This is my first time writing—and, well, posting—Hetalia fanfiction. ^^ I wasn't quite sure how I wanted this to go, but I knew I didn't want it to just be as silly as the manga. I took a few liberties here and there with the characters, but I hope I didn't get China or Korea too out of character.
I really do think China is fond of Korea, no matter how he acts towards him, and this is a somewhat rare pairing, as far as things go. XD It's fluffier than anything else, so I don't think there's really any need for warnings.
The first part of this is set sometime in the Qing Dynasty (I'm no expert on Chinese history, so please ignore any historical inaccuracies). The second part is set in the present. Some of the vocabulary is: Gēgē (Mandarin for 'older brother') and hyung (Korean for 'older brother').
The air is filled with laughter and music, and the scents of rich food and the headier smells of incense linger underneath. Everything is bright, colorful, vibrant and very much alive, drunken off the atmosphere (or other things) though some have become. There are many people in the palace, but in the main chamber few are permitted.
Ribbons flash and whirl through the air as the performers do what they do best. They stir apart smoke burning up from the incense sticks, almost making it flow around their elegant bodies like twisting serpents. Shining, dark eyes follow their sinuous movements, moving as though they command the music, instead of moving to it.
"Ohhh," sighs Im Yong Soo in awe, bringing his over-large sleeves together in one muffled clap. Wang Yao smiles from his position on the cushion alongside him, watching the expression of his charge more than the dance. It was the first birthday celebration of the Emperor's that Yao had decided to take Yong Soo to—last year had been Hong Kong's turn, and the year before had been Taiwan's.
This evening Hong Kong and Taiwan were joining in the festivities in the streets, fireworks and dancing and events with other, younger folk. Yao knows they can take care of themselves, and even so, some of the palace guards were shadowing them for good measure. The Emperor knows to take good care of his country and colonies, lest they be snatched away.
"Gēgē, can you dance like that?" Yong Soo hisses to him out of the corner of his mouth. Yao blinks at him at the odd question and watches the dancers as they continue, their ribbons like extensions of themselves.
"Yes," the country answers quietly, watching, noting mentally where differences, corrections can be made to make the dance smoother. Yong Soo's eyes practically glow, and his arms encircle one of Yao's, giving him a slight tug that sends the slim man slightly off balance—the boy has been growing very swiftly, and it's reaching a degree where Yao fears he will have to look up at him soon.
"Show me?" Yong Soo asks him, though he has the brains to keep his voice soft, not wanting to disturb the Emperor during his birthday celebrations. A moody Emperor does not make for pleasant company.
"Show you?" Yao raises an eyebrow at him. "No. You're being silly, Yong Soo. Be quiet and watch." Yong Soo's lower lip trembles and Yao bites back a groan. This is why he had been originally skeptical about bringing him along, but he couldn't deny him the privilege as Hong Kong and Taiwan had received it already.
"I want to see gēgē dance like that," Yong Soo mutters quietly, petulantly.
"Yong Soo, hush," Yao scolds him quietly. The boy sticks out his lower lip but obeys. However, even as Yao turns his head to watch the performances continue, he can practically feel the sullenness radiating off the boy next to him. He sighs internally, cursing himself for being so soft, then reaches over, touching a shoulder grown broader in the last few years. "Very well, I'll show you, but later. And, you must behave for the rest of the celebration."
Yong Soo turns his head to beam at him, all of his teeth showing in a grin, his eyes shining. He nods his head enthusiastically, the one curl bobbing along with the movement.
Satisfied, Yao turns his head to watch the performances. Next to him, Yong Soo wriggles excitedly and does the same.
It is late when the performances end and Yao excuses himself with a slightly yawning Yong Soo. He snatches up two matching ribbons as they leave, however, tucks them secretively away in the sleeves of his changshan. He does not put much thought into taking the ribbons; there are many more for the performers to use, after all, and he is China. He had told Yong Soo he would show him, after all, provided his behavior was good.
Yong Soo rubs slightly at his eyes as they walk through the streets of Beijing, calmed from their previous fervor. He yawns slightly, opens his eyes and blinks his tiredness away as he sees they aren't headed back to Yao's quiet, modest home, but to an area faintly lit by lanterns, alone and quiet—the music subtle and distant in the background, the gurgling of one of the rivers nearby permeating the air.
Yao pauses in a quiet, grassy area fairly close to the dark water, the lantern light playing over the crimson silk of his changshan. He glances around, and Yong Soo cocks his head questioningly to the side.
"You behaved," he tells him, and Yong Soo's face lights up. He promptly finds a comfortable place on the grass to sit, watching the Chinese man with sudden, rapt attention.
"So, you're going to dance for me, gēgē?" Yong Soo asks, eagerly.
"I am going to dance," Yao says simply. He lets the ribbons roll from his sleeves, grasping them with gentle fingers and tries to remember how long it's been since he's last danced as he bows his body and begins. As he moves, he remembers, and he closes his eyes. He remembers beautiful dancers from many, many ages ago, when it was a golden age in China, a most wonderful time. He pays silent tribute to the first, lovely dancers as he moves, his memories curling like a warm flame in his stomach—flowing silk and fairies, a moon palace and a beautiful dream. An Emperor from long, long ago.
When he stops, the images behind his eyelids fade and he lets them flick open, breathing in the cool night air. Yong Soo is staring at him, open-mouthed, where he is sitting, his eyes wide and something wondering in his expression, leaning forward a bit on his hands. Somewhat embarrassed that he even agreed to dance in the first place, Yao quickly folds the ribbons up and moves to tuck them away, but the younger moves quickly, reaching forward to grab his hands.
"Can I keep them?" he asks, eagerly, his eyes shining. "Please? So I won't ever forget. Gēgē, that was—that was—" Yong Soo struggles and fails to come up with a word that is strong enough to describe the racing of his heart and the emotions welling in his stomach. He just beams helplessly at the elder man. For his reaction, he receives a somewhat bashful averting of amber-tinted eyes, the corners of Yao's lips curling upwards in pleasure.
"Very well," Yao says and presses the ribbons into Yong Soo's palms. "Take care of them."
"I will!" Yong Soo breathes and looks down at them, stroking his thumbs across the fabric, as if to touch whatever magic infused the elder's body, to touch some of the feeling that had been in his dance.
"What a mess!" Yao grimaces as he follows a grinning Yong Soo into his cluttered storeroom. "I can't believe you're having me help you clean—I'm only doing this for you because I'm such a nice person, you know! You'd best be grateful."
"I am, hyung!" laughs Yong Soo from where he's disappeared behind a big statue (wait a second, Yao recognizes that!). He fights his way over things scattered on the floor, stumbling slightly over something, catching himself quickly before straightening. Yong Soo is bent over something in front of him, mumbling and rustling through what looks like the drawer of an ancient cabinet.
"What are you doing, Yong Soo?" the Chinese man asks with more than a touch of impatience, shifting forward. "Are you taking out more things when we're supposed to be putting this all away?"
Yong Soo whirls around, grinning, dust picking up around him from the movement. Yao blinks at the ornate, rectangular case in his hands, engraved with symbols he recognizes, though vaguely (he has tried to push many memories back, for he has so many to contain). "Hyung," he trills, "do you remember these?"
His fingers pry the case open gently—with far more care than Yao has ever seen Yong Soo give to something before. Inside are two long ribbons, their vibrant colors faded from age, but no tears or rips visible. Yao steps forward, hardly able to believe that the Korean has kept something for so long, and so safely.
"You said to take care of them, remember?"
Yao gazes down at the ribbons, touches his fingers gently to the fragile fabric, then looks up at Yong Soo, grinning, his eyes shining with something like pride.
A hot flush of something like affection floods though him as he simply stares at the grinning face before him, stunned that he's kept them, for so long. All because they were a gift from Yao? Something to remember that moment he had deemed as just a small thing, to him?
Then, acting on his impulses for once and before he can lose his nerve, he fists a hand in the front of Yong Soo's jeogori and yanks him down to his level. He presses a tight, close-mouth kiss against the Korean's mouth and then draws away before Yong Soo can do anything more than blink and splutter out something in surprise.
Yao turns his back to him, turns toward the clutter of the storeroom. He clears his throat loudly, as if to dispel what he had just done. "Let's get to it—this mess isn't going to clean itself," he declares. There's a subtle flush to his cheeks.
Grinning stupidly, Yong Soo launches himself at Yao's back, grabbing him around the waist, the rectangular case set safely aside. He squeezes the man back against his chest, pressing his face into Yao's hair and does not receive the usual shouted protests and gentle not-really-angry swats.
"There's no way I could clean now!" he says, excited voice muffled. Yao sighs a long-suffering sigh and gazes at the clutter in front of them, thinking of how they probably won't get to it today, or the day after, not if Yong Soo has anything to say about it.
"Ah," Yao mumbles, though there's a slight, fond smile on his face, "I didn't think there'd be."