Something In The Way
Disclaimer: Still not mine!
They say the road to hell is paved with good intentions, and looking back, America had to wonder if France knew this when he decided to confront him.
It had started off innocently enough, at least.
"My dear Amerique, just when are you going to put Angleterre out of his misery?" France quipped out of the blue one day.
Why France was there in the first place was beyond America, he was only supposed to meet briefly with England, to discuss their current situation or something, but there was France regardless. At least he wasn't trying to reach into his pants…yet.
"You shot who in the what now?" America replied with a blank look. France's moonspeak never failed to confuse him.
"L'amour, Amerique! You must reach out and take what is yours!" France made a grand display of interpretive gestures and using the lighting to achieve the perfect dramatic effect.
Too bad it was all lost on America.
"Dude, I'm totally not following you." His brow furrowed.
"You two are truly perfect for each other," France muttered under his breath as he rubbed his temples with one hand, then raised his voice. "Please, for big brother's…for everyone's sake, just…tell England you're in love with him. We can't take much more of your sexual tension complicating already complicated meetings."
America froze. "In love with England?" He laughed nervously. What the hell, weren't those his secret feelings that he hid so well? So why did France know? "Have you finally snapped? Eaten too many snails and frogs' legs or something? As if I'd even be friends with that prickly bastard!"
As if on cue, England entered the room before France could respond. He looked around the room and seemed to steel himself as he caught sight of America. It might have been America's imagination, but his hair seemed to be styled just so, and his suit tailored to perfection. He had a look in his eye…vulnerability? as he approached.
"Ah, America, there you are. May I speak with you? Alone." He accentuated the last word with a pointed look in France's direction, who merely smirked knowingly in return.
This is it, America thought, and panic set in. That vulnerable look could only mean one thing, and damn France for smirking like that, because he wanted to hear what England had to say so badly but he couldn't lose face after he had just denied having any feelings for him. So he did the only thing he could do.
"Why…why would I want to be alone with you? Ha ha! You're a stuffy asshole and your cooking sucks. No wonder it's always raining at your place! You're damned depressing!"
You could hear a pin drop in the silence that followed, and America would have sworn that time had stopped if England's vulnerable expression wasn't slowly dissolving into a cold, but calm storm.
"…I see. If that's the way you feel, then you just saved me the trouble of making a fool of myself."
"Wha-" Take it back, take it back, his mind screamed, but his tongue seemed to be glued to the roof of his mouth, and his limbs frozen in place, leaving him completely powerless to stop England from turning away.
"Good day then, America. Believe me when I say you won't have to worry about being alone with me ever again."
The finality of the statement, coupled with England's icy tone, made America's heart lurch, but his body still wouldn't cooperate with his brain until England was long gone. He swallowed hard and wondered if he shouldn't run after him, when a clap on his shoulder brought him back to reality.
"Congratulations, mon cher. You truly are an idiot."
At that moment he couldn't bring himself to disagree.
But he figured it would be easy enough to patch things up with England, even take things further! England would most likely drown himself in alcohol and leave himself wide open to a sneak attack where America could sweep him off his feet and assure their mutual happiness. Yes, it would be a piece of cake!
But when he later heard that England was challenging Spain and France to a game of Risk, he knew he should probably back off for awhile.
After his conquest of Spain and France, England had swept across the whole of Europe like a wildfire, demanding Risk matches wherever he went and leaving terror in his wake. It didn't take long for the rumors of his scorned love to circulate, and everyone knew who the perpetrator was.
America spent most of that time alone with his thoughts, away from the accusations and the dirty looks. He was beating himself up enough without the rest of the world joining in. At any rate, it gave him time to reflect on the past and what he might have missed along the way.
He might have always been in love with England, even back when he was just a scared child peering through the grass at the strange newcomers, but even for as fast as he grew up, he hadn't recognized his feelings for what they were until he was much, much older. And he remembered, very clearly, seeing England step off that ship, and the immeasurable joy he had felt in his heart at the sight. When he was finally taller, big enough to bowl England over and squash him with the weight of his delighted hug.
Old enough to know that he couldn't bear to live with things the way they were.
He had rebelled for his people, for their sake, but also for himself. He didn't want to be England's "little brother", the one he took care of. He wanted to be on equal ground with him, someone he could love, really love.
He hadn't expected England to take it as badly as he did, and cause that seemingly impassable rift between them for those many years to come afterward. It was painful, but he eventually gave up on hoping that England might love him, even as a little brother, ever again. It's easier to push someone away and not risk getting hurt than to hope against hope that they might feel the same.
But England had always been there in recent history, hadn't he? Never giving up on him no matter what stupid things he did? Had he taken that for granted? Had the signs been there all along and he had just been too stupid (too afraid?) to notice them?
He couldn't stop thinking of England on that day. That styled hair, that perfect suit, that vulnerable hope in his eyes…
But now he had pissed him off to the point where he wondered if England wouldn't revert back to his former imperializing self. That was a scary thought.
The only option at that point, he decided, was to make it up to England. Show that he hadn't been foolish to hope that America would accept and return his feelings. Show that Hollywood happy endings weren't anything to scoff at.
Besides, it was about time he owned up to his feelings for England.
Being with him for even a moment was akin to several sunny days on a beach in July (even when they were at each others' throats, or, if he was being honest with himself, especially when they were at each others' throats), but he'd sooner shoot himself than ever say that out loud. And anyway, it had been his own words that had been his undoing in the first place. Nothing to it but to use the words of others.
And what better way to do so than through song?
This time, he thought, his plan really was perfect.
But as they say, the road to hell is paved with good intentions.
He wasn't too proud to admit that his first attempt at mending things with England had crashed and burned in spectacular flames.
For a time after England's "European conquest", America had been afraid that news of pirate attacks would include something about the ships flying a Jolly Roger that looked suspiciously like the Union Jack, but England had apparently calmed down. Enough that he even deigned to accompany his boss on a visit to the States.
America had been antsy during the meeting of their bosses, amicable though it had been, and anxious to get England alone.
That was his big chance, and in his excitement at the opportunity he hadn't really thought things through (well, even less so than usual). When they were all enjoying a drink in a local bar later, America rather hurriedly scoured the jukebox list for something to properly convey his feelings and remorse at what he'd done. A song titled "Since U Been Gone" caught his eye. With a title like that, it could only express what he wanted to say, right? Kelly Clarkson, the first winner of his American Idol, wouldn't let him down!
With a smile, he punched the button and turned to address England.
"Hey England, this song's for you!"
There was a glimmer of hopeful curiosity in England's eyes, and everyone fell silent to listen to America's dedication.
But then as the song played, a horrible realization came over him. This was definitely not the kind of song he wanted England to hear! Meanwhile Miss Clarkson went ahead singing, "Since you've been gone I can breathe for the first time. I'm so moving on, yeah yeah."
"You sodding bastard-!"
It had taken nearly the whole bar to pry England off America before he killed the younger nation.
After some hasty negotiations, and a whole lot of effort to appease the enraged England, it was then agreed that America and England would not both be present in any subsequent meetings between their bosses. At least not until America learned some tact.
But America wouldn't let that deter him in the slightest, rather he steeled himself with new resolve. He'd stick with his plan, only this time he decided he'd sing the song himself. That way he'd have to check the lyrics first.
It had been years since he'd touched it, but his guitar was still in good shape, if a little out of tune. America knew that the other nations would scoff if they knew he owned one, believing his music was only good for rap, country and irritating pop. Of course, if they brought this up to him, he'd be all to happy to remind them that rock music had been born in the good old US of A.
He liked to look back fondly on those days, when life seemed simple and rock and roll was being formed from other classic styles of his people. He too had rocked around the clock, followed Elvis's music religiously, gone down to the beaches to enjoy surf music and mourned "the day the music died."
He plucked a few strings on his guitar as he carefully tuned it, and when a chord produced the perfect sound, he couldn't help but belt out one of the King's classics.
"Well, since my baby left me-" Strum strum! "I found a new place to dwell-" Strum strum! "It's down at the end of lonely street at heartbreak hotel!" He smirked to himself, satisfied. Still got it.
Then came the "British Invasion" that changed the face of rock music again. Not that he'd minded. After all, he had screamed just as loud as any girl (louder probably, in fact) when the Beatles had landed in New York and greeted the United States for the first time. He'd just never admit that he had swooned, nearly fainted, when he swore that John had looked his way.
Although America still liked his own classics the best, he decided it would mean more if he a picked a song that came from England. And so found America flipping through old guitar tabs he had collected and idly playing through them to get a feel for the song, scrunching his nose in distaste at some, and scribbling down the names of others to consider later.
Finally when he was about to give up and go back over his list of "to considers", he found it. Rather by accident, but he found it. It had been the guitar riff (hey! He knew that one!) that had caught his attention, and as he played through the rest of the song and read the lyrics, he knew that he'd have England like putty in his hands before the song was even finished.
Feeling confident, he practiced for days so he'd get it just right.
Since the agreement between their bosses meant he couldn't bug England while he was doing official business, America opted to wait in the park he knew England liked to pass through on his way home.
Sure enough, after a time there was England, talking to the air and looking in good spirits until he spotted America, where his face fell into a murderous glare. America remembered that look from long, long ago. Not that he'd ever been the recipient (England's expression for him was always full of love in those days), but when he'd look at France or Spain, on the other hand…
"You'd even disobey your boss, America?" England asked coldly and started to push past him.
America grabbed his arm and tried to smile brightly. "I'm really, really sorry about what happened, England! So I want to make it up to you!"
"I don't have the time or patience for your antics anymore, now release me!" He struggled against America's hold and shot him a warning look.
"Come on, England. Please?" Time to pull out his secret weapon: the kicked puppy look. Even if England was infuriated with him he couldn't resist that look.
England ceased struggling and kept America's gaze for a few heated moments, but finally let out a resigned sigh. "You have five minutes."
America's face lit up instantly as he finally released England's arm. "Great! That's all I need, I swear!"
But as soon as America ran to retrieve his guitar and amp, England rolled his eyes and turned to leave again. "Oh bloody hell, no-"
Once again America ran after him and put on a full strength kicked puppy look. "Wait! Wait! Hear me out, all right? I promise it's worth it!"
"Five minutes, America." He repeated, not even bothering to hide his annoyance, folding his arms and furrowing his large eyebrows.
"I won't even need that much! Promise!"
America quickly set up the amp, old, but still enough to do the private concert he had planned, and took his guitar in hand. He smiled winningly at England and started to play what he'd practiced so long and so hard. He'd barely started the song when England raised his eyebrow in recognition and lowered his arms. America smirked in return. That's right, he thought, Eric Clapton, one of your boys.
"What'll you do when you get lonely and no one's waiting by your side? You've been running and hiding much too long. You know it's just your foolish pride."
He knew his voice wasn't the best, and definitely couldn't compare to the man who originally sang the song, but as long as his message got through to England, that's all that mattered. Said nation had an unreadable expression on his face, but he wasn't scowling and that murderous intent wasn't in his eyes, so America pressed on to the chorus.
"Arrrrrrthurrrr!" He sang it just like he'd practiced: raw. With pure emotion. "You've got me on my knees! Arthur! I'm begging, darling please! Arthur! Darling, won't you ease my worried mind?"
He was getting caught up in the music, so much that he ceased to be aware of his surroundings, even the one he was singing the song for. Before he knew it, he was falling into an impromptu guitar solo. He felt euphoric, and getting so caught up in a song was something he hadn't experienced in a long time.
He wasn't sure how much time had passed when he finally came out of the euphoria like a dream. It was clear, however, that England was gone and a wide-eyed Sealand was in his place, along with a sizeable crowd of curious park-goers.
"That was so cool!!" Sealand exclaimed as the crowd erupted into applause. America flushed and, panicked, scanned the crowd for familiar blond hair and bushy eyebrows, but found no trace of England. Dejected, he cursed enough to make a sailor cry and gathered up the guitar and amp. He hadn't even finished the song or sung the part that really meant something.
Next time he'd just have to pick a song whose guitar riff wasn't so damned catchy.
Since England wouldn't even give him the time of day anymore, America had to resort to desperate measures, as well as desperate songs. His attempts at various British Invasion artists continued to fail spectacularly, in particular that one time he jumped out of the bushes in front of England and nearly caused an international incident. Or that time he had tried to serenade him under his window. Or the time in the tearoom when he destroyed all that precious china.
He liked to not think about those.
So when things got particularly desperate, he suddenly remembered he had a brother to the north. Good old Canada would help him in his predicament!
"He's going to think I'm you, it won't work."
"Nah, that'll never happen! This plan is perfect, you'll see!"
"…Why do you always remember I exist when it's most convenient for you?"
But in the end Canada had no choice but to give into his brother's convincing argument (by which he meant that America wouldn't stop asking him until he finally agreed). The plan was that Canada would invite England over for a visit, where America would spring his last ditch effort to confess his feelings through song.
England had agreed, much to Canada's, and even a little to America's, surprise. He was due in the next day, which left Canada now joining America in the hunt for the perfect song in the midst of the sea of guitar tabs now scattered in his guest bedroom.
"I could always try 'Layla' again."
"And risk a repeat of last time?"
"…I wouldn't do that again. But maybe it's better I don't try that one again, don't want England to think I'm a one trick pony-oh! How about this one? I'm Henry the eighth, I am! Henry the eighth, I am I am!"
America beamed at Canada, who stared deadpan back at him for a few quiet moments.
"So we should start planning your funeral now instead, you're saying?"
America stuck his lips out in a pout. "You're no fun." But he cast that song aside anyway, although he continued to hum it until he loudly declared "second verse, same as the first!" and received a pillow to the face for his trouble.
They continued to search in relative silence, save for quiet humming or the pluck of strings on America's guitar, until Canada came across what he felt was the perfect song. With a triumphant smile, he picked up the sheet and held it out to America.
"Assuming he'll even stick around to listen, why don't you play this one for him? It's nice, eh?"
America leaned over to see what song Canada had picked out and frowned. Out of the corner of his eye, he could swear he saw Canada's gaze flick to something else, but he didn't think much of it. Probably just that bear that he was always carrying around like a kid with his security blanket.
"I can't. It's too sappy. He'd probably think I was being patronizing or something if I did. He…needs to know that I really mean it."
America looked so dejected that Canada couldn't help but soften his expression into a sympathetic smile.
"You never know until you try."
"I have my pride to think of, too, you know."
"Wasn't that what got you into trouble in the first place? Come on, let's hear it anyway."
America paused. It really was a good song to express how he felt, even with the sappiness that came with it. Besides, there was no harm in performing the song with only his little brother for an audience, right? It might feel good, cathartic even, to get the words out.
Canada was smiling expectantly, and with one last pointed look, America adjusted his guitar and started to play.
"Something in the way he moves-" America closed his eyes and just let the music, and the feelings that came with it, wash over him.
"Attracts me like no other lover." Centuries, centuries, of spurning England's advances out of fear that it wasn't love, but imperialism that drove him. Centuries of accepting that his love would bear no fruit, but it was all right as long as England stayed near him. One moment of his stupid mouth to ruin it all.
"Something in the way he woos me..." With disgusting scones and that…what did Japan call it? Tsundere attitude of his. And presents on his birthday although it made him physically ill. Chocolate on Valentine's day and-
"I don't want to leave him now-"
"You know I believe and how," another voice from behind finished for him. The last voice he wanted to hear at that moment. He blanched as he turned around and found himself face to face with England.
Oh shit, he thought and dropped the guitar.
Vaguely he might have heard a voice saying it would leave the two of them alone, but the source of the voice had already been completely forgotten, even without the vanishing act he was known for.
"Ha ha, hey, England! Wassup?"
"Wassup? Really, didn't I teach you better than that?" There was exasperation in his voice and mannerisms, but there was what could only be described as terrified hope in his eyes.
"Ah ha ha, yeah…What are you doing here, anyway?" Just how long had he been standing there?!
"Canada invited me, and I could ask you the same thing."
Canada. America finally tore his gaze away from England and scoured the room for his little brother. Had the little rat known about this? Had he planned it? Oh, when he got his hands on him he'd-
England clearing his throat snapped America back to the reality that England was standing right there and he'd heard him. He swallowed thickly.
"So, uh…was there something I could do for you?"
"Hmm. I was thinking I wouldn't mind hearing you make a mockery of the rest of George's song. Don't get me wrong, it's just that it would be a shame to not finish it, hmm?" His expression was carefully blank as he took the spot previously occupied by Canada, folding his hands in his lap expectantly.
"I…" Crap crap crap crap. It figured he'd want to hear the song America least wanted to play for him. Now that he had England's attention, he could always play one of the other songs he had been practicing, cop out though it may be. But that hopeful look was still in his eyes and he was wringing his hands and he wanted to hear the rest of the song and-
With slightly shaky hands, he picked his guitar up from where it had fallen on the floor (no damage, he noted with relief) and continued from where he'd left off, voice quavering a little as he did.
"Somewhere in his smile, he knows…that I don't need no other lover." America stole a glance at England, whose expression had softened somewhat, and those hands of his were likely to twist themselves into knots with the way he was wringing them.
"Something in his style that shows me…I don't want to leave him now, you know I believe and how."
He chanced a smile at England, the now dreamy look on the older nation's face immediately hardening into a stern frown. His resolve coming back, America sang the bridge with more feeling and fortitude. He felt this part of the song was particularly true.
"You're asking me, will my love grow? I don't know. I don't know."
I can't promise you forever, England…
"You stick around now it may show. I don't know. I don't know."
…but please stay by my side anyway.
He hoped the meaning could come through.
As he played the brief guitar solo, he noticed that England had apparently abandoned all pretense and was watching him with open…vulnerability. Ah yes, there it was again, but America wouldn't screw it up this time.
"Something in the way he knows…and all I have to do is think of him." England by this point had moved so he was right in front of America, and steadily leaning forward.
"Something in the things he shows me…"
He could only mutely watch as England delicately plucked the guitar from his hands and placed it to the side and he was getting so close. America's heart was pounding in his ears and his throat felt thick.
England was a mere breath away, so America could see in his eyes, plain as day, so much love. Had he really been so stupid to not notice it before now?
"I don't want to leave him now-"
"You know I believe and how," England breathlessly finished for him again and closed the distance between them. Next thing America knew was he was on his back, bushy eyebrows and the ceiling above him, and a very eager mouth on his. What choice did he have but to return the sentiment just as eagerly?
God, England was a good kisser, but this observation didn't come without a pang of jealousy. How many people had he kissed or how many kisses had he shared to get this good? Well, he'd simply have to try his damndest to make sure England would never have to kiss anyone else ever again.
"Ah…England-?" It took some doing to even get the one word out around the very insistent lips pressing against his.
"Mm. Yes?" England, meanwhile, seemed more preoccupied with making up for the all the years they hadn't been kissing, and barely pulled away to reply. Regrettably, America had to wrench his head away to say what he wanted to say.
"Why this song? Although I tried all those times…"
"Bloody git. Put your mouth to good use for once, won't you?" But he was smiling. He brushed their foreheads, their noses, together and, after catching his breath, continued. "This time you were actually being sincere. You weren't trying too hard, you weren't being obnoxious or over the top. You just…were."
That answer satisfied America and he lifted his head to kiss England again, but abruptly stopped.
"Wait, this isn't right."
The color drained from England's face and he assumed a look of horror, but only momentarily, as he seemed to understand the real meaning. In one swift movement, he shifted onto his back and pulled America on top of him.
"Mm. Much." And he leaned forward to capture his lips once again.
And this was how Canada found them shortly after. He had to admit it was rather disturbing to find his brother and former mentor making out on his guest bedroom floor, but he had to thank his lucky stars that was all they were doing for now. Besides, it was about damn time. America would have to thank him later for inviting England that day instead of the following one.
Smiling to himself, he closed the door with a soft click.