disclaimer: disclaimed.
dedication: Sonya for screeching about Chris Pine with me.
notes: the last time I watched this, I made a comment about how "Gimli is trying to steal the Genovian crown from Catwoman" and it. um. spiralled from there.

title: breathing underwater
summary: The UN was not expecting the Queen of Genovia to be an internationally-wanted criminal. — Mia/Nicholas.

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She keeps the gun in her purse and wears a black business suit cut to emphasize the tiny circle of her waist. Mia Thermopolis—sometimes known as Amelia Mionette Thermopolis Renaldi, Queen of Genovia; less rarely known as Catwoman—stands in front of the United Nations building, and looks upwards.

It is a grey building, sky-high and boring despite the myriad of colours flags that snap in the wind.

"I am so not impressed right now," she says, and looks up, distaste colouring her features.

Her husband (and head of security—imagine that. They call him the Shadow Man, and he holds the country together when Mia can't) stands behind her. There is only a handbreadth's between them, but it is enough to keep them both on guard.

She might have been born here, but Mia does not belong to the United States of America any longer. She is no friend to these people, and as long as she has her way, it will stay that way.

Mia has studied history.

Mia understands that this country has eaten others to get what it wants. She thinks of the Cold War, and her lips pull up in a sneer.

Morons.

The seventeen-year-old in her thinks this is ridiculous because the US is home, and nothing can ever change that. The twenty-one-year-old in her who loves both countries with everything she has wants to try for peace. Twenty-seven-year-old Queen Mionette wants the US soldiers off her land now, as in this instant. The cat in her wants to claw their eyes out and set the place alight, only to laugh as the flames leapt higher.

"Nicholas," she says. He closes the space between them, and for a second, Mia relaxes into him. He is warm and solid as he'd been at twenty-three when they'd married, five years to the day. "Are you sure I should do this?"

"It's this or all-out war, Mia. We're not prepared for that," he says quietly into her ear. His breath makes her shiver, and she knows he's right. Genovia is not prepared for war—in fact, the general population is completely unaware of the situation at large.

This is for the better, of course, but it makes her like the lie no less.

And neither is Mia prepared to rely on Russia for support. She doesn't want to be the start of another Cold War. For that matter, she doesn't want to be the start of a war, period.

There is too much at stake, and so she can set her pride aside for this.

She wraps her hand around the gun in her purse and holds on to it as tightly as she can. The mother-of-pearl inlay is cool and calming against her skin, and she thinks of her grandmother's wise blue gaze gone somber the first time she'd clicked back the safety and pointed it at a target.

Mia can't shoot arrows, but she knows how to shoot a gun.

It's probably the American in her expressing itself the only way it knows how. Mia snorts. It's an unladylike sound, but then, she's never been one for propriety. She is not suited to it, and while it might be suited to her country, she thinks they are all better off without.

"The kids will be okay without us," she says, but she doesn't know who she's trying to reassure.

"They're with your grandmother," he replies. "And Joe. They'll be fine."

His words buoy her; they keep her from drowning in her own worry, and instead of drowning in it, she's breathing underneath it all. Joe will keep her children safe. Joe will always keep Genovia's royalty guarded—he kept her alive for five years, and her daughter and her son are safe in his hands.

"Let's go," she says.

He lets her go, but stays a close step behind. She is Queen Amelia Mionette Thermopolis Renaldi, and she is not about to let them win. But she stops before they slink inside, and she looked at him out of the corner of her eye.

"Nicholas," she says, her throat working like she's trying to spit out words and coming up short, "I—if things go south—"

"Nothing's going to happen, Mia," he says.

"But if something does, promise me that you'll—!"

"No, Mia."

"They need you!"

"You need me," he says. The emphasis on you sends the fight out of her because he's right, she does need him—she needs him for balance and for strength and she needs him to pull her back when she's about to set the world alight.

His fingers are warm against the small of her spine, and she sags into the touch.

"Promise me you'll get out. The kids deserve to have at least one parent," she murmurs.

"We should go," he hums a little in response, and makes not a single promise. Mia tries not to feel unduly grateful.

"You're probably right," Mia sighs. "Come on, then."

New York is a grey city. The air tastes like smog and old cigarettes, the sleazy burn of gin in dive bars downtown, and Mia aches inside for the honest fresh air of Genovia's countryside.

She hates it here.

Hates.

Inside her mind, the cat unfurls its claws.

Mia plasters on her Queen smile (the one that she wears in front of criminals and politicians alike—they're not very much different, the two, she's come to realize), and slinks inside. Nicholas is at her back, close enough to protect, close enough to take a bullet, close enough—

Together they go, and she breathes in deep as he closes the door.

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fin?