Author's Note: This was written for my dear friend sakuratsukikage at the hetalia-sunshine exchange on livejournal. There are footnotes at the end of the fic. All the 'quotes' that separate the sections are from Theodore Roosevelt (as is the title!). Also, this is the last of the exchange fics I'm writing, so updates to my chapter fics should commence as normal. I'm really sorry for the delays on those. I've been busy with both life and these exchange fics. I'm hoping to update one fic a week- alternating between Finding Freedom, You Can't Take the Sky from Me, Cerulean, and Hero Frequency. I'd love to update even more often than that, but we'll see. At least four updates a month, definitely.
It Was Here that the Romance of My Life Began
By Everything is Magic
"Life is a great adventure…accept it in such a spirit."
A vacation with America, England had discovered a long time ago, was never short on adventure. It wasn't that he was ill-prepared. On the contrary, despite not generally planning everything in advance, he almost always knew what to do in a pinch. He was resourceful and despite his very common moments of airheadedness, rather intelligent. America was the type to be able to survive in the wild with just a Swiss Army Knife. That is, provided that he didn't get too scared at night by sounds he mistook as 'ghosts'. The ironic thing is that there were quite a lot of ghosts roaming America's lands. England sensed them often when they were vacationing together. But America had this rather ridiculous habit of… never thinking there were ghosts there when there actually were.
It was because of this (the resourcefulness, not the ghosts), that England all too often found himself agreeing to vacations with America. Well, to be truthful there were a lot of other reasons as well. For one, America was ridiculously convincing. He'd push out his lower lip ever so slightly and widen his eyes and just… pout, like a puppy that was trying to convince you to play with it for just ten more minutes please. There was also the fact that he was America's partner and had been for almost sixty-five years. It was a fair time to have been in a relationship, even for a pair of nations. Thirdly and perhaps most importantly, is that whether he'd admit it to himself all the way or not, he absolutely loved vacationing with America. There would be moments of frustration, for sure. There was no use denying that the man he loved also infuriated him from time to time. But amongst that, there were far more moments of contentment, elation, pure joy in the fact that despite his company only being one person, he was so very, very far from being alone.
Really, he'd never be less lonely than he was when he was traveling with America; across his nation or across England's nation or in one of innumerable places across the globe. It was just the two of them, and there would be no one to knock on the door and interrupt them or to call them and tell them and tell them they're needed at work.
And so, it was horrendously difficult to turn down a vacation with America. Even if the practical part of him was telling him that a one hundred and fifty mile canoe expedition through the badlands of North Dakota sounded rather silly (he did like adventures and expeditions honestly, but it was the idea of his legs being cramped in a canoe for almost a week in the dry Dakota summer heat that sounded like a bit of a turnoff. Mostly the cramped legs. Canoes were bloody small). Just as England had been about to say yes, all right, fine, America threw something else at him that weakened his already-defeated resolve. The trip was to go primarily through Theodore Roosevelt National Park, and England knew quite well that there were few presidents America had been closer to than 'Teddy.' When he said this, his kicked puppy face intensified. England sighed, smiled lightly, shook his head, and agreed to go.
"I do not believe that any man can adequately appreciate the world of today unless he has some knowledge of...and some feeling for the history of the world of the past."
The Maltese Cross Cabin was, America pointed out, the coolest place they could have stayed in the entirety of Medora, North Dakota. England supposed that he was right. Medora was a very small town, with a population of just one hundred citizens. It wasn't your typical small town though, because it also served as a tourist attraction, being the closest settlement to Theodore Roosevelt National Park. There was a rather gimmicky Wild West themed musical that America had taken England to that evening, and they'd eaten that evening at an outdoor restaurant that featured fondue steak and cast members of said musical serenading them. Much more to England's taste was the golf course they'd visited earlier in the day. Both he and America enjoyed the sport, although America was, England thought, more about putting power in his swing whereas England was more about grace. The course was beautiful, winding through the rocky badlands of North Dakota, as if the creators had molded the course to the land, as opposed to the land to the course. America won the game, his confidence boosted due to a Birdie on the rocky green-spotted labyrinth that they'd deigned to call 'the fifteenth hole.'
But now it was night, and the pair had just settled into their lodgings for the night, said Maltese Cross Cabin. It was a small cabin (although it was considered large at the time it was built) located near the entrance to the South Unit of the National Park. What made the cabin special, America repeatedly pointed out, was that it had belonged to none other than Teddy Roosevelt himself. "He ranched here for years, and this is the first cabin he built! Awesome, huh?"
The cabin itself was a tourist attraction, and generally no one was allowed to stay in it. But America was America, and if it was within reason, his bosses and supervisors generally allowed him to break such rules. America was wiggling his toes, something that England had noticed years ago that he did quite often when he was trying to fall asleep. And usually when he was having difficulty sleeping it meant one of two things; he was scared (this did not seem to be the case), or he was excited (given that they were to begin their canoeing expedition early the next morning, it was likely this).
They were curled up in the same sleeping bag, a large dual one that America had purchased a few years before. America was staring straight at England, his blue eyes wide. He'd removed his glasses before getting into bed. A large battery powered lantern lit the cabin.
"You should be sleeping," England said.
"I can't," America whined. England rolled his eyes and shifted, reaching behind to rub America's upper back.
"Oh I know. It's always the case. You're excited to leave tomorrow," he replied. "But it's going to be a bloody long day, and the last thing I want is you passing out and leaving me to row the canoe by myself, you git."
America grinned. "Heroes don't pass out, and I've done way more hardcore stuff on like, no sleep."
England frowned. "Why are we doing this again?"
"Huh, you didn't wanna come?" Shit. There was that face again.
"It's not that at all. I… agreed to come, didn't I?" England assured him, his cheeks glowing pink in the lantern light. "I meant staying at this cabin. We could have camped or stayed in a hotel. That Rough Riders Hotel looked quite nice…"
"D'you not like it?"
England glanced around the cabin. There was a hay-bed, but America had told them they were sleeping in the floor because he felt awkward sleeping in his boss's old bed (and they were definitely not doing anything intimate, because it would be 'so weird to do it in my boss's old house!'). There was a writing desk, a small kitchen area, a living room, and a loft, where farmhands had slept, according to America. It was not large, but it was… admittedly rather cozy.
"It's all right. A bit rustic, but that's fine… I was just curious."
America turned away, but England could still see that his cheeks had reddened. "I… like showing you these things, all right? My history and… this is part of it, more so than some campground and stuff. Just… thought… well Teddy and I were really close, you know?"
England's eyes widened. "Th-that's… well I know you like to show off but…"
America shook his head vehemently, turning back toward England. "It's not like that, geez. I mean yeah I'm awesome, and my people and my land… they're all awesome too but…" He shrugged. "It's well- I like to show these things to you, because they're part of me."
Smiling lightly, England placed a hand on the side of America's face. The young nation had enough bravado and energy on an average day to power a large city, but there was one thing that England knew, even if America didn't admit it outright, that he was insecure about. He poked fun at England's age all of the time, the daft fool, but the truth was that he was unconfident about his own. He was a bloody young thing compared to much of the rest of the world, after all. And certainly for a country of his age to have as much power as he did was quite unusual. America often felt that he had less history than most of his peers, and it was true. But… that was nothing to be ashamed of.
"You don't have to impress me," England replied, stroking the hair above his ears.
America nuzzled into England's touch. "Yeah but I like to…"
The older nation bit his lip. "Very well then… that's… I suppose I like to show off my nation as well." He paused and took a deep breath. "I do remember… the first time I encountered your Roosevelt. I'm not sure if you're aware, but I met him way back in 1886."
America propped himself up on his elbow. "Huh, really?"
England nodded. "He'd just married, and he was being inducted into the British Royal Society because he climbed Mount Blanc. Quite a feat, I must admit…"
"Yeah, I can't imagine any of your queens or kings doing that!"
The other nation scowled. "I would not be so sure. No doubt Richard or Alfred could pull it off, and I personally think that Bess could do it as well."
America grinned. "Bess could totally do it. She was badass."
"Stubborn and strong." He tapped America on the nose. "Reminds me a bit of someone else I know."
America blushed at this.
"I met him again after your Spanish-American war," England continued.
"Which you totally supported me in." He was smirking now.
England frowned. "Yes well, it was you or Spain. The choice was quite obvious!"
America raised an eyebrow, unconvinced. "You could have sided with no one, and you definitely didn't need to give me supplies or let me use your cables."
"It meant a lot to me," America interrupted. His voice had gone quiet, and he looked apprehensive. England shifted, pushing his body fully onto its side. The lantern light behind America caused him to glow, his golden hair and blue eyes appearing even brighter than usual. "I-I mean I'm a hero, so it's not like I needed anyone's help but… most of Europe sided against me. Not you though…"
England's green eyes grew large and his cheeks pinked. "I was surprised. I remember when your troops were setting off from Hong Kong, under Commodore Dewey, I believe?" America nodded. "Right, off to Manila they were. And you know what my men did as your soldiers sailed off? They bloody cheered for them."
America grinned hugely. "I totally remember that. It was awesome England… so awesome and…" he paused, realizing something, "I was in that fleet and I saw you earlier that day before we left..."
The older nation's face turned from pink to red, and he pulled away, crossing his arms over his chest. "N-now listen here, it's not as if I was one of the people cheering. I was at the harbour watching you leave, of course but… there was no cheering involved on my part."
Leaning forward, America pressed a kiss to England's forehead to silence his protests. "I wish I'd seen you doing it."
"Yeah, yeah, you probably just clapped sorta enthusiastically or something, knowing you. But still…"
England relented with a sigh. America wrapped his arms around England's center and with his assistance, turned England's body so America was spooned against his back. He ran his fingers over England's knuckles and nuzzled into his hair.
"Think what you wish America," he protested weakly, but his actions spoke of affection. He lifted one of America's hands and pressed his lips to each knuckle in turn. "We should go to sleep though. G'night America…"
His response was a light snore and gentle puffs of air on the back of his neck. Idiot. He could fall asleep so quickly…
England closed his eyes and smiled. They'd called it the Great Rapprochement, the beginning of a more positive relationship between their two nations, between the end of the 1800s and the first Great War. It was cultural as much as it was political, and to England, it was the beginning of hope. It was a small hope, thin as silk strings and much more delicate, that a closer relationship between their two nations could lead to a closer relationship, reconciliation between each other as people. It took time, but eventually it occurred. Spending time with America ceased being painful, became friendly, and finally… became what it was now, had been for years.
He recalled that day at the Hong Kong Harbour, how he'd been visiting his Asian colony when the fleet departed. And his brief run-in with America himself earlier in the day, awkward, terse, but not as painful as it had been fifteen years before. Already, it was improving… albeit slowly.
America could think that he'd clapped sort of enthusiastically when the fleet left the harbour all he wanted. In actuality, England had cheered.
"There are no words that can tell the hidden spirit of the wilderness, that can reveal its mystery, its melancholy, and its charm."
Six days in a five meter long, less than one meter across at its widest, canoe with America proved to be… exciting to say the least. They stopped every night and camped on the side of the Little Missouri River, eating dry food or cooking on America's gas-fueled stove (the only type that was legal in the park).
The canoe was quite nice, well made and very light. It was an aqua blue color and had U.S.S. AWESOME painted on the side (which was ridiculous, but whatever). He had more leg room than he'd anticipated, and the river was often shallow enough that England could just hop out and stretch his legs in the gentle current.
There were no disasters. There were several times in which the river was so shallow that they had to drag the canoe for a short while. There were nights where it was swelteringly hot (and then the next evening, it would be chilly). And every day, America would slather England's back and legs and arms in SPF 100 sunscreen. He had always been one to burn horribly, and America would not listen to any of his protests about how he could apply it himself. It was embarrassing to be tended to like that! America argued that since he knew the land the best, he knew how to put on sunscreen for it the best. England did not buy this. He thought that America just wanted to rub his hands all over his body.
As much as he griped, he did not mind that at all. Despite his boisterous nature, America's hands were soft, gentle, and always tender when he applied it every morning (and touched it up throughout the day). And often it would lead to kissing, but… not much else. "We're still in the National Park," America would say. "It's still weird!"
England reckoned that once they got out of the canoe and into a hotel, he was going to lock them in the blasted hotel room. Seeing America shirtless and tanned by the steaming badlands sun for almost an entire week was beginning to get to him.
The young nation really was in his element here. England enjoyed the trip, the adventures they embarked on every day; whether it was pulling their canoe over to take a hike through the Painted Canyon, visiting one of numerous and very adorable prairie dog towns, or trying to navigate choppy and rapid-filled parts of the river without tipping over. The landscape was gorgeous and… the company wasn't bad either. Oh they bickered, as was guaranteed when trapped in a small boat with one person for days on end. But, England thought, that was all right. The good outweighed the bad by far; there was no doubt of that.
But America thrived here. It was his land, and it was as if these wide open spaces, untainted by anything, allowed him to soak in all the energy and life radiating from it and take it into himself. They were him, after all. Perhaps it was the way his tanned skin and bright blonde hair blended so well with the cliffs and rock formations that made up the badlands; all golds, reds, and sands, or the way his blue eyes were the same shade as the summer sky, but America belonged here, and England cherished being able to share it with him.
On the fourth day of their journey, America stopped the canoe and pulled it onto the side of the river, an impish smile on his face. He snatched England by the hand and pulled him off trail, to a small meadow about a kilometer from the river. England inquired as to what the bloody hell they were doing, but America just grinned and said they were "going for a walk!"
The meadow was large, with tall dry grass and rocks littered throughout. On either side were sloping hills that led up to more rock formations. It was beautiful, in the same stark and remote sort of way the rest of the park was.
"Teddy once called this place a grim fairyland," America noted, and his tone was cheeky. "Don't know about any fairies, although I guess if there were any…"
"I haven't seen any," England noted.
America snorted. "Of course not. Fake fairies don't live in America."
England rolled his eyes and wriggled his hand out of America's grasp, crossing his arms. "Idiot. You couldn't be more incorrect. Your lands are utterly infested with supernatural creatures."
The younger nation scratched the back of his head and let out an uneasy laugh. "Y-yeah, whatever England."
He shook his head. "So what exactly are we doing out here?"
America blinked. "Can't you see?" He pointed across the meadow, in a direction England had not glanced yet.
It was a herd of horses; some one color and others mottled in gray and white or brown and white. There were a good fifteen of them, a few of them being foals. It was clear even from where they were standing, at least twenty-five meters away, the power that the beasts held. Wild, untamed, and just…
"Bloody hell, I haven't seen wild horses in forever, America," England said breathlessly.
America grinned. "They're amazing, aren't they? About forty-five years ago they tried to remove them from the park, but…" he frowned, "there was no way I was gonna let that happen! This is their home and they're totally awesome. Heroes have to protect horses too!"
England chuckled. "Right, of course." He adjusted his white t-shirt, which had ridden up during their walk to the meadow. When he looked back up, America was gone.
Or more precisely, he was making his way over to the herd. England cursed.
Only his idiot of a boyfriend would be stupid enough to approach a herd of dangerous, ridiculously strong wild horses without a second thought. Knowing that if he shouted he might spook the beasts, he jogged quietly in attempt to catch up with America.
He wasn't able to. America stopped once he reached the herd, and England stood back, even more afraid of startling them now.
He had nothing to fear though, because America approached the mare closest to the edge of the herd, gently spoke something in her ear, and began to stroke her mane.
Of course. America had always had an affinity for animals. Ever since he was but a tiny child, he'd been able to walk up to just about any creature and have it soften like putty in his hands. He'd surrounded himself with creatures great and small throughout his youth, from bunnies to bears. But sometimes… in the heat of the moment when he was just worried for him, he forgot about all that rot. Of course America would be okay with the horses. They'd probably eat carrots from his hand. America wasn't the only nation with an affinity for wildlife. Australia had always had one, and England had often suffered because of that (it was never funny to put scorpions in his empty teacups, no matter how much the former colony thought it was). He'd spoken to Portugal once, and she had informed him that Brazil was very much the same. For the most part, nations got along with their wildlife. But for some of them… it went beyond that, and it extended beyond even the creatures that lived on their own land. It was like America's form of magic.
England felt a small pang of jealousy, but then remembered his own gift. His gift of magic, of his connection to another world and everything both weird and wonderful that came with it; the friends it had given him, the spectacular things it had allowed him to see. It was just as fantastic a gift.
America was playing with a magnificent stallion now. Its body was gray, splotched with white, and its entire face was white as well. He was nuzzling his cheek against the horse's snout. "Hey England!" America called over his shoulder, still stroking the horse.
"What?" he whispered.
"No need to whisper, I'm here. They know it's safe. Come on over!"
England closed his eyes and took a deep breath, before carefully beginning to close the distance between himself and the herd. It's America. He might be foolish, but he wouldn't allow you to get hurt.
He joined America at his side, and the horses acted as if he weren't even there. "Well…"
"See, I told you it would be all right!"
England feigned a scowl, staring up at the striking stallion America was still attending to. "You're such a cowboy."
America grinned, rubbing behind the horse's ears. "You say that like it's a bad thing."
"It does make you a bit of a hick."
He rolled his eyes, walking over to a foal and running his hand up and down its smooth back. "Last time I checked, you all were pretty fond of cowboys… or at least you were."
England flushed lightly at this. "I have no idea what you're talking about."
America stepped behind England, placing his hands on his shoulders and peeking around them, mischief clear on his face. "Performed for the Queen herself, at Windsor Palace, if I remember. Toured England for six months in 1887! And since England isn't that big, it must mean that like… every single person in England saw the show."
England's blush intensified. "You mean the Wild West Show? Y-yes well of course… it was new and romantic to people, so it makes sense. I mean you brought sodding buffalo over for Christ's sake."
America leaned closer. "And lots and lots of cowboys. I was one of them! The very heroic Alfred F. Jones!"
England snorted. "How could I forget you participating in that show? You were a bigger bloody showoff than anyone else. On your horse and with your sharp shooting and all that rot."
He pulled away with a shrug. "Well it's okay if you don't want to admit it. I know France really liked the show. We toured there as well. In fact, did you know they still have a cowboy festival there every yea-"
"All right, I happen to enjoy some people outfitted in cowboy attire, does that make you happy?" England interrupted. "And I'll have you know that if France spent more than two seconds staring at you in those leather chaps you wore back then I'll have him…"
America laughed. "You remember what I wore?"
England turned away, stuttering, "It's just that I saw the show several times and…"
"It's okay England," America cut in. "I remember what you wore too!"
"Oh?" England cocked an impressive eyebrow.
"Y-yeah…" America blushed and scratched his cheek. "Those Victorian suits always looked… really amazing on you. With the… way they were cut and everything."
England cleared his throat. "Y-yes well…"
"I mean I didn't really realize at the time why I was staring at you," America continued. "I probably thought I was looking because your hat was funny or something. Who knows? In retrospect the bowler hat was actually pretty cute though…"
The shorter nation flushed and placed a palm to his forehead. "Cute isn't precisely what I was going for but… well who am I kidding, you know how I feel about your cowboy attire, it appears."
America pivoted around so he was in front of England, and captured his lips in a kiss. It was swelteringly hot outside, but England hardly noticed as he leaned into it, hardly noticed that he could taste the salt of America's sweat or could smell the herd of horses.
England did love cowboys, or at the very least, America being a cowboy. But whenever he'd seen the Wild West show back over one hundred and twenty years ago, there had always been a pang of something raw and sad. America, so free, so uninhibited, so far from him. For America, performing was a celebration of freedom, England could tell in the way he moved and the way he smiled and the way he breathed the air as if he were in a fresh spring prairie instead of the lawn of a castle or a bland fairground. He was amazing to watch, but America rarely felt so far away as during those shows, and they filled him with a sort of longing that he couldn't displace, causing his stomach to feel a hollow pit. And still he came, to as many shows as he could, not sure if he was hoping that America would notice or not.
England placed his hands on the sides of America's face and deepened the kiss. Well, he had no qualms about liking cowboys now.
"Old age is like everything else. To make a success of it, you've got to start young."
There was nothing left to do in Medora, North Dakota. It was just as well, England thought, because he wasn't in the mood to do anything but sleep, eat, bathe, and lock himself in a hotel room with America. Their canoe trip ended where the Little Missouri River met with Lake Sakakewea, a massive manmade body of water that America, despite how bloody exhausted England had been, had decided to spend an hour swimming in.
It was a charming lake, and had England not been so tired, he probably would have joined him. As it was, he'd sat in the canoe and napped.
Early that evening, they'd caught a private jet at Killdeer Airport. It took them back up to Medora, a flight of not even an hour. From there, they'd fly home in America's plane. They'd taken his larger jet, because otherwise they wouldn't have been able to fit the canoe.
But they were going to spend the night in Medora, and for that, England was relieved. They stayed at the Rough Riders Hotel. It turned out that the place he'd suggested to America while they were at the cabin had already been on his agenda. It was by far the nicest hotel in the town, and America informed him that the building had been around back when Theodore lived in the area. He praised the 'totally heroic name' because the 'rough riders were so amazing.' England praised the posh suite America had reserved, as well as the actually quite delicious fine dining the hotel offered.
America was finally starting to show his exhaustion when they sat down for dinner. He was still energetic, but he didn't have the same vigor he'd had earlier that day at the lake.
England ordered tenderloin with gorgonzola cream sauce, and America ordered a prime rib with shrimp. It was the best damn thing they'd tasted in a week, and they savored it. They talked amongst each other and shared stories of their canoeing expedition, laughing and bickering throughout the entire meal. It was a pleasant way to end a vacation, England thought.
After the meal, the pair of them chose to order wine. They couldn't agree on one to share, England preferring white and America preferring red, so they decided to each order something different. He was mulling over the wine menu and trying to figure out if the comment America had made a moment before about how England was like wine and got better with age (which was good, since he was so old), was something he wanted to take as an insult or a compliment, when America butted in.
"American wine is the best," he said as he closed the menu.
England snorted. "Of course you'd think it is."
"Hey remember that time in the seventies where that British guy picked our wine over Fra-"
"Is it such a shock that I picked you over France?"
"Well no but- hey waitress is here!" He waved her over.
"Can I help you Sir?" she asked. She was a peppy twenty-something girl with her hair in a smooth straight ponytail.
"Can I get a glass of Red Diamond Cabernet?" America ordered, smiling at her.
She nodded and wrote it down. "Sure thing, I'll be right out with it."
England cleared his throat. "I'll take a Rombauer Chardonnay."
She raised her eyebrows at him. "Sir, I'll need to see an ID, all right?"
America's jaw dropped, and England smirked at him as he pulled his wallet out. He flashed the waitress his ID; Kirkland, Arthur, London, England, Date of Birth: 4-23-1987. Every nation had a false ID, replaced every few years with the date of birth moved forward.
The waitress nodded, thanked him for their orders, and left the table to fill them.
America was still gaping. England had not let up on his smirk.
He cleared his throat. "So love, who is old now?"
"She just asked you and not me because I'm taller!" America reasoned weakly.
England shook his head. "Or perhaps you're not as young as you think you are?"
It was, England knew, silly of him to argue it. He had no idea why the waitress had only asked him, but he was quite sure that America did not look older than him.
Still, the nation did have that complex about being young, that little insecurity that England was more aware of than America knew. And perhaps something as small as this could help him deal with that.
England had learned on this trip, or rather learned again, that America, for such a young nation, had loads and loads of history to be proud of and cherish. He'd shared so much of it with him on this vacation; each day a new story, new memories created and old memories unearthed.
America paled, but then nodded. "Y-yeah, I guess that's true. Still not as old as you though. Ahaha!"
England ran his hand down his face and changed the subject, and within minutes they were finishing up their glasses of wine and heading back up to the room.
"It was here that the romance of my life began."
That night, England got what he'd been waiting for. He locked the hotel room door, and the pair descended onto the bed in a pile of limbs and sheets, kisses turning into touches turning into heated lovemaking.
It was in the afterglow, England curled up against America's chest, listening to his heartbeat beneath his cheek, that America brought up the incident with the carding again.
"Would you still love me even if I were old?"
England coughed and sat up, resting his elbows on America's chest. "What the bloody hell kind of question is that?"
America flushed and looked down, timid. "I just mean… okay I was in the bathroom after we got upstairs and I guess I was looking pretty closely at myself because yeah and… I think I found…" He reached over to the nightstand and grabbed something small. England could make it out when he squinted; one of America's hairs.
"A piece of hair? I generally see those as well when I look in the mirror. Imagine that."
America shook his head vehemently. "A gray hair!"
"A light blonde hair, you prat," England corrected, reaching up to ruffle America's hair. "The sun always lightens your hair a bit in the summer, and we've been baking under it for the past week, if you recall."
"Yeah but what if it's-"
"It's not," England interrupted. "Good Lord. You're not carded once at a restaurant in the middle of nowhere, and suddenly you're going gray? Don't be ludicrous."
"Yeah but you were-"
"I'm not old, America," England said firmly. "I know you like to tease me about it, and obviously I'm not as young as some, but there are loads of nations older than me, all right?"
America nodded meekly, throwing the hair onto the floor. "I know…" he sighed. "It's just that sometimes… compared to me?"
England's expression softened. He reached up and ran a hand down America's cheek."America, love. You've done more in four hundred years than some nations will do in a lifetime. You're… always trying to show me your history, your land and your people… and everything, to impress me and assure me that you have a lot of it."
"You've just got so much…"
"Well I can promise you that you have both more land and more people than me," England retorted dryly.
"You know that's not what I meant," he sighed. "D'you not like the vacations then?"
England shook his head. "No, that's not it at all. I do like them. But show me these things because you're proud of them, not because you think I won't know how much you've got otherwise."
America wrapped his arms around England's bare back. "You're awesome, you know that?"
England blinked. "Oh, I'm awesome now?"
"Y-yeah well… to be my boyfriend, you at least have to be sort of awesome!" America explained with a grin.
"Ah of course…"
England rested his head on America's chest again, taking in the smell of his skin, like warm pine and cool rivers and desert winds; all part of who he was.
"Hey England…" America said after several minutes.
"You never answered. Will you still love me when I'm old?"
England frowned. "What kind of stupid question is that?"
"I dunno. I just wondered if maybe you liked me being young or something," America clarified, and England could imagine his dejected expression even though he couldn't see his face.
England exhaled deeply, and America twitched a bit under him. "Nothing of the sort, America. I'll love you for… as long as you allow me to."
He felt America plant a kiss on his head and looked up to see him beaming at him. "Never gonna stop allowing that."
England swallowed thickly, feeling a bit choked up. Stupid, wonderful America. He ran a string of kisses down his bare chest. History told him not to believe it, because rarely did such happiness last. It had been especially fleeting for him, having lived a life of solitude, having spent years, centuries trying to fill it with meaning and not succeeding for more than brief snatches of time. But America was anything but conventional, and he'd built himself on a dream and made it come true. He loved hearing about America's history because of the optimism he held for it. His meeting America was miraculous, his reconciliation with him was miraculous, and his relationship with him now was that as well. If anyone could say forever to him and mean it, it was America.
"I believe you…"
1-America and England canoe through Theodore Roosevelt National Park (the canoe route actually goes beyond the park, but most of the trip takes place in the park). The park features, in large part, the North Dakota badlands. Theodore Roosevelt ranched here in the 1880s, and has famously said "I never would have been President if it had not been for my experiences in North Dakota."
2- The 'gimicky Wild West themed musical is the Medora Musical. It's performed every summer in Medora, North Dakota, the town closest to the South Unit of TR National Park.
3- They eat dinner at Pitchfork Steak Fondue.
4-And this is Bully Pulpit golf course, which actually looks really amazing as far as golf courses go, I think. The fifteenth hole is really crazy indeed.
5- Rough Riders Hotel (which they later stay in). The original building was built in the 1880s, and it was renamed Rough Riders hotel at the turn of the century. It does feature normal hotel rooms (as an extension to the hotel built a few years ago), but there are also 'historic suites,' part of the original architecture.
6- This isn't so much a source footnote, but the character bit about America being insecure over his lack of history and youth is something taken from some of Himaruya's old character notes- Perhaps because he's quite young, he's a "going my way" type of young man overflowing with vitality. However, he has a complex about his country's lack of history.
7- Theodore Roosevelt went to London in 1886 and married his childhood sweetheart, Edith Kermit Carow. They honeymooned in Europe, and Roosevelt led a party to the summit of Mont Blanc, a feat which resulted in his induction into the British Royal Society.
8- The Spanish-American War lasted four months in 1898. Roosevelt had a large claim to fame in the war, as leader of the famous Rough Riders.
9- Contrary to England's quip about the choice being quite obvious, it was a big deal that England openly supported America in the war. It was considered a notable sign of the beginning of the Great Rapprochement. And the story about Hong Kong Harbour is in that article as well.
10- Starting at Medora Bridge and ending where the Little Missouri dumps into Lake Sakakawea, America and England canoed about one hundred and fifty miles.
11- Places they stop: The Painted Canyon, Prairie Dog Towns, and of course, the Feral Horses (which they really did try to remove from the park some years ago. Luckily it was halted, and they still live there now).
12- England's love of cowboys. There was quite a fascination for 'the romance of the Wild West' amongst the Brits, and all of Europe. America refers to the most famous of all Wild West Shows, Buffalo Bill's. Queen Victoria asked for them to perform at their Diamond Jubiliee, and they did, bringing a fleet of ships with hundreds of animals and performers. After that, they spent six months touring just England, and then went on to tour the rest of Europe (France included). I decided that America most likely participated in at least some of those shows. I don't think he'd miss it. XD
13- France's cowboy festival. It happens in Mirande, France. Every year. And 160,000 people attend.
14- Lake Sakakawea is a massive manmade lake. The Little Missouri enters it near Killdeer, North Dakota.
15- 'That time that the British guy picked our wine over France,' refers to the Judgement of Paris. The Paris Wine Tasting of 1976 or the Judgment of Paris was a wine competition organized in Paris on 24 May 1976 by Steven Spurrier, a British wine merchant, in which French judges did blind tasting of top-quality chardonnay and cabernet sauvignon wines from France and from California. California wines rated best in each category, which caused surprise as France was generally regarded as being the foremost producer of the world's best wines. England also underplays this. Spurrier was a huge advocate of French wine, and did not believe the American wine could win. Thirty years later in 2006, they tried it again. California wines won once more. In fact, the highest ranked French wine came in at sixth place.