TITLE: Childish

RATING: T – For some minor violence, minor coarse language, and serious themes.

GENRE: Drama/Family

CHARACTERS: America, England

SUMMARY: "No matter how he'd grown, all England could see in America was a child." Set at the end of the Revolutionary War.

STATUS: One-shot. Rough around the edges, but I don't care.

CRITICISM: I love constructive criticism, and please don't be afraid to be harsh and honest. I'll appreciate it, I already know my writing can be very weak and I'd like to know how to improve. I give harsh criticism to others all the time, so don't feel bad XD .

- - - - - - - - - -

No matter how he'd grown, all England could see in America was a child.

America's eyes were one of the first things England had seen of him, when they'd first met. A vivid, clear baby blue, like a spring sky, and reflecting such a childish innocence that even now still seemed to stir there. His skin was smooth and flawless, free of scars, with traces of baby fat still softening his face, and a warm golden glow he had retained from his boyhood when playing in the sun.

He was tall now, and strong, but garbed in that large army coat with shoulders that seemed too big for him, sleeves that seemed too long, a billowing shape that seemed to swallow his whole form, he looked much too young for war. Looking at him for the first time dressed like that, he had seen a naive child, a mere boy, playing hero and pretending to be a man. Picking up that damn gun with such a touch of awkwardness that had yet to entirely leave him, an awkwardness England had always hoped would never be required to leave him, as he weighed the thing in his hands experimentally and then lifted it to aim. Those childish fingers that had always seemed to reach out to grab his own, and his small adoring voice constantly crying out, "England! England!"

And that smile. Free and cheery and honest, it was the brightest thing about him, and always the same. England remembered the shock he'd had when he'd come to visit America and found he'd completely missed America's growth spurt; he had skipped right up to the height of a young man, as tall as England himself. For a moment it was like a stranger. But then he'd flashed that familiar bright smile, still that same eager child always wishing to please… and suddenly that didn't seem so important. America was still the same as he'd always been. Still a Child.

Even America's cause seemed so very trivial to England's weathered cynicism; America was a hopeless idealist, a naïve optimist to the end. "Independence! Revolution!" They all seemed like such whimsical fancies, such frivolous dreams.

But now England had to face the Truth. His breath came in ragged gasps, and he could barely hold himself up; his whole body was drenched and numb with cold. America stood facing him, tall and strong. His hold on his bayonet was steady and practiced, his aim level and sure. Soaked just as much as England, America wore his uniform proudly, a leader to his army. Even the set of his jaw seemed more stubborn than before, and he held a solemn expression that England could never have imagined before on America's face. Even through the heavy downpour, England could see America's eyes, still that clear, vivid blue, but with a piercing determination. There was steel there, a strength England had refused to see before.

Here stood a Man that England couldn't recognize.

America spoke, in a voice as foreign as the rest of him now. One that was not brash, excited, adoring, ashamed, petulant. It was soft and calm, with a quiet maturity England did not want to hear. Because America couldn't sound reasonable, not now, he couldn't just suddenly change right in front him and prove England wrong about all this... "Hey, England… It seems I choose Liberty after all." England cursed under his breath, at the apology he heard in America's tone, at the reflective melancholy in his eyes. What was that worth if there was no regret to go along with it? It would have been easier if he'd just taunted him, just as he'd expect from boastful America. "I am not a child anymore… And I'm not your baby brother. From now on… I'm independent," America's expression softened a small degree, and England could see the contentment in his eyes and hear the wonder in his voice as he let out a whisper, almost to himself, "I'm free."

England let out a harsh laugh, denying the deathly finality he heard in that voice, how terribly right America seemed for the first time in a long time, and spat at the ground between them. He would never accept it. Never, never, never, never, never…

America flinched, sparks of anger and frustration reaching his eyes. His voice rose, back to something England could recognize, something England could face, "Acknowledge it! Accept it!"

Never.

Through the cold and the rain, England's voice rose in an angry snarl as he shoved his bayonet forward. The edge jammed into America's own weapon, and with a surge of adrenalin he thrust it away. Just as quickly, that edge was pointed back at America. Inches from his throat. His whole body trembled with pain and exhaustion, his boots trying to slip in the mud of the battlefield; only his furious determination held him up. His gun was steady.

America's bayonet dropped from nerveless hands, his eyes melting into an expression of shock. The lines on his face instantly softened, and his stance broke as he took a step back. England couldn't make sense of why, but the look on America's face seemed... lost to him. As though England had betrayed him. And that was wrong because America wouldn't be foolish enough to feel that way, not in this war. He was trying to prove he was a man, now, right? Hell, America had betrayed England, dammit! He cursed again, an animalistic growl at the back of his throat, and spat out at him in a harsh whisper, "You were always so naïve, you fool." Don't you do this to me now…

But America stood there, frozen, his gaze locked onto England's with those wide, blue eyes that felt so achingly familiar, that boyish gold hair matted messily to that young, sweet face. America's coat still seemed too big for his frame, and England was glad that, at least, that bloody gun was finally out of his hands. But that stupid lost look of hurt and... it couldn't be… disappointment.

England couldn't tell what he was seeing anymore.

America the Child, or America the Man?

It drained his arms of its energy more than anything else. There was no way he could do it now.

"Th-there's no point in firing… is there…" England's voice shook as his hands lowered the point of the bayonet, and he felt his own body start to crumple beneath him, "Fool," the gun dropped to the muddy battlefield, and England with it.

England had been brought to his knees.

His voice came out, wretched and involuntary, and he didn't even realize he cried out as he cursed, "Dammit… Why…? Damn…" His head dropped, his hands covered his face, and he didn't even try telling himself that those bitter tears pouring out were just rain. There was no point. It was over.

"England…"

Don't you dare use that pathetic tone on me, America…

"You used to be…"

Anything but pity…

"…so big…"

Please…

- - - - - - - - - - -

AUTHOR'S NOTES: I just sort of banged this out in bits and pieces as ideas of lines to write came along. I had a definite theme I was writing around, I'm pretty sure it's obvious what it is XD . I felt this was one of the most important defining aspects of their relationship (Hetalia-wise, not history-wise), past and present, and one of my favorites between them. This is how they seemed to me, anyway. My interpretation of the break-down of their lovely father-son dynamic.