Pairing: America/Belarus, Alfred/Natalia

Summary: Because she is not the one who raised him, and he will never be her brother. But sometimes we are just looking for our own replacements. America/Belarus, Alfred/Natalia

I own nothing.


whispers

He does not know why he began talking to her; she is, after all, Belarus: an unapproachable entity. But with soulful eyes, perfect lips, and long, silky platinum hair, she is so very heartbreakingly beautiful standing there in the snow, so much that it makes him bite his lip and look away.

But it was not because of her cold attitude, nor was it because of her beauty (although Alfred will admit later it is…a little); it was because he felt something for her.

No, not love. He was certain of it. He held that position in his heart, didn't he?

Pity. Yes, he was pretty sure that was it. I mean, you would feel kind of sad when he saw somebody like that: cold, unfeeling, permanently on PMS – Alfred just wanted the chance to be a hero and help her.

"Hey."

Her head snaps up, and she glares at him. "What?"

Alfred is taken aback by her attitude, and yet presses on like the hero he knows he is. "So, Natalia—"

"Belarus," she snaps.

"Uh – um, yeah. Belarus. Right." He smiles. "Anyway, I-I was wondering if you wanted some company…" he trails off and looks at her.

"Ugh, you are like that idiot Lithuania," she mutters, annoyed. "Always bothering me." She rolls her eyes. "And I do not need your company, my beloved brother will suffice, thank you."

The statement should have been warm and friendly, but the cold, edgy tone never left Natalia's voice.

Alfred looks confused and leans against the wall. "Well, where is he?"

"He said he has some business to attend to, and will be back shortly," she replies in a clipped tone.

"Ivan?" Alfred asks. When she gives him a curt nod, he replies, "I saw him at the airport earlier," he said thoughtfully. "He was saying something about sneaking on a plane for Russia." He is all careless about this remark, but it feels like yet another stab at her heart. Her mouth dries, and she instantly avoids his gaze. "He will be back," she says softly, although he can sense she is saying it only to make herself believe it – like a dream she knows is not going to come true.

Alfred looks away. "Hey, if you say so."

He lets a few moments of awkward silence pass between them, and then pipes up, "Hey, if you're lonely or anything…I'm still willing to keep you company."

She clenches her fist. She has no more reason to stay here; her beloved brother has left her. But she is still Belarus, and she is still proud. She will not leave until he has. "Do what you want," she snaps at him. "I'm not leaving."

He stares at her, and she can't help but wonder what a lovely shade his eyes are but shakes the fact from her head.

He smiles again, brightly this time. "Okay."

There is always a cheerful tinge to his voice, and somehow it makes the ends of her mouth tug upwards, but she will not relent.

A few moments of awkward silence, and then Alfred says something. "Congratulations on that gold back in Vancouver," he says cheerfully. "The landing was really good."

"Hmph." She turns around to look at him. "But of course." And with a bit of a sneer, she adds, almost like an afterthought, "It was good enough to beat you, at least."

"Hey!" Alfred raises an eyebrow in amusement. "That's not the kind of thing you say to the guy who's bothering to keep you company right now. Totally uncool."

"I have already said before, I do not need your company," she says, ever so calmly, pretty eyebrows arching down. "You do not have to be here."

He doesn't budge, and instead smiles in amusement once again. "But I want to be," he says mildly. "How are things over in your country?"

She does not show any sign that she heard him, and turns away.

"Um – Nata – I mean, Belarus?"

She rolls her eyes. "Things in my country are well enough, thank you very much. My people are thriving."

Alfred does not know why he is bothering with this unresponsive, violent (pretty) girl, but he does feel a need to. If you're a hero, after all, you really can't leave pretty girls alone, can you?

The snow is falling lightly around them, and it's bitterly cold – one of the reasons why Alfred hates world conferences in London, but they are Nations, and Nations must do their duty. And they cannot do their duty, of course, without socializing with other Nations. Make friends. Make connections. Like what he was doing now.

"Is it always this cold in your country?" he asks, shivering, mesmerized by the snow.

"няма," she tells him. "No." She turns to him. "It is even colder than this."

He blinks in surprise, and shudders at the thought. Winters even colder than the ones in London, dear God, he doesn't think he can stand anything colder than this. Already he can't wait to go back home, but no. His flight is still tomorrow, he had, for some stupid reason, booked it that way. So for now he is staying here, and from what he can infer from her, so is she. "Really?" he asks, wanting to carry on the conversation.

Natalia eyes him intently, as if he is a bomb just waiting to explode. "Da." She smirks. "Sometimes it is so freezing cold that your tears freeze before they leave your eye."

He winces at the thought. Ouch. Never mind, let's leave that topic alone.

They stand in silence for a minute or two, observing the lightly falling snow. "Sure is pretty, though," he mumbles, more to himself.

"Pardon?" She raises an eyebrow at him.

He is surprised that she was actually listening to him, and repeats his sentence, louder this time. She gives him a half-smile and nods quietly. "Da, it is. " She pauses for a few seconds, as if she is reminiscing. "When I was young Ivan, Katyusha, and I used to play together in the snow." She suddenly flinches and straightens herself, hands trembling, turning away from him, as if she has shed a little light onto a side she did not want him to see.

"Lucky you." He grimaces and looks at her with those (beautiful, but she'd never say that) eyes, and adds, "Y'know, sometimes I wish I could've done those things with Matt. You were lucky you were raised by your siblings."

"But you and Arthur get along well enough, no?"

Alfred looks away and doesn't answer her question, and she knows better than to press. "What was Ivan like?" he asks.

Natalia gets this look in her eyes that reminds Alfred of the look Francis gets when romance is mentioned, or the look Elizaveta gets when someone brings up 'boy's love.' "He is wonderful," she croons, almost creepily, and Alfred flinches a little. "He was so kind to me."

Alfred notes the word was in the sentence, and instead smirks a little before he can stop himself. "So, he was like that before he snapped and became this creepy psycho?"

What.

Natalia's eyebrows shoot down and she flings her head around, glaring at him with steel in her eyes. "How dare you," she mumbles, then snaps. "It's better to have a 'creepy psycho' for a brother than to eat that disgusting, fattening, grease-covered filth you call a hamburger every single day!" she yells at him.

Oh. Now it is on, bitch. Alfred can't stand to hear his self-proclaimed national food get insulted, and bites back before he can stop himself. "Better be fat than be a psycho incestuous bitch who has a mentally insane brother and who goes around stabbing people with knives!"

Natalia snaps.

Her trembling hands reach for the knife at her belt, and she turns towards him with a scream. "How dare you!" And she rushes towards him, wind whipping her platinum blond hair around, steel and bloodlust in her eyes, nothing but revenge in her mind – revenge for insulting her brother, revenge for disbanding the family she had, revenge for insulting her – and she holds the knife up, ready to stab, ready to see crimson flowers bloom on his coat, and she smiles when she sees his eyes widen –

—and she feels two strong arms wrap around her, and her eyes widen before she realizes they are Alfred's, and then he's hugging her, pulling her close. And she can hear the thud of his heart against her own ears, and everything inside her is telling her to push away and you should be doing this with Ivan – your brother? Remember him? But she just can't bring herself to do it. Even though she knows, deep down, that she should – after all, this man is nothing more than her brother's own worst enemy.

He runs a hand through her long hair. "I'm sorry," he murmurs, each word sounding like raindrops.

Her heart throbs and her eyes widen even more and they fill with salty liquid threatening to spill before she can stop them, and the knife falls to the snowy ground with a clatter. And then all of a sudden she is crying into his coat before she can stop herself, and she is berating herself for being so foolish, for being shot through the heart with her brother's lies so many times over and yet can't she can't seem to stop loving him. And she just stands there, crying, and he towers over her, holding her close to his chest with a hand to her head.

And they stand there, and she stops crying and looks at him with soulful dark eyes bursting with unrequited love, and murmurs, "I am not Arthur, you know."

And his heart crumples and he realizes they are nothing more than friends, they will never be, and yet he wants destiny to rewrite itself once again. His eyes soften and he smiles sadly at her, and leans down to kiss her on the forehead. "I know," he whispers in her ear. "But am I Ivan?"

And he watches that beautiful face become tear-streaked once again, and he just hugs her once again, letting her cry into his already damp coat, knowing that they are just looking for their own replacements for loves they know will never be returned. But he wants to savor this moment he has with Natalia, because he knows she is nothing like Arthur, he knows this day will just be thrown to the wind, never to be brought up again.

Because sometimes, he realizes, you just had to try.


FFFFFFFFF I CAN'T BELIEVE I WROTE THAT.

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