A/N - So this is something that I wrote ages ago, when I first discovered Spamano, but I never published it because it felt… Wrong, somehow. I tweaked it a litbit, but it still feels kinda like there's something missing, and I still have no idea what. So sorry about that. Concrit would be incredibly welcome.
He aches, just as he did yesterday, the day before, the day before that - how long has it been since his nights were peaceful?
He tries to block out the pain that wracks his body, but it is no use. As his country suffers, so must he. He is exhausted, but every time Romano closes his eyes and wills sleep to deaden him to the world, he is attacked by a fresh onslaught of agony.
Where is Spain? He wonders, unable to think through this terrible pain. All he knows is that Spain said, promised, that he'd be there for his Roma. But then he remembers. Spain has gone to travel the world, to search for glory. Has left Romano to wait alone for his return, triumphant or otherwise.
The pain stops suddenly, and at first Romano is wary. It has happened before like this - a lull in the fighting sending his hopes spiraling, only to crash down when it returns, fierce as ever.
But now he's just too tired to care.
Romano falls, and dreams catch him.
When he wakes, the pain is back, but it isn't as strong as before. The warm sunlight falls on Romano's face, and he sighs happily.
Nighttime is always the worst. Pain creeps closer as the shadows lengthen, the ache that was pushed back by the sunlight steadily returning. Is this what his life has shrunk to? A cycle of light and dark, chained to his pain? Romano laughs hollowly.
He shakes his head, ashamed at himself for his pessimism. If Spain were here, he'd be laughing through it, the truth visible only if you looked hard enough into his sea-green eyes.
Romano opens the window. The cool breeze caresses his face, and he almost smiles as he looks out over the golden brown hills to the distant sea.
Behind him, there is a soft thump. He turns to see the person he'd missed the most.
His chocolate brown hair is disheveled, and he is swaying slightly from exhaustion. But his smile is triumphant as he whispers, 'I did it, Romano.'
Romano has thought about this moment for so long, ever since Spain left. He would ignore the pain and congratulate Spain, and prove he was just as good, just as kind as his younger brother.
Instead, he says bitterly, 'Was it worth it?'
Spain blinks in surprise, and Romano hates himself for saying it. But he can't take back the words. So he simply continues the conversation as if Spain had replied and agreed that yes, it was, very much so. 'I'm glad.'
Then suddenly, the ache blazes into a stabbing inferno. He grits his teeth until it passes, pretending not to see Spain's look of concern.
Because somehow the concern makes it hurt more.
Whenever Spain was in pain, he would hide it so well that Romano never noticed straight away. But even after mere seconds, Spain can see that Romano hurts. Which makes it even more obvious how inferior he is.
There is no way he can let Spain see him in the evening or at night.
'Spain, I'm tired.'
'Me too, Romano.'
'No, that's not what I meant.' He hesitates, and Spain's smile wavers slightly. 'I'm tired of being here, stuck waiting for you to come back. I'm not the tiny colony I used to be. So I'm leaving.'
All the happiness fades from Spain's green eyes. 'What?'
'I'm leaving,' Romano repeats. Already he wishes he wasn't so stubborn - Spain's heartbroken expression is killing him. He promises himself he'll be back soon, as soon as his country is at peace, as soon as he can't feel it ripping him apart.
Spain is still frozen in shock as Romano walks past him and out the door, not even glancing back.
When he is out of sight of the house, he lets himself fold to the ground. The misery of leaving Spain combined with the suffering of his country is overwhelming, and he squeezes his eyes tight against tears.
Romano scowls and straightens up to see Spain standing in front of him. Anger has darkened his face in a mask of fury. For a moment Romano is almost afraid, but then he remembers that this is Antonio, this is the one who dried his tears, chased away the nightmares, who has always been smiling and sunny no matter what.
'Who is doing this to you?' The nation says fiercely.
'It's nothing, Spain.'
He tries to push past, but Spain catches his arm and won't let go. 'It's not nothing! Now tell me, who is hurting you.'
'Other than you?' Romano snaps. He can barely feel it over the pounding of his head, but he can tell that Spain is holding him tight.
Spain immediately lets go, and suddenly he isn't angry. He just looks broken. He takes Romano's face in his hands instead, forcing the younger nation to look at him. 'Romano, mi Roma…' He whispers shakily. 'Please, please tell me. I don't want to - I can't see you like this!'
Romano wants to shove him away, but Spain looks shattered and desperate. He can't bring himself to deny him. 'France.'
Spain's expression reverts to anger. 'I'll kill him. That cabrón.'
The word bursts out before Romano can stop himself. Spain looks at him in surprise.
'I don't want you to - to fight because of me. It'll be over soon, I'll be fine. I mean, it's France! How many battles has he won?' He laughs weakly, but Spain's expression is still furious.
Then his face softens. 'I promise not to fight if you stay with me.'
'Alright.' He is so relieved that Spain won't fight that for a moment Romano doesn't realise what this promise entails. That he'll have to show Spain how weak he truly is.
But if it means Spain won't have to suffer the way he is, Romano doesn't whether he's hated by the other nation.
Throughout the evening, Romano tries not to show how much it hurts. And for a while he is relatively successful. When he climbs into bed, Romano is exhausted but so happy. Even as the pain tears into him, he doesn't care, because he didn't let Spain see.
But then Spain comes to check on him, and finds Romano lying awake, brow furrowed as he fights to overcome the agony.
Romano only realises Spain is there when he feels warm arms pull him close. The older nation is trembling slightly as he presses kisses to the top of Romano's head.
Romano stiffens, but Spain ignores him and whispers shakily in Spanish. The words are muffled and Romano can't understand what he's saying.
After an age, Spain calms down and draws back slightly to look at Romano. The Italian doesn't meet his eyes. 'I'm sorry.'
'It's not you, it's that puto.'
'No, I mean for being like this.'
'Like what?' Spain seems genuinely bewildered, and Romano feels a twinge of hope.
'No matter how much pain you're in, you hide it. But me, I can't even hide this much. And I can't even be kind when I haven't seen you since forever,' he adds, remembering what he'd said earlier when Spain had returned. Romano laughs hollowly. 'No wonder you wanted to swap me for Feliciano.'
Spain shakes him gently but firmly. 'Now that I know you, I wouldn't swap you for anything in the world. And I'm older, I've had more experience with pain. I'm used to it. That's why I said I'd fight France. It's easier for me than it is for you.'
'Don't want you to hurt.' Romano mumbles, unsuccessfully fighting a blush.
Spain stares at him, then he pulls Romano close and kisses him gently.
Romano forgets how to breathe. Spain is so warm, his lips velvet soft against his own…
When Spain pulls back, there is anguish in his eyes.
'I love you, Romano. Won't you let me take your pain?'
Romano shakes his head.
He buries his face in Spain's neck. 'Because I love you more.'
Spain sighs, and tugs Romano onto his lap.
'Te amo, Romano…'
When Romano at last falls asleep, he is still cradled in Spain's arms. And maybe he's imagining it, or maybe he truly does hurt less.
It doesn't matter either way. Because when Romano awakes in Spain's warm embrace, he's too happy to care.