Author's Note: Thank you for over 1,100 reviews. WOW! You all are… epic. I hope this extra-long chapter makes up for the delay a bit.
You Can't Take the Sky From Me
By Everything is Magic
Prussia gritted his teeth and kicked his toe against the floor, his fists clenched in anger. "No way!"
"What do you mean no way?" England asked, quirking an eyebrow. The two were sitting in the ship's galley, the rest of the crew having left the room.
England had called everyone into the room to discuss his visit to the Ukko Pirates. He'd contacted the group earlier that day, less than thirty hours after America's arrival on the ship, and they'd agreed with no hesitation to assist in the Kosmider attack.
This didn't surprise England, to be honest. Every group of pirates he'd spoken to since the threat began held the same vendetta against the group. And the Ukko were always up for a fight, providing that the fight meant something. They were confident in their strength, and deservedly so. They weren't called the rulers of the northern skies for no reason. They fought with a wide variety of weapons, all of them having perfected their respective arts, and they were hardy and tough. Living constantly in that weather alone was admirable, England thought.
He would be heading up north to rendezvous with the Ukko, and he planned on leaving later that day. The less time wasted, the better.
England wasn't going alone, of course. While there was no way to bring his entire crew, because that sky was too dangerous for his ship, America would be coming. The fact that they were in this together aside, it was his plane that they'd be flying up there.
It was going to be more than a bit cramped. England flushed at the thought. He'd be spending hours sitting in America's lap, their bodies pressed together and…
But he really had no other options, save having the Ukko come down and meet them, which would waste loads of time.
He hadn't asked Prussia to stay behind, but he was staunchly refusing to leave the room after the meeting.
Prussia was incensed.
"You heard me, no way!" Prussia shouted. "You're my captain, man, and you know that I'm loyal. But this is just too unawesome!"
"Prussia, the decision makes perfect sense," England replied, growing impatient.
"But I'M the first mate," he argued, his hands slamming against the table.
England rubbed between his eyebrows. "Look, Prussia. You won the role of first mate in a drunken bet. I'm not about to argue with you about it, because why bother? You can have that position for all I care."
"Yeah, well, if you're okay with it, you should also be okay assigning me as the temporary captain while you're gone!"
"I'm not okay giving you that level of power, Prussia," England replied. "Honestly, you're a right brilliant swordsman, but you haven't got the experience."
"I'm older than you."
"You and almost everyone else," England grumbled. "You haven't got the experience to be a captain, and your attitude is… a bit too… how to put it, eccentric?"
Prussia stormed over to England, heavy boots loud. "I've been on this ship longer than ANYONE ELSE HERE, England! I know it like the back of my fucking hand. I've fought for you since you were sixteen years old, back when you were a total pipsqueak that no one would take seriously."
"I was not a- I realize that, and I appreciate it, but Spain is an actual captain, and he's naturally the best choi—"
"HE'S NOT EVEN PART OF OUR CREW. Shit, man! I can't believe how you don't see that this is a total blow."
England crossed his arms. "I don't see Switzerland whining."
"He's not your first mate!"
"I told you that was just a be—"
"It doesn't fucking matter!" Prussia bellowed. "You shouldn't have given me the damn position if you didn't mean it. Captain leaves, and the first mate takes his place."
England rolled his eyes. "I wasn't aware that there was a pirate handbook setting this in stone. I've also known Spain almost just as long as you!"
Prussia took a deep breath, trying to calm himself. "Look. I mean… I like Spain and everything. He's awesome, and I feel… really awful for what happened to him. But-" he pointed to himself, "I have been so fucking loyal to you! You might think that I goof off a lot, and you'd be right. So what, I like to have fun. But damn if I wouldn't fight to the death for this crew."
England stood up to face Prussia. "I know you would, but I can't leave the ship in the hands of someone who… acts up as much as you."
"We're fucking pirates. That's what we DO."
"That's what you do," England huffed. "I don't see Switzerland or anyone else acting that ridiculous."
England stiffened. "Excuse me? What does he have to do with- don't you bring him into this!"
Prussia snorted and crossed his arms, growing more irritable by the moment. "This has nothing to do with skill or who is a hooligan or behavior or any shit like that. It's about trust, isn't it? You don't trust me with the crew."
England gaped, rather like a fish. "Moron! You know I trust you. Do I have an agreement with anyone else about… what happened back then? I wouldn't do that with just anyone, you know."
"That was in the past," Prussia said. "Now, you don't tell us anything. America shows up out of the blue, and we're not allowed to ask a fucking thing. We might hurt his delicate sensibilities or something. You can't trust that we'd know not to be an ass to him if something bad did happen to him? The Kosmider? You gather a shit ton of information, I know you have, and you haven't told us anything more than the bare bones. You're going up to fight the damn assholes, and you just leave us behind to babysit the ship? Bullshit."
"Th-there's no way we can take our ship—"
"We could meet them halfway? Dock the Victoria somewhere while we're on board their ship?"
"That's not a terrible idea, but a plane is much faster, and we don't have time!" England countered. "Spain has instructions to try to find some place to dock near Tsuru, so you all won't be in any danger while we're gone. There won't even be much captaining to do."
Prussia scowled. "Fine, sure. But what about the rest?"
England bit his lip. "L-look, I have no idea what you're talking about. I'm not trying to keep anything from you. It just… hasn't happened. I haven't sat down and- well as for America, it's not my business to tell you what happened, nor is it my business to tell you anything else that happens between us."
Prussia let out a short, bitter laugh. "You always had time before. You know that I think America is great, and that… he's good for you, but it fucking sucks, when I'm pretty damn sure that you already trust him more than anyone else in the crew."
"But it IS! And I bet you'd pick even him as captain over me. Hell, he'd probably be your first-"
"America's not a pirate, nor will he ever be one. It's irrelevant," England snapped.
"Yeah, but what if?" Prussia cocked an eyebrow.
England sighed, glancing up at Prussia, for he was quite a bit taller than him. "You don't mean the things you're saying, Prussia. You know I trust you, and I know you don't mind America… or Spain. You're just getting all worked up about this captain thing. Go outside and catch a breath of fresh air."
"Only if you-"
"It is not going to happen," he punctuated each word, his expression firm and his face close to Prussia's. "Now be a good first mate and deal with it."
Prussia's eyes went wide for a moment, and there was something almost… childlike and hurt in them, but then he snarled. "Fuck you, Captain. Enjoy your northern honeymoon."
And shoving past England, more than a little bit roughly, he stormed out of the room.
The noon day sun shone down upon the ship's deck, and America covered his eyes and squinted. England would be ready to leave at any moment. He'd refueled his plane (luckily, they kept some on board), grabbed his minimal possessions, and was prepared for departure.
America sighed, fingering the gun he had strapped to his belt. He was so ready to do this, ready to face the Kosmider face to face and… no matter what the result regarding his role in the military, he was ready. Something heavy settled in his stomach. Could he end up stuck as an outlaw for the rest of his life? Would he be able to visit his family again, his parents whom he loved and his cousin and his friends?
He would, even if he had to take risks, make sure that he saw them again.
But he couldn't stay with them, and he might not ever be able to do so. America gulped, thick and heavy. A life on England's ship, if England allowed it, was so far from what he'd ever seen himself doing, but…
He did love England, and if England loved him back, maybe-
"America," a voice interrupted him, and he glanced up to see England, his boots clattering toward the plane.
England looked… different.
He was wearing a nicer coat than he usually did, a rich navy one with silver accents. His shirt was fancier, neatly pressed and with a cravat; topped by a silver broach with an emerald inside. America could see a fringe of lace peeking from the cuffs of his coat as well.
His sword and pistol had obviously been well polished, and in his ears he wore two pairs of small, silver earrings; little hoops that cuffed around the bottom of his ear lobes.
England always looked nice, or so America thought. He was always clean and well kept, and in addition to that, being England he was just really, really attractive period.
But right now, with the way the jewel on his cravat reflected the color of his eyes, with his boots shined and his clothing all pressed, he looked even handsomer.
And he was about to spend hours upon hours with this guy in this lap.
America's cheeks went pink.
"…America?" England queried, noticing his silence.
"Hey England!" America started, beaming at him. "Um, let me get your bag. I'm gonna put it behind the chair with mine, okay? Your sword too. I don't really want that in my lap." He laughed, scratching the back of his head as he did so.
England nodded and handed him his pack. America slung it over his shoulder and cleared his throat, his cheeks flushing once more. "Umm… you look… pirate-y."
Okay, that had been dumb.
"Pirate-y?" England quirked a brow. "Well I am a pirate."
"Yeah I mean…" he coughed, "I've never seen you so dressed up, I guess. I didn't even know you had your ears pierced! It's just kind of… pirate-y."
England rolled his eyes but fingered his ear lobe. "When I was very young, the captain's first mate did it. Bloody hell, it hurt." He winced. "Anyway, I don't wear them often. I find the feeling of wearing them a bit irritating."
"In any case, I'm dressed up because I want the Ukko to know that I'm taking this alliance seriously. I'm not just hopping into this on impulse," England elaborated.
"Sounds kind of like a business meeting," America said. "I didn't know pirates worked like that."
England unsheathed his sword, wrapping it in a thick piece of cloth that he pulled from his pocket. "We all do things our own way. For me though, being a pirate doesn't mean that I'm going to sacrifice being a gentleman." He gave America a small smile.
America laughed. "I was thinking more stodgy than gentlemanly."
"Shut it!" he huffed, placing a hand on his hip. "It's called being dignified."
America just shook his head. "Anyway, you look…" he coughed and felt his face heat, "nice, really nice."
England's green eyes went wide. "Y-you…"
"I better pack up." He pointed to England's bag, which he still held. "You wanna go tell the crew we're leaving, or have you already done so?"
He nodded wordlessly, handing America his wrapped blade as he did so.
"Yes, I'll be right back. Oh and-"
"Careful with your sword? Geez, I know," America laughed, shooting him a warm smile and giving him a mock half salute. "See you in a minute, England."
More than anything, England was sore. They'd been in the plane for hours, and yes, it was sometimes awkward. When he shifted, he pressed into America's lap and his groin, and his cheeks would always flare up scarlet. America's did the same.
At one point, England had tried to reach over and behind America to snatch a bag of food they'd brought along. Despite attempting to be careful, he'd whacked America rather painfully in the nose in the process. America had hissed in pain, and from time to time, he would still press the tender area and wince. England could see a small bruise blooming on it, and he felt a tinge of guilt.
But well, it was cramped. And so yes, he was sore. He couldn't stretch out his legs all the way, but he also couldn't bend them completely because then they'd block America's access to the controls. They were stuck in this sort of annoying in between position, and he'd had to keep his arms to his sides most of the time as well.
He knew America wasn't much better off. He had to constantly stretch his arms around England to pilot the plane, and his long legs were quashed and according to him "kept falling asleep."
In a strange way, it was a bit of a relief. True, he thought that he'd be sore for hours after the flight, but it was far better than spending the entire time feeling flustered and embarrassed because the man he loved was constantly basically holding him around his center and breathing on the back of his neck.
The company was comfortable though, at least. Often they went lengthy spans of time without speaking, which was fine, because it was a companionable silence. Other times, they chattered, having conversations of various lengths about all sorts of topics. England considered bringing his fight with Prussia up, but decided that given their current situation, it wasn't a good time to get potentially worked up. At one point, America pointed out his record player, explaining how he'd had it installed and even babbling on about some of his favorite artists and songs. England's familiarity with modern music was limited. Being on a pirate ship did cut him off a bit from society, he explained. There was a sort of archaic feel to the life, and he often thought, when he visited port towns and the like, that he was a bit behind the times.
And then he'd explained that sky-pirates on the whole were, quite out of date. "I'd be lying if I said it wasn't a dying profession."
"It's not a profession," America laughed.
"Oh shut it. Anyway, perhaps I'll be the last generation. Who knows?"
America just nodded, and England must have imagined the way he looked a bit… sad for him. "Hey, you ever been to see a moving picture?"
"W-what kind of subject change is that? But no, I haven't. They're still quite new, and as I told you, living on a ship does keep you a bit out of the loop."
America grinned. "Well it's just you were talking about being behind the times, so it came to mind. I'm gonna take you to one. It'll be a date! I bet we can even find one about pirates."
England felt his cheeks warm, but he nodded. "A-all right, that… we can do that some time, I suppose."
America leaned forward, and just barely, he nuzzled into the crook of England's neck. "Awesome."
The sun was setting, and England could feel the temperature dropping drastically. He was glad he'd kept his coat on.
"I do believe that we're almost there. Let's radio them and doublecheck the coordinates."
"God, England… it's so cold," America whined, and his teeth were chattering, damn. He was no stranger to cold weather, as much as he disliked it. He'd spent a couple of years growing up living in one of Aquila's northern areas. But it was nothing compared to this; high above the ocean, in one of the northernmost parts of the world, late at night, the moon not even providing that much light. Breezes, cutting and cold as ice, whipped past him and he was finding it sort of difficult to breathe.
It didn't help that he only had his bomber jacket. England had warned him that they'd need to borrow some polar weather clothing from the crew. "Coats, big coats and parkas made of animal hide and lined with fur. You'll need one of those to stay remotely comfortable."
And they'd only just stepped out of the plane. England huffed, his breath forming fog. "Obviously. We're not that far from the polar circle, you know."
In the freezing night, it was almost… oddly quiet. They could hear activity on the ship, but it was muffled and dulled, stifled by the wind and the cold.
A man ran up to them, wrapped from head to toe in warm clothing, a fur cloak on his back and a scarf around his head. He carried a halberd, large, ornate, and very, very sharp.
"Hey England is he…"
"Greetings, Iceland," England interrupted, approaching the man. Iceland nodded.
"Let me just get your plane tied down. You know how the ice likes to make things slide."
He grabbed a thick, long, coil of rope from beside the mast and began anchoring the plane. America took the time to survey his surroundings.
The ship was huge, and it was unlike any ship he'd ever seen. The sails (one massive sail up top and small wing like sails on the side of the ship) weren't cloth like England's, but animal hide, leather or some sort, tough and probably treated to remain water and ice proof. Considering the bitter wind and the storms they probably dealt with, America understood why they'd need a tougher material. The boat was much, much longer than it was wide, and the ends, outside a large decoration on the front, were symmetrical. America recalled seeing ships like this in his history books during school, but he had no idea there were skyships modeled in a similar manner.
The man wrangling down the plane looked young, perhaps even younger than America. He was small framed, had wispy, almost white hair, and a fresh looking face. But he also looked like someone America wouldn't want to mess with. Perhaps it was the resolute, almost emotionless expression he held as he worked, or perhaps it was the giant, really sharp, really dangerous looking halberd.
"Is he the captain?" America leaned over to England and asked.
"No, he's not. He's the youngest on the ship, actually," England replied.
Iceland glanced up from where he was working. "I can finish this myself. Just get yourself inside. It's supposed to be getting colder tonight."
"Colder? Is that even possible?" America said.
Iceland leveled him a deadpan stare. "It's actually somewhat decent outside right now for this area. So yes."
America pouted, crossing his arms over his chest to keep himself warm.
"I'll bring your packs and equipment in when I'm done," Iceland said.
"Thank you very much," England replied, nodding politely. He turned to America. "Follow me, all right?"
As they walked off, England taking the lead, Iceland shouted, "Watch your step. The deck is icy tonight."
America's shoulders slumped. "Seriously?"
England shook his head. "You'll have to get used to it. It's the bleeding polar circle."
He pouted again, but his attention was drawn away by a man leaning against the entrance to the ship's cabins. He was tall, taller than America even, and he was dressed in all black and red, which was sort of intimidating. He looked several years older than Iceland, and he was intently polishing an axe. It was seriously a huge one, probably twice as tall as America. Geez, what was up with this ship? America suddenly felt glad that he and England had both already grabbed their weapons from the plane.
"Is that the captain?" he asked.
England actually laughed. "Denmark? God no, and I think that everyone is thankful of that."
At that moment, Denmark's attention broke away from the axe. He smiled at England and America, but instead of it being fierce of intimidating, it was wide and huge and kind of… really, really goofy.
"Not the sharpest sword in the shed, if you ask me," England murmured, leading America inside.
It was still bitter cold on the stairway, but it grew warmer as they descended into the ship. Thank heavens.
"I've never used it, but they do have a sauna on this ship."
"Yes, it's something the captain insisted on installing." England's mouth quirked up in a small smile. "If you're that cold, we can ask if we can use it sometime. But they do keep the ship quite warm, in the cabins."
America nodded enthusiastically. "Yes please."
The next crewmember they came across was sitting in a cabin, his door wide open. "Hallo, Norway," England greeted him.
Norway nodded. He was not of exceptionally frightening appearance, just a calm, almost bored expression, slightly below medium height, and America thought, a vague resemblance to Iceland.
But he did have an enormous crossbow next to him, and he was working on making arrows for it at the moment.
"Geez, why is everyone playing with sharp objects?" America blurted out.
Norway's lips quirked up in an odd, almost ironic, slight smile. "We have a battle ahead, do we not?"
"Yeah… that's true," he responded, scratching the back of his head.
"Captain is in the crew's meeting room, down the hall and to the left. The large, ornate door."
England nodded. "Yes, I know of it. Thank you very much."
He led America onward, and they stopped in front of the described door.
It was ornate. The wooden door was carved completely, covered from head to foot with what America assumed to be mythological figures? He didn't know.
England noticed his curiosity. "This is Ukko," he pointed to the elderly, but powerful looking man that dominated the image, "a god of sky, weather, and crops. It's best to be on his good side, I suppose." He gestured to an older woman by Ukko's side. "Akka, his wife. When they make love, it creates thunder."
America wrinkled his nose at this, and England smiled. "I suppose it is a bit odd. Anyway, the young woman is their daughter, Ilmatar, creator of the world. I'm actually… a bit interested in things like this."
He grinned. "No, me too! Legends and stuff are awesome."
America rejoiced inwardly, because he seriously loved it when he discovered things he and England had in common… anymore, at least. He knew it used to be the opposite; it used to drive him nuts.
"Yeah, really! Anyway, let's meet this pirate captain."
England knocked, and almost immediately, they heard a muffled, "c'me in."
He pushed the heavy door open, and it creaked on its hinges.
The first thing that America noticed was… yeah this was definitely the captain. He was very tall, and a long, razor sharp, thick blade, was hilted at his waist. The blade almost reached his feet. He had short blond hair and glasses, but it wasn't his weapon or his size that convinced America. It was his face.
England wasn't exactly what America had anticipated a pirate to be like. Okay, he was nothing like it. He was cute for one. He knew that England could be tough and yeah, badass, when the time called for it, but if he just saw him in the street, he'd think he was non-threatening and sort of adorable (more like really adorable). But this guy? He wasn't bad looking or anything, but it was almost like his face was created for the sole purpose of freaking people out. He just stared you down, and America felt as if he were being sized up for… imprisonment or worse. Who knew? Either way, no one in their right mind would want to fight him.
Thank god this guy was an ally.
"Good evening, Sweden," England broke the silence.
"G'd ev'ning," he grunted in response.
"You must be the captain," America said, trying his best to play the friendly ally in the face of… Sweden, apparently.
Sweden let out a short laugh, which sounded really strange from him.
At that moment, someone else entered the room. He came from a door on the side of the room, not the one they'd entered, and America assumed that it led to a cabin or a restroom or something.
This man looked kind and cheerful, a sweet and open smile on his face. He wasn't wearing any thick furs, just a loose shirt and a blue vest over it (then again, it was pretty warm in the room). He was shorter than everyone but perhaps Iceland, and he just radiated friendliness. Not much like a pirate, really. Even less so than England when he was being really cute. Okay, there was a sniper rifle strapped to his back, but it wasn't quite as… unnerving as the other weapons.
"Is this guy a prisoner?" America leaned over to England and whispered.
England leveled him a glare that clearly read are-you-bloody-serious.
The mysterious man approached the duo with a smile, reaching forward to shake England's hand. "Evening, England! So this is the America you brought along with you? Never thought we'd have a military man on the ship," he laughed. "Please don't arrest us!"
America bit his lip and frowned. "Well… ex-military."
"That's a relief," he said. "Although… no offense, but I do think we could take you out." A wink.
Wait, so this guy was part of the crew?
Sweden stepped up next to him. "You ok'y?" he asked. "Yo' were g'ne for a while."
"I'm fine! Hanatamago just had a little accident. Sweden, you know you don't need to fuss like that."
"S'good then," he answered, and America actually thought he looked really concerned. This whole thing was just strange.
"Anyway, let me introduce myself, America. Or… Captain Jones?"
"America is fine."
He smiled and leaned forward, offering his hand to America. "I'm Captain Väinämöinen, leader of the Ukko Pirates. You can just call me Finland though!"
America's jaw dropped.