Title: Easy Exercises (1/1)
Character(s): France, Scotland
Date: 20th August, 2010; Paris, France
Word Count: 2,055
Summary and Author's Note: Okay, not much more summary to this than, "France and Scotland go shopping". It's just a little bit of fuffiness inspired by a discussion I had with candesceres in the comments of my last Scotland/France story. It's set beyond the scope of time of the series entire as it's planned now, so a little spoiler-y, I guess, and just... sap and fluff.
Prequels: Think and Grow; Eyes Open; The Element; Practices and Priorities; Transitions; Love is a Verb
20th August, 2010; Paris, France
Scotland liked to think he wasn't easily intimidated, but something about the curl of the man's top lip, the disdainful tilt of his perfectly sculpted eyebrows as his eyes raked insouciantly over Scotland's frame, made the blood rush to his face and his shoulders hunch upwards involuntarily.
The man's sneer deepened, then he turned smartly on the heel of one immaculately polished shoe and walked away, each step as sharp and precise as the creases running down the legs of his dark grey trousers. Scotland shuffled uneasily in his wake, considering making a bolt for the door. He felt self-conscious enough in this sort of shop without the staff looking at him as though he were something that one of their better class of customer had brought in unwittingly on the sole of their shoe.
He moved to study himself in the full-length mirror standing beside one of the sparsely-populated clothes racks. He didn't think he looked too shabby. If he'd looked too shabby, then no doubt France would have given him that pursed lips, 'You're offending my delicate sensibilities,' look before they left his apartment – the one that silently conveyed how deeply Scotland's fashion faux pas pained him – and Scotland would have gone and got changed for the sake of an easy life.
Granted, his hair looked as though he'd recently battled his way through a hurricane, but then it was stronger than any hair product yet invented and beyond hope. He really couldn't see what could possibly be so distasteful about a plain black T-shirt and jeans, though. Maybe they weren't designer (Primark and George at Asda, respectively), but they were clean, and neither too tight nor ridiculously baggy. His trainers had been stupidly expensive new, although he had to admit that they were looking a little worse for wear two years down the line, and perhaps he should have replaced both sets of laces on them when the one on the left broke instead of just using the first spare he came across, which had been intended for his work shoes and quite obviously didn't match.
A light touch at the small of his back distracted him from his reflection, and he turned towards France, a grateful smile tugging at his mouth.
"Are you ready to go?" he asked.
France frowned. "Ready to go? We only just arrived."
Only just arrived? By Scotland's reckoning, they'd been there quarter of an hour already, which was, as far as he was concerned, easily ten minutes longer than clothes shopping should ever take, anyhow. "Of course we did," he said, despondently.
France pressed a brief kiss to Scotland's cheek – which Scotland chose to interpret as an apology for both dragging him to the shop in the first place, and subsequently abandoning him to be disapproved of by snooty sales assistants – and then stepped back, placed one hand on his hip, and looked at Scotland expectantly. Scotland examined him in puzzlement for a moment, before realising that, judging by the considered pose, he was presumably supposed to make some sort of comment on the clothes France was wearing.
Scotland cleared his throat nervously. One of the few downsides to them actually being in a relationship, he'd discovered, was being expected to give opinions on this sort of thing now. Even if France discounted said opinions immediately, which he often did, the bare fact of their existence was assumed.
"That shirt is," Scotland said, desperately trying to cobble together something vaguely constructive sounding. He failed. "Nice. And the trousers are…" He rallied his resources for a second attempt. Which also failed. "Nice, too."
France's lips thinned, and Scotland could only shrug in response. They were nice. The shirt looked soft and silky, and was a particular shade of blue that Scotland couldn't put a name to, but had always thought suited France very well indeed. The trousers looked almost as if they had been tailored just for him, skimming his slim hips snugly, and emphasising the length of his legs.
It occurred to Scotland that those were actually the sort of opinions that France might be interested in hearing, but as he prepared himself offer them, France said, "These are my own clothes. The very same ones you saw me putting on this morning," in a withering tone. "Écosse," he added after a slight pause, apparently just to twist the knife a little more.
Well, two could play at that game. "I'm sorry, but I don't tend to pay that much attention to what you're wearing. An Fhraing."
France's eyelids lowered to half-mast, and his bottom lip protruded a little, threatening a pout. Scotland ran the statement quickly back through his mind, and then cursed himself inwardly.
"Which isn't to say I don't look at you – I do, all the time – but I'm not exactly admiring your clothes. I mean, if I'm checking out your arse – which I also do, frequently – I don't really notice what kind of fabric is –"
"The shoes, Scotland," France said, stretching one foot out into Scotland's field of vision. The name, plus the obvious amusement warming France's voice, suggested that he'd already forgiven Scotland's poor choice of words. "What do you think of the shoes?"
They were black. And shiny. Scotland had even less of an opinion on shoes than he did on trousers or shirts. "They're nice?" he said, hesitantly.
Obviously eager to avoid any further misunderstandings, France asked, "Do you like the shirt, Alasdair?" as soon as he reappeared from the changing room.
Scotland stared, blinked rapidly, and then stared some more. The shirt looked like the Eighteenth century had exploded inside a glitter factory; all ridiculously floaty fabric, and so shiny that Scotland was convinced that it would blind the pilots of passing planes if France were to step outside wearing it.
'That is the most hideous thing I have ever seen,' was his immediate thought, but it didn't seem the most prudent one to express, not with the supercilious sales assistant glaring daggers at him over France's shoulder.
"It's very…" No, 'ugly' probably wasn't the most neutral word choice, either. "Busy," seemed less confrontational. "Bit too much going on." He placed a hand over his own chest, and wriggled his fingers to indicate the ruffles. "You look better in plainer things; always have," he finished, warming to the subject slightly.
"I think you might actually be right," France said as he looked down at the shirt again. He sounded pleasantly surprised.
The sales assistant's glare intensified still further.
France hadn't taken more than a couple of steps out of the changing room for the third time before Scotland said, "No."
France stilled, his smile fading. "No, what?"
"No, I don't like them, before you ask," Scotland said, sharply. "You wanted my opinion, and there it is."
He was sure that he'd like the trousers if France only ever wore them in private. They were very, very tight, perfectly outlining everything of France there was to outline, which was something Scotland appreciated, but didn't mean that he had to like the idea of random members of the public appreciating it, too.
"You don't like them?" France huffed out a peevish-sounding sigh. "As you've never had this much to say on the subject before, may I ask what you do think suits me, while you're being so forthcoming?"
If he was honest, Scotland thought France always looked best in the early mornings, with his hair pulled back into a messy ponytail, and baggy pyjama bottoms slipping from his hips, bleary eyes and snappish temper notwithstanding. It may not be the most useful observation, however, as Scotland was well aware that his preference mostly stemmed from the knowledge that he was the only person whom France had ever voluntarily allowed to see him in such a state of disarray.
"I liked what you were wearing before," Scotland said, instead. "You know, the stuff you came here in."
France sighed again. "A very useful observation," he said, sounding resigned. "I shall certainly bear it in mind."
An hour or so into his ordeal, one of the other sales assistants took pity on Scotland, and ushered him towards a small area tucked away at the back of the shop which contained a couple of chairs and a low table stacked high with glossy magazines. Scotland thanked her, a little too profusely, and lowered himself gingerly onto one of the chairs. Like the clothes the shop sold, it was all style over function, and incredibly uncomfortable, the curves of its back antithetical to those of a human-shaped body.
Scotland usually ended up somewhere like this – he privately referred to them as 'boyfriend parks' – whenever France dragged him out shopping, and he supposed it was preferable to standing there like a chump, waiting for France to emerge from the changing room. At least there was something to read. He picked up one of the magazines and flicked through it. Every single article in it seemed to be about hair. Or clothes. Or both.
He put it down again, and tried to find a position where it didn't feel as though the chair was attempting to break his spine.
Scotland was awoken from a slightly disturbing dream about England jabbing him in the kidneys with a stick by France's low, "If you didn't get up with the sun, then perhaps you wouldn't keep falling asleep every time you sit down."
Scotland opened his eyes a crack to see France leaning over him slightly, his expression a mixture of exasperated and amused. "I was bored, okay. Seemed like the best way of killing time."
"I'm sure it did." The amusement won out, and France smirked at him. "I do hope you're well-rested now, mon coeur, because it's time for us to move on."
Scotland's back groaned in protest as he struggled to his feet. "So you've finally finished? That's great; perhaps we can –"
The rest of his words stuck at the back of his throat as he noticed the bag slung over France's arm. The very small bag. "Bloody hell, France, all that faffing around, and that's all you've got to show for it? It barely looks big enough for a pair of socks." France's cheeks coloured slightly, and Scotland groaned. "You bought some fucking socks? That's it?"
"They're silk," France said, a little defensively.
Scotland opened his mouth to say, 'I don't care if they're made of fucking diamonds,' but then closed it again and simply shook his head. It wasn't worth starting an argument over; the morning might be a write-off, but the afternoon still held promise.
"Never mind," he said, breathing out his irritation along with the words. "I thought we could stop for lunch at that little place by –"
"I still need a new outfit for tonight," France said quickly, although he did have the grace to sound at least a little apologetic.
Apparently, some of Scotland's irritation had managed to cling on, stubbornly. "No, you don't, France. You've got plenty of clothes already, and they all look good on you. Fantastic. And do you honestly think anyone will actually notice? Hell, England hasn't seen fashionable for well over a hundred years, I'm sure neither of the weans really care what you're wearing just as long as you're wearing something, and since when have you given a shit what Prussia thinks about, well, anything like that.
"The whole thing's a bloody stupid idea. I mean, you know England still hasn't completely forgiven me, or come around to the idea of Prussia being with Canada, so this whole 'triple date' thing could turn out to have been some weird kind of revenge plan all along. If that's the case, it might end up in a bloodbath, and that'd just ruin anything you were wearing, anyway."
Before Scotland could continue outlining the many and varied reasons that it really would be a better idea to just forget any worrying notions of there being any further shopping, France said, "Please, Grádhán," and then looked up at Scotland through his lashes as he tilted his head to one side.
Scotland never should have told him what that term, that look, did to his defences; things might have changed, but they hadn't changed so much that he had strength enough to resist them. "Sneaky bastard," he growled, though he still took hold of France's hand when it was offered to him. "Okay, then. If that's what you want."
Sequel: Until Today
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- Hahaha, this is so, so silly. I'm still not sure if I should post this to the comms... Or if I should have even posted it, full stop.
- Primark and George at Asda. Scotland really likes his clothes to be reasonably priced...
An Fhraing - France
Grádhán - Beloved