Chapter 8

Vodka. It smells like vodka. Sealand knows he's not really meant to know what that smells like, but he is secretly bout thirty or so, so it makes sense.

"Um, hello? Are you okay in there?" He steps inside to see Finland curled up on his bed, bottle in hand. "Um, Mama?"

"Hmm? Oh, hello Peter," says Finland vaguely. "Don't – don't call me that. Do I need to remind you of my history as a sniper?"

"You kinda just did." Peter settles onto his own bed, watching as Finland takes another gulp of vodka. "...What's wrong?"

Finland laughs, loud and hysterically as if it was the funniest thing anyone ever said. "Or Sealand, you poor poor thing," he says, vaguely away tears (of laughter?). "You haven't guessed already? I can't tell you."

Well, Peter does know what's happened (and it makes him sick, it makes him cry, it makes him want to scream), but he can't tell Finland that either. "Well, I meant more right now," he says as Finland runs his fingers down the neck of the bottle. "This... isn't just your usual fondness for vodka that you try and hide from me; something happened."

"Something always happens. What on Earth makes you think I'd tell you?"

Sealand flinches at Finland snapping. "What was that for?" he asks.

Finland looks confused. "I – oh, I'm sorry," he says. "I didn't mean that."

"...Right." Finland slurps more vodka to shake off his confusion, and Sealand cringes.

"M – Dad," he says, trying to be diplomatic. "W-why don't you stop that? I think... I think you've had enough to drink."

Silence. Finland's hazy eyes focus on him, and Sealand freezes.

"T-that's none of your business! You ungrateful brat! You can't tell me what to do, after everything – I am trying so hard for you and you have no idea, you have no idea about anything; you have nothing to do with anything, it wasn't even my idea to take you in it was his because he has such wonderful fucking ideas, so I shouldn't have to care about you when I didn't do anything wrong and why should I care about you at all, and why don't you just go, Peter?"

Peter's stunned by the rant. He knows he shouldn't take it personally, that Finland is really drunk and really upset so Peter can't blame him, and yet he does. He's just a kid, after all. No matter what's going on, aren't they meant to be trying to act in his best interests? That's why Finland wants to lie to him, he guesses, but it all seems selfish and like Finland said – why should he care? Sealand wipes away tears with the back of his hand, while Finland just presses his head to his knees.

"...I'm sorry," Peter whispers, though he doesn't have anything to apologise for, does he? "I – I have to go. I'll be back... I'll be back."

"Wait, Peter!" Finland leaps up and Sealand starts scurrying for the door. "I didn't mean all that, I just – please!"

The door slams.

"What is it?" England is not being particularly courteous to whoever's knocking at his door, but nevermind. He had almost cracked the solution for that particular spell, and it's probably just the frog showing up to harass him some more. Common courtesy does not apply to that bastard.

...As it turns out, it could be even worse.

"Sealand? What on Earth do you want?"

"Hey, Jerk England." The boy is being sullen, crossing his arms and pouting. England rolls his eyes. "I need somewhere to stay."

England's taken aback. "What on – hey, what about Sweden and Finland? Didn't the adopt you? Don't – don't infringe on my hospitality, boy! Didn't they teach you that?"

He expects an argument. But Peter flinches, and says nothing. England suddenly realises how out of character it is for him to show up all quiet and miserable like this.

"Hey – what's wrong? You're acting strange..." He's suddenly struck with a horrible thought. "Oh god, was it Russia? Did you approach Finland's border and he–"

"What? No!" Peter looks confused by his statement England feels a little embarrassed. "It – it's nothing to do with Russia. I just..." he sighs. "They're... acting weird. I needed somewhere to stay for the night."

"Acting weird? What do you mean?" What's happened to you?

Peter shakes his head. "Long, long story Jerk England," he says. "Can I come in?"

"Of course." England opens the door for his little brother. "You didn't bring anything. Clothes, or a toothbrush, or..."

"Sorry," says Sealand. "I was in a bit of a rush."

"Oh, it's – it's fine. I have plenty of spare things. I have plenty of your spare things."

Peter grins. "Thanks, England."

"You're welcome. And it's nice to see you show some gratitude for once."

Finland wakes up with... not the worst hangover he's ever had, but certainly the one accompanied by the most emotional distress. Sealand, he thinks vaguely before he really gets the chance to remember why. Oh – what did I say last night?

He feels sick. That must be the hangover, but – oh god. He told Sealand he didn't care. That was simply not true; of course he cares, Peter is his son after all and it matters not one whit that it was Sweden's idea, or that Finland was slightly reluctant at first, because after all hasn't he done everything he can to help the boy? That's how they wound up in this situation, after all. Finland trying to protect him from... knowing.

He supposes he was angry, and lashed out because... he was tired of having to protect the boy. Even after he found out, Sweden didn't think it was worth it taking a break from – and he wasn't even honest about it when Finland came over, the bastard.

Still, it wasn't fair to take that out on Peter. He's just a boy, who has no idea what's going on between his fathers. Finland can't push him away. He pulls himself up off the bed, determined to get up, take a shower, and – oh god, where is Sealand?

Thankfully, the boy was kind enough to leave a message with the receptionist at the hotel. Why he'd go to England, who he has never exactly gotten along with even if they are brothers, is a little beyond him but that's not really the point.

The door swings open. "Finland." England can probably see the bags under his eyes, the evidence of drunkenness on his face, but Finland smiles warmly to distract him anyway. "Is Sealand here?"

On cue, Peter approaches behind England. "Oh. Hey, mama," he says.

"What did I say about calling me that?"

England frowns. "Are you alright?" he whispers to Peter, who nods.

Finland hasn't really seen him like this – concerned, and cautious. At least not towards Peter. He feels guilty – did Sealand tell him, what Finland said to him?

"I – I really don't think you should have run off like that, you know." His voice goes up on the last syllable, and Sealand raises an eyebrow. "But – but I can't blame you really. After how I acted... um. Well. Please forgive me?"

A pause. Peter stares at him for a moment, and it feels like their roles have been reversed – Finland is the naughty child, pleading for mercy from his father. "It's fine," says Peter. "I mean... I understand."

...Wait, what do you understand? He wonders, but he decides not to ask. It would look bad in front of England. "Well, I suppose that's settled then. Thank you, England, for looking after him. I was so worried!"

"Indeed." England does not seem comforted, and Finland gulps. This can't end well. "Would you like to step inside? I'll make you some tea. Peter, you – go collect your things."

"I didn't bring any things."

"...Right. Then go collect some of your things that are still in my house; god knows they clutter up the place."

Sealand nods and wanders off somewhere. England starts to lead Finland to his kitchen. Finland knows many people would dread this enough on it's own, as England's kitchen must be a place of horror and despair – but really, Finland thinks England's terrible cooking is overstated. He makes black pudding, after all, which is like blood pancakes and hence quite nice. Still, he's dreading entering on this particular occasion.

England puts on the kettle and takes advantage of the sound to talk. "Look. Sealand hasn't told me exactly what happened, that make him run away." Finland's taken aback. "But he said it was something to do with you, and Sweden. He said you were acting... 'weird'." England sighs. "Look, don't get me wrong, he is a little brat. But he's my brother. I gave him to you thinking you could after him, and if not – well. I won't stop him going with you today, but do be warned – if this happens again, I am willing to take measures to make sure he is alright. Here's your tea."

Finland almost spills it all when England shoves the tea into his hands. "...I can take care of him." And really, it's not his fault. He was distraught by what he found out and reacted the first way he thought of. Given what he knows about England, he would have done the same thing, the hypocrite. What he said was horrible, but he wasn't thinking straight. Overall, he didn't do anything that wrong.

...He's been saying things like that a lot lately.

"Dad? England?" Sealand appears at the doorway with a plastic bag over his shoulder, full of things he got from... somewhere or other. "I'm ready to go."

"Hold on a second honey; I have to finish my tea." Finland tries to gulp it down so they can get out, which leads to some dribbling down his chin. Hmph. He wipes it away.

Soon he's done. "Well, alright then. You ready Peter?"

"Yeah. That's what I just said."

"Alright then. Well goodbye England, and thank you for the tea!"

"You're welcome," he says. Finland smiles, a little too wide, and takes his son's hand as they walk out the door.