Was there something wrong with a man hugging his lover?

Of course not; there shouldn't be. If a man was in love, he should be free to express that affection however many ways he chooses, including a light-hearted embrace. Yet America stood, shocked, as his boyfriend shoved him away with more force than one would expect from the small Asian man. What had he done wrong? He and Japan had been dating for nearly two weeks now, and knew each other for years. It had seemed a little odd to America that the couple had never hugged before, so when he answered the door and saw Japan standing there, he figured it was about time to change that.

Why had, instead of returning the embrace, Japan squirmed immediately out of his grasp, breathing heavily while looking horrorstruck and on the alert?

"…The heck, bro? You look like you seen a ghost," America commented, furrowing his eyebrows together in a concerned pout. Japan drew in a shaky breath, gulping and giving America a bow.

"G-gomen, America-san… I just… don't enjoy being touched."

Someone with a phobia of being touched, dating Alfred F. Jones? Oh, this was not a good combination.

Perhaps a change of topic would be best to clear the sense of awkward surrounding the couple. "Well uh, I was watchin' this old movie that came on TV… Wanna join me?" America offered, his voice regaining its usual peppiness with each word he spoke. By the end of his sentence, his confident demeanor was back in full blow. Japan, on the other hand, had barely loosened up at all. This went unnoticed by the American.

"Hai, alright…" he agreed with slight hesitance. The Asian man gently clicked the door into place behind him, and shuffled after his American boyfriend as he strode over to the sofa in the other room.

As lacking in grace as ever, America plopped down on the couch, slouching comfortably with legs crossed, while Japan took a dainty seat beside him, half a cushion worth of space between the couple. America was completely oblivious to the fact that this distance was intentional on Japan's half, and casually draped his arm around the smaller man's shoulder. This resulted in a flinch and a gasp of protest. Even with his inability to sense the atmosphere, America could tell that something was quite wrong here. He uncrossed his legs in order to lean forward and grab the TV controller off of the coffee table, clicking the television off. He looked at Japan with a rather youth-like pout. "What the hell, man? You look like I just slapped you for God's sake!"

The volume of Alfred's voice countered the innocent pleading in his tone, so Japan flinched again. He stared down at his lap with widened brown eyes, refusing to make eye contact, and clenched his hands so tightly that the already pale skin began to turn white. "Gomen, gomen…! I've told you, I don't like to be touched… Gomen…"

America crossed his arms, raising one eyebrow. "Why not? Did something happen to you? You been in an abusive relationship or something?" Japan shook his head quickly, his eyes closed now. "Then what is it?"

Japan immediately opened his mouth to respond; however, he stopped himself and felt his shoulders fall. The answer was plain and clear, yet coming out of his mouth, it would sound so… pathetic. Still, America needed to know the truth. He gulped and slowly turned to look into his boyfriend's face. "I'm not… used to it," he murmured. America let out a short laugh. Not to be spiteful, or because it was funny; he simply laughed.

"Then I'll get you used to it!" he decided. Japan stared at him skeptically and gave a slight shake to his head.

"That's… not possible."

"You wanna bet?" Excited now, America turned himself so that he was completely facing Japan. He adjusted his glasses and grinned confidently. His determination was already too much for Japan, though, and the smaller man closed his eyes again.

"America-san, I don't think you understand… I cannot show affection..."

"Which is why I'm gonna teach you how!" America assured him. "We'll start small and work our way up, mkay?" There was a moment of silence, just America grinning and blinking down at the withdrawn Asian, until Japan gave a slight nod to his head. "Alright, perfect! Now, just do what I do, okay?"

Hesitantly, Japan opened one eye. America went cross-eyed for a second until he came up with a starting point. His usual cocky radiance suddenly dimmed down quite a few notches, making Japan comfortable enough to eventually open his other eye. Slowly, as if approaching an injured animal, America reached out toward Japan's face, wrist twisted so that his palm faced outward. With more gentleness than expected from the rowdy nation, he touched the back of his hand to Japan's cheek. The gesture was meant to be calming, yet Japan leaped away from his touch as if he had been shocked.

Surprisingly, though, America had prepared a deal of patience. "Hey, shh… I ain't gonna hurt you. This is supposed to be nice. Just… chill out and let me do this, alright?" Japan bit his lip, and it was a few second before he finally nodded. America reached out again, and instead of retreating this time, Japan just closed his eyes tightly. It took a few moments, but Japan did eventually loosen up and crack his eyes open. He was met with the sight of America smiling softly down at him. Now that he had Japan's attention, he slowly slid the back of his hand down to Japan's chin. Then he lifted his hand and placed it back under his eye, repeating the gesture a couple times. It seemed to be working in calming him down.

"See? Now, you do it to me." Japan blinked, suddenly nervous. America seemed to be such an expert, what if he messed it up…? Nonetheless, Japan inhaled a silent deep breath and reached out to America's face, palm facing outwards as demonstrated. He hesitated before bringing the back of his hand to his boyfriend's face. When he did, however, he caressed his cheek slowly and lightly, as if this young nation was made of glass. An obvious dash of affection flickered in the blue orbs behind America's glasses.

"Perfect. Now let's try it the other way." The words "The other way?" formed on Japan's lips, though no sound escaped before America had switched to his left hand, this time reaching out normally with his palm facing in. Instead of starting at the top of the cheek as he had last time, now he slipped his fingertips beneath Japan's hairline. He let his hand linger there for a moment, letting Japan register his touch, before slipping his hand down not to the tip of his chin, but so that his fingers curled under his chin. Japan's eyes were wide as he repeated the gesture a couple times. America's touch was so gentle, Japan could barely feel his fingers skating down his face… How could such a loud, childish man be so serene…?

Japan nearly missed America's instruction to do the same to him. With a slight nod, Japan pressed his hand to the top of America's cheek and brought it down to his chin, as they had with the previous gesture. America gave a slight shake to his head and gently gripped Japan's wrist. "Start here," he slid Japan's fingertips right beneath the arms of his glasses, "and bring it down to here," he brought Japan's hand down to just under his chin. "Now you." He released Japan's wrist.

Eyebrows furrowed slightly, Japan put all his focus into repeating the gesture. It was a little rushed, but technically, he did it correctly. America smiled softly, almost like a proud father. "Cool. Let's see… Ah!" He snapped his fingers. "Okay, I got one." Unable to hold back a smile, America closed his eyes and leaned forward so that there was barely an inch between him and Japan's faces. He touched the tips of their noses together and shook his head ever-so-slightly, nuzzling him. When he opened his eyes, Japan had covered his nose with his hand as if some invisible force had caught him off guard by nipping him.

"W…what was that?" he breathed, eyes widened. America chuckled under his breath.

"I just nuzzled our noses together, is all! Like a kitty."

"Like a… kitty…?" Japan repeated. Funny, how the much older nation could be looking so innocent, so small right now.

America nodded. "Like a kitty. See?" He repeated the gesture, longer and sweeter this time. Hesitant as ever, Japan gradually pressed the tip of his nose to America's, and shook his head much quicker than Alfred ever had demonstrated. "Slow down there, tiger. You gotta take time to enjoy it." America's tone was even and steady, illustrating his point. He gave one more demonstration, this time pressing their foreheads together for a second afterwards, and then Kiku tried again. He was still a little too fast, but it was nothing America didn't enjoy.

Now America sat back, tapping his chin in thought. "Hm, there're a few things we could try… But I'll save them for when I show you how to spice up our sex," he decided. Japan was taken so aback that he nearly fell off the couch, his face glowing red.

"What?!"

"Nothing, nothing," America insisted with his trademark laugh, flapping his hand. He stared up at the ceiling, resuming his brainstorming. "Mkay, got one." After the comment about sex, Japan was rather on edge again. Taking note of this, America decided it'd be best to continue simply getting the Asian man used to his touch. Saving his original plan for later, America pried Japan's hand off of the couch, since he had begun to grip the cushions in alarm. In order to calm him down a bit, America just stroked his pinky across the back of Japan's hand until he was relaxed enough that America could uncurl his fingers for him. The American made his move before Japan could pull away. Carefully, he slipped his thumb between Japan's thumb and pointer finger, pointer finger between Japan's pointer finger and middle finger, and so on until their hands were entwined. Still on alert, Japan had his fingers straight, but once America curled his fingers against Japan's hand he got the message to do the same.

A soft smile crossed America's face as he noticed Japan staring down at their hands as if he'd never seen such a thing in his life. Making sure to keep their fingers entwined, America raised his arm slightly and gave a tiny shake to their hands. "Have you ever held hands with someone, Kiku?"

Japan thought for a moment, then shook his head. "I don't… think so…"

His smile transitioned into a teasing grin. "You're so cute, y'know. And your hands are so tiny…"

Once again, a deep blush swiped across Japan's cheeks. "Don't forget that I'm much older than you…!" America just chuckled, shaking his head fondly and bringing Japan's hand to his lips. The Asian man's blush had started to fade away, but when America pressed a gentle kiss to his knuckles, it returned at its full strength. America let out another one of his overly-enthusiastic laughs.

"Dude, stop being so adorable! I'm trying to take this shit slow!" What America wanted to do was grab Japan by the waist, lead him down against the couch, and kiss him furiously until one or both of them just had to take their clothes off. But he sufficed with giving him a long, sweet kiss to the forehead.

"Is… Is that the next exercise?" Japan questioned quietly, his eyes nearly rolling into the back of his head as he attempted to look up at the spot where America's lips had just been.

The American raised his eyebrows and sat back on his knees. "Huh? Oh, no, that was just natural…. But sure, it can be." Japan gave a tiny yet sharp nod, gradually pulling himself onto his knees. Slipping his fingers out of America's grasp, he felt his heart pounding in his ears as he began to lean over the taller nation. He held his breath and pecked his lips against America's forehead, so quickly that Alfred barely acknowledged its happening. "C'mon, that made it feel like I disgust you. Let it last a little!" Sighing through his nose, Japan hesitantly placed one hand on America's shoulder to balance himself and kissed his forehead again, longer this time. He immediately sat back down.

"Let's try the same thing but on the cheek, shall we?" America offered. Before Japan could comment, he had tilted his head and pressed a kiss against Japan's cheek. Even after he removed his lips, he lingered in position, his lips smiling against the spot he had just touched. When he pulled away, Japan was staring at his lap, quite obviously nervous. A few seconds went by with nothing happening. A half disappointed, half amused smile seeped onto America's mouth. He took Japan's chin in his finger and thumb and gently forced the shorter man to look up at him. Silently, he tapped his cheek with three of the fingers on his free hand, raising his eyebrows meaningful. He even leaned forward and tilted his cheek in Japan's direction so the latter wouldn't have to. Japan flicked his eyes up toward America's face, looking much like a neglected puppy. Sighing, he straightened up, closed his eyes, and brought his lips to America's cheek for a few seconds. He retreated immediately afterwards.

"That wasn't so bad, was it?" Japan took this to be a rhetorical question, but America seemed to be waiting for an answer, so he glanced away and murmured, "No."

Grinning in contentment, America leaned back in with closed eyes and slightly puckered lips, aiming right for Japan's mouth. Automatically catching onto what he was doing, Japan's eyes widened in horror and he threw his hands up protectively. Once America got too close, he shoved him away. This took the American by surprise. His eyes widened and he froze, his glasses sliding down his nose. "Sorry, bro… Guess I uh, was moving too fast," he spluttered. Japan said nothing; he simply stared off to the side.

An aura of awkward so strong that even America noticed it settled over the couple. "…Let's, uh… Here. You need to work on being hugged," he decided. So, America scooted closer to his love and draped his arms around him. Japan tensed on contact, his pupils dilating. America shushed him under his breath, slipping one hand around his waist and the other through his hair. He ran his fingers through the jet black locks, rubbing soothing circles on his lower back. It took nearly an entire minute, but Japan eventually relaxed, and soon enough he was hesitantly wrapping his arms around America.

With their size difference, the two men seemed to be meant for each other's arms. Japan fit so perfectly against America… At one point, Alfred guided Kiku's head downward so that it rested in the crook of his neck, making the position even more comfortable. America rocked the smaller man so lightly that the movement was barely noted, yet it still harbored a calming effect. Any form of tension in Japan's body had evaporated over a course of minutes, and his arms tightened not nervously, but affectionately around America's body.

For once, it was Japan that broke their silence. "…I love you, Alfred-san…" he whispered, closing his eyes against America's neck. America smiled- not at all cockily, like he normally did- down at him, his eyes half closed.

"Love you too, Kiku."

There was a pause. "…Even after everything?"

America leaned back slightly so he could catch a better glimpse of Japan's face. "What're you talking about, babe?"

Now Japan wasn't making eye contact again, shame evident in his expression. "…You remember, that day…"

No further detail was required. When it clicked in America's mind, he felt his heart shatter, a dark cloud taking its place. He stared down at his lover, shocked he would bring such a topic up, in a different, dimmer light. "Of course I remember. As much as I try not to." The usual upbeat demeanor of his was long gone, locked away in the presence of this topic. He removed his hands from Japan, crawling farther down the couch so that they were no longer touching. Regret exploded like a nuclear bomb inside of Japan, but he needed to bring this up… He needed to truly test America's love for him…

"America-san, please remember it was not my fault… My boss would allow me to have no say…" He pleaded, his voice desperate. America turned to him with apathetic eyes, his brow furrowed.

"I know. Do you think that if I didn't, I'd be sitting here with you? Head over heels in love with you? I don't like to think about that day, let alone talk about it. You know Pearl Harbor was- is- special to me. But so're you, Kiku. So just…" He blinked quickly, fortunately hiding the tears welling up in his eyes before they could become obvious. "Drop it, okay? I know that whole thing wasn't your fault, because you love me. Right?"

It took a moment for Japan to regain his voice, he was so surprised with America. …"Hai. I love you a lot, America-san…" He gulped, glancing at the floor for a moment before looking directly into America's baby blue eyes. "And now, I…. know how to show it."

With a deep breath, Japan ran the back of his hand along America's cheek, then flipped his palm over and caressed from his dirty blonde hairline to the bottom of his chin. He pressed quick pecks against the younger nation's forehead and cheek, then nuzzled their noses together. Not daring to open his eyes, Japan remained with their faces so close together, and even held America's face in place with his hands. He sealed the tiny gap between them, bringing their lips together in their first kiss. America's eyes widened behind his glasses and then drooped, his hands making their way around Japan's waist and pulling their bodies even closer together. When they pulled away for air, they immediately dove back in for more. Both of them.