Warnings: This story contains sexual situations and a bit of angst. Bewaaare.
The instructions were delivered by a nervous looking soldier who fidgeted as he spoke. They would be sharing a tent together. It was a security measure enacted due to recent reports that their location might not be secure for as long as they'd hoped.
"This is a bit drastic, isn't it?" England complained, emphasizing his exasperation.
"Er, how so?" the soldier asked in return.
America was staring at his usual sleeping quarters as though they were a beacon of light and happiness, while occasionally glancing at their newly arranged tent with disdain.
"We can take care of ourselves," America said, developing a small pout.
"With all due respect, we can't afford to compromise this mission for the sake of comfort, Sirs." The soldier shifted his weight awkwardly, feeling intimidated under the glaring eyes of his superiors. "It will be cramped, but surely it can't be bad enough to risk your safety, Sirs."
England and America caught each other's eye and their frowns deepened instantly. It was well known throughout the camps that the two of them didn't get along at the best of times. As the intensity of their struggles continued to grow, it was common to see them to return to their beds after a particularly fierce argument and completely shut themselves off from everything else. It was no wonder that they preferred to share a sleeping compound with their own soldiers rather than with each other.
At the moment, however, neither of them could come up with a decent reason to protest the decision. It was simply safer for them to stick together, and they knew that. With begrudging nods, they accepted their fate, all while muttering angrily to themselves.
They walked into the vicinity of their new stronghold at the end of the day, after having spent as much time as possible avoiding their quarters for the night. A pyramid tent had been cleared for their use, with stations in front for soldiers to stand guard. The tent contained two cots alongside their personal effects, which had already been brought in. Although it was a great deal larger than the pup tents used by their soldiers, it necessitated a level of closeness that neither man was entirely comfortable with.
They stood in front of the tent and stared at it for a moment. Nothing was said, but it was obvious from England's folded arms and America's narrowed eyes that they would have preferred to sleep alone in an active stone quarry rather than enter the tent together.
America shifted his weight from one foot to another. "I'm gonna go see if I can find a snack."
"Right. I'll be here while you're stuffing your face," England replied, ducking under the bundled canvas flaps.
America glared and did a mocking imitation of his snooty comment, which England ignored completely.
By the time that America walked back to the tent, brushing a few crumbs stray from the corner of his mouth as he went, the front opening was draped shut. England was sitting in stripped down clothes with his nose in a book as the lantern in the corner of the tent burned a warm glow, casting shadows along the drab green walls. America scoffed as he sat down on his cot, which creaked and groaned under the weight.
"You're reading a book?" America said, scrunching his nose in disapproval.
"No, I'm sewing a gown for the ball," England replied without looking up.
America paid no attention to his quip. "It seems like you're always reading. Haven't you run out of books yet? I mean, we are in the middle of a war." He reached into one of his knapsacks and pulled out his blanket.
"Oh yes, mock my personal supplies while you squander the rations. I'm sure your men won't mind starving to fill that bottomless pit you call a stomach. Well done."
"Geez, why do you always have to be such a-" America stalled, trying to find an appropriate word before throwing his arms in the air. "I don't even know what you are."
England smirked condescendingly as he turned a page. "Of course you don't."
America shot him a look of annoyance before facing his side of the tent. He unzipped his jacket and tossed it onto the corner of his cot.
When England caught sight of brown leather moving through the air, he glanced up. His heart skipped a beat when he realized what America was doing. It was rare enough to see the man without his silly pilot's jacket, and England's interest was very much piqued.
America unbuttoned his shirt slowly. The fabric slid over his shoulders as he pushed it back, fingertips gliding against smooth skin. Underneath it he was wearing a standard green tank top that exposed his bare shoulders. In the light from the lantern, the shadows molded to his defined musculature, curving around flesh and highlighting his strong upper-body.
England swallowed thickly.
He looked down at his book and just managed to avoid being caught. America studied him from the corner of his eye before turning back. There was a moment of hesitation before he shifted his hips forward and started unbuttoning his pants, throwing the blanket behind him as an afterthought.
England tried to tell himself that he was only curious. He peered from behind his book, and found himself craning his neck to get a better view as America lifted his firm behind and removed the rest of his uniform, revealing taut cotton briefs that left little to the imagination. They weren't meant to be titillating, of course. And England wasn't titillated. Only curious.
He wet his lips without thinking about it.
As America set to work putting his uniform away and checking on all of his weapons, England returned to his book and drew his blankets around his bare shoulders self-consciously.
There had been a time when he'd thought that he might feel somewhat gratified in letting America see the extent of the wounds that he had acquired during a time when he stood alone against a tidal wave of destruction. He'd foolishly thought that he would feel vindicated in his resentment.
Instead, the guilt written plainly on America's face whenever he limped or coughed or changed a bandage simply made him unspeakably sad, and slightly nauseous. He had quickly taken to masking any lingering pains, and covering his scars. He pulled the blanket tighter around himself.
After trying to read for fifteen minutes and failing to progress from the first page of the chapter, England knew he was too distracted to enjoy the book properly. He placed it in his bag and saw that America was lying on his stomach, looking through a bundle of mail. America always went for the postcards first. "Postcards really are the perfect form of correspondence for America," England mused wryly. "A small paragraph and a pretty picture." England was prepared to remark on this out loud, when he noticed the pillows. America was stretched out comfortably with three pillows under his chin.
"Three pillows?" England exclaimed furiously.
America twisted around and looked at him, an innocent confusion on his features.
"Why do you have three pillows?" England clarified, with the same growl of anger.
"Uh, I like pillows?" America replied with a half-hearted shrug.
"While the rest of us don't even have one."
"I brought them myself. What's wrong with being a little comfortable?" There was an edge of irritation creeping up in America's tone.
"That isn't the point. God, you have no idea what it's like to go without, do you," England replied, voice dripping with disgust. "No idea at all." He had been rationing so long that every small material comfort felt like a grand luxury. When America had come along with all his wealth, it was only natural that he'd felt bitter. As he leaned back on his cot, he prepared the small bundle that served as his usual makeshift cushion.
"I just can't fucking win with you, can I? I'm too loud for you, I don't have any manners, I eat too much. Now I'm the bad guy because I carry a few little pillows with me? I'm starting to think you just make up these excuses because you want to hate me."
England flinched. He wanted so badly to tell America that he didn't hate him. Unfortunately, that wasn't what came out of his mouth.
"You also talk too much. Can't forget that."
America shook his head in disbelief, going back to his postcards and trying to overlook the burning feeling in his throat that always seemed to accompany their arguments.
England closed his eyes, rather ashamed that he'd taken it so far. He hoped that it was over, but of course, America never did know when to quit.
"So, you want one?" America said, disrupting the uncomfortable silence.
"Do you want a pillow?" America reiterated.
"No. I never said that." England leaned back against his improvised cushion. "I'm perfectly fine."
He noticed movement as America removed a pillow from his pile and thrust it out towards England.
"I said I don't want it," England insisted, folding his arms. He stayed silent and closed his eyes, only to get hit with the pillow straight on. He grumbled and lifted it away from his face, but it seemed America had already gone back to looking over his letters. Though he considered raising an objection, he decided it was too much effort, and held the pillow beneath his head. The fabric was old and rough and not exceedingly comfortable, but the very idea of the pillow made it feel somewhat divine. He was still deeply aggravated, however, and he turned onto his side, away from America's bed.
As he lay, face pressed against the pillow, he inadvertently inhaled America's scent. It was subtle yet incredibly attractive, and he couldn't stop himself from repeating the action several more times. Slowly, his face turned closer towards the fabric and he indulged himself, trying to be as quiet as possible. His face flushed. It was very, very wrong, but he told himself that America shouldn't have thrown the pillow in the first place.
He breathed in again and lamented how pathetic he was, taking pleasure in the lingering aroma of someone while the real, living person was just a few feet away, yet there was a hint of excitement tied to it. A pleasant sense of gratification combined with his own mentally and physically exhausted state eventually led him to a deep sleep.
The steady silence was the first clue that he was dreaming. No creaks or rustling fabric. Not even the sound of breathing.
Pressure near his feet was the next hint. The light was dim, but he could clearly see America sitting at the end of his cot. He stared for a moment before a vague realization washed over him. What he was seeing was impossible, given Alfred's size and the instability of the wooden frame.
"The stars are really bright tonight," America remarked wistfully, looking up towards the top of the tent. England followed his eyes. The thick, dark canvas hung overhead, but he thought he could see patterns of stars echoed in it. He looked back down to see America smiling at him.
America tugged on the blanket, pulling it back and exposing England's bare arms. They were covered with strands of gauze wrappings and bandages. England watched with muddled curiosity as the dream version of America sat closer along the rickety frame and held one of England's hands in his own, lifting it up to his face.
"I didn't think you would be so lovely," he breathed, hot against England's skin.
The words seemed off, like they had been memorized from a script to be recited effortlessly. That didn't stop the shiver that quaked England's body, or the strained sigh that followed.
"Blushing." America shook his head and laughed. "Such a girl."
He kissed England's palm before tracing the middle crease with his finger. He studied the contours of skin and the blue veins just visible beneath pale flesh.
"I've seen your ancient and twisting roads." He paused and grinned again, breaking the spell of his self-assured commentary. "Goddamn Europeans."
England felt the need to react to this pseudo-insult, but America kissed the tip of his thumb and he had no response other than a feeble wheeze.
America sat closer still and began to kiss his way up the length of England's arm, starting with the wrist and carefully winding around those fresh scars, touching only where there was no pain. He paused at the crook of the elbow and flexed his tongue against the sensitive bend. England's breath caught in his throat.
While continuing his path along ravaged skin, America reached the shoulder and rested his forehead against it for just a moment.
"I want to travel them all. Every single street. Every pathway."
He trailed a finger slowly across England's clavicle before kissing the boney ridge.
England felt as though he could say America's words as he heard them. He felt his lips moving, but no sound came out. Only America's voice, husky and low in contrast to his usual whine, filled their dark shelter.
And then America was moving, carefully crawling onto the weak bed until he sat with his knees bestride England's stomach. The cot didn't creak or threaten collapse, which should have served as another reminder of their surreal environment. With America's warm body just above him, England didn't seem to care.
America dipped down and hovered over him. England flinched noticeably and turned away under the intense scrutiny, eyeing the muscles in America's arms, which stood out as he grasped the wooden bars to hold himself up. He looked back tentatively and thought that America's glasses were going to slide off his nose, but they stayed in place as though glued down.
Then he could barely think about anything at all, because America was gently biting down on his earlobe. A weak spot. He gasped and felt his toes curl up. It seemed that America understood the potential to exploit it, because he carried on nibbling and sucking his earlobe until it was pink.
"I want to feel every little bump against my skin." The soft whisper in England's ear was enhanced by the sensitivity of his abused flesh. "I want to feel you."
Even through the ethereal buzz clouding England's mind, there remained a profound thrill at the way America was looking at him so earnestly, as though he was the only thing in the entire world worth seeing. He closed his eyes and waited expectantly for more contact, but America had turned his attention to the ceiling. England opened his eyes and saw the same green fabric hanging above them. America looked to him with confusion and curiosity. He dragged his nose against England's skin and stopped at his ear again, breathing in the scent of his hair.
"Smells like rain," he said softly, with a peculiar hint of satisfaction.
England closed his eyes tight and took a deep breath, but all he could smell was America, who grunted softly. Before he could respond, a drop of water fell on England's forehead. His eyes blinked open as though a curtain had been pulled back and he immediately tried to sit up, but failed to do so under America's bulk.
All around them was a vast green field with patches of red, stretching out into rolling hills that faded under a distant fog. Brilliant red poppies dotted the grass, swaying together gently. The cot underneath them had become something more akin to his own bed, but with gleaming white sheets and an impossibly soft duvet in place of his archaic quilt. Another drop of water landed on his head and rolled down his cheek. He looked up at the light gray sky.
"Told you," America remarked with boyish pride, as though he'd won a game. The rain started to fall in large drops that rolled down America's face and shoulders. He sat up, back arched proudly, and welcomed the gathering downpour.
England noticed that the rain wasn't cold. It was wet, but all he felt was a radiating warmth. The sheets beneath them were still bone dry. None of it registered as particularly strange, and England had already busied himself with studying the way the water fell onto America's skin, tracing the rivulets with his eyes as they slid across toned flesh, absorbed by the fabric clinging to his skin.
America met England's watchful eyes and ran his fingers through his hair, grinning back with a certain nervous energy that betrayed his confident position. His cheeks were already tinged pink from the weather.
England couldn't take it anymore. He reached out and grabbed the front of America's drenched top, pulling him down into a crashing union of wet skin and soft lips.
America watched the steady rise and fall of England's chest in the slowly dimming light. Even though it was fairly late and his tent-mate was fast asleep, his mind was buzzing with a great deal of energy, and he had no outlet for it. He couldn't really leave the tent, or else the whole purpose of sharing it would be negated. With that in mind, he'd stretched out across the cot and willed himself to get tired.
So here he was now, watching his ally sleep and hoping that his eyelids would soon feel heavy. England was sleeping so soundly, he thought that it might encourage his own body to do the same. As he observed England's face, he was somewhat amused that even in sleep those big eyebrows seemed to be perpetually drawn up. He wondered if England was upset in his dream, or if his face was just stuck that way.
As England shifted, the blanket pulled away from his arms, and America felt a lump form in his throat. That familiar sting of guilt rose up, but his eyes didn't want to close.
He quickly switched his focus back to England's face, which was turned towards him. His expression seemed softer now. Something about it provoked an old memory. America thought he could smell ink, and an image formed itself in his mind. Sitting on a red chair, bouncing in his seat and watching as England dipped his quill into the reservoir. Hoping that England would let him use it this time. That gentle expression on England's face, and warm eyes that conveyed so much affection amidst the light of a gently burning candle.
A loud snore interrupted America's thoughts and he had to bite down on his lip to keep from laughing. If England woke up and thought America was mocking his sleeping habits, the results would not be pretty. So he bit back the laughter and waited for the moment to subside.
While his breathing and amusement slowed, he thought about whether they could ever be friends. It didn't seem like England could ever see him as a colleague. America was perceptive when he wanted to be, and everything about the way England had reacted to his late presence in the war told him that England still harbored a lot of resentment toward him. He wasn't sure how to feel about that.
Maybe when they won the war, England would finally see him as an adult. Or even as a hero.
America was again lured out of his thoughts, but this time it wasn't by a snore.
The soft grunt that came from England's parted lips made America smile. His ally could even be endearing sometimes, though he never would have admitted that out loud. He had almost managed to slip back into his sleepy mental processes when a loud, strained breath caught his attention.
In the slowly fading light, he could see a deep color in England's cheeks. Another sound filled the space between them, and this time it was very distinct. Then another one that was definitely, undeniably a moan.
But it couldn't be. America's eyes widened at the slight twist of England's hips, which cut off an intense moan of pleasure as he turned in his sleep. As before, America felt frozen to the spot and couldn't make himself look away. When he spotted growing evidence of the type of dream that England was having, he gaped and felt his own cheeks heat up.
While wondering whether he could get to the other side of the tent to snuff the light without waking England up and creating an even more embarrassing situation, he found himself staring at the small tuft of hair on England's chest. He felt a prickle at his skin. England stretched again, neck curving elegantly against the pillow. America had never found a neck so appealing before.
Horrified by that train of thought, he quietly tried to turn over. It didn't help. Even when he couldn't see England, those little noises made him incredibly uncomfortable. And sweaty. And hot – how had it gotten so hot all of a sudden? His breathing was becoming increasingly sharp and uneven. His skin was warm through his minimal clothing, yet he felt more exposed than he ever had before.
He was now exceptionally disturbed by what was happening just a few feet away from him. England wasn't allowed to be sexual. He was old and cranky. He'd practically invented sexual repression. America had always kind of assumed that his interests lay solely in the realm of reading and sewing.
England wasn't supposed to make those sounds, and he definitely wasn't supposed to move his body like that.
America's pulse was racing. He closed his eyes, but every little noise from England was driving him crazy. In desperation, he covered his ears and tried to block the sound out, but his mind immediately filled in the absence with an approximation of England's soft grunts. He tried to drown out the mental noise by focusing on something else, but his mind refused to consider any other topic.
Since he couldn't think about anything else, he tried to rationalize the situation. Maybe it was unfair to think that England didn't have some inherent sexuality. He was an adult. He probably had normal human feelings and urges buried under all that pompous bullshit. There had to be something to repress, after all. And this was a dream, away from his control.
America's hands returned stiffly to his sides as he took a deep breath. He was an adult too, after all. There was no reason he couldn't handle this with maturity. So he lay in the darkness, face bright red, trying to think about anything other than the man next to him who was rutting against his cot. He tried so hard to mentally remove himself away from the situation that by the time he noticed his own body was starting to react physically, it was too late.
"No," he hissed to himself as a creeping chill ran through the core of him. "No, no, no! Shit!"
He clung to a desperate hope that it would go away if he just stayed still and tried to block everything out. When that didn't work, he started to panic. Every breathy gasp from the other side of the tent made his shorts feel tighter and more uncomfortable.
Of course he was turned on. It had been a long time since he'd been satisfied in that way. It definitely had nothing to do with the fact that it was England.
The need built slowly towards an unbearable peak, as though it might rupture him. The more he tried to ignore it - shutting his eyes so tight that the muscles in his face ached and throbbed - the more he knew he was fighting a losing battle. All it took was another sidelong glance at England's pink lips, and he was defeated.
He slowly slid a hand across his stomach and under the bridge of his shorts, eyes shifting around as though he was being watched. He let out a heavy sigh and his eyelids fluttered shut at the first touch, but he was too confined. After a moment of fumbling he managed to undo the buttons, and breathed out carefully. A particularly loud moan caught his attention and, blushing furiously, he started to stroke.
England pulled himself closer to America, one hand under his shirt, pressing against his back. They twisted through the sheets as rain rolled between their bodies and down their skin before disappearing. Every time America's hips rocked against him he tightened his hold. He tried to grasp America's hair, but his fingers kept sliding in the water.
America broke the kiss and went for his ear again. Was this what he imagined the real America would do? Find his weaknesses and abuse them? He inhaled sharply as warm lips reached his ears and neck and started to suck and bite and tease.
A soft keening was drawn from his throat. America murmured a response against his neck, but England could only hear the rumbling echo of it.
"I need you," America whispered again, and this time England listened.
He reached for America's face with trembling hands and removed his glasses. He'd been afraid to see what America looked like without them. A simple barrier of glass and metal, yet it seemed to separate two views of America. One of familiarity and warmth and heartbreak, locked in the past. One of stress and fighting, full of possibilities both exhilarating and terrifying.
Behind those frames, he found a union of both. Piercing blue eyes that stared back at him expectantly. America was young and naïve, but most definitely a man.
He looked at the glasses in his hand and wondered why he'd ever had such fear. He kissed the cold metal and let it fall from his fingers. America slid forward and buried his face in England's hair. Eager to continue, England grabbed the back of America's shirt and finally slipped it off, pushing him to sit up.
For the first time, he felt like he couldn't quite see his dream America. He studied the naked torso in front of him, but his mind was filling in details that he hadn't seen in the daylight. Even with this handicap, he marveled at the way America's muscles twitched when his fingertips glanced across them, alongside the lingering water. America let him do this with abnormal patience, but when his fingers slid lower, they were quickly stopped. America took his hand and kissed each finger, sliding the last one languidly into his mouth. When England was sufficiently dumb-struck, America started to undress him, kneeling over his body and taking great care, to a degree that he surely wasn't capable of in real life.
By the time they were both naked, covered by a sheer white sheet, the rain just barely touched them. They were nearly tangled together, England clutching at the pillow behind his head as America made slow, deliberate movements. England touched his face and kissed him openly as America slid against him, and he could feel those strong thighs rubbing against his body. He pushed back, arching himself and groaning at the friction. They started to move faster, panting and grasping at each other, foreheads pressed together.
With every wave of ecstasy to his person, the clarity of the dream became compromised. The sky above them was brighter as he clutched at America's back, and the poppies yielded to the rain, their petals quivering from the assaulting water. The physical landscape gradually became washed out until there was nothing left but sound and feeling. There was nothing but America, rolling against his body and holding him, covering his neck with kisses.
Everything was pushing and sliding, and warmth all over his skin. The tension was laid out between them. There was an ephemeral glow as they got closer and closer, rocking and pushing until that final gasp, and a singular incredible burst of light that enveloped them, erasing everything else.
The way that England's arm was stretched over his head made America bite his bottom lip to keep from sounding his excitement. For the moment, he had given up pretending he didn't want to look at England. He had to be as quiet as possible to keep from waking his tent partner, and his hand was moving slowly underneath the blanket. It was proving to be a challenge, as the risk of the situation only made him feel more aroused.
He kept his eyes on England, telling himself that it was only to monitor his alertness, though it wasn't hard to see that England was still wrapped up in the dream.
As the moments passed, he found himself studying things that he had only noticed in passing before. Lips, nose, hands. He spotted a flash of skin just above England's pants, and had to glance away quickly. Something about seeing so much of that pale skin made his heart skip a beat. England turned against the pillow and gasped into its surface. Deep down, America knew that if he ever got the pillow back, he would revere it.
He didn't want to be having these thoughts about England. It was all too much for him to handle. He turned onto his back and looked straight up at the ceiling, trying to pretend he was alone. Or, at least, somewhere less crowded and less fraught with confusing emotions. But no matter how hard he tried, those wonderful sounds kept drawing him back in. He looked back just in time to see England tilt his hips, and couldn't stop himself from letting out a deep grunt of approval. He tightened his grip and quickly put his other hand to use over his mouth, blocking the sounds that he could no longer prevent.
He realized that it just felt better when he was looking at England, hoping that he wouldn't awaken – that he would keep making those sounds and moving that way. England's moans and grunts became louder, and a rhythm developed as America found himself filling the gaps with his own sounds. England would let out a stilted grunt, and America would reply with a loud moan against his own fingers as he pumped away. His glasses started to slide down the bridge of his nose, slick with sweat
America's thoughts began to take on a life of their own. Images flashed across his mind and he started to wonder what it might be like if he was the one doing those things to England, and making him cry out like that.
He came almost immediately, shaking and grinding against his hand.
As he tried to catch his breath, his hand fell away from his face. He watched England take a deep gasp of air and tense up. America held his breath and worried that he was going to wake up, but the moment passed and England's head lolled gently against the pillow.
So America watched him as he slowly came down from his ecstasy. His mind was a blank, and he wanted to keep it that way. He was trying to decide what to do with the mess he'd made when his glasses finally slid off and fell onto the ground.
America woke up with a heaviness in his chest. His night had not been particularly restful. He shivered, lifted his head and groped at the end of the cot to find his glasses. It was too dark to see inside the closed tent, but the knowledge that England was still next to him was enough to set his nerves alight. He stretched his back, flinching when his fingers brushed against canvas in the dark, and got dressed as quietly as possible.
He pushed through the front of the tent and stepped out. It was very early in the morning, but he couldn't stay inside. The thoughts battling it out inside his head were too intense for that. He passed by two guards outside who saluted him in unison. He nodded and managed to smile, but he couldn't help wondering whether they'd been on duty that night, and how much they'd heard. They must have heard. This inadvertently brought up pieces of memories, and he could vividly recall the timbre of England's moan. He started to walk faster.
He had no plan but to walk as far as he could, to where he could get some semblance of privacy. It wasn't exactly safe, but his mind was clouded with confusion. He stayed in sight of the tents, leaning against a tree with his hands shoved firmly in his pockets. He breathed in the cold morning air and looked to the sky as he exhaled.
Something inside him had changed, and he wasn't sure what to think anymore.
England blinked several times in the stream of light that just reached his forehead. He slid his arms from the pillow under his face and pushed himself up. Something down below didn't quite feel right, and with a heavy sigh he realized why the fabric of his pants was so stiff. He rubbed his head and tried to recall the details of the dream, but the remaining tendrils of memory were already slipping away.
It didn't matter. It certainly wasn't the first time he'd had that dream.
He swung his legs over to the space between the cots and sat up. Through the stark beam of morning light, he saw that America was already gone. He looked at the empty cot and tried to stave off the melancholy that crept in his chest as he remembered what had happened before he'd gone to sleep.
It wasn't as though he wanted to snap like that. America played on his irritations like no one else could, and his responses to America's provocations were always more vitriolic than he meant them to be. He didn't want to ruin their burgeoning alliance. He didn't want to push America away. It seemed that now, as always, America was able to tear out the very heart of his rationality and leave him with nothing but aching regret.
Amidst particles of dust floating in the radiance of the morning, he picked up the pillow and stared at it in his hands. With a reserved smile, he gave it one solemn kiss and set it down on America's cot.