Ivan needed a good cigarette.

After a long day of talking with these American officials and his own about 'political problems' and listening to them squabble pettily with barely concealed insults, he was mentally tired and ready to walk out. However, the peace and the superpower across the table had been the only thing from plunging the globe into another war. The World Wars had been dark –all those beautiful sunflowers and their smiling faces were lost in the battles- and he was eager to try again for their sakes this year. He owed his lovely little children the chance to regrow and recover from Stalin and his ilk.

"Leader dudes," Alfred spoke up suddenly, his bright smile attracting the attention of their politicians. "Can we break for an hour? This stuff is mad heavy and I need a burger like yesterday." He didn't drop the cheerful crescent of pearly whites until the human leaders nodded tersely, rising and going their separate ways for the little intermission. Alfred was quick to leave, a patriotic whistle slipping between his plump lips, and Ivan found himself alone in no time.

'At last...' Ivan slowly rose from his chair, feeling the toll of hours of sitting on his legs and lower back as tight knots formed. 'That chair is hell, if nothing else.' The tall Russian country made his way out of the building and into the wimpy American snow that seemed to throw all the citizens into a panic. He marveled at how three inches of snow could be considered so horrid in this continent when he and his people could commonly get three feet without breaking a sweat.

Ivan welcomed the papery taste on his lips as, in the chill, he slid a cigarette out of the pack and held it between his lips. The Russian traded the carton for his matchbox with practiced ease and, drawing one out, he lit it smoothly.

As he brought the flame toward his face, it sputtered and went out.

"Chyort vos'mi," Ivan swore, discarding the spent match to draw another. He felt a little impatient with the solid sticks of wood as one by one, all his matches went out except for the last. He held it gingerly, eyeing the tip with reproach, and ordered it not to go out in the most threatening American he knew. "You go out and I'll fuck you up, da?"

A lighter clicked and Ivan nearly jumped when Alfred's low chuckle flew through the winter breeze. He was in his bomber jacket again, having discarded it for the meeting, and the dark gloves had returned to hide the calluses on his well-worn hands. Ivan had seen Alfred's hands up close once, when they were still true Allies, and marveled silently at the sheer amount of work he'd done to get his status as a superpower. Ivan hadn't expected it, what with Alfred's childish behavior, but his eyes could not lie.

"Having trouble?" Alfred asked, spotting the accumulation of spent matches near the Russian man's boots. "I've never put much stock in matches... a good Bic does right by me."

"A 'Bic'," Ivan said quietly, still eyeing the inextinguishable flame with interest. "ruins the flavour of the cigarette. It's the lighter fluid." Never the less, Ivan bent his head and let the flame caress the tip of his cigarette like a lover before he stood up straight again and took a long drag. "Ah... eto khorosho."

America mirrored him: "S'good." Ivan nodded.

"Da." He looked at Alfred to find that the American wasn't staring at him, but at the palm of his gloved hand. Ivan looked too, seeing a small dark stain on the glove, and America smiled bitterly at the aged mark from their past. It was a Cold War souvenir from Checkpoint Charlie; Ivan looked away now and they smoked in silence.

Chyort vos'mi = (Russian) Damn it!, Oh shit!

Da = (Russian) Yes

Eto khorosho = (Russian) that's good.