The first time, Romano is young. He's just begun to hit puberty, and Spain can't believe how quickly it seems like time has passed. It feels like one day he just arrived home from visiting some of his colonies overseas to find that his little henchman had gotten an awful lot taller in his absence, and, well, that's honestly not too far off from how it happened.
Some things never change, though, as he discovers soon after his return. Hopeful as he is on the morning the gentle rays of the sun nudge him awake instead of one of Romano's headbutts, he knows that if Romano isn't somewhere near his bed demanding food, something isn't quite right. Spain lets out a half-hearted sigh as he stretches his arms over his head and forces himself to get up, wandering into the hallway and towards Romano's room a few minutes later.
"Romaaanooo," he calls out, peeking his head into his bedroom.
The sight he's greeted by is unexpected but familiar: Romano is folding up a bed sheet and looking very much like he wants to get it over with as fast as possible. He stops dead when he hears Spain's voice, but it's too late. "Romano!" Spain looks both dismayed and confused. "You wet the bed? Again? I thought you were too old for that by now!"
"I am!" The glare he gives in response is ferocious for someone of his age, but its effectiveness is taken down a few notches by the flush coming to his cheeks. "I didn't wet the bed, dammit!"
Spain waits for some kind of ridiculous excuse to follow, but surprisingly, it doesn't come. Instead, the boy just stands there clutching at the sheet and looking like a deer caught in headlights. It's odd. "What happened, then?"
"I…I don't know! But I didn't wet the bed!" Judging from his tone of voice, Romano's being honest, or at least as close to honest as he gets. Spain chuckles fondly and steps forward to take the sheet for inspection.
Much to his pleasant surprise, Romano only resists for a moment, and he's able to give it a good look over. At first glance, the stain looks like the ones he's seen countless times before. He's ready to chide Romano for lying until he looks a little more closely and realizes that it's not quite the same. It's not the same at iall/i, actually. Spain can't even begin to process why a stain like that would be on Romano's sheets until it dawns on him: Romano's at That Age, and that means that These Things are going to start happening.
It's not as though Spain is uncomfortable with sex, especially for a Catholic nation, but this insight manages to put a faint blush on his cheeks anyway. His smile is sheepish when he looks back up at Romano, who's wearing an unusually anxious expression.
"Ah, Romano…" Spain clears his throat, looking both amused and awkward. "Did you have any strange dreams last night?"
Unlike Spain, the blush on Romano's face is dark and immediate.
"Strange?" he says defensively. "Nothing's ever strange in my dreams except for you, bastard!"
That makes Spain's cheeks redden properly.
The second time, Romano is older - and that's exactly what gets to Spain in the first place.
All in all, Romano doesn't really look very different from when he left Spain's house for good. He was grown by then, and he hasn't grown too much more since. In terms of looks, he's maybe an inch or two taller than he was before, and his face has matured some. Nothing drastic has happened.
Spain, however, is seeing his little boy as a man for the first time, and that makes all the difference.
He takes a few steps forward, smile slowly becoming more and more broad across his face, and Romano gives him a wary look but doesn't try walking away.
"You look way too happy," he says bluntly.
Naturally, that doesn't deter Spain at all. If anything, it makes his eyes shine more brightly. "Stop it! It's weird!"
"But Romano, look at you!"
"I can't look at myself, dumbass!"
"You look so…" Romano cringes automatically, waiting to hear 'cute' or 'adorable' as always. "…so much more adult. I'm proud of you!"
That isn't something he's used to hearing. He looks back at Spain, brow furrowed. "You're…proud of me?"
"I am." And Romano doesn't understand exactly why, but as Spain looks him up and down, with the warmest smile, he sees a blush spread across his face. For a second, in some irrational part of his brain, the thought occurs to Romano that he looks every bit like someone who has just fallen in love. The idea makes his stomach twist uncomfortably until-
"But don't worry, you'll always be my cute little-"
"Don't even fucking say it."
The third time, Spain is sick. Romano sits by his bedside (just sits, he's definitely not keeping watch or vigil or anything like that) and wonders briefly if he would constantly feel torn apart if he and his brother weren't two separate parts of Italy. Other nations seem to pull off representing all their people just fine, but Romano can't help but think that if he were supposed to stand for all of Italy, he'd look something like Spain does now.
But probably not quite as severe. Bad as conditions are in Romano's house, Spain is in the middle of a civil war, and the divide is taking its toll on him in a painfully obvious way. There are problems in Italy, and they go up in number every day, but he just cannot bring himself to leave Spain's side if he can help it. The aid that some of his people are offering is not enough. Beads of sweat roll down Spain's forehead and he moans softly, which prompts Romano to swear under his breath and pick up a cool cloth for him.
"This better end soon, asshole." Romano doesn't even notice that he's been worrying his lower lip the entire time. "Y-you're not allowed to leave me alone, capisci?" He's had enough of that lately, with the way his brother has been running around with Germany.
Though he knows that his companion is awake, he's still surprised to hear a weak response. "I wouldn't dream of it, Roma." Spain reaches out to take his hand, and he feels so frail that Romano doesn't even try to pull away. "I just wish I could do the same for my people. I should be out there right now…"
Before Spain can move more than an inch or two, Romano stops him, hand firm on his shoulder. "Idiot. You can barely even sit up. You're not going anywhere." He isn't going to take no for an answer, and he's pleased when Spain seems to accept that for the time being. Spain's eyes close again, and even though Romano wants him to sleep and knows that it's good for him, he hates this part. Waiting.
Spain hates waiting just as much as Romano does, though he doesn't tell him so. His body rarely allows sleep to truly take him these days, too wracked by anxiety he's not used to. He drifts in and out of consciousness, yearning for a type of rest that he's all too aware he's not going to get, with only Romano's company to put him at any ease at all.
His mere presence is enough, but Spain does stir more when he swears he hears something he never thought he would willingly hear from Romano's lips.
If he didn't know better, he would have said that Romano was speaking Spanish.
It was inevitable that Romano would learn Spanish considering how long he spent living at Spain's house, but he's always kept it stuffed away in the back of his mind out of principle. As a result, his words start out sounding as clumsy as he feels, spilling out without any real rhyme or reason except for the thought that it might comfort Spain to hear something familiar from someone familiar. Soon, though, his voice smoothens out, and while his accent isn't perfect, Spain likes it that way. It is distinctly Italian, and Romano's whispers make his heart beat erratically in a good way for the first time in recent memory.
The phrase is so simple, and yet when Romano leans down by his ear and says, "Por favor," more imploringly than he has ever heard from him, Spain is relieved to feel color rise to his cheeks that isn't anyone's blood but his own.
The fourth time, Romano has already been seeing red for a while - literally. Not because he's angry or annoyed, for once, but because there are tomatoes everywhere.
As much as he hates to admit to genuinely liking anything Spanish (despite that he actually likes certain Spanish things quite a lot), La Tomatina is right up his alley. He's heard Spain talk about it time and time again, with less than subtle hints that he'd like to take Romano to Buñol around that time of year, but this is the first time he's given in and agreed to go.
In his defense, he really did have other things to do every time. They just weren't things that he couldn't have gotten out of if he'd wanted to.
Since he's at the festival this year, he knows there's no way that Spain's going to let him make excuses anymore. Romano is openly enjoying it way too much, although it does bother him more than he thinks it should that he hasn't seen Spain since the man dragged him into the festivities. It's easy to get lost in this kind of crowd, of course, especially with tomatoes flying everywhere, but he'd been hoping to get a good shot at Spain at least once. He's miraculously managed to weave through the throng of people without getting a direct hit (which he feels pretty great about, truthfully), and he thinks he sees someone who resembles his current target of choice over in the distance.
Except that someone has just hit him square in the back, and that distracts him enough that he loses sight of the person he has his eye on. Romano groans and is ready to bitch at his attacker until he turns around with his fiercest glare and finds himself face to face with exactly who he was looking for.
"Hola." Spain smiles sweetly at him.
And then another tomato comes, and another. Accustomed as Romano is to running away, he's not going to back down this time. "You're asking for it, bastard," he declares, grabbing another tomato and charging forward, since Spain has already started running. Romano chases him down as best as he can, pleased when he manages to get a few hits. Suddenly, though, he realizes that Spain isn't just running away. He's leading them somewhere, and that somewhere is out of the crowd.
At one point, he slows down a little and allows Romano to catch up. When he does, Spain continues on his way, but not without grabbing his wrist first to make sure they don't lose each other again. "The hour's almost up," he explains, tugging Romano closer. "There are more events, but I thought you'd want to get out before everyone starts going crazy."
"Everyone's already going crazy." Still, Romano silently appreciates the sentiment. They manage to finally find a mostly empty street, covered head to toe in tomato pulp. Spain, unsurprisingly, has a small villa nearby just for the occasion, and they begin trying to clean themselves off as they walk over. It's quiet but comfortable, except for the fact that Romano's slightly irritated that Spain is doing a much better job of getting the tomato off than he is.
"How the hell are you doing that?"
"Hm?" Okay, when Spain stops and turns to look at him curiously, Romano has to admit that he's not exactly as clean as he thought. Even if a lot of the tomato has magically disappeared, his hair is a mess, goggles perched untidily on top of his head, and he still has a bit of tomato juice dripping down his face.
Romano presses his lips into a thin line. "You missed a spot," he mumbles, tilting his head forward in a way that looks like he's about to go in for a kiss. What he does, though, is lick his thumb and gently reach out to wipe at the corner of the other's mouth, where the droplet of juice has just stalled. Spain's eyes go comically wide considering the circumstances, and his cheeks turn pink. It's a lot more endearing than it should be.
Coughing, Romano turns away and starts walking again, feeling his own cheeks heat up. It takes a second for Spain to get going again himself, but when he does, all he does is encircle Romano's wrist again to make sure he stays close.
Romano lets him.
The fifth time is on a day that is, otherwise, as normal as can be. The only unusual thing about it is that Spain is at Romano's house instead of the other way around, but the two of them aren't doing anything special. Even though they're not at his house, Spain is still the one who's cooking, with Romano watching from somewhere over his shoulder and making comments.
Spain's used to Romano's remarks, and he's well aware that he's not exactly a master of Italian cuisine, so he takes everything his critic says with a grain of salt. He smiles and follows most of the suggestions without question, and there's no doubt in his mind that this meal is going to turn out spectacularly. Romano will make faces and say that something doesn't taste right, that it's not authentic enough or something (ignoring that the chef had the guidance of half the nation of Italywhile cooking), but he'll eat all of it and enjoy it.
Derisive as Romano is being, he secretly likes watching Spain in action. He's concentrated in a way that he doesn't see from him too often anymore, and he follows what Romano considers to be the most important rule of cooking: he puts sincere love and care into what he's doing. It's not surprising in the least, as Spain rarely does anything halfway, but it's still nice. He's humming cheerfully as he bustles around the kitchen (Romano tries not to hum along), until he picks up a tomato and looks at it thoughtfully.
He grins, then presses a kiss to it. "Un besito para señorita tomate," he sings, earning an eye roll from Romano. He turns to tell him how dumb he's being, but he doesn't have a chance to get any of the words out. Spain says, "iY un besito para mi tomate!" and leans in tokiss Romano's cheek. They move at the same time, and instead of landing on his cheek, Spain's lips land on Romano's.
Both of them freeze. To anyone looking in from the outside, the two of them must look ridiculous, their lips touching but neither of them wanting to be the first to do anything. It isn't as though this is the first time they've kissed - Spain has stolen chaste kisses before, and Romano has kissed Spain once or twice on special occasions (albeit red-faced and grumbling about how "this means nothing, don't get excited!") - but this feels different, somehow. Romano knows that he should pull away right now and either act like nothing happened or get angry, but rather than looking like he wants to pull away himself, Spain looks like he's…waiting for permission.
The thought makes Romano's brain break a little bit, and before it can catch up, his body decides to grant Spain permission for him. It shocks them both that he's the one who closes his eyes hesitantly and makes the move, but Spain isn't going to let himself lag behind. The next thing he knows, Spain's arm is around his waist in an almost possessive manner, pulling him closer and encouraging him to deepen the kiss.
Just as Romano works up the courage to do so, however, Spain pulls back.
"Oh, the water's boiling," he says casually, glancing over at the pot next to them. "The pasta should go in now, right?"
Romano glowers. "Spagna."
He is not about to be shown up by a guy who just addressed a tomato as señorita tomate. Tomato isn't even a goddamn feminine noun in either of their languages. "Who do you think you are? Dammit, you can't just leave me like that! If anyone gets to decide when we stop, it's me!" With that, he grabs Spain and draws him into another kiss, this one much more aggressive.
If Romano's eyes hadn't been closed, he would have seen Spain's cheeks flush. Then again, even if they'd been open, chances were that he'd have been a bit too preoccupied to really notice.
The sixth time is only minutes after the fifth.
"What do you think you're doing?" Romano splutters out, but the protest only comes after Spain has already had him more or less pinned down and has been kissing him all over for the past couple of minutes.
Spain lifts his head from the curve of Romano's neck. "I need to give you all the kisses that I've wanted to give you for so long that you wouldn't let me before!" He says it like it's obvious, pressing a wet kiss to his neck as if to prove his point. If Romano hadn't been flushed enough as it was from all the attention, he would have turned dark red (though he does have to suppress a moan).
"We'll have plenty of time for that later!" He tries to sound authoritative, but it comes out sounding more whiny than anything.
Spain's eyes widen hopefully. "We will?"
The only response he gets at first is a scoff, followed by a second where it seems like Romano is thinking it over. Then, all of a sudden, a coy smile spreads across his face. "Sì. We will."
He's taken on a tone of voice that Spain's heard before but has never heard directed towards him. It's the voice Romano usually reserves for beautiful women - specifically beautiful women that he wants to seduce. The voice doesn't always work on them, mostly because Romano often doesn't have real intentions to go through with it suggests, but it sure as hell seems to be working on Spain. He sounds a little breathless when he speaks again, apparently unable to believe what he's hearing. "R-really?"
Romano's expression morphs into a smug smirk. "Are you blushing, bastard?"
Spain just laughs, blush deepening as he grins down at Romano with adoration plainly written all over his features. "I don't know why you sound surprised. It's not like this is the first time."