Ello everybody! Angel here with a lovely two shot as a gift for my amazing, sexy, beautiful, fantastic, wonderful, amazing, glorious Chinese/Internet wife, Lucky. See, Lucky has written me a story every year for my birthday and I have done nothing! D: So I own her three. This is the first so...Happy 13th Birthday! I mean, this fic is three years overdue, but it's here now!
Kay, so she wanted to be converted to RusAme along with this she wanted it to be fluffy, featuring a protective!slightlyinsane!Canada, sage!England, goodsport!Russia and himself!America. So this creature was bred in my lab and released into the wild. Enjoy!
Disclaimer: I own not this madness.
Austria's Christmas ball was in full swing, though Russia wasn't in any mood to enjoy it. It was a silly affair, but Austria liked to feel aristocratic, and everyone else sort of obliged him. If they didn't go, Hungary was bound to knock them out with a frying pan and drag them all there anyway.
Due to the short notice his late invitation gave and lack of any other willing party, Russia had come with Belarus. Upon arriving she glared at anyone who came within six feet of him. Needless to say, there was a sizable gap between them and the rest of the partygoers.
It was really very sad. Russia came hoping to socialize and maybe change everyone's opinions about him, but Belarus was having none of it. He couldn't even dance with her. She was so busy maintaining her force field of intimidation and anchoring herself to his arm that all he could do was stand there like an increasingly awkward elephant.
It also dawned on him how pathetic he was for coming to a dance with his sister. It was humiliating, and he used his free hand to bring his scarf over his nose and cheeks. For a moment he wondered if it were possible to chew through his own arm and make a break for it.
That was when he caught sight of someone standing alone on the other side of the room. He recognized that blond hair and those blue eyes anywhere. But why was America alone? He should be the life of the party. Of all the nations in need of a date, Russia didn't think America would be one of them. Even back when they were friends, America's sunny outlook and idiotic charm always won people's hearts. At the very least England should have taken him. This required some investigation.
"Um, Belarus?" He turned to his sister. Her keen violet eyes were glued to Lithuania, who was grudgingly dancing with Poland.
"Yes, brother?" she asked without taking her eyes off of her target.
"I…think I should go sit down for a while. I'm starting to get tired. Would you mind grabbing me a drink?" He smiled sweetly when she looked up at him. She didn't say anything for a while, and his smile slipped around the edges.
"I'll do anything for you, brother," she finally said with a light blush coloring her cheeks. Then with a whirl of her skirts she was gone and Russia's arm was free. Relief washed over him. He bought himself enough time to slip through the crowd to America.
The other nation held a cup of punch and watched the others with a smile on his face. It wasn't a happy one though, and for the first time in a long time, something other than his sisters made Russia uncomfortable. There used to be a time where he knew exactly what to say to America, but that had long since passed. Now it was just awkward and he realized he was an idiot for walking over here.
"Hey, Russia." Crap. He didn't even get a chance to make a tactical retreat.
"Ah, privet America. Are you enjoying yourself?" He steeled himself for an insult. He hadn't had a serious talk with America since their bosses started disarming their nuclear bombs. That had been a few years ago, and even then it was uncomfortable. They hadn't spoken more than two words to each other. With their bosses wanting to restart their less than stellar relations, it would have been too easy to slip back into old habits after hating each other for so long.
"Eh, not really. I don't have anyone to dance with." America shrugged sheepishly. Huh, he had been expecting a communist insult, or at the very least a good old fashioned 'fuck off.'
"That's unfortunate. I'm here with my sister." Russia sighed when he imagined the havoc Belarus was causing over at the punch table.
"Really?" America's eyebrows shot up towards his hairline and his smile turned into a smirk. "Your sister? I'm sorry, but that's hilarious!"
"You don't have to say it so loudly." Russia crossed his arms and looked away. "And I better get back to her. At least she values my company." He grumbled the last part.
"Dude, no need to get mad. I'm here with my brother!" America laughed and rubbed the back of his head. "I'm glad to see I'm not the only loser here who came without a date!" And just like that it all came back. This was the America Russia knew before the Bolshevik Revolution. He missed this America, the sweet kid who was infuriatingly optimistic, not the paranoid wreck who rode the McCarthyism train for all its worth.
They talked for what felt like hours, as if the Cold War had never happened and all the awkwardness between them didn't exist. They weren't Russia and America, but rather Ivan and Alfred — two friends catching up. It wasn't hard for Russia to admit to himself he missed this.
"I remember the look on England's face!"
"I know, right?" America was holding his sides and leaning against the pillar as he trembled with laughter. "Dude, I think more than half of my bad habits come from you."
"Oh, like what?" Russia said.
"Closet drinking, love of guns, failure at attempting to write my name in the snow with my own urine, you know, stuff like that."
"I'm glad I made such an influence." It was odd for him to laugh. He couldn't remember the last time he had a good one. "As for your name, all it takes is a little coordination."
"Thanks for the advice, Mr. Calligraphy."
Russia shook his head with a chuckle and took in the other guests. A slow song had started and everyone swirled lightly with their partners. "Look how happy they are." If only Belarus would dance with him in a perfectly platonic manner.
"Yeah, makes me wanna throw up." America stuck his tongue out. "I mean, what right do they have being so happy, when you and I are stuck on the sidelines being single?"
"It is not so bad." Russia shrugged his broad shoulders. "We're having fun now, da?"
"Yeah, I guess we are." They didn't speak for a while and simply watched the others dance. Sometimes it was nice to pretend they were entirely human and that their lives were their own. "I'm glad we finally got to talk," America said. "I've missed you, big guy." That sent a rush of warmth coursing through Russia's body so great he feared his heart was going to fall out. That was a sure fire way to ruin the moment, but before he could reply in kind, he was startled when a small voice called out America's name. Not two seconds later a second nation literally materialized from thin air.
"Canada!" America's face lit up. "I was wondering what was taking you so long."
"Canada?" Russia was sure he heard of that country before, but his mind kept drawing blanks.
"I-I got lost in the bathroom." For some reason Russia had the urge to cover his vital regions when Canada's eyes fell on him. They were blue like America's, but something about them gave Canada the impression of being older and not nearly as friendly. "Oh, h-hello, Russia." His voice was baby soft and timid, but his eyes remained frigid and fearless.
Russia was fascinated. The two countries were almost perfectly identical. Canada's hair was just a bit longer, and a strange curl hung down his face, but other than that Russia had never seen such symmetry in two different nations.
"Russia, this is my little brother, Canada." America looped an arm around Canada's shoulders and beamed with pride. Canada shuffled his feet nervously. There was something off about him that made very cold fingers prick their way down Russia's spine. The way his body leaned towards America and how his fingertips brushed America's sleeve every second or two reminded Russia of his own little sister. Canada didn't look insane, but then neither did Belarus half the time.
"I'm actually older," the seemingly shy country said.
"Pfft, by what? Like three seconds? Doesn't matter, because I know I'm totally older. The hero is always older." America didn't seem to be afraid of him, so maybe Russia was just overthinking things. He spent most of the night in Belarus's clutches after all.
"Whatever you say, bro." Canada let out a breath of exasperation.
"It is nice to meet you," Russia said. "So you're twin nations? How strange. I've never heard of such a thing."
"We've met before, but that's okay. No one really remembers me unless they need something. Like a chair." Canada's eyes narrowed just a fraction, but it was enough for Russia to notice. Paranoid. Just paranoid. "And yes, it isn't very common, but since we were born around the same time, and we can't decide who's older, we must be twins then, eh?"
"Even though I'm totes the older twin," America chimed in.
"You're resemblance to each other is remarkable," Russia said. "The only nations I know with something similar are the Italys, but they are not considered twins."
"Ha, well Mattie and I have always been the odd kids out, right?" America looked at his brother expectantly.
"R-Right." Canada nervously adjusted his glasses.
Suddenly the music picked up and America's entire face lit up. "Oh man, this is my jam, dudes! For real. Russia, since you don't have a date, will you dance with me?" That was when Russia saw it. For the briefest of seconds, a dark shadow descended over Canada's face. Yet as soon as America looked over his shoulder, Canada's expression morphed back into slightly anxious innocence. "That okay with you, bro?"
"Um, y-yeah. That's fine." Canada knotted his fingers together and looked at the ground. "Have fun, Al. You deserve it." Before Russia could protest, America grabbed his hand and pulled him out onto the dance floor.
"America, I'm not sure it's a good idea to leave your brother." Russia glanced over his shoulder. With a look that could kill a bull elephant, Canada gripped the pillar America had been standing by, and squeezed it so hard tiny spider web cracks appeared on the marble. A boulder of ice crashed to the bottom of Russia's stomach. Oh. My. God.
"Eh, he'll be fine." America leaned on one foot to look back at his twin. "Isn't he the most handsome man on earth?" Russia's entire back tensed. An egotistical comment was expected, but did America not see what his little brother did to Austria's pillar? Russia looked back and saw that Canada had positioned himself in front of the damage, waving to them with a kindly smile, and completely innocent.
"Ah, he is handsome." Every instinct inside of him told him not to turn his back on the other nation, but Russia ignored this sound advice and instead returned his attention to America, who was looking up at him with genuine surprise. Russia lifted a brow. "What?"
"Nothing, it's just," America chuckled a bit, almost nervously, "Do you really think I'm handsome?" Russia didn't answer for a moment, wracking his brain for what led America to that conclusion. "I mean, I know I'm handsome, but it would be nice if… uh, you know what? Never mind! Let's just dance." America looked positively frazzled. A smile forced its way onto Russia's face and he clamped his throat shut in attempts to stifle the noise. Unfortunately, the distinct sound of choked laughter was nearly impossible to hide, and it earned him a punch in the arm from America. "What's so funny?"
"You!" Russia allowed the laugh to burst from his chest and rubbed his arm. Even America's play punches had bite to them. "You're so funny and you don't even realize it!"
"I am?" America's beautiful blue eyes widened. "I-I mean, of course I am! Except I totally know it."
"You were the only one who could make me laugh." Russia wiped a tear from his eye. "When I was upset about my sisters…about everything, and…" Russia coughed uncomfortably. Why was he all of a sudden spilling his heart out like this? It was embarrassing. Sure, he missed America, but this was…
His thoughts were derailed when he felt America's warm fingers interlace with his own. "Now I'm glad I made an impression. Come on, you owe me a dance!" With that, America promptly stepped on his toes, and as retaliation Russia returned the favor until they weren't so much dancing as they were trying to one up the other by seeing who could land the most hits. Some things just never changed.
America's eyes were bright, playful, mischievous, and Russia realized with an almost painful jolt that he was having fun. When was the last time he had fun? He brought his boot down, but America quickly moved his foot out of the way and raised it above Russia's. Russia was too quick, however. He might have been disproportionately tall, but his mind had centuries to get catch up to his body. It was going to take more than America's irrational sense of optimism to beat him.
"You aren't going to win!" America panted and his fingers clamped down so hard, Russia's knuckles stung. "I invented square dancing!"
"That doesn't—" Russia's next words were lost in a gasp when he felt his feet tangle with someone else's.
"Hey, watch it! I'm trying to dance here!" Prussia shouted. Russia and America had been so intent on trying to stomp each other's toes into mush that they lost their balance entirely. Still holding America's hands, Russia managed to shift his weight so he stumbled backwards. He grunted when his back hit the marble of another pillar. Not a second later, America crashed into him with a yelp, and Russia was sure the impact nearly caused his ribcage to collapse.
All the air rushed out of his lungs in one loud exhale, and once America looked up at him, the air refused to come back. The other nation's face was just inches from his. Russia's lips tingled with every breath America took as blue eyes like a summer skies gazed up at him. Russia could feel his heart racing in his chest while the cold marble bit through his suit. He couldn't pull away even if he wanted to. He watched with fascination as America's mouth moved.
"W-What?" he managed to say around the lump in his throat.
"I asked if you were all right." America sounded just as breathless, and his blond hair was tousled across his forehead. On instinct, Russia lifted a hand and brushed the stray strands to the side. He never remembered America's hair being so soft. "R-Russia?"
"Yes?" It came out as barely a whisper. Had America's face gotten closer? His heart thrummed in his ears and he felt the lean warmth of America's body press against him further. It felt so right, and America was so close Russia could smell the other nation's cologne.
A blond blur appeared out of the corner of Russia's eye, and the larger nation jerked away in surprise when it hurled itself right at them. Whatever magic that had started to form promptly died upon America's startled cry of, "Holy shit!" and he stumbled backwards into the arms of Canada. Russia blinked at the sudden loss of warmth and nearly slid down the pillar now that America wasn't pressed against him.
"A-America, France is trying to touch my vital regions again!" Canada trembled with a tiny whimper as he clung to his brother's waist. Russia looked across the ballroom and found France preoccupied with molesting a semi-unwilling England. Judging by the state of England's rumpled clothes and the deep red color that permeated his cheeks, France had been at it for a while. Russia couldn't help but frown.
"Ugh, France really needs to learn to keep his hands to himself. Seriously, my kids learn that in kindergarten." America sighed and pried his brother's arms away. "You okay?"
"For the most part," Canada said. "I'd rather you not leave me alone again though. You know how France is when he gets like this."
"Yeah, okay." America shot Russia an apologetic look. "Thanks for the dance." His smile turned sheepish. "I…had a lot of fun. Um, I guess you should go find your sister. She's probably wondering where you are."
"You're probably right." Russia stepped away from the wall and backed away. "We should, ah do this again sometime. If you want to, that is. I'd like to…catch up."
"Yeah, me too." America smiled, but it wasn't that slack-jawed empty-headed leer he usually wore at world meetings. It was sweet, genuine, and softened his pretty blue eyes. Russia wondered how many people had fallen just because of that smile. His heart lurched at the thought.
"America, I'm starting to get thirsty." Canada tugged on his brother's sleeve.
"Brother, at last I found you!" Belarus appeared out of the crowd holding two cups of punch. Russia smiled gratefully and took his once she had glued herself to his side once more. "America." It sounded like a dismissal rather than a greeting.
"Bye then," America said softly before he was quite literally towed away by his brother.
"Bye," Russia whispered back as he watched him go.
The next week and new year came with another meeting at America's house. After enjoying the ball, it was time to be nations again. Everyone seemed to have something to talk about. Russia sat in his usual seat, his mind too preoccupied with thoughts of America to really add much to the conversations fluttering around him. He could still feel America's soft blond hair on the tips of his fingers, and see the way his blue eyes glittered in the chandelier light. In just that short span of time, Russia had found the friend he made so long ago, the friend he thought he lost forever.
He hadn't even realized the meeting began and stared at the opposite wall, smiling. He could feel it on his face, but he always smiled so he didn't try to hide it. Both South and North Italy were cowering in their chairs next to him, but he didn't mind so much. He continued to play last week in his head, reliving every moment and feeling. In just that brief span of time, Russia never remembered being that happy. Never did he let himself forget that he was the embodiment of the Russian Federation first and foremost, and Ivan Braginsky second. Yet with America, or rather, Alfred, Ivan had taken over completely. He hadn't been acting like a fool with a rival nation, but had been spending quality time with his friend.
His reverie was interrupted when he felt someone watching him. He blinked and saw that America was glancing at him every so often out of the corner of his eye while Germany gave his presentation. Russia swallowed roughly and trained his eyes on Germany, determined to at least pay a little bit of attention. Everyone else might have never taken these meetings seriously, but usually Germany had something of importance to say.
Russia nearly jumped out of his skin when he felt his phone vibrate in his pocket. He automatically looked to America, but the other nation was no longer watching him. Instead his northern brother had taken up the responsibility and Russia was sure if looks could kill, he would be a radioactive mushroom cloud. Deciding to ignore it, he took out his phone underneath the table and read the message.
dude, we should totes go 4 mcdonalds after this. Russia wrinkled his nose in disgust. Although the McDonald's in Moscow was all right on some occasions, Russia had heard stories about America's. Angry high school kids who had to take people's orders all day tended to do awful things to the food. Still, he was surprised America wanted to spend time with him so soon. Maybe he wasn't alone in thinking they could rekindle their friendship.
How about a compromise? Starbucks for coffee? Russia released a small breath when his thumb hit send. America responded in seconds.
they have coffee mcdonalds. Russia rolled his eyes and looked at America, but oddly enough, the other nation was still paying rapt attention to Germany's speech. The only indicator that he was actually texting was that one arm remained discreetly under the table. Russia had to admit that he was impressed.
McDonalds is gross.
starbucks is expensive
fine :P Meet u after meeting in lobby
Russia smiled again, feeling victorious. This was absolutely perfect! Now he had something to look forward to besides returning home alone with Belarus.
When the meeting finally adjourned, Russia was ready to take his leave when he felt someone tap his shoulder. It was surprising. No one ever approached him, let alone touched him. What took him aback further was that the daring person was England.
"Yes? Can I help you?" Russia asked after a moment of awkward staring. England refused to look at him directly, his very distinct brows furrowed so that they nearly connected.
"I can't believe I'm doing this," he heard England mutter under his breath. The shorter nation looked up and drew himself to his full height, sadly a few inches below Russia's chin. "Look, Russia, I know we don't get along. At all. But I've noticed America has taken a liking to you."
"Oh?" Russia smiled. "Jealous are we?"
"Hardly." England scoffed. "I'm actually doing you a favor. So listen up."
"You have my attention." This was too cute. England was playing the protective older brother mixed with the jealous lover routine. On any other occasion Russia would simply smile oh-so-sweetly until England wet himself and ran, but since he was in a good mood, he'd humor him.
"Don't pursue anything with America." England held his eyes. The way he spoke didn't sound like a threat. Still, what else could it be? A warning? Russia banished the thought. This was England aka Mr. Special Relationship. He was bound to be jealous of anyone expressing interest in his former charge.
"And why not?" Russia leaned forward, relishing the feel of his pipe within the folds of his coat.
"It's not worth it," England said. "Trust me when I say you're just going to get hurt."
"Oh, so America would hurt me?" Russia asked with a frown.
"He won't, but someone will." England set his jaw and admirably kept eye contact. Russia had to admire his tenacity. It was no wonder he was a vast empire back in the day.
"Oh, you think you can hurt me?" Russia laughed. "Must we resort to schoolboy heroics?"
"I'm trying to save you from yourself, you bloody fool!" England's green eyes blazed. "America has never been in an actual relationship."
"He hasn't?" Russia's smile slackened. That wasn't something he was expecting to hear.
"No, he hasn't, and there's a very good reason why. So unless you want to end up looking like a complete arse, you'll let America down gently and go about your business." Russia could clearly imagine little puffs of smoke coming out of England's ears, but as humorous as it was, America didn't belong to England anymore.
"I want to be America's friend again," Russia said with finality. The time for poking fun and smiles had passed. If England wanted him to state his intentions, then Russia would oblige him. "Anything beyond that is none of your business." He expected England to turn an unnatural color and explode with every ounce of fury stored in his body. He braced himself for the death threats, curses, and flying cutlasses, but what actually happened nearly caused Russia to topple over in utter disbelief.
England very calmly adjusted his tie and released a long-suffering sigh. "Well, I tried. That's my good deed for the next decade." Then with his nose in the air, England stepped around him and headed towards the door.
"H-Hold on!" Russia had been ready for a fight and the adrenaline caused his voice to waver. "That's it? You're not going to threaten me?" He couldn't help but feel a tad disappointed.
"I tried to warn you." England continued to walk. "Now it's your funeral." He left, and Russia was alone in the meeting room. After a moment, the air temperature seemed to have dropped and Russia got the eerie vibe that someone was watching him.
"Belarus?" he questioned. Loathe as he was to admit it, he was uncomfortable and his chest strained with anxiety. Then as if to answer his question, one of the double doors to the room began to close, revealing America standing on its other side.
"No, it's just little old me." Had he been hiding behind the door the entire time? Weren't they supposed to meet in the lobby? Something was off. Russia squinted at him, and noticed his hair was slightly longer and parted more towards the middle of his forehead. That strange curl of hair stuck up and hung down his face. Wait. No. This person wasn't America. This was America's northern twin, whatever his name was.
"Oh, hello again. Did you hear all that, uh..?" Russia took a step back as America's brother took one towards him.
"Canada." The other nation smiled sweetly with his arms folded behind his back. The effect was meant to be cutesy and timid, but Russia sensed something was wrong. There was a rigidness in Canada's posture that reminded him of a dog ready to lunge. "And yes I did. England is right you know. You shouldn't be anywhere near my precious little brother."
"I thought America was older."
"In his mind he is."
"Right." Russia reached into the folds of his coat and felt the reassuring metal of his faucet pipe. Canada was acting in a similar manner to Belarus. The only difference was, where Belarus was prone to fits of uncontrollable rage, every move Canada made was calculated, deliberate and most of all, conscious. That made him ten times more dangerous. "Why shouldn't I be near America?" Russia asked.
"Because I don't approve," Canada said kindly. His smile turned shy and he brought his hands in front of his chest. "But then, I never approve of any of you." His fingers wrung together out of what might have been anxiousness or anticipation. "You see, I'm very sorry to say this, but don't like you very much, Russia." Canada paused and giggled timidly. His eyes drifted to the side, and his gentle smile began to fray around the edges. "Oh maple, I should probably be more honest than that." His eyes met Russia's. "The truth is, I find myself really hating you."
Then just like that, everything England said sank in. The reason America had never been in a relationship was staring him right in the face. "You hate me because I want to be America's friend?" Russia wrapped his fingers around his pipe. He was undoubtedly going to get the fight he'd been looking for.
"Don't pull that silliness now." Canada wagged a finger. The shy exoskeleton was starting to give way to something far more threatening. "You were very mean to Alfred during the Cold War. Why would you want to be friends now?"
"Because we were friends before." Russia took another step back. "I want to be friends again."
"You don't want to be friends." Canada took one step, stopped and seemed to consider something, and then took another. Russia felt his heart climb into his throat. "No, I saw you eyeing him last night. Eyeing him like a piece of meat."
"I don't know what you're talking about."
"I think you know very well." Canada eyes drifted to the space between them and he charged. Russia concluded that this nation was insane along with incredibly stupid. Only America had the gall to charge him head on and still have the muscle to back it up.
Canada was a wimp. Hell, hardly anyone remembered he existed, that was how little of an impression he made. Yet, Russia gasped when Canada caught his wrist just as he was about to bring the pipe down on his head. It was like being caught by a steel trap. Canada's arm didn't even budge when Russia tried to yank away.
"Now listen here, buddy." Canada gripped the front of Russia's coat and yanked him forward until they were nearly nose to nose. Russia tried to resist, but it was useless. Apparently being twin nations meant more than just sharing looks. Canada was every bit as strong as America. "I put up with this woobie-boobie-cutesy-helpless little brother act, because it makes America happy. That being said, I'm no brute, but when it comes to creeps like you trying to take advantage of him, that's what makes my temper short."
"I'm not trying to—" Russia's voice cut off when Canada's grip around his wrist tightened. The pain caused him to nearly drop his pipe.
"Please don't interrupt me when I'm trying to have a civil conversation with you. I'd hate to snap your wrist in half. Now, I can accept you wanting to be friends with Alfred, but I swear, if I even think you're going to do something to hurt him, you'll be very sorry, mister! And if you do manage to hurt him," Canada's expression twisted into something that chilled Russia to the bone. He was an old country who had seen plenty of madmen in his day, and at the moment, Canada's face belonged among them. When he spoke again it was in a light whisper and he jerked Russia closer, "If you hurt him, I'll shove a hockey stick so far down your throat, it will come out your derriere, and I'll be using your kidneys as pucks."
"Derriere?" Russia repeated. "Really?"
"Nasty words are unnecessary in any kind of situation, and I think you get my point." Canada eased off a bit and Russia gladly took the room he was allowed. "I'll be watching you very closely, Russia." Then Canada released him and Russia practically threw himself backwards. He wasn't used to being overpowered.
Russia hadn't been successfully intimidated since he was a child, and being threatened by Canada of all nations made something in him rage. His wrist still throbbed from Canada's bruising grip, but his fingers tightened around the pipe. The other nation might have had inhuman strength, but he didn't have the centuries of experience to deal with a tactical genius. If he was anything like his brother, it wouldn't be hard to tire him out then show him who was going to shove what where.
However, all thoughts of revenge were cut off when Russia saw America walk through the door. "Russia, there you are!" America called from the other side of the room. "I was waiting in the lobby forever!"
"O-Oh, America!" Canada's voice was quiet and gentle as always. "Russia and I were just having a talk about how cold our houses are."
"Ha ha, of course that would be something you'd make small talk over." America walked up to his brother and ruffled his hair affectionately. "Sorry if Mattie here was boring you to tears." He smiled up at Russia. "He tends not to realize when he wanders into Dullsville."
"Believe me," Russia forced a shaky smile, "he was anything but boring."
"So, are you ready to go?" America asked eagerly.
"Go?" Canada blinked innocently at his brother, his sweet smile never wavering. "You and Russia are going somewhere together?" Having seen Canada's true colors, Russia heard the dark undercurrent hidden in the soft tone of his voice.
"Yeah, just to get coffee before we head back to the hotel with everyone else." America raised an eyebrow when Canada's left eyelid twitched. "You okay, bro? You look kind of… twitchy."
"No, no!" Canada held up his hands. "You know how nervous I get wandering around in other countries alone. You go on and have fun with...Russia." He said it through gritted teeth and shot Russia a dark glare.
"You're the best brother in the world!" America threw his arms around his twin. "Not to mention the sexiest!"
"Yeah right." Canada rolled his eyes. "Go on and abandon me. I'll be all right."
"Aw, don't be that way." America pouted and pinched this brother's cheeks. "I'm sure Prussia would be more than happy to walk you to your room. I'll even let you make me pancakes tomorrow to make it up to you."
"Sounds great." Canada smiled and gently pushed America away. "You take care, now. Please don't do stupid stuff."
"Come on, Russia." America took his hand and hurried towards the door. Russia risked one last look at Canada. The other nation's expression was murderous as he lifted two fingers to his eyes before turning them towards Russia. He was watching, and Russia swallowed, tightening his grip on America's hand. He was no stranger to psychotic siblings. It was going to take more than that to scare him off.
So game on.
When he and America had situated themselves on the top floor of the Starbucks, Russia couldn't help but grimace as America poured even more sugar into his chocolaty concoction.
"How are you still alive?" he found himself asking once America took the first sip.
"Because I'm a titan, that's why," America replied. "Besides, sugar's so good! Why deny yourself the happiness?"
"Because I value my heart health," Russia said pleasantly.
"Dude, your heart falls out of your chest like all the time!"
"All the more reason to value it, da?"
"Sure bro, be all repressed with your boring old coffee."
"I'll have you know that this particular drink has a name I can't pronounce," Russia said. "I'm not even sure what's in it. I think that's very daring." To his pleasure America laughed and patted the top of his hand.
"It's really nice to hear you happy." America's eyes were hypnotic. "I thought we'd lost you for awhile there."
"Lost me?" Russia vaguely heard himself say.
"You were really scary for a long time, big guy." America pulled his hand back, and Russia really wished he wouldn't. "Lithuania was really messed up when he came to live with me."
"Ah." Russia looked down at his unpronounceable drink, feeling shame overwhelm him. "Yes, I was lucky he forgave me." America reached into the pocket of his bomber jacket and coughed unnecessarily.
"I have something for you, but if you don't want it back, I totally understand." It was all said in a rush, and America's teeth sank into his lower lip as he withdrew something from his pocket. Russia's eyes widened when America's hand opened to reveal the silver casing of a Zippo lighter. However, it wasn't just any Zippo. He recognized the scuffed surface and the long scratch that went from the lid to the end. America had given it to him in World War II under the foolish notion that if they couldn't get along as countries, they could still be friends as people.
Russia reached out a shaky hand and took the lighter, cradling it as if it were something precious. It felt heavy in his palms and he couldn't take his eyes off of it. He had loved this lighter. He couldn't count how many times he flipped the lid in moments of sheer boredom. During the Cold War he quite literally tossed it back in America's face. It was the first and only time during their long conflict that America had been close to tears. Before, that moment had been a staple to Russia's pride, now it only made him feel like a monster.
He couldn't believe America would ever give it back to him. The only thing that made this more touching was that he kept it all these years.
"Thank you," he said at last, hating the way his voice cracked. He brought the lighter closer to his chest and absentmindedly wiped at his eyes with the back of his hand. "Thank you…for trusting me with this again."
"No prob, dude. Just don't cry or you'll get me started, and that's not heroic at all." America took off his glasses and cleaned them with the hem of his shirt. "Now don't go lighting anything on fire." His eyes widened in realization and a very mischievous smile appeared. "On second thought, England was kind enough to give me a plate of his homemade scones." America braced his hands on the table and leaned forward, his eyes blazing with ideas. "How about you and I go see if this baby still works? I just refilled it and everything."
Russia considered this for a moment, before he felt his own smile form. "You know America, I hate to say this, but I find myself liking the way you think."
Unfortunately, it turned out to be a horrible idea, for when the flames touched England's cooking, the smoke that arose was more like tear gas. Russia felt as if his lungs were dissolving as he and America fled down another alley away from the steaming plate of unmentionable horrors. At least they had the sense to do it outside, but it appeared America's irrational thinking was starting to rub off. He made a mental note to watch that.
It wasn't until they reached the hotel that they stopped, disintegrating into peels of uncontrollable laughter and coughing. "Oh, my God!" America managed to gasp out between several coughs and laughs. "Oh my God, I can't breathe! I can't breathe!" He placed his hands on his knees.
"Don't die!" Russia clutched his chest and wrapped an arm around America's shoulders, drawing the other nation against his side. "I think…I think we just found a new weapon of mass destruction!" Russia was sure he cracked a rib with the force of his laughter.
"It least the lighter works!" It took awhile, but finally their laughter calmed enough to let them sit against the side of the building and look up at the night sky, their hands limply at their sides. "I can't remember the last time I had this much fun."
"Me neither." Russia toyed with the Zippo, smiling down at the familiar flame.
"It's nice to see you actually smile, and not that creepy I-wanna-eat-your-soul smile." America playfully jabbed Russia's side with his elbow. Russia chuckled, the warmth in his chest lingering even when he thought back to Canada's warning. His wrist still hurt from where the other nation grabbed him, not to mention the joint felt a tad swollen, but he'd been doing a pretty good job of hiding it. "America, you and your brother are very close, are you not?"
"As close as we can be," America said. "Why do you ask?"
"Do you think…he'd approve of…this?" Russia immediately regretted saying anything. Could he be any more transparent?
"Of us being bros? Why wouldn't he?" America tilted his head.
"I don't know, he seems a little, um," Russia searched for the correct word. "High strung."
"Who? Canada?" America said it with a laugh. "Are you sure we're talking about the same country here? The only thing that gets him riled up is a good game of hockey." He sighed and ran a hand through his hair. "You won't believe how many times I've had to bail his ass out of jail. He tends to throw cars at people when he gets tipsy. There was one time I had to stop him from ripping the wings off of the opposing team's plane. Now that was crazy."
"He can do that?" Russia asked, feeling that frozen boulder in his stomach again.
"Of course!" America replied cheerfully. "He's my little brother after all! Even if he is a bit of a wuss."
"I would not like to have cars thrown at me," Russia said. America had brute strength, but he didn't have the brains, which made them on equal grounds. Russia didn't know Canada very well, but he appeared to have more brains than his brother. It would take more than just tiring him out to beat him.
"Aw, Canada wouldn't hurt a fly," America said. "Trust me. My brother is the most selfless, gentle person I've ever known." Something in America's eyes dimmed with sadness and his gaze fell to his knees.
"You okay?" Russia felt a twinge of concern. It wasn't right seeing America sad.
"Yeah, and I feel like … I should tell you this…since we're trying to be friends and all." America sucked in a deep breath and leaned forward to glare into Russia's eyes. "And if you repeat a word of what I'm about to say to anyone, I'll tell Ukraine that it was you who stole the last potato at Belarus's birthday when you were little!"
"You promised!" Russia exclaimed. "And how do you even remember? I said that nearly a century ago!"
"I told you, I'm a freaking titan. Now do we have a deal?" America continued to glare at him, his mouth sealed into a tight line.
"Okay, your secret will be safe with me. Just don't tell Katyusha about the potato thing. It will break her heart."
"Cross your heart and hope to die?"
"Stick a needle in my eye." The saying gave him a large wave of nostalgia. He never quite got what it was supposed to mean, but it always seemed to earn America's trust.
"Deal then." America sat back against the wall and curled his knees to his chest. "Ugh." He buried his face in his arms. "This is humiliating," he muttered and lifted his head. "When I was little…I was…I was…a crybaby."
"A crybaby?" Russia tilted his head. "Surely it wasn't that bad."
"Yeah it was. When I say crybaby, I mean worse than Italy. I'd cry about the stupidest things and I was so soft-hearted that it made it worse."
"Yeah. I even had a bunny, the most girly animal on the planet." America shuddered. "The main reason that I became England's colony was because he was crying, if you can believe that. He and France were fighting over whose brother I was, and when England started crying, I had to go with him."
"Trying to be a hero even when you were young." Russia tapped the side of his boot against America's. The younger nation smiled, but it quickly faded.
"Yeah. I loved England. Still do, really. Even if he is a self-centered nag." America crossed his arms over his chest. "But he wasn't around a whole lot. Sometimes he would leave for years at a time. The house where he kept me was big, too big, and it was empty and lonely. I used to imagine that there were ghosts and monsters in certain rooms. There wasn't anyone to talk to, and when night came, it was always so scary.
"Then England started talking about me having a twin brother up north. That's when he started leaving for longer periods of time to fight France in the Seven Years War. Then in around 1763, he got France to sign the Treaty of Paris which forced him to give up all his colonies here, including Canada. For the first time, it felt like I wasn't alone, but then England still left. I would cry for so long until I made myself sick."
"That's awful." Russia thought back to all the times he cried as a child. The hardest was when he had been separated from Ukraine and forced to suffer through the Mongols.
"Yeah, but Canada knew what to do to make me feel better. He'd hug me, pet my hair, and sing me to sleep. He was always there for me, even though...even though I never considered how hard it was for him. He'd been taken from France, and England basically forgot he existed once he had him. I was always the favorite, and Canada was just my reflection. The only time England seemed to know Canada was around was when he punished him for speaking French." America drew his legs in even closer. "I can't imagine how he must have felt, but he never complained or got mad at me for being selfish and acting like it was the end of the world every time England left. He was just there." America smiled, though it wavered. "Sometimes, I think he really is the older brother."
"He took care of you." Russia's chest ached with his own memories. Ukraine had done everything for him and Belarus when it had just been the three of them wandering the snowy fields of their lands.
"Yeah he did," America said. "I didn't even realize how sad he was until England left again. He was looking over some French novel I can't remember. I figure England forgot to burn it because it looked old even way back then." America wiped the back of his hand underneath his glasses, but his smile still stayed in place. "I stopped crying, because for once Canada had tears in his eyes too. That's when he asked me…" America choked, but he covered it with a half-hearted chuckle. "That's when he asked me if it was okay if he didn't hold it in anymore. I said he didn't have to, and for the first time I was the big brother. He cried harder than I ever did. God, he missed France so much and I didn't even know. I was so wrapped up in wanting England's attention that I didn't see how much Canada was hurting. It would have been like England leaving and never coming back and just...forgetting about me."
"Why are you trying to laugh when you want to cry?" Russia reached out to him, but thought better of it.
"Because I've cried enough." America kept his smile firmly in place, but continued to furiously wipe beneath his glasses. America lowered his hands. His eyes were slightly red, but there were no tears. "For a long time it was just me and Canada in that big house all alone, but that was okay because we had each other. From that moment on, I promised to never cry again. I would carry his pain like he carried mine. I promised to protect him no matter what, and I broke that promise during the War of 1812. I hurt him so badly. I said all sorts of horrible things to him, because he didn't want to be with me and stayed with England. I just...I didn't realize how much of a monster I became in that war. So, I have to do better."
Russia was beginning to understand. Like a puzzle, a new piece was added to America's loud, boisterous personality, forming a picture Russia found remarkable. The need to be a hero wasn't for glory or self-fulfillment, but truly for the sake of others. "Is this where all your hero talk comes from?"
America nodded. "If I'm a hero, I get to help people instead of burdening them. I made it so hard for Canada back then, and now he doesn't have any confidence in himself. He's so sad all the time because no one pays attention to him. I clung to him so much that it broke him down." He grinned and gave a thumbs up. "So now I'm the hero! I don't need to cry anymore, because heroes are strong and brave and—"
Russia wasn't sure what made him to do it, and he was going to regret it, but at the moment he didn't care. Cupping America's face in his hands, Russia kissed him. It was gentle and brief, but it made something tighten in his chest. A part of him despaired at his own stupidity, while everything else took in the softness of America's lips and the warm fresh scent of his skin tinged with England's burning scones. When he pulled away, it was like he hadn't breathed in hours.
"You know, I get what you're feeling." Russia looked down at his knees, not wanting to see America's face. He smiled and stood, brushing his hands over the seat of his pants. "When we were young, my sister did everything for Belarus and I. To be honest, I was a bit of a crybaby too." He kept his eyes on the brick of the opposite building. If he pretended what he did never happened, then maybe America would let it slide. "It was…easily taken advantage of, but my sister always knew what to do, and I betrayed her as well." He took a deep breath. "I did such horrible things to her that her boss won't even let her talk to me."
"Russia." America's voice was soft and he heard the other nation stand.
"You and I, we are not as different as we like to think." Russia tilted his head back and held the end of his scarf. "I clung to her because I just couldn't stand on my own. She was so strong back then and I was always scared and didn't believe in myself. She gave me this scarf so I would help her make Kiev prosper." He chuckled softly. "I…didn't keep my end of the bargain for a while."
"Hey." He felt America take hold of his sore wrist and jerked before he could stop himself. The bruises throbbed in protest and Russia instinctively held it to his chest. "Oh, sorry! Are you hurt?" America's voice was full of alarm.
"N-Nyet!" Russia turned around still holding his wrist. "I'm fine! Really! It's just a—"
"Let me see." America's eyes held a determined glint as he reached out and took Russia's hand. He lifted the sleeve and hissed through his teeth. "Wow."
"It looks worse than it feels." Russia attempted to remove his hand from America's clutches.
"Dude, your entire wrist is covered in bruises." America's expression was full of concern. "What happened?"
"I fell." Russia refused to look America in the eye. He'd always been a terrible liar. He didn't have to do it very often since the thought of anyone interrogating him was laughable, but what else was he supposed to say? Canada was a saint in America's eyes, and after the story he just shared, he couldn't tarnish that.
"Yeah, whatever. You can sure keep secrets but you can't lie for shit." America sighed. "Let's at least get some ice on this. Oh, and one more thing." Russia felt America's hand rest on his cheek and nearly melted when the shorter nation tilted his head back and kissed him. Just like the one before it was sweet, gentle and quick. Yet, he lingered and Russia relished the warmth. When America pulled back there was an unmistakable twinkle in those ridiculously blue eyes. "I figured I owed you one." He winked.
"I am not sure what to say to that." Russia blinked, dazed and wondering if he had died and gone to some parallel universe where something like this could happen.
"Then don't say anything," America whispered and entwined their fingers. "Come on. Let's go ice that wrist of yours."
When Russia finally got into his car after a wonderful night, his smile was so wide it was starting to make his cheeks sting. Everything had been perfect, from America doting on him to the events that followed. After parting company, an hour later America came back to his room claiming to have flipped the channel to a scary movie. Russia undoubtedly needed his protection and the larger nation had complied all too eagerly. He had woken up the next morning to the other nation had wrapped in a cocoon of blankets and curled into his side. It was too sweet. The best part was he didn't run into Canada.
He almost didn't want to go back to his house, but he had a plane to catch, and people to look after. With a sigh he started the ignition. America promised he'd text, and though Russia wasn't entirely sure what their relationship was anymore, it was best not to press it.
"So I've been reading up on your history, and I have to say, Russia, I'm not impressed."
"Yebat!" Russia swore in his own language and nearly jumped out of his seat. He unbuckled his seatbelt and twisted around to see Canada sitting in the back. A large Russian history book was propped in one hand while he leafed through the pages with the other. A tiny white bear rested on his lap. It stared at Russia curiously. "How the hell did you get into my car?"
"That's not important." Canada eyed him over the rims of his glasses. "However, what is important is that your history is rather terrifying. Good gravy, so many wars and revolutions. You had a civil war in 1917 and the Bolshevik Revolution — now that is some bloody material."
"Is that a history book?"
"Indeed." Canada closed the book with a snap. "Golly, out of all the countries after a piece of American pie, you are by far the worst."
"Excuse me, but what?"
"Listen, I've been chasing all you power hungry hosers away from my poor brother for centuries." Canada lowered the book and reached down to pick up a hockey stick. "England, Romano, China, Japan, Denmark, Vietnam, Germany…"
"Wait, Germany tried to date America?" Russia needed some brain bleach for the images that one conjured.
"I had to chase Mexico off three times," Canada continued on as if Russia hadn't spoken. "Then there was Prussia, who made America think he liked him, when I know all he really wanted was to be the first one to violate a superpower's virtue. He's gross like that with all his talk of vital regions, but Lithuania was the worst by far."
"You chased away Lithuania?" Russia looked at Canada in horror.
"He took up all my brother's time and energy, and I knew whatever relationship would form between them would have been ruined by you." Canada's eyes narrowed into slits and he gripped the back of Russia's seat. With one yank, Russia was pulled back with the curved end of the hockey stick at his throat. "And now here you are, the one who drove America crazy all through the Cold War, playing with his heart. You're sick, do you know that?"
"I'm the sick one?" Russia stared up at Canada with an annoyed scowl. "You've destroyed your brother's chances of ever having a relationship."
"No, I've protected my brother!" The pressure from the hockey stick increased. "I hear you all at meetings. None of you realize I'm there, but I hear the things you all say. You think he's loud, annoying and obnoxious, but you still want to try your hand at deflowering him. The world is out to hurt him, and if you think for a second I'm going to let that happen, you are sadly mistaken, guy."
"Forgive me for saying this," Russia began softly, "but you are insane! And that's coming from me!"
"I saw him kiss you last night." Canada's face darkened further. "You let him too. So much for just wanting to be friends."
"You…are really creepy," Russia said. "Is that all you have time for? Ruining your brother's life?"
"It's all you who want to ruin it," Canada said. "I've protected him ever since we were little. I will not let you penetrate his posterior and toss him to the side like garbage. Don't you understand how much that would kill him? Do you even care?"
"I admit, at one point your fears might have been valid, but that's not what this is about." Russia glared into Canada's eyes. "Everything is different now."
"Don't bother lying to me again. I know that's what you want — some cheap fling with the idiot country who can't control his own strength and power. You want to knock him down a peg or two, right?" That's when Russia saw it. Beneath all the anger, there was fear. Canada was afraid, but of what Russia didn't entirely know.
"Wrong." He gripped either side of the hockey stick and managed to push it several inches away from his neck before Canada refused to budge further. "I care about him! I was the only one who believed in him during his Civil War when, if I remember correctly, even you turned your back on him."
"Well I won't make that mistake again," Canada hissed through his teeth. "You stay away from him. I saw what you did to the Baltics, your sisters, and to your own people. I will never let you do that to Alfred. He's mine." Canada drew back and struggled with the door.
"It's locked." Russia sat up. "Here let me—" Shrieking metal and a loud snap interrupted him. "Or just rip the door off of this very expensive car. That works too." Canada glared at him and got out, dropping the door and stalking away with the hockey stick and little bear in tow.
Russia groaned and slammed his forehead into the steering wheel. His boss was going to kill him.
Dun dun dun! Shit will get real in the final installment. Thank you so much for reading! LUCKY I LOVE YOU! MAKE GOOD LIFE CHOICES AND HAPPY 3 YEARS BELATED BIRTHDAY! Stay tuned for Canada and Russia's epic bitch fight!
Also, for America and Canada's ages, there seems to be a lot of debate as to which brother is older. It's one of the main reasons I'm a big supporter of the twin theory and that in their respective minds, Canada and America both assume they're the older brother.