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Treading on Thin Ice

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Romano cringed inwardly. There were only two people who would be eager to sit next to him with so many other seats available, and one of them was currently attempting to squeeze into the same chair as Germany.

“Sit somewhere else,” he grumbled.

Spain plopped down on the chair anyways, oblivious as always, and poked his shoulder playfully. “Huh? But why? Are you still mad about yesterday? I’m really sorry, I didn’t mean to forget about you.”

“You left. Without a fucking explanation.”

“But I apologized this morning!”

“Yeah, through thirty stupid texts. But it never struck you to say something when you decided to ditch me?”

Spain’s guilty grin didn’t do much to appease him. “Okay, I forgot. You were in the bathroom and I guess I forgot about that, and then I got a call from Prussia, and then… I kind of ran off, ahaha.”

Romano snorted.

“At least you didn’t have to wait for long, right? Italy came and picked you up.”

Sure, so maybe in the end he didn’t have to spend a night slumped over on a barstool. So what? That wasn’t the point. It was the fact that Spain had walked out on him the instant his friends called. Was he that negligible that Spain could completely forget about him? He had picked them over him. Every time Romano thought the bastard actually…cared about him, he always had to go and screw it up.

Then, as always, there was the excuse of him being clueless and forgetful. It was confusing, choosing whether to interpret Spain’s actions as innocent simplemindedness or simply him not giving a shit. But Romano rarely gave people the benefit of the doubt, and in the end his head felt so overwhelmed it was easier to act like he didn’t care.

He snatched his briefcase up from the floor and started shoving his papers inside. “You know what? Fine. It doesn’t matter.”

Spain looked up hopefully. “You forgive me?”

“No,” he snorted, “But if you don’t think you did anything wrong, then don’t waste your fucking time apologizing.”

“No, that’s not it! I feel bad, and that’s why I’m apologizing! I just don’t think you have to sulk for so long, especially since nothing bad happened in the end.”

Sulking, like he was still a child.

A few papers jutted out as Romano slammed the top down, obstructing the lock. Muttering a few curses, he pounded on the lid until it unwillingly fastened. “I’ll stop sulking when I stop seeing your face,” then he jumped to his feet.

Spain caught his arm before he could move. “Hey, slow down! Is everything okay?”

That made everything worse. Why couldn’t Spain just let stop trying to act like such a nice guy? If he'd just let him leave Romano would be able to better justify his anger.

“I'm fine!”

Spain didn’t loosen his grip, but instead scrutinized his face, as if the answer would be written somewhere on his face.

“You got your answer!  Now let go of me!”

“You’ll forgive me, right, Romano? I mean, I know it takes time with youWith you, like he was the one with the problem "but sometime soon?” Spain’s face lit up again, as if he had completely forgotten what they were talking about, “Because I was thinking later this week, maybe we could

“Are you crazy?” Romano snapped, snatching his arm back. Was Spain really asking him to hang out, like he didn’t care that he was upset? Maybe it wasn’t that big of a deal, but a little thoughtfulness wouldn’t kill him.

“Romano?”

They were drawing a few curious stares, but Romano didn’t care. Him yelling at Spain wasn’t anything new, and as expected, most of their audience glanced away within a few seconds.

“I’m not doing anything with you! Not again!”

It wasn't so much pain, but rather confusion, that flashed through Spain’s eyes. “But... why? I promise I won’t forget you this time.”

“That's not the point!  It's because you ruin everything! You already wrecked my childhood, so you should at least have the decency to stop fucking up the rest of my life.”

“Romano...” Spain, for once, appeared to be at a loss for words, “Don’t you think you’re overreacting a little? Okay, if it makes you feel better, go ahead and yell at me. But what you're saying about the past has nothing to do with what happened yesterday.”

“Nothing to do with it? Fine, let’s just forget about the time you tried to pick my brother over me, just like you always pick your friends over me.”

“What happened at the bar was nothing like that! When Prussia called, I really thought he had an emergency, and I forgot you were still in the bathroom. And I’m sorry I compared you to your brother back then, it was beyond stupid of me, and I would love to go back and stop myself from saying it. But it happened ages ago.”

“What? So you’re telling me I should just stop caring? Am I supposed to just get over every shit move you make just because you’re an idiot? Hate to break it to you, but that’s not a fucking disability.”

“No, that's not it!” Spain jumped to his feet. “Don’t you know how important you are to me, Romano? I’m sorry I said I liked your brother better without taking the time to get to know you. I’ve told you that so many times! You can’t just use that same incident as justification every time you’re mad at me.”

“Maybe it’s cause you don’t learn from your fucking mistakes! You’re such a fucking brainless idiot!”

“I might make you angry, but never on purpose! I know that I can be a little irritating sometimes. Don’t you remember how many times Austria has yelled at me? France? Prussia? Eveneven Belgium has lost her temper with me before. I’m not perfect, you aren’t either. I don’t stay mad when you hit me or lose your temper. We’re supposed to forgive each other’s faults, right?”

Romano took a step backwards. “SoSo you’re saying I have a lot of faults?”

“What? No!  Why would you?” Spain smacked his forehead. “Look, I’m just saying you don’t need to get so worked up over these things when no one else takes them so personally. I don’t try to make you upset!”

“Y-Yeah? Well, maybe it’s because you don’t try to do anything. There’s nothing you take seriously.”

Spain choked out a laugh.  After a moment, he said “Christ, Romano.  What do you want from me?”

“What the fuck do you mean?”

“What are you trying to get out of this? What on earth am I supposed to say?"  Spain's voice was growing louder with every word.  "I’m clearly not making you feel better like this, so tell me what you want me to do!”

“I… I want you to…go away. And stop wasting your time with me, since you clearly don’t care. You never did.”

Spain took a long breath.  “...Alright," he conceded.  "If that's what you want. I understand I can’t always hug you and make you happy. I wish I was able to, but I can’t change the way you think.”

Maybe Romano had said he wanted to be left alone, but hearing Spain admit that he was too much trouble hurt far worse.

“Because you don’t care," he bit out, eyes stinging.

“No, because you insist on playing the victim.”

“Still better than you, asshole.  After what you've done, all you can do is play dumb. You just giggle and say ‘oops’ every time you destroy something, right?

Spain narrowed his eyes.  “What are you talking about now?”

“The past, Spain. What you keep insisting we all forget. You must be some kind of secret sadist, huh? All the people you allowed to get raped and murdered" Spain winced "But let’s just forget about that. You were doing it for your empire. Isn’t that right?”

“Are you serious? We all did bad things, Romano, and I’m sorry. There isn’t a day that goes by that I’m not sorry. Things are different now.”

“Some remorse coming from a bastard who didn’t do shit to make it up. You get away with a lot of things, don’t you?”

Spain opened his mouth, but the words died as quickly as they came.  He shook his head, a low sigh escaped.

And then he turned on his heels and walked the other way.

Just like that.

As if their argument meant nothing.

It made Romano sick to his stomach.  In a few hours, Spain would return to his usual chipper and unaffected self.

But Romano was different. There was no way he could get over this. Not until they fucking talked it out. Not until Spain hugged him and promised and promised again until Romano maybe actually believed him that time.

It wasn’t fair.

Before he realized it, he was storming after Spain.  He grabbed him by the shoulder, shouting:

“Don’t think I’ve forgotten!  Seeing what you were like, I’m surprised you didn’t just force yourself on me when I was a kid

Maybe Romano should have seen it from the way Spain stiffened immediately.

Before he could even think of reacting, Spain whirled around.  Romano heard the impact of his fist before the pain hit him.

The world jerked to a halt.

Romano stumbled backwards, clutching his stinging cheek. “YouYou

There was a lump in his throat that he continuously had to swallow down. Whispered murmurs of shock surrounded them, but he could only stare ahead, wide-eyed.

Spain had never hit him. Not once. Not when he wet the bed, kicked him, purposely uprooted all his tomato plants, told him he hated him out of spite. Never.

He would have found it easier to see something terrifying, find the lurking shadow of a monster within Spain.  But when he met his eyes there was nothing, no evil, no hatred.  Spain stared at him levelly.  Not angry, not hurt, not triumphant.  Just… exhausted. Romano's ears buzzed with the deafening silence.

Then, Spain’s shoulders slumped and he took a long breath. Everything rushed back to life.

“I love you, Romano. I really do. But you’re not a kid anymore, and there are times when I justjust can’t do this.”

He shrugged his shoulders helplessly, his eyes never leaving Romano's until he turned on his heels.  His footsteps cut through the silence as he swept out of the room, the door clicked shut behind him.

Romano wished he had slammed it.