Romano is such a loser. Haha.

It had been something that had played on the edge of Romano's thoughts for a long time, dancing just a little bit out of reach when he tried to consider it fully. Then, one day, as he had watched Spain merrily buying vegetables in a marketplace that had happened to be on the way home from Seville, it had hit him like a bombshell.

People found Spain attractive.

It had stunned him. Personally, he had no idea what anyone could see in the idiot, but, as the nation of romance, Romano knew the look of attraction almost instinctively.

It was the look that the particularly pretty young Spanish woman at one of the produce stalls had written all over her face. It was as plain as the day was hot (a rather stifling thirty one degrees, to be exact), unmistakable. She stared openly at Spain, as the idiot smiled that obnoxiously bright smile of his, and rambled on about crap that no one cared about.

Romano watched her carefully, frowning as the clearly smitten young woman reached out to touch Spain's arm, allowing her hand to linger an almost obscene amount of time. Luckily, of course, Spain hadn't noticed it in the slightest, continuing to talk about something or other, laughing in delight at his own story. Romano tutted in disapproval at the other man, but relaxed a little, pleased that Spain was too thick to notice the woman's blatant interest. Not that Romano cared about Spain in the slightest. He was more concerned about the poor woman. She was beautiful, and could have any man that she wanted and-

Was Spain blushing?

Romano's eyes widened at that. Shit. Spain had probably finally realised how cute she was. And Spain just loved cute things. If he figured out that she was interested then there could be trouble. Spain was greedy, and impatient, and if he wanted her back, then he'd take her without a second thought. And if they started a relationship then it would end up horribly. Spain knew that nations and humans should never begin affairs. It always ended in heartbreak. And that poor woman was much, much too good for him, but Spain would never realise that. Spain was an idiot who never thought things through properly. Oh God, it would be a disaster. She'd have to come and live with Spain, and then if they had children, Spain would see them grow old and die, and that wasn't fair on anyone. This was why they could never fall in love with humans. Why didn't Spain realise that? Damn it all! He had to nip this in the bud, and he had to do it fast before that poor woman ended up getting hurt.

'Sp- Antonio!' Romano called out suddenly, stepping across the cobblestones to where Spain was standing with the woman at her stall.

Spain- despite thinking up his "civilian name" himself- took a suspiciously long moment to register the name, even though he had reacted instantly to the sound of Romano's voice. When he realised that he was being addressed, his smile grew even wider (really, Romano had to wonder if his face hurt, doing that) and he turned the greet him, holding up his bag full of vegetables.

'Romano!' he said, sounding utterly delighted, and completely forgetting that they were meant to be incognito, as usual. 'I got the vegetables! Don't they look delicious? María was telling me all about how much love she puts into growing them, and I was telling her all about our tomato fields, and-'

'Yes, Antonio,' Romano cut in. 'Don't you have meat to go and buy?'

'Ah!' Spain smiled, clapping his hands together. 'Of course! Thank you for reminding me, Romano!' he turned to the young stall vendor, who looked a little crestfallen. 'María, it has been lovely to talk to you. I cannot wait to taste your love in these vegetables tonight.'

Her blush was almost luminous, and her eyes glazed as she watched him walk away towards the butchers. Romano felt his lip curl up as he glared hotly at Spain's retreating back, irritated by the other man's thoughtless comment. Really. How did he not understand innuendo? That poor girl was probably imagining all kinds of awful things now.

'A- ah, sir?'

Her soft voice snapped Romano's attention back to her, and he blinked in confusion, momentarily losing track of his thoughts. 'Yes?'

'I was just wondering… are you two from around here?'

Romano frowned at that. 'Hardly,' he scoffed. 'I'm Italian.'

'Oh!' María gasped. 'I was wondering where your accent was from. I'm sorry. You just speak Spanish so well.'

And whose fault was that? Romano barely suppressed his shudder at the thought of the time that he hit on Queen Joanna.


Romano looked back towards her, berating himself for forgetting that he was dealing with a very lovely young woman. He flashed her a charming smile, and placed his hand over his heart. 'I'm sorry. I was distracted for a moment. How can I help you?'

'Well, I was wondering if your friend lived around here?' she blushed prettily. 'In case he comes back to this market, I mean. In case he wants more vegetables. I- I could put some of the better ones aside for him.'

Romano's smile twitched and he had to force back a groan. Dear God, she really was smitten with that idiot. Why anyone would be, was absolutely beyond Romano, but Romano was a man who respected women, and the least that he could do was protect her. 'No,' he said with a fake expression of disappointment. 'He lives very, very far away.'

'Oh…' she sighed. Then she perked up again, and ducked to pick up her bag, fumbling through it for something. Romano watched with increasing dread, having seen (well… caused) that reaction many times before in the past. 'Could you maybe… give him my number then?' she said, scrawling something onto a spare piece of paper from her bag, and shyly handing it out to him.

Romano stared at it a moment, before shaking his head, looking grave. 'I wouldn't if I were you. Antonio's a…' Romano thought on it for a moment. 'He's a serial womaniser,' he said, shaking his head mournfully.

Her eyes widened considerably at that. 'He is? But he didn't seem that way-'

'That's how he reels them in,' Romano continued. 'He acts like he doesn't notice, but really he does. Oh sure, he'll stay with you for a while, but then he cheats. He can't help it. I've seen it happen time and time again. He even has kids,' he finished, voice dropping conspiratorially.

María looked horrified. 'I… I… thank you. For warning me about your- err?'

'Former boss,' Romano supplied, choosing one title from the myriad that he associated in his mind with Spain.

'Former boss,' she finished, though she looked a little confused as to why anyone would be casually hanging out with their former boss.

'It's no problem. I just don't want to see another heart broken,' Romano responded nobly, before walking away to find Spain.

Once he had his back to her, he snickered softly to himself. Overall he felt rather pleased that he had managed to save one poor innocent from Spain's oblivious charms. Sure, he felt a little bit bad about lying to her, but what was one little white lie when it came to keeping Spain from making a fool of himself?

Shoving his hands into his pockets, he sauntered over to where Spain was furiously waving at him, congratulating himself on a job well done.

The next time it happened, it was in the marketplace of a town not far from Valencia. Romano had spent many hours of his life in that market, seeing as it was in walking distance from one of Spain's favourite summer villas.

This time, however, he found himself wondering when, and why so many of the women (and disturbingly, a couple of the men) had lost their minds. They were like vultures eyeing up, and circling a bloated, stinking corpse. The bloated, stinking corpse in question this time happened to be Spain who, naturally, was utterly oblivious to the way in which those people watched him.

They must have been pretty desperate to turn their attentions to Spain, Romano reasoned, but the numbers just didn't add up. It was over half the marketplace.

'You got a plague going on at the moment, or something?' he muttered as he and Spain made their way over to a herb stand.

Spain stared at him in profound confusion. 'Eh?' He tried to look at himself, which resulted in his eyes almost crossing, and patted himself down. 'I don't feel ill?' he answered after a moment.

And yet, despite that act of idiocy, people continued to stare. Some of the women even giggled to each other.

'Whatever,' Romano huffed, frowning as he purposefully strode away from Spain's side.

Once seated by the little fountain in the centre of the courtyard, he watched Spain with suspicion, checking to make sure that he wasn't doing anything differently to usual. He didn't seem to be, but that didn't explain why everyone was looking at Spain with such interest, when he was such an uninteresting person.

Romano sighed, absolutely lost. It could be… nah. He shook his head at the thought. Surely they didn't like the Spanish moron. There was nothing to like. Sure, he had discovered only a few short weeks ago that people could, for some reason, find Spain attractive, but really, so many?

Romano sat up straighter at that, stomach coiling in a rush of sudden dread. Maybe they did like him though. They were Spanish after all, and probably a little bit strange if Spain himself was anything to go by. Maybe they had always looked at Spain like that. Even when Romano wasn't there to make sure that they didn't. What if Spain had reciprocated any of their interest? What if he was having affairs with all of them? How many broken hearts would that leave? Spain was so irresponsible!

With a sneaky look around, Romano noted that Spain was busy talking to a fisherman, and so, he stood up, and sidled up to a group of giggling women. They noticed him immediately, and he fixed them with a charming smile that made them all smile back.

'Hey, you come here with Antonio a lot, don't you?' one of the women grinned.

Romano shrugged. 'Not as often as I'd wish to, considering the lovely ladies that greet us here,' he replied smoothly. One of the women blushed, and Romano took it as a total victory over the Spanish bastard.

That was until another one spoke up. 'Can we ask ya something? I've been dying to know!'


'Is Antonio single?' another one rushed in before the first woman had a chance to continue.

'Eh?' Romano responded dumbly.

'Well, we ain't never seen him with a woman, so we was wondering if he was, y'know, available?' she asked, a broad, beautiful grin that was vaguely reminiscent of Spain's plastered across his face.

Suddenly, Romano was annoyed. He was doing his best to keep poor innocents from getting romantically involved with Spain, but still they remained interested in him. It was getting really old, really fast, but what else could he do? He could hardly trust Spain to handle these people because at best he was a pushover, and at worst, he was a deceitful pervert.

'Look,' he said, trying to rein his temper in, and failing slightly, judging by the taken aback look on the girls' faces. He felt a little bit bad, but carried on regardless, irritated by their lack of care. 'That guy's involved with someone, all right? He's in love. Deeply, deeply in love, so don't go thinking that he's free. If I were you, I wouldn't even try to express an interest in him, because he'll turn you down flat. He's too nice to be firm with people, and he's kind of shy about his relationship, so don't put him in an awkward situation, okay?' So fine, that was stretching the truth pretty far, considering that Spain didn't even have someone that he was interested in, let alone in a long- term relationship with but still… a little white lie wasn't so bad when it was in everyone's best interests.

The women all looked shell shocked, a couple of them sighing sadly, and walking away. The most brazen of the group, however, scrutinised Romano through narrowed, dark eyes.

Slightly panicked at the potential confrontation, but unwilling to reveal his lie, Romano met, and held her gaze, staring her down until she looked away and pulled an odd expression.

'…I see,' she muttered, before walking off.

Romano stared after her in confusion, but eventually shrugged, smirking as a strange sort of victory coursed through him. Knowing that he'd once again done a good job, he turned around, and made his way over towards where Spain was bartering with a marmalade seller.

The theory that Romano had created that it was only Spanish women (and a few men) who found Spain attractive was a good one. It made sense, really. Spain was their country, so it was only natural that they would feel automatically drawn to him. As the physical embodiment of their people, Spain also carried what Romano objectively supposed were classically handsome features in the eyes of the Spanish. Spain also used a very strange, non- accented Spanish that probably would have been impossible for the average Spaniard to place, but would have sounded extremely pleasant to their ears.

All in all, Romano theorised, Spain was probably designed to appeal to Spanish people, and therefore was why people seemed to watch him wherever he went.

It was a very, very good theory, so it really was a shame when it was proven to be utterly false when Spain visited his house in the early autumn, and they made the trip over the Bari.

They had been visiting the castle when Spain had spied a couple of Spanish tourists, and had immediately gone off to pester them. Naturally Romano had hung back, looking extremely put- out. He planned on giving Spain three minutes to shut up and come back when he noticed a pair of rather gorgeous young Italian women standing off to one side, whispering to one another. That he had spotted them was not usual. Romano had, as the embodiment of Southern Italy, been born with an almost radar-like ability to scout out pretty girls.

The part that concerned him on this occasion was the fact that they were glancing rather obviously over to where Spain was standing with the Spanish couple, looking altogether far too interested. Romano bit back a string of curses. He was simultaneously worried, and embarrassed. These girls were supposed to be Italian and so, have a lot more class than to be interested in an idiot like Spain. As their country, Romano was extremely disappointed in them.

More disturbing though was the fact that Spain shamelessly loved the Italian language, as he had told Romano on many occasions, even though he very annoyingly, and obnoxiously dubbed it as "Fancy- sounding Spanish." Add to that the fact that Italians were by nature a very passionate, and alluring people, and he had a problem. How on Earth would Spain be able to resist?

It had almost become a second nature, he thought as he sidled up to the two young ladies. Spain was such a huge pain to deal with; he honestly didn't even know why he bothered to hang out with him most of the time.

The girl with longer hair noticed him first, and she immediately brightened up. 'Excuse me?'

Romano pretended to be surprised at being addressed, going so far as to point at himself. When she nodded enthusiastically, he offered them a gracious smile. 'How can I help you ladies?'

'You came here with that guy, right?' she said, pointing at Spain.

'Unfortunately, yes,' Romano sighed dramatically. 'He's such a tourist.'

'I think that's adorable,' the second girl giggled.

The first girl grinned at her and turned back to Romano. 'He got a girlfriend?'

Romano bit the inside of his cheek, sincerely hoping that this wasn't how she usually represented him and his brother to foreigners. He shook his head firmly. 'He should be so lucky,' he muttered, slightly distracted by his irritation.

It wasn't until her grin grew wider, and her eyes started to sparkle that Romano realised his mistake. 'Do you think he'd be interested in an Italian girlfriend?' she laughed. She obviously meant to it be a joke, but Romano could tell that beneath it all, she was genuinely interested as to whether Spain would like an Italian girlfriend.

He felt his mouth tighten into a thin line, though he wasn't quite sure why. It seemed to work though, because the two girls suddenly looked a little unsure. 'No, no I don't think that he would. Look, if I were you, I'd drop it' he said, voice growing quieter, as if he were about to divulge a great secret. 'He's… well he's Spanish.'

The two girls blinked at him, and stayed silent for a moment. Romano was sure that he'd gotten through to them, especially when the first of the two girls frowned in disgust. Unfortunately though, the disgust was not aimed at Spain.

'Are you some kind of racist?' she almost screamed. Romano winced when almost everyone in the area turned around to stare at him. Spain, of course, remained completely oblivious, and for once Romano had to thank him for that.

He held his hands up in surrender. 'No, no, you mis-'

'It's people like you who give us a bad reputation!' she yelled. 'What's so wrong with being Spanish?'

'Well he- they did kind of rule around here for-'

'I happen to love Spanish people, so there,' she finished, looking absolutely furious.

Romano, knowing that he was only seconds away from being slapped, had to think fast. 'No, no, you misunderstood me!' he explained, covering his face with his arms, just in case. 'What I meant was… uh… he… he's Spanish, and he can't speak Italian. That's what I meant,' he insisted.

The rage drained from the girl's face. 'He can't speak Italian?'

Romano shook his head rather solemnly. 'Not a word.'

'…Oh,' she said, deflating slightly. 'Well can he speak English?' she tried again.

'Sadly not,' Romano lied again.

'I see…' she blushed, looking a little sheepish as she did so. 'I'm… I'm sorry for blowing up at you like that.'

'We're sociology students,' the second girl explained.

'Right,' Romano nodded. Feeling extremely awkward, he cleared his throat and began to back away slowly. 'Well, ladies... enjoy the rest of your day.'

He practically ran back to Spain's side, refusing to look back at the two girls. All right, fine. He'd lied again, but at least this time it was a half-truth. Spain could speak Italian, but he was far too lazy to use it. Plus his English always made him sound far too cute for a man, which was just plain weird.

Still… to prove his point to those two girls, just in case they were still watching, he hesitantly joined in with Spain's conversation with the tourists, completely refusing to acknowledge Spain's rather surprised look.

It was getting ridiculous.

Romano had come to two possible conclusions as to what the fuck was happening. Either A) Spain had always attracted people, and Romano simply hadn't noticed it, or B) Spain had stolen a magic book off England, or Norway and, like a completely pathetic loser, had cast some kind of spell on himself that would make him more appealing to other people. Clearly, conclusion B was more likely, which made it all the more serious when he impossible happened. The horrible, ridiculous impossible:

It wasn't just people who were falling for him.

Romano has always been afraid of England. First of all, it had been because he was so big, and he spoke a strange, guttural language that reminded him of the one that the savages who had beaten up his Grandfather used. Later it had been because he seemed to develop a hobby of beating Spain up. After that it had been because he had a huge, fucking empire. Even now, with the empire gone, and the rowdy disposition hidden under years of Victorian hypocrisy, England, to Romano, was still a creepy fucker who could probably snap Romano in half with the strength of his scowl alone.

All of this was partially why, when England approached him one day after a G8 meeting, Romano cast aside all of his usual bluster, and offered England a terrified smile instead.

'Um, Mister England. Can I help you?' Please say no. Please say no. Please say no. Please say-

'Ah yes,' England said, interrupting his thoughts. 'I thought that you might be able to, actually.'

Oh God. Oh God he was going to die. Madonna save him. 'Oh?' He was particularly proud that his voice didn't crack. He began to hurriedly think on how he could retreat in the politest possible way, but then the strangest thing happened.

England looked at the floor and… blushed. And then he shuffled a bit. And mumbled.

Romano, so shocked by seeing England acting bashful, for a moment actually forgot his fear of the other nation. 'Eh?'

England looked up at him, looking rather determined. 'Romano, you know Spain rather well, correct?'

Not really through any sort of choice, Romano thought sarcastically. 'I suppose so?' he said instead.

'Right, well…' England began, looking extremely awkward. 'Well, I was just wondering if he ever spoke to you about me?' Romano stared at him blankly, not comprehending a single thing. Why would- 'you know, just about… about me in any way? Mentioning me?'

One of the benefits of being absolutely, and utterly confused, Romano found in that moment, was that it made it extremely easy to forget that you were shit scared of someone. For the first time in his entire life, he was actually able to direct a full- force frown to England's face. 'Well… he talks about you sometimes, I guess?' As soon as he said it, Romano regretted it. Because England's eyes began to sparkle, and not with unshed tears, or with rage, but with something far worse.

Romano struggled to hold in his groan. This couldn't be happening. Really, truly, this could not be happening. People he could almost understand. People were likely sensitive to the awe- inspiring power that the nations gave off, subconsciously misinterpreting it into some sort of attraction, but nations? Sure nations felt it, but it was hardly impressive to them. So why the Hell would a nation be attracted to Spain? And of all nations, of all nations, why the Hell did England have to be attracted to Spain? How did that even work? Why would he even want to like Spain? They were meant to hate each other, not stare after each other like love- sick idiots!

'Romano,' oh God, he was blushing like a schoolgirl. 'Romano, I need to ask you… do you suppose, hypothetically of course, that Spain would be open to us –him and I- working on rebuilding our relationship at all? W- what I mean is, we do a lot of trading, and we're both in the EU, and we have that whole Gibraltar thing, so I was thinking about maybe building upon our relationship… making it a little more, ah, friendly.'

No. Way.

Romano gaped openly at him, not caring that England seemed to grow more and more fidgety as the silence dragged on. Finally realising, however, that England was waiting for him to offer some sort of answer, Romano snapped his mouth shut, mind whirring to come up with some kind of answer.

'I…' What was he even meant to say to something like that? This was just insane. England and Spain… it was ridiculous! The thought of it alone made Romano's next words come gushing out. 'I wouldn't if I were you! You don't know what he's planning!'

England's eyes widened. 'What he's… planning?'

'Yeah! He's gunning after Portugal, don't you know? He's obsessed with an Iberic Union. Just the other day he was going on about taking him forcefully, and aren't you and Portugal best friends or something? He doesn't even care about that!'

England looked floored. In fact, he'd gone a very funny, pale colour. When his blank expression finally drained away, he pulled another series of varying expressions in rapid succession, before he finally settled on outrage. 'His own brother!' he snarled. 'To think that he would- I'll kill him.'

Seconds later he was gone, the echo of doors slamming open the only hint that he'd even been in the room. Seconds after that, Romano realised that maybe that lie had been quite a bad idea.

Romano gaped when Spain walked in sporting a rather angry- looking black eye.

'The Hell happened to you?' he snorted, taking a gulp out of his water bottle.

Spain shrugged, gently pressing his hand to his eye as he did so. 'I don't know.'

'How can you not know?' Romano asked incredulously.

'Well...' Spain started, wincing as he prodded a little too hard at his brow. 'A lot of weird stuff has been happening to me lately.' Romano waited for him to finish explaining but, in typical Spain- fashion, Spain had deemed that to be enough information for him to make sense of everything. Stupid bastard.

'Like?' Romano prompted.

'Hmmm?' Spain responded, more interested in poking around at the bruise on his eye.

'Weird stuff like what?' Romano snapped, fast losing his already short- supply of patience.

'Well, Roma, it's funny that you should ask,' Spain said, finally dropping his hand from his eye. He moved further into the room, and took a seat at the kitchen table, propping his feet up onto the chair opposite him.

'I'm sure it's hilarious if you ever actually get on with it and tell me,' Romano glared at him.

'Well, it's all been happening for a few months now,' Spain began, staring off into the corner of the room, deep in thought. 'First of all it was when I went to the market a few weeks back, right? You know, the produce market that I like in Madrid? Well anyway, I went there, but everyone was giving me funny looks, and when I went to ask for some peppers, the woman at the stand slapped me in the face and said that she wouldn't serve bigamists.' Romano paled at that. Naturally Spain didn't notice. 'So then I went Sevilla a couple of weeks later, because I remembered that they had some wonderful chorizo there that I really enjoyed, and I told myself that I'd go back to get some, and you remember, Roma? We ate it about five weeks ago for lunch, and you said that it was okay, so you must have really liked it, and- wait, wait, where was I again?

'Oh yes! Sevilla. So anyway, I went back there to go and get some more, but everyone was glaring at me, and they said that they didn't want my kind in their town, and for a minute I was so scared, Roma! Because I thought that they'd figured out who I really was, and wouldn't that be strange if they didn't want their own country in their town? But anyway, I asked them what they meant and they said that I was a philander or something, and that I had many children.' Romano turned away slightly, and busied himself with taking another gulp of water. 'And then, remember a couple of weeks back when I went to your house? Well everyone I met on the way from the airport either tried to talk Spanish to me, or called me names in Italian, which was really, really weird, because I know I'm Spain and all, but how would they know that I'm Spain. I guess, I must look Spanish, but I wasn't waving my flag, or singing La Marcha Real, so I really didn't get how everyone seemed to automatically know where I was from, right? It wasn't so bad, but people kept saying really mean things about how lazy I was in Italian because they all seemed to think that I couldn't speak it, which was a little bit hurtful. I mean, I know I speak Spanish, but why would everyone guess that I don't know any Italian? Isn't that strange?'

Spain was staring at him rather beseechingly, probably because he was on about Romano's house or something. Romano cleared his throat, but did not meet his eyes. 'Uh yeah, I guess.'

Spain nodded emphatically. 'Anyway, so after that England declared war on me,' Romano choked on his water. 'Oh don't worry; we're not actually at war. Germany and France stepped in pretty quickly, even though Portugal picked England's side and was promising to send him troops to help him in the war, and how mean is that? He's my big brother, and sure, I know that he usually picks England's side over mine, but to join his side when I haven't even done anything wrong is just cruel! Anyway, I had no idea what was going on, I mean it's kind of crazy, right? England and I have been okay with each other for a couple of centuries now and then boom! I'm facing a war with him. Crazy! So anyway, that all got sorted out, because of the EU, or something,' he shrugged, reaching forward to pick up a banana from the bowl in the centre of the table.

'S- so you got that black eye off England, huh?' Romano asked hesitantly.

'Eh?' Spain looked up from peeling his banana, and touched his eye, as if only just remembering that it was bruised. 'Oh, no! This was off Prussia. He did it today when I went to Germany's house to talk about farming subsidiaries. Weird thing was, he was crying and going on about how I apparently thought that he was a pathetic loser who would never move out of his brother's basement. Isn't that mean? I would never say anything like that, but he said that I'd said it, and I was trying to remember if I had, but I knew that I hadn't. It's so strange that he'd think that, don't you think?'

'Mmm,' Romano responded, finding the table extremely interesting to look at.

'But you know what the strangest thing is?' Spain asked, pausing to take a bite of the banana. He munched on it for a moment, still apparently deep in thought. Then he licked his lips, and pulled the peel down a little further. 'Every time I asked people about what was going on, and why they were saying such things about me, the same thing kept coming up. Isn't that weird?' There was a moment of silence, and then Spain turned his attention fully on Romano. 'I said, isn't that weird, Romano?'

Romano stared at Spain, and Spain stared right back, unsmiling, but not angry. Instead he looked (perhaps rightfully) confused, and a little bit hurt.

'I- I don't know what you're talking about,' Romano snapped. He didn't know why he was bothering to deny it. Spain already knew, and even if he didn't, the fierce blush in Romano's cheeks was enough to give him away.

'Romano… I'm not mad, you know,' Spain said slowly. 'I'm not. I just don't get it. I mean, why would you tell people that I'm a bigamist, and a thief, and a transsexual and that I have a lot of children? And why did you tell Prussia that I couldn't stand him? And why did you tell France that I always complain that he smells bad, and that his hair's scraggly? And… and with England. I mean, it was kind of dangerous to make up stories about me planning on invading Portugal, right? Don't you think? And why did you tell the women at that market I like in Valencia that I'm gay?'

'What?' Romano spluttered. 'I never told them that you were gay!' Shit, Romano thought belatedly, well there went the denial tactic.

'That's what they said at the market,' Spain frowned. 'They said that you said that we were in a relationship.'

'I said nothing of the sort!' Romano screeched. 'I mean- oh damn it. Shit! '

'Okay, okay, believe you,' Spain said, holding his hands up in defence. 'But that still doesn't answer why you did it!'

'I-' Romano growled in frustration. This was going to be so hard to explain to an idiot like Spain, 'because they liked you!'

In an instant, Spain looked incredibly hurt. 'Y- you don't think that people should like me?'

'No!' Romano snapped. 'I didn't say that, you idiot. They liked you. As in they were attracted to you.'

Spain's look of hurt drained into a look of sheer non- comprehension. 'Huh?'

'Look,' Romano sighed, dragging his hand through his hair (careful, of course, to miss that one strand) before grunting softly, and pulling out the chair that Spain's feet were upon. Once Spain's feet had fallen to the floor, Romano sat down opposite him, and mentally prepared himself for the impossible task of explaining things to Spain.

'Okay, you probably think that what I did was pretty strange, but I was only doing it to protect those people from getting their hearts broken. Spain, you're a nation. You can't be with people. Not romantically,' he sighed.

Spain cocked his head to one side, eyebrows furrowed in confusion. 'I know that, Roma.'

'I- huh?'

Spain continued to look confused. 'Well, it's never really made sense, has it? We live forever, or for at least a really, really long time, and we have, well, power, and they live for a really, really tiny amount of time, and they're fragile. And don't forget that I saw firsthand how sad France was when he lost Joan, or England was when he lost Elizabeth, and Victoria. They stepped over some kind of line thingie, and they got their hearts broken, so I know much better to never, ever get into a relationship with a normal human, Roma.'

On the bright side, Spain had gone back to calling him Roma, which was always a good sign. On the negative side, Romano suddenly realised that he looked a little bit silly.

'Yeah, well…' he said, shifting awkwardly. 'You're kind of forgetful, so I was just looking out for those people.'

'I wouldn't forget about something like that,' Spain said seriously. Romano opened his mouth to argue back, but was stopped when Spain returned to looking thoroughly confused. 'It was kind of you to try and look after those people, Romano, but what I really don't get is why you'd make up stories about me to other nations. I mean, they don't need any sort of protection, so why would you lie about me to them?'

Actually, now that Spain had asked him, Romano couldn't remember why he had lied about Spain to other nations. With England it had been a shock. With Prussia it had been horror, and in France's case it had been an affirmation of some long- held suspicions. None of them had needed protecting though. In fact, Romano didn't like any of them, so protecting them would have been the last thing on his mind. Had it been out of habit that he'd discouraged them? It was kind of weird when he thought about it.

'Well, I uh, I knew that you didn't like them, so I saved you the trouble of rejecting them. You should be thanking me,' Romano scowled, hoping that it sounded believable enough to convince Spain, and possibly even himself.

'But how do you know that I don't like them?' Spain asked suddenly.

Romano paled at that, shocked to the core at the very thought that Spain might reciprocate their feelings. The image that Romano's mind threw up was disturbing at best, and he suddenly found himself growing angry at the thought of Spain being so brazen with his affections. 'You- what the fuck? You like them?' he shouted, slamming his hand down onto the tabletop.

'No,' Spain smiled back at him. 'Or not romantically, at least, but… you know, Romano, if it had been anyone other than you making these things up, I would almost think that the way that they were acting was a little bit jealous. Funny, right? Romano never gets jealous, right? That's why it's all very strange.'

Okay. Spain had a point there. If it had been anyone but Romano, then it probably would look a little bit like they were jealous. Romano though, didn't do being jealous. Especially not over Spain.

'Whatever,' he muttered, flushing and staring down at the grain of the table's surface.

'Don't worry, Roma. Like I said, even though you've told everyone that I'm some kind of sex maniac, and you think that I'm someone that people need to be protected from, I'm not mad. I think it's kind of cute!' Romano's head snapped up and he stared at Spain incredulously. His expression faltered, however, at the sight of Spain's gentle smile. 'But I wish that you had been jealous, because that would have been even cuter! I wonder if you'd get jealous if I told you that there is someone who I love very much, and would like to be with more than anyone else in the world?'

Romano's eyes widened at that, his entire body going cold. 'W-what? You're joking, right?'

Spain's smile grew, eyes gaining that tell- tale sparkle of the love- struck. 'Nope.'

Romano knew that look. He knew it better than any other on Earth, had seen it time, and time again, and had been trying to desperately to get it to stop being directed at Spain.

Suddenly, Romano's stomach lurched, and he felt sick. 'W- well what an unlucky person they are, Spain,' he responded, voice trembling slightly. Why was his voice trembling? He had no reason to be worried. None at all. If Spain wanted to go and get his heart broken, then so be it. Who was Romano to stop him? What right did Romano even have to interfere?

Spain's smile didn't even falter. He carried on looking straight at Romano, head cocked ever- so- slightly to one side. 'I'm sorry, Roma. It's someone who you can't "protect" from me, I'm afraid. You can lie to them all you want, of course, but they'll know the truth, I think.'

Romano tried to respond, but for some reason there was a strange lump in his throat, almost like he wanted to puke, but not quite the same. All he could manage was 'Mmmm?' as his mind flitted from person to person, every face that he knew, trying to discover who was going to end up hurting the man in front of him. Who was audacious enough to hold the heart of the Kingdom of Spain? Who the fuck was even worthy enough?

'Would you get jealous then, Romano?' Spain asked.

No! Romano's mind roared. Of course he wouldn't be jealous. Who would be? Spain was an idiot, and impossible to deal with, and a pain, and he smiled too much, and he never understood anything. Who would even want to be with him? What kind of idiot would Romano have to be to get jealous over any moron that could fall in love with Spain, and be loved by Spain? No. No, no. Romano would never be jealous over someone like that.

'Maybe,' he whispered.

Spain grinned. It wasn't victorious, as Romano had feared it would be. Instead it was satisfied, overjoyed, beautiful.

'You don't need to be jealous, Romano,' Spain said softly, placing his hand over Romano's. Romano jumped slightly, but did not pull away, too confused by everything to react in his usual manner. 'You know, you're so good at noticing when people like me, but you don't notice it when I wear the same expression myself.' That wasn't true. Romano knew that he was wearing it now. Knew that, when he really thought about it, he'd seen that expression Spain's face so many times before, going back days, weeks, years, decades, centuries. Knew that he, as half of Italy, the country of romance, recognised it instantly, every time. Knew who he'd been looking at every time.

Spain laughed, breaking the moment in his typical fashion. The way that he squeezed Romano's hand reassuringly, however, prevented any insult that may have left the other's mouth. 'Wow, Roma! You always tell me that I'm slow, but I think that you're being even slower than me right now!'

'I- I know what you're talking about, idiot!' Romano snapped, blushing bright red.

'As usual, you're terrible with at insinuating things, because you don't understand subtlety.'

'I wasn't trying to be subtle,' Spain grinned.

'Then stop trying to be clever, and just say it, idiot.'

'Fine, fine,' Spain said, rolling his eyes good- naturedly. 'Romano, it makes me happy that you got jealous over people liking me, because it let me hope that maybe you would finally see how much I love you. Was that okay?'

Romano's blush grew deeper still, warming his neck, and he knew then that if he didn't distract Spain, he was about four seconds away from a tomato comment. 'It'll do,' he grudgingly agreed. 'And I guess, maybe, the best way that I could ensure that you don't go sniffing around those innocent women-'

'Don't forget nations too!' Spain added.

'- and nations, would be to make sure that they all knew that you were strictly off-limits.'

Spain laughed merrily. 'You're too cute, Roma.'

'Shut up,' Romano grumbled, though he didn't pull back when Spain got up from his seat, and moved around to lean against the table, next to where Romano was sitting.

'Although, Romano,' Spain smirked, leaning in closer. 'A relationship with me? Well, I wouldn't if I were you. I heard a rumour that I only like Italian men with cute, little tomato blushes.'

Romano tried to scowl, but somehow it ended up as a tiny smile. 'Shut up, Spain.'

Spain flashed him a dazzling grin, before leaning down the rest of the way and kissing him.

Really, when he thought about it, Romano couldn't understand how anyone could be attracted to Spain. He was irritating, loud, overbearing, ignorant, spacey, lazy, flirty, shameless, and more importantly, he was Romano's.

Allowing himself a small smile of satisfaction at a job well done, Romano slid his eyes shut, and kissed him back.

England/ Spain, and Prussia/ Spain are also undeniably delicious.