PART TWO. Ish.

xoxoxoxox

"This is so nice." I told him, smoothing my hand over the shoulder of his jacket(?) as we loaded into the elevator, him carrying my small suitcase. "It's like China's."

"Oh, yeah. I have a lot."

The outfit was black jeans on the bottom, but with an olive green thing flattering the top half of his body. Once again, the long sleeves hung past his hands, and I wondered if maybe he had his clothes made deliberately to hide them.

"I have a blue one that might look nice on you, actually. Could you scratch my back there? Just up a bit and… yah, thank you."

I laughed, digging my finger in and leaning against him when the elevator shuddered, the doors sliding closed.

"You're a good back scratcher."

"Why thank you."

I kneed Mr. Puffin's cage when he sucked a breath to say something, and he stayed quiet.

"Nice hotel isn't it," he asked me, and I couldn't be sure, but maybe… just maybe, there was a bit more emotion in his voice than before today. I scolded myself, for having such thoughts, and agreed.

"Definitely."

"So what room are you in?"

"Uh…" I checked the tag on my key. "Three hundred and six?"

He stabbed his thumb at the number three button, and the tight, fancy box ground to a lazy crawl up the shaft.

"What about you?" I asked, and he shrugged.

"Dunno yet. My brother is having it out with the owner right now, because they misheard him say he only wanted a room for two. How anyone can mishear 'I need rooms for six' as 'I need rooms for two' is beyond me."

"Having it out?"

"Arguing," he clarified. "Sorry. England and his horrid phrases and such."

"No no," I assured him, watching the little numbers on the wall panel light up, "I think it's cute. Is your brother a really argumentative person, or…"

"Oh no no." he tugged his jacket further up on his shoulder. "Well, a little. He gets the occasional fit of dementia now and again though, and he doesn't like in-efficiency… oh hey, we are here."

And so we were.

The two of us trundled out of the lift and it hissed back closed at out backs as we made our way down a lush, golden lit hallway. The doors were exotic and classy, with gilded number plates and peep-holes, and my room was just a little down from the lift, by the stairs. Sweden and Finland's must have been next door, and Den and Nor's most likely on the other side, because I was smack bang in the middle of the wing. There was a card on the door knob, the front reading something along the lines of 'do not disturb, fornication in progress' in French, and probably reading something along the lines of 'fornication in progress, but disturb anyway,' on the reverse. I removed the card, slotted the key into the lock, and twisted it open.

Well, the room was right up there alright. The only time I remember being in a fancier place was when England had insisted we all stay at the ritz. (We were subsequently kicked out, thanks to Denmark and America. Apparently, 'all you can eat' buffet is NOT a challenge.) I felt my eyebrows instantly lift, taking in the huge bed, the swanky chaise and sofa suite, and wide-screen on the low stretch-chest. The decoration was themed in a soft cream and gold, the bedside, and the dresser, and the windowsill, and the table by the door heavily decked out on vases over flowing with pale yellow roses and ivy. The air smelled so strongly of roses and lavender it made my head ache.

"Ugh…" Hong Kong pulled a face, setting down my case and approaching the window. "It stinks in here. Can I open?"

"Yeah, sure." I covered my nose and looked around. Mr. Puffin spoke up.

"Okay, okay! Let me out now!"

"Hong Kong can you?" I offered the cage with the hand not clamped over my face and he glanced over his shoulder, across the room at me while he fumbled with the latch on the window.

"He won't bite me will he?"

"No." the two of us answered, and he nodded, pushing the curtains out a little more to let more light in.

"Okay, just a moment."

I smiled behind my fingers as he swept back over, making quick work of the latch and glancing at me while he did so, as if asking 'why aren't you doing this?'

"I'm not moving my hand until its stopped smelling bad."

"Ah…" he opened the cage and edged sideways to make way for Mr. Puffin. "I see."

xoxoxoxox

"Who are you texting?" I asked him, rolling my shoulder in agitation. There must have been something a bit iffy going on geothermaly right now, because ouch. I hadn't had back pain this bad since my last eruption.

"Japan. He says that now China is pissed because they gave us rooms on the fourth floor."

"And?"

"Superstition thing, don't worry." He sighed, dropping his phone on the bed we sat on and gazing around with boredom evident on his face. "So… what do you do at these things, anyway?"

I frowned. "You don't know?"

"Actually, this is my first world meeting."

"… Really?"

He nodded, and I felt a sort of grim superiority about it.

"Well, don't expect much, its boring as hell."

"I was worried it would be." He sighed, and flopped backward. "And I wanted to go shopping."

"You always want to go shopping."

"Yes but still."

"Still nothing." I laughed, hitting him in the face with my pillow.

This was nice. Well, nice enough, excusing the boredom. Somehow we had managed to whittle away forty five minutes, though it was not even four o'clock yet, and the afternoon was in the midst of that slow trudge that sometimes it did, during lulling days of painful tedium. Small easy chatter, occasionally interrupted by my puffin and sounds of Sealand thumping around next door, and the palest of hungers left me pondering if I should ask him if he cared to eat, maybe go downtown and have a look around…

Oh wow, really brain? It was like America all over again. Why did I even have a hotel room, if I was going to be out and about all the time?

"I'm hungry. Wanna go like, get some food?"

"Hm? Oh, yeah, sure, I was just thinking about that." I stood up and smoothed my trousers off. "Hang on though, I have to put my boots back on and find my coat… I know I threw it somewhere… maybe the bathroom, where Mr. Puffin had taken steed and was having a tantrum, because there was no fish in the mini-bar.

"Have you seen my jacket?" I asked him, poking my head around the door.

"Yes."

"… Do you mind telling me where it is then?"

Clearly he did.

"Ice it's on the back of the chair." Hong Kong purred, and I jumped when something heavy dropped around my shoulders. "Now quick, you do your boots and I will go get my money." He touched my shoulder and I smiled, nodding, and then remembered something. Something very important.

"Oh, wait!" I called after him, hurrying in bare feet over the carpet to grab my boots from the floor by the bed. "wait wait wait." I dropped into the chaise and held out my boots pleadingly. "I hate to be a bother, but can you tie my laces? Norway usually does it. I don't know how."

xoxoxoxox

"How about this one?" he pointed to the façade of what was probably the fanciest restaurant on the promenade. "It looks nice."

"It looks like I can't afford to even stand by it!" I stared at him, and his indifference, in disbelief. The two of us were getting odd looks here, two teenagers standing awkwardly around in one of the most popular and glammy streets in Paris, one of them dressed so obnoxiously… asianly, I suppose (for lack of a better term) that he stuck out like a sore thumb.

"So? It's still nice."

He genuinely wasn't bothered. And I found it a little worrying.

"What then," he posed. "Would you rather go to McDonalds?"

"No." I shook my head and stepped closer to him, to allow a poodle and its (very poodlte-looking) owner pass us by. "I just… am not comfortable eating at such a fancy place."

"Ice we are in Paris. You don't have much choice."

I sighed, supposing he was right.

"Well still. Let's keep going."

He clicked his tongue, hooked his arm patiently through my own, and pulled me into a self-assured walk further down the evening street.

Oh God it was beautiful.

Maybe three blocks down from our hotel, the city was gracious and decorative, the wine-coloured air smelling sweetly of roses, food, and with the faint bitter of cigarette smoke behind it. Tall art-deco buildings, lamps strung on graceful wrought iron posts and elegant shop faces that beckoned pedestrians forth. I could feel his longing to run up to the closest Gucci shop front and push his nose to the glass. He didn't though, and I was appreciative of this. I didn't care much for the strange looking yellow blazer in the window, and I didn't care to picture him in it.

My stomach grumbled, and I tightened my arm in his a little more.

Gosh, I hadn't walked with someone like this since I was a child, and Norway had taken me Christmas shopping every year in København. For obvious reasons though, the main being that I disliked contact and the secondary being that even if I didn't there was hardly anyone I could be close with, I had since been highly reluctant to be held or touched by someone else. It was strange, both retrospective to my youth and oddly surreal, but not uncomfortable. I just couldn't be uncomfortable around Hong Kong. There was no room for it, what with his calm straightforward mannerisms and the easy, almost absent minded way he had memorised the little things about me that flattered. Maybe it was because after so long talking, I was used to him, and I could happily say I knew him, despite the fact we had actually rarely been face to face. Or maybe it was just his aura. He was different. Different to so many others I had met. And somehow we wound up here, walking arm in arm like Sweden and Finland might, debating over what to eat.

I was very glad that Denmark wasn't around to see this.

"Well would you like to go to like, a supermarket and buy some food? We can go sit in a park or something to eat."

"Mm?" I looked around, unable to see any sort of supermarket. "maybe…"

"You aren't very decisive, are you?"

"I am too!" put out, I pointed to the next restaurant I saw. "Look, there. Let's eat at this one!"

This one was a small bar slash bistro, next to a very obnoxious pizzeria, outside which any number of artsy looking trash sat smoking cigarettes. I immediately regretted my decision but before I could take it back he was dragging me over, turning the eyes of the socially elite and fashionably savvy, bringing us to the short strict line of status-holding socialites waiting outside the door to be seated. He didn't seem bothered at all. But me…

"Erm…"

"Don't question me," he sing songed (or at least, as close to sing songed as I had ever heard him), loosing his arm in mine and coiling it around my waist to move me in front of him. His chin rested on the crown of my head, and I winced self-consciously about my height.

"Why are you standing so close?"

"Do you want me to move?"

"…" well, it wasn't that I wanted him to move. It was just mildly uncomfortable being so close to him in public.

"Never mind." I told him, and he hummed, nosing my hair.

"you're cute." He told me shortly. "You get all flustered so easily."

I wanted to retort, but didn't because doing so would only prove his point. Instead, I folded my arms and stared at the evening sky, a pale pink in colour, and tried not to think about how many people were staring at me. Us.

"Hey, I'm not kidding." A finger jabbed my side lightly, and I grunted. "You are like, adorable sometimes. Like a giant white panda."

"Are you trying to wind me up?"

"… A little. I have to like, do something to waste time while we wait."

"you're not going to order wedges when we get in, are you?"

He poked my side again and I smiled wryly. Oh this boy… he really was something else.

xoxoxoxox

"ow ow ow… careful please, my back really hurts today." I was laughing when he dragged me into the elevator, a little but tipsy on the bottle of wine we had shared, hanging on his arm and just breathless, having never had an evening like this in my life.

"Sorry." He told me, thumbing the key to my floor and holding me against the back of the elevator with his hips. "If you want when we get back up I will like, give you a backrub."

"Huh?" I frowned, tipping my head to the side. "What? Why?"

"To stop the pain."

"Pfft…" I waved my hand around carelessly. "It's no problem. I will just lie down a bit. Are you still hungry?"

"Yah, I am."

"Then we can get some food too." The door of the lift beeped open, and giggling like an idiot I dragged him out, turning to face him as we walked down the hall. "Nor said I shouldn't use the mini-bar, but- oh!"

I jumped when without warning my back came up against something firm and broad.

"Hi. Sorry." I craned my neck around to see what or who I had walked into. "I wasn't look… oh."

Instantly, I had reason to be embarrassed. Sweden was regarding me from behind the lenses of his celluloid glasses, Finland behind him bearing two large coats and a satchel.

"Hello boys." He grunted, adjusting the cuffs of his argyle sweater.

"… Hello."

"Greetings."

"Have you two gone out for dinner then?" Finland chirped, tucking his little-longer-than-usual bangs back and smiling brightly. Hong Kong nodded, and I shrunk back in pale discomfort, remembering that I had to thank him for donating the room, and suddenly thinking I understood why.

"Oh, where did you go? Was it good?"

"We went to a little bistro somewhere. And no. it was terrible."

It had been too, the 'meal' hardly more than a tablespoon of rice and a shrimp.

"Oh…" Fin's face fell. "Maybe we should just have McDonalds… what do you think Sve?"

"I dunno."

"You never know."

"Well, th'n why d' y' ask."

"Because I care about your opinion!" rolling his eyes in agitation, he linked his arms through his partners and swung on him a little recklessly. "Come on, we are in Paris for God's sake, at least-"

"Hey, can we like, get past?" Hong Kong cut him off, and I could have hugged him in gratitude. "Ice needs to get to his room."

"We can talk later," I promised Finland as without warning I was dragged by. "Thank you for the room, by the way."

Hong Kong closed the door in our wake and I sighed, stretching and spinning around to cover the span between door and bed, then flop backwards.

"Ouch." I complained, and he tsked, digging around in his pocket for the fish we had acquired, to my puffin friend.

"Whiney much?"

"It really hurts!"

"Are you sure you don't want me to try help?"

"I'm sure." I sat up, watching him duck into the bathroom, hearing the slap of fish in tub, and then studying with a sort of amusement as he came back and tossed the empty fish wrapper into the garbage. "And what happened to china and stuff? Have you heard from them all afternoon?"

"Oh yeah, they are installed in the fourth floor much to everyone's distaste." He shrugged and cracked open the mini-fridge, beside the suite sink. "Why, are you sick of me already?"

"No no. I just wondered. Hey is there any free shampoo or stuff in the bathroom that Mr. Puffin hasn't destroyed?"

"I think I saw a few bottles. Why?"

I shrugged. "I'm a collector."

A small smirk flattered him.

"Well, in hotels, isn't there usually like, stuff in the side tables too."

"What hotels have you been going to?"

"None, I'm just making assumptions." He grabbed a large bottle of soda water and a bag of crisps from the minibar, that Norway was surely going to herniate over later, and swaggered toward the bed. I took them, and shuffled back to make room.

"Here," he pulled open a draw, conjuring a bible, a remote, two small bottles of orange cinnamon and clove hand cream and a French TV guide. "Told you so."

"Give me that." I took the tv guide, flourishing it in his face teasingly, and while he amused himself with the moisturizer began to flick through. It dint look like there was much.

I made a long noise of complaint, and dropped it onto the bed.

"what's the time?"

"Seven o'clock."

"What do you wanna do?"

"I don't know, what do you want to do."

I gave him the flattest, driest stare I could muster, which miserably enough only equated to about his average expression, and he raised his eyebrows, unscrewing the lid on one of the tubes of handcream.

"Your back still sore?"

"uh-huh."

"Alright then. Take off your shirt, and lie down on your stomach."

"What?"

"I'm giving you a backrub, like it or not. Now come on." He pulled back his sleeves and squirted a large quantity of cream onto his palms. "Your crazy energy stuff my brother likes is all choppy and its making me twitchy."

"… Crazy energy stuff?"

He nodded solemnly and I was not entirely convinced. It wasn't that I didn't want a backrub, (I had never had one before, but I had only heard good things), it was just… well, there were a couple of contributing factors really. The main one of which being that backrubs was the trick Denmark used to get even the most frigid of Norway's into bed with him on nights he had really fucked shit up.

But then again, it would be dumb not to at least try it. I mean, it might feel real good, and what was being with Hong Kong about, if it wasn't trying new things. Shit, since I had known this boy, my life had been nothing but new things. I doubted the Iceland of three months ago would ever even recognise me now.

"Are you sure…"

"Yes. Do it. I am an expert."

Reluctant, not uneasy so much as overtly self conscious, I plucked the hem of my jumper and wondered about my second withholding: his reaction, when I did. Would he laugh? Last time Denmark had seen me shirtless, when we had all together been at a sauna with Finland and Sweden, he had laughed his ass off. Which wasn't fair. And it sure as hell didn't help my already humble ego.

"Erm…"

"hm? What? You don't like orange hand cream?"

"… No, it's not that."

"So… take off your shirt. Its not like you have anything I don't."

"Uh, actually…" I pressed my lips together in shame, wringing my jumper out. "I…"

I sighed heavily, and dragged every last dreg of bravery together to say it.

"I'm kind of fat."

"You… you don't look fat."

"I know, but I am. I don't have muscles or anything, I'm kind of rolly poly… so I will do it only if you promise not to laugh."

He nodded solemnly and raised both his moisturizer covered hands in a gesture of sincerity.

"I promise."

So flushing, my back, as if anticipating bodily contact, really beginning to creak and ache now, I tugged my jumper up, my head getting stuck in the neckhole and tussling my hair, and then peeled off the t-shirt I wore beneath. Before he had a moment to actually look at me, I threw myself face down on the bed and drew a pillow close under my chin, my eyes screwed together in anxiety. The two minutes between when I did this, and when the soft shushing as he rubbed his hands together to warm the lotion stopped, seemed to draw on forever and ever. He didn't say anything until he had stopped, placing his heated palms on my back crookedly and shifting his stance to kneel. I winced, the feeling of his weight on my sore back aching hideously, but said nothing.

"You aren't fat." He told me flatly, hitching his leg over me and straddling the back of my thighs. "You're just squishy."

I couldn't see him, but I could hear the shy, almost invisible smile in his tone. "Here." To prove his point he walked his fingers down my sides and jiggled the padding on my hips. "Do you have squishy boobs too?"

"What?" distracted by his question, I propped myself up and craned around to see him and check if he was serious. He smiled, obviously not bothered to do so in my presence any more, and tipped his chin so that his bangs slipped back off his face.

"Well?"

"I do not have 'boobs'." I allowed a wry hint of my amusement into my expression. "What kind of a question was that?"

"Just wondering. But you gotta show me after, or I won't believe you."

"pff."

I let him push me back down into the pillow and dig the heals of his palms into my shoulder blades.

"Are you ready? This might hurt a lot."

xoxoxoxox

I lay face down prone on the bed, totally and thoroughly exhausted, and he lay peacefully beside me, smiling ever so silently from his place on the pillow. I felt weird, like I was somehow beyond my body right now, maybe stoned or sick or something, it was hard to tell, and a voluptuous bodyful nothingness had totally consumed me. I felt as though I had transcended that land of the lowly physical flesh, my limbs floppy and totally relaxed, the pain in my back numbed so that I had to think exceptionally hard to even be aware I had a back. His fingers, still caressing the shallow dip on the ladder of my spine, were light and I could feel every single spot they touched, and every single detail on the tips. His nails were blunt, but longer than mine.

"Better?" he murmured, and I smiled, barely breathing the reply.

"Yeah."

"Told you…" he smiled, shifting his other arm and tucking it under the side of his face. "Magic hands."

I laughed, closing my eyes and relenting into the tideic sensation of breathing, and the scent of orange, and the warmth of his hands. It was entrancing, the way he caressed my valleys and dips lazily, exploring fjords and fields of skin and mountain, his palms warming glacial planes and my very bones eased to marshmallow bliss. I had never felt so placid and sedate before. It was like some kind of magic.

"Hey Ice." He moved closer, grinding his hand across my shoulder blade as he did so and leaning forward over my back again. "Do you like me?"

"Huh?"

"Me. Do you like me?"

"… of course I do." I creased my brow and lifted my shoulder blade, butter flying it and imploring him to hook his fingers underneath and dig into the tissue like he had before. "Like I would let anyone I didn't like give me a backrub."

"Or feel your fat."

I screwed up my face, not really bothered by his jab as I would have been if he had intended it cruelly, and warned that if it wasn't for the fact I was feeling so lethargic I would have shoved him.

"Shut up. I eat a lot of lamb and potatoes."

"excuses excuses."

I nodded, satisfied, and managed to find enough energy to roll onto my back, stomach jiggling a little and apparently, amusing him quite a bit.

"Oh wow, you call that fat?"

"You don't?"

"Nope. You look just like Taiwan. Except like, less the breasts."

"… Gee thanks."

"You're welcome." He sat up, perkier than I was used to see him, and gazed around the hotel room thoughtfully. "what's the time, do you know?"

"Not a clue."

"I was thinking about skipping the meeting tomorrow. Sleeping in or something. We all know what's going to happen."

"Yeah." I agreed, "England will argue with America, Germany will scream at everyone…"

"Spain will try and make conversation with his old colonies and then cry when they laugh at his accent…"

"Denmark will try and con Nor into fucking him in the bathroom…"

"Really?"

"Really. These are my relations, yeah." I pulled a face. Just the thought of Norway having sex made me feel sort of ill. "Actually, you are right, let's not go to the stupid meeting tomorrow.

He grinned.

"So we party tonight?"

"Depends what your idea of party is."

"We rent the lowest budget par-per-view family film available and eat out the minibar."

"… We party tonight."

xoxoxoxox

When I woke up the next morning, in a large unfamiliar bed beside someone else, it took me a few terrifying seconds to remember where I was, and who I was with, and oh God I sincerely hope I never have to experience those seconds again. It was light, though the clock only read 5.30 am, and I was (besides my absent shirt) still dressed, and crumpled crisps and other such things littered the bed. He was in an equally disgraced state beside me, face down in the pillow and snoring. Who would have thought that?

I whined, and shook him roughly, to rouse him.

"Wha'?" he sat up like a rocket, hair rumpled, face for once crystal clear in its emotion. "Who the fuck?"

Clearly, he was not a morning person. I filed this knowledge away for a later date, and rubbed his shoulder, to calm him own.

"It's just me. You can go back to sleep soon but first help me clear off this bed."

A dozy, agitated look around, he swept most of the debris off with one arm and then let himself drop back, face first, into the pillow.

"Done." Came the muffled reply, and I was a little surprised by the flatness of his tone.

"Wouldn't you rather get under the blankets.

A long, agonised moan (that kind of implied I was the worst thing ever for making him do this,) and he sat back up, pulling down the blankets clumsily and then loosing heart half way through.

"Too much effort," he told me, rubbing his eyes. "what's the time? Where are we?"

"It's not important, just… here, lets get comfortable."

Actually, all I wanted to do was get cosy and get back to sleep too.

Grumbling, he propped himself up properly and yanked down the blankets while I fumbled with the laces on my boot in the low light.

"Wanna draw those curtains?" I asked him, knowing already he didn't but not giving a fuck.

"No."

"Do it."

Huffing he oozed off the bed and did so, plunging the room into darkness once more.

"Now I cant see."

"Me neither." I squinted at my boots, my brain feeling weirdly cotton woolly and dry. This must be what a hangover feels like.

"Let me." He dropped down and dragged my leg toward him by the heal of one boot, fingers working the laces free easily and crawling up my shin to yank off one. He gave the other identical treatment, and then left me to wiggle out of my pants so that he could strip off, and then the two of us crawled beneath the blankets, weary, grumpy, and glad for the coolness of cotton on our skin. The bed cambered beneath us, and so almost gravitationally I found myself edging close to him, and I curled into a comfortable foetal position, ready to dip back into nod.

"Goodnight." I muttered, actually almost loosing consciousness, when suddenly a slim warm hand seized my foot, and I was jolted from my comfort.

"Cold feet." He told me, tucking them up under me, my joints yielding to him loosely and easily. "They were touching my legs."

"They were not."

"Were too." He brushed the back of his nails over the sole of one, and all the hair on the back of my neck prickled. "But goodnight."

"Yeah…" I breathed the word, secretly cherishing the feeling of his fingers stroking the skin on the top of my feet as he released them. "See you in the morning."

xoxoxoxox

Stirring the second time around was a lot more pleasant, the dimness comfortable, the warmth of the blankets across me drawing me to the comfortable state of semi-awareness that also rendered a person with a sort of all peaceful, all knowing consciousness of everything but their own body. Beside me, Hong Kong shifted, his back pressing against my own, and I noticed distantly that he snored a little.

"Morning," I told him, rolling onto my side and running my hand over his bared back. His skin was so smooth and beautiful. No acne at all, not even scars (if only I had been so lucky, when I was younger), and the colour reminded my of the palest golden syrup, or some other kind of sweetened honey product. Cake, maybe. Spongy, soft sweet cake. His dark hair, cropped at the back now, complimented it elegantly. He snorted, and fell forward onto his stomach.

I smiled, admiring how adorable he could be, and pricked my ears for any other sound or sign of inhabitants around the hotel, but I found none. I couldn't even hear Sealand, which implied that they had all gone to the meeting already, and either forgotten about me or at the request of Finland, left me be.

What was up with him lately anyway? He had always been a little doting, but now it was becoming weird. Did he really think that Hong Kong and I… did he think we actually were sleeping together, or what? And if he did, how did I feel about him thinking that.

Well, I thought dryly. We kind of just did sleep together. Technically…

I flexed my toes under the blankets and smiled, closing my eyes and told myself not to make any more silly jokes, but to be serious. Because having someone in your family believe that you are having sex with someone… well, that was always a bit awkward. Especially when you are not.

Sex… no. I wasn't into sex. I didn't like the idea of sex. Sex seemed alien to me, and a little gross. Sex was what Denmark did, and what Sweden did. It was something I didn't do. Especially not with Hong Kong. That would just be too weird. After all, he was my best friend…

It's not though, like I didn't know he was attractive. Because he was. Perhaps not as traditionally as one assumes attractive should be but-

"Hello." He had woken without my even realising, hunching his shoulders to flex them and gazing at me from low on his pillow. His eyes were so pretty. The shape especially. Just… wow. "Sleep okay?"

"Uh…" I frowned, trying to remember what I had been thinking about before. "Yeah, actually."

"Hm." He lifted his hand and tucked his mussed bangs back behind his ear. "Good. I did too."

A pale urge to smile filled me.

"Did you know," I asked him lightly, "that you snore really loudly?"

"Oh, I've been told. Didn't wake you did I?"

"No. I've slept through worse."

"Uh huh."

I was glad he didn't ask for clarification on 'worse'.

Instead, the two of us simply sat there in silence, me feeling awkward, and oddly discontent about something I couldn't put my finger on. It felt like… something was missing? Like I should be doing something or suchlike, and I couldn't for the life recall what.

After a while, I could not take it any longer. I slid out of the bed and stretched, my back feeling wonderful actually, and padded to my case in the corner of the room by the window.

"I'm going to have a shower," I told him, and dozing sprawled across the bed he grunted, pulling the blanket I had discarded over him.

Oh, I get it, he was one of those sleepers.

How cute.

xoxoxoxox

He was up when I finished my shower though, looking fairly alert and flicking through the pay-per-view catalogue and dog earring pages of movies he might want to watch. So all of them, pretty much.

"Hey," I dropped my wet towel onto the table and sat in the seat opposite him. "What are you doing?"

"Looking at movies…" he droned softly. "Where's your bird, by the way?"

"Oh, the bathroom window was open, so I assume he's gone flying for some food. He's fine."

"Do you know how long he will be gone?"

"No."

"So… we are alone for a while now then, are we?"

I narrowed my eyes at him. Even though the question hadn't been suspicious, it also somehow very much was…

Perhaps my brain was just being a bit funny today.

"Yeah, we are."

"Right." he shut the magazine with a sort of decisiveness. "Okay. Well then do you want to just rent some more movies and stay in today? It's ten-thirty. There's plenty of food in China's room I can loan because he will be at the meeting. Do you want to just stay here and like, chill?"

"…" I thought about that for a moment.

"Is there any cat in the food?"

"Haha, very funny." Dryly, he stuck out his tongue and I shrugged.

"Denmark."

"Well whatever. No, I can assure you there is not."

I nodded. "Sounds fine to me."

xoxoxoxox

"I always imagined England to be a pretty decent coloniser."

"yeah, he wasn't bad, but I still like my brother better."

"hmm." I tried to imagine what life would be like being pulled from my brother by the big browed former superpower. "fair enough."

Hong Kong smiled, and reached for the bag of chips in my lap to nip out a handful. "How's your back?"

"Great, actually. Thanks for asking."

"Good. I hope if you ever need backrubs in the future…"

"I will get on the first plane to Hong Kong special. Yeah whatever." I waved my hand dismissively, and he laughed. He had a very bright laugh, when he was relaxed, and his face became suddenly very expressive. It was like, he didn't have anything to hide around me any more. Which was amazing because it meant I didn't have to bother with such things either. I could talk as badly as I wanted, be as happy or indignant or as poor grammar wise as I liked, and he didn't care. I could complain to a sympathetic ear, I could laugh at the shittiness of whatever movie it was we were watching. I could throw peanuts at him when he wasn't looking, and make a point system in relation to what part of his (by now half naked) body I hit. I didn't even have to feel self conscious, about how under his clothes he was so slim and fit and muscular, or care that we were rolling all over reach other, in a blob of indifferent teenager, eating and sharing and oh god this was so exhilarating!

Being with him like this made me feel alive. It made me hunger for all I missed, made me long for more human contact. Not just any human mind. I was very much discriminatory toward everyone but him, but still, it was good. And it was comforting. And it was like the blade of light that escapes your curtains, when the sun first rises in the morn.

"Good." He told me, reaching for the remote and kicking up the volume. "That's what I like to hear."

Unable to contain my smile, I returned my attention to the tv.

The movie we had ended up charging first on the tab was a shitty high school chick flick, one with proms and shopping montages and other such delights. The whole time, all he talked about was how shit it was, and how his movies were better, and I nodded sarcastically when he did so because after watching at his recommendation a whole slew of Kung-Fu films and the like, we both knew I didn't agree. But that was how it was. And it worked. And it was good. And I was contented.

We passed the last twenty minutes of the movie eating, occasionally passing one another chips, him taking a slightly more daring role and nipping them out of my fingers when I lifted them to his face. Maybe it was a little romantic, I thought. This wasn't the sort of romantic that Den and Nor thought we shared, but this was definitely cosy, and giving me warm fuzzies. Was this a date? Were we just friends? I couldn't tell. Maybe I should have asked…

But in the end, I didn't.

xoxoxoxox

Four movies later found it just gone six pm, and we were sat debating over whether we wanted to get Kung Pow or Finding Nemo next. He was trying to convince me to watch some tacky Japanese romantic anime smut thing, but absolutely not. I had heard enough about japans taste in entertainment (specifically, tentacle porn) to know that no matter how many times Hong Kong tried to convince me it was alright, I would never ever be caught dead watching such stuff. Seriously.

…somehow, we ended up watching the crazy cartoon bangfilm. I don't even know how… he was just extremely clever with words I supposed, whereas I had the vocabularial talent of a particularly average stump. He honestly didn't seem affected by impossibly proportioned woman being raped violently by a giant squid (which made me question on several levels, Japan, and how he could be so proper and modest on the surface) but it made me feel a little sick. I would never admit that though. Instead, I excused myself, saying I wanted a shower, and he gave me one of the most quizzical looks I had ever seen on his face (so not that quizzical, but still).

"Oh?"

"Mm." I picked my damp towel off the table.

"Didn't you have one this morning?"

"Yeah."

He clicked his tongue and popped open a bag of crisps we had procured from the swiftly emptying mini-bar.

"If you want to like, jack off over this you can do it here. I can go for a walk or something."

I froze, face immediately darkening to somewhere around the region of fire-engine on a scale of one to red.

"Excuse me?"

"If its making you horny-"

"No!" I cut him off, wringing the towel I gripped in embarrassment and glaring at him as hard as I could. "What the hell? Who gets horny over that!"

I didn't understand how that was even possible. People actually… found this sexy? And he thought I found this sexy? No! no no no! of all the people in the world I wanted least to think that I got off to tentacle porn, he was the absolute number one. That was disgusting, and embarrassing, and absolutely positively not.

"Well, plenty of people."

"How can you say that with such a straight face?"

He shrugged. "Don't get worked up about it. If you like, find it hot then that's fine."

"I don't find it hot!"

"Oh? Then what do you find hot?" looking totally bored with the conversation, he glanced around the bed for the remote, finding it by his left foot. "I'm sure we can find a anime of that."

"… Nothing! Can we just not watch anime porn? I didn't even want to see it in the first place."

He sighed, turning off the television (cutting our heroines screams of unconsensual bliss short) and beckoning me forward with a crooked finger.

"… Do you reckon it would be weird," he asked me slowly, once I had approached "if we like, kissed?"

"What do you mean?" It didn't quite register at first what he was talking about, still a little worked up over the anime porn confusion. "Like kissed or kissed?"

He shrugged. "Either. Would you find it weird? What do you reckon would happen?"

That question pulled me into a moment of thought, and as soon as it did, I understood what he was asking. My stomach dropped.

"Wait, what?" I stared at him in surprise, but he maintained his typical, blank arrangement of features-

"A kiss, you know. Like lips to-"

"I know how to kiss!" I cut him off a little more harshly than I had intended to. And he nodded slowly.

"Yes… but have you ever tried it?"

I bit my lip.

I had of course never kissed so much as my own pillow in my life. To be honest, the thought of being close enough physically to anyone to actually kiss them creeped me the fuck out. I had never wanted to kiss somebody, I had never felt that compulsion. The only reason I knew the mechanics of it was because the years I spent as a child growing up with my brother, I had seen Denmark's not-so-savvy technique more than probably necessary. So, when one thinks about it, my knowledge of how to kiss even was strictly limited.

"Uh… noo… why, have you? Wait weren't we talking about anime porn?"

"No." he told me simply, waving his hand as if to dismiss the anime porn thing entirely. "But I would like to try it."

"Oh."

"Would you?" he turned his face away and tossed his fringe back. "Like to know what its like to kiss?"

"What? Me? No!" I shook my head. "No way, absolutely not." I shivered a little. "That is so gross."

Like anime porn.

"Yes," he concurred, "the way Denmark does it is disgusting. But I'm not referring to Denmark. I'm referring to me. Would you like to kiss me?"

And suddenly, all the (remaining) ease was sucked out of the room, and the air took on a very stressed tense quality, mostly on account of me. I had most likely blanched, because I could feel the tip of my nose chilly, and ashamed of my reaction (because kissing, come on. Who didn't like kissing?) I sat down on the bed, settled back into the pillows on the bed and drew my stockinged feet up to my chest.

"Oh." Was all I could say for a few moments. "Oh. I see."

He didn't seem bothered, reaching for the chip packet and rustling around for a handful. Well, either that, or he was master of the pokerface. Which oh wait, he was.

Never mind then.

"Wow," I admitted to him, after a certain extension of moments. "Wow. I uh… I did not see that coming."

He just shrugged, and sucked chip flavouring off his fingers.

"Well, if you don't want to…"

"No!" I assured him, abruptly panicky with anxiety. "No its okay! I just…"

"So you do want to kiss me?"

"No. I mean yes. I mean no! I don't know!" raking my fingers through my hair in frustration, I tried not to make a big deal out of this. He didn't care, obviously, so why should I? Why should I…?

I thought in a split second about all those weird feelings, but dismissed them immediately for the matter at hand. Things were going to get distasteful soon, if I didn't find my tongue and say what needed to, but I struggled. My palms were sticky, my heartbeat chaotic. I stuttered the first words of my explanation.

"W-Well i-its just I… I never really thought about kissing someone before, you know?" God, when I said it out loud it sounded so… childish. "I've never met anyone… I've never experienced the compulsion to… well its just…" I sighed heavily and drew all the courage in my body together to say it.

"I have absolutely no-sex drive whatsoever that I know of. That's the absolute gods truth. Its not that I don't like you, because I really, really do, it's just that I'm not sure I'm comfortable kissing you whe-"

I was startled enough to stop my sentence when he pulled me forward by the wrist, and a warm, gentle something pressed against my parted lips, squishing a little, and only briefly, before being pulled away again. It wasn't until after he sat back that the realisation of what had just happened hit me, and about seven centres of various things in my body erupted, sending messages of any number of sensations rocketing to my every extremity. My hands shook a little, and my whole person tingled with warmth.

"There," he sated simply. "The only person who doesn't enjoy intimacy with another person has never tried it."

And as though that was the answer to the meaning of life, he just went back to eating his chips.

I was still struggling to fix the malfunction in my brain.

"… When I've never even considered kissing anyone."

He actually frowned at me as wide eyed I finished my prior speech, and raised a finger as he chewed, to signal patience, he had something to ask.

"So you mean to say," he inquired around half a mouth of dorritos, "that you have never felt any sort of sexual anything at all?"

I shook my head dumbly.

"Like, nothing, not even a twinge?"

Again I shook my head, staring at the wall ahead of me like I could see through it. I could spot his disbelieving expression from the corner of my eye.

"So like, you've never had a crush?"

"No."

"Looked at porno before this?"

"No."

"Touched yourself?"

"No."

He sat there for a moment in silence, clearly as stunned as I was, but by entirely different design.

"Soo… what? You haven't even had like, and orgasm?"

I went to shake my head, but then stopped.

"Well, yeah, I guess. When I as still living with Norway I had a lot of wet dreams."

"Do you remember them?"

"… No." I bowed my head, ashamed. "I have no idea. Everything to do with sex just seems weird and crazy, and I have no idea in the world how it could ever feel good. Ever."

He stared at me for a moment longer, and I could feel his judgement burning into my flesh.

"… You are like, so missing out!" he pulled me lightly down onto the edge of the bed and having finally found something more important than feeding his face, rolled up the bag of chips and cast them away. "Oh my… I can't believe you have never even touched yourself? Why not? Were you like, scared or something?"

"No!" I defended myself, horribly embarrassed. "It just… it didn't feel good, okay?"

"And you've never seen a person that just makes you want to…"

"No."

"… Wow Iceland." He shuffled closer, and the sheets below moved a margin too. "You have so much to learn."

His hand touched the side of my neck again, and this time I didn't even flinch. Whether it was because I was so used to him or because of the little kiss before, I couldn't tell. I was still a bit spaced out from that.

"Here," he nudged my face up and around kindly, and before I could scream in surprise I found myself forehead to forehead with him, smelling the perfume of honey and sweet pastry on his skin. Dark caramel eyes drilled into me hopelessly, the hair on the nape of my neck quivered in its follicles. "Let me teach you."

And with that, he slid his mouth against mine again."

xoxoxoxox

"Mmm…H-Hong K-"

"Shh." He silenced me with another kiss, shifting over me and tucking his bangs behind his left ear. "Relax. Are you okay?" his fingers brushed my burning cheeks, and looking away in embarrassment I nodded, although I wasn't actually altogether sure. How long had we been doing this? Hours? Maybe only moments. I couldn't remember. Somehow, we had sunk back into the bed, the blankets being messed into a hurricane of soap scented cotton and feather throws. He was close. Intimately close. (Of course.) I had never been so close to anyone in my life, and frankly, I found it a little (a lot) surreal. I wasn't sure what to make of it, whether it felt good, or horrible I just… I couldn't tell.

His body was comfortable, I supposed, the wool of his sweater cosy and warm. He was slender, and his long legs (tangled with mine) were smooth and graceful. The way he held me was gentle, but still it was strange. Feeling someone else's lips on your own, the texture and taste totally unfamiliar… it was strange. Maybe not unpleasant, but…

What was even stranger though, was feeling it when he kissed with his tongue.

He did this again when I gave him the signal, a silent agreement that he could kiss me if I lowered my eyes just so and licked my lips, and my stomach filled with the fluttery feeling I was beginning to grow accustomed to, before he nipped the tip back out again and brushed spidery fingers through my hair. It was like a swift coming and going of something altogether new and exciting, something I had never managed to experience for long enough to understand, and a little bit… nice. It was kind of nice. The soft brush of something warm and wet and gentle, with a flavour that wasn't sweet or bitter or anything, but wasn't neutral either. The texture of it slipping over my lips, his teeth skating and nibbling and my mouth unexpectedly five times as sensitive as it should have been, under his ministrations. How was it, that now my lips felt swollen and hot, and tingly? Like they wanted to be sucked and nibbled and… kissed.

I dragged my arms up and hitched them around his neck to hold him closer, opening my mouth and wondering if maybe he would stop teasing with his tongue, and actually… like Denmark did to Norway when he thought no-one was looking.

"Hm?" he noticed, moving back and biting his lower lip. "You want me to use my tongue?"

"What? No." I blushed, immediately looking away. "I mean yes. I mean, I don't know! You figure it out!" frowning I tugged my arms and he laughed, yanked against me and landing with his hair all in my face. He was warm.

"I've got an idea," he murmured from his spot at the side of my neck. "Take of your jumper and pants."

"… What?"

"Come on," he told me, smile audible in his voice. ""I want to kiss you more."

"K-Kiss where?" my heart leapt, my breath shuddering and a few eager, anticipatory twinges of sensation blooming in some places on my body. Some places that… maybe shouldn't feel this way.

He smiled, the length of his nose sliding against mine, his sweet scented, silken hair falling forward and tickling the sides of my face. From up close, it was much easier to see how flawless his skin was, in both colour and texture, the elegant feline roundness of his eyes wonderfully seductive. Slim fingers caressed my cheek, and he purred softly, in my ear, tilting my face up just right.

"Here." His breath burned on the soft tissuey skin by my cheek, tongue sneaking across the spot and flicking into my ear in an action that should have been repulsive, but instead somehow turned my spine to stardust. "And here…" those light fingertips dipped down the side of my neck and flirted with the collar of my shirt, "And all the way down here too." He kissed my lips again, stroking his fingers along the side of my body and leaving a thread of fuzzy tinsel in its wake. "I want to kiss your neck,"

"Nmm?" I turned my face to the side to allow that, but denying the indulgence, he stroked his cheek there instead in a languid nuzzling gesture.

"And I want to kiss your chest."

"Uh-huh…"

"And your stomach."

"Mmm…" my eyes fluttered shut, and I buried my nose in his satin hair. Each part of my body, when he mentioned it, seemed to bloom in warmth and sensitivity, an almost aching throb pleading for satisfaction. "What else?"

"What else do you want?" a cheeky bite on my jawbone, and about seven muscles in between my thighs gave an involuntary quiver of excitement "Where do you feel it?"

Where did I feel it…?

"I can't tell you that!" I hissed, embarrassed, and his light breathy giggle betrayed that he knew exactly where I was feeling it, and he had only asked to glean that reaction.

"It's okay," he assured me. "I know where. It's like, here, isn't it?" he fumbled with one of the buttons on my shirt and parted the cloth gently. Warm wet tongue glided down the cleave of my ribcage, and I whinged, bringing my hands down to pop open the next few buttons. His lips were magical…

"I can lick them all up," he murmured, sliding the flat finger pads of two fingers across my breastbone and touching a nipple, which had thanks to his earlier words and kissing already peaked and darkened to a faded rose tone. "Suck them. And then when I'm done, I can lick out your sweet little tummy, and down, running over the flatness of skin above your beltline. Reaching for your jeans and popping them open… I can tug them down your hips, and curl my tongue beneath the elsat-"

We were interrupted by a knock on the door.

All I have to say about the matter is thank God it was Norway, who had come to swap his shampoo with the one I had mistakenly taken. Denmark, of course, would have barged right in.

xoxoxoxox

"Can't I touch you some more?" he asked me, as pink faced and flustered I fortified my side of the bed from his with a low wall of pillows.

"No." I told him shortly, patting the pillows down and at mild unease, I settled back against the headboard. "Not with my Family around you cant."

"But… if they weren't I could?" he propped himself up on his elbow, arm creeping over the border and stroking my leg a little ambitiously. "And we could kiss, and hug, and I could suck your d-"

"Hong Kong!" I slapped his hand away and moved of the bed. "What are you doing? This is not… no. just no." still suspicious of him, I grabbed the remote and knocked up the volume of the TV, in case someone may have heard us discuss this thing that really merited no discussion, thanks very much.

"What? Don't you want to?"

I frowned, and anxious I set down the remote and swept to the door to make sure it was locked. I couldn't really answer that, at that moment. I settled for pointless busywork instead.

To be honest… I just… I wasn't sure I was ready. I wasn't sure I liked him that way. I wasn't sure I liked anyone that way, or that I ever could. I knew, on some level of me, that I should. After all, everyone did, it was only natural… so why exactly didn't I? it wasn't ever anything I reflected on, after all I lived isolated from people my own age, and I was a distant person anyway… wouldn't it be weird? To have him… you-know-what? Would it like, affect our friendship or…

I became flustered, when I thought of our friendship, and even more so when I remembered the taste of his tongue caressing my lips, running over the flats of my molars, pressing against my own and dragging me into delicious oblivion. That wasn't something friends did. It wasn't something friends did. It was the sort of thing Denmark and Norway did, or Sweden and Finland. It happened to older people, people who are ready and had had centuries to fall in love. It didn't happen to people like me, young and new to the world of even being with someone who wasn't a relation. Who would be interested in me, anyway? I wasn't that great a catch. I was about as interesting as Norway, and only about half as well-recognised. I was shy, I was grumpy… and maybe I was a little nervous. Suddenly having a whole new world pressed onto me like that. A world I had never thought I would ever need to consider becoming a part of. It was both thrilling and terrifying, and the crossroads I found myself at were despairingly enough void of any advice or guidance. On some level, I knew if I didn't, I would regret it. After all, an opportunity like this may never arise again. But then… what if I did it, and my life totally changed forever. And I never even had a moment to take stock of my old life, and memorise it, and let it go…

And all of this yet, was on a purely selfish, humanistic level. What would the implications be for my nation, and its people? And his nation and his people? This was too much. Too much too soon. I sighed, wondering if I was over thinking it (again) and turned back to him still sitting calmly on my bed.

"I like you, Hong Kong." I told him, and it was a lot harder to actually do than one would suspect. "I really do. It's crazy how much of a difference you have made in my life already."

He cocked his head, eyebrows raised, and I looked away from him before carrying on.

"But I don't know. Because I don't usually like change. And if I let you, that will be a pretty big change. Maybe too big of a change."

"You were going to let me before."

"Yes but that was before I thought about it! You caught me off guard, okay? I wasn't expecting it."

"You think too much."

"Yes, thanks, I've been told." My tone was a little icy, but he didn't seem bothered, flopping back on the bed and dragging one of the pillows from my make-shift border and hugging it to his chest.

"God, Ice, live a little! You always seemed so… fiery when you thought no-one noticed."

"What," I asked him in surprise, blindsided by the question "is that supposed to mean?"

He shrugged. "I dunno. You just… have this expression, this glint in your eye. And the way you say things sometimes… it's like you are daring someone to contradict you. You are doing it right now."

"I am not!" I told him hotly, balling my fists and tucking them behind my back out of sight. "You are imagining things."

If there was one thing I couldn't stand, it was people who thought they 'got' me. It just… it needled my blood something fierce.

His small smile could have earned a punch, if I was close enough.

"So… do you think there's any chance of maybe… in the future…"

"… You are just a little pervert, aren't you?" I asked him, changing the subject not as subtly as I would have liked. "Under all that apathy… you're a horny little teenager."

He shrugged. "I'm surprised you aren't."

I raised my eyebrow, a little flattered that though usually soft spoken and private, he was admitting all of this to me.

"You are also very honest." I told him. "I like that. But don't let it get to your head!" my warning finger was raised, and he perked up a bit. "You and I are just friends until I say so. I haven't decided how I feel about this yet. This… lapse… we don't speak of it. Ever again. Mention it and I will not even give you a chance."

He nodded, hiding his smile in the pillow, and regarded me for a moment in private reflection.

"But… there is a chance right?"

I narrowed my eyes. "One more comment like that, and I will kick you out."

xoxoxoxox

Hong Kong was acting with quite an amount of superiority the next day, all during the meeting he sat there, looking quite pleased with himself, and sending me looks I could only really interpret as being exceptionally 'cat who got the cream'. I couldn't help but blush every time he did it, and I sincerely hoped that no-one noticed. To distract myself, I peeked over Sweden's and Norway's shoulders respectively (them being either side of me around the desk) and observed whatever it was they both were doing. Norway was having a rather intense hang-man battle with Den, and Sweden was drawing portrait of, surprise surprise, Finland with flawless accuracy. Nothing interesting then.

At the front of the long table, Germany was lecturing. I wasn't having the easiest time following, seeing as I had missed the day before, and at break I decided that fuck it I would just skip. I didn't even need to be here, it was a waste of time.

But obviously on the same thread of reflection, Hong Kong had already text messaged me at some point, with a brief

this is boring, and lets go into the city after lunch.

Ok I messaged him back, trying to think if I had brought any change of clothes that might be suitable for the relatively warm Parisian autumn. Thermal underwear and other such delights would probably be unnecessary.

xoxoxoxox

The pavement was rickety under the perilous heals of my favourite white boots, and the leaves hushing down the crooked, pretty path that took us past the river were a bit of a bother. He took to kicking large crackly piles of them aside with his own steps, and graciously enough he let me walk higher on the path, while he walked in the dry gutters. It was light and breezy, the shop fronts glittering with the understated ritz of Paris in the afternoon, and I couldn't help but think it was all very overly fancy. I felt out of place, awfully self conscious, I wondered if the French were looking at me, with their judgemental eyes. People were certainly glancing my way. Was it my hair? Of course it was my hair. My hair stuck out a mile, and it was worse now, we were not out in the evening like last time, but midday. Full daylight. And everyone could see…

"What are you doing?" he asked me, having caught me trying to smooth it down, or hide it, or something. I mumbled some kind of response and bowed my head, edging around a child who had fixed globelike blue eyes on me, despite its mothers discreet attempts to stop it when they passed.

"What? Why? There's nothing wrong with you, look here." He grabbed my hand, pulling it away from its spot half shading my face, "You have like, amazing hair. Don't be so anxious about it."

"But… I-"

"Don't but. Just relax." He gave me the ghost of a smile, and released my hand, stepping beside me on the path and nudging me over with his hip. "You are much more beautiful than any Parisians here."

I tripped, but caught myself on his shoulder, spluttering and blushing and feeling much more self conscious than I had before.

"Can you not say those sorts of things?"

"It's true though."

"Are you blind?"

"No," he assured me, tossing his hair back off his face. "I am not."

I sincerely doubted it, hitching my jacket tighter around my waist and pressing my lips together in a harsh line.

I supposed that now he had brought it up, now was as good a time as any to ask…

"What is it about me that you find appealing, anyway?"

He hesitated in his steps for only a moment, before continuing on.

"Well… do you want to get an Ice Cream and sit down, we can chat?"

"… Yeah," I replied, thinking that I had no money on me, so he would have to pay. "Whatever."

The street we were walking on was fringed on one side by a river, and the other by a face of pretty art deco style buildings turned shops and cafes. The trees lining the streets were bronze, their leaves dripping from twiggy lattices to the ground below, and the people outside were like the people on that first night, except now they were eating sandwiches (of the fancy variety) and drinking luncheon wine. There was a small parlour up ahead where I supposed Ice Cream may be a possibility, and sure enough, once he had tugged me across the road (in the wake of a little blue mini cooper) and the rich sound of some nasal French romance warbler met my ears, I could see the large cardboard Ice Cream cone tacked in the window, looking all very flash about its existence and slightly delicious. The atmosphere, when we got in, was a little more friendly too. There were kids inside, and older people, and upon spotting the little play area in the corner I understood we had stumbled upon a smaller family sort of diner, though it was done up with all the glamour and suave of any other fancy eatery in the vicinity. Pretty paintings, gold trimmings, candles and plant beds in the windowsills and decorative separators overflowed with purple flowers, a soft breeze rolled in through the cracked windows, billowing light white curtains across the hem of the space. I supposed it was kind of charming, in an overly fancy way. But then I was so used to simple cottages and the big open. Flashy city life had never really been for me, and class was a non-item. It occurred to me for the first time that perhaps I could be a little rag-tag and boring, compared to some of the older nations. No wonder people tended to look down on or right over me.

But that was okay, I reminded myself. Because who wanted to be all fancy ass anyway? The fjords were much prettier, the wild unkempt land of geysers and snow and of sprawling hills and caves was much more precious, and beautiful.

So why was it such a materialistic fellow as Hong Kong would want anything to do with me?

"What kind of Ice Cream do you want?" he asked me, and I was startled out of my ponderings.

"Uh… liquorice?"

"They don't have liquorice. What? Is that even a thing?"

"Yes." I told him, surprised. "Of course!"

He pulled a face.

"Ew."

What a charmer.

He got us liquorice anyway, (seemingly very surprised they had it,) and we sat at a small table by a window, one that overlooked the other street running on a T-junction from the one we were on before, and a low window box filled with budding red tea-roses.

"Red is a good omen," he told me softly, plucking one and dropping it on the table where it landed face up, the petals silky and opalescent in the delicate, window split light. "Here." He scooted it across the table toward me with the fingers of both hands and licking the Ice Cream I watched it for a moment, before realising I was supposed to pick it up.

"Oh!" I handed him the Ice cream and scooped up the blossom with two hands, like he had presented it. "Right, really?"

"Mm." he smiled again, and nodded. "So good luck."

"With what?"

He shrugged.

"Anything."

A small smile, he licked a drip of Ice Cream from his knuckles and up the side of the cone.

"It's not bad," he told me absently, handing it back. "But I think I will pass."

I laughed, having only just observed for the first time, the way his eyes glimmered in the clean afternoon light. He was very beautiful.

"So." He tipped his head to the side, and a fall of hair obscured one side 0of his face. "What was it you were wondering?"

And sheepishness being a part of my nature, I clammed up. It took him another whole Ice Cream to persuade me to ask what I was longing to know.

xoxoxoxox

He lent me his coat, on our silent walk home, the frount pinning shut on my breast, the sleeves dangling loosely over the side. He seemed happy to wander beside me in a plain white tank top, and I noted what I hadn't the night before, the firm definition in his arm muscles, and the slightly darker caramelled cream of his skin. He was much thinner than I, and undeniably attractive. He looked older, too. But that was just the effect, that western clothing had on him. Without the silk coat and floppy sleeves, or the shadows of his family… oh, he was delicious.

So this was what it was like, to be attracted to someone else.

It was a nice feeling, likeable to hunger, or a lust to go somewhere, or do something. An inclination… a something that would be wonderful, to indulge.

Blushing, I twisted my arm through his and after a brief glance of surprise, he shrugged, letting me walk beside him in a comfortable pair. A lot like the couples walking down the street past us.

There was a light, chilly breeze dancing down the streets and avenues. I was glad when we got back to the hotel, and the brisk outdoors was exchanged for a cosy gilded foyer. I never thought on if any of my relations might be loitering around, but it didn't matter because we made it back up to the room unperturbed, and he locked it, behind us.

"Tired?"

"Not really…"

"Hmm." He undid his coat and slipped it off me, laying it down on the table beside the vase of freshly replaced flowers. They were roses. Red as blood and luscious. One was pulled gracefully from the vase and tapped on my face. "So I hear that in European cultures red is a symbol of romance."

"…Yes…"

My face turned a colour comparable to that rose.

"Is it okay if I stay with you tonight?"

"Of course."

xoxoxoxox

I had only been sharing a bed with him for two nights, and already I struggled to remember what life sleeping in a single barely big enough for me to keep my feet in was like. What it was like waking up alone, in the middle of the night, and warming blankets by my own, without someone else's body heat helping along. From my spot in the bed, my head in a pile of pillows, I watched him strip off, replacing his wife beater with a t-shirt and soft grey jumper, feeling a strange sort of anticipation and excitement. For no particular reason, mind it wasn't like he and I had planned anything that night. It was just a feeling. A sense that maybe… something might happen.

He had a little hair, under his arms.

"What's the time?"

"I dunno," I told him, not wanting to take my eyes off his torso. "There's a clock on the sidetable."

"Oh." He glanced at it, before reaching over and switching down the lamp to a pale bronze. "It's nine o'clock. Heard from your brother?"

"No, thank God. He's probably forgotten me."

"How could any one forget you?"

The bed creaked when he lay down, and I cuddled up to him as subtly as I could, inviting his arms to wind around my body and his nose to nuzzle against my neck. He was warm, and he smelled wonderful. Although the feeling of being held by someone else… was bizarre, and there were split moments where I questioned if this was my real life, and my real body, I must admit that it was wonderful. Comfortable.

"Do I get a goodnight kiss, seeing as this is our last night together?"

I sighed and kissed him, a single brief peck on his mouth, then hesitated, before kissing him once more. One for Christmas, I told myself in my head. That way I didn't have to buy him a gift. And while I'm here, one for his birthday too. When was that? Did it matter?

But by this point, having lost my train of thought, I had already kissed him a good three or four more times.

"No…" he complained when I pulled away. "Don't stop…"

"You've had enough." I told him, wiping my lips on the back of my hand. "Go away."

"Come on… one more?" he touched my chin imploringly and making sure he knew how unhappy I was about it, I kissed him for the last time.

Twice.

Three times.

And then for some reason I kissed him again.

We sunk deep into the bed, and humming in contentment I let him embrace me, beseech me to embrace him back and kiss with the tip of his tongue, and then the full sweep of it. He rubbed the nape of my neck, he pulled me with astonishing ease atop him, and slid his fingers luxuriously through my hair. They were warm and loving. When we parted, a stubborn sling if saliva still stretched between our lips before snapping, and he smiled so prettily, in a way that lit up the entire room with the golden twinkle in his eye.

"Hm?"

"Shh." I told him, kissing his cheek and holding the sides of his neck gently. "I don't know. Just don't complain."

"I'm not complaining," came the assurance, his hands creeping up my back and holding me closely. "Why would I complain?" he kissed my nose, and then my lips.

"Shh!" I scolded, and feeling might naughtily, I kissed him back and let him roll me over, manoeuvring me around on the bed and shoving any offending pillows out of the way. His jumper cam off in a simple, smooth motion, and revealed once more the plain white t-shirt below. His dressing earlier had been totally redundant.

"Take that off too." I told him, and his slightly thicker than average eyebrows lifted a little.

"Wow, someone wants the dick."

"I do not want your dick!" I told him, fumbling with the buttons on my own flannel pyjama shirt. "I just want you close to me, is all."

"Hm." A knowing, somewhat haughty look, he obliged, peeling off his tee and baring his wonderful, honey skin, thin but muscular arms, and a flat, built tummy, all of it simply glowing with that characteristic jewely quality even through the night. "The more skin the better eh?"

"Something like that."

"Well then." He flicked open the last two buttons on my shirt and ran his magical fingers over my stomach, "Want to take off your pants too?"

"Pervert…"

"Well if you don't…"

"I never said that!"

I was a little conflicted.

What I was feeling, this… skin hunger I had never really experienced before… it was, was telling me quite insistently that this no pants thing was a fabulous idea. The feeling of warmth all over me, and the ache of my chest and gut to please for the love of God do it already was hard to ignore. The strict voice of reason that usually had say, in its soft monotone, was silent. I had been hearing less of that lately, and I hoped for the briefest of moments that he wasn't dead or something awful before becoming suddenly aware of him touching the waist of my trousers, pushing at the hem, and twiddling a bit, wit the button.

"I can do it!" I pushed his hands away and slid them off myself without even realising what I was doing, my drive to be independent and take off my own pants thank you very much found me in my underwear on the bed with my half naked best friend, hot and bothered in an unfamiliar way and aching to be enveloped in his arms forever.

"Shall I?"

"Yes!" I glared at his jeans accusingly, willing them away and ignoring my instinctive embarrassment at being seen like this. "Get it rid." I tossed my own pants to the floor and with grace and a little excitement, he had his bottoms removed. He too, was wearing short boxers, and his legs were thin and smooth, like a woman's.

"Well?" he asked me, catching me staring at his thighs. "What are you waiting for."

I, for all intensive purposes, lunged at him, dragging him down and flinging my arms around him tight. This proved to be a wonderful decision, because the nakedness of his body on mine was warm and pleasant, and he didn't hesitate to hold me back either, rubbing my back and squeezing tight, his fingers raking through my hair. His kisses were brief but heavy, raining on my face with sexy (?) desperation. I dug my fingers into his collar bone, pressing my lips to hair and neck and jaw where I could. And the exhilaration! Oh! I swear I have never experienced anything quite like this before. I had never felt so sensitive, it was like I was feeling the texture of cotton for the first time, and smelling him for the first time. It was like a tornado of sensation, tearing through me, reducing me to nothing more than a whisp of something I couldn't name.

"Does your back still hurt?" he asked me, lips gliding over the patch of skin by the front of my ear that I liked. I shook my head, having not had a single complaint from that region since my back rub, and pleased with himself he gave a small grunt, driving his hands up my spine and pulling me over so we were lying chest to chest with me on top. I propped myself up.

"Don't hesitate." I warned him, "or you will give me an opportunity to think about this."

"So. Think about it."

"If I do then I wont want to!"

"Really?" he inclined his head. The youth looked different from this angle. A lot haughtier, more confident.

And then I reflected.

"Well?"

Scowling, I leaned forward and kissed his lips, having not found a single part of my brain insisting we stop.

"You think you just know everything, don't you?"

"Mm." his kisses flirted with my cheekbones, and I shuffled down his body so I could straddle his hips, my head nuzzling against his neck. He chuckled, and carded his fingers through my hair.

"I like you so much Ice."

"I know, I like you too." My blush burned, and I knew that it would have been flushing other arts of my body now too, like my neck and arms. "even though you're crazy."

"Everyone is crazy in your paradigm, except for you."

"Pretty much…"

He touched my nose, and a little put out I bit the tip of his finger.

"Ow! Real mature, Ice."

"Aren't I just."

And smiling in contentment, breathing his scent and listening to his heart beating almost imperceivably against his neck, I found myself drifting into sleep.

xoxoxoxox

A strange thing happened, when I woke up at some un-nameable hour during the night.

I had been moved, because he was no-longer beneath me so much as beside me, cradling me to his chest and with his nose buried in my crown, the lights had been turned off and we were under the blankets. But that wasn't the weird thing.

Oh no.

The weird thing I think was the feeling.

I woke up not feeling off, per se, so much as… like I had woken in a different body. One that felt strange and hot, and one that ached in certain places with such tenderness it hurt. Maybe it was the heat, I concluded. It was very warm in his arms, after all, but when I tried to escape he wasn't having any of it, holding me tighter and leaving me to struggle with this unfortunate pressure inside me.

Did I need to use the bathroom? No… it wasn't that.

Was I feeling sick? No, not that either.

Actually, I kind of knew with a grim disbelief what it was. I just really didn't want to acknowledge it because no. I was Iceland, and I didn't feel those sorts of things. Not now, not ever.

My body was turned on, and wanted to be touched in certain ways.

I wiggled uncomfortably, trying to find a spot not so close to him, and tried to figure out what for the life of me was wrong. It must have been his smell, I concluded, which at that moment could very well have been the perfume of the gods. His smell had been permeating my dreams, and messing my hormones up, and now I wanted him to stir from his sleep and take responsibility for it. With his hands, dipping along my sides, or his mouth…

At the thought of having something hot and wet and soft caressing such inflamed places, my stomach jolted and a strong twitch between my legs surprised me. I gritted my teeth, and before thinking twice about it (what was wrong with me? I never usually did anything without thinking twice!) I jabbed him hard in the stomach.

He twitched, making an odd snorting noise, and rolled onto his back.

"Hey!" I frowned, dragging myself over to him and jabbing him again. "Wake up!"

He groaned, the groan turning into a growl of agitation, and the dark shape of an arm lifting to push hair off his face was silhouetted in the darkness.

"What?" he didn't sound happy, voice still groggy with sleep. "Iceland? Is that you?"

"No, it's Russia wh-hey. Hey what are you…" I leaned out of the way of his splayed fingered hand reaching for my face and brushing the side of my cheek. "What are you doing?"

"Your hair is really white. It's all I can see…"

He found my hair, curling his fingers in it and scratching my head like I was some kind of pet.

"So cute…"

"Shush!" I shook his hand off, prepared to bite fingers, should he try that again. "Leave it alone."

A husky chuckle, the sheets rustled as he pulled up the blankets, re-arranging the ones that were sipping away. "Okay, okay." He settled back down and brushed his hair off his shadowy, but still very beautiful face. "What did you want then? Waking me up at…" he checked the illuminated display of the side table clock. "five-twenty-seven am."

I pressed my lips together, a wee bit embarrassed.

"Well, I woke up."

"… oh really."

"Shush, let me finish!" I was glad he couldn't see my cheeks in the low light. "I woke up, and I felt kind of… erm…" I puzzled over how to phrase it. "Turned on?"

His slow hair combing ceased, and I could practically hear his astonishment.

"… Continue."

I shrugged, flopping back into the pillow and nuzzling his shoulder.

"Then I woke you up."

Well, one of the first things I had learned about Hong Kong, besides his passion for food and shopping, was that he was not by any means stupid. He could put two and two together, and I'm pretty sure he understood by this point that maybe I did like him like that after all. Or at least, I was prepared to try. I couldn't tell if I was the one changing or if I had always been this way and only now realised it, but maybe I was ready for this. Maybe I was… at least a little curious. And I did like him. A lot. And I could see me still liking him in a few months. Or a few years. Or a few decades. I hadn't thought about liking him beyond that. Of becoming like Sweden and Finland and making a life together, but that was something I would look at later.

Something you look at after he has fucked you and left you, a snide (probably jealous) part of myself argued. I ignored it, licking my lips and brushing my hand not-so-discreetly along his arm.

"And so what?"

"So… do you want to help me out with that?"

"… Who are you." Came the flat, emotionally void reply. "and what have you done with Iceland?"

"I am Iceland." I told him, a little hurt he would accuse me of such a thing as stealing my own identity. With his warmth so close, my body was really getting worked up now. "Why?"

"I don't believe it."

"I am!"

"Prove it."

I gritted my teeth, and deciding I didn't care about giving him his stupid proof I initiated the first of what I hoped would be a serried of kisses.

"… Oh." He seemed distinctly shocked when I pulled away. "Well, you taste like Iceland."

"Damn right I do." I pushed him backward, sitting across his hips as best I could and bending down, so we were chest to chest. I had caught Den and Nor in this position once, making out on the sofa when they thought I was asleep, but it was a lot more pleasant an experience actually doing it, as opposed to seeing it done by someone else. "Why? Do you like the taste?"

"A little bit," his lip curled faintly, but he pressed it away again, into insignificance. "You are terrible at dirty talk."

Well ouch.

He laughed, running his hands up my bare arms and prickling my skin in their wake.

"Would you like me to teach you how to dirty talk?"

"Dirty talk? Don't be dumb, I wasn't trying to dirty talk." And well consciously I hadn't been. But it was a little bit humiliating, being told that my Normal sexy talk was laughable. I swore to keep my mouth welded shut for the remainder of the interaction.

"Well whatever you were trying to do. It's like, a lot hotter…" he grabbed the side of my face and kissed my lips. My heart jumped. "If you do it. Like. This." He punctuated the sentence with small butterfly pecks on my lips and along my jaw to my ear. "and if you like talk really quiet, like this." He breathed the words against the back of my neck, the vibrations tingling, the hot air inflaming some parts of me and chilling others. I nodded helplessly, tilting my head so he could access my ear better, and hoped that maybe he would kiss it. The region was feeling uncharacteristically sensitive, and frankly I wanted all my sensitive places licked right then. It was imperative.

He one upped me though, kissing my earlobe, and the button tragus inside, and then pulling the top shell between his teeth, nibbling with delicious softness and nit releasing until my fingers on his chest had dug gouges into his soft warm skin. I suppose it was a little bewildering, how swiftly he had reduced me to a mess, and in want I drove my hands through his hair, rubbing his scalp and gasping when he kissed a particularly pleasurable point. He seemed to know them all, across my neck and face, just like he had known all the points when he massaged me. Was this like a massage, this kissing and suchlike? Or was he just a good guesser…

"Do you want me to go lower?" he mumbled, and I nodded with only the barest of consideration for the question. We rolled over, taking me onto my back and him on top, and when he sat up and tugged off my underwear my legs just fell open, like they had been spread my whole life. it was a bold, unfamiliar position for me, and the seemingly taboo newness made me feel sexier than I usually would have, just lying there, prone and nude.

"You look hot." He pointed out, not particularly eloquently but I didn't mind. "You look like a natural."

"A natural what?"

He shook his head, shadows moving across his face as his hair swayed, and lent forward again, to squeeze one of my respectably-pert pecs, as if they were breasts. The pads of his fingers brushed the seem of rosy nipple (dark in the light but invisible right now) and I pushed my chest up, in invitation to pinch or squeeze or whatever one did to nipples, to induce pleasure.

His lips did a good work too though, and his mouth, into which he sucked an entire button, his tongue working over the superbly sensitive pinnacle. I whined, wondering how I had never wanted this before, and jolted my hips. I was beginning to feel a queer sensation between my legs, that I knew from theory rather than experience was an erection caused by sexual arousal. It was hot, and fuzzy, and actually kind of pleasurable in its own way. Or at least I thought so, until his thigh brushed against it accidently and I almost disintegrated into a pile of ecstasy. From then on the throbbing pleas for more were near unbearable.

I held his face against my chest possessively, wishing his thigh would grate in my crotch once more, and complained loudly when he popped off my chest and began licking and kissing a trail happily down my stomach.

It was then that I realised that A) the darkness multiplied sensation even more, and B) when he passed by my stomach button with minimal attention paid that he was actually going to suck my hot dick into his wet, soft mouth.

I made an utterly stupid noise, and he paused, breath buffeting the nest of pubic hair I just realised I had left untrimmed. Not that that was unusual, but…

"What colour is it?" he asked me, voice distant and breathless, but gravelly too. I shook my head, just wanting him to do it, and stop with the questions.

"What colour?" he repeated, and I moaned.

"Dark."

"Black?"

"No, grey-ish. Please, Hong Kong…"

"Call me Li Xiao."

"Huh..?"

"Li for short." He nosed my cock and I understood that he had just told me his name, his human name, which was something I had never ever anticipated happening. it was for nations akin to telling another your pin-code, the sort of thing you only shared with intimate acquaintances. Before this moment, I had only ever known Norway's, and that was only because I had heard Denmark say it accidently during sex.

"I'm Emil." I told him on a snatched breath, before he took me in. "Please be car-oh!"

My train of thought unravelled when he actually did it, pushing my foreskin back and forward a little before curling his tongue around the part of my length o knew was the head and pulling it tenderly between his lips. My pubic region seized in bliss, and I tipped my head back, overcome with sensation.

I must say, it was nothing like I had anticipated.

I'm not sure exactly, what I had been expecting from having some other persons hands or mouth on my genitals. I must say, when one puts it like that it doesn't really sound appealing. After all, genitalia was the big scary unmentionable thing, when one was young, and so the taboo of the whole affair was something that had stayed with me for… well, until right now. No matter how many times Denmark had tried to tell me that it was wonderful, when Nor kissed his.

Actually, that may have had something to do with it.

In any case, the moment that found me on my back with my legs spread and another boy's face between them found me also caught in a confused whirl of emotions and sensations that I found both familiar, and impossible. Things I never could have dreamed, the sensitivity of tongue, and the awareness of everything from his lips to his breath to his bangs falling onto my stomach, and of course things I recognised, the warmth like holding it in my own hand and the ghostly memory of forgotten dreams coming back in some kind of lusty déjà-vu. The feeling was indescribable, and breathtaking, and as he sucked patiently, his hands massaging the base with confident pressure, I felt him suck a fulfilling tension into me too, drawing me to a perfect crest of mind blowing, unbelievable oblivion and taking me harder and harder until I was almost screaming, thrashing around on the bed and yanking at his hair. My breath scraped in my throat and I was dizzy. The reality-bending nature of this… what was it? Oral sex? Well whatever, the reality bending nature of it had reduced me to a mechanism suitable for only one thing, and that was moaning the name of this beautiful being doing this to me in reverence, and willing him to give me more, more, more.

"Li…" I groaned, voice cracking. "Oh Li… yes. Yes… Yes!"

And that must have been it, my orgasm. A powerful crack of shudders that trembled from the roots of my hair to the points of my tightly curled toes. He jerked his head backward, coughing, but I didn't notice, too busy rolling my hips and living my climax with perfect awe, the heat spreading right through my body and leaving a warm contentment in its wake. Exhaustion too, and giddiness. He was still coughing, and panting heavily I pulled my head up, to see him kneeling between my legs and wiping his face on the back of his arm.

"You should have said you were going to cum." He reprimanded me softly, and I shook my head.

"I'm sorry, I didn't know."

He nodded, and coughed a little more.

"It's okay. Was it good?"

"It was amazing."

"Will you touch me now?"

"Mm." I nodded, shuffling back to let him closer, and moving when he nudged me aside, to lie down. "Shall I suck?"

"No no. just kiss me and touch my hair."

Kiss him and touch his hair?

Well I frowned, but obliged in the end, propping myself on one elbow so I could lean over him and kiss his brow and hairline and lips as much as I liked with ease, one hand carding through his hair on the other side of his face.

He took a lot longer than me to reach zenith, I was beginning to fade back into sleep, my balance propped above him wavering, but when he did cum he did it with such sweet genuinity I could have cried. Never had a more perfect noise been uttered, beyond the light "Ah!" that punctuated the sound of sheets rustling and dick rubbing, and the consecutive groans as he squirmed and hunted frantically for my lips against his own. I let my hand (the one formally servicing his hair) wander down his chest and through the hot semen on his tummy, to his penis, and over took his own hand in stroking out the aftershocks, his violent shudders calming and his kisses loosing their digging urgency.

"Was it good?"

"Yeah," he confirmed with a breathless laugh. "It was wonderful."

I smiled and released his dick, rolling over him and sinking against his chest when hands crept around my waist.

"Good," I kissed his lips and forehead again. "I like you a lot, Li Xiao."

"I like you too, Emil."

And like was enough, for that moment.

xoxoxoxox

ta-da! R and R if the inclination takes you. Flame if you want. But threats to my physical person can be stuck up your ass. Because that's not cool.