"So, if you know everything, you know that it was just a misunderstanding then, right?"

Italy shrunk even further down into the bench, the word 'misunderstanding' continuing to run through his head. He continued to refuse to look at anything but the ground. "I know."

Germany sighed. "I'm really sorry for the whole thing, and I know it's awkward, but I can't change the past. There's nothing more I can do but tell you it was a misunderstanding and won't-"

"That's not the problem!" Italy interjected loudly, not wanting to hear Germany finish that sentence. 'The problem is what you were about to say: It won't happen again.'

"Well, does it have to do with what happened back then on Valentine's Day?"

"Yes…" Italy finally told a truth.

But now Germany was more than confused. He'd been sure the Italian was feeling awkward about being around another guy who had feelings for him. "Well, if that wasn't the problem, what is? Italy," he got down on one knee in front of his friend, forcing himself to be in front of Italy's face. "I can't do anything to help if you don't tell me what's wrong."

"There's nothing you can do to help, either way. And if I tell you, it will just make things worse, and you'll probably hate me, so…"

'How could he say that...!' "Italy… Do you really think that anything you say or do could make me hate you? I didn't even hate you when you switched sides during World War Two. I was mad, yes, but I never hated you. I missed you so much during those years…" Germany admitted, for no reason in particular. Maybe sharing his feelings would help the Italian open up. "Losing you as a friend felt so horrible that my feelings of anger and betrayal paled to the point of transparency in comparison. And whatever it is you're hiding from me, it couldn't possibly be worth going through that lonliness again."

Germany noticed that Italy had started trembling and biting his lips, holding back a cascade of words. "Italy, please, just let it out. I hate seeing you this way."

Italy finally stopped holding back and spoke, but he was talking excessively rapidly, the way he did when he didn't want Germany to hear what he was saying. Added onto that was the fact that his voice was frantic.

"Mi piaci molto e sei la cosa più cara che ho e ti voglio sempre avere al mio fiaco però sei importante per me e non voglio perdenti così-" at this point he was hysterical, face beat red, eyes clenched tightly together. His speech finally slowed down on the final few words, the only ones that Germany understood: "per favore non mi odianoooooo!"

Germany blinked at the mess of Italian in front of him, who'd curled up into a silent ball, tightly hugging his knees.

"Italy, like I said, I would never hate you. But other than that, I didn't understand a word you just said; you were speaking too fast."

"I can't repeat it," he said into his thighs. "It doesn't mean anything anyway-"

"GodDAMNIT, fratellino!" came a shout from across the road. Both countries looked up in surprise, although they quickly recognized the voice and the figure marching toward them. "If you're going to admit something like that, do it right, damnit!" Spain was right behind him, pulling on his arm, making a futile attempt to stop Romano from intervening. "I already figured out what this is about, so you're not getting off easy now! Quit the bullshit, quit the moping, quit doing it half-assed, and just get it over with! Now. Espagna and I are going to leave. We are going to be back in five minutes. And if you haven't told the kraut what you said by then, I WILL! You have the mind of a twenty-year-old, not a grade-schooler, but if you're going to act like one, I'll treat you like one!" With that ultimatum, he stormed back into the mall; this time, he was the one pulling Spain's arm.


Suddenly, a flurry of movement next to Germany caught him off guard. Italy had just jumped up, and began sprinting away at full speed.

"Italy!" Even caught off-guard, his reflexes were quick. He was on his feet in an instant, and barely managed to get a good hold of Italy's shirt in less than five seconds. The Italian was fast when he meant business about running away.

"Mein Gott, Italy, what's come over you?" Germany's confusion level was at its peak. Italy was still trying to escape, digging his fingers in between Germany's in an attempt to pry them apart and free his shirt, but the German's fingers and need to know what the hell was going on were just too strong.

"I... I can't... I just can't... I can't tell you!" Italy gave up. He began to sink to his knees in apparent surrender, but the other country caught him before he hit the ground. He refused to try to stand up or otherwise move, so Germany, by now used to all of Italy's little idiosyncrasies, picked him up, threw him over his shoulder, and returned him to the bench without comment. He realized while carrying him that he had begun shaking again, rather violently this time. Whatever was plaguing Italy's mind was something very serious. Maybe, if he was so afraid of Germany hating him, it actually was something really bad, something that Germany would be better off knowing.

'No…' Germany knew that this couldn't be the case. What he'd told Italy was absolutely true; every last word of it. 'I don't think that even if I tried my hardest, I could hate him.'

Four minutes passed that way, sitting on the bench, Italy back in his silent, trembling ball. Then, he finally made some barely audible noise. Germany looked down at the country, who didn't make another sound for a second, then started speaking.

"I guess... it's better to hear it from me than Romano..."

Germany tried to respond in a way that put as little pressure on his friend as possible. "Go ahead," he said simply.

"What I said was... I realized… After I found out what your actions on Valentine's Day meant, and that you'd come to have feelings for me, I realized that I have feelings for you too…"

Germany's hearing almost cut out right then. 'So... that's what... he... this whole time...' The only thing that brought his attention back is the fact that his own brain was speechless, so it absorbed Italy's words instead.

"You're really important to me... I don't know what I'd do without you... You're always there for me, and you care about me, and you're willing to put up with me even when I'm being useless, and you make me so happy... That's why... that's why I didn't want to tell you. Because if this messed up what we have right now... I don't think I could take it... You're more important to me than how I feel about you... I don't want to lose you... And I know you don't think about me in that way anymore, so it's pointless of me to even bring this up, but please... I beg you... don't stop being my friend just because of this…"

He was still in the process of absorbing everything that was just said, but, in his chest, Germany could feel his heart start melting and revealing some things he hadn't felt in several decades.

"Italy... you..." he managed to stammer. This was one of those times when Germany wished he had the charisma of someone else, someone who knew what to say in every situation, knew how to grow smiles and dry tears. But he didn't. He had the charisma of a log. But he did have one trick up his sleeve. The way to comfort an Italian freaked out of his mind. The rest... he'd have to make up as he went along.

Italy gasped softly as he felt two strong arms wrap around his shoulders and pull him close, and someone nuzzle into the skin between his neck and shoulder. Surely that couldn't be Germany. Germany didn't nuzzle.

"What you said was partially right..." Germany murmured softly, in a calming voice. He could feel the nervous energy begin to leave Italy, but uncertainty still radiated from him. "Those feelings... I locked them away... but that was only because I thought I was being a complete idiot." The whole closeness thing was getting a little weird for Germany, so he sat back up, going back to his rigid, awkward posture. He couldn't say this in any other posture but that one. "I mean to say… They're probably not completely gone. If they could come out from something like a misunderstanding over a present, I think that... um… if you'd be willing to help me... I could unlock them again..."

It was Italy's turn to be completely speechless. Germany was now the one looking away, his face also red.

"I... I don't know what to say, for once..." Italy said, rather flatly and calmly. To completely juxtapose his tone, he continued, "I'm excited and scared and I want to jump up and scream and cry from happiness at the same time. I never thought you would maybe still like me a little. I was kinda hoping, but I never thought you would. Germany-!" The excitement was starting to edge its way into his voice now, "Does this mean you'll be my boyfriend!"

Germany's breath hitched in his throat. Why'd he have to say it in such a direct way, and let the whole parking lot hear as well! Well, blunt or euphemistically, shouted or whispered, what was true was true, right? "J-ja." Germany felt something pull on his face, and he realized it was the corners of his mouth turning up into a smile. "I would like that."

"WHAOW~!" Italy suddenly rocketed into the air, pumping his fist as high as it would go. "HEY WORLD, GUESS W-"

A hand went over his mouth and an arm around his neck instinctively. Just because it was true no matter what volume it was spoken at didn't mean Germany wanted the attention of everyone in a fifty-mile radius. "Dummkopf! Do you want the whole world to-"

"Obviously," Italy said into Germany's hand, looking back with eyes open, and giving him a wink.

Germany blushed as he looked into Italy's cute face. 'Cute'. It'd been a while since he'd allowed himself to think that. But the fact that it wasn't hard to admit must've meant that those thoughts weren't as locked down as he'd previously thought.

Italy turned around to face Germany, and placed his arms around his neck, one eye still open. "I mean, when you're dating a guy as awesome as you, you want the whole world to know that you're his, and he's yours." He slowly began closing the space between his lips and Germany's...

...Which caused the latter country to freak out and back away awkwardly. Italy's eyes went wide in surprise, then in the next second he started laughing. Very, very hard.

"W... what's so funny?" Germany asked, flustered. The attempt on his lips had kicked up a new flurry of emotions.

"It's just... that was... that was such a Germany-like response, it..." he dissolved into a fit of laughter, unable to say another word.

Germany couldn't help but snicker, then chuckle lightly. Italy was right; who else would freak out like that but him? "And who else but you would make a move like that so quickly?"

"Me?" Italy said still grinning. "If I remember correctly, you outright proposed to me a few weeks into our "relationship"."

Germany's face went completely red at this. That had nearly been the most embarrassing moment of his life, only vindicated by the fact that at the time, Italy had no idea what had happened. But it had happened so long ago that by now, it was funny. The two finally settled on a heartfelt hug, but it didn't last long.

"Finally. I was beginning to think you didn't have the balls to do it, fratellino. And it looks like the potato bastard took it well."

"Ooh~! I can't believe you two are dating nowww!" Spain cooed.

"Did Veneziano tell you what he actually said?" Romano asked, coyly. He wasn't sure how keen he was going to be on this whole guy-I-hate-dating-my-brother thing, but in the meantime, he could at least tease his fratellino about it.

"Acutally, I was wondering the same thing," Germany asked. "I thought I heard some different words in there."

"Eh... I kind of paraphrased it..." Italy admitted. "What I said originally sounded really sappy when I thought about it again."

"Oh? Well, what was it?" Germany asked.

"Please don't worry about it-"

"I really like you and you are the dearest thing I have and I always want you by my side but you are important to me and I don't want to lose you so please don't hate meeeeee!" Romano mocked, in a tearful, whiny voice, grinning evily when his brother yelled "Fratello!" angrily in response.

"Awww, come on Veni; that's so adorable~!" Spain grinned squeezing the younger of the two brothers tightly. "Anyway, I think that since Veneziano is back to his normal self, we can declare: Mission Accomplished! So let's head home!"

The other three agreed, and group got in the SUV and headed home. Spain and Romano were dropped off at the hotel, and Italy went to stay with Germany. This was the second-to-last night they would be in town, so Italy wanted to make up for lost time.

"Hey, you got your Italian back," noted Prussia, when they got home. "Did you two finally kiss and make up?" He made a smoochie-smoochie gesture to tease his brother.

"Made up, yes. But we still have the kissing to do," Italy commented with a smile, before leaving toward Germany's room, leaving said German to explain.

Prussia, not quite expecting that response, was frozen in place. "He- what... West, you two aren't-"

Germany smirked. "This is when I wish I had something really cool to say to make you shut your face."

Prussia's eyes went half lidded. "Do I need to stay somewhere else tonight...?"

"You idiot!" Prussia barely dodged a vase that Germany threw with dead aim. He'd know the answer was "no"; Germany just wasn't that kind of person. 'I'd bet Spain twenty euros that Italy's not even going to get to kiss the guy before he leaves. Poor, poor kid.'

Back in the hotel, Spain and Romano finally laid down to relax after the day's events.

"I can't believe my brother's in love with a damn potato freak," Romano sighed as he fell onto the bed. "I'm gonna need a helluva lot of pasta and wine to make this one go away…"

"I go make you some right now!" Spain offered, heading into the small kitchenette. "Let's see, we got the pasta, a good pan- Oh crap."

"What is it?" Romano inquired.

Spain looked like he was about to cry. "We never got our tomatoes back from Prussia's house!"

"WHAAAAAATTT!" Romano cried loudly. Knocking came from the left wall, above, and below, as angry guests responded to their noisy neighbor. "SHUT UP!" Romano yelled back. "THIS IS A TOMATO EMERGENCY!"

"Should we try to go over and get them?"

"Like hell I'm going over there now!"

A couple of days and a solved international tomato crisis later (Germany actually discovered the forgotten tomatoes and brought them over, knowing Romano was probably about to die,) the time did come for him and his new boyfriend to part. If you'd told Germany to imagine two days and nights with Italy, snuggling in bed, feeding each other snacks, and Italy himself generally being cutesier than normal, Germany's head would have exploded, and he would have killed you. In that order. But any awkwardness was overwritten by the same feeling that had arisen the last time he was this sweet with Italy: Happiness.

"Well, this is our last real bit of time together," Italy said sadly, hoping to bring up the subject of kissing again without really bringing it up.

But Germany was thinking the same thing. Once they got to the airport, they wouldn't exactly be able to be all over each other. He knew what Italy wanted.

"We don't have to kiss, do we?" Germany said, hoping Italy would catch the inside joke.

He did catch it, and he replied with eyes open and a sweet smile. "Nope! Unless you want to."

"I do," Germany replied. He was still nervous, but was willing to put that aside for the moment. He remembered a thing or two from those books he'd pulled out again. Although Italy had told him to discard them because they were so old (and Italy was there to help him this time,) kissing was kissing no matter what year it was, right?

Italy moved closer, hands moving to Germany's shoulders standing slight up on his toes. He wasn't that much shorter than Germany-only about three inches, but standing on the balls of his feet would make things a little easier. His eyes closed again gently as he leaned forward, and they made perfect contact.

There was something that seemed textbook about Germany's kissing style: The way he put his hands evenly on Italy's hips, let Italy lead the kiss, since he knew better what he was doing, and how he mimicked what those soft, sweet lips were doing against his. As basic as it seemed, it lead the kiss to not being awkward at all, and they were both able to melt away in each other's arms. Italy allowed his hands to slip forward and wrapped his arms around Germany's neck, and Germany did the same around his waist, inhaling sharply at the increased contact.

Italy decided that tongues were a thing for another day, so after a good five or so minutes of lip-on-lip contact, they pulled apart with a light, wet, sensual, smacking sound.

"How did you like that?" Italy asked softly. He'd been running his hand through the German's hair, and moved a hand to smooth down any strands he'd pushed out of place.

"It was amazing…" Germany suddenly felt empty from the lack of contact, and moved to place another quick kiss on Italy's lips.

"Oh come on" said a third voice, making the two spin apart instantly toward the direction from which it had come. "You guys just came up for air, and you're going at it again; sheesh! Well, I guess I totally lost twenty euros on that bet… Good on you though, West."

"Bruder…" Germany growled. Now he understood Italy's reaction to being teased by his older brother perfectly. "You have five seconds…"

Prussia simply laughed and began to sashay up the stairs to his room. "Yes, yes, the awesome Prussia is so very scared of you, jüngerer Bruder. So scared that I'm totally not going to send this video of your first kiss to Spain, and France, and… oh, all the other countries."

"I'LL TEAR YOU APART!" Germany took off like wildfire, and Prussia began running for real. "GET BACK HERE SO I CAN GAS YOU!"

Italy couldn't help but laugh as the older German's laughs and the younger's threats rang through the house as well as their thunderous footsteps. Eventually, there was a loud thud, and Italy knew Prussia had been caught. "Well… I should probably stop him from killing him," he said with a grin, and went to go pry his boyfriend off of Prussia and bring him back to where he belonged: In his arms.