Disclaimer: I do not own Hetalia, and I'm pretty sure it's impossible to own any history but your own personal records. I'm just having fun. Sort've.
"This is a lovely home, Colombia-san."
"Kiku," the United States of New Colombia sighed, blowing up the stray curled hair that inevitably fell into his face. "I've told you, call me Matthew or Matt. We've been allies almost half a century and that's not going to end any time soon. It ought to make us friends."
"Yes, of course," Japan sputtered, clearing his throat. "My apologies, Matthew-san."
"That's better." Matthew laughed softly and stepped from the kitchen with a glass in each hand. Kumajiro, his old friend, lumbered with lazy ease in his footsteps. "C'mon. Have some iced tea and I'll give you the tour."
Kiku accepted the cool drink with a polite bow and fell into step behind his host. He had visited a number of Colombia's homes before, but this one was new, though only in the sense that he had never seen it before. Kiku was no expert in American architecture, but even he could tell that parts of his house were several centuries old.
In the living room they paused so Matthew could open the large windows on the far side and Kiku could admire the expansive scenery of the hamlet's edge. "This area is beautiful."
"Yeah, Virginia's a pretty nice place," Matthew agreed, smiling as Kumajiro curled into the natural light that flooded the room. "I like to come down here in the spring, after the plants bloom but before it gets too hot. It's a great place to relax."
"It certainly seems so."
The tour continued down the hall into the old part of the house, opening windows and airing out rooms as they went. When he stepped into the sitting room, Kiku stopped and gasped. "Oh!"
Matthew followed his eye to a portrait on the far wall. It was old, even older than it looked – it'd been restored twice already, and its frame was lightly scorched. A regal-looking gentleman with prominent eyebrows sat in a straight-backed chair, holding a teacup and resting a sheathed sword across his lap. He was flanked on either side by near-identical golden-haired boys, one carrying an apparently stuffed polar bear and the other proudly surrounded by a set of wooden soldiers. They were all smiling.
"Is that England-san?"
Matthew's eyes darkened and Kiku wished that he hadn't asked. The personal relationship between Colombia and the United Kingdom was notoriously bad, even among nations, though almost no one knew the exact details of their grudge. "Yeah, it is."
Kiku did not ask when the portrait was made, but curiosity got the better of him. "Who is that other boy, there with you?"
"My brother Alfred."
Kiku looked surprised. "I never knew you had a brother."
"I don't anymore. He died a long time ago."
"I see." Kiku covered his mouth with his hand and bowed his head. "My apologies, Matthew-san. I didn't mean to unearth such painful memories."
"It's okay, really," Matthew said, settling into an armchair and motioning for Kiku to do the same. "If I didn't want to think about him, I wouldn't keep that picture around, and I wouldn't come down here. This used to be his home, you know. Where the town is now, there used to be a farm. He maintained it all by himself for years."
Kiku smiled. "It sounds like he was quite reliable. Much like you."
Matthew laughed. "That's where you're wrong. We were nothing alike. Besides…"
He trailed off. They remained in silence for almost ten minutes before Kiku cleared his throat. "Matthew-san?"
Matthew shook himself and finished off his drink. He hopped up. "Sorry, I must have zoned out. Why don't we go over the notes for tomorrow's meeting? I left them in the kitchen."
"Of course." Kiku stood with grace, but made no move to hide a mischievous little grin that crawled across his features. "And afterwards, perhaps we can play video games for a few hours. I brought a new one to show you."
"Sounds great! I'll meet you down there."
Kiku bowed and stepped out of the room. Matthew watched him go, hovering ever closer to the portrait until he was sure the other nation was gone. He let his eyes drift to the shelf beneath the picture, where an ancient stuffed rabbit, a few cracked toy soldiers and a jar containing the remnants of a ruined blue coat sat as though in a museum.
"Kiku's a nice guy, Al," he began. "I know you'd like him. Wait until you hear what he's cooked up this time…"
The history books all say that the United States of America died before it could be properly conceived, but Matthew knows better. He wonders, sometimes, the kind of nation that Alfred would have grown to be, but then remembers that he knows that, too: he finds it every day, in the spirit of his southern lands, in their culture and their people, in fireworks and robotic toys, in bitter coffee and greasy food. The parts that are a part of him, but at the same time are not – the ghostly remains of a lingering twin.
No one else, not even other nations, can know what these little things mean. But Matthews knows, and Colombia is free.
And in the end, that's all that really matters.