Pairing(s): Prussia/Holmes, PruAus
Summary: There's a violet thread of longing running through the colourless skein of Prussia's life, and a chance encounter with a consulting detective unravels it, isolates it, and exposes every inch of it. De-anon from the Kink Meme.
Disclaimer: I do not own either Axis Powers Hetalia, or Sherlock Holmes, nor do I claim to. The following is a work of fiction.
Prussia is visiting England, tersely discussing railways and taxes with a number of other continental nations, when he first meets the human with the unkempt brown hair and the dry hands discoloured by chemicals. It doesn’t make any difference, at first – all that matters is the beer that is just a little too warm, and the scrubbed and scratched tabletop in the smoky public house near Paddington.
Their encounter is brief – the man is puffing away on his pipe and ignoring his drink – and Prussia almost walks into him. Perfunctorily, he apologises, glancing over him, taking stock of the hems of his trousers, the scuffs on his boots, the scratches around his cuticles, the roughness of his chin...the man looks him over too, briefly, dispassionately, and they part ways.
The human male works on commission, is not what one would term “lower-class” however spends a notable amount of time in the docks and alleyways and cheap markets. He experiments frequently with chemicals (and is cut and burnt and stained in the process), owns a dog, plays the violin, and is without a mistress or wife.
Prussia has lived for many years. He is not at all inattentive.
The next night England is with him, in the same pub, and he is crying for his sweet America. Prussia slings the island nation’s left arm over his shoulders, drags him out into the street, and dispatches him homewards. Afterwards, he heads back into the pub alone, because he has nothing better to do.
The man is there again.
Prussia takes note, but the man does not appear to see him.
He has changed his shoelaces.
Discussions in oak-panelled Westminster drag on. France is deliberately awkward, and England is beyond melancholic. Austria, with his combed hair, and his spindly spectacles framing calm violet eyes, and his dark beauty mark, and his narrow nose, and his pink lips, and his slender hands, is as beautiful as ever, though he seems distracted. When they break for lunch, Prussia (directing some crass remarks concerning the aristocrat’s appearance, personality, clothing, accent, and musical abilities towards the other whilst he does so) enquires as to why this is.
Austria has the toothache.
Prussia sometimes wonders why they bother to lie to one another: not just him and Austria, but the others too. They are so very old; there is hardly reason to any longer.
In the evening he is by himself once more. Of course he prefers it like this.
Every night he considers trying to find a different place to drink – but it is not the means he desires, simply the end –and so he doesn’t.
The Man is always there.
It begins as a game – a magic trick, really – something that he and some of the others like to do to pass the time, like bullfighting or bear-baiting. “Human-baiting,” Spain once called it, laughing cheerfully. It is amusing to see the humans’ eyes widen, or their faces grow pale, and sometimes, when done with a smile and a wink and a low, even intonation, it is a fail-safe route to acquiring a tender body to position beneath one’s own on the mattress.
Because The Man is always there, and because Prussia has been able to make so many observations about him, he decides to scare him, just for some mild amusement. This is the main reason; though the second reason is related to tender bodies and mattresses, and a certain Austrian who cannot abide his presence.
So he buys a drink, but instead of leaving for his usual table, he remains up at the bar, where only one person stands between himself and The Man. And when that person leaves for the raucous tobacco-scented din at their backs, he opens his mouth to speak.
“What is it you wish to discuss with me?” says The Man, before Prussia can make a sound.
He is surprised – but gathers his wits quickly – and says, “What a presumption to make.”
“You have sat at the table beside the window and that table only these past five nights,” says The Man, “This is the first time you have remained at this bar, you opened your mouth only when the gentleman standing between us moved, I have seen you looking at me and also I wish to talk to you. I do not care for any particular subject, however, which is why I asked you what you would like to discuss.” And he smiles, brightly.
“Let us talk,” says Prussia, “about your bulldog,” and he casts a quick glance downwards at the bottom half of his companion’s trousers. “It would appear he’s been rolling in something foul.” He smiles, too.
The Man’s eyes flicker up and down his body, briefly; and then his lips tilt up approvingly, and he shakes Prussia’s hand. “Holmes,” he says, “Sherlock Holmes. And your name is?”
“It isn’t,” says Holmes, “but if that is the name you wish to go by, I shall be pleased to use it.”
“Good,” says Prussia, and he drinks deeply.
There is no need, Holmes says, to visit the grimy pub flooded with violet smoke where they first made acquaintance any longer, but all Prussia needs is the alcohol, and he does not care about the place in which he acquires it.
Holmes’ eyes flicker over him, and then, for the first time since they met, sounding almost questioning, he says, “He doesn’t love you.”
Prussia nearly chokes. Nearly. Instead, he casts his own eyes over Holmes’ body, takes in the grip on his beer, the shadows beneath his eyes, the cut of his shirt, the handkerchief poking from his pocket, the condition of his suspenders, the paper almost concealed in his waistband, the style of his belt...
And he gives nothing away, but simply says, “He doesn’t love you either.”
They do not talk in great detail about “He” or “He” – though Prussia deduces that Holmes’ is a recently married professional man, and Holmes once offhandedly mentions that Prussia’s is somebody he has known for a very long time.
“Longer than even you know, Mr. Holmes,” says Prussia, and Holmes does not answer, but watches him with slightly narrowed eyes and a crease in his forehead.
At the meetings, France remarks on the dark circles below Austria’s violet eyes.
Prussia asks if he is still plagued by the toothache.
England gives him the name of a doctor, a splendid fellow, apparently.
Austria says he will pay him a visit.
“Do you have any more...ah, deductions to make about me?” Holmes asks him, one night. The meetings should be over soon – Prussia expects to return home within the next four days.
It isn’t so much about baiting anymore as it is about quelling the tension and the gaping hole of loneliness in his belly.
“That is a stupid trick,” Prussia says.
Holmes looks away, gazing out over the crowded pub. Someone, a few years ago, tried to wallpaper two of the walls. Peeling violet paper slashes weakly through scratched wooden panels and dark bricks. They do not speak for a while, and then he says: “You are not like me, are you, Gilbert Beilschmidt?”
Gilbert does not answer.
“You are not like any of us, here.”
Prussia tries to reply – but the smoke is blurring his vision and he is tired – and he says nothing.
Holmes lifts his own glass, though he does not tip it to his lips. “Do you know,” he says, after a time, “I do believe that marriage is perhaps the most horrid institution ever invented.”
And Prussia smiles, for the first time in a long while, and says, “I’ll drink to that, my friend.”
In the next meeting, he thinks Austria is watching him – but when he looks up and across the polished table, the other nation’s eyes are down as he carefully reads through the stack of documents passed to him by England.
Prussia casts quick glances towards him throughout the remainder of the meeting.
Austria touches his neck once; and when France leans in close to speak to him, he hurriedly tugs his cravat upwards, and keeps his fingers there.
“You are leaving tomorrow,” says Holmes, two nights later. “You set sail at noon, I believe.”
Holmes likes to show off, Prussia thinks, and usually he remains impassive, and doesn’t let it faze him. But the drink is clouding his head and making him angry, and so he scowls, and says “Come on! How can you possibly know that?”
Holmes’ lips thin as he tries not to smile. “Your ticket,” he says, “it fell out of your pocket.” He hands it over.
Prussia jams the slip of paper into the inside of his jacket, wobbling in his chair.
A cackling woman in a violet dress sways past their table. Holmes shifts a little on his seat, and his jacket swings, and Prussia sees that the lining is violet. A boy carrying a small bunch of violet flowers scurries past the grubby window. The colour smears across Prussia’s field of vision; fills his eyes and his head and his heart up. There is violet everywhere.
“He will never love me,” Prussia says, out loud. It is the first time he has ever admitted it. “He will never love me.”
Holmes downs the rest of his drink, rubs a hand across his face, and leans in close. “My friend,” he says, and his breath smells of beer and smoke, and all Prussia sees is violet. “I know exactly how you feel.”
It is rough, desperate and graceless, and Prussia knows that there will be shiny violet bruises on both their necks come the morning. They struggle with one another, briefly, against the door, before stumbling towards the bed, just drunk enough to have no regrets (though, truthfully, there is always that pianist-shaped space in the pit of his stomach.) The mattress creaks, and it is probably full of fleas and mould, but Prussia is so busy picturing a slighter, finer body in his arms that it doesn’t matter at all.
The mouth is too chapped, the jaw too stubbled, the hair too unruly, and he can feel the painful sadness that clenches the other’s abdomen against his own, but he has spent enough time picturing pretty, slightly pursed lips, and a narrow, pointed chin, and long, smooth hair flipped neatly to one side, and musical sighs and tender kisses and fictional endearments to forget all the inconsistencies. He knows that he isn’t right, either, and somehow that makes everything a lot easier. For one thing, this time he doesn’t have to worry about saying the wrong name.
Their legs collide, not quite tangling, and they struggle for dominance, briefly, but there is too much alcohol swirling in their blood for them to care for long...and so they end up switching, constantly flipping and rolling, rutting against one another like the bulldog that leaves dirty hairs all over Holmes’ trousers; like the horse back in his country that Holmes knows is grey, youngish (about seven, Holmes had guessed, correctly), male, and nervy.
There is no true effort on either side of this pathetic encounter – it is all about the mind, Prussia knows, about the projections curling like hot exhalations into cold air above their heads, the sorely missed and oft longed-for men who have so much bearing on what they do and think and feel, and who know nothing of what pains these two, nothing at all.
He can visualise Austria beneath him, stretched out with pleasure on the stained sheets, his fine eyebrows meeting above a long, slender nose (tipped up at the end), his lips parted in silent, straining delight. His thighs are soft and unblemished (unrealistically, probably, Prussia thinks – he does not know a single nation without scars – but the Austria of his fantasies lives as unsaturated with intentions and violent histories as the very sound itself of a piece of music), and so he simply goes on picturing a flat, clean stomach, pale and soft-skinned. His neck is soft too, ripe for biting and licking and marking, and Austria would moan, quietly, quivering beneath the sweep and pinch and caress of his fingers.
The room is hot, physically, but it is the heated room in his head which is more important. It is hot with his sweat and Austria’s sweat, and Austria’s body is turning scarlet as he begins to pant and beg, and when he comes, he lays a gentle, loving hand on Prussia’s shoulder, and whispers his name, and Prussia groans, and fills Austria with himself, with everything that forms and shapes him, with every single sigh and moan and sweet, loving bit of praise he has stored up inside himself, and Austria kisses his temple, kisses that pulsing, violet vein...
Except that he is in the upstairs lodging room of a pub near Paddington, and a sticky, white fluid is splattered messily on Holmes’ thighs, and outside the smoggy night sky is lit up with streetlamps; a laughing shade of violet.
Prussia returns to his lodgings that night feeling empty, and drunk, and he vows, quietly, as he kicks off his shoes and shrugs his jacket onto the floor, that he will not do this again.
A candle is lit, almost entirely burnt out in the corner of the room. It casts a strange, flickering violet shadow over the walls and floor, and as it touches him, Prussia swears once more to himself that this will not happen again.
Of course it will.
He curls in on himself. And then he sleeps.
When Holmes returns to Baker Street, the light is on in Watson’s room. It is very late. He hesitates outside the door, knuckles raised over the wood; and then he steps back, lowers his hand, and moves quietly into his own bedroom.
A few minutes later, the lights go dim, and the stairs creak. Holmes does not go to look.
Outside, Austria hails a hansom cab and adjusts his rumpled coat, and winces as it rubs against the mark on his neck. Dr. Watson is not a very good physician. His tooth still hurts, terribly.