Details/Notes: I swore to myself I wasn't going to touch the American Revolution again, and this started out as a simple Seven Years War thing, but it kept growing. Al had a story to tell, and overall I'm pleased with it. This piece is done in sets of one, two, and three hundred words. I might have miscounted here or there, but let's not get into that. Please, enjoy, review, and see the disclaimer on my profile. I also don't own any of the historical figures mentioned in this story. Even though owning Thomas Paine would be boss.
It was a longer road to Revolution than America liked to remember.
He steps from the ship looking sharp and critical, impeccably beautiful dressed in red and beige and gold. His green eyes are already searching for flaws, mistakes, and America finds he can no longer stand them.
England lets his breath out in a huff, and complains, "I give you all the time across the ocean to prepare yourself, and this is what I receive?"
His clever, delicate fingers, so strange against America's own, reach out to adjust his coat, refasten his buttons, and folding his cuffs into a completely different fashion. He clenches his jaw, and tries to enjoy the touch, for England touches him so rarely now, as if America's peasantry is catching.
"I apologise," he grits out, and tries to explain, "I'm always months behind."
"Years, you mean," England corrects with a smirk and a tossed shoulder, and America flushes. "Come along then, and you can explain to me why I'm having to deal with your petty fights with the neighbours again."
He chokes on his breath, and tries to convince his heart to keep beating, that the hurt stinging him is something else entirely, but he has no choice in following.
Him, the world, everyone.
He manages to make it to the docks to witness England's departure, barely more than a month since he arrived, and now at least England has a smile and a hug for him.
His arms wrap around America's shoulders, and pull away seconds later, clapping him on the back.
"Do not lose this for me," England warns coldly, "The King is counting on you."
"Does the King even know who I am?"
He is joking, of course, but England's expression only grows colder. "Please take this seriously, for once," he insists, and America finds himself blushing again.
He doesn't truly understand the politics behind why they are fighting, only knows that he loves the mountainous land beyond his borders, and that he hates losing.
He never realised that until now, but it stings even worse than England's insults.
His woes are shared by a young major in his army, and after another unsuccessful negotiation (Is that what they're calling it these days?) the two of them spend the night sipping lukewarm soup together, talking about anything and everything that comes to mind.
He feels sparks fly across his skin when the man knocks elbows with him, and he can't help thinking that he really likes this guy, can't help hoping that he makes it out of this conflict alive.
Is he gonna do great things, or what?
It's getting harder and harder to talk to the wind, but this time he thinks he hears an answer.
But it could just be the fire popping, or some other soldier's distant whispering.
He can't help hoping it's not, and he grins wide and true, and gives his new friend a careful punch on the shoulder when they part ways the next day.
He sees him again weeks later, but he's too bitter and angry to say anything. He really hates to lose, hates the ache and blood and dirt of battle, hates the way France sounds when he laughs in his face.
He sings out to him, always, "Laquais, now aren't you sad you didn't choose me?"
"Like you'd be any better, bastard." America's uniform never looks as nice as England's, and he can never find his shoes.
France tosses an arm over his shoulder, burning him like musket smoke and grating him like a bayonet charge, but he can only shrink into himself and glare.
"Be thankful," France whispers into his ear, "You are still too young to get on your knees."
His face burns, and he is thankful, because there's only one nation he'd ever prostrate himself for, and even if France wins this lousy war, it won't be him.
But soon after that, France departs, and America doesn't see him again.
Everything becomes easier after France moves north, into territory that is not America's and thus out of his frame of mind, and he's free to return home and get things set back in order.
Even as he wonders, what was that all about?
He doesn't dislike Canada.
He actually finds him really fun to hang around, like a shadow that can talk and play tag and smile at him, but America absolutely hates the way England always mixes them up now.
How his visits are cut even shorter as he divides his time between the two of them.
How he glares at America's antics where he once would have smiled at them, demanding that America start acting his age and give up such ridiculous, childish pursuits.
Mostly he hates how he compares both of them, and he's pretty sure Canada does too.
"How am I supposed to grow up if you won't even let my people make their own decisions?"
"I gave you responsibility with France, and look how that turned out! Do you even realise how much money that cost me?"
"Is that what you call throwing me into a war without even telling me what to do? How's that my fault, huh? You're not even letting me settle the land we fought to win!"
"Have you ever heard of patience?"
"I've been patient! I've been patient for years! Now I want what's mine."
"Everything you own is mine," England says, voice cold as ice and hard as a slap, "I think you'd best remember that."
He swallows, and feels suddenly very small, whispering, "I did, I will."
"Then I believe you owe me an apology."
He swallows again, but his mouth refuses to work properly. Does he, owe him?
He hesitates, too long, and England's already reaching to punish.
He sneaks out hours later still nursing his swollen, purpled lip. He had seen the surprise on England's face when he realised how hard he had hit him, and couldn't help feeling relieved in the knowledge that he hadn't meant it.
He is still angry, though.
He doesn't care where his feet take him, but when he sees the result he isn't too surprised.
"Every man has the right to disagree with those that do him injustice, and what is it that the British have imposed on us thus far?"
His mouth waters as the words fill him, and he doesn't care when his smile causes his lip to bleed. He only listens more intently.
"Does a man go to a butcher when he needs his roof repaired?"
"Is it the British who know what is best for America?"
He learns the meaning of the word rhetoric, and learns that it can be dangerous, beautiful, powerful. Like England as he steps from one of his majestic ships.
He learns the taste of homemade whiskey, the feeling as it burns his throat raw, and loosens his lips.
His hands begin to gesture expansively when he speaks, and his voice rises and falls like the waves of the oceans England navigates like no other.
Like that, only the opposite.
He learns to laugh at jokes men make, not because they're funny, but because they hurt.
Because the truth hurts most.
He begins to act out around England whenever he shows up, which is more frequently now, but America can hardly appreciate that when the only reason he comes is to impose more restrictions on him. He puts salt on England's toothbrush, dumps sugar on him when he gets out from the bath.
England says he's required to take care of him and his men, but he didn't specify the quality of care.
He steals England's purse and goes off to buy stamps.
England wakes up covered in them.
He never loses the anger long enough to feel the guilt.
He screams and rages and curses like a sailor when England demands to know what's going on, and the words have been bottled up and hidden for so long that they come spilling out when the cork is popped.
England stands, frozen, as he works himself into more and more of a rage.
He whirls to face him, pointing dead centre at England's chest.
He doesn't quite remember, it gets fuzzy.
He might have thrown his arm out farther and slugged England in the gut, but it's entirely possible that England stabbed him before he got the chance to defend himself.
It sounds better that way.
Paul says so.
Blood dripping down from his collarbone says so, at least when Paul goes about getting him to re-enact it, and he mimes England stabbing him over and over again.
He describes the look of rage and cruelty on his face.
His hands were stained red as the coat he was wearing, he declares, and wonders when the words he spoke ceased to be his own.
It had been an accident, hadn't it?
England does nothing by accident, his friends remind him. He's been waiting for an opportunity to do this, they say, and what had America done other then try to stand up for himself.
He knocks back a glass of whiskey, and nods.
He wakes up the next day to chaos, to a festering wound at his shoulder, and England's stricken face.
But is he sorry because America was hurt, or just because he didn't expect all of the bad publicity? His friends say the latter, but the bit of himself that still loves England more than anything begs for the former.
It's hard, he thinks, hating someone he used to love.
He begins to block out childhood memories.
He hears about some friends burning down one of England's ships. He smiles and laughs, and congratulates them, refusing to think about how much England loves the sea.
It gets easier when England returns to his house in a towering rage, and slaps another edict on the table.
"Follow this! Do it, or we'll have problems!" he screams.
"Like we don't already," America laughs.
"I've had it up to here with your bullshit, America! This ends. Now!"
"So that's a reversal of all your stupid fucking laws, is it? Because that's what it's gonna take, at the least."
He spends the afternoon smashing every tea cup in his house, throwing them out onto the street and watching the fine china splinter everywhere. He never liked the stuff anyway, he tells himself.
England has no taste in food.
Black leaves scatter across his kitchen floor, and are washed away by buckets of water.
His destination is obvious after that.
He gets his hair dressed with feathers, his face smeared with ink, and he can't stop himself from laughing and dancing in vindication, happy and childlike.
Samuel thumps him on the back, and America turns it into a hug.
"I'm shutting down these little meetings of yours," England tells him, smirking like a madman, like a storybook villain, "It isn't as if they matter when the King has the final word.
"I'm going to want my tea back, as well, all ten thousand pounds of it."
He finds himself locked out of his house minutes later, with his last vision being England twirling his keys around and around his fingers, counselling him to do the right thing and forget this nonsense.
"I'll always know what's best for you, don't you realise that?" he asks rhetorically, prim, cocky as always.
He waits until England reopens the door hours later and invites him back inside.
He looks tired, like America feels, and his heart leaps into his throat at the thought that maybe England feels guilty, maybe he's realised he's wrong.
It surely couldn't be as hard to fix their relationship as all that.
"Have you thought about you're actions?"
"Some of the things I did were rash, but they were warranted. My people are hurting, England. They hurt, and cry, and ask me why that has to be. What am I supposed to do? Nothing?"
"You're supposed to trust me," England whispers, strong but gentle.
He feels tears welling in his eyes, and rubs at them furiously. "You haven't been giving me reason to."
England's mouth is a hard line, and America envisions himself suddenly reaching up to kiss it, kiss away the defiance and frustration, all the harsh realities of the world.
He fidgets restlessly, winding his fingers through his hair.
"You're still mine," England tells him, "And I still know what's best for you."
"No," he says.
He feels inexplicably clear, like a pane of glass to shine the truth through.
"No," he repeats, and continues, "England knows what's best for England. I know what's best for me."
"Have you completely forgotten your full name? You are British America. That makes you mine, my responsibility." England jabs himself in the chest, and then reaches to cup America's cheek.
His skin is still too soft to believe.
America's eyes fall to the ground, but he merely shakes his head. "That name. It. That name doesn't feel right anymore. I'm different."
"Those ragtag friends of yours should be hanged," England declares.
He gasps, shocked, and stumbles back, shouting, "No! You know nothing!"
He doesn't have any guns in his house anymore, England took them when he left. His soldiers stay behind, living in his house and soiling his things.
He hates them so much it burns.
His hands ache to form fists and take them on, but England's words ring in his head, and he finds that he can't.
England is a part of him.
He is a part of England.
His full name, the one he never uses, never thinks of, burns in his head like a brand.
He starts writing letters to England after that, using a dictionary and a proper pen and everything, listing all of his problems, pouring his heart out onto the page.
His demands are simple.
He wants his previous rights back, he wants representation for his people in government so this doesn't happen again.
He wants to expand and grow, and create an identity for himself that isn't defined through relation to England.
His letters are sent off, and he waits nervously.
England laughs at him. He tries again, and again, and again.
He spends years writing, and hearing nothing back.
He pretends his tears are from frustration, and refuses to think about his dreams.
He doesn't remember the next part very well, just that his head starts to hurt, all the time, no matter the weather or the time. It is like he is always being yelled at.
His head is stuffed full of conflicting ideas.
Does he hate England, or love him? Is he speaking to his friends or to his enemies?
He can never quite decide.
His head finally clears as his vision leaves him in a cloud of musket fire, so familiar and yet such a foreign thing.
England gazing at him in shock halfway around the world.
"I haven't seen you in ages," Canada tells him.
America can feel the nervousness radiating from him in waves, and he laughs, replying, "Oh, you wouldn't have wanted to. You were always such a daddy's boy."
Canada's lips go slack a second before America punches him.
"We're not gonna tolerate your interference. Stay out of our way, and don't try to take what rightfully belongs to me," America dictates, adding, "I was here first, after all."
"What are you talking about?" Canada demands, scrambling away.
America grins, half-crazed.
Canada swallows grimly, nods, and launches himself at his brother.
"England's sending more ships, stupid bastard," America mutters into his whiskey.
"Oh, don't tell me."
"The men are an utter disgrace," George states, looking grim and somewhat helpless. Like throwing himself against a wall repeatedly would be a glorious turn of events.
America glares sidelong at him.
"Fact is fact."
"Yes, and? We weren't expecting this."
"We'll do it anyway. There is no path now but success."
"You really think so?"
"Well, we shall either succeed, or we shall enter heaven with ropes round our necks."
America finds that he can't stop his laughter, once he starts.
His time is spent with the men, with his newly appointed leaders, and it helps him forget that England is right there, preparing his army as America prepares his.
It helps him forget that he's launching a war against his mentor, his brother.
The love of his life.
He wins, and loses, and finds out the taste of rampant disease and stifling fear. His heart aches for Boston, his glorious city he longs to retake.
His soldiers ache for it as well, and that helps too.
He feels buoyed and jubilant in the knowledge that his people support this.
It doesn't matter to him that there's no signature at the bottom of the pamphlet, because the words spread like wildfire down the lines, and soon enough, everyone is speaking as though they wrote it.
He does it as well, quoting at every opportunity.
His tongue flicks out to taste the electrified air around one word in particular.
He says it once, the first time, in barely a whisper, but after that he can't stop. He chants it over and over like a mantra, through the long nights full of aches and pains.
It sustains him like bread.
He clears his throat, and lets the parchment unroll between his fingers.
It's a copy of a copy, but it will do.
"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."
He could have written it better.
Thomas wouldn't stop complaining while he was doing it, and some of these words are ridiculous.
He has a birthday now, and he knows just how he's gonna celebrate.
End Notes: Thank you for reading! Hopeful you enjoyed this. I'm pretty proud of it, but I'd love to hear your thoughts, so please review!