047: Heart

Sometimes, loving Korea was easy.

With South, America could get away with laughing, with playing, with being a little less serious. They could talk about everything—struggling with family, with duty, and with self—and nothing—movies, games, comics, and music—without being laughed at, or judged. The Asian was so energetic, so carefree, and so determinedly certain that everything would work out. America understood him, and South loved that the most.

He didn’t need to worry about saying the wrong thing, not when the Korean was energetically spinning tall tale upon tall tale. South would jokingly defend the most ridiculous statements with broad grins and flimsy justifications, instantly bringing a smile to the American’s face. The Asian had a gift for lifting America’s spirits no matter how low they sunk.

And in those few times he did end up sticking his foot in his mouth, South was upfront and direct. He let Alfred know what he did wrong, and gave him a chance to apologize. And once he had, forgiveness was given freely, no strings attached. And Alfred would smile, because even if South didn’t think it was much, it meant a lot that he could be Korea’s hero no matter what.

Sometimes, loving Korea was hard.

With North, America couldn’t let his guard down for a moment. Every topic was a minefield—every innocent comment risked igniting a fight. The Asian was just so intense, so defensive, so paranoid, and so certain that everyone was out to get him. America pitied him, and North hated that the most. 

Even if the Korean was wary of using actual force, North knew very well how to cut with words. While America relished turning the barbs on their heads, laughing out loud and watching the ordinarily stoic Asian shift into red-faced frustration, every once in a while an insult struck too deep, and the American needed to take time aside and cool off.

But just when Alfred was finally prepared to call it quits and cut North lose, the Korean would show a side of something human and vulnerable, something not covered in guns and knives, something that was alone and scared and powerless. Against all of North’s pride and disdain, America would suddenly see the truth: that the Korean was a Nation breaking down, a person desperately clinging to the last shreds of his control. And Alfred would stay, because even if North didn’t take him seriously, he had promised to be Korea’s hero no matter what.

Sometimes, loving Korea was just exhausting.

Either Asian was an extreme. Between manic South and antagonistic North, no matter what side was out, America was hard-pressed at times to keep up.

He found himself missing the days before the war: those precious days when they both were still one Nation, one person, one soul, and one heart.

Alfred had won Yong Soo’s heart only to see it torn in half, and it took the next sixty years to patch his own back together.

It was still debatable whether or not it would ever be possible to even come close to performing the same miracle with Korea’s.

But America had no choice but to try.

Because, divided or not, Alfred’s heart was already theirs.

No matter what.

A/N: Within this story, I utilize the idea that North and South are sides of a whole being. I realize this is not a popular idea, and indeed, I see a lot more of merit in giving them individual personifications than I used to. That said, I still have a lot of fondness for this concept, and for this theme, I think it worked.