You are invited to America's Annual


Find the ugliest fucking sweater you own and join us

for fun, food, and festivities!

The party starts at 7 o'clock in the evening on

December 24th, 2011 at my place in New York City.

Free drinks and refreshments will be served!

RSVP: (212) 555-1776

England flipped the card over again in his hand.

Every year, England received an invitation to America's over-the-top Christmas party. Every year the party was loud, crowded, and ridiculously cheesy, and yet, every year, England found himself amongst the bright lights and festive music.

It wasn't that England was a Grinch, regardless of what others might say. He simply preferred a quiet, relaxing Christmas Eve by the fire with a mug of hot cocoa and a good book to a rowdy, outlandish party – as any sane person would. But still, every time he received an invitation, England would end up going to America's party despite knowing he'd enjoy himself more if he stayed home.

Not that the host of said party had anything to do with this annual lapse in good judgment, of course. England most certainly didn't go to parties because America invited him, or because America would be there, or because at this time of year, England's usual self-imposed isolation began to feel more like loneliness and less like a wonderful blessing. He only went because it would be bloody rude of him not to being one of the most important nations in the world, of course, and because someone with a bit of sense had to supervise what went on. The one year England had showed up late, he'd found Prussia and Denmark both completely ratted and trying to write things on America's snow-covered front yard... with their piss. That hadn't been a fun thing to explain to America's traumatized civilian neighbors or to the police. And all America had done was tell Prussia and Denmark to go to the backyard if they wanted to do such things. Honestly.

This year, though, things were going to be different. England straightened up his sweater-vest and patted some more water onto his hair to try taming it a bit more. This year, England had a plan.

It had all started with April Fool's when France, that buggering knobhead, had decided to blackmail everyone into embarrassing outfits of his choosing and England had ended up in a very short nurse's dress. And while England might have been just a tiny bit distracted by what America had been wearing – or not wearing, as it were – there had been a few times when he thought he saw America glancing rather appreciatively at England's distinct lack of trousers. And then Halloween had happened and England was a lot more sure that America had had his eyes more than just a bit south of England's face after he'd coerced England into that Robin outfit. That, and England's outfit had been in a matching pair with America's own Batman. It was all but declaring America's possible interest in England as maybe more than just their ambiguous "not simply friends but not yet something deeper" kind of relationship they'd been dancing around since World War II.

The point was, England thought he might actually have a real chance this time, and ever since he'd received that florescent Christmas invitation in the post, England had been concocting an idea. An awful idea. England had a wonderful, awful idea. And that was – mistletoe.

It was possibly a bit contrived, but classics worked especially at this time of year when it seemed like every other person on the planet was gooey with holiday cheer, and all televisions played were Christmas specials waxing poetic about Christmas miracles. And if England stuck mistletoe under every single door frame and window frame, and then waited in a strategic area for long enough, America, with his obsessive love of holiday traditions, would very likely have to take the bait at some point or other and kiss England.

True, there was the chance of other nations crossing into his territory, but that was a chance he was willing to take. Besides, hopefully there would be enough of the little plants around that he could hop back and forth between them, heightening his chance of catching America and minimizing his chance with someone else.

All England wanted was one kiss from America. He didn't need confessions of never-ending love or diamond rings or helicopter entrances – all he wanted was one simple little kiss from America.

England took a deep breath, straightening his tie and checking himself over once more in the mirror – peacoat, sweater-vest, slacks – yes, he looked perfect for the occasion. After one last attempt at taming his hair, he picked up the satchel of mistletoe he'd prepared and slung it over his shoulder.

What England wanted, he got.

Christmas was America's favorite holiday of the year aside from his birthday, but that was his birthday so it didn't count. Every year, he had huge celebrations that nearly all the other nations who celebrated Christmas would come to attend even if a lot of them arrived late or already half-drunk from partying at their own houses – America was never sure if this was a blessing or a curse that his time zone was one of the latest. This year, he was opening up the huge penthouse he had in Manhattan that had a great view of New York City – dazzling at this time of year with all the snow and the lights and the decorations and all, if America did say so himself. And to make it extra fun, it was going to be an ugly sweater party.

He'd stayed at his penthouse for a week in advance to put up all the decorations and make sure there was tons of food, but even then, there were still cookies to be frosted, and a dance floor that had to be marked out, and sound system to be rigged, and everything.

Luckily, Lithuania had thought of all that and he'd brought Poland along with him early in the morning the day of the party to help America set things up. Lithuania was probably the best helper ever. Poland, on the other hand, seemed to be undoing half the progress Lithuania managed to make.

"Wait! Be careful with that!"

America turned just in time to see Lithuania yelp as one of America's red ornaments came crashing down from the tree where it shattered to pieces.

"What? Those are like totally ugly, you know?" Poland said, standing halfway up a step-ladder. He seemed to be in the process of replacing all of America's festive red and white with pink.

"Poland, you can't just go breaking other's peoples things just because you don't like them," Lithuania sighed. "I'm so sorry, America, your ornament..." he said, looking far more morose than one ornament should really call for.

"It's okay. I've got more in the stuff I brought over from my storage closet," America said. It was a good thing too, because this happened just about every year. Inevitably someone at some point during the night would end up drunk and trying to climb the Christmas tree, breaking half of America's ornaments no matter how many other people told them it was a bad idea. Unfortunately, America had remembered this a bit late and ended up stuffing whatever random red and white things he could find from his storage closet back at his main house into boxes – there were ornaments somewhere in the mess. America hadn't had time to sort through it all yet but then, he hadn't been expecting Poland to alreadybe breaking things.

"I'll get them right away," Lithuania said, grabbing Poland and dragging him off to the other end of the penthouse to find the ornaments. "Pink isn't a Christmas color," America heard Lithuania saying as they left.

"It's like mixing red and white, obviously, Liet," Poland said.

America shook his head with a chuckle. Those guys were hilarious. A nuisance sometimes, but hilarious. Stepping back away from the masterpiece that was his chimney flue, he tilted his head to the side to make sure all the stockings were placed exactly the same distance apart. He was just about to grab his tape-measure (you can never be too precise when it comes to Christmas!) when a loud buzzing echoed though the room. Someone was at the door.

"Merry Christmas!" he said, pressing the call back button. "This is party central, America speaking!"

He was answered by an unamused groan. "Just let me up, you git. It's bloody freezing out here."

America grinned. England had a habit of showing up at America's house either way too early or completely at random, and America was passed the point of letting it phase him. "England! What a surprise! You know the party doesn't start 'till seven, right bro?"

There was a brief pause at the end of the speaker, where America imagined England either checking his watch or adjusting his scarf, and then it crinkled back to life. "I know that," England said with a huff. "But someone needs to make sure you aren't going to cause a blackout with all the power you're using. I can see your living room from down here, you know. You look like a sodding lighthouse."

"Lithuania and Poland are here," America said. "So it's not like I'm completely unsupervised."

"All the more reason for you to let me up, then," England replied. "Lithuania is obviously outnumbered by idiots."

In the end, England was buzzed in on the condition that he leave anything questionably edible he had on his person at door outside, but of course, this was ignored as America was greeted with a plate of what he could only assume was coal when he opened the door to his flat.

"You know, I don't think Santa is going to like you re-gifting his gift to you, dude," America said as he closed the door behind him.

England rolled his eyes. "Just tell me where to put these, you tosser."

America sighed but pointed England to the big dining table he'd set up for the food and watched England put the plate of charcoal next to a basket of pink cookies courtesy of Poland. Along with the plate of burnt baking, England had also dragged in a sizable bag which America really hoped didn't contain more food because one plate of charcoal was bad enough to have to eat. At any one of these events, the duty of eating England's so-called cooking was always left up to America because if no one ate England's food, he'd go into sulks that inevitably ended in the destruction of some valuable property or other and/or a lot of drunken sobbing, and America was 1.) the only one who could stomach England's food without becoming violently ill, and 2.) the one that England usually drunkenly sobbed on. Still, America wasn't sure even he could stomach a bag of food the size of a baby elephant even for the mental peace and well being of everyone involved.

"What's in there?" America asked cautiously, nudging the bag with his foot.

"Stop that," England said, smacking America's knee aside to open the plastic bag. "I-I-It's mistletoe!" he ended in a squeak and went red. "I mean, it's only that I'm sure you forgot about this tradition, and I thought since you're having the party at your penthouse this year, you would need some help decorating and... and–"

"That is a lot of mistletoe," America said, raising an eyebrow when he saw that literally the entire bag was stuffed full of the plant. "Just what do you need that much for?"

Just then, Lithuania and Poland reappeared, carrying a huge cardboard box labeled "X-MAS Decs." Poland was complaining continuously about how heavy the box was and just what sort of ornaments weighed this much.

"Like, that's a lot of mistletoe," Poland said as they shuffled past England, holding the box between them, though it was obvious Lithuania was bearing most of the weight.

"It's traditional," England snapped and glared at Poland who didn't seem to notice, letting go of the box as soon as they got close enough to the tree.

Lithuania barely leaped out of the way in time to avoid having his foot flattened, giving Poland an exasperated look.

"Omigod, wait! You like, totally want to get kissed," Poland said cheerfully as he opened up the box of ornaments.

"Wait, what? There's someone you want to kiss?" America asked, turning to stare at England who went an even deeper shade of red.

"Of course I don't! It's festive!" he shouted and then stomped past America into the living room, dragging his massive bag of mistletoe behind him.

America shook his head, watching as England unearthed a roll of red ribbon and a pair of scissors and got to work. There was a reason mistletoe was one holiday tradition America left out of his parties. Everyone knew how the Europeans got when they had a lot of alcohol even when there wasn't an excuse to go around kissing unsuspecting victims, but of course England would ruin all of America's careful planning. In any case, the one England wanted a kiss from had better be America. Not that England was going to be getting it – America had plans for England. Plans that did not involve an ugly sweater Christmas party and a poisonous plant. In any case, he was going to have to keep a close eye on England tonight to make sure he wasn't getting any unnecessary action.

"America, like, half these things are totally not even ornaments," Poland said as he dug through the box. "Like, what is this?" he asked, holding up a red and white hockey stick that America was pretty sure Canada had given him a decade or so back.

"Oh, there's probably some other stuff stuck in there. I didn't have time to sort it – I just threw in whatever looked about right," America said. "Need help?"

"We can handle it," Lithuania said as Poland pulled a sombrero out of the box. "Don't you still have to go pick up the eggs for the eggnog?" he said.

Lithuania was seriously the best guy ever to help out decorating. "Oh yeah! Thanks, dude, I'll go get that— and try to make sure England doesn't go too overboard," America added as he ran back down the hall to find his coat and keys.

Regardless of his warnings, by the time he'd gotten back, England had managed to cover half the surface of America's living room in mistletoe and Poland had decked out the other half in pink. With those two in charge of decorating, this was going to be one heck of a party, America thought, and between convincing England to at least try spreading out the mistletoe a bit and distracting Poland with more cookies to frost, the afternoon flew by. Before America knew it, it was seven o'clock and the more punctual nations started to arrive in the most hilarious ugly sweaters ever.

The first thing to tip England off that he was horribly out of the loop was when Austria showed up in a bright purple and pink jumper covered in music notes, rainbows, and pianos. Sure, he had noticed the less than fashionable apparel, but considering the group of people prior to Austria's arrival had consisted of America who was in a jumper that was actually flashing with tiny, red and green lights, pretty in pink Poland, most-likely-bullied-into-looking-ridiculous Lithuania, flamboyant little Italy who was only on time because Germany forced him to be, and Germany who had done so obviously at the cost of his dignity because he and Italy were in matching jumpers decorated with a variety of hideous noddles.

So it was when Austria and Hungary arrived – Hungary her usual bubbly self in a red and baggy affair with the words "HO HO HO" printed across her chest in white – and Austria looking even more miserable and apathetic than usual, that England finally decided to ask questions.

"Oi, America!" England said, pushing past Poland to confront the younger nation who looked up from his case of CD's and blinked owlishly at England's scowl. "Why does it look like everyone got dressed in the dark before coming over here?"

"What?" America asked, scanning the small group of guests. "What are you talking about?"

England pursed his lips. America might not have been the most observant guy in the world, but even he couldn't deny that the other nations looked absurd. "Lithuania looks like he was run over by a van filled with overenthusiastic Christmas elves," he replied, deadpan. "And don't even get me started on Austria. That man goes to sleep wearing a cravat. He should not be wearing that."

America, if anything, just looked more confused. "Uh, yes he should. That's kind of the point of an ugly sweater party."

"What?" England said.

"The ugly sweater party. On the invitation. Remember? Everyone's supposed to come in ugly sweaters?" America said very slowly as though England was the mentally challenged one here.

"What?" England repeated.

"I thought you knew. Isn't that why you're wearing that?" America made a vague gesture toward the sweater-vest England was wearing. It was a very nice, classic plaid that England privately thought made him look rather dashing.

"What ugly sweater— jumper, you mean?" England realized what America was talking about. And albeit, England hadn't been paying very close attention to the details of the party – only that there was one, it was at America's NYC penthouse, and it was going to be the location for England's mistletoe plan. "You've butchered the Queen's English even worse than usual— and wait! My clothes are not ugly, you twat!"

America grinned at him, utterly unabashed. "If you say so," he said and popped a random CD into his player, straightening up as cheery Christmas music began playing through the entire suite. "Well, come on," he said.

"Where are we going?" England asked, confused, as he followed America past the front door where even more nations were piling in – all in increasingly hideous jumpers.

"To get you an ugly sweater since you insist yours isn't," America said and lead England into a quieter part of the penthouse.

For the record, America had what was probably the biggest penthouse in the entire world. It covered the entire top floor of a 50-story building and while England had been over a couple dozen times over the years, he still didn't think he'd seen every room of this obnoxiously extravagant flat. Even the bushels of mistletoe that England had brought only covered the half a dozen rooms that the party would actually be held in (though those rooms were very covered indeed). America had apparently had enough time to rig up random wreaths and strings of popcorn and paper snowflakes and festive lights all over the rest of the penthouse too though because even the completely unoccupied rooms here had some sort of Christmas decoration up.

They'd walked through two dimmed rooms and down a hallway when America stopped in front of a set of double doors and opened them, revealing one of America's bedrooms which were always immediately recognizable by the patriotic bedspread – in this case, the hugest head of an eagle England had ever seen printed on sheets that were covered in little wreaths.

"How on earth did you find bedding that's this disgustingly patriotic and hideously festive at the same time?" England said, a bit appalled at America's lack of good taste.

"Because I got skills," America laughed. "The two best things in the world combined is doubly awesome," he said cheerfully as he threw open his closet and rummaged inside. "Here you go, it's probably kind of big but whatever," he said and tossed England a jumper.

"That's the ugliest sweater I own," America said proudly.

England looked down and found himself staring at a black sweater patterned with red unicorns and little, green tea cups. He blinked. It wasn't nearly as hideous as he'd expected. "Well now, I think this is rather charming. In fact, it almost looks like—" He froze, realization finally sinking in.

England was a gentleman of refined taste who embroidered and sewed and knitted because those were the refined hobbies of gentlemanly people. He did do quite an awful lot of it in his free time, and well, America was always complaining about the cold in the winters, so England usually made him something for Christmas (since America refused to acknowledge Boxing Day) only so America wouldn't catch a cold and drag everyone's economy down with him, of course. And England remembered quite distinctly knitting America a sweater with this very pattern on it a few years ago.

"YOU GIT!" England shouted, tossing the jumper back in America's face. "I made this for you, you bloody idiot!"

America untangled himself from the jumper, seemingly unaffected by the attack. "Exactly," he said and grinned, holding the jumper out for England.

England balled his hands into fists at his side. "I can't believe you! I worked hard on that and you've just tossed it to the back of your closet!" He yanked it back out of America's hands and clutched it close to his chest. "And it is not ugly!"

America chuckled. "Uh, yeah. It kinda is." He tilted his head sideways, giving the positively fuming England a scrutinizing once-over. "It does suit you though."

"Because it's ugly?" England said, aghast. America laughed at that and England growled at him. If America only wanted him to wear that (perfectly lovely) jumper just to make fun of him, no thanks. He knew of a couple of bottles of perfectly good rum downstairs that wouldn't laugh at him and would be much better company.

"Because it's got unicorns and tea cups on it," America said and grinned even wider. "C'mon, put it on!"

"No, thank you."


"Whining isn't going to help, brat."

America sighed, running a hand through his hair. "C'mon England, it's a themed party! You gotta wear it— it's tradition."

England inwardly cursed. He just had to bring up the tradition thing, didn't he? The little sneak. If England didn't know any better, he would think America had finally developed those super powers he was always going on about and was reading his mind as they spoke. After all, if England didn't play up his passion for holiday traditions, there was no way America would take him seriously under that mistletoe. He glared at the offending article of clothing.

"Fine. But only because it's a lovely jumper."

America whooped in excitement, practically stuffing England into the jumper and leaping back to check over the damage. He beamed. "Dude, it looks great!"

"Because it's a very fashionable jumper, you arse," England snapped and began rolling it up at the sleeves. It was a bit too big for him because America was a fat, ridiculous idiot who didn't appreciate nice, homemade gifts, and since England made wonderful, thoughtful gifts, he'd obviously knitted the jumper for America's size. It hung halfway down England's thighs, but on the other hand, it was really very warm and comfortable – all due to England's skill and talent, of course. Despite America claiming to have never put it on before, the wool was looser and more worn than a brand new jumper ought to be, and in one of the sleeves, England found a small hole right by the cuff that would be exactly where America's thumb would fit. The entire jumper smelled of cinnamon the way America's entire house did at the moment, but also of the cologne America sometimes wore, and England suddenly found himself a lot warmer and cosier than before.

"Yeah, whatever. Let's go back," America said, beaming at England, his eyes lingering a bit where the sweater just covered England's arse. That seemed to be promising and it made England cheer up enough to forgo the malevolent thoughts for now, and follow America back through the maze of hallways and rooms to the center of the party.

Which was when they discovered England's mistletoe had completely backfired.

In hindsight, England probably should have seen this debacle coming. In his and America's absence, a plethora of other nations had arrived, found the alcohol, and noticed the mistletoe.

Needless to say, thanks to France, they were roughly two minutes away from a file cabinet full of sexual harassment lawsuits and approximately $30,000 in legal fees. Someone, probably Japan, made a sound argument in removing a large fraction of the mistletoe and after a unanimous vote (except for France of course – he simply pouted), a small group was assembled to take a fair amount of the little plants down.

Though it was a battle lost, England had yet to lose the war. There were at least two dozen mistletoe still active which was more than enough for him to carry out his plan. All he had to do was get to phase two: get America physically under the damn things and make sure the idiot didn't run away or do something else equally stupid.

It was as he was absentmindedly brushing his fingers over the twinkling, silver tinsel covering the huge, overbearing, Christmas tree America had somehow managed to get to the top floor of the complex, and wondering just how to corner America under mistletoe, that France decided it was time to make his life miserable.

There were some traditions England could really have done without this year.

"Bonjour, mon ami!" the frog sang, draping his slimy arm around England's shoulders. England did a quick check to make sure they weren't under a mistletoe. Thank goodness for small mercies.

"What do you want?" he snapped.

"Oh, not a thing. What kind of Noël would it be without spending time with mon petite Angleterre?"

"A perfectly jolly one?" England paused. "And what the hell are you wearing?"

France grinned. "Don't you love it?" he asked, holding his arms out wide.

"No," England said bluntly.

"Oh really, I thought you of all people would," France said, looking pointedly at England's jumper.

"Just what is that supposed to mean!" England shouted, ready to beat France into next year. And then he'd beat up America too.

"Well, it is not exactly my idea of fashion, but sacrifices must be made," France said with an exaggerated sigh. "All the mistletoe this year does seem to be fair payment enough for the assault on my beautiful eyes though."

England was unamused and took it out on France's hideous choice of clothing. "Do I even want to know why there is a gigantic 'F' on your jumper?" he said.

"Ah!" France said, pointing out to the crowd with flourish. "We are a matching set. See?"

England squinted out into the mess of people mingling around the living room. Almost all the guests had arrived at this point, which meant that even though America's pent house was bloody ginormous, it was still difficult to pick a single person out of the crowd. With a bit of searching, England found exactly who he was looking for – Spain and Prussia.

"B and T? FBT? What, exactly, is that?"

"BFT," France corrected. "And if you have to ask, you will never know."

England decided he most definitely didn't want to know and was eternally grateful when France rushed off, apparently having spotted an unguarded Ukraine under one of the mistletoe across the room. Thankfully, karma was on England's side that night as Russia decided to take that opportunity to both protect his sister's innocence and snag a kiss from France as soon as he stepped under the doorway. Unfortunately, that hilarious little show was broken apart by Belarus, who had apparently snagged one of the mistletoe for herself and chased Russia across the room with it held high above her head.

England was pretty sure Ukraine was the only one to come out of that little scuffle emotionally sound.

Though maybe Belarus had the right idea, England found himself thinking woefully. Despite his best efforts, England hadn't even seen America for at least the last half hour, let alone cornered him under a mistletoe, and it was starting to weigh on his nerves. Luckily, England knew America quite well, and when all else failed, England knew exactly where to look.

The kitchen smelled a mixture of peanut butter biscuits and chestnuts, and England's sour mood was instantly lifted as he entered one of the few places he could actually feel at home. Some of the other nations had already taken over America's kitchen – Italy manning the stove, Belgium stirring something deliciously chocolaty on the counter, and Norway who appeared to be hoarding whatever butter he could find in America's refrigerator – which was really quite a lot.

Aside from his talent with knitwear, England was an excellent chef as well, and what with having to get all that mistletoe in time for the party, he hadn't exactly had time to make as much food as he'd originally intended to bring. Certainly, America had already prepared quite a lot of food if the overstuffed refreshments table out in the dining room was any indication, but it was a party and no one really liked America's crisps and toxic-colored desserts, so it would be up to England to provide actual edible baking.

"Hello, space for one more?" England said, cheerfully as he rolled up the sleeves that had begun to slip again.

Instantly, all three nations turned and stared at England.

"Um, no, I think we're doing fine," Belgium was first to speak with a hesitant smile on her face. "Er, why do you uh... go check on... um... the waffles," she said and England suddenly found himself pushed out into the adjacent dining room again with the kitchen door swinging shut behind him.

He stared in confusion for a moment at the table, not entirely sure what he'd just been asked to do. But England was a gentleman, and Belgium was a lady, so he did as told and checked on the waffles... only to find that America had an assortment of cakes, pies, biscuits, pastries, little sandwiches, and all sorts of finger foods set out buffet-style – but there were no waffles anywhere to be seen.

"There aren't any waffles," England said, walking back into the kitchen and getting the deer-in-headlights look from all three nations again.

"Um, right!" Belgium said. "That's why I'm making some," she said quickly.

"Oh, and you'd like help?" England said, perking up as he went for America's cabinet to get out another mixing bowl. "I'll have you know I make the best waffles," he said.

When he looked over though, Belgium was giving him a look like she might be ill.

"The butter!" Norway cut in quite suddenly. "We need more butter, England."

And England found himself pushed through the kitchen door again. "Go find us more butter," Norway instructed.

England stared for a moment, not quite sure what had happened, but he was pretty sure Norway had more than enough butter there in America's kitchen. So he went back a third time to tell Norway that he was quite sure America had plans for all that butter he was trying to take, and England most certainly was not going to buy more butter when there was so much already.

And then Italy burst into tears. "Germany!" he wailed, running out of the kitchen, leaving the door flapping behind him. "England is ruining all my tiramisu!"

"What? I most certainly am not," England said indignantly, stomping out after him. "I haven't even touched his blasted tiramisu."

"He's going to burn his food and the smoke is going to make everything taste bad," Italy wailed and then hid behind Germany when England growled and stomped toward him.

Germany looked pained. "Now England, you uh..."

"My cooking isn't bad!" England shouted.

"Well, actually..." Germany glanced over at the refreshments table quite pointedly at the one thing there that hadn't been touched since England had put them there – his plate of scones.

"That's not because they're bad," England snapped. "Just— it hasn't even been an hour yet. Not everyone has eaten."

Germany sighed, looking even more put upon. "Just stay out of the kitchen. Please," he said.

England gritted his teeth but with Germany standing in front of the door to the kitchen, England couldn't get back in without a fight. While he was pretty certain he could beat up Germany if he wanted to, he didn't think America would appreciate a brawl at his party and more than defending his cooking at the moment – though England very definitely intended to slap extra heavy taxes on any Gucci and Prada imports to the UK next time – England's mistletoe plan was more important at the moment, and he did not want to be sporting a busted lip for his kiss with America.

"Fine," England snapped and stomped off to find some alcohol. And hopefully track down America. He was going to get his kiss tonight or more than one nation was going to be suffering.

Despite whatever England said about himself, he was generally predictable, so as America greeted his guests and laughed at their ugly sweaters – really, it wasn't every day you got to see nations clash so badly and match so well all at once – he kept an eye out for England and sure enough, it didn't take long before England had gone wandering in the direction of the kitchen.

America would never understand why exactly England still thought he was good at cooking when every single nation in the entire world had assured England that this was not the case. America was sure whoever was actually in the kitchen would probably prevent England from doing any permanent damage, and he was pretty sure England hadn't hung any mistletoe up in there so he relaxed and went go help himself to some of the snacks at his refreshments table.

He very nearly ran into Canada – quite literally – when he didn't see his brother standing in front of the bowl of candy canes.

"Whoa, there, Canada," America said. "Didn't see you there."

Canada just rolled his eyes and sighed. "So are you going to do something about England or not?" he said and took down another sprig of mistletoe that had been stuck on the edge of the table. Apparently he'd been drafted into the group of nations who did not appreciate being ambushed by surprise kissing. Also, America didn't want to know why England thought nations would crawl under the refreshments table for a kiss.

"Whoever's already in the kitchen will kick him out – no worries," America said.

"Not that," Canada said. "The mistletoe?" He waved the sprig he was holding in America's face.

"I'm not going to kiss you, bro," America said.

Canada looked decidedly unamused. "England, you idiot. Can you do something about him before this turns into one of your godawful Hollywood parodies of a frat party?" he said.

"What?" America asked.

"Just kiss England before he poisons us all by putting mistletoe in the punch or something," Canada said.

"Even England isn't that bad of a cook," America said. "Probably."

"Yes, but he's desperate enough. Have you seen how much mistletoe he's put up?" Canada demanded, yanking another sprig off the lamp hanging from the ceiling.

"That might not be for me," America pointed out stubbornly.

Canada rolled his eyes. "You know as well as I do that the only one England wants to kiss him is you."

Okay fine, America knew. But America wasn't going to fall for it just because England was kind of really super cute in that hideous sweater he'd knitted for America what with it trailing past his hands and sloping at the collar and managing to be the exact right length to show off his long legs even when they were clothed in those slacks. America was actually quite proud of his own self control. It wasn't exactly easy to resist every time he looked at England and caught him looking hopefully between America and mistletoe, but America had plans.

The United States of America never did anything by halves and while America wasn't really sure how long he'd felt this way about England, he did know that he'd adored England for basically his entire life, no matter how frustrating England could be sometimes. America wanted everything to be perfect when they finally got together. He liked his Hollywood happy endings, and he was going to get one, dammit. If it took another century to sort out his country until he was perfect and ready for his happily ever after, then so be it. He was getting pretty close after all – he'd had the whole freedom and independence fight, then civil rights, feminist movement, and so on. Lately, they'd finally managed to truly end the Afghanistan War, and what with everything else improving in his country – the progressing movements with the minority groups, an economy that would hopefully start looking up now that the war was over and all – America was pretty hopeful that he'd be near perfect in a couple more decades, and then England would be impressed with him, and he and England could live happily ever after.

It would be perfect. He already had their first kiss all planned out like the Hollywood scenes with amazing first kisses at the end of movies that meant everything was going to be perfect.

"I have plans though," America insisted.

Canada crossed his arms. "What sort of plans? They better be fast or else England might ignore you and take initiative – he already has, actually," he said, gesturing to the mistletoe.

America fidgeted. Canada really had a way of making him feel like they were baby colonies again. "You know – roses, a helicopter, taking him off to I dunno – London, Paris, wherever he wants – a perfect first date..." he said.

Canada raised an eyebrow. "A helicopter? Really?"

"Well, I guess a jet would be okay. Helicopters are easier to land though," America said. "I'm thinking Central Park. Right in the middle. That would be pretty hard to beat, right? Maybe we could even go to London and go on that Ferris wheel thing he has. He'd like that."

"America, you are an idiot," Canada sighed and America glanced over at the kitchen where England had just been booted out of the kitchen and was looking at the refreshments table in apparent confusion.

"What? No I'm not," America said, keeping a protective eye on England just in case anyone came and tried to steal a kiss. Regardless of how much mistletoe had been pulled down, there was still more than enough up for such accidents to happen. "The first kiss always has to be perfect – I mean, it has to be memorable."

"I'm sure with you two, whatever happens is going to be more than memorable," Canada said and shook his head.

England tried to head back into the kitchen and got booted out a second time, and he was starting to turn an amusing shade of red again, although at this rate, England was probably going to start sulking which was something America did not want to happen.

"Well, yeah, but I can't lose to my own entertainment industry," America said, distracted as he watched England disappear into the kitchen again. "My first kiss has to beat all the Hollywood movies."

"I give up," Canada said, shoving the mistletoe he'd plucked at America. "You just better make sure England doesn't get drunk and start sobbing on you again."

America saw England get kicked out of the kitchen a third time and then Germany was standing in front of the kitchen door, and America really hoped England wasn't going to start a brawl just because everyone knew his cooking was crap. America didn't want to give up his perfect kiss just yet, but he also didn't want England to be depressed when it was Christmas, so he gave up with a sigh, dumping the mistletoe in the nearby trash bin, and went to get a scone.

He popped one of the charcoal scones into his mouth, munching as he made his way around the table and clapped a hand on England's shoulder.

"Hey, England," he said when England turned, looking surprised. Immediately, England's eyes shot up to the ceiling and he deflated slightly when he didn't see any mistletoe.

America took another bite of the scone and watched England perk up marginally when he saw what America was eating. "These really are pretty horrible," he said.

"Then don't eat them, idiot," England snapped, making to grab it from America but America popped the rest of the scone into his mouth and forced it down. Ugh, that was seriously disgusting – the things he'd put up with for England.

Even eating the scones didn't seem to be enough, because England looked ready to go for the alcohol which America did not want to have to deal with. America wracked his brain, trying to come up with some way to put a smile on that face without putting himself in the hospital when he caught Finland and Sweden (dressed as Santa and a reindeer respectively, which was both adorable and terrifying at the same time) twirling out of the corner of his eye.

Well, there was one more thing that might cheer England up and distract him from a kiss. "Want to dance?" America asked.

The things he'd put up with for love.

It was definitely worth it though, when England perked all the way up and even started to look happy. "Dance?" he echoed, looking far too hopeful, two bright spots of red spreading across his pale face, and it made America kind of want to kiss him right there.

"Yeah, uh, well, if you want," America said, cursing himself for actually sounding a little nervous. Heroes didn't get nervous.

"Yes!" England said far too quickly.

As much as America dreaded dancing, England's reaction made the pain nearly worth it, so he slung an arm around England in a friendly sort of way, though the main point was so that no one could get England under any of that mistletoe, and guided him to the dance floor.

Regardless of how over-the-top some nations said America's parties were, America actually just liked parties – partially to celebrate the holidays, and also because he liked to have fun and liked he see his guests to all have fun as well. So while America did not like to dance, like, at all. Really, he hated dancing – most of his guests did so America had set up a dance floor. It was in the center of the biggest room, and ever since the Christmas music had started, nations had been all over the dance floor on and off – some dancing with their significant others, others dancing with friends, and a few of them just dancing with no one in particular.

Austria and Hungary were moving elegantly on the dance floor to the swing jazz Christmas music currently playing on America's iTunes, whereas France, Prussia, and Spain seemed to all be dancing together to entirely different beats – France was the only one who seemed to keep time with the music, Spain kept laughing and forgetting what he was supposed to be doing, especially because he also seemed distracted, trying to wave over Romano who was glaring at him from the border of the dance floor with his arms crossed, and as for Prussia – each one of Prussia's limbs was moving in a different direction so America wasn't really sure if he was having a seizure or actually dancing. It got even harder to tell when Prussia shouted over to Hungary, "Hey, your sweater's pretty damn fitting, ho ho ho, ho," he said and stood back, proud of himself – until Hungary politely excused herself from Austria, stomped over, and well, at least the carnage had been relatively fast.

"Ouch," Spain said, looking more amused than worried.

"Karma, mon ami," France said. "That's what you deserve for putting such beauty as myself into such an ugly sweater."

"What part of ugly sweater party do you not understand?" Prussia muttered.

England looked rather amused by the whole thing, and America half hoped it'd be enough to distract England from having to dance with America, but England didn't even join in the taunting – only turning back to America with a shake of his head and looking even more hopeful.

Here went nothing, America thought and offered England his hand, dragging him into the crowd of nations with him. For the record, America did not claim to be a great dancer. He'd never really liked it when England forced him to learn all the traditional ballroom dances back when he was still a kid and England had thought it was appropriate to be all stuffy. Even the informal dances were formal enough you had to memorize all the steps or risk accidentally getting elbowed out of formation. America had never been very good at it and he had tried to get out of dancing as much as possible, and while he did enjoy letting loose and doing whatever the hell he liked sometimes, he didn't think that was the kind of dancing England wanted to do.

Fortunately, America's playlist was on his side because England couldn't very well insist on some sort of romantic slow dance when it was playing swing music, but on the other hand, there were enough nations on the dance floor that they were right up against each other. Still, England did look very cute and awkward, and it was fun when America grabbed England, spinning him around in a twist.

"What are you doing— git!" England squawked when America dipped him suddenly and America laughed, pulling England close again, feeling the edges of England's oversized sweater swinging against America's legs, and the sleeves of the sweater coming loose and sliding down England's arms again.

"Dancing!" America said cheerfully and spun England again for good measure — nearly tossing him right into Switzerland who was, for that matter, standing still on the dance floor and looking utterly murderous at everyone except for Liechtenstein who was sort of dancing around her brother. Switzerland's face softened every time she glanced at him right before he shot glares at anyone who dared to look funny in their direction.

"This isn't— this isn't dancing, you idiot!" England gasped, breathless when America let him go and snapped his fingers, mouthing along with the music to Frosty The Snowman.

England looked like he was debating between yelling at America or laughing, and ended up with a troubled grimace.

"Have some fun," America said cheerfully and turned just in time to see Poland doing a truly embarrassing grind to a very red-faced Lithuania. America wondered just what Poland thought was playing from America's speakers if he could grind to a swing version of Frosty The Snowman.

Unfortunately, that was when America's luck gave out and the music turned to a slow song. It didn't seem to affect the majority of nations on the dance floor anyway, although a few of them like Austria and Hungary seemed to be much happier at the slower pace of music as they coupled off. It also drove off Russia who had just arrived at the dance floor because as soon as Belarus heard the music, she was right at his side and waving a sprig of mistletoe at him.

America was debating if he could get away with the casual dancing, but England had already grabbed his hand and was looking so utterly hopeful that America couldn't disappoint him. But the problem with actual formal dancing was that America was really and truly terrible at it. He'd never really learned the right way to do it and when it came to his casual, fun dances, it didn't really matter. But slow dancing was kind of a problem because...

"Ow!" he heard England yelp as America tread on his toes for the fifth time in under thirty seconds counting.

"Sorry," America said, wincing when he did it again, trying to stop stepping on England's toes. He was seriously bad at couple dancing so the most America could do when it came to these kinds of things was to kind of shuffle to the beat and just hope for the best.

"It's alright," England mumbled "Just try to be more careful."

At least England knew what he was doing with one hand in America's own and swaying slowly to the music with such grace, it just about took away America's breath as he watched him. America was so mesmerized that he didn't even notice England glancing up until it was too late, and America had already followed his eyes – to find them underneath a sprig of mistletoe.


England, if anything, moved even closer to America until he was all but pressed to him, and when he looked up at America, it was through thick eyelashes, and the tip of his tongue darting out to wet his lips.

America swallowed hard... and was saved by his own left feet when he trod on England's foot yet again, effectively ruining the mood when England stumbled. It also successfully forcing them out from underneath the plant even if England looked like he couldn't decide between being in pain or murderous.

America was more than relieved when the song finally ended – eager to get back to some actual fun dancing – when England immediately rushed off the floor and disappeared down one of the hallways.

America winced and followed him. He knew it was a bad idea to ask England to dance, because now he'd messed up everything. England was grumpy at the best of times and downright scathing at the worst, and with something that England considered cultured, of course he'd be mad at America for stepping on his feet so many times. This was really not the sort of thing America wanted to happen even if he didn't want tonight to be their first kiss. He wanted to kiss England at some point of course, and if he kept making the older nation run off like that, it didn't look likely to happen.

Despite himself, he started re-thinking this plan of his. Maybe it would be worth it to go along with England tonight...

But first he'd have to find England.

England hustled down the hallway, his head held high and his nose upturned, trying his best to keep his face blank. Thankfully, the hallway was mostly deserted when he finally reached the bathroom, and he was able to slip inside amongst nothing but the chorus of a few girls grumbling about there always being a line in their loo and never the men's.

As soon as the door was closed and safely locked, England flipped on the light and flopped onto the closed toilet lid. Finally, he let out the breath he had been holding.

He had just danced with America. Slow-danced with America. America had asked him to dance and had taken him out to the dance floor and physically danced with him! Okay, so maybe the younger nation was awful and England had three potentially broken toes, but he had danced with America so as far as he was concerned, it was a win.

Allowing himself a bit of a happy jig as he popped off the toilet, he found himself making eye-contact with his reflected self. His first thought was that he looked bloody ridiculous in that extremely large (albeit lovely) jumper, but America seemed to like it, and was obviously doing the trick, so England figured he would keep it on for now. He secretly hoped there would be a...pleasant reason to remove it later, but he wasn't going to get ahead of himself.

The second thing he noticed was that he was about as red as Finland's coat, but that was another thing he would over look for now. The Queen had once told him the way he blushed was 'the sweetest thing' so maybe that was going to help him tonight as well. Let it never be said that England did not do what it took to get what he wanted.

England took a deep breath, trying to calm himself down and failing. He'd danced with America. Not one of America's stupid wiggle-hop affairs – well, there'd been a bit of that toward the beginning, but it had turned into a real, couple slow-dance. There had even almost been a kiss if only America hadn't stepped on his toes right then. England sighed happily.

His internal jubilation was interrupted when a knock came on the door.

"Yes?" England said, trying to wipe the silly grin off his face.


It was America outside and England felt his heart give a little jump. "America..." he said and opened the door, only to find himself looking at a rather sheepish and guilty looking America.

"Uh–I'm uh— about the dancing, um..." America trailed off, rubbing the back of his head and turning red. "Um... I hope your uh... your feet are okay..."

It took England a moment to realize America was actually trying to apologize to him for his bad dancing and saying just about everything except for an apology which was as endearing as it was stupid, and made England even more sure about his plan. Surely if he played up the guilt, America with his hero complex and his chronic inability to actually apologize would feel bad enough to give England a kiss if he pulled America under some mistletoe now. It wasn't exactly England's perfect scenario, but if it got him a kiss, England would take it.

So England winced and hobbled a bit as he walked out of the loo, doing a silent cheer as even more guilt washed over America's handsome features. "I suppose I'll survive," England sighed, leaning against his flashy jumper for good measure and trying his very hardest to keep himself from cracking a smile.

America frowned. "C'mon, why don't we get some food or something?" he said with a shrug, placing at hand at the small of England's back in an act of support – it was all England could do to keep from swooning – and slowly guided him back down the hallway. His concerned, blue eyes never left England's face, and England knew that if he was going to go bold, now would be the perfect time.

"Ow..." he muttered as his right foot made contact with the ground. The younger nation was by his side in an instant and England had to wince to cover his victorious smile.

"W-what happened? Are you okay?" he asked frantically, and if England wasn't so damn determined to get that kiss, he might have felt bad about making the lad worry like that. Might.

He bit his lip, using his flexibility to lift his foot into the air to examine it, smirking as America gulped at this display of dexterity. "I think I just need to stay off it for a bit," he replied, rubbing the tip of his loafers gingerly. "If you could just guide me back to the couch, that would be lovely."

As predicted, America's hero complex kicked in full force, that determined, 'my way or the highway' look appearing in his eyes. "I'll carry you!" he exclaimed, sweeping England into his arms and holding him bridal style. "You shouldn't be putting any weight on it if it hurts that bad!"

England flushed, sputtering because he was expected to. "Put me down this instant, you git!" he cried, kicking frantically but making no real attempt to push out of his grasp. This was going even better than he imagined! He was hoping for a half-hearted piggy-back ride, a casual toss over his shoulder, or something equally as demeaning, but this took him completely by surprise. And he wasn't complaining, not one bit.

"Nonsense England, I'm a hero!"

So England was carried back into the living room in America's arms, not unnoticed by a good number of the other guests, who regarded them with a knowing smile or a little thumbs up whenever they were sure America wouldn't see.

England just clung a little tighter – a bit surprised himself that his plan was going so well for once because his plans never seemed to go as he'd planned them when it came to America. Meanwhile, he kept his eyes out for the sprigs of mistletoe that were still strung up around the house and spotted one hanging above the door frame leading to America's living room and began putting up a fight to be let down again.

"Put me down, you git," England ordered, wiggling until America had to put him down or risk dropping him.

"Stop that, aren't you injured?" America said, looking a bit exasperated but not actually annoyed.

"Yes, but I am not going to have you carrying me in front of everyone," England said, ignoring how they'd already passed more than just a couple of nations on their way over.

Instead, he leaned a bit more heavily on America, playing up the limp, until they got to the mistletoe, and then he stopped and pulled America to a halt beside him.

"What? Does your foot still hurt?" America asked, looking worried again.

"Um...yes..." England said, trying to think of how exactly best to broach the subject of the kiss without actually saying it. "Just let me rest a bit," he said instead and looked over at America who seemed confused but shrugged and put his arm around England's shoulders as though to keep him upright.

England let his eyes slowly wander around the room and then slowly dip up to the mistletoe – satisfied that he was being sufficiently subtle. When he looked back, he caught America looking at him and knew America had seen the mistletoe too.

"Sh-Should we..." England said, making a vague gesture. America's eyes widened, his mouth hanging open, seeming about to agree or turn it down...

When France appeared out of nowhere, grabbing America's face, and it was only due to America's lightning fast reflexes, that France missed his target and ended up planting his wet kiss on America's cheek instead.

"J'adore ce party, Amérique," he sang, pointing triumphantly at the small spring of mistletoe above their heads. Swirling his wine casually around in his glass, he glanced down at England over his upturned nose. "I would kiss you as well, Angleterre, but I swore I would not get near you until they found a cure for that growth above your eyes."

America attempted to speak, but was quickly cut off by England pushing away from him and storming across the room, falsely inured feet forgotten. He was seeing red. Not only had the perfect opportunity been ripped right out of his fingers, it had been ruined by France, and France had kissed America.

England needed alcohol, and he needed it fast.

"Hey, have you guys seen England?"

Estonia and Latvia shook their heads. "I have not seen him a while," Estonia replied. America couldn't help but feel a little relieved he didn't bring that blob thing he'd brought to Halloween. While that creature did have this sweet, awesome aura to it, it still freaked him out. "The last I saw he was trying to fight past Belgium to get to the kitchen."

Latvia nodded. "I remember. Italy was crying. I think she was calling for reinforcements."

America sighed, not sure if he should be relieved England had decided to take out his anger on the food rather than him, or even more frightened for the same reason. "Kay, thanks guys. I'm gonna go see if I can grab him before it's too late."

Maybe it was a little selfish of America to be kind of happy that France had interrupted his and England's little moment. Not the whole France kissing him part, though, that was gross. But that his and England's first kiss hadn't been like that. He had a plan, a plan he fully intended to follow through on. England wasn't the only one who could be a gentleman, after all. America wanted to do this right – England was worth that much, and if tonight proved anything, it was that England was a huge stickler for tradition.

As far as America was concerned, there was nothing quite as traditional as asking permission to take a young lady (or in this case, old country) out on a date. And since England didn't happen to have any parents, he figured the Queen was the next best option. Honestly, she was a pretty sweet old lady; it drove England nuts how the two of them would get together to play video games or make fun of England whenever America was in town, but he had a feeling that deep down, he loved that they got on so well.

So that was America's plan. He wanted, no needed this to be perfect. He had waited too long for this to happen for it not to be. And he was not going to let France or Canada or heck, even England himself ruin this for them!

"Give me my bloody bottle you twit!"


...he really wasn't going to make this easy on him, was he?

Weaving through the dance floor, America manged to make it to the kitchen where a small intervention appeared to be taking place. Seychelles, Belgium and Vietnam stood forming a little fence around the swinging door, protecting it from an attack from England. America paused, okay, he kind of really wanted to see what would happen here.

England took a deep breath, staring intensely into Seychelles' eyes as she stared right back into his, holding a half empty bottle of rum behind her back. The two didn't get along very well on normal terms, and now that the young girl was withholding alcohol from him, you knew the claws were about to come out.

"I will ask you," England seethed, "one. Last. Time."

Vietnam and Belgium both stepped forward protectively but Seychelles didn't move an inch.

"May I please have my rum back?" England asked slowly, the venom audible in his tone.

Seychelles raised an eyebrow. America shuddered as he saw the cogs turning in her head. "Oh, this rum?" she asked, holding the bottle in front of her. "You want this rum?" She twisted off the cap and took a small sniff, recoiling at the smell.

"If you do anything, I promise you—"

The girl seemed taken back. "What? Me? Do something? What ever do you mean, Eyebrows?" She then held the bottle parallel to the ground, the fake shock completely gone from her face, replaced with a look America could only describe as 'serious business.'

"Something like this?" Seychelles asked sweetly. She then proceeded to pour the entire rest of the bottle into a nearby potted plant.

America pouted. She didn't have to pour all of it out. That was expensive rum, and he was in recession.

England, meanwhile, was livid. Like, too-angry-to-speak livid. America swore he saw steam coming from his ears. England stepped closer to the smirking Seychelles, his hands out in front of him in a choking type motion before making some noise America though sounded like a mixture of "you", "die", and "exterminate" before spinning on his heels and stomping across the room in search of more alcohol.

This continued on for some time; England trying desperately to get his hands on something alcoholic and whatever nearby nations coming together (in a surprising showing of world cooperation, America thought) to stop him. Too many times had they all suffered through England's drunken escapades, that an unspoken agreement had formed to simply not let him get drunk at all. Amazingly, it seemed to be working, but England was nothing if not crafty, and he somehow managed to find a loophole in the rest of the world's plans.

America cursed to himself as he watched England huddled next to the Christmas tree, holding an extremely large mug of eggnog.

"Stupid America... stupid France..." England was mumbling and America wasn't even sure if England noticed France walking by when he stuck his leg out and sent France sprawling.

"Merde! What was that for?" France shouted as he got back up.

England narrowed his eyes at him and stuck up two fingers, flipping him off.

America had never actually seen someone get drunk off of eggnog, but England had somehow managed it and was rapidly going from angry to morose. An angry England, America could deal with. But a depressed England was a lot harder. Normally, he might just ignore England, but with so much mistletoe still hanging up and England rapidly approaching the point of unconsciousness, America couldn't just leave him to fend for himself. And every time he looked over at England again, he found England sobbing into his eggnog, tearing up as he twirled a sprig of mistletoe he'd picked up somewhere, or both.

"Like I said."

America jumped about a foot when Canada materialized behind him. "What the fuck! Don't sneak up on me like that!"

"I've been here the whole time," Canada said, looking unimpressed. "Are you going to do something about him?"

"He's not doing anything," America said, glancing over at England who appeared to have gone to sleep under the Christmas tree head first which was probably good for dissuading anyone from trying to kiss him under there.

"Yeah, and you're not either," Canada said. "Whatever. Kiss him or don't but if he refuses to talk to you for a month after this, don't come whining to me about it."

"I never whine," America said.

Canada raised an eyebrow. "You always whine! What about that time a couple months ago when your bosses changed the Special Relationship to Essential and England wouldn't answer your calls for three weeks because you said he wasn't special—"

"I didn't say that! It was my boss—" America tried to protest.

"And you ended up using all that time you usually talk to England talking to me about how it wasn't supposed to mean that instead of just telling England yourself," Canada said. "Or just after Halloween this year when England woke up hungover the next day and refused to talk to you for a week because you made him wear that costume and—"

"Okay, okay! I got it!" America said very quickly because when Canada got started, he could really get going. For a guy who was spacey enough that he could stare at his polar bear's eyebrows for three days straight, Canada sure had a good memory for perceived offenses and it was better to concede fast than to have to listen to Canada go on about every little thing America had ever done for the next three hours.

"Well, the party's winding down now. I'm going to get going," Canada said. "Do something about him."

America let out an extra-exasperated sigh but grinned. "Okay. Merry Christmas!" he said.

Canada shook his head but went off to say his good-byes to the other nations.

America looked over at England who was half hidden beneath the Christmas tree. He really didn't want to have to do this, but Canada was right, and it was Christmas, and as frustrating as England could be — ruining all of America's plans — America did want England to be happy. Anyway, if he left England alone, Canada was right — who knew how long it'd take before England got over being embarrassed this time around and would talk to him again.

America shook his head and went over to drag England out from under the tree and wait for the other guests to leave.

When England woke up, he had a slight headache and his mouth felt as though he had swallowed a few dozen balls of cotton. He was a bit disorientated by the darkened windows and for a second, he wasn't sure if he had woken up before sunrise, or if he had slept through the entirety of Christmas Day.

After yawning and checking his watch, he was relieved it was just ten to midnight, and that he hadn't gotten drunk off of eggnog and passed out under America's Christmas tree or something horrible embarrassing like that.

"Mornin' sleepy head."

America was staring down at him, a stupid, smug little smile on his face. "You got a little something..." he said, reaching up to pull on his own hair with a chuckle. England blinked owlishly, realizing as he sat up that he was still feeling a little tipsy, and mirrored America's action. He paled, pulling a lone pine needle from his fringe.

Oh, bugger.

"I...uh..." he stuttered, noticing finally that we was buried under a small mountain of blankets on America's plush, leather couch, his shoes removed, and a small throw pillow resting comfortably under his head. Biting his lip, he glanced shyly up at America, then looked past his head at the empty room behind him. "Is the party over already?"

America nodded. "Yeah, everyone kinda wanted to get home pretty early, spend some time with their bosses and people and stuff. I think Prussia was the last to leave, finally. I had to call Hungary to drag him out."

England blushed. Well, that was a complete failure, wasn't it? He wrung his hands into the (John Deere? Really, America?) blanket on top of him and tried not to let his still slightly tipsy mind give in to his desire to cry. He had worked so hard on this plan, he thought everything through, and in the end it still wasn't enough. He forced a smile onto his face, prepared himself for yet another casual goodbye to America, find his shoes, and jump in a cab that would take him back to the airport so he could go home and watch a couple of seasonal romantic comedies to make himself feel better, when a glass of water was shoved in his face.

"Here," America said, handing it over to him. "You're probably dehydrated. You cleaned me out of eggnog."

England took the glass and took a tentative sip. "Thank you." He took another gulp and set the glass on a coaster before standing up and stretching his legs. "Well, I best be going I suppose. Unless you want me to help you clean up or something?"

America's eye widened comically, jumping into action and leaping between England and the door. "Wait, no! I mean, yes! I mean you should stay over for a little while," he exclaimed, rubbing his hand on the back of his neck. "Not to clean or anything though, I can never find anything after you clean..."

England decided to ignore that last comment in favor of figuring out what the younger nation was up to. It wasn't like him to not kick him out immediately after a party, especially after he had been drinking. He crossed his arms across his chest. "Alright, then," he said. "What is it you would like me to do?"

"Well, you might need these," America said, sliding England's loafers over to him with his foot. "A-and it's kinda cold, s-so you can wear this...only if you want to though! I know you have your own coat, which is totally cool, but I just thought I would, you know, check..."

England stared at the blushing, flustered nation in shock and gingerly took the bomber jacket that was being offered to him. "You're not going to lock me out, are you?" he said distrustfully.

America rolled his eyes. "Just put on the coat," he said.

England put on the coat just because he was cold, and with the oversized jumper he was still wearing, his own peacoat he'd worn on the way over certainly wasn't going to fit. That and England was still feeling a bit tipsy and a lot sleepy, and it certainly had nothing to do with how America hardly let anyone touch his favourite bomber jacket much less wear it.

It fit pretty much perfectly over the jumper – obviously, since they were both America's size – and then he was being pulled to his feet, leaving behind the warm nest of blankets as America tugged England through the maze of hallways toward another room. Although America had pulled England up by the hand, he hadn't let go, and England found his face heating up, America's hand warm and big around his. He was so concentrated on the hand, wondering if America had noticed it and if he was doing it on purpose or if it was just America being oblivious again – that England didn't even notice they had stepped out onto a balcony until the cold winter air hit him full in the face.

England shivered and automatically moved a little closer to America.

"What are we doing out here?" England asked, and promptly forgot about all that when America walked forward, the cold of the snow piled up on the balcony seeping through England's shoes, but then he saw the view.

England was usually not one for flattering anything about America especially in the modern world. Back when America was still young and his land was largely unexplored, it had truly been beautiful. Nowadays with the cities and concrete and pollution, beautiful was usually the last thing England would use to describe the places, but in this case, the night view of New York City was truly amazing. He could see everything this high up – the skyscrapers reaching high up into the night, strung with lights all across the horizon as far as England could see. The entire sky was lit up, more numerous than the stars it seemed, glittering on everywhere below them. Long lines of gold and red stretched down below as the cars moved along the streets. Where the city met the bay, the glittering reflections of the lights bled into the water like the entire ocean was made of glimmering lights. Quite frankly, it was beautiful.

"America..." England breathed.

"Like it?" America said and England startled, hearing America so close to him.

"It's beautiful..."

When he looked over, America was right by him, and England realized his arms had come around England's waist, and if England just turned a little...

England froze. He hadn't put any mistletoe out here on the balcony. He hadn't even known America had a balcony at all until just now. If only he'd done it, then maybe. Right now with no one to interrupt them and the blaring din of the city all very far away so far below them...

He could see the lights of the city reflecting off America's glasses that disappeared again when America tilted his head and then England was staring wide-eyed back at America's face and America was smiling – looking a mix of fond and exasperated.

"It sure is," he replied simply.

England could only gape, but apparently America didn't expect him to say anything anyway, because he just smiled and moved even closer.

"Just for the record, this is not our first kiss," America said.


And then he was being kissed. It was soft and sweet, and to anyone but England, it would have been too brief and too vanilla to be anything special. But to England, it was all he ever dreamed of. Because that was exactly what kissing America had been- a dream. Despite all his planning, all his scheming, all his wishing, the thought that he and America could ever be together like this was nothing but a unobtainable fantasy.

And yet there he was, on a balcony overlooking the lights of America's favorite city, snow falling gently around them, wrapped up in the warmth of America's jacket, wearing god-awful Christmas jumpers. But he was there with America, kissing America, under the stars on Christmas Eve night.

And nothing had ever been more perfect.

England didn't know how long they stood out on the balcony after their kiss (kiss!), just enjoying the scenery and each other's company in comfortable silence. America's hand was still warm and heavy at his side, and at some point during the kiss (kiss!) England's own hand had ended up on top of America's on the chilly railing. A particularly large snowflake landed on America's eyelashes, and he broke the silence with a giggle, brushing it off.

England smiled fondly, knowing he was still blushing hotly but deciding he really couldn't care right then. "Would you like to go inside?" he asked softly. "Your hands are freezing."

America nodded, grinning from ear to ear. "Sure! Your hands aren't exactly toasty either," he laughed. He took England's hand and led them back inside. "You go on ahead and sit by the fire, okay? I'll make some hot chocolate and join you in a sec!"

England nodded, watching America disappear into the kitchen. He pulled off the bomber jacket and set it over the back of a chair, grabbing a blanket from the couch to wrap around himself instead. England sighed blissfully as he curled up on the couch, trying to calm himself down so he could play his cards right. His head was still spinning with the knowledge that they had kissed. He and America. Kissed. It was like one of those bloody Christmas miracles all the television specials went on about at this time of year. Maybe if England played up being tired, he could even spend the night here. And they'd have Christmas together as well come tomorrow morning. America was actually being nice to him for once and it had been a very long time since that had happened. In fact, the last time America had completely, unadulteratedly enjoyed his company was before his revolution, England thought, growing a bit morose at that.

England shook his head. He wasn't going to get depressed tonight. America had kissed him! That was enough to make up for anything as far as England was concerned. He could hear America clattering away in his kitchen a couple rooms away, and the strains of Christmas music turned quiet still playing from America's sound system. England wondered just how long he'd been asleep because while the room couldn't exactly be called spotless, America had done a pretty good job of cleaning it up. The floors were bare anyway, the coffee table had been moved back in, and the Christmas tree was still glowing and lit up the entire room. There were a few spare sprigs of mistletoe that the other nations had missed still hanging from the ceiling though that was unneeded now, England thought happily. It seemed people had been less destructive than usual this time because America's stockings by the fireplace were still all hung up and that was when England saw them, half-hidden behind the Christmas tree from where he sat. It couldn't be...

England scrambled off the couch and nearly fell in his haste to get to the fireplace to see because sure enough, set up on the mantel, were a row of toy soldiers in bright red coats. A rush of memories came with the soldiers – how bright America's face had been as a child when England had given them to him, how he'd adored the redcoat soldiers and played with them, pretending that he was one of them himself as he set up imaginary battles against the bad guys as America called them - and that one dark afternoon when it had been England in a red coat and America was wearing blue, and how England had never seen those soldiers ever again.

England didn't realize he was crying until his vision had blurred, reaching for one of the soldiers as he wiped his face.

"So how many marshmallows do you want in your coco—"

England turned to see America staring between him and the soldiers, a steaming mug in either hand, looking rather caught.

"What are those... Poland," America said suddenly as he rushed forward, setting the mugs down on the coffee table. "They must've gotten mixed up in the box of ornaments. I'll go put them away—"

"No!" England shouted more loudly than he'd intended and America froze. England found himself involuntarily tearing up again. "You— I thought you threw these away," he said, his voice wobbling more than he liked at the moment but he couldn't help it.

"Uh... well, it wasn't like I kept them. I just uh... hadn't gotten around to cleaning my storage closet in awhile," America said.

England didn't believe him. They looked a bit more worn than England remembered but they were still in remarkably good condition – condition too good for toys that America claimed he hadn't touched for more than two hundred years now. America had been taking regular care of these toys and if the kissing had shown that America might care for England as well, the toys now proved it.

England put the soldier back on the mantelpiece and took the two steps forward to wrap his arms around America and bury his face in America's shoulder.

"England?" America said and England felt his arms come slowly around to hold England, rubbing his back slowly.

England wanted to cry or laugh or say any number of things but instead, he said, "What did you mean by that not being our first kiss?"

"Huh?" America said and pulled back again, looking confused.

"What you said on the balcony," England said, feeling more composed as he stepped around America to sit on the couch again, picking up one of the mugs and settling back against sofa. "You said it wasn't our first kiss."

"Oh, uh, yeah," America said, coming over to sit next to England – close enough that their thighs were touching, and then America tugged England over more, manhandling him – more carefully than usual because England was holding the full mug – until America had gotten an arm around England's shoulders, and they were both wrapped in blankets. "I had a plan, you know."

"A plan?" England said, raising an eyebrow in amusement..

"Yeah, for our first kiss. It was going to be epic, like something out of a movie," America said. "I was going to fly in like a superhero and sweep you off your feet—"

"You can't fly, you idiot," England said without any venom. He felt rather happy that America had even had a plan for their first kiss – that he really had wanted to kiss England, and for a while, apparently.

"On a helicopter," America explained. "And give you those girly roses you really like—"

"They're not girly, git!" England said.

"Take you to London for the best date ever—"

"I live in London," England said.

"And after I totally bring you on the best first date anyone has ever had ever, then at the perfect moment, we'd kiss. Maybe with London Bridge—"

"Tower Bridge, America, it's called Tower Bridge," England said.

"Yeah, whatever, that one in the background, or fireworks or maybe both," America said triumphantly. "That would be something to remember."

England gave up and shook his head. "You do realize your movies don't all have those sorts of endings," he said. Because while their first kiss might not have been as much of a grand finale as America had planned, England was sure there were more than just a few movies that had romantic kisses up on the balcony set against the backdrop of the city in night time on just such a Christmas eve.

And if there wasn't, there shouldbe because it was amazing.

"So that's not our first kiss," America said. He took a sip of his hot cocoa and smiled at England. "You're just gonna have to wait for that one."

England rolled his eyes and took a sip from his own mug. America was an idiot, no doubt about that, but England supposed he would play along. As long as their "real" first kiss was still out there, it meant he and America would be kissing again in the future.

Eventually, America finished off his hot cocoa, and without the drink to distract him, he started swaying along to the music echoing around room. England grumbled something half-heartedly about the younger nation trying to make him spill on himself, but America brushed it away with a laugh and continued swaying, humming and occasionally singing along when it was a song he particularly enjoyed.

England breathed a sigh of relief as some horrendous, poppy, Little Drummer Boy abomination came to end and a pleasant piano took it's place, relaxing America enough that England was even able to let his head rest perfectly on top of America's shoulder. With America's protective arm around him and his soft breath tickling at the ends of his hair, England closed his eyes.

"I like this song," America said quietly, holding England just a little closer to himself.

"Mmm," England replied. The flickering firelight and soft blankets and warm America beside him were starting to wear him down. He didn't even try to stop the yawn that managed to escape from his lips. "I should probably be going then," England mumbled, despite making no effort to move. "It's starting to get late, I'm sure you want to get to sleep."

He felt America shake his head more than he saw it. "Nah, just stay here tonight," he said. "No one would mind."

No, they probably wouldn't, England couldn't help but think a little bitterly, considering the entire royal family absolutely adored America and had been bugging him about making a move for years. He pushed that thought away for now though, he had better things to focus on.

Like America's hand massaging his shoulder tenderly and the soft crooning he was doing in his ear, for instance.

"Have yourself, a merry little Christmas," he sang. "Let your heart be light. From now on, your troubles will be out of sight."

Unconsciously, England snuggled a little deeper into the crook of America's neck, smiling despite knowing he was blushing hotly. He didn't know how much longer this was going to last- America liked singing in that soft, deep voice of his just about as much as he liked slow dancing- so England was going to enjoy this while he could.

"Have yourself a very little Christmas. Make the Yule-tide gay," he continued crooning, resting his own head against England's and letting his own eyes fall as well. "From now on, our troubles will be miles away~"

And as sleep finally overtook England from what was undoubtedly the single greatest night of his life, he made a quick, final prayer that this entire night; this beautiful, lovely, unbelievable night, hadn't been a dream.

When England woke up, he had a crick in his neck and was very nearly blinded by the assault of lights on his still very tired eyes. He groaned and buried his head unto the pillow, throwing a few choice words out at offending sunlight, thanking all that was holy that at least he knew to keep his curtains shut in the morning, unlike certain other disrespectfully idiot—

Bloody hell, he was at America's.

England sat up with a start, self-consciously running his hand through his hair in an attempt to keep the wild, blond spikes under some kind of control. He did a quick surveillance of his surroundings, noticing, with a mild degree of disappointment, that America was nowhere to be seen.

He bit his lip, realizing with horror that his fears could very well be a reality. What if the entirety of last night had been a dream? He knew he passed out under the Christmas tree at one point, so what if everything he remembered happening after that had been nothing but an amazing, drunken dream? England was up with a start, determined to find America. Only then would he know for sure if last night had actually happened.

A small clatter in the kitchen immediately caught his attention, causing England to rush though the door, meeting gaze with a pajama-clad America eating a bowl of cereal and sipping at a huge mug of coffee. "Mornin' sunshine!" he chirped. "Merry Christmas!"

"Happy Christmas," England answered, his eyes burning holes into America's happy, perky face, trying to read it for any sign if their relationship had truly been changed or not.

"Ya want anything to eat? I think I still have some donuts on the counter if you want any. I don't have any tea though, so don't even bother asking." He continued stuffing is face full of cereal and slurping away at his coffee.

England made himself a couple slices of toast, cursing a bit as he realized there wasn't a stick of butter in the entire refrigerator, and threw them on a paper plate, dry. He sat across from America at the kitchen table, wracking his brain for the best way to bring up the night before without sounding like a complete and total idiot.

"So um... yesterday..." England began cautiously. He wondered what would be a casual enough way to ask did they kiss or was it really all just a figment of England's imagination. He did remember drinking quite a lot of eggnog at one point.

And America was really not helping matters, shoveling down breakfast at record speeds just like he normally did, and prattling on about how awesome his party had been and did England see what Finland had left for America under the Christmas tree. With each description of just how horrible China's jumper had been, England grew more sure that it must have all been a dream and got steadily more morose. Worse, America seemed distracted with his iPhone at the table and he kept glancing down at it every few moments until finally, Justin Bieber rang out and America jumped to answer it.

"Hey, what's up? Yeah? It's here?" America said eagerly as he ran out of the kitchen. He came thundering back a moment later, pulling on his bomber jacket with a piece of toast clamped between his teeth, still talking to whoever was on the phone.

He skidded to a stop as he saw England who stared defiantly back at him.

"Well, hurry up! What are you waiting for?" America said, darting around. "Where'd you leave your coat last night anyway?" He ran out of the room again, only to return with England's peacoat and a fat scarf that he thrust into England's hands.

"What?" England said, staring and flustered because apparently he wasn't dressing fast enough for America because America started stuffing him into the coat and wrapping the scarf around England's face about five times.

"You're gonna want it, it's probably going to be cold," America said though England was beginning to feel hopeful again if America was being nice and caring about his comfort even if America was completely insane and England had no idea what was going on here.

"What?" he repeated, pulling the scarf looser so he could actually breath.

"Remember? Our first kiss?" America said and beamed at England, his hands still cupped around England's ears where he'd been adjusting England's scarf. "The helicopter's here waiting on the roof! Come on!"

America paused for a moment and England found himself staring back into America's beautiful, blue eyes, crinkled at the corners with that gorgeous, bright smile, his hands large and warm by England's face, and England couldn't resist it – he leaned forward those few inches and pecked America on the lips.

America leaned into it a little until England pulled back, and then it was America blinking stupidly at England. "You messed it up again!" America shouted, tugging England's scarf back up over his nose. "I said the first kiss has to be a big one, remember?" he said. "Stop ruining all my plans, old man."

England rolled his eyes but chuckled when America stuck his tongue out at him. "You ruined my plan, did you not? You deserve it."

Hand in hand, they left the penthouse, running up the stairs two by two until they reached the rooftop where the helicopter sat waiting. Over the the sound of the whirring propellers, England could just barely hear America chirping out how awesome this was going to be and how much England was going to love it. He shook his head but smiled fondly.

If this first kiss was going to be anything like their last one, he was positive it was going to be perfect.

And its's finally done! Simplytrop and I would like to wish you all a very Merry Christmas and we hope that you enjoyed this little (see: HUGE) collab we put together! We are both very proud of it and hope you all enjoy reading it as much as we enjoyed writing it!

And because she isn't here to disagree with me, make sure you stay patient for the next chapter of her fic "Spades"! She's having some computer troubles unfortunately, but she hopes to have it up soon! XD

Enjoy the Bloodbath, and have a great Christmas and New year!