In this fandom, I most often write USUK-centric serious!stuff.
But sometimes I don't.
(Honestly, this is mostly for lulz. Please don't take any of it seriously. It is largely ridiculous and OTT and calls out that overused UN meeting closet. XD)
When in Athens
Kiku insisted that it was simply a cultural difference between them and that there would be no changing it; that that was that and really Herakles would just have to accept it.
Herakles wasn't altogether sure how rooted in exact truth this was, because it wasn't as though couples in Japan didn't walk down the street holding hands; but Kiku was very old-fashioned and earnest in matters such as these, he had noticed, having been ordered to "take responsibility" by his tiny companion the first time he had kissed him on the cheek.
Which wasn't to say Kiku was, for lack of a better word, frigid; he wasn't. He could be really quite interesting in the bedroom, actually – but he was very much a 'What happens on the futon behind the sliding door stays on the futon behind the sliding door' sort of person and therefore blushed furiously and inched away if Herakles even brushed his hand in passing.
Herakles was not the easily-offended type and merely shrugged whenever Kiku stammered and stumbled and leapt away from him in public. He knew Kiku loved him underneath all the drama and that was all that mattered to him. Still, his own attitude towards the down and dirty deed was rather more laid back than Kiku's (and most other people's, to be honest) and therefore he admittedly didn't really see what the big deal was. How he missed the days when sex in public wasn't necessarily even a thrill, much less an arrestable offence.
When he brought the subject up with Kiku, however, after a meeting as they gathered their things, the Japanese man looked aghast.
"Herakles-san," he said stiffly, snapping his briefcase shut, "I think you would do better to pay more attention in meetings than to drift off to your dreams where the streets are harems. It's very impolite of you, especially when Roderich was giving that presentation on how to siphon water out of Switzerland via Vash's garden fence to save money."
Herakles gave a sleepy shrug, debating whether or not to go about the bother of formulating an answer; he didn't get past making a decision, however, as they were joined by Feliciano dragging a world-weary Ludwig.
"Kiku!" he called happily. "You're still here! I thought you might be in the line!"
"The line?" Kiku replied warily.
"The line for that one closet everyone has sex in at meetings!" Feliciano explained. "There's a line for it right now. Everyone rushed out to get there first because it was taken up all lunch break by Berwald and Tino and then Francis and Arthur were arguing about which of them reached it first and while they were fighting, Elizaveta dragged Roderich in and locked it." Feliciano sighed. "And now there's a line and Francis and Arthur are still fighting about which of them gets to go first and Ludwig and I—"
"Are going to dinner," Ludwig cut in gruffly, "and wanted to invite you to join us." He glanced briefly at Herakles. "You too, of course."
Ah. Dinner with the Axis Powers. Herakles didn't have any trouble with the three of them individually and didn't resent their lasting friendship but Greece had been invaded during the war and it certainly hadn't been a cosy time chit-chatting over breadsticks, that was for sure. Ludwig seemed a tad uncomfortable with the situation too, not really meeting Herakles' gaze; Feliciano, of course, was oblivious to the tension.
"It's been so long since we spent time together, all three of us!" he said, taking Kiku's arm; he beamed at Herakles. "And I really want to get to know your boyfriend better! You seem so happy with him!"
Kiku flushed red and wrestled his arm back.
"W-we can't," he said quickly. "Not tonight, Feliciano-kun, I have work to do and... and I'm not..."
Kiku trailed off as Feliciano wilted in disappointment; Herakles could see that the Japanese man was highly conflicted, embarrassed about being called on his relationship and perhaps trying to spare Herakles the indignity of having to have dinner with the three of them – and yet hating to upset Feliciano at the same time.
"It's alright," Ludwig said quickly, tugging at Feliciano's arm. "We should have known you would be busy. Don't worry about it—"
"I have an idea," Herakles said calmly, making all three of them look at him. "Next week, as you know, everyone is coming to Athens for a conference. How about I take us all out for some traditional Greek cuisine?"
Feliciano's eyes lit up.
"That sounds wonderful!" he chirped, turning to Kiku. "Is that okay, Kiku? You won't be busy then, right?"
Still crimson, Kiku glanced quickly at Herakles before giving a stiff nod.
"I suppose... that would be alright," he mumbled. "If Herakles-san doesn't mind."
"I don't mind," Herakles replied tonelessly, his hands in his pockets. "It will be my pleasure."
"It's a date, then!" Feliciano latched himself firmly onto Ludwig's arm again. "Don't forget now, Kiku!"
He went charging away with his long-suffering companion without waiting for an answer.
"Do you mind?" Kiku asked in a low voice, putting on his coat.
Herakles shook his head as they went to the door.
"Don't be ashamed of your friends," he said easily.
Kiku sighed and laced his fingers together, his briefcase banging against his knees as they stepped out into the corridor.
"It isn't that," he said. "It's more... the Axis Power thing."
"Well," Herakles reasoned, "I am sure there will be no talk of that. It is not something that comes up in conversation between the three of you, I am certain."
"Ah, yes," Kiku agreed wearily. "Truth be told, it is the Allied Powers who bring up the war at every opportunity possible."
Herakles gave an amused nod as the door to that one closet suddenly opened outwards and Alfred and Arthur, both looking ridiculously dishevelled, came sauntering out of it, Alfred zipping his suit trousers even as he walked.
"Speak of the devil," Herakles noted, glancing at Kiku – who was averting his gaze, red in the face once more, as Alfred buttoned himself back up, leaned over towards Arthur and flashed his tongue against his cheek.
"Hey, babe, I did a half-assed job of licking you clean," he purred, not bothering to whisper. "Want me to take care of that right now?"
Arthur blushed almost as red as Kiku, who in turn seemed to want to melt into the floor, and Herakles, noting that the two of them seemed oblivious to their presence, cleared his throat. Alfred jumped and then blinked confusedly at Herakles and Kiku over his glasses for a long moment.
"Oh, you guys want the closet?" he asked finally, gathering himself together and thumbing over his shoulder. "It's free now, but jump in quick 'cause Antonio said he'd be back after he went to the vending machine. I dunno where the hell Francis dragged my brother off to, though."
"We don't want the closet!" Kiku burst out, his fists clenched at his sides. "We were just leaving the meeting and weren't going anywhere to engage in any sort of inappropriate behaviour and it's not our business if everyone else simply cannot contain themselves until they get home!"
There was another long moment of stunned silence. Kiku exhaled heavily and Arthur gave a fake little cough into his fist.
"Ah, yes," he said, elbowing Alfred in the ribs. "We... we really ought to be getting along ourselves, Alfred." He nudged at him to get him moving. "Come along now, let's go and find you a McDonald's or something." He nodded at Herakles and Kiku as they came level with them. "We'll see you both next week at the conference."
"Yes, Arthur-san," Kiku said stiffly, looking very fixedly at a pipe on the wall. "I look forward to you not being drunk or in bed with Alfred-san for half of it, of course."
"Or both," Alfred corrected with a grin as Arthur went rather white; he turned his attention to Herakles. "So, yeah, we're at your place next week, Hercules!"
"Herakles," Herakles corrected mildly. "Hercules is the Roman version."
"Nah," Alfred said, shaking his head. "Ain't you seen the Disney movie? It's set in Greece and his name is Hercules."
"I did see it, yes," Herakles said pleasantly; he ventured no further on the matter.
"Can't argue with Disney," Alfred babbled happily. "Hercules is an awesome movie. I like Tarzan, too. Did you see Tarzan?" He nudged Arthur. "One of his guys made that story up but Disney made it so much better." He frowned. "I used to like Aladdin too but then—"
"Good gracious, is that the time already?" Arthur pushed at Alfred again, this time more insistently. "Come on, brat, it's almost your bed-time."
Alfred simply grinned at him as he was ushered away.
"Is that all you can think about, old man perv?" he teased; he waved over his shoulder. "See you guys next week! I can't wait to hang out at your place, Hercules!"
"Herakles," Arthur corrected him irritably as he marched him away. "You and your Disney bastardisations can go to Hell, Alfred – and leave me, my literature and my legends well alone."
"I knew you were still sore about The Sword in the Stone, Wart."
Herakles tilted his head at them as they left.
"Do you ever wonder why some people are attracted to one another?" he asked. "Alfred and Arthur have very little in common with one another, they always fight, they have some very complicated history and emotional baggage between them and yet they are inseparable."
Kiku shrugged, his expression rather sullen.
"Love, I guess," he said coolly. He glanced up at Herakles. "We don't have very much in common, either – probably even less than Alfred-san and Arthur-san. At least they speak the same language and seem to have a... shared idea of acceptable levels of public sexual activity." He scowled at the closet. "Even if it is in that disgusting closet that everyone uses."
"Kiku," he said kindly, "I don't mind. I wouldn't want to make you uncomfortable. Oh!" He brightened. "We do have some things in common, though. We both love cats."
Kiku gave a nod; and then his eye twitched as Antonio came bounding around the corner with a protesting, twisting, angry Lovino caught up in his arms, cursing at him in Spanish.
"It would seem that I do not require you to make me uncomfortable, Herakles-san," he said, stalking away as Antonio sprang into the closet with his prize and slammed the door behind him. "There are plenty of other people willing to do that in your stead."
"It is a lovely hotel," Kiku said over his tea. "I am sure everyone will like it."
Herakles nodded lazily. He and Kiku had arrived earlier in the morning, put their things in their room and were now sitting in the little balcony café overhanging the grand lobby, idly watching people come to and fro. The conference began at one and the other nations were beginning to trickle in now; Herakles could see Elizaveta at the reception desk now, checking in, while Roderich stood guarding all their bags with slumped shoulders, and Yao and Ivan had checked in not long before them.
"What is also nice," Kiku went on calmly, "is that no-one knows the layout of this hotel and so, by default, nobody knows where that one closet is." He gave a nod. "It will please Ludwig greatly if we can have just one conference without anyone missing because they are otherwise engaged. With someone else. In the closet."
Herakles simply nodded again. He knew where all the closets were, of course.
"I think it bothers you as much as it bothers Ludwig," he ventured mildly. "If you don't mind me saying."
Kiku blushed and hunched over his tea.
"I just don't understand why people are so impatient," he mumbled. "I think it's indecent." He looked up at Herakles piercingly. "Don't you think it's indecent, Herakles-san?"
Herakles raised his eyebrows.
"Kiku." He reached out and patted his lover's tiny hand. "Sex is a Greek past-time. The words 'hetero' and 'homo' come from Greek. I could have sex with you right now under this table and the only person who would protest its indecency would be you – being, as we are, surrounded by Greeks."
Kiku went shockingly scarlet and snatched his hand away.
"H-Herakles-san!" he cried. "I am ashamed of you!"
"I'm sorry," he said blandly. "But you did ask."
Kiku looked at the wall.
"And what about the word 'sex'?" he asked in a low voice. "I suppose that's Greek too?"
"No." Herakles sipped at his smoothie, savouring it. "That's French."
Herakles hadn't been expecting miracles. On the Kiku-being-embarrassed-about-even-discussing-sex-in-public front, at least; as far as the conference went, there were no major hiccups to report and no-one missing from any part of the meeting except for Feliciano, who almost choked on the slice of pizza he'd sneaked in and got lost on his way back from fetching a drink from the water cooler twenty feet down the hall.
As for Kiku... Well, Japan had come bottom on that how-often-do-you-have-sex survey—
And Greece had come top. Herakles could quite easily just stay in bed all day, alternating between sleep and sex, with perhaps a trip to the kitchen for something to eat at around three in the afternoon. For Kiku, by contrast, that would be the equivalent of being sentenced to eternal damnation. He was very particular and peculiar, too. He didn't like to have sex during the daylight hours, even if it was at home in bed with all the doors locked and the blinds shut. He also didn't like to do it every day and he certainly didn't like to do it more than once in one night unless he was feeling particularly, abnormally horny.
Luckily, Herakles was so laid back that even the immense sexual frustration didn't really bother him.
Already loosening his tie, which he didn't like wearing, Herakles concluded the conference by wishing everyone a pleasant stay in his country and offering a few cultural tips and bar and restaurant recommendations. There was a polite smattering of applause and everyone stood and began to gather papers and jackets before clustering towards the door.
Feliciano, who had recovered from both his near-death experience and his traumatic time alone in the wilderness of the corridor, came bouncing over to Herakles and Kiku excitedly.
"Are we going out to eat tonight like you promised?" he asked breathlessly, pressing his hands together. "I want to eat Greek food! My grandfather used to tell me about how good it was!"
Herakles gave a slow nod, glancing towards Kiku.
"Kiku suggested that we book a table," he said, "so I made a reservation for seven-thirty."
"I suppose we should meet at around seven, then, to make it in good time," Kiku added. He checked his watch. "In about an hour."
"Okay!" Feliciano started away again, almost tripping over a chair as his gaze lingered on Kiku and Herakles instead of turning to look where he was going. "I'll go and tell Ludwig and meet you in the lobby in an hour! I can't wait to try Greek food!"
"You do serve pasta in traditional Greek restaurants, don't you?" Kiku sighed, watching Feliciano go.
On their way back up to their room to ditch briefcases and neaten up for dinner, they were accosted by Francis, who leaned out of the door to his room on hearing their footsteps.
He did not appear, Herakles noted with vague amusement, to be wearing much, the upper half of his body visible to them completely bare.
"Herakles!" he exclaimed gleefully. "I have been waiting for you, mon ami! Please, please, come in!"
"Uh..." Herakles looked at Kiku – red in the face once more, very determinedly not looking at Francis. "We're having dinner with Ludwig and Feliciano and need to—"
"Ah, of course!" Francis beckoned to them nonetheless. "But I will not take up much of your time! Just a drink – to thank you for your hospitality, my friend!"
He vanished back into the room, leaving the door ajar – Herakles and Kiku heard him calling happily in French to someone who could only be Matthew.
"We are friends," Herakles said helplessly. "Do... do you mind?"
Tight-lipped, Kiku said nothing. Herakles took this as a sulky agreement and gently steered Kiku into the room, nudging the door shut behind him.
Kiku swore in Japanese.
Herakles looked up, wondering what had elicited such an unusual reaction from mild-mannered Kiku—
"Oh." Herakles scratched at his perpetual bed-head. "Francis, why are you naked?"
"I was under the impression that this was how you did things in your divine country," he purred, stretching out across the plush couch. "Is that not what you told me?"
"Ah..." Herakles was tempted to physically shield poor Kiku's eyes, given how little modesty Francis had. "That was only the Olympics, actually. In Ancient Greece."
Francis gave a snort.
"Well, Arthur has them next," he said flatly, "so I expect we'll all have to wear tweed and argyle for those." He gestured towards the opposite sofa. "Please, sit, sit. Mathieu, rouse yourself, mon cher! We have guests!"
Kiku looked rather faint and so Herakles physically guided him to the other couch, pushing him into a sitting position on it; across the room, the bedsheets shifted and Matthew, clearly equally naked, sat up, his hair sticking up all over the place.
Impressive, Herakles noted. The meeting only ended ten minutes ago and Francis had already bedded Matthew explosively enough to make him look like he'd been hit by a freight train.
"Champagne, champagne for all!" Francis said merrily, handing out pre-poured glasses of the pale gold drink.
Kiku sat rigidly and looked at the floor, clutching his glass tightly in white hands; Matthew, his nakedness covered by one of the hotel's white bathrobes, came and sat next to Francis. He was wearing his glasses again but his hair was still largely untamed.
"To our excellent host," Francis said, raising his glass in a toast, "and to the beautiful Athens!"
Matthew politely raised his glass, looking a tad embarrassed himself, and Herakles followed suit, nodding his thanks; Kiku's glass jerked slightly in his hand but didn't lift. Francis didn't seem to mind, knocking his champagne back in two gulps and cutting across Matthew as the Canadian opened his mouth to say something to Herakles:
"And now," Francis declared, "I say that we celebrate Greece's rich cultural heritage by re-enacting the sacred and noble practice of pederasty!"
He threw his empty glass over his shoulder (it smashed rather loudly) and pounced on Matthew, who did nothing but let out an undignified squeal and accept his fate as the student lover in the faithful reconstruction.
"What else did you tell Francis-san about?" Kiku fumed in the lift. "He seems to know about every excuse to get naked that exists in your culture!"
"I didn't tell him about pederasty," Herakles replied wearily. "You can blame Alfred for that."
"Why would I blame Alfred-san?" Kiku asked frostily. "He didn't invent pederasty!"
"Well, technically he's practicing it with Arthur," Herakles replied blandly, "but regardless of him screwing someone almost a millennium older than him, I actually just meant that he invented Wikipedia."
"It's traditional Greek art," Herakles protested mildly as Kiku finished turning every painting adorning their room to the wall.
"Naked," Kiku replied flatly. "Naked in every last one."
"I've seen traditional Japanese art," Herakles pointed out. "There's nudity in those, too – and pederasty."
Kiku said nothing, angrily unknotting his tie. Herakles sighed and rolled over on the bed, pillowing his cheek on his arm as he looked at the far wall.
"You're strange sometimes, Kiku," he said. "Your own culture is riddled with this kind of thing, too – and you can be a bit perverted yourself—"
"But not in public!" Kiku snapped, throwing his tie at Herakles. "Why does it trouble you to understand that, Herakles-san?"
"I just find it strange," he admitted, "because it's not my own opinion, I guess."
"I don't see why it is so difficult for everyone else to contain themselves," Kiku said irritably. "At least in Asia we are discreet about such things."
He started away towards the bathroom to finish undressing; his fingertips had barely brushed the handle when there was an almighty thud against the far wall. Herakles raised his eyebrows, his gaze still on the wall in question, as the slamming sound came again and then once more, building a rhythm as though—
"Aiyaa, Ivan! Not so rough! You'll break the bed, aru!"
"Oh," Herakles noted lazily, "so that's who's next door to us."
Ivan's reply was barely audible; but another, even louder, thud came, shaking the wall, and Yao gave a shriek, which soon tapered off into a loud, long moan.
Kiku shot into the bathroom, white as a ghost, and slammed the door.
Herakles lay on the bed and listened to Ivan and Yao having sex because it was much less effort than reaching for the TV remote.
"You seem shocked," Herakles observed as they waited in the lobby.
Kiku's eye twitched.
"I assume you're shocked at Yao," Herakles went on, "as opposed to Ivan."
Kiku shot him a pained look.
"In Asia," he hissed, "we are discreet about such things."
Herakles gave Kiku a comforting pat on the shoulder and contemplated sliding a little lower just as Elizaveta walked past them, clamped possessively onto a rather tousled-looking Roderich and chattering away happily to him about the Greek tradition of pederasty and how hot it was. Roderich looked on the verge of gnawing through his own arm to escape from her, perhaps unnerved by the predatory look in her eyes every time she glanced at him.
Kiku shrugged Herakles away as Elizaveta passed through the vicinity and the Greek gave an inward sigh, glancing at the intertwined lovers carved from marble as the centrepiece of the lobby's grand fountain; naked, of course, in the tradition of Greek art, but utterly uncaring of their position under the gazes of all who entered and left this hotel. Their love was plain for all to see, whoever would care to gaze upon it – such was the easy and open way of Greece.
How badly it clashed with Japan's way.
He looked jealousy at Elizaveta's arms wrapped around Roderich; at Berwald holding hands with Tino as they crossed through the lobby towards the hotel entrance; even stuffy Arthur, who had a lot in common with Kiku regarding mannerisms, didn't seem to mind Alfred slinging an arm around his shoulders as they headed towards the bar.
Feliciano, of course, was hanging off Ludwig when the two of them arrived in the lobby a few minutes later; Ludwig looked mildly embarrassed, as he always did, but he endured it, not trying to push Feliciano away—
Which was just as well, since Feliciano clung to him all the way to the restaurant, only letting go when they were seated because the menu distracted him. He pestered Herakles about recommendations, asking his opinion on every single item and dish described, before choosing some semblance of pasta-based meal that was probably Italian-influenced anyway.
Ludwig looked grateful to get his arm – and circulation – back, though.
"I'm really enjoying your country, Herakles," Feliciano said earnestly over bread. "It's very similar to Italy so I feel very at home here! I went down to the pool in only my underwear and nobody minded!"
Herakles gave a polite nod.
"Full attire is more or less optional in Greece," he said. "When appropriate, of course," he added, glancing at Kiku – who seemed very interested in buttering his roll.
"Well," Ludwig said curtly, changing the subject from Feliciano's preferred state of near-undress, "I'm glad that the meeting went so smoothly today. We managed to get a lot accomplished. Even Alfred didn't interrupt as much as he usually does."
"And nobody was missing," Kiku added primly.
"Of course," he agreed. "Which makes a pleasant change."
"Ludwig," Feliciano pointed out, "you said you preferred it when Alfred wasn't there to interrupt you with his giant robot ideas and Arthur wasn't there to interrupt him by calling him an idiot and that the meeting went a lot smoother that one time they accidentally locked themselves in the closet for the whole afternoon even though we could hear them—"
"I only prefer it when we can't hear them," Ludwig cut in brusquely. "I actually got rather distracted the time you are referring to."
"Ah," Feliciano said conversationally, "so that's why you busted the lock, threw them out and dragged me in instead."
Herakles glanced at Kiku as his knife went straight through his bread.
"This hotel has a beautiful ornamental garden—"
"To be honest, Herakles-san, I would rather just head to bed."
Kiku stood at the glass entrance to the hotel, his arms folded; they had bid Ludwig and Feliciano an awkward, unheard goodnight after Feliciano had started trying to instigate some streetlamp-lit making out in the restaurant carpark, going on ahead without them – Kiku, of course, stalking ahead muttering to himself in Japanese.
Herakles held up his hands in surrender.
"I'm not going to do anything unsavoury," he promised, smiling. "I won't lay a hand on you. I just want to show you, Kiku. It's lovely at night and I know you'll appreciate it."
Kiku appeared conflicted, looking longingly up at what was vaguely their level of windows before glancing back at Herakles and uttering a sigh.
"Very well," he said finally. "But not for too long. I am beginning to get a headache."
Herakles nodded and beckoned for Kiku to follow him, as good as his word and not even trying to take his hand to physically lead him. He heard the soft pad of Kiku's small feet behind him as he led the way around the left side of the hotel and between the two tall white pillars that served as the "gateway" into a tiny Ancient Greece, a sunken courtyard with a great clear pool in the centre. Statues of Greek gods and goddesses stood at each corner and the dark water glinted every now and then with the twist and flick of brightly-coloured fish. The air was sweet and balmy here, scented with the perfume of the palm and citrus trees completely enclosing the area to make a private little grove of it.
Herakles guided the way across the garden, hopping lightly and languidly across the stepping stones in the pool and turning once to see if Kiku was following; he was – but around the pool instead, safely on dry ground. Herakles shot him a lazy grin as he skipped down in front of him and gestured towards the very end of the garden. Here an elaborate bench sat beneath a small replica of the Temple of Zeus, vines and ivy braided around the pillars as though to root even these fakes in Greece's history. Going to it, Herakles flopped down and smiled at Kiku, who finally looked relaxed and somewhat happy, and patted the space next to him. Kiku joined him on the bench and folded his hands in his lap, sighing as he looked up at the clear night sky through the overhanging orange and lemon branches.
"See?" Herakles said, daring to rub it in a little. "I was right, hmm?"
Kiku shot him a dry smile.
"I suppose so," he agreed. He glanced about. "And at least we're alone."
Herakles looked at him. He truly adored Kiku – everything about him. His beautiful dark eyes, his moon-pale skin, his soft voice, his small frame, his delicate mannerisms, yes, even that he blushed whenever someone mentioned the S-word. Herakles loved him more fiercely and wholly than he had ever loved anyone or anything – he loved him more than cats, more than sleep, more than sex. He had fallen in love with him the moment he first saw him, tirelessly pursuing him even though Kiku – no doubt deliberately – acted oblivious at first and treasuring his victory, his prize, once he finally obtained him. He had never cherished anything quite so much as he did his shy, tiny lover – and he thought him extraordinarily stunning now beneath the moon's chalky blush, the way it shone on his hair and bleached his skin ghostly white as though he was some quiet and forbidden creature of Greek mythology.
"Yes," he agreed quietly. "We are alone."
Kiku met his gaze briefly before dropping it away again, twisting his slender hands together in his lap.
"Herakles-san," he began, his voice barely-audible, "my apologies that—"
Herakles took hold of his chin.
"Don't apologise," he said softly. "You've done nothing wrong."
He leaned in to kiss him and Kiku actually didn't panic or try to pull back, pressing forward himself and letting his eyes slide closed, Herakles watching the flutter of his thick eyelashes as their lips touched—
"Tomatoes do not have to feature in every aspect of life, bastard!" Lovino roared as he darted out between two lemon trees wearing only his boxer shorts. He stopped and whirled back towards the gap in the trees. "If you ever try to put a tomato there again, I will rip your balls off, Antonio!"
Herakles, his hands now very thoroughly empty of Kiku (who had sprang about ten feet away from him on hearing Lovino screeching), kneaded his forehead as Antonio leaned out from between the trees, not looking terribly perturbed for being named and shamed in public by his perpetually-angry lover.
"Lovi," he whined, "I thought it would be a nice touch since we're out in the wilderness!" He beckoned enthusiastically. "Come back here – I have your clothes!"
"You also have that damn tomato!" Lovino screamed at him. "You're as perverted as that disgusting potato bastard my idiot brother takes it up the ass from every night of the week!"
"Lovi, you're making a bigger deal out of this than need be," he said, sighing.
"Yeah!" Elizaveta exclaimed crossly, popping out from the behind the Temple of Zeus replica, camera in hand. "Have some imagination, Lovino!"
Herakles put his head in his hands as Lovino took one look at her and went off into a stream of abusive Italian before stomping away with a naked Antonio hot on his heels.
Kiku stood up, outraged.
"Elizaveta-san!" he cried. "Have you no shame?"
Elizaveta looked at him boredly.
"Hey," she said flatly, "I have to get excitement from somewhere. Roderich can't do it more than three times in one night before he's whining that he aches and he's tired." She waved her camera. "But don't worry – I wasn't taking pictures of you," she added, looking from Kiku to Herakles and then back again. "You two are cute together but you're pretty boring. You don't even hold hands!"
Herakles might have throttled Elizaveta if only it wouldn't be so much effort.
Kiku turned on his heel and walked away.
"I'm going to bed," he said icily.
Elizaveta arched an eyebrow and glanced at Herakles, one hand on her hip.
"If you're going with him," she said, flashing her precious digital camera again, "I might change my mind."
"I didn't know she was there," Herakles sighed in the lift.
"I know," Kiku replied tersely.
"I didn't know Lovino and Antonio were there either."
"I know." Kiku kneaded his temples. "I simply do not understand our colleagues, Herakles-san."
"In Lovino's defence," Herakles pointed out, "he didn't want a tomato shoved up his backside in what you might call 'public'."
The lift stopped at Floor 5 and the doors opened; Alfred and Matthew got in.
"Have you two seen Francis and Arthur?" Matthew asked as the doors shut again. "We can't find them."
"They ran off," Alfred added. "They're drunk – totally blitzed, both of 'em." He held up a pair of grey suit trousers. "I have Arthur's pants but not the rest of him – so, um, he's not wearing any pants, if that helps," he added.
"And Francis is completely naked," Matthew sighed, looking at the ceiling of the lift.
"We haven't seen them," Herakles said truthfully. "I think we'd have remembered seeing them drunk and pantsless and naked."
"Gee," Alfred said, "I sure hope they didn't actually go up to the roof to try and shoot down that weather balloon with a coat hanger and an elastic band."
"That was your genius idea," Matthew said irritably.
"Hey," Alfred replied defensively, "it would totally work if you had like one of those giant super-thick elastic bands—"
"That you just made up, Al."
Leaving the twins to bicker, Herakles and Kiku got out at Floor 12 and headed down the corridor towards their room in a state of silence that was more exhausted than awkward. Herakles got the door open and Kiku ducked under his arm as though desperate to get out of the hall before his personal space was encroached on yet again by some form of travelling indecency.
They undressed, brushed their teeth, crawled into the double bed, said goodnight and turned out the light.
Herakles was awoken – no easy feat – by a sudden warm weight on his middle. Opening his eyes, he squinted against the darkness to blearily see the slender shape of Kiku sitting up on him. He didn't know how much later it was and found that he didn't care as Kiku leaned down over him and kissed him.
"Did you change your mind?" he whispered, near-purring as Kiku rubbed against him just right.
"Not exactly," Kiku breathed, kissing his ear. "This is how I like it, Herakles-san. Perfectly dark and perfectly private." Herakles heard something clink. "I packed all our favourite toys, of course."
"Kiku," Herakles said very seriously, "now that we're in private, I'll say it: I love you."
"I'm so happy that you do," Kiku replied gently, "because I love and honour you very much too, Herakles-san." He made a little humming sound. "Now should I handcuff, gag or plug you up first?"
Herakles was in a very good mood when he went down ahead to breakfast the next morning to get them a table; Kiku wanted to tidy up a little before joining him, which was probably a good idea, since they hadn't stayed on the bed after they'd broken it in two.
Of course, Kiku would be back to "normal" this morning, blushing if Herakles so much as bumped against him accidentally; but he'd decided that that was perhaps actually how he preferred it. He liked that they didn't give any of their love away for free so that people like Elizaveta could take pictures of it – he liked that he was the only person who knew how Kiku breathed when he kissed, what noises he made when he was touched here and there, how he clung and gasped and the expressions he made. Herakles could keep all those things about Kiku for himself because he was the only person who had ever witnessed them.
As he crossed the lobby, Herakles couldn't help but notice two things:
One – Francis, still naked, was lying sprawled across the reception desk, fast asleep.
Two – There was a mattress in the fountain, complete with sheets, pillows and owner, who was currently being yelled at by Ludwig about vandalism and irresponsibility and it really not being good enough for the foremost world power to be behaving like this.
Alfred merely yawned and blinked blearily at Ludwig, having clearly been woken by the German shrieking at him.
"Don't yawn when I'm trying to tell you how to behave at a world conference in someone else's country!" Ludwig fumed. "This is one of the stupidest things I've seen you do, Alfred!"
"I know, right?" Alfred agreed with a sleepy grin. "Must be the water here or something – this totally seemed like a great idea last night, making our own pirate ship. Arthur was all for it, too, you know, since he's all into that pirate roleplay stuff, reminds him of when people were actually scared of him because he raped and pillaged. He was drunk, though – uh, last night, I mean."
"Surprise surprise," Ludwig bit out. "Where is he now? I've a good mind to talk to him about this too. This is absolutely unbelievable!"
"He's under here somewhere..." Alfred dug around under the sheets and gave a tug, pulling Arthur out from beneath the bundle of them. He was barely awake, his green eyes scarcely slitting open to register Ludwig before he slumped against Alfred and closed them again. "Wow," Alfred laughed, "I think he might actually still be drunk."
"That is no excuse!" Ludwig bellowed as Herakles sidled up beside him to survey the mess. "This is inexcusable, Alfred! You've ruined a perfectly good hotel room bed! Herakles will be very angry!"
"Oh, that's nothing," Herakles replied lazily, making his presence between them known and taking full advantage of the fact that Kiku wasn't there to brag a little. "Kiku and I broke ours in half."
Yao was limping, Arthur was bitching about his hangover and Lovino was still angry with Antonio as luggage was trundled across the lobby and pre-booked taxis began to arrive at the hotel; Elizaveta wailed about Roderich accidentally deleting some photos on her camera, Matthew slapped Francis' hand away for the umpteenth time and Tino unzipped Berwald's case in the middle of the reception area to repack it because the Swede had done such a terrible job of it (whilst Berwald himself muttered about clothes being considerably more difficult to flat-pack than furniture).
"I don't know why I was so worked up yesterday," Kiku sighed. "This was really a very normal world conference, wasn't it, Herakles-san? None of our colleagues can keep their zips up for more than twenty minutes. Or skirts down, of course."
Herakles nodded; they were sat in the café again over tea and a honey-and-Greek-yoghurt smoothie, respectively, watching everybody leave. They were staying on an extra night, since it was free for Herakles anyway, before heading back to Herakles' house for a few days. Kiku was flying home on Friday.
Herakles hoped that the new room they were moving to would be ready soon so that he could have a much-needed nap. He always got a bit sleepy around this time of day but Kiku had really tired him out last night.
"I wonder," Kiku mused, his gaze on Yong Soo being threatened away from Yao by Ivan's pipe, "if perhaps we were unfortunate enough as to stumble across almost every instance of... well, that going on yesterday because everyone was even more open about it than they normally would be."
Herakles couldn't help but grin.
"I certainly hope you're not accusing my Athens of making everyone even more sexually-charged than they usually are," he said.
"Well," Kiku replied delicately, pouring himself another cup of tea, "when in Rome, Herakles-san – and when in Athens, it would seem. You said yourself that you are far more open about such things in Greece; and that it is even akin to a Greek past-time."
"That's true," Herakles agreed cheerfully, scratching sleepily at his messy hair. "In which case it's probably a very bad thing that the next world conference is being held in Amsterdam."
Amsterdam, which is famous for its brothels, sex shops and infamous drug-addled red light district. Oh, Holland, what are we going to do with you? XD Of course, a lot of it is speculation and trans-European "urban" rumour but even so.
It was so tempting to have Alfred respond to Herakles' admission that he and Kiku broke their bed with their sexytiems by having him go "Bless my soul, Herc was on a roll!" but I restrained myself, lawl.
Pederasty is the Ancient Greek tradition of a sexual relationship formed between teenaged male students and their adult teachers. It was adopted by Rome and was also present in Feudal Japan, where it was called shudō. In Greece, one of the most famous groups that practiced it went by the name of the Dorians – which is allegedly where Oscar Wilde took the name of his hedonistic bad-boy Dorian Gray and one of the facts that came up against Wilde in his homosexuality trial when the book was used as evidence for his crime.
Francis, Arthur, Antonio and Ludwig might get the bad rap as the perverts in Hetalia but I reckon Kiku is by the far the worst beneath it all, given that the actual country of Japan does hide its penchant for tentacle rape, schoolgirls and some of the oddest game-show concepts ever created behind its veil of politeness and modesty and whatever. But Herakles is probably good for it so whatevs. He seems pretty open-minded. Or too lazy to protest. Or something.
For anyone who hasn't seen The Sword in the Stone in like a million years, Arthur is referred to as 'Wart' by all of the other characters in the film aside from Merlin and Archimedes – something which is actually true to Arthurian legend as opposed to it being an added Disneyfication.
Ah, Giripan, most canon of all canon Hetalia pairings, how do I love thee? One day I might write an actual serious fic regarding the couple but for now this was actually the best idea I've had concerning the two of them. I do love them together, though.
Hope you enjoyed it! Thanks for reading!