Genre: Romance, Comedy(?)
Characters: America, England, Japan, Spain, France, mentions of others
Rating: PG-13, for swears and sexual references
Summary: America thought it would be funny to turn the device on himself. What’s the worst that could happen? Y’know, aside from accidentally falling in love with your friend.
This is my continuation of “America’s strange invention” from the end of Comic Diary 8.
Warnings: Pockets of headcanon, slight crackiness, buckets of UST, sensual heresy (in later chapters), France being France
This chapter: England and America have to give presentations. Ogling ensues. America finally makes a decision. Bonus: Japan is kinda weird, France is a bitch and Spain has a majestic behind.
Part one, Part two -- Part four, Part five, Part six
America tried to erase the dream from his mind as he ran down the street, dodging citizens. He usually didn’t remember his dreams, but this one was going to stay with him.
With one last burst of energy he crashed through the large double doors. There were a few perturbed glares, but the overall reaction was surprisingly mild. He realized that there were two empty seats next to Japan. England hadn't shown up yet. Whatever, he didn’t care. He was feeling great and fine and his heart was beating unnaturally fast and it had nothing to do with the thought of seeing England.
He grinned widely, ignoring the people who stared at him, and took his seat.
“Ah, America-san,” Japan whispered.
America turned to Japan with an intense smile, trying much too hard to appear mentally sound. “Yes? I don’t care where he is, if that’s what you’re asking.”
“O-okay.” Japan’s voice got even quieter as he shrunk back. “There’s a bandage falling off your head.”
America paused and then quickly tore off the loose band-aid, ignoring the flare of humiliation that followed. He smiled even wider, and his lips barely moved as he spoke. “Why thank you, Kiku. Do you know when the meeting will start?”
Japan shook slightly when he spoke, disturbed by the intensity of America’s false cheerfulness.
“When England-san is ready to start his speech. He is on the phone right now.”
“The speeches!” America exclaimed, receiving many angry shushes in response. He’d completely forgotten about the speeches. Nations had the option of giving a report on some contemporary topic relevant to their population. It was a tradition that they’d been following for years now, more for show than anything else. However, for nations with a large store of influential power, it was socially mandatory.
America tried to find the agenda in his briefcase to see what England was reporting on this year, only to discover that his briefcase had cleverly hidden itself in his hotel room. He’d left virtually everything of importance back at the hotel aside from his wallet and a ball of lint. When he finally inspected his own clothing, he saw that his suit was severely wrinkled, his shoes were scuffed and his tie had an upsetting stain on it. He looked like he’d been trampled by a herd of wild moose and then forced to sleep in a box.
Just when he thought to ask Japan for a look at the agenda, the doors flew open and England walked briskly to his seat. His eyes were tired, but he was in better shape than before. His lip was curled just a bit, and it wasn’t hard to guess who he’d been talking to. England consulted with his siblings as infrequently as possible, but when they were forced to speak it always showed.
His head started to turn, so America put on his best “I’m awesome and I don’t care who knows it” grin. England just blinked at him apathetically and looked away. America told himself that the sinking feeling in his heart had nothing to do with this.
They waited for just a few more minutes as Greece lazily wrapped up his report. America noticed that England’s leg was bouncing impatiently, which had a tendency to happen when Greece was talking. England was too much of a gentleman to say anything, but America knew which of his body movements signaled irritation. He’d always ignored it before because England was constantly pissed off at him no matter what he did, so what did he care? But this time, he couldn’t help thinking that those tics were maybe kind of…cute. He wondered what would happen if he just reached under the table and put a hand on top on that knee. What would England think? What would he do?
No! He wasn’t supposed to think about this stuff anymore! He had to start acting like himself again, or pretty soon he’d be drowning in-
Damn, England had a sweet ass. How had he not noticed that before? Maybe it was just the crisp tailored suit he was wearing that day, but damn.
America watched very closely as England made his way to the podium.
England’s restrained confidence, and the pride he exuded with every move, was admirable. He probably deserved to be proud. Most of the nations didn’t bother to write speeches on their own, but America had no doubt that England had written and researched every single aspect himself. England would never use someone else’s words as if they were his own.
“Sorry for the delay. This talk is about a significant part of my legacy, and one which I take very seriously: conservation and restoration.” England delivered his speech with efficiency and power, addressing the history of preservation efforts in his country and that of his siblings, and detailing recent significant changes and yearly statistics.
England had officially represented the entire United Kingdom at meetings since its creation. He insisted it was because his siblings were generally too drunk to make it and couldn’t be counted on, but everyone knew it was because they would rather let him represent them formally than be forced to spend hours in a room with him.
He talked about the National Trust and other charitable organizations, government run programs like English Heritage, Cadw and Historic Scotland, and spoke proudly of his cooperation with UNESCO and of his World Heritage Sites. The professional-looking PowerPoint slideshow helped to illustrate many of his major historical sites. The way he pronounced many of the oldest (or Welsh) sites left a goofy smile on America’s face.
Being able to sit and listen to England talk was like a piece of heaven. He mentally smacked himself a few times for giving in so easily, but the opportunity to ogle was too great. As the talk wound down, America was surprised that many nations looked less-than-enthralled by the speech. They clapped when it was over, but only a few seemed to have been listening throughout.
On the outside, England didn’t appear to be fazed by this. He was probably used to receiving little recognition for his speeches, and America was flooded with sadness when he recalled how often he himself had belittled the effort that England put into his work. He’d never intended to be malicious, but from this angle his teasing seemed borderline abusive. No wonder England was always snapping at him.
Just moments after England took his seat again, America tapped on his shoulder tentatively.
England turned with a confused look.
“Hey. Good speech,” America said. England narrowed his eyes suspiciously. “I thought it was really interesting.” Eyes narrowed even more. America chattered on quickly and nervously. “I-I’ve been to some of those places, right? Stonehenge for sure. I remember that ‘cause you let me touch one of them and told me that story about the people in robes, or something like that. And I know we drove to Lacock that one time, cause you kept yelling at me for making jokes about the name and then I lost my lucky buffalo nickel and found it in the trunk. It was ’76, I think.”
England leaned back in his chair, absolutely baffled. “Good god, you’re serious.”
“Yeah, it was totally lucky! Remember how that guy gave us his leftover fries?”
England ignored the inane rambling and focused on this shocking revelation. “You actually paid attention to my presentation,” he said softly, as though it would make more sense if he said it out loud.
America smiled with uncharacteristic shyness. “Heh, well yeah. You put a lot of work into it and everything. It was really good.”
Dense as he was, even America noticed the deep blush that covered England’s features. Before he could say anything, America was pre-emptively shushed by several people at once, and the meeting moved forward. He leaned away from England and saw that several of his colleagues were giving him the same annoying look that Canada had, like they all shared some amusing secret. He was struck by the urge to shake every last one of them until they gave it up.
The meeting continued and when America chanced a glimpse of his neighbor, he noticed that England’s ears were still bright red. He closed his eyes and tried to squash his sudden, overwhelming need to nibble on them.
When they finally adjourned for the day, America stayed back and made small talk with Japan. The room never cleared out right away, as private conversations took over and people made plans for the evening. England had gotten up pretty quickly, and when he did America breathed more easily. Japan looked as though he wanted to say something, but restrained himself. Japan never said what he meant anyway, so America didn’t push it.
He spoke easily with Japan, and was on the verge of clearing his mind of his stupid romantic problems when he heard an unmistakable laugh in the distance. Without even thinking about it, he turned to see where England had gone to and what he was laughing at. When his eyes settled on England, he dreamily pondered how those choppy bangs managed to look so soft and appealing. For a moment, all he could see was England, highlighted with a supernatural glow among the room full of chatting nations. Then he noticed that England was not alone. He appeared to be talking quite animatedly with Spain.
Spain. And he was laughing, and blushing ever-so-slightly, and did he just touch Spain’s hand?
Another emotion was brewing. Something new and uncomfortable, rising in his throat, and it made America feel like spitting acid. Pure, raging jealousy.
“…asked me why I was wearing cat ears, but it seemed appropriate for the setting. I think he may have-“
“Sorry Japan, I’ve gotta scram. We’ll finish this later, I promise.”
“O-okay. Good luck with your presentation tomorrow,” Japan replied, but America was already out of earshot.
That whore. That devious, heartless excuse for a nation. How dare he flirt so openly for the whole world to see. That Mediterranean jerk, thinking he was soooo much better than everyone else with his beaches and paella and glorious, glorious ass. He was probably trying to corrupt England’s poor, vulnerable soul. Someone had to do something.
America slid with his back against the wall, trying to be covert and getting strange looks as he scooted slowly past a group of Nordics, never taking his eyes off England and Spain. With a cheeky grin, Denmark poked America in the head several times, but the sneaking nation didn’t acknowledge it. Instead, he dove onto the ground and pushed himself forward with his elbows as if he was in a military training course. Once safely under the table, he moved like a snake through the darkness, avoiding legs and listening closely until he heard the conversation he was looking for. Spain’s voice came into focus, so America halted abruptly and then scooted forward just a little more so he could listen in. After a few seconds, he wanted to scream.
They were speaking Spanish. Both of them. England’s Spanish accent sounded ridiculous (and adorable), but it was definitely him. America listened for a few more agonizing minutes until he couldn’t take it anymore.
He popped up from under the table without warning and hovered over Spain, placing a hand firmly on his shoulder. England yelped and Spain looked up with a benign smile.
“Hey, how’s it going,” America said slowly, his unnaturally wide grin returning. Before either nation could answer, he grabbed the nearest chair and pulled up between them. “Looks like you’re having a fun little party here. So what’re we talking about? Sounded like you were speaking in Spanish. Donde está la biblioteca, am I right?”
England looked astounded and somewhat mortified. “America, what are you-“
“Not that I’d want to interrupt, of course. I mean, we wouldn’t want to ruin such an intimate little conversation, now would we.” He leaned over to Spain, fixing him with a stony glare. Spain continued to smile, but seemed just a little unsettled. “That would just be awful, wouldn’t it.” Every word was like a searing hot knife just waiting to be introduced to Spain’s throat.
England attempted to interject again. “I don’t know what you’re getting at, but we’re not-“
“Say, didn’t you guys used to fight each other? Like, a lot? So what’s with the buddy-buddy going on here? Just seems a little fishy, if you don’t mind me sayin’.” For some reason, America was starting to sound like a gangster.
“How could we hold these meetings if we couldn’t talk to nations we’ve warred with? Even you and I couldn’t speak.”
America knew that it was wrong on some level, but the logic part of his brain had shorted out ages ago. Japan’s argument about love being strength suddenly made a lot more sense. He felt like he would do anything to protect England’s honor.
“No, no, it’s fine. We’re all friends here.” America slapped Spain on the back with so much force that he fell out of his chair. England gasped and pushed forward to help him up. After asking Spain if he was all right, and some unnecessary touching, England glowered at America.
“I don’t know what’s gotten into you lately, but you would do well to keep yourself under control.” England’s tone was dangerous, but America didn’t seem to register this.
America paused and, for a second, it seemed that he might have realized his mistakes. He addressed England with complete sincerity. “You know he has a lisp, right?”
England rolled his eyes and grumbled. Spain looked as though he was finally about to join the conversation.
“Oh, you’ve got something to say? Say it, churro-breath.”
England slammed his hand onto the table. “ALFRED JONES, what is wrong with you?!”
This reaction brought America back to reality, and he answered with a sheepish grin, but it was too late. England was seething.
“What makes you think it’s okay to talk to people like that?!”
America blanched. “I…um. I didn’t mean to-“
“You interrupt and insult and throw your weight around without giving it a second thought!”
“I’m sorry! I just wanted to make sure that you were safe!”
England answered with an ice cold stare. “Don’t. I’ve heard your excuses before, so just…leave me alone.”
England apologized profusely to Spain, grabbed his briefcase and stormed away, leaving America in shock. The entire room was silent in the wake of the outburst. America slouched in the chair as he tried to understand what had just happened. After a short reflection, he started to realize how terrible he’d been. He focused on apologizing to Spain so he wouldn’t have to think about the look of shame and disappointment on England’s face.
“Wow. I am so sorry. I have no idea what came over me, but I totally wasn’t thinking.”
“It’s okay.” Spain’s expression was warm, despite what had just happened. “I understand.” A smile appeared on his face and made America shudder, because it was that look again. Like there was some big entertaining secret that everyone was privy to except for him. And it had to be a big one, because normally Spain was oblivious as fuck. He apologized a few more times and then left quickly.
On the way back he grabbed some McDonald’s, but even the sweet, sweet taste of globalization couldn’t distract him from his crushing depression. Once inside his room, he found his briefcase and threw it on the bed before tearing his wrinkled clothes off in anger. His day was once again ending in frustration, but this time it was entirely his own fault. He’d promised himself a great day, and now he was sad and tired and looked awful, and worst of all, England hated him. When he thought about what he’d just done, it felt as though his blood was curdling. He was really starting to feel the “sick” part of “lovesick”.
He decided to busy himself instead. While he knew that he was set to give a presentation at some point, he wasn’t sure when it was. Suddenly, an idea came to him. Maybe he could use this as a chance to impress England, and to show him that he could be respectful and serious and that he cared about all this crap. He opened his briefcase eagerly and searched for the speech, trying to remember what it was about. He flipped through pages and secretly hoped that the topic was something that he could really shine with. Something that he excelled in and could give an awesome report on, like technology or entertainment or parades or…
The one time he actually cared, the one time this stupid tradition might actually be useful, and he’d gotten education. He cursed whoever had assigned the topics that year and collapsed onto the bed, skimming the pages while lying on his back. He was almost ready to go to sleep when he noticed the scheduled date of the presentation. His scream of rage could be heard blocks away.
He awoke in the morning after just a few restless hours of sleep, having spent most of the night rehearsing his speech and leaving anxious messages for a certain team of scientists. The benefit of sleeping in his underwear meant that he remembered to put on clean clothes this time, but even a nice new suit couldn’t compensate for the broken look in his eyes. He pulled at his skin with his face inches from the mirror and had a minor internal breakdown when he thought he saw some wrinkles. After so many years and so many conflicts, he’d barely showed his age. It appeared this sole experience was turning him into an old man.
America paced the room, looking over his notes and the changes that he’d made, and downed several cups of coffee. When he was sure that he couldn’t stand to say “academic” one more time, he gathered up his things, double and triple checking every item, and left for the meeting.
The walk to the assembly hall was a harrowing journey. His heart was close to pounding out of his chest with all the nervous energy he’d built up, and he was hyper-aware of every sound and movement around him. He hadn’t felt like that since the 60’s.
When he walked through the doors, he was surprised to see that the room was barely half-full. It was earlier than he’d thought, and the people milling about the room seemed just as surprised to see him. He tried on his confident grin but it felt so hollow and fake that he couldn’t physically keep it up. He ambled over to Japan and slumped over the table, putting his head down and mumbling nonsensically. Japan didn’t bother asking if America was alright this time, and simply waited until he started talking.
“I just…I don’t know what to do, Kiku. I don’t think I can take this much longer, but I’m running out of options.” He didn’t expect Japan to know what was going on, but he had to ramble at someone.
Japan shifted in his seat and looked down at his hands. “Mmm, well, you could write him a letter, perhaps? Tell him your feelings and leave it under his papers when he comes in. There’s an attractive fountain nearby where you can tell him to meet you. Or you could go to his hotel room and confess and then you’ll look in his eyes and hold his hand a-and then your abiding love can bloom and…ah…well…” Japan flushed and wriggled with a reserved smile. America stared at him blankly.
“What are you…and how do you know it’s…do you even know who we’re talking about, here?”
Japan slowly turned his eyes toward the door, where England had recently entered and was talking to Germany.
Wait, Germany? Why was he talking to Germany?! That sausage-loving, lederhosen-wearing whor-
“Please calm down,” Japan said softly as America glared with gritted teeth and balled fists.
“Oops. Sorry. Hey, how did you know it’s…you-know-who.” He tilted his head towards England without looking, knowing now that it would only lead to trouble.
Japan opened his mouth but didn’t say anything. He was on the verge of revealing the big secret when America slammed his fist into his palm.
“I’ve got it! It’s the ‘special relationship’, right? Like, we’re close allies so you assume that I would be attracted to him. Is that it? I wouldn’t blame you for thinking that, since we have such a close history.”
Japan closed his mouth after a moment and nodded. He was clearly doing it to placate America, but the frantic nation seemed satisfied. Of course, America’s explanation wasn’t quite correct, but Japan thought it would be best to let this run its course. He would figure it out in time.
America was silent after that, waiting anxiously for the meeting to start, and for England to take his seat. To his relief, England willingly sat next to him. To his disappointment and soul-crushing sorrow, England refused to look at him.
Once the meeting had officially begun, America was eventually called to the podium. He got halfway there before remembering that his notes were still at his seat. This was not the start he had hoped for, and he could swear that several nations were already whispering about him.
When he was standing at the front of the room, he suddenly felt very tiny. He paused unnecessarily before starting. “So, uh, what’s up? Is everyone feeling good? I’m America, in case you didn’t know. I’ll be your speech-giver today.”
Dead silence. Under normal circumstances, he would breeze through something like this with just a few glances at the papers in front of him. Though, thinking about it more clearly, he usually didn’t stick to the topic of the speech at all. He would talk about whatever was on his mind, and although the more serious nations would glare and grumble, he had the charisma to pull it off with few complaints. Now he was actually trying, and it wasn’t going well. At least he had the attention of the crowd.
He stumbled through the talk, starting with his history of education and its link with religious studies, eventually getting to the structure of contemporary education for his people, including the difference between public and private school systems, various age divisions and testing standards. When he got around to worldwide rankings and recent public policy, his voice was noticeably shaded with embarrassment. It wasn’t too terrible and yet, for a country in his position, it wasn’t that great.
The only good thing about the speech was that England still refused to look at him through most of it. The one time he looked up and saw those green eyes staring back he temporarily forgot he was giving a speech, and stood like an idiot until Japan cleared his throat.
In a way it was a disaster, but it was also the most earnest speech he’d given in years. He walked back to his seat and slumped down, glad that it was over. A part of him hoped beyond hope that England might congratulate or compliment him politely, or even tell him how horrible he’d been. England simply continued to ignore his existence, and America could feel his heart slowly shattering. He couldn’t do this anymore. It was too much; everything was just too much. It was all he could do to keep from breaking down into a pathetic mess in front of his colleagues, but he somehow held it together.
When the lunch break came he walked to the park nearby and sat under a solitary tree, and for a while all he did was try to remember what it was like to run through the woods with nothing to worry about except scabby knees and stubbed toes. In the calm of the moment, he knew what this was all going to come down to.
America showed up just in time for the meeting to start. A few people avoided his gaze awkwardly, but he didn’t care. He waited through the blur of nations talking and arguing, until it came time for the second short break. He had decided to make one more effort before he accepted his fate, though he wasn’t overly hopeful. Without wasting time, he walked over and took a seat next to France.
“Yes?” France responded to America’s abrupt confrontation.
“I need to ask you about something,” America said, putting aside his normal teasing and joking. France signaled for him to continue with a wave of the hand. America replied in a hushed voice. “It’s about…umm…well, it’s about romance.”
France leaned back with a self-satisfied look. “So you wish to learn from the master?”
America shifted uncomfortably. “I don’t need to know everything. I just want to learn more about how to deal with it. How to handle the feelings and everything.”
“Say no more. You are in the grip of love’s torturous embrace and are in need of some advice?”
America leaned in closer and whispered. “Well, uh, kinda. I’m just really frustrated and-“
“And you must learn how to handle these emotions that are ravaging your soul!”
“Yeah,” America replied.
“You wish to know the secrets of love’s sweet melody…”
America shrugged. “I guess so?”
“…the rush of breath and burst of joy when you see your lover’s face…”
“Yeah, that sounds good,” America said thoughtfully.
“The majesty of two bodies entwined, slick with sweat and various other fluids…”
“…writhing in ecstasy beneath love’s might and grace.”
France smirked. “You wish to understand love?”
“Yes!” America pumped his fist into the air in his enthusiasm. “So you’ll help me?”
France smiled pleasantly. “Non, I think not.”
America’s face fell dramatically. “W-why not?”
“It would be…obscenely cliché.”
France leaned forward and put on an air of mock sympathy. “I am sorry, really, but I cannot do it.”
“Cliché? What kind of bullshit is that? What are you…oh. Is that about what I said at the banquet? Cause honestly, I’ve been calling you that for years.”
France stood up with a proud haughtiness and smiled grimly. “That may be, but this ‘cheese-eating surrender monkey’ has better things to do with his time. Au revoir.”
For a moment America watched dumbfounded as France sauntered away. At the last minute, he had the peace of mind to shout, “Fine, just give up and walk away! It’s what you’re good at!”
As he fell back in his chair he heard a snort of laughter. He was shocked to see that England was looking at him from behind a newspaper with a sly grin on his face. America instinctively grinned back, and England went back to sipping his tea.
And just like that, his heart was whole again. He felt like he could fly through the ceiling if he wanted to. He rode the high for as long as his mind would allow, until the final hours of the meeting started and reality settled in.
Now he thought about his fate. Was this what it was going to be like? Living off those looks and tiny acknowledgments? And happy as he was, the truth began to loom over him, casting a gray cloud over his bliss. He was left with only one option. It was the last thing he wanted to do, and it was risky as hell, but it was the only hope he had. If he wanted to recover who he used to be – if he wanted a chance to live without his emotions constantly being at the mercy of another person – he would have to steel his nerves and confront his situation directly.
When he made the decision to go through with it, everything in his mind came to an eerily silent contentment. After the meeting was over, he sat alone and prepared himself.
When he was finally ready, he walked out of the room and down the hall, ignoring the strange looks from those he passed. He was on a mission to find the one person who could possibly help him. The one person who might have the powers to end his misery. It was now or never.
He knew where that person went after meetings. It was a small room near the back of the building, with large windows that opened to a thicket of trees outside. As he got closer, he could hear humming. The song sounded vaguely familiar, but he pushed that thought aside and kept going until he was standing outside the door. He gathered his last strains of courage and, with a deep breath, he walked into the room.
England looked up in surprise. There was a cup of tea and a large book on the table. America sat down next to him solemnly.
“Alfred, what are you doing here?” England asked.
America spoke slowly and carefully. “I need your help. There’s something bothering me, and I think you might be able to do something about it.”
England raised an eyebrow. “Well, what is it?”
America took another deep breath.
“I need an antidote.”
- The stuff about the UK is how I reconcile the existence of England’s siblings in canon with the fact that he’s called the UK. There are lots of other possibilities; this is just how I do
- Lacock: an awesome town with a hilarious name
- I think modern day England has a bit of a Mancrush on Spain. Not in a full-on romantic way, but more of a ‘hey man can I come over and hang out and we can go to the beach oh god you smell amazing’ kind of thing.
- Donde está la biblioteca? Me llamo T-Bone, la araña discoteca. Discoteca, muñeca, la biblioteca está en bigotes grandes, el perro, manteca. Manteca, bigotes, gigante, pequeño la cabeza es nieve, cerveza es bueno. Buenos Dias, me gusta papas frías, los bigotes de la cabra es Cameron Diaz.
- The Castilian lisp isn’t actually a lisp, but a sound that evolved in Spain and exists in some (but not all) Spanish dialects.
- Mmmm, churros
- I didn’t mean for France’s bit to be a dirty poem, but then it was and it couldn’t not be that way
Thanks to Erin for her help.
And thanks to everyone for waiting! I should just stop taking vacations, since they interrupt me writing silly stories about countries being gay.
I promise there will be sustained interaction between England and America in the next chapters, and not just ogling. But there will still be ogling.