena and walked down to the end of a long hallway. He opened a door, walked through, then closed it behind them. There were comfortable looking couches and chairs in this room, as well as a couple vending machines filled with Russian snacks. There was a TV hanging in the corner of the ceiling.
Ivan gently set Matthew down on one of the couches, then sat beside him. By then the little Canadian's tears had dried up some, and Matthew sniffled as he wiped his cheeks clean.
"I'm sorry." he whispered, feeling ashamed. He'd just cried in front of hundreds of people and been carried away by Russia. So much for keeping their relationship low-key for the Olympics. And he didn't even know if Japan had won his race!
Ivan only shook his head and smiled. He kissed the top of the blonds messy curls and pulled the Canadian to sit in his lap. They reclined on the couch and were silent for a few minutes, relaxing, comforted by the quiet and solitude. The Russian slipped his hand beneath Matthew's jacket and rubbed lazy circles on his back. Matthew snuggled into his lover, breathing in his earthy scent.
Eventually, the Russian broke the silence.
"What were you talking about with him?"
Matthew chewed his bottom lip. He wasn't sure that he wanted to repeat the conversation with his brother to Ivan. It would only make the Russian angry. Matthew was so tired of everyone being angry or offended. But he knew he had to tell Ivan the truth. Canada was nothing if not completely honest with those he loved the most.
He began to speak, telling the entire story, including what he'd learned about Kiku's feelings for his brother. When he was finished, Russia sat quietly for a moment, lost in thought. Matthew twirled Ivan's messy, silver strands through his fingers as he waited.
"Japan has interest in America."
"I was going to tell Alfred.. but all he ever wants to talk about is how I shouldn't be with you."
It was Ivan's turn to nod. Matthew was relieved to see that Russia wasn't getting angry. At least not yet. He felt it was ok to continue.
"I thought that.. if.. if maybe Alfred knew Japan likes him.. he wouldn't worry so much about me. He'd forget about me and.. think about Kiku instead."
"Hmm.." Ivan said, regarding the little Canadian thoughtfully. "I don't think telling America is good thing."
"Because, little one, Japan is very private person. You say he was upset when you asked him question. Think of how angry he would be to know you told his secret."
Matthew frowned, his bottom lip jutting out.
"Then why would he ask me all those questions and talk to me if he's such a private person?"
"I think.. he was observing. He wanted to know what Matvey feels for America."
Matthew blinked. What he felt for America? Alfred was his brother of course! Maybe they'd had a physical relationship in the past, but now Canada was in love with Russia. Wasn't that obvious?
The little blond thought about it, his brows knitting together. Maybe it wasn't obvious. Not with the way Alfred was always clinging to him lately. Other than maybe France, no one had asked for intimate details of what was going on between himself, Alfred and Ivan. The other nations might notice if Russia were to completely annex Canada, but since their alliance had been mostly peaceful and quiet, no one had paid much attention.
"So.. I shouldn't say anything?" The little blond asked, and Ivan shook his head.
"Japan is old nation. When he is ready he will let America know his feelings."
"What about Alfred?"
Ivan gathered Matthew into his arms and pushed himself up off the couch. He set the little Canadian on his feet and bent to kiss his lips.
"Matvey should not worry about the American. Only hockey."
Matthew couldn't help but smile. He wrapped his arms around the Russian's waist and kissed him back, nipping softly at his lips.
"We're gonna beat you, ya know." He grinned, and Ivan smirked down at him.
"We shall see."
Hope people are enjoying this.. I know it's not overly exciting yet but sit tight! Lots of crazy yet to come. :)