Walking into the meeting room, England casually made his way towards his usual seat while carrying a Styrofoam cup filled with the steaming substance that he partook in every morning; tea. Ah, he loved the smell of a freshly brewed cup of tea in the morning, a small, pleased smile holding on his lips as he moved to sit down in the seat with his name plaque in front of it.
Untucking the briefcase from under his arm, England gently eased into his chair and held his cup up to his mouth, skillful eyes running back and forth from the papers he pulled from inside his case, carefully blowing the steam away from the spout in the lid before drinking.
He could hear the murmurs of chatter around him, easily pulling him into his business state of mind. It wasn't hard for someone of his caliber to buckle down and get down to business, being used to scenarios like this all his life. But as England glanced up from his beverage and the sorted notes in front of him, his eyes fell upon an individual who had… well, who had a much harder time doing this sort of thing.
England frowned and turned away with a sigh.
That clueless blonde wasn't late for once, but he still managed to be just as distracting as ever. How a person could contain that much chaos and disarray was beyond him.
America looked like he had stared death in the face and was spat on for it as he trudged in the conference room. Light bags rested under his eyes, seemingly unnoticeable if one wasn't looking. Ah, but England noticed, for no matter the time or place America was in, he was always noticing. His blonde hair was a bit frayed at the ends, looking sleep tussled, as if he had just crawled out of bed minutes ago. And judging by the cup of coffee and two doughnuts in his hand – one also being consumed by his mouth in that repulsing manner – England presumed he really had just woken up.
America yawned deeply and loudly as he plopped down in his chair, rubbing at his eye sleepily with his wrist in an overall endearing fashion that England would never admit aloud. He took a chug from his coffee and slumped his shoulders in boredom, eyes glancing lazily around the room as he moved on to eat another doughnut.
Much like England couldn't start his morning without tea, America couldn't start his without coffee.
England couldn't help himself as he stared at the sleepy blonde, blue eyes blinking back the fog of sleep trying to serenade the American back into slumber. He didn't have to ask to know why America was in such a lethargic state. Sloppy appearance (well, sloppier), deep throated yawns from the farthest parts of his lungs, the way America was squinting from the sunlight flowing in from the windows, a somewhat hesitant expression that showed deep rooted nausea lurking below the surface–
England shook his head and smiled with amusement into the side of his cup. He knew that look very well indeed. He sported it often, actually.
America was hung over.
After nearly thirty minutes in the room with the boy, people started to take notice of this fact as well. Not nearly as fast as England had noticed. Heavens no. Only England had an eye for such trivial mannerisms on America. With Spain clearing his throat loudly here, and Russia chortling to himself as he "dropped" his metal pipe a few times there, it was safe to say that plenty of other nations relished in the small groans of pain and whines emitting from America's lips.
So once again, England shook his head with a sigh and sipped his tea, waiting for the meeting to begin.
"Do you need an icepack, perhaps?"
America untucked his face from the safety of his arms, blinking lazily up at France who was leaning over his chair. The Frenchman withheld the urge to grimace at the long string of saliva hanging from America's lips like a piece of thread, instead choosing to smile in amusement at the young nation.
America stretched his arms over his head and cracked his neck before he finally held a steady gaze on France. "No. Why would I need an icepack?"
France chuckled to himself and stood to his full height, flipping his hair out of his face. "I presume you had an enjoyable night last night, non? I cannot say that none of us have done it either, but to indulge in such sins right before business is so…"
America rubbed the sleep from his eyes and grinned up at France, knocking over three Styrofoam cups in front of him, all empty and drained of their coffee. "So I'm found out that easily, huh?" he chuckled. "Can't say I didn't try to play it cool."
"You vomited in the suggestion box," England muttered dryly, wincing as he recalled the spectacle only hours ago.
America blinked at him from his seat a few spots down the table and outwardly laughed. "Silly, England. That was my suggestion."
"Ha ha ha," England laughed sarcastically, tucking his notes further into his briefcase.
"Hey, what time is it anyway?"
"Not naptime anymore," England commented, briskly clipping his briefcase and placing it back beside his chair. He pulled up his sleeve neatly and glanced at his watch in boredom. "12:30pm."
A spark lit in the still slightly foggy American's eyes. "Lunchtime!"
"How can you even think about food after you just gave us all a grand view of your queasy stomach?" England asked, honestly baffled at where America's large appetite surfaced from. He wondered about it when he lay awake at night sometimes. Did it have something to do with the terrible food he fed America when the boy was young? Maybe now he was just making up for the lack of non-burnt items he consumed when he was a small colony.
No, that was absurd. His cooking was lovely. Why, even the Queen herself admitted that it hadn't been the "worst thing she's ever tasted."
"Dude, I'm starving. I just barfed up my breakfast. The tank's empty again. Gotta refuel," America snickered, scooting out of his chair and standing up.
"Really now? I don't recall you eating corn for breakfast," France said to himself, tapping his chin when America laughed at him, crinkling his nose slightly.
"What do you know. I eat doughnuts and ralph up corn. This body o' mine's amazing. Hey, maybe I should eat my bills and puke up cash!"
"Just go to the serving hall will you," England ordered, gesturing to the door. Well, it looked as if America was feeling much better. He was acting more like his normal self now. Who knew all it took was a good bout of botulism and a nap to cure a hangover. He should write a book, the genius.
"Great idea. I'll be right back. You want anything?" he asked like an excited puppy about to retrieve a stick. England let out a puff of air through his nose and held up his cup between his slender fingers, jiggling it quickly back and forth to indicate it was empty.
"A refill on my tea would be lovely, thanks."
America's lips pulled down in a disgusted scowl and he narrowed his eyes at England's cup. He begrudgingly agreed and bypassed France to move for the exit. "Gross. I don't know how you can drink that leafy water."
"It's healthier than coffee," retorted England in slight annoyance.
"Yes, it is."
A sigh. "Just be a good boy and do me this favor."
America waved him off. "Alright, alright. But don't make me drink it. I'm not falling for that trick again like last time. 'Cures recessions' my ass." America turned without looking and bumped into Canada who was walking back inside the room, the Canadian jolting before looking at his brother with a strange expression. America smiled. "Oh, sorry… uh…"
America continued to stare at him cluelessly. "Uh."
Canada sighed. "Your brother."
Another blank stare.
"The country above you."
"Right!" America snapped his fingers. "Sorry, Canada. Didn't watch where I was going. I'll see ya around."
"Sure." With that Canada blandly reached down as his brother began to walk by him and patted him right above the ass. The reaction was instantaneous as America yelped, high and girly, as he nearly fell to the ground. England looked up with a miniscule amount of shock at the spectacle, America gripping at the wall next to him and giving his brother a curious look.
"Wh… what the fuck?" he mumbled.
Canada raised an eyebrow at America, a bit of suppressed amusement hovering below the surface. America glanced between Canada and England a few times, hand drifting slowly down his back to rub gingerly at his skin. He sucked in a painful amount of air through his teeth when his fingers grazed the soft fabric of his shirt, a small pang radiating under his skin.
England shifted in his seat slightly, unsure of how to take the confused and somewhat pained expression of his former colony. "What the devil has gotten into you?"
"I–I don't know. I just…" America drifted off, poking that spot again and wincing. "I guess I just sat weird or something." He cautiously turned to head for the exit again when Canada called out casually to him.
"See you, America." He reached out and patted that spot again, as if aware of what was invoking the reaction. Again, this time with more vigor, America jumped, yelping and toppling forward into the door.
"Owowowowowwwww!" he whined, gasping at the pain on his lower back. He darted around to look at Canada with large eyes of confusion, blinking back the tears that were starting to pile higher. "What are you– what did you do?"
Canada raised his eyebrow at his brother as England stood up from his seat to come beside the Canadian. England placed his fingers to his chin in thought, looking a bit flabbergasted at America's pouting expression.
"Are you… America, are you crying?" announced England in surprise.
America bristled, eyes glancing between Canada's face (that was trying not to smile) and England's which held a tinge of worry under that confusion.
"N-no," he denied stubbornly, wiping at his face quickly and sniffling. "My eyes are just sweating. It's hot in here."
England shook his head before crossing his arms, giving a sidelong glance at the Canadian beside him before America drew his attention back when the blonde made a panicked noise. America blinked blue eyes in confusion as he let his hand wander gently down his back, touching that one spot before he frowned.
"What the fuck is this? It's not normal for skin to hurt. Is it normal, England?"
"No, I believe it isn't."
"My skin's abnormal!" America gasped, bending awkwardly and pulling up the hem of his shirt to get a better look. He struggled to try and see what was wrong, spinning around in a failed attempt to see, when England abruptly let his jaw drop, eyes large and disbelieving when catching a glimpse of America's lower back, a certain image resting above the lining of his boxers. Not that England wouldn't have noticed America's exposed back if he hadn't spotted something more interesting there. As previously stated, England noticed everything about America.
"What? What is it? Do you see something?" America asked, craning his neck painfully to look at England whose eyes were glued to his lower back. Surprisingly Canada didn't look perplexed at all. America fidgeted nervously. "Is it a bruise? No, a knife! Is there a knife in my back?" he demanded. It sure felt like there was a knife there.
England only managed to open his mouth, shutting it, before opening it again soundlessly. He settled on shaking his head no before blinking back the shock.
There, resting on America's previously flawless tanned skin, was an image no larger than his palm. An image of a certain porcelain cup with a certain tea bag draped over the side of it with a positively certain British flag design on said tea bag. Did he forget to mention the small heart adjourning the cup, being made from the steam of the beverage? Hm. He thought he had.
"Well what is it?" America asked.
England couldn't help himself under the flurry of emotions buzzing beneath his skin as he reached out and gently ran his fingers over the image, America scurrying away with a guarded expression as England stared thoughtfully at him.
The Briton finally managed to find his voice, albeit it was hushed and astounded. "That, my dear boy, is what you cleverly call a 'tramp stamp.'"
America stared at England a long while, gripping the hem of his shirt over his bellybutton, as if the words didn't compute.
Until Canada snorted behind his hand.
"TRAMP STAMP? I don't have a tramp stamp!" America cried, spinning around in circles in a vain attempt to see this horrible mark.
"Who is a tramp?" France asked, perking up from his seat to view the spectacle of the embarrassed and panicked American. France let a smile befall his face when seeing the image of the British teacup decorating America's lower back. "Ah, so it is Amerique. Why am I not surprised?"
America looked baffled at France before at Canada and England. "I didn't have that this morning. Honest. When the heck did I get a tattoo?"
"Last night," Canada offered helpfully. England and America looked at Canada in surprise, though England didn't seem to be displeased by this sudden turn of events. In fact, he actually felt a little elated. Of everything America could decorate his body with, he chose the British insignia. British pride. British love.
Oh, suddenly it was very hot it here.
"You must have gotten in when you were drinking," Canada stated. "You called me last night bragging about showing up your boss or something. All I heard was you laughing about 'not looking presentable' and that you thought it would be funny to mark yourself up with the English flag. I didn't know you really would do it though, especially not like that. The heart is a nice touch, eh."
America's face abruptly burst into flames, eyes darting nervously to England and stiffening when seeing the flattered and overwhelming expression the pink-cheeked Briton wore. He let go of his shirt and shifted awkwardly. There were no words to get him out of this predicament.
"T-this doesn't mean anything. I was drunk. It was a prank. Or something." America coughed into his hand. "I'll make an appointment to get it removed after the meeting is over."
"That's the spirit," Canada replied, smacking his brother's bottom again making America cry out and jump. He glared at his quieter twin who was chuckling to himself.
"Don't do that. It's still sore!" America flinched away, looking down to where England was leaning over, fingers starting to pull lightly at the bottom of America's shirt. "And what are you doing?"
England looked up, emotions caught in his throat as he blinked blindly at the frowning American. "Let me see it one more time. I didn't get quite a good look at it, lad."
America balked, heat crawling up his neck and sending his hair on end with the affection in England's voice.
"No! Get your own tattoo!"
Canada sighed to himself and took a seat by France who was laughing quietly to himself as England began to try and lift America's shirt of, the panicked American flailing and arguing for him to get away.
"What a humorous turn of events."
Canada placed his cheek in his palm and twirled his curled hair in boredom. "Yeah, sure. Tell that to the person he called at 3am."
"Do you really have to be here?"
England looked up from observing the various instruments around the gothic looking room, eyes falling back to the American who was laying on a table with his shirt off, arms crossed and propping his chin up under him. It had taken a lot of persuading to get America to allow him to accompany him to another tattoo parlor, this one being recommended by some rather insistent politicians. Apparently the fellow who worked here also had the means to remove tattoos as well as put them on.
"Must you get rid of it?"
America scoffed and tucked his chin in the crook of his arms, eyes glancing away with a frown. "Duh. It was stupid to get it in the first place. If my boss sees this he'll kill me."
England pursed his lips thoughtfully before abandoning the various pictures on the wall. He came to rest over America and watch him hesitantly. "It isn't so terrible to look at, you know."
"You're just sucking up to me because you know that you're all flattered and shit. Well I'm not gonna have anyone else's flag on me unless it's my own. Case closed."
"That is not the only reason," England denied with a frown.
"Oh yeah? Then why should I keep a flippin' teacup with your flag on it?" America asked sarcastically, considering he wasn't part of Britain and he wasn't into drinking tea. Keeping it made no sense. It made even less sense that England was sort of making him hesitate on getting rid of it.
A country with another's flag marked on it? Absurd!
"It compliments your eyes," England said lamely.
"Uh, earth to England. My flag has the same colors."
"But they aren't as vivid as mine."
"That's dumb," America huffed. "Look, I tell ya what. I'll keep this if you get one of a coffee cup shooting nukes out the sides with 'God Bless America' written above it."
"That's completely ridiculous!" England scowled. "I would never allow that. Even imagining it is–"
"Embarrassing as hell," America finished for him. England glanced down to meet America's eyes, the rest of America's face hidden in his arms, though a red flush could still be seen crawling up his cheeks. England paused a moment before looking away and clearing his throat, timidly running his fingers through America's hair.
"Yes. I suppose it may be. But… but I– I admit that I am rather fond of it. It's remarkably," England stopped, looking around as if to find the proper words for it. America peeked up at him. "Remarkably sweet."
Yes, that was the proper word he wished to use. Just seeing that America would allow himself to have such an image on his skin was… Hell, England could say it. It turned him to mush. It made him want to pull that impossible idiot close and kiss him till the sun went down. He loved the idea of America being branded with his flag. Perhaps it was his old blood in him that loved conquest. He himself didn't know.
"… Even if it is, I'm still getting rid of it."
England sighed to himself, taking his fingers from America's scalp and rubbing at his forehead. He glanced down the expanse of America's back to the little teacup before frowning. England wanted to burn that image in his head.
Without even thinking about it the Englishman bent over America, placing his hands gingerly on his lower back, secretly delighting in the shiver he felt there, before pressing a soft kiss to the sensitive skin. A small gasp left America's mouth as he buried his face further in his arms, shutting his eyes at the feeling of England's lips on his tattoo.
Wow, that felt strange.
England planted another gentle kiss to the cup, moving to breathe out against the teabag, pressing a firmer kiss to his flag. America wore it well.
"England, wh-what're you…nnh," America shut his eyes tighter, his face feeling like it was on fire. England's lips were too soft and his nails raking lightly in a soothing motion against the spot where his back dipped before meeting his boxers, and that warm way he was breathing was–
America buried his face completely in his arms with a shiver when he felt something that was soft and warm and wet all in one. Was that England's tongu–
"Alright Mr. Jones. Are we all set to wash away your drunken regrets?"
America's throat closed on him as his head darted up, round eyes blinking up at the burly man walking into the room. The man blinked down at the embarrassed looking blonde before turning to the fidgeting Englishman pulling at his collar who had quickly darted to the other side of the room.
"Y-you bet!" America said with a forced laugh, his voice cracking halfway through the announcement.
"Fantastic. Now I'm just going to have you lie still and think of butterflies and rainbows." The man moved across the room and put his gloves on, glancing back at England with a smile. "You might want to hold your friend's hand. It might sound strange, but it's not uncommon."
America looked at England before grinning and shaking his head. "What am I, a baby? I don't need to hold–" He stopped himself when looking up and seeing the large laser device, eyes widening to impossible levels.
England never knew it was possible for a man to cry that much.
Oh well. It wasn't so bad. At least America got a lollipop afterwards.
3 months later
America rolled over with a groan, blindly searching for his hamburger phone on his nightstand. He squinted his eyes to see that it was five in the morning. With another angry groan, America picked up his telephone and grumbled into the darkness.
He winced when he received an earful of slurs and cackling. "You bloody tosser! I- I can't believe you fell for that. Why would you e-even… Oh, I think I'm going to be ill."
America paused and rubbed at his eyes. "England?"
Another hiccup from the other end, bottles clanking around before the Briton started up his laughing again. "That'll show them, right? That's what you said was amazing, wasn't it America? Amazing! Oooh, how I can't waltz– how I can't wait to see their faces when they see what I did. Her majesty is sure to laugh!"
"Uh-huh. Sure. I'm sure it's great. Goodnight, England," America went to hang up the phone, not really wanting to deal with his drunken ex-caretaker. He hung up briskly and rolled over, never giving England's rambling another thought.
… That is until two days later when England had been walking funny at the conference, looking horribly mortified.
America couldn't help but laugh himself to tears when seeing the coffee mug on England's back, nukes shooting out and all.
The heart really was a nice touch indeed.