"And when the winds howl around your house, I'll be there to give you comfort."

It had comforted America then, as it does now, but now it has a bitter tone. Those traitorous words, whispering in his ears, reminded him of the past. The traitorous voice, telling him everything would be fine, and when things got bad he'd be here; but he wasn't. It was dark, cold, in the middle of a storm, and England wasn't here, like he'd promised.

It reminds him of all the times he stayed up by the window, this very window, waiting for his guardian's return. When the weather was awful, and America got scared in this mansion because it creaked and moaned and it still does. He still shivers when the wind blows a little too hard, and it sounds like a wall is going to fall down. It never has done, but it still worries him. He still jumps when there's a sudden illumination, even though he gets these storms all the time. He still squeaks slightly when the thunder booms around the house, making him think of booming ammunition. He doesn't want to remember.

The only thing he likes about the storms is the rain, for all its therapeutic qualities and constant pitter-patter on his window. He would go out and get wet, but he'll get a cold, and England will tell him off – but he isn't here. Hasn't been for years. America cautiously opens the door to peer out at the gloom, and it peers back. Shrinking a little, he remains behind the door frame, as if a lonely child hiding from a parent, or something scary. But the rain coaxes him out, gently, gently, and he pauses in the porch, as it calls from a few centimetres away. The occasional drop hits his glasses with a distinct plink and it makes him giggle slightly, even though he's scared. It's as if it wants to comfort him, and drench him in wet affection.

He steps out. He's soaked within moments, and not an inch of him remains dry – apart from his hair, as he currently wears a hat. Securely pulling it on, he steps a little further out, further from the safety of his house, the warmth, and into the grip of the rain. The thunder claps again, but it sounds nice out here; he can't hear the groans of the house, as it complains about its long long life and treacherous position, in the middle of a forest. He doesn't like this house much, but he likes the location. Secretive, where no one sees it, somewhere he doesn't have to care what people think and see and hear, where he can just live. Somewhere he can escape to in the worst of times, the times when…

He listens. The rain, as it bounces of his clothes, his hat, his skin, and the trees around him. The rustle as the leaves get blown around, and it tugs at him too, questing him to run, challenging him to play, because he's wet already. With a last glance behind him, America complies, walking in a direction to somewhere. He imagines England shouting at him, and some days after he'll be sneezing, but he doesn't regret. The storm no longer frightens him, and the forest merely seems gloomy, but he knows there is nothing for miles – nothing will get him here.

He doesn't know how far he goes, or how long he walks before he stops in a clearing. The rain is still at it, sheeting down as if it has a quota. If he looks up, it is a dizzying sight, but he can just see the edges of the clouds, and the occasional flash illuminating their shape. They used to look scary, but now they are on their path, their mission to pass overhead; he happens to be here. He remembers a time when they were out to get him, to force him to quiver in a corner of that old house somewhere.

The clearing is empty – for a moment, he believes he sees Canada, sitting on a deserted log, and talking to the forest around while skilfully carving a piece of wood, but he blinks and there's no one here. This place reminds him of the Canadian; lost, rugged, and isolated. He visits the country quite often, but rarely sees Canada, as his place is too big, and there is so much space in between everything of importance. Not unlike America then, but really, they are not the same, and America has never thought so. Sometimes he doesn't know why they are brothers, as they have very little in common, but he's glad for the other country – the only one America can trust with his soul and deepest secrets.

The rain is easing now – the storm is almost over. He is surprised to find that he isn't scared, just interested. Fascinated: the forest is a nice place. It used to be one of sheer terror for him after having watched all those horror films, since the settings were always in a place like this; dark, quiet and enclosed. It is all but quiet for one; now the storm is subsiding, the birds and animals are beginning to show themselves. The dawn chorus is going to start in around half an hour, America reckons, from the few birds chirping lazily as the bottom of the clouds are being speckled with the morning light of the sun. Strangely, America is not tired, although he knows he should be: he stayed up all night, unable to sleep through the horror that was the storm.

Now it's over, the trees seem to shine with after-storm radiance; the water drops of their leaves to land in a puddle, but they seem of a more vibrant green than before. As the sun wakes a little more, he can see flowers starting to bloom, a carpet of yellow, white, and light purple leads the way for him. He treads it, careful to skip around all the fragile shoots, ready to grow at a moments notice. Spring has always been a favourite time for him, one of new growth and surprises. In the distance, he hears a woodpecker drilling into a tree; in the other direction a vague buzz of an insect, ready to take its duty to pollinate flowers. The wind continues to rustle the plants around him, and he looks up to the sky to appreciate the sounds.

A small break in the cloud reveals a dawn blue sky reflected in his eyes. It is swallowed a moment later, but he remains, watching as they wander past, dragging their feet like they don't want to go to work. He can't blame them, work is never very fun.

He should be getting back to that house now, with all its creaks and moans. However, America sympathises with it a little more now he has been there again, and understands its complaints, but finds some of them to be false. It yearns to be looked at, even though it is not the prettiest house; he thinks it would still prefer to be in the forest. Being scrutinised all the time is painful, like they are searing your soul, and he doesn't want the house in a public place because it's his, and he likes it. He promises to visit it more. He prefers it to the White House.

Somehow he has found his way back to it, and it is just as he left it, hours earlier; the door is still open, except there is a confused person on the doorstep that he recognises as Canada. The only other one to know about this small house in the woods. A small smile graces his face before he walks forward to end Canada's confusion at the empty house; who needs England when he's got his brother to protect? The hero, and older brother, must be strong for others, especially little brothers.

This is one of the first things I wrote, so it's not really polished by any stretch of the imagination. Still, I hope you enjoyed it.