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#and i think a good few of y'all would agree with me
lonely-lgbt-writer · 5 hours ago
Heyyyy Ally, how are things? I hope better then me TwT. Would you mind giving me some headcannons for Ibuki and Mondo with a friend thats been pretty stressed over school? Just, them comforting them? If its not a bother of course!
Things are going okay for me, I suppose. And yeah, I don’t mind! I just hope these are okay; I’m really bad at these reader/friend/etc. ones (I'm assuming you mean a reader ordeal anyway lmao), but I don’t mind doing them!
So you, Mondo, and Ibuki are pretty close as is. Some think you three are definitely a unique trio (I mean, the leader of a biker gang and a energetic musician who's quite the character), but you three don't care. Y'all get along and shit, so it's all good
School's been getting rather pushy lately. Tests, projects, overall homework, and deadlines and so on have been starting to pile on withthe stress. You normally handle stress well, and even when you do experience stress, it's not that bad, y'know?
However, this time was just... different. The stress's really getting to you, and it's starting to show, mostly in the lack of sleep and the noticeable change in overall mood that you've been experiencing
Eventually, Ibuki and Mondo begin to notice and question on if you're okay. At first, you try to minimize your actual level of stress, but after some more questioning and reassurance from them, you finally spill it all out and tell them everything; you tell them about the stress and the homework and the deadlines and the stress and the--
"Ibuki declares we go out and do something fun and relaxing then! It'll help take your mind off of the stress, and it'll make you feel better after all. Ibuki knows so!"
"I gotta agree with 'Buki here. Let's just go out, all three of us, and do something."
Of course, they give you some comfort before you three decide to just get some ice cream, because fuck yeah, ice cream is amazing. While eating ice cream, Ibuki decides to impulsively make and sing a song about how much stress sucks, and Mondo offers to take you three out on a quick motorcycle ride (Ibuki immediately says yes, and you say yes after Mondo reassures you that he has helmets for all three of you)
The motorcycle ride was wild (I mean, you had Ibuki with you two; /pos), but really fun!
Overall, the day out helped you get some of that stress and tension out of you, and it sort of helped you focus more on whatever schoolwork you had to do!
But thanks to them, you also learned to take a few more breaks when absolutely necessary
I hope these are good enough for you!
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Text
High Sex HCs
Bakugou
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God help you if this man smokes sativa before y'all fuck
"Stop fucking running and take this fucking dick" is a common theme
Any self respecting pussy having person would try to take a break after the fourth round!
And the fifth, and the sixth
You started on your hands and knees
Then it was just your knees while he fucked you hard enough to make his hips slap against your ass while he pummeled your cervix like the bully many accused him of being
Then you couldn't keep yourself up anymore and he started getting creative in finding ways to make sure you took his deep as possible
"Where do you think you're going? This pussy is mine to fuck full. Again. And Again. Until you're round with my babies, baby. Understood?"
Even when the weed wears off
just seeing you crying and leaking his cum and begging him to let you rest cause it's too much
will have him rolling up another blunt while y'all "rest"
Shinsou
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He grows his own strains of indica because most strains for sale in town aren't enough to help him sleep
So when you go over to smoke with him you're knocked out by the first blunt, even though you'd been so sure you could handle his weed
Since he won the bet, he was happy to collect on his prize. The one you two agreed on while you blushed and flirted your heart out; letting him fuck you in you sleep
You're already soaked by the time you fall asleep against his chest, both of you having been cuddling while soft music played and exchanging secrets about your darkest fantasies (because it was the good indica, the kind that made you horribly horny even as you struggled to keep your eyes open)
He fingered you with ease and even though you were probably going to sleep well into the night you were still so responsive, moaning softly and making cute little whining sounds every time he added another finger to stretch you out
Fucking you while you slept and sighed and moaned for him was turning him on a lot more than expected
The weed and the sight of you stuffed full of cock while you dreamed completely unaware combined into a dark pleasure that grabbed him by the balls until he was make a cummy mess of your pussy
Tamaki
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You bought the weed from Shinsou, and now Tamaki was relaxed and horny enough to fuck you stupid
"This is what you wanted isn't it?" He pinched your nipples as he fucked you harder and deeper than he usually let himself, finding it was cute the way the weed and his dick had a similar effect on you:
heavy lidded eyes, heavier breathing, and you stopped being able to speak coherently
"Big Tama, so fucking big I'm going to break-"
"That's not what I asked silly," he taunted and from the way you clenched around him you could focus enough to realize how fucked out you sounded and be embarrassed by it, which was good because if he couldn't make your pussy milk him tighter by being mean to you what was the point of degradation?
You could feel him rearranging your guts and you were selfishly pleased no one snapped him up before you two got together, it meant your shy lover and his long girthy cock were all yours- even when he stopped being so shy
Denki
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It was ironically perfect, that he could charge every dab pen y'all had (which was quite a few because both of y'all were dedicated stoners) right before a night of cross faded party hopping
By the last party he's too hot from the way you've been dancing on him all night to wait, so you're gasping and trying to keep quiet while he fucked you against the wall of the upstairs hallway
The music downstairs is spilling up the stairs and giving you guys a bit of cover but the way he just pushed you against the wall and pulled your panties aside already has you being too loud
"I don't need to be prepped just fuck me fuck me fuck me-"
"Shut up!" He stuffed his fingers in your mouth and stuffed his cock in your pussy hard and deep and fast, making you moan- once again, too loud even with him muffling you
"If you're this loud when I'm just fucking your pussy then maybe I shouldn't take your ass.."
You whined like he would be robbing you if he didn't take your ass against a wall where anyone could catch you, and that's what made him forgive you for screaming when he blew his load in your tightness while circling your clit with his thumb
Tokoyami
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Sativa made Tokoyami hungrier to fuck you again and again until you were twitching and leaking his cum and so overstimmed you could barely speak
"F-fumi--" You were certain you'd passed out at some point, but once again you woke to feeling him fucking you
The combined mess of bodily fluids between your thighs made the most embarrassing squelching sounds as he ground his cock into you, deeper- always deeper
It was after that particularly memorable night of discovering his breeding kink that you had a serious talk with him about why you were on birth control in the first place and that you had to limit the amount of times he came inside you
But every time y'all got high together you ended up getting filled
Indica made Dark Shadow strong enough to convince Tokoyami to double penetrate you with him
You weren't sure how it was possible (Tokoyami refused to go into detail and got incredibly flustered when you tried to question him) but Dark Shadow was able to cum inside you
So it didn't matter who took which hole, you were leaking cum from both your ass and your pussy by the time they were done fucking you senseless
Hybrid strains makes them both in the mood to stuff your pussy together and fill your womb, regardless of the fact that you're not on birth control for once (one of the small windows where you were talking the placebo pills)
You were sure you wouldn't have even considered this if you hadn't smoked just as much as your partner
You were seriously reconsidering as you felt Dark Shadow manifest a shaft just large enough to be painful when pushed inside you alongside Tokoyami's shaft
They were going to just feed off each other as they got more excited and you knew they already hated your reasoning for why you couldn't get pregnant
"G-guys you can't.. cum inside okay?"
They both groaned and pushed into you deeper at your words
"Seriously.. guys!"
Deku
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High Deku is a fuckboy don't at me
All of a sudden it's "say less, ma" and his hands are wandering shamelessly
Because not only does weed make him horny, but it makes it easier to hold back so basically-
marathon sex
you're not walking after fam, just accept this
He's just as caring and thoughtful about your pleasure as always, making you fall apart on his fingers and cock again and again, he's just a little more cocky like his Kacchan usually is about it when he's high
"Now just three more on my tongue and then we'll see if I'm ready to cum.. but if you look too cute while I'm eating you out I might need to just keep fucking you after that"
He cums twice in your pussy and when you beg him to let you rest and he keeps trying to fuck one more load into you, you throw out mindlessly "Just fuck my ass instead please! I'm so sore, 'Zuku, please.."
He runs with it
Now you're begging him to cum because your ass can't take as much as your pussy, and even though he's masterfully touching your clit and helping you cum- he feels so much thicker in your ass when you're shivering and shaking from his mouth on your throat and his thumb grinding into your sensitive clit
When he finally fills your ass he gets a little too excited and all you remember is green lightning filling your room before he fucked you unconscious
Shoto
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Likes to use his quirk on you when he's high, spanking you with painfully hot palms and fucking you with ice fingers at the same time
His tongue and dick are always addictingly hot though
Cold fingers pinch your nipples once he's inside you, and his hot hand on your hip while he's fucking you makes you feel branded- owned
You weren't sure if you hated it or loved it but weed also got your usually clammed up boyfriend to finally start talking
"I always wonder, are you always a slut like this during sex or is it just with me? Either way I don't think I can let anyone else ever see you like this. You're mine forever now darling."
Your pussy clenched around him in agreement and he groaned, his voice turning accusatory as he fucked you harder making the wet squelching more evident "Your pussy is more honest than you are. She know's who her master is doesn't she?"
"Shoto!"
"Quiet now. I'm trying to ask if she wants me to give her a baby."
You screamed when you came then, and when you could finally focus again Shoto was pressing your thighs to your chest and fucking you in a deep mating press telling you heatedly
"You fucking -hng, squirted all over me baby. That means you want it too right? You want me to fuck a baby into your womb?"
You knew you were on birth control even if his high ass forgot but you couldn't even get that out, arousal took over your brain and all you could do was beg him "Yes, please Sho, give me a baby-"
You were high as fuck too, and it felt too good to pretend he could get you pregnant like you asked
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x-reader-theater · 2 days ago
I know you already did something with Hotch, but could you write a little blurb about him and his boyfriend going on a little date, maybe a picnic at the park or something? I love bisexual Hotch and definitely think he is a total romantic.
Of course I can keep doing stuff with Hotch! I love this man so much. I'm currently on season 13 and I miss him so much! I agree, he is a total romantic. And I hope this is what you had in mind! Thanks for the request!
Thank you to the fantastic (I'm running out of adjectives) editor @mystic-writes ! Go show her some love for everything she helps being y'all!
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"Where are you taking me?" you ask, the bump of the car and the light jazz playing through the speakers the only indication of where you're going. You have a scarf tied around your eyes, making it so you don't know where you're going.
You hear your boyfriend, Aaron, chuckle and say, "You'll see."
You roll your eyes, but your stomach flips as you think of Aaron being your boyfriend. You've been together for two years, and still the thought of calling him your boyfriend made your stomach flip.
It's only a few more minutes before you feel the car stop and Aaron turn it off, before the door opens. You sit for a few moments before your door opens and Aaron grabs your arm, pulling you out of the car. You don't usually let Aaron open your door for you, but today was special, and it made him feel good.
You let him lead you by the arm down a paved path, but he steps off it leading you across soft grass. Eventually, he stops, placing his hands on your shoulders, and you wait as he slowly unties your blindfold.
Already out before you is a small picnic underneath a beautiful willow tree. The basket is open, showing sandwiches and packaged salads and even a bottle of your favourite wine. There are small, comfortable-looking pillows scattered around the blanket and a bouquet of flowers sitting in front of it all.
When you first started dating, Aaron didn't know what to get you to show he cared, and since he had only been with women before, he got you a bouquet. It was cute seeing him justify it, but you thanked him for them, telling him they were beautiful, before kissing him. It was your first kiss.
"Aaron, did you do all this?" you ask, looking behind you at your boyfriend's face. Yup. The butterflies are still there.
Aaron nods and says, "Yeah. With some help. But I planned most of it."
You grin and lean up, kissing him, before waltzing over to the blanket and tearing into the food and drink. Aaron chuckles and joins you, sitting across from you, and the two of you talk about nothing and anything, sharing the food and wine and snacks that were packed for you to enjoy.
When you finish your second sandwich and first glass of wine, you lie back on the blanket, your head resting on a pillow as you say, "I'm stuffed!"
Aaron laughs before saying hesitantly, "[Y/N]?" You sit up on your elbows and look at him while he holds out his hands, cupping them together as if to hide something. You watch as he stands up before crouching down again, this time on one knee, holding out a box with a simple gold band inside. Your eyes go wide as he asks, his voice shaking, "Will you marry me?"
"Aaron…" you say, your heart pounding in your chest.
"I-I know we can't legally get married in Virginia, and it would be more of a formality than anything else, but Jack loves you and I think you'd be a great father to him and I love you," he rambles. "I want to spend the rest of my life with you."
You push off the blanket and throw your arms around his neck, sending the picnic basket flying to the side as you kiss him, mumbling "Yes, yes, yes," over and over again against his lips.
You pull away, grinning, and hold out your hand. He slips the ring on and you kiss him again, before pulling away with a frown. "I'm not a girl. We need to get you a ring too."
Aaron chuckles and kisses you again. "Okay. We can do that. I love you, [Y/N]."
You kiss him back. "I love you too, Aaron."
You never knew this would happen, going on a picnic date with your boyfriend. No, fiance. Oh, and that sounds even better than boyfriend.
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idletongues · 5 days ago
Text
**TW: SUICIDE**
I aint even gonna front or sugarcoat it.
I've tried ending my life a few times.
and yeah, some people will agree with me,
while most others will strongly disagree.
I've been called selfish.
I've been scolded for even thinking such a thought.
it's taken me a long time, but I've learned to agree to disagree.
but the reason I'm writing this, is cause while I've been scolded, been called selfish, even slapped...
no one, and I mean absolutely no one, has ever asked why I'm feeling like this...
"what's going on in my life?" "what am I thinking about?" "why would I ever come to such a tragic decision?"
well...
when it comes to this subject, the best way I can put it, is I'm pro-choice.
while most folks get upset by this act, it's never discouraged me to think differently.
it's taught me that some things are better left unsaid.
but I've never backed down from a debate.
yet, at the same time, this will be the first time I've ever expressed my side of the subject.
I believe we should have the choice to end our lives.
I was born with this vessel and I'll die with this vessel.
we have the freedom to get body modifications, be it tattoos, nose jobs, piercings, implants, plastic surgery, etc.
and so I believe we should have the right to do whatever we want with OUR OWN bodies.
(let's rewind a bit) so, to answer the questions I stated earlier, I've been depressed since I was 12. that's a long time.
and to become suicidal at such a young age...
but while most people would see that as a weakness, I see it as one of my strengths.
it's pushed me to do shit like this. to speak my mind and beliefs.
I was physically abused by my alcoholic father when I was younger. and when he would abuse my Iil sister, I would push her out of the way and take the beating myself. deadass.
the last time I ever prayed to "god", I was 12.
my dad had just gotten done with his "parenting techniques" and I ran to my room and locked the door.
I started praying and crying to God. any God. anyone who would answer me.
and then my door busted open...
so, that's why I've been sad since the age of 12.
and yeah, I know, I could have done things differently and I know I still can.
but this is where I stand and you can either take it or leave it.
aint no sweat off my back.
what im getting at is, if you think you've got it rough, your neighbor could be going through it 10x worse than you could ever imagine.
just try and put yourself in their shoes.
and that goes for myself as well. believe me.
I know people will read this and tell me to fuck off or won't even give it a glance.
oh well. that's cool.
everyone is entitled to their own views and beliefs.
this is why and how I feel about suicide.
a lot of people fear death and live life to the fullest.
me on the other hand, I am not afraid.
I yearn for death. I'm a suicidal failure.
but I live everyday as if it were my last.
death is the only thing we are guaranteed in this life.
and if my death is one of the few things I can control, then imma do my best to go out on my own terms.
I'm not saying that I will decide when and where I take my last breath, but I'll fucking try.
so to all the pro-lifers out there who stumble across this, just know I feel you. I understand you. I respect your views and beliefs. I got nothing but love for y'all.
I just ask that y'all do the same.
if you made it this far, thank you for giving me your time.
you have no idea how good this feels to get off my brain.
if anyone out there is feeling low, in a dark place, im here for you. dead. fucking. ass.
0 notes
sortavibing · 8 days ago
Text
losing face I suna rintarou
yes. im doing a part 3 :) i love this series so i'm probably going to do the whole album (im sorry y'all) PSA: all the characters here are in college/have a job, because we don't stan underage drinking here
part one part two
fuck my life
suna was laying on his bed, unable to sleep, making quick glances at the clock every few minutes, seeing the time pass from 3 am, to 3:10, to 3:15... he sighed, knowing that he wasn't going to get any sleep (yet again), and got up, stretching his arms, as he dragged his feet to the bathroom. he flicked on the lights and squinted, temporarily blinded by the sudden change in lighting. as his eyes adjusted, he stood there, looking at himself in the mirror.
is this really me?
he shook his head, as if to reset the reflection in the mirror, to what he was before you broke up with him. as he stared at the figure, hair a mess, face pale and almost transcluvent, and eye bags so dark they rivaled his black hoodie he was wearing, all wrinkled and creased. suna looked like a ghost. and the thing is, he was. without you, he was nothing but a shell of what he was before, nothing but a emotionless robot, intent on doing nothing but rot away, secluded and silent, with lifeless eyes and weary bones. without you, his life has lost all meaning, and after the last voicemail he sent you, he lost all sense of hope that you were coming back. he turned off the lights, not wanting to see himself anymore, and stumbled to the kitchen, opening up his mini fridge and pulling out a can of cheap beer. as he slumped in a nearby chair, he popped the tab of the can and took a long swig. this was his life. every day the same. dont sleep, wallow in sadness, refuse to speak to anyone, and repeat.
what have i become?
suna took out his phone, and immediatley opened instagram, to see if you posted anything about your new boyfriend. you did. he rolled his eyes as he looked at the post. you were beaming, as you were getting a piggy back ride from your new s/o, who was smiling just as wide. the world looked perfect in that post, even the light was a golden hue. he groaned a loud fuck as he turned off his phone, unable to see you so happy, while he is so fucked up. he finished the rest of his beer and crushed it. absentmindedly throwing it into the overflowing trash can. as he sat down once again, a sudden memory rushed into his head, giving him whiplash. it was a memory of you, back when you guys were still together. and happy. you and suna were at a local cafe, eating the specials and sharing a drink. you were laughing at some stupid thing he said, and he had a light smirk on his face. after your giggles subsided, you looked at the cafe sign, and started to speak.
"you know, we should start a cafe together, when we are like, old and married."
"you know i can't cook for shit, how tf would i help"
"your good looks would bring in customers."
it was suna's turn to laugh, as he gave you a light kiss on the cheek.
"sure. that sounds like fun."
and as soon as the memory started, it was over, the happiness shattering like broken glass, as suna was brought back to reality by the ringing of his phone. he was about to turn it off, thinking it was just a spam caller, or osamu, trying to make him see sense, but he noticed your name. he immediatley stood up straight in his seat, lightly wincing at the sudden change in posture, and then picked up the phone, and answering.
"hey."
"hey suna. um- i heard your voicemail..."
"forget it. please. i was mad, and i just ended up fucking this entire situation even more."
"i think you meant what you fucking said suna. i was just calling to give you a piece of my mi-"
"can i just have a chance to speak?"
"why the fuck would i let you do that?"
"please"
you stopped talking, and suna thanked every god that he could think of, happy that you actually agreed."
"first and foremost, oh let it be said my dear,"
"dont call me dear"
"i was going to be a good boyfriend to you, so this is not an act of spite, it's a visceral breakthrough."
"cut the poetic crap and spit out what you want to say."
"secondly i know i haven't been that great, you know the way i can be. today im fucking drunk, like i have been every single fucking day. you've lost a piece of you in me, but i've lost all my past."
"oh so am i supposed to forgive you since you are now a drunken bastard?"
"is he better than me? has he seen more to this life? can he smoke more? can he fuck more? can he break me? can he break you? oh, I don’t know what i’m to do. i don’t know what I’ll fuckin' do."
you stopped talking, hearing how serious suna was about this. his voice cracked, like he was on the verge of tears, and then continued.
"i've seen our café, i've clocked our plans. oh, what could have been. if you didn’t go and fall in love, and ruin everything. i've seen him. i've been him. i've felt the same way, so in love with everything about you, that you will just- do anything to see you smile. i've seen him going out with you. i've seen what he can do, so touch him, and break me, as i see him doing everything that i wanted to do with you."
"i ruined everything? you literally cheated on me. don't go victimizing yourself, like you always fucking do. when are you going to realize that you are the problem, not me. thanks for that sob story and everything, but i don't want to talk to you until you come to terms with your own toxicity, so call me back when that happens."
you hung up, and he sat there, frozen, for at least 30 seconds, trying to process what just happened.
am i really the problem?
am i the reason why everything is fucked up?
am i?
suna slouched once again, realizing you were right. he turned off his phone once again, and sighed.
how am i supposed to change?
i hope you enjoyed!
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missymae531-2 · 25 days ago
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Wildest Dreams B.B. Chp.9
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Olivia's POV
2014
You arrive at the location and all three of you get out of the truck and make your way toward the closed gate.
"This is it," Steve says to Nat whose looking at her device.
"The file came from these coordinates," Nat replies to him.
"So did I," He says and you stay quiet knowing that Bucky had been here once as well after Steve went on the mission to save all of the 107th infantry from captivity from Hydra. The sunset and it was quickly getting darker and darker out.
"This camp is where I was trained," Steve stated.
"Change much?" Nat asked him while walking around with the device in the air looking for signatures.
"A little." Steve quietly said and then stares off into space as if he's reliving a memory, so you just let him be.
"This is a dead-end. Zero heat signatures, zero waves, not even radio. Whoever wrote the file must have used a router to throw people off." Nat says alerting him and sticking the device in her back pocket as Steve looks around more intensely.
"What is it?" She asks him. Steve begins walking towards a run-down building and you both follow his lead and when you all get close to the building he speaks up.
"Army regulations forbid storing munitions within five hundred yards of the barracks. This building is in the wrong place." Steve says as you walk closer to the main entrance, before breaking the lock on the door with his shield.
You all walked down the stairs on alert in case something or someone popped out to attack you. Everything was all covered in dust and hidden in the dark. Nat found the switch and turned the lights on and you now see that it's the old secret S.H.I.E.L.D. base.
"This is S.H.I.E.L.D," Nat says.
"Maybe where it started," Steve replied as you all walked through the big room. You guys make it through a door leading into what seems to be the archive room. You came across a wall of people's pictures.
"And there's Stark's father." Nat points out at his picture on the wall.
"Howard." Steve corrects softly.
"Who's the girl?" Nat asks him.
"That's Peggy Carter." You answer her question as Steve looks at her picture sadly before he continues walking through the room, the two of you follow after him shortly.
"If you're already working in a secret office, why do you need to hide the elevator?" Steve asks as he comes across a suspicious wall and pulls it apart to reveal a secret elevator.
You all walk up closer to it and Nat scans the keypad with her device to get the code, and then she types it in. The three of you walk in and the doors shut behind you.
"I'm suddenly not the biggest fan of elevators. After the events of today, I think that's reasonable right?" You say to break the quietness and ask them.
"I mean I wouldn't like them either if I went through what you two did today, so it's valid Liv," Nat says agreeing with you.
"Speaking of, how are you after all that Olivia?" Steve asks you with concern.
"Yeah, I'm fine just a little shaken up but it's nothing I can't handle. Besides, I've been trained by the two best fighters I know so I'll be fine." You say to them trying to get them to smile, and you did just that. The elevator stops and you all get off and enter another dark room.
The three of you walk forward through the room looking around and taking everything in even though it's still dark. You all get halfway through the room and the light automatically turns on and y'all can finally see everything. It looks like a huge ancient computer thing.
"This can't be the data point. This technology is ancient." Nat says walking around the main computers and seeing a USB port connection bank that's also connected to the computers. She plugs the USB into the bank and the computer turns on and the AI says "Initiate System."
"Y-E-S spells yes," Nat says as she types it out on the screen.
"Shall we play a game?" Nat says with a smirk while quoting from the movie "Saw" and you laugh as she turns and looks to Steve.
"It's from a movie that was really..." Nat says to him and he cuts her off.
"I know, I saw it," Steve says to her. You all watch as the computer turns on and what looks like a face appears on the screen.
"Rogers, Steven, born 1918." The voice from the computer speaks, and the camera pans over to Nat.
"Romanoff, Natalia Alianovna, born 1984." It speaks again and the camera pans to you this time.
"Brooks, Olivia Alia, born 1992." The computer spouts off your name and your birth year just as it had for Steve and Natasha.
"It's some kind of recording," Nat says in confusion.
"I am not a recording, Freaulein. I may not be the man I was when the Captain took me, prisoner, in 1945. But I am." The voice says in response.
"You know this thing?" Nat asks Steve.
"Yeah, what she said." You say in agreement, and Steve just looks around in confusion as to how this is happening now.
"Arnim Zola was a German scientist who worked for the Red Skull. He's been dead for years." Steve answers you both.
"First, correction, I am Swiss, Second, look around you. I have never been more alive. In 1972 I have received a terminal diagnosis. Science could not save my body. My mind, however, that was worth saving, on two-hundred-thousand feet of databanks. You are standing in my brain." Zola says through the screen and you roll your eyes and fake yawn.
"How did you get here?" Steve asks him.
"Invited." Zola corrects him.
"It was operation Paperclip after World War II. S.H.I.E.L.D. recruited German scientists with strategic value." Nat says recalling the information.
"They thought I could help their cause. I also helped my own." Zola said.
"Hydra died with the Red Skull." Steve states.
"Cut off one head two more shall take its place," Zola stated back and you knew that Hydra was in the fact not dead because they had yet again gained control of Bucky and turned him back into the Winter Soldier.
"Prove it," Steve says and you can just tell he's getting frustrated.
"Accessing archive. Hydra was founded on the belief that humanity could not be trusted with its own freedom. What we did not realize was that if you try to take that freedom, they resist. The war taught us much. Humanity needed to surrender its freedom willingly. After the war, S.H.I.E.L.D. was founded, and I was recruited. The new Hydra grew. A beautiful parasite inside S.H.I.E.L.D. For seventy years, Hydra has been secretly feeding crisis, reaping war, and when history did not cooperate, history was changed." Zola says dramatically.
"That's Impossible S.H.I.E.L.D. would have stopped you," Nat says and you agree with her.
"Someone would have noticed and done something to flush you out." You say to him.
"Accidents will happen. Hydra created a world so chaotic that humanity is finally ready to sacrifice its freedom to gain security. Once a purification process is complete, Hydra's new world order will arise. We won, Captain. Your death amounts to the same as your life. A zero-sum." Zola says and Steve punches the computer breaking it in his anger.
"As I was saying..." Zola says to him appearing on another screen.
"What's on this drive?" Steve asks Zola.
"Project Insight requires insight. So, I wrote an algorithm." Zola replies.
"What kind of algorithm? What does it do?" Nat asks him.
"The answer to your question is fascinating. Unfortunately, you shall be too dead to hear it." Zola says and you gasp out in shock and you all turn and watch the door close locking you in the room. Steve threw his shield at it, but it was faster.
"Steve, we got a bogey. Short-range ballistic. Thirty seconds tops." Nat says checking her device and the panic floods your veins and making your face pale as if you've just seen a ghost.
"Who fired it?" Steve asks her.
"S.H.I.E.L.D," Nat replies.
"I am afraid I have been stalling, Captain. Admit it. It's better this way. We are both of us out of time." Zola says as Nat grabs the USB.
Steve looks around the room quickly and pulls up one of the grates on the floor and ushers you to jump into and then Nat follows after you and finally Steve is the last to get in and he covers the three of you with his shield as best as he can and you all brace for impact. The missile hits the building, and it starts crumbling and falling in on top of the three of you. Steve struggles to hold the shield above all of you and a large piece of rubble hits Nat in the head knocking her out and you just stay still trying not to panic the whole time this is happening. Once the rubble settles and all is quiet Steve begins digging you all out and once you're all above the debris he picks up an unconscious Natasha and tells you to follow him and you do so without question. After you made it back to the truck and drove away from the blown-up sight you relaxed a little more.
"Where are we gonna go now, Steve?" You asked him with a very shaky voice.
"I was thinking that we could pay our new friend a visit, seeing as I have no other alternatives or options left at this point and he seems trustworthy enough," Steve answers you and you let out a big breath.
"Okay, that sounds like a good plan. Also if it wasn't clear before, I trust you with my life and if the situations were reversed, I would do everything in my power to save you and get you out. So, thank you Steve for taking a chance on me all those years ago and believing in me. You are one of the very few people that I can call my family and I don't know what I'd do if I lost you. I love you, Steve." You say to him on the verge of tears in appreciation, gratitude, and love.
"Thank you, Liv, it means a lot to me that you're in my life as well and I'm glad I got to take that chance on you. You've proved to me that you are ready and can do great things even under a lot of pressure and I'm sure this is too much pressure, but you're doing great but it's not over and these next few days are going to be life or death. So, you've got to fight with all you got Just remember your training and you'll be just fine ok. You are family to me too and I'd be beside myself if anything were to happen to you, but I've got your back and I'll make sure that won't happen." Steve says and you grab his free and hand and give it a small squeeze before letting it go and finally letting loose and leaning against the window and falling asleep. Steve wakes you up and you look around the car and see that Nat is now awake and you smile softly at her.
"Welcome back to the land of the conscious." You say to her and she smiles at you.
"Why thank you, my dear, I'm glad to see that you're ok. You're a fighter indeed." Nat says to you and you smile.
"I'm glad you're ok now too. You scared me there for a second, but I know you're strong and I knew you were going to be ok once you woke up." You said to her as you both got out of the car and walked around to meet up with Steve.
You, Nat, and Steve walked around to the back porch of Sam's house and Steve knocks on the glass door. You all must look so bad covered in dirt and other debris, he pulls up the blinds and looks out at y'all before opening the door for all three of you.
"Hey man," Sam says to Steve.
"I'm sorry about this. We need a place to lay low." Steve says.
"Everyone we know is trying to kill us," Nat explains.
"Yeah, and it's really not fun, and we're just exhausted." You say to Sam.
"Not everyone," Sam says and steps aside to let you all into his home, you smile gratefully at him when you pass by him.
Sam looks out the door after you all made your way into the house and then closes the door quickly and shuts the blinds. Nat showered first and then you got in after her. At that point you didn't care if the water was hot or cold, you were just happy to have a shower. While you were in the shower all your emotions hit you at once and you just cried. You had been overwhelmed for the last few days and it was all finally getting to you and it was a lot, but you were happy to finally be releasing these suppressed emotions. After your shower, you got dressed and sat on the bed next to Nat and just laid your head on her shoulder while waiting for Steve to finish freshening up.
"You both okay?" Steve asked coming out of the bathroom.
"Yeah," Nat answers him.
'I think Liv is still a little drained and jumpy, but she seems to be ok for now." Nat says to him while looking down at you.
"Yeah, going on the run is tiring, and having a missile fired at you isn't what I had on my agenda." You say sarcastically trying to lighten the mood. Steve sits on the chair in front of the bed so he's face to face with you and Nat.
"What's going on? Both of you." Steve asks you and Nat.
"When I first joined S.H.I.E.L.D. I thought that I was going straight...But I guess I just traded in the KGB for Hydra...I thought I knew whose lies I was telling, but I guess I can't tell the difference anymore." Nat says to him.
"There's a chance you might be in the wrong business," Steve says and she lets out a small chuckle.
"What about you. Liv?" Steve turns to you and asks.
"Well, we've been chased around all day by Hydra and almost been blown to hell. But you two are ok and hopefully doing well. So, I'm ok at the moment, but I do feel highly betrayed by S.H.I.E.L.D." You say to him.
"Yeah, I agree and I know and understand fully how you feel," Steve says and it makes you smile.
"I owe you." Nat says to him and he just shakes his head in a "no" motion.
"It's okay," Steve replies to her.
"If it was the other way around, and it was down to me to save your life, now you be honest with me, would you trust me to do it?" Nat asks him seriously.
"I would now. And I'm always honest." Steve answers her and you smile at the both of them.
"It's true he is always honest sometimes a little too much." You say and he just smiles at you.
"Well, you seem chipper for someone who just found out they died for nothing," Nat says and you laugh.
"Well, guess I just like to know who I'm fighting," Steve says back to her.
"I made breakfast. If you guys eat that sort of thing." Sam says and then walks away from the room you're all occupying.
"Yes, I sure do, and thank you Sam for everything." You say as you get up from the bed and follow after him making sure to be a gracious guest. You all sit at Sam's table as you eat your breakfast in silence and after you, all go over what happened the previous day.
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the-modernmary · 26 days ago
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you’ll always know me || aaron hotchner x reader
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Summary: "I would have stayed... If you asked me to.
After your high school graduation, you left without saying goodbye to Aaron Hotchner, your best friend, and nobody had heard from you since. Years later, you're back in DC, and catching up with Aaron brings more than you could have possibly hoped for.
Warnings: mentions of weed
A/N: I really wanted some soft Hotch content in my life after all the angst in my best habit, and this is about as soft as I can get. Inspired by Taylor Swift's "dorothea". Honestly, I was listening to evermore, blacked out for about three hours, and this is what came from that. There is no other explanation for this. It's written differently than my usual style, but I hope y'all like it still!
read on ao3 || masterlist
~~~~~~~
“What’s got you in such a rush?”
  Rossi eyes Aaron carefully as the latter circles around his office, double and triple-checking that he didn’t forget anything. The last thing he wants is to have to come back to the office and cut his day short.
  Aaron shoves a few case files in his briefcase. “An old friend from high school is in town and I’m meeting up with her.”
  Rossi perks up at the word ‘her’ and he leans against the door frame. Aaron notices this, too, because he shakes his head quickly. “It’s not like that. We both got sent to boarding school for being problem children and we became quick friends. I haven’t talked to her since graduation. She just packed up her stuff and left the very next day.”
“You sound bitter,” Rossi points out.
  “Not at all,” he lies, trying to forget the hurt of running to your dorm for your weekly breakfast together, only to be met with an empty room and a singular polaroid. “I knew she hated it there and her goal was to travel and see as many places as she could. Honestly, I’m surprised she’s back stateside at all. Last I heard, she was doing some art apprenticeship in Italy, but that was years ago.”
  “You sound like you have a long evening ahead of you, so I’ll get out of your hair. And have some fun tonight, Aaron. You deserve it,” Rossi adds on as an afterthought. 
  The corners of Aaron's mouth lift slightly. “I will. Try not to let the building burn down while I’m gone. Reid is back on his physics magic kick, and I think I heard something about a lighter.”
  Rossi gives Aaron a two-finger, half-hearted salute in acknowledgment, which is all it takes for Aaron to shut his office door and head towards the elevator. Knowing that you’re just outside, he has to make a conscious effort to slow his pace from an excited jog to just an anxious speed walk. The elevator ride is slow, seemingly stopping at every single floor on the way down, which gives his mind ample time to wander and think back to graduation day.
  “There you are!” Aaron shouts from across the football field as he runs up to you, shoving through bustling groups of families trying to take pictures. He has so many stoles and cords and leis around his neck that you can barely see the suit he’s wearing underneath his gown. It’s a stark contrast to you, with only a singular chord for academic achievement, although a 3.2 wasn’t much of an achievement in the eyes of most people at boarding school.
  “Here I am!” you laugh, throwing your arms around him in a hug and breathing in the smell of his cologne.
  “Where’re your parents? Didn’t they come?”
  “Of course they didn’t. They’re not ones for celebrating something as trivial as high school graduation, not when it’s just expected of me.” You roll your eyes. “What about you? I thought you and Haley were going to do the whole ‘meet the family’ thing today?”
  Aaron is oblivious to the bitterness in your voice, although that’s nothing new. “We are, but I just wanted to give these to you.” It’s then that you notice the bouquet of flowers in his hand, although it’s now being pressed into your arms. “As a congrats. And a thank you for being there for me this whole time. You’re my best friend.”
  You try to ignore the ache in your chest at his words. “Thank you, Aaron. I… I didn’t get you anything, I’m sorry.”
  “Don’t be,” he waves it off. “If you want to get me something, breakfast is your treat tomorrow.”
  “Okay, deal,” you agree, the smile coming back to your face. Selfishly, you don’t want him to go back to Haley or his family just yet. You want him to stay there with you so you don’t feel so lonely in the crowd of happy graduates. “God, I can’t believe you’re staying in D.C. for college. We always talked about getting out, seeing the world and never coming back.”
  Aaron shrugs, and you watch as he brushes away a piece of his hair that falls into his face. “I’m hoping that going to GW for undergrad will make it easier to get into law school there.”
  “And Haley Brooks is still here for another year,” you point out, half accusatory.
  “Yeah, that, too.” Aaron chuckles uncomfortably before quickly switching the conversation. “What about you? Have you decided what you’re going to do?”
  “There’s an art school in Glasgow I’m thinking of going to. But, you know… George Washington also has an art program. It’s pretty nice, too. I’m still deciding.” You trail off, looking straight into Aaron’s eyes, giving him every chance in the world to make the decision for you.
  Aaron hesitates, fighting an internal battle. “Go to Glasgow!” he says, fake enthusiasm in his voice, but your disappointment blocks out anything but his actual words. “Then I’ll have an excuse to visit Scotland.”
  “Yeah, that’s what I was leaning towards, too,” you lie. “Aaron, I—”
  You’re cut off by a voice calling his name. You both turn around to see Haley Brooks waving him over, her other hand holding 7-year-old Sean’s hand. She looks like spring personified, her blonde hair in bouncy curls and her pink sundress swishing around her long, slender legs. Her smile is so big that it could have parted storm clouds, and you want nothing more than to hate her with every single fiber of your being.
  But then you see Aaron, returning her megawatt smile with his own, one you rarely ever saw, and how can you hate somebody who makes him so happy?
  “I have to go, I’m sorry,” he says, although there’s not even a hint of regret in his voice. “But I’ll see you for one last Sunday breakfast tomorrow?”
  “I’ll see you then,” you lied.
  How Aaron could have missed the signs of your unhappiness, he’ll never know. At that time, all he knew was that you left without ever saying goodbye, leaving behind only a polaroid of the two of you from your weekend trip to Virginia Beach, both of you drunk and laughing with your arms wrapped around each other. He still has it, buried in his nightstand somewhere, but he hasn’t had the courage to look at it for a few years now.
  As Aaron steps out of the FBI building, he recognizes you instantly, even though it’s only the back of your head, and it causes his breath to catch in his throat. He calls your name and watches as you turn around, your hair whipping around you, and the fact that you still have that same mischievous glint in your eyes is enough to make him feel like he’s sixteen again and nervously skipping class with you holding his hand and pulling him towards the school gates.
  “Aaron!” You jog up to him and throw your arms around him in a hug, which he happily reciprocates. You press a quick kiss to his cheek before pulling away, and Aaron’s entire face burns.
  You keep your hands on his biceps, holding him at arm’s length, as you study him. He looks almost exactly the same as he did all those years ago, with soft hair and the slightest bit of stubble, but he looks less carefree. He seems more mature, like life had aged him 100 years. Still, as cute as high school Aaron was, it had nothing on how good he looks now. “Look at you, Mr. FBI, all suit and corporate-looking! I never thought I’d see the day.”
  “Yeah, I guess I’ve changed quite a bit,” he admits, and the sight of his dimples makes you want to melt right there into the sidewalk. “It’s really good to see you again. I’ve missed you.”
  “Oh, I’m sure you barely thought about me,” you joke, but hurt flashes through your eyes.
  Aaron wants to argue, to tell you that he thinks about you all the time, but decides against it. He doesn’t want to spend the precious few hours he has with you bringing up old issues. “Are you hungry? Because there’s this diner a few blocks down with giant milkshakes.”
  “Why are we still standing here, then? All you had to say was milkshakes, they’re my favorite.”
  “I know. I remember,” he says, and that all-too-familiar pang in your heart comes back like it had never left. “Come on, we can walk and cut through a park.”
  The two of you start your walk in comfortable silence, listening to the bustling city around you. Every once in a while, your hands would bump into his, and you were doing everything you could to ignore it.
  “So did you ever go to that art school?” he asks suddenly, looking over at you.
  You nod, a soft smile forming on your face. “I did. You were right, I loved Scotland.”
  “Where did you go after that? Nobody heard from you.”
  Your eyes sparkle as memories of your life the past few years flash through your mind. “Everywhere. Literally. I took a bunch of odd jobs and spent my time traveling,” you admitted. “I taught English in Vietnam for a year, worked on a cruise ship that went around South America, was an au pair for a French ambassador, went on research expeditions… Even dated a pilot for all of six months. Anything I could do that would let me see the world.” You laugh to yourself, shaking your head fondly. “I really put that private boarding school tuition to good use, huh? My parents were pissed.”
  “It sounds like you were living the life you dreamed of,” Aaron says softly, looking down at you.
  “It was,” you agree, your voice a little sad.
  “So then why are you back here in DC?”
  You shrug, your hands clasped behind your back, and you step down on a particularly crunchy leaf. “I’m just passing through. I’ve been going around the US and looking for a place to settle down. Finally. Figured I might as well put that art degree to good use. Maybe I’ll open a gallery or something.”
  Aaron nods slowly as the chill of autumn runs through his bones. It’s nice, though, in a weird way. He’s always preferred the fall over spring. “Where have you looked so far?”
  “Lots of places. San Francisco, Portland, Seattle, Atlanta, San Antonio, Miami… I’m heading up to New York next. Nothing’s felt right so far. But enough about me, how are you? I heard you married Haley Brooks.”
  That same bitterness you felt in high school when you talked about Haley comes back with a vengeance. It’s unfair, and you know that. How was Aaron supposed to know that you were practically in love with him in high school if you never told him? Even now, you’re sure that he hasn’t put together the pieces.
  You watch as his gaze falls slightly. “I did. She died a few years ago.”
  “I’m sorry,” you whisper, and you reach out to give his hand a small squeeze.
  “We got divorced a little while before it happened,” he explains, unsure why it’s so important to him that you know that. “I blamed myself for it for a long time. But I’ve, uh… I’ve made peace with it now.”
  You give him a comforting smile, fully aware of the fact that you’re still holding his hand. “Aaron Hotchner, making peace with something in his life? I never thought I’d see the day.”
  Aaron chuckles and bumps his shoulder to yours. “I’ve been known to do it a few times. But only a few. Haley and I have a son, though. His name is Jack. He’s 8 now.”
  You shake your head in disbelief, and your cheeks hurt from smiling so much. “And you’re a father? Wow, you really have changed.”
  “Is that a bad thing?” he asks, and you shake your head wordlessly.
  “I like every version of Aaron Hotchner,” you promise. “Besides, change is a good thing. Especially since this city hasn’t changed a bit.”
  Aaron looks around, eyebrows furrowed, like he’s seeing DC for the very first time. “It’s actually changed quite a bit. But it’s subtle. Only people who have been here as long as I have would even notice it, probably.”
  The words cut through you both as a painful reminder of your abrupt departure from DC, and the silence settles over the two of you like a thick fog. This conversation was going to have to happen no matter what, you knew that going into this meeting with Aaron, but you didn’t expect it to happen so soon.
  “I would have stayed,” you whisper, your voice barely audible. “If you asked me to.”
  Aaron shakes his head as his Adam’s apple bobs. “I thought about it. But I couldn’t do that to you. I knew you wanted to see the world, and you said it yourself. This city had nothing left to offer you.”
  You pause, rubbing your thumb over your fingertips with your freehand. “It had you,” you reply, and Aaron feels like he was just stabbed in the heart. “That would have been enough.” Seeing Aaron’s dejected face, you quickly keep talking. “But I get it, don’t worry. You were head over heels for Haley Brooks. Everybody knew you two were meant to be together.””
  “What does that have to do with you leaving?” he asks, more accusatory than he intended.
  “Everything.”
  Aaron breathes out your name, unsure of what to say until he settles on: “I’m sorry.”
  You wave him off, forcing a laugh. “Don’t be. I was 17 years old with a crush. We do stupid things, like want to stay at home for a boy. I’m glad I left. Besides, Haley Brooks was clearly the love of your life, and far be it from me to try and break up the golden couple.”
  The two of you stop in front of the diner and you drop Aaron’s hand, much to his disappointment, although you’re still close enough to him to see your reflection in his brown eyes. “I didn’t know you felt like that about me,” he says.
  “Which is surprising, because everybody else definitely knew. But you’ve always been a little clueless when it comes to stuff like that,” you tease, flashing him a toothy smile. “But it’s in the past. So come on, I want to hear about this FBI stuff and drink a milkshake so big it makes my stomach hurt.”
  Twenty minutes later, you and Aaron find yourselves smushed together in a corner booth covered in cheap vinyl, splitting a chocolate milkshake and laughing as you stroll down memory lane. 
  “You know, I ran into Stephen yesterday! A little coffee shop not too far from here,” you tell Aaron.
  Aaron almost drops the fry he was about to eat. “Do you mean Stoner Stephen? What is he doing back here?”
  You take a sip of the milkshake, and Aaron’s gaze is intense as you wrap your lips around the straw. When you pull back, he’s still staring at the soft pink your lipstick leaves behind. “Apparently, he’s lived here for years. Also, did you know he’s crazy smart? Like… graduated 4th in our class, went to Brown undergrad and Columbia graduate, smart.”
  Aaron’s eyes go wide in disbelief. “And this is the same guy who, completely sober, tried putting his mattress in the pool so that he didn’t have to sleep in his own dorm?”
  “The very same one. He’s like a lobbyist now or something for some activist group.”
  “Wow, I did not expect that. Do you remember when he got so high that he thought his joint was going to catch the dorms on fire?” Aaron asks, the words barely discernible through his laughter. “So he warned campus police that the whole school was going to burn down.”
  “Yes!” you giggle, your head thrown back in laughter. “They thought it was an arson threat and they had to evacuate the whole school. I was taking an English final during that.”
  Aaron’s shoulder pressing against yours makes a shiver run down your spine. You idly wonder how much closer he can get to you if he really tried.
  As if reading your mind, Aaron turns towards you a little more so that your knees are touching and you can feel his breath on the side of your neck. “We went to the beach that weekend,” he says quietly, unwilling to break eye contact with you. “Drank cheap beer. You got stung by a jellyfish. I had to carry you back to the car.”
  No, no. You were not about to fall for Aaron Hotchner’s charm again that easily. Not again. It took you too long to get over him the first time. Still, you were leaning closer to Aaron, and Aaron was leaning in towards you, and your noses brushed as you tilt your head to the side ever so slightly and—
  And his phone rings. Aaron’s eyes flickered to your lips one last time before pulling away, giving you an apologetic look.
  “Hotchner,” he answers, and you pull your coat tighter around yourself as realization sinks into you. You feel like you’re 17 again, desperately waiting for Aaron to ask you to prom, only to hide in your dorm for days on end when he asked Haley Brooks.
  When Aaron hangs up, he immediately reaches into his pocket to pull out his wallet, setting enough cash on the table to cover the tab and tip. “That was work. We have to fly out to Arizona. I’m sorry.”
  You nod understandingly. “Gotta catch the bad guys. When do you leave?”
  It’s silent for a few torturous moments before he finally answers. “An hour, at most. We brief at the office and then get on the plane.”
  “Wow,” you breathe. “You weren’t kidding when you said that you live out of your suitcase. Can I walk back with you, at least?”
  Aaron smiles, a small smile that makes you wonder how often he actually smiles now. It used to be a lot, but from what he’s told you, it seems like he’s had a rough go of it the last couple of years, and has a lot less to smile about. It makes you sad because when you were traveling the world, his smile was the one thing you missed the most.
  “I’d really like that.”
  The two of you make small talk on the way back, swapping stories about Jack and your various adventures around the globe. The autumn air is crisp with leaves falling all around you. At one point, there was a big gust of wind, and leaves and pine needles got blown onto the two of you, and you took your sweet time running your fingers through his hair, bushing it all off him. 
  When you get to the entrance of the FBI building, neither one of you says anything. You just stand there, both unwilling to say goodbye. You turn to face each other, just as close as you were in the diner booth.
  “Oh, you have a…” Aaron delicately reaches his hand to your hair. His fingers in your hair make your stomach do flips, and you’re almost positive he can hear your racing heartbeat. His eyes stay trained on yours the entire time, never blinking. “Pine needle,” he whispers, holding the offending object between his fingers.
  “Thanks,” you breathe, and you’re not sure if it’s the autumn chill or his hand reaching to cup your cheek that sends goosebumps throughout your body.
  As if he were magnetic, you rise onto your toes, bringing yourself closer to him, and you press your lips against his. Aaron deepens the kiss and runs his thumb across your cheekbone. His other hand wraps itself around your waist. The kiss is slow and sensual and better than anything you could have dreamed of — and you dream of Aaron kissing you more often than you’d like to admit.
  All too soon, the two of you pull away from each other, both wearing matching smiles.
  “I should probably… get in there… before my team sends out a search party,” Aaron says reluctantly, pointing towards the entrance. 
  You give his hand a soft squeeze. “Go save lives. I’ll probably be around for a few more days before heading up to New York. If you’re back by then.”
  Aaron purses his lips, deep in thought. “You’re definitely settling down somewhere? Done with seeing the world?”
  “That’s the plan.”
  “Have you… Do you think…” Aaron takes a grounding breath, trying to gather the words he was too afraid to ask back at graduation. “Have you ever considered settling down here? There’s a pretty big art community here.”
  You shrug, ignoring excitement building in your chest. “I think my work is a little too experimental for the people of the capitol.”
  “You’d be surprised,” he chuckles.
  You bring your lower lip between your teeth, chewing nervously at it. “I don’t know… I left for a reason. I just don’t know what DC has to offer me anymore.”
  Aaron spreads his arms out at his side, palms facing you in an uncharacteristic display of vulnerability. “There’s me,” he offers, and, when your eyes go wide, he adds, “And Stoner Stephen, if I’m not enough.”
  A laugh bursts out of you uncontrollably, which seems to put both you and Aaron at ease. “That makes it a very tempting offer,” you tease.
  “And I have a coworker who flips houses. He’ll be able to tell you where to get the best deal on an apartment,” Aaron presses as if you need any more convincing. As if your mind isn’t already made up.
  “First, I need to know that there’s more than one good place to get milkshakes,” you point out, shoving your hands in your coat pockets. “You’ll have to show me around when you get back.”
  Aaron’s lips quirk up in a hopeful smile. “It’s a date.”
  He makes his way towards the entrance of the Hoover Building, but you call out his name, stopping him once more. “We’ll also need a new Sunday breakfast place. Since our old one is closed down.”
  Now, his smile is one of pure joy, and his eyes are sparkling in a way you haven’t seen in years. “I know just the place. As long as you don’t up and leave without telling me again.”
  “Never again,” you promise, and for once, the idea of staying doesn’t terrify you.
  “Then we’ll get breakfast together as soon as I get back.”
  You smile at him, already missing the feeling of his lips on yours. “I’ll see you then.”
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bittersweetmorality · a month ago
OMG CAN U PLS WRITE A SUB CHUUYA SMUT I BEG
ASK AND YOU SHALL RECEIVE BABIE!! sub chuuya is my favorite chuuya 😋😋 sorry this took so long !! i was actually admitted to the hospital and .. YUH so i haven't been able to do literally anything for a bit. but ! i back. also i was listening to the Mitski cover of Let's Get Married the entire time i wrote this ANYWAY i hope u enjoy ^_^
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— i'm going to take such good care of you, baby~ pt. 1
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☾ pairing: sub!chuuya x GN!Reader (f!bodied reader in the next part, but no pronouns specified in either)
☾ summary: chuuya wants you to take care of him
☾ warnings: very suggestive themes, but no explicit smut (yet), making out, i think that's it
☾ a/n: HIHI Y'ALL. i'm currently writing the second part and it's basically finished, i just thought the only way to pace this fic out was by separating it into two part-- idk why it just seemed off to me if it wasn't. BUT ANYWAY ! SECOND PART OUT VERY VERY SOON !!! and it's literally filthy like ... lord have mercy
☾ w/c: 1,358
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| PART TWO |
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the entire evening, chuuya was barely being subtle about his feelings— his desire. light touches on your thigh that lasted a little too long not to arouse suspicion, kisses that lingered farther than they should’ve, and the dark look in his eyes as his gaze drank your figure.
even the most oblivious person could tell what was going on— chuuya was never one to hide his feelings, anyway.  even at an extravagant event like the annual port mafia gala, he still managed to show enough PDA to make anyone uncomfortable.
pressing you against him on the dance floor, trying his best to subtly (but failing miserably) grind against you, bringing his face down to your neck.
“chuuya!” you yelped, as he nipped a small mark against your collarbone. “i told you, we’re leaving soon, can’t you calm down for just another 10 minutes?”
you weren’t against PDA— of course not. you knew what you were signing up for when you agreed to be his girlfriend.  but, you just wished that he would be professional for this one night and hold himself together so you didn’t have to shield your eyes from the stares of mafia members.
“aw, are you flustered?” his movements were slightly sloppy from his light alcohol consumption, and you could feel his smirk against your skin. you scoffed, placing your hands on his shoulders and pushing ever so slightly for him to look you in the eyes.
he didn’t move an inch.
“no. i’m not flustered, chuuya,” you tried again, with more force this time. “i just—“ again.  he still didn’t budge.
with a huff, and your patience running dangerously thin, you grabbed his chin harshly. his eyes instantly met yours, big and full of surprise.
“we’re going. now.” your voice wasn’t loud, but it would be nothing if not powerful; stern. 
you had his undivided attention now.
he blinked dumbly a few times before snapping back to reality, and doing his best to regain some semblance of composure “ahem— the gala doesn’t end for another half an hour, babe.  we’re in no rush, are we~” he moved in to steal another kiss, his eyes dark and his hands lingering.
your jaw tensed, and your grip on him even rougher now, “did you hear what i said? now.” you nothing but growled lowly in his ear.
you swear you could hear his breath hitch in his throat, but at that moment your frustration ran far too high to find the means to care. you grabbed his hand, speeding to the front hostess, and giving her a half-hearted ‘thank you,’ as she returned your fancy dress-coats.
as the two of you rode back to your shared apartment, the tension in the air could be sliced with a knife. you noticed that way the red-head seemed to shrink in the passenger seat; but most certainly not out of fear. intimidated was the better word— and as if he wanted to know what you were going to do next.
you’ve never acted like this before, and he’d be lying if he said he didn’t like it.
“chuuya, baby, why didn’t you listen to me when I told you to tone it down?” you questioned.  your tone wasn’t completely calmed down yet, but it was significantly more gentle than at the event.
he scoffed, “can’t help it when you dressed up like that, doll~” he attempted at teasing you and taking more control, despite his inner dilemma.
something about the way he thought he always had complete control just made you want to ruin him.  you just gave him a small smile, planting a small kiss on his cheek and saying nothing else.  
by the end of the night, you just knew you would make sure he listened to every command you gave him.
for the remainder of the way home, you barely gave him any attention, simply turning on your music and keeping your focus on the road.  his neediness didn’t subside; if anything, it only got more heated.  he still had one hand on your thigh, stroking lightly and squeezing occasionally, whispering sweet nothings like, ‘can’t wait to get you home,’ and ‘want you so bad.’
you couldn’t agree more.
finally unlocking the front door and stepping in, you were instantly met with a messy kiss from chuuya, his arms beginning to snake around your waist.
oh god, was your patience running thin with him tonight.
you grabbed him by both of his wrists, pinning them by the sides of his head and looking him straight in the eyes, “you should know by now, you’re not calling the shots tonight, baby.”  
chuuya was never one to give up quickly, you knew. it wasn’t going to be easy to get him to submit to you, but damnit, you were going to make this man beg on his knees for you to fuck him.
he groaned into your mouth as you kissed him roughly, gently poking your tongue out to brush against his pink lips in question. instead, his lips sealed immediately, breaking away from your kiss and looking into your eyes with a dark gaze.
oh, you knew this would be difficult.
“let go of my hands,” he growled.
“or what? what’re you gonna do about it, sweetheart?” you cooed in his ear. you could feel his muscles tense under your hold as if he was about to break out, but you quickly moved in retaliation. You caged him in with your body and bringing your knee up to brush against his growing bulge. “hm... you want me to let go, but it seems like you’re enjoying this just as much as i am, sweetheart~”
his brow quirked upward, the way it does when he doesn’t know what to say for himself. his body was betraying him. without realizing it, he was finally able to submit to you— throughout the entire evening, the butterflies in the pit of his stomach were purely anticipation.
anticipation for what you were going to do to him.
yet, he still attempted to break out of your hold, feeling the strain in your hold. he was much stronger than you-- you both were well aware of this. if he really wanted to break out and take control, he could. of course, you wouldn't let this remain unspoken between you.
"something the matter, hun?~ you want your hands free?" you whisper, letting your voice run low and your breath fan against his ear, "hm? if you want it so bad, then do it. you know i wouldn't stop you~"
you gave him his time, never rushing him to make the final decision, you wanted chuuya to as comfortable and content with everything.
suddenly, you felt the tension in his wrists go limp. you expected to feel reluctance radiating from him, in his eyes, in his actions. instead, you were met with his blue eyes, big and round and trusting. he relaxed into you.
he was yours.
you chuckled lowly in his ear, basking in your victory for a short moment before beginning to lead him to your shared bedroom. you wanted to make sure the entire experience was perfect,
just for him.
suddenly, you felt a light tug against the fingers wrapped around your hand, ever so slight that if you weren't giving him your undivided attention, you may have missed it.
you looked back at your boyfriend, immediately being able to pinpoint his nervousness.
"hey... chuuya, baby," you whisper, cupping his face gently. "if you don't want to do this, that's okay. hm? i promise, okay?"
he moved his gaze up to meet your eyes earnestly.
"take care of me... please," he said under his breath.
your heart swelled at his words. you knew just how much courage it took for him to say it, and how much trust he had in you for him to mean it.
"oh, honey... don't you worry..." you coo, pulling him flush against you, chest-to-chest. despite his nervous appearance, you could feel his arousal press up against you-- straining against his slacks. oh, he definitely wanted this.
"i'm going to take such good care of you, baby~"
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scribbling-stiks · a month ago
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AAR - XXV - Oh Brother
The rest of the travel goes without issue.
Mostly.
'At least we didn't have a huge fight,' Russia thinks as he drives.
The closer he drives to the base, the more nervous he gets. Sure, Dixie wasn't a country anymore, but Russia couldn't help but feel worried.
America puts a hand on top of Russia's own, which had a death grip on the clutch.
"Hey," America says softly, "what's wrong?"
"Nothing."
"Oh come on. I know you're nervous. What's going on in that head of yours?"
"What is Dixie going to do? What are the states and Canada going to do?"
"What do you mean?"
"When they see your face. Your eye," Russia chokes, moving his hands to clutch the wheel with white knuckles.
"..."
Russia sighs and tries to ignore his racing heart.
"Don't worry too much," Arizona says.
Russia glances into the rearview mirror with a nervous look before returning his gaze to the road.
"Hey, you got Bama, Sippi, and Tex on your side, you'll be fine," Kentucky says, but his tone makes Russia think he's trying to reassure himself more than Russia, "They won't let nothing happen to you and Dix 'll listen to them if they say you're good."
Russia takes a deep breath and stares ahead, getting ready to turn off the main road. He pulls off and drives down through the winding roads, surrounded by trees. He takes a deep breath and pulls to a stop.
America hopes out and walks inside to announce their arrival and the states hope out and begin unloading luggage. Russia gets out but feels jumpy.
"You B******!" Dixie screams, and Russia sees him charge around the corner of the building.
"Dixie! Wait!" America yells, chasing after him.
Before Russia can raise his arms to cover his face, Dixie reels back and decks him in the jaw. Russia's head jerks back and stars flicker in his vision. He stumbles back and clutches his head. Russia groans and forces his eyes open.
His vision is blurry, but when his eyes finally focus, he sees America wrestling Dixie back.
"DIXIE! STOP! PLEASE!"
"NO! LOOK AT WHAT HE DID TO YOU! HE BLINDED YOU! YOU TOLD ME HE CUT YOUR FACE, NOT DESTROYED YOU EYE!"
"I DIDN'T GIVE HIM A CHOICE!"
"That's gonna leave a mark," Massachusetts comments, his arms crossed.
"You're not going to attack me?" Russia mumbles.
"Tex already told us that it happened to protect Ari. I don't understand why Dixie is so god d*** mad."
"He's mad because I did it."
"What?"
"I'm the one who slashed at his face," Russia mutters, covering his face in shame. Angry lime green magic feels the air and Massachusetts begins shouting.
"So you hurt him! You motherf***er! Why the f*** did you do that?!"
"I didn't mean to," Russia mumbles.
Dixie struggles away from America and charges at Russia, pinning him to a tree. Russia winces and meets Dixie's gaze. Dixie's eyes are ablaze with rage.
"WHAT DID YOU DO YOU F***ER?!"
"D! Stop!" Texas screams, waving his arms and trying to pull him off with America, "please! We'll explain everything! I promise, but you gotta let him go!"
Dixie growls but allows them to pull him off. Russia drops to his feet but slips, landing hard on his back. He scrambles to his feet and readies himself for another hit.
"What in God's name could possibly justify THAT?!" Dixie screams, waving to America.
Russia looks down, and guilt slams into his chest.
'I don't know. I'm sorry.'
"Dix, please. I was attacking him and almost killed him. He had to do something," America defends, throwing his arms into the air out of exasperation.
Dixie huffs.
"Y'all are telling me everything or Russ ain't staying without getting through me," Dixie threatens, glaring at Russia before turning around and stomps back inside.
Russia takes a moment to breathe and America runs forward, taking Russia's shoulders.
"Are you okay?"
"I'm fine."
"Wow, he gave you quite the shiner huh," America mutters, "I'm sorry."
"You're fine. I deserved it."
"Don't be like that," America says, swatting at Russia's shoulder, "I'm going to go try to work this out. Do you wanna come with?"
Russia pauses. America sighs.
"I'll talk to him," Texas says from behind America, "Tuck will help me explain. Y'all can stay out here if you want."
"Thanks," America says.
Texas nods and hurries inside after Dixie. America turns back to Russia with a guilty look before hugging him tightly. Russia holds him until he pulls away.
America gently reaches up and grasps Russia's face, brushing a thumb over the bright red mark. Russia winces.
"Sorry," America mutters, pulling away, but Russia grabs him before he pulls away completely. Russia pulls him into a hug.
"I'm cold," Russia groans.
"Come on," America replies, "We should get you inside."
They walk inside, and heat hits Russia immediately. He straightens a little in surprise. America pushes him inside and closes the door. Electric heaters are against the back wall under the lip of the upper floor. A few cold drafts drift through the walls, but the building is better insulated than a cheap camping tent would have been
"Come on," America says, tugging Russia closer to the back wall.
Russia walks over with America and sits down in front of one of them.
"Don't sit on the floor," America scolds, but his tone is playful.
America sets up one of the mats stacked against the wall on the floor and tugs Russia ontop of it. Russia goes limp with a smirk and traps a squirming America against the map.
"Hey. Get off!" America whines, playfully pushing Russia.
"Oh no. I can't get up," Russia complains lightly, throwing his arms back.
"Dude!"
Russia laughs for a moment before seeing Dixie approaching them. His laughter dies and he sits up stiffly. Dixie glares down at him, but his eyes soften glancing at America.
"Tell me what happened," Dixie demands.
Dixie drops to the ground in front of them, sticking a boot out in Russia's direction and glaring at him, an order for answers clear in his eyes.
"I-" Russia starts, but America puts a hand on his thigh and shakes his head. Russia goes quiet.
"I was hallucinating and I attacked Russia. I nearly killed him and cu- I nearly killed him and cut Ari in half. The only reason I couldn't was because Russ was protecting her," America says, choking up halfway through. Russia looks over, wanting to comfort him, but doesn't dare move toward him with DIxie standing nearby.
"Okay, and how in the h*** did you get that?" Dixie asks, pointing at America's eye.
"What? My eye?"
"Yeah. Can you see out of it?"
"No."
Dixie's face goes dark and he gives Russia a nasty glare, before returning his attention to America.
"Well, how did it happen?"
"I cornered him and tried to kill him. Self-defense is a thing, Dixie."
Dixie grunts.
"I didn't mean to," Russia blurts out.
"What?" Dixie snaps.
"I didn't mean to. I didn't want to hurt him," Russia says honestly, staring into Dixie's angry and skeptical gaze.
Dixie hums.
"I'm sorry. I hate it. I didn't want to hurt him," Russia mumbles, looking down. He tries to swallow the lump in his throat and blink away the tears in the corners of his eyes.
Dixie leans in close and stares for a second before unwrapping the scarf. Dixie examines it and sighs. The anger fades from his gaze and he looks almost apologetic, but Russia doesn't look up to get a better look.
"Jeez, I didn't think I hit ya that hard," Dixie mutters, examining Russia's face.
"Yeah, it's gonna leave a mark," America comments.
Dixie rolls his eyes before offering a hand to America. America takes it with a grin. Dixie pulls him up and into a tight hug.
"I'm glad all y'all got back home okay."
"I know."
They pull back and America glares at Dixie.
"What?"
"You hit my boyfriend. I'm allowed to be mad."
"Fine. I guess that's true," Dixie says before turning to Russia, "sorry Ruski. You good?"
Russia nods and relaxes a little. Dixie turns back to America with crossed arms.
"Why didn't you tell me anything about this?" Dixie asks, waving over his own face where America was hurt.
"I didn't want you to freak out."
Dixie rolls his eyes good-naturedly.
"You know me too well," Dixie says, punching America's shoulder.
America pushes him away with a huff. Dixie turns his attention back to Russia with a calculating gaze. America walks off to talk with Canada but glances over his shoulder at Russia several times on his journey.
Russia looks up and Dixie sighs.
"Maybe I judged you too harshly," Dixie grumbles, "Now don't be getting confused, I don't like you. Not with what you've done to Amy. And you're lucky Tex has some semblance of authority over most of them youngins cuz I would've had them help me. But I'll give you another chance."
Russia nods and Dixie gives one last glare, though not nearly as harsh as the first one had been.
"And you had better get your act together. If I see anything like that ever again on my brother, you're toast. You understand me?"
Russia nods emphatically and Dixie flashes a smirk.
"Good."
Dixie walks off to talk with the other returning states, a bright smile returning to his face, and Russia slumps over out of relief. America rushes over and kneels in front of him with worry in his eyes.
"Are you okay?" America asks.
"Your brother does not like me."
America laughs.
"Yeah, I guess not," America comments.
Russia smiles, and America kisses his forehead.
"Did he say anything?"
"No."
"I know he threatened you," America says pointedly. Russia looks away.
"Yes, he did," Russia agrees.
America chuckles and shakes his head.
"What is it going to take to get him to like you?" America mutters.
'I'd have to move mountains.'
~
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AAR - XX - It’s Cold Outside
"What?" America asks, a little confused.
"I mean, I get you were freaking out, but uh, why were you attacking Russia?" Wyoming elaborates.
America tenses. Russia takes America's hands and gently squeezes them. America sighs and leans back.
"It...I saw agents run in and... I saw them kill everyone but me," America mutters, his voice cracking. Russia hugs him tight. America swallows and tucks his cheek against his chest.
"And I saw one of the people that killed you standing in front of me," America says quietly, facing Arizona, "but it wasn't... it wasn't an agent. Is it like instead of seeing Russia, I saw the person who killed my family."
"What stopped you?" Wyoming asks, his voice low.
"Well, I could hear Russia, but I didn't believe it until after I slashed at him," America admits, guilt filling his tone.
"It's okay," Russia whispers.
"I should've listened," America mutters, squeezing his eye shut and biting his lip.
"It's okay."
'I love you.' The thought is loud in Russia's mind, but he doesn't dare say it.
"I'm here," Russia reminds him.
"I know."
"Hey, Dad! Look!" Philippines calls, pointing out the open curtains.
"What?" America asks curiously.
"It's snowing!" Philippines exclaims.  
"I was just outside," New Hampshire says, "it was too warm."
"Not anymore. Look!" Alabama cheers.
"Aw man, I can't drive in that," California complains.
"Me neither," Texas agrees begrudgingly.
"I can," Russia says.
"You're still hurt," America protests.
"We can't stay here," Russia says, "and I can drive in the snow."  
"I can too," New Hampshire says, "and these southerners are helpless in the cold."
"Can't argue with that," Mississippi says with a shrug.
"Coco did mention something about random snow," New Mexico says.
"I thought he was lying," Texas mumbles, looking outside.
"It's snowing pretty hard. Do we have anything to clean it off of the cars?"
"I think we shoved a brush into the trunk."
The states continue to talk with each other, and Russia tunes them out. He focuses on America, who snuggles up against him. He looks down, curious. America meets his eyes. America smirks and cuddles tighter.
"What?" America says, "I gotta keep you warm somehow."
Russia smiles and pulls him up to his chest.
'He's so sunny. So warm.'
"How's your chest doing?" America asks, tracing the bandages.
"It is fine. You have helped much," Russia says.
America pulls away from Russia a little and sits up. America straddles Russia's legs and stares at Russia for a moment before pulling up Russia's shirt. Russia yelps and tries to pull it back down.
"Hey, I just wanna see how you're doing," America says calmly, "lemme see the bandages."
Russia raises his arms and tries to ignore the heat in his cheeks. America traces his fingers around and tenderly unwraps the bandages. They fall away and America brushes his fingertips over the forming scar. Russia shivers.
America sighs. Russia glances down, and his heart drops.
America's face had dropped to a guilty, heart-wrenching look. One of his hands pulls back and begins rubbing circles on his chest with his fist.
'What does that mean?'
'He's sad. I don't want him to be sad.'
Russia's eyes trail up to America's face and notice him mouthing something. It takes a few moments to recognize the words as numerous apologies.
Russia gently tugs the cloth away from America's hands and back down over his stomach. He pulls America's hands to his chest and captures his mouth in a gentle, careful kiss. He had to be mindful of his bandages, of course, but he wanted to snap America out of his regret-filled state.
Russia pulls away a moment later and smiles gently. America stares back, his mouth agape.
"It's okay," Russia whispers, "we are okay."
"But-"
"No. Everything is fine," Russia insists, swallowing back the guilt creeping up his throat.
America whines.
"This is not your fault. You were tricked. The states said it themselves." Russia says, cupping America's face and pressing their foreheads together, ignoring the pulling sensation from his torso.
He shoves the negative feelings deeper into his chest.
"But-"
"No."
America just frowns. Russia sighs and closes his eyes for a moment. He nuzzles America and pulls away.
"How is your eye?" Russia asks.
"It stings," America admits, "but I think I'll be fine."
Russia hums and delicately pulls America into a hug.
"I'm sorry," America says quietly into his shoulder, "I know you're saying you're fine, but I'm sorry."
"I forgive you," Russia mutters back, "*everything is okay.*"
America hums and shifts a little to lie his chest against Russia. Russia holds him tight and a light blue glow surrounds the two. Russia stares at the blue glow with amazement. The magic feels lighter somehow, Russia notes, it feels happier. Russia smiles.
'At least you're feeling better.'
The pulling in his torso gets a bit tighter before disappearing, and his face begins to stitch itself back together. He winces in discomfort but doesn't mention it. America tentatively wraps his arms around Russia.
"Just tell me if I'm making you... if I hurt you," America mumbles.
Russia nods. America wraps his arms a little tighter, tucking his chin into Russia's shoulder.
Once America settles in Russia's lap and the teens stop freaking out about the snow falling outside, Russia picks up the documents again and skims through it, propping the papers on America's back. America traces circles on Russia's chest, swirling around the fabric.
"Hey, Mr. Russia?" Mississippi says.
Russia looks up with a hum.
"Can we have some snacks?"
"Yes. Do not make a mess," Russia replies.
The states cheer and Texas and Philippines help hand out bags of chips around the kids. They hop onto nearby cots and munch away, dusting crumbs off paperwork and blankets as they work.
Russia scans through the packet again and stops at some strange wording. He goes back and rereads it.
"If he/she has magic potential, he/she will be put in SECTOR - A. He/she will funnel al magic potential to generals of SECTOR - G. If he/she refuses, he/she will be put in a TR," it says.
"Stars?" Russia says quietly.
"Yeah?" America whispers.
"Can you channel magic?"
"What do you mean?" America asks, propping himself up.
"Look," Russia says, handing the papers down to him.
"What?"
"Here," Russia says, pointing to the line.
America scans the page and his eyebrows rose.
"Huh," America mumbles.
"What do you think?"
"I have a hunch," America mutters, "hand me the phone?"
America reaches out with grabby hands and Russia retrieves it with a smile. America types a phone number and puts the phone up to his face.
"Hi Mass, I just wanted to ask a few questions. Do you still have your books?" America asks.
"Okay, but you can still read most of it?..... Okay. So I want you to start looking into magic channeling...... Yeah, through personal sources...... Okay kiddo, I'll leave you to find it..... Call me back when you find something, okay?... Love you too. Bye."
America hangs up and drapes his arms over Russia's shoulders and onto the pillows behind him. America drops the phone and Russia grabs it. He hands it off to Kentucky so the state could continue taking pictures.
"What do you think 'TR' stands for?" Russia asks.
"I'm not sure," America replies reluctantly.
"Ooh! Can I help?" Alabama volunteers.
"Okay. We have an acronym on here we're trying to figure out. 'TR'."
"Well, what's it from?" Alabama asks.
"Something something, if someone doesn't listen, they will be sent to a TR," America replies.
"Well, y'all mentioned a training room, right? Could that be what they're talking about?"
Russia's eyes widen and his mouth falls open. America stiffens. Noticing the discomfort, Russia tightens his hold and briefly presses his lips into America's hair. America leans back into him.
"It could be," Russia mumbles, "it would make sense."
"Yes!" Alabama cheers, high-fiving Mississippi with a grin.
"Good thinking, Bama," Kentucky says, not looking up from the phone.
"Thanks, Chicken Nugget."
"Bama, my name ain't 'chicken nugget'. You know that."
"Whatever you say, nugget."
Kentucky sighs, but gets back to his work.
America sighs. Russia picks up a new packet of papers and scans through them for any identifying information.
"Hey," California says, trying to get Russia's attention, "can I see your face?"
"Yes," Russia replies, leaning forward and letting her unwrap the bandages.
California hums and pulls off the gauze. Russia winces at the strange sensation of it being pulled off. California smiles once she sees what's underneath.
"You're healing, like, a lot faster than I thought you would," she chirps, "that wound was pretty deep. At this rate, you'll be scarred over in a few days. You'll have to be careful for now though if you catch my drift."
Russia smiles and nods.
"I'm just gonna leave it uncovered for now if that's okay," California says, and Russia nods.
California backs up with a proud grin. She collects the gauze and bandages off the bed and tosses them out into a waste bin.
"Dad?"
America sits up and leans forward, and she unwraps the bandages off his head. Russia winces, but can't tear his eyes away.
"Can you open it?" California asks.
"No, not really," America replies.
California pulls the cup away and carefully uses some wet napkins to carefully wipe away the slime that accumulated under America's eye in feather light movements. She swipes away at the crust under America's eyelid.
America blinks his eye open, and Russia freezes.
His eye is pale.
Colorless.
Broken.
Blind.
"Does it hurt?" California's voice sounds muffled. He faintly sees America shake his head.
Russia takes America's head and gently turns it to face him. America's eyes moved to look at him. Russia looks into his eyes and feels his heart clench so painfully, he loses his breath. The next breath comes in a pained gasp.
"Russ?" America asks.
Russia can't bring himself to answer.
"Rue-Rue, talk to me, what's wrong?" America directs.
"*I'm sorry,*" Russia mumbles.
"Hey, don't be like that," America mutters, putting his hands over Russia's, "we're okay. I'm okay, we're okay."
Russia sighs and looks away.
"Don't beat yourself up over this. I promise that I'm okay. Maybe my sight can even come back," America says with optimism in his tone.
'It wouldn't,' Russia knows, but he can't bring himself to say anything.
"Hey, calm down. I'm still here, okay? I'm still here. Both of us are still here and that's all that matters, okay? You didn't have a choice, and what happened, happened. And if I'm not allowed to feel guilty, you aren't either."
"Okay," Russia mutters.
"You promise you don't blame yourself for this?"
"Yes, but only for you."
America gives him a blinding smile. Russia manages to smile back. America puts his head back down and flips through the stack of cards in his lap before giving up a few minutes later, tossing the cards back on the bed.
"I'm tired," America complains.
"Then you should sleep," Russia replies, not looking away from the documents, focused on reading it.  
America groans.
"But I want attention," America whines quietly.
Russia tries to ignore him.
"Please..." America pleads.
Russia sighs and he looks away from the papers down to America, who stares up with a sad gaze. Russia looks away, puffing up his cheeks, but wincing at the pain it caused.
'I have to read this.'
Russia makes the mistake of looking back down and meeting America's gaze. Russia feels his resolve crumbling.
'But he's sad.'
'But I have to help figure out what's going on,' he tells himself, and he picks up the papers with a renewed resolve. America looks away. Russia looks down after a moment and sees America's dejected look. His heart clenches.
'I can't ignore him. I can't.'
He puts the papers down and showers America with kisses. America begins giggling and laughs as Russia gently wrestles and tickles him. America squirms and is reduced to a handful of giggles.
"That's enough," America gasps through laughter, pushing Russia's arms away delicately.
Russia pulls his hands away and pulls America back into a hug.
"I thought you wanted attention," Russia teases.
America just giggles and kisses him. Russia kisses back but pulls away before it could go any farther. America smiles and kisses his uninjured cheek. Russia smiles, and America falls back against him.
Russia absentmindedly starts humming a lullaby and uses one of his hands to brush America's hair, the other to flip through the contracts.
'It's like having a cat,' Russia thinks, looking down at the sleepy country in his lap. Even still, he couldn't help but smile.
'My favorite.'
~
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AAR - XIV - Reconcile
Russia relaxes back against the bed and fights back a yawn. He stares down at America, who sleeps soundly with tinted sunlight filtering through the curtains and onto his face. It illuminates his face in a way Russia couldn't describe.
Dumbstruck, Russia tenderly brushes a few strands of wet hair off America's face.
He tries to memorize the image.
America's cheeks are still flush with fever, but he had stopped shivering, which is relieving. Russia looks up again as a thought strikes him, snapping out of his daze, and he grabs his bag. He pulls it to his side and begins digging through it, looking for the little arctic fox he had taken to calling Katya. He pulls it carefully out of his bag and cradles it in his free hand.
The little thing sits in his palm, and he pets it with his thumb. The plush animal is fuzzy and white. Its eyes smile.
"Hey, what's that?" Arizona asks, pointing to Russia's hand.
"A little fox America gave me," Russia replies with a small smile.
"It's cute," Philippines comments.
"Yes, it is," Russia agrees, smiling.
'Maybe I could put it in my hat.'
He pulls his hat off his head and finds that only one of the pockets opens anymore. The stitching on the patch closed the second pocket. He shrugs.
'The patch looks nice. I don't use that pocket for much anyway.'
He tucks the plush animal into the right pocket, and its head peeks out from under the flap of the pocket. Then, one of the burner phones begins to ring. Philippines grabs it and fumbles for a second before answering.
"Hello?...Hi Dixie...Yeah, I'll hand it over to Russia...Papa is sleeping," Philippines says before handing Russia the phone.
"Hello?"
"Hi Ruski. I was just checking in. How's everything going so far?"
"It is alright. We are stuck in a motel, and America is ill, but everyone is alright."
"Stuck in a motel?"
"Some things outside are waiting for us to open the door."
"Oh. Anything else?"
"America is sleeping right now."
"He has been actin' weird, right?"
"Yes. Conflict between his people and his government."
"God help him. Will he be alright?"
"He says he will be, but he is feverish. I worry for him."
"And thank the Lord you do, because I can't be there to do it for him."
"He says he'll be fine with more sleep."
"Did he sleep last night?"
"No. The knocking started an hour after we arrived."
"Well, sleep would do him some good. But y'all should try to leave by around noon. York-y says the place y'all stopped at is pretty sketchy, and y'all shouldn't be staying there for long."
"Okay."
"And you should probably call your dad if you haven't already."
"What?"
"'m sure Amy would be buggin' you about it if he wasn't sleepin', and if you're gonna be stuck for a while, so you should do it while you can. Sides, I'm getting kinda tired of taking calls from your family. Ain't no understandin' 'em when they're angry."
Before Russia can respond there is shuffling and a distance shout of "No! Sett!"
"Tell New Hamshire I said 'F*** YOU!'" Massachusetts shouts into the phone before cackling and the phone is audibly snatched out of his hands.
"Sorry 'bout the Mass-hole," New York says, an annoyed tone in his voice, "also, Oregon says hi."
"Tell him I say hello," Russia responds with a chuckle, "and tell Dixie that I agree and will call my family."
"You betta. They're some angry b******s," New York replies.
Russia opens his mouth to retort, but the call ends. He sighs and shakes his head with a good-natured smile. He pulls the phone away and dials the number for his father's home phone. It rings for a few moments before someone picks up.
"Hi! Who are you?" Alaska says. It startles Russia a little, but it does make him happy to know Alaska is okay.
"Hello, little one. It's Russia."
Alaska gasps. "YOU'RE OKAY! 'waii said you might not wake up."
"Yes, I am alright. Could you bring the phone to Soviet?"
"Yeah!" Alaska chirps, "Grandpa! Russia's calling! I think he's in his office."
Then he can hear her running through the house and kicking open the office door with a thud.
"Russia wants to talk to you."
There are some muffled noises as the phone is handed off.
"Hello?" Soviet says.
"Hi, Papa."
"Have you come to your senses?"
"I am not coming home. I can't."
"Why not?"
"They need me here. America's home has been ransacked and his country is dealing with a lot of turmoil. I need to stay here."
"That would not keep you from getting a plane ticket."
Russia feels annoyance bubble up his throat, but looking down at America causes it to fade. He takes a deep breath before continuing.
"It's dangerous for you to be there Russia," Soviet insists, "I know New York mentioned that you were getting close with America, but that is not a good reason to put yourself in danger."
"I'm already in danger!" Russia shouts before sighing, "Sorry. I should not be shouting. I am already here, and I'm with America and some of his children. We are trying to figure out what's going on and why. I'm not going to leave them without help and on the run. America can't trust his own government, and it puts his entire family in danger. Besides, we don't have enough money for a plane ticket. They are tracking us by paper trail and potentially by phone locations. It's too risky."
Soviet sighs.
"I'm sorry Papa, but I can't leave them. Not now. I won't let America or any of his states get hurt."
"I do not think this is a good idea."
"I have already made my decision."
"Fine," Soviet bites out, "but you will relay any information you find to me."
"Yes, Papa."
"Goodbye, Russia. Stay safe. Tell me if anything happens. You will come home safe."
"Okay, Papa. I will."
Russia hangs up the phone and sits back with a sigh.
"Texas! Give me the remote!" California shrieks.
"No! You already had your turn."
"You're just hogging the TV!"
California grabs Texas's arm and tries to wrestle it out of his hands. Texas falls back and carefully tries to kick her off. Russia sighs.
"Either give it to me or fight back!" California says.
"No! I don't want to hurt you!"
"I can fight you! Don't underestimate me!"
"I ain't hitting a girl!"
"Stop," Russia says, but the teens ignore him.
"*Stop! Stop fighting!* I will take the remote," Russia threatens.
California scowls and Texas smirks. California climbs off and crosses her arms. Texas holds the remote above his head with a proud smile.
"D***head," California sneers. Texas grins.
"Give it to New Hampshire," Russia demands, and Texas glares at him. Russia scowls right back.
"Fine," Texas grumbles, handing the remote over with a grimace.
Russia sighs and returns his attention to America, who had begun shivering. He pulls America up to his chest and holds him up by his shoulders. America begins to thrash against him, and pushes away. America sits up and gasps, his eyes wide. Russia offers his hands but gives America some space to calm down.
America takes a few shuddering breaths.
"They're okay. See, they are alright," Russia says, waving to the teens watching from the other bed.
America's head whips around and Russia watches as America scans them over for injuries. He turns back and stares down at Russia's hands. He reaches forward with shaky hands and takes them in a tight grip.
Russia takes deep breaths and America tries to copy him. America's shaky breathing finally calms down and he leans forward against Russia.
"Sorry for hitting you," America mumbles.
"It's okay. Everything is okay," Russia says reassuringly, "I'm here, they're here, everyone is here and okay."
"I know. I know," America mumbles.
They sit quietly together for a few moments before America begins to move closer to the edge of the bed.
"What are you doing?" Russia asks curiously.
"Gonna see if those 'kids' are still there," America replies, pulling back a curtain. After a moment of peaking out the window, he drops the curtain.
"Russ, could you move the shelves back?" America asks, "They're gone. At least for now. Kids, start getting ready to go, okay?"
The teens nod and Russia walks forward and moves the shelves back to their original places. America tries to lift one of the mattresses, but Texas has to help lift it so New Mexico and Mississippi could retrieve the firearms and money hidden.
Russia opens the door and helps Philippines and Alabama pack luggage into the back of the truck. Wyoming trails behind them and begins snacking on some of the food in Delaware's car.
They finish packing up around 10:00 AM, and Russia takes one last look in the rooms for anything they may have forgotten. After looking through the bathrooms, under the bed, and flipping the mattresses, he collects a few stray socks belonging to the states before he walks out and sits in the driver's seat, and America sleeps in the passenger seat, one hand on the center console. Russia pulls out and Texas follows shortly behind. California takes the map, and she and Kentucky navigate Russia toward Denver.
They stop for gas an hour later, and Russia goes into a nearby fast-food restaurant to get food, drinks, and a few treats for the kids. He hands out the refreshments to the teens waiting in the car and truck. Then he gently shakes America awake.
"What's going on?" America mumbles.
"Hey, how're you feeling?" Russia asks.
"I've been better."
"Are you feeling better?"
"Yeah."
Russia reaches in and places a hand on America's forehead.
'At least his fever broke.'
"I got some food for everyone. Do you want some?"
"Yeah, please," America replies, sitting up and accepting it with a grateful smile.
He scarfs it down and grins.
"Thank you. It's definitely better than the snacks we've got in the cars," America says with a smile.
Russia drives through the afternoon and into the evening without incident, America snoozing away in the passenger seat. Russia was admittedly getting tired from the driving and the lack of sleep last night, so it came as a relief that America woke up when the sun began to set and stayed up to keep him company through the night.
"When Ari was little, she used to sneeze flames. Flames!" America exclaims his hands in the air.
"Really?" Arizona asks enthusiastically.
"Yes. You won't believe how much paperwork I had to replace because of it," America says with a laugh.
"I was never close to any of my states. I'd meet with them occasionally, but only for political matters," Russia says with a shrug.
"Dad found most of us, right Dad?" Kentucky adds.
"Yup. You guys were a handful. Almost all of you were babies when I found you, and let me tell you, watching a dozen toddlers at once," America says, directing the last part to Russia with a smirk.
"How'd you find us?" Arizona asks.
"I thought I already told you this story."
"Well, I want to hear it again."
"Well, I've got a bit of a sense for it, I guess," America says with a shrug, "I guess it's kinda like I got a metal detector and compass in my head. I know the direction to look and relatively how close I am. I'd be riding horseback for days trying to bring you guys home safe."
Russia smiles, admiring his determination.
'I am so happy you are feeling better.'
~
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AAR - VIII - Planning
Russia just holds America. Holds him tight to his chest.
'I want to take your hurt away.'
'Please let me help you.'
The weight on his chest is comforting, and he spends his time rubbing America's back, and his eyes pull themselves shut. He lays contently. He listened to the people around him and gets lost in his tired thoughts.
'I want to kiss him again. Make him feel better.'
'I wonder how my father is doing.'
'How is Alaska? I miss her.'
'I like being warm.'
'I wonder why America is so worried about how the states feel? He loves them and shows it. Why does he doubt it?'
He feels America nuzzle his chest, and his heart swells. He opens his eyes and he looks down at America. America's face is completely relaxed. Russia also notices some faint music playing from the radio underneath the chatter of the states.
He feels like his heart is about to burst from adoration.
'Oh my god, he's so adorable.'
Russia reaches down and gently brushes America's hair aside.
"Alright Russia, I want to talk to you," Someone says. Russia looks up and meets Delaware's eyes.
"So, I see the way you've been acting around Dad. And Dad seems to trust you. So, what are your plans with him?"
"Help..." Russia rasps.
"Trying to get help from him?" Delaware asks accusingly.
Russia shakes his head, and America shifts. Russia immediately returns his attention to him to make sure America is comfortable.
"Help him?" Delaware asks skeptically. Russia nods and looks up at Delaware seriously. Delaware stares into his eyes, searching for something for a few more moments before smiling.
"Well, you seem serious. I'll tell the others that I'm giving you a shot. You seem to be helping, so you got our trust. Don't f*** it up. We've been trying to set Dad up with people for forever, and I think you're a keeper."
Russia grins.
"Jeez Del, I didn't think you'd be so blunt about it," America mutters.
Delaware laughs.
"But while you're over here, I want to discuss something with you, Dixie, Canada, and the others who could help with planning."
'Plan what?'
"Got it. I'll go get them," Delaware replies, walking off to presumably gather a few states to help.
A few minutes pass before the group is gathered, and Delaware shakes Dixie awake, who hops up in a panic.
"What's going on?! Are y'all okay?" Dixie asks frantically, looking around at them, "Amy, were you crying? What happened? What's wrong? What was that thing? Did it get here?"
Dixie begins to fuss over America. America chuckles, gently pushing away Dixie.
"It's all fine, Dix. Del just woke you up because we thought you might want to be involved with the planning."
"On that note," Virginia says, "What are we planning anyway?"
"We can't just stay here forever! I don't think we'll be able to go back to the Big House anytime soon anyway," America says, shifting to face the group. Russia releases his arms to allow him to go, only for America to guild his hands back.
"You're not off the hook yet, Russ," he says with a playful spark in his eyes. Russia can't stop the smile from crossing his face.
"Anyway, I wanted input on what we should do next," America says, "you guys have any ideas?"
"Well," California starts, "we could see if we could get information."
"What do you mean?" New York asks.
"You know, espionage."
"Cali, this ain't some Hollywood movie," Texas says, shaking his head, "that ain't gonna work."
"Do you have any other ideas?"
Texas goes quiet.
"I was thinking that maybe we could figure out what's actually going on," California suggests.
"Do you think people would still be in the base we broke out of?" Massachusetts asks. Louisiana shakes her head.
"I don't think we'll find much there anyway," Louisiana adds.
"But it might be better than nothing," California defends.
"Are we sure we want to explore that place anyway?" New Jersey asks.
"Yes. We might be able to figure out why we're being targeted," Philippines adds.
"We'll need more supplies if some of us are going to break off from the group," Maryland says.
"Definitely," Georgia agrees.
"Some disposable phones would be a good thing to have for sure," California says.
"If anyone is leaving this place, I need to know," Dixie says, his arms crossed, "and we WILL stay in contact. The second I think something may have happened, I'm charging in, guns blazing, y'all hear me?"
"Well, who's gonna go?" West Virginia asks.
"Arizona and I," California asserts.
"I understand you, but why Ari?" Georgia asks.
"Well, Ari has magic that is not affected by magic blocks or anything."
"I want to go," Texas demands.
"I don't know if that's the best idea," Canada says.
"What do you mean?! Arizona gets to go but I don't?"
"You might be better off ready to charge in for a rescue mission rather than going," Canada explains.
"What? Am I not good enough to go?" Texas exclaims.
"No! We need a team to go in for information and we need a rescue team in case something goes down," Dixie explains. Texas huffs.
"We'll be going for information," America says, gesturing to himself and Russia.
"But you're still hurt for Christ's sake!" Dixie interjects.
"Okay, and? I need to know what's going on and whose a** I have to beat for messing with my kids. And Russ is coming with me either way."
Russia nods in agreement. Dixie sighs into his hands before looking back up, exasperated.
"There any way to change your mind?" Dixie says.
America shakes his head.
"Tuck should go too. He's good with electronics," Pennsylvania says.
"Penny's right," Massachusetts says.
"Don't call me that," Pennsylvania snaps.
"How big of a group are we going for?" Connecticut asks.
"Nothing too big. Five might be a good number for the espionage group. Now, who should be in the rescue group?" America says.
"I'm definitely going in the rescue group if I can't be with Dad," Texas says, staring around for anyone to disagree.
"Alabama and Mississippi would want to be in it too," Georgia adds.
"I want to go too!" Massachusetts interjects.
"You have to stay here to maintain the magic wards here," America rebuts. Massachusetts pouts.
"Wyoming and I will also join the rescue party," New Hamshire says.
"And New Mex is coming with me," Texas says.
"I'll be part of the rescue group too," Philippines says.
"Okay, so for the espionage group, we have Russia, America, California, Arizona, and Kentucky. For the Rescue group, we have Texas, New Mexico, Wyoming, New Hampshire, Alabama, Mississippi, and Philippines," New York recites.
"Anyone else?" New Jersey asks.
America shakes his head.
"What am I doin'?" Dixie ask.
America looks away.
"I think you will be here with Canada and me to keep everything under control. We need to keep this place protected," Finland says.
Dixie sighs. "At least I'm not doin' it by myself again," he mumbles.
"What stuff should we get before anyone leaves? I can start a list," New York asks.
"Prepaid phones definitely. Some mats for the floor in here too," New Jersey says.
"As much water and non-perishable food as you can manage," America says.
"More blankets," South Carolina suggests.
"And pillows," finishes North Carolina.
"Some fabric too! It might be too expensive to buy extra clothes," Georgia says.
"And maybe something to do while we're stuck here cuz pops said no throwing rocks," Alabama says.
"You aren't staying here for that long Bama," Dixie says.
"What do you mean?"
"The rescue team will be following us, but won't get involved unless needed. We can't have you hours away when we need you," America explains.
"Still," Alabama says with a shrug, "we're gonna be staying here until Dad's all healed up. That's long enough."
"Okay, games too," New York says with a sigh.
"Shouldn't you be writing this down?" Finland asks.
"Nah, I got a near-perfect memory, a short shopping list is f***ing nothing," New York says.
"We'll go out tomorrow for supplies," Dixie says.
"Sounds good to me," America mutters.
"We should also get an ax or something to chop wood. We can have a firepit outside," Canada says.
"Want to get back to your lumberjack business huh?" America jokes.
Canada gives America a scathing look and America laughs.
"There's a stream nearby. We could probably use that to clean clothes and stuff until it freezes over," Idaho suggests.
"Good idea," Dixie says.
After a few more minutes of conversation, most of the kids disperse. Then the younger states crowd into the blankets. They crawl over each other and cuddle up next to America, and Russia by extension.
Russia smiles.
'Very sweet kids.'
"Hi," he mutters.  
Oklahoma looks up with a bright smile. Russia reaches over and ruffles her hair with a smile. Oklahoma grins.
Some of them begin to talk to Russia about all sorts of things, from sand to aliens, and Russia listens to every word. Sure, he didn't understand where most of it comes from, he tries his best to understand.
"And Area 51 is hiding them, I know it!" Nevada rambles and Russia nods along.
Then America shifts and pulls away. Russia lets him go, feeling a little sad at the loss of heat until America nudges his way behind Russia. Then Russia finds himself in America's lap again. He feels heat rush to his cheeks.
'Oh.'
America nuzzles Russia's back and hugs him around the midsection. Russia smiles.
'This is nice.'
The states continue to fight over his attention, trying to make sure they're the one Russia is talking to.
'I didn't think that my attention was this important.'
Wyoming rattles off different adventures he'd been on, talking as loudly as he could to drown out his siblings, and the whole group raises in volume.
'It's like my siblings and I vying for our father's attention.'
Soon, the sun begins to set, and Russia feels America begin to lean against him. New York, California, and Texas hop up onto the windowsills with the darker blankets to set-up make-shift curtains to block out the view from the outside. Russia watches them do it, and still doesn't understand how that had gotten up there.
A battery-powered lantern is pulled out from one of the trucks and is set up in the middle of the room.
"I'll keep watch," Dixie volunteers.
"No you ain't," Texas interjects before Dixie can get up, "listen, Dixie, You're exhausted. Don't you deny it. Del, Penny, and I got it from here."
Russia hears Pennsylvania loudly disagree with the nickname, and laughs quietly, self-conscious of how it sounds.
Dixie grumbles under his breath but resettles into the nest.
Russia leans forward and lies down on his stomach, America sprawled out on his back, asleep. Russia relaxes. Sure, the floor under the blankets is still noticeable, but it isn't the most uncomfortable thing Russia fell asleep on.
'America is like a blanket,' Russia thinks with a giggle, 'a very sunny, very cute blanket.'
'Maybe I can finally call my father once we have burner phones.'
Russia winces. He could only imagine the scolding he would get for disappearing for so long.
'It's better than leaving him and Alaska to worry.'
Russia's eyes close, and his sore muscles relax. He drifts off.
~
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AAR - I - Cleaning Up
'Hospital gowns,' Russia decides, 'are not comfortable.'
'America's lap was warm and comfortable though.'
The sun had begun to set, and the surroundings begin to grow dark. America had grown quiet, and Russia assumes he's asleep. But as the car grows dark, Russia notices something a little strange. A light blue glow surrounds him. It's faint. Very faint. He hadn't even noticed it until the sky was full of stars. Russia tries to ignore the fear building in his chest at the appearance of the moon. The glow is gentle, calming, and it makes his skin feel tingly and warm, as warm as it could feel.
'What is that? It looks like America's magic. But America's asleep.'
Russia raises his arm as high as he could, only a few centimeters, and drops it. No one looks. He tries again, and Texas spins around, with an anxious look he tries to hide lighting up his face.
Russia meets his eyes, and Texas relaxes. Then Texas scans over him with a strange look.
"What in tarnation? New Mex, look at Russia," Texas says, grabbing New Mexico by the shoulder.
"What?" New Mexico asks, turning around in her seat.
"Oh," New Mexico mutters, "Dad's magic?"
"I don't know. Could you turn Dixie off of mute?" Texas says, announcing the question to the front seat.
"Sure thing TexMex," Arizona replies.
"Don't call me that," Texas mutters.
"Hey, Dix. I got a question," Texas announces.
There is a short pause before anyone received an answer.
"Does it got something to do with them weird dogs in the trees?"
"No, it's about- wait, DOGS?!"
"Yeah. Listen, y'all shouldn't look, they ain't right."
Texas begins looking around, but Finland moves to block the window. Texas scowls but returns his gaze to Russia. His face softens seeing his father.
"Can Dad use his magic when he's sleepin'?" Texas asks, his eyes focused on Russia's arm.
"Wait, what do mean?" Canada's voice filters through the phone.
"Him and Russia are glowin'. Kinda. It just looks like Dad's using some healing magic or something," Texas explains.
"Dad still has magic to use?" Massachusetts asks.
"Yeah. I'm thinkin' it's cuz Dad is finally getting some sleep," New Mexico comments.
"He's sleeping?" Dixie asks incredulously.
"He's been sleeping for the past several hours. Why?" Finland responds, sounding confused.
"Dad just doesn't sleep much," Kansas explains.
Finland hums but doesn't say anything else.
"Well, that's good. Really good," Canada says, "he'll probably be feeling better as soon as he wakes up."
"What do you mean? How much does his healing magic help? I know countries heal faster than humans, and states," Finland adds as an afterthought, "but he was stabbed."
"He's stubborn," Dixie says, "he won't be able to lift anything, but he'll probably be up and moving around once he wakes up."
"He'll totally call the shower once we stop and get settled in," Arizona says with a laugh.
Dixie chuckles.
"Y'all think he'll insist that he's the once to clean up Russia too?" Texas asks.
Russia feels his mind freeze and embarrassment halts his thoughts.
'I... what?!? Clean...? Like a CHILD?!'
He feels the remains of his pride shrivel and closes his eyes. He can't force himself to meet anyone's eyes. If he could manage, he would have covered his face. He had already felt so flustered needing help with the bathroom, and now.
'This is so much worse.'
But he knew he couldn't really decline, as he couldn't speak. And he tried to slow down his heart rate.
'America doesn't know,' he thinks, trying to defend the sliver of dignity he could keep, 'he doesn't have to know.'
"What? What's going on?" America slurs with sleep.
'Oh no.'
"Oh! Hi Dad," Texas says with a nervous undertone, "how're you feeling?"
"Hey, Tiktac. I'm okay. How're you doing? You sound a little off."
"Oh, yeah. I'm fine. I'm just... nervous. Ya know, waiting to get attacked an all."
"Waiting to get attacked?!" New York shrieks.
"Yeah. It's what happened when we drove through the early morning when we first went through the mountains," Massachusetts explains, his voice sounds muffled through the speakers.
"Colorado!" New York yells.
"On a side note," Arizona loudly interjects, "Dad, how is your back feeling?"
"It's feeling a lot better. Still kinda hurts, but I'll manage."
"Yay! Could you get yourself all washed up?"
"Of course."
"And-"
'Please don't say anything.'
"Could you get Russia washed up too? The rest of us don't feel comfortable doing it. You know, with him being your boyfriend and all."
"I... probably. I wouldn't be able to carry him in there, but if you guys could get him into the bathroom, I can take it from there."
'Oh no.'
Russia knows that he hadn't been cleaned. Not really. He also remembers how Louisiana had New Mexico check for new infections where the IV was just a few hours ago.
'Was that even really a hospital?'
Thinking about it, he concludes that maybe it was, but the people there had other plans. And no training, if California was to be believed.
"Well, can all of you calm your t***s?"New Jersey asks.
"Well, I don't have those, soo," Kansas replies with a smirk.
"Shut the f*** up." New Jersey snaps.
"Anyway, we're about to pull up to the hotel, but whatever the f*** is following us is still pretty close," Massachusetts remarks.
"Sippi and I will go out and protect all y'all while y'all are goin' inside," Alabama volunteers.
"Y'all are NOT goin' by yourselves," Dixie says.
"I'm goin' with 'em," Texas says.
"Me too," New Mexico volunteers.
The car fills with the calls of other states and a few provinces who agreed to go armed to walk the rest of the group inside.
Finland picks Russia up easily, and Russia just feels happy that he's still wrapped up in blankets. The states who weren't watching the shadows were throwing suitcases out of the backs of cars and trucks as fast as they could.
Someone tosses Texas his hat, who hoots wildly with a grin.
"H*** YEAH!" Texas cheers.
Tennessee elbows him harshly, and Texas calms down slightly. Russia internally chuckles.
"You need to get cleaned up," Finland mutters. But her tone is less angered than Russia would expect.
America hobbles into the hotel room's bathroom, and the water tuns on. Finland stands by the door while Kansas, Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas settle into one of the beds and the pull-out couch.
Then America pokes his face out of the door.
"You can bring him in here," America says.
Russia closes his eyes in embarrassment.
"Just put him in. We aren't keeping the hospital gown anyway." America says.
Russia sees Finland shrug and he's put into the tub with his back leaned against the side and is blasted with water. He flinches, expecting it to be freezing. He sits there for a moment, his eyes scrunched shut, until his mind registers that the water was warm.
He relaxes slightly.
"Hey, you didn't expect me to blast you with cold water, right?" America asks with a chuckle.
Russia can't meet his eyes.
America sighs, then props Russia up a little further and unties the knot of the gown on the back of his neck.
"Hey, I get it. I honestly kept checking it cuz every time I looked, it looked like it would be freezing and I didn't wanna risk you getting cold," America says, gently removing the gown.
Russia feels exposed and very embarrassed. America seems to ignore the awkwardness of the situation that drowns Russia's rational thinking.
'The only time I wanted you to see me like this is when I could take your clothes off.'
These thoughts did NOT help his already flustered mental state.
America gets back to his feet and grabs some things off the counter.
Russia still couldn't believe that America had to wash him like a small child. He feels mortified but finds a silver lining in the fact that America was the only one doing this.
"Okay," America starts gently, "I'm gonna start at your legs and go up, okay?"
Russia tries his best to nod, and America takes the affirmation as permission to start.
Most of the sensation in his legs is still numb, but America is still gentle. Gently washing out whatever had been ignored for the nurses, though the more Russia thinks about it, the more he doubts that any of those nurses were nurses at all.
He remembered how California had ranted on the car ride through the group call, loud enough to wake him up, about how she had to fix the butchered surgery with New York, and how America only survived because he was a country with how botched it was. How the 'surgical team' left two scalpels and a pair of scissors in the crooked sutures. How nothing was lined up or healing correctly. How Louisiana was the only thing that kept back any infection.
How they had fixed it. How it was a huge emergency and how New York and California had to hurriedly research and redo surgery in secret due to their, not unfounded, suspicions.
How the only reason they stayed was for Russia because they weren't sure if they could move him. How they rushed out so fast because they had wanted to leave for almost a week.
He couldn't help but feel touched that they stayed for him, but his stomach churned at how badly it had gone for America.
'No one in that building had any medical training.'
The realization hits him like a brick to the chest.
Seething fury. The thoughts have him wishing he could move, if only to strangle the 'doctor's who did that and caused more suffering to both America and his children. He takes a deep breath and tries to return his focus to America.
'I can't lash out. Not now. Not at America.'
America had made it up to his chest. Russia hadn't even realized he had been lifted up or that the backs of his legs or lower back had been attended to.
'That might be for the best.'
He knows, had it been possible, his face would have turned beet red.
America gets to his hands and holds them before rinsing them off.
Russia notices how the smell that had clung to him since the dead animals incident began to actually fade. The air was clearing.
"Okay Ruski," America mutters, "you gotta close your eyes, okay?"
Russia complies.
Russia finds himself relaxing, as much as he could, as America tenderly rubs away the grim from his face. It seems to take a few tries to get the dried slime off his cheek.
Gentle, caloused hands begin scrubbing out his hair.
"It's been so long since I've seen your hair actually white," America says with an audible smile. Russia smiles back as well he can.
Russia tries to pay all his attention to the gentle actions. He feels so fuzzy. So loved. So cared for.
America dumps some water over his face, and he holds his breath.
He basks in the affection. Sure, this is still a situation that mortified him to no end, because of his lack of autonomy, but decides, since he can't do anything to stop it, to try to ignore it as best he could.
Eventually, he's dried off and clothed, his hair fluffed up by the towel.
America giggles and kisses him on the forehead.
"Your hair looks so cute," America says between muffled laughter.
Finland carries him out and dumps him onto the bed. America closed the bathroom door behind them and cleans himself off before stumbling back out. With New Mexico and Kansas' help, America makes it onto the bed.
America crawls across it and cuddles into Russia's side. Kansas laughs and helps adjust the blankets to be lying on top of them. America wraps himself up tightly and begins stroking Russia's clothes with an arm poking out of the bundle he had buried himself in.
'He's adorable.'
America shifts around and pulls Russia to his chest. America buries his face into Russia's hair. America breaths in and sighs. He nuzzles Russia's hair.
"It's nice, you know? You smell nice again," America mumbles into his hair. Russia feels a little flustered, but content.
"Y'all are sweet," Texas coos. Russia feels his heart swell at the implied approval. America hums, and falls asleep against Russia.
"I'll keep watch," Finland volunteers. She sits in the uncomfortable hotel chair, facing the hotel door. Russia drifts off, feeling warm and loved.
~
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Puppets - LII - Great Escape
By the next morning, Russia can actually feel with his right side. His left side still feels a little numb, but it was getting better. But for now, he decides that laying here with America tucked into his side was as good a place as any.
he slowly opens his eyes. The light in the room is blinding. He peaks around and sees a few states asleep around the room, and Dixie snoring away in one of the chairs.
The door begins to open, and Russia shuts his eye for a moment.
"Is anyone awake?" an unfamiliar voice asks.
Russia peeks and sees two people in nurses' outfits standing at the doorway.
"No. The heart monitors also say that our patients are too."
"Well, should we do it now?"
Russia tries to open his mouth, but his jaw is locked in place. He watches the two as they approach his bed and he begins to move his arm. It doesn't move much, but America begins to stir.
"Uh oh, one of them is waking up."
"Well, let's do this fast."
"But what if one of them shouts?"
"Oh please. The frozen one can barely move his fingers. And the other one just needs something a little extra to keep him under."
'Come on America. You need to wake up. Please!'
Russia begins shaking his hand as much as his wrist would allow. America groans. Russia sees them getting closer, syringes in hand.
"Should we take those states too?"
"The countries should be our first targets. We'll grab the other ones once we have the easier targets."
Russia's breathing speeds up and becomes shaking with fear. The nurses don't seem to notice. He lay helpless while these people were coming closer to do something he didn't want to know. His more thawed right side begins to shake with fear.
America begins to sit up.
"Russ, what's wrong?" he mutters.
'Look around! Please!'
America shifts.
"Who are you? What are you doing?" America asks the nurses, who were within arms reach.
The nurses visibly panic a little. Russia continues shaking.
'What are they going to do?'
America meets his eye. His face flashes with concern before he spins and gives the nurses a nasty glare.
"What. Are. You. Doing?"
"Following orders," one of the replies, grabbing America's arm.
"DIXIE! CANADA!" America shrieks.
Russia sees movement in his peripheral and he hears the door swing open with a 'bam'.
The nurse who grabbed America goes flying across the room, slamming into the wall. The syringe clatters to the ground. The other nurse panics and tries to inject Russia with something. America grabs it and tries to wrestle for the syringe.
Canada grabs the nurse's wrist from behind and yanks it away. The nurse begins thrashing and pulls away from Canada. The nurse manages to escape his grip but then shouts in pain before collapses.
"What did you do?" America asks.
Canada shrugs.
"I didn't do anything. Whatever was in that needle knocked them out," Canada says.
"DAD! Are you okay?!" Delaware shouts.
"Dad?" Connecticut asks, their hand running through their hair.
"Yeah. I'm fine. They weren't able to get me."
"I've got the other syringe," Dixie says from the corner of the room, holding a capped syringe gently between his fingers.
"I'm gonna give this to Georgia. Hopefully, she'll be able to figure out what it is," Dixie finishes.
"We need to get out of here," America says.
"America, there might be one problem," Delaware says, rubbing the back of his neck.
"What do you mean?"
"The Big House was ransacked a few days after we left. It looks like someone was looking for us."
"S***! F***!"
Russia's shivering finally calms. He uses the dexterity he has to rub small circles on America's hand.
America's head jerks up and their eyes meet.
"You're really waking up," America mutters, a grin on his face and tears in his eyes.
Russia tries to smile back, but his face is too stiff.
"We need to leave though. It's getting too dangerous to stay here," Canada says. America nods.
"How should we do it?"
"Immediately. I think we can move some people around in the cars to make it work," Dixie says.
"How are we gonna move Russia?" America asks.
Dixie shrugs.
"We will probably just have people pick him up. But we have to leave now before the nurses wake up."
"I'll tell the others," Delaware announces before leaving the room, his sibling on his tail.
Dixie scoops America up off the bed.
"We might be able to push out the gurney and then pull him into the backseat of one of the cars," Canada suggests.
"Okay, that sounds good," America says, removing his IVs.
"Should we keep Russia's IV?" Canada asks.
"Nah. He'll wake up soon. 'sides, don't wanna risk infection him getting an infection. You agree?" America says, directing his question to Russia.
Russia tries to nod, and the twitch of his head is enough of an affirmation for America.
"Okay," Canada says.
The door opens, and Virginia pokes her head in.
"We moved around the luggage. We'll have enough space for everyone if a few of us double buckle."
"Do what you have to. We need to move," Dixie says.
Canada steps out of Russia's view, and he hears the wheels under him click.
Dixie moves the nurse out of the way, and Canada and Dixie run out to the Parking lot.
It's a bumpy ride, but they make it to the cars.
"Y'all are going in with Kansas and Arizona," Dixie says, dumping America into one of the corner seats in the back row.
"TEX! Some help over here!" Canada calls.
And with that, Russia is lifted into the backseat and laid across it. Then several blankets are tossed on top of him and America. America pulls his head and shoulders into his lap. Russia feels a little embarrassed, but it's warm, so he doesn't try to push away.
Dixie turns to Texas.
"Tex, go grab New Mexico. You two will be in here with Finland. Philippines and Canada will take Alaska and Hawaii's places in 'Hawaii's' car. Louisiana is going with Georgia, someone is gonna have to double buckle. Massachusetts will come with me and Quebec has to move to Penn's car. Got it?"
Texas nods, and runs off, announcing the instructions to the others.
The seats in front of Russia are clicked back in place the doors shut.
"Where are we going?" Kansas asks.
"Just out of here. Follow New York, okay?"
Kansas nods.
The doors open again and Finland gets in.
Russia watches out the window as Texas and New Mexico run around, trying to organize everyone. After a few more moments of yelling and coordination attempts, the pair hop into the car.
"What's with the scrambling?" Finland asks.
"Well, there's a lot of us. And us states have a buddy system. Right now, Dixie is tryin' to make sure that all the buddy pairs get back together," Texas says.
"Buddy system?"
"It's so we can keep an eye on each other in case something happens. It's hard to notice if one person of 50 disappears, but it's very obvious if your buddy is missing," New Mexico explains.
"Smart. Is this a new system?" Finland asks America.
"No. It's been around for a while. They know their buddies. There just isn't a lot of wiggle room, you know? Lots of people, and not a lot of seats. So we have to be careful. Besides, I trust Dixie. I'm good at keeping tabs on everyone, but he's good at organizing them all," America replies, running his fingers through Russia's hair.
Finland hums and doesn't ask any more questions. Arizona puts the heat on full blast as soon as the car starts. The car lurches forward, and he feels Kansas speed off after New York.
Russia has many questions, but he figures they can wait for now. He's wrapped up in blankets and comfortable. New Mexico makes small talk with Finland and the two talk about the temperature differences between their lands.
"It gets really hot where I am," New Mexico says, a grin audible in her voice.
"My heat is worse!" Arizona interjects.
"Shut up Ari! At least I can still get snow!"
"I have times of the year when in the northern part, the sun doesn't rise," Finland comments.
Arizona gasps. "Just like Alaska!" she squeals in excitement.
Finland chuckles.
The sounds of the car and talking helps Russia's mind relax, and with America there, he feels himself begin to drift off.
The motion of the car helps too. He forgot how relaxing riding in a train or car could be. He fights sleep, forcing his eyes back open.
"It's getting really warm in here," Finland comments.
"Oh, sorry Ma'am," Texas says, "it's just most of us are more used to the warmer weather."
"'Sides, Russia probably needs the extra heat. But if it bothers you too much, we could change it," Kansas offers.
"No, it's alright for now," Finland says, "I'll be fine."
"Alright. Well, just let us know if you want us to change it, okay?" Arizona says.
More chatter continues, and the radio plays softly under the talking.
"Russ," America mutters, stroking his hair, "you can sleep. I can tell you're tired. Don't worry, we'll figure this out. And once you and I are all healed up, we'll stop those b****rds from hurting anyone else. I promise."
America's smile sends Russia swimming in his feelings of affection and, dare he say, love.
His mouth twitches into a small smile, the most expression he can manage with his stiff cheeks. America beams back in response. America kisses his hand and places it on Russia's forehead.
"I can't wait until you can talk again, I miss your voice," America whispers.
Russia drifts to sleep, his mind holding thoughts of hope and love.
~
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Puppets - XLIV - Confessions
They walk together to keep watch, and Russia listens closely to the sounds around them. He also notices America's nervous look. He pulls him a little closer, and America's face flushes red. Russia shuffles a little closer with a small smile. America playfully headbutts him.
Russia laughs and rubs the side of his head. He lets go of America's hand and begins scanning the surroundings. America does the same.
"Do you hear anything?" America asks over his shoulder.
"No. Not yet. We should still stay. I don't want the children to get hurt," Russia replies.
Russia had expected America to agree. Instead, America doesn't reply. He turns around and sees America staring at him with a look of wonder that morphs into a goofy smile.
"What?"
"Nothing. Nothing," America replies dismissively.
Russia smiles back, and America's face turns pink as he looks away.
'He's cute.'
Russia smiles wider at the thought but forces his attention back onto the shadows around him.
"Can you make the light any brighter?"
"Yeah. Hold on."
After a moment, the walls farther down the passage are illuminated by light blue. Russia frowns.
"This doesn't look right," Russia says, backing up a little.
America hums, and they back into each other.
"We should go back to the others. Now," America demands.
Russia agrees and hurries behind him. They reenter the room, which, for better or worse, hasn't changed.
"What's wrong? Did you see something?" Finland questions.
"No. But stuff definitely changed," America says.
"Like the walls?" Philippines asks, his voice shaking slightly.
America nods.
"What do y'all mean the walls changed?" Texas exclaims.
"We mean exactly what we said. The hallways changed. I don't think we would be able to backtrack anywhere," America explains.
"You don't seem at all surprised about that bulls***. Has the happened before?" Massachusetts says.
"Yes. We were..manipulated. There was a lot of magic involved," America says, his words choppy.
Russia looks over, concerned. America looks down at his feet and chews on his lip. After running a hand through his hair, America continues.
"It was a whirlwind. And whatever is behind that door is responsible."
"Well, we don't know that," Canada remarks.
"What do you mean? Why else would that be there?"
"All I'm saying is that maybe we'll find some allies too."
"Probably not," Russia interjects, shaking his head.
"Thank you. Anyway, how close are we to reaching it?"
"We're getting close, but it's taking a while," Louisiana reports from the rock pile. She precariously stands on the top and reaches for the door. It is about a meter out of her reach.
"Well, we should finish and get out of here," America says, and he waves the states and Philippines away to continue collecting rocks. Finland and Canada follow.
"Hey Mass," America calls.
"Yeah?"
"It is alright if I dismiss my light?"
"Sure. Go ahead."
America sighs and shakes his hand, extinguishing the light.
"Why did you do that?" Russia asks, gesturing with his hand.
"What? Shake it? Oh. That's just 'cause I'm tired. It's easier to put out that way," America replies, before looking away.
"Are you feeling alright?"
"Yeah. I'll be fine."
"How's your pain?"
"It's...to be honest, it's getting a lot worse."
Russia looks over with a concerned frown and offers him a hand. America takes it with a tight squeeze. America's face falls into a grimace, and he turns away from the states. He reaches around with his other arm and clutches at his stomach.
"God, it hurts."
"You should tell them."
"I know. I know," America mutters, waving him off.
America tightens his grip on Russia's hand, and Russia's fingers ache, but he doesn't pull away. America leans over, gripping his torso. Russia's eyebrows furrow and he puts a hand on America's shoulder. America sighs.
"It comes and goes. Most of the time it's bearable. You know, I can ignore it, mostly. Sure, it makes me tired, and just thinking about climbing anything makes me want to throw up, but it's okay. But now... Now I might just cry," America mumbles through clenched teeth.
"It feels like I'm being pulled apart," America whimpers, his voice cracking.
Russia leans over and gently traces circles on America's back. He tries to stay calm but seeing him in so much pain has his mind in a panic.
"Is there anything I can do to help you?" Russia asks, a bit of desperation creeping into his voice.
"No," America says between breaths, "not really. I just... I just have to wait it out."
Russia watches on, feeling helpless. He looks around the room for some kind of help and catches Canada's eye. Canada swiftly walks over.
"Aim?" Canada asks, panic showing in his voice.
"Russ, can you..?" America huffs. Russia nods and looks up to meet Canada's eyes.
"He's been having civil unrest. He says it's been getting worse," Russia explains.
"Oh no," Canada breaths.
"I'll be okay," America says with a pained gasp, waving Canada off, "I just need a minute. Go help them."
Canada gives America a skeptical look and Russia a lost one. Russia nods before returning his attention to America.
America's breathing finally begins to calm down. It still sounds too labored for Russia's liking, but it's better, he decides. America stumbles back to his feet.
"I'm sorry about that," America mutters, looking away.
"Hey," Russia says gently, "that was not your fault. Don't apologize."
"But-"
"No. It's not your fault," Russia says, leaving no room for argument. America begins to sway, and Russia grabs his shoulders to steady him.
America sighs, his head tucked against his chest. Russia watches, and his heart clenches when he sees a few tears fall from America's face. He pulls America closer, and America doesn't resist.
"Hey. I'm here. It's not your fault. And it's only a little bit longer until we get out of here," Russia whispers.
America takes a deep, stuttering breath and forces it out in a short burst. He looks up, and Russia feels his heart freeze at the tears running down his face. America tries to swipe them away but only manages to smear them across his face.
Russia couldn't take it anymore. He chokes back his own emotions and pulls America into a bear hug. America clings to him and silently cries into his chest. Butterflies fill his stomach at the close contact, but he swallows them back.
'No. Now is not the time. Comfort first.'
America sniffles and pulls away. Russia releases his grip but stays close.
"Heh. Thanks," America says with a sniff, "that helped."
America flashes him a watery grin, and Russia swallows back his emotions to return a gentle smile.
His body burns with anger. He feels enraged by the world, the cameras, the person behind this, and whatever was causing America so much pain.
Rage boils up his throat. It burns on its way up like acid, and his eyesight takes on a reddish tinge. He forcefully swallows it back and blinks away the furious and frustrated tears that begin to collect behind his eyes. His chest burns with scalding hot fury.
He feels the need to lash out at the world that put them here, like this. But looking at America, he knew he can't. He had to be stable. He had to be here.
"Russia?" America calls quietly, reaching out a hand.
Russia realizes that he had been glaring daggers into the walls in front of him. He blinks it away and buries the feelings deep in his chest. He feels them eating away at him, but he refuses to take them out on anyone like America or the kids. He can't lash out. Not now.
"I'm okay. I'm here," Russia replies.
Then he hears someone approaching them.
"Is dad gonna be okay? Canada said that he wasn't doin' so good," Texas says from behind him.
Russia turns and sees Texas standing with his siblings just behind him. He smiles at their concern.
'Sweet children.'
"Yeah, kiddos. I'm fine. I'm just..."
Russia gives him an expectant look, and America looks away.
"There's some civil unrest in all the states and it's getting worse. I'll be okay, I promise."
"WHAT?!" Massachusetts exclaims, pushing his way to the front, "And you didn't motherf***ing tell us?!"
"I didn't want you to worry,"
The states go quiet. Philippines sighs.
"You could've still told us," Philippines mutters.
"Listen, I'll be fine. You guys should finish up stacking the rocks. Stay close though," America says dismissively.
The states and Philippines look unsure but ultimately agree. They leave, but Russia catches them glancing back with concern.
"Listen, Russ," America starts. He reaches out and pulls RUssia over by his hand. Russia stares at him in shock and he feels his face heat up and the butterflies come back at full force.
"But before anything happens, Russia.."
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"I like you. A lot. Maybe it's just my nerves getting to me, but I have to tell you before we go through that d*** door."
America goes quiet for a moment before continuing with a sigh.
"Listen, if we get out of here. I want to give us a chance."
Russia's mind spins and his mouth goes dry. His heart does flips in his chest.
America begins pulling away.
"I mean, if you don't feel the same we don't-"
Russia pulls him back.
"America, you never let me answer."
America looks away, his face reddening.
"I would love to give a relationship a try."
America looks up at him with tears in his eyes, but a wide smile growing across his face, and he pulls him into a tight hug. America is shaking slightly, and Russia gathers him up. He holds on tightly, as if to pull him back together. He can't tell if America is laughing or crying.
They would make it out of here alive.
'I will make sure of it.'
~
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Puppets - XXXIX - Desperate Ease
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Russia limps alongside Texas. He felt so tired. He drags his feet forward, and Texas shuffles beside him. He begins nodding off, and his head dips forward. He stumbles, and his arms flail out. He squints at the light blue light reflecting off the wall.
'Rest,' his mind demands.
'Walk,' he responds.
He's tempted to ask America to stop for a moment but initially shakes it off. His leg throbs and his arms hang at his sides. The world blurs to black. He forces his eyes open.
With every step, it gets harder to keep his eyes open. Soft dripping echoes from somewhere below. He blinks sluggishly. He swallows.
"America?" Russia mumbles. His voice is much quieter than he expected.
America doesn't respond.
"Meri?" Russia calls.
"Huh?" America replies, turning his head.
"Can we rest? *Please?*"
"Yeah. I... yeah."
"But we have to keep moving," Finland argues.
"We ain't gonna get too far if Ruski over here passes out," Texas retorts.
Finland scoffs. Russia wants to glare at her, but he doesn't have the energy to hold his head up.
"I think we should take a bit of a break," Canada agrees.
"If we are going to stop, we should do it somewhere less visible," Finland relents.
Russia stumbles after their talking. When they stop walking, he squints and meets America's eyes. Scanning around, he sees Canada setting Massachusetts onto the ground next to Texas and Philippines.
He falls to the ground and slumps back against one of the rock pillars behind him. He winces when his head hits the stone. He sinks back. He hears someone sit next to him. He opens one eye and sees America sitting beside him.
Purple overtakes blue, and Louisiana stands up with Finland.
"We will keep watch," Finland says.
"Us girls got it from here. Get some sleep. Y'all need it," Louisiana adds.
Russia shifts. He kicks up and pushes against the pillars. He pulls his legs up to his chest, and he hugs them. He tries to doze off, but his mind focuses on the rocks prodding his back. He grits his teeth. He drops his arms and kicks his aching legs out. He feels too exhausted to find a better place to sit, but he feels too restless to sleep.
"Are you okay?" America asks quietly.
"I'm just uncomfortable," Russia mumbles back.
"Come 'ere," America says.
Russia feels his face grow a little warm. He meets America's eyes. America smiles. America leans into a corner between the strange pseudo wall and the wall of the cave. Russia leans over, and America pulls him in. Russia tenses when America hugs him to his chest. His eyes shoot open, and his face burns. He couldn't help noticing that he's positioned in America's lap.
Russia takes a deep breath and tries to distract himself. He stares up at the purple-tinged ceiling. He leans his head back onto America's chest and listens to his heartbeat. He closes his eyes and listens.
Strong.
Steady.
Warm.
Rest.
Russia groggily opens his eyes when someone gently shakes him awake.
"Hey, You gotta wake up."
America's chest vibrates as he speaks.
Russia shifts. His mind feels fuzzy. He feels warm. He pulls away and sits up.
"Come on. Louisiana wants us to keep watch."
Russia looks around and realizes he's sitting against America's leg. He scrambles away, feeling flustered. He hurriedly stands up and dusts himself off. America stands beside him.
"Hey, I'm not that scary," America teases.
Russia laughs nervously.
"Come on," America says with a smile.
They walk around the pillars, and Russia sees Louisiana sitting on the floor and Finland standing nearby.
"You guys can go get some rest. We got it from here," America says, summoning a ball of light.
Russia paces around the area and grows antsy. He hasn't heard anything strange, but the lack of conflict feels out of place. He also notices that America nervously fidgets with his clothes.
"Ya know, with all this. There was one thing that I didn't realize would be a big deal," America says suddenly.
"What are you talking about?" Russia says, eager to take his mind off the unnerving silence around them.
"I knew I would miss the kids—God, what I wouldn't do to get out of here and go home. I'd bring those dumb***es with me, of course. I knew when I left that I would miss them. But I didn't realize how much I would miss the sky."
America leans against a cave wall, facing the states, but looking up. Russia walks closer and stands nearby, listening with interest.
"'cause I miss it. Not just the sky, though. Just.. everything about it. Outer space is so free. So open. And the stars are beautiful."
America goes quiet for a moment before continuing.
"And the moon. I always loved the moon. It was amazing. I'd watch it every night with Canada until one of us falls asleep. Canada never really liked it too much, but he didn't wanna be alone."
America chuckles.
"My people made it up there."
Russia doesn't miss the tone of the wonder in his voice.
"But mine were the first ones in space," Russia replies with a smirk.
"Oh shut up," America replies, shoving Russia's shoulder. Russia laughs.
"I'm sure your dad hates me for being the first one on the moon," America reflects with a grin.
"No."
"Really?"
"Well, he was mad, but not really at you or your people. He was more frustrated that he couldn't do it first. He took it out on you."
America laughs.
They fall quiet. Russia scans his surroundings and strains his ears for out of place sounds, but static-y fuzz fills his mind, and his eyes cause shadows to dance.
"Do you like the stars?" America asks, his voice slicing through the static.
"Not as much as my father, but I did find them interesting. The constellations were fun to map out."
America chuckles. Another thought comes to mind, and Russia almost immediately dismisses it for his pride's sake. But after a short pause, he finds himself blurting it out to fill the space in the conversation.
"The only reason I started mapping out constellations was because my Papa loved mapping out the stars, and I wanted to be just like him when I was young," Russia admits, averting his eyes. He feels an embarrassed smile creep across his face.
"Awww! How cute!" America coos playfully.
Russia feels his face grow even warmer, and he tucks his head against his chest. He regrets saying anything.
"Speaking of your dad, how old is he anyways? He said something cryptic before, something like 'I'm older than you know,' or something like that."
"It is complicated."
"What do you mean 'it's complicated?'"
"Well, most countries are 'born' shortly before they are established."
"Yeah... and?"
"Well, my father was one of the exceptions. He was... 'allies' with the Russian Empire, but I think the Russian Empire was older than him. I believe the flag he wore at the time was that of the merchants. I'm not sure about the details. My father doesn't speak much about when he was young, but he was at least a few hundred years old before he took the 'USSR' flag and emblem. I only have fuzzy memories of what we looked like when I was young. But the old portraits do show that he didn't always have his current flag."
"Huh. Never would've guessed."
Russia shrugs.
"I've asked about his changing of flags, but he always said that it was normal for a country to go through a few flags," Russia comments.
"Huh."
Russia glances at America's face, and he doesn't seem so happy anymore. America's face looks sad. The expression reminds Russia of children orphaned in war times. A look of loneliness and longing.
"What's wrong?"
America looks over and offers a grin.
"It's nothing, Russ. Don't worry about it. I'm just gonna sit down if that's all good with you."
"Go ahead."
Russia remains on his feet and paces around the small area that America illuminates.
'It's too quiet.'
He supposes he should be grateful, but suspicion and anxiety grow in place of terror.
'I want to see my family again,' Russia thinks.
'I have to get out of here.'
He looks back at America and the people sleeping just behind the short rock wall.
'I have to get us out of here.'
~
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Puppets - XXXII - Player Six
Russia tries to relax, but he can hear creatures scramble around them just out of sight. He feels very grateful that they had a light; he doesn't want to know what those creatures are here to do. Russia feels Texas sit up and sees him experimentally use his arm, but he hisses and relaxes.
"How's it look?" Texas asks, gesturing to his shoulder with his good arm.
Louisiana leans over and unwraps his wound. There is still swollen, angry tissue visible. Still, the sharper edges had begun stitching themselves back together.
"Ya shouldn't use it, but I think you'll be alright. You feelin' okay?" Louisiana asks, rewrapping the wound.
"It still hurts, but I'll be good. Y'all wanna start lookin' around?" Texas suggests and begins to stand.
"Wait," Massachusetts says, removing his sweatshirt and uses it to tie a makeshift sling, "that should help."
"Thanks," Texas mumbles, and he ducks his head for Massachusetts to secure it.
Canada looks at Russia. "Can you stand?" Canada asks.
Russia shrugs, and using the wall for support, he stands. His leg had stopped bleeding an hour ago, but it is still painful to stand. He limps for a few steps before he gives up using the leg; instead, he sinks against the wall.
"You can lean against me," Canada suggests, "We shouldn't stay in one place for too long."
Russia agrees. Canada comes over and ducks under his arm. Suddenly, Massachusetts' head perks up, and he scrutinizes the area around them.
"I sense Dad's magic. It's faint, but it's here," he says enthusiastically, " he's gotta be here somewhere!"
"Well, what are y'all waiting for? Let's go!" Texas exclaims, rushing forward toward the opening in the wall.
"Wait," Louisiana interrupts, and Texas turns his head to give Louisiana an annoyed look. "We shouldn't go runnin' into this. Illusion magic is everywhere. Might mean that the walls and rooms change," she advises.
"What're we gonna do then? We can't just do nothing!" Texas exclaims.
"Tex, chill. We will go soon, but we havta be careful," Massachusetts replies. Texas huffs in response but slows his stride none the less.
"We should have Mass lead the way, eh? He's the one who senses America's signature," Canada suggests, and Massachusetts takes this as his opportunity to step in front of Texas with a smirk. Texas looks disgruntled but doesn't say anything.
Walking out of the room, Russia finds that a series of deep tunnels surround them. Some looked planned, with rail tracks built into the dirt and stone, but others look like someone had given a child a drill, with messy outlines and strange angles. They continue walking along a set of rail tracks until the path begins to deteriorate the farther they walk visibly.
Seeing that it is getting risky to proceed down the same route, Massachusetts looks around their position, and they backtrack to where the path was up against the wall. In the wall, there is a gaping tunnel a good three times Russia's height. The opening radiates humidity and heat. There is a step up into it around three feet off the ground, and Canada and Louisiana help Russia and Texas up and over the step.
Russia looks around at the murky darkness and the muddy sides that occasionally come into view. He wants to walk by himself but knows that it isn't possible in his current status.
The green glow leaks into only a few of the crevices buried in suffocating darkness only illuminated bare details. Looking around, Russia wishes he had been able to keep his flashlight because the shadows in the corners of his vision keep spiking his heartrate.
The faint light is definitely preferred over complete darkness, but Russia thinks that it could be a little more radiant. Even still, Russia ultimately decides against asking Massachusetts to make a brighter light, as the green glow cast along the walls is enough to see what he needs to, and he knows that Massachusetts already exhausted most of his magic before they were taken.
Russia's nerves also aren't helped by the scuttling things that remain just out of view. He shivers. He hears distant screeching that echos from around them, too distant to locate. The heat and humidity get more intense with every step, and Russia is beginning to get uncomfortable. The states don't seem to be affected by the change in the climate.
"It's getting hot, eh?" Canada comments with a chuckle.
"Yeah, a little," Massachusetts replies with a shrug.
"It's the humidity that's gettin' to me," Texas interjects.
"Well, I think you're just weak," Massachusetts retorts.
"HEY!" Texas exclaims.
"Will both of y'all just settle down!" Louisiana exclaims. Once her brothers quiet down, she turns to the countries, "do y'all need a break? I know y'all aren't used to warmer temperatures," she asks.
"No, I think we're fine," Canada replies.
Louisiana grins, "well, y'all let us know if y'all need anythin'," she says.
Suddenly, Massachusetts stops walking.
"Wha-" Texas starts, but Massachusetts shushes him before he could finish.
"Show yourself!" Massachusetts demands.
After a moment, a face pokes out from behind a nearby rock formation. Their flag is white with a blue cross. Texas readies himself to attack, but Massachusetts signals for him to stand down.
"Tell us who you are where we can see you," Massachusetts directs.
"I'm Finland," the figure responds while emerging from behind the pillar. Finland approaches them slowly, her head swiveling around, searching for any signs of danger.
"Finland? What are you doing down here?" Canada asks, perplexed.
"I was shopping with Sweden. He went into the shop, and I stayed outside. I was taken," she explains, staring at Massachusetts hands. "How are you doing that?" she asks.
"My dad taught me," Massachusetts replies, "are you okay?"
"I have been in the dark for a very long time," she replies.
"Hey, it's okay. Y'all can stay with us," Louisiana offers.
"Thank you," Finland replies, relieved. She walks around Massachusetts immediately notices Russia. Russia looks up and feels a little sheepish. He had never got along with Finland, especially not since they had fought in The Winter War.
She smiles."Hello Russia, are you alright?" she asks.
"I have a wound on my leg," he answers.
She hums in acknowledgment before turning to the rest of the group, "you seem to be looking for something," she prompts.
"We're lookin' for dad," Texas replies. Finland looks at him, confused by the sentiment.
"We're looking for America," Massachusetts corrects, and realization flashes in Finland's eyes.
"He has children?" she asks, bewildered.
"Yup. This is Texas and Massachusetts. I'm Louisiana," Louisiana introduces. Finland hums in thought before shrugging.
"Let's go find your father," she suggests.
Russia doesn't know what to think about Finland's appearance, but he decides that he would play nice, even if just for the states.
~
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Puppets - XXV - Hair-Brained Schemes
The next morning, Russia wakes up much later than he was expecting to. He isn't complaining. He just thinks it's a little odd. He lazily grabs his phone from the nightstand and sees a text from New York, trying to coordinate where they would go next, from a few hours ago.
He unlocks his phone and texts, "*Do you know about any other suspicious activity?*"
A few moments later, his phone buzzes in reply. "*Yes. There have been several reports of strange activity in several cave systems in Colorado. However, I wanted to consult you about how to prioritize them.*"
Then before Russia can reply, it buzzes again. "*Spring Cave is not normally open to the public due to the risk of killing local wildlife. Rangers have reported hearing strange things inside the cave system. It's only open to the public in the spring and closed in August. I might be able to get Colorado to get you special permission to enter. The area is isolated.*"
Russia waits for New York to finish sending all the options, reading through them as they arrive. He notices that Louisiana is sitting up in bed, staring off into the distance, and Massachusetts is still asleep. Then his phone buzzes.
"*There is also a mine in Hastings with a dilapidated ghost town around it. The mine was closed, but some of the tunnels may still be accessible according to Colorado,*" the text read, and his phone buzzes again.
"*The last location you should look into is the Lost Creek Cave System. There has been an unusually large number of reported disappearances in the area, and the rangers refuse to go near the area to investigate. Which one will you be going to?*" New York asks.
"The mineshaft. It is the closest to our current location," Russia replies. He looks down at his phone, startled. Had he really had an entire conversation in Russian with an American state?
"Okay. Let me know your ETA once you leave the hotel. Also, you will probably want camping gear to stay there because you are in one of the last known places where there's lodging available close to the site," New York replies, with no issue with changing languages.
After reading the final text, Russia shuts off his phone. He turns to Louisiana. "How many languages does New York know?" he asks.
She looks up, a little startled, before she flashes him a smile. Her face scrunched briefly out of concentration before she shrugs.
"I don't know. I don't even think Yorky knows, with the immigrants and all that. Dad is the only one I know who knows more."
"America is fluent in more than one language?"
Louisiana scrunched her nose. "It ain't that weird. I speak French, and Texas is fluent in German and Spanish. If y'all want proof of the German, ask him about 'Texas German.' Maybe dad doesn't show it much in front of the other countries, but he understands almost every language in the world," she says flippantly.
"Why haven't I ever heard him speak in a language other than American English?"
"Some of his dialects are weird and kinda old, so he feels embarrassed translating. He understands most languages' modern versions, but Pops speaks like a grandma," Louisiana answers with a shrug.
"I always assumed that he only knew English," Russia admits, feeling a little flustered.
Louisiana laughs. "Nah, if y'all start talking to Dad in a different language, he'll just respond in English. It's really funny to do with Uncle Canada, 'specially in a place where people only speak French, like Quebec."
"What are you guys talking about?" Massachusetts whines through the pillow on his face.
"Dad's languages," Louisiana replies without looking away from Russia.
"Oh. Also, when are we leaving?" Massachusetts asks, sitting up and dropping the cushion into his lap.
"We will leave soon. I will text Canada now," Russia says, pulling out his phone. He sends Canada a short message telling him to get dressed and meet in the main room ASAP. Canada responds immediately with an affirmation, and Russia places his phone back on the nightstand. The three of them take turns to change in the bathroom. Russia goes first, followed by Massachusetts, and Louisiana goes last. Louisiana is fixing her hair when Texas and Canada arrive.
"So y'all ain't gonna believe this!" Texas announces.
"What's goin' on, Tex?" Louisiana asks, smoothing down her hair.
Texas stomps over the bathroom doorway and begins telling his story enthusiastically.
"The clerk threatened to call the cops on me because I was holding this," he waves the large bone in the air, "and he thought I was crazy when I told him I was a state doing state business. I had to ask 'Rado to back me up!" he exclaims, waving his free arm to vent frustration.
"Wow. I wonder why they were so concerned about a crazy person wielding a bone club," Massachusetts comments sarcastically from the edge of his bed.
"Will you shut yer trap!" Texas says, swinging the bone in front of Massachusetts' face threateningly.
"Oh, no. What am I going to do?" Massachusetts dead-pans, staring Texas with an apathetic look.
"Stop. Now," Russia demands, and both states pause before backing up with mumbled apologies.
"So, you have a plan, eh?" Canada asks.
Russia nods. "New York suggested a few locations, and we are going to investigate the closest one. Unfortunately, we will be camping in the area."
"'Camping'?" Massachusetts repeats skeptically.
"I agree with Mass, that ain't a good idea, Russ," Louisiana remarks.
"I mean, what are we even going to camp with?" Massachusetts demands with his arms crossed.
"New York suggested we get camping supplies before going. The area is secluded, and we are staying in the nearest hotel here."
"New York suggested it?!" Louisiana exclaims.
"It's gotta be the only option," Texas concludes quietly.
Massachusetts mutters profanity under his breath, but there is no more outward fighting about the plan. They load up into the car and drive a few miles down to the nearby Walmart to pick up supplies. Russia follows Texas into the store, and they gather supplies, such as a shotgun, shotgun ammo, one large tent, five assorted sleeping bags, a bear-box, and some non-perishable food.
They check-out without issue and pack the supplies into the back of the car with the backpacks. Texas takes the wheel with Louisiana as copilot, and most of them take turns driving an hour at a time. Canada, however, is still not allowed to drive, per the insistence of the passengers.
~
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Puppets - XIII - Near Lethal Car Rides
Russia wakes up to the ringing of his phone next to his head. He sits up and sees the other occupants of the room are already awake. He turns his attention back to his phone and flips it over, identifying the caller as New York.
"Hello?"
"Hey, Russia. Sorry if I woke you up, but I wanted to contact you before you go on another wild goose chase. Searching the mountains hasn't gone too well, according to Colorado."
"It has not," Russia mumbles, rubbing his face, "Do you have any suggestions?"
"Well, I researched the area, and I saw that there hadn't been any suspicious construction projects or anything, but there have been reports of weird noises and disappearances from several cave systems in the area. I'd say that the caves would be a good place to go to investigate. If they are hiding out somewhere, it's probably going to be somewhere in the caverns."
"Okay. Thank you."
New York hangs up, and Russia sits back.
'Caves?'
'It makes sense,' he figures, 'it would be a good place to hide out away from most other people.'
Then, his phone buzzes. Picking it up, he sees that New York had sent a few links to a few articles describing the reports he had mentioned.
"What was that about?" Canada asks.
"New York called to tell us to start investigating the cave systems. He said that it is likely that it is where the countries may be kept," Russia replies with a yawn.
"That makes sense," Massachusetts comments, "and searching in the mountains has only brought trouble," he grumbles.
"Let's get outta here," Texas announces, "this place sucks."
"D*mn right," Louisiana agrees.
They quickly pack their belongings into the car and hurry out.
The clerk looks at them with a furrowed brow and dead eyes.
'Did he expect something to have happened to us?'
Russia shivers and looks away to the wall next to the clerk's head. Canada steps up beside him.
"We are here to check out. How much for the room?"
The clerk doesn't answer, just staring at them with a blank expression. Canada offers a strained smile and digs through his wallet. He pulls out a handful of bills, both American and Canadian, and drops them on the desk before turning around to lead the group back out to the car. Russia follows, but he makes sure not to turn his back entirely on the clerk behind the counter. He can feel the clerk's eyes staring a hole into his back.
Texas hops into the driver's seat, and Russia settles into the passenger seat, prepping to navigate as the others throw bags into the trunk.
'It smells better in here than in the room.'
'At least now, I don't taste mold.'
Texas pulls out of the parking lot as soon as everyone is in their seats, too impatient to wait for them to fasten their seatbelts. A few minutes down the road, they stop for gas before taking off into the mountains once again.
"That clerk was creepy, eh?" Canada comments from the backseat.
Russia nods.
"It looked like he knew somethin' wasn't right bout that place," Louisiana comments, suspicion in her voice.
"Well, he would be right," Massachusetts grumbles.
"What do you mean?" Canada asks.
"Yeah, what are y'all talking about?" Louisiana asks.
Texas tightens his grip on the wheel.
"There was this hand just tapping on the window from outside," Texas says quietly.
Louisiana gasps and whips around to face Massachusetts.
"Mass, did you know about this?"
"They woke me up for it," Massachusetts says sourly, crossing his arms, "it's not like we could do anything about it."
Louisiana scowls but doesn't argue.
"I think we should head for the less commercialized of the caves. The populated area has too much risk," Russia says, interrupting the awkward silence.
Texas hums in agreement.
"Where are we going then?" Canada asks, curious.
"It is a cave system that people don't go in."
"No, I mean, do you have a specific one in mind?"
"Oh. Yes. It doesn't have a name."
"Sounds good enough to me," Texas cuts in, "so, where're we headed?"
"You need to turn around once you can pull over," Russia instructs, and Texas nods in acknowledgment.
"How far away is it?" Massachusetts asks.
"It will take several hours, but it is the best we can do," Russia replies.
He hears a groan from the backseat, but he decides to ignore it.
"Are we gonna be stopping anywhere before the caves?" Louisiana questions.
"There is a hotel near the caves," Russia announces, looking at his phone.
"So we're gunning it," Texas summarizes.
Russia nods, and Texas sighs but doesn't stop. After a few minutes, Texas pulls over and turns around.
"You are going to follow this road, and then go left when the road splits," Russia instructs.
Canada takes over driving at dusk, and for the first few hours after sundown, it's quiet.
'Something isn't right.'
Texas curls up in a ball, sleeping in the seat behind Russia, and Massachusetts stares out the window behind Canada. Lousiana sits back in the backseat dozing off.
Russia keeps his eyes out for anything unusual, and he spots something strange in the middle of the road. The car slows to a crawl.
"What is that?" Canada mutters.
Massachusetts looks up and his eyes go wide.
"Just drive past it," Massachusetts whispers back, alarmed, "now."
The car continues to slow. Russia nudges Canada's arm.
"We need to go," Russia insists, taking nervous glances at the lump of shadow.
Canada doesn't acknowledge him, staring blankly at the creature as it begins to unfold itself. Tens of thousands of limbs seem to stretch out from the darkness.
"Uncle!" Massachusetts exclaims, "We have to go!"
It unfurls, and its whole body lights up with small, pale red eyes. Russia's heart skips a beat and sinks into his stomach. He frantically shoves Canada's shoulder.
"Go!" Russia demands, his voice booming.
Canada jumps and the car jerks forward suddenly. Russia's back slams into his seat. Canada swerves around the creature and the engine roars. He barely manages to avoid the guard rail. Louisiana shouts something and Massachusetts shrieks.
"We're gonna go fly'n off the road!" Texas screams, clawing at the handle above the door.
"Slow down!" Russia shouts above the chaos.
Canada slams on his brakes. Russia flies forward and chokes when his seatbelt locks. The tires screech and the car began to spin. He slams back into the seat once the car comes to a stop. Russia's head spins, and he tries to orient himself.
Canada must have regained control last minute because they were still facing the correct direction on the road and hadn't tumbled over the railing.
"Okay, I vote that Canada is not allowed to drive anymore," Massachusetts calls, poking his head around the back of the passenger seat.
"I second that!" Texas exclaims, his hands still clamped on the handle and clutching his hat.
"We have to get out of here before we can change anythin'," Louisiana points out.
"But-"
"No, I ain't lettin' anybody open a God d*mn door until we get away from whatever that thing was," Louisiana insists.
'Canada is shaking,' Russia notices, 'I don't think he will be able to drive.'
"I will drive now," Russia states.
"That don't sound anything like a good idea!" Louisiana argues.
"We can't just sit here," Russia replies, "Canada is shaking too hard to drive anywhere."
Louisiana scowls and crosses her arms.
"I will be quick," Russia says before turning to Canada, "crawl over the center console as soon as I get out."
Canada nods silently.
Russia exits the car. The night air is cold, biting at his face. He almost sighs at the familiarity. He walks briskly in front of the headlights and tries to ignore the strange electric and smoky taste in the wind. He quickly sits in the driver's seat and restarts the car.
Canada mutters apologies into his hands.
'Do I say something? I should probably say something.'
"It's okay," Russia says.
"Yeah, Uncle Canada. You just ain't allowed to be drivin' again," Louisiana chimes in with a nervous giggle.
"I don't think any of you will let me, eh?" Canada jokes.
"H*ll nah!" Texas exclaims.
They laugh.
The laughter reminds Russia of America when he would try to calm himself down.
'The states could learn something like that from their parent.'
As he pulls off into the hotel's general area, Russia sleepily looks around the shops and gas stations.
'We could pick up supplies before leaving again.'
Canada gets them checked into the nice-looking hotel, and Russia stumbles to the larger of the rooms. Massachusetts and Louisiana follow in behind him and claim the beds, and Russia settles on the pull-out couch.
Russia can barely keep his eyes open long enough to set up the blankets, and he completely gives up on the sheet. He falls into it, trying to ignore his headache long enough to fall asleep.
'I hope America is okay.'
~
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