Author's Note: There aren't enough apologies in the world for the lack of fic updates recently. I have had... so many issues, but I still don't think that's a fair enough excuse. I love you all, and I still love all of my stories. I just haven't been able to dedicate to them the time they deserve. Hopefully I can do that now. Thanks so much for sticking around if you're still here. Also, I know I pimped it once before, but I do have a fic tumblr. I post fic snippets, artwork, resource stuff, and random misc. for all of my fics over there. Feel free to follow it! The username for it is COSMIC-DARE.
You Can't Take the Sky From Me
By Everything is Magic
"I'm Captain Väinämöinen, leader of the Ukko Pirates. You can just call me Finland though!"
America's jaw dropped, and his throat felt just a little bit dry and he was trying to stifle laughter. "Y-you?"
Finland cocked an eyebrow and let out a short laugh. "That tends to be the reaction. I'm sure Captain Kirkland can sympathize."
England flushed a bit at this and scowled. "It's true that people often assume Prussia is the captain, god forbid."
Sweden cleared his throat, placing a hand on Finland's shoulder. "M'wife's the best c'ptain you could ev'r ask for."
Now America was really confused. Had he just called the captain his wife? He glanced between the two, his eyebrows furrowed, and then he turned his attention to England, whose expression was one of complete normalcy.
Apparently this was only weird to America.
Tapping England on the shoulder, he gave him a bewildered look. England's eyes widened and a small, amused smile crossed his lips. "I'll explain later," he whispered. America let out a breath of air, his bangs flying upward.
Finland laughed nervously. "Ahhaha, Sweden. I'm not your wife!" He puffed up his cheeks a bit. "And besides, I'm definitely not the best captain. Sweden is such a flatterer, so don't listen to him when he says silly things like that. "
England cleared his throat loudly, shooting a pointed glare toward Finland.
Cheeks pinking, Finland rubbed the back of his head. "Right, so let's talk about this Kosmider business. It's what you're here for, and I imagine you're tired."
America surveyed the room, ignoring the rustic furniture and paying attention to the expressions and posture of the other three men. Sweden and Finland looked awake, but England looked exhausted, and now that he thought about it, he was starting to really feel it as well. He yawned, and without asking, he yanked a chair out from under the table and sat down.
And of course said yawning was contagious. England followed suit. "Dead tired, actually. We kept things intentionally vague over the radio of course, but America managed to gather a reliable sounding tip on the location of this fortress. It's in the middle of bloody nowhere, but we do have the exact coordinates."
"That's wonderful," Finland said with a smile. He sat down at the table as well, and England and Sweden joined him as he pored over a large map of the northern regions.
America leaned forward and pressed his finger to the map, working to pinpoint the coordinates on the aged and stained piece of parchment before him.
"We'll need to go up far north, almost to the pole. It's crazy that they'd build something up that far. It's cold and dangerous, and there are all those mountains, but hell, the Kosmider doesn't seem to shy away from crazy."
A knock on the door interrupted America, and he glanced behind him to see Iceland entering the meeting room. The youngest of the crew gave a stern nod to Finland and closed the door behind him, the heavy wood reverberating across the large cabin and drawing everyone's attention to him. "Captain, I'm sorry if I interrupted anything."
"Oh, no you're fine!" Finland smiled. "America here was just talking to us about the location of this Kosmider base. It sounds like a deathtrap, but that's nothing we can't handle."
America gave him an odd look, having never heard the word 'deathtrap' used so cheerily.
"Sounds wonderful," Iceland replied with a slight roll of his eyes. "Anyway, I've put your packs in the room we have for you, and there are also a few sets of furs in there for you to put on in the morning."
"Cover up well," Finland added. "We'll be above the polar circle by the time you wake up."
"How cold?" America queried, because honestly he'd never been much of a fan of the cold.
"Well it's w'nter," Sweden said.
"Cold enough to freeze my balls off then?" He cringed.
England let out an amused snort.
"If you don't cover said balls up well enough, yes," Iceland replied. "Anyway, Captain, would you mind telling us next time we are going to have a military plane come aboard the ship? Norway had to stop Denmark from greeting them with the head of his axe."
"He didn't forget to tell you," England said with a sigh. "It's my fault. I forgot to tell Captain Väinämöinen. I apologize. I know I told you it was a plane, and that he was involved in the military, but I'm sorry I didn't-"
"Oh, you're a military man then?" Iceland frowned. "That's unexpected, especially considering England, but I suppose allies are allies."
America twitched, and his expression crumpled slightly. "I'm not-" he began, and his throat caught. It was hard to even say it. It was like his lips forbid the words from coming out, because voicing them just made them even truer, even more undeniable. "I'm not part of the military any longer," he rushed out, and he was staring at his lap, his fists clenched together above his knees. When Finland had brought it up a few minutes before, it had struck a nerve, but having it brought up for a second time just made it worse, like it was already sore and someone was rubbing that painfully raw spot.
Iceland shrugged. "Decide to cut loose, that a pirate's life was for you? Sounds kind of idiotic, but-"
"I was kicked out!" America shouted. "Now shut up, okay?"
England was immediately by his side, hand clasped on his shoulder. "America!"
Iceland's mouth dropped for a moment, and regret flashed across his features. "I'm sorry. I struck a nerve somehow, and I… didn't mean to."
"It's quite all right," England replied brusquely, still touching America, who had looked up at him, a beseeching expression on his face. "It happens. But I reckon that America and I are both rather tired, so how about he just gives you the coordinates and we'll head to bed?" America gave him a small smile of appreciation.
"Okay," Finland said with a nod. "Iceland, I'll have America write them down, and then take them to Norway, all right."
"That's fine," Iceland said.
"Is our n'vigator," Sweden explained.
Finland tore off a small piece of parchment and snatched an ink pen from the table, sliding both over to America. Rather lethargically, he grabbed the pen and jotted the latitude and longitude. "Sail here. I can tell you more of the physical markers tomorrow, okay? I mean it will be a while before we get there, right?"
"Yes, a day and a half or so, I'd imagine," Finland said once he'd read it and correlated it to the map. He handed Iceland the slip of paper, and Iceland left the room. "By the way, don't worry about Denmark. He wouldn't have actually done anything unless you really had been trying to arrest us."
America felt a small smile cross his face at this, in spite of his mood.
"England, you'll be in the cabin down the hall, last door on the left."
England shifted, placing his hand on America's lower arm in the process. "Now where's America's cabin going to be?"
Finland scratched his cheek, looking a bit confused. "Ah well didn't you hear Iceland earlier? It's a room. Well we only have two extra cabins on the ship, and Denmark-"
"'s an idiot," Sweden interrupted.
"Denmark," Finland continued, "is storing a bunch of supplies in there right now. He's made it a sort of weaponry workshop."
"So basically…" England sighed, his cheeks heating.
"I should have told you before, but I'm afraid you two will have to share the cabin."
America's face grew red as well, and he placed a hand to his forehead. This again? Oh he liked sharing a bed with England. Actually, he really, really liked it. If it was up to him, he'd share a bed with England every night.
Well maybe that was going a bit overboard. He felt his flush deepen. Only… not really, because hey he liked the guy, so why wouldn't he want to sleep with him? But there was this strange, palpable tension between him and England, and it was almost painful when they were that close. It was like there was a string tied between them, and it had been pulled so tight that it was strained, that it ached, and that it would snap if it was any tauter. And when it snapped, America kind of sort of thought that the result might be him just grabbing England and kissing the daylights out of him, which would end up either really awkward or really awesome.
Then again, he had just spent an entire day crammed in a cockpit with the guy, so sleeping with him again couldn't be much worse, could it?
Sleeping in the same bad as England was one thing. Planning to sleep in the same bed as England was another thing entirely. In the previous two situations, they'd just sort of… ended up sharing a bed, for some specific reason that caused them to be distracted enough to not think too much about the whole in the same bed thing. America realized this when they entered the room, shooting nervous glances at each other as they walked over to their packs. Iceland had indeed brought their belongings downstairs, and he'd placed them neatly in the corner of the cabin. His mood was still dampened by what had happened earlier, and he felt stupid for it. He couldn't afford to fall into a sulk whenever something about him being booted out was mentioned. It was unheroic, and even if it weren't unheroic, because heroics were something he had been trying not to think of too much recently, it was also counterproductive, and it probably made him look sort of unreliable, which he didn't want, because what he was doing now, what he'd come up north to do, was important.
They had to change into their pajamas, and suddenly, with his back turned to England as he removed his shirt and his pants and stripped down to his boxers, trying to avoid glancing over his shoulder at the other man, America felt like he was in high school again. Like he was a teenage boy who had invited someone special over, and they were maybe going to try something, but they needed to take their clothes off first, and there were butterflies in their stomachs and they couldn't even face each other and all in all it was a horrible idea.
But he wasn't trying anything with England. He was just sleeping in the same bed as him, and he'd even done it before. He pulled on his pajama pants with a grumble, wondering idly if behind him, England was putting on the striped pajamas that he was wearing when they first met and when he'd come aboard the ship after he'd been kicked out.
Just make small talk, he thought to himself. He did have one thing he legitimately wanted to bring up with England.
"So," he began as he buttoned up his shirt, "you were going to tell me about that wife thing? Is Finland actually a woman or something?" he joked.
England let out a short laugh. "Most certainly not. It's an odd story though, that is for sure."
America nodded. "I'm dressed, so you can turn around."
"Yes, same." England padded over to his side. America noticed that he was indeed, wearing those striped pajamas, and he felt a smile quirk at his lips.
"So uh… bed," America cleared his throat, and he knew that his cheeks were flushed.
They both glanced over toward the bed. It was a nice bed, nicer by far than the simple bed in the cabin he slept in on England's ship. It was a four poster bed, and the headboard was decorated with wood carvings, much like the ones on the door he'd noticed earlier. The blankets looked warm, and at the bottom of the bed there was even a thick fur blanket. America didn't think they'd need it though, since it was kept so warm down below deck. Plus, there was going to be body heat, and the bed wasn't actually any bigger than the one on England's ship.
America took a deep breath and closed his eyes for a moment, pulling back the blankets and sheets as he did so. He scooted into the bed, patting the spot next to him.
"So tell me this odd story," he asked as England crawled in next to him.
They were both tense, America could tell. England was as nervous as him.
He adjusted the pillow and began, "Finland and Sweden's parents were very close. They grew up in a small village, and it was quite a traditional area. Often close friends would promise their children to each other in marriage. Er, well… they wouldn't get married until they were adults, obviously, but… yes…"
America wrinkled his nose. "I've never liked that. That's not a decision that anyone should make but the people getting married. "
England's lips quirked up. "Well yes, I quite agree."
"I mean you can't arrange love," America continued, but even as the words left his mouth, he grew flustered. He turned away, facing the wall.
"Well aren't you the romantic," England said with a gulp, his own face feeling warmer. "A-anyway, as I said, they were just a bit old fashioned. Finland and Sweden were promised to each other before they were even born," he paused. "B-but of course they both ended up being boys, so the arrangement was annulled."
"Oh? I thought that you hated the idea of arranged marriage," England said, placing his hands behind his head on the pillow.
America turned back to face England. "Well yeah, I do. I just… well… never mind."
England shook his head. "Sweden agreed with you. The pair grew up together, as the best of friends, and by the time they were teenagers, Sweden had rather taken to Finland, romantically. And Finland most certainly felt the same. They had grown up hearing about their annulled engagement, as it had become a bit of a joke, but Sweden, who was very much in love with Finland, didn't understand why they couldn't reinstate it."
Resting his head on his hand, elbow propped on the pillow, America bit his lip. "They probably wouldn't be willing to marry two guys."
"Yes, exactly," England said. "But Sweden was upset, so he took to calling Finland his wife to make a point. And it stuck, even to this day. He doesn't use it often, but generally when he's talking to someone new he'll use it at least once. Finland finds it embarrassing though. I think he'd much rather they both be husbands." He smiled a half-smile. "In any case, that's the story."
Of course it had been a love story, America cursed inwardly. Hearing a love story while lying in bed with England, mere inches between them, didn't exactly help him much in the flustered department. But on a positive note, it had distracted him from being upset. He felt England shift slightly and there was a hand on his wrist.
"Are you all right, by the way?" he asked, his voice soft and comforting. "Bloody hell, I should have told them we were flying here in a military plane. I'm sorry."
America yawned, and he slid off his glasses, rubbing his eyes after he did so. "I'm okay. Thanks though. I just gotta suck it up, you know? At least I didn't start crying again or something," he said, a small, lopsided attempt at a smile crossing his lips.
England chuckled. "Quite right, I suppose. But don't you start bottling it up or whatnot just to stop yourself from getting upset. That will just make it worse in the end."
The advice was almost humorous, ironic, from England, because America felt that the other man definitely needed to work on not 'bottling it up,' probably more so than himself. But he didn't comment. Not this time.
"Is it really going to be that cold tomorrow?" he asked.
England let out a puff of air, and he took America's glasses from his hand, placing them on the bedside table. "Colder than you can even imagine. We'll definitely need that fur blanket down there tomorrow night, that's for certain."
America's bottom lip jutted out in a pout. "I really hate the cold."
"Then it's a good thing that your dying plane landed on my ship that night as opposed to this ship," England countered, his smile wry.
"Heh. You act like I'd start hanging out with any old pirate." America turned to face England, and he knew his smile was fond, and he didn't really care. "That is totally not the case."
"Oh really now?" England teased.
"No way. Only you."
Their hands brushed under the blanket, and neither knew who initiated it, but within moments their fingers had twined together and their hands were gently clasped. They remained that way as they drifted off into sleep, and for the rest of the night.
America had never experienced a morning like this before. It was only partly the cold, which was bitter and biting, even while covered in thick, warm furs. It was also only partly the huge, fat flakes of snow falling on the deck of the ship.
What was stranger than both of those things was the fact that it didn't look as if it were morning at all. When he'd awoken, he'd glanced out the porthole and assumed it was just before dawn, twilight.
He'd heard of the polar night before, but he'd completely forgotten that he'd likely be experiencing it, since it was winter and he was going very, very far north. They were certainly above the polar circle now.
It wasn't just the night, which was a bizarre thing all on its own. There was no sun, and yet it wasn't completely dark, the stars shone and it resembled twilight (Finland informed him that it would get darker as they traveled further north).
It was also the aurora, which splashed the sky with colors and shapes that rendered America breathless. He'd seen the aurora once before, when his family had taken a trip up to northern Aquila years before. But it was different to see it from within the sky itself, and it was far more vivid than the one he'd seen with his family.
He stood at the edge of the ship, his gloved hands on the rim, and watched it, watched as a pulsating gold twisted into a brilliant orange. Norway had come out a few minutes before and commented that this was 'a lot brighter' than most auroras they encountered, and America had smiled at this, because if it was pretty awesome by their standards, it must have been amazing.
England was next to him, a cup of hot tea in hand. "Beautiful, isn't it?"
"I don't fancy a life up here at all, but I wouldn't mind seeing the northern lights more often."
"Haha yeah, same." America pulled back from the edge of the ship, stretching his arms. Moving in all the layers of clothing he wore had been difficult, but he was getting used to it by now. He was bundled up to his ears, only his face and a little bit of his hair peeking out. "Hey England?"
"Two things," he paused, "One- I was thinking that if we're going to kick some bad guy ass, maybe… geez this is hard to ask." He bit his lip. "It would be really great if I could get some help learning close quarters combat stuff? I mean I'm a good shot, and in my plane I'm the best, but…"
England snorted. "If I recall, you already do have a rather mean left hook."
America scratched his cheek, a sheepish expression crossing his face. "Yeah, sorry about that. But anyway, I don't think I can really have a fistfight with the Kosmider. I don't expect to be an expert, but it would be… nice to have something to fall back on?"
Cocking an eyebrow, England crossed his arms. "You want to me to teach you to use a sword?"
"If you could. I've kind of always wanted to do it anyway."
England leveled him a look.
"What? It might be kind of old fashioned, but it's cool."
"Cool, hmm?" England tapped his chin. "Well I suppose, if that's the case I can teach you a bit. It takes discipline though, just warning you."
"I think I can handle it." America poked England's cheek, and he blushed, although America could barely tell since he was already red with windburn.
"And the second thing?"
At this, America's expression grew timorous, and England fixed him a quizzical look. "I know it might seem kind of weird, but if they have anything aboard the ship to do it with I'd…" he paused, letting out a breath of air and watching it form, foggy white, in front of him, "I'd kind of like to paint my plane. P-paint over… the military stuff, you know? Make it my own…"
England's eyes widened for a moment, but then a warm smile crossed his lips. He reached forward and placed a thickly gloved hand on America's cheek, and America thought that, as nice as that was, he'd much rather be feeling England's skin. "You know what America? I think that's a grand idea."