Startled by the already fading wisps of a dream about falling, Romano’s eyes fluttered open blearily. Blinking slowly, once, twice, caught still in the silent space between slumber and waking, he looked into the blue-gray light of the bedroom, no sliver of sun yet breaking through, and knew one thing was certain: it was too damned early to be awake. He let his eyes drift shut, sinking back into the warmth beneath him. The bed was soft and inviting and there was a warm breeze that warned of a hot day on the horizon rustling through the curtains tempting him to sleep once again.
Besides, his thoughts moving languidly as though through a sleep soaked sea, Spain makes for an excellent pillow. At that his eyes opened once again, feigning shock that he had somehow managed to become tangled with Spain during the night before realizing that no one else was awake to witness his half-hearted performance. His traitorous heart made no such protest, his mind too unguarded in the early moments of waking to deny that he was the one performing the entanglement: his head resting within the crook of Spain’s outstretched arm, one leg thrown over his torso, one hand settled directly over Spain’s gently beating heart.
In a waking hour, he would have been mortified enough to scuttle to the other side of the bed, hurling curses at Spain’s presumption, trying to quell the embarrassing speed of his racing heart. Here and now, in a moment no longer night but not yet day, in the quiet stillness, unencumbered by his daytime pride, Romano gave in and settled back down, nestling into Spain’s warmth. “When the eyes are closed, the heart is open”, he figured, indulging in his rare and carefully guarded brand of romanticism, pressing his body in just a little closer.
Closing his eyes and trying to match his breathing to the steady rise and fall of Spain’s chest, the thought that he had in fact gone to bed alone last night crossed his mind. As his fingers traced soft patterns on Spain’s sleeping skin, he drifted through the events of the past evening.
At Spain’s enthusiastic insistence, he’d come over to his house in Madrid, demanding and receiving dinner and drinks, feeling too tired from the week’s work to engage in more than brief snippets of conversation. For his part, Spain didn’t seem bothered by the unexpected peace, smiling as blithely as ever. Lulled by the evening’s quiet and the hum of wine in his blood, Romano had even acquiesced to Spain’s cheery request to sit outside on the balcony, watching the late night city dwellers come and go. They’d been lazing in Spain’s rickety chairs, silent in the humid night air, when much to Romano’s surprise, Spain sighed his name before leaning over and kissing him softly.
For a brief moment, Romano had let himself kiss back before the wild thumping of his heart and the sound of his blood rushing in his ears and the sweat already gathering on his palms made him push away, blushing furiously. He’d cursed Spain for an idiot, ignoring the resigned hurt on his face, yelling that someone, anyone could have seen them. He had shaken free from Spain’s pleading hands before running off to the bedroom and falling into a troubled sleep.
And yet here he was, mere hours later, curled up and clinging to the man he’d run from. As always, much to his never ending relief, Spain had come after him. No matter how he protested, how far he fled, or what lies his pride told, Spain--- his (beloved) oblivious, foolish Spain—always read between his lines and came for him. Where Romano’s courage failed, Spain’s tenacity prevailed, through centuries of their game of catch and release.
“I hope you always come for me,” Romano whispered into Spain’s shoulder, kissing him lightly, causing Spain to shiver in his sleep, “I think I will always be waiting for you, even if you are a bastard.”
In the farthest reaches of his mind, in moments like in the blurred space between reality and dreams, Romano sometimes wondered why Spain still followed him, why he would crawl into bed with a man who had turned his affection away. He clung a little harder to Spain, as if he could make up for the distance of daylight with unguarded affection when no one was looking.
He wondered if Spain smiled and catered to his quicksilver moods, just as he attempted to ignore the other man’s “charming” idiosyncrasies, because he was patiently waiting for the mornings when Romano woke up in his embrace and stayed.
Warm memories of few golden days scattered over decades floated through Romano’s mind like a happy lullaby. Though it had happened but rarely (of his own doing he knew, he was sure that Spain would have been content to have it be this way every day), these were times he could recall with perfect clarity. Precious mornings when he woke to Spain and being too lazy, too comfortable, too content, (too in love) to do anything but stay exactly where he was. Those rare mornings would turn into afternoons of tangled limbs and quickened breathing, sheets tumbling to the floor, only to be retrieved later for evenings of wine and dinner in bed as the sun set against their still naked skin.
Turning his face into Spain’s neck and pressing his lips against his thrumming pulse, he made the silent promise that when dawn finally came, together they would make another memory worthy of daydreams.
Contented to let these happy thoughts lull him back to sleep, Romano was startled when he felt something wet drip on to his shoulder. He opened his eyes, pulling back far enough to lean forward and peer into Spain’s sleeping face. Romano’s heart fluttered, much to his own dismay. To Romano, even slack with sleep, green eyes sadly hidden from Romano’s hungry gaze, Spain was unfairly good looking, with his dark tousled hair, sun-kissed cheeks, and parted lips.
Romano snorted softly when he noticed the line of drool that had fallen from said parted lips onto his shoulder. This was the Spain he kept hidden in his heart…endearing and annoying all at once.
Gently, he brushed his thumb along Spain’s chin, removing the wetness, letting his finger drift over his lips, a ghost of a touch. Irritatingly irresistible, he grumbled to himself, transfixed until Spain’s lips closed over the tip of his finger, responding to him even in sleep.
Shivering at the intimacy of the moment, Romano wondered again why Spain always noticed him. Why did he have this man’s attention, why he had the adoration of a nation who had once been an empire, who kept the company of other conquerors, when he, Romano, had never ruled much of anything, had only been a nation (a nation not even his alone) for so short a time, when he brought so little to the table.
What he did know, as he looked down at Spain, was that he was glad, so glad, that he was the one that Spain chose.
I choose you, too…
“Shhhh, Romano. You’re thinking too loud.”
Relieved that even now Spain knew just when to come and rescue him from himself, Romano stroked the hair back from Spain’s forehead, murmuring, voice low and affectionate, “Even when you sleep you say stupid things.”
Eyes still closed, Spain smiled, reaching across his chest with his free hand in clear invitation, “Come here.”
“I am here,” Romano returned as he intertwined fingers with Spain’s.
“Mmm, I meant here,” Spain said with half opened eyes, still heavy with sleep, as he kissed the back of the hand that was joined with his.
With a rare smile gracing his features, Romano leaned over, hair falling forward to frame his face; he whispered “Idiot Spain,” against Spain’s warm and waiting lips. For a moment they kissed slow and soft in the waning blue light, the first hints of morning sun peeking beneath the curtain.
Breaking away, Romano took one last surreptitious look at Spain’s happy face, his happy eyes and now pinked lips. Spain’s eyes fluttered closed as he urged Romano to lie back down, tugging gently on their still joined hands.
“Let’s dream awhile longer, Romano.”
Holding the sweetness of the moment close to his heart, Romano settled, returning his head to the protective warmth of Spain’s shoulder, pressed against his side, rubbing his thumb against the ridges of Spain’s knuckles, forgiving the contented sigh that escaped his lips.
“Yes, let’s dream all day.”