Title: Thanks For The Alcohol Even Though It Wasn't So Great (No Seriously, It Was Awful)
Characters/Pairings: America, Romano, random OCs (mentions of America→England and Romano→Spain)
Summary: In which America and Romano drink bad-tasting gin, smoke cigarettes and try to close the book on relationships that never happened (emphasis on try). (set in the 1920's)
Warning: alcohol, smoking, mentions of kissing, cursing and historical inaccuracies (please correct me guys if you see mistakes; there might be a lot orz;)
AN: written for abarero's winning bid over at the help japan auction livejournal. her prompt: America+Romano friendship/gen set during the 1920s. A night at a speakeasy.
Disclaimer: I do not own Hetalia.
This speakeasy is the third one to appear in a span of a week in this area alone.
"Like mushrooms" America thinks as he pushes his way through the crowd of patrons. He knows he should be appalled by the number of people in this speakeasy alone but it seems that the saying about the forbidden fruit always tasting the sweetest (or something like that) is at work here and America can't argue with that.
He makes his way towards the bar, where a man that looks about his age (though if America hears someone saying that, he'll say "More like he's older than me by a few centuries." before flashing a winning smile) is serving drinks to guests from behind the counter. He's wearing a red-brown silk suit that clashes violently with his auburn hair and several flashy gold chains hung loose around his neck. He also has a fedora on top of his head though it does nothing to hide that stubborn curl of hair standing against gravity, pretty much like America's own gravity-defying cowlick.
America sits on a stool and motions for him to come closer. "A glass of gin please."
The other man stares him down from underneath the rim of his hat. "Aren't you too young to be buying liquor?"
"Are you even supposed to be selling them in the first place," America counters with a grin, "Romano?"
"Oh. It's you." Romano hands him a glass before disappearing behind the counter and appearing again, beside America.
"Didn't think you'd be here." He says, pulling up a seat beside America. "Imagine, the very personification of the United States of America, breaking his own fucking Prohibition."
America laughs. "I go where my people go. Or where most of them go anyways. And you know what that, what do you call it, proverb says, the more you tell people not to push the button, the more they'll do it, even if it costs them their damn lives."
"That's not a Proverb." Romano scoffs. "I've read the whole fucking Bible."
America shrugs. "Who says proverbs only have to come from the Bible?" He stares at his now-empty glass, as if he can't believe he'd just drank what he'd just drank. "This stuff tastes god-awful but I think I want more of it."
"Thou shall not take the Lord's name in vain. iPlease/i." The words spill out of Romano automatically, almost thoughtlessly (iMust be from living with the Vatican at your doorstep/i, America thinks). He stands up and pulls out a bottle of gin from behind the counter.
"Thanks." America grins appreciatively. He pours Romano and himself a glass each.
"Cheers." He says, raising his glass in some sort of toast. Romano rolls his eyes but does the same anyways, clicking his glass against America's before they down their drinks together, bottoms up.
It isn't their last gin bottle of the night.
Truth to be told, America had never been to a speakeasy before and he can't say he isn't enjoying the experience. This place is more crowded than two saloons put together, he thinks, with people just spilling all over the bar and the tables and the dance floor—men in suits and bowler hats, glasses of gin in their hands and women all bob cuts and bare legs and long cigarette holders dangling by their fingers.
"Nifty place you've got here." America tells Romano as he leans back easily against the counter.
Romano shrugs. "I don't own the fucking place, honestly. I just supply the poison and your people do the rest." He glances at America as he empties their (second) bottle. "Y'know what? If I wasn't earning so much from all this, I'd say this Prohibition of yours is a bunch of bullshit."
America laughs. "Hey don't look at me like that!" He says, raising his hands in mock surrender. "My lawmakers are independent of me. I let them decide what's best for me and my people and well, I trust that they have good intentions in mind all the time." He shrugs. "But they're just people and they're bound to make mistakes."
"Thank god they don't have an idiot like you influencing their decisions." Romano mutters. "Could be worse."
America punches Romano's arm lightly (though Romano winces a little. Oops?). "Hey! I'm not an idiot." He downs his current drink then makes a face. "Seriously, where do you get this stuff?"
Romano pulls out a pack of cigarettes from his suit pocket and offers one to America.
"No, thanks." America says, shaking his head. "I don't think I can handle one, thank you very much."
"Drinking but not smoking?" Romano scoffs. "You might as well do the whole fucking deal while you're here." He walks over to a portly old man beside them to get a light then comes back, lights another stick with his own, and hands it to America.
America gets it and gives it a tentative puff. To his surprise, he doesn't choke or gag on it. He lets out a puff and breathes in another easily, as if he had been smoking all his life.
"It tastes horrible though." He tells Romano, who's already on his second stick, afterwards. "I don't think I'll smoke again after this."
Romano shrugs. "Ah well, I guess it's not for everybody."
"So," He continues nonchalantly, in between puffs of his cigarette, "how are you and England doing?"
America gapes at Romano and good god is he thankful that he's done with his stick or he thinks he might have died of asphyxiation.
"I-I" America splutters, "I don't know honestly. I guess we're allies?"
(Because that's what they are, isn't it correct? Allies. After all, he did save England's—and everyone else's—ass back in the Great War, whether England wants to admit it or not. Yes they were allies now, if that meant cryptic nods of acknowledgment whenever they met and a few short sentences peppered with sarcasm. And America honestly thinks that's better than nothing, better than the unspoken resentment of before—)
"Yes," America repeats, this time with more certainty, "England and I, we're allies now."
"Allies huh?" Romano says, "I'd thought you two would have done it already by now. Everyone with a pair of eyes and a fucking good intuition knows you've been stuck on England for centuries."
America's face reddens and for a moment all he does is open and close his mouth stupidly at a smug Romano.
"I-I like England as much as the next guy." America finally says hotly.
"Which is not saying a lot." Romano points out, "England's not exactly the lovable type."
"Well then, I like England more than the next guy, but not" America clarifies, "more than what is expected of an ally. So no, I am not stuck on England, thank you very much."
"I don't like England honestly," Romano mutters, as if he's still stuck on his previous argument. "The fucking bastard."
"Because of Spain, huh?" America asks casually.
Romano glares at him and America shrugs, flashing him an innocent smile.
Finally Romano sighs, and gives his cigarette a last puff. "Not everything I do is because of Antonio." He murmurs, more to himself than anyone else.
In the middle of their third bottle of gin, Romano suddenly stands up and places a hand on America's shoulder.
"You don't mind if I dance for a while, do you?" he whispers in America's ear.
America grins. "I never thought you were a dancing type." He replies but Romano is already off, towards a flapper with a blonde bob and a martini stem around her long white fingers.
America watches as they engage in small talk for a while, as the band takes a short break before hitting another lively jazz tune. He had never seen Romano smile that wide at anyone before and yet he gets the impression that isn't genuine but rather, a smile with a purpose in mind. (America wonders when he's gotten so perceptive. Must be because of this horrible-tasting alcohol.)
To his surprise, Romano suddenly turns and points to him, or rather to someone behind him.
America turns around and sees her, strawberry-blonde curls and bare white legs and feather boa around her neck. She smiles at him in a way that can only be described as an oh god what does she plan to do with me kind of way by America's liquor-addled brain and before he knows it, he's being pulled towards the center of the dance floor, just in time for another round of the Charleston.
America finally stumbles back towards the counter, back towards where Romano's waiting for him, after what seemed like several hours and several rounds of dancing.
"I don't think my legs can carry me any longer." America says breathlessly.
Romano actually laughs and America stares at him, amazed.
"You," he says, jabbing his finger at America's chest, "have finally fucking grown up."
America continues staring at him, wondering if Romano's finally drunk. "What?"
"Drinking alcohol," Romano counts off with his fingers, "smoking cigarettes, ikissing/i."
America can feel his face heating up again. "Don't tell me you saw that."
"Sure did." Romano glances at him, "Was it your first?"
It was. He'd found out that her name was Alice and her lips tasted like gin mixed with fruit and cigarette smoke and America wonders if he should remember this stuff because all he can think of at the moment was erase erase forget can the ground just open up and swallow me up now.
"So you think I've grown up now, huh?" America asks Romano.
Romano nods. "Fucking grown up." And it feels like an older brother is saying it and it's endearing really.
America smiles. "I just wish he'd think so too." He murmurs, more to himself than anyone else.
He glances at Romano and he can feel a wave of understanding pass between them.
"My fucking sentiments exactly."
(As if they weren't drunk enough yet, Romano reaches over the other side of the counter and pulls out two bottles of gin, one for each of them. And they play a game, pathetic really, because the last step of growing up, according to Romano at least, is to move on from relationships that never really existed in the first place. And how else can you move on, Romano says, but by convincing yourself that you never really cared.)
"So, for every drink, I say something I don't like about England and you do the same with Spain, huh?"
"That's fucking correct."
"Alright, I'll start then. I hate how England's eyebrows look like a pair of bushy little eyebrows and yet I always imagine how it feels like to kiss them."
"Huh. That's sad. Let's see…I hate the way Spain always makes me clean up the house while he's away I mean it's his fucking mess and all I want to do really is to follow him out there."
"I hate the way he seems to think that these imaginary friends of his exist and how I use to wish I could see them too so I'd be part of his world, just once. Pathetic, right?"
"And I hate the way he always compares me to a fucking tomato. I don't look like a fucking tomato now, do I?"
"…you do. Sometimes."
"Argh, dammit! And I hate the way he rolls out those Spanish words and how he doesn't know how sexy he sounds while saying them that it makes me want to fucking touch myself."
"Now that is sad."
"Let's see…I hate the way I always wake up during thunderstorms and I remember those nights when I used to wake up as a kid and he's there, sleeping on a chair by my bed and I realize that what I want now is to have him with me underneath the covers, with my arms around him—"
"...this is not working, is it?"
(The next morning, someone finds them passed out on the bar. He doesn't bother to wake them up and it's better that way. Really.)
The speakeasy closes down as quickly as it opened.
"So a raid, huh?" America says.
Romano shrugs. "It was bound to happen. Anyways, it isn't like the closure of one joint would affect my business."
"I'll miss your company though." The words slip out before America could stop them and he waits for Romano to scoff or roll his eyes at him.
Instead, he can almost catch a small smile playing on Romano's lips. "Ah well, I did enjoy the night while it lasted."
America grins. "Catch you next time, then. Though let's not drink as much next time. My head feels like it's about to burst open."
Romano tips his hat towards America then, with one last wave, he walks off as America muses on catching him in another speakeasy. Maybe next time.
1. A speakeasy is an establishment that illegally sells alcoholic beverages, especially prominent during the Prohibition-era of the United States.
Concrit very much welcome, flames are not :)!