Europe was casually strolling through the city of Rome. He was hoping to see his son, Romano, for some quality time. Although he knew that the southern Italian valued his alone time, Europe was worried that the nation's excessive asocial behavior would cause more harm than good.
Sure, it was important to find time for yourself in order to relax and dive gently into complex thought. However, too much of this can drive someone mad.
After a good ten minutes of strolling through the streets, he made his way to a familiar house. His son's house. Now, he was unsure of whether or not the Southern half was even home because the boy often spent his time at Spain's house. However, according to Spain, Romano hasn't come over for the past four or so days, leading Europe to hope that the nation was simply resting in his own place.
Approaching the dark wood door, the large continent knocked three gentle times.
"Hello, Romano? Are you home? It's me, your father."
For about five seconds, there was no sound. But just when he prepared to knock again, slow, yet heavy, footsteps made their way towards the door.
Seconds after, the door slowly opened to reveal a disheveled and somewhat exhausted looking Romano. This immediately struck Europe with concern. Usually the southern Italian was more sharp and brash looking, and he at least put effort into his appearance, if anything else.
"R-Romano? Are you alright?"
The aforementioned nation just sighed. Eerily uncharacteristic.
"Just come in. It's hot as hell and we're wasting the a.c. holding the door open." Romano hissed out quietly.
Europe simply nodded and trodded into the house. As he heard the door gently click shut, he turned and looked over Romano again. The boy was definitely troubled. His messy outward appearance, his slouching and saddened body language, his eerie calmness and lack of sharp words, all of the signs were right there.
Europe knew all of his children like he knew his scars: very well, right down to the most miniscule detail.
Sighing to himself, he carefully stepped up to his son and placed a loving hand on his shoulder.
"Come," said Europe softly. "Sit down and talk with me". He gently nudged Romano towards the nearby couch in the livingroom.
Silently, the small nation sat down next to his towering father. He seemed like a toddler compared to his absolute mammoth of a parent. He slumped forward in a melancholic manner and rested on his elbows, his chin in his hands.
Europe shifted uncomfortably at the sad sight. This was not his Romano. After a few seconds of silence, he spoke.
"What's wrong Romano?" asked the concerned continent. Romano only sighed in reply.
"Nothing important. Don't worry yourself with it-"
"Romano. What is wrong?" Europe's voice was laced with worry and seriousness. He would not let Romano downplay his emotions like this.
Romano ran his hands over his face, wringing them through his hair before he sat back against the sofa with a deep breath.
"It's just.." he began. "I just feel...so meaningless. You know? I feel like I have no real purpose, like..like I could fade and...the world would be no different..."
Ah, so that was it. An existential crisis. Honestly, Europe was not that surprised. He was still concerned, but not surprised. Truthfully, someone as intelligent as Romano was bound to have many more of these throughout his life. Hell, Greece has had a good plenty himself. He just turned those crises into tools of self-discovery.
Letting out a sigh, Europe let his shoulders sag and turned to face his son.
"Romano, where is this coming from? Why are you thinking like this?"
Hm, his brother.
"What about Veneciano?"
"Just fucking, you know?" Romano's voice grew louder with irritation. "Veneciano, he's just f-fucking PERFECT!"
The southern nation jumped from his spot on the couch and began to pace angrily.
"Everything about him is just perfect, dammit! Everyone loves HIM, wants to talk to HIM, wants to be with HIM! Everyone wants HIM! Everyone calls HIM Italy! Never me! He's happy and good looking and talented! It's like I'm just deadweight, clinging onto him like a parasite that no one wants around!"
At the last statement, tears stung the corner of Romano's eyes and he gripped his hair tightly. Europe watched the whole tirade from his spot and let the words his son said wash over him. Placing himself in Romano's shoes, he could see clearly where the boy was coming from. He shook his head sadly. Standing up, he grabbed Romano gently by the arm and turned the nation to face him.
"Romano, I can assure you that your brother is far from perfect. There are many things that Veneciano doesn't have that you do, things he's not capable of that you are-"
Romano scoffed. "Like what?"
"Well, for starters," Europe began. "Although Italy can form complex thoughts, he can never communicate them. You can. This conversation we're having now is an example of that. You have admirable intelligence, Romano."
The Italian let those words settle, but gently shook his head with doubt. At this, Europe continued.
"You're also incredibly strong. You can deny it all you want, but you know it's the truth. You are very militaristic and powerful, you just choose your battles, which is very wise. Hell, you rule the Mafia! If that isn't powerful, what is?"
With these words, Romano looked slightly less doubtful, but hesitance still resided within him. He wasn't quite ready to accept his true worth. Europe went on.
"And I haven't even mentioned your looks-"
"What looks?" Romano hissed angrily. Surely his father was joking right now. "Italy's the cute one!"
"Yes, exactly," replied Europe, much to his son's confusion. "You're right, he is cute. But that's just it. Plain and simple. He's cute. Anyone can do cute, anyone can handle cute, but YOU?" He brushed aside some of the stray hairs from Romano's face.
"YOU are HANDSOME. And it takes a true master to handle handsome. Listen Romano, you don't just have looks. You have THE looks. The looks of the Empire".
At the mention of his grandfather, Romano froze and his eyes widened slightly with uncertainty. Europe looked into his eyes with nothing but pure truth and honesty.
"When I look at Veneciano, I see Veneciano. When I look at you..."
Slowly, the nation standing before him morphed into his long lost brother, a spitting image of the Rome.
"I see the Roman Empire."
With this information, Romano released a breath he didn't even know he was holding. His father saw Rome in him.
In Italy, his father saw Italy. In Romano, his father saw an Empire, THE Empire.
Romano was the empire.
"Understand this, Romano," Europe continued. "Veneciano may be a castle, big and flashy, something everyone wants to see. But you, you are the foundation. What is a castle without it's foundation? I'll tell you. Fallen. It is nothing but rubble and ruin. You are the thing holding Veneciano in place. He is nothing without you. You are not meaningless, Lovino. You have so much more purpose than even yourself can ever know."
Processing these words, Romano nodded in acceptance and looked up to face his father, who smiled down at him through his face mask.
"Good," stated the continent. "Now, come along. Let's go out for lunch. You pick the restaurant."
And with that, they headed out unto the streets of Rome.