Characters: Cuba and Canada
Author: tatterdemalion (grosse_averse on livejournal)
Rating: PG-13 for language and mentions of nuclear warfare
Warnings: historical inaccuracies, not calling Russia the USSR because damn if that would be an awkward name.
Summary: Canada had only been privy to betrayal a couple of times in his life. This betrayal seems the worst.
Notes: 1. I tried to do a little research for this topic. Canada and Mexico were the only two countries to retain long standing cordial relations with Cuba, even throughout its revolution. But I think, after the Cuban Missile Crisis, Matthew couldn't help feeling just a little bit hurt. 2. This was originally written for the livejournal community maples_n_cigars, which is a new Cuba/Canada community that I think needs a lot of love. As I've said, this pairing is one that I found very interesting but never thought I could write. But, obviously, I wrote something for it. I decided to bring it over to fanfiction as well. I hope you enjoy it!
Canada was lucky.
Canada had only been privy to betrayal a couple of times in his life - which was nothing compared to the old men of Europe, to their constant wars and alliances and bloodshed and utter despondency, but Canada could not pretend all had been well on his side of the Atlantic.
Canada remembers himself in the arms of France, being handed easily over to England (So easily, Canada remembers thinking, gazing desperately up at his former mentor, whose blue eyes are dulled in sadness, What's wrong with me? Why don't you want me anymore?) It hurt, it stung, because France had promised to be there forever ("Ah, mon petit chou, pour toujours, tu comprends?"), and it would take the young colony a while to properly forgive him.
Canada remembers fighting America, watching the sun filter through the corn-silk of his elder brother's hair as America pinned him up against the side of a desk they had been negotiating beside, in 1812. He remembers watching words spill from his brother's mouth, blue eyes flashing as America rails against England and what he stands for and Canada you love me, you'd join me, right? I'd take real good care of you, we're family!
Canada had refused, of course (He always refused, even though rewards and appreciation from England were few and far between), and the result had been the burning of York, an event that left a scar on his left hip, skin raised and twisted so that when Canada brushes his fingers against it he can still feel the fires and the screams. Him and America were supposed to be brothers - they were supposed to understand each other, were supposed to be comrades in a New World, united by land and people. When Canada stood by and watched America's parliament burn, he remembered thinking that maybe he understood America after all, understood the grim acceptance that came with war, even war against your closest brethren.
Canada remembers World War II, remembers screaming in betrayal and heartache and pain as wave after wave of soldiers were cut back, shot down, left for dead in No Man's Land and remained groaning in hospitals for months. There were victories, of course there were - Canada felt proud, he really did, when he could go up to his father and say Look what I did for you, England. Could America do that for you? - but this was a taste of European policies that Canada could not stand. He wondered how France and England could have put up with so much of this for so long a history without going insane (one only had to look at Russia to see how unsettlingly possible that was). When the war was over, Canada retired to his home, noticed how his joints ached a bit more, how his energy faltered when he chased after Kumajirou for too long. The wars changed him, gave him some scars that could be seen and some that could not.
It was silly, really - Canada has been through so much in his life, has seen so much - but this betrayal seems the worst, though it is not the most devastating thing to happen to him. He glances over at his brother in the hot, noisy meeting room, and when America looks back at him he sees the vulnerability in his brother's eyes, realizes that his brother is just as overwhelmed as anyone else. He looks so young, sitting there in his bomber jacket and his glasses, just a young man in a battle that neither side can win.
Canada tries to focus on the other nations but he can only hear fear, anger, and helplessness in their voices - emotions that Canada feels bubbling up inside himself, pushing at his mouth, and for once he almost wishes to join the fray, to give a physical voice to his fears.
"This has gone too far!" England, white as a sheet, slams his hands down on the table and America almost flinches from his former mentor.
"You and that Soviet bastard have been skirting around each other for years and you have never really stopped to consider what would happen if he actually did something, have you?" France hisses, a scared man in a fancy suit. America is surprised and hurt by this onslaught, and he turns his eyes once more to Canada's, searching, begging. Canada wishes he could go to his brother and embrace him, hold him close like when they were children, but Canada is still reeling from the events that have happened.
The year is 1962. It is several months after the Soviet government placed nuclear missiles in Cuba, creating a shocking first-strike capacity in regards to the United States. Canada had been worried for years about his brother's relations with the USSR, but this event had been the last straw for Europe. Scared at what could have happened to America - what could have happened to them, the countries were understandably upset.
"Look, it's okay, now!" America speaks for the first time in a while, a hint of irritation in his voice. It almost overwhelms the tremor of uncertainty, but Canada knows his brother and he can tell that it is still there. "I handled it, didn't I?"
"Yes, but what if the Soviets had really been serious?" Germany interrupted in his gravelly voice. "What if this time, they couldn't be deterred?"
Beside him, Italy actually looks worried. America's brow creased.
"Well, it didn't." he finished lamely; as the countries muttered at his lack-luster response, he held his hands up and said loudly, "Look, I swear, I have everything under control! We're using the MAD policy, it'll be okay - "
Canada stood and slipped out the conference room door - as always, no one notices him. He cannot stay in that stuffy room and listen to what could have been, what would have happened. He is disappointed in his brother, yes; Alfred rarely thinks about him anymore, and Canada would have been in danger if the Soviets had decided to launch their missiles. But Canada is more hurt by the person who let the Soviets have first-strike capability in the first place.
Canada takes an impromptu flight down to Cuba. He does not tell his Prime Minister. He does not tell America, or England, or any of the members of NATO. This is not a business or political trip, Canada versus Cuba.
He is simply Matthew, and he has come to see an old friend.
Canada lands in Cuba, takes a taxi into Havana. Cuba senses, by this time, that Canada is in his country, and meets him at the door of his house before the blonde even has to knock, gruff, smoking a thick cigar and clothed in military attire, a gun slung over his shoulder.
"Canada." he says, and the blonde cannot tell if the man's tone is happy or angry - certainly guarded, and Cuba's eyes slide to the right as he snorts around the cigar.
"You shouldn't be here." the big man tells him, shifting his weight on his feet. Canada gathers his courage.
"Yeah, well, I'm here." he tremors. "You...you gonna let me in or did your manners leave when your Revolution started?"
Cuba's brow furrows, for a moment. He checks the street once, twice, then slowly steps aside. Canada steps into his house, wrapping his arms around himself. The house is dimly lit but achingly familiar - Canada trails his fingers along the top of Cuba's beech-wood table, lets his eyes study the familiar lines of the cultural Taíno art that hangs on Cuba's walls. He hears the front door close and feels those dark eyes on his back, watching, waiting.
It is only when he hears the sound of a gun being placed on the floor is Canada reassured that he is indeed speaking to his friend. He pivots on the spot, turning to face Cuba, and asks him steadily, "Why did you do it?"
Cuba has the nerve to look sheepish (Sheepish, Canada thinks with a spark of foreign anger, after America has spent sleepless, guilt-filled nights wondering where he went wrong?), and scratches at his neck with his strong, mocha-coloured fingers.
"Russia...was very good to me," he explains hoarsely. "He...he helped me a lot after I broke ties with America. When he wanted to put missiles on my land, my...my government let him. I figure, it was the least I could do."
Of course Russia helped you, Canada bitterly responds in his mind. Anything to get to America.
"This isn't like doing someone a favor," Canada says stiffly. "This isn't like letting Ivan borrow a cup of sugar." Ivan. How long has it been since Canada called him that? "Those were nuclear missiles. How could you...how could you think..."
Canada doesn't realize his voice has acquired that preachy tone that America always teases him about ("Watch out, you sound just like England! If your eyebrows start getting a bit hairier, let me know!"), until Cuba's eyes narrow and he steps forward. For such a big man he moves with such a dangerous grace.
"How could I?" he repeats under his breath. "I'm an independent country, and I am a Communist. Russia is my Comrade and frankly I think it's about time America got knocked down a few pegs."
"Oh please, this isn't just about America!" Canada cries suddenly, and the room goes very silent very fast. Cuba is watching him with quirked eyebrows.
"I..." Canada struggles with his words. "You...okay, say the Russians sent a nuclear missile at America."
"...Okay, say they did." Cuba grunts, crossing his arms over his burly chest. Canada presses on, wringing his hands as he does so.
"Do...do you know how many states border Canada?" he whispers. Cuba doesn't move, but the dulled realization in his eyes is too painful for Canada to look at. "Twelve, Cuba! Thirteen if you count Alaska!" Canada shakes his head. "That's...that's called "collateral damage" a-and I'm tired of being collateral damage. For my brother, for Europe...for you."
Cuba falters; shrinks in on himself and Canada can see the hurt and exhaustion in the dark-haired man that mirrors the hurt and exhaustion he sees in himself, in America and the rest of those scared European nations, unused to this new age of nuclear and nervous of being left out of the loop as America and Russia press on, oblivious to their precarious settings.
"Mi tesoro," Cuba groans, and Canada half-wants to just run into his arms, throw himself at him and forget the NATO meeting, forget that now Cuba bears the Communist colours and months earlier helped the Soviets to threaten his brother. "I never meant - "
But Canada does not want to let him off the hook just yet. "W-well, you should think about these things, eh?" he asked. "I care about my brother, and I care about you, and I don't want to see anyone get hurt but...this Cold War has gone on for long enough. I don't want to hear it from your leader, and I don't want to hear it publicly announced on television, I want to hear it from you. Do you still care about me??"
Silence. Canada can hear shouts in the street, Spanish tongues in the hot dry heat, and does not look to check if they are civilian or military. Suddenly Cuba has closed the distance between them and kisses Canada fiercely on the mouth. Canada swings his arms up and winds them around Cuba's neck, opening himself willingly to the man - Cuba tastes like expensive cigars, like good Cuban rum and the hot tropic air on his many, many beaches. The dark skinned man groans into his mouth and trails one hand down Canada's side, slipping a hand under the light cotton shirt to feel the boy's skin. Canada makes a wanting noise, but turns his head to break the kiss. Cuba persists, kissing his temple, ghosting a trail down the side of his face with his lips, gliding his tongue along the shell of his ear and nibbling the spot under the blonde's jaw.
"I don't think - " Canada starts, but Cuba buries his face in the crook of Canada's neck and shushes him. They stand like that for a minute, Canada staring resolutely at the cotton curtains that shield the house from the midday sun; Cuba bent over the blonde, hands gripping his shoulders. Canada pretends not to feel the wetness on his skin, or the way Cuba snuffles, low in his throat, as he straightens up again, a cocky half-smirk on his face.
"That a good enough answer for ya?" he asks, suddenly jovial. Canada cannot help but to crack a smile at that, and Cuba assumes forgiveness.
There are very different betrayals, Canada thinks as he stares up at the country before him, but betrayals by the ones you love hurt the most.
"You have time for a drink before you leave?" Cuba asks, turning towards the cabinet in which Canada knows the nation keeps his liquor.
The blonde pauses. He should get back. He should be with his brother, should deflect at least some of the anger being pressed down on him right now.
But America is the hero, isn't he? And Canada is just the brother. The blonde smiles at Cuba and tucks a piece of hair behind his ear.
"Sure. That would be great."
Note: I don't call Russia the USSR in this story (*total inaccuracy fail*). I think he called himself that just to piss the other nations off. Can you imagine if they were taking attendance at meetings?
Arthur: "Is the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics here?"
Ivan: "Oh! I'm sorry! I wasn't listening, could you repeat that whole name again?"
France just calls him "that Soviet bastard" to avoid the name.