Disclamer: I do not own Hetalia: Axis Powers or any of its characters.
A/N: Seriously. These two are so repressed.
A small silence followed soon after. England stiffened in his seat as he stared at America--who sat across from him--with uncertain eyes. The two cups of tea that England had poured earlier sat untouched on the conference table, their contents cooling by the second. Outside, the orange hue from the approaching sunset shone through the window beside America, illuminating the golden rims of the teacups. However, neither of them were in the blasé mood to comment on its beauty.
"So you…" England cleared his throat for the fifth time. "You think it's best if we…"
"--Converge our social and political objectives, yeah." America repeated, although a little less confidently than before. He glanced down and twiddled at his thumbs. "You know, like. Working together. And stuff."
Something fogged up England's eyes and he began wonder if he was dreaming. Well, it's not that he didn't believe what was happening; just that America was definitely the least likely person to give such an offer. I mean, it's not that they were enemies. But they weren't really allies, either. Somewhere along the line, they've become less and less hostile towards each other—but only to a certain extent. Something held him back from progressing further. Things he didn't want to think about.
"And? What brought on this sudden change of heart?"
"I just thought…well, I mean…I know that ever since my Revolution, all the times we've met in the past have ended, um…" America's eyes shifted from place to place: the door, the cup, his fidgeting hands, and his black shoes— but never up to England's face. "…Pretty badly."
England couldn't help but bite his lips to alleviate the heavy atmosphere. "I can't say I disagree," he managed to reply. Fleeting scenes of their past conflicts flashed in his memory; the inevitable confrontation on the dawn of America's independence; the War of 1812, their disputes regarding Canada's borders, and the continuous animosity between the two nations.
"I mean, I hate to admit it, but you were a huge bastard—"
"Hate to admit?" England interrupted, sitting up. The legs of the chair scraped the wooden floor cacophonously at the sudden shift in weight. He was sure the mood was turning ugly, fast. "Considering what you've done to me in the past, I'd say you made yourself quite clear on how you felt about the United Kingdom."
A familiar spark of defiance lit in America's eyes and the volume in his voice steadily increased. "Hey, it's your fault for acting like one! You forced me to stop trading with France because of your stupid European brawl—"
"You were that ardent on me losing the war? France was out to conquer the entire European continent, and you didn't give a damn, did you?"
"You even went so far as to side with the enemy later—"
"The enemy--I supported the Native Americans to stop you from taking every piece of land in your path like a greedy, heinous—!"
"I'm my own sovereign nation now! What I do shouldn't concern you!"
"Well, It does, because—" And at that point, both England and America knew this conversation was treading into the familiar arguments; arguments that always ended in copious amounts of punchy-grabby-kicky-fighting. It took all of England's willpower to clamp his teeth together, only letting a grunt of indignation pass through his lips. He hoped America would, reluctantly or not, hold his tongue. So when he saw the anger on America's face disappear only to be replaced by a tugging smile, he was--least to say--quite surprised.
"I had a feeling this would happen." A chuckle escaped America's lips. "We've never been able to talk civilly in the past, have we?"
Finally, England managed to crack a grin. Oh God. When was the last time he smiled at America's presence? Far too long, because his lips felt like an old, broken down machine that hadn't been used for centuries. "Perhaps."
"It's been a rough time for the both of us for more than a century, but…" As each word left his mouth, however, America grew quieter and more hesitant; the nearly whole-hearted smile now but a distant memory, as if a child was uncertain about the suitability of an obscure topic. "We weren't like that before I…broke off."
Oh no. Not this. Since the end of the Revolutionary War, their relationship before war had always been a touchy subject to bring up. Already, England felt the familiar tense air returning to weigh down on his shoulders. It threatened to crush him into oblivion, to plunge him into a pit of pitch black. However, he knew both he and America had to cope with the discomfort. Rigidly, he nodded for America to continue.
"And I just felt, maybe, that…uh…it's not right to leave things the way they are." American then added, "You know?"
"The way they are," England repeated, taking in a sharp breath—he swore America flinched at the harsh inhale.
"I mean…I didn't ask for all those…disagreements—" England barely held back a humorous scoff at his understatement, "--to happen after the war. Well, I didn't know if you did, but--" America added quickly as he tugged at his collar awkwardly, "Things have calmed down recently, and, well, I just thought we could work together. Like before—" he paused. "Well, not before before, because that was when I was under your control—when I didn't have my—"
"Yes, I get it, America." England cut him off of his ramblings. Despite everything, he still had the time to be exasperated at America. And somehow, that drew out a small smirk. "Do continue."
"Right," America tried to slacken his stiff shoulders. "And it's just…I feel that--Oh, fuck it." He made a move to rip out his own hair—quite painfully at that--but thought better not to. He kicked his ankle over his knee and eyed England with stern desperation. There was a glint of a need for response. "I've been rambling on for the past ten minutes. What about—I want to know how you feel about all this."
Bloody hell. England wasn't ready to respond. At all. Everything in his mind was still swimming sluggishly around like a half-melted smoothie. He hastily gathered up his thoughts, most which were something similar to What am I supposed to say Fuck this is awkward America you're an idiot for putting me in the spotlight--
"America, I—" he paused. "I don't think it's a…bad idea."
America's eyes lit up.
England smiled and reached for the teacup's handle. Think diplomatically, think business-like. Right. "Well, it's only natural," he said. "English is our indigenous language, we're the leading democracies in the world—"
England stopped before he brought the cup to his lips. "Huh?"
America coughed. "No, nothing." America cursed at himself for making his disappointment so obvious. "I, um. I just…"
England blinked. America bit his lip and managed to spit out, "Is that the only reason? You know," he clarified, seeing confusion grow on England's face. "About working together again."
England's smile fell, just a little bit. But just a little bit, his cheeks grew pink. It was a subtle difference, but America took note of it immediately. "…There's no other reason," he nearly croaked, setting down the cup.
Right, so this conversation was going nowhere.
Well, America might as well start the initiative. "England," he said. England averted his eyes.
"England, look at me."
And so he did.
"I don't care about all that," America spoke quietly. "Speaking English, democracies--that's stuff I'd consider after."
England managed to scoff. "That's hard to believe when you're ranting to me about how beautiful and wonderful your democracy is every other day."
America smirked. "Maybe it's 'bout time you get rid of your smelly old monarch?"
"Get off my case about that, you bloody ingrate," England shot back with a similar grin. "Who's the one with all the colonies and a growing empire?"
America burrowed his brows together. "Democracies are too cool for empires."
England was barely able to suppress a face palm; instead, he chuckled. America's smile curved even more. Ah. England hadn't laughed with America in so long. Something like nostalgia grasped at his heart.
And of course, the laughter eventually died down. England sensed that America needed to continue; he knew America needed to stop from letting that thin thread of vulnerability between the two from breaking apart, he knew America needed to explain to England—
"Look at how we're talking," America began; and once again, England glanced away from his stare, but he was listening, taking in what America was saying, word by word. "Look at how we talk without fear of what we're saying. This is what I want. I want to stop all this fighting and suspicion." He took in a shaky breath, as if trying to coax the words out of his chest.
"I just want to…stand alongside you again."
A heavy silence fell between the two.
England had been clutching at the tea cup for some time until his knuckles turned white. He glanced down at the tea and saw his dumbfounded face reflecting back.
England lifted his head.
"Is that how you felt?" America's face was bright red, and he was almost glaring at England for making him say something so embarrassing.
"…In less cheesier terms," England muttered finally. "Yes, that's what I wanted to say."
America sneered. "At least I was able to speak my mind."
"That's just because—let's not get into this," England sighed, rubbing his temples with his thumb and forefinger. "I did want to resolve all that rancor between us for the past century, but I didn't know you'd…also feel--I thought you were still resentful of what had happened, and…"
America grinned, and England swore he saw a glint reflected from the sun. "Well, you won't know until you try telling me."
"Now aren't you sounding bloody clichéd today?"
"Shut up, cranky old man."
England simply chose to take a sip from his tea.
America played with his own tea cup. "So, we're allies now, right?"
England lifted an eyebrow. "The answer's pretty obvious, isn't it?"
"…So we are?"
"Of course, you git!"
"Wow, England. I didn't know you'd be so enthusiastic about it."
"I'm not—that's preposterous—as if I would be—"
"So do I get a hug or something? You know, to commemorate the great rapprochement?"
England scoffed. "Pretty big words you're using, America."
"So no hug?"
"…How about a handshake?"
America rolled his eyes as he stood up. "Fine."
England lifted himself out of his chair and held out his hand somewhat stiffly. Grinning, America accepted it.
"Yes, well. Congratulations to—" England started, before America jerked his arm back, throwing England to him.
"America, what are you—let me go you little—ow you're crushing my back—"
"Jeez, relax England! You can't even handle a hug?"
England grumbled, "Not one from you, at least. Now, are you quite finished?"
"No, not yet. Live the moment, will you?"
Somehow, England managed to not bash the American with a nearby inanimate object. Perhaps it was the sensation of America's soft, golden hair tickling his nose; perhaps it was the long-forgotten smell of America suddenly overwhelming him; perhaps it was America nearly choking the life out of him; perhaps it was all of them. Reluctantly, England lifted his arms and rested them around America's back. Was it always this broad?
America didn't let go. "What for?"
"For coming back to me."
"…You're not saying that I'm your colony again, are you?"
"No, not like that—! I'm talking about--I mean…well, you know what I mean."
England felt America's smile. "Yeah, I do."
The two fell silent.
"…So you going to let go me go anytime soon?"
The Great Rapprochement, a term usually attributed to Bradford Perkins, is used to describe the convergence of social and political objectives between the United States and the British Empire in the two decades before World War I.
I guess you could call this the older version of the Special Relationship?
Yeah, look that up on Wikipedia too.
I might be wrong with the history here; by the 1890s, I'm sure the relations between Britain and the United States were better than I had portrayed in my fanfiction. The War of 1812 and the Napoleonic Wars were both a while back, and they hadn't gotten into any more trouble since then. Or so I'm aware of.
Oh boy, War of 1812. France and his super short boss (Napoleon's my height, can you believe it?) were pretty much pwning everything in sight. And when Britain found out that America was trading with France, Britain restricted to impeded their trade. We can guess how America felt about that. Furthermore, Britain had sent soldiers to help the Native Americans resist the expansion of American settlers. We can guess how America felt about that, too. And ta-da, we got the War of 1812.
Sorry guys, not a lot of fluff. But really, should there be fluff when the two just got over their awkwardness with each other? Nah.