Chapter One: Cold Heart, Warm Hands
Russia stared at the bloody table in front of him, his face heating up with embarrassment. This was not the first time this had happened, but that didn't make it less embarrassing. Looking up, he found the other nations around him gawking in mute horror, revulsion clearly set in their features. While it was understandable that they were horrified, the Slav still thought it was rude that they should all stare like they were. It's not like he could help this!
"Good God, man!" Britain sputtered.
"That is just disgusting!" Austria scrunched up his nose disdainfully.
"I'm, like, going to be sick," Poland looked away, covering his mouth.
"…How are you still alive?" Germany inquired, looking truly confused, yet fascinated.
All around the room similar talk was being had between all of the nations standing around. As everyone kept gossiping and looking appalled, Russia took the time to glare at the offending object that didn't seem to know where it belonged. Stupid heart, always falling out of his chest at the most inconvenient times! And to make it worse, it had popped out of his chest and towards the opposite end of the table, as though it had meant to escape his chest forever.
With his pride hurting, Russia tried to push down his flush and tried to remain composed. While this was not the first time his heart had ever popped out like this, it was the first time that it did in such a large gathering. He had thought he'd be safe since he was wearing a thick business suit, but the pesky little thing had gotten through and gotten away from him.
"Please do remain calm," he spoke up. "Give me a moment to put it back into place and—"
"Non!" France cried. "Do not put it back in front of everyone! Take care of this somewhere else. No one wants to see it."
France was just being France of course, but for some reason, even though Russia knew he shouldn't put any real value on the western nation's words, the words stung all the same. Amethyst eyes scanned around the room, and the nation found all different shades of horror on his fellow personification's faces. They all thought he was disgusting. They all thought he was weird. They knew he didn't belong with them. He didn't belong with any of them. He wasn't really European. He wasn't really Asian. He was nothing. He was alone.
As he was about to retrieve his heart and go, Russia suddenly felt his chest constrict, and his heart seemed to be set on fire. He snapped his eyes up to find that someone had picked up his heart, despite all the blood. The hands were warm. The hands were gentle.
The large nation stared at his heart being held in slim, delicate hands tenderly. Someone was cradling his heart. Someone was helping it. The feelings he felt were foreign to him. No one had ever been so kind to his heart, and it felt so weird to have someone be so gentle with it. Not even his own rulers in the past had been so kind.
Looking up, the Slav found himself gazing into bright blue eyes, the color of a clear morning. He nearly gasped when he realized who it was being so careful with his heart. He would have never suspected his greatest rival to be so kind.
America held the heart in her hands, staring at it curiously. Blood dripped down her wrists and through her fingers, but she did not seem to take any notice. When she looked up again, she stared straight into the surprised Russian's eyes. "It's cold," she said.
Russia didn't know how to respond. Of course it was cold. Russia was cold. Personifications had quite a different physiology than humans, so his natural body temperature was colder than most. All northern nations were the same. America, strange girl, could control how her temperature worked since she had her northern states and Alaska, but also had her simpering southern states and Hawaii to make her warmer. She should have guessed that Russia's heart would be primarily cold.
Much like an acolyte or a torch bearer, the young nation carried the heart around the room and marched right over to where Russia stood, who was still a bit stunned at the warmth and gentleness he felt. Once before him, before anyone could object, America held the heart in one hand before unbuttoning Russia's shirt to reveal the gaping hole in his chest. Without ceremony, she placed the heart back within its home and watched with a look of wonderment as the skin instantly weave itself back together and close up the hole, like it had never been there at all.
Those blue eyes widened and sparkled with an odd light. "Weird," she whispered, before smiling up at Russia. The older nation found his blush increasing exponentially.
The two stared at each other for a long moment before Germany could be heard clearing his throat. "Why don't you two go wash your hands?" the German suggested. "We don't want any accidents to occur."
Almost instantly America blinked out of her trance, bringing her arms down and smiled brightly at everyone in the room. "Sounds like a plan!" she laughed, giving a thumbs up, before she walked towards the door, leaving Russia to mourn for the loss of those beautiful eyes.
It took the bigger nation a moment to realize what had been said before he nodded and headed for the door as well. As he walked out into the hallway, he heard Belarus offering to clean up the blood on the table. A shiver ran down his spine. He really hoped she hadn't been saving up to look into that whole cloning program…
He closed the door behind him quickly and scanned the halls for any sign of the American. She was nowhere to be seen. With a sigh, Russia decided that it was probably best for him to just go to the bathroom and try to clean up as much of the blood from himself as he could. He had a feeling that his white shirt was ruined forever, though. Pity. That meant he had to buy a new one.
The bathroom in the hotel they were meeting at was quite large and fancy, like all the hotels the nations stayed at when convening. When he walked in, there was a man washing his hands at the sink. The human turned to look at the new comer for a moment, so Russia smiled back. One sight of the blood on his shirt, however, had the man turning back around, his face pale. As Russia pulled out some paper towels to use to perhaps get a little blood off of his shirt , the human didn't even bother to dry his dripping hands, and instead, ran from the room, his brown eyes wide.
It was kind of sad, actually. That guy was probably going to go out and tell everyone that he saw a murderer in the bathroom. Oh well. It wasn't the first time that Ivan had been caught cleaning blood off his hands in public and it wouldn't be the last.
For several minutes, the Slav worked on trying to salvage his shirt, all the while knowing it was no use. As he scrubbed, however, his heart beat wildly in his chest. His heart still felt very warm from when America had touched it. The thought of those soft hands against his chest from when she had put it back in had the big man blushing as he grumbled to himself about how badly blood really did stain. Stupid America and her stupidly warm hands.
After another minute or so, Ivan gave up and decided that it was no use. There was no way to save this shirt. What was the point? He was just wasting time. Sighing, he grabbed fresh paper towels and whipped his face. He was sweating quite a bit, his heart still hammering away. He wondered if it would recede any time soon. It was not uncommon for his heart to do weird things after it had fallen out and then had been placed back into his chest. It would probably go back to being completely normal in an hour or so. Well, as "normal" as Russia's heart could be.
Taking several deep breaths, and feeling much calmer for it, Ivan looked in the mirror and decided that he was ready to go back to the meeting. Hopefully no one would stare at him and the meeting would continue on as it would have had there not been this annoying interruption. Hopefully the blood was all cleaned off the table and it had been Ukraine that had cleaned it and not Belarus. Ivan loved his little sister dearly, but that didn't mean she didn't freak him the heck out! Normal sibling wouldn't necessarily want to clean up their brother's blood…
Walking from the restroom, Russia began his trek back when he heard a door open behind him. He looked back on a reflex and curse as soon as he saw just who it was. America had come out of the women's restroom, looking just as perky and chipper as she normally did. Strange, considering she had not only witnessed someone's heart leap out of its owner's chest, but had placed said heart back into their chest. She was a very strange girl.
Unfortunately, she saw Russia look back, and smiled at the larger nation. She jogged up next to him, smiling all the while. "You okay there, Big Guy?"
"Da, fine," he nodded curtly, averting his eyes as his cheeks lit up again, his heart pounding.
"You sure? Because I've never seen something that crazy before!" she exclaimed, not taking the hint that Ivan didn't want to talk to her.
"Fine," he said more firmly.
"Glad to hear it!" she laughed, smacking him on the back, making the Russian fear that his heart might fall out a second time. "That was a pretty neat trick, though. How long can it stay out like that?"
Ivan groaned. He didn't want to have to explain all of this, especially to America.
"That's cool! When it first happened," she went on chatting mindlessly. "It freaked me out!" she exclaimed dramatically. "I was like, 'Holy crap, holy crap, holy crap! Is he gunna fall over? Is he okay?' And then you were all like, 'Please remain calm,'" she pitched her voice lower in an attempt to sound like a man, and even added in her version of a Russian accent, which left the larger nation cringing. "Seriously the freakiest thing I've ever seen!" Russia blushed in embarrassment. "It was awesome!"
"'Awesome'?" Ivan stopped, spinning around to glare down at the annoying girl at his side. "You call a heart jumping out of a chest 'awesome'? Nyet! It's unnatural! It's unnatural and disgusting! Why would you ever find it 'awesome'?" he growled, getting the very great feeling he was being mocked by his once greatest rival.
For her part, America looked stunned, like she had honestly not expected the scolding from the bigger nation. For just a moment, it looked as though she might actually step back and run away, but that was not America. Instead, the girl frowned, those once shining blue eyes regrettably clouded over in anger as she glared up at the Slav, her jaw set stubbornly. "Sorry you're in such a bad mood," she muttered. "I didn't realize that lack of heart beat activity and oxygen made a guy default into a major PMS-ing bitch."
Before Russia could respond to the barb, America pushed past him and walked back into the conference room with her head held high and her back stiff with hurt pride. It was only then that Ivan realized that perhaps America had been serious before. Perhaps she did find his ability to continue living without his heart, it just leaping from his chest spontaneously, interesting. Perhaps she truly found it 'cool.'
Sighing, Ivan shook his head. Women were difficult creatures to understand, and America was ten times worse because she was America. The North American nation was so strange in her likings and her fears. One minute she was afraid of witches, the next she was screaming like any other fan-girl in line for the next Harry Potter movie. America was a redundancy wrapped with oxymorons and hypocritical thinking all in one. Her culture seemed to change so quickly it gave onlookers whiplash. It was no wonder that Britain had given up on her long ago, she was hopelessly ridiculous.
Walking back into the room proved to be as uncomfortable as Russia had imagined it would be. Everyone initially stared at him before most of them averted their eyes fearfully. Germany was one that watched him like a scientist would watch his test tubes and beakers, Lithuania and Ukraine looked worried, and Belarus looked pleased as she held on to a handkerchief of hers soaked in what Ivan presumed was his blood. He cringed, realizing that he was going to have to get that away from her somehow.
Unconsciously, his eyes went to America. The girl was sitting by Britain and that one fellow that always seemed to show up at meetings half the time that looked vaguely similar to America. She seemed perturbed and didn't look at him as he took his seat. That was okay, Russia didn't want her to look at him. He didn't want to see stormy blue eyes. For some reason, his heart ached at the thought.
And with as little awkwardness as possible, Germany began the meeting again, jumping straight in to where they had left off previously, before all the heart business had started. While Russia didn't always like Germany, he at least appreciated the blonde nation's work ethic and dedication to make everything run as smoothly and efficiently as possible. Because of this, Russia's embarrassment was cut in half and everyone was forced back into the meeting, made to forget Russia and his heart for the time being.
Settling back into his place, getting out his pen, Ivan began taking notes, and focusing all of his attention on the words being said, wishing that the day would just be over and that his heart didn't feel so warm.
That night, after the meeting, the nations all went to eat dinner in the hotel that they were all staying at in Stockholm, Sweden. It was chilly outside, though not terrible, but many of the nations didn't feel like leaving to go venture out that night, and it was decided that they'd all be dinning in. Normally, Russia didn't mind sticking around the hotel, but tonight he didn't exactly want to be in the company of anyone.
But he knew he would have to sit down with everyone, like he always did. Grin and bear it, that was his motto. Plastering on his trademark smile, Ivan sat down at the first table that he could, that just so happened to be as far away from Belarus as possible. He had no desire to be anywhere near his little sister at the moment since she had gotten a sniff of his blood. It was only when he looked up to see where he had landed that Russia regretted his hasty decision.
Without meaning to, the Slav found himself sitting at a table with Britain, France, Spain, Germany, Italy, Japan, Canada, Austria, and Hungary. Normally Russia didn't mind Germany much, even after their intense rivalry and hatred for one another during World War II, or Austria, despite all their little spats in the past, or even Italy, who Ivan could usually scare into submission, but he very truly and dearly did not like the others. He and Japan never did like one another, and Hungary could be quite annoying, and still held a grudge against him for the whole 1950s repression thing. Russia could never quite get over his grudge against Britain and how nosey he was. France was a nuisance and so was Spain by extension of association to the other. It was just a good thing that Germany hadn't brought that Prussian along, or the "Bad Touch Trio" would definitely annoy Russia. Canada…well, Russia was pretty indifferent to him.
The other occupants at the table seemed a little surprised by Russia's presence, but once Germany and Austria nodded to him, everyone else seemed to get over their shock and go back to whatever conversations they had been having before he had arrived. Ivan ignored them for the most part and looked down at his menu, trying to decide on what to order for the evening that would go good with vodka. He hadn't had a drink all day, and he desperately needed one, especially after his little episode earlier that afternoon.
But as he was perusing the menu, Ivan couldn't help but catch a rather interesting conversation between Britain and France. "You really ought to get her involved with someone," France went on. "It isn't good for a girl like her to be so…mannish," there was a frown in France's voice.
"I know, I've tried everything I can think of to make her into a lady, but America simply refuses to listen to anything that I say," Britain lamented. "Though I'm not sure a man would help anything," he bristled.
"Nonsense!" the Frenchman dismissed. "America is getting to be about that age where she should start caring about what men think of her."
"She's a Superpower, she already cares about what other people think," Britain growled.
"No, no, I think Francis means that America should be getting to that point in life where all young women come to care about how other hombres think of her," Spain chimed. "As in, she should start thinking more romantically."
"Oui," France nodded vigorously. "When a woman has a potential man lined up, she become more self-conscience. That could be good for our little L'Amérique, don't you think?"
"Sí! She might not act so masculine then," Spain smiled brightly.
"I don't think that will work."
Everyone at the table, except Russia, jumped at the sound of the quiet voice. While Russia had a hard time remembering the boy's name, he always did see Canada around. It was strange, though, that no one else seemed to be able to see the North American nation. Ivan couldn't help but think it would be quite inconvenient to never be seen.
"Bloody hell, Canada," Britain placed his hand over his heart. "I didn't see you there, my boy. When did you get here?"
Canada rolled his eyes, ignoring the question. "If you think Amelia's going to change just because she's dating someone, have fun believing that," he went on sassily. "She won't change for anyone."
"Good for her," Germany said, looking annoyed with the conversation, but somewhat relieved to finally find an opening to close it. "She shouldn't have to change. Now, what do you—"
"Hold on there," Hungary interrupted. A pained expression crossed Austria's face. "Just because America might not change for a man, doesn't mean she doesn't deserve one. I think it'd still be a good idea to have someone date her. Poor dear's never had any fun and dated someone before."
"You know what a prude little puritan America is," France rolled his eyes, though Russia detected a frightening mischievous spark in his eyes. "She's so stuck in her past with these types of things. I'm surprised she can sit and watch a movie with a couple kissing."
"She usually gets up to make food during those scenes," Canada said, though Russia was pretty sure he was the only one that heard that.
"Well then, I think it's about time she's gone on a date," Hungary said confidently. "Why don't we see if we can't set someone up with her?"
Russia put down the menu he was looking at, intrigued with the events going on. Normally he was not one that was into gossip or matchmaking, but anything that involved America and could possible end up causing humiliation interested him. He had discovered years ago now that he loved making America blush, he loved seeing her flustered and embarrassed. This proposition of setting her up with someone could be an opportunity for him to see his old rival squirm yet again without the consequences of nuclear war this time. This could be a tremendous amount of fun.
"What makes you think you have the right to set her up with anyone?" Austria butted in, frowning at his ex-wife. "America's been quite happy all these years without having someone else around."
"That's only because she doesn't know what she's missing," the woman dismissed hastily.
"Love is the most special gift of all!" Italy piped, his own romantic sensibilities flaring up. "We should share it with everyone, right Germany?"
The Germanic nation blushed, looking away, muttering a, "I don't know what you mean by that."
While Italy had not been commenting on anything specific related to his friend, and had only looked to the blonde for reinforcement, Spain and France found a meaning behind it, and smirked at one another. "So how is dear Prusse anyway, Allemagne?" the Frenchman raised his eyebrow suggestively.
"I really don't know what she has to do with this," Germany's face looked as though it might explode it was so red. Russia found it hilarious, especially when the blonde glared daggers at his Italian friend.
"But I don't really think America is the dating type," Britain interrupted, saving Germany in the process. "I don't like the idea of—"
"Oh, stop being a spoilsport, Angleterre," France purred. "You might like to think you're her father, but you're not. You're not even related. So why not play this little game of Hungary's?"
France was good. Russia wondered if anyone else caught the long haired blonde's manipulative trick, suddenly giving credit to Hungary for his original plot. Of course Hungary didn't seem about to fight with the other devious nation, and so the plan seemed safe from any British attacks. Ivan hoped it was.
"What's the harm in trying to help make America happy?" Hungary smiled at Britain with wide green eyes. "Okay, let's make this plan official. All we have to do is figure out who would be the best match for America. Canada? Oh! There you are! What sort of men does your sister like?"
The other North American nation frowned, looking highly uncomfortable with everyone staring at him for once. "I-I don't know," he shrugged.
"Oh, come now, Matthieu, surely you two have talked about romance," France pushed.
"No! No we haven't," the boy shook his head. "Amelia and I…well, we just don't talk about that sort of stuff."
"Honestly, for a country that produces so many smutty movies and has such a high teen pregnancy rate, you'd think America wouldn't be like this," Austria muttered.
"I know her people are a little…well, loud and getting to be risqué, but Amelia isn't like that," Canada defended. "She is still personally very conservative in most respects."
Yes, Ivan knew that already, but he was surprised to see that Britain and France, two nations that claimed to be America's own family, did not. Russia knew just about everything about his sisters, had made it a priority in his life, just as he made sure to know most things about everyone in case he needed the information later in life. During the Cold War, he and America had gotten to know each other quite a bit from all their fighting and spying and rivalry.
"And to respect her wishes of privacy and conservatism," Germany spoke up, "I believe that we should leave her be."
"I think we, all of us here at this table, should make a pact," Hungary spoke over the poor German. "We try and find out what sort of men she likes and hook her up with them, while also keeping in mind traits that we believe would best suit her."
"This is ridiculous, Elizabéta," Austria growled. "Will you stop making such a fool of yourself?"
"I'm not being foolish!" the woman snapped.
"Ve, I think we should let America date all different kinds of men!" Italy smiled brightly. "Maybe then she'll know what type she likes the best."
"That's not a bad idea, Italy!" Hungary beamed at the man she had always had fun dressing up as a little girl.
"This is absurd," Germany growled. "Why must you all feel the need to do this? Japan, please, help me talk some sense into these people," the blonde pleaded.
Like Russia, Japan had refrained from speaking throughout the entire exchange. The Asian nation stared at his old ally, looking ever so slightly uncomfortable. Ivan could guess what the small man had to say. "I do not think it is a…harmful endeavor," the island nation said slowly.
Hungary's face light up. Germany's fell. "You can't be serious," the German asked, his voice was flat.
"It is true that America-san has not had any experience with anyone before, and it's true that it could be beneficial to her to—" Japan began.
"You just want a new anime storyline, don't you?" Germany deadpanned.
"All right!" Hungary beamed at the men around the table as Japan looked away, flustered. "Then it's decided. Every man at this table, excluding Canada and Austria," she glared at her brunette as if to reiterate the point that he was to stay out of what she was preparing, "will be on standby and act as a potential suitor for America."
"There is no way I am being a part of this," Germany scowled.
"But Germania, you could end up being America's true love!" Italy exclaimed, looking horrified at the thought of his best friend potentially missing out on what could be the greatest experience of his life.
The large blonde European stared at the small Italian before he stood up and walked away. "Wait!" Italy called.
"Don't worry about him, mon petit," France purred. "We'll get him when the time comes."
"Good," Hungary smiled. "All right, besides Germany—who will be doing this whether he likes it or not— is everyone in on this?"
Everyone left looked to Britain— as they forgot about Canada again, and wouldn't have listened to his option on this matter to begin with— to see what the once great empire would have to say about this. While it was true that technically speaking, America wasn't really anything to him, England still cared very much for the girl he had raised. To everyone at the table, he was what would end up making or breaking this arrangement.
At last, the green-eyed man sighed. "Fine. Maybe this will teach her some valuable lessons. But!" he growled, glaring very sternly in the direction of France, Spain, and Italy. Especially France. "If anyone hurts her, they'll have to answer to me. I don't want this to traumatize the poor girl. And any and all date ideas must be approved by me."
"And me!" Hungary piped up. "Austria, Canada, and I will be the judges of where America goes on her dates as impartial observers. The rest of you are candidates, so you'll have other stuff to worry about. So let's all of us make a pact right here."
All the men at the table looked around at one another, each sizing up their competition. Russia felt suddenly very out of place. He had not originally sat here to get a chance at dating America, he had sat here because he didn't want to sit with his little sister, especially since she was more than likely hyper since she got a handkerchief full of his blood. But despite all his misgivings, Ivan could not deny his curiosity in this competition. Even if America decided to date one of the others—which he desperately hoped was the case as he certainly didn't want to date her!—he still wanted to know what would happen on all the other dates. This could be a very fun time for him to watch all these men make fools of themselves, because if he knew America, and he did, she would more than likely not fall for any of them. They all lacked something that would keep the girl's attention on them for very long. None of them seemed to meet the American's standards…well, Germany just might, but from what Ivan had heard tonight, and from his own past experiences, Germany would not be interested in America. His tastes were in…fairer flesh.
Smiling his typical smile, Ivan nodded along with all the other men around the table, showing his own willingness to participate. Japan was glaring at him, but Russia paid no mind. Japan was always glaring at him. Russia just thought it was funny that Japan really seemed to want to be in this silly competition and win America's affections. Oh yes, he could see through the Asian nation's mask, he knew what the island nation wanted. It really made the large nation want to laugh. How pathetic.
Hungary swiftly made plans with everyone. It was agreed that Austria, Hungary, and Canada—against the men's wills—would be the information seekers. They would be the ones in charge of doing research on America and find out what she found attractive in men. Each man, then, would have a turn taking America out on a date. If America didn't seem to respond or like one, then he would be replaced by the next one standing in line. If America did end up liking someone and began dating them, then the competition was over, even if there were others that didn't get a chance. During the date, however, the other candidates, and the research team, would be watching, basically spying on the date to see how they could improve the next one. It was foolproof, and something Russia very much wanted to be a part of. Oh, how much fun it would be!
The dinner came to a close, as did the planning for the secret operation. Italy had gotten Germany to come back, and while the blonde was not told that he would be a participant, he at least promised not to tell America directly what the others were planning. That seemed good enough for everyone else, except Austria and Canada who everyone ignored.
And so, that night, Russia got ready for bed in a very good mood despite his white shirt being covered in blood. He could always get a new shirt. He was just so excited about this plan! He couldn't wait to see how America would act with all of the romantic fools! The girl was so dense she probably wouldn't even notice most of them were interest in her at all. It would certainly be a laugh!
Crawling into bed, the Russian turned out the light, and smile to himself. As he began to doze off, his heart beating steadily in his chest, and he couldn't help but feel warm all over. Just before he fell into slumber, he imagined warm hands tenderly holding his heart.
Author's Note: …because I felt like writing something ridiculous and sweet (for once) involving Russia and America…and everyone else. XD I just had this random idea the other night and decided that I had to write it out, and after my good friend DA4TheFunOfIt looked it over, she said that it was good enough to post, so here it is! Thanks a lot DA! You're awesome!
My stories usually have historical bits that seep into the storyline, and this one is no different. Most of you, if you follow Hetalia, should know most of it that's in here, but one you might not remember is in 1956 Hungary rebelled against the Soviet Union, which resulted in Russian troops occupying Hungary for a short while after Khrushchev decided he wanted to be more lenient than Stalin and word leaked out (thanks to American spies). You really ought to know the rest, but in case you don't and you have questions, feel free to ask me. ^^
And so, thanks everyone for reading! Please drop me a review on your way out, if you'd be so kind! I'd really appreciate it!