WARNING for the frank discussion of childhood sexual abuse. If you think this might trigger you, please do not read the story.

Intimacy Part VIII

"I want to have sex." The words hung still in the air for several long seconds before Germany responded to them.

After giving an awkward cough, he answered with the only thing he could think to say: simply, "Why?"

Italy seemed at first not to know the answer to the question. "Haven't… haven't you wanted to? I thought you wanted to, didn't you?"

Germany sighed. "That's not an adequate reason. It would be selfish of me to expect you to do something you seem to be so afraid of for no reason other than my wanting to."

"But I told you I wanted to, too! Isn't that enough? Both of us wanting to!" The Italian's eyes were pleading for Germany to pay him heed.

Germany shook his head. "I can't believe you when you say that. I trust your actions more than your words, Veneziano. What put this idea into your head? Your brother?"

The look on Italy's face betrayed that this was the truth. "Romano says that he has sex with Spain, and he's just fine!"

Germany insisted, "You're not Romano."

"We're brothers—"

"That doesn't mean you are capable of doing the same things." Germany realized how patronizing that must have sounded, and added quickly, "I'm not saying that you're any less than he is. I'm only saying that you have different personalities and different responses."

But Italy would not be deterred. "He said it helped! Romano said that doing that helped him, it helped them. If it worked for him and Spain, why shouldn't it work for you and me?"

"Like I just said, you're different."

Italy looked crestfallen. "Is that bad?" He frowned, clearly upset by Germany's words. His voice began to shake. "Shouldn't I be able to do what Romano can do? Why shouldn't I?"

"Why should you have to?" Germany responded determinedly, gently but meaningfully grasping Italy by the shoulders. "Veneziano, I love you. I will continue to do so regardless of whether we…"

"But Romano said it helped!" Italy was insistent, though his voice was still unsteady with emotion. "He said he and Spain are doing better now! And I think we could be doing better now too."

"Better? Better than what?" Germany clearly wanted a concrete answer; something definitive, something quantifiable. He wanted to be able to know for certain whether or not what they did was indeed helping.

His self-assurance growing, Italy's voice had now steadied somewhat. "I don't know, but maybe if we have sex it will help!"

"What will it help? Are you unsatisfied in our relationship?" Germany was careful not to admit to his own frustration with their lack of physical relations. It wasn't that he didn't want to have sex with Italy; far from it. Nevertheless, he was far more worried about hurting his Italian lover than he was about his own wants.

"No! Well, maybe yes? I just feel like things could get better. And maybe if we tried that…" Italy's thoughts seemed to fumble clumsily off his tongue. It was as if he wanted to convince Germany that this was the solution they'd been looking for, but he was frustrated by the fact that he didn't know how, that he couldn't figure out what Germany wanted to hear.

Germany eyed Italy doubtfully. "Are you sure you want to try this? I really don't want to see you upset…"

"Romano said it was okay for me to ask for help!" Italy interjected, as if his brother's permission was more important to him than all Germany's pleas had been. "And I really feel like this could help!"

Finally, the Italian nation was willing to ask for help; that fact alone was comforting to Germany. Even so, while he was glad that Italy sounded so hopeful, he still remained cynical about such a plan. However, he could tell that his partner was not going to let the idea go. "If you really think it would help you to have sex, I suppose we could try. But you have to be prepared to accept it if your plan doesn't work out; realize that it may not."

Italy gave a small frown at that, but he nodded. "Okay. But I really think it will! I want it to."

Germany nodded, conceding that much. "So do I."

Spain was sitting on the couch, Romano laying across it with his head in the other nation's lap. The Italian rolled over onto his back to look up at Spain, asking in a forced-casual tone that didn't betray just how long it had taken him to raise the question, "Do you think our relationship's gotten better?"

Spain blinked, the question seeming unexpected. But once he'd processed it, he responded, "Better since when? We've been pretty good for awhile now, I think." He paused. "Do you mean since we talked about…?"

"No," Romano replied, "do you think it's gotten better… with the sex?" Spain looked down at him quizzically, seemingly about to point out that they had been having sex for a long time now. Realizing that he would have to clarify, Romano began to mumble and his gaze broke away from Spain's eyes, as if he were embarrassed by what he was about to say. "Since the 'making love' stuff."

"Oh!" Spain now realized what Romano meant. "What do you think?" He didn't seem to recognize that he'd failed to answer the question himself.

"Well, I was talking to Veneziano," Romano prefaced, "and I told him that I believe maybe it has." His eyes looked directly into Spain's, questioningly. "I mean, do you think so?"

Spain paused for a moment, then nodded. "Now that I think about it, I agree." One hand reached down to stroke Romano's hair as he continued, "We do communicate better now, and—if I dare to say it—I think you seem happier." Romano's face flushed a light red, and he scowled. But Spain knew better than to believe it. "Well… aren't you?"

Though still blushing, Romano nodded slightly. "I… I do like it better now than before. I like that I can just lie there with you afterwards, you know? More peacefully, without those thoughts intruding…" He swallowed, as if his mind were wading into more difficult waters. "I mean, sometimes they do, but now I can ride it out with you. Instead of having to do it alone." Romano shook slightly, and Spain's hand caressed his cheek.

"I know, I know. And I'm here with you now, too, okay?" he soothed. "I'm glad you can feel that way now. At first I wasn't sure you ever would. But I'm happy to know that you can trust me that much."

Romano nodded again, blinking a few times to clear his eyes. "So anyway," he shifted the topic of conversation away from himself, "I told Vene that we're doing better since then. I don't know if it was a good idea, he still seems terrified of sex—." Here Spain nodded, though he didn't betray the fact that he and Germany had discussed that very topic. He didn't want Romano getting mad at him for giving details of their sex life, even if it was with the intent to help him. "But now he says he wants to try doing it with Germany." Romano sighed, looking up at Spain with uncertainty. "Is what I said a bad idea?" he questioned, shrugging with his hands. "Or do you think I did the right thing?"

For a few seconds, Spain looked thoughtful. Then, he responded, "Who knows, maybe it will work? In any case, I don't think it would hurt him to try. And I'm sure Germany will notice if he needs to stop."

"Good point." Romano heaved a sigh. "I guess it's up to them. I just… want Veneziano to be happy," he admitted finally.

Spain smiled gently. "I'm sure he will be! No matter what happens with those two, I don't think it will be bad. That is, they'll be able to work through it. I'm sure of it." He leaned down to place a kiss on Romano's forehead. "No need to worry about them."

"Who said I was worried?" Romano returned quickly. But the truth of the matter showed on his face, and Spain laughed.

"You did! You said you hope he's happy."

Romano protested, "That's not worrying!" The flustered look on the Italian's face only caused Spain to laugh harder. "Oh, shut up."

"Okay, okay. I won't tease you anymore." Another kiss to Romano's forehead; then, Romano lifted his head and pressed another kiss to Spain's lips.

"Then don't tease me." Romano grinned cheekily, their previous subject matter nearly forgotten.

Spain smiled back, "I won't." He adjusted his position on the couch to a more comfortable one, then wholeheartedly returned Romano's kiss.