Disclaimer: I do not own Hetalia

The Storyteller

To war-weary Sadiq, the coffeehouse in the distance was a beacon of hope. He was under the instruction of his boss to return to the palace once he was done with his task of checking on the foreign territories, but they were not happy to see him and so, even though he was successful, he was not keen on going to see anyone just yet.

But, when he opened the door to the shop and saw the crowd gathered inside, he wondered if perhaps this was a good idea. His headache, certainly, was against the idea whole-heartedly. But when he spotted the owner pouring out a glass of raki for a customer, he decided that perhaps it would not be so bad.

So he walked up to the bar, made his order, and then as he was waiting he heard the fateful sound of pounding.

The men in the shop quieted down quickly, and even Sadiq's interest was piqued as everyone turned to the back of the shop.

"I am a traveler," the man in the corner started, his voice low and heavy, "who has seen much. And I have come to tell you a story about loyalty, and love."

When Sadiq got a good look at the man's face, he could not help the grin on his face; hearing Hassan's voice was such a rarity on the best of days. Slipping away from his duties was the best idea he'd had in a long, long time.

Even though he wasn't trying to attract Hassan's attention, Sadiq was wholly unsurprised when the small, demure man looked right at his masked eyes as he began his story.

"In Cairo I encountered a woman," he started quietly, his voice a chilling whisper that reached every corner of the shop. All the men were under the spell of his voice, silent even though a man that small should not command so much respect. Sadiq was pleased already, leaning back in his chair and letting the nuances of Hassan's lightly accented Turkish wash over his ears.

"She was the wife of a famous merchant, a man who was as rich in arrogance as he was in wealth. Her husband was known across the lands for being good at what he did, and he knew that his reputation preceded him.

"He was a free spirit. He loved to travel, to see foreign lands and meet foreign people; as a result, the woman's husband was almost never home. Often the other women and men of the town would come to tell her stories they had heard about him, and more often than not they were stories of his infidelity to her.

"'He has a harem,' they liked to tell her. 'Of the most beautiful women he can find in any given place. And he pays them quite handsomely for their services at that.'"

The storyteller paused, pursing his lips and eyeing the men in the coffeehouse with a loaded gaze. Sadiq realized that most, if not all of them, were thinking about their own affairs; several of them even shrunk back in their seats. He wanted to laugh and reassure them that the story was not meant for them, but Hassan was looking at him once again, eyes sharp and focused. Well, if the other wanted to do this, then by all means.

"Yet the woman insisted that she did not care," he continued calmly, his voice low and mellow again. "The other men of the city made a point of her to their wives, and the women slipped away to coerce her to leave. After all, they argued, this house is much too lonely for you.

"But this woman refused time and time again. She was never going to leave, she told them politely, then tersely. She was never going to leave him."

Again Hassan pursed his lips, his eyes falling shut for a moment. When they opened again, he was looking anywhere but Sadiq. The story was concluded,

"Twenty-five years of this came and passed. The woman was now aged, childless, and alone. Her husband walked into their home, his spine slumped with weariness but his eyes bright with worldliness. She was sitting in the window, her eyes far off, but when the floor creaked beneath his feet her gaze was focused on his.

"'Are you back?' she asked, her voice strong and soft. He hesitated, realizing suddenly that he had not been home for quite a long time. What had happened to her, his beautiful bride, in his absence? She was still beautiful, but she felt cold and distant."

It was sometime around this point that Sadiq stopped listening to the words, filling his ears only with the sounds of Hassan's voice. He savored it as a man savored every drop of water in the desert, wondering always if this was the last inkling he was going to have of it and doing his best to make it last, make it count.

"Never take a person's loyalty for granted," Hassan concluded. "They might wait for you, but the longer they wait the less they will need you."


"So, I wasn't aware ya were a part-time meddah," Sadiq started softly, standing in the doorway to Hassan's bedroom. It had been several hours since the events at the coffee shop; once the story had ended, Sadiq lost sight of the other in the crowd of men who got up to go home. He waited until the crowd was gone, but by then Hassan was gone as well, as Sadiq should have expected.

Hassan was in a state of half dress, his shirt and coat hanging over the edge of his bedposts. His body was stretched out lazily on his sheets, and Sadiq had to suppress a sudden rush of lust that made him want so desperately to touch what was his.

There was no response. In fact, Hassan did not even acknowledge the man in his room, though Sadiq was a hard presence to miss. He huffed and shut the door behind him, taking a few steps toward the bed.

"I had no idea yer voice was so alluring."

Hassan still did not verbally respond, but it was obvious by his physical reaction that he was not expecting that comment. His wild amber eyes locked onto Sadiq's hazel ones long enough for the other to tell his cheeks were flushed. Somehow the realization that he, Sadiq, had made Hassan's usual poker face slip into something much more vulnerable…

Licking his lips, Sadiq strutted to where the other was on the bed, and Hassan promptly sat up, curling into himself. Tsking, Sadiq shook his head and reached out for the other's bare skin.

"Woman in Cairo, eh? Last time I checked, ya didn't exactly qualify as a woman, though I wouldn't mind checkin' again."

And then Hassan's eyes were smoldering, but if his expression was anything to go by it wasn't from lust.

"So, you were listening."

"Yeah?"

Hassan gave him a very pointed look, body leaning back and hitting the headboard of his bed. Sadiq met the gaze for a moment, before sighing.

"I'm not a mind reader," he grumbled, resting his hand on Hassan's warm bare chest. "If ya want something from me, yer gonna have ta say it."

There was silence for a tense moment; Hassan was biting his lip. Finally, before Sadiq's patience wore through, Hassan murmured between them.

"I'm not yours. Not… your only."

Sadiq faltered, not having expected that at all. The hand came off Hassan's smooth chest as he pulled away, trying to get a better look at the smaller man's face. There was embarrassment written across his cheeks in faint pink, but his eyes were shut tight, unreadable.

Sadiq did not understand, perhaps, all of the subtleties Hassan was trying to tell him without telling him. He had no idea about how potent the other's feelings were. But what he did know was that he had to do something, and he did all that he could think of.

"I'm here with ya now, aren't I?"

He pulled Hassan into his arms, held him against his broad chest, and kissed his lips passionately.

(Centuries later, they'll be sitting in an open café in Suez and something funny will be said. Hassan will laugh, despite his usual stoic self, and Sadiq will come to understand what the other meant all those years ago.

'It's too late,' he'll tell himself, but then Hassan's chuckle will fade and the other will take his hand and Sadiq will know he's been given a second chance.)


end

A/N: The Meddah is a storyteller in the Ottoman-era who used to tell riveting stories in the coffeehouses. I hope you liked this fic~

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