Disclaimer: Characters are property of Hidekaz Himaruya.
A/N: Not my first time writing Hetalia, but first time with this pairing. Concrit is love!
The Five Times Romano Realized He Loved America (And That One Time She Realized It Too)
One: The time Boss introduced them.
It's marshy wherever they are right now and Romano pulls at his collar as he follows behind Spain. Apparently, Boss has started colonizing in the area and claims that he's got a surprise for Romano. The smaller nation rolls his eyes at that, because any surprise that comes with walking through a bug-infested field isn't the kind he wants.
Spain announces that they've arrived at Romano's surprise and he's unimpressed with the small cabin in the middle of a clearing. He glares up at Spain, feeling annoyed. "Damn it, boss! What am I supposed to do with a cabin surrounded with bad land?"
There's a rustling a little ways from the cabin and Spain grins, telling Romano to watch carefully. A girl appears, riding on a pony. She looks little, about the same size Romano had been when he came to live with Spain. And when the girl hops down and rushes at them, Romano does the sensible thing and ducks behind Spain's legs, whimpering. "Damn it, protect me already, Boss!"
And all Spain does is laugh like a braying donkey before crouching down and calling the girl closer. Peering from behind Spain's legs, Romano can see right away why Boss has taking a liking to this girl. Her hair is the color of gold and it seems to shine in the sunlight like a new coin. The girl's eyes are blue like the ocean, where Spain's armada is king. Romano is horrified, like any little boy would be, when he realizes that he finds the girl pretty.
"Romano, I've found you a little playmate. She claims her name is America, even though this land is Florida, isn't that cute?"
America tilts her head at both of them, then babbles rapidly in a language Romano can't understand. Spain nods along, but the smile on his face says he's only humoring the girl. Then, he sidesteps so Romano and America can get a good look of each other.
Romano notices, with some horror, that she's dressed like a barbarian in animal skins and that her hair has a few stray twigs in it. The one civilized thing about America is the beads she wears around her neck, but even then, they've been sloppily threaded. The girl offers Romano a smile and babbles at him, reaching out to touch his shirtsleeve.
He backs away, because the doublet he's in was bought specifically for this trip and Romano isn't about to let one of Spain's savage colonies ruin it. America pouts at that, and then points to Romano's neck. Self-consciously, he touches the rosary that hangs there. It is, without a doubt, Romano's most prized possession. He looks desperately to Spain to see what he should do.
"Let her see it, Romano. She won't steal it from you."He's doubtful of that, but still pulls the rosary off his neck and holds it out to America. She takes it and runs her fingers over the beads tenderly. This surprises Romano and he watches curiously as she examines it. America's chubby fingertips carefully trace the cross at the end and he wonders if somehow he could explain what it means to her.
When America holds it out for Romano to take back, he's a little surprised that she didn't actually run off with it. Instead, she grins broadly and lightly touches it. There's a little more babbling, but Romano manages to catch a word he knows: pretty. Before he can wonder what exactly she's calling pretty, the girl leans up to kiss him before running back to her pony.
Spain is squealing like a pig, declaring them both the cutest things in the world and Romano's flush has nothing to do with the heat now.
Two: The time he came to visit America in the twenties.
"How are you supposed to usher in the poor huddled masses when you're hanging around a dump like this, America?"
Naturally, this made America spin around in her chair, because none of the nations really needed to know that she goes out to clubs in her free time. It's an Italy, but she can't tell which one. The club is too dark and his hair is combed back under his hat, except for a piece that sticks out funny. Either way, she offers him a grin and a smoke. The other nation takes the cigarette without smiling and that's when America knows she's dealing with Romano.
He bats away her lighter and she shrugs, eyeing him carefully. "What brings you here? Business?"
Romano scowls and takes out his own lighter. It's pretty nice and his human initials craved on the side. He catches America watching and pockets it. "I felt like taking a vacation and visiting a pretty lady. What the hell made you chop off all your hair?"
America frowns at that, fluffing her bob. "Short hair is fashionable now, Romano."
He rolls his eyes in response and takes off his hat. He waves the bartender over, asking for wine and cursing when he's laughed at. Romano narrows his eyes and turns back to America. "What gives? Your house so damn uncivilized, you don't even carry wine?"
As quickly as she can, America explains the whole Prohibition thing that her boss was trying. The other nation's face goes white for a second before becoming very red. "Well, no fucking wonder all the American women are dressing like a bunch of sinners. No offense, it looks decent on you."
America smiles at the compliment, but before she can thank him, Romano is dragging her out of the club and asking which car is hers. When she tells him that she had walked to the club, Romano looks like he's going to have an aneurysm. "What the hell is wrong with you? Don't you know that girls get kidnapped and murdered when they walk home alone?"
Pulling her arm firmly out of his grip, America places her hands on her hips and scowls right back at him. "I think I can manage. I did help win the war and all." \
Romano pinches the bridge of his nose. "Jesus, are all the women in your country as stubborn as you?""You better bet they are." She replies, grinning. "Now, you want me to take you home or would you rather try your luck in a hotel bed?"
Romano is confused for a second, but then America winks and pinches his backside. Turning bright red, he lets out a string of what America guesses are swear words and slaps her hand away. Sternly, he warns that she can go to Hell just for thinking about that.
America laughs, leaving Romano torn between yelling at her for not taking him seriously and telling her that when she laughs, it sounds like church bells ringing. He winds up doing neither, but by the end of the night, Romano is sleeping on America's sofa.
Three: The time after they marathoned The Godfather movies.
"What a fucking disgrace." Romano mutters when the movie was done.
Next to him on the couch, America makes at face at him and shuts off the VCR. There's a weeklong conference going on at her house and she had wanted to relax by watching some movies. Romano decided to come along, because his little brother had sexiled him from their shared hotel room.
Being the kind hostess she was, America let her guest decide between the Godfather or Lord of the Ring trilogies. So, it made no sense that Romano is complaining now.
"I know the third one kinda sucks, but 'disgrace' is really harsh word. Besides, you picked these movies."Romano rolls his eyes at her. "All you movies 'kinda suck', America. You don't normally shoot the Pope though!"
America tosses some of the remaining popcorn into her mouth, blue eyes sparkling. She isn't religious, but America damn well knows that Romano is and it's common courtesy to warn someone before you shoot Il Papa! Except now, America is grinning at him as she stands to toss out the remaining corn kernels. Romano doesn't move from the couch, which means that America is shouting from her kitchen.
"That's your only complaint? Does that mean that the mafia really works like that, Romano?"
Romano can't help but let out a little 'chigigi' at that. America always likes to tease him about the mafia, even though both of them have had first hand experience with it. She reenters the room, a pleading look on her face and Romano is worried for a second that she's about to cry. "Is it true?"
It takes him a minute, but Romano catches on. He's a little horrified to realize that he knows what the next line is and America breaks character for a second to grin at him. Romano stands, because if he's going to do this, he's going to do it right, damn it. Looking away from the other nation, he slips into a brooding look. "Don't ask me about my business, Kay."
With his back turned, Romano can't see America step closer, so he jumps a little when she grabs his hand. Not only does he have to focus on what to say next, but now Romano is trying his to keep his face blush free. Behind him, America sounds worried and sad. "Is it true?"
Romano swallows when he turns around. Privately, he's always thought that America was pretty enough to be an actress, but he had no idea that he had the skill. Now, she's got tears shining in her eyes as she looks up at him. Romano fumbles a little, taking her hand in both of his. He knows it's not how it goes in the movie, but it feels better to speak softly to America when she looks like this.
Romano is the one pleading now. "Don't ask me about my business."
It's such a simple line, but America makes it say so many things. She steps even closer to Romano, maybe an inch separating their faces, looking desperate. He can't help it anymore, his face goes bright red and there's a glimmer of a smile in America's eyes at that. Romano inhales sharply and steps back, letting her hands fall as he retreats. "Enough."
Four: The time he drove America through Italy
It's after a conference that America confesses to Romano that she's never had a chance to actually visit Rome. Naturally, Romano takes this as a great personal offense and demands that she comes home with him. America, always a lover of the spontaneous, agrees without hesitation and calls her airline to cancel her flight back to D.C.
Switzerland had chosen to host the conference in Bern, so America tags along with the Italies on their drive home. Romano is the one behind the wheel, leaving his younger brother and America to entertain themselves for the trip to Italy's home in Venice. For the most part, the two just chatter excitedly and Romano does his best to ignore them.
It's not until they drop off Italy and America moves into the passenger seat that Romano starts to enjoy the ride. America is busy marveling at the country as they drive, but after a long day she eventually falls asleep. The first thing he notices is that the other nation snores. It's not a dainty snore either, America snores like a lumberjack and Romano is a little disturbed that he finds it endearing.
The second thing Romano notices is that when she's asleep, America looks just like she did the first time he met her. Her hair may be shorter and business attire has replaced animal skin, but America never lost all of her baby fat and her face still mesmerizes him. Romano wonders if she remembers that day, because she's never mentioned it to him. He hopes not, because he views the Age of Exploration as close as he got to teenage years.
It's then, when Romano is not-so-quietly swearing about being Spain's cabin boy that America wakes up. Or rather she jolts forward and demands to know what the kidnappers want with her. Romano glances away from the road in order to brush the hair off her face. "Calm down, kid. You're coming to mi casa for a little vacation, remember?"
America stares blankly at him in a way that Romano definitely doesn't find adorable. Really. Well, okay, when she rubs her eyes it's kinda cute, but that's not the point! She yawns hugely, stretching her arms and then snuggles back into the seat.
"You've been driving for a long time, Romano. Want me to take over?"
'Stick' is all Romano has to say to make America recoil and whine a little about how it was unfair that practically all of Europe used stick shift when automatic was so much more awesome. Romano ignores her, because it's a rant that you have to get used to if you hang around America. When she's finished, America yawns again and asks them how much longer until they reach Rome.
Romano tells her since they've just gone past Florence, the trip should take a little less than 300 kilometers. Again, America stares blankly at him and waits for the rant about the metric system to start up. Instead, she leans across the front seat to rest her head on Romano's shoulder, laughing. "You may do all those weird European things, but you're still a better pillow than the window.
He turns bright red and tightens his grip on the steering wheel. And it's because some asshole just cut him off, not because America is resting her head on him! Because having America close enough that he can picks up on the scent of soil and sweat hiding beneath her perfume is something that makes Romano stomach do flips and his palms sweat.
It's not until America's snoring has been going on for a good ten minutes that Romano can work up the courage to whisper. "I like you, idiota."
Five: The time Romano gave her earrings for her birthday
It's the Fourth of July and America is throwing barbeque to celebrate, complete with a private firework show once it gets dark. Almost all of the nations were invited, Romano among them. The party is bigger than it's been in previous years, so Romano had only been able to talk to America when he'd first arrived.
He keeps her in sight though, watching carefully as she bickers with Russia about the proper way to grill and serve up food for everyone. When Russia finally decides that enough is enough and seizes control of the grill, Romano catches America's eye and strolls up to her. Summer freckles are dusted across her face, he notices, as she smiles and pulls him into a bone-crushing hug.
"Romano! I thought you had left already. Why haven't you gotten anything to eat?"
He eyes the grill for a moment, making his gourmet stomach gurgle in fear. Wrapping an arm around her shoulders, Romano tries to lead America away. Using his most charming smile, he nods towards the nearly empty vegetable patch. "C'mon, it's too damn nosy here and I wanna talk to you."
America glances over her shoulder at Russia, before nodding and putting her arm around Romano's shoulders too. He feels his face get warm and was glad that the sun was already starting to set. The last thing Romano wants to do was look like a tomato when he wants to impress the girl. In the garden, they talk a little about America's tomato plants before she makes him sit on the stone bench with her. Things are working out better than Romano could expect, so he decides to give the birthday girl her present. Pulling a small box from his jeans pocket, Romano doesn't quite shove it at America.
"I know that me and fratello already gave you that other present, but I figured since we're good friends I could get you something special."
Romano really doesn't want to look over at America, because she's been quiet ever since her initial squeal as she tore upon the paper. After what seems like eternity, Romano forces himself to man up and look over at the other nation. She doesn't notice, because she's too busy staring at the open box.
He clears his throat awkwardly and mentions that the earrings in the box are Gucci. That's when America loses it and throws her arms around his neck. Her accent is going haywire and she's talking fast, so Romano only catches about a third of the words as he hugs her back. Finally, America pulls back in order to kiss him on the cheek and put on the earrings.
"You know, it's been forever since someone gave me jewelry. I don't wear it much, but I like it a lot and these are gorgeous, Romano. How do they look?"
She's pulling her hair back in order to show the earrings to him. Romano has a bit of stupid grin starting at the corners of his mouth. Like he thought they would, the jewelry draws the eye down her neck and at the same time up to her eyes. America's eyes are still the color of the sea and they're what Romano is staring at when he answers.
"Fantastica. Just like you said, absolutely gorgeous."
America Realized It: The time Romano sang Dean Martin to her.
America has always had a soft spot in her heart for the Rat Pack. Back when they were big, she was lucky enough to meet them all after a show in Vegas and she's been able to fall into any of their songs since then. It's not a huge secret or anything, but when she asks Romano to sing to her one night as they're just hanging out, she surprised to hear Dean Martin coming from his mouth.
America was expecting in Italian or maybe even Latin if he had decided on a hymn. Instead, Romano taps his foot to keep in beat as he croons out 'All I Do is Dream of You'. His accent pretty much disappears when he sings, America notices, and Romano's eyelids droop until they're half-shut.
He smiles at her around the lyrics and America flushes a little. Maybe she just hasn't noticed it before, but Romano is awfully handsome when he smiles. She sees a glimmer of Dean's grin there and that makes sense, because Dean kinda belonged to Romano too. He keeps his eyes trained on her as the second verse starts and America wants to sing along, but she's afraid that will make him stop.
Instead, she smiles back at Romano and leans forward a bit, which he must take as some kind of cue, because suddenly he pulls America into his arms and they're dancing. Romano keeps on singing, but it's more softly now as they twirl lazily around America's living room carpet. It's just like something in a movie; she thinks as Romano dips her lightly and holds the last note a little longer than he needs to.
Romano brings her back up and America is about to tell him that he has an awesome voice, but then he kisses her. And at that point America's brain goes into warp drive; she's telling herself that it's just like a movie now and remembering about all the times she's been alone with Romano and wondering if she should move her hands from his shoulders up into his hair.
Except then Romano nearly drops her on the floor as he pulls away and America digs her nails into his back to stay upright. They stare at each other for a brief moment in which Romano licks his lips nervously and America wonders if she's as red as him.
"How long?" She finally asks.
Romano makes a pained face and licks his lips again, but doesn't look away from her. "Uh, that first time we met, I think. With Spain."
And all America can say is 'oh', because she only half-remembers it. Romano waits for a beat than asks her the same question. His eyebrows are furrowed in worry and America thinks it's sweet that he's worrying about what she's about to say.
"Well, it really didn't hit me until now but, yeah."
America grins up at him, in the 'aw shucks' way that she has. Romano looks like he's about to burst into tears but he's also smiling back at her and America's heart starts thudding. He pulls her up a little bit more, so America doesn't have to cling to him so tightly. She chooses to keep clinging anyway.
"So, does that mean you wanna give this a go?" He asks, still looking a little nervous.
America has to laugh at Romano, because of he's acting so unlike himself and it's so precious. She leans up to whisper 'yes' in his ear, brushing her lips gently against Romano's cheek just because she's in the area. He's bright red, but Romano's eyes are shining as he starts singing to her again. And America can't help but think that Dean Martin has nothing on him.