SOY: last chapter. I must admit I am happy I finished this fic, and I'm even happier with the response I received for it :) thank you, readers and reviewers, for sticking with me till the end! Thank you to the bottom of my heart!
Rating: K+ ish again.
Disclaimer: I don't own Hetalia.
Romano blinked in surprise, staring at the painting with wide eyes.
"This…" he didn't know what to say.
His brother, once again, had surpassed any expectation, as this painting was… utterly beautiful. Lovino couldn't but feel awe at that, with the colours, and what it represented…
"S–so?" Feliciano stared at his older brother, twisting his hands and looking at the ground at intervals, a light blush on his cheeks. "How is it?"
Lovino took a deep breath, feeling his fingers twitch. He wanted… he wanted to be able to do something like this, too. it was so beautiful, and breathtaking, and just perfect… just like so many other paintings Feliciano had done, which had caused Lovino to feel so inadequate and envious…
He'd always thought that his brother was doing it on purpose –asking his opinion all the time, almost as if showing off in front of him, but… it was just because Feliciano lacked self–esteem, and sought reassurance from his older brother, because to him, what Lovino thought was important.
It took so long to understand this, after many decades spent criticising what Italy did, inwardly hating him, jealous and angry…
Romano's fingers relaxed.
He didn't need his brother's skills. It was strange to realise, but he didn't have to explain his own feelings through something this magnificent for the person he loved. Spain… knew already what he felt for him, and… and it was ok. Lovino didn't really feel that bitter anymore.
They were all growing up, one way or the other, and it was ok.
"It's gorgeous" he murmured, ruffling Italy's hair. "I am sure… I am sure things will go well" his eyes hardened "if they don't, I assure you Finland will have a new bait for his fishing rod".
Italy giggled, playfully swatting at his older brother's arm, but he felt suddenly lighter. It was important to him, if Romano liked.
"Grazie" he replied.
He stared at the finally completed painting for a long moment, then glanced at the clock. He had to open all the lights in his studio to be able to refine the details, but he was really satisfied and really tired.
It was so late, and all he wanted was drop to bed and be done with it.
Somewhere, England and America were talking. Part of him was feeling bitter about it, even though he wished America would do whatever it meant for him to be happy, because… he deserved it.
But the knowledge that they might be solving things between them made Italy feel even more tired.
Finally shaking himself out of his thoughts, and offering a smile to his strangely silent brother, who was blushing, Italy gently covered his painting with a cloth and sighed, shoulders dropping. A good night's sleep would do miracles.
It was then that a missile in the shape of America exploded through the studio door, sending it slamming into its hinges and against the wall.
"Feliciano!" he yelled, flushed from running and holding something close to his chest.
Romano blinked in shock, finally coming out from his trance, and threw a scandalised stare at the American; he opened his mouth, about to yell his brain out, then stopped, lowered his pointed finger, and bit on his lower lip hard.
"I–I'll be going to bed now, Feli" he hissed, calm and controlled. "Alfred, I want to see my doors fixed in the morning, otherwise… you do like Tino, do you?"
America blinked, throwing a glance in Romano's direction before completely dismissing his presence and stomping towards Italy, eyes shining. He was determined in explaining everything and of course–
"Ve~ Alfred, what are you doing here? I thought you were with…"
"This is for you!"
Something was forced in Italy's arms, and he looked down, brown eyes wide open. It was a basket (fairly cute basket…?), with a fluffy pillow inside, and a small blanket, and it was moving and…
Italy, fighting the urge to yelp and let go of the basket, shifted the blanket instead, fingers trembling… and a small head shuffled out from underneath the nest, a pair of green eyes meeting with his.
The black ball of fluffy fur meowled at him, and a small, terribly cute paw extended towards him.
It was a kitten –and an incredibly adorable one, at that!
"… aah~" Italy found himself fascinated by the small, cute kitten. "It's… oh, Alfred, it's really cute~" he gently touched her head, and she mewled again, rubbing against his finger and pawing happily at it. Italy simply melted. "Is it really for me…?"
"Of course!" America's cheeks were stained red as he nodded, also melting at the terribly cute image of Italy and the cat together. "She's… I was thinking of something to give to you, because you've been… really, I… well, and I saw her, and…" he paused, flustered.
Really, after his speech with England, he had exhausted his brain for the day. he could just blush and stare at the adorable duo.
"It's a she~ that's so cute! Does she have a name? Does she?" Italy held the kitten close to his chest, and she nailed at his shirt, suckling on the texture, making him coo.
"Well, I thought Mosi could be a cute name" America muttered, looking away. He had the not–so–strange desire to just step forwards and… "it's an old Navajo name, from back then… it actually means cat" he added, feeling a bit silly.
"Awww, that's a cute name. You're named Mosi~ say hello to Alfred, Mosi!" Italy giggled, holding the kitten in one hand and she turned around, loudly mewling at the American Nation, purring contentedly.
Italy acted on an impulse and moved forwards, planting a kiss on America's cheek before realising what he was doing –then, with the speed he only used when retreating from England during WWII, he backed away, cheeks flaring red.
America was equally flushed, speechless at the heartfelt thanks.
Italy put the kitten in her basket and moved it to the corner of the floor, where she would stay quiet, then he turned around, finally realising what time it was and that America was there, instead of…
"Ve~ Alfred, why are you here and not with Arthur?"
America blinked. "Did you speak with Matthew? How do you know…"
"I saw Arthur this afternoon" Italy candidly admitted. "He said he would be talking with…" he frowned, recalling America's words about the cat. "So… you wanted to thank me for listening to you? Are things with Arthur… settled down?"
He felt his throat constrict a bit, but managed to keep a mostly neutral expression.
America's face relaxed. "Yes, we settled things down" he stated, taking a deep breath. This was it. "And now there is something I have to tell you… in regards to that…"
"I'm glad of it. You two are… I mean… I'm happy for you two" Italy stated, clenching his hands together. "But it also means you won't be coming here that much anymore, does it?"
"N–no! that's not it!"
Tilting his head to the side, Italy licked his lips "then, what is it?"
At the same time, America shifted forwards, grabbing one of Italy's fists, and blurted out "I love you!"
The world stopped for a moment.
Italy's brain asked for a rewind, ears buzzing.
"Che cosa?" he murmured, for a moment forgetting about America and switching to his own language.
America had also stopped, apparently surprised he had blurted it out so easily, and smiled down at the shell–shocked Italian. Damage done already, he had nothing to lose. "Feliciano, I really, really love you".
Italy stumbled backwards, steadying himself on the near chest of drawers, and felt his cheeks turn to the deepest shade of red America had ever seen, only to turn pale a second later.
"Uh…" he was unable to form a coherent sentence, so he simply stared, mouth open, as the American facepalmed.
"This is kind of an… anticlimactic thing, isn't it" Alfred shook his head. "I'm sorry it had to come out like this, I really didn't intend to… but…" he was still holding Italy's hand in his own, and the grip tightened. "But I mean it, Feliciano. During the last few weeks, I… I couldn't stop myself, I just… things shifted in a new perspective and I… kind of… fell in love with you".
Italy's face was still stony, as he stared at America trying to explain things.
"It's that we clicked, didn't we? And we had fun, and I was happy, and it was refreshing and it was new and I just…" he threw his hands to the ceiling, unable to properly explain. "Italy, I'm in love with you. I spoke with England, and I explained him that between us… me and him I mean… there could be nothing more than friendship… or family. And that between the two of us, you and I, I mean… there's something special… of a different kind of special!"
America's determination started to waver as Italy didn't react, simply staring at him in shock. He stammered for a bit more before falling silent.
"Ah… Feliciano…" he suddenly felt all his happiness drain away.
Maybe he had been too hopeful for this. Even when talking with England, he had not realised that maybe, just maybe, confessing to Italy could get him a rejection. And yet, he wasn't one to hide how he felt. He was honest with himself and with those he cared for…
And he cared for Italy.
He stepped backwards, flushing and looking to the side, "I'll… I'll let you think about this, ok? You don't have to… I mean, we can still be friends…" oh, god, no. he didn't want to be friends. He didn't want things to go like with England. He wanted… he wanted…
He turned around, feeling a sharp pain somewhere in his chest, and was about to leave the room when a hand wrapped around his wrist, stopping him; he turned around, surprised, and saw Italy holding him still. His stony expression was gone, replaced with a deep, violent blush, and there were tears in his eyes.
"You… y–you mean it?" he looked like he had exhausted all his strength to utter this question, falling into silence right after.
America stared into Italy's teary eyes, observed how his hand was trembling whist holding his wrist, how his shoulders were also trembling, as if he was barely holding himself still. He flushed, unsure on how to take this sight, feeling guilty for making the other cry, but also, his hope resurfacing, just a bit…
"Yes, I do… I do mean it, Feliciano" he replied, his own voice low and hushed. "It's… it's not about you as a substitute to Arthur. It's something else entirely. I really, really love you".
Italy trembled, unable to speak, but feeling his heart swelling so much in his chest that it blocked off everything else.
Was this true? He couldn't believe it –someone had chosen him above someone else…?
Italy opened his mouth, but he was shaking so hard he felt a bit like the younger brother of Poland's boyfriend.
"Is there a chance that… for us… is there a chance for us to be?" America's hand curled around Italy's own, stopping its trembling, and looking up into those wide blue eyes, Italy knew he needed an answer, he could see how desperate America was…
But he felt too faint to be able to talk, and he knew that his legs would give in quite soon. Hastily, almost in panic, Italy pointed to the canvas he had just covered up with a cloth, biting down on his lower lip to prevent himself from crying.
But this was… this was too much to take.
America had just said…
He truly meant it…
Alfred, feeling a bit unsure, moved towards the canvas, terribly confused. "This…? what about this? what does this have to do with…"
Italy gulped down, and motioned for the other nation to take away the cloth, still trembling; when America let go of his hand, he curled it to his chest, missing the warmth.
As America uncovered his painting, the same painting he had worked on for hours, pouring his entire soul into it, Italy slid on the ground, not knowing how to take the whole rush of emotions slamming inside his brain, and simply watched.
America hesitated, then took the grey cloth away…
And stared, speechless.
It was a painting of him. of America, of Alfred… of both Nation and human.
The Alfred painted was standing still, and was dressed in that familiar, old revolutionary soldier clothing America had been so fond of, in the past, ripped and dirty and worn down, and yet so accurate in every little detail. The buttons on the shirt, some ripped, badly sewn back together, showing the skin underneath… the napes on the shoulders, the golden laces, everything.
Realistic, ruined yet clearly cared for.
Then, his face. Ruffled hair, no eyeglasses, and a smile, bright and powerful, a smile America never knew he could have… filled with pride, but with pain etched in the lines around the eyes, which were blue and open and happy.
Behind him, behind the Alfred of the painting, there was a beautiful sight of New York –present time New York as seen from the sea, with the Statue on the right, bright and realistic, and on the left, where the city vanished away into the corner of the painting, there was a shadow of a presence that felt like the watcher.
The America of the painting was holding a huge flag with one hand –the handle was golden and brown, and half made of old wood, and the flag fabric was old, ripped and dirty next to the handle, but then, as the flag wrapped around his figure, it turned shining new and bright, and clean and…
And the Alfred in the painting was holding out an open hand to the watcher, to the painter, and smiling, beaming almost, right at him.
Alfred exhaled slowly, feeling tears pool in his eyes.
This was America, and Alfred, and even something more, something deeper–
It was… it was beautiful. He could feel the amount of time, of emotions Italy had devoted to this painting, the happiness, the need to show all of Alfred in that single painting, the past he never forgot but that he let go of, at peace, growing from it, learning… the present that made him what he was –one of the strongest nations ever.
His pride, his love for all his Nation represented by his stance, his position, his eyes… no matter how many problems his people had… all those things he had wanted to represent for his humans, everything was in that painting.
And most of all, Alfred could see the love.
He knew that Italy had painted this for him. just like he had asked, Italy had poured his heart into that painting, his soul, his everything…
Clearly showing Alfred that Feliciano understood him –understood every side of him. Completely.
He didn't need to hear those words for the present moment, because all the proof he needed was there, in that gift.
Alfred shifted next to the crying Italian, flopping down in front of him; with a warm smile, he grabbed his cheeks with both hands and leaned forwards, stopping a few inches away to breathe a soft "I love you…" before finally joining lips with him.
The kiss was soft and warm and breathless, it made America's fingers tingle pleasantly, it made Italy's tears dry out, and his body stop trembling. It made America groan, tasting Italy, tasting ancient and new, breathing in his scent, basking in the feeling of those smooth lips against his…
It made Italy finally move, wrapping hands around America's shoulders, tightening the grasp, deepening the kiss, holding him as if the world was about to end.
Sobbing and kissing.
They separated only when breathing became a necessity, few important seconds to take quick gulps of air and then move to kiss again and again, lips joining, melting together, holding onto each other and giving their everything, mutual feelings burning strong.
What felt like centuries later, Italy let his head fall into the crook of America's neck, snuggling closer, unable to still believe what had happened –that America was his, and he was America's, and it was really happening and it was not a dream– and America held tightly on him, eyes wide open and staring at the sky outside the large window, feeling utterly at peace and sated and completely, absurdly happy.
Maybe it was ok to not move for a little while more, and just hold onto Italy's body, next to a happily mewling cat, and a beautiful painting.
He'd gained more than he could ever hope to have. It was mind boggling, but he was happy.
On the other side of the door, carefully hiding from the two lovebirds, Romano scratched his chin, vaguely embarrassed, and left to call Spain –he knew the tomato fucker was probably awake watching some Grey's Anatomy's rerun on the satellite, and would enjoy some gossip.
Maybe later on he would also call Canada, as he deserved to know. It ended well. It was worth it, he thought.
Back in the studio, America was kissing Italy again, and they were laughing, holding onto each other, staring at the small cat trying to coax them into petting her –for them, it was just starting.
StarsofYaoi: that's it. The end. :) thank you again for reading this, and for reviewing! The sequel will take a while to get up, and you're not forced to read it. It will be mostly about pre–birth and post–birth, so there won't be anything disgusting about it, I swear. (besides, Hetalia is one of the few fandoms that can get away with male pregnancy, since they are not humans…)
Anyway, goodbye, everybody! (anyone wants me to tackle another strange pairing, like for example, England/Italy or Russia/Italy? Or Spain/Italy… Canada/Italy?)