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[personal profile] pyrrhiccomedy
Title: Who's Got Spirit
Originally posted: At [livejournal.com profile] hetaliasunshine, for anon Hazel!
Length: 3,200 words.
Characters/Pairings: Canada, Poland. A little America, France, and England thrown in at the end.
Premise: Stuck inside at a rained-out, boring conference, Poland takes Canada to task for his low spirits and teaches him how to B-E aggressive.
Time period: Modern.
Smuttiness: 0/10, minus some harmless innuendo.
Funnyness: 5/10
Wrist slashiness: 2/10
Lolhistoryness: 1/10
Violence: 1/10
Would I like it?: I nearly didn't finish this in time, because every time I started working on it, I had to take a break to watch the cheer battle scene from Bring It On to "inspire myself." Like, eleven times. I wish I were kidding.

---

For the third time, Poland raised his voice from where he was flopped over the back of the rec room sofa and moaned, "Bored!"

Canada winced, pushed his hair out of his face, and looked back at Poland. The plate glass window behind him was smeared with rain, and just then lightning pulsed and lit Poland up in a searing silhouette. It'd probably be pretty dramatic-looking if Poland weren't wearing a pleated pink skirt, or wasn't painting his fingernails, with the little bottle of polish balanced on his stomach.

"Sorry," Canada offered.

Poland's head lolled towards him. "It's not your fault it's raining, loser. This place just, like, sucks."

"Sorry," Canada repeated, quieter.

'This place' was a conference center in Ottawa. And while Canada was ready to concede that it might not be his fault that it was raining, he had a dismal suspicion that it was his fault that all the nations were stuck at a facility with bad wiring that fritzed out at the first sign of a thunderstorm for the world conference.

"This is, like, totally making me appreciate how excellent electricity is, though," Poland reflected. "You know, when it works. Not like, now."

"Sorry," Canada mumbled.

Most of the events he'd planned were outside events; they were up in the mountains, it was supposed to be beautiful this time of year (honest). But…they had all been cancelled. The nice open air stage he'd had prepared special had been rained out. They had all spent the day in sterile conference rooms, getting eyestrain and irritable from squinting at their paperwork in the dim light.

Canada had hoped the rain might let up at night, because he had planned a fireworks display, but…that had been cancelled, too. In the end, half the nations had gone to bed early, and the other half had packed themselves into the commuter bus and tottered off to the pub.

They'd asked if he wanted to go, but…he'd begged out. Claimed a stomach ache. Which was true; his insides had been cramping around themselves ever since the power went out.

He'd been surprised when Poland had passed, as well, claiming that "none of you scrubs are like, even cute enough to pick up my tab."

He'd been not so much surprised, as really actively dismayed, when Poland had then followed him back inside, expecting to be entertained. What was he supposed to do? They couldn't even watch a movie. Canada wished he could fumble his way back to his room, lie down, and snack on antacids until he either fell asleep, or died of whatever reverse acid reflux would be.

Acid flux? Acid influx? That sounded disgusting.

Poland sighed again. "There's seriously nothing to do?" He thumped his head against the back of the couch.

"There's a ping pong table in the gym," he threw out, desperate.

"…Ping pong in the dark?"

"There's…big windows…the street lights should at least…" he trailed off.

Poland huffed, capped his nail polish, and swung his feet to the floor. His sandals went plop-plop as they struck the carpet. "It's gotta be better than bumming around here all night."

Canada chewed his lip around another swell of guilt. "I'll drive you out to the bar with the others if you've changed your mind about, uh…" Hanging out with me all night. "I just, um, I don't want you to be bored--"

"Nah." Poland waved it away--or maybe he was just fanning his manicure--and approached Canada within a miasma of chemical astringent. "'Cause America's totally with them, right, and lately, every time he gets wasted? He keeps trying to install his ballistic missile interceptors along my idyllic mountain borders, if you know what I mean."

"I definitely don't know what you mean," Canada said.

"And I'm like, baby, you had your chance with me, and you blew it, so maybe you should just keep waiting on Russia and that gas pipeline he keeps laying, because I am so not interested in touching your inflating national budget--"

"--So ping pong," Canada desperately cut him off.

"…Yeah. Sure. Whatever. Ping pong."

---

It felt like fate.

"No paddles," Poland observed, in that tone of mile-high disappointment Canada had only ever heard used for phrases like 'No condoms.'

"They must be in the sports supply closet." Canada's gaze drifted towards the gloomy doorway, and he felt his stomach sink.

"Fine. I'll wait for you to find them, then." Poland dropped into one of the bleachers with a flourish of his skirt and muttered "Not like there's anything else to do."

Acid influx was sounding more and more appealing.

Canada sighed. "I'll start looking."

---

Twenty minutes later, undesirable sports goods littered the floor outside the closet in a long plume, like a river delta. Now and then, Canada threw out a hockey stick, or a tennis racket, or a set of knee pads.

"You are totally harshing me right now, Canada," Poland complained.

Canada grit his teeth until the backs of his eyes hurt, then provided a mild, "I'm sorry." Then, unable to resist, because really, this one was just too incredible, he asked, "Why's that?"

"Because you are like, maximally down about everything! --And it's like you don't even appreciate my company!"

Breathe in, one, two, three, breathe out, one, two, three… "I have a little bit of a headache," he admitted. I've only bumped my head while digging around in this pitch-black closet six times, while you've been painting your toenails…

"Well like, get over it! It's just ping pong paddles, God." There was a loud creak from the bleachers.

Let me be America, Canada prayed. For five minutes, let me be America, so I could lose my temper without giving myself an ulcer feeling bad about it later… "I thought you wanted to play ping pong," he said, as reasonably as he could.

A hand that smelled like cloying nail polish and lavender moisturizer landed on his shoulder. He jumped. Poland crouched next to him in the narrow wedge of uncluttered floor. "No, I just, like, didn't want you to hang out here alone all night, feeling sorry for yourself, while everybody else went out to have a good time."

Canada didn't know what to say to that, and he thought it might be a joke, so he gave a weak laugh. It came out more high pitched than he meant it to.

Poland clapped him upside the head and upset his glasses. "I'm being serious! You have been a total drag all day. So what if the power went out and the conference is sucking? You think you're the only one who's thrown a party that turned out to be a wash? …Haha, get it, like, a wash? Because it's raining…"

"Everybody's had an awful day," Canada fretted. "And it's my fault."

"Well yeah, okay, maybe! And now they're all out, and England's probably wasted and bitching out America, and France has probably got somebody's pants off, and I think Swiss went with them so there's better than even odds that somebody's gonna get shot, and it's totally excellent! And by the time everybody sleeps off whatever they're drinking, nobody's gonna care about how today has bit the big one. So just. Lighten. Up." Poland collapsed in a huffy pile beside him.

"Bad things always happen to me," Canada mumbled.

"Uh, try being partitioned?"

Canada winced.

"Seriously, you get so stressed about like, the tiniest things." Poland waved his hands in the air. The breeze stirred Canada's hair, and he brushed it back. Then Poland tipped up onto his knees and started rummaging through boxes. "You should totally be more like me! Think positive, you know?"

"Think positive," Canada repeated, uncertain.

"Yeah! Like, you have to be all, 'I'm Canada'--come on, loser, say it--"

"I'm Canada…"

"And I am so totally better than this!"

"And I am so, uh…" he decided to omit the totally. "Better than…uh, what? I mean, am I…you know…better than."

Poland sighed and jerked another box down off a shelf. "All this stupid bullshit! The power going out, and the rain, and everything. That is like, one day. You're too cool to get dragged down by one day!"

"I am?"

"Ah-ha!" Poland jerked two handfuls of giant, rustly things out of the back of a shelf. "I was so hoping you'd have something like this. Come on--" he shoved half of his find against Canada's chest, and Canada's fingers were filled with crinkly plastic. "I know what you need."

"What are--" he acked as Poland yanked him to his feet by his collar.

"You need, like, a training montage."

Canada looked at the things they both carried as they emerged into the dim light of the gymnasium.

"…Pompoms?"

"You need," Poland grinned at him and rustled his pompoms in Canada's face. "To be. Aggressive."

"No," Canada begged, in a dismay of sudden understanding. "Please, no--"

"Now show me your spirit, Canada!"

"I don't have any sp--"

"Arms out!"

"Wait, Poland!"

"Ready?"

"No!"

"Oh-kay!"

---

Canada never wanted to live through another training montage again.

"How do you even know about cheerleading?" he gasped as he collapsed in a sweaty, sneaker-squeaking heap on the gym floor. The back of his head thunked against the hardwood floor.

"America lent me some movies." Poland flounced down next to him and dropped a pompom on Canada's crotch. He jerked. "But like, it was totally what I was doing anyway, you know?"

"Doing…anyway?"

"You know, during all the bad stuff that happened to me." Poland brushed his hair back over his left shoulder and used his extra pompom to fan his neck.

"What, you mean, during the…partitionings, and…"

"And communism, and shit. Yeah." Poland flipped his hair the other way.

Canada thought about that for a little while. "You were…?" He gingerly picked up Poland's extra pompom from where it was shielding his manhood, and jiggled it.

Poland giggled. "Okay, maybe not with, like, the pompoms--but yeah! I'd like, sing patriotic songs, and jump around, and do stuff to keep my spirits up, you know? Like, believe in myself. It's so important, I'm serious. And Russia or Germany or Austria or whoever was always like, oh my God, Poland, what are you doing, don't you have a five year plan or something you could be working on? And like, do not do handsprings in my living room if you're gonna wear a skirt--" he glanced down at Canada, who was staring at the ceiling in a paroxysm of horror. "Oh, come on, don't even give me that look. I was wearing boxers, okay? Like I'd let Russia get a look at my goodies."

Canada relaxed at 'boxers' and cringed again at 'goodies.'

"Anyway," Poland went on, and he crossed his legs out in front of him and started flapping his sandals. They went clap clap, clap clap against his bare heels, and the sound echoed up across the high ceiling. "They were always super pissed to see me running around all gimme an S! Gimme an O! Gimme an L!--And they'd try to get me to shut up, right? But ha, look who's still here, bitches!"

"Sol…?" Canada wondered.

Poland knocked on Canada's forehead with his knuckles. "--Idarity?" he finished.

"Oh…yeah…"

"And that was like, superpowers and shit! Totally trying to dismantle my cute ass! And totally failing. Team spirit, Canada. Look into it." Poland extracted a stick of nalesniki from somewhere Canada couldn't see and thought it might be indecent to speculate about, and started chewing on it.

"I guess," Canada sighed. He laced his hands under his head and looked up some more; half-examined Poland's profile in the dim light. Poland was always so…shiny. And it wasn't just because of all that Pantene Pro-V and lip gloss. "I don't know, maybe it's different when you grow up as a colony. I've never liked making trouble for anybody."

"So explain America," Poland shot back with a little grin. "He is like, so team spirit."

"America is like a guy carved out of a solid block of team spirit," Canada conceded. "It's…kinda creepy, sometimes…"

A laugh bubbled through Poland's voice. "Creepy how?"

"Just…I don't know…all the flags, for one thing…"

And now the laugh twisted around a squeak of indignation. "What's wrong with flags?!"

"Nothing! Just…" Canada made a helpless gesture in the air above him. "He's just…so excited about being America."

"And you're not so psyched about being Canada," Poland hazarded.

"I…I guess…I'm sorry, this has gotten really personal, all of a sudden, I bet I'm boring you--" he started to sit up.

Poland planted a hand on his collarbone and shoved him back down. Canada's head bounced on the hardwood, and he squawked. Poland crammed a piece of nalesniki into his mouth to shut him up. "Um, like, I asked, remember? I'm totally listening. But why aren't you excited to be Canada? You're like, successful, and you've got a nice house, and everybody likes you--"

"When they remember I'm there," he muttered.

"Oh, shut up, it's better than having enemies and you know it--plus, you are like, super cute! If kinda skinny. But some chicks go for that! You could totally pull off the whole anemic emo rocker look." Poland looked distant for a few seconds. "I've got some dark eyeliner you could totally borrow, 'cause it like, for real doesn't match my skin tone--"

"No thanks," Canada cut in hastily.

"Anyway. So like, what is your damage?" Poland gave him a sharp look.

A few seconds of silence. "I don't know," he managed. A hesitation, and then he sat up, cross-legged, and started picking at the pompoms in his lap. "I guess I've always just felt…kinda, um…kinda overshadowed. By England, or my brother…I guess you don't know what that's like."

"Um, partitioned? I totally know what it's like to get pushed around by more powerful countries--"

"Yeah, but I mean--!" Canada rattled the pompoms in frustration. "You've got spirit!"

"Yes, I do," Poland concurred.

"You've got spirit, and--and it seems like, no matter what happens to you, you always still know…who you are, I guess…" he finished, miserable.

"I'm Poland. You're Canada. It's totally not that hard."

"But…I don't really know what being Canada means…" he faltered and petered out. A few seconds later, he started to blush.

"Oh, my God," Poland deadpanned. "You did not just say that."

Canada buried his face in his pompoms. They crackled.

"That is the gayest thing I have heard all week--"

A little whimper crawled out of his throat.

"--And I listen to myself argue between sandals and pumps in the mirror every morning!"

A beat, and then Canada snarfled. He looked up, and that sound percolated up again, in a hitch of a laugh. He hesitantly met Poland's eyes. Poland was grinning at him.

"Come on." Poland clapped him on the shoulder and rose. "I'm gonna show you how to do a cartwheel."

"W-what? No, I'll die--" Canada resisted being dragged to his feet, but--Poland was a lot stronger than he looked.

"Oh, don't be such a baby! You'll be fine. You're in shape! And then you can be like, hey, check me out. I'm Canada. I can do a cartwheel."

"I don't think that's going to help me get people to take me more seriously…" he said uncertainly.

"Canada! Drop the pompoms!"

That he was happy to do.

"Now! Arms over your head! And--like this!"

Canada didn't know if the next hour warranted another montage. He did know that it would have been a lot more awkward if Poland had been lying about the boxers.

---

"Okay, the whole routine, from the top! Just like we practiced!"

This was ridiculous. And embarrassing. And Canada was going to need to put ice packs on his knees for days, and maybe his groin, too, if he ever, ever made it out of this gym alive.

"Now--ready?"

But it was…it was…well, if he was going to be totally honest with himself…

"Ready?" Poland stressed.

"Okay," Canada squeaked. Poland would punch again if he didn't say it.

…It was kind of fun.

"Now step! And down! And turn and turn and shake! And jump, and step, and turn and shake your ass like you mean it, Canada--"

So of course, that was the moment that the others got back from the pub.

"--Think this is the quickest way back to his room--" America stopped. He and France carried England between them. All three of them stared at Canada and Poland, pompoms aflutter, shaking their asses in admirable synchronicity for only a single night of practice.

Canada died about six times: once for everybody else in the room, and twice for himself, because he figured he deserved to indulge on a special occasion like this one.

America dropped his half of England. France staggered a step to the side, and England almost cracked his face on the floor.

"Are you giving Canada spirit?" America cried.

"Canada is totally getting spirit!" Poland confirmed with a huge grin.

"Canada is getting spirit!" America cheered, and ran towards them. Poland hurled a pompom at him, and he swiped it out of the air a second before he collided with his brother and swung him up into a bear hug. Canada oofed.

"Let me see your spirit fingers, Canada!"

"Oh my God, we like, totally didn't do spirit fingers--!"

"Whaat? Dude, come on, okay--" America dropped Canada back to the floor. Canada stumbled and clapped his glasses back up his face. "Okay, look: these are spirit fingers--"

"Bloody hell," England muttered.

"I am going to bed," France informed no one in particular.

"And these are gold," America finished.

France and England hobbled for the exit into the conference center. Canada looked helplessly after them.

"So…eh…did you all have a nice time?" he called after them.

France waved a hand over his shoulder as they hit the door. England groaned.

"Yeah, it was great," America brightened. "Prussia and Russia had a drink-off, and Korea won the karaoke contest, and Lithuania caught Japan and Taiwan making out in the back hallway and tried to cover for them, but France had already seen the whole thing, it was hilarious. This is turning out to be such an awesome conference. Hey, is the power back on yet?"

"Yeah, we were just, like, totally doing cartwheels in the dark for no reason." Poland rolled his eyes.

"Oh, man, you can do a cartwheel?" America stared at his brother in open admiration.

"Power should be back by tomorrow morning," Canada ventured in a small voice.

"Even better! --So come on, come on, show me your routine, I wanna see if I can join in." America shook his pompom in anticipation.

Canada didn't know when his stomach ache had disappeared, but he suddenly realized it was gone.

"Ready?" Poland struck his arms out and smiled at him.

"Ah…o-okay!"



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