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Mar. 4th, 2012

As I was going to St Ives.


If France knows the level of suffering Scotland is enduring for him right now, he’s certainly not showing any signs of gratitude, the room is stuffy and it feels strangely small despite it’s wide white walls and when Scotland tugs his -stiffly starched, incredibly uncomfortable- collar he can feel a surge of hot air leak out and the sting of skin being slowly eroded away burns afresh where the white implement of torture has driven itself firm into his normally very rugged hide.

France makes another wonderfully appreciative noise when the apparent artist of the work on display continues to chatter on to a a slightly chunky but still very graceful man known as Jean Babineaux, -an artist Scotland only remembers the name of by glancing at the helpful pamphlet France had given him before-

Scotland’s never really been taken with art, he’s tried before. Staring at bits and pieces of it, even trying to paint a few times himself but there’s too much nonsense involved. It’s not to say he doesn’t LIKE art, but he’s always felt at least fifteen decades behind on that sort of subject and these modern sorts tend to go completely over his head.

“The cat symbolises life, you see, Francis.” Jean says, managing to direct the entire sentence directly down his nose despite being a good measure shorter than both Scotland and France and he only raises his head again to make his final point, “and the cage is our ambition.”

“How interesting.” France chimes again, sounding curt and interested and completely taken with the concept, his eyebrows sliding up as if this is the single most remarkable piece of tripe he’s ever been fed. It all makes Scotland wonder why France ever dared greet Jean with more energy than he’d initially greeted Scotland at the airport- but thankfully a good measure less than he’d used to start ripping his clothing off once they‘d been alone in Scotland’s hotel room. -

The painting in question, however, doesn’t even appear to have a cat in it. Scotland see’s only green and yellow boxes with several funny shapes encircling them. Making him question if he’s looking at the wrong painting entirely -which is unlikely as ALL the paintings here seem to have a particular theme of shapes and colours - or if, more likely, he’s missed something because he was too busy thinking about the way France twirls his hair, or the colour of his skin or hue of his eyes when he was half asleep and too tired to scamper out of Scotland’s bed and vacate to his own.

“My own cat has never liked to be caged you see,” Jean continues, whirling his hand in the air and looking far too serious for his own fucking good. “And I realised we were all caged by the limitations of our own mortal bodies.”

That’s something Scotland knows France has no real understanding of, just as Scotland doesn’t himself. But France looks sombre and touched regardless. “I know what you mean,” he says, patting Jean on the shoulder and Scotland rolls his eyes, safe in the knowledge that neither man can see -nor have any interest in seeing- him. Instead he decides to pretend to take particular interest in a painting that is apparently of Mickey Mouse, only if he were bright orange and made of squares.

And he had been speared by something green and phallic.

“Ah, I see you’re taking an interest in my painting of St Ives.”

“St Ives?” Scotland asks, he hears the disdain in his own voice and looks at the painting again to see if he can’t reassess the thing and perhaps find the correct angle with which to tilt his head so St Ives becomes very clear and allow him to seem smarter than he actually is.

He’s sees nothing, however, except a garish mass of colour of the sort he’s heard England call ‘over-inflated piffle of the worst kind’ a sentiment Scotland is willing to agree with even if England’s own taste in art seems childishly nostalgic or homely.

At least Scotland knows that the paintings on England’s walls are all Spitfires or Lancaster bombers or a basket full of doe eyed kittens.

“St Ives,” he repeats, feeling offended for his cousin Cornwall, who would doubtless erupt into tears and throw a tantrum at the very sight of the thing. “Are you sure?” Scotland asks, causing a rising of brows on both the artist and Frances face.

“I went there to paint the landmarks last fall.” Jean says, obviously trying to defend himself, and sounding less than pleased at being questioned, having likely mistaken Scotland for one of those large ginger artsy types that are so common in Paris.

“I’ve been to St Ives.” Scotland chimes in, realising too late that he’s been far too blunt and sounds far too judgemental yet is unable to stop himself regardless. “It’s not orange.” He points out.

“You see, the orange is representative of the changing colours of the leaves on the trees.”

“It’s not quite so angular either,” Scotland adds quickly. “It’s got buildings and such in it.” And, as Cornwall always points out whenever Scotland has to see him, it’s warmer than the rest of England, and less inclined to invasion by the French. But he hit Cornwall for that last remark and all was well with the world.

“I never go anywhere with the intention to paint something as it is. I seek to capture it’s essence, in it’s truest and most basic form.”

“It’s basic alright.” Scotland says, feeling his lip curl, the way it’s always done when his disgust at a subject overflows and spills onto his face. Plus the directness of his voice manages to drain all the colour from the squat little artist then pumps it about his cheeks, mouth opening and closing and eyes widening so the slightly off colour whites of them seem to fade into the background of the luminescent hall

Scotland quickly decides that he’s the sort of man Wales might get along with because he seems prone to snivelling and talking too much about metaphor and meaning when Scotland see’s no substance at all. Yet he can’t allow himself to focus on the man,  eyes wafting over him and settling on France, who’s regarding him with the same closed off expression he’s been using for years now, making it difficult to know when he’s in trouble or being admired for something marvellous.

It all fades into those bright blue eyes, swimming too deep and never affecting the creamy skin of Frances face or offering a clue. Scotland decides he’s probably set a foot wrong and starts thinking of ways he can rescue himself, perhaps pretending he was joking and really understands everything Jean has said up till this point or saying he liked that other painting near the entrance of the bus, or the cow or whatever that big red circle represented.

Or that he actually does see St Ives and the cat very clearly and was merely making some commentary on…something. But that’s a stretch of the imagination too far for him to ever even consider and as such Scotland simply chooses to be quiet and allow the doughy little French man to look offended.

“You must excuse Angus,” France starts, his voice carrying the caressing tones of a person trying to reassure a small child, “his understanding of art is very…limited.”

Jean looks pacified by this, but only enough that he finds the heart to move on to his next piece of work, France falling into step beside him as Scotland watches, certain he’s going to get a good scolding for his thoughtlessness later and his hand tightens around his cheat sheet at the thought, crumpling it into a tight ball before discarding it on the floor.


It’s only when Jean finally leaves them alone that Scotland feels he can relax again, though not by very much.

France is busying himself stirring his coffee and studying the croissant he’s only eaten half of while they sit at the small café located in the art gallery. The croissant is either too vile for France to consider eating anymore or he’s saving it for later. Though if Scotland knows France as well as he thinks he does, then the croissant will have gone stale within ten minutes and getting a newer, better one from the best bakery France knows will be the only option.

The silence soon drifts towards awkward. Scotland’s already finished his croissant (They’re certainly tasty enough things but he’s never understood Irelands addiction to them whenever France is around) and he’s quickly drained all of his tea, and is trying to moderate the last dribble of it so that it will last like that single cup of incredibly strong coffee at Frances fingertips.

Scotland suddenly decides that he’s had enough of being dressed up, quickly yanking the knot in his tie loose with a single finger and undoing his top three buttons. Allowing his frame to sink into the chair where he’d been holding himself so stiffly before. He’s not sure why France made such a demand of him, other than this happening to be a very fancy gallery and Scotland’s normal attire being entirely too scruffy in most normal occasions, let alone the perusing of France finest upcoming artists.

He then lets out a sigh and drags his fingers through his hair  which is still slightly damp from the amount he’s been sweating and scalp still tingling from where France ran his fingers earlier in the morning, making a fleeting unusually honest remark about how much he liked the colour.

“I’m sorry, alright?” Scotland says, choosing to throw himself on the sword before France has a chance to even pull it from the scabbard and whirl it all around him in a flurry. “I didn’t mean to upset the pompous little wanker.”

Frances eyes shoot up, blinking rapidly like Scotland has just proclaimed something vastly unusual, like his unending love for England or a promise to stop drinking.

“Sorry? What on earth for, Ecosse?” France enquires, his finger starting to dance around the rim of his cup and Scotland watches it’s elegant circular path for a moment, reminded of last night and way France had softly ran circles on his chest, his blue eyes saying something that Scotland is certain France will never actually utter again for as long as they both live, regardless of how much he wishes he would.

Even if he only happened to be lying about it.

“For, ya know,” Scotland isn’t sure how to phrase exactly what he means, if only because he’s so used to France knowing the things he’s done wrong weeks in advance of him even doing them. As such he can only commit to the word: “earlier.“ and leave it in the wilderness to fend for itself

“Oh, you mean when you commented on Jeans art?” France says curtly, tilting his head and apparently running his mind over it to check for each thing that happened that he didn’t like and to start placing it all in order of most annoying.

“Aye.” Is all Scotland can say, watching intensely as France continues his thinking and Scotland begins to believe that France is even more annoyed at him that usual considering how long it takes him to respond and the lengthy silent treatment he’d endured up till now.

Then the edges of Frances lips curl themselves into a blissfully amused line, and his entire face lights up, leaving Scotland a little stunned. Face reddening slightly when Frances hand places itself over Scotland’s,  squeezing gently for a second before it slips away again, as if startled by it’s own desire for contact.

“I thought it was quite funny, actually, Ecosse.” France says, stoking a small fire in Scotland’s chest that he hasn’t felt for a very long time, the feeling of pride he gets by pleasing France in some way, regardless of how small or trivial it is. “Jean is a particularly friendly young man, but he’s entirely too invested in himself.”

What Scotland quickly translates that into is a firm ‘up his own arsehole’ but finds himself unable to actually say it.

“I’m certain nobody actually gives him any criticism of his work considering who his father is.” France adds.

“And who would that be?”

At that France looks a little disapproving, but it fades quickly replaced by France patiently taking a sip from his coffee that’s a good deal longer than any he took earlier, eyes fluttering to meet Scotland’s as he considers his answer.

“His father is CEO one of the larger business’ I have to my name,” He says, pointedly scrimping on details. “My bosses insist I be nice to him, though it’s a bit of a chore.”

Scotland nods and allows himself to swallow down the last of his tea in one brick movement, it’s entirely too sweet even for him and grains of sugar that have failed to dissolve linger on his tongue as he considers the scenario he now knows himself to be within. He can’t help stoking the warm prideful feeling as it becomes apparent that France has trusted him this entire time. To do him proud in front of somebody of actual status and importance.

And he’d been thinking France was ashamed to be seen with him even in the most basic of social circles.

Knowing France Scotland considers that perhaps it had even anticipated Scotland’s bluntness might allow France to say a number of the things he’d been quietly dwelling on for god knows how long. Been unable to say because of his position.

“Well, CEO or not, he’s a bit of a tosser.”

“That is perhaps a little unkind of you, Ecosse,” France says, setting his cup back down before rising from his seat and allowing himself a mischievous smile that suggests he might agree with Scotland, regardless of his scolding tone. Then France’s eyes soften, hand extending itself out. “Now, I want you to come along, we have a busy day ahead of us, monsieur.”

“We do?” Scotland says, feeling colour bubble afresh on his skin as he takes a gentle hold of Frances hand and allows himself to be guided upwards, Frances fingers running soft circles over his palm.

“Oui.” France responds after a brief moments considering, “You need some fresh clothing for the ballet we are attending tomorrow.” France says as he draws Scotland’s muscular arm around his shoulders and leans there like a small blonde limpet, looking so entirely satisfied with himself that Scotland can only smile down at him despite his horror at the news.

“Ballet?” he asks, just in case he’s misheard and they might actually be doing something Scotland wants to do for a change.

“Oui.” France says quickly, killing any sense of hope Scotland might have clung to that maybe they’d just have a long walk down a beach somewhere, a quiet meal in one of the Irish pubs and a mindless film of some sort before going to bed and not getting out of it again till late tomorrow afternoon. Yet France makes it seem redundant as his arm slides around Scotland’s waist and nestles his head against his chest, “and I want you to look especially handsome.” He says.

Scotland decides there and then that quiet walks and mindless films can wait if he has the chance to make France see him as being handsome again.

“Alright.” He says, allowing his grip to tighten protectively. “Lead the way.”



St Ives is a very pretty seaside town in Cornwall, England.

A Spitfire is a World War Two fighter aircraft and one of the most popular.

The Lancaster Bomber is a four engined bomber used in World War Two.

This is a basket of doe eyed kittens.


( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
Mar. 4th, 2012 08:11 pm (UTC)
First of all, I have to say again how much I love this, and that it's wonderful (as always)!

I love that there's a real feeling of forward momentum here, that something might at last have started to shift. And that Scotland's bluntness was exactly the right thing for the situation (and France appreciates it).

Scotland's still breaking my heart a little (with his musing on those words particularly), but it's lessened somewhat, so I'm glad for that! Poor guy getting dragged of to the ballet, though... I do hope they get to do something just for him too sometime soon!

And all of Scotland's thoughts on Jean Babineaux and his paintings are wonderfully funny!
Mar. 27th, 2012 11:40 am (UTC)
And all I can think of is, damn, self, what took you so long to start with these fics (another one I had opened in tabs for ages).

Delightful, amusing, sweet and well-written is how I would describe this, it was another fic I read during my working hours and I had to bite my lips in order not to coo out loud or burst out laughing. Your Scotland voice is incredibly human in his way of thinking and getting distracted by memories of France in bed, your sense of humour is great and as I mentioned in the other comment, the details make the story truly alive.

“I’ve been to St Ives.” Scotland chimes in, realising too late that he’s been far too blunt and sounds far too judgemental yet is unable to stop himself regardless. “It’s not orange.” He points out. this in particular made it very hard for me to stay silent and not to provoke my colleagues with unneeded laughter, because the single line is so much Scotland and his lovely sarcasm (and also agrees with my own, very heathen insight on modern art)

Also this: “I’m sorry, alright?” Scotland says, choosing to throw himself on the sword before France has a chance to even pull it from the scabbard and whirl it all around him in a flurry. “I didn’t mean to upset the pompous little wanker.” So much Scotland and such a heartbreaking little moment between them.

Delightful read, the little bits of fluff at the end were super sweet but not too sappy. You write my beloved Scotland/France incredibly well.
Mar. 28th, 2012 07:49 pm (UTC)
It made me so happy to know I'd made you smile at work! I loved writing Scotland for this, it allows me to be as blunt and impetuous as possible. I always like to make people laugh, though I tend to just try and make myself giggle, I'm glad it worked!

It's funny I didn't think of that as a funny line, I had started describing the picture of St Ives to myself before I looked at the photographs of the place and Scotland just pointed out the obvious! Now I can;t help giggling at it because I hear it in such a sarcastic way. (I imagine England might have said similiar.) I fear my opinion on modern art is quite low as well. I like pictures of things. It was nice to vent that using Scotland's voice.

The line about France drawing the sword was definately one I loved, I've always imagined France being capable of cutting people down to size with one word or two if he has enough power over them. Scotland can handle a sword-fight, but one with words...not so much.

Thank you again, I'm delighted you liked it. And I'm glad they're not too saccharine, so happy I've done Scotland/France some justice for you. I've always found them a little difficult to work with!
( 3 comments — Leave a comment )