They are friends, they have been friends for a century. No-one quite knows why, Greece himself doesn't. They visit each other often. They have trade and tourism. They cooperate in all areas, after all; tied together simply and innocently and with no reason whatsoever.
Perhaps that is why Japan is so shy to kiss him. There's so reason to, after all, and Japan is far more logical than he. But kiss he does, with cheeks as warm as the Athens sun. He is happy when he is with Japan. He can treat Japan well, as is all Japan wants; Greece is simply happy to know that fact.
(In 1919, he treated Japan well. Greece supported him when he dared ask the world treat him well. But then again it didn't work and it was France who called that fact an outrage, so maybe it doesn't matter).
Japan is his friend. Greece still does not understand what makes him special.
Italy kisses his friends, and is somehow under the impression he's friends with Greece, therefore Italy kisses Greece. Greece has learned to accept it, for it's Italy and you couldn't stop him kissing his friends if you tried.
Not that Greece is his friend.
Of course, if Greece were to be his friend, it would make perfect sense. They have a lot in common. They're both warm countries where the sun shines all day, where the cold ones come to escape. They're both happy men, though Greece could never have the energy Italy does. They are both the ultimate result of ancient empires, and must respect one another on those grounds, though he does not see Romulus or Ceasar in Feliciano any more than he sees Zeus and Socrates in himself.
But they also have invasions, and disputes, and plagiarism, and Venice and the Inonian Islands and Domenikon, and whether Greco-Roman culture really is Greek or Roman.
And if Italy's grandfather is the reason Greece's mother died.
But that's fine; Greece is content to forgive him. He's easy-going. His opinions are not universal; Slovenia will never forgive Italy for Rab, but then again if she did you wouldn't notice (she's not the most emotional girl he's ever met). Ethiopia, well, Ethiopia's so old and has suffered so much she might have forgotten it. Greece doesn't know. He's not close with Ethiopia.
(Japan was for a time, when Italy was closing in. Promised he'd protect her, ward off the invading Europeans. It proved against his interests though).
Italy certainly has. He's so happy and innocent after all, and so incompetent, he cannot be held responsible. So Italy shows up at his house, and kisses him as a friend, and Greece will kiss him back. He's gotten dirty looks from Germany for that, though he has no idea why.
After all, Italy started it.
It's only the slightest bit Oedipal, and perhaps that's why Austria named the complex as such, even though the actual myth never quite fit. He's never managed to ask iher/i why she does it, and frankly she doesn't want to know. Maybe she misses her old friend (or archnemesis as the case may be). Maybe she is lonelier than she shows. Maybe she likes the fact he still remembers who she is.
(It's a little ironic when the big powerful Western nations discuss how dangerous she is, how she must be stopped, while standing on a Persian rug.)
He's always drunk when he takes her to bed. She isn't, but of course she can't be, right? He remembers when she and his mother used to drink together. It was, honestly, hilarious. He's fairly certain they drunkenly made out a few times too, so there's that.
(When he fucks her he only ever calls her Persia.)
When he wakes up, she's running a hand through his hair. He does the same. Her hair is beautiful, luscious black and thick; he rarely gets the chance to see it.
"You're a lot like her, you know," she says, wrinkles showing under cheap hotel lights.
He cracks a smile. "How so?"
"Stubborn, arrogant, and irritating."
He doesn't think he's meant to have this home away from home, one city on the other side of the world. The weather's insane and the public transport costs too much, but well, the city speaks his language. Literally.
Australia's always happy to see him. "Mate, siddown, lemme getcha a beer!" Which might not count as an actual English sentence. They discuss weather and sports and politics and nothing they have in common. The conversation falls between Greek and English, which Greece likes. If there's a misplaced word it's easy to pretend it's the other language's.
(There's a funny dynamic to all this: Australia likes him, but he loves Turkey. He always has. Since their gentleman's war on the beaches of Gallipoli, and Greece could call Turkey many things but never a gentleman, but then again what does he know?)
Australia seems simple. Greece doesn't think he is, but he doesn't make a big deal of trying to understand him. It's too much work, and Greece has never been huge on work.
Afterall, if he understood Australia he would ruin it. His little city on the other side of the world would be just like his side of the world - and then he'd have to leave poor Australia, and that just seems unfair.
(It was Australia who said outright they just couldn't treat Japan equally, back in 1919. It's a silly thing to remember, and yet remember he does.)
They drunkenly make out in a cold June. The funny thing is, to almost everyone Australia cares about this weather would be nothing.
She's always the one to kiss him. He reckons it's a control complex, though he knows other people with control complexes and been the one to kiss them plenty of times. He always kisses everyone plenty of times. She's just a special case.
Not that he'd tell her she's unique.
It's infuriating because she seems to see right past him. He doesn't hate her, he doesn't think he cares about her enough to hate her - he can't, she's not important enough; isn't that the whole point? Anyway, she has no right to try and be what she does. And hence, they have problems.
It's not so ridiculous; Bulgaria feels the same way. He wants her to come back, be his little sister again, and she never would. Perhaps he should blame Serbia for all this, but he won't because when can he ever blame Serbia for anything? He's a hypocrite like that.
(Well, it was the Balkan wars when Serbia and Bulgaria argued over - Skopje. At a stretch, he can blame Turkey.)
They had a meeting once in Bulgaria's house, but Bulgaria wound up not being there. Skopje kissed him, and he ended up fucking her on her Big Brother's desk, whispering to her: "this is what you are, this is where you belong Skopje."
She just laughed at him.
But they're friends on a technicality, and they have to talk. Which is usually arguing. Nevermind, plenty of people are like that; it probably gives them validity, being friends and fighting.
...Which might be what she wants, attaching herself to him to seem like she matters. Hmm.
"They're starting to see through you," she says, and maybe what he's said before justifies it; he's forgotten. "Because really, what are you? An ancient culture?"
"Yes," he says, and he hopes he can stop her exploring the avenue further. "I'm special. People don't forget that."
She scoffs. "Greece, didn't your mother ever teach you? Everyone's special in their own way."
"My mother wasn't a liar." Maybe she was; he doesn't really remember. "You're not special, Skopje. No matter how much I screw up, everyone still wants me there because I'm Greece. No-one even cares about you."
"You do," she says. "Why would we be fighting otherwise?"
This time, she leaves without her kiss.
He feels like he should go give it to her, but it would be overstepping his bounds and she's not worth it.
If there's one person who understands him it's her. Okay, no-one understands him, but she comes close - closer than he ever did. They've been together since forever and she calls him her brother, far more than she'd call her actual family that. It's useful when the only person who understands you is as screwed up as you.
They have a lot in common. Orthodox Christianity, Byzantine heritage, blaming Turkey for everything. Yet Greece realises - they're very different. She was communist, he wasn't. It doesn't matter she was still neutral, or he had a civil war and wound up with a military junta in any case. They're both in the Balkan peninsula, but she's Balkan. They're just different. People care about Greece.
He's always been special.
In 1992, he held her as Yugoslavia tore itself apart. See, that's what they do, tear themselves apart. He would never do such a thing. (Again, civil war). He wasn't even meant to be there; he'd been put in the other category, but he still came for her. He will always come for her, with water and food and love. Always love.
"Marry me," she whispered, as Sarajevo was sieged and bombs went off in Belgrade and-
And Athens stood there, as pure and untouched as ever.
He smiled, pulled her into his embrace, pressed his lips against her forehead. "You know I can't do that."
He's learned how to let her down.
Yes, he should blame Turkey. He barely remembers anything before the man, and without him Greece - no, not Greece, Herakles - wouldn't need to exist. Greece doesn't think much of existence, actually; entirely too many people depend on you when you exist. And Turkey's always told him how irresponsible he is.
It's a hot summer in Constantinople, and Turkey is as sweaty and disgusting as ever. Greece wipes his own forehead. "I hate you."
Greece groans. He should be back home, because he has debt to shoulder and work to do. Serbia said she'd come over if she could, didn't she? It's not fair to disappear on his best friend like that, and especially not to go fuck one of their mutual enemies. Serbia's pretty accommodating to him, but he doesn't think she'd accept that.
(Okay, she doesn't understand him fully.)
Greece pushes the sheets up, hovers on the side of the bed. "I shouldn't be here."
"And yet you are. Funny, ain't it?"
Greece doesn't leave, and Turkey yawns and sits up. "Yeah, probably for the best. I got a meeting with lil' Macedonia, so you might wanna scram."
"Don't call her that," says Greece, at which Turkey rolls his eyes.
"Why the hell shouldn't I?"
God, he's infuriating. He has no respect - for Greece, for anything; he's just this unending pain. It's all his fault. Basically anything that's ever happened to Greece is his fault, and there is nothing good in him, not one thing.
(He remembers when Australia shows up on these beaches. That always makes him uncomfortable.)
Greece rubs his temples. "Sex usually stops me getting headaches. Bastard."
Turkey scoffs. "Sorry to say I'm just that skilled," he says. "One day, we gotta stop doin' this, y'know? Well, uh, not this. Fucking is probably helpful. The angry-resentful about everything probably isn't."
"Why not?" Greece mutters, looking for his shirt. Turkey catches him by the wrist.
"Well, ain't we meant to be on the same side?"
Greece pulls his arm away. "There's no such thing as sides. I do what I want." It's why he refused to attack Serbia for Kosovo's sake, and it's why - it's why he and Turkey both still talk to Iran. Greece does not sacrifice his interests for any other nation, and other nations are his interest. It's complicated.
"Shit. How did 'Ran ever handle your mother?"
Greece freezes, bristles, pulls away. "Don't. You're not allowed. You're not allowed to talk about her."
"...Right." Turkey leans back on the bed. "And this is all in no way fucked up."
Greece is half-dressed by now and aching to get out of there. "Of course it's fucked up, but what am I meant to do?"
"Well, uh, your current strategy seems to be 'be angry at everyone for fucking ever.'"
No, that's not right. It probably should be - Turkey killed his mother, he knows that. But Rome weakened her. The Crusaders tore her apart when they were meant to be helping. The Great Schism, and all those ships coming out from Venice.
(See, he can forgive Italy. He can't forgive Veneziano.)
"I'm not angry at everyone. Just you."
Turkey seems to accept that, wincing at the sun from the window. "Fuck. That's hurting my eyes."
"Then close the curtains, idiot." Turkey doesn't seem to be saying anything, and that bothers Greece. He likes to have the last word with Turkey, because he's petty and immature that way.
He things of something that will piss him off.
"I'm meant to be meeting with Japan soon," and whether he's lying depends entirely on your definition of the word 'soon'. "One of our cultural exchange things."
Turkey manages to snort and cringe at the same time. "Right. Cultural exchange. 'Cause you two don't actually have anything in common."
"And you and him do?"
"Altaic language family?"
"That's not a real thing."
Turkey shrugs. "How would you know?" And he's right. Greece knows nothing about that, he just hates the idea of Turkey and Japan being connected in any way. Japan's so far away and is meant to be unconnected to all this crap that gives him a headache; Turkey's the personification of it. If he admits they're connected, then the whole system breaks down.
(It's stupid, because Japan's already connected. He betrayed Ethiopia because Italy served his interests, and he would have done the same to Greece if circumstances said so. But he didn't so Greece doesn't have to think of that, and Italy's never been the real enemy. He has no idea what Italy is.)
Greece is almost dressed by now and starts to make for the door. Turkey actually gets up, and closes the curtains like Greece said. "Seriously though. I never could get it - why does he like you so much?"
Greece ponders this. Turkey has a point, not that he'd ever admit it. Greece will say this: he's a little arrogant. He's prone to thinking the world revolves around him, and all his moral self-righteousness in the face of Turkey over the years hasn't helped. He can blame Turkey for that too, he supposes. But there are so many people he knows, so many people who matter to him, so many people he touches and touch him in return. Not always literally mind you, but that has a lot to do with it. Of all the people in all of the world, why Japan?
"I guess he doesn't really know me," Greece says.
"Ha. Yeah, I can see that." Greece doesn't bother with the Fuck you aloud; he just turns the doorknob. "Oi! Don't I get a goodbye kiss?"
Greece turns his head to see Turkey pouting mockingly at him. He smirks over his shoulder. "No. No kisses for you."
1. Japan: Greece and Japan have had relations since 1899, have strong ties in trade and tourism, and have both held celebratory events of their nations' friendship. However they have little direct cultural continuity. At the Paris Peace Conference of 1919, Japan put forward a "Racial Equality Proposal". It passed with a majority of delegates, and Greece was a strong supporter of the idea; however it was not unanimous and hence was not put into action, something the French delegation described as an outrage.
2. Italy: Italy and Greece have longstanding relations back to the era of Ancient Rome and Greece. Italy invaded Greece during World War II, and the Domenikon Massacre was a massacre of Greek civillians by the Italian Royal Army during which about 150 were killed. The Ionian islands were also claimed by Italy during World War II, because they had previously belonged to the Republic of Venice. Rab concentration camp was on an island off the coast of Italian-occupied Croatia, where ethnic Slovene and Croat prisoners were imprisoned under horrible conditions, and approximately 1,400 died. Prior to the Italian invasion of Ethiopia, it was rumoured Japan and Ethiopia would form an alliance; however when Italy invaded Japan claimed to have no interest in Ethiopia and refused Ethiopia's request to publicly state support for them.
3. Iran: Iran and Greece also have relations dating back to antiquity, where Persia was traditionally a ferocious enemy of the Greeks. This was prior to the Islamisation of Iran. Modern Greece and Iran however have a strong relationship built on their mutual history.
4. Australia: Melbourne is the third-largest Greek-speaking city in the world, having experienced a massive amount of Greek immigration during the 1950's and 60's. The Battle of Gallipoli was a massive military disaster which nonetheless fostered enormous respect between the Turkish and Allied soldiers, particularly ANZACs; Australians often travel to Gallipoli in Turkey for ANZAC Day. At the Paris Peace Conference, Australian delegation was one of the first to reject Japan's Racial Equality Proposal, because of its interferene with the White Australia policy.
5. FYR Macedonia: Macedonia and Greece have had issues with one another since Macedonia's secession from Yugoslavia, due to the debate on the name "Macedonia." During the Balkan Wars, Bulgaria claimed the territory of Macedonia which was in possession of Serbia, they fought, and Greece was on Serbia's side. Despite the name debate, Greece is Macedonia's largest investor.
6. Serbia: Greece and Serbia have a longstanding historical friendship and much cultural connection. The Greek Civil War occurred immediately after World War II, between communists and non-communists, and eventually the non-communists one. Serbia was part of Yugoslavia, which was communist but independent from the Eastern Bloc and non-alligned in the Cold War. During the Yugoslav wars, their were reports of supplies being transferred from Greece to Serbia contrary to a UN embargo. In 1992, Serbia did propose talks of unification; Greece viewed it as an ideal, but not plausible at this point.
7. Turkey: Turkey is a nation which has recognised the FYR Macedonia under it's constitutional name, "Republic of Macedonia," and has close relations with it in general. During the NATO bombing of Serbia, Greece was the only NATO member who refused to participate, and the Greek High Court found NATO guilty of war crimes. The fall of the Byzantine Empire was contributed to in a large way by the Crusades; the First Crusade begun on the Emperor of Byzantium's request for western Christian nations help them against the threat of the Turks, however eventually the Crusaders began to attack Byzantium themselves. The Fourth Crusade in particular involved the brutal attack on the city of Constantinople, establishing the 'Latin Empire' in the Balkans, turning the Greeks against the western Christians and solidifying the split (Great Schism) between Orthodox and Catholic Christian churches. The Altaic language family is a disputed linguistic hypothesis which would place Turkish and Japanese within the same family (along with Korean and Mongolian).