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Out of Date.

What follows is my very first attempt at REAL Scotland/France, I fear I tend to go off on tangents when I write, so forgive. I had planned on carrying this on a little further, but when I finished it seemed like it was nicely rounded off. Enjoy. <3

-x-

France takes another look at Scotland’s sparsely stocked larder, his eyes reaming over the various tins and packets in search of anything fresh that he can serve up as something that looks like a meal. The closest he’s found so far is a tin of sweet corn and some potatoes that have started to sprout tentacles and attempt to take root at the bottom of the cupboard.

This is atrocious, France muses, and worse still he promised he’d do something special, because he hardly ever sees Scotland these days and of course it’s no problem MONSIEUR!

It all just reminds France WHY he never sees Scotland these days.

He brushes his hands down his shirt as if to decontaminate them before pushing a few more of the packets aside, super noodles, France observes, and he makes a mental note to throw them out as soon as he’s done picking through the larder, which has a layer of salt (France hopes it’s salt) built up along it, and it seems like someone has written their name there.

“Honestly, I tell him to buy supplies for me to cook him something and he doesn’t even bother!” France hisses to himself, it’s then that he notices a brightly coloured package near the back, just behind a half eaten jar of Branston pickles that looks rather suspect, and a container of Nutella that he’s been assured belongs to Northern Ireland, despite the fact the teenager hasn’t set foot in the house in a month or two at the very least.

Slim fingers delicately grip the cardboard and France sweeps his long hair away from his face as he reads the box over.

‘Mr Kipling’s Mince Pies.’ The box proclaims, and France feels himself look towards the calendar that’s been blu-tacked to Scotland’s door, August, it reminds him, blue eyes fall with disgust to the box. These must have been back there since at least December!

Upon flipping the box over and looking at the date France is forced to yelp and fling the offending item in any old direction that takes his fancy, the little pies are five years out of date! “That is disgusting!” He hisses, glaring at the box, like it might grow legs and scamper off, which is not the most unlikely scenario France can imagine given Scotland‘s inability to rotate his stock.. “How does anyone live like this?”

“Having problems?” He hears Scotland’s voice chime, somewhat amused sounding too and France feels his entire face tighten in annoyance, whirls to give the Scotsman a piece of his mind and kick up a stink about the hideous box of mince pies and the noodles and perhaps lift the jar of Nutella and see if he can bounce if off the taller mans skull.

His voice stops, however, when he sees that Scotland’s carrying several overburdened bags of shopping and he feels his face heat up slightly. “There had better be an onion in there.”

Scotland’s expression sinks, “Did you need one?” He says, setting the bags down, “I’m not walking all the way back to Tesco’s for one onion.”

“You could have taken the car.” France scoffs as Scotland starts to unload a large pack of Tomatoes, fresh parsley, garlic cloves, olive oil, steak mince and various other fresh items that ease the horrid sensation that had been lingering in the back of Frances head. He had doubted his own ability to make any kind of fresh pasta dish with a jar of Nutella, Branston pickle, super noodles and an unlabeled tin with a dent in it.

“Waste of petrol, anyway, it’s only a mile or two away.”

“Honestly, you’re intolerable.”

Scotland opens his mouth impulsively, but whatever he was going to say stops dead before he gets a chance to utter it, instead he leaves all his (annoyingly expensive) items on the table for France to scrutinise, before he lifts the box of mince pies with thick fingers and begins to wonder what on earth they’re doing on the floor. “What are these out for?”

“Those horrible things must be binned immediately!” France scolds, while he casts an eye over the olive oil and makes a sour face over it’s oiliness or something, Scotland doesn’t dare ask what’s wrong with it.

“Are you joking? I never throw away perfectly good food.” Scotland says, sticking them right back where they were and shutting the door to the larder.

France is speechless.

Utterly speechless.

“D...Do you even know when those went out of date?” Almost speechless.

“They’re wrapped in plastic.” Scotland assures him, frowning pointedly. “They’ll last longer than most people do.”

France can only look to his fresh ingredients and try and put the larder to the back of his mind, though Scotland steps up beside him and his icy blue eyes take in his face, eyebrows rising.

“What’s wrong?”

“I need an onion, and a jar of peppercorns, and red wine.”

“I have wine, it’s over there.” Scotland grumbles and motioning in the direction of his microwaves, which has a collection of wines sitting lazily beside it, it makes the Microwave seem happier somehow.

“I wouldn’t attempt to make your brothers drink that slop.” France mumbles. “A decent vintage makes for a decent sauce, cleansing to the palette and also, one of those bottles is corked.”

“You’ve got to be joking.” Scotland grumbles. “Those cost me a fiver each.”

“If you’d bought ONE decent bottle of wine instead of several cheap ones we would not be having this discussion.” France reminds him. “I don’t invite you to Champagnes wine tasting festivals for nothing, and don’t say you don’t learn anything at them, because you do.”

Scotland might argue that what happened at most of those stupid things was that he and Brittany suddenly became very close family and escaped at the first opportunity to drink beer at whatever bar they came across, while bad mouthing their actual families and making fun of each others accents.

Then sneaking back to wherever they were supposed to be staying at, hopefully without waking anyone up at some ungodly hour of the morning and later, watching Brittany get so horribly run into the ground by his siblings that it reminds Scotland exactly why Brittany and Wales are so closely related.

But he digressed.

“Well, bring your preferred wine with you if you want, I never pick up the right ones.” France nods in agreement.

“If I must.” France says, like it’s some massive trial he’s being put through. “I hope this meat is decent, not your usual floor trimmings.”

“It was the best they had at the Tesco.” Scotland says, reminding himself of the price and that it’s all for an easy life, because France can be even more awkward than this if given the artillery to do so. “Ground up a perfectly good steak to make it I assume, all things considered.”

“Didn’t you get any cheese?” France enquires suddenly.

“There’s cheese in the fridge.”

It’s processed cheese squares, but he and Northern Ireland put that on pasta all the time and they’ve come to an agreement that there’s no real difference to be tasted. Though they could just be kidding themselves for the sake of saving a little money.

“I mean proper cheese.” France says, rolling his hand as he tests the tomatoes Scotland has gotten for freshness by squeezing them gently, Scotland opts not to watch because when France does it, it seems oddly pornographic.

“No, I don’t think we’ll need it.” He offers, trying to sound genuine. “A bunch of shitty cheese will ruin your efforts.”

France turns his head slowly and cocks a brow at Scotland, apparently seeing right through that like Scotland’s face is made of pure crystal, not disguising the lies that lurk within. “A good cheese enhances the flavour.”

“Not when it looks and tastes like the dry skin off someone’s feet it doesn’t.”

“Honestly Ecosse, is it too much to ask?” France says with a cute little pout and a step forward. “I can’t make you a special, romantic meal without the right ingredients.”

Scotland struggles against the very obvious ploy, but it’s all in vain and he knows it.

“Fine, but it had better be the single most delicious thing I’ve ever fucking tasted.” He warns, rummaging about in his jeans pocket for his wallet and keys. The things he does to indulge France, honestly!

“I assure you it will be worth your while.” France coos.

Scotland doubts that rather seriously before reminding himself he has some Tesco club card vouchers in his wallet that might save him a few quid, thanks only to Northern Ireland eating him out of house and home most weeks he’s ever here, though at least his tastes are in the same ‘cheap and cheerful’ range as Scotland’s, he just eats so much extra making it almost redundant.

“Why don’t you grab us a dessert too?” Frances adds, leaning closer and patting down Scotland’s coat, which is still a little damp from the drizzle, and he shoves a few strands of Scotland’s hair from his face.

“What kind of dessert?”

“Strawberries and cream.” France says, after a moments thought. “Or peaches, with a little honey.

“Not a sticky toffee pudding and some hob-nobs then?” He asks hopefully, “See you sprinkle the hob-nob all over the sticky toffee, it’s ace.”

France frowns, he isn’t sure what a ‘hob-nob’ is, or why anyone would want one crumbled over anything very much. “Perhaps you can get that for yourself.” He says, sounding discontented.

“Right then, I suppose I’d best get going.” Scotland says, sighing and turning on his heel, pausing thoughtfully and peeking over his shoulder. “Unless you want to come along, stop me making another cock up?”

“Non,” France says, shattering Scotlands dreams. “I need to set up the kitchen and get a quick wash before dinner.”

“Right,” Scotland says, allowing himself to wander away with sunken shoulders and listen to France root through his pans and make judgemental noises over how disorganised and unprofessional in quality they are. “How foolish of me.”

============================================================================

Scotland stares at the wall of wine, he hadn’t remembered there being such a selection of the stuff here, and he feels a sense of non belonging as people who are obviously more educated in this sort of thing than himself (Though there was a point where Scotland could have told you most anything about wine, it was a long time ago and is now information he’s managed to misplace.) take what they came for and wander away again like it was nothing.

A look at the really expensive stuff causes him to suffer, while a glance in the other direction at the very, very cheap tipple reminds him of former pains. He’s left lurking in this grey middle area, looking over wines that could either be very good or very bad and he’s too proud to stop somebody and ask them, or to call France and casually inquire what he might prefer, because France would much rather that Scotland go to some old Scottish castle somewhere and buy some incredibly ancient vintage or something hidden away in some old chieftains wine cellar, in a bottle that outdates the rise of the roman empire.

Which would be expensive. And time consuming.

There’s also the question of sourcing, does he impulsively buy the French wine, or African wine which France has no end of compliment for so long as he bought it himself, but then , maybe Italian wine is better for cooking with and German wine isn’t too bad either and Scotland admits there are a few English wines he’s rather partial to but that strange looking wine from Turkey is also looking tempting and now he’s almost forgotten what the wine was even for. He just fancies drinking the stuff in the carpark and not going home.

Reluctantly Scotland’s hand reaches into his pocket and starts scrolling through the names of anyone who might be of value on his phone. He can only see one that’s of any value.

============================================================================

The skull regards him with a wide grin and France frowns at it reluctantly, why Scotland keeps a cows skull in his bathroom is beyond him and why it has to sit on the windowsill where it has to be observed from everywhere else no matter where you look, thanks to a mirror that’s been placed rather maliciously opposite is all too much for the Frenchman to start thinking about.

He just sets a spare wash cloth over the top of it and pretends it isn’t there, adding the retched thing to a long mental list of items that he will be casually throwing out once the chance arises.

He turns his attention to the range of soaps and shampoos on offer, though they all sit in a jumble in Scotland’s Bath-come-shower, France can quickly sort them by quality and make some guesses that the bottle of herbal essences shampoo and the matching bottle of conditioner belong to Northern Ireland, because the only other stuff on offer is own brand from Asda.

The soap is all equally cheap, and a severe lack in face scrub leads France to believe that Northern Ireland has opted towards taking all his skincare articles home with him from now on, though perhaps it was bad of him to borrow them and he considers getting the teenager something better than the bottles of Clearasil and tea tree oil that he normally uses.

Scotland’s face wash leaves little to be desired, even though it is from some company called ‘Avon’ and looks decent enough, it’s still not to Frances standard.

There’s also a shaver left by the sink, and France assumes it belongs to Scotland, though the redhead doesn’t shave that often considering the mass of coarse red hair that graces his chin most days, Northern Ireland hasn’t had that eruption yet though he has caught the youngster peering at his reflection like he might be willing facial hair to sprout, and England and Wales are neither here often enough to leave such a thing behind, nor are they particularly hairy in the chin.

England’s beard tends to creep up on him if left unchecked and become a scruffy blond chin-lawn that makes him look drunk and homeless because it‘s as unkempt and prone to sticking out as his hair even in it‘s shortest stubble stages, while Wales seems to breeze through life without such concerns.

The question lingers with France now, whether to have a bath or a shower, but he’s distracted by this when he casually lifts Scotland’s aftershave and takes a sniff, it’s a handsome musky smell that’s seeped into all the mans clothing and provides a strange sense of comfort to France, he’d certainly never wear it himself, but he likes it anyway, because it’s familiar and masculine and because it’s understated when it’s worn and warms up the senses when Scotland allows his coat to be worn or his arm is slumped around your shoulders.

He decides in that instant to buy Scotland a fresh bottle of it for Christmas, to reaffirm the idea that Scotland shouldn’t wear anything else and because this bottle is running a tad low.

He sets the bottle down carefully, and idly pokes at a little bottle of slightly expensive looking hand wash that’s doubtless been left there only because France is over, this is supported by the presence of a bar of cheaper looking white soap and it reminds France of why he seems unable to stop coming here though he wishes he could sometimes.

Scotland is oddly thoughtful, doing little things to show he cares without asking or seeking praise for them, probably not even aware he’s done them at all yet never losing himself in the little tokens, not overburdening himself with them or making a huge fuss.

He just wants to make it so France can clean his hands and not leave them dried out because he knows France hates it or have a drink of that coffee he knows France likes because the cheap brand of tea Scotland drinks isn’t to his tastes or buys wine in advance because France prefers wine, even if the brands were a little economical it’s a sign that the man cares.

The thought lingers too long for France to bear, because somehow it hurts to imagine someone being that way and he’s overwhelmed by the need to have a wash and put it out of his mind where it belongs.

He decides to have a bath.

============================================================================

Northern Ireland pauses his game of Grand Theft Auto three and glares at the familiar ringtone, a version of Auld Lang syne played on electric guitar that he’d recorded England playing a month or two ago while so drunk off his tits that he shouldn’t have been capable of such a feat. England is a mystery to him sometimes.

The sound is an instant indication that it’s Scotland who’s calling him and he plucks the phone up, with it’s pokémon themed charm and strap (It’s a bulbsaur) and holds the phone to his ear while leaning back on his unmade bed.

“‘Allo?” He greets in a dreary unwelcoming voice.

[Are you on the internet?] Scotland asks, because he’s prone to ignoring all civil rules of conversation when he wants something.

“No, I’m playing a game, and I was just about to start blowing up helicopters so you had--”

[Whatever, runt, I need your help.]

“Don’t call me that.” Northern Ireland warns. “What is it? What do you want?”

[Look up the internet for me and see which wines go best for putting in sauces.] Scotland says, and Northern Ireland isn’t sure if he should make a noise of revulsion or smirk.

“What the hell do you need to know that for?” He asks redundantly, leaning over and popping open his laptop, admiring the naked lady that graces his desktop as a trap to anyone who dares impose themselves upon his treasured computer.

[Because France is insisting on it and I’ve long forgotten the long winded explanations of what wines go best in what dishes.] Scotland hisses his voice crackling slightly with the poor reception. [Are you on the Google yet or not?]

“It’s not THE Google, it’s just Google.” Northern Ireland says, his hand jerking stiffly as he types. “You’re so lame, I swear.”

[Just do it.]

“I don’t see why I should.” Northern Ireland grumbles, adjusting himself so he can balance the phone on his shoulder and start typing. “What do I get out of it?”

[You get a big dose of bugger all.]

“Well then you can go elsewhere for your internet needs, why not ask Wales, England or Mannis for their assistance. Oh wait, you can’t, they‘re useless.” He says, enjoying the silence at the other end of the phone, because it will have Scotland in a quandary.

[Right, what exactly do you want?]

“England says I have to spend time with him this weekend, but I’d much rather stay with you.” Northern Ireland says, running over a weekend with England in his head. Endless guilt tripping over never visiting times nagging about him never tidying up plus not being allowed to do anything minus the actual fun stuff he and England might possibly do together because England has decided that what his house needs is a fresh coat of paint and some new curtains, thus his likely desire to have Northern Irelands strong back and servitude for the duration equals a shit time.

[Does it have to be this weekend?]

“Yes, this weekend.” Northern Ireland says. “I’m looking at a list of wines right now, your choice.”

[Fine, but I don’t want to hear a peep out of you the entire time, are we clear?]

“As clear as freshly filtered water.” Northern Ireland says, crossing his legs and feeling some amount of relief wash over him causing his chest to feel light, he sinks back to get comfortable. “And you’re not allowed to double-cross me like Wales did the last time, the rotten bastard.”

[My word is my honour.] Scotland says, and Northern Ireland knows instinctively that Scotland’s placed his hand over his heart and patted his ribs in a bid to show a genuine promise has been made. [I’ll even hit Wales for you when I see him next.]

“Awesome, alright, if you’re making some kind of white sauce you’ll need--”

[Tomato sauce.] Scotland corrects, [look for one that goes well with peppercorns, parsley and garlic.]

Northern Ireland hears Scotland poke about with a bunch of glass bottles as he scrolls through the website and he wonders how a man like Scotland can be made so uptight by some little blond arsehole with expectations that run so high that you’d need a space shuttle in order to get near them. Most other people would be tasting Scotland’s fist long before they’d get a lick of wine out of him, Northern Ireland himself included, though the man isn’t beyond bargaining with, luckily enough for him.

“According to this, Merlot is the best for cooking with.” Northern Ireland says, “Or Chianti.” He adds carefully. He hears Scotland adjust the phone from one ear to the other at the other end of the phone.

[No particular brands?]

“Just look for a picture of a rooster.”

[What?]

“Ugh, a rooster means the Chianti is proper Italian stuff.” Northern Ireland grumbles after a little rooting around on Wikipedia. “You’re cooking for France, he’s Italia’s older brother, don’t you think he’d appreciate it if you bought the actual Italian wine, made in ITALY?”

[There’s no need to take that tone.] Scotland says. Though he does seem to take to heart Northern Irelands sentiment. [What about the Merlot?]

“Pretty common stuff, they make that shit everywhere, even in the US.” Northern Ireland states. “I’d try and get the Italian shit if I were you.”

[You think so?]

“Unless you can get French Merlot, look I’m sure it doesn’t matter.” He says with a sigh, flopping backwards onto his bed. “Get a fairly good bottle of either and France can’t complain.”

[What about Canadian Merlot?] Scotland asks suddenly, [he can’t say anything bad about Canada, can he?]

“Not many people can.” Northern Ireland says, rising slightly to look at his computer. “They do make that shit in Canada, must be legit.”

[It’s called ‘Morning bay’] Scotland says with a smirk. [Sounds poncy, I’m sure he’ll like it.]

“Right then is that everything?”

[No, that was about it, unless you know anything about the intricacies of selecting a decent batch of strawberries.] Scotland says, earning a reviled face from Northern Ireland that he can probably sense down the phone.

“I don’t want to know what you two are doing with strawberries.” Northern Ireland sniffs. “But avoid the black squishy ones.”

[Thank you, North, you can go now.]

“Great, and I’ll see you at the weekend!” Northern Ireland chirps, listening to Scotland sigh and mumble his resentment over the agreement.

[Aye, lad, I’ll see you then.] Scotland says dishearteningly. [And don’t forget to bring my house key with you, I’m not babysitting you this time.]

“Will do, see you soon big brother.” He says, and Scotland mutters a farewell before hanging up, allowing Northern Ireland to throw his phone aside and snort loudly with laughter. “Tosser.” He says, lifting the Playstation controller and getting back to the task of blowing up old ladies with a bazooka.

============================================================================

Scotland’s bedroom is almost as bad as the bathroom, there’s no skull lying on the windowsill, reminding all observers of the fragility of life for all but themselves, but there is a vast number of large rocks, some France admits are pretty, others plain and boring, most ugly.

A massive LOG is stuck across the wall above the bed and France has never questioned it’s being there out loud, and fears Scotland might beat him with it if he does.

There’s a little seat in the corner that simply cannot be strong enough to support Scotland’s weight, but it seems to be used solely for Scotland to dump his used clothing that is deemed okay to wear the next morning. The double bed is decked out in a dark blue duvet that France straightens out before sitting on the edge and pulling his bag up onto his lap to pick through his clothing.

Something sultry enough that Scotland will appreciate it, but expendable enough that a little pasta sauce will not be a worry. He selects some skinny jeans and a shirt that he knows will hang off his shoulder if he pops the top three buttons. Top it all off by stealing Scotland’s jumper that is embellished with the Scottish flag and a quick blow-dry to his hair, and he takes pause to admire his reflection in a small mirror that sits above a desk that’s literally COATED in junk.

A large caddy for paper that appears to be all work notes, an ugly figurine that looks like something England might keep in his house, it’s a little boy with a dog, except Scotland’s balanced a pencil in the boys arms. There are also several intricately carved wooden spoons that France feels himself identifying with Wales for some reason, and between all that a mass of rocks and marbles, a mug that’s half full of a liquid that was once tea and a tin that’s normally kept in a drawer by Scotland’s bed that contains a rather uninteresting collection of sexual aides, why it’s left out is something France can only guess at but he lifts it anyway, admiring it’s very twee picture of highland cattle and highland hills and a castle in the background.

He almost pops it open to study the contents and think over how he might use them, but he’s distracted from this by the sudden realisation that there’s a second large box under the desk that he’s never noticed before and curiosity leads him to setting the tin down and leaning to lift it out, it’s larger than a shoebox in size and rather heavy.

He pops the lid off without thinking too deeply about respecting Scotland’s privacy, it seems rather redundant at this point, there’s very little he doesn’t know about Scotland, or so he imagines anyway, so he does get a small surprise by the sight of masses and masses of old papers, some of it crinkled, some of it fairly new, postcards, photographs and newspaper clippings.

His hand pulls out an incredibly delicate slip of paper that appears to be one of six copies of Northern Irelands birth certificates, with England, Wales, Ireland and Northern Ireland each having one. Another slip of paper, is a very rough drawing that’s signed by America, and it’s the single most adorable drawing of Scotland that France supposes he’ll ever see.

There’s an old sepia photograph taken from just before Ireland left the union, and it must be a rare one indeed because they’re all relatively happy looking, smiling the smiles that define them characteristically, England’s is confident and bold, Wales’ soft and genuine, Ireland’s handsome and rather roguish and Scotland’s a little lopsided but honest and self assured.

France wouldn’t mind owning a copy of this, he decides as he allows himself to slide onto the bed and start reaming through the box of little memories, pausing when he finds several fathers day cards signed from Canada, with several from Australia, America, New Zealand and Northern Ireland included in the mix. There’s a bookmark that tugs further at Frances own personal recollection though he can’t place why and a clipping from a newspaper that highlights the historical importance of the Auld Alliance.

France feels his smile brighten and he lets out a small nostalgic sigh.

Oh yes, he remembers that alliance very well, and he’s glad it hasn’t been completely forgotten about by the general public.

Because he certainly won’t forget about it.

And he’s glad Scotland doesn’t seem intent to either.

============================================================================

Scotland realises quickly that what he should have done was ask his twerpy little brother about what cheeses might work best, because if he’s hoping to impress France with his knowledge of wines, he may as well have gone ahead and shown himself to be an expert on cheeses too. That might make him an indisputable hero in the Frenchman’s eyes.

He can’t call Northern Ireland again, because the little sod is too clever for him, and will likely further their bargain, to include something Scotland might otherwise not allow. Like letting the little git borrow his car or have a girl over or something of the sort.

Instead he looks over the wall of cheese, which feels even bigger than the wall of wine and he frowns. This really should be an easy enough pick, he knows enough about cheese, but it’s all vanished from his skull, shooed out by the anxiety of doing it right and the cost and the fact he’s taken in by the needling thought that mozzarella isn’t written how it sounds and that such a thing should not be allowed.

Perhaps a packet of mashed up Wotsits would suffice? He disregards that thought but files it away in a bid that he and Northern Ireland can do something with it at a later date, because they’re nothing if not completely experimental with their food, leading to the discovery of crushed hob-nobs on sticky toffee pudding and a more recent one that involved Northern Ireland buying a kilo of cherries and sugar and deciding after a nights hard drinking that what would be great would be to create a sort of cherry meringue.

Which had actually gone down a treat when the family had sampled some, leading Scotland to consider that together he and Northern Ireland were the worlds next master chefs, and that they should go on one of those poncy cookery shows together to broadcast it.

They’d have to do it drunk though, and Northern Ireland would have to be allowed to wander idly through the Sainsbury’s down the road until he’d wound up buying something nonsensical.

Scotland’s mind wanders wearily back to the cheeses, he begins to remember rather vaguely that this cheese isn’t the right cheese for sprinkling on pasta. That stuff comes in a tube near the Dolmio and Uncle Ben's cooking sauces.

But is that the kind of cheese France wants, or does he want something that isn’t prepacked in cardboard?

He wishes he’d asked, because he’s better at just doing a job he’s told to, all this dancing around delicate situations, trying to figure out the whims and wants of someone who he has a hard enough time working out when they’re being up front. It’s all jarring and sets him off his usual path, leading to distracting thoughts about redundant crap he might otherwise not linger on.

He wonders what it is he sees in France but quickly looks back to the cheeses to regain his focus and quickly lifts some fresh parmesan, that’s the one people most often put on pasta, he knows because England keeps a stash of it hidden in the back of his fridge, behind the butter and such.

He quickly moves away from the dairy section and goes in search of peppercorns.

============================================================================

Setting the last of his newly acquired items in their respective places in the cupboard, including a Heinz sticky toffee pudding and a small jar of peppercorns, it slowly dawns on Scotland, though it should have occurred to him sooner, that France is not present.

There are several pans laid out, the kettle is still hot from being boiled and the window has been thrown open to allow a circulation of air.

But France is not here, not to pick over the selections Scotland has made or making a fuss over the state of the kitchen and how these ceramic tiles are cold on the feet. He dismisses the worry he feels for something logical, the Frenchman is obviously still in the shower, using up the hot water and planning on having a sort of shampoo holocaust because Scotland’s hair care products are not formulated towards super shiny hair or something.

France brings his own most times anyway, because it’s an unwritten agreement, France can fuss all he likes, but he’s more than welcome to fill the bathroom with his crap if it so pleases him, which Scotland welcomes. The more bits of tat that lie around the more at home he tends to feel, because it makes he house seem less empty.

That’s why he doesn’t mind when his brothers leave their crap lying about or buy their own foods and leave it in his cupboards uneaten, but Frances stuff feels more like a comfy pillow, one that reminds him that the Frenchman is lurking about somewhere, having a seizure over the cheap towels or washing up powder with the sheer force of will that Scotland thinks it cannot simply be that Scotland’s tastes merely annoy France, but that some concern is being addressed towards his well being.

Or so he allows himself to believe, stubbornly ignoring anyone’s claim towards the alternative.

That France simply finds complaint with everything and everyone that he deems beneath him.

He can’t allow himself to believe it, he can hear a small difference in tone when France talks to him, see a bright and caring glint somewhere in his eyes, and believes he might be able to pick up on something nobody else can.

All this over thinking however doesn’t answer the question of where France could be.

Scotland sighs and gets back to work putting things away and starts to think over the things he might do, perhaps watch a little television, crack open one of those cheap bottles of wine and hide himself away from France as he cooks lest he gets talked into helping.

Scotland can’t help clucking his tongue at the idea, France hasn’t let him help with the cooking since the time they made chilli together and Scotland managed to drop an entire bottle of cayenne pepper into the mix, rendering it inedible.

Scotland had disgusted France by eating it anyway, waste not want not as they say.

Hands begin to fidget, and he steps out into the garden for a long overdue cigarette and a chance to admire his garden of weeds.

============================================================================

France is wrenched from his task of picking through the box of papers by Scotland throwing the door open and looking rather relieved, then stepping into the room and giving France an impetious look.

“I thought you’d melted in the bath.” He says, earning a small smile from France, then his eyes flit to the box and the fact his bed is now covered in the shit that should not be seen by anyone. “What are you doing?”

“I found this under your desk, I never knew you were so sentimental Ecosse.” France looks down at the slip of paper in his hand, a sheet of paper emblazoned with the welsh flag at the top, and a poem written in endearingly sloppy handwriting, going into vast detail as to why Scotland is a shit big brother and why he’s to be hated. “Though I can see why you kept all this.” France adds, rifling through a massive pile of the same papers, each with a poem or extract of writing.

“You shouldn’t rummage through peoples things.” Scotland warns, flushing gently in embarrassment.

“But, Ecosse.” France says with a pout and arching his head so his big blue eyes are pools of sadness. “I thought we shared everything, Monsieur.”

Scotland opens his mouth to argue, Frances idea of sharing has always seemed more like ‘what’s yours is Frances, what’s Frances is still just Frances’ but he hasn’t the heart to argue with Frances cute face so instead he leans heavily on the door-frame and folds his arms.

“Why are you so interested in that kind of piddling nonsense anyway?” He enquires as France sets the poems on a pile that seems to contain everything related to Wales, it sits small and insignificant beside a pile of papers that are still gently laced with expensive perfumes and various newspaper clippings and articles about the Auld Alliance.

“I just love your sensitive side.” France remarks, finally finding something directly related to England in the box and smirking at it, the letter is at least seven pages and rants on and on about the kind of nonsense England would normally complain about, ‘you’re an insensitive clot and I’m glad you’re finally gone!’ which seems to drift towards ‘Let me know if there’s anything I can do, and if you ever want to come home you’re more than welcome, but you’d better call first!’ The whole thing seems terrible sweet, though France is quick to set it aside, “I think it’s nice that you keep all these things.”

France finally hits upon a mass of Christmas cards and gets to work checking the names in each, looking to Scotland like he might be checking for how many little kisses are marked in each and if the sender is anyone he should be jealous of. There’s a particularly fine one that seems like it might be handmade, and on closer inspection France realises he is the one who made it,and struggles to remember ever doing so.

“It’s just junk, I just keep it because--” Scotland tries to think of some legitimate reason, a logical reason for hoarding all his sentimentality in a box where nobody was supposed to see.

“You don’t need to explain yourself to me.” France says, then sets the mass of cards aside and busies himself poking through one of the piles and pulling out a photograph. “I would like a copy of these.” France says quickly. Handing a small pile of photos to Scotland for his inspection, the sepia tinted photo of the family sitting at the top, causing Scotland to flush upon seeing it again, and a lump to form in his throat.

“Why?”

“I have seen no photographs of you four together where you are all smiling, I’d like to put it on my wall.”

“You said you hated when people stuck snapshots all over their houses and that it looked tacky.” Scotland points out, causing France to shove his nose in the air and tut loudly.

“There are always exceptions.” France says, “I’m allowed to be a little sentimental.”

Scotland eyes the photo, there’s something haunting about it’s image, something that pierces through all the ambivalence he’s ever felt for each of his brothers and sends it all skittering to the floor, replacing it with some fondness that he’s always thought should feel alien and grotesque, affection he refuses to indulge in.

“I’ll get you a copy if it’ll please you.” Scotland mutters, flicking to the next one before his soft mushy side surfaces. The next photo is another rare one, the entire family gathered in England’s lounge at Christmas, with America sleeping on England’s shoulder, dribbling, Australia and New Zealand being broken up from fighting by Wales, while the Isle of Man and Canada watch with matching looks of disgust, the Irelands seem to be in the midst of a playful fist fight and everyone else who was there that year looks on with amusement. Orkney and Shetland have piled themselves on top of Scotland, and Scotland distantly remembers that they had been heavy.

Scotland realises that no other photograph like this one exists.

“Why on earth would you want this?” He asks, holding it up for France to see, distracting France from leafing through a little notebook and playing with his hair, and the Frenchman looks rather accusing, like it’s a ridiculous question.

“Canada looks cute in it.”

“Oh.” Scotland flicks to the next one, choosing not to think too hard about Frances reasoning, dismissing it as he looks over a photo of France and himself, and he instantly flicks past it to one of England and Wales, the two are drinking together and playing checkers, looking perfectly serene in each others presence.

Scotland can’t remember taking this photo, or ever seeing it before, but it looks relatively new. He flicks past it leafing over each photo more quickly as they come, photographs of himself and his brothers, their cousins, a photograph of France, England and Ireland after some meeting or another, there’s one of Ireland and Scotland in their golfing clothes and several of France and Scotland that he can’t quite stomach looking at. He finally hits upon one of himself, with nobody else in the picture, in his finest uniform kilt.

“You don’t mind letting me own some copies, oui?” France asks, though Scotland senses the question is not meant to be answered, France would take copies regardless, if not the originals if given half a chance.

“No, I’ll see what I can do.” He says, setting the little handful of pictures aside for now and stretching. “I thought you were cooking?”

“Did you get the ingredients I instructed?” France asks, finally setting the notebook on the ‘France’ pile and sliding off the bed and easing himself over to Scotland, tenderly patting down a wayward strand of bright red hair, though it curls back out as soon as France lifts his fingers away.

“Yes. Bloody nightmare it was too.”

France smiles softly, rising onto his tiptoes and pressing a lingering kiss to Scotland’s lips. “I’m sure you did your best Monsieur.” He says, before slipping out into the hall and getting to work tying his hair up with a red white and blue hair band. “Would you like to give me a hand?”

Scotland really doesn’t, but France hasn’t asked him to help in the kitchen in so long that he’s touched by the offer and he wanders over admiring the elegant lines of Frances face and the way his smile flickers off his face into a contented and genuine line only for the little smile to return when Scotland nods and shrugs idly.

“Can’t hurt I suppose.” He says, remembering exactly what it is he see’s in France when the man grips his hands, tangling their fingers together in a bid to lead him along.

He doesn’t see anything but the man he’s loved since they first met and that’s all he needs.

All he’s ever asked for or wanted.

And it’s enough.

Comments

( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
oreo_ornament
Sep. 25th, 2011 06:55 pm (UTC)
Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh all of this, so cute! LET ME DIE.

I'm sure I'll have actual coherent words to express how much I enjoyed this later. I would suggest having another read-through of this, because I detected some errors that were a bit distracting, but nothing major.

Very well done!
nekoian
Sep. 25th, 2011 07:19 pm (UTC)
I will definitely read through it again, I'm sorry I muddled you up in places, thank you for letting me know there are errors, I appreciate it. I'm not all that great with these sorts of things but I refuse to make excuses, I'm still glad you enjoyed it! It was heaps of fun to write.

I was worried about posting it up so I feel a little better. <3 Thank you for reading it! 8D
moonlighten
Sep. 27th, 2011 09:25 pm (UTC)
I loved this so very, very much. You have to write more of them, you do it so well!

Scotland + France + food is always comedy gold for me, so I was in love with the premise before I even started! Poor old France, being subjected to the health hazard that is Scotland's kitchen. I'm surprised he doesn't pass out from the shock of it all, quite frankly.

And Scotland, so under the thumb, and trying so very hard to please. (And yet, never quite getting it right...) And just yes to him doing these little, quiet things to please France (like the handwash) and it's wonderful that France recognises at least a little of that.

Haha, good job Northern Ireland was on hand to help out. I can just imagine Scotland staring at the wine with a sort of deer in the headlights look on his face. And I adore the fact that he and North eat complete crap if left to their own devices.

France going through Scotland's memory box was just wonderful, and I was fascinated by the details of what he kept in there. I'd love to read a sequel to this if you do write one (of course)! (Does Scotland get him those photographs? And what does France do with them then?

Absolutely wonderful, and I really enjoy the way you write these guys and their relationship!

nekoian
Sep. 29th, 2011 06:25 am (UTC)
Thank you, I was nervous about is sucking, so now I feel a little better about carrying on! <3

Haha, somehow it always boils down to food, walking or clothing with this pair. I loved the idea that Scotland just kept everything regardless of how old it might be /Possibly to feed it to England more than anything/ And France having to go through it all, poor guy.

Being completely under France's thumb and never getting it right but always trying anyway is just Scotland, he'll keep trying and not even realise when he;s done something right because it's not something he even thought about doing. I love How France never actually thanked him for it despite how gushy it made him feel. OhFrance haha.

Northern Ireland, I don;t know why I even included him, he just seemed like the most fitting candidate towards helping, if only because he's small and can use a computer, but he's getting to be too savvy and knowing he can do a deal. I need to write a fic of France putting up with Scotland and Northern irelands eating habits (And trying to fix them?)

I think I will now. Challenge accepted!

Thank you again, I thought I'd really messed up their characters somehow, hopefully I can make it even better though. 83 Thank you again for reading.
lost_hitsu
Mar. 27th, 2012 11:31 am (UTC)
I was reading this during my lunch break and ended up being asked by my confused boss, "... Why are you smiling at your phone the whole time?"

I loved this. Loved how the funny, light tone of the story twines together with the emotional, soft undertones that made me smile like an idiot during work hours in the first place. Your sense for detail is incredible, all the tiny things about Scotland's and partly France's life make them amazingly rich as characters and very endearing as well.

Oh and Scotland's relationship with NI is adorable and heartwarming, I have a great weakness for non-romantic family relationships and thinking about how they experiment in the kitchen together makes me all wobbly with feelings. The part with photographs made me all sentimental because I find photos a very sentimental thing, especially now that they are so rare. And NI's birth certificate made me almost tear up (kids and babies are my second and biggest weakness in fics)

Great fic, packed with well-thought out little mundane things that create a beautiful atmosphere and their own world that I'll be happy to visit again. Also headcanon goldmine, NI being nutella addict and having naked ladies on his laptop among my absolute favourites.
nekoian
Mar. 28th, 2012 08:00 pm (UTC)
Haha, again, so happy to have made you smile at work. I wish I could do it more often for people!

I feel like I never approach anything too seriously, though some of the historical stuff is a bit heavier. I love writing all the stupid little details of how things work. Somehow it seems important that Norths bed is unmade or what brands of shampoo Scotland has littering his bathroom. It's funny that you consider Scotland so endearing when I've often written him being a complete knob. (Which I find endearing because I'm entirely too British)

North and Scotlands relationship might be my favourite one to explore. Scotland acts like the father figure and can;t help being a big sap. I've noticed that people take real photographs less, I miss the days of old wind up cameras! I think Wales and England tend to have more photographs on show than their brothers do, Scotland doesn;t have any on his walls because he's so scared of showing off his soft sentimental side.

The Mundane and inane is where I tend to like working best. I always think more can be said in the little things than in the big fights or dramatic moments. I suppose when the big moments do cut in they might seem a bit bigger for having waited for them! North will eat anything, but the concept of chocolate on BREAD is likely one that never ceases to amaze him and puberty will do that to a boy. if only to stop England sticking his nose into Norths business!

Thank you for reading these, I always appreciate the feedback and yours made my day.
( 6 comments — Leave a comment )