A/N: I almost don't feel like I have to apologize for any OOC-ness here... I mean, I've essentially screwed canon backwards anyway with this fic...

It was supposed to be inspired by the song "Should Be Loved" by Blue October, but ended up sounding more like a country song.

Also, based on a RP I'm doing with Josephine Falnor. Not canon for the RP, either, just using the concepts we had in mind. Also, you should know that in the RP, FemChina is not a slut. She is actually incredibly proper and hugely tormented by her relationship with Russia. So... yeah.


His bed smells familiar. Like sweat and vodka, like his breath and her hair. She's laid on her back against this bed so many times. It shouldn't bother her so much these days. But it does. For some reason, it does. It always takes her back to being on his sofa, to being discovered, to being betrayed and hurt. It reminds her of tears, of exhaustion.

He sleeps with his arm around her, his face nestled into the curve of her shoulder. His breathing is slow and steady, like constant sighing. She sighs, too, though more intentionally. She's tired of him most days, because it wears her out to try to read his mood.

The nights are always darker in his country than in hers. He lives isolated, his house is tucked away down an off road, hidden by the snow. She makes dinner, they eat, he reads, she cleans, and then she lets herself be taken. He never tires of it. She puts up an effort to resist sometimes, when she truly isn't in the mood, but for the most part, he has his way with her.

"I like to see you struggle, gosling," he says, always with the same smile when she bothers to ask him to be gentler, to not twist her arm so roughly. "It reminds me you're still awake under your eyes."

He says insane things like this frequently. She can only nod. "Of course I am, aru. How can I sleep without closing my eyes?"

"You find a way, gosling, I know you do." And then he kisses her roughly, and she feels like she might just float away from her body and go home. Her home is never lonely. It sits in a village and is never want for passers-by.

When he lets her go there, the rare times he does, she revels in it. She reads in her own language, gardens, and does her work. Her bed is always clean and the right temperature, never sticky, never over-warm. She never thought it was possible to be too warm in Russia's nation, but he wraps himself so tightly around her in their sleep, refuses to let her go, and forces her to be uncomfortably hot in the middle of the night. She wakes up sweating, shaking from the nightmares and memories.

When she is at home, America can visit. She loves it when he visits. He has the silliest expression and the cutest glasses and he lets her be on top. She will never admit to Russia that she is tempted by America's capitalism, by the money, by the power she feels when she's with this man.

"China, babe, why don't you ever come back to my Nation with me?" he asks, his beautiful blue-eyes full of stupidity. That's one thing that Russia has: a quiet kind of intelligence. He hides it under the never-fading child's smile and soft voice, but it's there. And it can be deadly. China is never worried that America will be dangerous.

"I told you, aru," she says over and over, wondering why he cannot be content to just let her lay with him, finally on top, finally able to hear the heart-beat of her lover, her face against his strong chest. She cherishes these moments. She wants to live in the now. "I have to be loyal."

"You call this loyal?" he asks, grinning. His smile is never fake, never a cover, but it often stings the same. "China… I think what you do with me is the very essence of cheating. You know… the opposite of loyalty?"

"I know!" she snaps, standing up, getting her robe. She can feel his eyes follow her, and she smiles. His lust is the good kind, the gentle, submissive kind. She can feel desirable when she's with him. Not broken, not used. "But… Politically. I must be loyal. He needs me."

"Needs you for what?"

"For the same reason you need me."

"Come on…" America sounds so sincere when he's trying to get her back in bed. That's a similarity the two men she loves share. "I'm not using you like he is. I'm the hero, remember? I don't use people."

"You don't think you use people, you mean, aru," China corrects him, "Now, what do you want to eat?"

"Whatever you're cooking."

That's the other thing about America that's so nice: he's so easy to please. He likes her food, the smell of her house, her culture. He wants to take pieces of it. Russia rejects most of her, preferring her as a woman rather than a Nation. He hates her food, and he doesn't remember her house, no matter how many times he was there as a child.

Russia was a sweet child. Always timid and thoughtful. He was clumsy, loved flowers, and spent hours in China's kitchen, trying to be as helpful as he could. And just when China was sure that she had done something right with him, he had simply vanished. Years and years went by before she found him again, and years more before he showed an interest in her. To the very moment, she has no idea what she did wrong.

How did her sweet sunflower child become what he is? She forces herself not to think about it when America is around. He is a pleasant distraction, a charming fling, and a tempting offer, but she has to have loyalties.

The train-rides back to Russia's country are always heartbreaking. She watches her livelihood disappear behind her and the scenery descend into the color of dried grass. She is sure there is beauty in the Nation somewhere, but she cannot find it. So she chooses to find it in the man. Perhaps he does the same for her.

And he truly is beautiful. Waiting at the train station with a bouquet or a hair-pin, or another pretty trinket… Once even a dress… He looks like a Prince Charming, a gentle giant, a loveable bear. But Princes kill to keep power, giants crush without knowing, and bears have claws for mauling. Nothing ever lasts for the better.

So she lays with him and feels crushed under his weight and sickened by his compliments and even prefers for him to simply hit her rather than try to win her over. She has a scar on her arm from one of his accidents with a kitchen knife, and when she thinks back about it, she remembers him not making love to her that night. She knows that when she is wounded enough, she won't have to endure him touching her. It gets so tempting to just hurl herself down the stairs…

But she feels guilty for thinking these thoughts. Russia does want her, she reminds herself, and he means well. He watches her closely, tries to make her smile when he's in his right mind. And it's those times, when she can see her little sunflower boy, that she lets herself fall a little in love. When the smile isn't simply a mask for brewing violence.

Those are the times when she lets him touch her without fear, when she doesn't have to cringe or try to hide under her skin, when she can simply be with him, feel home, both in body and mind. He protects her, warms her, and is kind. But this is rarely. Most days, she drifts about in a daze, her mind wrapped in frost.

Sometimes, she dreams of America. While Russia has his arms around her, her imagination will take her home, take her to her own bed and a man she can conquer. She pretends then that she is free, that she will be home for good soon, with whoever she wants. Perhaps she'll take Russia. In some of her wildest fantasies, he goes with her, and stays the quite, kind, protective sort; never slipping back into the darkness that he's used to.

It's all insane, and she knows it. She wakes up late at night and thinks about running away, but knows that she is needed, and the sheer force of it keeps her pinned in the linens that could use washing with a man that desperately needs helping. She is the only thing that he has left. How can she simply leave? He needs someone to be with, to hurt and to love. If she abandons him, who will suffer next? Ukraine? Belarus? God forbid… America?

So she closes her eyes and holds his hand, callused and strong, knowing that she must stay. She has to sleep with her loyalties in a bed that she helped make. She will let her dreams be of money and power, and someday she may leave for good, but for now… For now, she will cling to this man; still searching for her sunflower boy, hoping that he hasn't frozen entirely.