Prussia looked up from his cell phone when he felt someone plunk down on the bus seat beside him. In a moment of surprise-induced weakness, Prussia's heart stuttered joyfully when he saw that it was Austria who had joined him. Oi, cut that out, Prussia told his heart sternly once the initial shock had passed. I'm way too cool for you to be pulling sissy shit like that.
"Oh ho, now this is unexpected," Prussia said with his typical mischievous smirk. "Come to admit and bask in my greatness at last?"
"Don't flatter yourself," Austria scoffed, though he didn't sound nearly as stern as he usually did. "All the other seats were full."
Prussia looked around the bus and realized with a pang of disappointment that this was true. He recovered from this minor upset quickly. "Maybe so, but admit it, Young Master: you're secretly thrilled about that. I bet you totally waited to be the last one on the bus just to make sure you'd have an excuse to sit with me."
"A ludicrous suggestion," Austria said dismissively.
Prussia waited, expecting him to work in another insult or tell him he'd rather watch a parade of dogs take turns urinating on his beloved piano than sit next to him if there were any other choice, but Austria said nothing further.
The district-wide school Solo and Ensemble Competition had just finished, and the students of W Academy had all trooped back to the bus, some relieved and overjoyed by the results that their pieces had received, others feeling rather disappointed and resolving to practice harder next year. Prussia himself had earned a one on his solo flute performance, the highest rating available (unless one counted the one star rating, which was rarely awarded and only to those who had really gone above and beyond). He was pleased with himself, though not particularly surprised. Someone as awesome as him could only expect the highest rating.
To tell the truth, Prussia had snuck in to watch Austria's performance of his piano piece, a rather difficult creation of Bach's. Austria had moved a number of the judges to tears with the beauty of his performance and had been awarded a one star rating. Even Prussia, as much as he hated to admit it, had felt something powerful taking place in his chest as he had listened to Austria play. He'd expected the other student to be a bit smugger about the honor he had received, but instead he seemed rather drained.
The bus flared noisily to life and after the band teacher had taken a quick head count, they were off. Austria lowered his head into his hands, hiding his face from sight. Prussia couldn't help feeling a little concerned because… well, ok, so he had a little thing for Austria. True, the other boy was snooty and had a giant stick up his ass, but he was also very attractive, passionate, and pretty intelligent and well spoken. That intelligence and his usual air of composure just made his occasional clumsiness even cuter, and Prussia loved it when he could shake Austria's determined calmness with a well-chosen, clever comment.
He poked Austria gently in the ribs, expressing his concern in the only way his pride would let him. Austria flinched and glared up at him from red-rimmed eyes over the top of his fingers.
"I know I may be asking the impossible, but could you just leave me alone?" Austria requested irritably. "I haven't the stamina for your harebrained antics right now."
"What's with you, Young Master?" Prussia demanded. "I thought you'd be over the moon about having scored a one star. What're you so mopey for?"
"I could say the same to you," Austria retaliated. "I've been sitting here perhaps five whole minutes and you haven't bragged once about your own one rating. I imagined that you would be unbearable."
Prussia grinned. "How'd you know I got a one? Did you come and watch the awesome me perform?"
Austria's cheeks flushed slightly, making Prussia's heart stutter happily again. Knock it off, you, he told it distractedly.
"Don't misunderstand. I merely knew that you'd pretend to have scored a one no matter what you really got and had to see for myself what the result was."
Prussia's grin widened even further, his ego swelling proudly. Whatever Austria said, Prussia was already drawing his own conclusions about why Austria had come to watch him play, and all of them began and ended with Austria being smitten with Prussia.
"I bet you totally swooned when you heard my kickass playing, didn't you, Young Master?" Prussia nagged. "It's ok, you can admit it. You weren't the only one."
"Well clearly you must have watched my performance as well!" Austria snapped, his face still rather red. "I certainly didn't mention to you what my score was!"
Now it was Prussia's turn to go a little pink. "Yeah, so what if I did? Just 'cause you're too stuffy and have a massive stick up your ass, doesn't mean I can't appreciate your music."
Austria gave him a look of surprise. Clearly Prussia's open admission to having watched and enjoyed Austria's playing had thrown him off his groove. Austria's blush wasn't calming, and Prussia allowed himself to revel in the fact that he had managed to fluster Austria again so satisfyingly to distract himself from how embarrassingly truthful he'd just been.
"T-to return to your previous unwarranted accusation, I am not moping," Austria said hotly. "I am simply exhausted."
Prussia frowned. "I know that was a tough song you played, but it couldn't've worn you out that much."
"If you must know, I often have difficulty sleeping the night before an important performance," Austria said.
"You? Really?" Prussia asked in disbelief. "But… you've gotta know that you're the most kickass piano player anywhere around here. And this competition isn't even that big a deal."
"Fool," Austria sighed. "Even you must know that those who score a one star qualify for the state competition. If I manage to get a one star at the state level, I will be eligible for a sizeable scholarship. It's an honor that any young musician should strive for."
"Hmm," Prussia hummed in understanding. "Well good for you, Specs. You're half-way there."
Austria gave him a slightly suspicious look. "You're… being strangely pleasant today."
Prussia couldn't help flushing again slightly, but he grinned as though he weren't embarrassed by this observation. "Would you prefer a wet willy?" he asked.
"No, I most certainly would not," Austria said quickly, raising his hands to protect his ears from the treatment that Prussia had suggested. "Honestly, are you an elementary school student?!"
Prussia snickered, but let the matter drop. The two of them lapsed into an oddly comfortable silence as the bus continued to carry them back to their own school. Prussia pretended to be lost in his thoughts, but he was watching Austria closely out of the corner of his eye.
The dark-haired boy's head had begun to nod sleepily towards Prussia's shoulder. Prussia leaned subtly closer, offering his shoulder hopefully for Austria's pillow, not bothering to scold himself this time for how hard his heart was pounding. To his disappointment, once Austria's cheek touched his shoulder, he startled awake.
Prussia watched as his classmate's cheeks warmed and he rubbed his eyes beneath his glasses, and it tugged fiercely at Prussia's heartstrings. "I… I apologize," Austria mumbled.
"You're that tired?" Prussia asked.
"As I said, I didn't sleep well last night," Austria reminded him softly, stifling a yawn. "I could only tolerate so many dreams of spectacular failure before I simply gave up all hope of getting any rest."
An image of himself holding and comforting a highly distressed Austria who had just awoken from a nightmare flashed through Prussia's mind and he had to clench his hand into a fist to resist reaching out to him.
"We've still got like an hour bus ride before we get back to school," Prussia pointed out, trying to sound casual about it. "You've got time to sleep a little if you want."
"A tempting suggestion," Austria admitted, "however, there is simply no way to be comfortable on this sort of bus."
Prussia cleared his throat and fiddled compulsively with the hem of his shirt. "My shoulder's free," he pointed out.
Austria gave him a look of shock and disbelief, his face now very red. "Y-You mean for me to…?"
"The awesome me has awesome, manly shoulders, perfect for resting on," Prussia insisted, his face almost as red as Austria's. "And check this out, there's this nice layer of muscle on it to make it cushy. Don't act like you don't wanna test it out."
Austria hesitated uncertainly. "You're… you're serious about this?"
Prussia shrugged, not meeting Austria's gaze. He wasn't used to being in situations like this, and his instincts were screaming at him to stop making himself so vulnerable and to pull back.
"I can't help but imagining that if I were to take you up on your offer, I'd wake to find that you've drawn a mustache on me while I slept, or that you've cut my hair, or… or performed some other childish trick," Austria said.
"Aw c'mon, Young Master," Prussia huffed. "That would just be underhanded. I'm so above attacking a guy in his sleep."
Austria made a doubtful little noise in his throat.
"Oi, what was that snort for?" Prussia demanded. "I'm being serious. You'd have to be nuts not to take advantage of this offer. You know how many other people would kill to have the awesome me say that to them?"
Austria looked like he wanted to rebut that claim, but he bit his tongue and said nothing, averting his eyes to his well-shined dress shoes.
Prussia pouted and turned his gaze to the scenery racing by his window. Silence fell between them again, though it wasn't the oddly comfortable one that they had shared before. Prussia was beginning to wonder if he should have just kept his mouth shut and hoped that Austria would have just fallen asleep on him of his own accord. Stupid Austria. What did he expect from him anyway? Austria always got all bent out of shape when Prussia teased him, but whenever Prussia tried to be nice to him, Austria seemed hesitant to accept that too.
This sucks, the fair-haired boy thought sulkily. No matter what I do, I just can't win with this guy.
Prussia started slightly when Austria's dark, silky hair suddenly brushed against his ear, snapping him out of his glum thoughts. The other boy's head was nodding again.
"Sorry," Austria murmured tiredly, trying to straighten himself up again.
"I already told you I don't care," Prussia said. "Just quit being so stubborn and give in already."
Austria's eyelids fluttered sleepily. Had he even heard what Prussia had said? It looked like he was more asleep than awake. Perhaps he could guide Austria over onto his shoulder without him fighting it now. No sooner had he thought that when Austria slumped over, his warm cheek nuzzling against his classmate's shoulder, and this time he didn't pull away. Prussia swallowed hard, glancing nervously at the decreased amount of space on the seat between them. Austria's hand was resting there casually, not three inches away from Prussia's…
Prussia licked his lips apprehensively. Would Austria pull away if Prussia tried to take his hand? Perhaps he shouldn't risk it. Come on, when did I become so chicken shit? Prussia berated himself. If I wanna do it, then I will! Steeling his nerves, Prussia carefully closed the gap between their fingers. Austria didn't break the contact.
"You… fool…" Austria mumbled in his sleep, nuzzling him again.
Prussia turned his gaze back to the scenery whipping past his window as he bit the inside of his lip to stifle a smile. He's totally dreaming about me! Just as I thought: no one can resist this charm, not even cold-as-ice Austria, he thought arrogantly. How can someone as cool as me even exist? It's a miracle!
Austria shifted beside him, and Prussia couldn't tell whether he had done so unconsciously, but in doing so, he increased the contact between their hands. Prussia's insides squirmed happily. He was just trying to will the soft smile from his lips when France and Spain, who were sitting in the seat in front of him, chose that very inopportune moment to turn around to look at him.
The color drained from Prussia's cheeks as their faces split into shit-eating grins in perfect unison at the sight before them.
"Seriously, if either of you say a word, I'll punch you both in the throat," Prussia hissed, not wanting to disturb Austria.
France raised his hands in a sign of surrender, though his grin didn't disappear. "I wasn't going to say anything."
Spain waved to get Prussia's attention, then pointed at Austria, and made an exaggeratedly large grin on his own face, tracing the shape of his lips with his finger to indicate that Austria was smiling. Prussia leaned forward cautiously, trying to see for himself, but there was simply no way to do so without disturbing the boy resting against him. Instead he pulled out his cell phone, made a photo snapping gesture with his fingers and pointed to Austria, before handing Spain the phone.
Still grinning widely, Spain snapped a picture of Austria's sleeping face with Prussia's cell phone and handed it back to him. Prussia's heart swelled as he viewed the gentle smile on Austria's face. He wasn't such a mushy romantic that he would explicitly admit, even to himself, that he would treasure this picture, but he knew deep down that he wouldn't soon tire of looking at it.