Fandom: Axis Powers Hetalia
Pairing/Characters: USA x China
Rating: PG-13 for suggestive content and politics.
Word Count: c.1500
Spoiler Warning: N/A
Summary: For aph_rarexchange: America pays a visit on the day of the PRC's 60th Anniversary celebration.
My dear requester, I'm sorry that this is a bit overdue! I hope it's to your liking. <3
China has been feeling the fireworks all day.
He winds his way through the crowds, though waves of swirling red, gold, white, green, pink scarves and silks, the beating drums and distant shouting and voices of the crowd weaving a rhythm into his heartbeat. He can hear the snarling grind of the tanks, the troops marching in perfect lines, the young women carrying flags and singing, the schoolchildren wearing their colorful hats and lifting poles draped in cloth.
America's plane lands on the outskirts of the celebration, far enough away from the parade that the music has faded to a dull reminder by the time China meets him on the runway. This is not precisely an official visit - China would describe it as discreet - so there is no grand ceremony, no entourage for the two of them. America blows out of the plane with his hair flying, wearing a suit of oil-black silk and a tie the same absurd blue as his eyes. He jogs down the steps to the runway, his hands in his pockets, the sunlight beaming off his glasses.
America is looking well these days, though not, perhaps, as well as usual; at least, he is certainly of a more optimistic temperament since his last election. He walks - not steadily, he is far too loosely associated with the ground for that - easily and confidently. He smiles more widely than he needs to when they meet, as China strips off his glove to take America's bare hand.
"Hey," America says, and squeezes China's hand instead of shaking it. "Happy birthday," he says, and China pauses but does not correct him.
"Thank you for coming," he says, instead, although America is really here for - what else? - mutually beneficial business. America grins absently, slinging an arm around his shoulders; he is looking up at China's red flags as he always does, with deliberate tolerance.
"Well, it sounded like you were having fun over here." America looks down at him; his arm is heavy, and the crook of it is uncomfortably similar to a headlock, but America is still smiling. "Come on, I wanna see the parade."
America whistles at the Capital Women's Militia.
He has already been making something of a spectacle of himself at the parade; he never fails to notice when people are looking at him, and he keeps smiling and waving at China's more curious citizens. So much for discretion, China thinks. "America," he hisses - not loudly, but close enough to America's ear that he is more than audible. America glances at him, grins and shrugs, but falls mercifully silent for the next minute or two, only applauding as each armed division walks by.
There is something in the lines of America's face, the set of his jaw, as he watches the parade - something in how closely he scrutinizes each division's guns and uniforms as they march. China tries to watch the parade, the people, anything but America, and for a while he succeeds; the colors are glorious, the soldiers young and beautiful. But America weighs on the corner of his eye, confirming what China already knows - the world is watching China, from above, from the sidelines, from the stands.
Of course, that is why China is celebrating. He straightens his back, clasps his hands behind him, and no one stumbles; America may look all he wants at China's weapons, China's tanks, China's men and women, China's wealth. America must admire them as much as he distrusts them.
China searches his face every time he finds an excuse to look over. America's eyes are wide, appreciative, and particularly youthful today; China is fascinated, almost as much as he is disgusted. It's a familiar feeling.
America always knows when he's been watched. He glances over at China, raises his eyebrows halfway to his hairline, and grins. "You got that 'you kids get off my lawn' face again. Time to go?"
China begins, "If you have had enough--"
"Yeah," America says, and cracks his knuckles cheerfully. "Yeah, let's get down to business. But hey, China."
America turns his head and looks, one more time, looks at it all. "This is - this is really something." He is only half smiling, but that, at least, is genuine; for a moment, he looks actually enthralled. Then he laughs, says, "I guess you know how to throw a party after all," and starts pushing his way back to the edge of the crowd.
"I mean, a party's better without tanks, if you ask me."
America always walks China's streets as if he expects to meet resistance. "At least what I call a party. My bosses don't really go for this kinda stuff, though, so I guess you'd know better. I still can't believe you've got that big picture of Mao up there, man - different strokes, I guess, but Jesus, I wouldn't be celebrating--"
His words are the undercurrent which runs beneath everything in America's media, his paranoia, his reluctant respect. China finds it easy to ignore.
The transaction is brief and familiar; America talks endlessly about his economy as he signs the papers. China already knows all of the statistics America cites, all of the little spikes in the stock market which America is detailing so proudly.
China has been dragged out of bed at night at least a dozen times, shaking with phantom pain, when America's market shudders and falls. He knows more about it than he ever wanted to. Trade squabbles have left him - both of them, he hopes - feeling ill for weeks; even now, America is paler than he should be, and China feels slower.
He gets the feeling that America is drawing out this visit, going over all the details, re-reading the forms. They have exchanged funds many thousands of times; there is nothing unprecedented or unusual about this occasion, except perhaps that America is keeping him from the National Day celebrations.
Either America is trying to keep an eye on him or America is enjoying his company.
Still, after several cups of tea and an hour or so of less and less conversation, even America seems to realize that he's outstayed his welcome. He makes a great show of checking his watch, remembering an appointment with the president, and apologizes for having to leave so early.
"It is regrettable," China says. "Until next time--"
"Yeah," America says, and climbs to his feet, gathering up the papers strewn over China's desk and tucking them inside his briefcase. China stands as well, stepping around the desk and looking over America's shoulder; it would be a shame if he took the wrong papers and had to come back. With everything in order, America turns, pauses, and then sets his briefcase down and claps China on the shoulder.
"Happy birthday, man."
Before China can do more than open his mouth, America steps in close - a movement starting from his hips, from his shoulders - and places a hand at the small of his back, tugs them together, and kisses him.
They have done this too often; America's's body fits against his. It's so familiar it feels unnatural, yet necessary.
This is the connection that runs behind all of their arguments, their riots and half-spoken criticism, their idealogical differences. It's economic; China wants stability, and America's hands on his back are secure and strong, for now. America wants a market, and China invites him, guides him diplomatically against the wall and drags his fingertips down the threads of America's shirt while America traps China's chin between thumb and forefinger and takes his mouth. China even closes his eyes, for a while, to show his trust as he's mapping America's sides with his hands.
America lingers on him, as usual, for longer than he means to; curiosity always seems to get the better of him, as if he's determined to know everything - not because he wants to know, but because he thinks he's missed something, some vital detail which will make China make sense.
He doesn't find it, whatever it is. (Neither does China.) They draw away from each other eventually, and America remembers that he has to leave.
"It is late," China supplies.
"Yeah." America clears his throat, as if that is all it takes to scrape off the atmosphere of the room. "Yeah, I gotta go catch my flight." (Which is to say his private jet.) "You wanna walk me back to the airport?" He knows that China would insist anyway.
They walk back to the airport side-by-side; the festivities are still going on, but it isn't dark enough for the fireworks show yet, so China hasn't missed everything. America shakes his hand briskly and thanks him for his business before they part, and China bows his head and turns and doesn't wait to see his plane take off.
America is flying over Europe.
China goes to see Song Zuying perform in the square; the fireworks drown out the voice that rings in his ears, the echoes from the kingdom across the world.
Notes: The PRC's 60th Anniversary National Day celebration on September 30th, 2009 was unbelievably huge, colorful, and epic and involved everything from huge dance numbers to impossibly elaborate visual displays made out of color-coded people to vocal music to a massive military parade. Here, have some video evidence.
This is the Capital Women's Militia.
Song Zuying is a Chinese soprano and a member of the People's Liberation Army Naval Song and Dance Troupe.