Title: Hanabi
Series: Hatalia
Rating/Warnings: PG-13
Pairing(s): Japan/Taiwan, USUK & France/Canada
Prompt: Group date shenanigans! Disagreements over what movie to go see, one of the pairs trying to sneak away for some alone time, or anything else lulzy you can think of.

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He adjusts the flowers in her hair, and her cheeks turn about as pink as her kimono, as the flowers he's putting in her hair. It's less from embarrassment and more from sheer pleasure that he's touching her, even if it's just a small gesture like this.

"Do I look cute?" She says, posing in her kimono.

"You always do," Kiku says.

"But Kiku, I want to know if I cute now," she says, a little petulantly. He can be so hard to read at times.

"Yes, Meilan. You look cute."

She brightens. "Thank you."

She slips on her sandals which she's been avoiding, because she doesn't want to trip on her face. Geta are hard to walk in. She's had to practice a long time, balancing just right, taking in the manta every step is a step closer to be Kiku's bride.

She snuggles a little closer in her pink kimono with its pattern of white flowers. The obi has chrysanthemums on them, and even if it breaks the pattern and only slightly goes, it's exactly what she wants to wear.

"I haven't kept them waiting, have I?" Meilan asks.

"No, they're embroiled in their own affairs as usual. Even if you were, they would not notice," Kiku says.

"Ok, that's good."

Kiku is always so polite. Whenever these four are near, Gege smiles to their faces and mutters things about foreigners being where they aren't wanted. But then, Gege fought wars with them, so did Kiku, but the sting of opium hurts worse.

Usually girls pin their hair up, but she leaves it long. She's left it long ever since Kiku once mentioned, his fingers in her hair, that he liked it better this way. After that, even when Gege tried to chase her down and put her hair in pigtails, she wouldn't let him.

Kiku offers his arm, and she takes it, glad for the support. She doesn't want to ruin the kimono, this precious gift from Kiku, or make a fool of herself either. She's always wanted to be on his arm, but then maybe under different circumstances, not simply entertaining guests. But she isn't picky, not in the least.

The group is seated in his living room, at least half of them. As per usual, Arthur and Alfred are up. Alfred looks as if he might tear his green yukata in two with his bare hands.

"Stop picking," Arthur mutterers.

Alfred puffs out his cheeks in irritation. "This is worse than the time your brother tried to get me to wear a kilt."

"Quit your whining," Arthur says. "Kiku was nice enough to invite us, so we are going on his terms."

Arthur sounds cross, and looks a little hungover. Alfred crosses his arms, unwilling to give up the argument.

"I still think this is a plot to make us look like idiots..." Alfred says.

"You manage that on your own," Francis deadpans.

The other pair is on the couch. She tilts her head. Francis is wearing a woman's kimono. She wonders if she shouldn't tap him on the shoulder and maybe tell him, because Kiku never will. Then again, knowing Francis, perhaps it was intentional. His kimono is a shade of blue that brings out the color of his eyes. The obi is elaborate and intricate, all twisted golds and reds. Seated next to him in a navy yukata is a someone she vaguely recognizes, but can't quite remember. His name is on the tip of her tongue. He's absently fanning Francis as he looks to the spectacle Alfred is making.

"I apologize for the wait. I had some things to take care of," Kiku says.

Meilan looks to him.

He murmurs a no, not you and she feels instantly better.

The man – perhaps she'll just think of him a Francis' other half to discern him better – rises first and helps Francis up. He gives his other half a look, the kind that implies he's imagining his yukata on the floor and murmurs Merci in such a husky, alluring way that it makes Meilan blush.

Kiku looks away, because it seems with both of the pairs he's intruding. Arthur and Alfred are arguing now. For once Francis is too distracted to be baiting Arthur and Alfred is doing it for him. However there was the very real threat of him ripping off his other half's yukata and taking him right there against the wall.

"Perhaps we should go now?" Kiku says. Everyone is too wrapped up in their own little dramas to notice.

Meilan frowns. No one should treat Kiku like this. And they won't on her watch.

"Hey you! Kiku is talking so listen!"

"Je suis désolé," Francis says. He looks back, but his hands are caressing the collar of the yukata of his other half. It looks like he wants to peel it off.

"S-sorry," Francis' other half says, though he's barely said a word and has no reason to apologize.

"We should leave promptly, lest we miss the fireworks."

"Oooh, fireworks!" Alfred's eyes light up.

"Of course, leave it to explosions to get your attention," Arthur says.

"Oh~ So you're jealous of the love Alfred has for Yao's creations?" Francis teases.

"What in the bloody hell would that have to do with anything?" England snaps, but his face reddens in spite of it, and not from rage.

Alfred looks from one to the other. "You know I'm a one man man, Arthur," he says.

Arthur's face turns even redder and he mumbles something about not caring but it doesn't seem very convincing.

Kiku clears his throat. "Perhaps we should go before the crowds get too bad? Otherwise the food stands might have large lines–"

"Oh man, we gotta get out of here," Alfred says. He grabs Arthur by the wrist and all but drags him outside. He doesn't know the way. Kiku sighs and shakes his head. Meilan has a feeling that it's a common occurrence when Alfred is around.

Francis' other half looks heavenwards while Francis just laughs.

"Oh, Alfred, you never change...Just like back in your revolutionary days." Francis loses himself in memory a moment, and his other half seems to tense. But just as soon, Francis is brushing the hair from his face and looking at him with unadulterated affection.

"Shall we go, Matthieu?"

"Uh, sure," he says. His cheeks are faintly rosy. The moment of tenseness is over.

Francis offers a hand, and Matthew takes it. (The name seems unfamiliar to her, but she supposes that is his name, Francis would know best, and it doesn't seem to be one of his French pet names.)

Their hands dangle together as they walk on.

She's a little jealous. Kiku doesn't take the hint to follow the leader. While she's on his arm, and she's happy for this, it's not as intimate as hand-holding. Though, she might be mistaken for his girlfriend, which is a plus. Though she also might be mistaken for his little sister – which she technically, more-or-less, essentially is – but that's beside the point.

It's almost dark and the park is within walking distance. Amazingly, Alfred isn't lost for once, and is actually leading them in the right direction. There must be some divine intervention involved, she thinks.

She sees the glow from a long ways off before they reach there. It's like, a lighthouse, she thinks. A lighthouse made of many different lights all floating around looking like stationary fireflies.

There's little strings of lights hanging from all wooden stands and shops, and paper lanterns strewn ab out everywhere. There's all sorts of cute couples walking together hand in hand, kids running around playing, and vendors calling out their wares. Alfred seems determined to stop at every food stand he can, often coming back for seconds.

Francis, on the other hand, has his eyes fixed toward the stand which was selling handbags of the same material as the kimonos – or maybe the pretty proprietress, it is hard to tell with Francis.

For a moment, she has Kiku all to herself. And yet she doesn't know what to say. All these feelings build in her chest and overflow and she can't refine them into words. She knows that sounds just like a shoujo manga, but she doesn't care. Really, maybe she should just say 'Kiku, let's act out a drama. I'll be Nodame and you can be Chiaki.' But then a playacted, cosplay kiss wouldn't feel like a real kiss, would it?

"Kiku, I—"

"Hey, Kiku!" Alfred appears, seemingly out of thin air. Arthur is on his arm. He's relatively quiet and only grumbling and muttering occasionally. She thinks he must be in deredere mode now, instead of his usual tsuntsun demeanor.

She's a little irritated at Alfred, of course, but seeing Arthur's cute deredere side and watch him do nothing but blush a bit and look grumbly when Alfred puts his arm around him is worth the interruption.

"Th' iz' de' izus," America says between bites.

"Don't eat with your mouth full," Arthur chides. He wipes away crumbs from the side of Alfred's mouth with his ever present (clean) hanky.

America swallows in one big gulp. "What is it?"

"This? Ahh...it's Takoyaki," Kiku says.

"What's in it?"

"It's made of octopus," Kiku says.

America stops mid-chew. "What?"

Francis appears near them, with a new cloth bag, and some Takoyaki as well.

"Really, Alfred. You have no taste. I blame Arthur's influence." He takes a bite and winks. Matthew quietly eats his Taiyaki cookie beside him, licking the sweet bean paste from his lips.

Alfred manages to swallow just so he can stick his tongue out. "Like Francis cares, he eats frogs and isnails/I."

"Delicacies, mon petit. Delicacies. I can't expect you to understand."

Matthew and Arthur both at the same moment exchange a look, as if telepathically warning each other that flirtation is about to occur. Arthur looks like a cat whose tail has been stepped on, arched up and hissing. Matthew holds onto Francis' arm in a tight, possessive fashion.

Kiku, in all his wisdom, however, knows how to diffuse a tense situation.

"Perhaps you'd prefer some Taiyaki as well like your brother has?"

Alfred looks suspicious."What's it this time? Squid?"

"Taiyaki is a treat of a fish-shaped cookie with sweet bean paste," Kiku recites calmly, as if reading from a menu to a quarrelsome child.

"Sweet bean paste? I don't know, when I think beans I think tortillas and fiesta and all the stuff that Antonio taught me when I was little," Alfred says. Matthew relaxes, but Arthur only turns for the worse, looking like a cat who has been thrown in a bath and is all claws and desperation and anger.

"I assure you, it is quite different," Kiku says, carefully steering the subject away from the touchy subject of Antonio. "If that is not to your liking, there is also some Mochi we could find you."

Alfred brightens. "Oh, Mochi! That sounds good."

"I believe they sell some over there," Kiku says. He points to a very far stall, though Meilan is sure that there's one nearby. Kiku is quite enterprising, she thinks with pride.

Alfred drags Arthur off for more sweets, and Francis and Matthew drift under the lights, murmuring to each other in French. They come across a Kingyo-sukui, with several children ahead of them. Francis looks on, ever the older brother to the world.

"Ah, it brings back memories..."

"I didn't know you had goldfish catching games – or that you even had goldfish," Matthew says.

"No, but to see the smiling faces of children on festival days. It reminds me of May Day, and the time I took Arthur out to the May pole. Ah, he was so little then, and so very innocent." Francis' expression goes dreamy, and Matthew's mouth turns into a thin, dour line.

"I'll win one for you," Matthew says.

"Mm? Cher?" Francis is again stirred from his memories – Meilan thinks she heard the word 'deflowered' amongst Francis' nostalgia. She doesn't think he's speaking about wildflowers.

Matthew bends down to speak to the owner of the stall. He looks determined in his own, soft way. Kiku steps in to translate, and Matthew listens with such a serious expression, as if lives were at stake. Behind him, Francis covers his mouth and can barely contain his laughter at the sight.

Matthew takes the poi in his hands, and studies it. Meilan knows from experience that it is net-like, and covered with a thin paper. He places it in the water slowly, through the gold cloud of fish, and tries to single out one. He tries to bring it to the surface, only to have to slip away. He follows after it, a bit too quick, and the poi tears partly.

One of the little pigtailed girls with dark hair giggles as she watches Matthew fail to capture the fish. Matthew holds up a broken poi, with no fish to show for his effort.

"It's harder than it looks, eh," Matthew says. He stares into his broken poi, and then shrugs.

"Don't feel bad, these carnival games are always rigged," Francis says. "We should go catch up to the others."

"I want to win one for you," Matthew says.

"All right, all right," Francis says, faintly amused.

He hands over more yen coins for another poi, and this time focuses very hard. He dips in, light, gentle and yet precise and courts a fish towards the top. It takes some finagling, but eventually he catches it, places it in the bowl.

Matthew picks up the little orange fish and smiles up at it through the plastic. Francis holds the other one, and admires it as well.

"Pierre will have company, now."

"And if were are not careful, the cat will have a meal," Francis says.

"We'll just have to get a cover. Though getting it through customs and the plane ride...maybe we should leave them with Kiku," Matthew says. He looks a bit disappointed.

"Ah, that would probably be best. But if you wish, we could get a whole aquarium of fish. With beautiful angelfish, and other lovely and colorful tropical fish."

Matthew brightens a little.

"Kiku will take good care of them, and we can come visit them whenever we want."

Francis leans in, murmurs, but she's just close enough to hear him. "I'm sure his house could come in handy for other things too. Maybe even the fish can watch us. Eh? Eh?"

Matthew flushes. "F-Francis!"

Meilan's fists ball up instinctively. If they try it, she'll kick them. No one defiles Kiku's house on her watch!

Francis laughs and they walk on ahead. The fireworks are about to start.

The far side of the park is darker, with only little lanterns arrayed on the grass. She can see Alfred and Arthur above, still arguing. There's always bound to be fights with a tsundere, she thinks. But they look happy in their own way. The first firework that cuts the air sounds like a missile fired. He covers her ears as the first explosions start. It's a beautiful gold one that lingers in the air a while, streaming down until it finally fades into nothing. After that it's a red one

The word hanabi means 'flowers of fire', and that's what she sees there. Roses burning and falling to ashes, the pink one like an burst of spring cherry blossoms. It segues into more explosions as the little fragments explode as well. It's so brilliant, she blinks every few minutes as more of the fireworks fill the sky. Some are like rockets rising, with a long kite's tail that turns to smoke.

And she thinks it's such a beautiful moment. Fireworks were always one of her favorite of gege's inventions. It's a shame he isn't going to kiss her here, because it'd be a perfect shoujo moment. It should be, she thinks. With lights, and those dramatic shoujo bubbles that come out of nowhere.

She might not be able to get a bubble machine or find random feathers, but she can at the very least make one part of this vision happen.

She turns to him, leans up, just a bit, and pecks him on the lips. Really, it's a childish kiss, but it does the trick. He blinks, his face a bit rosier.

"Meilan–"

"I'm not a child anymore," she says, and she knows she sounds petulant, but she's been waiting for so very long.

Kiku brushes back a black tresses from her face. "Yao is going to kill me."

"Don't worry, I'll protect you~"

Another series of explosions rises as she leans up to kiss him again.

.

When they walk home, they're holding hands. She swears she can see bubbles and feathers, or maybe that's just squinting at the lights far off.

"Are you sure we shouldn't wait for the others?" Meilan asks.

"I think they would prefer privacy at the moment," Kiku says delicately.

She giggles, and they walk together into a gentle, warm summer night. She thinks it might be the best of her life, but she'll probably think that tomorrow too, and the day after, and every day after that.