A/N: Another deannoning from the kink meme. Enjoy!
Germany sat bolt upright in bed, panting and drenched in a cold sweat. His shaky, elevated breathing was the only noise in the otherwise silent bedroom, and darkness pressed in on him from all sides. This did nothing to alleviate his disorientation for that one panic-filled moment where he still clung to that horrible dream that had just awoken him. But as his wakefulness heightened, so did his ability to observe his surroundings. There was no mistaking the feeling of his own sheets and the gentle, healthy warmth of the little Italian who had snuck into his bed to curl up and fall asleep at his side; he and Italy were both safe at home in his bedroom.
Germany took a deep breath and released it slowly, clamping his eyes shut and wiping away the sweat on his brow, trying to calm himself. What an awful nightmare. He had dreamed that the allies had captured him and Italy and forced him to watch as they tortured and slowly killed the sweet little Italian. Then they had left him alone in the dark, dank cell with Italy's dead body. His dream self had actually cried. Germany touched his cheeks hesitantly, checking for tears and was relieved when he found none.
Still, he'd be lying if he said that dream didn't rattle him deeply. After all, it wasn't just some random horror story that his brain had created out of nothing; this was a very real threat for them. He suspected that this factor played a major role in the depth of his uneasiness. Germany was suddenly seized by the urge to take Italy into his arms and hold him close, and lay his head against his chest so that he could hear his heartbeat and slow, deep breathing in order to convince himself that the other man was still alive and well. Before he could take any action, Italy stirred at his side with a sleepy mumble.
"Germany…?" he said groggily into the darkness. "Are you ok? You're shaking…"
Germany took another calming breath before speaking, willing his voice not to tremble. "F-fine," he croaked, "I… I just need to use the bathroom."
Italy yawned cutely. "Ok, I'll keep your spot warm until you come back."
Now that he had said this, Germany had no choice but to go to the bathroom, even though he didn't really need to go. Then again, perhaps he'd feel a little better after washing his face. Germany got out of bed and Italy rolled into the recently occupied space in order to keep it warm as he had promised. The blond sternly squashed the desire to reach out and stroke Italy's hair and forced his feet to carry him in the direction of the bathroom, wondering why, even before this nightmare, the desire to touch Italy was surfacing more and more often.
Italy had fallen asleep again by the time Germany returned from washing his face. The taller man had no choice but to pick Italy up and move him over so that he could get into bed again. He scooped him up slowly, trying not to wake him, climbed into bed and laid the other man down again beside him. His efforts were in vain, however; Italy woke again as Germany set him down. Italy's hand groped around in the dark until it found Germany's. He took hold of it gently.
"Is Germany feeling better now?" he asked quietly. "You're still shaking a little… Is Germany feeling sick?"
"No, I…" Germany swallowed thickly as images from his nightmare came rushing back to him. Italy, broken and bleeding in his arms. Italy dead, never to smile or sing or eat too much pasta or sneak into his bed ever again. He knew his shaking was worsening again and his cheeks warmed with shame. "I just had a bad dream… Nothing to worry about. Just go back to sleep Italy."
Instead of obeying Germany's wishes, Italy sat up beside him, still holding his hand. "Does Germany want me to stay up with him for a little while? I'll try not to fall asleep, I promise."
Germany sighed deeply, trying to control his shaking. "That won't be necessary… You need your sleep or I'll never get you up for training tomorrow."
This reply seemed to disappoint Italy because Germany could feel the bed move slightly as his shoulders slumped. "But I want to help Germany… There aren't very many times when Germany needs something that I can help with and… I just want to be useful. And it makes me sad to think about Germany keeping his pain to himself because he's too shy to ask when he needs help."
Germany looked at Italy wearily. It was really too dark to make out anything but his vague outline, but Germany could just imagine the pleading look on Italy's face, even if he couldn't see it. If he was completely honest with himself, there was something that would make him feel better, and it was something that would only be truly effective if he received it from Italy.
The problem was working up the nerve to ask for something so embarrassing. He knew Italy wouldn't ridicule him for his request. In fact, he would surely be all too happy to comply. It was his own pride that got in the way. But when Italy brought Germany's hand up to his cheek, allowing it to experience the velvety soft skin there, Germany felt an overpowering desire to have that warmth and softness in his arms.
"There… there is one thing," Germany admitted nervously. He could feel himself blushing hard but pushed recklessly past his embarrassment, trying not to give himself a chance to think about the words that would come out of his mouth next. "I, er… maybe a… a hug, or um…"
Italy's arms were around Germany's shoulders in an instant. Germany stiffened momentarily, surprised by the suddenness with which his request had been granted. Italy wasn't wearing a shirt either, Germany quickly realized. His face warmed even further, though Italy didn't seem to care in the slightest. Germany scolded himself mentally; why should it matter that Italy wasn't wearing a shirt? He wasn't a woman for crying out loud.
Germany felt himself being pulled downwards as Italy lied back down, bringing the other man with him. The blond returned the embrace hesitantly, wrapping one muscular arm around Italy's shoulders, and the other around his waist, resting his head on Italy's chest. He started when the arm that had curled around Italy's waist met only skin. Germany clamped his eyes shut, realizing that Italy had crawled into bed with him naked again, his already red cheeks going scarlet. He told himself to let go and have Italy put some pants on, but Italy's delicate fingers had found their way into his hair and began to stroke it comfortingly. The taller man's heart fluttered unbidden as a gentle kiss was touched to the top of his head.
Germany had been noticing for a while now that he kept being seized by the desire to hold and touch Italy lately, but he hadn't realized just how deep that desire was. His heart was going crazy, expanding and warming and apparently trying to grow wings and fly right out of his chest all at the same time. Why did he feel this way? And why did the sensation of Italy's sinfully soft skin beneath his make his head feel so fuzzy? He nuzzled his burning cheek against Italy's chest thoughtfully. This certainly warranted further investigation at a later date.
"Germany doesn't need to ask when he needs a hug," Italy whispered, kissing the top of his head again. "I'm always happy to have Germany nice and close so you can hug me anytime you want."
Germany had a sudden mental image of himself pausing mid-sentence when instructing their troops during training to take Italy into his arms. That would never do. What kind of professional soldier would let training be interrupted for something as frivolous as a hug? What would his men think of him if he did things like that? They'd most likely lose respect for him. Besides that, Germany was kind of afraid that if he didn't keep his desires in check, he might never let go of Italy.
"Italy," he mumbled. "Please don't tell anyone about this. This… this isn't proper behavior between a military captain and his subordinate."
He knew that asking Italy to keep a secret was probably like handing a toddler a cookie and telling them not to eat it, but he felt that he had to at least try.
"Oh, because Germany's really shy, right?" Italy nodded in understanding. "Don't worry, my lips are sealed! I'll be the best secret keeper ever!"
Germany sighed, knowing that it would probably come tumbling effortlessly from his lips the next time Italy found himself at the wrong end of a gun, but for some reason he felt a tiny smile tugging at the corner of his lips. Italy began to hum softly as he continued to kiss and stroke the German who was shyly wrapped around him. As strange a notion as it was considering the way Italy acted when faced with any sort of danger, Germany found himself feeling strangely comforted as he lie in his arms. He could hear Italy's heart beating reassuringly in his ear, his chest rising and falling in time with his calm breathing, and the fear of the scene he had witnessed in his nightmare began to fade. Italy was alive and well and curled up happily against him and Germany would do everything in his power to keep it that way. There were few things that could stand in the blond's way when he was truly determined; Germany felt confident that he'd be able to protect his cheerful ally.
"I'll keep you safe," he muttered, not realizing that he was speaking out loud. "That's a promise."
He realized his error when Italy giggled melodically and kissed his rapidly pinking cheek. "Thank you, Germany. It makes me really happy to hear you say that."
Germany cleared his throat awkwardly but didn't let go or try to take back what he had just said. Even if he hadn't meant to say it out loud, he had meant what he'd promised. Italy's humming grew tuneless and halting as he began to fall asleep again. Germany lifted his head when the humming stopped altogether and didn't bother trying to bite back the small smile that found its way onto his lips at the sight of Italy's peaceful sleeping face. Germany's large calloused hand came up to gently brush Italy's bangs aside. He blushed and hesitated uncertainly before touching a light, timid kiss to Italy's newly exposed forehead and resting his head against Italy's chest once more.
"I'll keep you safe," he repeated in a whisper as he allowed himself to drift off to sleep.