Disclaimer: The only thing I own is the story idea and only some of the witty remarks. I own so little; so please don't steal.

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The first time America decided that he would finally go and say it and he flew all the way from his house to England's, he found that England was in the bath. And no respectable hero springs information like that to anyone in the bathroom. Lingering downstairs like a forlorn boyfriend, he touched everything he could get his hands on in the kitchen, smelling the fading smell of burnt scones. The water overhead kept its steady pitter-patter, like rain except rain would not make England sing you say yes, I say no, you say stop, and I say go, go, go.

And as the refrain comes on again, America feels his courage falter and he stupidly thinks, what is he doing here? He can't do it now. He leaves without alerting England to his presence. He is long gone when England comes downstairs with a towel around his wet hair and the nagging feeling that he forgot to lock his front door.

(England knows, because America left fingerprints on the china display shelf.)

England thinks he knows what he wants to say, and his hunches have always been right. His pure cheek is what has gotten him so much land when he was younger (and admittedly, what lost most of it for him). He checks his shirt, straightens his tie, and goes to find America.

America is talking to Japan outside the Conference room. He pats the taller nation's shoulder, lets his presence to known, but America just glances at him and holds up one finger, the finger that says one minute, not fuck off, in case you were wondering. England waits patiently, but the conversation doesn't seem near to ending. America is saying something about some video game. Japan is replying in a very energetic matter. While Japan is not one for many words, when you get him talking about something he likes, he won't stop. Japan shoots him an apologetic look, but America notices and turns to England.

"Yes? What is it that you couldn't just take a moment more? If you've got nothing else to do, the bathroom's that way and I've got some tweezers right here; you can get straight to work on those eyebrows."

England storms away (why waste words on that idiot, anyway!), and he knows that it's America who runs after him in a moment or two, because even though he acts all high and mighty, the 'awesomenest nation on earth' has a guilt meter that trips over so easily. But he won't give that stupid nation the time of day; no, because his eyebrows are a sensitive subject!

(Just to be sure, he checks the mirror to make sure they aren't that pronounced before the actual Conference.)

America's always been a rash kind of person; he knows this, and he didn't need anyone to tell him so. Still, he finds himself amazed at himself; one moment, he'll be watching England from across the room and think god, I love him and the thought just stays with him but other times, he'll find himself striding across the room (he has a wide stride) and he'll want to shout it to the entire world but he doesn't, because it's never the right time, England is upset, or France is standing around.

He's thought it over too; there are so many other nations to love. Canada's been closer to him than anyone else, and they're technically not brothers, but he can't make himself want Canada the way he wants England. Japan is alright, but in a friends kind of sense. He doesn't go for the thin-line-between-love-and-hate crap. And boy, do a lot of nations hate him (and he hates them back, sometimes, like when Russia will ask him loudly in front of England if he's used up all the condoms yet).

He's had centuries to mull it over. England is his parent but not. England is his brother, but not. He doesn't quite consider England a mentor; he could be self-sustaining by himself, thank you very much. He will never admit he was grateful for England's help at the beginning, but he might be willing to say that the love he felt for him at the beginning matured over the ages like some troublesome wine or smelly cheese. And only France uses similes like that anyway.

He doesn't really know why he likes England, but hell, sometimes he doesn't even know why he does half the things he does. He just doesn't let it on, because someone's got to be in control these days.

He is a good parent, England will tell anyone. He's had so many colonies and look how they've all turned out. They became respectable nations. Not all of them have become failures. He can raise them right.

He does not know what happened to America, though. It must be some of the French exploration that slipped through his watchful eyes.

(He chastises himself for thinking that, because it sounds slightly dirty.)

Because he was the problem child, England has to watch over him. From the end of his rule, he has to watch this scientific happening. Something must have gone wrong; he needs to know what he did wrong so he does not do it again. It's only natural; he's Great Britain and the UK doesn't make mistakes twice.

Only he doesn't know when fretting about America turned into thinking about that worrisome nation in not-so-platonic ways. He doesn't remember when turning over America's faults evolved into tossing and turning at night because he's not sure if America will take something he said the wrong way. When did he worry about chasing America away anyway? Not that he cares!

It's empty nest syndrome, he tells himself. It's only natural to think about people you've raised, to worry if they'll leave you and never think about you again. He convinces himself of this, then finds it a flawed peace of mind when he is reintroduced to Canada. Again.

England's back is turned to him. Was England always that scrawny? How did a nation like that ever scare any other nation, defeat France, subdue Spain? America slurps loudly from the straw that extends into the glass of chocolate milk (so he was a growing nation, he needed his calcium!) and England shoots him a look from over the suds of the dishes.

It smells something like charcoal flapjacks but America hasn't seen a hint of them. When he stopped by for breakfast, England just pressed a couple pieces of bread in his hands and told him to make his own damn toast. The blackened pan in his hands speaks otherwise, along with the black shapes in the rubbish bin when America throws away a slice of toast he accidentally overcooked.

This is the England he is used to seeing; the one who told you to brush your teeth before you went to sleep or else the cavity fairy would come to you in your sleep. The one who told you to wear a sweater, just in case, and to take it off if you got too hot. This England taught him to value the people, his people, and reminded him that in no circumstance does purple and green go good together, they just clash, and to trust him because he's been around long enough to know these things.

America wants to let it slip off his tongue; so easy, it's the kitchen, just the two of them. I love you, England. But before he opens his mouth, he drowns the thought in another gulp of milk. Yes, this the England he used to seeing – but this the parent side he's with right now. Imagine confessing your love to your mother! Oedipus was one of Greece's people. It wasn't awesome; and England in this state might misunderstand him.

"What are you looking at me for, you tosser?"

It's crossed his head so many times, I only think of you as a brother, England. What kind of pervert are you? Is he a pervert? Couldn't be; Italy would definitely be creeping on Germany in that mindset and it was a relationship that everyone took for granted.

It wasn't the same.

It would be scandalous. France would tease him for ages, making quips and stupid puns about how he always liked little children (and what about that frog? With all those passes at Canada – see he could remember!). He knows he will get flack for being sweet on America; after eons of pretending to hate him (surely no one could see through that act, he's pretty good at acting), it would be something to be accepted with an eyeroll and a scoff. He's a gentleman. Gentlemen don't have reputations like that.

How many of his people have talked about stuff like this? The Bard wrote plays dedicated to love, poets sang its splendor, his bosses have had affairs. He knows his way around this many thorned thing – so he knows it is love he is feeling, not affection, not protection. Love that makes him visit to make sure America isn't wasting away in front of a screen, love that makes him invite America over when it gets cold and he knows both houses are in a state of loneliness. Love that makes him upset when critics say the special relationship is strained. It isn't, of course. But it will be tense, unless he says it, which he cannot bring himself to do even when the opportunity presents itself.

"I wish you were a California girl," America says to England one day. Not one of his best pick up lines (and California would roll her eyes at him if he told her he said it to England of all people), but it'll have to do. England just looks at him blankly.

"And I wish you were the goddamn Queen." England makes a sound of incredulous disbelief. "What the hell?"

America shrugs.

England knows he is being foolish. America will just throw it away. Still, when the blonde opens the door, he thrusts the jar forward. "Here. I was just in the neighborhood and I thought you'd want this."

America takes the jar and inspects it. "Thanks, England, but I think I can grow my own weed."

"It's not drugs, you wanker. It's tea. You've been working a lot of overtime lately and I thought…it's supposed to calm your nerves. Not that I think you have any. But if you're feeling tired and you can't sleep…then you can just boil some. If you can remember how to boil water." His mouth is running a thousand words a minute. England shuts up.

America stares at it. Then looks up. Then looks back down at the jar. "It's four-fifteen in the morning, England."

England curses, his words echoing off the tall buildings around them. America looks slightly amused. "Never mind, then! I can see that it's not wanted. Well, it was heavy to lug around. So keep it. Smoke it, if you want to." He sees America's lopsided grin, eyes that seem happy to see him despite the developing bags underneath them and England just wants to say it, to say I love you America, I love your stupidness and even though you're a handful I just can't seem to get you out of my bloody head! But he keeps his calm and the wave settles beneath the surface again.

"Thanks, England." Then, "You can come in and boil it with me if you'd like. I'm so tired I might pass out and face plant in the tea."

"Figures," England grumbles, although he feels like he, as France would put it, 'scored' and breezes past America into the house, feeling oddly as if he had never left home at all.

Although America swears he is more tired than England is, when he turns around to ask England if he'd like some donuts with that tea, the island is asleep at the island in the kitchen (what a funny coincidence), a cup of cooling tea next to him. America snorts, shoving the box back into the shelf. "Waste of water," he mumbles, but keeps the cup next to England. Shedding his coat, which he likes to wear even in the house, he drapes it around England's skinny shoulders.

What a silly nation, England, coming to visit him in the middle of the night just to give him some tea.

I love you, you odd mystery, England. I love you and your unicorn on your seal, and your insistance that fairies exist, and whatever makes you put up with me. America nearly says this, nearly lets his guard down, but he's seen enough movies and played enough games to know that if someone confesses when the significant other is 'asleep', obviously the other will not be asleep. He does want England to hear him and such a vulnerable position; he's baring his heart because he thinks no one will hear; but if someone does, then you're put on the spot. So America says nothing, just reaches over and ruffles England's hair a bit.

Someday, it'll come out. One day, he'll say it, and if he's lucky, if all goes his way, he will beat England to the punch. With that in mind, he seals the deal with a sip of tea.