Disclaimer: I don't own Hetalia.
Warnings: Random pop culture references, wackyness, America being a bit obtuse, Romano being Romano...
Notes:I meant this to be a quick, short story, but it somehow got away from me. I've been wanting to write a one-shot of established Romerica, but this is not it. Ha. Also I'm not an espresso drinker, so forgive my failure at describing the process. I even did a bunch of research!
And this is dedicated to Coffee-Flavored Fate! I was reading some of your Romerica stories and then, bam! Somehow this came into being. Maybe cause it has coffee? I hope you feel better, too.
[ I swear I'm working on pommed'amour... orz ]
America had a lot of great ideas – and they were all great, thank you very much! – but the best ones were always the simplest.
In hindsight, it was obvious. America and Romano had few things in common. Not much, yet, but plenty of things to go from. And by 'go from' America meant wooing Romano, not that America would ever use the phrase woo, that sounded like something France would say, and yeah, no. Not gonna happen. Maybe courting was a better term, but that sounded England-ish and again, no. Puttin' the moves on was way too crude, c'mon, America's style was more The Notebook and less Van Wilder. Although Ryan Reynolds was both hot and funny...
Okay, maybe it was better to drop all that and say that America just wanted Romano to notice him outside of an 'idiot' context. Not just an idiot, but also as a very handsome and funny and heroic nation. You know, boyfriend material. Was that too much to ask?
Apparently yes. As they had little interaction outside of world meetings – and very little interaction inside of those, sadly – Romano had yet to realize America's boyfriend potential. So, back to square one. Getting Romano to notice him, firstly, in a non-idiot (and also non-creepy) way. Then, notice him as a super sexy, generous, romantic guy. Then, bam! America would really pull out all the stops for a date.
America had spent enough time and energy figuring out what he and Romano had in common that he had the list memorized. Food, of course, but also things like waking up on time and staying awake through meetings. And what kept you awake? Coffee!
As America soon learned, figuring it out was simple. What wasn't simple was the coffee.
First, America had just sprung it on Romano. Well, that went over about as well as Green Lantern had to the critics. Apparently Romano was not fond of a good ol' cup of joe, America had discovered when he managed to find Romano alone by the snack bar and shoved a cup of hot coffee at him. Romano had stared at the styrofoam cup of caffeinated goodness suspiciously and then asked, "What the hell is that?"
"Coffee!" America hadn't really figured out what to say besides that, but mysterious and sexy always worked in the movies, right? Except, Romano's wary stare was morphing into a glare, which wasn't exactly unusual but America had hoped to have more than a two-sentence conversation before he got his butt chewed out.
"Um...you like it?...right?"
Romano's glare became a death-glare. "Hell no, I hate that crap!" Only he hadn't exactly been that polite in his phrasing.
Okay. So no to the regular cup of joe. That left America clueless, but only for a moment. He could figure out what Romano liked. All it took was little bit of stalk – uh, investigation, and soon America discovered that Romano went to tiny little coffee shops with funky interiors and a distinct lack of mermaid logos and ordered the same thing every time.
So the way to Romano's heart lay in a little cup of espresso and steamed milk, with a little foam on top.
Maybe even a heart-shape drawn into the foam. America sighed as he thought of it. What! He was a romantic, okay?
Knowing Romano's preferred drink didn't make things easier. Cornering him alone at the snack bar at meetings, even with a cappuccino in hand, wasn't going to cut it. But it was nearly impossible to get Romano alone otherwise, so that meant he'd need help.
Canada was pretty resistant to America's puppy-dog eyes after a couple of centuries. "No."
There was nothing that maple and hockey bribes couldn't cure, though.
"They're not even going to know I'm there!"
"France will! And then...you'll just have to get the others to notice, I guess."
Canada glared at him over his maple donut (provided by America, of course). "I'm not doing anything like...like that!"
"Like what?" America was confused. Canada just rolled his eyes. But he agreed to act as a distraction.
After the next the world meeting, America was the first one out of his chair and down the hallway. He put all his skills to use – hiding ninja style behind one of the many potted plants – and checked his phone. Canada sent him a text a few minutes later with a short message, Done. you owe me.
America smiled. Somehow Canada had managed to distract France, and through him Spain, and possibly North Italy and whoever else was in their crew. That left South Italy out, alone and in need of America as a coffee companion.
He saw through the fern a glint of blond hair and thanked his bro with a multiple-smiley-face-text. He edged his way out behind the plant and started looking – casually, not at all like a creeper, okay, Canada, that is not in the plan – for Romano. He ignored England, who stared at him skeptically and made a move to talk to him. America had perfected the England-dodge (opposite of the England-catch, which was France's creation). Where was Romano? There!
America hurried to catch up with him, then slowed when he realized how silly he looked, and tried to saunter instead. Or strut. Whatever. Well, that slowed him down. He should forget it and just catch up. He dashed up to Romano.
The other country looked at him, surprised, taking a step sideways.
"What do you want?" Romano snapped.
Well, might as well just say it. "Want to go grab a coffee?"
The other nation stared at him. "Why?"
That was a good question. Because I want to woo you was probably not the right answer. "I'm – I need a coffee and I don't know. Where to...go?" Who said America never thought before he spoke?
Romano stared at him, perplexed. The little frown line between his eyebrows was really cute. America wanted to press his lips to it and kiss it away. Man, he had it bad. The Italian nation looked like he might say no, though, so America quickly spoke up.
"And – it's important to talk about – economic austerity measures. Um. Yeah." Right. Who wouldn't want to talk about that outside of the meetings?
But Romano shrugged. "Fine." He turned and walked away. America took a second to pump his fist in victory. Then he hurried to catch up with the other nation.
That was the first time. Granted, it had only lasted about 7 minutes – Romano could really down a cappuccino – but it paved the way for all the other coffee invites. And eventually, when one of the world meetings was hosted in the US, and invite to America's house – for a cappuccino, of course, America didn't move that fast.
Romano, distrustful but intrigued by the thought of crude, uncultured America owning an actual espresso machine, agreed to come over after the meeting.
It had been a disaster. The less said, the better. America shuddered to think about it. There had been yelling – and man, America had heard Romano yell plenty of times, but never with so much vehemence directed at him – and maybe a broken cup – and how was America supposed to know how much espresso meant to Italians?
America was a little disheartened after that incident. He wondered if he should drop the whole coffee thing. Maybe he should just drop the whole getting-to-know-Romano-before-asking-him-on-a-date strategy. Maybe he could pull a John Cusack, get the stereo out and play a declaration of love to Romano. America wondered if that would work. If only he was going to the airport, America could dash through the security lines to the gate – TSA would love that – catch the Italian nation just before he boarded – one hand reaching out to catch Romano's wrist, pulling him aside to breathlessly say –
Maybe he should stop watching certain chick flicks on repeat.
Strangely enough, Romano had been the one to contact him after that. America couldn't help his heart leaping into his throat as he realized who was calling him.
"It's Romano Italy." Romano had sounded his usual brusque self, if a tad hesitant.
America tried for nonchalant. "Hey! How are ya?"
"What? I can't hear you."
"Oh, I SAID, HOW –"
"Yes, yes, goddammit! You don't need to friggin' shout."
"Oh. Sorry, I. Um. What's –"
"I need your address. I – I got something to mail to you."
"Your ADDRESS! CAN YOU HEAR ME?"
America might have lost a little bit of hearing, but it was worth it. Next week – international mail sucked, dude – when a beat up package had arrived on his doorstep, bearing Romano's handwriting (and so what, maybe America had cut out the part with the writing, that wasn't creepy at all! Just in case he needed to send something to South Italy, really.) America was excited.
He tried to calm himself before opening it. Romano hadn't said what he was sending him. It could be anything.
It was an espresso machine.
An interesting one. Obviously well used. There weren't any instructions on it, either, which was fine. America was pretty good at figuring out mechanical stuff.
Two hours later. America was slightly less excited, sipping on some decent espresso (not the best, but practice makes perfect). There were a few quirks to work out. He nonetheless sent Romano a nice thank-you text message. He might have also tweeted about his gift, but Romano didn't have twitter, so it's fine if America got a little out of control with the exclamation points.
America was ecstatic. He might have been a little smug. Canada might have told him to shove it a few times. But every time he went into his kitchen he saw Romano's espresso machine and felt a huge smile break out on his face. Dude! Romano and him...screw John Cusack, America was about to go all Heath Ledger and serenade Romano 10 Things I Hate About You-style.
And now! Now, Romano was visiting his house, for the second time, lured again by the promise of coffee.
Not coffee, of course, since Romano hated "that crap" that America loved, but a cappuccino. Granted, America wasn't nearly as good at making real espresso or cappuccinos as any Italians, but he was getting pretty good, if he said so himself.
The espresso machine. The less said about that incident the better. It was kind of depressing, though. All the research America had done, countless hours on the Internet and in various coffee shops had led him to the best personal espresso machine money could buy. The Gran Impressa Digital X70, an automatic, one-touch programmable machine with height and width-adjustable beverage dispenser and two 1350-watt thermoblock heating systems. Yeah. Just looking at the sleek, silver matte finish gleam made America's heart beat a little faster.
Of course, Romano had hated it.
"What the hell are all of these buttons!"
America had pointed out that they had made it easier. All you had to do was press a button!
"You don't need all that crap to make a simple cup of espresso!"
Oh, but he did. Not that America needed to say it out loud to Romano, but he apparently failed when it came to anything food-related. Having a top-brand, top-quality machine make top-quality espresso for him – okay, for Romano, actually, but America wanted it to be him that made the espresso for Romano, even if it was actually a machine – but his machine!
"It's not even Italian!" Had been the final blow, and disappointed, America couldn't even argue. (It was Swiss, but so what! It was pretty. And it had an integrated conical burr grinder! Er. Yeah.)
So the Gran Impressa Digital X70 was tucked away in the back of the garage, never to be seen again. Well, maybe he could resell it to Canada, or something. After all, it had only been used once!
America held back a wistful sigh at that particular espresso machine. His gift one was...special. Romano had given it to him, so of course America would treasure it until he was dead (which was probably never, so therefore a very long time), but it had...problems? Issues? What was a word that didn't sound bad?
America got the premium espresso beans – imported from Italy, of course, he wasn't going to make that mistake again! – ground down into an acceptable size grain. He hoped. It was so hard to tell! After a certain size, they all looked tiny. It was impossible to tell if it was fine or super-fine or mega-fine or whatever.
Anyways. He turned to the espresso machine sitting innocently on the counter. It was clearly well-loved by its previous owner, and its small size, scratched sides, and small dent on the top made it adorable in a way, but it never quite worked.
Okay, this was probably untrue. It worked fine, just not for America.
"Why do you do this to me?" America muttered at it as he struggled to get it to turn on. Sometimes the little red on button would light up, sometimes not. He couldn't even hate it, not really, since Romano had given it to him. Romano had never given him anything, so the little machine was something to love and hold dear.
Except it hated him.
"But I love you!" America whispered to the metal contraption as he stroked the top of it gently, willing it to turn on. "So, please...turn on?" He pushed the button fifteen more times, then jiggled the electrical cord at the back. Maybe it was coming loose or something?
America sighed and snuck a glance at the kitchen entrance. Romano was just on the other side, waiting for his cappuccino. America turned back to the espresso machine and pressed the one button once more, a desperate plea unspoken on his lips.
The little red button clicked on.
"What?" Romano yelled from the dining room.
"Nothing! Er, just a second!" America called back. He quickly grabbed the ground beans and tamped them down, then clicked the thing back into the slot. Okay, now all he had to do was wait for the water to heat up – crap. He ran to the sink and grabbed a cup, eyeballing the measurement before pouring the water into the tank of the espresso machine. The espresso was quick to brew, dripping out in to one of the coffee cups America had placed in the well. Wait, milk – shoot, he should have heated that up first, now he had to add more water!
America hurried to the sink to get more water to add. He added it into the tank and flipped the switch to heat up the magic wand thing.
It was too quiet outside the kitchen. "Coming right out!" America called over his shoulder as he ran to the fridge. He pulled out the milk and put some into another cup to heat up. This was the worst part. Trying to get the damn milk to heat and foam – oh, how he missed the Gran Impressa Digital X70! One touch brewing...America tried not to think about it. Romano's machine was just as good, better, even, if you thought about it. It had staying power! Experience! Just because it was a little temperamental didn't make it any less wanted.
America jiggled the cup of milk. Maybe if he raised is up and down, almost like he was shaking it? Then it'd foam. It sorta did, enough for America to pull it out and turn off the machine. The espresso part was probably cold at this point, but hopefully the milk was warm enough to heat it back up.
America poured the steamed milk into the espresso cup, careful to keep the foam at the top. It looked okay. It was probably good. America carried it out to Romano, who was drumming his fingers on the table, frowning.
His expression didn't change when he took the cup from America. America found himself holding his breath as Romano lifted the cup to his lips. Romano paused.
"Aren't you going to have one?"
"Well, yeah. Um." But America wanted to see Romano's reaction! Love it or hate it, America needed to know.
Romano's frown deepened as he studied America, then he shrugged a shoulder and took a sip of his cappuccino. His expression didn't change. Still frowning, he looked down at the cup in his hand.
America was just about to imagining the worst – cold cappuccino thrown at his head, perhaps – when Romano looked back up.
"You!" He snapped, his free hand clenched in a fist.
America started. "Me?"
Romano sighed angrily. Somehow that was possible, with him. "You! Just, show me what you're doing. Whatever it is, it's wrong, so wrong," he muttered the last part. He got up and stalked into the kitchen, leaving the cup behind on the table. America trailed after him.
Romano was standing in front of the espresso machine, murmuring something in Italian as he ran a hand over the top of it. "I'm sorry I left you to this idiot," he said a little louder as America came to stand next to him.
Dammit. Back to the idiot label! America felt his insides shrivel up in despair.
"I should never have left you alone," Romano continued. "Obviously you don't know what you're doing, no matter what you say."
Oh. Romano was talking to him. America felt his heart jump for joy at the words. The I should never have left you alone part, not the rest.
Romano turned to stare at him. His eyes were stern. "If you're serious about coffee, I'll show you the right way to make it."
"I am!" America declared, earnestly, sincerely. He grabbed one of his Romano's hands and added in a quieter tone, "I am serious."
Romano pinked under his stare but didn't pull his hand away. America smiled and squeezed his hand. Romano blushed bright red and yanked his hand away.
"Asshole! Listen up, then, I'm not going to repeat myself..."
America grinned to himself. Oh yeah, now they were getting somewhere. He leaned over Romano's shoulder and watched the Italian nation grow more animated as he started explaining the process.
America really did have the best ideas.