Echo, My Fireworks
Another birthday, another year of being sick.
England wasn't having the best trip of his life, but he had promised he was going to do something this year than laze about at home. The day before he spent the entirety of with Canada, the poor boy was ecstatic at someone coming over to celebrate his birthday with him. Of course America, Cuba, the Netherlands, and a few others came by - of this from Canada himself - but it was nice to have someone stay for more than just a few hours for the festivities.
With how the boy turned out, England was sure he should have spoiled him more as a colony.
So now, officially July the third, England was on his way to meet America for his birthday. The flight was not what worried England, it was more of the fact that he was going to get sick again simply for the fact that America's independence was not good for his body. Unlike Canada's nice retraction from him and whom asked for his independence, the bloody war that America's caused still had him aching in some not-so-nice places. But this year England promised the Queen that he was sure he would be just fine.
Even as the plane began to touch down, England was beginning to have second thoughts about this. America had celebrated his birthday some weeks back in June ("Dude, come on, Mother Nature is bein' a bitch right now!") so there would be no interruption from other nations, but the main fact that they could barely go five minutes without irritating the other was worrisome.
England sighed at the sight of the airport. 'God damn it, I'm too old for this,' he thought, and proceeded to get all of his things ready for departure. No matter where he went or which airplane company he traveled with, everyone was a bastard who had to push and shove.
The entire trip of getting off the plane, getting his luggage, and getting to America was a complete blur for England. The constant buzzing of his nerves kept ringing in his ears, which made him pay a closer attention to where he was walking than what was actually going on.
The last time he visited America for his birthday went rather south as he kept getting sick; never mind the fact that France kept showing him up with all his fancy gifts. England liked to think that America was the same in that retrospect as America was never too easily swayed by pretty things when he was younger. Nonetheless, this birthday marked a very special occasion that England would have to be a dick to pass up: America finally legalizing gay marriage. America had called every single one them to tell them all the good news - even Russia, as odd as that conversation must have been - as if they hadn't heard when it was first announced.
England wanted to spend the good news and lovely weekend with America, to not just wish him a happy birthday in person, but to see how he was feeling after such an announcement. He wouldn't talk politics, God no, but if America wasn't feeling well, then none of them were feeling well - that was just how it was.
So caught up in everything that was going on, England was taken by surprise by a loud yell and heavy thump on his back. It became apparent to him, while he lied face-down on the floor with America laughing behind him, that maybe he should be weary by everything during this trip.
The two didn't really do anything until the next day, since America was getting everything ready while England just wanted to rest for a bit. However, America made sure to "make up" everything they didn't do Friday on Saturday by going to the nearest park to enjoy the day.
England was a little impressed, though he would be caught dead than actually telling America that, with how everything and everyone came together. Families and friends were every where and laughter was high pitched and full of life. However, because England was trailing behind America as he tried to catch a glimpse of everything, England failed to notice a crucial thing before it was too late.
"Oh, hell no, I am not eating that rubbish you call food, tradition or not!" England looked at the plate America held with distaste before switching his gaze to America himself.
America, on the other hand, was so going to get England to eat his food whether he wanted to or not. "Oh, come on! It's a BBQ, it's not like it's going to grow legs and walk around like your food does!"
Leaving a spluttering England behind, America turned and called out, "Yo, Celine!" to a woman a few yards back.
Hearing the yell, the dark haired woman in question hollered back, "What do you need now, Jones?"
"Babe, we got a foreigner who never had great homemade American food, mind teachin' him a thing or two?" America completely ignored England's very loud complaining in favor of the brunette manning the grill.
When America heard the woman yell, "Hell yeah, bring the chump over!" he whooped and punched the air, so sure that England would be eating his words with the food.
America turned back to England and grinned in delight, "Looks like you, as a gentleman, wouldn't dare turn down a lady, right~?" Never was America happier that England was a grade-A stubborn mule.
Appalled at what had just happened, England stomped passed America to the grill. Snickering, America followed while taking a bite out of the hamburger he had gotten while England was distracted. Following slowly behind, America was able to see the bright blush on England's cheek as Celine made sure the Englishman got a little bit of everything they had to offer. So, when England came back, he and America switched plates so that England wouldn't die of over-eating and so America wouldn't be hungry later.
After they fixed their portions, America and England walked around the park and let the sky grow darker with each passing activity. There was plenty of things to do as all the people there brought something; whether it was food or games, no one came empty handed. While England stayed back and watched the proceedings, slowly getting drunk off of the beer someone brought, America was the one running around with the kids and teenagers whether it was throwing a football around or playing tag.
However, when it was getting closer and closer to seven o'clock and when the fireworks would start, England found his drunken state working against him. As when America yelled out duck, the only thing he could do was turn before getting nailed in the forehead with a wild Frisbee. Right before he blacked out, England heard, "Holy shit, I hope he forgets this later!"
Forty minutes later England woke up to the feeling of soft grass beneath him with stars above and murmured chatter everywhere he turned. Shifting, he groaned, his forehead throbbing with a dull ache and wondered where the hell he was.
"Ah! Finally, dude, I was wondering when you were gonna wake up!" Narrowing his eyes, England glanced to his right. Sure enough, there was America, legs spread out and arms behind him to hold him up. The American was looking at him and grinning and England wondered what in the name of the Queen did he have to smile about.
Apparently England didn't look awake enough as America pulled him into a sitting position by his right arm and pointed to the sky with both of their arms and said, "Come on, look up! You're literally about to miss the fireworks and they're the best part!"
Turning from America to face the sky, England wondered what they would be like for a split second before his world went up in a blaze. The fire, the explosion, the bangs, the screams; all of it was far too much. He was too old, he had seen too much; this was not the cry of joy at a picnic but a war zone willed with yells of pain.
England blanched and ran shaking to the first place he knew: America. America, who was right beside him, who had protected him and his country before; England turned and buried himself in America's arms, asking him for his protection once again. To please, please, please, help his citizens from the Germans, the French, the Scottish, the whoever that was invading this time.
"Hey, Iggy?" Under normal circumstances England would have hit him upside the head for calling him by that horrid nickname, but something in America's voice mixed with his own fear kept him silent. "You know, there's a funny thing about fireworks. They echo a lot; you'd be able to hear them even if you didn't see a thing. Did you know that guns don't echo?" England sharply inhaled at the question and glanced up at America.
The only thing England saw was understanding; America completely understood his sudden fear and tension and didn't call him out on it. America was helping him through this, helping him through what was going on behind his eyes. As the fireworks continued on and America continued to hold him steady, he whispered dates and times. America talked to him about recent things from every country, including England's. He talked as the loud pops and bangs went on and screams called out for more.
England, thanks to America, finally got it that was he here now. He was not in any war, not with France or with Germany or with Scotland, he was in New York City watching the fireworks with his little brother. That was what he was doing. Soon enough, England was able to pull away from America's arms and face the sky; see it light up with greens and reds and blues and whites and yellows. He oohed and aahed with the best of them and watched as people weren't arguing for once; they just sat and watched with happiness like they were to do.
However, all that England could do was glance to America and smile. He truly believed that they would always be brothers, no matter what conspired between them. That America would help England when he needed it or reassure him that, yes, he is here now. He is not in any war, not any more. So while the fireworks continued to blaze on and illuminate all that lied beneath them, England could only think: Thank you, America. I truly appreciate it.
England, however, did not appreciate the hangover he got the next morning.
While he was groaning to himself about the state of his head, what he was truly complaining about was how he acted the night before. Surely he couldn't go a single day on the bloody 4th of July without embarrassing himself to death?! So, in spite of how much of an utter twat he thought he was, England made sure to add a little more force to his pitiful groans and blamed everything on the alcohol when he finally managed to drag himself out of bed and down the stairs to the kitchen.
Thankfully America bought his white lie - because part of that pain was from alcohol and this time he meant it when he said he wouldn't drink again - and went on with breakfast blessedly quiet.
England wasn't too sure what happened, but one moment he was cursing Queen Mary and then King Phillips and then he had pancake in his mouth. From the familiar taste, England was almost shocked to see America sitting across from him instead of Canada. The Brit was sure this was the exact same flavor as Canada's - he had the things four days ago, he was absolutely positive.
Apparently his complete confusion showed a bit too obviously as America took one look at his face and nearly choked on his laughter. Face burning, England ducked his head while he swore up a storm, insulting America not on just his face but his economy and bad liquor while he was there.
All the while America was rolling his eyes at the other man's tirade, smirking as England went on and on about how "bad" of a time he had while there. It wasn't until England was winding down that America's eyes narrowed in upset confusion and he sat a little straighter, face growing paler as England ranted on about how bad his headache was, how much the whiskey from his place was better, and how it was absolute rubbish that he couldn't remember a thing from the night before.
America slapped his hands flat against the smooth surface of the table, his palms stuck to the wood as he heaved himself out of his chair, all of his weight braced in his shoulders and arms. England jumped at the echoed slap and snapped his head up, only to have his eyes captured by America's stricken look. England raised a thick eyebrow in "question" to America's reaction and internally begged that the taller man did not notice the cold sweat on the back of his neck and the lies between his teeth. England could not go on and continue to look at America in the face knowing that he knew what a sentimental bastard he was.
Hoping to be done with this quickly and painlessly, England asked, "What on Earth are you standing up for?" He hoped blaming his supposed forgotten memory on being drunk would work like a charm, because, if not, he was royally screwed. Never would he force his familial affections on America and expect that the younger country would be comfortable with it!
On the other side of the table, America was disappointed. After everything they went through both together and apart, the one time they acted like brothers in centuries England forgot about it?! He didn't mind that it happened per se, but America had hoped that maybe this was the beginning of bringing their family back together. But perhaps this was the true sign, that their family was suppose to stay separate; across oceans and land and emotions, separate.
So, instead of walking up to England and shaking the man's shoulders back into memory like he wanted to, America sat back down, hands still braced. England looked at him, worried, but in the next moment America started to laugh.
All of his laughter was filled with America's pent up frustration and disappointment; he laughed to have a way to get all those emotions out. England, however, saw America laughing at him and felt relief that everything was back to normal.
England started to reprimand America for his noisiness while America shot him down time and time again as they continued breakfast. America told England how the pancakes were extras that Canada had given to him on the first while England told America how shoddy his alcohol is if people can't even enjoy the time when they are drinking it and the next day.
They bickered back and forth for an hour, practically stalling England's departure back home, even as the taxi company called to let them know that a driver was on his way. However, no matter how normal everything felt, beneath the surface there was something wrong and England could feel it. He rushed to get his things down the stairs, yelling to America about how if England missed his flight, the American better be ready to pay for another ticket to London.
As he made his way out the door and down the cement steps of America's old brownstone, England stopped at the curb, taxi waiting, and turned to wave. Then, without seeing if America even noticed, he climbed in the yellow car and shut the door.
Inside the taxi, England pulled out an old photograph, one used to mark the occasion of England's birthday years ago - so long ago that he was sure all of those in attendance forgot about it besides him. In the picture was him, America, Canada, and France; all of them smiling as they celebrated together. England let his fingertips ghost over their faces, all wide and happy, and let himself smile. It was a small, sad smile that spoke of just how old this blond Englishman was, and he hoped that one day his feelings of love for the other men in the photo could be returned.
As for America, he was still standing by the window, even after England was long gone. America simply stood there, a frown on his face, concealed by the blinds, and wished that the next they all met, they would be a family. America sighed and let the blinds go and stepped back from the window.
He guessed his birthday wish wasn't going to come true again.