Title: Love a Lover

Author: The DayDreaming

Warnings: Rated T…FOR TEEN! Slight language, probably controversial issues, grade-school-esque romantic antics. One-sided US/UK, though it's really only a plot device. More-likely-than-not incorrect information.

Disclaimer: I do not own any of the characters in this story. They are the rightful property of Himaruya, whose name I am not sure I spelled right. Oh well.

Summary: "All Mankind love a lover." –Ralph Waldo Emerson There's something satisfying and grating in the way America waits for England in the rain. Even if he isn't English, Russia allows himself to play the gentleman and offers America the kindness of a pink umbrella and a listening ear.

Recommended listening music: "The Dumbing Down of Love" - by Frou Frou

"It's strange that words are so inadequate. Yet, like the asthmatic struggling for breath, so the lover must struggle for words."

-T. S. Eliot

It's almost too easy to miss him.

It brings Russia to pause as he passes by the shop window. Afternoon ticks away and there are people, too many, bustling about and congealing in the cool streets, clotted blood in the arteries of a major city. At the moment, he can't bring himself to think of the name, caught on a wisp of thought that slithers away into the back of his mind. It doesn't matter. The cities of their lands are so alike. Sometimes it's difficult to keep track of where and when he is, whether it's London or Beijing, Cairo or Tokyo.

And what should it matter, really? He once knew America to get his own District of Columbia confused with Rome. Proof enough it wasn't the heart of cities that set them apart, not vessels of humans as they walked in murders among the aging, sagging streets, saturated in symbolism and history and unsaid words (too-too much so as the meaning becomes lost in the preservation of limbs and thoughts already torn asunder with the closing of books written for future generations). The moment he breathes the scent of warm seas in the Mediterranean, or the apple-tinged air of Virginian orchards, the knowledge of his place in the world comes rushing back and he can rest easy in the familiarity of foreign landscapes.

But cities. They are tricky in their disguises, subtle hints in architecture and design. Though he can feel the pulse of Nations underfoot, the beaded strands of individuality fade in the fluorescent glare of streetlamps and gritty sidewalks. Sometimes, he finds Moscow in Berlin.

Perhaps that's why he can't feel it at first. The mirrored window is slightly warped, transmitting images of squatter people as they pass, but he can make it out, just barely, the golden fringe peeking from a navy beanie. The eyes come next, hooded as their owner bends his head against a stiff wind that rattles papers in the street and breeches cold fingers into loose clothing.

There is no one like him, and Russia has long learned to pick him out of a crowd. It was necessary. To survive. Always to survive; why else would he always allow his gaze to fall back to him in a room full of hostile people? The danger presented by him is palpable, and it makes his teeth clench to see the others draw so close. Don't they know? Can't they realize? Only Russia is truly safe from him; he does not fall for the insincere smile or forced pleasantries, can see past stuttering politeness to the look in his eyes, which plead, 'I'd rather be anywhere than talking with *you*.'

Silly England. Silly France. Silly Japan and Lithuania and China and the boy whose name he can't remember, though he's definitely seen him before. They crowd so close. Don't they realize it makes him uncomfortable? He can always see the way America takes a step back for every step they make forward. Russia knows that the other does not want closeness beyond intended business. He is used to being vast, but those other nations, those fools; they cling so unconsciously to clustered congregations that they suffocate the boy with their clinging breaches of proximity.

Russia knows, though. Russia, who can keep his distance yet still communicate his message with the barest of sentences, is most accepted within the personal bubble that encloses Alfred F. Jones. No push or shove for attention, and all of a sudden he can be America's world. It is secret knowledge, something to be cherished, something to be held and nursed. America is claustrophobic of others.

Russia hates it when Nations flock around the boy. They pull away the intensity of his focus, and Russia will wonder how the foolish idiots can stand around the ticking bomb with lighters and matches on their tongues.

But today, at this very moment, America is alone, sitting idly on the thick stone rim of a fountain. A bouquet of indistinguishable flowers sits at his side like a misplaced doll. He glances at his watch, then darts his head around the street, dips it down for a brief moment to touch his chest, and finally folds his hands on his lap. The blue of his hoodie almost blends into the background, and his thick jeans crinkle like jagged cracks in the white of the stone.

Russia is tempted, so tempted to walk up and toss the bouquet aside, and maybe throw water on the American's clothes, but he resists. America shifts again, repeats the pattern of earlier.

He wants to stand his distance and ask with his eyes, like always, like normal (the art of silence is their battle ground, and oh if only the other Nations knew how stunning America could be with his mouth closed and his eyes open; there is a beautiful mind among the drawn curtains that hide a shivering child). America has learned to feel him, too, and it amuses Russia to no end when the other senses his presence, the tautening of shoulders and chording calf muscles. Though the Cold War is over, their habits die hard, and no one can erase half a century's false impressions. Even if, primeval of all those misguided feelings, are years spent in appreciated bliss (sometimes Russia dreams of closing the distance between them, as they used to; hold hands and speak of stars thought impossible to reach until America says that he'll definitely try, and he finds himself promising to accompany him to the moon one day).

But, there is work to be done. He did not wander from his hotel room without reason, and so he heads for his embassy and thinks of nothing as America resumes his recurrent pattern.

It is only an hour later that he returns, arm laden with several manila folders pressed tightly into his chest as another harsh wind howls along the street.

He passes the warped window, the people on the street, the fountain, and does not think anything until his eyes meet once again with that reflected smudge of blond fringe. He turns and sees America, still at the fountain, though now he's taken to hunching over and wrapping his arms around his knees, head staring intently at the watch wrapped like a too-big bracelet around his wrist, a child that wears his father's jewelry.

The bouquet has moved to his other side, looking distinctly rumpled.

Russia cannot resist this time and steps across the street and into the small square cordoned on all sides by moving people. There are no Nations to distract him, to pull his eyes away from Russia. Even before his footsteps echo up from cracked cement, America's shoulders stiffen and his calf muscles clench, though he appears otherwise unaffected.

He stops four feet away. A reasonable distance when dealing with America. He wonders if America realizes how much he does for him, how different he is from everyone else.

He remains quiet for a minute, slowly sliding into two until America snaps his head up and pouts at him, "What do ya want, Russia?"

"Ah," Russia mutters, quiet, though he knows his voice will be heard. America is such a good listener when he's focused and intent. He's not like England, always shouting and yelling. America listens to him, so, so well—"I merely wished to inquire about your enjoyment of the day. It's nice weather, da?"

America noticeably shivers under his relatively thin hoodie, and Russia can't help but wriggle his gloved fingers in the pocket of his coat. America looks as though he's trying to muster up a glare, but he only succeeds in pushing his lower lip out further and tucking his blue hands into his waist, cradled by his legs. Russia resists the urge to bite that chapped lip and teach America why it is he should maintain better control over his rather flaccid mouth muscles.

"It's fucking fine. Now leave me the hell alone," America shifts his attention back to his watch and nibbles worriedly on that same protruding lip until it's reddened and puffy. Russia blinks and shifts, tilts his head to observe the time piece as well.

America is playing games with him. He's sure. America wouldn't brush him off for anything.

The boy takes out his iPhone, a device that Alfred has assembled with broken phones from stores in his country (he had run to Kiku a few years prior and proudly shown it, willing to stand so so close to the other in order to exclaim his ingenuity, his greatness), and quickly scrolls through the screen until he reaches the moving image of a ticking, analog clock on the screen. Its automated tic tic coincides with the blond's watch, only a millisecond behind.

Russia tries again; he will not be denied, not when he's taken the effort, "Are you waiting for something, dear America? Or, perhaps, someone?"

America twitches, eyes flitting from the glowing screen to the rumpled bouquet at his side. He scowls when he catches sight of Russia's knowing smile, but then quickly morphs it into a smirk that stretches his lips in such a way that the cracked skin begins to bleed.

"Yeah, actually. I am. Waiting for someone."

Russia wants to leave it at that, and yet does not. America is baiting him, he knows; it would be considered defeat by the other if Russia turned and walked away, yet also a victory for Russia. It is obvious that America wants him to hear; leave now, and he'll snub the other man. But, still more, he is curious. There is time for more victory yet.

"Oh?" he inquires softly, tilting his head.

America's smirk widens and he thrusts a thumb in his chest, "Yeah! England!"

"Is that so?" he asks, masking the disappointment in his voice. There is nothing of interest there.

"Yup! England and me! Us, y'know, on a date!"

A date? A sharp pain bubbles in Russia's stomach, and he finds he can almost not contain the resulting laughter.

"Very cute, America. I find it very sweet of England to be pitying you! Truly a gentleman," he smiles his sweetest smile; one attracts more flies with honey. America bolts from his place on the fountain with a growl and delves into Russia's allotted four feet like a billowing storm, dropping short of his chest. The boy raises himself on his toes and matches Russia.

"What did you say, bastard?"

"Nothing. Merely that it is very noble of England to be wasting his time on the likes of you."

He is sure America will punch him, violent moron that he is, but the other instead turns on his heel and takes his seat at the fountain once again, stretching, tearing smirk still littering his face, "Ha! You're just jealous that I have a date and you don't! You can't catch me, bastard."

"Oh, but America, I'm merely trying to point out how truly undesirable you are! Take it as nothing more than that, please," an easy match. America's smirk twitches downward slightly.

"Whatever. I don't have time for you, so go away and do creepy things to someone else," America resumes glancing at his watch, "England will be here any minute. Don't want him catching sight of a freak like you."

"Oh? What time is your date?" he had never thought America would arrive early for something. He had to have been there for at least two hours; how uncharacteristic of the Nation.

America glances at his watch, mouth tightening. He doesn't say anything. Russia allows the smile on his face to grow, a giddiness enveloping his heart like a vise.

He allows himself a bit more fun, acting confused and looking around, pretending to examine faces in the crowd and his own wristwatch, "England is never late, da?"

He is a good thespian, he is sure. He hides so well behind his words, just like America, like dear Alfred. He's always wondered if perhaps the boy would spend some time acting in his own Hollywood movies, they might, perchance, be a bit better. America has a beautiful smile and a face that needs no make-up; there are no roles the boy can't perform moderately well. It's a shame, really. For once, Russia would like to see him play the villain on purpose. Bang bang gone.

America's frown deepens, the knuckles on his clenched fist visibly whitening. But he remains quiet.

Russia observes the turmoil on his face. It is of the certain pitiful look of a kicked puppy. It makes his breath quiver, and something knot in his stomach; he cannot tell if he enjoys the sensation, but the knowledge that he caused it, that he pressed upon America's conscience a stamp of turmoil, settles easily in his mind, feather-light.

Another chilly wind whistles past and flutters the long tails of his scarf; America shivers and curls back in on himself.

It is enough, he decides. America is foiled once again, thanks to his efforts. Is this what being a hero feels like? It is so delightful to see his enemy defeated and defenseless. He hopes no other Nation wanders by, crowds the boy. Only he is allowed to taste America's discomfiture in its full glory.

Even hollow, easy victories are enough when it comes to a disgrace like Alfred F. Jones.

Russia turns to leave, pace brisk in the smeary city air, cooling in the daze of evening.

America calls out, and it stops him in his tracks. He wants one last game, one last sweet victory for a truly good day, "Da, America?"

"Have you…Have you seen England today?"

Russia smiles.

"I have, indeed."

"Well?" America huffs impatiently, folding his arms against his chest and standing. Russia wishes he would come closer, like before. It would be so much better if his defeat could be seen up close. "Where was he? Was he busy?"

"I have seen England today, da. I believe he was with France, and was…ah, 'preoccupied,' I believe you would say." Checkmate.

The other stiffens, eyes staring into his with an intensity that sends shivers down his spine. America, dear America, what pretty eyes you have when you are about to cry.

But, he doesn't cry. He doesn't do much of anything, really, besides pulling his beanie down a bit further over his head and checking his watch. Russia waits, waits for the good feelings to come and warm him, for honey to slide down his throat like prized ambrosia.

The feeling doesn't come. America sits. Crosses his legs. Idly pats the bouquet of flowers at his side. Stares at his watch.

Russia leaves, the weight of emptiness hugging his chest. This is victory, too, he thinks. It must be.

He wonders how well America distinguishes between loss and triumph, and if it ever makes him feel sick and tired.

He ponders when the sterile-sweet scent of four-star hotel rooms has become akin to home. Surely there is something more he holds dear than the ugly, repetitive patterns of comforters and stiff carpet fibers crunching underfoot?

Hotels, like cities, are very much the same, no matter where he goes. The eyes of centuries can no longer distinguish what is different in each room, each tiny space of rented air; not the monotonous paintings on the wall or intricate detailing of headboards, gauzy curtains with repetitive texture or the number of buffed-over scratches on the bathroom faucet.

In that respect, he can concede that it is just like a home; a place so familiar as to be able know where everything is, even in the dark; a place which holds no exterior interest beyond chocolates left on pillows and the occasional article of clothing accidentally forsaken by the last resident in one of the drawers.

He finds himself questioning whether America believes the same. He sits in the hotel room and stares at a crack in the plastic casing of one of the room's electric socket covers, thinking thinking thinking about America. He thinks on what kind of house the other has now, whether it's fallen into disrepair without the helpful presence of dear, sweet Toris; if America still paints his ridiculous pop art; what radio station he sings to while taking a shower because he knows for a fact that America is always listening to something; how large the other's garden has grown, because if there was one thing he could always depend on with America, it was taking pleasure in gardening and farming, although the former was all he could really afford to do nowadays.

If he ever bothered to clean out that old storage closet.

If, somewhere among the debris of over two hundred and thirty years, there still lingers a bit of the time when he and America were not bitter rivals.

He wishes that America could let go of England. The burden of memory, of history, is nothing but a distraction. For someone who could so easily break ties in the physical world, could so easily distance his mind from the empathies and sympathies of others, America seems incapable of falling free from that nuisance's useless, clinging hold.

A part of Russia fears that England has caught onto his and America's continued games. It would be just like him, to try and keep what he never really wanted in the first place, just to spurn others, to show that 'here, this is mine and no one can have it. Him.'

But, no. America isn't so foolish. He can see him languishing within the other's chains, but still fully capable of slipping loose at the slightest indication of tightening. America does not do what he would not have thought of doing himself. America is his equal, his rival, his closest enemy, and the one that knows him best. Their fates will always be intertwined, and nothing that crumbled, desolated former empire can say will change that.

And yet, why…why does America keep going back? Why does he ever allow his gaze to drift away from Russia, who stands right there, to a man who holds nothing but disdainful remorse for his mistakes in raising such a useless colony?

Doesn't America know? Russia is the one who stands apart from all the rest. He, who can communicate with the simplest words, with eyes, with silence.

He wonders if America knows which city they are in.

Rain taps steadily against the polyester of the pink umbrella, sliding smoothly down the steep curve and dripping out of view.

How dreadful. Wherever he is, the rain comes about as suddenly as a flash of light, dampening the streets into dim grey corridors. He cannot decide if it looks sadder than a howling blizzard in Moscow.

He walks a familiar street and observes the blurry reflections cast in the distorted mirror-window. It's dark and un-shifting, blending shadows and hurried, wet pedestrians in and out of view, a clouded looking-glass.

He passes on, into the next identical street, and then the next after that, searching for a place warm and unfamiliar from hotel walls seen one million times.

On the third street, he pauses and allows his mind to drift. Without really thinking about it, he returns to that familiar window, with all its fleeting shadow people, and traces the outline of the fountain with a gloved hand.

He turns and walks to the fountain, and observes with no small amount of apathy the curved form of America as he sits on the rim, sneakered feet gripping stone edges while he hides his face in his knees. His fingernails are painted a delicate blue in the wake of healthy pink.

Russia wants to laugh, ask, 'Where is England?'

He wants to grip the other's hood and drag him into the roiling waters of the turned-off fountain, see him float weightless under the rippling surface and look at nothing but Russia and know that that's how it's meant to be. No England or mirrors or memories.

He wants to run his fingers through America's hair and find if it's truly liquid gold under the dull sheen of saturated strands. Take off the other's glasses and know if they're truly fake like Spain says they are. He wants to press his ear against his chest and listen to Washington D.C. as it sleeps through the night.

But all of these wants are small victories that he first must conquer in order to achieve. The defeat of a rival comes in the yielding of individual pieces until there is nothing left but the raw and naked truth at the core of everything; the crying, frightened child hidden in the gauzy curtains of an isolated mind.

He wants America to look at him.

"Why's it fucking pink?"

Russia blinks, confused when America is suddenly there, head turned to eye the, indeed, pink umbrella sheltering him from the rain. He's taken his glasses off, the lenses rendered useless in the wake of distorting waters on the panes.

He really does have the nicest face without those atrocious things.

Russia smiles and lets the thoughts of summer skies over fields of sunflowers fade from his mind, "It is nothing to worry about, dear America. Merely something I thought to grab at the last minute before leaving. I doubt you have had such forethought, da?"

America sneers, and oh Russia wishes he wouldn't, it makes his eyes shade the murkiest cobalt color, "…Whatever."

"You are very eloquent today. Is it because your IQ has finally shifted into the negative regions? Or is it because you have decided to remain in the rain and cold for over five hours now, no tiny, grumpy Englishman in sight…?"

Russia is disappointed when America doesn't comment, his mouth thinning into an apathetic line as he plants his chin into the crook of his paired knees. They had been doing so well! Today, America must be unaware of the games they're playing, that Russia is winning.

America buries his face in his legs once more, curling in tighter on himself, closer closer closer; if he pulls inward enough, not even the barbed fingers of rain and wind and watery disappointment can reach him. No one can reach him.

Russia dislikes the look of, not defeat (never defeat), but perhaps deadness, on the other. The rain molds him like a greying, wilted sunflower.

He steps beside the other's huddled form, long past shivering in the receding temperature, and allows the water to drip drip drip from his umbrella. It feels so nice to be next to someone again; Russia almost doesn't mind that it's America beside him.

The other lifts his head, and perhaps the reflecting pink ambience of the umbrella is playing tricks on Russia's eyes because the skin around America's eyelids looks swollen and red.

He wants to laugh. He has won once again and victory tastes as a bitter pill would.

He pats the other's head like a dog, smiling because it feels so nice to conquer each tiny piece of America that falls away from the whole like raindrops off pink polyester, "Come along, dear America. I can act as your English gentleman for the evening."

If beating America is sweet, then besting England is like consuming the richest of cakes. He can so easily imagine that pathetic excuse for a man left behind to kneel in mud as he grabs dear Alfred's cold hand and pulls him away.

The bouquet of flowers is leaving a puddle of water on the table, though Russia can't quite bring himself to care. He is busy, staring as America consumes his third hamburger and begins to inhale a steady stream of 'freedom' fries into his mouth.

The boy is such a disgusting pig. He will never be a good dinner date. It is a good thing that England never arrived.

But, despite the revolting table manners and gluttonous appetite, Russia can't help but feel the tiniest bit smug as America gorges himself on Russia's kindness. The boy is happy, and it makes him feel happy, knowing that he is the ultimate cause, the variable factor to America's thoughts and emotions. England cannot say as such.

America has also not moved his knee away from where it rests lightly against Russia's, the small surface area of the table inciting a need for close contact, though the other can just as easily shift his legs onto the booth bench.

The waitress comes back around with another glass of Coke for America, to which she receives a crumb-filled 'thank-you,' and a mug of warm tea for Russia. The check is placed subtly on the table, though unfortunately right on top of the water pooling from America's bouquet.

Russia idly sips his tea, some flavor he can't bother to remember, as unremarkable as it is, and waits for America to finish chewing the last of his burger before asking, "Why?"

"Why what?" is the immediate mumbled reply as the other sticks his fingers in his mouth, sucking up leftover grease and ketchup from the digits. Russia looks pointedly at the bouquet. He thinks that perhaps America will play the dumb blond today, as he usually likes, but the other catches his gaze and makes a noise of understanding, or maybe he is enjoying his fingers a little too much.

"Oh. The date with England…," America stills, hand reaching out to caress a sodden petal of what looks to be a daisy, egg-yolk yellow petals parting at the touch. He no longer looks happy, and a part of Russia wishes he would go back to eating, to not thinking about England because the bastard can still win if America is not focused on the man in front of him here and now.

"You know," America smiles, stretching chapped lips until they're bleeding, "I called him up for that date a month ago. Told me I'd manage to screw it up somehow, but said he'd do it if only to get a good laugh at my expense and a free meal 'cause he wasn't going to pay. We talked it over and made it for during the next conference. And so, yeah, here I am. And…"

He trails off, letting his gaze fall to the window beside them. The rain from outside beads across the glass panel and catches the orange light of a nearby streetlamp. Russia can't read what goes on in America's eyes, a feeling foreign to him. He thought he knew all of America's silent words, but then the knowledge that he's never truly seen the other's will morph into something that sickly reminds him of regret knocks restlessly in his mind.

"I've never been on a date, y'know," America finally says, looking to Russia for the first time since he's left that cold place of waiting. "I've never seen the need. I…y'know…I've never…been with anyone."

Russia tilts his head at the knowledge, smile falling off his face to be replaced with pursed lips, confusion evident in his eyes, "What do you mean, America?"

America has the decency to blush and start shoveling freedom fries in his mouth again, eyes intensely scrutinizing the painting of a boring bridge across the aisle from their booth. He eats and eats, while Russia waits patiently. He has all the time in the world to wait, after all, and he knows how to push the boy just right, make him spill his secrets without saying a word.

When at last there is no more food present on the table, America takes to sipping at his soda like a man dying of thirst, but only wishing to alleviate it in short, half-second bursts. Russia taps his fingers on the table and smiles, trying to catch America's eyes, because really they should never leave him. America has become so lax in his guard.

And when, at last, there is no more soda to drink either, America must turn his mind to the subject at hand.

"What do you mean, dear America?" Russia asks again, because he knows how easily America can divert the course of a conversation in his favor.

America takes to fingering the daisy-like flower again, and Russia is tempted to grab the hand and hold it still, but the other speaks before he can move his arm, "I mean like…like that, y'know, like…"

"You mean you have not attempted to improperly fornicate with another, da?"

America's face blazes to crimson and the flower head he's holding pops off and flies into Russia's tea. He isn't bothered by it and instead tilts his head in amusement, "Why would I care, little…virgin?"

America blushes even more and projects what could be a cross between a mousy-shriek and a yelp from his throat as he flails and attempts to slide onto the floor under the booth. Russia promptly kicks him in the shin and America quiets with a muffled 'Fuck!'

The knowledge is amusing and makes him feel a little giddy. So good to know that England is not as much of a pedophile as he seems; he hears many of the other Nations whispering about how the man probably 'badtouched' his favorite little break-away colony to high heaven.

"S-so, yeah…that," America squeaks out, face hot. It's really quite delightful how loud and brash the other can be, but then turn into a complete wreck the moment terms like sex are mentioned. When the blond is not busy being oblivious to obvious advances by politically desperate countries, he spends his time flailing around at words like 'vagina' and 'penis.' Russia thinks that England's repression and the Puritans really have done a number on America.

"I've always…always wanted to be…," America fumbles his words, as though unsure of what he really wants to say, and can't bumble through like usual. He sighs and tries to sip more from his empty cup. He scrunches his brows, bewildered that his drink hasn't magically refilled, and so fishes out a piece of ice and begins to suck on it.

As nice as it is that America is using his mouth for something other than making loud, stupid and inane exclamations, Russia is tired of waiting and raps his knuckles sharply on the table, "Fun though it may be to hear you speechless for once, I do not have an unlimited amount of patience to deal with your shenanigans, America."

America glares at him and spits the ice back into his drink, then swirls the cubes about with his straw, "I'm getting to it, bastard. It's just that…when I look at the others…"

He stares out the window again, eyes far off and remembering a distant time, or perhaps seeing a world that only he can imagine. Russia thinks this because he knows that it is impossible to look out upon such a dismal city and feel happiness.

The boy blinks as a particularly fat drop of rain hits the window and leaves a clean trail as it gathers other droplets into its growing sphere, "Have you ever loved anyone, Russia? Or been truly loved by anyone? And I mean love love, like humans, like…like real people."

Russia is a bit taken aback by the question, but smiles, plastic and fake, "I cannot say that I have. Do you believe that it is even possible for beings like us to love?"

America starts at the question, frowning as he prepares to retort. Russia cuts him off.

"If I could, I would make the whole world love me."

I have enough love to give the entire world, but they won't take it.

"But, that's not it," America says, staring at his bouquet again, "When I…when I look at all of you, all of the nations…when I see Mattie—I mean, Canada, and France, China, Finland and Sweden, Japan…England…all I can see are these…these fake people. People who have lived for centuries and cling to the old ways of doing things, who…who, no matter how much I search their eyes, they…I can't see anything more than irises and pupils.

"Do you understand?" America asks, finally looking into his eyes with a fervor and intensity that delves into Russia's chest and sends shivers down his spine. This is an America he's missed. Hasn't seen for over a century, since the last time he's looked into his eyes, torn in half and bleeding on the floor of a military tent and screaming 'I want to die why won't it stop please please kill me before I'm all alone, Ivan.'

He can't help himself when he reaches out and takes America's hand, so enthralled. He thinks the other might move away, slap him and run, like always, ever shifting out of his grasp. But he doesn't. Russia has won again.

"I don't want to become an empty shell like them, Russia," he whispers. "The easiest way, the best way…to know…to understand, is…I want to be loved, so, so much, Ivan. I don't want to be alone and become miserable like them. But, I don't want it to be empty, either. I don't want it to be a-a fake, meaningless thing like every other goddamn Nation out there wants…"

America shifts his hand so that he holds Russia back, squeezes tightly, almost painfully, "I don't think I can go on and think that the rest of my life will be nothing but a string of insubstantial fucks by people who want me dead and gone anyways!"

I don't want to be alone. I don't want to be alone. I'll die I'll die I'll die.

"And…what of me, America? Why confide such things to one of your…enemies?"

He wonders at the tremor in his voice, but decides that perhaps America is holding him a bit too tightly. Suddenly, he wishes there was distance. What is this, what is this? America truly is a clever snake.

The other smiles and looks in pain, "To be honest…You…In your eyes, I can see things…and I can…understand, I guess…and that's more than I can say for anyone else."

"How ironic," America mumbles as he removes his hand from Russia's loose hold, "That the people I'm closest to don't know a thing about me, but you…know me the best."

He reaches over for the bill, but Russia, still slightly dazed and euphoric from the intensity of the moment, stops his hand and quickly fishes the bill out of the bouquet's puddle of water before the other can protest.

"Hey, I can get that—" "Nyet, America," Russia smirks. "I am this evening's gentleman, after all."

America eyes him, but slowly retracts his hand anyways. He glances at the bouquet, contemplative, then begins to sift through the many blooms with his hands. Russia stands, grabbing America when it becomes apparent he isn't following suit, dragging the blond to the small restaurant's counter to pay the bill.

He unclasps the bindings holding his umbrella down then opens the door and allows America to pass unthinkingly through, mindlessly sorting through the plastic-wrapped bouquet. The rain is still pouring outside, more heavily than before. Russia must catch the leading blond's arm to corral him under the umbrella, even if the thought of pressing the stupid capitalist into his side so they can both fit makes his stomach squirm.

If America takes notice, he doesn't show it, instead allowing his head to rest awkwardly on the other's shoulder while Russia keeps his arm around the boy's waist to guide him in walking. The blond has started pulling flowers from the arrangement and flinging them behind like abandoned feathers in night-stained sidewalk puddles.

It's unnerving to hold someone so close again, Russia finds. Little Anastasia and her siblings a century ago had been the last to touch his form in such an intimate way. It thrilled him and yet still made acid boil in his stomach that it was merely America. America who had once walked this way with him in a time he's tried to force himself to forget.

It means nothing, he thinks. America requires guiding, for he is too stupid and distracted to find his way and will probably fall in a gutter and he cannot have that happen, not when he's taken the time and effort to feed the pig and listen to his existential crisis. He tightens his hold and America's head knocks against his shoulder as he flings another flower.

There is nothing but the sound of rain and distant car engines as they make their way back to the hotel where all the Nations are staying for the conference. Russia is relieved and aggravated at the same time. The quiet is nice, but it feels off-kilter in the presence of such a boisterous Nation as America. He wants to push the other in a puddle just to elicit a reaction, but refrains.

They're passing the familiar warped windows across from the fountain when America breaks away, running over to the structure and placing three flowers, white anemones from what Russia can tell, on the stone rim. He runs back, holding the considerably thinner bundle of flowers over his head, before wrapping his arm around the other man. He grunts in disapproval as America's dampness seeps into his coat, but otherwise doesn't say anything until they reach the awning at the hotel entrance five minutes later.

He whips away from the other Nation as soon as they pass under the canopy, shaking out his umbrella and snapping the ties around it with an apathetic ease that belies his discontent. America stands behind him, the faint sound of plastic unwinding permeating the air. Even before he turns around to make his way to the hotel's entrance and forever away from this night of whispered truths and warms hands clutching together like vices, he can feel that America is about to do something foolish.

He halts when the other steps in front of him and holds out seven, eight, nine of the same yellow, daisy-like flowers. They're still dripping water, and half of their petals are bent.

"I do not want them," Russia says stonily, staring them down. He doesn't want to look at America, doesn't want to see his face, whether he's being earnest.

"Helianthus atrorubens," America says, thrusting the flowers forward further, their tips brushing the taller man's coat. "You still have that fucking creepy obsession with my sunflowers, right? Here. Sunflowers. I grew them myself."

Russia continues to stare at the blooms, suspicious. America growls, "Fucking—Take them!" He shoves the flowers, stems bending, into the other's chest. The Russian catches them automatically and almost takes out America's eye in the process as he swings the pink umbrella about.

"I don't need them anymore, anyways," he mumbles. He looks into Russia's eyes and frowns, "I hate to say this, but…Thank you."

Russia smiles while his stomach twists, and he doesn't like it, he doesn't, "You're very welcome, dear America. I know why England likes being a gentleman so much now. I did not expect gratitude from a pig such as yourself, but I supposed miracles do happen every now and then."

America scowls and flips him off. Russia thinks this is good, this is 'familiar,' and he's comforted in knowing where his footing lies. Only America knows him best to set him off balance, his greatest enemy indeed.

Before America can leave in a huff, Russia must ask, "America, what city are we in?"

The blond looks at him as though he is dealing with the greatest idiot in the world, rolls his eyes and says, "London, moron."

Russia smiles wryly and relishes the taste of victory as it slides down his throat, runoff on windowpanes.

He is better than England, sunflowers pressed in his arms and the warmth of a head leant against his shoulder that will not leave.

If beating America is sweet, then besting the 'English gentleman' is ambrosial.

"The strong bent of nature is seen in the proportion which this topic of personal relations usurps in the conversation of society. What do we wish to know of any worthy person so much, as how he has sped in the history of this sentiment? What books in the circulating libraries circulate? How we glow over these novels of passion, when the story is told with any spark of truth and nature! And what fastens attention, in the intercourse of life, like any passage betraying affection between two parties? Perhaps we never saw them before, and never shall meet them again. But we see them exchange a glance, or betray a deep emotion, and we are no longer strangers. We understand them, and take the warmest interest in the development of the romance. All mankind love a lover."

- Ralph Waldo Emerson

Some notes to ease the pain of trying to figure out what the hell you just read:

- I, uh, don't actually know what fall's like in England. As a girl from Florida, I'm used to warm weather, where, in October, it usually doesn't get below 60 degrees Fahrenheit. I get cold when hits below 50! So, for any users from good ol' Britain, I'm so sorry for butchering everything you've ever come to know and love. Truly sorry.

- Also don't mean to offend anyone when writing this. It was merely the way Russia's point of view turned out in the though-process I wanted him to have. I don't actually think like this, so please please please don't hurt me!

- White anemones: honorine jobert is the specific flower I'm speaking of. In flower meanings, anemones can symbolize refusal and abandonment, or being forsaken. Yeah, take America's gesture as you will. I chose this flower for the fact that they bloom all year-round usually, and are favorites for fall perennials. I'm not a flower expert though, so please don't take my word for it.

- Sunflowers: Helianthus atrorubens. They really do look like yellow daisies! Another fall perennial. Sunflowers represent adoration and/or dedication. Dedicated love. Also take that as you will. I personally find it cute. When America says "My sunflowers," he's referring to the fact that sunflowers originated in the Americas, though this is a bit of an exaggeration since they technically came from Mexico, though there were sunflowers in Tennessee dating back to 2300 BC.

- I do have a tiny kink for gardener!America. After all, he used to be a farmer. I just like the image of Alfred planting sunflowers for Ivan. *blush*

- Another shameless kink: virgin!America. I've always felt that America's too oblivious and selfish to have a relationship with anyone. England's extreme repression along with the Puritans and a bunch of other sexually-repressed groups really makes me think that America wouldn't be throwing himself around for flings and such. I feel bad that I didn't get to show any of my headcannon things for Russia. Perhaps in another fic.

- What's up with Russia the creeper? Uh, to be honest I wrote this fic to try and express the age-old phenomena of grade-school crushes. Y'know, when the boy pulls the girl's pigtails. The boy doesn't even know he actually likes the girl, and the girl thinks the boy hates her. Ahahaha, it's so cute. If anyone could write a better story expressing this concept I would love you forever and you could have my soul.

- OoC-ness? I'm so sorry! I'm new to writing in this fandom, and I haven't really gotten the chance to feel out Russia and America's characters. I'm one of those fans that loves to give the characters deeper meanings, though this sometimes manages to skew their personalities into oblivion. I'm sorry for burning your eyes once again.

Are we done? Yeah, I think so. Okay. So. This fic is sort of a spin-off of a story concept I've been nursing in my brain for a while. In the real story, it's not nearly so angsty, or well, maybe it is, I dunno, but yeah. Russia pities America after he's stood up by England and starts taking him out on 'dates' until Russia, to spite America, does the exact same thing that England does in this story. America gets pissed, and from there, Russia truly starts to court America. It's my ultimate dream to see an actual courtship fic, where people are taken out on dates and it's not instant sex. Maybe someday I'll get around to writing it, after I've gotten a few other fics off my plate. Sorry for those of you who might know me as the author of "A Perished Sun." Had a bit of a block on that story, so I tried writing something else. I think I'm better now, so I'll try and crank something out soon.

Um, nothing else to say, really. I hope you guys enjoyed this piece of crap and please don't roast my pale white backside with the passionate anger of a thousand USUK fangirls?