Note: HAPPY BIRTHDAY, AMERICA! Here's a massive oneshot in which I show my love for you. There are some footnotes at the end.
Seven of Four
By Everything is Magic
Once upon a time, America had remembered England having to practically force him into formal suits. It was important he look nice for the events they attended, England had informed him. He was a young man now, and there were expectations to meet. There's no way he'd be allowed to make appearances looking as if he'd just come in from the fields.
At the time, he'd agreed, because making England happy, making him smile and swell with pride was… such an amazing feeling that it caused something like magic to bubble up within America.
But he never did much of anything important at those events, state events and personal events both. He was just the colony, after all. It was England that mattered, no matter how many people told him what a handsome young man he was, or how courageous his soldiers had been in the war with France, or how proud they were that he was part of the empire. The collar of the shirt under his waistcoat would itch, and he'd pull at it awkwardly, feeling a little more like a prop than the strong colony that he was.
Now America wore formal clothing by choice. He was a nation, and a nation didn't show up to meet his people and his leaders in neckerchiefs, scuffed boots, and felt hats. And it wasn't bad, once he got used to it. He actually sort of liked dressing to look his best.
Today was his birthday. Not technically, of course. America had no idea when he'd actually come to be. His first memories were of scavenging in the woods on his own, of sleeping with friendly rabbits as pillows and raccoons draped over him like a protective blanket. Before England, before anything.
But it was the day he'd decided to call his birthday, because it's when he'd broken free, declared independence and told the world that he was his own. And then there had been war- and now, America hadn't even been his own country for a decade now. It still felt so new, so exciting, so promising. He couldn't do whatever he wanted. He had work and duties and a role to fill. But this role was shaped by his people and himself, and that's what he'd wanted all along. That was freedom. It had not been easy since he'd won the war, since he'd broken free of the King and country who had ruled him. But… America was optimistic, that the trials they endured would only make him stronger.
Most of the people at the party in Lancaster had no idea who he was. Alfred F. Jones, the promising young prodigy who was often seen around government officials. He was fully aware of the whispers amongst people, about if he would ever consider courting a girl, or if he was set on remaining a bachelor. He pouted. He may have been at least one hundred and fifty years old, but he didn't look a day over seventeen! That wasn't very old at all. But… it was true that he showed little interest, outside of cordial dancing. There was no one that had caught his fancy, although in a way he loved every single one of them. They were his, after all.
Not England's. Not any king's or any one man's. Just… the people of The United States of America.
Earlier that day, his general, his president, his father, in a manner, had made a speech. It was the first time he'd ever made a speech on this day, and America had felt his heart swell near to the point of bursting and he tried so hard to mask the tears that had welled up in his eyes, because although he'd cried often as a child, he'd decided in recent years that- well he wasn't a kid anymore, that was it. Washington had spoken to him after the speech, a warm hand on his shoulder and a special smile that he reserved for the boy, nay man, who was his nation. And America, clad in his formal waistcoat and his breeches and his buckled shoes, had leapt forward like a child, wrapping his arms around the president in an embrace. Washington had, not unused to this behavior, merely patted him on the top of his golden-haired head and told him "You've worked hard, America. This is your day. Do what you wish to do on it."
This was what it meant to be an independent nation, and he wouldn't have traded it for the world.
"She is beautiful, non?" France asked, with a quirk of an eyebrow.
America's mouth dropped, and he wondered if maybe he was imagining what stood before him, majestic and bright and soon to be his. But he wasn't. France had been working on this gift for over a decade, since before the year of his centennial, and here it was, complete, unveiled at a workshop in Paris.
He nodded, his mouth dry, unable to form a coherent reply. He'd received a lot of gifts for his birthdays, but nothing like this. Never like this. It was a great gift from a great friend. And he'd been following the progress of the project since it was announced in 1867, but he couldn't have begun to imagine how amazing she'd be when complete. The idea of her standing over his harbor, torch raised and expression proud, caused a lump to form in his throat.
"La Liberté éclairant le monde," France said, resting an arm on America's shoulder.
"Liberty enlightening the world," America translated, his voice almost a whisper as he stared in awe at the statue. It shone copper in the summer Paris sun.
"That's you, mon Amérique," he explained, his hand moving down to America's mid-back and rubbing circles there. "Happy Birthday."
At this, France snatched his hand and pulled him along, drawing him closer to the stature. Soon they were standing close enough to touch. America did, stroking her largest toe, which was alone, bigger than him.
"You are a young nation, Amérique. I know that to you, it seems a long time since you became your own but… it is not."
America frowned, pulling his hand away from the statue and crossing his arms. "I get it, I'm young. Everyone tells me that. What's it matter?"
France chuckled, stepping close to the taller nation. "I was not done. I mean to say… that I expect amazing things from you, and let this statue, be partly a gift in honor of whatever those may be."
America's cheeks flushed and his blue eyes grew large. "Oh uh… great… wow."
"When you are as old as I am now, I will be there to celebrate it with you," France continued, smiling gently.
He scratched the back of his head. "Well that's amazing, France but… that's going to be a really long time. Two thousand years from now or something?"
France huffed, looking affronted and scandalized. "I am not that old. Age is only a matter of numbers anyway. L'amour keeps you young." He curled his fingers and pressed them to America's cheek, caressing the hot blush that heated them as he did so.
America flinched a bit but did not pull away. "Well… still a long time."
"Indeed, I suppose it is," France replied, running his fingers across America's other cheek before pulling away. "But you will be there, I am sure of it. And when you are… I promise I will give you another gift, one even greater than this one."
America beamed. "R-really? Better than this one?"
His brows furrowed, and he frowned. "Wait, you don't mean anything perverted, do you?"
France gasped, that hint of melodrama that America had grown so used to by now apparent in his reaction. "I do not!"
America laughed lightly, turning back to the statue. "Then I'll definitely look forward to it."
"It's the beginning of July, America. Maybe I shouldn't wear the scarf," Lithuania argued as he glanced in front of him. America turned around, an enormous smile on his face. His aviator goggles were pushed up onto his head, his hair stuffed under an aviation cap, and he wore a long scarf around his neck.
He looked every bit the picturesque aviation hero, and Lithuania chuckled inwardly at how ecstatic America would be if he said that out loud.
"Lithuania, this is an open cockpit, and we're high up in the sky. I know it's hot down here, but it gets a lot chillier up there!" He pointed skyward.
Lithuania glanced up. The summer sky was vivid blue, flecked with perfect clouds. It was… a wonderful day to fly.
"Plus, it's my birthday! So I'm going to make this is fun as possible," America said.
Imagining what 'fun' might be to America brought to mind tricks and stunts that rather concerned Lithuania. He had piloted a craft before, but he didn't even have a fraction of the experience America, who did it as a hobby, did.
They were flying from America's home in Washington, DC, to a little area in New York City called Seagate. There, they were attending a park dedication. Appropriately enough, one Lindbergh Park, dedicated to the aviator Charles Lindbergh, who less than two months before had completed the world's first non-stop transatlantic flight.
And Lithuania knew everything there was to know about him, because America had not stopped talking about the man since he'd accomplished the feat. He was so, so proud that one of his men had been the one to first do it.
"All right, I'll wear the scarf," Lithuania agreed, with a smile and a light laugh. He wrapped the scarf around his neck, and soon, they were up in the air.
And as they ascended, Lithuania could understand why America had recommended the scarf. Once they've leveled out, America yelled over the din of the engine and the wind.
"Pretty awesome, huh?"
"It really is," Lithuania replied, and he meant it.
America turned his head for just a moment, and even though he was wearing goggles, his expression was clear in his smile. "Aviation is the greatest thing in the history of ever!"
Lithuania raised an eyebrow at this. "Really?" he shouted to be heard.
America had turned back around, but he could see him nod his head. "Sure, trains and automobiles were GREAT. And when we started finding those dinosaur bones? AMAZING."
He whipped through a cloud, and the slight moisture tickled Lithuania's nose.
"But you know what? This is…" he paused, "this is like, if God somehow were able to capture freedom and give it to us in a material way? It would totally be this."
Lithuania smiled at the analogy. It was no wonder that America had insisted on spending his birthday in flight. And then he held on tight, as America performed an unexpected and unwarned for loop-the-loop.
There was little room for celebration in wartime, America knew. But that didn't stop his allies from treating to him to something small on his birthday. France and China brought gifts, a bottle of choice champagne from France and delicious dumplings and a bag of candy from China. Russia gave him a gift as well, but America honestly didn't have much use for a parachute bag without a parachute in it.
And there was a cake, with no name attached to it, leaving the identity of its giver unknown. When he saw it, he half wondered if it was from England. But one taste of it, with its creamy frosting and moist chocolate center, answered that question. There's no way England could have baked something that delicious.
"Japanese forces captured Gaudalcanal yesterday, and all you four are doing is throwing a party and eating cake?" England snapped, his arms crossed over his perfectly pressed uniform.
"Calm down, aru," China responded, licking a bit of frosting off his finger. "We're all working hard. Thirty minutes out of a meeting is fine for America's birthday."
"Oui," France agreed. "We have much to thank him for. It's his first birthday since he entered the war, a bit of cake and a few gifts will not hurt anyone."
Russia swallowed a bit of cake and tapped his fingers on the table. "Yes. I don't understand why he doesn't seem fond of my gift though…"
"Shut up, England," America finally spoke, having swallowed the large chunk of cake he'd shoved in his mouth. "You're just grumpy because you don't have a birthday to celebrate."
England scoffed, rolling his eyes and walking to the chalkboard at the front of the room. "Even if I did, I'd hardly waste time during crucial meetings on it, git."
"Oh please," France said, lounging in his chair. "If we weren't arguing about cakes and birthdays, we'd be spending the first half hour of this meeting arguing about something else."
The room fell silent for several moments, as everyone knew he was correct.
"France is right," America finally said. "And fine, if it's not that, it's because you're still sore about my revolution or whatever."
England smacked the chalkboard with the palm of his hand, and then glared at America. "Wanker! Don't be so arrogant to think that. You're a nobody of a colony compared to what I have now. Good riddance, I say!"
America dropped his piece of cake onto the table, and his eyes grew wide, barely masking hurt. "Look, whatever England. Just shut up. SHUT UP, OKAY?" He stood up, storming across the room and standing in the older nation's face. "I'm tired of this! I'm fucking TIRED OF THIS! You begged me for years to come over-"
"I did not beg you!"
"Whatever! You wanted me to, and here I am and…." He fisted his hands at his side and clenched his eyes shut. "All you've done is bitch at me, like you could not care less if I just up and left you, at the mercy of Japan and Germany and- everyone else!"
England's green eyes had widened in shock, but he forced it away, jutting out his chin in indignation. "It's not as if you've been innocent of being an arse yourself. Hardly! And I'm sure I'd be right fine if you-"
"THEN FINE!" America shouted, smacking his hand against the chalkboard. "I'll help France and China and Russia and the rest of the world, because heroes do that! And I'll help your people too, whether you like it or not. But fuck helping you!"
France leapt out of his seat, stepping in front of the dueling pair. "Both of you idiots, shut up!" he yelled. Startled, they turned to look at him. "Mon dieu! Neither of you mean what you are saying at all. England, you are being irrational because of what day it is. America, you are reacting to that behavior in an equally irrational manner."
"France—but England is- "
"He's right, for once," England interrupted. "Neither of us are right in the head at the moment… honestly."
Surprised, America stepped away and nodded. "Y-yeah, I… guess that's true."
France sighed and walked away.
America and England stood at the front of the room, awkwardly looking away from each other.
"Perhaps we should cancel the meeting for today, aru?" China asked as he leaned his elbow on the table.
America shook his head. "Nah, we've got important stuff today; Guadalcanal and everything. Let's… just sit down and get going."
England shook his head in the positive. "Quite right."
"Awww, is the conflict over? How sad," Russia said.
America shot him a glare as he sat down. "You can… have some cake if you want, England."
"Oh ah… right…" England joined him at the table. "I suppose I shall. Carry on then."
The meeting did indeed carry on, but the tension and the hurt and all of the unspoken remained, like a ghost that had settled itself in the room.
America had been witness to many fireworks displays throughout his life. He'd always loved the things, loved lighting them and watching them and just- enjoying them, all bright colors and fountains and stars and spangles.
But this one was the coolest one he'd ever seen. Maybe it was that it actually was the best one ever, or maybe it was more just what it was celebrating.
"Pretty cool, eh," Canada said from next to him. They were both lounging on the grass, a blanket beneath them as they watched the fireworks from the White House lawn. "I mean, this whole celebration has been… really impressive."
"Well the Expo67 was pretty awesome, I gotta admit," America replied with a smile. He leaned back on his hands, soaking in the colors and sounds above him.
"Yeah but I mean, a bicentennial?"
America laughed. "Yeah. You've got a long way to go before you get to have one of those."
Canada frowned and rested his chin in his hands. He blew out a puff of air, causing the curly hair that always hung over his face to fly up. "Please. You make it sound like I'm a lot younger than you or something."
"Not what I meant," America answered with a shrug, "although I am older than you."
"We're twins, eh…"
A particularly loud firework exploded, and the brothers watched in awe as red white and blue rained down over the city.
"One of us has to be older, and that's definitely the hero." America pointed to himself.
"Yeah, I guess."
America breathed in the night air, and it smelled like freshly mown grass and firecrackers and what he could have sworn was lemonade. "It's weird to think that we actually fought on opposite sides, huh? I mean… you and me. Just… kinda weird."
Canada nodded. He was toying with the rubber sole of his Birkenstock sandal. "Brothers should never have to fight on different sides…"
America looked at Canada, and stared, at the face the same as his, except with slightly softer features. Almost identical. "Y-yeah, that's totally true." He shook his head and frowned, his mind conjuring up images of another war long past, of North and South and brothers divided between the two. "But we did it a couple of times… I mean you being part of the empire and all."
"Sorry about that, eh."
America gestured dismissively with his hand. "Was a long time ago, man. No worries." He placed a hand on his twin's shoulder and leveled him a look. "And I know it won't ever happen again…"
Canada smiled, bumping his fist against his brother's free hand. "I think that goes without saying."
"Thanks so much for coming early, Japan!" America was practically leaping in anticipation as he answered, the door, immediately wrapping his friend in a one armed hug.
Japan stiffened slightly. "It's no problem, America-san. It's your birthday, after all. I ah, have your gift. Do you mind if I put it down?"
America stepped away. "Oh yeah, sorry man." Japan nodded and placed the gift on the coffee table, the first of many that would inevitably end up there throughout the day. "Anyway, I decided to invite you because this kind of stuff is right up our alley!"
Japan blinked. "What exactly is it, America-san? I apologize. It's just that you told me to come early, but didn't explain why."
America's eyes widened in shock. "You don't know?" Japan merely shook his head in the negative. "The Mars Pathfinder is scheduled to land today. It's a huge deal! First rover we've ever put out, you know? The amount of knowledge we're going to get from it is so awesome."
Japan rested his hand under his chin for a moment, before his mouth dropped open in an 'o.' "I'm terribly sorry. I had heard of it. Of course. I'd been following the progress myself. I guess sometimes I just forget things in my age…"
America waved his hand. "It's all right. As long as you're excited now. I'm getting a buddy of mine from NASA on the speakerphone. She's going to call me when it lands."
He was practically bouncing with anticipation as he sat down on the couch, grabbing the phone and holding it in his lap. Japan joined him.
"And after that, it's the usual?"
"Yup, barbeque, fireworks, watergun fights… cake. All the awesome stuff I do on my birthday. Guests are arriving at three," America explained.
Japan allowed a small smile to cross his features. "I'm sure it will be very enjoyable."
"Definitely." America was staring at the phone in delight anticipation. "And if you don't have a hotel tonight, you know I've got plenty of guest rooms."
"Thank you for the courtesy, America-san."
America just shrugged and smiled, and the two began to chat about all sorts of matters. About anime, manga and comics they'd both been watching, about new video games, about this really amazing article on giant squids that America had read in one of his science magazines, and even about space exploration.
"All those shows we watch, Japan? With the spaceships and the light speed and even the giant robots?" America grinned. "They're all gonna happen someday!"
There was a twinkle of amusement in Japan's eyes. "Is that so?"
"Yeah, definitely. NASA will get us there. You can help too if you want."
Japan was about to reply when the phone rang. The time was one minute before noon. America clicked the speaker phone button so quickly that Japan didn't even notice until it was on.
"H-hello?" America began.
"Hey there, Alfred," said the voice on the other end of the line, a woman. "I'm calling you Alfred because a bunch of other people are around, all right?"
"Yeah, cool!" He turned to Japan and whispered, "She knows who I am. We talk a lot."
"You can probably tell by all the shouting in the background that the Pathfinder has landed!" the woman exclaimed. Indeed, America and Japan could hear enthusiastic shouting and cheering accompanying the phone call.
America whooped, pumping his fist in the air as he did so. "Awesome, so, so AWESOME!"
"Congratulations, America," Japan said genuinely, placing a hand on his arm. America swung his arm around Japan's shoulder, squeezing him to his side.
"It's definitely been fifteen seconds, right?"
"Yes, of course. It's been three minutes now. Sojourner is looking good!"
America cheered again at this. Japan looked to him for clarification. "Only one rover has landed successfully on Mars before, but it died after just fifteen seconds. It was a Soviet Rover in the seventies." He wrinkled his nose as he explained. "Looks like we beat that!"
The woman chuckled. "Indeed. It's too early to make any guarantees, but we should have something from her by tomorrow."
"Great!" America squeezed Japan tighter.
"I'd best go, Alfred. Duty calls."
He nodded. "Yeah, cool. Thanks Gwen. You're so awesome for doing this. For always keeping me up to date and giving me all that inside info and… everything. You'll keep doing that, right?"
"It's no problem. And of course I will," Gwen replied, her voice warm. "It's the least I can do for my country on his birthday."
"I can't believe I agreed to come with you," England grumbled. "And my god, will these bloody stairs ever end?"
"There's three hundred and fifty-four of them, so uh…." America did some quick calculations in his head, "just about fifty more?"
England and America's hands were sweat soaked, more so because they were holding hands. It was a lengthy climb to their destination indeed, but America was determined to get England up there.
"Aww, c'mon England," America said. "It's not even hot today. It's cool for a July day in New York City. And besides," he paused, smiling impishly, "I'm pretty sure if you hadn't eaten all of those hot dogs today, you'd be feeling better."
"Oh shut it," England retorted. "It was better than me getting drunk, right?"
"Fair point… although you could just not gorge yourself on anything. Isn't hanging out with me awesome enough?"
England snorted. "On July fourth? Bloody hell, you're lucky enough that I agreed to come here."
America just shook his head. "The cool thing about being a nation, is that I can go to places like this whenever I want. Doesn't matter that it's closed, that it's after dark. It's actually a shame that it's closed to the general public this late. It's… way more beautiful at night."
He pulled England up on the landing, and there they stood, together in Lady Liberty's crown. The openings in the crown served as windows, displaying to them a view of America's largest city in the warm summer night. The city lights shone, turning the sky above almost a misty purple. Somewhere in the distance there were fireworks, exploding with color and light. And on the water, the city reflected, causing it to glow.
"Manhattan Island," America clarified. England merely nodded, for of course he knew, but he could hardly manage a retort when he was looking at this.
America really was beautiful.
"It uh… just opened back up today," America explained. He was pulling at his collar and rubbing the back of his neck nervously. "The crown's been closed since 9/11. I kinda missed coming up here. It looks different now but… still gorgeous."
Noticing the way his mood had fallen (he got that way whenever he mentioned that date, the dear boy), England squeezed his hand tightly. "It's… extremely beautiful, America." And it was true. "This is a wonderful city."
America perked up, his face breaking into a huge smile. "R-really?" And England could see in the dim light that his cheeks had flushed pink.
England reached up and cupped America's cheek in his hand. "I've always thought so. Perhaps not as brilliant as London, but still quite lovely."
America leaned into his touch, nuzzling the side of his face into England's palm. "Awesome."
England chuckled. "I remembered something today. It's kind of silly but… it's been almost seventy years, so I may as well fess up."
"What's that?" America asked. He grabbed the hand that England had near his face and held it.
England's face grew red. "Remember that time, way back in 1942, when we had that huge fight on your birthday?"
America frowned, for he never liked to think of days like that, days before he and England had- come to be what they were now. When far more things were unspoken, when they hurt each other far more often. "Y-yeah, that sucked pretty badly. With the cake?"
England nodded. "I did get you a gift that day. It was the cake. I had my boss have it catered, even though chocolate was scarce and all."
America's eyes widened. "Really? That was you? Awww, England. But then why did you-"
"I knew after that day that I wasn't ready to be with you," England interrupted. "I knew that even if you did share my feelings, which… did end up being the case, it would have been a terrible idea. So I worked hard, throughout the war… you see."
The younger nation cocked his head. "Worked hard on what?"
England fidgeted a bit, chancing a glance at the cityscape before continuing, "I couldn't bear to see you sharing my gift with someone else, larking about with our other allies when I wasn't even there yet." He bit his lip and shook his head. "How childish of me. And isn't that exactly what doomed me in the first place with you? Not being able to sha-"
England was silenced by America's warm lips pressed against his, soft and gentle and comforting and sweet.
"It was a long time ago, England," America whispered once they'd pulled apart. "We were both kinda dumb about stuff back then."
"Y-yes, of course."
He didn't know if he'd ever be able to admit it out loud, and he rarely acknowledged it on a conscious level, but England loved America's freedom. He loved his infectious joy and his smile and his zest for life. He loved that now when America wanted to be his and only his, there was no way to he could reason it as anything but true. America could love anyone in the whole world. He was free to do so, entirely, with no obligations as a colony or a dominion or anything of the sort. And he chose England. And England chose him.
And even though England wasn't completely over that rainy day on the battlefield, still struggled with celebrating something that had hurt him so deeply, he knew that in the end heartache had paved the way for something better.
America pulled England to his side, kissing the spot directly below his ear. He leaned his face upward and whispered in said ear, "So are you gonna say it?"
England shook his head, giving a playful tug to Nantucket. "Happy Birthday, love. Don't make me say it again."
America beamed, cuddling him tighter and gesturing him to look forward, where a particularly stunning firework was exploding. England leaned against America's shoulder and watched, even as America nuzzled his chin into the top of his head and began humming The Star-Spangled Banner under his breath.
This was what it meant for America to be an independent nation, and he wouldn't have traded it for the world.
1- In 1791, the only Fourth of July address ever made by George Washington occurred in Lancaster, Pa.
2- The Statue of Liberty was first envisioned in 1868. It was not complete until 1884, eight years after it was originally supposed to be completed. At this time, on July fourth, it was given a formal presentation in Paris, France. In 1885 it was disassembled and sent over to the States by ship. The stature started out copper colored, before oxidizing and turning to the green color we see today.
3- America's airplane is a 1927 Swallow, in my mind. Charles Lindbergh, was of course, the first man to make a flight across the Atlantic in one go. He became an instant national hero, and really helped to kick start aviation. Lindbergh Park is located in Sea Gate, NYC. As for dinosaurs? They were huge during the Gilded Age. The Bone Wars are pretty interesting.
4- On July 3, 1943, the Japanese forces captured Guadalcanal, the largest of the Solomon Islands. A month later, the Guadalcanal Campaign began. It was the first major offensive launched by the Allied forces against Japan. It last over half a year.
5- For the United States Bicentennial in 1976, there were massive celebrations throughout the nation, including elaborate fireworks in DC. The Canadian Centennial is also mentioned. It occurred in 1967. America recalls the Expo 67, which was a massive World's Fair held that year in Montreal.
6- The Mars Pathfinder landed at 11:57 a.m. EST on July 4, 1997. The rover that it released, Sojourner (named after Sojourner Truth), was the first successful Mars Rover ever. Back in the '70s, the Soviet Union attempted rovers twice. The first time, it crashed. The second time, it landed but ceased transmission within fifteen seconds.
7- Again with the Statue of Liberty. Visitors can actually go up to the crown and view the city, although the amount of people who can do it is limited (250 per day). Unfortunately, after the 9/11/01 attacks, the Lady's crown was closed. It was reopened to visitors on Independence Day of 2009. When America mentions England gorging himself on hot dogs, I'm referring to a fourth of July image Himaruya posted last year that featured England doing just that.