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Another Place to Fall

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It was a cold and darkening day when he came to that place. He’d been to the country a few times in the past, for diplomacy’s sake. During those times, the air was always warm, the sea ushering in a warm breeze, the waters such a bright blue it was almost blinding to look at it. Now, the sky was a dark grey and the ocean an even darker grey. When he arrived at Greece’s house, the garden was overgrown with dead weeds and plants. The pathway was covered in weeds and in stains that Japan suspected might have been dried blood.

He moved briskly up to the door, feet stomping over the grimy, stained stones. The clouds lolled overhead, an endless sheet of grey as he paused before the threshold, standing on what once had been a white landing.

When he knocked on the door, it nearly splintered beneath his fist. He stood, calm.

The door slowly swept open, one inch at a time. In the silence, the loud creek thundered across the yard and landing, shattering the silence as briskly as a gunshot. Japan didn’t move an inch as the door opened a fraction and green eyes stared back at him through the crack in the door. The eyes were narrowed, inquisitive, before they seemed to flicker in recognition. There was a moment of continued silence. The eyes narrowed further, suspicious, before relaxing. The door crept open one more inch.

Greece was skinnier than he remembered. He looked half-starved. Bony fingers gripped his cross. His hair was limp and ragged and overgrown. His clothing was messy and dirty and torn in places. His face was pale, cuts and bruises crossing over all exposed skin. He had one black eye, and it was still puffy, as if the swelling had only recently started going down.

“Japan,” he greeted, his voice soft and resigned. “I hadn’t expected you to be here.”

“I was nearby,” Japan said. The meetings with Germany and Italy were long and tiresome at best, but it was necessary. He mostly left the two European powers to deal with their own battles while he focused on the lands surrounding his home—China in particular—but sometimes business called him elsewhere.

Greece was fixing him with a deep look.

“I thought you would be in the Pacific,” Greece said. He closed his eyes for a moment, weighing his words before adding, “It is good to see you.”

“Is it?” Japan just managed to bite back the thinly veiled rage in his voice.

“Yes.” There was no hesitation in his voice, and he looked at Japan evenly.

“Then perhaps you can explain why I’ve received word that your country has cut off diplomatic ties with my country,” Japan said, just as calm as before, but brown eyes watching him like a hawk. Clam, like a storm.

Greece did not seem surprised by the question. Instead, his face contorted in an almost painful manner, a shadow of a smile curling the corners of his chapped, dry lips upwards, gripping Mt. Athos and his doorframe with equaled amounts of intensity that amounted to little strength—he was starved, stretched-thin, and bent beneath the will of axis nations.

“Ah,” was all Greece said.

Japan pushed his hand hard against Greece’s door, and the man stumbled backwards, unused to such force from his friend. Since forming their friendship Japan had been stronger, he was an empire, after all, and Greece was merely the remnant of a lost civilization. But never before had Japan used that strength against Greece. The shorter nation marched in, strengthened by his power, by his empirical will, and slammed the door behind him with the kick of his foot. One hand rested casually on his sword, the other slack at his side.

There were fewer cats in Greece’s house now.

Japan pretended to not notice how empty it all felt.

“They want my house… they are fighting to take what is mine. Italy’s managed to take some things, but who knows how long that will last,” Greece said when he noticed Japan looking around the room, able to pick up on the moods and thoughts Japan so cleverly tried to disguise. Greece always was good at that.

Japan frowned, surveying the house with a critical eye and only slightly taken aback by how easily Greece could see these kinds of things. He swallowed, standing a bit straighter, his fingers curling absently around the hilt of the sword at his side. Greece’s olive eyes flickered down to the sword before looking away, turning away as he leaned heavily on his cross. Mt. Athos groaned beneath his weight but held him up. He started walking towards the remains of a kitchen.

“I can get you a drink,” he said, not bothering to ask.

Japan trailed after him, still frowning. Greece gestured to the dirty table, balanced on uneven legs.

“You still haven’t answered my question,” he said a few minutes later when Greece handed him a dirty glass of unclean water. He set it down on the table and didn’t touch it again. He folded his hands primly in his lap, staring at Greece from across the table. The other man slowly lowered himself down, sitting with some difficulty and leaning his cross against the wall. He passed his hand through his limp hair, brushing it away from his forehead. One thin cut ran from one corner of his forehead and down across his nose, and it didn’t look as if it were clotting properly. Japan looked down and found the woodwork of the table absolutely fascinating.

“No,” Greece agreed. “I suppose I haven’t.”

Japan slanted a look at him, through the even fringe of his black hair.

“Do you plan to answer?”

Japan and Greece locked eyes. Despite all the cuts and bruises stitching across his body, those eyes were just as keen as ever, just as bright and burning with fire. They surveyed Japan and betrayed nothing but that hidden strength that still prevailed, even when his body and his country were stripped away plank by plank.

“I think you know the answer already,” Greece said quietly, still looking at him and yet looking past him. Japan’s jaw clenched and he straightened his shoulders, feeling the annoyance from earlier return and settle deep in the pit of his stomach, where it festered and grew.

The empire barely managed to suppress his curse, because it would have been improper. Greece stared at the twin cups of dirty water, picked up his own, and downed it all in two gulps. He sighed, blinking his eyes a few times as if trying to process some thought.

Japan almost feared what he was thinking. Greece closed his eyes and stayed still for roughly five seconds before the lids fluttered and opened. Eyes locked against Japan’s and stayed, staring straight at him and not daring to look away. Japan hated eye contact more than anything, especially with someone who always managed to see what was lying beneath the surface, no matter the person. Or nation.

“My country, my people… they are fighting against something stronger than us. My people and I, we fought hard but now all I can do is wait as I starve. I resist, but I am no match for the axis powers.”

The last two words stabbed through Japan’s heart. Greece’s eyes glinted with barely suppressed rage, barely suppressed bitterness. Barely suppressed regret.

It would have been dishonorable to look away from that fire, so he carefully kept Greece’s gaze locked on his own, returning the look with a look that was almost a glare, and capable of more fire than the Grecian could ever hope to comprehend.

“I can’t anymore,” Greece said calmly, after a pregnant pause.

“You can’t…?” Japan began, and trailed off, at a loss for words. Why did it matter to him, to lose an insignificant nation in the middle of a struggle with one of his own allies? It was only a matter of time before Greece fell and became nothing more than a puppet nation.

“We have been good friends for many years,” Greece said evenly, and pressed his hand against a wound on his forehead to make sure it had clotted properly. His movements were stilted, but fluid, as if he were feigning boredom over his injuries.

“Yes,” agreed Japan, his face set and betraying nothing.

Greece inhaled, closing his eyes a moment. “But even so…”

He stood on shaky legs, and grabbing his cross from where it was propped up against the wall. He leaned on it, heavier than he’d like to admit was necessary, and regarded Japan with cold eyes.

“I cannot support what you’re doing,” Greece said finally, stifling a watery cough that tried to bubble out of his chest. “And I never will, so long as you continue down this path you’ve chosen.”

Japan stared at him for a long moment, face neutral. Gradually, the man sat up a bit straighter, his eyebrows knitting together. He stared up at Greece, hands lying flat against his thighs. Outside, there was a single bird call, in the distance, echoing. Japan listened to the sound, trying to hear it over the roar of his heartbeat, thundering in his ears and beating against the inside of his chest. His hands clenched and he could tell that he was shaking quickly enough to suppress it and sit rigidly before Greece, still staring at him with what he hoped was still a neutral expression.

“You’re angry.” There was no accusation in Greece’s voice, merely observation.

“I’m…” Japan trailed off, calculating his next words, his thoughts stumbling to a sloppy halt at Greece’s words. He stood. “I believe our business is finished here.”

Japan turned away, moving towards the door, face grim. He paused, just before reaching for the exit, to leave this place and not look back. He ignored his beating heart; its gentle, consistent thud did nothing but distract him. He stood, unsure what was holding him back.

He looked out the window, out at the day beyond this door. He had things he still needed to do, politics didn’t wait for anyone, especially not an idling country.

“You’ll regret this,” Japan warned and wasn’t sure why he said it at all. He kept his back to Greece.

“I would apologize,” Greece said calmly, pausing between his words as he said them softly. He sighed, “but I am not sorry for my decision, only sorry for what has transpired in this world that has led to this. Such things keep turning, and we will have to keep moving forward because of it.”

“You are content to make your situation even worse, to play to the whims of the axis powers?” Japan insisted, still maintaining the unnatural calm, despite the storms that stirred beneath both their eyes. He looked over his shoulder, staring at the other nation. Staring somewhere beyond him, unable to lock eyes.

“I play to no man’s whims,” Greece said, and his words were heavy and almost threatening. From Greece, it sounded like a promise. “I am weakened now, that much is clear.” He gestured to his body vaguely, a slim nod downwards to his paled, bruising skin. “But I am not conquered. I do not so easily allow myself to be invaded.”

“You really are a fool,” Japan murmured to himself. “I shouldn’t stay here any longer. I am wasting my time.”

Greece tilted his head to one side, giving Japan what was almost a wan smile. Greece moved forward, quite smoothly despite his strained condition, and stood in front of Japan, looking down at him without looking down upon him. Despite the severing of their ties, Japan could see the glimmers of friendship still dwelling there, perhaps small strings of respect purposefully cut.

So it was war. This was how these things worked.

“Why do you do this?” Japan found himself saying before he could stop himself. He pulled himself in, straightening and perhaps recoiling a fraction of an inch away from Greece.

“Do what?” Greece asked, quiet.

Japan opened his mouth to speak, then thought better of it. He frowned, and had to look away, out the grimy window to the grimy world beyond, grey and shattered and broken.

“You will undoubtedly face many challenges in the future,” Greece said, and it was not a threat so much as an observation again. All he ever did was observe. No matter what, Greece could see the things that no one else saw, or chose to not see. He hated locking eyes with this man, afraid that when he did, Greece would read him like a book.

Japan turned back to look at him, face smoothed and yet strangely furious, despite betraying nothing but calm. “I intend to meet my enemies and defeat them,” he said. “There is nothing that will stand in my way.”

“Every action has a consequence,” Greece reminded.

“I’m aware of this.”

“Acting so rashly will only create new enemies,” Greece continued.

“And what about my actions suggest I am being… rash?” Japan wasn’t really asking, and the smooth mask of his calm was cracking and chipping away piece by piece. He restrained a blatant glare to his—former, he ammended—friend.

This time, Japan could see that Greece was smiling, but it was distant. He tilted his head, dipped lower—or more like leaned heavily on his cross—so that he was meeting eye to eye with Japan. The wan smile, fading away as quickly as it had appeared, captured Japan’s attention and his eyes settled on Greece’s lips and stayed there far longer than was necessary.

Greece lifted one hand and touched Japan’s cheek and the move was so startling, Japan’s hand was on his sword before he could stop himself, though he did not draw the blade. And Greece did not so much as flinch, his eyes never leaving Japan’s and his hand never leaving his cheek.

There was a long, long silence.

Greece’s thumb brushed across Japan’s cheekbone accidentally as he shifted, resting against his cross and fingers brushing aside bone straight, black hair. “Why are you angry?”

“What?” Japan jerked his head back, righting himself. Greece’s hand stayed in the air, hovered there a moment, before dropping down to Japan’s shoulder. Japan stiffened once again at the invasion of space, but said nothing more.

“You’re angry,” Greece said.

Japan looked down, realized that was too submissive, and looked up defiantly at Greece, not daring to look into his eyes and instead focused somewhere on his forehead, hidden beneath ratty, limp hair.

“Your point?” Japan asked, curt.

Greece sighed, and his breath was warm—and it was then that Japan realized he was close enough to feel him breathing. And somehow he couldn’t summon the urge to pull away from him.

“I know I am not the only nation that has cut off ties from you, and I will most certainly not be the last,” Greece clarified, hand curling around Japan’s bicep, almost tugging him closer. “So why is it that you are angry with me?”

“I’m…” Japan began, almost denied his anger, almost denied that he wasn’t only angry at Greece. He remained silent, clamping his mouth shut.

“Why is it that you come to my home to demand this answer from me?” Greece pressed. “Am I the only house you’ve visited?”

Japan’s silence was answer enough.

Greece sighed. “What is it that you want, Japan? Why is it that you’re here?”

“Do you expect me to answer this?”

The taller nation smiled.

Japan turned his face away, looking down at the hand on his shoulder, as if he were unsure that it was really there. They stood in a long silence, saying no words and making no moves to pull away from one another. Japan couldn’t summon the proper reasons why he was still there, why he wasn’t recoiling. They were enemies now. He shouldn’t be in this house. He should be focusing on his war. Being here, standing there with someone who didn’t want to be near him was not only humiliating, but degrading for his sensibilities and honorability. Japan squeezed his eyes shut, letting out an angry sigh. Slowly, very slowly, he lifted his head again and searched Greece’s face, looking for the words left unspoken and knowing that Greece was reading him perfectly—he always could. Greece was still smiling at him, and for whatever reason, Japan couldn’t stand that smile.

And then Japan shoved him and Greece went down far easily than he’d expected. His cross left his hand and he hit the dirty wooden floor with a large crack, on his back and his head slamming against the ground without any protection. Greece laid there, and didn’t move, save for his heavy breathing. Japan kneeled beside him, pinning down his hands by the wrists, holding them tight and glaring down at Greece’s face, who stared up at him in surprise. But not shock.

“Is…”

“Don’t speak anymore,” Japan ordered, leaning forward more, drawing closer.

Greece obeyed.

Japan didn’t move, hovered over him, searching his face, tracing the lines of his cuts. He followed the curve of his jaw, the slant of his chin, the structure of his neck, strained and corded as he laid, tensed, against the ground. Japan swallowed, once, and Greece’s eyes flickered to Japan’s neck, watching his throat tense and relax with the movement. Eyes the color of olives moved back upwards, slowly, deciphering the hidden messages in the thin clamp of Japan’s lips, the tensed line of his jaw, and the furrow of his brow. And then his eyes fluttered, the lids moving to half-mast, as he gazed up at Japan.

Japan felt his cheeks turn red and hated himself for such a betrayal.

Greece let out a sigh that was almost a groan. He cursed. “… That hurt my head.”

Japan bit back the apology before it could manifest. He swallowed again, trying to banish such a betrayal, and tightened his grip on Greece’s hands, pinning them to the ground and leaning forward where there was barely a breath’s distance between the two of them. Aware of the sudden proximity to one another, Japan felt words lodge in his throat and Greece closed his eyes for a long moment.

They stayed like this in relative silence, Greece looking as if he were sleeping and Japan staring down at him with a slightly flabbergasted expression. He dipped forward, his mouth moments away from Greece’s, before he seemed to remember himself and pulled back with a small exhale of air that fluttered over Greece’s face. His hold on Greece’s wrists slackened but the man below him made no move to pull away. When he opened his eyes, it was after a bated pause, and there was something swirling in his eyes that Japan wasn’t quite sure he wanted to place. Instead, he focused on Greece’s forehead. His heart was pounding, there was ringing in his ears and he knew without a doubt that his face was red. And it was with some grim satisfaction that he could see there was just the slightest hint of pink in Greece’s cheeks, stark against what was otherwise a paled, half-starved face.

“Why are you doing this?” Greece whispered, and tried to capture Japan’s eyes.

“I…” the words clawed at his throat but he restrained himself, pulling back more to stare at Greece’s chest instead of his face. He watched the steady rise and fall of his breathing. His shirt was dirty, the buttons loose on their threads, the first three buttons allowing his shirt into a v shape, exposing the smallest patches of bandaged skin.

“Why?” Greece asked again.

Japan couldn’t look away anymore. His eyes wandered but Greece’s remained anchored, and they found one another. Their eyes locked and Japan could never pull away.

“Why?” Greece murmured. The look in his eyes suggested that he already knew. Japan hated that the most, hated how much Greece seemed to just know, without ever trying. He looked up at him, analyzing him, dissecting him, seeing the hidden knowledge and philosophy in every little movement that Japan made.

Japan covered Greece’s eyes with one hand.

“Stop it.”

Greece was silent for a moment, his breathing evening out. “Stop what?”

“Stop looking at me like that,” Japan said.

“Why does it matter how I look at you? All that should matter is how you look at yourself,” Greece said softly, with all the ferocity and strength of a slap to the face. Japan sat back, staring down at the man who made no move to push him away, to defend himself. On his back, he was utterly exposed, merely breathing.

“You get too far ahead of yourself,” Japan murmured. “To just assume that I care. At all.”

Greece was smiling again, and Japan hated it. He blinked a few times, and his eyelashes brushed across Japan’s palm, but he did not pull his hand back and Greece made no move to free himself. The blinking stopped after a moment, and Japan realized that his eyes must be shut.

“But don’t you?”

Japan wished he would just drop it.

But Greece continued, “Why do you react in these ways, if you don’t care? If you’re indifferent, you wouldn’t be here in the first place. And if it meant nothing, you would already be gone.”

“Stop it,” Japan ordered and hated how his voice didn’t sound commanding enough.

“They’re only words,” Greece reminded. “They can mean nothing or anything.”

Japan said nothing, leaned closer.

“You shouldn’t say it at all,” Japan muttered.

Greece shifted, smiled distantly. “Maybe.”

Japan shifted closer still, until the space between them was merely arbitrary. Greece didn’t protest the invasion of space, and despite everything that told Japan that he should stop, he didn’t seem to mind it, either. He sighed, once. Night was falling, and with it, the house was slowly sinking into shadows. There were no lights on in Greece’s house.

In the growing darkness, Japan shook. His hold on Greece’s wrist slackened further still, and Greece lifted his one free hand, resting it on the back of Japan’s neck. It stayed there, comfortably so, a friendly weight on his back, anchoring him to the moment and keeping him there, keeping him from pulling away. Even with the hand over Greece’s eyes, Japan still felt as if he were the one pinned to the spot, trapped and unable to pull away. Instead he rested his forehead against Greece’s, hand still over his eyes.

“I hate it,” he hissed, and he felt his lips brush over Greece’s and hated that he didn’t hate that, as well. Greece said nothing. In fact, Japan couldn’t hear his breathing and realized he was holding it in. Waiting.

So Japan pressed forward and closed the distance between them, kissing him.

Greece opened his mouth to him and groaned very slightly. Japan swallowed that sound, tilting his head against Greece’s hand as the man’s fingers curled into his hair and held tight. The movement was inelegant, clumsy in the growing darkness. Japan kissed him soundly on the mouth, slipped his tongue into Greece’s mouth before he even realized what he was doing. But at Greece’s small moan of approval, he didn’t stop, invading and settling what he’d conquered. He kissed him for a long moment, and he felt Greece kissing back.

When he pulled back, he blinked his eyes a few times and then hesitantly pulled his hand away from Greece’s eyes. The other nation’s eyes stayed closed for a long moment before fluttering open. The hand in Japan’s hair pulled back, slid across his neck and over one tensed shoulder before dropping back to the ground. He pulled it through his own hair, brushing it back so it framed the stubborn lines of his face. Kiss-swollen lips parted for a moment, as if he were about to speak, but no words escaped.

Greece lifted his hand again, touched Japan’s cheek, and held it there. Japan stared down at him as his expression softened and he almost laughed. He didn’t though, and it was just as well. Laughter in this setting would have sounded too bare, too pathetic. The waning light from the sun peeking through the clouds broke through the dirty windows, illuminating the dust floating in the air.

Japan found himself leaning into the touch and quickly corrected himself, straightening abruptly and pulling away from Greece’s hand. He felt the fingers pressed against his cheek, drag slowly over his skin as Japan moved away. He felt his cheeks turn red at the contact and felt something shift inside him and flop uselessly to the bottom of his stomach.

“You hate it?” Greece asked and Japan had to pause for a moment, to wrap his head around the words and realize he was referring to their conversation.

He licked his lips, chapped and dry and missing the contact. “Yes.”

“What exactly?” Greece asked, fishing the air with his hand to grasp Japan’s hand, tugging it to him. Japan watched in muted wonder as Greece grasped his fingers, drawing the hand closer to brush his lips over the knuckles. Japan forgot to snap his hand back and act outraged.

“Hate when you talk like this,” Japan managed, closing his eyes as Greece’s other hand returned to its position on the back of Japan’s neck, threading with his hair. “When you act like…”

“Like what?” Greece pressed on.

“As if you expect something from me,” Japan mused quietly, eyes hooded.

“I expect nothing,” Greece breathed. “I’d wondered what your reaction to me cutting off ties would be but… I really hadn’t thought it’d be this.”

“That’s…” Japan began.

“You have made your decision,” Greece said. “I know I, or anyone else but yourself, cannot convince you of changing course.” He tilted his chin back again, his face hinting at an almost smile, though it was hidden beneath the remnants of dried blood and dirt staining his pale face. “It would be unlike you, Japan, otherwise.”

“Don’t act as if you know me,” Japan ordered, bending one hand to swipe his fingers over Greece’s face, almost tenderly, pushing away the dirt and grime and depictions of war. Greece stayed silent. Japan bent down to bite at Greece’s lips, kissing him until Greece’s breath was stolen from him.

He kissed him long, hard, almost desperately. Greece didn’t protest, merely surrendered himself to Japan’s ministrations. Japan demanded, and Greece conceded, allowing himself to be kissed and kissing back with an equally stubborn intensity.

When he pulled back, Greece stayed like that, limp and vulnerable. But his eyes were just as keen as ever. Greece contemplated his words for a moment, before continuing where he’d left off: “You’ve chosen to surge forward. That is your path. And I have chosen my path. To fight against what you and your allies leave in their wake. I will resist you with all the strength I have left.”

“Then why are we here?” He doesn’t add on the ‘like this’ even though he wanted to.

“How do you mean?” Greece asked, simply.

“Shouldn’t you hate me?” Japan insisted. “Because I am an enemy now. Why do you allow me to do this—” He tightened his hold on his him, kept him flat on the ground and staring up at him. “—and not issue any protest?”

Greece sucked in a deep breath, ran one hand over Japan’s shoulder, and laughed mirthlessly. “I suppose I should. But I don’t. We were good friends before, weren’t we?”

“We—”

“So long as you fight in this war, fight with those who fight against me, I cannot support you. But that doesn’t mean that I hate you. Perhaps I only hate what you are standing for.” He closed his eyes in thought.

“Isn’t that just the same?”

“Is it?”

Japan’s frown deepened. “I think it is.”

“Then I suppose I hate you,” Greece said nonchalantly. Japan resisted the cringe that tried to twitch up his spine. He remained blank faced, perhaps staring down at Greece with a small amount of surprise at the bluntness.

“You…” Japan paused. He leaned forward. Greece smiled at him in a way that didn’t actually suggest he hated him. In fact, the expression was almost gentle, thoughtful.

Greece’s hands moved, wrapping his arms around Japan’s back, pulling him closer so he was directly over Greece, staring down at him. He felt the fingers curl into the fabric of his uniform, holding him tight. Greece commanded his attention, tilting upwards to take his lips again and kiss him rather soundly. Japan swallowed a grunt, shifted with a small sigh, and deepened the kiss. Once again, Greece didn’t protest the intrusion and welcomed it.

When he opened his eyes and pulled back, Greece stayed like that, eyes closed, panting slightly, hands still gripping his back almost possessively. Japan’s own hands strayed, brushing back his hair and squeezing between his head and the floorboards, pulling his head up to kiss him once again. His hands drifted, brushing over his shoulders, down his sides, settling on his hips, fiddling with the edge of his shirt. Perhaps vaguely he realized what road this had veered down, but he didn’t care.

He pulled back, his nose bumping against Greece’s as he recoiled, sitting back on his knees, towering over Greece’s supine position. He looked away, around the room, around the growing darkness. He felt the hands on his back slide down and settle on his waist comfortably, as if they’d always meant to be there. With the sinking of the sun, it seemed his resolve solidified. The dying rays of sunlight pushed against his face, scraped through his hair and lingered upon his outline, detailing his silhouette. A long shadow fell over Greece’s face.

Japan brushed a hand over the taut skin over Greece’s hipbones, his thumb tracing the jutting bone downwards.

Greece shivered, once. But it was enough to betray any thought that filtered through his mind. A calm, collected face stared up at Japan, saying nothing, betraying nothing in his all too inquisitive eyes. Japan’s hands lingered on his hips and there was only the slightest shift, the slightest movement to press against his hand that alerted Japan to what Greece should, in all honesty, be resisting.

“So this is hatred?”

Japan’s fingers found the buttons to Greece’s shirt, and meticulously went about undoing each one, slowly. His fingers brushed over his skin, past gauze and bandages wrapped around his chest. He brushed the fabric aside, exposing the other nation’s chest. Greece shifted, pushed himself up, meeting Japan’s eyes before slipping past, pressing his lips to the spot just in front of Japan’s ear, his breath ragged and promising in Japan’s ear. His shirt slid off his shoulders, stuck in the hook of his elbows. His entire body quivered, shivering in the early evening’s chill and from the swoop of Japan’s hands over his sides, resting on the small of his back, drawing him close.

“Something like that,” the other nation murmured against the shell of his ear, breath warm and promising.

Japan ducked his head, but Greece’s lips didn’t pull away, straying over his temple, down along his jaw. Japan squeezed his eyes shut and turned his head, capturing Greece’s traveling lips and kissing him soundly. Greece didn’t protest, only tipped his head back, opening his mouth for him. Greece shifted and Japan felt the slide of a knee and a thigh between his legs and he froze up, his face turning red and a deep intake of breath shattering the relative silence. Greece pulled away, looking rather calm save for the flush quickly spreading over his cheeks. He gave Japan a shaky smile, lopsided but confident.

He curled one hand back into Japan’s hair, cupping the back of his head. He felt his thumb and fingers work slow circles along his scalp. He inhaled and exhaled, breathing in slowly all the while his heart hammered against his chest. His hands strayed to Greece’s side and squeezed.

Greece hissed in pain, shooting up and going rigid. Japan withdrew his hand, looking stricken for half a moment. Greece released a tensed hiss.

“The wounds…” he said as explanation, sounding apologetic.

Japan looked stricken for a moment, then tried to remind himself that it didn’t matter, that he somehow deserved it. This is what happened to those who stood against the empirical will of Japan. And it was Greece’s own fault, for lying back and doing nothing. What else was he supposed to do? Despite the pain, Greece didn’t look like he was about to protest. He wouldn’t push Japan away, that much was clear.

He looked at Greece. Japan licked his lips, thoughtful. Greece looked as if he were going to move in again and Japan lifted his hands, gingerly pushing against the other man’s shoulders until he relented, lying back down on the wood as Japan shifted, straddling him and caging him in.

Greece did not seem at all put upon by this, and, in fact, looked like he was enjoying it. He gave him that same smile, looking both hesitant and certain all at once. Japan shifted, pressed his lips to the corner of Greece’s black eye, lingering there as he collected his thoughts. Greece tilted his head to the side, hand in his hair curled around slick black hair and refusing to let go.

When he pulled back, it was to watch Greece’s hands move, working on the buttons of Japan’s own navy uniform, working diligently and brushing over his exposed skin. Two buttons opened and Greece arched up, kissing the base of Japan’s throat, soft and gentle. Japan arched his head, tilted back and exposed his skin to Greece’s touch, feeling his fingers clutch at his collar, pulling it back to expose the smooth skin of his shoulder and collarbone.

Japan pushed Greece back down again, still mindful of the wounds. He hovered, dipped, kissed, and pulled back again. He mouthed against the column of Greece’s neck, tasting him and leaving bruising kisses along the length of his skin. He felt Greece suck in air, a gentle hiss. One hand strayed downwards, keeping his touch light, and rested on his thigh in a promise, not doing anything more than simply lying there. Greece groaned, quietly, and shoved the front of his uniform away.

Japan hesitated, and hated himself for it. “Why are you letting me do this?”

Greece paused, dropping his hands back down to his side. He seemed to think over this question, thoughtfully staring up at the ceiling, breathing evening out a bit once more as he shrugged out of his shirt, shoving it away from him so that he was bare-chested, save for the beige-colored, makeshift bandages, stained in places with the dark streak of his blood.

“Because,” he said slowly, collecting his words, “I don’t mind it.”

“Wouldn’t you rather…” Japan paused, chewing on his lower lip as he tried to find the most delicate way to say this.

Greece seemed to understand where exactly Japan was getting at, and said in his typical bluntness, “If there’s a way you would rather do it, then do it. Either way it’s fine with me. Sex is sex.”

Japan grunted something only semi-intelligible, and felt foolish for hesitating like this.

“The act itself, then,” Japan said with a sigh. If Greece had no preference for something like this, he would do the honorable thing. Besides, he thought with only a glimmer of grim amusement, he would probably enjoy not having to do the work. “Fine. Then it’ll be like this. Unless you have an objection.”

Greece thought this over. “I wouldn’t say no to something like this, but…” he reached up one hand, brushing back Japan’s hair with a soft touch. “It wouldn’t be with just anyone.” Japan frowned, but Greece wasn’t finished. The cogs were moving in his head as he thought over the best approach, pondering over his next words. “With you, I suppose it would be something like a welcomed invasion.”

Japan frowned and wasn’t sure if that had meant to be a joke or not. Greece closed his eyes and moved his face away, breathing out and sinking into the floor, hair plastering against his paled, sweating skin.

Japan felt the tension in his shoulders sink away, and hadn’t even realized he’d been unsure, hesitant, and tensed before. He didn’t move out of surprise for a moment, thinking this over before brushing it aside. He shouldn’t linger on things like this.

Greece was silent for a long moment. He slowly swiveled his head back to look at the ceiling and then to Japan. He grasped Japan’s wrist, turning his head and planting a sloppy kiss on his palm, looking up at him.

“You’ve made your decision,” he said calmly, peering up at him. “At the very least, you can follow through with your promises.”

“First you say that you can’t support me for my decisions and then the next moment you’re saying I should follow through,” Japan muttered, blushing. “Which is it that you want?”

“I think it’s obvious what I want,” Greece said absently to himself, before shaking his head and arching up in into the defiant touch of Japan’s hand shifting off his thigh and upwards, stroking the hair leading down from his belly button to the waistline of his pants. He sucked in a heavy breath. “I… ah… I just think you should do what you want. But understand that some actions are not the best of actions.”

“I don’t need a lecture,” Japan murmured, his fingers grazing along the slim outlines of his abdominal muscles.

Greece watched the sweeping motion of the fingers before leaning back his head and sighing absently, the hand gripping Japan’s other wrist loosening. One thumb brushed along the skin of his wrist, following the lines of his veins along his underarm.

“I’m not lecturing,” Greece protested. “I’m…” he trailed off, biting his lip in thought and momentarily distracted as Japan’s fingers threatened to dip below his belt. “I wouldn’t insult you in that way.”

“Hm,” Japan said absently.

Greece continued, pulling the hand close to his mouth again as he kissed each fingertip, corresponding to each dip of a finger along the sensitive skin of Greece’s stomach, “If you know where you are and you think it’s a good place, then it can’t be helped, either way.”

“I don’t see why these things matter to you.”

“Perhaps I would benefit from understanding my enemies’ motivations,” Greece said absently.

Japan’s frown deepened and he almost flinched at the nonchalant, but true, statement. They were enemies now.

“So, why are you doing this now?”

“Does it matter?” Japan whispered.

Greece stilled, and smiled almost sardonically. He shook his head, turned his lips against Japan’s palm. “No, I guess it doesn’t...”

Japan watched the way Greece’s lips moved over the skin of his palm as he spoke, fingers curling slightly. Greece didn’t look away and Japan had to squeeze his eyes shut a moment before dipping forward and kissing Greece on the mouth, slanting his lips against his. Greece responded, though only just so, moving against his mouth and letting out what could have been a sigh. He opened his mouth to Japan, arching ever so slightly.

The sun was almost completely set now, the last remnants of sunlight dancing across the stark walls of Greece’s house, a deep, solitary red against darkening and elongating shadows. In that darkness, Japan’s hand slipped beneath Greece’s waistline, following the trail of hair and cupping, stroking upward. The sudden gasp and the arch of Greece’s back was encouraging, and he watched Greece’s eyes slam shut, his mouth morph into a small ‘oh’, as he forced himself to breathe out. Japan tightened his hold and felt Greece stiffen beneath his ministrations.

Meanwhile, Greece still had his hold on Japan’s hand, and when he wasn’t otherwise distracted, he laid haphazard, gentle kisses along each callus and each pad of his fingertips. Japan watched his every expression as he ran his hand smoothly up and down, buried in the fabric of his pants. When Japan leaned down to kiss Greece again, it felt as if Greece was burning beneath him, his breathing was rougher, heavier against his lips, panted as he opened up freely to Japan. His skin was feverish, arching into every little touch, and he looked half-dizzy.

Japan swallowed the sounds Greece made, small groans and sighs, and felt rather than saw Greece let go of Japan’s hand, lift his own, and jab his knuckles against the side of his neck, curling around the base of it, fingering the small black hairs at the nape of his neck. His thumb pressed against the spot just behind his ear and Japan tried to distract himself from how nice that felt, focusing on licking Greece’s bottom lip, running his tongue along Greece’s teeth and kissing him deeper and deeper. He hoped, dimly, that the kiss didn’t come across as desperate as he felt.

“Ah,” Greece breathed out as Japan pulled away from his mouth and simultaneously squeezing what he held in his hand. His breath hitched. Greece shifted, his legs moving up until his knee bumped against Japan’s hip, urging him closer. He arched upwards against the shift of Japan’s hand, and there was a definite flush on his face now. Japan lifted his fingers and traced them along the curve of Greece’s jaw line, following the stubborn dip until he cupped the man’s chin, tilting his head to the side and kissing him faster, deeper, longer.

Their minds were foggy, and any semblance of coherent thought has flown straight out the window, to meet the dying sunlight in the west. Somewhere in the back of his mind, Japan’s told himself that he should stop, that this wasn’t what should be happening. But he didn’t care, he didn’t want to. Especially when he felt a hand slipping down the front of his pants, pulling the trousers away from his front to make way for a large, clammy hand. He cupped, squeezed, and stroked upward and Japan felt his head dip forward with a low groan.

Greece murmured something that Japan didn’t quite catch, a string of his foreign words as his eyes fall shut. Japan felt Greece’s fingers curl around the head of his length, and he rubbed and rolled his thumb along the skin, pressing softly but firmly enough that it elicited a small gasp from Japan. Japan quivered down to his toes before releasing Greece only to grasp both his wrists and force the hands down on the ground, caging him in once again. He shook his head once then bent down to mouth against Greece’s neck, sucking and biting and licking. Greece gasped. He arched, curling his hands into fists as he stared over the top of Japan’s head, out towards the window. He closed his eyes, sighing.

“Oh…” Greece whispered as Japan sucked at the top of his throat, kissing in time to the bump of his pulse.

“Hm,” Japan agreed, kissing underneath Greece’s chin, lips lingering and pulling back to stare down at him. His knee shifted up, pressed against Greece’s rising erection. Greece’s breath stifled and he moaned loud and low and wanton.

Japan pressed down, their hips aligning. Japan rocked his hips, pressing his weight down against Greece. Greece tugged at the hands holding his wrists down and Japan obeyed, releasing him. Instantly, there was one arm wrapping around his back, pressing them close together, and one hand twisting into his hair.

Greece began to say something again, in his native tongue, but it quickly dissolved into a moan as Japan’s tongue stroked along the length of his collarbone, biting and kissing the jutting bone. His now free hands move down Greece’s side tenderly, mindful of the wounds, thumbs tracing his hipbone and tugging on the fabric of his trousers. Greece’s hips jerk up, encouraging. Japan continued, slipping one hand beneath the fabric and stroking up and down his thigh, feeling the warm skin beneath his fingertips, feeling the way Greece shifts ever so slightly to press up into his exploring hand. The other hand stroked his side, following the grain of the bandages and the soft flesh hidden beneath.

“The floor is—” Greece began.

“Should we move?” Japan asked, pressing open-mouthed kisses to the center of Greece’s chest, letting his lips linger there.

Greece looked like he was about to say something but just closed his eyes instead. “No. No, it’s fine here.”

“Good,” Japan agreed. “I have no intention of stopping.”

“Good,” Greece agreed, and said no more. His fingers pulled through Japan’s hair, smoothing it back and twirling his long fingertips along the nape. He tugged almost playfully, fingers stroking along his collar, twisting until his knuckles turned white.

They kissed again, and any resistance that Greece may have once had was completely gone, and Japan’s ambivalence completely dissolved. Japan fiddled with Greece’s belt and pulled his pants down to his thighs. Greece’s breath hitched again, eyes still shut, and mouthing something inaudible as Japan continued kissing downwards, pressing his mouth to the slow dips of his abdominal muscles.

Greece cursed, or said something that sounded suspiciously like a curse, and pushed back Japan’s collar, his fingers fumbling to the front of Japan’s chest, fiddling with the buttons and pulling the naval uniform button by agonizing button. He ran his hands down Japan’s chest, feeling ever muscle, tracing every scar.

“… Why?” Japan asked, before he realized what he was saying.

Greece paused, one hand pressed against Japan’s chest. “Why what?”

Japan frowned, worrying over this question for a grand total of about five seconds. He opened his mouth. It was almost dark now, so dark that Greece’s face was almost completely shrouded in shadows.

Instead of answering, Japan yanked down Greece’s pants the rest of the way, exposing him to the dark winter night. He heard Greece moan, slowly, as his hand drifted up over his shin, his knee, his thigh, before digging deeply along from the root to tip of his stiffened length.

He felt fingernails digging into his shoulders. Greece gritted his teeth, arching, a faraway smile twisting the corners of his lips ever so slightly. “I want…”

“What do you want?” Japan asked, finding a firm rhythm to beat against Greece’s length.

“I want you to—” whatever Greece was about to say was lost forever as Japan dipped his head and kissed his inner thigh, staring up at him with smoldering brown eyes. Greece panted, forgot what he was about to say. He laid there on his back, staring at Japan, hunger in his eyes.

Japan shifted, rubbing against Greece, growing bolder the darker it became outside. He could hear and feel Greece, hear his soft gasps and deep moans. He could feel him quivering, shifting and pressing up into him. Even so close to him, he could only see what he wanted to see. Greece wrapped his legs around Japan, ankles hooking one over the other, and he pulled Japan as close as he could. He was panting, and with his arms draped over Japan’s. He whispered something in Greek, something that Japan didn’t quite catch, and in the darkness Japan could almost hear the smile in his voice.

“Be careful,” Japan reminded him, hands gingerly running along his thighs, tracing the curve of bandages but never pressing hard. “Don’t hurt yourself.”

“That doesn’t matter,” Greece said with a laugh. “My body is already strained. Something like this can’t hurt me.”

Japan opened his mouth to speak.

Greece shook his head, pressing his forehead against Japan’s forehead as he curled up into him. “I want this.” Greece’s voice was nothing more than a whisper as he added, lips grazing over Japan’s ear, words thick and heavy, “I want you.”

“Ah…” Japan murmured, tilting his head back.

“So… don’t stop,” Greece murmured, lips pressing against Japan’s ear. His feet pressed into the small of Japan’s back, and he rubbed against Japan until Japan couldn’t quite bite back the moan clawing its way from his throat.

“I won’t,” Japan promised.

Greece laughed, and it was throaty, deep, and husky.

“Good.” His voice was nothing more than a breathless whisper.

Japan shifted, hand drifting down to the space between them before he paused. “But…”

“There should be something in the drawer there,” Greece muttered before Japan can voice the question. “Oil.”

“Right,” Japan murmured and looked to where Greece inclined his head. He felt the arms and legs fall away from him and he hated how empty he suddenly felt. He sat up, straddling Greece’s hips. He stayed there a moment, admiring the view of Greece spread out below him, looking up at him expectantly and with such intense desire. Greece tried to catch his breath, panting and letting out the smallest of wanton moans when Japan rubbed against him. Japan stood up, padding over to the cupboard and drawers on the other side of the room, suddenly very aware of how naked they both were—and thank god he still had his trousers on for modesty’s sake, he reminded himself. One hand rested on his sword, still strapped to his side. He glanced back over at Japan, watched Greece watch him. Then, slowly, he grasped the hilt of his sword and pulled it and the scabbard from his side, propping it against the wall, not too far from Greece’s cross. He dug around the drawers for a moment, and everything sounded a thousand times louder, before finding what he was looking for.

He practically ran back to Greece, who was still just where he’d left him. He knelt, unscrewing the cap of the oil container and pouring a liberal amount in the palm of his hand and rubbing his two hands together. Greece watched him, and now he was getting used to the constant inspection and dissection. In the darkness, he hoped his blush wasn’t visible. In the darkness, he hoped he wasn’t as easy to read.

He unzipped his uniform, pulled himself out. He could feel the burn of Greece’s stare. He pulled an oil-slicken hand over his own erection, pressing against the head and swirling, before pumping up and down in a steady rhythm.

“Wait,” a breathless voice told him and he froze, eyes flashing open as he felt Greece bat away his hand and replace it with his own. He watched as Greece poured some of the oil onto his hand and began working Japan up and down.

Japan arched his back, threw his head back and shivered from his head down to his toes. “A-ah!”

But Greece did not stop, not until Japan was properly slicked up. After a long moment that felt like an eternity, Greece laid back again, back against the wooden floor and staring expectantly up at Japan.

“Do you need me to…?” Japan asked, watching Greece spread his legs.

“T-that’ll be enough.” He nodded towards Japan’s erection. He almost missed the stutter, the fumbling in the darkness. Even Greece’s face was warm, hot with pleasure and expectation. He was smiling that same haphazard, lopsided smile but he seemed far more confident now, in a realm he understood and with someone he understood. He breathed out, “It’s all I need.”

Japan didn’t believe him, though, and towered over him, crawling until he was chest to chest with him. Their erections brushed together and they both groaned deeply. Japan lifted one hand, grasping under Greece’s knee and pushing upwards. His thumb stroked along the skin, perhaps in comfort, as his other hand trailed lightly over his inner thigh and beneath him, searching out the ring of muscles. Once he found it, he shoved one oil-slicked finger deep inside Greece and hooked upwards. Greece gasped, first in pain then in surprise at the sudden invasion. Japan hooked up a second finger and pressed and Greece again gasped loudly before it dissolved into a deep moan once again.

Greece cursed, low and coming out in a hushed hum. Japan murmured something in reply that the other nation didn’t catch. Japan held his leg up as his hand worked the inside of him, feeling the muscles clench, searching for the spot that would send the other man into a wave of cries and groans and demands. The tightness was beginning to overwhelm him, and Japan concentrated on anything but that addicting feeling, anything but the sounds of Greece’s cries.

“I—!”

“Shh,” Japan ordered, extracting his hand and grasping his erection, guiding it to the tight ring of muscles. Japan bit his lip, pressed the head against Greece’s entrance and stopped.

Greece cursed again, trying to push down onto Japan. Japan shoved Greece’s leg up, hooked it under the crook of his elbow and held it in place, pressing upwards and lying a sloppy kiss on his knee with the turn of his head. Greece muttered out a low stream of Greek words that not even Japan could decipher. Their eyes locked, and for once Japan did not feel like an insect squirming beneath a looking glass. He couldn’t fight back the curve of a smile twitching at his lips, and he smiled at Greece in what he hoped was a docile gesture, not something that Greece would look too far into. Sweat plastered their hair against their foreheads, their faces were red, and they both breathed heavily as if they’d been running for miles.

And then Japan pushed inside Greece.

Greece cried out, once, before biting down on his lip and pushing downwards, taking as much of Japan as he could at once. Japan groaned, tightened his hold on Greece’s hip where one hand was splayed haphazardly. He curled against the bone there, stroking any skin he could get his hand on.

Yes,” Greece moaned, breathless, nothing more than a ghost of a whisper.

Greece’s hands reached up, pushing back the hair in Japan’s face. His legs shifted again, pulling themselves around Japan’s middle. Pushing against his lower back, Greece didn’t stop him until Japan was buried up to the hilt in him. Looking satisfied, he pushed back his fringe and smiled at him. Japan watched him with half-hooded eyes, panting as he held himself still inside of Greece. The other man laid back down, flat on his back and completely open and completely his. Japan had to smother that same smile that threatened to spread across his face in a full-fledged grin. No, that would be too improper. Not that this situation was in any way proper, he had to remind himself. Giving in sometimes was more pain than it was worth. Especially—

“Move,” Greece begged.

—Especially when he commanded like that. Japan hissed softly, feeling something in his chest constrict at the demanding tone, and yet knowing it was not a demand. In this moment, for one moment, they were equals. And Japan did move against Greece’s body. He moved in and out, pushing deep in until he pressed against something that made Greece gasp. He pushed in. He pulled out. All the while, Greece laid there, arching and pressing his feet hard against Japan’s lower back. Hands tangled in his hair and he twisted upwards to kiss Japan deeply, biting at his lower lip.

He wanted it faster, he could tell when their eyes locked. Even in the darkness, those eyes glowed. He grasped at Japan’s biceps, keeping him close, his breath ragged and desperate—begging for more without actually begging. Japan did as he was beckoned, quickening his pace and slamming into Greece’s willing body, invading every inch of him and claiming it as his own. He pumped and Greece shifted to meet him halfway until they’d developed a steady pull on one another, like gravity. Limbs entangled, throats cried for air and space and more, and they did not stop.

Greece let out the softest of sounds—something that would have been a whimper coming from someone else. He bit his lip, his head thrashing back and forth distractingly along the floor, pressing his cheeks against the cold hardwood floor as Japan pounded into him. His hands clawed at Japan’s shoulders, urging him closer, fingers following the bump of vertebrae down his back. He circled his hips, rubbed against him almost teasingly, and Japan forced his attention on the feel of his hands on his hips, the feel of being deep inside of him, feeling him shutter from every inch of his body. His lips and teeth found Greece’s mouth again and he kissed him, kissed his chin, kissed the corner of his mouth, inhaling his smell and feeling his scent as Greece let out that not-whimper again, arching up into him and tugging on his prim black hair greedily.

And then he found the spot he’d been looking for and Greece stiffened, his eyes flying open as his mouth rounded in unsuppressed shock and pleasure. He gasped quietly when Japan rotated his hips and hit the spot again, brushing over it again and again. The response was immediate, and Greece melted in his arms. He lifted one hand, pushing the hair on his forehead away, running his fingers through the brown fringe and just managing to swallow his triumphant smirk. He smoothed away the flyaway, messy hair. Locked with his eyes and kept that gaze steady, even as Greece’s eyelids fluttered and he panted.

He kept slamming into that one spot, the spot that made Greece shudder in one large wave. The grip on his arms tightened, tight enough to almost leave bruises. He was sweating, and his forehead was plastered with dirty brown hair again, despite Japan’s recent ministrations. Japan brushed it aside, absently, hand lingering on his forehead and slipping down to cup his cheek as he moved steadily in and out. His thumb brushed along his cheekbone, following the length of bone and rubbing against Greece’s temple. The tenderness was lost on Greece, his eyes shut and his body tense with expectation.

Japan’s eyes fluttered and he shuttered. His hips slowed, tantalizingly and agonizingly slow. He hit the spot one more, punctuated by Greece’s small yes in encouragement. He rubbed at Greece’s skin, traced the curve of his neck down over the slope of his shoulder, down one arm before he was capturing his hand, entangled their fingers together. He tugged, and Greece whispered something. He jerked his hips, sinking in deeper again, and it silenced anything further Greece was about to say.

He felt a coil of pleasure twisting in his belly as he thrust into Greece. He moaned, loudly, and Japan clenched his eyes shut to prevent them from fluttering much more. It burned, it almost hurt. He ran his hands over the corded muscles of Greece’s legs and felt hands responding in kind, brushing down his back, across his side, over his chest, before cupping his cheeks and holding it there. The hold is almost painful, anchoring him to the earth. His movements increased, became shallower and faster and all the while Greece was thrusting up to meet him until they fell into a rhythm once again.

“I’m—!” Greece said, some minutes later, voice surprisingly polite given the situation.

“Yeah.” Japan cut him off in a rather impolite manner, which was unlike him, slamming back into him as before, hands clenching as he leaned forward, planting his hands on the wooden floor beside Greece, curving his back as he moved in and out of Greece.

One last thrust and the coil released itself. Fingers clenched on his hips, holding him in as he found his release with a shutter rocking his smaller body, to the low groan that seeped out from behind his clenched teeth. He felt his toes curl, felt his shoulders tense up and suddenly release, sinking down a few spaces as he let out a low, shaky breath of ecstasy. Greece’s hold on him tightened, and he clenched his eyes shut as Japan pumped against him one last time, releasing himself inside of him. He felt the warmth spread, but didn’t move to relax, to untangle himself from around Japan.

As Japan spasmed, relaxing after his climax, Greece merely watched him, curled around him and holding him possessively. His face glowed, eyebrows smooth and lips threatening the smallest of smiles. The warmth in him spread, and his heart beat faster than as strictly necessary.

They stayed like that for a long moment, until their breathing began to even out. He felt the last drop of Japan’s release slow, and felt him go limp inside him. The hands cupping his face slowly released, and one fell over his chest and to his hip, while the other settled comfortably on the back of his neck, fingering the sweat-slick black hair fringing the nape of his neck. Slowly, very slowly, Japan pulled himself from Greece and sat back on his knees, not seeming to mind the contact anymore.

Greece contemplated their position for a moment, weighing his options. He licked his lips thoughtfully, chewed on the inside of his cheek, before moving the hand on Japan’s hip upwards to Japan’s face again. Greece said nothing as he slowly lifted one hand, touching the side of Japan’s face gently. Japan turned his head, brushed his lips over the sweaty skin, before dipping down and kissing him firmly on the mouth. He pulled back. Greece closed his eyes and hummed for just a moment before opening them again, watching Japan with an expression that Japan didn’t want to place. Couldn’t place. (Really, really shouldn’t place.)

There was a conspicuous absence between them, absence of tension, honorability… and clothing, for that matter. Greece’s limbs were wrapped rather protectively around Japan, and he tugged him down so they were lying chest to chest. Japan let out a soft sigh, and it wasn’t a bad sound to hear hummed into his ear, Greece thought. In fact, it felt quite nice, in his humble opinion.

But Japan’s thoughts seem to be elsewhere, and his eyebrows knit in concentration once they were chest to chest. Greece looked at him questioningly.

“You didn’t…” Japan began, and then cut off when he couldn’t find a word that wouldn’t be embarrassing. The small rotation of his hips let Greece know exactly what he was talking about.

“Oh,” he said, not sounding too surprised. “No, I guess I didn’t.”

Japan’s frown deepened.

Greece gave him a small smile. “Are you going to do something about it?”

Japan recoiled, but not from disgust. He sat up, brushed off his shoulders free from nonexistent dust, and very politely zipped his pants back up. He cleared his throat, looked modestly embarrassed despite what they’d just done together and what Japan seemed to be steeling himself to do.

Greece felt as if he should say something, but he bit back his words for now. One small hand drifting over Greece’s thigh distracted him for half a second before Japan lowered his mouth and kissed down the trail of hair leading from his belly button to his particular problem, and all coherent thought went flying out the window.

“Oh,” he said intelligently when Japan gripped his hips, dipped his head, and ran his tongue along the length of Greece’s erection. His mouth wrapped firmly around his straining erection.

With encouraging noises sneaking past Greece’s straining mouth, Japan worked at lathering him with his tongue. He slipped it into his mouth and sucked, stroked, and teased. The hands holding his hips kept him down, kept him from jerking up into his mouth and causing him to choke. He did choke quite a number of times, though, whenever he tried to take too much into his mouth. He choked, but didn’t stop.

Greece cried out, once, and then said no more, restraining himself as best he could. One hand threaded through his hair, almost petting it affectionately. The strong hand cupped the back of his head, urged him forward to continue. His other hand clawed at the floor, searching for something tangible to hold on to and finding nothing. His body was tense, as if he were prepared to fight.

He ran his hands over Greece’s hips, down his naked thighs, and back up again, keeping him pinned in place as he mouthed and kissed along his length, tracing the vein and swallowing the hardened flesh as best he could. Whatever he was doing was working wonders on Greece, however, who kept making soft, encouraging noises, jerking his hips haphazardly as his hands raked through his now incredibly messy hair.

But the noises coming from Greece’s mouth were starting to sound like coherent words, and in the back of Japan’s mind he realized the other man was issuing a warning. He glanced up at him, fire smoldering in his half-mast eyes, and he swallowed more of him, as much as he could. He ran his tongue along the underside, staring over the smooth plain of Greece’s chest to lock eyes with him. In the darkness, he was far more daring.

“Nn—!” Greece was about to say before Japan wrapped his lips around the head and sucked, stroking his hand up and down along the rest of the length, inviting his release. And he did, with an arch of his neck, one low cry, and a spasm in his legs as they spread for him. He reached his climax and Japan choked again, clenching his eyes shut and milking him, running his clenched hand up from the root to the tip, where his mouth was. He stroked, worked him as Greece jerked beneath him, rocking his head back and forth and mumbling out a string of nonsense.

Japan waited a moment before pulling back and wiping the back of his hand over his mouth, blushing furiously. Greece laid on his back, sated and smiling distantly. Japan glanced at him, felt the threats of a smile curling over his face, and looked away.

“Well,” he said, distracted, searching where he’d gone and thrown his and Greece’s clothing.

“Hmm,” Greece hummed in agreement, eyes closed and looking a bit like what he was accustomed to seeing—a lazy man resting. The tension in his body was completely dissipated, and save for the bruises, the bandages, and the black eye, he looked almost like he did any other day of the week.

Japan cleared his throat again. “Well—”

“Just enjoy the silence,” Greece muttered, opened his eyes and lifted a hand, grasping Japan’s wrist and tugging him close. “That was nice.”

“Oh,” Japan said intelligently and would have said something more except now Greece had his arms wrapped around Japan and was holding him close to his side. Japan would have protested the intimacy, but that seemed ridiculous at this point. And he didn’t want to move around a lot and aggravate the other man’s injuries. So he rested there, let his forehead drift down to the spot against Greece’s collarbone which was surprisingly comfortable.

Japan heard Greece sigh and felt the hairs on top of his head rustle with the movement of air. He sighed in turn, and curled one arm around the man’s middle, and wondered why exactly he did that.

He’d be gone by sunrise, but at least for now he could settle for a moment with Greece, not as enemies or anything, really. Just there. And that in itself was nice. Outside the walls they had their expectations, their fights, and their decisions.

He turned his head and kissed the side of Greece’s neck.

He wasn’t sure what expression Greece was making, but when he spoke Japan imagined it was accompanied with a smile: “I like that.”

Japan grunted, and looked away, blushing.

Greece laughed, and his lips brushed over Japan’s temple.

“You’re going to get sick if you don’t put clothes back on,” Japan reminded awkwardly after a moment of lying against Greece.

Greece made a sound that could have been agreement, but Japan couldn’t be sure. “You kept your pants on. I wanted to see you naked.”

Japan knew this wasn’t meant to be a joke, and that only made it worse. He’d forgotten how shameful Greece could be on these matters—whenever they came up, which was not often at all, Japan liked to maintain some dignity in these areas. He made a small grunting noise, noncommittal.

“Oh well,” Greece murmured. “Next time.”

Japan’s lips pursed. “You sound so sure.”

Greece swiveled his head, and this time, even in the darkness, Greece could tell he was smiling fondly. “I am sure. That there will be a next time.”

Japan decided correcting him, or agreeing with him, was too much work. So he closed his eyes and feigned sleep. Greece seemed satisfied with this, and just continued holding him.