Disclaimer: I, sadly, don't own these amazing creations. Enjoy, y'all~!
"Happiness is not something ready made. It comes from your own actions."
America shifted giddily in his seat. He had this totally awesome idea involving giant superheroes, a vegetarian burger, and a naturally purple cat. He paused. Maybe he should use something easier to find; America swiftly crossed off veggie-burger and replaced it with talking carpet. That lightened the load, he realized as he leaned back with a content sigh.
"America!" England yelled, flying into the younger nation's office. America quickly retracted his feet before Arthur threw himself into the chair opposite him.
He blinked innocently at the flushed Brit. "What's up, dude?" To make it seem like he had been doing something important before the impromptu visit, he shuffled slowly through some wayward papers, adjusting his glasses.
When England finally caught his breath, his face turned ugly, pinched and tight. He snarled, "Where were you, America?"
The superpower grinned, brushing away the anger he could feel rolling off his former guardian. "What're yah talking about, my man?"
England hissed dangerously. America watched him struggle to find the right words before finally deciding on, "You complete arse!"
America rubbed the back of his neck sheepishly, realization dawning quickly. "I missed a meeting, didn't I?"
"You bloody well did," England growled, ramrod straight in the chair.
The younger turned away and bit his lip. Well, that was no good; he had to be a hero! What hero abandoned his trusty side-kick? "My bad, Iggy! I'll be extra early next time," he promised enthusiastically, nodding wildly.
England narrowed his eyes distrustfully. He pushed himself up. "See to it, America."
America grinned and didn't cease waving happily until the Englishman turned the corner. When he was sure his friend was gone, he sighed into his hands, frowning. Well, that un-awesomely ruined his mood; he sadly threw out his fun, three-numbered list. He flicked at some eraser shavings aimlessly before pulling out his notes that were originally for, well, today.
Like always, his notes were amazing (in his humble opinion, of course). Seriously though, they really were. He had detailed each topic, cited sources, and decorated the slides with helpful graphics and charts. Not that anyone would ever see it, though. America still had that idea taped into his head that one day, that one terribly beautiful day, he would throw off his bomber jacket (hitting Artie over the face with it, that silly Brit) and bounce up to the podium with unforeseen smart words to toss around.
America pressed his lips together. Alternating between broad flourishes on the paper and fast clicks on the computer, he successfully updated his presentation. He leaned back with a satisfied sigh, parroting his earlier motions from before England's interruption. Now he just had to be sure to show up early enough to please his old mentor but not enough that it would garner attention from the rest of the world.
America smiled hollowly. He shouldn't have stayed up so late talking with Mr. President; it would have saved him this trouble. With a small shrug of his shoulders and shake of his head, America grinned widely, setting up his schedule and gathering his notes.
America jumped back, slamming his body flush against the wall. He held his breath and closed his eyes.
"I swear I saw America here just a second ago."
"Oui, Angleterre, of course."
America bit his lip worriedly as the two nation's voices got louder. The closet he had dived into in his panic was uncomfortable and small; he was totally going to bruise where that angry mop was stabbing him. He stopped squirming when England's harsh voice yelled with more ferocity than before.
"What is that supposed to mean, frog?"
"Ah, nothing, Angleterre." There was a large pause and then a resounding smack! France's voice continued in a high squeak, "Simply that your, ah, magical friends must be pulling a joke on you."
America winced at England's sharp bark of a laugh. "Flying Mint Bunny is on vacation with some Jinora girl."
America could practically hear the Englishman's sneer.
"Ah, of course."
There were some shuffling sounds before England revealed quietly, "America did promise me that he'd show up early for this meeting."
The voices were now unmistakable and clear, sounding almost right outside of America's closet. The American swallowed a large portion of air, hunkering further down with careful attention to not irritate the mop. He opened his eyes and stared blankly at the sliver of light now darkened out by the men's shadows.
"You think you will be disappointed again, non?"
There was a loud huff but America ignored it, his mind crying disappointed disappointed disappointed. He couldn't breath.
A shadow moved, twitching, and the light flash briefly in America's eyes before taking it away once more.
America heard a soft grunt before England said, "I wish the idiot would stop spouting that nonsense about heroes and actually do something with his life."
America sniffed but didn't dare to move.
"Oui, let us continue on, then, mon amour. You said there was something importante to tell me?"
The shadows vanished carefully, slowly allowing the orange glow back into the closet. America looked away, combing a hand through his hair. Their voices were progressively getting quieter, but the voices in the American's head were easily getting louder. Was he really a disappointment? Was he making Arthur this sad?
He crazily shook his head. He was not going to go through that dark phase again. Without letting himself dwell on the consequences, America carelessly flung the doors open. They smacked the wall loudly, making an unpleasant cracking sound.
Then the American took off running. By the time he reached the end of the hallway he was panting heavily. He bit his lip in brief deliberation before hurling himself in the most likely direction the two would have gone. He needed to confront that old nation and set things straight!
He skidded to a stop, though, when he passed his older brother. "MATTIE?" he crowed, draping himself over the Canadian without prologue. Canada was pushed a few steps back by his younger twin's enthusiasm, forcing him to throw out his arms to regain his balance.
Canada spluttered, pinking. "America?" he asked softly, slowly circling his arms around the ebullient man. "What are you doing? Especially so early, eh?"
America smiled, leaning his head on the other's shoulder. Both were now paused in the middle of the hallway, caring not for the other nations' grunts at having to snake around. "Have you seen Iggy? Or maybe even France?"
Canada nodded and cautiously pointed to his left. He then offered a sheepish smile to Spain and Romano, who was being dragged in tow, when they had to hastily dive away from the force of his younger twin's sprint. When they didn't see it Canada winced, looking away.
With the help of his twin's direction, America finally stopped to catch his breath outside one of the various lecture rooms Canada had motioned to; the plain and hidden room screamed Arthur. He slid down the wall beside the door, head between his legs as he calmed his racing heart.
"I hate you."
America flinched, still breathing deeply outside the door that separated him from England and France.
"Non, Angleterre, I do not think that you do."
There was the sound of paper being crumpled. America knew that was England, probably forming it into a ball to throw at the annoying Frenchman.
America had to do a double take, however, when he barely heard, "Francis, I think I love him."
America went to still. Artie loved someone? Who? When? He shook his head, straining to listen. His original plan to confront England about the disappointment jab disappeared as he hung on every word the two pitched each other.
The rest of what America heard was garbled, but he salvaged France saying something like go for it, and England replying with his lack of courage and how his intended didn't feel the same way. That part made America think that it was actually France who England wanted, but then the proceeding fight between the two when France made some comment or another (something about raisins?) had the American realizing that their relationship was more fraternal than romantic.
When the screaming and hissing and smacking slowed down, pattering out completely, America tiredly pulled himself up. He felt used up, exhausted. And the meeting hadn't even started yet; how un-fabulous was that? Moping, he ambled away from the small room before the two made their way out.
America breezed passed a stoic Germany sipping at some cheap coffee from the lobby. It was too bad he missed the blonde jerk his head around and blink owlishly, 'cause that was a sight to see in itself.
The American, already kicking his feet up on the conference table confidently, hadn't even known he'd passed the collected German. Though to be fair, the bubbly nation was still mulling over what Arthur had professed to France in that room. The Briton loved someone, but he couldn't (read: wouldn't) tell such a person because, well, he was afraid?
America visibly shrugged. Sure, why not? Rejection always hurts, and he did say that his crush didn't feel the same way. He blinked. The dirty-blonde casually removed his note packet from his briefcase, avoiding that emergency burger he always hid away between his emergency DVDs of The Big Bang Theory and Doctor Who (though America would never ever reveal the latter in front of a certain prideful nation). He slowly clicked the pen open, hovering over the blank page. He'd show the old man he was a fine, accomplished hero.
"Iggy, you're the bravest dude I've ever met. Go for it!"
America shook his head, ripping the paper and crumbling it into a papery ball. No, that wouldn't do. Tapping his lips with the back of the pen he concluded that he would stay anonymous. So that meant using none of his quirky American jargon. He tried again, careful to make his personal writing style less American.
"England is one of the most creative nations I have ever encountered. You may not know it, but he dreams up worlds while we're off playing in the sand of our political games. He smirks to himself, watching us through narrowed eyes, while he is already up in the starry sky.
"Not to say he's an optimist; oh no. He's a sassy cynic that can't go one minute without a snappy comeback. But those snarky comments? They're nice; they reveal his prickly but compassionate love and undeterred wit. He's a lion, that England. He can do anything, and he will do anything. Go for it - believe."
Well. That was much better than his first draft. As America re-read it he couldn't help but grin. It was totally awesome! That cranky Brit would think twice about calling him a disappointment. (America ignored the sad feeling that squirmed around in his stomach at the thought of Arthur confessing his love to someone.) The American happily folded up the note, scrawling England on the front and hiding it away in his notebook. He'd slip it in his former-mentor's bag once the meeting started.
America was a failure at subtle. His dream of being a super-ninja-awesome-hero was crushed, crumbling as he watched on in horror.
Okay, no. Well, yes, actually.
"What the bloody hell are you stealing from me, America!?"
America opened his mouth to offer a plausible excuse but all that came out was, "Abgggll?"
Now England was red and shaking. If America didn't care for his life at the moment he'd find amusement in how badly this whole escapade had sloped downhill.
England's hand was patting the table down blindly, his glare never leaving the wide-eyed nation. Too scared to look away, America screamed shrilly when England brandished a… mini, black-inked pen? England waved it around wildly, his mouth still frozen in a snarl, and America squealed and dove under the enormous table.
There were large, deep breaths from one side of the room. America opened one eye, only inching closer when the other seemed to even out after a few short moments.
He honestly should have known better. With a whimper he was yanked out from under the large table and deposited in the chair beside the Englishman, who was still waving his pen around like he would a flag or magic wand.
There was no preamble, and that made America wiggle childishly around in the chair. "What in God's glorious name did you think you were doing, America? I was simply doing my job, working, fixing my notes for the meeting that we have today, and then I turn and see you, America, you, rummaging through my stuff!
Now, don't get me wrong. I am amazed that you even managed to come five minutes early to a meeting, for that is without a doubt a first, but stealing? How did my bloody brilliant parenting turn you into such a delinquent! You should know better, and for what, huh?"
The Brit continued to rant but America had already tuned him out. Hey, he was the US of A now. No need to listen to the old, lovely man spew his concern... Wait, no, concern...? The America shook his head; he needed to focus. How to get that note into the dude's bag...
"Are you even listening to me, you utter twat!" The pen was (violently) brandished again.
America cowered against the back of the chair. He barked, "Yes, sir!"
England hissed but lowered the weapon. "Good." He straightened his suit, warily watching the former colony. "Hand over to me what you stole."
"Haaaaah," he chuckled uncomfortably. "Iggy, you silly, little man. I frankly have no idea— "
"Yes, yes, what I'm talking about," England finished, flapping his hands. "Just open your hand, America, and all will be forgiven."
America smiled tensely and strangled the compulsion to eye the door twenty feet away. He was had no idea how he was going to get out of this one.
"America, just give it here," the older nation sighed, offering his small hand, palm open.
"For heaven's sake, boy!" England leaned close, intending to snatch the item away from the American, but when he did so America flung himself off the chair and arched to the side. As England, slumped over the chair, blinked at the swinging doors and amazed at how fast the other had fled, his mind was on what the nation had taken that would make him clutch so tightly to.
America grinned nervously, swaggering confidently (quickly) passed a certain German heading toward the room England was still in.
"Amerika, vait a moment please!"
America froze, unmoving. Slowly, ever so slowly, he turned around to face Germany. His canines shone in the artificial light and his blue eyes glowed through his glasses. "Yeah, dude?" he asked nervously but still smiling cheek to cheek.
The blonde nation stumbled speedily back a few steps. He opened his mouth, paused, and then questioned weakly, "Is Italy here?"
America shrugged carelessly. "I dunno, my man." He pursed his lips before exclaiming, "Maybe he went into the kitchen?"
"Ja, I'll look there. Danke, Amerika," he said gruffly, already turning away.
"No problem, dude," America tossed back, giving a two fingered salute. He spun on his heel and skipped hurriedly away. Being the impulsive American that he was, he thought it'd be fun if he would to take random right and left turns to lose a possible pursuer, not that he was paranoid or anything.
It wasn't long before he got lost. If only he could find someone who would rescue him—
"Come va?" he cheerfully greeted, beaming toothily toward the other happy nation. Italy balanced the pasta he was holding and carefully rotated the rose he had in his hand to face upward.
"I'm great, buddy!" America answered. He easily asked the same, "E voi?"
Italy nodded, his curl bouncing in sync. "Ve~! I'm very wonderful, America!"
Both paused, glancing away. America's smile faltered but he said, "Oh, yeah! Germany was askin' for yah a while ago! What's up?"
Italy chuckled. "Fratello was yelling at him and I—" he broke off.
America's smile completely dissolved. "You're fine, Italy." It came out like an order, and he winced. Damn, he knew what a divided family felt like; he should be able to offer amazing advice!
Italy smiled, and it didn't reach his eyes. "Yes, America, sir."
Italy laughed bubbly, hitching his plate of food up. "Ve~! Grazie for this talk, America! I'll see you at the meeting~!"
"No, Italy, wait! I didn't mean it like that!"
Italy stopped. "It's fine, Mr. America!" He smiled, eyes flicking up to meet America's before dropping down. His smile was replaced with a genuinely curious expression that relaxed America more than the beam. "What is that, sir? A letter?"
The younger nation glanced down at his left hand. The paper titled England was still clutched tightly in his fists, though luckily not crumbled too much. "Oh, this?" America bit his lip and said, "It's a notice for all the nations about next week."
Italy clapped his hands, though he had to shift the rose and plate to get the noise. "Are you going to post it on the new bulletin board in the lobby?"
America blinked, careful not to get too hopeful. "There's a board?"
"Of course~!" he chirped. "Everyone comes in through the lobby and glances at it, ve~!"
"Then I guess you'll see a paper about my party up there, Italy!" America laughed loudly. Italy smiled sweetly and nodded a farewell.
America smacked his forehead, mumbling, "Dammit, why was that the lie that first came to mind? I can't throw a wicked party in only a week!" But he wasn't giving up. Oh no. He'd get Iggy to see his compliment and be his hero, no matter what… after he attended this meeting.
America lazily shoved his notes in his briefcase. Flinging it over his shoulder unabashedly, he ambled passed the few left nations and toward the door.
"America, lad, wait a moment will you?"
The dirty blonde calmly stood, looking back as England hastily threw his mass of papers into his own professional bag. When the shorter man, face red, finished and rushed to stand next to America, he smiled politely. (Disappointed disappointed.)
Both started walking side-by-side. When the Brit opened his mouth, America interrupted smoothly with: "Sorry about earlier, Artie. I was trying to put my party invitation into your bag, and I guess you thought I was stealing somethin'."
England waved his hands, offering a half-smile. "Quite alright, America; I checked my bag after you left."
"Wow, your trust in me cannot ameliorate anymore than that right there."
"Have you been eating the newspapers again? I've never heard you use the Queen's English so well."
"Oh. My. God. That was one time! I was, understandably, too freakin' tired to unwrap my burger—"
"—Yes, yes, so you ate the news wrapping."
There was a small pause as both nations trotted to a stop before the large door. "So do I get that invitation now?" the older man asked, hesitantly opening his hand out.
America chuckled, grimacing as he looked away. "I'm going to post it on that board in the lobby tomorrow so everyone can see!" He forced a grin.
"Ah, very well then," the Briton said, sighing as his hand flopped bonelessly back to his side.
"Yeah, so…" he rubbed the back of his head, "I should get goin'. See yah tomorrow, dude."
"W-wait, America!" England flushed a lovely pink and stuttered quickly, "Thank you for showing up early today."
He blinked, gaping.
England scowled, his mask shuttering back over his face. He angrily crossed his arms and jutted out his hip. "Because I know how hard that is for you, idiot. You should come on time more often if you want anyone to actually care about what you say."
America laughed lightly, slapping the blonde's shoulder. "You betcha, Iggy!"
"You're going to come in late tomorrow, aren't you?"
"Oh shove off, git."
America laughed cheerfully, his mood lifted to the clouds. Arthur always had that effect on him, a strange mix of wanting to press soft kisses all over him from his nose to his cheek to his hands and wanting to stomp harshly down on the shorter man's feet. "See you tomorrow, Artie," he said quietly, a small smile decorating his face.
"You too, America," England mouthed, watching the younger man unblinkingly.
He laughed, "Bye!" With an enthusiastic wave, America pushed through the doors and bounced down the steps, leaving the Englishman alone inside the meeting house.
America was early again for the meeting, though none of the other nations would know that. He had, much to his displeasure, woken up at five in the morning only to be met with the cold and completely unshakable doors. So what did the young American do? Not find a guard and ask for the keys, not wait for a more reasonable time; America stalked around the small building, eyeing ground-level windows, and threw himself into successfully prying one open.
Once he was in the warm building with that oddly slanted windowsill (where could that have come from?), America sped to the lobby with a mischievous smirk.
After pasting the compliment and party invite, America took a large step back and admired his handiwork. His last-minute realization to mask his handwriting was a smart move, because the two notes together contrasted well. One was very American, colorful and personalized, while the other, smaller page was clean and simple with loopy cursive that wouldn't betray the author.
For the next few hours, America had wandered carefully around the building, fully aware that no Italian would direct him to the room. When he bumped into his older twin he was carrying around a warm cup of coffee and sipping daintily at it; it was ten minutes before the meeting was to start.
"America," Canada exclaimed in wonder. "You're early again, eh?"
America continued walking.
Canada flinched and whispered, "W-wait, America!"
The younger nation didn't stop, though his pace did significantly speed up, much to Canada's confusion. America bit his lip, knowing that the faulty logic of "I can't see you, you can't see me" wouldn't apply there, but he did know that he wanted to minimize the breadcrumbs he'd leave and lying about said brother's existence seemed like the best way to avoid confrontation.
The next time America ran into another nation, it was ten minutes after the meeting had started.
"Italy, dude, how yah doing?"
"Great, Mr. America~! Germania is looking for you," he said, smiling.
America hesitated before following the already-skipping country. Jogging to his side, the blonde mumbled, "You're not mad at me, right, Italy?"
Italy blinked innocently. "Ve~! Of course not!" He opened the doors open with a happy push, interrupting America's fumbled response.
"Danke," the uptight German said immediately after they entered, nodding. Germany barked, "Amerika, sit down." He turned to Italy and offered a shaky grimace. America, making his way to his seat, had to turn away to hide his snort as Italy beamed at the attempted smile.
"They really are an adorable quelques, non, Amérique?" France purred, abruptly cutting off the argument he'd been having with the now-fuming Briton, turning to the American.
"Sure thing, France; they compliment each other really well," America responded absently, smiling. He sifted through his notes before pulling out a clean sheet to take comments on.
France easily waved away England's hisses to "bloody pay attention" and "shut up, wankers." "Amérique, this party invite in the lobby?"
America held his breath. If France saw it then England did, which meant his other message was received. So where was England's passion, his breathless thankfulness, his small smiles that would light up his vibrant, green eyes and make his mask fall away to love?
"Would you like some magnifique recipes? So we will not all suffer through your discutable taste in food?"
"French really is a fruity language," America commented under his breath. He looked up and beamed. "Sure thing, dude! As long as you'll come an' help me out!"
France chuckled merrily. "Oui, Amérique, of course." He smirked saucily, leaning in conspiratorially, "Though I do wonder for what this celebration is for."
"The eleventh is: It's My Party Day, nationally." America leaned in, a breath away from the flirty nation. "Honestly."
France sat back, England glowering fiercely at him when he said loudly, "I do not doubt that fact, Amérique, but I think you are being, ah, shady, is the word."
"Whatever," America said, fingering his pen and ignoring the eyes of the curious Brit and suspicious Frenchman.
The rest of the meeting went on uninterrupted. Well, as uninterrupted as one their meetings could ever be.
When Germany finally dictated a lunch break there was a collective moan of joy as nations raced to leave the small room. America was a part of the run before he noticed that England was shuffling around, not leaving, and that France was watching the shorter man kick the carpet. Canada was also there, though America couldn't think of a reason why. With quick maneuvering, he put his ninja skills to the second test, fading into the shadows of the hall.
England wasted no time, placing his hands on his hips as he glared up at the other European. "Frog, tell me you didn't write that note."
"Oui, Angleterre, I did not write that agréable compliment." France smiled pleasantly.
England threw him a nasty look before looking toward the door. "Bloody hell, I have no idea who did it."
France titled his head. "Angleterre, does it really matter who did it? You heard what everyone was saying this morning, that they can easily see the truth in what your fan highlighted. Prickly but compassionate love and undeterred wit, indeed."
England flushed red, scowling. "Shut up."
France grinned toothily. "Admit it, Angleterre; when you read that note you felt warm all over. You appreciate it."
"You know who did it." It wasn't a question.
"Moi? No, only a suspicion," he answered calmly.
"I know who did it."
There was a quiet thump outside, but no nation paid it any heed, too busy trying to find the ghostly voice.
"Did you hear that, frog?"
"Shhh, I'm listening."
Canada looked away before forcing a smile. "England, France? It's me, Canada."
There was an unhealthy pause before both nations exclaimed, "Of course, Canada, of course."
"I know who sent you that note," he said again.
England looked at the door and then his watch. "You're going to have to speak up, lad."
"I. Know. Who. Wrote. It."
"Monsieur Canada, comment vous dites?"
Canada sighed heavily before yelling, though to the other nations it was a normal octave, "I KNOW WHO WROTE IT, is what I said."
"Why didn't you say so?!"
There was an angry choking sound, but when England looked at the twin he had a sugary smile adorning his face.
"So, lad, who wrote it?" he questioned, giving the Canadian his full attention.
Canada's answer was clipped and concise. In all seriousness he answered, "America."
The two froze, and then broke out in giggles and smiles. Canada twitched unhappily but remained solid beside his two old mentors.
England patted his shoulder, chuckling. "Good one, Canadia." France only smirked, squeezing the young nation's other shoulder.
"It is America, England. I'm sure."
England's smile wilted a bit, but he shook his head, dogged in his belief. He murmured, "Impossible."
"Read it again, England," Canada advised, but to thin air. England and France (the latter with a sorrowful face sent over his shoulder) were already making their way out of the room, forgetting the Canadian they had just been talking with. He looked down, "Why, Kumakiki, does that always happen?"
The white bear looked up, blinking blearily through sleepy eyes. "Who're you?"
He left, releasing a sigh that echoed in the room, reaching America's ears with an unhappy beat. Biting his lip, America detached himself from the darkness. He had only wanted to see how England had reacted to his well-wishing, so he could tell him of his heroism. But he couldn't let Canada reveal his identity to England; that was for the hero to do!
He needed another compliment.
America smiled softly. Maybe getting one would help his twin be happier and sigh less?
England's face was a warm red hue that contrasted sharply with his jagged scowl. "Someone needs to take this horrid compliment down. I can't walk passed here without seeing its absurdity."
"I think it is nice, aru."
England's scowl deepened but he sent China a friendly half-smile. He shrugged. "It's obnoxious."
"Ve~! I like it! You do too, right, Germany?"
"It's cool, dudes!"
"Sí, múy sweet!"
"Almost as awesome as me!"
"There is another one, da?" Russia noticed, smiling widely. The other nations took a collective step back, except China who took one step toward the small board with three white sheets pinned up. He read them aloud.
The first one was England's:
"England is one of the most creative nations I have ever encountered . . . he is already up in the starry sky . . . a sassy cynic [with] prickly but compassionate love and undeterred wit. He's a lion, that England. He can do anything, and he will do anything. Go for it - believe."
The second one was America's:
"Party my place, dudes! Flexible schedule but start time is around 6pm on Oct. 11th!:) :) :) :)"
The new, third one was another compliment:
"Canada is a nice nation. Yes, we all know that. But he's also a nice soul, and that's much more important. He's not nice because he projects himself as the friendly country who keeps conflicts bridged, who keeps words diplomatic; he's nice because he forgives us for ignoring him, for pushing him, for not loving him.
"We do love him, though. We love his high, true laugh, his glowing purple eyes fill with knowledge we know nothing of, his small but open hands that welcome and include every nation.
"Canada is simply nice, and we love him and his love. Stay strong, Canada, because you are strong."
Every nation's head swiveled around, their eyes opened wide, to the small Canadian that was still straining to get up to the front of the crowd.
"W-what, eh?" he asked, ceasing his struggles as he cautiously eyed the amazed others. He looked down at his clothes through his eyelashes, looking for imperfections. Not finding anything and knowing the only reason the other nations would see him was if they wanted something, he questioned tiredly, "Did America do something again?"
"Belt up, idiot, you know he's right."
Prussia pushed America (who released another "HEY!") into England and walked up to the smaller nation. He grinned. "Stay strong, Canada, because you are strong."
Canada's face turned a mix of purple and pink. He clutched tighter at his bear. "W-what are you talking about, Gilbert?"
With a fast turn Prussia deposited Canada in the front of the throng and before the small letter titled in loopy cursive Canada.
"Maple," he breathed, eyes darting quickly from left to right. "W-who? Ame—?"
"This is great and all, yes, yes, we all love Canadia, but it's the hero's turn to talk about all that worldwide depression and shit. Come on," America whined, pulling childishly on England's arm. The Brit violently snatched his arm away.
France's eyes darkened. "Amérique, shut up."
America glared at the blonde and turned away. No country saw his sad smile.
Canada, still in awe, said quietly, "Francis, it's okay. America is just—"
"—Being awful," Prussia finished with a glower at the American. He sneered.
"America?" Canada murmured, looking up at the taller twin.
America's previous stormy expression smoothed down to bewilderment. "Who're you?" he asked in all seriousness.
The other nations hissed at the boisterous man, and shifted towards Canada. The Canadian's face looked broken. "You, you didn't write—?"
"When am I going to be able to give my talk, dudes?" he said, voice loud as he talked over his older twin.
England bit his lip and spoke clearly. "Canada, I'm sorry that I've ever ignored you, and whoever wrote this compliment hit the mark spot on. I love you and can appreciate your strength and forgiveness." He turned towards America and said softly, "Why can't you be more considerate?"
(Disappointed disappointed disappointed.)
America offered a liquid smile and killed the need to run away. "My talk," he reminded solidly, stomping his foot.
They ignored him. France and Prussia were the next to offer their apologies, and the other nations followed immediately after.
Canada, glowing in the attention, was murmuring, "It's fine, guys, thank you so much."
America sniffed and carefully backed away as the other nations circled around the warm Canadian. When he was a reasonable distance away his smile, surprisingly, grew. Mattie was happy with the note and being noticed. Arthur was happy with the note and encouraged. It didn't matter that his relationships were sloping down, America knew, because seeing those excited and thankful faces was enough to make him feel like an actual hero.
That day warped and twisted America's goal, whether he knew it then or not. Instead of getting England to see him as an accomplished hero, he wanted to be a hero because, dammit, his friends deserved happiness and love.
He sat in front of the long conference table with a content smile. When the other nations finally arrived they sent him cold and even disgusted looks. America took it all with a secretive smile, grinning with twinkling eyes back.
Germany, his face a warm shade, ordered for the start of the meeting. "Amerika, your talk on depression has been moved to be said in an hour from now. France's talk on hate-speech and solutions is short and will start this meeting."
America nodded easily, though his smile hardened. He didn't think his show from that morning would make so many enemies.
France's previous anger from before had melted away, though. He patted America's shoulder amicably as he whispered, "Your play was très bien acted."
America wanted to shove the hand away, but he only grinned angrily. "Whatever, dude."
The Frenchman sent him a soft and understanding smile before he turned and sauntered up to the podium. "Hate speech is getting out of hand in free speaking countries like—"
America looked down at his blank note sheet. The white paper was glowing brightly, mocking him. He sighed under his breath and slowly looked up.
Halfway through the talk, Italy's head, though not surprisingly, was down on the desk, his curl floating an inch above the table. Germany was studiously watching France talk. Romano was frowning heavily at Spain and Germany, interchangeably.
America carefully picked up his pen.
"Italy is listening to France talk: he's faking sleeping – why? Don't know, doesn't matter. Italy is smart."
"Romano is a tomato red when he looks at Spain. Crush? Maybe. Shy? Somewhat. PASSIONATE!"
"Germany needs to chill. Seriously. He's way too stressed. Note: the dark bags and heavy scowl."
America raised his eyes to France. The Frenchman was still ranting about l'amour and how it was the key to conquering hate.
"France is wise. He's also sweet. Note his love, not his flirting."
America bit his lip and turned cautiously around to face the Asian man. When China glared back at him and mouthed for him to stop being an idiot and pay him back, America scowled and turned back to his notes.
"China," he paused before blinking, "is a leader. Sure, knowledgeable/annoying, but also good with people? Yes, see love for Japan and how worked with Allies."
"Russia is freakin' psycho and doesn't deserve love."
"Bloody hell! America?!"
America yelped and abruptly flipped his paper to the empty back. He leaned back and smiled widely at England. "Yeah, dude?"
"Were you just taking…taking…?"
"Notes?" Canada offered, his head poking out from above England's.
"Notes," he finished, nodding at Canada.
The American giggled, "Not on your life."
Canada and England narrowed their eyes.
"You are acting oddly, Amerika," Russia said, tilting his head as he continued to smile, interrupting the other two.
"Shut up, commie bastard."
Russia's eyes glowed menacingly as he leaned forward. "Something is different."
America scoffed and looked away. His hand itched to pick up the pen and write what he had just realized could work for the psycho freak, but England and Canada and Russia and… wait, everyone was watching him? France, still up beside the podium, was even smirking down at him.
"It was doodles," America revealed grudgingly as he slapped away England's hand that was reaching for the paper.
"Let's see it then," France and Prussia said at the same time.
"Russia is right," China said as he eyed the young American suspiciously. "America is acting very weirdly, aru."
"Whatever," America said, his eyes shadowed.
"It must be the party," France said. America's head flew up with a high snap! His eyes were wide and grew when France winked clandestinely at him. "It is in five days."
Japan was one to quickly nod, while the other nations mumbled unsurely, seeming to accept the thin excuse, fortunately for the American. When they turned back to their own notes and watched France bounce down from the small stage, America swiftly turned the paper around and added:
"Russia, while a creep, is strong. Mentally strong and as a nation strong. He's a force to be reckoned with. ~Cold War/…"
"Japan is sweet and selfless. He wants people to be happy. :)"
With a jerking nod, the superpower shoved the compliment draft into his bag. He had some writing to do later.
He breezed up to the stage and began the lecture on depression with an unnoticeable smirk.
Italy walked into the room the next day with a beaming smile that stretched from cheek to cheek. It was the truest smile on his face any of the nations had ever seen. His voice was giddy and breathless as he recited the note someone had posted with the other three letters. It was written in careful anonymous script, like the other two pages, but also in fluent Italian. The translation came out to be:
"Italy, with his vibrant brown eyes, can make the room shine brighter by only his simple presence. Yet, when he opens his mouth, we all unjustly tune him out. His eyes shine with wisdom that is underrated.
"I beg you, fellow nations, to watch Italy's face the next time he talks. His words might be putting on a play, but his face and eyes are terrible actors and reveal the truth. Italy's intelligence cannot be matched, for he is a brilliant artist with an amazing mind that can and will overcome all types of obstacles he deems fit.
"His peaceful love and joy is a model we all should be looking to follow. Italy is smart, Italy is determined, Italy is wonderful. Stay great."
The other nations merrily slapped him on the back, offering their own compliments and assuring the Italian that every single word on that letter was true.
Romano had his lips pursed but did not downgrade any character, even smiling ever-so-slightly when his twin looked to him with watery eyes. Germany had patted the Northern nation hesitantly (Italy had immediately turned and threw himself into a big hug with the awkward man) and smiled carefully. Neither Germany nor Romano ruined Italy's joyful bubbling, even offering the other a grudging nod; for Feliciano they could make it work.
The meeting began slowly, but the room's mood was above the sun.
"Romano deserves more love. He's not northern Italy and won't ever be. And that's honestly for the best, so he shouldn't ever feel in the shadow. His angry yelling always, though probably not intended, makes me smile. Not because I find him amusing, oh no, but because I find him passionate and that makes him amazing. I smile for his passion that is unequaled.
"So many people love this sassy Italian. He should never feel alone or outdone. He's the type of person who everyone must respect for some manner, the type of person who will fight to protect his brother with violent ferocity.
"Never change, Romano."
Italy translated the Italian compliment, reading it aloud for all the other nations that were growing in numbers around the board. Romano, held tight by the Spaniard, was blushing brightly. His curses were muffled as he squirmed, but it was all half-hearted.
Nations were smiling and nodding.
"There's another one," Prussia noticed, and he shoved his way to the front. He blinked at the loopy German before diving into the translation:
"Germany is one strict nation. He's organized and prepared and, most importantly, sane. One greeting he should be hearing everyday is a big and genuine "THANK YOU" because without his care the world would be grinding to a halt.
"He matters, though, and as more than just a schedule. He has a wonderful personality. Behind that hard shell, he has planned jokes and easy, true smiles reserved for those he loves and cares for with all his heart. He's beautiful.
"But he also needs to soak up the sun and smile for no reason. His brother, his crush, his friends – they all want to see him release those stress lines and dark bags.
"Take a deep breath, Germany, and tell yourself that you're perfect and deserve a nice, long time to yourself, for yourself."
Prussia's mouth was open by the time he finished reading and he swiveled around to scan the nations. He turned towards the closest nation, England, and barked, "Get my bruder."
England nodded quickly and pushed through the crowd, who hastily jumped out of his way when he glowered unmercifully. Not even a minute later, England returned with a stoic and confused German trailing him.
Prussia, without a mocking or playful smirk, stared at his younger brother and said, pointing, "Read."
Scowling at the treatment, the German did so unhappily. When he finished his face, like Romano's still was, could be representative of a ruby. He coughed uncomfortably. "It's not true."
Prussia shook his head, red eyes flaming. "It is and you know it, bruder."
Italy sidled up beside the Prussian. "Tell yourself that you're perfect and deserve a nice, long time to yourself, for yourself," he recited, smiling.
"He's beautiful," Japan added softly, nodding when the German's eyes flew to him.
The meeting was started hours late, and four important nations were conspicuously missing. Spain, Romano, Germany, and Italy were gone. Prussia and Japan left not too long after it started.
The lectures ended hours earlier without bad feelings.
The next compliment was in French. America was the first one to see it (of course), and he carefully made his way over to a frazzled Englishman trying to find the tea in the lobby, not the displayed coffee. "Seen France?" America asked quietly.
England turned to him in surprise before he nodded and pointed to his left.
"Come with me?" he asked nervously, bouncing on the balls of his feet. The bad feelings he had caused with his Canada-scene had mostly faded away, but America was still careful to not step on eggshells.
England smiled, shrugging. "Why not? This blasted place only offers coffee, anyway."
America laughed and the two made their way toward France. He was flipping his hair as he flirted with a pretty, female cook who looked none too pleased at his distractions.
"France, America was looking for you."
America shifted. "There's a note for you on the board."
France blinked in honest bewilderment. "Really?"
England scowled. "Of course, bloody frog. America wouldn't lie to you." He turned to his former colony. "Right?"
America snorted. "Right."
"What did it say?" France asked, fortunately dropping the young woman's hand; she had been reaching for the shiny knife.
"It's in French," America answered.
The Frenchmen looked at America through his eyelashes, brow raised. "Hmm, and that stopped you?"
"Come on, wanker, I want to know what this anonymous nation has to praise about you."
France shrugged easily, following the other English speakers out of the kitchen and into the lobby.
Prussia, trailed by Spain, appeared before the Frenchman before he even approached the board. "You got a letter, amigo!"
France smirked. "Oui?"
"Go read it, bastard," Romano piped in, poking his head out from behind the Spanish man.
Italy clapped his hands and propelled France forward. Canada offered him a sweet smile. France laughed and said, "Alright, alright, I'll read it."
"France is wise. He's intuitive. He's well-versed in life, and he can easily pick up important tabs we all tend to look over. When we're arguing between ourselves, talking and not listening, France already knows the answer and he's just taking enjoyment in the comedy we act for him.
"He's also a flirt and lover, but not in the bad sense that those words might bring to mind. He loves, loves with all his might. He can find the good, the white, in us all. In Prussia he can see through the prideful shouts, in Spain he can see through the masks, to both their real moods. He cares for everyone, enemy and ally alike.
"He's caring, sweet, and wise. That's France.
"Continue to evolve, France, because you can be even greater."
France was blinking repeatedly when he reached the end. He turned and was about to search through the crowd for that familiar face but stopped himself. He could express his gratitude in private.
"I, I don't know what to say," he responded. Spain and Prussia offered him twin smiles, and two thumbs up.
"France is the country of love," England said as he crossed his arms.
France turned to the Englishman and shook his head in wonderment. "Have you followed your own letter's advise, yet, Angleterre?" His eyes briefly met America's but it lasted no more than one second.
England scowled, mouthed a dirty word, and turned away huffily.
"There's another one!" someone in the throng shouted.
"It's in Chinese!"
"Go get China!"
The small Asian nation fumbled to the front. "For me, aru?" He delved into translating the card:
"China is wise, intelligent, and mature. Yes, he is all those and more. But one characteristic that he needs to know above all is that he's an amazing leader. People will follow his well-intentioned orders without question, because China, through his faults, wants the best for everyone. His charismatic personality is magnetic, and his love for many nations exceeds the normal line.
"You're a great nation, China. Lead, and continue leading far in the future. Be safe, be nice. You can do it."
The nations were all smiling. Russia calmly stomped over to the smaller man, gave him a friendly thump in the back, and told the Chinese man he would become one with Russia because all those praises were true, da.
The meeting lasted only two hour, and that was fine with everyone, including a still-smiling German.
Two days before America's party, the meeting lasted only thirty minutes.
The countries, when walking in, abruptly headed toward the board now cluttered with compliments. Russia translated his with his never changing smile.
"Russia is a strong nation. Of course, many nations say, he's huge and menacing. Except that's wrong. Russia is strong mentally, and also as a nation, yes, but that's less important. He can fight in wars and come out victorious, sure, but the true feat is that he can match even the most strategic of us all in a battle of wills and come out on top. He smiles at the hate we all show, at the ignorance. And while not the most innocent of nations, he is not a monster. He's a nation, a beautiful nation filled with lovely scenery and amazing people. If we look, we will find that the good in Russia outweighs the bad we always see.
"Don't be afraid to let people in. You're strong enough to handle anything, Russia."
"Become one with my strength, da?" he said casually, and the nations laughed nervously at the joke. His face was a little less cold, though.
Japan was pushed up and when he looked between Russia, the letter saying Japan, and the large, excited crowd he shifted uneasily. Italy bounced up to the front, beamed, and pet Japan's shaking hand with a reassuring smile.
"A selfless and amazingly sweet nation like Japan is not easy to come by. He thinks of everyone except himself, trying to include everyone and not put any sing nation down. His smile is shy but caring. He's not loud and he's not extroverted but that doesn't matter because being quiet and introverted makes Japan, Japan. No nation would ever want him to change.
"But don't forget, Japan, that you need to think of yourself as well. You're a great, wonderful person, so make sure you tell yourself that every once in a while."
His pale face was peachy, and grew to a glowing pink when the other nations cheered and told him he should follow those true words.
There was an influx of compliments on the day before America's party.
"Prussia: Don't get even. Get even better. Being awesome is the best revenge… that shouldn't be too hard for you, you're already there…"
"Spain: When life starts feeling a bit too serious, he is the one people find to giggle with…"
"Hungary: She's a fighter and a lover. Sweet and hard, an amazing mix of both…"
And much more. The white, lyrical papers were overlapping with each other now, but no one paid that any heed. The nations had never felt so alive, so happy, so cheerful.
The meeting never happened.
Almost all the nations had received a compliment. All except a certain grinning American, who was fine with that; as cheesy as it was, the smiles and blushes he had caused made it all worth it.
At home, his small house had the shades pulled up, and warm lights outlined the room. It was hastily decorated, but with the quaint feel of home. France had come two hours earlier to help prepare the food. Curiously, he made no mention of his compliment and went straight to cooking.
America had shrugged, smiled, and dove into helping him.
As guests arrived on time (England and Canada) and later (Prussia, Spain), America mingled around, laughing and talking.
"How you doing, Mattie?" he asked, feeling like he hadn't talked to his older twin in forever.
Canada smiled shyly back. "Well, Alfred."
America chuckled, shifting around nervously, and Canada laughed. "I know you want to go find him, America. I won't hold you back."
"I don't know what you're talkin' about, dude."
"Oh, go find your lion."
America froze and Canada smirked. "He's by the punch table," he revealed before he skipped away, calling, "Gilbert, put your pants back on! No, I don't like—oh do shut up!"
The American, following his brother's order, paced over to England. The Brit looked up when he approached, and America offered a sheepish smile. He sent a shaky smile back.
"How are you?"
England fingered his punch. "I'm alright, America." He paused, took a deep breath, and said, "I have something I need to tell you. It sort of got lost in the happy chaos that this week was, but I need to say it."
"I'm listening," America said, smiling encouragingly.
He nodded and carefully recited the letter: "England is one of the most creative nations I have ever encountered. You may not know it, but he dreams up worlds while we're off playing in the sand of our political games. He smirks to himself, watching us through narrowed eyes, while he is already up in the starry sky.
"Not to say he's an optimist; oh no. He's a sassy cynic that can't go one minute without a snappy comeback. But those snarky comments? They're nice; they reveal his prickly but compassionate love and undeterred wit. He's a lion, that England. He can do anything, and he will do anything. Go for it - believe."
America's smile faltered. Did he say something wrong in that note? Was he an even worse disappointment?
England looked up and held eye contact, his face hot and red. "I'm going to go for it and believe." A heavy breath. "I love you, America. Be my boyfriend?"
America's face was closed and tight with surprise. England bit his lip and looked away sadly. He whispered before America could even open his mouth, "Sorry, America. Our relationship won't be affected by this, I promise. I'm sorry I told—"
The kiss was even better than America and England imagined. It was long and sweet, warm and comforting, passionate and filled with so, so much love. When they broke apart, America's hands were around England's neck and the Brit's were around the American's slim waist. The American murmured into the shorter man's neck, "I'd love to be your boyfriend, Arthur."
Arthur's relived smile was so bright and full Alfred couldn't look away.
"Aw, look at the two love birds," Prussia cackled. The moment was far from ruined, though, because England simply smiled tightly and found America's hand, clamping down.
"We have something for you, America," France said, smiling widely. The other nations were now quiet and nodding on in agreement.
America blinked and fingered his glasses in bewilderment. Arthur smiled and removed his hand. His boyfriend walked over to stand next to France, and America's face fell. What was going on?
"He should do the honors," France explained when he handed England a white sheet of paper.
America glanced between all the nation's faces. They were smiling. They were happy.
England walked up to the taller superpower slowly. He held out the paper, and before he let go, leaned in and whispered, "I've never been so proud, Alfred." He smirked. "You should really come early more often."
It was titled, in loopy cursive: America.
A/N: I hope you enjoyed this! Reviews will make me smile, just as much and more than the smiles that Alfred caused. :) Also, cookies for anyone who can find the reference to another show in here!