A/N: Rated T for language. The story would be rated K if not for Romano's mouth.
I do not own Hetalia. All rights reserved. Thank you for taking the time to read, I hope you enjoy the story :)
Spain's exasperated call seemed to visibly penetrate the thick white cloud of flour that billowed inside the pantry. Romano shook his head in a vain attempt to shake the flour out of his hair. Annoyance quickly ran under Romano's skin. This was Spain's fault. If that stupid, no good tomato eating bastard hadn't surprised him from behind, he wouldn't have fallen off the step stool in the pantry, bag of flour in tow. Romano felt Spain's large hands beneath his armpits as he was hoisted to his feet by the older nation.
"Why do you always make such a mess?" Spain asked in frustration, roughly patting down Romano's shirt and hair, sending more puffs of flour into the air. Romano wriggled out of Spain's grasp and angrily pushed against his boss's stomach.
"This is your fault, you stupid bastard!" Romano shouted angrily, trying to ignore the fact that he wasn't even half Spain's size. He hated how silly his own insults sounded coming from his small body. He pushed roughly against Spain's stomach again.
"Calm down," Spain grunted and grabbed a hold of Romano's small wrists to prevent further damage to his stomach. Dusty handprints had been left behind by Romano's flour covered hands. Romano struggled to pull his hands free of Spain's grip.
"Lemme go!" Romano protested loudly, yanking his arms against Spain's hold. Spain briefly released his hold on the small nation, just long enough to move his hands to Romano's shoulders.
"Calm down!" Spain repeated, louder this time. Romano stopped struggling and instead opted to glare angrily up at Spain's face. "I'm sorry I startled you, but what were you even doing in the pantry in the first place? Dinner isn't for at least three more hours!"
"I was hungry, and was just going to grab a snack," Romano said defensively. "You can't expect me to work on an empty stomach, do you?"
"You hardly work at all!" Spain replied in exasperation. "And you just had a snack an hour ago! How can you be hungry already?"
"I'm still growing and need extra food," Romano said, still glaring. He defiantly stuck his tongue out at his boss.
"Romano," Spain started, his frown deepening. Before he could finish, Romano wormed his way out of Spain's now much looser grip. Romano ducked under Spain's arm and sprinted out of the pantry, towards his own room. From the corner of his eye, Romano could see Spain make a grab at Romano's clothes, missing by inches. And as Romano sprinted around the corner and out of sight, he could hear Spain's frustrated sigh.
By the time Romano reached his room, a good coating of the white dust that covered him head to toe had found its way onto about half the furniture that had Romano passed, leaving a distinct, white trail. Romano looked at himself bitterly in his mirror. The white flour was caked into his hair and clothes. He growled angrily before peeling off his clothes.
Why was stupid Spain always being so stupid? Romano roughly tossed his dirty clothes into his hamper and stomped his way to his bathroom. He let the tub fill with warm water, not looking forward to how the flour will feel once it gets wet. As he slowly lowered himself into the clear water, Romano felt a twinge of guilt as the layers of dust clouded into the water, creating a murky fog. It would take ages to get the four off everything in the pantry and in the hall to Romano's room.
But no, Romano reminded himself. This was all Spain's fault anyway. Why should he care? If anything, it served the bastard right. Romano screwed his eyes shut and lowered himself in the tub until the water was up to his chin, trying to focus solely on the warmth of the water.
When Romano finally pulled himself from the tub, the water had already cooled. He dried himself off and pulled on a clean pair of clothes. When he exited the bathroom, he could smell a delicious scent wafting up from the kitchen. Romano perked up. Spain must be almost done cooking.
Romano trotted to the kitchen and poked his head through the door. Spain was setting the table as the meal did the last of its simmering on the stove behind him. Romano was surprised to note that the pantry behind Spain was surprisingly flour free. Spain however, Romano noticed with a tug of guilt, had flour smears still on his cheeks, hair, and clothes. As Spain turned around to attend the stove again, he jumped slightly in surprise when he spotted Romano in the doorway.
"Ah, Romano," he said with a tired smile. "Dinner's just ready to be served. Why don't you take a seat, Chico?"
Romano walked over to the table and hoisted himself up onto a stool. He kicked his legs impatiently as Spain served the food onto their plates. While he waited, Romano prepared himself with defenses for the lecture he was sure to receive from Spain in any moment. To his surprise, Spain ruffled his damp hair playfully before taking his seat across from Romano.
"Hey, Romano," Spain started after helping himself to a large amount of tomato sauce. "I was thinking of visiting Austria and Italy tomorrow, would you like to come with?"
Romano frowned, not liking the idea of traveling all that way to see his idiot brother. But he disliked the idea of Spain going without him and fawning all over Veneziano like he usually did while he was gone even more. "Sure," he mumbled bitterly. Spain smiled brightly and spend the rest of the meal chatting about stupid things, like what he did with France earlier and how this year was supposed to have an especially good tomato harvest.
As Romano watched Spain wash the dishes after they finished eating, he could feel his eyes continually being pulled in the direction of the pantry. Spain hadn't even gotten mad that Romano had made him clean the entire mess up himself. Romano felt guilt give another less than subtle yank on his chest and he frowned, for once feeling actually sorry. He almost wished Spain had gotten mad so Romano wouldn't feel guilty at all and could brush it off like all the other times he'd done something to make his boss angry.
About halfway through washing the dishes, Spain gave a tired sigh and scratched the back of his head. Romano just barely heard the older nation mutter something about finishing the chore tomorrow after the trip to Austria's house before he dried his hands and sauntered tiredly to his room.
Romano cocked his head curiously to the side before darting to the pantry to grab the stepping stool, that was, to Romano's chagrin, noticeably flour free. Romano dragged the stool over to the sink and climbed up so he could easily reach the dishes that lay soaking in the soapy water. He set to work washing the remainder of the dishes, which was surprisingly harder to do than he expected, needing to repeatedly drag the stool across the kitchen to reach the places the dishes needed to be returned. Romano repeatedly cursed his shortness under his breath. He couldn't wait to be as big as Spain, so these kinds of things would be much easier.
After numerous curses from Romano and multiple near fatal encounters for the dishes, Romano dried his hands and stared proudly at the now empty and clean sink. Romano dragged the stepping stool back into the pantry, no longer feeling the guilt from earlier. As he made his way back to his bedroom, he couldn't keep the grin off his face. He couldn't wait until the morning. And as he climbed into bed, he happily wondered what Spain would say when he noticed the clean sink in the morning.
He didn't notice.
Romano had his shoulders angrily hunched close to his head and his arms crossed as he sat next to Spain in the carriage to Austria's house. He'd waited all morning for Spain to notice, but the bastard nation just made breakfast like normal and didn't say a damn thing about Romano's wonderful cleaning. Not even when Romano not so subtly pointed out how shiny the ceramic build of the sink looked. Spain had just looked confused by his comment and went on his damn merry way. Spain had noticed his underling's foul mood, but of course, attributed it completely to the wrong thing.
"Now, now, mi Niño," Spain sighed, tugging lightly at Romano's tense arms, trying to uncross them. "I know Austria isn't your favorite person, but let's try to enjoy the trip okay?" Romano rolled his eyes and jerked his arms away from Spain's touch. He scooted himself farther down the seat getting as far away from Spain as possible in the small space. He stubbornly kept his eyes on the scenery outside the window and away from Spain. "C'mon now, Romano," Spain continued, his earlier carefree smile fading fast. "Aren't you at least excited about seeing your little brother?"
"I don't give a damn about that no-good pasta loving idiot," Romano responded harshly. Spain sighed in defeat and turned to look out his own window. Romano continued to stubbornly hold on to his annoyance at Spain for the rest of the ride. By the time they reached Austria's estate, both nations were running a bit ragged.
To Romano's extreme annoyance, the person waiting at the gate to greet them was none other than his little brother, Veneziano. The little suck up even had the nerve to be sweeping in front of the gate while waiting for them to arrive. Italy looked up and smiled that idiotic full faced smile as he saw them approach. Who would ever fall for such a stupid face? Romano scoffed to himself.
Spain apparently would. Not even a second after the carriage had pulled to a stop did Spain bound out of the ride, his usual smile plastered all over his face. The dark haired Spaniard was almost instantly by Italy's side and scooping him up into a fierce hug.
"Italy! It's good to see you again," Spain cried happily, "You're cute as always!" Romano glared at the two as he pulled himself out of the carriage. His stupid brother's smile broadened in Spain's arms as he returned the hug. Romano felt a pang of jealousy and hurt as he watched his boss's emotional display.
By the time Romano had reached where the other two were, Spain had released his brother and was contented with giving the child a fond pat on the head. Romano glowered at Italy and possessively grabbed a fistful of Spain's shirt. Italy, completely oblivious to his older brother's sour look, happily led the two of them to the front door of Austria's house.
"Mr. Austria," Italy called as he pushed the large door open, "Mr. Spain and Romano are here!" Romano eyed the bespectacled nation as he approached. He wondered what kind of man could raise his brother to be such a pussy. Not that Italy wasn't like that before moving in with Austria.
"It's good to see you again, Austria," Spain greeted with a smile. "How are you?"
"I'm good, thank you," Austria responded, before politely adding, "I hope the ride here went well?"
"Yes, it was great," Spain replied. He turned towards Romano and gently pulled his shirt free from the grip Romano still had on it. "I'm going to be talking with Mr. Austria for a while, Romano. Why don't you spend the day with your brother?" Spain paused for a moment while his smile faltered. "And try not to break anything," he added quickly and quietly before turning back to Austria and walking away down the hallway with him, smile firmly back in place. Romano scowled after his boss.
"Romano, Romano!" Italy cried happily pulling his brother into a tight embrace. "It's been so long! It's so good to see you again!"
"To bad I can't say the same thing about you, Veneziano," Romano retorted, pushing his brother off of him.
Italy's smile faded for a moment before coming back brighter than ever. "Hey, Romano, why don't we go outside? It' real nice out today, and Mr. Austria probably won't want us around the house much if he's in a meeting with Mr. Spain."
Romano grunted noncommittally, but allowed himself to be pulled by the hand back outside.
After hours of Italy dragging Romano around the large estate, twittering nonstop about his wonderful life with Mr. Austria and Miss Hungary, the two brothers sat themselves down in the shade under a beautiful oak tree to eat lunch. Romano was, for the most part ignoring the food (for once) and was occupying his attention by pulling at the lush green grass beside him.
Italy looked up from his pizza. "Yeah, Romano?"
"What do you do to get Spain to like you so much?" Romano asked bitterly, yanking out a fistful of grass and letting is blow away from his small fingers.
"What do you mean?" Italy asked, cocking his head. "Mr. Spain is so nice; doesn't he like everybody?"
"He doesn't like me," Romano replied painfully, pulling his legs to his chest.
"I don't think that's true at all!" Italy responded intensely. "I can tell Mr. Spain likes you lots!"
"Well, he likes you a whole lot more," Romano said angrily, wrapping his arms tightly around his knees.
"I don't think so. I think Mr. Spain loves you most!"
"Then why does he always get mad at me?" Romano asked, his voice rising. "He says I never do anything right! And then he always goes on and on about how great you are, and how wonderful it would be to have you around the house, while he only ever complains about me be lazy, and bad, and not doing chores!"
Italy stayed quiet for a moment before asking, "Do you do your chores? Or are you lazy and skip them?"
"I do my chores enough!" Romano bristled defensively. "I'm just not the greatest at them!" He paused for a moment before bitterly adding, "I even did one of his chores yesterday and he didn't even notice."
"Do you often to Mr. Spain's chores for him?"
"Well no," Romano admitted sullenly, "But why should I if he doesn't even notice the one time I did?"
"Romano…" Italy sighed, "It's not really fair to blame Mr. Spain if he didn't notice one little thing. If you really want him to appreciate you more, try helping out even more often! I'm sure Mr. Spain will notice then and be really happy!"
Romano grunted a vague reply before changing the subject.
Romano sat sourly next to Spain on the ride back home. This time, however, Romano was notably not wedged in the corner of the carriage, as far from Spain as he could manage. But he was still determined to stay bitter at his boss.
"So how was your day with Italy?" Spain asked with that damn, ever present smile of his.
"None of your damn business," Romano scowled. Spain, however just continued to smile before blabbering on.
"Little Italy is so cute! We should visit them more often, don't you think, Romano?" Romano didn't think so. "It's good to visit family! I'm sure Italy enjoys seeing you too!" Romano rolled his eyes in response, but didn't reply. Spain's eyes sparkled and ruffled Romano's hair. Romano looked up at Spain's smile before returning his gaze back to scenery passing outside the window.
Romano sat alone in his room while Spain worked on cooking dinner. He gazed at his reflection in the mirror, his usual scowl pulled tightly over his face. He hated how little he looked like Grandpa Rome. Maybe if he looked more like Rome, people would like him better. Spain would like him better.
Everyone loved Italy. It was as if his brother could do no wrong. He even got to go by their country's name, instead of being referred to as Veneziano like Romano. Painful envy boiled up in Romano. He always got the short end of the stick, while his brother got everything. Even Grandpa Rome had liked his brother more than him. Romano knew he wasn't very likeable, but he resented his lack of esteem all the same. Romano closed his eyes and remembered Grandpa Rome once telling him something one day after bitterly pointing out his own flaws.
"You can't choose the hand you've been given," Grandpa Rome had said, "and you may not have all Aces, but you've got to look at the Face Cards you do have, Romano. Make the most out of them."
Romano thought of Spain cooking down the hall. Then he thought back to what Italy had said to him earlier. Romano lowered his eyes in new resolve. He would do what Italy said. And he would make Spain like him.
After they finished eating and Spain had finished washing the dishes (of course, still not noticing the dishes from the previous day missing, Romano noted with another twinge of annoyance), Romano began walking around the house looking for something helpful he could do that maybe Spain would notice. To Romano's frustration, it was a lot harder to find something than he'd thought it would be.
After a second pass of searching around the house, a movement outside one of the windows caught Romano's attention. There were a few, large white sheets blowing outside on the clothesline. Romano perked up and made his way outside towards the laundry, after quick picking up a wicker laundry basket near the door.
Once outside, Romano set the wicker basket down on the green grass beside him and looked up at the fluttering white sheets above his head. The blankets were higher up than he had originally thought. He stood on the tips of his toes and stretched his arms and fingers out as far as he could reach, but still only just brushed the edge of the fabric with his fingertips. Romano glowered at the laundry, cursing his own shortness.
Romano jumped and grabbed at the offending material again, this time grabbing a small fistful of the fabric. The sheet bounced back up out of Romano's grip. Romano's glare deepened, but he noticed he'd managed to loosen one of the clothe pin's hold on the sheet. Romano jumped again, higher this time, and grabbed the sheets with both hands just in time to hear Spain's voice behind him.
Romano stumbled in surprise as his feet hit the ground, pulling the entire sheet down with him onto the ground. The thin white blanket fell over his head and Romano quickly tangled himself up in the fabric as he tried to orient himself again. After a short moment of struggling with the large sheet, Romano felt the blanket being pulled off him. Romano blinked and looked up at Spain who was holding the blanket with that exasperated look of his.
Spain looked at the now dirty white cloth and sighed with frustration before kneeling down to Romano's level.
"What are you doing, Romano?" Spain asked, rubbing his eyes with one hand.
Romano flushed in a mix of frustration and embarrassment before responding, "I was just-"
"I've told you before not to play with the laundry! Now I have to do it again."
"No, that wasn't what I-"
"Shouldn't you be doing your chores anyway?" Spain cut him off again with a frown.
A hot flash of anger streaked through Romano. "Just forget it, stupid bastard!" he yelled before storming back into the house.
The remainder of the week continued on the same way. Every time Romano found some way to help Spain out, he managed to screw it up. After several broken dishes and vases, a few shredded books, and even a couple cat scratches, Romano's frustration had reached its peak. All his efforts had served to produce was just more bad encounters with Spain and bruises on his own pride. Romano had reached his limits, and Spain still didn't like him. Once more, Romano decided. One more try and that was it. If it didn't work that time, then the stupid oblivious bastard could just go on hating him for all he cared.
Romano struggled to carry the heavy basket he had in his hands. The tomatoes in Spain's garden had finished ripening and were at their prime time for harvesting. Romano had decided to spend the afternoon picking the fruit. If Spain didn't notice the tomatoes, then he wouldn't notice anything. Unfortunately, the bright red fruit were heavier than he'd anticipated as he hauled the basket full of them back towards the house.
But fate apparently decided to hate Romano, for just as Romano had gotten only a few yards from the house, his foot caught on a small boulder that jutted awkwardly from the ground, sending him and the basket tumbling forward. Romano involuntarily let out a loud yelp as he and the fruit crashed noisily to the ground. Romano groaned in mild pain and pushed himself onto his knees and looked in dismay at the damage in front of him. Several ripe red tomatoes lay smashed on the ground around him.
"Romano?" Romano heard Spain's voice come from the doorway. "Are you all right? I thought I heard a crash."
Romano unwillingly looked up at the doorway where Spain stood, a look of surprise drawn on his boss's face. After a half second of surprised hesitation, Spain came jogging over to where Romano remained kneeling on the ground. Spain was almost instantly in front of Romano, kneeling down beside him and the juicy red mess.
"What happened?" Spain asked, his voice a blend of concern and surprise.
Shame, embarrassment, and frustration washed over Romano as he tried not to look at Spain's face. He felt one of Spain's large hands on his shoulder and the other under his chin as Spain gently forced Romano to look at him. To Romano's horror, he could feel tears burn at his eyes and his lower lip start to tremble.
"Romano, what happened?" Spain asked again, his eyes flicking down at the smashed fruit around them. "What were you doing?"
"Bastard!" Romano yelled pitifully, hating how pathetic he sounded. He unsuccessfully tried to blink back his tears as the continued to well up in his eyes. "Why do you always have to come at the worst time?"
"What?" Spain blinked in surprise as a single tear escaped Romano's eyes and dripped down his cheek. Romano angrily rubbed it away with his fist, only to have another follow suit.
"I was just trying to help," Romano's voice cracked. "I thought maybe if I do stuff to help you out, then maybe you'd like me, but I always screw it up and you always find me screwing up, and you don't like me, but you like Veneziano, and not me because I'm not as good as him and-"
Romano's rambling was cut off as Spain pulled him into a tight hug.
"I don't not like you!" Spain exclaimed, squeezing Romano tightly against him. Romano buried his face in Spain's shirt as more tears leaked out from his eyes. "How could I not like you, when you're my cute Romano?"
Romano lifted his tear streaked face to look up at Spain. "But you always get mad at me because I always screw things up."
"That doesn't mean I don't like you!" Spain replied. He moved his hands to hold either side of Romano's face and wiped his tears with his thumbs. "I love you, mi Niño! You don't have to try and prove yourself to me." Spain wrapped his arms back around Romano's trembling frame and gave him another tight hug.
"You love me?" Romano barely choked out before hiding his face in Spain's shirt again.
"Of course I do," Spain answered with a smile. "You're my adorable Romano!"
Romano wrapped his small arms around Spain and cried in disbelief. Spain held him until his tears stopped and he drew back away. Romano's eyes caught on the destroyed fruit on the ground and he could feel his face start to heat up in embarrassment of both his clumsiness and his over emotional display.
"I'm sorry I-" Romano started before being cut off by Spain.
"Oh, Romano!" Spain beamed, and picked up one of the unscathed tomatoes and held it to Romano's red face. "You're face is so red! You look just like a cute little toma-"
"Don't say it!"
But, Romano thought as he tried to shove the fruit from his face and escape Spain's loving grip, maybe the stupid smiling bastard wasn't all that stupid after all.