Well, the Olympics are over now, and the next time we'll have a gathering of that magnitude will be in the 2012 Summer Olympics. Look out, Iggy! In two years, the world will be descending on you! Heh heh... That sounds almost sexual, doesn't it?

I'm mildly impressed with myself. This is my third Hetalia fic in just over a month, and I've already got more ideas bubbling and brewing in my mind. I've already started writing a couple of them, and others are still in just the planning phases. Something about this fandom just really gets my imagination going.

Battle Lines

"I call the bed closest to the window!" declared America as the door swung open and he burst into the hotel room, pushing past the shorter man standing beside him in his rush to get to the bed in question, making him drop the suitcase he'd been carrying onto an unfortunately positioned foot.

Yelping loudly, he jerked his foot out from under the case, cursing as he shot a glare at the younger man, who seemed completely unaware of what his actions had caused. As usual.

Giving an irritated huff, England looked down at his foot, flexing his toes experimentally inside of his shoe. They were probably going to be bruised tomorrow, but it didn't feel like anything had been broken.

With a final muttered curse, he hefted the suitcase off of the floor and carried it into the room, closing the door behind himself. He set it down beside the unclaimed bed and fixed another glare on the younger country, who was now digging through his own suitcase, paying him no mind. "Why the bloody hell do I have to share a room with you?"

"Oh, you know why," responded the other, glancing up from his things and flashing his usual bright grin. "We're trying to cut down on expenses for this conference. All of the others are sharing rooms too."

"Yes, but why did I end up with you?"

Shrugging his shoulders, deciding not to take any offense at the harshness of the question, he said, "It's just the way it ended up. If you really wanted to, you could probably switch with France or Germany. They're rooming together, and I know neither of them are very happy about that."

"Hn..." grunted England noncommittally, wondering for a moment who had determined these room assignments. He looked over his shoulder at the door, as though actually considering the idea of switching rooms. His alternative choices of roommate certainly didn't seem like an improvement over his current situation, and with a sigh, he resigned himself to his current situation. As much of a nuisance as the other could be, he supposed that it wasn't the absolute worst place he could be. He would simply need to keep that in mind, and their time spent at the conference might be almost bearable.

"It could be worse, couldn't it?"

"I suppose," he admitted somewhat reluctantly, drawing his gaze slowly back over to his former colony. "I could have been stuck with France. At least, with you I don't have to be worried about being molested in my..."

He trailed off as he saw that the other man had removed his tie and jacket while he hadn't been looking and had his shirt halfway unbuttoned, showing off his toned, muscular chest. The light coming in through the window behind him framed his entire body in golden light, and for a moment the Brit's brain broke. It wasn't until blue eyes lifted from the remaining buttons to regard him questioningly that it fixed itself, snapping back into motion as he screamed in alarm and backed away until he was pressed flat against the wall farthest away from America, who seemed rather confused at this sudden turn in events.

"Eh? What's got your 'knickers' in a twist?" he asked, titling his head slightly to one side, with just the faintest hint of a taunt in his voice.

"Y-you! What are you doing!?"

Blinking a couple times as though he didn't comprehend what the problem was, he answered, "I'm changing out of this stuffy suit. The meetings are over for today, and I feel like going out to get something to eat. Wanna come with me?"

Cheeks heating slightly from embarrassment as he realized how ridiculous his reaction must have seemed, England quickly recovered his usual attitude. Lifting his chin and sniffing in disdain, he retorted, "Why would I want to waste my evening with you? You're probably just going to find somewhere that you can stuff your face with junk food anyway."

"Okay. No need to be so mean about it." He finished undoing the last of the buttons on his shirt and pulled it off, dropping it carelessly onto the floor. "I only asked to be nice."

Glaring at the crumpled white garment lying on the floor, England snorted in irritation and marched over, snatching it up and fussily trying to straighten the shirt out. "Where did you ever pick up such messy habits? I didn't raise you to be such a slob."

"It's just a shirt." He gave an annoyed huff but didn't try to take his shirt back. "You make it sound like I'm turning this place into a total dump."

"How big of a mess you've made isn't the point. It's your carelessness with making one that's the problem," he said as he began folding the shirt back up, wearing an oddly resolute expression.

"Whatever," grumbled the younger man, turning and digging back into his suitcase. "I don't need you taking care of me anymore."

Looking back at the man with every intention of telling off his former colony, England paused as his eyes fell on the man's exposed back. There were scars, standing out like pale ghosts against the otherwise tanned skin. He supposed that he'd known they must exist—he'd been involved in too many conflicts to not have any—but he'd never seen them before. It was almost shocking, and it felt rather surreal to look at them.

"What are these from?" he asked, stepping slowly towards the other man, dropping the shirt on his bed.

"What are what from?" asked America as he straightened back up, holding a T-shirt and a pair of jeans in his hands.

Reaching out with one hand, England carefully touched one of the marks on his back almost as though he was afraid that doing so might re-open the wound behind it. It was positioned low on his back and to the right side of his body. The pale scar was slightly sunken into the skin and generally round in shape, with torn, jagged edges that made it look worse than the wound had probably been. This one had been messy, but it had not cut too deeply. "What is this scar from?"

There was a sudden, surprised intake of breath, and the muscles in his back visibly tensed. He was silent for a long moment. "Pearl Harbor."

Brows furrowing thoughtfully, the older man slowly pulled his hand back. "That... was when Japan attacked you, right?" He vaguely remembered the event, but he'd been rather more concerned with other things to pay it too much attention at the time. It had been easy enough to largely ignore. The man had made almost no mention of it afterward, allowing the Allies to forget about it, and they'd all had their own wounds by then anyway. They probably wouldn't have had room for sympathy for him.

"You remembered," he observed, sounding genuinely surprised.

"It pushed you into the fight. Finally."

He shook his head. "It pushed me into war with Japan, but there were a lot of people who still didn't want to get involved in the war in Europe. My boss at the time probably wouldn't have been able to get enough support for that one if Germany's boss hadn't declared war on me just a few days later."

"I see," said England, green eyes moving up to the other two scars on the man's back. They were on his upper back, located over his shoulder blades. The marks were mirror twins of each other, large, roughly torn patches, reaching out in opposite directions in a shape vaguely reminiscent of a pair of wings.

Touching the smooth skin, feeling him flinch away from it ever so slightly, he asked, "What about these?"

Another moment of silence stretched out between them, lingering longer than the first had. "The Twin Towers," he said finally, in a voice barely above a whisper.

Frowning almost sympathetically behind the man's back, he lightly ran his fingers over the scars. That explained a bit. America, the aviator, whose blue eyes matched the color of a bright, cloudless sky, had been wounded by his own planes, his own wings.

He remembered that. He remembered hearing the attacks as he was just getting properly settled into a meeting with some of his men. The world had seemed to drop away from him for a moment as the news processed through his brain, and suddenly he'd been running out of the building. Everything following that was mostly a blur, crystallizing into a clear solid memory again as he was bursting into a hospital room, faintly registering the presence of Canada seated at the bedside as he made his way over as well. No words passed between them.

"By the time I got there, you'd already been bandaged up," said England as he recalled how pale America had looked then. He'd seemed so young and vulnerable as he'd lain unconscious in the bed. "I never saw the wounds."

"Into another war," said the younger man in an uncharacteristically pensive tone. "It made sense when we started, but my boss kept doing and saying things until I got so confused that I didn't know where we were or what we were trying to do anymore."

The past decade had not been easy on him. They had not been easy on him, taking him to task for every misstep and mistake he made, even knowing that they had done many of the same sorts of things when they had been the dominant global powers. Maybe that was why they were being so harsh in judging his behavior; all of his mistakes felt so familiar to them.

"We are subject to the whims of our people and the commands of our bosses," said England, not quite certain whether he'd meant those words to be a comfort or not. He looked back at the World Trade Center scars, pursing his lips for just a moment. "At the hospital, there were some bandages wrapped around your head. What was that, if these are the Towers?"

"That was from the Pentagon," answered America, dropping his change of clothes onto the bedspread. He turned around and leaned forward slightly to give the shorter man a better view. He reached up, pushing the bangs hanging above his left eye to the side. "The scar's mostly hidden, but it sticks out just a little bit past the edge of my hairline. I have a fourth scar from that day on my leg, from the fourth airplane. That was the one... the one where the people fought back and kept it from reaching its target."

Straightening up again, he let his hair fall back into its usual place, hiding the edge of the pale line in his scalp from view again. A small, sad smile settled on his lips. The memory hurt, but he didn't want to forget about the people who'd died either. It was his duty as their nation to remember.

"They didn't deserve that," said the older man awkwardly. He'd never been very good at offering comfort.

"I-I've got another one," said America in a suddenly hurried voice, changing the subject from the September 11th attacks.

England's eyes flicked momentarily to the taller nation's left shoulder, where he saw a ragged scar that reached down from the upper edge of his collarbone to his armpit. It was fainter than the others, having faded somewhat to blend in better with his skin. That was an old one.

He was surprised, however, as America reached down to the waistband of his pants. Briefly, he was struck by the urge to put as much space between himself and the other man passed through his brain again, but he suppressed it this time. It had made him look utterly ridiculous before, so he refrained, waiting to see where this was going before he reacted. So far he had no good reason not to give him the benefit of the doubt.

Pushing the waistband down, he revealed another scar about an inch below his navel, and England's considerable eyebrows jumped up as he saw it. The scar was was a messy, jagged line that ran across his abdomen, cutting over the very tops of his hip bones. It looked almost like someone had tried to rip him in two.

Almost as soon as that thought passed through his mind, he realized what it was. Lifting his gaze back up to meet America's, he said, "That's..."

"My Civil War," finished America, tracing a finger slowly over the scar, eyes turning hazy as memories flooded his mind. No one had expected it to turn out like it had. They hadn't expected the war to last four years or to cost so many lives. It had yet to be matched in any subsequent conflict he'd been involved in. "Whoever gave it that name didn't know what they were talking about. There was nothing 'civil' about it."

Nodding his head, England was silent as he thought back, remembering a little about that war. The fighting had been mostly America's alone, but that hadn't meant that some of the other countries had not taken some notice and considered their own potential stakes in the matter. Officially, he had maintained a neutral position throughout the war, but he had contributed some things to the secessionists' cause, wanting to teach his upstart former colony a bit of a lesson. He'd come back around in the end, silently supporting the Union and deciding to not acknowledge the Confederacy as a separate independent nation.

Unable to find acknowledgment or support, the Confederacy had eventually been overcome by the Union, and America had been spared. The cost had been dear for the still relatively young nation, however. It had taken a long time and a lot of work, but he had managed to make a full recovery in both body and spirit. The only remnant of the war that had threatened to destroy him was the mark on his skin.

"Idiot," muttered England half-heartedly. "That's not what that word means."

"Sure it does," argued America as his blue eyes cleared and he tugged his pants back up to their normal place. "I looked it up and everything."

Shaking his head, and allowing himself a small chuckle, he said again, "Idiot."

"Am not," grumbled America, pursing his lips in a pout.

"You're such a child." He said without any venom.

Letting out a small grunt of disapproval, the taller man turned away again and began unbuttoning his slacks. Slipping those off, revealing a pair of obnoxiously cliché American Flag printed boxers, he grabbed the jeans he'd set down earlier and pulled those on. He quickly zipped and buttoned them, reaching for the shirt without looking, having to search for a moment before finding it.

"What about that last scar?"

America paused, releasing the shirt. "What last scar?"

Folding his arms over his chest and huffing, he said, "That scar on your left shoulder. You told me about all the others. Did you leave that one out on purpose, or did you just forget about it?"

"Don't you remember?" asked America, facing the older man again, brows furrowed and lips turned downwards in a confused frown. He reached up with one hand, rubbing his shoulder and the scar as he waited for an answer.

"What? What would I remember of it?" He tried to sound annoyed, but it didn't come off right. His voice was too forced to be convincing.

Blue eyes widened for an instant, and a look almost of hurt flashed across his face as the hand dropped away from his shoulder. It made the other man wince slightly, although he wasn't certain why. "You gave it to me."

Eyes widening, almost involuntarily focusing on the remnant of the old injury, a choked sound forcing its way unbidden from his throat. He recoiled from the mark, stepping back, looking almost horrified and distinctly pained by the sight of the scar.

He did remember. Of course he remembered, despite his best efforts not to.

England had been all but certain that he'd won the Revolution that day. Crimson blood had poured from a rough, tattered wound, staining the proper blue uniform that so few members of his army could afford. The joint was likely destroyed. The boy—he really had still been just a child at the time—had been at the edge of defeat, standing on unsteady legs and looking at him with hazy, unfocused eyes. It would have been easy to finish him off then and there, but he had hesitated, his resolve to crush the rebellious colony wavering. By the time he'd managed to pull himself back into order, the battle had been over; the rebels had retreated, taking their nation with them.

The next time he'd encountered America directly, his shoulder seemed to have healed completely, and he'd thought nothing more about it. Maybe he should have been more curious about it, but his main concern at the time had been stopping the rebellion. Kicking France in the teeth had come in at a very close second, of course, but he hadn't managed to achieve that one either.

"I never wanted it to come to that."

"I know," said America without any anger or bitterness in his voice. "Neither did I really. It still hurts sometimes, you know. I feel it especially well in the cold."

England flinched, guilt twisting in his stomach. Centuries ago, when he'd first adopted the boy as his brother, he'd been determined that America would not have to bear the scars of war like he and all of the other European nations did. He would protect the child from that.

Now he was staring at the scar that he had put on the man's body. His first scar. The sickening irony of it did not escape the older country.

"France told me that it was the price we pay when we become independent. 'There are no big brothers to come save us if we get into trouble.'" He hadn't really understood just what that had meant, and he knew that France must have realized that when he'd said those things. Having grown up largely sheltered under England's wing, he'd been more than a little naïve about the world at large and the sometimes unpleasant ways it worked. The period immediately following that war had been quite an eye-opening experience for America, to say the least. "Sometimes I miss having a big brother."

The pained tension in England's expression and stance noticeably relaxed at that, and the shadow of a smile began to settle on his lips. He'd always wondered if he was the only one to feel pain or regret over the way things had turned out between them, and he'd mostly been led to assume that, yes, he was the only one. "America..."

"But then I remember what a jerk you are," he said with a laugh, spoiling the moment in typical fashion.

"Ungrateful brat!" snapped England, punching the man in the arm to absolutely no effect. Sighing in gruff acceptance, he slipped his suit jacket off and began undoing his tie.

"What're you doing? You getting ready for bed already?" he asked, picking up his shirt again.

"No. I'm not going to go to some fast food restaurant with you still dressed like this."

"I thought you said that you didn't want to go." He slipped the shirt on over his head, face vanishing momentarily behind the fabric.

"Well, I changed my mind," he said, pulling the tie off and dropping it onto his bed.

Head reappearing as he pulled the shirt down, America grinned. He sat down on the edge up his bed, grabbing a fresh pair of socks and his sneakers. "Okay, but hurry up. I wanna get out before the crowds get too bad."

In spite of himself, England's scowl began to soften into a faint smile as he saw for a moment the same childish face from four hundred years ago in that grin. "Don't get your 'knickers' in a twist. You can wait five minutes."

Slipping on his socks and shoes, America looked back up at the other man, pursing his lips and puffing out his cheeks in a pout. "England, hurry up," he whined, rocking back and forth on the bed impatiently.

"You're such a brat," murmured England as he unbuttoned his shirt, sounding more amused than annoyed in spite of himself. Perhaps this conference really wouldn't be so unpleasant after all.

"I learned from the best," chirped America brightly.

Then again...

Honestly, looking at a good chunk of this fic, you'd almost think I was writing it as a US/UK piece. I mean, it even has England going all deredere on us. Of course, feel free to read it that way if you want.

There were a few moments where I worried that I was starting to lose the characterization, but I think that I managed to hold on to them pretty well overall. I feel like I have a tendency to write America more thoughtful and introspective than he appears in canon, but I'm not one of those who think that he is just hiding behind a smile. No, I think that the cheerful, lovable oaf is his real character, but I also don't think someone can go through so much without occasionally falling into some moments of pensiveness. He probably has an easier time shrugging it off than some others do, and he doesn't stay down for long.