Genre: General and a tiny dash of angst.
Characters: Spain-centric, cameos of Spanish civilians, Spanish ex-colonies, and the rest of the Bad Friends Trio.
Word Count: 3,106
Warnings: Some mentions of gore and violence.
Summary: A character study of Spain as he lived through the yesteryears.
Notes: This baby was written for reconquista over at himitsu_santa 's Secret Santa fanworks exchange. The original prompt was "a look at modern Spain - anything re: him towards his politics, and all the changes he's been through over the centuries to bring him to what he is today". Writing him was a blast; when you think about it, there's really more to him than being that country bumpkin we all love. I hope you enjoy this piece and I bid you happy holidays!
_ _ _
Spain always liked the color red.
He had come to associate it with everything he always thought to be beautiful by his definition – warm nights asleep beside a crackling campfire; that peculiar numbing in his fingertips when he watches the hypnotic undulation of a matador’s cape; baskets upon baskets of ripe, succulent tomatoes – among other things.
He always had found simplicity to be far more appealing. While France would whisper with that well-mannered voice of his that he managed to take a sip of the finest wine from his king’s storage, and while Prussia would raucously brag about his victorious swordfight with a bastard named Hungary, Spain would just sit there with a scruffy face and take a hearty bite out of a freshly picked tomato. Nodding and smiling to his friends’ exploits was all that he could muster to do.
He didn’t have a flowing chiffon robe like France’s, nor a dagger crafted from the finest alloys like Prussia’s, but he had something else that he held of equal value.
In the late afternoon, at that perfect time when half of the setting sun was already eaten by the horizon, he would scamper onto the fields with nothing but flimsy, tattered clothes, bare feet, and a straw hat. He covertly strode through the fiery streams of light – avoiding the hawk-like eyes of his caretakers – and meet up with local children down in the peasants’ quarters.
Children with equally shabby clothes would jump on their dirt-caked feet and cheer as soon as Spain emerged from the rows upon rows of shrubbery. Boys would clap his back and shake hands with him, as if is he was a celebrity of their own.
Cries of “Oi, Antonio! Took you long enough!” could be heard from the small gaggle of children.
“Raul, I’m sorry!” Spain would answer, a slight titter echoing in his voice. “I had some friends over and . . .”
“Never mind that. Jose and I were thinking about playing some good ol’ hide-and-seek! Care to join us?”
They remained like that – running and gamboling around well into the evening until sweat matted their clothes and tufts of hair stuck on their foreheads due to the sweltering heat. They would be dirtier and smellier – everything France and Prussia wouldn’t dare do even if their lives depended on it – and Spain would still feel a gleaming satisfaction like no other.
Moonlight already streaked in silvery pillars over the fields, but that didn’t matter. Time was of no importance to Spain, really. The content flush on their faces from playing around all afternoon was well enough to compensate for the punishment that would be handed to him later. He was a Nation, after all, as his caretakers had repeatedly iterated to him for the longest time. What was the worst they could do?
They nestled themselves under the shade of the most majestic oak tree in the area, right at the top of the steepest hill. Spain saw his castle – his, as the king constantly reminded him – in the distance.
“Antonio, what are your dreams?” Raul asked. His hands were folded and tucked behind his head.
Spain laughed. “Oh, me? I had a really fascinating dream last night! I dreamt that I was in a field that consisted of every fruit. The oranges were - ”
“Not that, you idiot!” Raul scratched his head, reducing his hair to an even messier heap. “Dreams for the future. Like me – I want to be a mighty warrior!”
Realization slowly dawns on Spain’s face. Oh, was that it?
Nations like him had those, too. Spain distinctly recalled France’s and Prussia’s, them being the fellow Nations who always visited and made ties with him.
Now that Spain thought about it, France did mention that he would very much like to make diplomatic ties with many other Nations, so that they would know that the French had one of the most sophisticated cultures and customs in the world. Infamy and flawless victories were Prussia’s – very typical of him, really, considering that he managed to tangle himself in a brawl every other day or so.
It seemed that every Nation had a dream to call their own.
Spain would have none of that grandeur. He didn’t desire heaps upon heaps of riches, nor fame, as it would only attract negative attention. As he looked into those faces of his friends – his people – that flushed a genteel red, Spain knew he wanted to achieve out of his own volition. The king wouldn’t dictate it, and neither would his fellow Nations.
The way he was now would be more than enough.
“I want to see everyone happy,” Spain simply said. “I would protect them, no matter what the cost. Sunshine would always come in the morning across these fields and we would always smile. Forever.”
Struck with stony silence, Raul and Jose blinked once. Twice. They snorted and laughed, holding each other’s shoulders for support.
Bewildered, Spain raised an inquisitive eyebrow. “Isn’t it great?!”
“That’s just like you, Antonio,” Raul chuckled. “You’ll protect everyone, right?”
Spain’s answer was full of steely conviction that wasn’t to be expected from a ten-year old. “With everything I have until I die!”
His friends seemed to be surprised as his answer, seeing as they were looking at each other intently. Raul and Jose nodded together in silent agreement, as if they’re settling a matter amongst themselves.
“We’ve decided. You’ll be our Boss, then!”
Spain could feel the heat sizzle from his face. Titles like that eluded him. He didn’t have a penchant for anything or any special talent that would earn him a moniker. He was Spain, the country bumpkin, but now . . .
His mind raced with the possibilities, the implications of it. Surely he was beyond flattered to be given such an honor, and yet, the words somehow forebode something ominous. Balling his fists, he decided that he would live up to that title, regardless of the cost.
That was when Spain realized the true extent of his dream. He wanted to gain enough power to protect them all from harm.
_ _ _
War was, by far, the ugliest thing Spain had the displeasure of witnessing. The conflict in his lands was disconcerting, but none had escalated to a level like this.
Spain didn’t know whether he liked the color red anymore.
Most of it was splattered on leaves, across the fields that he loved so much. It oozed and sloshed on the very ground he walked on, seeping through the leather and into the soles. The sounds of it made his stomach squeeze and retch in disgust.
It began to rain. Thunder rumbled, too, but Spain ignored it.
Sunken faces stared up at him from the earth. Droplets from the rain spattered onto their clammy foreheads, running into their eyes and down their cheeks like tears. Some of their arms were outstretched, futilely protecting themselves from a fatal strike that had already landed.
Even in death, they were crying in anguish.
And now, they were staring at him. Accusing him. Those milky eyes that were bereft of life used to hold that spark of vitality that Spain loved in his people. Spain sensed the glare coming from them; through that curtain of death, they now saw him as the weakling who couldn’t protect them like he promised to.
He was no longer a child, but he still had scrawny arms and that boyish face. He still wasn’t strong enough.
Spain gripped his knees and knelt beside the fallen. He held a wrinkly cold hand. Clutching it, Spain cupped his hands around it, interlocking his fingers into the man’s.
These were another pair of hands that wouldn’t be able to touch. Another heart that wouldn’t beat. Another dream that could no longer be fulfilled.
“Raul, my friend; I’m sorry.”
Spain wept along with them. The rain never stopped pouring, too, as if the heavens were also lamenting the lives that were lost.
That was the time Spain promised to himself that he would become stronger than anyone else, so this would never happen again.
_ _ _
The more his superiors insisted that it was the best thing to do, the more Spain lost his trust in them.
It was ironic, really. He was Spain, the personification of the country itself, but he still had to prostate himself to the will of others. Their proposition had left a bad taste in his mouth; but somehow, it made sense.
The original plan was to amass as much wealth and resources in order to gain military power; of course, the Iberian Peninsula could only provide so much. And so they turned to the next best thing – to take some of the other Nations’.
Unless there were previously established ties, Spain pointed out that they might not be so kind as to relinquish them willingly. They did not have the luxury of time on their side to dabble with diplomacy.
His superiors said that they would use force if it was required of them.
Spain could feel his heart drop to the bottom of his stomach.
“I refuse to do anything with this,” he insisted. “You’re talking about war on a more massive scale. You’ll be endangering the lives of many people!”
The council narrowed their eyes; they hovered over him like circling, twittering vultures, ready to nip away at his every constitution. Their claw-like fingers tapped the desks impatiently. The tut-tutting from their chapped lips wracked on Spain’s nerves.
“You must understand that this is for your sake, our dear Nation.”
Spain’s hands curled into fists.
“You are losing. You must face the fact that you are currently weak. The Ottoman Empire is holding a blade right over our throats,” babbled one of the council members, that person on the far left who looked to be the most wizened out of all of them. “And we still have yet to recover our losses from our skirmish with the Moors.”
The words came out before Spain even registered they were there. “There are other ways to go about this! We can -”
“No.” The leader’s voice was clipped and automatic. Spain knew that tone fairly well – the bastard was already hammering the final nail on the coffin. “As our Nation, you have every right to know what will happen; but we have decided that this is the best course of action to take. You have no choice in the matter.”
Incensed, Spain stormed out of the meeting without another word.
A few weeks after, he oversaw the fleets of majestic galleons set sail into the blue yonder of the churning ocean. They were magnificent things – a multitude of spectacles to behold that was sure to strike awe upon sight.
Spain himself was on the deck of the head of the naval fleet, a trusty cutlass attached to his side.
His decision didn’t require much mental deliberation on his part. He couldn’t overturn what his superiors have commanded him to do, but he will do his best to protect as many of his people as he could to the best of his ability, even if it entails dying on the battlefield. It was the least he could do.
That way, he could protect their dreams and his.
_ _ _
Days seemed like weeks. Months were like years. Years had become eternities in themselves.
It had been centuries since Spain’s first kill. People did say that the first one would always be the hardest and most unforgettable. How right they were; Spain was able to remember everything vividly up to this day.
As much as he would like to forget, the very thing he recalled the most was how easily his cutlass pierced its first claim. It was a burly young man, probably in his mid-twenties, cut down in his prime. Spain could still feel the fresh blood running through the gaps in his sticky fingers. Even with the sword through him, the man still had that fire in his eyes as he swung the spear at Spain, missing him completely.
Then, the man went stiff after one final death rattle.
Spain had almost cried again, remembering the way his comrades looked during that rainy night at the tomato fields; but then, another man lunged at him, spear and machete in hand. And another. And another, in quick succession. Battles cries echoed around him in a threatening crescendo.
It was him or them. Spain had no choice but to defeat their enemies with his bare hands.
All of this time, he surged on and on through the bloodbath with one goal in mind. It was not for him – it was for his people. All for their sake. For their dreams that Spain treasured so much so that they were seemingly his own.
He trudged on, even if Spain didn’t like what he was becoming.
Soon enough, his reputation as a conquistador soon spread. He already had exotic territories from all ends of the sea - north, south, east, west, and everything in between. Sacrifices had been tithed, but Spain reached his goal soon enough. He was now worthy to be one of the major powers in Europe – he had the power and capability to defend his people if need be.
Spain was soon dubbed as the son of the sun itself. His passion to his cause was unbridled and everlasting, akin to the sunshine that was ubiquitous in his kingdom.
If one were to be a friend, he would welcome him with the warmest of greetings, probably with a platter of paella in hand, even. If one were unfortunate enough to meet him in battle, he would then be vanquished instantly without mercy with blinding white heat. Enemies had been misled by that bright handsome smile and those green eyes that sparkled of a tame innocence and naiveté; but those who once saw Spain fight for his life and another’s would never be fooled again, lest them be damned.
Other Nations finally looked up to him and his victories - a climactic success story that told the evolution of one Nation’s might and glory.
The story of the son of the sun itself.
Now, when Spain chanced a look at the mirror, he didn’t see someone with hair the same hue as the finest cocoa looking back, nor someone with the same green eyes that glistened like the tomato fields when the sun hit them just the right way.
He saw nothing but a deranged monster that lost its way into the darkness somewhere.
Spain knew that his new brothers and sisters saw him as a monster, too.
Rebellions stewed here and there, their anger mounting to the point that it crystallized into outright hatred. Mexico always pursed his lips in distaste if they were in the same room. Philippines trembled no more; she glared at him with an intensity he never saw from the meek Nation. They were changing.
They were learning to fight back - crippled and helpless no more.
Spain didn’t blame them in the slightest. Deep down, he knew that he took everything from them and used it for his own purpose.
Would that label him as a selfish and greedy bastard?
He didn’t do it for himself. He did it for the sake of his people, and they got it. They deserve it. When he saw the pride in their eyes, Spain didn’t know whether to revel in their admiration or cringe in regret at all the atrocities he had done to get there.
Soon enough, Spain found himself letting them go, one by one.
Again, it was easier after the first time.
All of his hard work started to dissipate in volleys of gunfire and smoke, and he was smack dab in the middle of it. He had to protect his country’s honor and try to win them back into his grasp; but when Spain thought of the blood that would be spilled, he faltered.
He no longer wanted to stumble upon that kind of red.
One by one, they ceded from him and stood on their own two feet. And he let them.
Spain loved them all – he wanted to be their Boss and protect them, too, but he didn’t know what happened. Everything was a blur. Still, he had no regrets - not even in the slightest. Maybe it was an ironic twist of fate, this slow undoing of his. Karma perhaps, if he could call it that.
That was when he decided that letting them go was for the best.
_ _ _
The war was over.
He was back again to square one, pride far more shattered and fractured than ever before.
It was his twilight that was coming to a close. His moments as an empire of great power would never be resurrected again, except in golden memory. Spain thought he had failed miserably in his cause – that all of that was for naught.
That is, until he saw his people the way they are now – the very things he had been fighting for all this time.
Bright, bright smiles adorned their faces as they celebrated the end of the bloodshed. The fiestas had never been so colorful, so festive. He heard the pleasant twang of guitar strings all around him in tune with the most vibrant and nimble of dances. The wooden chime of maracas was everywhere.
All in celebration.
Slowly, Spain made his way back into the tomato fields where everything started. That oak tree where he first said his promises was now gone - probably ripped away due to the wrath of war. He hadn’t been here for hundreds of years, after all. A lot should have changed by then.
Despite that, everything was in bloom.
At once, he heard that familiar sound that he missed so much - the delicate tinkle of laughter from the children gamboling across the fields. They were as bit as scruffy and dirty as he was back then; but with one look at their faces, Spain knew that they were as happy as he was; as content with the simplicity of the life he had.
The life they now had.
Spain would still keep his utmost promise. He would protect them, no matter what the cost. However, he would not make the same mistakes as he did last time.
He hopped over a nearby shrub and plucked a tomato. After taking a huge bite out of it, he galloped across the fields screaming, laughing,
“Oi, I want to play tag, too!”
When he heard the cheers and guffaws of the children, Spain realized then that his dream finally came true.
- fin -
A/N: Writing this piece made me love Spain even more than I previously had. It was my first time writing him, so I hope I wasn't too off-track! Thanks for reading all the way up until here!
Of course, comments and constructive criticism will be much appreciated. Please inform me of any lapses or mistakes. :)
If you liked what you just read, there's a master list of my fic over here!