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Poland - who me?

daegaer in yaoi_challenge

The Armory of the Mind, Part One (Axis Powers Hetalia; Poland/Lithuania; R)

Title: The Armory of the Mind
Author: daegaer
Fandom/Pairing: Axis Powers Hetalia; Poland/Lithuania
Rating: R
Warning: References to off-screen, canonical violence
Word Count: 18, 147
Author's Notes: written for the prompt: Axis Powers Hetalia - Poland/Lithuania reunite. Lithuania demands to call the shots now. After all, Poland has a lot of making up to do.

Thank you to puddingcat for her indefatigable beta-reading!

“Language is the armory of the human mind, and at once contains the trophies of its past and the weapons of its future conquests” – Samuel Taylor Coleridge




"Oh my God," Poland said, for the eighth time, if Lithuania had felt like admitting he was counting. "Oh my God. Liet, she's – " he shut up and just looked furious, which was an improvement on the last time he'd said anything about Belarus. "Liet," he said, his tone as sweetly reasonable as if he were talking to a child. "Let's get you out of your coat, at least."

"I'm fine," Lithuania said. The pain in his hands was perfectly obvious to him now, but he didn't see why he should give Poland the chance to say he'd told him so.

"Liet, for God's sake! Just let me take your coat!"

Lithuania let him unbutton the coat and pull it off carefully. He sat down at the table and rested his forearms on the edge, taking a deep breath before looking at his fingers. Oh. Yes, well perhaps Poland wasn't overreacting. Poland all but ran from the room, reappearing a short while later with bandages and tape.

"Hand. Now," he said, and started taping up Lithuania's fingers when he was presented with the required extremity. "Your poor fingers," he said, and Lithuania was startled to hear how close to tears he was.

"Poland, it's OK, it doesn't hurt much."

"It shouldn't hurt at all." Poland looked up from his task. "You totally know that."

"Belarus just doesn't know her own strength," Lithuania said weakly. Poland didn't say anything, no doubt thinking that two hands' worth of broken fingers could make his point for him perfectly well. Lithuania meekly offered his other hand when prompted and swallowed the ibuprofen Poland popped in his mouth when both hands were taped up. The mug of tea was a little difficult to manage, but he didn't spill any. "Thank you," he said. "I didn't mean to worry you."

"Course I worry about you," Poland muttered. He didn't sound angry or sad any more, just weary. "You're, like, my best friend. C'mon, let's get you to bed."

It was when he was sitting on his bed, Poland crouched down to unlace his boots, that a more pressing problem hit Lithuania. He looked at his taped-up fingers and tried to wiggle them even a little. Nothing. There was no way he could hold anything smaller than the mug of tea that was contributing to the problem.

"Um. I have to go to the bathroom," he said.

Poland pulled the boot off. "Well, you know where it is, Liet."

"Yeah, but – could you take the tape off one hand and do it up again?" Poland's questioning look made him sigh. "I won't even be able to open my trousers, let alone – aim."

"Dude," Poland said with a sigh. "Come on." He took Lithuania's arm and pulled him along to the bathroom. "I'll help out."

"Hey, hey!" Lithuania said as Poland unzipped his fly. "I'm sure I can manage."

Poland gave him a wry look. "Right. Because I've totally never touched your cock before. Think of me as a nurse, Liet. If it helps, I'm sure I've got a nurse's uniform –"

"That doesn't help," Lithuania grumbled, as Poland gently freed him from his underwear. "Turn your head at least," he muttered, face burning. Poland sighed in mock irritation, but looked at the wall and Lithuania found it easier to pee. It was still embarrassing, but it was a relief to go.

"Dude, don't splash," Poland said, looking back.

"I'm not the one in command of the guidance system," Lithuania said. He rolled his eyes. "Laughing only makes it harder to aim, Poland." His earlier tense unhappiness broken, Poland continued sniggering, his eyes screwed shut in an attempt, Lithuania recognised, at not breaking into guffaws. It was infectious, and Lithuania found himself sniggering too, resting his forehead down on Poland's shoulder, his shyness gone. "OK," he gasped, "I'm done." Poland gave him a little shake and made him decent again before washing his hands.

"Teeth!" Poland said, determinedly cheery, grabbing up Lithuania's toothbrush.

"I'll be fine," Lithuania said.

"Don't be gross, Liet. Let me help, I don't mind." Poland squeezed toothpaste onto the brush. "We heal quickly, you'll be OK in a couple of days, but for now –" He brandished the toothbrush.

"I feel like a kid," Lithuania muttered, and obediently let Poland brush his teeth. Then he obediently went back to his room and let himself be helped into his pyjamas, and was tucked into bed. "I'm getting you a doll for Christmas," he said, "seeing as you're enjoying this so much."

"Cool," Poland said. "Get me lots of accessories for her too. Back in a mo –" He went off and Lithuania heard him go downstairs. After a few minutes he heard Poland come up the stairs again. "Here you go," Poland said, and tinkled a small decorative bell at him. "If you need something –" he said, ringing it again.

"That's really annoying," Lithuania said, wincing at the sound.

"Dude, I know. I'll be in here in, like, two seconds! And here's your cell phone, in case you can get your fingers to work that much – but if you ring me at three in the morning, I'll be all, like, Oh my God, who's dead? and probably not at my sweet natured best, so perhaps you should stick with the bell, or just yell, seeing as I'm totally next door anyway, and – "

"Thank you," Lithuania said, touched by the obvious concern and amused by the spate of words. "You're very good."

"Not a prob," Poland said airily and, with an oddly practiced nonchalance, bent over to kiss Lithuania's forehead. "Night, Liet."

"Goodnight."


* * *



He woke as the door was pushed open, and struggled up against the pillows as Poland shuffled in, still in his pyjamas, carrying a large tray.

"Knock, knock," Poland said. "Room service – here's your breakfast in bed." He waited till Lithuania was properly sitting up and put the tray on his knees. Lithuania looked over the plates of bread, meat, boiled eggs, and cheese, the bowl of sliced apples sprinkled with enough sugar to make sure they could no longer be considered the healthy option and the large pot of tea with two mugs.

"That's quite some breakfast," he said.

"It's also my breakfast in bed," Poland said, hopping under the covers. "Nice and cozy, just like old times, huh?" He buttered some bread and cut it into bites, covering each piece with a bit of meat or cheese. He picked one up and held it out. "Open up, here comes the train into the station –"

"Come on, you don't have to literally feed me."

"I could let you try with your fingers out of order, and watch you snuffle food up like a pony after sugar cubes, but that'd be kinda gross. C'mon, open wide."

Lithuania gave in and let himself be fed a few bites. At least he could awkwardly manage the mug of tea, just as he had the previous night. It soon became a sort of silly fun, him demanding what should be put on his bread and Poland making tiny, careful titbits. He looked at the remnants of the food in alarm after some time.

"Did we really eat all that?"

"We're growing boys, dude," Poland said. "We need sustenance." He climbed out of bed and moved the tray onto the chest of drawers, then slid under the covers again. "Let's have a nap and sleep it off."

"Shouldn't we get up and face the day?" Lithuania said, trying to remember if his boss had wanted to see him.

"Just a little nap," Poland mumbled, already half-asleep.

Lithuania shook his head, amused at Poland's ability to will himself to sleep, and the all-too familiar way in which he was hogging the pillows. He slid one of them free and lay down. Maybe a short nap wouldn't hurt.

By the time they woke up, they were, of course, horribly late. It wasn't so bad for Poland, as his boss was by now resigned to not seeing him early except in national emergencies, and he spent quite a few of his precious clothes-choosing minutes helping Lithuania look respectable. There was no time to bother about little things like taking transport to where they wanted to go, so Lithuania hurried out of Poland's house and through the garden to the fence that divided their territories, and accepted help in climbing over.

"You're going to be OK?" Poland said, looking at his hands.

"Yeah, I'll be fine," Lithuania said.

"See you later!" Poland grinned and was gone.

Lithuania hurried through his own garden and out the gate, right into the heart of Vilnius. His day was busy and irritating thereafter, with his boss casting worried, querying glances at his taped-up fingers and the newscaster on the radio saying that a major trade deal with Belarusian companies had broken down.

"Tell me about it," Lithuania muttered, awkwardly trying to scratch his nose. As no one else was around he fished out his phone and, with a bit of effort, managed to dial Belarus' number.

"Hello?" she said, "oh, it's you."

"Hi," he said. "How are you?"

"Working."

"I really enjoyed seeing you last night."

Silence.

"I was wondering if you'd like to go to dinner next week?"

"No."

"Maybe we could go to the cinema –"

"No."

" – if there's anything you'd like to see? America always has new films this time of year."

Silence.

"Belarus?"

"What?"

"My hands are all right. I know you didn't mean to hurt –"

"Was there anything else?"

"Just – about those contracts, you're not really pulling your companies out of them, are you? Can we meet to discuss –"

"I suggest," she said firmly, "that you have some of your people talk to my people, and let them deal with it. I have no wish to meet you again; you confuse business and social meetings. Do not call me. Do not write to me. Do not send me presents." She hung up.

"Bye," Lithuania said weakly and put his head on his desk.

"A difficult call?" his boss said behind him.

"My girlfriend," Lithuania said, watching the condensation of his breath on the desk. Great, he thought, he could just feel the curiosity radiating from his boss. Don't ask, he thought, thinking that he never wanted to explain some of the finer points of diplomatic relations to a human ever in his life. "I think we just broke up," he heard himself whimper and winced. He sat up and risked a glance at his boss, and wished he hadn't as the man was clearly wondering how best to phrase a question about his country's love life. "Industry!" Lithuania said desperately. "Let's discuss industry! Or tourism!"


* * *



"Hi, honey, I'm home!" Poland caroled, and skipped into the sitting room. "My day was hilarious, how was yours?"

"Hilarious," Lithuania said grimly, not taking his eyes off the cartoon he was watching. "People talked behind my back about my hands all day, then my boss asked if I'd ever had sex."

"Your boss came on to you?" Poland said, his eyes going big and wide. "Details, details!"

"No, he just – I was an idiot and rang Belarus and he sort of overheard, and I called her my girlfriend and she doesn't want to see me again, Poland."

Poland didn't look too heartbroken. "Dude," he said, "I think maybe she was trying in her shyly girlish way to give you hints before now." He tried to look contrite as Lithuania glared. "I'm just saying –"

"I'm not going to work tomorrow, I can't face the embarrassment. I got the safe sex talk from my boss. I might just die." Lithuania watched Poland bury his face in his hands and shake with horrified giggles. After a while Poland looked at his outraged expression and howled with laughter. After another while, Lithuania joined in.

"Oh, my God," Poland gasped. "Oh, my God, Liet. You totally need to stay out of the office till there's a change of government. Let's have a look at your hands -" He stopped laughing long enough to get a pair of scissors and to snip the tape on Lithuania's left hand. He gently freed the fingers and poked at them experimentally. "Ew," he said.

Lithuania had to agree, looking at his swollen, bruised fingers. He tried flexing them and winced. "That still hurts," he said.

"Yeah," Poland said. "I'm going to tape that up again. You don't mind me helping you this evening, do you?"

"No," Lithuania said, and was happy to find he meant it.

The next day he spent the whole morning watching talk shows until he decided he really didn't care about the results of lie detector tests to reveal infidelities. People's relationships were so complicated, he thought – they fit more into a short human lifespan than most nations could get through in a millennium. It was too depressing to think about, especially when he imagined himself and Belarus on such a programme. Not that she'd be interested enough to do it, he reminded himself sadly. He took himself off to the bath as distraction, and soaked in the hot water until his skin went strange and wrinkly and the tape on his fingers was easy to awkwardly pick off. He wiggled his fingers in the water and decided he was probably all right, though they were still sore. By the time Poland came home, he had the dinner mostly prepared and was feeling quite accomplished.

"Hands," Poland demanded, giving his fingers a sceptical look. He poked at them rather more than Lithuania thought necessary, especially when he moved the left little finger in a way that made Lithuania draw a sudden, deep breath and bite his lip. "Yeah," Poland said. "That one's, like, still a bit ewww, I'll do it up again."

"It was fine before you grabbed it and started moving it," Lithuania said.

"Uh-huh. Because you'd be totally fine with fingers you couldn't move properly," Poland said heartlessly. He pushed Lithuania down onto a chair and taped up the finger before cheerfully serving the dinner.

It was rather nice to be waited on, Lithuania thought after they'd finished, and it just proved that Poland really could do things like the washing up without dying in a massive sulk. Which wasn't really fair, he thought; they shared that sort of thing far more equally now.

"Ooh," Poland said, looking at the clock. "My show!"

"Just because it's called Poland's got Talent it doesn't mean it's your show," Lithuania grinned.

"It so is, and I so do. C'mon, c'mon!"

Lithuania picked up a couple of bottles of Švyturis, relishing the feeling of being able to bend most of his fingers and followed Poland, gaining at least a third of the sofa. The acts weren't bad, and it was very good to relax and enjoy Poland's outrage when the judges were rude to people he favoured. The trouble, Lithuania decided much, much later, was when the second hour of the show came on, with the acts that had never made it through the auditions. If they hadn't had another couple of beers each, he thought, or if Poland wasn't congenitally unable to sit on a sofa with someone without ending up snuggled against them, or if Lithuania didn't just want someone who wanted him back, or if Poland had ever been any good at hiding his feelings, or didn't look so nice when he laughed – As it was, it was all too easy, when Poland looked at him in the middle of a dance act going catastrophically, hilariously wrong, tears of laughter in his eyes – it was far too easy to put his arms around him and kiss him lightly and softly. He couldn't hear the television at all as Poland drew back, the laughter dying from his face to be replaced with a look of surprise and – he leant back in and kissed Lithuania just as gently.

"Liet –" he whispered, and cupped a hand at the back of Lithuania's head as Lithuania tightened his arms, and then they were kissing like they really meant it. At some point Lithuania vaguely registered they had slid down on the sofa and Poland had climbed – or been dragged – on top of him, and it was hard to miss how turned on they both were. It was only when Poland overbalanced when he tried taking it beyond enthusiastic kissing, and rolled off the sofa with a surprised yelp that Lithuania thought maybe he should be the voice of reason.

"This isn't the best place – " he started.

"So let's go upstairs," Poland said, brushing himself down.

It was so good to be so obviously wanted, and the suggestion was the most sensible thing he'd heard all day, Lithuania thought, who cared about being reasonable in the face of that? Not him, he thought, still kissing Poland as they laughingly half-hurried, half-fell up the stairs, and into Poland's room with Poland's big soft bed.


* * *



Lithuania opened his eyes and peered at the clock on the bedside table. It wasn't his clock, because his didn't have a picture of a pony on the face. And his pillows weren't so numerous. And Poland had his head on his shoulder and his arms tight round him, and neither of them was wearing any clothes. The only possible thing to do, Lithuania decided, was to go back to sleep and think about it later. When he woke again it was because Poland was sleepily trying to extract his arm from under him.

"Morning," he said, and kissed Lithuania's lips. "Ow, pins-and-needles!" He cuddled close once more. "Just gotta get used to sleeping with you again," he murmured.

Lithuania bit his lip. This was awkward. "Poland?" he said.

"Mmmm?"

"Last night – last night was really lovely –" he winced at the happy noise Poland made against his skin. " – um, but I think –"

Poland lifted his head and looked at him, the happy smile fading into concern. "What, Liet?"

He looked so worried, and Lithuania found he couldn't bear it. "I think your hair keeps creeping into my nose to try to make me sneeze," he heard himself say.

Poland ineffectually tried to flatten his hair, which was in its usual pre-taming state. He pouted as it fluffed up around his fingers again, a long forgotten, now instantly familiar daily battle. If it wasn't for the modern items in the room, Lithuania thought, they might be waking up in the seventeenth century. There were other things he was remembering too, as he watched Poland give up the fight and lean over him, smiling lazily. Such as Poland's views on the best way to spend a morning after a night of making love.

"Want me to wake you up properly?" Poland purred, and kissed him without waiting for an answer. Lithuania's heart did a treacherous little flip, and he wrapped his arms tight around him.

The real problem was, Lithuania decided at a far later stage, that he perhaps should have had the backbone to get out of Poland's bed at some point during that entire weekend.


* * *



You cannot do this, Lithuania told himself sternly. You cannot use your friend for sex. Not when he thinks you mean something very different by it. You are a bad, bad person, Lietuva. He sighed, and glared at his reflection. He'd known Poland still had a thing for him, and it wasn't fair to take advantage of that. On the other hand, he thought, it wasn't as if Poland wasn't happy with the current situation, and he'd be very be disappointed if it stopped. Lithuania closed his eyes; he'd never been good at disappointing Poland. An awful lot of their history was built on not wanting to disappoint Poland. Not to mention that two hundred years with Russia made it awfully hard for him not to go along with clearly stated demands and wishes, so he could hardly be blamed for going along with the obvious fact that his best friend was in love with him. God, he thought viciously at his reflection. You're pathetic. His reflection regarded him with the tragically smug air of a man who'd worked out that it was a terrible burden, but he'd just have to endure all the great sex. He buried his face in his hands. Over the last week all Poland's verbs and pronouns had shifted firmly to the plural; it wasn't as if Poland had ever been exactly reticent about deciding what they'd both do, but the current flood of we, we, we, we was making Lithuania feel guilty and more and more worried. Poland always meant well in these things, but Lithuania could remember all too clearly how hard it had been to maintain any kind of separate existence. Poland loved togetherness, and it could be stifling. It wasn't as bad as the claustrophobia of Russia's house, and yet -

"Whoa, what's wrong, Liet?"

Lithuania peered through his fingers at Poland. "My hair looks like it hasn't been presentable since 1499," he said weakly. Luckily, it was exactly the sort of thing Poland felt appropriate to feel horror over, and all further inquiries were of the Can I use my curling irons on it? variety.

"I've invited Hungary over for dinner," Poland said, applying heat protection spray and winding another small section of Lithuania's hair around the curling iron.

"I thought I heard you shrieking excitedly on the phone," Lithuania said. Not that he had been able to make out what Poland had been saying, but the tone and climbing pitch made him think it had probably been what he wished Poland wouldn't call a girl to girl chat about getting back with one's boyfriend.

"Dude, I don't shriek," Poland said affably. "I totally discourse in a rational and sensible manner." He kept moving section by section through Lithuania's hair. "She's going to bring dessert, that apple and pancake thing you like."

"Great," Lithuania said as convincingly as he could. "You're not going to leave me like this, are you?" he said, looking in worry at his reflection which was sporting a fine set of ringlets.

"It's real cute, Liet – but quit worrying and trust me."

Lithuania let him do his worst, and was relieved when the ringlets were brushed out to leave his hair both wavier and shinier than it had been. It looked very much like he remembered wearing it several centuries before, which, he thought, was probably what Poland had been aiming for. He just smiled and said thank you, then ran around at Poland's direction, helping him prepare dinner. He got to chop the onions, because Poland hated the way they made him cry, and the carrots, because Poland claimed they made his fingers orange, and peeled and chopped the potatoes because – well, because Poland was a lazy bastard, he thought. Meanwhile Poland took a piece of already-stuffed pork out of the fridge, put it in the oven and proclaimed his half of the job done. Lithuania rolled his eyes and washed the knives and chopping board and cleaned the kitchen up before wandering out to find Poland tiring himself out by picking out CDs to play.

"All the vegetables are ready to go on," Lithuania said. "Let's watch the news."

"We're going to need to give her something to nibble on when she arrives," Poland said, looking surprised at Lithuania's sloth. "At least put out some paluszki, Liet. Honestly, do I have to think of everything?" he muttered, turning back to the CDs.

Lithuania went back into the kitchen. He could solve his problem by killing Poland he thought, opening packets of paluszki with exaggerated care. God, he was the laziest, bossiest – A hand crept past him and grabbed several sticks.

"Thanks, Liet!" Poland said, his smile wide and sunny. He leant in and kissed Lithuania's nose. "You're the best!"

Lithuania's stomach did the treacherous flip again. Stop that, he told it. He's your friend. This isn't the Golden Age and you can't get that back. He watched his fingers brush crumbs off Poland's face and then linger some moments too long on his cheek, and cursed his various body parts for their disobedience. "We should probably change," he said, to stop from suggesting they just went back to bed.

It was a relief when Hungary finally arrived, even if she did smile a bit too knowingly at them. Poland hugged her tight, then she and Lithuania exchanged somewhat more decorous kisses on the cheek. Poland linked arms with her, pulling her into the sitting room as Lithuania hung up her coat before going to get the chilled wine. They'd obviously been talking about him, he thought, when he rejoined them.

"How are you?" Hungary said.

"I'm doing well – much better as time goes on. A lot of that's thanks to Poland, of course," Lithuania said, meaning it. The nightmares weren't as frequent any more, and he rarely now needed Poland to wake him from horrors and hold him safe. All those years, Lithuania thought, when he'd have been so easy to take advantage of, and it had never so much as crossed Poland's mind, no matter how he felt about Lithuania. "You're a very good friend," he said to Poland, and smiled as he went pink.

"Dude, stop, it's embarrassing."

Lithuania obediently stopped, and went to check on the dinner. Poland was a good friend, he thought, and he did love him. Maybe not quite the way he'd used to, or the way Poland wanted him to, but – He sighed as he put the vegetables into serving dishes; he loved his independence, and he had centuries of experience to prove that if he was with Poland he wasn't all that independent. It as far too easy to fall back into centuries' old patterns; here he was, he told himself, working while Poland sat at ease with their guest. He put the smile back on his face and brought the food through to the dining room.

"You are looking well," Hungary said after dinner, when Poland was – wonder of wonders – dealing with the dessert. "He must be taking good care of you." She looked at him quizzically, adding, "It's not my business, but he's my friend, so – Poland said Belarus gave you your marching orders. You and him – is this a rebound thing?"

Yes, Lithuania thought miserably. "No," he said. "It's not like there was really anything with Belarus to rebound from in the first place. Even I worked that out eventually." No, he thought, that sounds too bitter. You're meant to be happy. "Everything's fine - I mean, Poland's so happy, that's really wonderful and I – I – oh, God, Hungary, I don't know what to do, I just don't want to upset him, but he's just always there, twenty four hours a day if I let him; I can't give my identity up again, I can't."

"Hmm," she said. "You haven't said that to him, I suppose?"

"No! Of course not! Do you think I'm awful? Maybe you don't, I mean, you're hardly running to Vienna begging for the Austro-Hungarian Empire to rise again."

"My people wouldn't like that –" she said.

"No, of course not, and my people –"

" – which is why that's a topic neither Austria nor I discuss when we see each other, and certainly not in bed," she said firmly.

Lithuania stared at her. "Oh," he said. "I, um, hadn't realised – "

"I'm certainly not letting him boss me around, but it doesn't mean we can't see each other. This is the modern world, where our people believe it's possible to keep politics and private lives separate – why shouldn't we take advantage of that? Talk to Poland, sooner rather than later." She patted Lithuania's hand. "I'm sorry about Belarus," she said. "I know you liked her - but you really do need to talk to Poland, you know." She looked up as Poland himself came back with the dessert, a torte made of crepes layered with apples. "We're discussing you," she said, an evil grin on her face.

"All good, I hope," Poland said, brushing his hand across Lithuania's.

"What else?" Lithuania said.

It was late when Hungary left, kissing them both a little tipsily and strolling away down to the bottom of Poland's garden and the way to her own territory. She climbed the fence as easily as if she'd had nothing to drink at all, and was gone from their sight as she cut across Slovakia's garden. Poland leant against Lithuania heavily and buried his face in his shoulder.

"Let's do the washing up tomorrow."

"OK," Lithuania said, and went back into the house. "Poland, have you told everyone we're back together?"

"I haven't, like, gone through the international phone book," Poland grinned. "But I've told a few people, and Hungary's probably told a few people. Why? It's not, like, a secret – is it?" He looked worried all of a sudden. "You don't want people to know?"

"It's not that," Lithuania said, taking his hands. "Poland, it's just that things maybe have gone too fast and we need to think about it." Poland's eyes were wide and worried-looking, and the smile was gone. Oh, God, Lithuania thought. "I'm an independent, sovereign nation and I don't want to revive the Commonwealth," he said in a rush.

Poland let out a breath and his shoulders sagged in relief. "Dude. I thought you were breaking up with me."

"Um," Lithuania said. He wondered if he'd been unclear. "No joint rule," he said. "We must maintain our individual identities as separate states. Independence is really, really important to my people and to me."

"Yeah, not a prob. Liet, really, that's totally OK. I'm not going to pretend I didn't want the Commonwealth back in the past, 'cos I totally did, but it's OK." Poland squeezed his hands. "Is that what you've been weird about?"

"I haven't been weird," Lithuania said, feeling rather that the conversation had taken a turn he hadn't quite noticed.

"Trust me, Liet, you've been weird. Look, we've got very good international relations –" Poland smiled slyly and stepped in against him " – we trade a lot, and a lot of the stuff the Commonwealth was good for we don't need now that we're in the EU. Jeez, it's been ninety years since I brought it up. You said no then, and I'm OK with that."

"You are?" Lithuania took a breath. He wasn't quite sure how to proceed in a universe where it seemed Poland had been respecting his wishes. It made him even more trapped, he thought as Poland's arms went round his waist; everyone would think he was very odd to break up with such a considerate partner. Besides, Poland's smile was making his stomach flip again. "Oh. Well, I think we need some ground rules."

"Ground rules," Poland said, as if he was humouring him. "Like what?"

"Like – it's my turn to call the shots," Lithuania said. "You bossed me round for four hundred years, so now it's my turn."

"I did not!" Poland said, laughing. "Oh my God, when did I ever boss you round?"

"You told me I was your lackey, you made me speak Polish, you laughed at my music, you pretended you couldn't hear me if I spoke Lithuanian, you made me do all the chores and you decided all our foreign policies."

Poland gaped at him. "Some of our foreign policies," he said at last. "And I only laughed at your music because it made me happy."

"And you never did me the courtesy of at least learning to lie with a straight face!"

"Oh, come on, Liet," Poland said in amusement. "How am I supposed to take that list seriously? Don't be silly –"

"No," Lithuania said and set him back a little. "You did those things, and more. So now we need to respect each other's boundaries."

"Liet, you are so right. No crossing any boundaries without the cheerful compliance of everyone involved and lots of foreplay – want to come upstairs and penetrate my border region?"

"I'm serious!" Lithuania suddenly saw a way to reset everything, to go back to the far simpler situation of the previous week. He smiled cheerfully. "If this is going to work we have to maintain our separate political identities, and you have to do all the housework, and use Lithuanian words for things and maybe even speak the language to me now and then. You've got a lot to make up for."

Poland raised an eyebrow. "Really? Well – yeah, OK."

Lithuania looked at him in astonishment. "I really am serious," he said.

"OK. C'mon, Liet, if that'll make you happy, then sure, I'll do it. I don't want the Commonwealth, I want you." Poland put his arms round him again. "Hey, Lietuva, sweetie, let's go to bed," he murmured in Lithuanian. "How's that?"

"Your case endings could use some work," Lithuania said in astonishment, feeling his treacherous insides warm considerably. He'd got his own way, he thought.
It wasn't what he'd been aiming at, but it was what he'd admittedly asked for; he wasn't quite sure what he thought about that, so to give himself time he led Poland upstairs and let himself be thoroughly distracted.



* * *



It was actually sort of fun, Lithuania thought, to put his feet up and watch Poland dusting and vacuuming. He'd felt guilty at first; he was a guest in Poland's house, and had always done his fair share of the chores. More than a fair share, he thought. When he'd tried to dry the dishes, though, Poland had chased him away and done it himself. It was a game, at least for the moment, Lithuania thought, as Poland pointedly flicked through the TV channels till he found a Lithuanian one.

"Look, Liet, your people have crappy talk shows!"

"Everyone has crappy talk shows," Lithuania said. "And talk shows should have been in the accusative. Which you know, as Polish also has cases."

"Naaah," Poland said. "That's just how Polish words are." With an obnoxious grin he went off to make coffee. He reappeared with cake as well. "Would you like some Šakotis?" he said sweetly, alternating Lithuanian and Polish words.

"Thank you," Lithuania said serenely, and arranged himself so that Poland could cuddle up against him without spilling the coffee. He nibbled the cake and drank the coffee quickly, because he was probably going to need to put the cup down soon – Poland twisted round and kissed him, getting crumbs all over both of them. Lithuania pulled him closer and made sure he couldn't get away, not that he showed any signs of wanting to. You're not taking advantage of him, Lithuania told himself. "You do want me, don't you?" he said.

"Duh," Poland said, unbuckling Lithuania's belt.

Good enough, Lithuania thought, and graciously helped Poland undress him.

By the end of the third week, Poland was starting to backslide. He'd wander round, loudly wondering where the clean cups were, and looked startled at always having to wash them himself. By the end of the fifth week, he was sulkily speaking in Polish and even more sulkily repeating himself in Lithuanian when he got no response.

"This is totally rude, Liet," he said, standing in front of the TV. "Liet? Liet? Oh, all right: Liet, stop looking through me."

Lithuania looked up, now that everyone in the room was speaking Lithuanian. "Oh, there you are," he said, trying not to grin too widely.

"Dude," Poland said, "Even if I did boss you round – which I'm, like, not convinced of – I didn't stare through you at the TV when you spoke to me."

"TV hadn't been invented," Lithuania said. "Maybe if it had –"

Poland sat beside him. "You're being really mean," he said, pouting. He poked Lithuania in the arm. "I never ignored you like that."

Lithuania considered it. "You may be right – but having someone prance around singing, La-la-la, I can't hear you when you talk funny was actually also really rude."

"I never –" Poland started, shocked. He paused. "Did I?"

"La," Lithuania said, "la-la."

"Wow," Poland said, looking vaguely horrified. "That – um. It was a joke?" he finished weakly. He picked at the fringe on the throw on the sofa frowning, then deliberately smiled. "You just can't take a joke," he said more strongly, as if shaking off the brief attack of conscience.

Lithuania raised his eyebrows. "Right. Because it's so hilarious to hear your language referred to as "talking funny". Almost as funny as all those Polack jokes America loves to tell, right?"

"Those aren't funny," Poland said. "I can't, like, believe you brought that up, Liet."

Lithuania shrugged. It felt odd and somehow – itchy – to have caused such an outraged expression on Poland's face. It wasn't as nice a feeling as the little flip-thing his stomach did, but it was deeply satisfying right then, in a way he really didn't want to think about. "How about a game of chess?" he said to change the subject and allow them both to pretend they had each apologized.

"Cool!" Poland said, all sunny smiles again. He set up the board and was cheerfully taking his first move when Lithuania cleared his throat.

"Just one thing – you're not allowed to cheat, and you can only play when it's your turn."

Poland looked at him as if he had stopped speaking a language either of them knew and was attempting to communicate solely through semaphore. "No cheating?" he said blankly. "How am I supposed to win, then?"

"Maybe I'll win," Lithuania laughed. "Maybe you'll win, fair and square."

"Dude," Poland said, as if explaining something to a child, "You're better than me at chess. I need to cheat."

"No cheating," Lithuania said sternly. "It's a Lithuania rule!"

Poland looked at the board in deep concentration, obviously determined not to let this set him back.

Time passed.

"I never liked this game anyway," Poland said grumpily, desperately fending off attacks with a rapidly dwindling supply of pieces.


* * *



By the end of the second month, Poland didn't want to play any more. He stopped calling things by their Lithuanian names, he bought take-aways rather than cook and then left little notes all over the house detailing how much money he was owed for half the expense, he tried to get into a game of crockery-chicken by just stopping doing any washing up at all. Lithuania brought in some paper plates and disposable cups he'd had hanging round his own kitchen for years. Neither of them took the rubbish out for a fortnight. The carpets looked the worse for wear with crumbs ground into them. Rather than change the sheets, Poland insisted they move to Lithuania's room. Both of them were down to their oldest and least-appealing underwear, and they were both keeping a careful eye on the supply of toilet paper to make sure they got the last few sheets. It was not a pretty sight when Lithuania won that battle.

"That is totally my toilet paper!" Poland shrieked, hammering on the bathroom door. "Bastard!"

Lithuania laughed heartlessly. "Mmmmm, kitten-soft," he called mockingly.

"Argh!"

It sounded like Poland was actually jumping up and down in rage. Lithuania wished he could see, but that would mean opening the door and probably getting into an undignified brawl over the toilet paper. He flushed the toilet, washed his hands with the last of the strawberry-scented liquid soap and emerged.

"All yours," he said cheerfully.

Poland gave him a death glare and stamped down the stairs. There was a moment of silence, then a desolate howl as the true horror finally hit home. "Oh my God! This place is a pig sty!" After another few moments, the sound of the vacuum cleaner started.

Lithuania did a victory dance on the landing and sauntered down to relax on the sofa. As a gesture of being a gracious winner he lifted his feet when Poland asked him nicely. After the carpets had been vacuumed and every shelf dusted, two weeks' worth of paper plates and cups had been put in the rubbish and the rubbish itself taken out of the house, Poland started on what seemed to be a complete disinfection of the kitchen.

"Jeez, I am so getting a dishwasher," he yelled in frustration.

"Hey, don't worry about it," Lithuania called. "Just wash one mug for the moment and make me a coffee."

There was an ominous silence. Lithuania stretched out on the sofa and imagined just what sort of expression had to be on Poland's face. It was, he thought, probably very much like the one he had often worn when Poland had made similar demands on him. This shouldn't feel so enjoyable, he thought guiltily, fighting the urge to run into the kitchen and help out. It really shouldn't – I should go in there and help - There was an audible level of muttering from the kitchen, and then the kettle whistled as the water came to the boil. If I stay on the sofa, Lithuania thought, he won't throw the coffee over me. Just to ensure his safety, he cuddled Poland's favourite cushion against himself, and kept his face very innocent as Poland came in with a tray, carrying two clean china mugs of coffee and the last paper plate with a random assortment of biscuits that neither of them really liked and so hadn't yet eaten.

"Thank you!" Lithuania said, taking his coffee. Poland had always thanked him, after all.

"Liet," Poland said. "I could really do with a hand."

"No problem," Lithuania said. "I'll get right on it in the early twenty-fifth century."

"In four hundred years?" Poland said. " . . . how about now?"

"You have to do what I say," Lithuania said. "I did what you wanted for four hundred years, so –"

"No way! Jeez, Liet! Try doing your own fair share!"

"My words precisely," Lithuania said. "OK, to be fair, you did try every so often, though it always wore off. So I could help out for a few months every fifty years or so?"

Poland gulped his coffee too quickly and burnt his mouth. "Ow! Dammit! Liet – seriously, I'm doing everything."

"And you're doing really well!"

Poland looked down. "Why are you doing this to me?" he asked, a lot more quietly than Lithuania had expected. "You're totally enjoying this, Liet – I wasn't like this to you, not ever. And don't give me that bogus Oh, you bossed me round for four hundred years, I made suggestions, I didn't force anything on you. My God, I had freaking Lithuanian bosses for two hundred of those years!"

"They were so Polonized they barely knew who I was," Lithuania sniffed. He made himself look as haughty as possible in case Poland noticed he was feeling defensive; it was important suddenly to argue the point, he thought, no matter how silly it seemed.

"Not true! Not freaking true, Liet! Come on," Poland said, his voice turning wheedling, "what's going on? Just a couple of months ago we were splitting the chores and everything was fine."

"I was doing more than half of the cooking," Lithuania snapped. Poland looked at him blankly. "I was! Cooking and cleaning up, day after day –"

"I thought you liked cooking," Poland said. "I really like your cooking, Liet, you're really good at it –"

"I get enough practice."

" – and, like, be fair, we always do the shopping together, and you pick the things we get, I mean, what do I ever pull off the shelves except for snack foods?" Poland laughed, sounding a little nervous. "I can cook more, if you want, but it'd be nice if you cooked too. I've totally missed that over the last month, coming home and knowing you'd have something yummy ready –"

"You think I've nothing better to do than have your dinner on the table when you get in from work?" Lithuania yelled, surprising them both. He wasn't sure where the anger had come from. "I'm not your fucking wife!"

Poland looked like he'd been hit in the head with a rock. "I never said you were," he started.

"Christ, Poland! This is why us being together doesn't work any more!"

"What?" Poland said in surprise. "All I meant was –"

"You just start acting like you're my lord and master – well, it's not the fucking middle ages, we're not joined by a royal union, we're not the commonwealth and sleeping together doesn't mean you own me!"

"Oh my God!" Poland yelled. "What is with you? Stop rewriting our history! We were good together, we were happy! Your freaking problem is you don't know how to be happy any more, Liet, and don't try to freaking pretend that means I think I should own you! I don't, and I don't want to. How come our history sucks so much but you're still hung up on Russia's weird-ass try at setting you up with his freaking psycho sister? As for sleeping together, maybe you'd have been less freaking uptight this last month if you'd been a little more invested in that beyond lying back and thinking of Vilnius!"

Lithuania rocked back like he'd been hit. He watched the colour drain from Poland's face. Everything seemed unnaturally quiet.

"Liet," Poland said, "I'm sorry, I shouldn't have said that – "

"How dare you," Lithuania said. "How dare you?" All the itchy, nasty-pleasurable feelings he'd had about bossing Poland round seemed to gather in him at once, as if they'd been waiting for this chance to turn to rage.

"I didn't mean that!" Poland wailed.

Lithuania found the bubbling, frustrated rage intoxicating. "You should be glad I even look at you, after what you did!"

"C'mon, dude, I apologised, like, a thousand times!"

"Thirty-eight," Lithuania said icily. "Which is nowhere near the number of soldiers you sent into my city." He pulled his arm away as Poland tried to hold on to him. "You, you of all people! The Commonwealth meant more to you than me - you've always wanted to own me! As long as just a little bit of my territory was left with you, you could shrug off the early partitions -"

"No," Poland said, shaking his head, "No, Liet, I'm sorry, I'm really sorry –" He gasped as Lithuania grabbed and shook him, snapping his head back and forth. "Liet, I'll throw up –"

"If it had been Russia!" Lithuania screamed. "I'd have expected that! But you! How long had you been planning that? I trusted you!"

"You ran off!" Poland yelled, fighting free. "You're really good at running off, Liet. Damn right, it's not the middle ages, you had some backbone back then!"

Lithuania hit him.

"You have no idea," he said, forcing himself to look into Poland's horrified face. "You have no idea – " He felt all the anger turn to ice. "You know," he said, "When I was working for him, America made it perfectly clear he found me attractive, and I always pretended I didn't notice. I had someone back in Europe, after all. Then one day I brought him his coffee and he tried to hide the newspaper he was reading. Then he said I'd better know what was going on and gave it to me. I had to read it four times before the words made any sense – how could there be Polish forces in my territory? How could you be bombing me?" He smiled cheerily, to make his next words hurt more. "I called you every name I could think of, in every language I knew; I thought I might just die of anger. America asked if he could do anything to help, so I kissed him. He fucked me right there on his desk, and let me tell you, it turns out that age and experience don't always win out over youth and enthusiasm."

"Liet – " Poland said.

"He's big," Lithuania said, as if commenting on the weather. "It was really, really good." Poland looked sick and old; Lithuania told himself he didn't care. "I should go home," he said. "Thanks for having me."

Poland drew a shuddering breath and something Lithuania hadn't seen for a long time came back into his face as, just for a moment, the lord of eastern Europe looked back at him coldly. "Take your time," he said. "I'm not throwing you out. I'm like, not going back on helping you get back on your feet. You just sit back and relax, Liet, I'll go stay with a friend and you can take advantage of my charity. Like always." He turned his back and walked fast to the door, flinging it open.

Lithuania caught up with him, grabbing his arm. "Fuck your charity! You think you're so –"

"Get your hands off me!" Poland shrieked. "Find someone who gives a crap, Liet! Just leave me alone!" He ran down the path, audibly crying, and vaulted the fence at the end of the garden more neatly than Lithuania would have expected.

"Oh, fine!" Lithuania yelled after him. "Now who's running away? I hope Slovakia and Hungary don't mind being invaded – that's what you do to your friends, isn't it?" As he watched, Poland got all the way across Slovakia's garden and jumped the far fence as Slovakia peered out the kitchen door, clearly surprised by the sudden activity. Hungary's door opened and she came out, looking concerned. Poland flung himself into her arms and, with a glare towards Lithuania, she drew him into her house. Lithuania kicked a flowerpot over and looked around, feeling he was being watched by more people than Slovakia. He looked north and sighed. Latvia had crept as close to the fence between his garden and Lithuania's as he could and was peering at him from a badly concealed position under a rhododendron. Estonia was with him, blatantly observing through binoculars. Looking across the Baltic he could see Sweden and Finland frozen in the act of hanging out sheets to dry, belatedly pretending they hadn't been eavesdropping. Lithuania rolled his eyes and stamped back into the house, bitterly noticing that all the windows were open. Half of Europe must have heard the fight. The house seemed a lot quieter and smaller without Poland, he thought, looking round. He didn't want people claiming he'd left the place in a mess, so he finished the job Poland had started, dusting and vacuuming every room, and washing load after load of laundry. He pointedly didn't look towards Hungary's house when he hung the washing out.

Finally the house was spotless, every surface gleaming and polished, every last speck of dust banished. The rooms smelt of clean air and beeswax, and all the cushions were neatly plumped up. Lithuania changed the bed linens, and looked around Poland's room, at the silly clock on the bedside table, the silly girl's novels Poland pretended he was only reading better to understand his young people and the ridiculous frilled sheets Poland thought looked nice, fresh and crisp, just waiting for someone to slip between them. Everything looked caught in time, waiting for the master of the house to come back and make it live. Lithuania sat in the middle of the floor and wept until his chest ached and he could barely breathe. Then he dragged himself up and, walking as slowly as an old, old man, went to pack.


* * *



Part Two

Comments

WOW. I'm definitely going to keep reading because I love this fic so far. That fight at the end too--INTENSE. You're a great writer.
Thank you very much! I'm glad it keeps you reading!
Thank you!
You do everything!

Imagine me, lovin' Good Omens like I do, reading your lovely Good Omens stuff, whilst also be a lame-o Hetalia fan, and I stumble across a recommendation for something you wrote on TvTropes for Hetalia. I did a flat what and then I cam to see this and...incoherent. Why are you so awesome? Why?

I don't know too many people who are in both fandoms and...wow. Cool beans is all I have to say. This is lovely.
Thank you so much! I'm so very pleased you like both my GO fics and this, in such a different fandom!

November 2010

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