Prussia yawned and stretched as he got up from his chair.

"Maaan, that was BORING!" he said loudly as the G8 meeting disbursed. "West, you totally suck at leading meetings. That was so lame, my eyeballs almost fell out in sheer boredom."

"The purpose of the meeting is not to be entertaining, Brother," Germany replied, looking a bit annoyed. "It is to discuss important international issues that concern all of us. You were the one who insisted on coming in the first place. You're not obligated like the rest of us."

"You're so not cute, West," Prussia scoffed. "The awesome me represents East Germany now; I'm entitled to be here, same as you."

"Make up your mind!" Germany said in exasperation. "True, you technically represent East Germany, but you only take on the duties that it entails when it suits you. Either be East Germany or don't."

"Isn't it fine to let him pretend like he still matters?" Russia butted in with a chilly smile. "It's all he has left in his pitiful life, right?"

"Hey, shut the hell up, fuckwad!" Prussia snapped. "No one was talking to you so go back to your fucking igloo before your icicle dick melts off!"

"Brother, please," Germany said. "Russia, don't you think that was a little below the belt?"

Russia maintained his frigid smile but said nothing. In his mind, he was perfectly justified; Prussia's rudeness during his presentation had been completely unprovoked. The white-haired man had booed, snorted derisively, laughed, yawned loudly, folded paper airplanes and even ripped off a couple of farts to show his disdain for Russia's opinion. If Prussia thought he was going to get away with it without Russia even saying anything, he was sadly mistaken.

Germany sighed and headed for the door. "I have to make a few copies of these documents. Please wait for me in the car, Brother."

"Sure, West," Prussia agreed.

He gathered up his jacket and his mess of papers. Just as he was shoving those papers sloppily into his folder, Russia spoke again.

"I hear you're seeing Austria these days," he commented as if he were discussing the matter with a friend he hadn't seen in a while. "How is he doing? You're not still beating him up and invading his vital regions, are you? Those kinds of relationships aren't healthy, you know."

"What I do with Austria is none of your fucking business!" Prussia snarled. "What the hell do you know, anyway? Just because you torture everyone you've ever been with until the sight of your face makes them sick, doesn't mean we all do!"

Russia's eyebrow twitched as his hand slipped into his coat to grip his pipe, but his smile never faded. Prussia wasn't to be intimidated; that comment about Austria had pushed him right to the edge of his patience and he was just waiting for the next comment that would give him an excuse to punch the bastard right in the face. He stood, waiting, his eyes blazing. It seemed that Russia recognized the silent challenge because he shrugged with forced nonchalance.

"Do what you can with him now," Russia suggested smoothly. "It won't be long until you all belong to me. I wonder if Austria will scream and cry as pathetically as you did back then when I break him. Then again, he's probably so used to being violated by now that he wouldn't even—"

A more mature person would have realized that Russia's words were mean-spirited but ultimately harmless; a childish way of getting back at Prussia for the embarrassment and uncalled-for rudeness that Prussia had shown him during his presentation, his anger at Prussia's previous personal attack causing him to take it too far. Prussia was not a mature person. He had launched himself at Russia and had his hands around the taller man's throat before he could even finish his final comment.

"Has the bleeding stopped yet, Brother?" Germany asked, not looking at him and keeping his eyes fixed firmly on the road.

Prussia checked the tissue he had been holding over his nose and saw that the blood had dried. "Hn."

"I can't imagine what you must have been thinking to start that fight," Germany muttered for about the tenth time. "Who knows what it'll take to repair our relations. We're ione nation/i now. That means that this wasn't just a fight between you and Russia; I've been dragged into it, too. Please think more carefully before you act in the future."

"For the last time, West, I didn't start it," Prussia growled sullenly. "Sorry you had to get involved, but you wouldn't have let it go either if he'd been saying that shit to you."

"Just what did he say?" Germany asked. "You still haven't told me."

Prussia's expression darkened even further, though it was hard to tell with the brilliant black eye that was blooming on his face, his swollen nose and his split lip. "I don't wanna talk about it… Just remembering pisses me off."

Germany decided to drop the matter as they pulled into Austria's driveway. Prussia let himself out in silence and made his way stiffly to the door, pulling the hood of his sweatshirt down over his face. Germany pulled away as Prussia eased open the front door as quietly as he could. If Prussia was lucky, he could sneak into the bathroom to treat himself without Austria seeing. At least then he wouldn't look so awful when he finally had to face him and admit what he'd done. Unfortunately, Prussia hadn't opened the door quietly enough because he heard the piano music stop and a few seconds later Austria came to greet him.

"Welcome home," he said with a warm smile. "How was the… Prussia… what happened to your lip?"

Fuck. Before Prussia could do anything, Austria had grabbed the hood of his sweatshirt and pulled it back, revealing the full extent of Prussia's injuries. His face went pale, his eyes becoming wide and round like golf balls.

"What…what on earth happened?" he asked, looking horrified.

The white-haired man shrugged and rubbed his nose in an act of feigned indifference, looking carefully over the top of Austria's head. He cursed under his breath when his hand came away with a streak of blood on it.

"Come to the bathroom so we can get you cleaned up before you get blood on the floor," Austria ordered.

Prussia allowed Austria to lead him to the bathroom where Austria retrieved the white first aid kit from the cabinet beneath the sink. Austria sat down on the closed lid of the toilet while Prussia seated himself silently on the edge of the nearby bathtub, pinching his nose in a wad of toilet paper to stop the bleeding. The dark-haired man wet a large cotton ball with antiseptic and dabbed at the gash on Prussia's forehead. Prussia hissed in pain and jerked away impulsively.

"Hold still," Austria scolded gently. "And tell me what happened."

"Got hit by a bus," Prussia lied weakly.

"A bus." Austria paused in his disinfecting to stare at him in disbelief. He lifted up Prussia's shirt to see if it was hiding any more injuries and found mildly bruised ribs on one side and a long but shallow patch of rug burn on one of his forearms, and nothing else. "Either this bus drove through a building with carpets to get to you and was very careful to hit you only in the face or you're lying to me."

"Tiny little fucker," Prussia mumbled, wincing as Austria's cotton ball came back to dab at the gash again. "Fast, though. I bent down to pick up the pen I dropped in the conference room and it nailed me."

"Prussia… please, spare me the juvenile stories, just this once," Austria said seriously, refusing to take up their usual verbal sparring game. "Naturally when someone I care for so deeply comes home to me in such poor shape, I will need to know why. You can understand that, can't you?"

Prussia felt trapped. He loved Austria and wanted to be honest with him, but he had a feeling Austria wouldn't be satisfied until he had the whole story. That would mean repeating Russia's cruel words. He just wanted to put this incident behind him as quickly as possible; thinking about what that bastard had said to him made him feel physically ill. Austria placed a bandage over the wound on his forehead and began to tend to the rug burn, waiting patiently for Prussia to spill the details.

"I… got in a fight," Prussia said quietly. "With Russia... I won, though!"

Austria frowned disapprovingly as he dug out some tweezers from the first aid kit and used them to pluck a little ball of dirt and fibers from Prussia's rug burn.

"Ow, fuck!" Prussia gasped, pulling away. "Easy with the tweezing, Young Master!"

"I'm sorry," Austria said. "I'm trying to be as gentle as possible… This is going to sting a bit, too, I'm afraid."

He held up a fresh antiseptic-soaked cotton ball.

Prussia inhaled sharply through clenched teeth at the ensuing sting as the cotton ball was pressed against his wound. "Shit, shit, shit, that hurts! Are you trying to fix me or kill me?"

"Disinfecting your injuries will not kill you," Austria assured him. "Quite the opposite, in fact. Now, just what was it that you fought about? And what do you mean, 'you won'?"

"Last man standing wins, right?" Prussia asked.

Austria looked into his eyes uneasily. "Do you mean to tell me that you rendered him unconscious?"

Prussia shrugged again. "Something like that."

Austria shook his head as he bandaged the rug burn. "I… wish I could say I was surprised at you, but I'm not. What did he do to make you so angry? Please tell me you didn't just attack him out of the blue."

"Of course not," Prussia replied, looking hurt. "I may enjoy a good fight, but I'm not a raging psycho. You know that, right, Young Master?

"Right, of course you're not," Austria muttered a bit sheepishly. "I apologize."

"And that guy totally started it!" Prussia added. "I was just minding my own business, talking to West, when that fat bastard starts running his mouth off!"

Austria wanted to say that he highly doubted that Prussia was as innocent as he was making himself out to be in all of this, but for the time being he remained silent.

"Anyway, I… I couldn't let him off the hook after what he said," Prussia muttered, his fists clenching angrily at the memory. "Even if I did all that stuff during his presentation to piss him off, that was just… There's a lot of shit between me and him, but he had no business dragging… Us hating each other's guts has nothing to do with…"

The white-haired man's voice petered out and his face reddened as he swallowed around the beginnings of a lump in his throat. Austria was frozen in surprise. He had no memory of ever having seen Prussia so distressed. Whatever Russia had said, it must have been really horrible. Admittedly, this made him even more curious about what had gone on. It seemed obvious that he should try to offer some sort of comfort, but he wasn't sure how to proceed. He laid his hand on Prussia's awkwardly.

"What did he say, Prussia?" Austria asked quietly.

Prussia swallowed again, willing his tone to be steady. "He…"

His fists clenched tighter in the fabric of his pant legs. He lowered his voice to a whisper, hoping that it would make any instability in his voice less obvious. "He said… he would break you… That… that he would make it j-just like it was in the old days with us… only between you and h-him… and… and worse than that even…"

Austria was startled and disturbed by these words. "Russia really said he would do those things to me? But… that doesn't make any sense; our relations have been fairly decent lately."

"The guy's fucking nuts," Prussia croaked. "You can't trust him."

"I'm sure he only said those things to upset you," Austria surmised. "He didn't mean it. Russia spends a lot of time in isolation and because of it he tends to not know how to handle social situations very well. He was probably just angry about whatever you said to him and went overboard."

"You're… you're sticking up for him?" Prussia asked incredulously, his voice cracking. His head jerked up to look at Austria out of impulse, but he quickly caught himself and lowered it again embarrassedly so that his lover wouldn't see his distraught face.

"Of course not," Austria said. "There was no excuse for him to say those things and if he's making those kinds of horrendous comments, I shall need to consult my boss about possibly rethinking our relations with him. I was merely trying to put you at ease."

There was an uncomfortable silence between them. Austria could see that Prussia was trembling and he reached out to him uncertainly.

"If it had been someone else saying that shit, I… I still would have kicked their ass," Prussia admitted in a choked voice. "But I wouldn't be so… If… if he was serious… If that f-fucking bastard r-really came and tried to… to do that… What could I do about it? …He… he wasted me back then, and that was when I still h-had an army… He c-completely destroyed my awesome kingdom… N-now I'm just one guy… If he decided… that he wanted to t-take away the only th-thing I h-have that still matters, I… "

"Prussia…" Austria began softly. He cupped Prussia's face in his hands, intending to tilt it upward so that he could reassure him while looking him straight in the eye, but Prussia pulled away as if Austria's touch had burned him, his pale cheeks burning brilliantly red with acute embarrassment.

"Don't look," he mumbled. "Th-the awesome me doesn't… want to show you such a pathetic face."

"I don't care how pathetic a face you make," Austria assured him. "If you're upset, you can express it without worrying that it will affect how I feel for you. I assure you that won't change."

He tried to tilt Prussia's face upwards again, but Prussia jerked away once more.

"Please!" he barked, his voice harsh with mortification and suppressed emotion. Prussia took a deep shuddering breath and released it slowly. "Don't…"

Austria lowered his hands, immediately feeling guilty for the added discomfort he had caused his lover. "I'm sorry," he muttered.

Prussia sniffled, continuing to breathe deeply, his face red with shame as he tried to get himself under control. It wasn't working.

"Is there anything I can do…?" Austria asked uncertainly.

For a moment, Prussia neither replied nor even acknowledged that he'd heard him. Then he reached for Austria hesitantly and pulled him close, holding him awkwardly as if it was their first embrace. Austria reciprocated the contact, letting Prussia bury his swollen, battered face in his chest. The dark-haired man kissed the top of his head and began to gently stroke his hair, mindful of the goose-egg-shaped lump on the back of his skull. Prussia shuddered violently in his arms and Austria heard a stifled sob fight its way from his lips. Austria kissed him again, rubbing his back soothingly. He noted sympathetically that poor Prussia was so embarrassed by his display that even his ears and the back of his neck were scarlet.

"Shh, it's ok," Austria whispered. "Nothing is going to happen to me. It's alright."

Prussia felt awful. Not only was he being forced to face the reality that he wasn't capable of protecting the one he loved in the event that something should happen, but he was sitting here crying about it like a stupid girl. Man up! he snapped at himself. The awesome Prussia doesn't cry and cower like a baby! I may not have my army any more, but I still have my pride! I'll die before I give that or the young master up! But no matter how harshly he scolded himself to straighten up and dry his eyes, the tears simply wouldn't stop and the warmth and comfort he found in Austria's arms kept him right where he was.

"F-fucking pathetic," Prussia mumbled.

"It's ok once in a while, isn't it? It's impossible for anyone to be awesome all the time," Austria pointed out, kissing the top of his head again. "I'm perfectly willing to pretend it didn't happen if you like."

"If that f-fat bastard comes anywhere near you," the white-haired man sniffled, "I'll beat the shit out of him…! I… I won't let anything happen to you! Not even… n-not even a freaking paper cut, dammit!"

Austria smiled softly. "Impossible," he declared fondly. "What a foolish notion. Cute, but foolish."

"I mean it, Young Master," Prussia insisted.

"I know," he whispered. "Thank you."

Austria gave him a bit more time to collect himself, then kissed him one more time and offered him a tissue. Prussia sniffled again and gingerly wiped his nose and eyes, trying not to aggravate the bruises as he did so. When he had finished, Austria helped him to his feet.

"Come now, I have a gel ice-pack in the freezer that will help bring down the swelling in your face."

Prussia squeezed Austria's hand determinedly as he led him into the kitchen. It was true that as he was now, he couldn't hope to defeat the whole Russian army if Russia decided to make good on his threat but Prussia still had a card he could play. Even if he wasn't his own nation anymore, he was still half of one. He decided that when Austria went to work tomorrow, so would he. From now on, he was going to take his role as East Germany more seriously. Sure, working was a drag, but it was a position that carried some amount of power. It would undoubtedly be a useful weapon to have in his arsenal if he really did need to come to Austria's aid militarily someday.

Prussia kept his head bowed as he accepted the ice pack from Austria and put it over the injured side of his face. Austria bound it in place with some cloth bandages. Once it was in place, Prussia pulled Austria close again and rested his cheek, which was flushed in spite of the ice pack, on his shoulder.

"None of that stuff just now happened," Prussia mumbled.

"I haven't the slightest idea what you're even talking about," Austria assured him with a small smile.

"The part where I was unawesome, I mean," Prussia clarified. "The part where I promised I'd beat the shit out of anyone that tries to hurt you definitely happened."

Austria chuckled quietly, not minding the affectionate touch of pink that had colored his cheeks. "Understood."

A/N: The end. For real this time. Was that conclusion ok? I had a bit of trouble with it, but I don't think it was too bad. Anyway, thank you all very much for reading and I hope you enjoyed doing that as much as I enjoyed writing it. I hope to do some more PrussiaxAustria in the future, so keep an eye out for me, ok?