Genre: A bit of angst, but mostly fluff.
Characters: Chibimerica, England
Word Count: 2,576
Warnings: Some swearing on England's part.
Summary: All it takes is a single kiss to the cheek to prove that England is still human.
Notes: Written for the first day of usxuk 's Sweethearts Week.
_ _ _
Suffice to say, England’s first kiss isn’t memorable at all.
When he tries to tug and yank that memory from the deepest archives of his mind, he remembers nothing but an empty canvas of a face with hardly any details etched on it. With a creased forehead and furrowed eyebrows that hinted a little bit of weary self-contempt, England attempts to reconstruct the features piece by piece from the darkness. It should have been a memory worth saving and looking back to, that night.
He’s partly sure that it happened under the bare, skeleton-white glow of the summer moonlight. Back then, the very cobblestone wall under his palms seems to tremble with anticipation, the grit coarse, sticky, and dirty under his fingertips. England distinctly recalls being weak-kneed and trembling with that puerile apprehension, reveling in his first instance of decadence and free will. The alley he was in reeked of rotting fruit and foul-smelling leachate; but he was too entranced in the moment to care about the niceties.
His head swam and drooped in a blissful, alcohol-induced haze that egged him to tilt his head forward, lips parted slightly, two nervous breaths of air mingling and drifting away with the soft, humid breeze ---
But the face of his companion is still fuzzy and unrecognizable. It seems that the face has been somehow erased and ripped from his memory. It’s a bloody ironic thing, really. The vivid specifics of it are fresh and intact – what all of his senses perceived back then; most of them, anyway – but he can’t even remember who he was with. Perhaps it has been one of his own civilians, even another Nation like himself whom England can’t place a damn name on. Time freezes still at that particular frame, with him edging nearer and nearer…
So close, but no cigar.
Whoever said you can’t forget your very first kiss is a fucking liar. It’s as if it was directly lifted from some innocuous fairy tale written by a whimsical writer who has yet to see the real face of life that’s not in a book.
Then again, England has to wonder. If it’s so damn important, why is he left grasping at mere wisps of the finer, supposedly more vital, details? Each of them flows and ebbs away as soon as they come, like the waves that now crawl and lap at his feet. The coast is an ill-fitting place for reminiscence, it seems.
Memories like that are supposed to be forever. It has been a hallmark of transcendence into maturity. The trivial ones may be fleeting, transient, like the churn and tumble of the waves of the ocean England sees, but this isn’t supposed to be one of them. A kiss, no matter how small and insignificant, is something that indicates a clearer and deeper mutual understanding of each other. Even if it was the consequence of rampaging hormones or the tantalizing temptation of debauchery (which, apparently, England has a natural affinity for), it’s something that one should not have the gall to undermine. It’s symbolic, but you’re relinquishing a part of you to someone else, entirely.
And yet, England doesn’t even remember his very first. What does that say about him and his priorities?
A wise man once said that your memories are windows that reveal how you have grown; that see what you have become; that predict what you are turning into.
What sort of things does he remember, then?
As England flashes through the pages of his life, nothing comes to mind except the snippets of his conquests – sweet victories that stank of blood and tears of the vanquished; mounds of golden treasure and jewelry that reflected a distorted face he could barely recognize; his scimitar that has lost its original luster because of all the lives it has slain; the chilling clang and rusty creak of his empty suit of armor that has already seen one battle too many.
Perhaps that’s what he’s becoming – a hollow, faceless shell whose only purpose is to fight, pillage, and demoralize. It scares England to think that one day, a person might not see anything inside of it any more if they peered inside. Nothing to distinguish it from the thousands – no, millions – of black-hearted rogues who practically did the same thing.
Frankly, at this point, England doesn’t know if he still has a memory that he’s proud to call his own, an instance in his life that he will be somewhat proud to look back to decades from now. A scene that’s so achingly pleasant that he’ll wish to replay the scene again and again when his eyes close and succumb to the darkness. One that isn’t rife with the tangle of politics and the burden of a sin.
Something that is absolutely worth remembering that makes him still human, and not merely a Nation.
A shrill cry calling his name jerks England out of his reverie. He’ll know that voice anywhere.
Little America bounces toward him, caramel blond hair whipping away with the speed at which he ran. Sunlight seems to make his entire face shine brighter tenfold. An assortment of shells appears to be tucked safely within the front hem of his shirt, judging how they bulked up into a round mound on his belly. Tiny, intermittent clinks can be heard from the pile. England sees some of them move – hermit crabs, seeing how they nipped and pushed their claws through the slim cloth – surely America isn’t proposing that they bring them all home with the two of them?
England folds himself down on his knees to appreciate America’s small harvest.
“That’s quite a bunch you have there, lad,” he murmurs, inspecting one that is lodged inside a handsome yellow conch. America looks about ready to saunter off at the nearest market like one of those vendors. Sand clings haplessly on the crinkled fabric of America’s shirt and graying patches of it on his skin, but he appears to be happier than ever. This small detour to the coastline is a good idea, after all.
He smiles and scratches his head sheepishly. “Heh, I had to squeeze my hand through some rocks to get some of them, but they’re real pretty, aren’t they?!”
A cold bolt of fear runs through England’s spine. His vision darts to America’s hands right away. Much to his cold dread, raw, open welts adorn each of America’s knuckles. It’s hard to look at the bleeding chafed skin, but America comes across as uninterested. In fact, he doesn’t seem to notice them at all.
England points to the injuries with obvious concern. “Don’t those wounds hurt you?”
Blue eyes drift down to the quarry of shells, and slowly, onto America’s own hands. Pursing his lips slightly, America’s eyes narrow down a bit. He shrugs his shoulders in the most nonchalant way possible. “Eh? Not really.”
England sees through the act right away. Body language isn’t his prime forte, but you’ll have to learn a thing or two about reading people when you’re in the career of diplomacy; it’s ideal for survival in, England’s case. America’s fingers flinch with the smallest spasm of pain when he tries to move them. It’s subtle and nearly invisible, but it’s there. Combined with the seawater, those wounds must sting like hell right now. They’ll have to tend to those later.
With an unusual amount of self-control that is utterly refined even for him, England pulls America’s left hand towards him so he can assess the damage better. Some of the shells spill onto the sand, but America held his breath in awkward compliance. The exposed lines of flesh aren’t too deep, thank goodness. Nothing a small dab of disinfectant and bandages can’t cure. It’ll take a while before they reach home, though. The shoreline is a tad far from their estate.
He knows he doesn’t strike himself as the parental type – far from it, actually – but an overwhelming sense of urgency rattles him right now, beckoning him to do something. Anything to alleviate the hurting on America’s hands. The lad’s current expression is nothing short of the usual – bright eyes, a warm smile – but England knows that he’s in pain. It’s an instinct England never knew he had.
“Here.” He says the words before he even thought of them. “I’ll kiss it better for you.”
America’s eyebrows are raised so high that England vaguely wondered if they have disappeared and receded right into his hairline. “Does that really work? Are your kisses magic?”
Bloody hell. Of course, not. What was he thinking? England titters a bit and laughs nervously. “O – of course, they are! See for yourself!”
It’s too late to back out of this ruse now.
He plants a small peck on each of the wounds, taking small peeks at America’s reaction each time with steely unease. When he finished, he relinquishes America’s tiny hands, letting them down gently on America’s either side.
“So, how do you feel?” He knows that that has been a load of bollocks. A child similar to America’s stature will have lashed out and said ‘I am not a baby, so stop it.’ He knows that the boy has a touch of pride in him that he’s quite reluctant to show yet. England sees it in his eyes every now and then. He’ll not really have the heart to blame him if he . . .
“Uhh, better, I guess,” America says. He flexes his fingers inward and balls them into a fist. “No, actually, I think it’s all cured and back to normal!”
There’s no doubt that England’s kisses are as magical as his cooking, so he knows that America’s hands must still be hurting. Which then implies that America is gracious enough to play along with his ruse. Really, that lad is bit more mature than what he lets everybody on. That or he has just discovered a budding prowess on white magic that allowed him to cure and heal people with kisses. England shudders at the very thought of it; he’ll give America the benefit of the doubt this time.
“Good,” England answers. “Now return those poor crabs back to where they belong.”
Pouting, America unfolds his shirt, letting the shells go. They land with successive powdery thumps, pounding small craters on the watery sand. Some of them scamper away almost immediately, riding along with the incoming waves.
A small hand tugs on England’s trousers. “Hey, England,” begins America. “Thank you for bringing me to the beach.”
“Not at all, lad. I did promise you that we would go today.”
If possible, America’s eyes widen even more so than usual, drinking in the marvelous sight around him. “It’s beautiful!”
England sits down on the sand, paying no heed to the serious tidying up that they’ll have to do later.
“Yes, it is.”
With all the time he has spent in maritime trading and combat, he has come to respect the ocean in all of its glory. He is familiar with its every undulation; with what the roaring crescendo of the waves is trying tell him; when it already whispers that now is the right time to strike. What he hasn’t realized is how the ocean can be beautiful, too, once you paid attention to the finer details – just like that fascinating shade of blue when the sun hits it just right over the horizon, or how it looks it a giant churning mirror that teems with a worldly life of its own beneath the surface.
It’s hard to notice these kinds of things when you have an earth-shaking mission practically shoved to your face almost everyday. Naturally, his job takes precedence over anything else. He’ll forever be the front-liner, the soldier, and the machine that keeps the whole country of England afloat and running. There’s no time for such fanciful pleasantries. His whole entirety, his memories, his emotions – they will have to always be set aside for his job, for there is always, always, too much at stake.
His life speeds past him, too fast that he already fails to notice that he, too, is weathering away bit by bit. It’s his fate that he should have reconciled with a long time ago.
America taps his shoulder. “England, are you all right?”
Smiling, England ruffles America’s hair into an untidy mess. “I was just thinking of some things.”
“Uhm,” America continues. England knows that look a bit too well. America’s feet slowly shuffle in a terse manner, hands precisely clapped together at his back. That peculiar way his eyes won’t meet England’s - he’s curious about something. “Do those things hurt you?”
“In a manner of speaking, they do.”
Taking a deep breath, America leans closer to England’s ear and whispers. “Close your eyes, then.”
It’s England’s turn to raise a bushy eyebrow. America requests for a lot things (mainly for food, and England uses the term ‘request’ quite loosely here), but this has got to be one of the more unconventional ones. “And what is this supposed to be about, pray tell?”
“Just do it already!”
Chuckling, England closes his eyes to comply. Perhaps the lad has another surprise for him. He never fails to astound England with his shenanigans, after all. A few moments later, much to his astonishment indeed, England feels a peck on his cheek. It’s small and timid; but the boldness and sincerity that simmered under it is undeniable.
America’s sweet, sweet smile greets England as he opens his eyes. “Are you feeling better now?”
He’s so taken aback by the gesture that it actually took a few silent moments for the question to register in his head, let alone for him to articulate a response.
England can’t help but stutter, “I - I suppose so, yes.” As if endowed with a life of their own, his lips quirk upwards in an unmistakable genial smile.
“See, my kiss is magic, too! It made you feel better, didn’t it? You’re human too, so you need kisses if you’re hurt!”
England’s chest heaves and sinks broadly at the whirlpool of emotions suddenly loose inside it. Tears start to sting the corners of his eyes, but he wipes them away instantly with the heels of his hands. Damn it to hell if America sees him crying at a moment like this.
The realization itself has floored him. America’s words and actions - small and insignificant they may be, it’s all the confirmation England needed to prove that he has still some room for salvation left. While it’s true that he has sacrificed a lot of his morals and dignity for his job, the fact that he felt some remorse over it signifies that he’s still a human, and not a mere puppet or tool of the Empire that he was supposed to establish and serve.
England’s newfound resolve tells him that he, too, is still capable of making memories that he can call his own - - - and hell, this sunny afternoon will be one of the most precious of them all.
England throws an arm around America to hug him. “Come here, you insufferable brat.”
Now, he is sort of glad that he forgot who his first kiss was. That doesn’t matter anymore in the bigger, grander scheme of things. America is his new first, and England will be more than careful to never forget it – his own precious memories and being human.
A/N: Thanks for reading up until this point, everyone! I hope you guys enjoyed reading it, even just a little bit. Any form of feedback or criticism is much appreciated! :)
If you want to see some more of my stuff, you can find a list of my fic here!