Blue Flowers, Blue Skies, Blue Eyes
Hey, guys! Guess who just came out of hibernation! And yet didn't update the Overwatch story... Yeah, sorry about that. Between school and life and such, alongside thinking of that story 24/7, I was suffering some serious burnout. So that story is on hiatus until further notice. Which hopefully won't be too long, but you know, no promises. Asking me to update won't make me update faster, BTW. You know who you are. 3
Anyway, onto the thing I made here. I recently got into Hetalia, and while I don't ship characters romantically, I support the biggest USUK bromance possible. Couple that alongside the fact that the Davie episode of the anime broke me... Well, one thing led to another and now here I am. Here's a little (or long) thing I put together for any Hetalia fans looking for this. Enjoy!
England shuddered as a light gust of wind brushed behind his neck. It was a cloudy day, not unlike the weather in his own land. A faint drizzle added a tinge of cold to the sticky, humid air as the tiny raindrops vanished as they hit his leather jacket. The day was unusually cold for so early in the autumn season, and England was rather upset that the door in front of him remained firmly shut. The house was quaint if he were to put a word to it. It was definitely old enough to be from the colonial days, with its rustic, mostly wooden designs, but the lush garden and fresh paint job kept it looking new and alive.
Unfortunately, the balcony did little to shield him from the elements. While he was accustomed to such weather in his own land, he still wasn't fond of pointlessly loitering in these conditions. "America? Are you home? Let me in you twat," he called, hoping somebody would come to the door. After another minute of fruitless waiting, he called again, "I'm coming in if you don't open the bloody door!"
There was no response. With a grumble, England tested the doorknob. Sure enough, it was unlocked. "Careless as always I see…" the house was surprisingly warm, with electric heating that must have been installed long after the house was built. The interior design was more meticulous than he would have expected. Rather than the sloppy goulash of furniture present in some of America's flats in other parts of his country, most of the furniture matched quite nicely, appearing to be both old yet maintained giving the house an air of care and history much like the exterior.
England was surprised America didn't invite his guests to this home more often than his cluttered apartments in his bustling cities. The last time he had been to this house must have been during the first World War, but he had dismissed the cleanliness as being a result of Lithuania's labor rather than America. Even without the help of the smaller Nation, the house was as still good-as-new.
"If only he could devote this much time and energy to being more punctual rather than spring cleaning." After hanging his jacket on the coat hanger, Britain took tentative steps down the rather large hallway, passing the living room, where a flat-screen TV and other modern devices supplementing it were the only out-of-place pieces of furniture. He poked his head over the couch, half expecting to find America fast asleep and holding a game controller. It wouldn't be the first time he's missed an appointment that way. Likewise, Britain decided he should check America's bedroom. The Nation wasn't one to go to the pub before a World Conference, and even when he did, the only ones who could hold their liquor better than the Superpower was Germany and Prussia, but it wouldn't hurt to check on the off-chance he was hungover. Not to mention, he was in no rush to go back outside without a proper reason.
With another irritated groan, The United Kingdom climbed the flight of stairs to the second story, which was not as large as the first floor, although still possessing three bedrooms. One was the rather small guest room, another was a tad larger, and the one Britain believed Lithuania stayed in, while the other was America's.
At the end of the hallway, England poked his head in what he could only assume was the master bedroom. It was spacious and just as well-kept as the rest of the house. A part of him couldn't help but worry he was in the wrong home due to how chaotic the Nation usually was. His brief paranoia subsided when he saw a large display case on the back wall. Stored in it were several artifacts that Britain couldn't help but have mixed feelings about. There were weathered sheets of paper such as the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution of the United States of America, and a folder labeled "Federalist Papers." Other random documents lay on the shelves as well. Some old US currency and dusty envelopes with their contents hidden included.
For a moment, it struck England as odd that relatively new documents like the ones on display would matter much to America, though the Nation didn't have much more than his mother's ruins regarding pre-colonial history, so a couple centuries probably felt ancient to the child. Although, a country as interested in the new and shiny like the U.S. wouldn't be the one Britain would peg as sentimental. With the shake of his head, he hurried out of the room, not having time to reminisce. He sighed, making his way back down the stairs. Either Canada was wrong, Britain was being ignored, or America wasn't home, that latter of which would be even more frustrating since the Nation wasn't answering his phone.
As he prepared to leave, one more room caught Britain's eye. It was a room he had never bothered to enter before. America never told him what was in there. He didn't hear any movement that suggested America was in there, but the possibility was there. Not to mention, curiosity was getting the better of him.
The air was thick with dust as light filtered in from the hallway. England sneezed into his sleeve, wrinkling his nose to try and stifle a second sneeze rising through his throat. "America? Are you here?" England froze. America was notably absent, but he never expected to see the items in the room.
Lying on the floor, scuffed and worn but still intact was the box of toy soldiers Britain had made America when he was still just a Colony. Britain's heart skipped a beat. He had assumed America threw them out centuries ago. He knelt in front of the toys, flipping one of the soldiers over in his hand tentatively, as though he were holding the crown jewels themselves. The paint was chipped and faded, and if he rubbed his hand too carelessly over the toy, there was no doubt he would get a splinter, but wear and tear not withholding, there were no signs of visible damage from misuse.
Britain jumped to his feet, overcome with the feeling that he saw something he wasn't meant to see. He decided he'd be better off leaving as quickly as possible.
"You always did like poking around other people's business Mr. James Bond spy," remarked a voice behind him, all-too-casual. England spun around, stammering for words.
"A-America! Where have you been? You missed the meeting, and you haven't been answering your calls!"
The American's signature leather jacket was littered with stray raindrops, and his hair was partly matted to his face, save his stubborn cowlick. Britain noticed the sound of the drizzle was more prominent, although not hard enough to be considered proper rain. Underneath his bomber jacket, America wore a black suit with a white shirt and a black tie. It was surprisingly formal save the coat.
"Sorry, Man. I just had some stuff to deal with. My bad for not opening the door. I was out back in the garden. I didn't really hear you."
"Bloody Hell, America…" England muttered, though his heart wasn't in it. "Well, at least tell us if you're going to be missing a meeting out of nowhere."
The man chuckled. "Haha, yeah, sorry Dude. That's on me. Although, didn't my bro tell you I had to miss?"
England rolled his eyes. "He did, but he said you didn't give him a proper reason why. Couple that with the sudden phobia of your phone…" England trailed off as America began to grin. "What the hell are you smiling at?"
"You act tough, but man, you're a softie! Anyway, that's nice of you, I appreciate the concern! But really, maybe ask before snooping around my storage room?"
"I was just looking for you! You left the door open, I thought you might be in here! I'll gladly leave this room now that…" the Brit began indignantly. America held up his hand, cutting him off.
"Woah, Dude, chill out." He paused, taking a quick glance around the room. "I tell ya, I've tried to clean this place a million times. I can never bring myself to trash anything. Guess I'm just a bit sentimental, huh?"
"I'll say. This place is a disaster," England huffed, crossing his arms and looking away. "I'm surprised you care enough to keep most of this stuff. You always were fond of the newest and best." His eyes trailed to the soldiers. America smiled again, this time softer.
"Yeah, I don't hang around this place too often. I start getting all nostalgic. I think the apartment in New York City is way cooler, don't you?"
"If you think 'disastrous' is cool, then yes. Very cool." Britain paused. "Nostalgic… sentimental… I'm surprised those words are even in your butchered version of English vocabulary."
America laughed and shuffled past Britain, crouching to the ground as he rifled through a cluttered crate. "Trust me, I am too! I keep a lot of old stuff here. Turns out I'm terrible at throwing stuff away." Britain craned his neck to see what America was looking for, letting his curiosity once again get the better of him. He saw a couple things. A few tattered outfits among them. One was once a white gown; the very same one America wore as a new Colony. "Remember this suit?" he held up the worn-out suit Britain had given him as his first nice outfit. "I wore this quite a bit back in the day! It grew on me!"
Britain snorted. "And then you started mass-producing everything, and everything became disposable."
"Yeah, sorry about spreading that cold by the way!"
"You say that like it wasn't one of the worst economy illnesses Nations have ever caught." Something caught Britain's eye as America continued to sift through the box. "America… that gun. Is that the same one?" he asked hesitantly, ignoring the slight feeling of nausea in his stomach.
"Hmm? Oh, you mean this one?" America reached behind the chest and pulled out the old weapon. His eyes softened, and his smile was bittersweet, much to Britain's surprise. He ran his hand along a mark on the side of the firearm. "Yeah, it's got the scratch mark and everything from that fight. A bit morbid of a memento, yeah, but we've already established that I'm bad at throwing stuff out."
Britain was at a loss for words. His jaw was open with half-formed words dancing on his lips. This quieter, more serious and soft-spoken America was a far cry from his usual bombastic nature. "Okay, spill. What's on your mind? I know September is a stressful month for you, but you're usually back to normal near the end."
Now it was America's turn to give a quiet sigh, rubbing his hand over his chest with a hint of nervousness. "Oh, it's not that. The country is fine. It's more of a personal thing, really…" America went silent for another moment, then chuckled and returned to sorting through the box. After a moment, he grunted. "Look, I'm sorry for making you come all this way. Really, I am. I've got something I need to do first, then drinks are on me. How does that sound? There's a bar nearby that's not too busy usually, and I'm cool with the tender, so we won't have to worry about ids. Seriously, you're pretty lucky people don't ask to see yours that often. Meanwhile I walk into a bar and they're like 'what is this toddler doing in here?' Even though I'm taller than you. Then I gotta get my id changed every few years because having a ten-year-old license that says you're twenty-one doesn't exactly go over well…" he rambled finally giving up on finding whatever he was looking for in the box. After a moment, he laid his eyes on a dusty bookshelf. "Oh, duh…" Britain watched the Nation climb over some miscellaneous items as he stood, dumbfounded.
"Well, that's your fault for making your drinking age so ridiculously high. And perhaps if you acted your age…" the comeback died in England's throat as America huffed in triumph, pulling an old book off the shelf, tucking it under his arm as he made his way back to the door.
"Found it! Alright, Dude. Mind getting out of here first so I can lock the door? I've got a bunch of stuff in here I'd rather not get stolen. That and Canada wouldn't stop hounding me to keep this place more secure. No surprise, but why would someone ever steal from a hero?" America's nervous and soft tone betrayed his prideful words. "Although, maybe ask me next time before going through my stuff, okay? Any other day and I'd have probably kicked you to sleep."
England wrinkled his nose, biting back a retort, not sure how to handle the Nation. Those that didn't spend a lot of time with him might not think America was acting strangely at all, and when he was arguing with Prussia about who was more awesome, it wasn't tough to reprimand him. Right now, though, America's behavior was somewhat alien. His words were similar, but the tone in which he spoke was much shyer and vulnerable, perhaps more similar to his later Colony days, before he developed his hero complex.
The two walked towards America's kitchen in only semi-awkward silence, but silent America was an oxymoron. When they reached the kitchen, America set the book down on the countertop. It had a rather intricate design on the cover with something resembling a curving plant, and a bookmark stuck out roughly halfway through the pages. He grabbed the bookmark and pulled the tome open to the marked page. And although the covers were coated in dust, England couldn't see a single crease or fold in the page.
America stepped back into the kitchen to grab something from his sink as England peered at the page.
"Never took you as much of a reader," Britain began. Then he saw the subject of the page. A blue flower. A blue flower that was identical to the bouquet of them America just pulled out of a vase in his sink. In an instant, everything clicked. "Oh."
"Yeah, it's been four-hundred years exactly. Hard not to feel like an old geezer nowadays. You still remember that day?" America smiled, leaning against the countertop as he played with the flower petals. "Felicia amelloides, AKA the blue marguerite or blue daisy. Native to South Africa, but grown pretty much everywhere today."
Britain nodded stiffly, running his hand over the page. "You didn't have any when you were colonized though."
"So, you do remember," America said as he heaved himself back up, gingerly grabbing the tied bouquet of carefully cultivated flowers and tucking the book under his jacket. "I gotta go do something. Thankfully the rain's lighting up, though. After that, we can go to the bar, if you're interested."
"I came all this way, I may as well get a drink before leaving for my troubles." America beamed, suddenly perking up.
"Great! I'll probably be an hour, help yourself to whatever is in the fridge! I just restocked last week!" He about-faced to rush out the door.
"Wait, America!" England called as he hurried to the door and frantically slipped back on his jacket. The Superpower stopped, slowly turning to his former big brother, appearing almost shy. "There's no way I'm going to wait around this dump for an hour. I'll go with you. We'll be off to the pub faster that way." America laughed at Britain's fake haughtiness.
"Alright then! If you want to stand out in the freezing cold, be my guest!"
"I'd hardly call ten or so degrees 'freezing,' Britain retorted, being sure to not show any signs of being cold as the two stepped out onto the balcony. America shot him an annoyed glare.
"Ten degrees is way below freezing!"
"In Celsius, you stubborn twat! You'd know that if you would get with the rest of the world and learn metric!"
"No way, feet and pounds are the way to go! Anyway, come on. It's this way."
"Way to change the subject before I can retort," Britain commented snidely, though he dropped the topic and followed America to his backyard. The gate was already unlocked. Upon entry, the twosome was bombarded by a rainbow of colors, though the blue daisy was by far the most ubiquitous in the chaotic yet well-kept garden. The scent of the rain mixed with the flowers created an almost overpowering sweet smell of nature as England took a moment to glance around at his surroundings. He noticed a few small patches of the Felicia amelloides that appeared to have been freshly planted separate to the larger pieces, alongside other flowers such as roses, tulips that he would wager were from America's brother and different assortments of various species. It was beautiful, simply put.
America noticed Britain staring. "Oh, before you ask, only the blue daisies are my doing; my bro likes to come down here from time-to-time. This is his favorite house of mine, and he loves to tend to this garden."
"I figured Canada would have done the most." the Brit admitted. "He always did seem the type to prefer less air pollution and more nature."
"Yeah, I've made an effort to keep this part of my pad more nature-y and whatnot. You know how my people are with tourism and old stuff. So, this town kinda preserves itself. You'll find a lot of cities like this down my east coast."
"Hmph. You should see Japan when he goes and tours somewhere. He visited my home a few years back, and I think I saw him with a different digital camera at each landmark." Britain chuckled, which America returned with his own, hearty laugh, his personality still managing to shine through his more somber mood.
"I know what you mean! You totally wouldn't expect it from someone as quiet as him, but he gets pretty hyped up over cool foreign things. Maybe because he lived alone for so long? Who knows."
"You know, you were pretty quiet too, back in the day. So polite and shy. Whatever happened to that?" Britain remarked, watching the petals of a daisy sway in the breeze.
"Hah. I just grew a backbone. One that was fortified by the spine Canadia was supposed to have."
"Oh, your brother can be plenty assertive when he needs to be. He just doesn't prefer starting needless violence. Although…"
"He's a total pushover! Seriously, he needs to stop letting people get away with anything. Thankfully, I'm here to swoop in and stop anyone that might be trying to pull the wool over his eyes!" England couldn't tell if America was serious or not, so he decided to let sleeping dogs lie as America paused to admire his own garden. Britain could see why the American liked it here.
America sighed, another sad smile tugging at his lips. "Sometimes I wish my flowers didn't have to wilt. They're so pretty. No matter where you are, some daisies will make the place prettier. But every winter, no matter what you do, the snow comes and kills them all off. And you just have to wait for the seeds they left behind to sprout so you can grow them all over again. Over and over." His voice was soft as the hulking figure crouched to the ground, running his finger over a tiny blue daisy that had begun to shrivel up earlier than the rest, with a couple of its petals already missing. "It's sad, isn't it?"
The metaphor was not lost on England. He took one of the daisies from America's bouquet, spinning the plant slowly between his thumb and index finger. "Yes, it is. You can try to save them by blocking out the elements, taking extra good care of them, or even moving them indoors, but no matter what, they'll eventually shrivel up and return to the earth."
America didn't miss a beat. His voice sped up and began to waver as he spoke. "And sometimes weeds sneak into the garden and steal the nutrients from all the innocent, beautiful flowers, but the gardener was too busy and distracted to notice, and by the time he saw the weeds, his precious flowers had already been destroyed for no reason… And the gardener should have been more careful and figured out a way to stop the weeds but it was too late, and it feels like it's all his fault…" America's voice cracked, and he uttered a mirthless chuckle. Britain took a deep breath and rested his hand on the man's shoulder America mimicked Britain's calming exercise as they walked over to a nearby bench. He squeezed the man's shoulder, a gesture America seemed to appreciate, or at the very least.
"But really there was nothing the gardener could do, and it wasn't his fault that weeds sprouted. And he still did his best to clean up the garden and keep as many of his flowers safe as possible afterward. And his garden grows using the nutrients left by the decayed plants, and becomes stronger for it."
America slouched, propping his elbows on his knees and resting his head in his hands with one still clasping firmly to the bouquet. He shut his eyes, the smile not leaving his face. "And then there are the times the flowers start growing in each other's space. They're fighting each other for the soil, and it's the worst thing in the world for the gardener because the flowers are hurting each other, but how could the gardener pick one flower over the other? They're both so beautiful and both equal parts of his pride and joy garden, so all he can do is try to stop the two flowers from stealing the soil from each other and he gets all cut up by their thorns when he does but picking a side to weed out would just cut and scar him up even more."
England paused, considering the Nations words. America's sentiments definitely weren't foreign to him, and he had long since come to terms with it. Judging from America's tone, he had too. That didn't mean the past wasn't still fresh in their minds, though. England flinched as a droplet of water landed in his eye, the drizzle once again starting back up. He watched America secure the book under his jacket, protecting it from the rain, although he made no other move.
"But you know," England began. "It's also hard when a gardener tries to spread his flowers somewhere else, only for the garden to get taken away from him after what he thought were many happy years of tending to the plants." There was no malice in his voice, only a tinge of regret.
America sat up, only to lean back in the chair with another mirthless chuckle. "Man, you gotta bring that back up? Well, it's not like the other gardener would have wanted to take it away, but the flowers weren't very healthy since they couldn't get the fertilizer they needed. The original gardener needed all of it he could get since his own plants were struggling with more weeds. It wasn't the original gardener's fault, but the second one had to watch out for his own flowers first and foremost, y'know?"
England didn't have a reply to that. Instead, he focused his attention on the flower in his hands. To his surprise, America didn't press his point. Instead, he quietly muttered something, barely loud enough for England to hear it.
"Even with all that, it's always the first flower wilting that hurts the most." England turned back towards America, whose smile had never seemed more fragile. "The flower the gardener only checked on from time to time, not even knowing that it'll wilt in the winter. Then the cold comes in, and the flower's gone before he knows what happened." Finally, the smile breaks. The energetic, teenaged Nation looked so old and tired, worn down by the same things as everyone else like him. America looked like he would shatter at even the gentlest touch. He was finally lowering his guard against the jaded and cynical personality that threatened to consume any Nation that wasn't careful. Britain let the Nation revel in a few precious seconds of selfishness for the hero that worked as hard as anyone else to keep calm and carry on.
"But thankfully, there's another gardener there to explain to him what happened and to support him as he replants his garden." Britain finally allowed himself his own small smile. "A gardener that understands all the rubbish they have to put up with to make their garden."
America nodded slowly, crossing his leg as he stared at the sky, not caring about the raindrops clouding his glasses. "That's true. But it's still hard for the gardener. He loves what he does, he loves his garden, he loves getting to watch it grow and change and just continue bringing so much beauty to the world. It's amazing, it gives him a purpose, and it fills him with so much joy and life. But it never gets easier, watching his favorite flowers shrivel up when he can't do anything to stop it."
"And despite that, it's worth it, isn't it? Even knowing what's going to happen to the flowers, the gardener continues to work as hard as he can to create the most fantastic garden in the world, and it's because the flowers are going to wilt that he loves them so much. It's why they're so beautiful. If every flower lasted forever, there'd be no reason for the gardener to care for them." England watched a raindrop land on the petal of the daisy he had, tracking it as it traveled down the stem before disappearing onto his hand.
"Hit the nail on the head there, my Brother. It definitely helps that there are a couple extra gardeners around to get drinks with when the winter comes." America suddenly stretched and jumped to his feet, using the collar of his jacket to wipe some of the water off his glasses as he once again grinned. "Alright, that's enough of the metaphors and stuff here. I'll fry my brain trying to think of more fancy ways to talk. Come on, the grotto isn't that far from here."
England blinked, inwardly smiling at how America addressed him. "Right, And I've said 'gardener' so many times that it doesn't sound like a word anymore. I'm right behind you. For the drinks, that is."
America laughed. "Right, of course."
The two walked in a reasonably comfortable silence, slowly making their way down the path that was probably close to a kilometer if Britain had to guess. The minutes were both slow and long, with the only sound being their footsteps on the damp earth beneath their feet. Eventually, America broke the silence.
"Yo, England? Your codename. It's ... Arthur Kirkland, right?"
Britain blinked. "Codename? Yes, Arthur Kirkland is my citizen name. What of it? Why bring that up so suddenly?" While citizen names were no new concept, Nations rarely used them without being in the presence of ordinary people.
"You remember mine, right?"
"Alfred Jones. Of course, I remember. But why are you bringing this up now?" he asked, not sure what to expect from America while he was in this mood.
"I don't think I ever told you how I picked the surname. We're here."
"What do you…" Britain trailed off as America stepped out into a clearing, waiting for him to follow.
The scent of the daisies was almost overpowering. It was as though the United Kingdom stepped into another world out of his own legends. One wholly made of blue. In their short walk, the storm had once again let up with a brief break in the clouds, finally allowing the sky to show its true azure color.
The clearing was as large as two football fields. The green of the grass was nearly impossible to see, with the Felicia amelloides sprouting from every place imaginable, save a small path carved through the grotto. It looked like a scene out of a fairy tale, with thick forest foliage protecting the sacred spot from prying eyes. Even so, the flowers looked like they were encroaching on even the trees, some of them managing to bloom in between roots. Britain hung back as America wordlessly walked through the otherworldly field, towards a single barren circle of dirt. Poking out from it was a weathered stone, with moss growing near the bottom. The text was old and faded, though still legible. He kneeled, using his gloved hand to wipe some of the dirt away. Next patted the ground in front of the gravestone before clawing away at the soil. Britain stepped forward to watch more closely as the larger Nation tentatively planted his daisies in the hole he dug, slowly and methodically picking out small bunches and making sure each one had enough room to grow. Britain made sure not to interrupt on the ritual, instead of taking the time to read the text on the gravestone.
"David 'Davie' Jones. One who filled the world with happiness and joy." He smiled faintly, wondering if America bought the property just so he could plant his flowers.
"Hey, Davie," America began, causing England to perk up as the Nation finished with his flowers. "Been a while. Sorry, dude. Been absolutely swamped with stuff to do." America threw off his gloves and plopped back onto the grass in front of the burial and his newly planted patch of daisies. "But I've missed this place. The flowers are always so pretty this time of the year. I've missed chatting with you, too."
Britain decided to stop hovering as he finally walked up to America and knelt onto the grass just behind him. He noticed the Nation smile faintly as he did.
"I mean, four-hundred years! Feels like it's been no time at all, though. Time's just flown. But I've still missed this place," he continued, though something about his voice was off.
"And I've missed you too, Buddy." There it was, the break in his voice. America sighed shakily, and finally did something Britain hadn't seen him do in a long time.
Granted, it wasn't a particularly loud or ugly cry, but as the Nation's head fell back to watch the sizeable clear patch in the sky, a few lone droplets rolled down his cheeks and onto his neck. "I know I say this every time I'm here, but I brought some more flowers. Felicia amelloides, your favorite. I'm sorry that I..." America paused, swallowing heavy to keep himself composed. "That I was too late the first time. That I didn't come and play with you more often. That I didn't make sure you'd remember who I am." America sniffled, and Britain couldn't help but see the small child from so long ago that had fallen into his arms with teary eyes so many years ago. The child that was so afraid and upset, stammering as he tried to make sense of what was happening.
America pulled the book out, leafing through the index of flowers until he reached the bookmarked page with the blue daisy as he hastily wiped away and tears that could have fallen onto the page. He quieted, and Britain could only assume America was taking his time to read the page.
"I've made sure to take care of your house after your family first moved… I've redecorated and remodeled here and there, but I'm sure you'd still be able to recognize it. The rest of your town is doing better than ever, too. Tourism keeps it wealthy and traditional-looking! And while things have been rough from time-to-time in the country, we're still going strong! I'm sure you'd love it now! I wish I could show you the White House, or Disneyworld, or the Statue of Liberty… wouldn't that be awesome?"
Britain nudged America, gently removing his glasses and using his thumb to wipe away more tears. "Come now, 'I wish' won't get you anywhere. I don't think your friend wants to hear all of that."
America didn't look up. His eyes drooped, and he sniffled, so similar to Britain's little Colony. "I guess so, huh?" he paused again, wiping away more tears, taking his glasses from Britain and folding them over his shirt. He took a deep breath.
Then sang a very familiar song. The one Britain had sung to him that painful night.
"Happiness and joy,
Sorrow and sadness,
You and I,
We shared them together."
Britain was stunned for a moment. America's voice was soft and smooth, save the occasional hitching of his breath. England figured America had long since forgotten the song, although he didn't bring that up. Instead, Britain scooted next to America and joined in, adding his own voice to the simple song as memories of that night flooded his mind.
"Shined for a time,
But suddenly fell down,
Flowers of a dream."
The full moon bathed the tiny forest in just enough light for Britain to find the patch of grass where he knew America was. The child hadn't been home since the morning, something unusual for the ball of energy that clung to him like a lost puppy when England visited, and now it was long past midnight.
He found the child sitting on a large stone, his back to England as he fiddled with something.
"America… there you are. Where have you been? I haven't even seen you since this morning," Britain chided as he walked up on his Colony, who was hugging his knees. America didn't move aside from the further duck of his head.
"Hi, England… sorry. I didn't mean to make you worry."
There was something not quite right about the child's voice though, so Britain didn't say anything as he sat next to his little brother on the stone, taking a moment to run his hand through the child's hair. America buried his head in his arms. Britain's heart caught in his throat when he felt America's breath catch as he stifled a sob. Britain's eyes softened as he spoke more gently.
"Did something happen? Did you injure yourself?" Although that didn't appear to be the case. America's white shirt was still relatively clean and showed no signs that the child had been playing outside.
"A field of grass,
Leads to heaven,
A gentle wind passed by,
When you gave a smile."
America just shook his head and muffled a whimper. Britain saw what he had been playing with. It was one of the Felicia amelloides America had begged for last time Britain visited. "Where are the rest of the flowers? I gave you a full bunch. Did someone take them?"
The child whimpered again, finally snapping his head up to look at his big brother with desperate, tearful eyes.
"Davie did! I finally brought him the flowers he asked for! He even had gone back to looking like normal instead of being all giant! But he said he wasn't Davie! He said his name was Daniel! Then he threw the daisies into a box full of all sorts of flowers where a wrinkly guy was sleeping! Then they closed the lid and buried it underground!"
Britain blinked, trying to process the information as America collapsed into his arms in unrepressed sobs. Davie. The child America mentioned so long ago as he begged England for those flowers. His close friend that seemed to grow up way faster than America, much to the child's awe at the time.
With how many years it had been since America asked for the flowers, Daniel must have been Davie's grandson. Davie himself would have had to be either very old or… Then it clicked.
It was finally time.
"Nothing to fear,
Forever in my heart,
Blooming flowers prevail."
England took a deep breath. The day he had dreaded had finally come. He had rehearsed what he would say when this moment came a million times, and yet somehow, he felt like it was far, far too soon.
"America, do you know what a human is?"
The child's sobbing momentarily paused as he thought, though he continued trembling. "Someone that has arms and legs and walks around on two feet, right? Like us?"
The United Kingdom stuttered as he put his hands on the confused child's shoulders.
"W-well, you're half right. That is what humans look like, but a human is someone that is born into the world as a baby, something that can't even eat by itself, doesn't know any words, and relies on other humans to survive. But humans grow up fast. Even faster than you. They start learning words, then how to walk, and then before you know it, they're getting jobs around other humans to make money and make their country grow. Humans are what give Nations like your power."
America knit his brows in confusion. "So, me and you aren't humans?" Ignoring the grammar, Britain only nodded, keeping his expressions neutral.
"Correct. But usually, we don't call them humans. We call them Citizens," he left out that most Nations did that out of some knee-jerk reaction to calling themselves "not-human."
"A Citizen? So that's what Davie is?" America had calmed down somewhat as Britain explained something so new to him, but he knew it was only a matter of time.
"Yes, you catch on fast. Citizens live in nations instead of representing them like you and me. But there's one more thing Citizens do that Nations don't."
"What's that?" the child asked, looking up to his brother with eyes that were oh-so-innocent, full of wonder and simplicity and Britain wished so desperately he could put off ruining that for just a little bit longer.
"The beautiful smell of the land that lingers in our history,
Scenes of life that color every little corner,
I saw eternity only once,
But I realized it cannot be kept inside."
"Die? What's that?" America asked, though his Colony gave him the barebones knowledge that it wasn't a good thing. He pursed his lips and waiting for Britain to explain.
"Well, it's like going far away. When a person dies, their soul leaves their body. So, a dead person is like a shell, with no actual person inside. Even if you poke them and scream their names, they won't ever be able to come back. The body, which would have been getting bigger and wrinkly and damaged over time, would stop working altogether and they look like they fell asleep." Britain prayed to God that he was doing a sufficient job of explaining the event to the precious Colony.
"They fall asleep forever?" Britain had to force himself to be strong for the child as his sky-blue eyes widened in terror.
"Yes, they do. But Nations don't die. Only Citizens do." Britain decided to leave the technicalities of Nation death for another day. America bit his lip as more tears began to form.
"And Davie died? I'll never get to see him again? He's gone forever?" his voice practically squeaked. Britain wished oh-so-much he could remove the agonizing expression from the child's face, but he had to settle for wiping away his tears as he fought to keep his voice from breaking.
"I'm sorry, but yes. The dead souls all go very far away to be with other dead people, but they can't come back to their old bodies. The man you saw in the box was your Davie." America began to shake, a whirlwind of emotions passing over his face as he pulled his knees closer, burying his head back in his knees.
"No! I don't like it! I want to see Davie again!"
"I- I'm sorry. But that can't happen. I wish it could, I wish more than anything in the world that I could bring your Davie back. But he's with all the other dead people now."
There was a heavy silence as America processed what was being told to him, Britain put his arm around the child, letting him take several seconds to think.
The tone of his next words was haunting, and the tone Britain had feared hearing from the mourning child. "Is there no way for a Nation to die? Can I not die? Do I have to live forever and ever and never get to see Davie again?"
"Our lives are strolling in a world of wonder,
A poem of my life, I'll spread it so they remember,
We radiated a dazzling light,
For the briefest moment in our long history."
"America… yes, that is how it is," Britain murmured, moving to brush the child's bangs away, only for the Colony to pull away and swat at Britain's hand. He flinched in surprise at the motion. "It's called being immortal. And as long as you're a Nation, you will be immortal."
"I don't like that! It's not fair! That's not fair! I want to see Davie again! If I have to be immortal… I… I…" America's voice was gradually rising, and he began to heave with his sobs.
"I wish I wasn't a Nation!"
Tears finally escaped England, and he surged forward and wrapped his arms around America, who squirmed in protest for a moment before burying his head in his brother's shoulder. England and America spent a few seconds just like that, tears coming from both Nations. America's tears were for Davie, and England's for his precious little Colony.
He cried and sobbed in his big brother's arms, trembling as he clutched the flower tighter, like he was afraid that he's lost both at any moment.
"I love you,
I miss all of you,
No one knew what had happened then,
I won't even say goodbye."
"Please, I know it hurts, I know it's so unbelievably painful, but I need you to trust me when I say being a Nation isn't a bad thing."
America whimpered. "But it hurts so much…"
"That's why it's good. We may not be normal, we may not be able to grow alongside our Citizens, but that doesn't make us any less alive. We can still laugh, cry, love, hate, rejoice, and mourn. Without all the sadness, happiness isn't worth anything," Britain continued, not releasing the Colony from his embrace.
America still wasn't satisfied. "But why didn't you warn me about all the sad stuff? If you had told me… I could have… I could have…"
"Birds are singing,
Clouds are drifting,
Trees are rustling,
They called for the night."
"No, I couldn't tell you. You needed to experience it for yourself. You needed to learn about this naturally." America didn't release his grip as Britain ran his fingers through his messy hair, trying desperately to make the kid understand.
"Why…? Why couldn't you tell me about Davie? That he dies and I'd never get to see him ever again?"
"Because if I had told you, you would have been too afraid to make friends at all."
"Time passes by, with merciless pride,
The sun will rise again."
"I've seen it happen before. Nations that get so scared of losing those close to them that they cut off ties completely. In trying to not have to feel sadness, they're not able to feel the joy of living. The joy of getting to know the world from the view of a Citizen. Of getting to watch someone they lovegrow up and have kids and make the most of their lives as they can. If I had warned you about what would happen to Davie, you might have tried to forget about him altogether to protect yourself from the pain."
"Our lives are strolling in a world of wonder,
A poem of my life, I'll spread it so they remember."
"…Britain?" America began slowly, his voice still wavering as he clung to his brother.
"I know it does, little one. I know," he continued, pulling the child tighter. "But this is a part of being alive. And now that Davie's gone, it's because you cared so much about him that you can make sure somebody always remembers him. Every person you remember and care about will be a part of you, helping you grow into the Nation you want to be. Maybe you can plant those flowers he loved. That way, anyone else that wants to see them here can. Would you want to do that?"
He felt America nod into his jacket.
"We radiated a dazzling light,
For the briefest moment in our long history."
The Colony sniffled, then hiccupped. "Big Brother?"
Britain's heart skipped a beat. "I don't want you to go yet. You'll stay with me, right?"
He didn't hesitate. "Of course. And even when I have to leave, if you ever need me, I'll be here for you."
"I promise, my little Colony."
"I love you,
I miss all of you,
No one knew what had happened then,
I won't even say goodbye."
"Can we stay out here just a little longer please?" his Colony pleaded. England wasn't about to deny him such a small wish.
"Sure. Would you like me to sing to you?"
Little America and his big brother stayed like that until the sun began to rise.
"Nothing to fear,
Forever in my heart,
Blooming flowers prevail."
America gave a content sigh as they finished the song. The United States ran his fingers over the blue daisy in the book before shutting it and sliding it under his jacket once more; after a moment, he stared up at the blue of the sky, watching the blanket of clouds with newfound wonder; finally, he turned to Britain, looking at him with his big, sky-blue eyes.
Britain stiffened in shock as his once-Colony lunged forward, wrapping his strong arms around him in a tight embrace.
"Thank you, bro. Really."
England nodded stiffly before finally returning the embrace, taking his time to fully absorb the moment between them. It felt like a significant part of the rift between the two of them had just been sewn back together.
Finally, yet too soon, America pulled away as he smiled again. It was a bright, optimistic smile. The one England had come to expect from the superpower.
"By the way, if word gets out about this, I'm going to convince France to switch to pounds and feet."
Britain laughed, unimpressed. "Likewise. Tell anyone about this, and I'll be sure to bake some salt into my next batch of scones."
"Hey, maybe then they'll finally have some flavor!" America retorted, standing back up with an obnoxious yawn.
The twosome walked side-by-side to the edge of the clearing.
Britain paused as motion caught his eye. He spun back around, with America turning to see what he was looking at.
It was only for a brief few seconds, but it was there. The figure of a blond-haired child with his face buried in a bouquet of blue daisies. He then tipped his head up to admire the sky. Finally, he laid his azure eyes on the brothers. He smiled, so light and full of joy as he waved at them. Then he was gone.
England smiled, and turned to America, wondering if he had seen him.
Judging from awe-filled, childlike, sheer amount of joy in his expression, with more tears welling up, and his arms limp at his sides, Britain decided that, for once, America had.