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Everything Will Be Alright

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The urge flourished stronger through his system with each passing day. It began in the subtlest manner, but the changes were there. It was reassurance, punishment, and everything else Romano knew deep down he needed. The Italian dug deeper and deeper, marking his body for what he thought himself to be; undeserving of even his own skin. Teeth grit and eyes squeezed shut, Romano dragged his nails down tan skin, leaving dark angry marks in their wake. It’s not self-harm, I’m not some fucking pansy. He told himself, it’s just scratching.

-

These days, Romano felt as though he was in a constant daze, not quite fully aware of his surroundings or even how much time had passed. World meetings certainly were the worst and as luck would have it, he found himself forced into another one. Italy insisted Romano take his place since the clumsy and rather naïve brother of his had managed to injure himself again doing something stupid.

If he hadn’t begged me with those stupid fucking puppy eyes I’d have punched him straight in the face. He thought bitterly, signature scowl not misplaced among his features. Satisfied in his minimal preparation for the meeting, Romano quickly found a place as far from other countries as he could get and sat down in his seat of choice with a huff. The Italian crossed his arms and leaned back to relax a bit. No one paid him any mind, not that they ever did to begin with, until Germany approached him almost with a look of uncertainty. Romano could spot the German from a mile away and made no move to greet him; he was already very comfortable in his seat thank you.

“Guten Morgen, Romano.” The blonde stood tall (seriously was this guy a fucking tower?), body posture straighter than a goddamn pole. The Italian unwillingly made eye contact in acknowledgement.

“Ugh, what do you want, potato bastard?” Romano spat, eyes narrowing. He just wanted to be left alone; after all, he’d gotten pretty good at it lately. Germany was not fazed by the undesirable nickname, already being used to the Italian’s antics.

“I assume you’re taking Italy’s place today, but why isn’t he here?” Romano pretended not to notice the edge of concern lacing the German’s words since that would only send him into a raging fury. His brother was too stupid to see it, but any imbecile (besides Italy apparently) could tell that Kraut Breath’s feelings for North Italy were not platonic; though the potato also seemed not to realize it himself.

“The fucking moron hurt himself chasing a damn cat into a thorn bush. He cried for an hour and kept saying he was going to die so I came just to shut him up. He’s fine alright? Don’t get your damn panties in a wad and leave me alone, bastard.” With his statement being final, Romano childishly spun around in the swivel chair, back facing Germany. He listened to the slowly receding footsteps before breathing out a sigh of relief.

The relief didn’t last long with a sudden pang of anxiety that hit him. Romano subconsciously dug his nails into the arm of his long-sleeved uniform, trying to suppress the thoughts beginning to overwhelm him. Why should I care if that shit storm thinks he’s got a chance with Veneziano? Nails dug deeper. No one’s good enough for him, no one’s even as good as he is. Nails bit through the fabric. He’s just the perfect country, always happy and cheerful and upbeat. No wonder so many countries want to be around him. I wouldn’t exactly be anyone’s first choice-

“SETTLE DOWN!” Germany’s voice boomed, causing Romano to be jerked out of his thoughts. Canada let out a yelp and fell off Prussia’s lap, the white-haired nation slapping a hand over his mouth to hold back a no doubt obnoxious cackle; meanwhile, England quickly dragged America, who had managed to snag a handful of chocolate bars, by the collar back to their seats. The once rambunctious room had become silent in a matter of seconds. “We have a meeting to get through.” The German’s cold blue eyes scoured the enormous table of gathered personified countries. Romano noticed a lingering burning sensation on his arm where his nails had dug in and strongly wished he’d stayed at home.

-

He did not come back from the meeting in a good mood. Italy didn’t press the issue only when Romano called him a particularly nasty name, one his brother would typically refrain from using. Several days later, Romano woke from a siesta to the smell of Veneziano’s cooking. Stumbling off the couch, the Italian wandered into his shared kitchen to see his brother at the stove, steam rising from the pans sitting on top. The younger male hummed to himself before noticing a certain grumpy country standing in the doorway.

“Ve~ its almost ready.” Italy sang enthusiastically, stirring the source of the aromatic smell. His mousy brown hair bounced along with his lithe body, giving him that childish, innocent look his brother so envied. Romano said nothing and waited patiently, settling for watching his brother cook like it was the most natural thing in the world; although, of course even with as talented as Italy was in cooking, there were still fresh spices and tomato sauce everywhere. A knock at the door broke Romano out of his calm state, and he gave his brother a puzzled glance. Before he could say something, Italy nervously giggled.

“I just invited some company.” He said in a rushed manner, cowering back upon seeing the sudden anger in Romano’s body language. “W-we both need it and we haven’t seen him in so long and I just thought we could all have dinner together like we used to so please don’t hit me okay?” The younger Italian watched closely for any sign that he should run, but Romano gripped the door frame in uncertainty, turning his back. The nation fitting this description properly was not one South Italy would be content with.

“No,” He seemed to say in disbelief and ran towards the entrance to their shared home. It’s not him. It had better not fucking be him or I swear to the Holy God I will- Romano swung the door open.

“Hola Romano! Did you miss me?” The Italian was met with a flash of emerald eyes and the widest, stupidest smile he knew could only belong to one country.

“You’re fucking kidding me.” Spain’s smile only grew wider and he ruffled Romano’s hair lightly with one hand. “G-get your fucking hand out of my hair, you Spanish bastard!” He bat at Spain with both hands and smoothly pressed his hair back into place, curl bouncing back up as it always did.

“Fusososo, come now don’t be so grumpy.” His signature laugh rang through the comfy living space as he stepped into the house. “I missed you both very much you know. I was surprised when little Ita sent me the invitation to join you guys for dinner.” Romano looked away from his boss of a time long gone, pulling at his sleeve just a little. Spain always made him feel so exposed and he tensed in fear that the easygoing country could see his covered-up scratch marks. He would never admit out loud to missing the days Spain had raised him, when he knew every time Romano was upset and would hold him tightly, but it was nice to be understood and loved even if it had been a long time ago.

“Big brother Spain!” There was a sudden rush of wind and Italy had run past Romano and straight into the arms of Spain. The taller country spun him around, giggling like an idiot, before placing him gently back on his feet. The two went back and forth with their overly familiar way of being around each other. South Italy always felt sickened by the display and promptly removed himself from the room, his folded arms tightened as he pressed his nails through the fabric.

“Are we going to eat or what? Morons.” He placed himself at the set table and glared as the other two entered on their own time, Spain’s gaze quickly looking Romano over before taking a seat across from him. The Spaniard grinned but the hardheaded Italian refused to look in the idiot’s direction. This was going to be a long dinner.

-

It happened to be just that: long. Italy and Spain bantered on and on with stories from the past and were lost in their own little world. Occasionally, though, Romano would catch Spain’s green eyes move to him if just for a second. What are you staring at, dipshit? If the bastard had something to say, Romano wished he’d say it; the constant burn he discerned from Spain’s incessant staring heated his cheeks. It wasn’t intentional, but Romano would find his fingers gripping harshly into his arm and kept forcing himself to stop. The Italian hurriedly finished his meal, which always tasted phenomenal when his little brother cooked, and excused himself to the kitchen with his plate.

What he had not expected was for the loud chatter to die down once he’d left the room. In its stead, hushed murmurs barely reached Romano. He rinsed his plate, pretending not to be bothered in the slightest. However, when he’d caught his name being used, Romano’s stomach twisted uncomfortably. He shuffled stealthily closer, enough to barely make out the words.

“… and you saw it, right?” Italy’s higher pitched voice hardly qualified as a whisper, but Romano found it a struggle to catch Spain’s words.

“Si, but you know how strong spirited mi amor is. Don’t worry so much little Ita, I’ll do my best to help.” The eldest Italian’s eyebrows rose in inquisition to the Spaniard’s words.

“My love”? He doesn’t mean mio fratello? Not that I care who the tomato bastard associates himself with. So what if he loves Italy, who doesn’t? He’s the one perfect at everything and I’m, the one who yells and insults people. It was difficult to ignore how his fingers itched to claw marks into his arms again. That jealousy was back. The envy consumed him so easily when it came to Spain. It was hard enough to accept how his little brother possessed everything Romano lacked, but a slightest suggestion that he also held Spain’s affection caused his chest to ache in a way he couldn’t explain. Clenching his fists tightly and nails indenting half-circle marks into his palms, Romano strode out of the kitchen, headed straight for his room. The two at the table called for him but to no avail. Pausing by the hallway only to announce he would retire for the night, he rushed out of sight.

Slamming the door behind him, Romano found his knees to be weak and knelt on the floor near his bed. He ripped up his sleeve and sank his nails into the already harmed skin. Dark lines and spots littered his tan arm. They usually went away within a day or so when his mood wasn’t so severe; however, today would not be one of those days. Feeling the intense pain pierce him, Romano’s eyes glazed over and the process of clutching, scratching, and dragging nails into his skin took over. Rugged, uneven nails always made it too easy. Closing his eyes, the male clawed deeper and deeper, clutching into his skin and willing it to hurt enough to make him forget the distressing pangs in his head.

It’s not like that fucking idiota would think of me in such a way... I’m not all that great. I was never good enough to begin with. Grandpa Rome thought so too, even if he never said it out loud. Similar words repeated themselves over and over in his head until he knew he’d be sick. The skin of his exposed forearm itched so badly, and no amount of scratching seemed to do the trick. He scratched and clutched and dug until the burning and aggravated skin at long last tore, blood starting to make its way down his arm. Yet even the sight of his torn skin wouldn’t stop him; he couldn’t. It wasn't like he was a horrible and cold person, it just came across that way. His biting remarks were second nature and being affectionate or touchy feely was difficult. So why couldn't others understand that about him? Why did they look at him with disgust and keep their distance? Why did everyone end up turning to Veneziano? The more it was dwelled upon, the more blame and absolute self-loathing coursed through his heart. In the midst of his internal torment, something transpired, of which Romano no longer thought he was capable of. Suddenly finding it hard to breathe, his vision was clouded till he could no longer see and hot trails raced down both cheeks. Romano, crying? When was the last time he’d ever sunk that low? He couldn’t remember, but his eyes were closed tightly in shame. Even through his tears, the nation relentlessly mutilated his burning, stinging, and bleeding arm.

Romano hadn’t heard the door to his room open, but felt the hands yank his own from the bloody mess before him. Auburn hues blinked open to meet blazing emerald ones. A familiar, comforting warmth radiated from the pair of arms wrapped around him, pressing his face into a broad shoulder. He couldn’t place it, with how disconnected his mind had become, and all he could sense was a calming presence. What reached his ears were not words, but muffled sounds of someone speaking frantically. Romano couldn’t get himself to focus on the meaning, or the voice talking to him for that matter; the ringing in his ears prevented him from doing anything of the sort. A wave of exhaustion had overcome him and his body slumped against the warm one, arm pulsing with heat and pain as the blood continued down its path. The hand Romano was still strong enough to move, pathetically gripped at the shirt his face was still buried in. Romano struggled to breathe through his silent sobs, but his eyes were heavy and ached to be closed. Why am I always so fucking useless? The thought had no sooner occurred to him than his mind began to shut down and he slipped into unconsciousness.

-

A fierce burning sensation throbbed along the length of his arm. Romano vaguely sensed someone humming, as well as fingers stroking gently through his hair. The nation groaned quietly and leaned into the touch, blinking the blur from his waking vision until the humming abruptly stopped. Upon registering what he was seeing, Romano completely froze, eyes locked onto the face of a familiar Spaniard. The green-eyed country seemed just as surprised for he drew back his hand which had been intertwined with the Italian’s muss of dark hair. Romano sat straight up, a blanket falling from him, and he stared in shock. A second passed like a minute before either of them seemed to breathe.

Spain broke the silence with a small, apologetic laugh. “Lo siento, Romano. I didn’t mean to wake you.” He smiled widely but his eyes flickered nervously. South Italy finally got himself together.

“W-what the fuck were you doing, watching me sleep? That’s fucking creepy you know.” Romano glared with his body angled away. The Spaniard shook his head.

“I wanted to make sure when you woke up, someone would be here with you. Seriously though, you Italians sure can sleep.” He laughed again, this time with more of a genuine “Spain” ring to it. Only at this point did Romano realize that Spain’s eyes were ringed with dark circles. The younger male took a long moment to remember every detail of his meltdown, at which point the burning sensation he’d momentarily forgotten about came back full force. He gazed down to see his tanned forearm wrapped in white bandages, red spots leaking through areas. This alone was enough to throw away any smart-ass comment he normally would’ve been able to come up with. The cheerful country was trying to make light of their current situation.

Spain was obviously the one who’d seen what he had done to himself. That sick nauseating feeling returned, seemingly with a vengeance. How disgusting. He thought. Vile and disgusting. What were you thinking you fucking idiot? How could you show him that weak, pathetic side of yours? No wonder he never wants to be around you anymore. His mind hadn’t hesitated for a second to berate himself, having been deemed necessary a long time ago. Perhaps it was the day Grandpa Rome died or maybe it was the day Spain had kicked Romano out and told him to return to Veneziano. The very thought caused his skin to itch and he was desperate to scratch yet again. A hand gently rested on his shoulder and Romano forced himself to glance up. The Spaniard’s mouth was open and he tried to say something, but couldn’t get anything out. Despite it being a first for Spain to not have something to say, the Italian swallowed any nasty remarks. It took a minute, but Romano was patient, so his old boss finally gave a long sigh and spoke.

“Listen to me, Roma,” Spain’s tone of voice was not one Romano was familiar with; the sound being deep and urgent, “You’ve had Italy worried sick about you and he’s been holding back from confiding in anyone for so long. He finally talked to me and told me what you’ve been doing. I knew to expect something bad, but Dios mío I thought my heart was going to stop in my chest when I saw you like that.” Romano’s face burned in shame. “I don’t know what has been hurting you all this time, but please don’t ever do that to yourself again. It kills me to see the one I love in so much pain. I know my presence alone won’t be enough to fix, whatever is going on, but I’d like to think it’s a start. Don’t try to be stubborn and hide away… You trust me, right?” Can’t you trust what I say? The unspoken sentence reached Romano as he remembered a time centuries ago.

Clutching small hands into his maid dress, the little country cried relentlessly. His tall, dark-haired caretaker crouched down, trying to wipe away what tears he could. “Roma shh it’s okay, I’m really not mad about it. I didn’t like that old thing anyways.” He motioned toward the shards of glass littering the floor. Little Romano continued to sob for he knew he was being lied to; he’d seen Spain admire the century old vase and trace his fingers along the distinct and unique pattern many times. “Can’t you trust what I say?” Spain had seen the doubt lingering in Romano’s eyes. “Everything will be alright. I can always get a new vase. Oh! Won’t you paint one for me? You’re so good at art, I’ll even put it right up there, how about that?” Romano used the small pink sleeve to wipe his face, normal pouting scowl returning, and he slowly nodded.

Romano considered telling Spain to get out; thought about lying and saying he didn’t need anyone, as he was used to telling himself. He wanted to belittle the situation just to make the Spaniard leave it alone and push away the reassuring hand softly gripping his shoulder. Romano didn't like being touched anyways, didn't the jerk know that much? Once Spain’s words had fully clicked though, those auburn eyes remained wide and staring, the urge to argue having dissipated.

At long last, it registered with the Italian that Spain had been there for him since the beginning, he just never allowed himself to hope for so much. Romano’s heart thundered in his chest and he slowly nodded. “Everything will be alright.”

Chapter Text

Romano sighed; he’d finally been able to get Spain out of the house. It had only taken hours of South Italy insisting he was fine now and threatening Spain’s kidneys to make the nation finally leave. On his way out, the Spanish nation hugged Italy goodbye, but Romano didn’t miss the sound of a soft whisper or the exchanged looks as he pulled away.

Bastard, thinking he’s slick. Probably telling him to ‘look after’ me. The grumpy male crossed his arms but said nothing. Once the door was closed, Romano spun right around and marched back to his room. Although his sleeve had been pulled over the bandages on his arm, he was still very conscious of it and had no intention of letting his little brother question him. Spain only mentioned Italy being worried and knowing he was harming himself, but nothing about him knowing the events of the previous night. Even if he did know, who cares? There was nothing anyone could do for him anyways.

“It kills me to see the one I love in so much pain.” South Italy shook his head as if that would make Spain’s words cease to exist. He couldn’t wrap his head around the situation. Surely, he said it to make Romano feel better about himself, right? It was stupid to think there was no country in the world who would care about him. In his heart it made sense that Spain cared, but with the older nation finally gone and Romano left to his own mind, his lonely, tortured, warped mind, it seemed too good to be true.

-

He unwound the dirtied strips of fabric and let it all fall to the bathroom floor. Romano tried not to cringe at the sight of his own mangled skin. Without trying to think too much about it, he cleaned his arm thoroughly, washing away the dried blood and medicine Spain had applied. Ignoring the searing pain of water against his skin, Romano finished quickly, pat his arm down with a towel, and simply pulled his sleeve back into place.

The Italian made his way towards the kitchen to find quick food, since he was in no mood to make something extravagant. Grabbing a handful of grape tomatoes from the fridge, he turned around to see Italy watching with large, cautious doe-eyes.

“Can I help you, fratellino? You look lost.” Romano popped one of the tomatoes into his mouth and looked to his brother for a reaction. Italy only gave a half smile.

“Noooo, just bored. How are you and your boyfriend getting along?” Even as he said the words, Italy looked ready to tear around the corner and run for the hills, and rightfully so. Romano nearly dropped his little tomatoes as his face brightened up like one.

“What in the HELL is that supposed to mean?!” South Italy barked loudly. His brother jumped in instinctual panic, but kudos to him, North Italy held his ground.

“W-well I just mean that after dinner, Spain was in your room all night, so I figured uh maybe you two were finally a thing.” Romano couldn’t pick which thought made him flare up the most. Juice began to drip down his arm all along his sleeve and South Italy looked down to see he now held a mush of tomatoes in a tightened fist.

“Dammit!” He clumsily took care of the mess, anger rising. “You listen to me little brother. The next time you say something that weird and disgusting, I will pummel you into the shape of a damn pizza! Is that clear?” The redness in his face just would not leave him alone, impacting what would normally be a promising threat. Italy bounced on his toes, eyes closed to show that he was, for some reason, rather relaxed now.

“Ve~ so its not true? I thought for sure you’d admitted your feelings and Spain could finally be happy with you!” The younger male tipped his head slightly in feigned passiveness. “Shame since he likes you so much.”

This bastard is messing with me. Romano’s eyes narrowed as he scoffed. “How do you figure? Just because I grew up with him, it doesn’t mean he likes me.” The venom in his words died away quite suddenly, as he reflected on his own thoughts about that.

“Hmm, maybe not.” Italy tentatively stepped closer. “But that’ll have to make him a stalker then, because your phone has been getting text messages from him like crazy for a while now… I didn’t steal it! You left it on the counter last night when you went to your room.” The younger nation held out his brother’s cell phone to him.

Romano quickly snatched it away. “You’re the only stalker around here, Veneziano, looking through someone else’s phone.” With no further comment being made, the Italian scrolled through message after pointless message all from Spain. Things like: “I saw a kitty in the yard when I left omg :D” or “The weather is so nice, I know you haven’t bothered to look outside yet tho lol.” Romano deleted as many messages as he could until he reached one of the most recent, upon which he paused. “I get if you don’t want to talk about it, but I’m always here to listen. Just know that at least.” He hovered over the delete button, but sighed and opted for slipping the phone into his pocket.

-

Spain had spent several days trying to convince Romano to go for walks with him along the countryside around the Italy brothers’ home. He finally decided to try it, mostly so Veneziano would shut the hell up about him lying in bed all day.

For the most part, the walks were admittedly a nice change. He wasn’t an idiot though; Romano knew he wanted to talk about the incident. His arm was littered in scars, which he thought would probably never heal by this point. He’d even tried to scratch himself a few times afterwards, but every single time, Spain’s stupid face would appear in his mind and make Romano sick to his stomach. It wasn’t like South Italy’s attitude had changed since that day either, almost like he was trapped in a constant depressed daze, but to his surprise, Spain never once brought any of it up. Eventually, it grated on his nerves so much, Romano just had to say something.

Both males strolled down the path they had tread many times by now, the breezy, warm air surrounded them in a reassuring manner, as though the weather would always be like this. Spain did what he usually did on their walks, spoke about meaningless things for the sake of conversation and asked simple questions about Romano’s day or how Italy was doing. After giving it serious thought, Romano slowed to a stop. Spain only halted a few feet ahead of him, a flash of concern flitting across his features for a mere second as he turned to face the younger man.

“Eh, Roma-“

“What the hell are you trying to accomplish with this?” The Spaniard could only manage to stutter profusely, unable to formulate a coherent sentence. Romano rolled his eyes. “The walks. Why have you been dragging me out here, what’s the point? Just tell me the damn truth.” The Spanish male considered Romano for a moment before answering him.

“Well, I… wanted to spend more time with you. I don’t think I was doing enough of that before. And maybe I thought you would, start to feel better. I offered before to listen if you wanted to talk, not dog you about walking every day just so that you would spill all your secrets. I won’t hide how much I’d like to know though; I want to help.” It sounded like a plea, and Romano didn’t want to admit the effect it had on him. The two were silent for a long moment, Romano thinking and Spain waiting. Once the younger one put it together in his head, he spoke.

“Fine. Since you want to know that badly, I’ll lay it out for you: I’m a worthless piece of shit. I always have been, and you know it-”

“Romano that’s not-“

“Let me talk dammit!” South Italy’s voice was unexpectedly loud and infuriated. Spain instantly shrank back and silently bit his lip. After more than enough time had passed, the Italian continued. “Veneziano’s the better one, and everyone knows it. Even my own grandfather chose him over me, not to mention the time Austria did the same thing. I know it’s not easy being around me, I’m around me all the time, but why is it that in a world full of nations who are loved, it’s like I’m the only one who’s not?” Romano grew quiet, suddenly wishing he’d kept his mouth shut. He hadn’t even said the worst of it all, but this much was enough to cause panic to rise within him. Panic induced by the mere thought that he was coming across as annoying and weak. Spain, meanwhile, took a few slow steps toward him.

“You aren’t worthless, Roma,” the older nation’s voice was soft and insistent, “And I told you before, didn’t I? I don’t want to see my loved one in pain. It still tears me up that I knew you were hurting and couldn’t do anything besides carry you into bed and treat your arm. Do you get what I’m telling you? I mean it, Romano, I love you and I have for so long. I’m sorry if I haven’t shown it enough or been there for you like I should have. You can’t possibly know how much I’ve regretted that every moment of every day since I sat by your bed that night and wiped away too much of your blood.”

Romano felt suddenly trapped. The panic caused his heart to beat rapidly in his chest. He must think I’m so stupid. And horrible. And crazy. And selfish. He gripped into his arm and squeezed slightly, though it was a subconscious movement. He needed Spain’s words to be real, but to be loved? That couldn't be possible at this point. I don't want you to leave me.

“Why?” Despite the initial coolness he’d managed, it crumbled away with each time his voice audibly shook. “How could you love me when Italy is right there in front of you? He’s everything I’m not, and I can’t stand the thought that one day you might eventually choose him over me too. My brother means so damn much to me, but I’m so fucked up in the head that most days I don’t even know if I want a brother anymore. Other days I think he would be better off without one.” Now he’d done it. Nails gripped painfully into his arm and Romano’s face had heated up with tears begging to be released.

Spain ran his fingers through his hair in frustration. Romano knew very well how upset Spain was becoming. There were many more things he wanted to say, but refrained from it to allow the other man to speak his mind. Romano painfully swallowed back his tears.

“I don’t know what the right thing to say here is,” Spain admitted, “I want you to trust me. I want you to just be able to know that I would never look at him the way I do you. I thought I made it clear years ago; however, this conversation itself proves otherwise. I could never explain my feelings for you, Romano, not in a million years. I simply believe in the intensity of it… but please do not dismiss Italy so easily. The reason he came to me in the first place is because he wasn’t confident that he would be enough for you. Perhaps he sensed his help wasn’t the kind you needed. Overall, we both want you to be happy. Hurting yourself will never lead you to happiness.” The taller male reached over and gently took Romano’s hand into his. The Italian had to make an extreme effort not to rip his own away out of natural tendency.

“You’re an idiota, Spain.” His words lacked the defensive venom that usually laced his every syllable. He was afraid; afraid of being abandoned again. Afraid that, despite Spain’s proclamation of love, he would eventually throw him away. Romano didn’t dare get too close to someone, lest they hurt him, but by God he couldn’t take this crushing loneliness or despair anymore. Most of it he already knew came from his overly self-conscious nature and hatred for himself. He wanted to be rid of it all and focus only on what the older country had said to him. One day, he would have to straighten things out with Italy and tell him how grateful he was for his brother despite the thoughts terrorizing him, but that day would have to wait.

Upon hearing Romano’s “kind” words, Spain’s lips curled up in a slight smile. Slowly, he moved his hand away from the Italian’s and trailed up to stroke Romano’s forearm; the one currently holding the most scars.

“It doesn’t hurt anymore, does it?” He cautiously continued his movements, watching for a reaction. Romano pushed back the chills running along his spine at the sensation and gave a curt shake of his head. “Good.” Neither of them had anything to say further about the subject. Spain had said his part and now it was up to his beloved to seek him out. Romano, meanwhile, would try his damnest to take the help he was being given, as well as take the risk of allowing Spain to be closer than anyone had ever been to him in the past. The Spanish nation intertwined his fingers with South Italy’s and tugged him in a different direction.

“Why don’t we go back to the house? I’m sure I can figure out something to make us for lunch.” Spain’s carefree demeanor had returned, it seemed. Romano’s hand tightened around the warmer, familiar one.

“Whatever. Don’t make that stupid fucking dish you made last time though. It was such a pain in the ass to clean up afterwards.” At this, Spain laughed loudly; the sound resonating deep inside Romano, and for a second, just a second, the corners of his mouth turned upwards in a faint, genuine smile. The heaviness that had been weighing down on Romano’s heart for far too long, was slowly being lifted.