Secret Santa. It was a silly game America suggested for the nations to play. China was one of the few nations that rejected the idea and refused to participate, but after some consideration (and bullying from the others), he decided to join in on the festivities.
When it was finally his turn to draw a name from a hat, China wasn't particularly concerned. He already decided no matter who he got, he would probably give them some money stuffed in a red pocket, some shark fin, and grade-A tea leaves; if it was a female nation, he'll even throw in some crushed pearl face cream and bird's nest soup. He was silently congratulating himself on how generous he was when he pulled a name out. Immediately, the thought flew out of his mind and colored drained from his face as he read the name. It couldn't be
. He blinked. Blinked again as he read the name scribbled on the tiny paper. He stared hard at it until he thought his vision blurred. No matter how hard he stared at it, the letters didn't rearrange themselves.
Russia (or according to America's handwriting "Russia-The Fatty"). He was Russia's secret Santa
Almost instinctively, China eyes sought for his northern neighbor. In the small room they were in, it didn't take long to spot the silver head that towered over the other nations. He was chatting with his sisters, the once iconic sinister smirk gone. In its place was a genuine smile.
China found himself responding to that smile, the corners of his own mouth lifting. The relationship he had with Russia always had its ups and downs. They've been enemies, allies, and now even friends. For centuries, it was always Russia who pushed their relationship a little further, asking for just a little bit more.
Recently, China had a feeling the Russian wanted more than just friendship from him. When he took the time to think about it, the idea horrified him. It wasn't because falling for a recently recovered psychopath was scary; it was the idea that he actually didn't mind that made him nauseated.
When was it that he found the big-boned nation sort of
cute? China wracked his brains for an answer, but the further he probed for the truth, the more obvious it became to him why he increasingly
enjoyed Russia's company. No! He had his pride. He would not admit that he was in l-l-lov
.China refused to think he was attracted to Russia. The scrap of paper crumbled in his hand as he anguished over his predicament. He sighed, smoothing it out.
He was Russia's secret Santa. Maybe this was Fate's way of telling him to get over his embarrassment and go for it. After years of Russia pursuing him, perhaps it was his turn now to court the other nation
Long ago, before the second Great War, Russia gave the smaller, weaker nation a tour of his home. China walked beside the larger man as snow gently floated from the sky and crunched beneath their feet. People walked the streets, but quickly returned indoors to avoid the freezing cold. Only he and Russia continued walking unhurriedly down the lonely, snow-filled road.
China remembered how desolate it felt, how alone. As the snow blanketed the road with white, the Chinese nation thought how unforgiving the world was. It was then a song- a sweet, aching song- floated out from the silence.
Spi mladyenets, moi prekrasny
Tikho smotrit myesyats yasny
F kolybyel tvayu
Stanu skazyvat' ya skazki,
Ty-zh dremli, zakryvshi glazki,
"What are you singing aru?" China asked Russia.
Russia stopped singing halfway, smiling down at his companion. "It's called 'Kozacka Kolysanka'. It's one of my favorite songs to sing."
"It sounds lovely aru. What does it mean?"
Instead of answering China directly, Russia turned his head upward and sang to the falling snow.
Sleep, good boy, my beautiful,
quietly the moon is looking
into your cradle.
I will tell you fairy tales
and sing you little songs,
but you must slumber, with your little eyes closed,
At that moment, China thought the white, white winter wonderland was one of the most beautiful sights he ever saw.
Seven days until Christmas
"Come in," Russia said.
As the door cracked opened, he raised his head from reading the documents and was surprised to see Ukraine pop her head in. Unless they were at a meeting, she would avoid him like the plague. Even then, she would only cry in his presence. Right now, though, she was openly grinning at him. Not that he didn't like it, but it was unusual for her to be smiling at him. What bought around this sudden change?
"Vanya," his sister said in a teasing tone, "I have something for you."
Russia held up his hands in a pleading manner. "No more milk please."
Ukraine laughed, placing a small wrapped gift on his desk. "No, silly. I have something from your secret Santa. They asked me could I give it to you for them."
"Christmas isn't for another 7 days," Russia said confused.
Unwrapping the present with haste, he found a delicate wooden box no bigger than his hand. Whimsical carvings of utmost precision decorated the box. Intrigued as to why his secret Santa would give him this gift seven days early, Russia opened the lid. A familiar melancholy song tinkled out. His secret Santa had given him a music box.
Inside the musical gift was also a typed Russian note:
You once sang this song to me. Since then, this song has always reminded me of you.
- Secret Santa
Russia began trembling uncontrollably. His tear filled eyes gazed at Ukraine pleadingly as he chocked out, "Natalia is my secret Santa isn't she?"
"My dear little Vanya isn't use to being wooed is he?" The female nation laughed at her younger brother, "There are other nations out there beside Natalia who is interested in you, you know."
"S-so Bela isn't my secret Santa?" Russia said hopefully.
"No, she isn't."
"T-then who would-"
Ukraine, forbidden to touch or even talk to her brother by her boss, bent down and gave her sibling a peck on the temple. "You'll just have to wait until Christmas to find out."
It became a habit between them in recent years. Russia would sometimes drop by China's house unannounced. After China's show of pouting and complaint, he would eventually invite the younger nation in for tea. There, they would sit around the coffee table quietly as they sipped their warm drinks.
Out of the corner of his eye, China watched the Russian lift the cup to his lips. It was then he noticed that Russia didn't wear his trademark gloves.
"My gloves?" Russia cocked his head at China's question. "There were holes in them so I had to throw them away."
"Why don't you get new ones then aru?"
Russia shrugged and continued drinking his tea. "Too bothersome. Besides, sister's scarf is enough to keep me warm. I'll get the gloves when I have time."
Six days until Christmas
China paced around his house, his eyes frantically flickering from his clock to the phone. Today was the sixth day Russia's part of the world already. Kazakhstan was suppose to hand the second present by now. Why hasn't she called yet? Did she forget? China was just about to call Kazakhstan when he realized this wasn't like him at all.
Sighing, China folded his arms and sat down in a chair. There was no reason to be nervous. Even without Kazakhstan calling him, he already knew what Russia's reaction would be. He was quite familiar with the way Russia's face would practically light up when he was happy. Thinking about it, China almost wished he was there to hand the present himself.
He shook his head, disgusted with his own imagination. It's been too long since he's done this sort of thing. He forgot how idiotic it made people. He was becoming too attentive to Russia's every needs and wants. Even when he knew he was going out of his way to fulfill Russia's wishes, as long as the other nation was satisfied, then it was worth every sweat and blood.
China banged his head on the coffee table. He was better off before he knew about his
his feelings for the Russian. If he wasn't an immortal, he would've died from embarrassment already. It was bad enough when he asked Ukraine to hand Russia his present, but it was even worse when he had to turn to Kazakhstan suddenly.
He was adamant in telling the two women that he was just Russia's secret Santa. There was no other motive other than being a dutiful Santa. Despite that, China didn't like the way Kazakhstan and even Ukraine gave him a knowing smile. The whole world was going to know by the New Year.
"Damn you, Russia aru," China mumbled into the table, "Why'd you have to send spies to Ukraine's house. You bastard aru, I hope you choke on your own spit and die."
In the middle of wallowing in the grave he dug himself, China's phone finally rang.
"China!" Kazakhstan's excited voice pierced through the receiver, "You cradle robber, you! I still can't believe you would hit on someone under born in the AD. I can't wait until the others find out about this. It's going to be the biggest-"
"Did you give him the gloves?" China rubbed the side of his head, a sudden ache developing.
"Oh, yes I did and
China sat up straight at Kazakhstan's slight pause. "And what aru?"
"It's better if you see it yourself," Kazakhstan said, "I sent you a picture. Go check your email."
China rushed to his laptop, wondering what it was that Kazakhstan sent him. "Thanks, Kazakhstan aru."
"Oh, before I go, I want to tell you something, China."
"What is it?"
The Kazakhstanian's laughter flowed through the phone. "I can see why you think Russia's cute."
China blushed furiously. "I-I never said he was cute aru!"
Kazakhstan rolled her eyes even though she knew China couldn't see it. "Well, however you think of Russia, I wish you luck in your pursuit of younger men. See you at the Christmas party in 6 days. I expect a big smooch under the mistletoe okay?"
"Wait, Kazakhstan-" Too late, the other nation hung up, leaving China to gape at the dial tone.
He threw down the phone, completely mortified. He was not a cradle robber, no matter what Kazakhstan said. His Russian history may be rusty, but he knew how to use the internet. There were some sources that said Russia was at least 5000 years old. That made Russia almost as old as him!
The Chinese nation bit his lips, making a mental note to ask the larger man just exactly how old he was. He wasn't a pedophile, damn it!
China opened the email Kazakhstan sent. Earlier he thought Russia's face would light up as it usually did when he received gifts. He was wrong; Kazakhstan captured a photo of Russia blushing like an innocent school girl as he read the latest letter his secret Santa sent.
China sighed. Maybe she was right. Maybe he really was a pervert.
Five days before Christmas, Finland (with Sweden not far behind) went to Russia's house with some crocus flowers.
Russia, remember how you said you liked sunflowers because it reminded you of the sun? Crocus' may not look like the sun, but they'll bloom in the winter and keep you company.
P.S. Stop trying to find me. It's annoying to keep finding new people to give you things
Russia was almost tempted to crush the letter in his hand from frustration. Who was it? Who was it that was his secret Santa? Was he ever going to reveal himself? Russia felt like he was going to go insane if he didn't find out who it was soon.
Four days before Christmas, Mongolia handed Russia some Golden Wheel peonies.
When the crocuses begin to wither and the sunflowers have yet to bloom, perhaps these can take their place.
He was also irritated by the other nations that were sent to his house. Why couldn't his secret Santa just send the packages through mail? His mailing system wasn't that bad
. He might receive them before February
Three days before Christmas, Russia watched a trembling Lithuania and a flippant Poland hang a painting on his wall.
When the sun is hiding behind the clouds and when the flowers refuse to bud, maybe a painting of sunflowers will keep you happy.
Maybe his secret Santa thought he would be happy that people came to visit him. It was considerate of whoever it was, but not this time. Russia disliked the way the other nations taunted him with the knowledge as to who this mysterious person was. They were having fun at his expense and he didn't like it one bit. When he asked them directly, the only answer he ever got were giggles and the same words of 'You'll find out during Christmas.'
Two days before Christmas, he got spiked chocolates as his next present courtesy of Azerbaijan this time. One would think that after all the gifts Russia received, this one would be the most harmless. Alcohol was supposed to numb the mind, not make it clear. However, as Russia munched on the liquor filled candy, he realized something. He pulled out a map just to confirm it and laughed at how stupid he was to have missed such an obvious clue.
Tomorrow was finally Christmas and China couldn't have been anymore relieved. It was getting harder and harder to find people to hand Russia his gifts. By now, there was a rumor floating around Eastern Europe on how China had a thing for younger guys. He scowled when even France called him up one night to ask if he liked Russia because he was literally younger or because of his childlike demeanor? China hung up on him. Luckily, despite the loose mouth of the other nations, none of them told Russia it was really him who was his Santa; they all found Russia's frustration and China's blatant denial highly amusing. Thank the heavens for small favors, China thought.
China lifted up his handiwork towards the light and was quite proud of his accomplishment. He didn't know how to knit a scarf, but for his first time, it was pretty good.
"I assume 'И.Б.' stands for Ivan Braginski.~" Russia whispered into China's ears.
"Russia!" China screamed, clutching the newly made scarf to his chest, "You're not supposed to be here aru! What are you doing here aru!?"
Russia walked around the sofa to sit beside the stunned nation. Smiling, the Russian plucked the knitted fabric from China's fists before he ruined it. "I wanted to see if Yao was really my lovely, thoughtful, and extremely devious secret Santa. Guess I was right."
"How did I find out?" Russia said, sliding even closer to the Chinese nation, "Azerbaijan, Finland, Kazakhstan, Lithuania, Mongolia, Poland, and Ukraine are my neighbors. You made a mistake in sending them."
China sucked in an indignant breath, "They told you aru?!?"
"No, no, no," Russia laughed, "I found out because only my neighbors were sent, but they never sent you."
"That doesn't mean it was me! There's still Belarus, Georgia, Korea, and Norway aru! It could've been them. Besides, there aren't enough Christmas days for all of us aru!"
"But I never sang Kozacka Kolysanka to them. It could've been Natalia, but Ukraine said it wasn't and I trust her." Russia gazed into China's bright golden eyes and an indescribable feeling welled up inside his chest. "All those years ago, I sang you that song and you still remembered. I never knew you could be so romantic. All those corny lines
I thought it was Francis at first."
A rose pink stained the older man's cheeks. "I've had millenniums of experience. Don't you dare look down on me, Ru-"
"What did you say aru?"
"Call me Ivan." Russia lifted the other's hand up to kiss his fingertips. "Please call me Ivan, Yao."
"R-ridiculous." China snatched his hand back, the heat of Russia's mouth still burning his skin. "We're not that close yet aru."
"Then where are we?" Russia asked, cupping the back of China's head and drawing him close, "Can I take all those gifts and all those letters to mean that we're more than friends now? Can I take it that you feel the same way for me as I feel for you?"
"I don't know aru." China turned away his flushed face. "You'll find out on Christmas."
Russia held him in a tight embrace, burying his head into the soft, ebony hair. "I've waited this long, I think I can wait until tomorrow, but Yao
"I know you worked hard on that scarf and I promise I'll wear it," Russia's voice tickled China's head as he spoke, "but when the Russian Christmas comes, can I request another present?"
"It'll depend on what it is aru." Tentatively, China wrapped his arms around Russia's waist, not really caring about Christmas at all.
"Can you be my Christmas present? Please?"
China laughed and unable to help himself, kissed Russia full on the mouth. "Merry Christmas, Ivan aru. I'll think about your next Christmas present."