Genre: Axis Powers Hetalia, romance
Word count: 4,382
Summary: Omake for Two Ways About It. On the subject of Greece, Japan, and the feeling of having caught the bouquet.
"You're not nearly as drunk as everyone thinks you are."
Japan's eyes widened as he looked up from his glass of water at Greece, who was sitting very close to him, practically shoulder to shoulder, and had been for most of the evening. Greece had spent the bulk of it quite shamelessly flirting with him, and he had accepted it happily. After the cake ran out and the candles started to burn down and people began to fall asleep or wander off to other parts of the sprawling rented house the reception had been held in, they stayed at the table with the cat that had followed Greece here curled up at their feet, enjoying the quiet punctuated by the sounds of laughter echoing through the cavernous rooms.
"And you never were," Greece added. His head was propped up on his hand, and he was looking at Japan with a slight curve to his lips and sleepy eyes – though Greece's eyes were always sleepy, and it didn't actually indicate how awake or alert he was. Their fingers were twined together loosely between them, and Japan could feel Greece's thumb brushing slowly back and forth over the back of his palm.
The beginnings of a blush began to creep up the sides of his face, and he looked away again. "Weddings always put people in strange moods," he said quietly. Truthfully, he'd been taken a little off guard by Greece calling out his level of sobriety, and now he was feeling quite exposed without the pretense. He swallowed heavily, staring at some of the broken porcelain scattered across the heavily stained white tablecloth.
"It was a nice wedding," Greece commented. Japan could feel that Greece's gaze hadn't left his face at all. "You haven't known them that long, have you?"
Glancing over, Japan cleared his throat softly and shook his head. "I've known Spain just a little longer than I've known you." He realized after he said it that the amount of time he'd known Greece didn't at all seem "not that long". It seemed like well more than just over a hundred years. But then again, he saw Greece more frequently than he saw almost anyone else. Greece had a habit of showing up on his doorstep for no reason at all.
"Romano's spent a long time pushing Spain away," Greece commented, finally looking down, seemingly lost in thought. "And Spain has spent a long time waiting for Romano to lower his barriers, even though they've been best friends for centuries. I think it's very romantic that they finally let each other in."
It took a moment after Greece stopped speaking for Japan to release a breath he hadn't realized he'd been holding. Suddenly he didn't know what he'd been doing all night. Not thinking, apparently. He'd been caught up. There had been alcohol, and there had been the romantic mood they were all in, and there had been Greece, being sweet and playful and talking about philosophy, and for some reason he'd forgotten restraint and let himself do what felt good.
He was nothing without restraint, he reminded himself. His hand slipped out of Greece's and both elbows came up to rest on the table as he rubbed his eyes with his palms. He sighed, trying to get some perspective, but it was difficult because he was so very aware that Greece was still close enough that their legs were touching. "Greece, listen. I don't really know—"
"I would've kissed you an hour ago." Japan faltered at the interruption, mouth hanging open stupidly as he turned to look at Greece. Greece, for his part, still had his head angled down, but he was looking up at Japan through his eyelashes now. "I wanted to, and I think you would've let me. I know you would've let me; you let me lick cake off your fingers."
"Greece, I just—"
"You're very beautiful when you smile." Japan's mouth closed abruptly, and he knew he probably looked shocked. No one had ever told him that before. Admittedly, most people rarely saw him smile, but no one had ever told him he looked beautiful when he did anything. He'd been repeating the word restraint to himself. Now he couldn't even remember what it was. The concept was there, but no longer the means to articulate it.
"So, I wanted to kiss you," Greece said with a slight sigh, bobbing his head back and forth a little like he wanted the comment to sound more casual than it was. "But I didn't."
Well, obviously, Japan thought. But he understood why Greece had said it anyway. It took him a moment, and he tried to get himself not to reply because he knew he'd sound disappointed if he did, but he asked anyway. "Why not?"
"Because I didn't want you to wake up with me again and pretend that it was just a dream."
That felt like a sucker punch to the gut. Word of what had happened between him and Greece when they first met had spread quickly, and he still got teased about it from time to time, and every time he'd unfailingly insisted that it wasn't true. Greece didn't bring it up, but Japan was quite sure that he'd heard from other nations that Japan was in denial – because the other nations did think he was in denial. At this point, Japan thought he was in denial too.
And even though he knew he was in denial, he had enough self-control not to allow himself to consider the ramifications of that. It was easy for him to pretend when Greece came to see him that not only had the incident never happened, but that the subsequent denial had therefore never happened either. And as a result, there was no reason to be concerned that he was somehow hurting Greece.
Now the fact that he'd been hurting Greece hit him all at once. It was all there in the tone of his voice. Japan winced, and was sure that Greece saw him wince. He opened his mouth, only fully realizing what he was going to say as he said it. "I was a virgin."
"I guessed," Greece replied smoothly. "You seemed like a virgin. It was… nice." Japan could tell there were a hundred other adjectives that Greece wanted to put in that place. Positive ones, but probably ones that he considered too effusive or too embarrassing for either one of them. And as it was, he himself was blushing already. "And then I knew I'd been right, when I realized you regretted it."
"I didn't regret it!" Japan blurted out, and he was surprised by his insistent tone and the words themselves and the truth of them. Greece sat back a little, apparently also taken off guard. Japan's voice was significantly quieter but still very tense when he added, "I didn't. It wasn't regret." He hesitated before continuing. He was only just now putting words for what he'd felt to himself, only just now really realizing what had been going through his head. To share them with Greece when he wasn't even sure what his next thought was going to be would possibly be a bad idea.
But then he looked at Greece, at the melancholy on his face that most people wouldn't have been able to differentiate from the usual sleepiness. "I was afraid," he said before he'd even made a conscious decision on whether or not to admit it. "I'd barely been out of my house. I hardly knew anyone aside from America and England, and then you came along and made me lose control. Or… you didn't make me. You made me want to. And after I let myself, I found it… frightening." He reached up and rubbed the back of his neck, pausing to consider. And then, still unsure of what his better judgment even was, he added, "But it only frightened me because I enjoyed it so much."
"I'll let you have control," Greece said quickly. "I don't mind. That's not what I want."
The logical follow-up to that was left unspoken, but it made Japan flustered anyway. I just want you. "You don't understand. I don't want to control you. I need to control myself. I had… no discipline when I was with you."
"But you have discipline when it's not with me," Greece said, sitting back and angling his body away from Japan slightly. He looked down at the fingers of his right hand played with a porcelain shard from his own broken plate.
How did everyone know everything about his private life? There had only been one other person and people knew! Japan suddenly found himself leaning forward, bracing his hands on the edge of his chair, and he shook his head urgently. "I do. America and I were trying to heal. It was hard, and we didn't know what to do, and that helped. But we both had control because we both knew it was that and nothing more. When it was done, it was done, and we walked away!"
"When we were done, it ended up being done too, didn't it?" It was strange how hard Greece's voice could be while still being so soft.
"It wasn't, because I'm sitting here with you and not with America!" Japan exclaimed, and that was the point at which he realized how much he'd said without meaning to, and how loudly he'd said it. He hadn't exactly yelled it, but he realized that Germany, who hadn't moved off to the rest of the house because Italy had been asleep on him for at least the past hour, had cracked one eye open and quirked an eyebrow at him. He snapped his mouth shut, looking down as a wave of heat washed over his face, and a moment later there was a hand encircling his wrist and Greece was pushing his chair back and standing.
"Walk with me." Japan hesitated for only a moment before slipping his feet back into the sandals he'd long since left under the table and standing to follow. They were silent as they left the house, and when Greece's hand finally slipped away from his, Japan felt a stab of disappointment.
The street outside was nearly deserted and surprisingly quiet; perhaps the rows of tall buildings on either side of it acted as buffers from the sounds of the rest of the world. They were apparently on the same page as to which way they were going; they took a right out the wrought iron gate and a moment later the cat that had been following Greece all day caught up with them and decided that it was her job to lead the way. They were quiet for a few minutes, and they were used to comfortable silences together, but this one didn't seem to fit the bill. It was too much, and they both drew breath at once and spoke at the same time.
"Japan—" "I'm sorry."
They looked at each other and slowed down a little. Japan stared up at Greece for a second, then glanced at the cat, which had not slowed, and used that as a pretext to speed up again. "I am sorry," he reiterated as Greece took a couple quick steps to pick up. "I know I can't fix it, but I mean it. I'm sorry."
"You can fix it," Greece said. "Next time, just don't deny it."
Japan's head turned immediately to look up at him in surprise, and then he quickly looked away. His heartbeat had been a little off all evening, but now he could feel it pounding. Maybe Greece meant next time he was teased about them. Maybe Greece meant next time they slept together. Japan wasn't sure which one he hoped for.
That's a lie. You know damn well.
"Denial hasn't done me any good so far," he admitted, letting his head hang a little so his bangs would hide his face. "I don't know why I ever bothered in the first place."
"Because you were used to running away from your problems," Greece offered. Japan pursed his lips, because he immediately knew that Greece was right. There was no other excuse for holing up at home for two hundred years. The easiest way to deal with stress was to just avoid as many potential problems as possible, wasn't it? Sure, there were domestic ones, but he couldn't very well just crawl into a box.
Not that he hadn't, at times, considered doing so.
"You're not a problem," he said softly.
"Yes, I am." Greece slipped his hands into his pockets and sighed a little as he watched the cat leap up onto a low wall and turn to look at them, like they weren't hauling their own weight in keeping up. "To you, anything that challenges the status quo is a problem. You either stay in control at all times and try to keep things the same, or you let things take their natural course and end up having to change with them. You think change is a problem."
"I don't!" Japan countered, and the slightly frantic note in his voice was a sure sign that he knew very well that Greece was right. "You know how much I've changed! I'm still changing!" He barely noticed as they rounded a corner at the same time without even consulting each other about it.
"And look how much trouble it's gotten you in," Greece said firmly. "Two world wars, Japan. If you'd stayed at home, you could've avoided them. No one was about to bring those wars to you."
Japan stopped dead in his tracks, feeling like he'd just been dealt a slap in the face. The implication there was obvious; Japan had picked that path. Greece, on the other hand, had had those wars brought to him. When your neighborhood was on fire, you couldn't expect your house to survive without getting singed. He took a deep breath and had trouble getting enough air in as he watched Greece simply keep walking.
"What should I have done?" he called out, and he had to jog to catch up, his wooden sandals clattering against the sidewalk as he did. "We all make mistakes, and where would I be without them? Still sitting at home while everybody else competes to improve, no industry, ignoring everyone who knocks on my door and wearing these clothes every day?"
Greece stopped then, and turned around as Japan practically skidded to a halt. He looked him over, like he had to remind himself of the traditional garb Japan had brought for the wedding. Japan knew he didn't need the reminder; Greece had always been unable to hide that he liked him the best when he was at his most old-fashioned. Maybe that was part of the reason Japan had chosen to forgo the suit. "Isn't that what you wanted?" Greece asked. "Or are you happier now than you were two hundred years ago?"
The answer was immediate. Japan knew he couldn't speak for his people, who could never compare the two; he could only speak for himself. "Yes," he said quietly. He loved watching his people's ingenuity at work. He loved bringing the latest video games to America's house and trying them out before they were even released. He loved going to the movies and he loved walking through Shinjuku, even if the crowds made him relieved to get home at night. He loved his friends. He loved Greece.
More than any of those other things.
He felt his breath leave him at the realization. Or perhaps it was less of a realization than a conscious acknowledgment of something he'd always known. Of all the things he'd have missed if he'd never opened his door, and of all the things he'd miss if he ever closed it again, having a futon in his closet that always smelled like Greece would be the one he missed the most. His heart was pounding so loudly that he wasn't sure if he even got a sound out when he opened his mouth again, but it was inconsequential. Greece was motioning up at the building they'd stopped in front of, and his words managed to break through the rush in Japan's ears. "This is my hotel."
It took a moment for Japan to process that, and another moment after he looked up at the familiar façade to actually speak. "This… this is my hotel too." They must have just missed each other earlier. Greece had arrived at the church less than ten minutes after he did.
To his surprise, Greece gave him a little smile. "Good."
Japan wanted to say something more as they entered the building and crossed the nearly empty lobby. His sandals were very loud on the marble floor, even when he flexed his toes to try to stop the clattering. The cat was still following them – fortunately the concierge didn't notice – and apparently it found the noise interesting because it kept jumping at Japan's feet. Japan bent down and scooped it up into his arms, knowing that he was going to have fur all over his dry clean only clothes, and caught up with Greece at the elevator.
It really hit him, when he got to the elevator and stopped to wait for it, that a night that had started off so well had pretty well crashed and burned by this point, and now it was very close to ending and he still felt sick. Greece was leaning against the wall next to the elevator door, hands still in his pockets and making no pretenses about staring right at Japan. Despite the fact that he was feeling quite like he'd had his chest ripped open and Greece could see everything buried inside, he kept eye contact with him and merely remedied that by holding the cat closer to cover the gash.
The elevator dinged, causing Japan to jump a little bit. When the doors slid open and they got on, they reached for the buttons at the same time, and they both drew back quickly as though they needed to avoid touching each other after Greece pressed the two and Japan pressed the four. And then it appeared that Greece realized what he'd done just as Japan did, because they both turned and gave each other guilty looks at the same time.
Japan straightened up, the hand that he'd used to key the floor going back to stroking the cat's head as it nuzzled under his chin. "Greece," he began hesitantly. "You're right. I'm afraid of change. No matter how much I undergo, it still scares me when something new comes along. It's stupid for me to feel that way; I love leaving the house. But it's hard for me not to worry that when I do, I'll get carried away. Sometimes I have, for better or worse. And I'm just… not used to letting myself go."
The elevator stopped again, and Greece just smiled, though he was incapable of hiding the sadness that was behind it. "It's okay." The doors slid open, and Greece leaned in to cradle Japan's head with one hand and kiss his cheek softly. "I understand. Thanks for letting yourself go tonight. Even if it was just a little."
He pulled back and stepped out of the elevator. Japan watched him walk away as the doors began to slide shut again and then, before he knew what he was doing, his hand flew out to stop them from closing. The cat jumped out of his arms at the sudden loss of support, and the pounding of his feet on the carpet as he ran to catch up alerted Greece to his continued presence just in time for him to turn around and end up with his arms full of Japan.
Japan could feel Greece nearly lose his balance as his threw his arms around his neck and pressed their lips together as hard as he could. He wasn't sure if the noise that he muffled as he did was meant to be a word or simply a gasp of surprise, but he didn't care to let Greece go again to find out. He didn't loosen his arms even as Greece lowered him to his feet and had to bend to reach him; rather, he just took the initiative and parted his lips, inviting Greece to make the kiss a little deeper.
The invitation was immediately accepted, and Japan could hear himself sigh softly into Greece's mouth. Greece tasted a little like alcohol, but underneath that exactly like he remembered – and he was surprised that he remembered after all this time. He gladly allowed Greece's tongue to explore his mouth, and pushed back with his own as he tangled one hand in Greece's perpetually-windblown hair, and when he found himself having trouble getting enough air, it was only with great reluctance that he let go.
"I was happier earlier than I have been in a long time," he said quickly, breathless but trying to speak before Greece could get a word in edgewise. "And now I feel like walking off a pier. I want to go back to the way we were, and I promise I won't deny it in the morning."
They looked at each other for a long moment. Greece's arms tightened around Japan's waist, and in turn Japan clutched him a little bit closer. Finally Greece nodded, and just before he kissed him again, he whispered, "I think you've just taken the first step to learning how to relax. I can help you with the second."
The next morning, Japan drifted slowly into consciousness, becoming gradually more aware of a purring near his ear, a hot breath on his neck, and a warm weight on his body. When he cracked his eyes open, he was staring at the top of Greece's head with a cat's tail draped over it. Greece was lying half on top of him, his face buried in Japan's neck, and the cat (who was probably going to need a name soon) was apparently very happy to be curled around Japan's head.
Fortunately the curtains were closed, because it appeared to be rather late if the intensity of the sun on the other side was any indication. Japan glanced around the room. Their clothes were everywhere. Greece's shirt had somehow ended up on the bedside lamp, and he wasn't at all sure how that had happened. He could see his hakama thrown unceremoniously over a chair in the corner, and he sighed slightly. He was probably going to have to have them professionally re-pleated.
"You know," Greece mumbled, startling Japan slightly. He wasn't sure if he'd already been awake or had just stirred because of the movement. "And take this as a compliment, because it is… I don't think my ass has ever been this sore before."
Japan grinned before he could stop himself, and then bit his lip to try to stop. Not that it mattered. Greece couldn't see his face. "Are you always this vulgar in the morning?" Well, he realized, Greece could probably hear the grin, even if he couldn't see it.
Lifting his head, Greece rested his chin on one hand and looked at Japan sleepily. "Sometimes. It's nice. You should try it."
Japan managed to quash his grin into a little smile, though he had to look away from Greece's face to succeed even at that. He thought about it for a second, then said, "You shouldn't complain. If you had let me touch you, I wouldn't have had to fuck you twice to get you to climax."
Greece's expression was the very definition of pleasant surprise. Japan was pretty sure Greece had never heard that sort of obscenity out of him, except maybe for when they'd tried out an electric rice cooker for the first time and it had exploded on them. "Where's the fun in that, though?"
"I think there would be a lot of fun in that."
"But I felt like drawing things out."
Licking his lips, Japan finally got himself to stop smiling quite so stupidly, though the corners of his mouth were still quirked. He reached up to toy with a lock of the hair that fell in front of Greece's ears, and they lapsed into a comfortable silence for a minute. Japan just watched Greece watching him, and he didn't even feel particularly compelled to actually think about anything. Nevertheless, he eventually said, "So I was thinking last night…"
"You were?" Greece asked, raising an eyebrow. "What part were you thinking during?"
Japan looked down, and he huffed a little and admitted, "The part when you were… you know, with my nipples."
"I liked that part."
Japan gave Greece a little slap on the arm, because the more he thought about things like that the more aroused he got, and he'd already been a little aroused when he woke up, and if he got too aroused they might end up staying in bed all day. He wasn't sure why that was a bad thing, but there must've been a reason it was. "Well I was thinking during it, and I thought that maybe instead of trying to moderate my whole life, I can moderate how often I don't moderate myself."
Greece gave a short, breathy laugh. "I think that's a great idea."
"So maybe just once or twice a day."
Furrowing his eyebrows, Japan pulled back a little, though Greece was still lying on him so it was a little difficult. "Is that not enough?" He had a pretty high-carb diet, but he also had obligations and he just wasn't sure if he had the energy for more than that.
"I think you're massively overestimating me."
Shaking his head, Japan tried not to smile as he leaned in and kissed Greece softly. "Well, I'm trying to make myself accessible, since I'll have to be enough for you now."
Greece stared at him for a second, then laughed a bit and settled down again to bury his face in Japan's neck. "Don't be ridiculous. I wouldn't have waited this long if you weren't enough."