Hihi! And wow, sorry for how long this chapter took. First a bit of warning— this chapter is rated sliiightly higher than the last for much more explicitly talked about sexual activity/content, although there's nothing terribly explicit. Also a warning for language (which is kind of a given with Denmark, hm?). There's not enough of either for the rating to go up, but if that kind of thing makes you uncomfortable, there's your alert!
Now, back to business! Sorry about the delay in chapters. Originally this part was going to basically be the first chapter retold from Norway's POV, but it kept getting bogged down and confused, so as much as I liked the idea I had to give up on it. Likewise, this chapter— Denmark is just awful at figuring people's motivations out, and that took so long that I decided to officially make this a three-parter instead.
FINALLY, this chapter is half-dedicated to my Danish Buddy if she reads this, because I typed in "my treasure" and kept thinking "my scat" and laughing. I blame this on you, and honor you with the embarrassment of having something as gross as this chapter attached to your name.
His Eyes (follow your eyes)
When Denmark wakes up, the rain has stopped, and the sun is shining through the window. It's been cracked open since he fell asleep, but he doesn't mind since Norway came back to bed after doing it.
It's like he imagined.
Maybe better, not only because this time it's real, but because this time isn't the 18th century. There's electricity, and running water, and someone in his bed naked, something Norway has very much not been in longer than Denmark would like to think about. At least not naked in his bed; other beds aren't up for consideration.
And for the second time, he looks at him. When he'd fallen asleep he'd had a firm grip on Nor, but obviously during the night he'd pulled away. Denmark isn't offended. Nor is lying on his back mostly, head dropped to the side, facing the window. One arm lies flat beside him, the other rests on his chest. It's not really an intimate just-got-fucked-let's-cuddle pose, but then again, he didn't expect that to last.
It's easier to be happy in the morning sun, sitting up and stroking Norway's hair. He'd kind of like a coffee but he's waiting for Nor to wake up. Making coffee and then coming back to bed is tempting, but then again, it somehow feels like a lot of effort. Nor will probably wake up soon. And then…
They had fucked twice. The first time fast and rough and not terribly satisfying all around. Don't ruin it had been rattling in his brain like some kind of messed up mantra between thrusts, and when it was over he had been tight and tense and trying to tell himself this was what he had wanted. They had stayed like that for a few minutes, and then Norway had sighed and…
After the second time they had fallen asleep.
Denmark isn't sure what will happen when Nor wakes up. Probably nothing. Nor will tell him to make coffee already, and they'll eat breakfast. Greenland and Faeroes are coming home in a few days, after spending the last few months in their lands. That's the reason Nor is visiting; they were once his territories. But until then… Denmark guesses they'll probably do a little sightseeing, maybe drive over to Sweden for a day. He guesses this will happen as planned. That nothing will be changed.
That nothing was ruined.
Even now it's echoing. He doesn't understand… but he knows better than to bug Nor about it. When annoyed, Norway becomes less likely to answer questions than ever and Denmark can tell already this will count as annoying. But he just doesn't get it. What could possibly be ruined? Not their friendship. That's held firm since they were kids, through wars and illness and marriage.
Petting Norway's hair, Denmark eventually comes to the conclusion that what Nor had meant was simply don't ruin this sex. Nor is a quiet guy but he has as much sex drive as anyone. He had probably just wanted to get laid, and Denmark's reluctance… which, after the fact and in the light of day did seem kind of… weak… Well, it's just fucking, right? And that is all Nor had been talking about. He'd really meant I want to get laid, so stop being lame.
It makes sense. But it doesn't quite ring true.
But Denmark doesn't know what else could.
After a little while, he can hear a car start and pull out of a driveway across the street; it stops and then honks. He can hear a door open and a girl yell coming!, and then climb into the car. Then it drives off. The sound is enough to wake Nor.
He watches that, too. Nor stays still, then takes a deep breath. He frowns slightly; Denmark can feel his brow move. Then he exhales in a sigh. "Worse'n Sweden," he says softly. "Watchin' like that."
Denmark is instantly struck with relief he hadn't realized he was worrying over. Nor is acting the same as always. He grins. "Ya just looked nice like that," and he opens his mouth to tack on a nickname more affectionate than Nor and stops just in time. He did that when they were married, to tease—my dear, my love, my treasure, mine—just to tease and nothing more.
But he does bend down and kiss his temple, feeling affectionate and unable to help it. Nor remains still, hasn't really moved at all. He's probably still sleepy. "Good morning, then," he says after a pause, and there's an edge in his voice that makes Denmark decide he is tired after all.
"I didn't make coffee yet!" he says, to help with that. As he speaks he starts to climb out of bed, feeling the cold air on his body and shivering. "But I will right away, okay?"
"Mngh," is the sound Norway makes in reply. He shifts only to pull the pillow Denmark just vacated over his head.
When the coffee is ready, Norway is drawn to the kitchen like a moth to a flame. Unlike Denmark, who simply threw on his pajama pants and a tee-shirt, Norway stopped to get dressed properly, and his face has a red, scrubbed look to it. He appears in the kitchen, quiet as a cat, and sits at the table. Denmark is making toast, but has already put Nor's mug there, black coffee with no offered cream or sugar, in the green mug Norway likes.
Denmark's mug is a cheerful yellow, and his coffee is saturated with sugar. This is normal. "Morning!" he says brightly, still waiting on the toaster.
"Mornin'," Norway says, mug already lifted to his mouth. The toast pops up and Denmark removes it and starts to spread jam.
"Do ya want raspberry or, uh, apple?" he asks, checking the jars.
"Raspberry," Norway says. Denmark can feel his shoulders prickle. He makes Nor's toast and then his own, aware of Norway's staring and trying not to be.
"It's sunny!", he says, to make conversation.
"Yep," says Norway, quashing it with his tone.
After that Denmark brings the food to the table and they eat silently.
He has a nice house: he designed it himself, drew the plans and helped with the building. He's always liked that kind of thing, and likes to update his home once a century or so. The kitchen is one of his favorite parts: south facing and sunny, with light wood floors and cabinets and white stone countertops. Big windows look out at the grassy garden and let in more light. He learned to cook in the 18th century and surprised everyone by liking it: good food is part of comfortable living, and a good kitchen is part of it too. Normally he loves spending time in this room, maybe even more than the rest of them.
Today it feels dark and cramped, even with the sunshine. And he doesn't know why. It was good sex, after all—there's no denying that. But Nor's earlier words keep echoing. Don't ruin it. Don't.
Norway finishes eating first, but doesn't get up to clear his plate or leave. Thinking he must be waiting on him, Denmark tries to drink his heavily sweetened coffee quickly. He just has to forget all that. Isn't he always telling people to enjoy life without thinking so much?
Yeah! Yeah, so—
"Gotta talk to you," Norway says out of nowhere, startling Denmark out of his thoughts.
"Huh?" Before Norway can repeat himself, slower and with clear enunciation for the hard of hearing, Denmark adds quickly: "Talk, right, okay! Ya can always talk to me, de— Nor! A- about anything! 'Cause we're best friends, so we talk all the time, about everything, since we're… best friends!" He can feel himself flush: he almost called Norway dear. That stupid old nickname. Norway had never been a dear; that was why it was funny. But when he'd used it—
Norway probably notices the slip of the tongue but he doesn't immediately jump into Denmark for it and he starts to relax until: "Fuckin' was a mistake." Nothing changes in his expression as he says so.
But for Denmark, everything seems to change. His heart twists and then a cold chill swallows him—no, not just a chill. He's always thought that was just an expression, anyway, but he's suddenly freezing as his blood drains away, leaving his feet and fingers icy, a knife just as cold in his stomach, and he feels shaky, too, his body twitching to avoid frostbite. He grins, or tries to—"What do you mean? It was good—great, the second time, ya can't." He doesn't quite finish the sentence, or turns it into a statement half through. You can't be saying this. He taps his fingers on the edge of the table. Can't. There's a look in Nor's eyes now that he does know, and he doesn't like it. Sympathy. Like he was Iceland, worrying over a bird with a broken wing. He's so goddamn cold, and his chest, he realizes, is tight; he feels like he's breathing on top of a mountain. And he likes none of it. "No way it was a mistake," he says in a voice that's quieter than he'd like.
"You like this with the girls you bring home?" Norway asks after a silence that thuds on forever.
There's no point in lying, saying he doesn't bring girls home. "No," he does say, because it's true. "You're dif—"
"I know," Norway cuts in before Denmark can finish. Is he imagining a— his limbs are still tingling like they're thawing out, but he looks at Norway again. Until this second he hadn't realized he had been looking away. Is he imagining the something in Nor's voice again? Maybe. But there's no way he's making up the fact that Norway isn't saying more, is gathering his thoughts.
So Denmark cuts in quick. The time for rolling over and pretending things haven't been said and done passed a long time ago last night. "You're different! Chicks come 'round and they're hot and nice and I like 'em, but they're not ya. Are you going to leave?" he says, and it's the second time he's tacked on something without meaning to.
Norway's arm jerks and stills. Denmark can see he's working up to something, some sort of speech. And he knows he won't like it. He feels shaky as he stands up. He just won't let Nor say it, that's all. "'Cause ya can't leave. I mean, you can, when this trip's over, 'cause that would be an international thing and that would be— but I did like ya said. I didn't ruin it. So it, it wasn't a mistake. So don't say it was. Don't ever—" at some point he's circled the table, narrowed in on Nor, who is still sitting in his chair, who is looking up at him. It's intimidation 101, and that thing, that something, is back in Nor's eyes—"I— ya can't do this. Ya made me change my mind so ya can't change yours. I didn't want to if ya didn't feel—" he's really looming over him and draws back, realizing.
Norway's face is clouded. They stare at one another for a long moment. Maybe an hour. He doesn't know. His heart is pounding and he's trembling. Slowly, so slowly, Norway lifts his arms, holds Denmark's face in both hands as he stands. Slowly. "Don't half say sentences." It's an old complaint. Denmark talks fast and changes his mind half through sometimes, leaving abandoned fragments. Nor's always hated it. He can feel Norway's hands on his cheeks, light and warm, and can feel his pulse thudding.
But he can't finish that sentence. He has to leave it buried. "What's there to ruin?" he breathes.
Norway gives an annoyed laugh, breaking his gaze and looking down. "Feelings," he says. For a moment—just a moment—they had seemed so close, on the edge of something. But he can feel Nor pulling away, and he isn't sure if he should chase or stay put. But maybe he's not the only one teetering. Nor closes his eyes and then comes back, although neither of them has moved in the least. "You have too many of them," and now Nor sounds weary.
"No," Denmark says, and decides that this is just about enough talking, and lifts Nor's face up to kiss.
Norway responds for a second and then shoves him hard. "Yes," he says, sounding angry and therefore cold. "Yes. Yes, ya are." Denmark has stumbled back a step, and blinks, the cold feeling come back at Nor's tone and eyes. "You already did ruin it, didn't you? Coulda been a normal one-nighter—had to get your feelings involved! I shoulda known better," he adds bitterly, and Denmark is too confused and cold to react to this outburst, remembering the feel of Nor's mouth against his, and—
"No," Norway says, cutting off the question. There is color in his cheeks, and his jaw is clenched. His eyes are moving rapidly, as quick as Denmark's pulse. Norway is looking for a way out, and Denmark's heart just seems to be going faster and faster. He's never been able to read Nor all that well, but he's also never needed to. Usually they have the same opinions, after all; they're best friends! But now… now… he doesn't understand. All he knows is how dark and cold his sunny kitchen feels, how he feels like he might be sick. He remembers the feel of the bedsheets and Norway's hand, slick with lube, and the warmth, but instead of a pleasant feeling it just adds to the knot in his gut.
Norway is upset that he didn't think of it as just a one night stand. He understands that now. But he doesn't understand why. "I told you—" he starts to say, and sees Norway start to cut him off again. He grabs Nor by the shoulder. "I told you! Ya can't change your mind, Nor—"
Nor's face is flushed, his eyebrows gathered tight, his mouth thin. Norway's anger is always quiet until it isn't. "Ya don't get to tell me what to do."
"Ya don't get to change yer mind!" Denmark's anger is never quiet. But while he's been angry at Norway before, sure, plenty of times, but anger like this is— "Ya don't! So don't ya—"
Norway suddenly turns away. "I'm leaving now," he says coolly, and starts to walk.
For a second, Denmark is frozen, unable to believe that this is— "Ya can't use me!" he bellows, wounded and too loud, tripping to his feet and grabbing at Norway—his fingers brush cloth and nothing more. But Norway stops. He doesn't turn, but he stops.
Denmark is glad he cannot see his face. "This oughtn't to have happened," Nor says quietly, and for the first time, Denmark agrees.
And then he realizes what he said, and feels hot and tense. Use. Use me. No way—he's Denmark, he doesn't get used, he uses if anything, not that he does but—but he is the user, not the used, not the manipulated, not the one left behind.
He swallows. As if Norway somehow heard it, he sighs and slowly turns. "It ain't good like this," he says with a vague gesture around them both.
"No," Denmark says. He's not sure if he's arguing or agreeing that it isn't. He takes a step or so backward, leaning his hand against the table and his weight upon it. He is aware Norway is watching, so he tries to make it look casual.
Norway has a way of walking, even the five steps across the kitchen to him. Heavy, but certain. For the second time, he brushes his hand up against Denmark's cheek, his eyes unreadable and flush gone. Norway waits to make sure Denmark's full attention in on him, and then says softly, "I wouldn't use ya."
He nods. He knows. And Nor nods too. His eyes flicker away for a second, and Denmark is left for the millionth time wondering what the hell his best friend thinks, is thinking. The sequence is still muddled. But he knows—he knows Nor is someone he can trust, no matter what.
"Just tell me what's going on," Denmark says.
Nor breaks eye contact again, pulling his hand away. He closes his eyes. "I'm gonna get a hotel. Just for right now," he adds, putting up a hand to stop a protest before Denmark can work up the outrage. "An' I'll be back— when's Green's flight?"
"Tomorrow at six," Denmark says automatically, his forehead creasing slightly. And Faeroes will arrive early the next morning.
"Then I'll come back 'round lunch," Nor says. There's finality in his voice, the kind of firmness that always makes Denmark think he probably has a point. But this time he doesn't want to nod and agree.
"Just tell me," he insists again.
Norway's mouth thins and Denmark is sure he isn't going to answer. He's debating whether or not to press it when Norway takes a deliberate step back. "I don't want ya to love me," he says in a dull voice, emotionless even for him.
His heart starts pounding and twisting again; he gapes, but Norway looks and turns so quickly that it's almost like he's avoiding having to see. "I'll be goin' now," he says, suddenly curt and hasty. "Until tomorrow."
Denmark watches, not sure if he should deny or fight, agree and be friends, protest or grab him, or anything else at all. So he watches Norway grab the last piece of toast and wrap it in a napkin, follows him to the foyer where Norway tucks the napkin into his coat pocket. Then he waits as Norway goes upstairs and grabs his bag, brings it back down. He's just about decided to do something like on TV, grab Norway and kiss him and maybe confess his feelings in a dramatic way, when they're suddenly at the door and Nor is giving him a look like he knows exactly what Denmark is thinking.
"You're coming back," he says instead, not a question or a request.
"Of course I am," Norway says. There's a second where he leans like he's about to take a step towards Denmark, and his breath catches, and then Norway changes his mind, shifts his weight and his carpetbag, and goes out the door.