Hetaloid!Canada x Reader
Even during the busiest hour of the day, the chill and the stacking snow only slightly hindered the usual bustle of the city crowd. Figures hidden in desperate warmth skittered down the streets and sidewalks, either alone or in groups, the promise of indoor heating beckoning them to swiftly reach their destinations. The warmest coats were donned, and thick caps and heavy scarves hid the identities of once-familiar faces. Older women shuffled their children indoors as quick as they could, hoping in exasperation that perhaps the younglings would stop complaining about their frosted fingers; beneath the snow-covered awning, long forgotten by a forgetful shop employee, stood a shivering couple sharing a rapidly-cooling mug of hot chocolate, to which they'd exchange sweet kisses despite the cold; heavy-coated businessmen quickly shuffled across the snow-stained sidewalk, cursing under their breaths as each misplaced step nearly send them flying. Despite the snow, it was still the busiest hour of the day.
You didn't know why so many people were out and about, undeterrred by the plummetting temperature, but there could always be a variety of reasons. You even had your own for being out in the chill amongst them, though your chattering teeth hinted at your personal desire to just wander back home and curl up under your heated blanket.
Frost nipped lightly at your nose as you watched your breath escape in a frozen fog through the knitting of your scarf. You could feel the chill seep into your coat pocket and through the threads of your gloves, proving to you that a new pair was definitely in order. Already, your hands were growing numb. That's what you thought, at least, until when the next tremor shivered through your body and the response was a gentle squeeze to your free hand. You gripped back in return, savoring the hint of warmth, and you turned your head to gaze at your companion from the corner of your eye.
A maple leaf-patterned red-and-white ski hat covered most of his dirty blonde waves, the side flaps covering his ears, and a little braided string bouncing lightly at the top as he walked beside you. He was wrapped snugly in his own signature winter coat, thick mits and black winter boots - something that thankfully came in the same packaging as he did. His soft lavender eyes gleamed as he looked down at you from his taller stature, the broken glasses still balancing on the bridge of his nose - something that serves as a cute reminder of your first meeting in your apartment. Matthew's head tilted at you, his face flushed from the cold, and he gave you a sweet smile.
You couldn't help but notice just how enchanting he looked when the soft flakes of snow fell around the both of you - some clung to the ends of his hair and a few strands of his eyelashes like a decoration, further making this whole thing feel so surreal. As if to confirm once more that this gentle young man was walking beside you, you pulled a little closer and gave his hand another squeeze. Your wind-bitten cheeks heated as you returned the smile.
It wasn't uncommon for people to be seen walking beside, hand-in-hand, arm-in-arm, or even being carried by their own Hetaloids out in public. After they were released several years ago, it's become normal to see them out and about with their owners. There were still plenty to see: nearby, a Swedish model was carrying both a Sealand model and another child on each shoulder, the mother and father clearly tagging behind and watching on with amusement; a young teenage girl hugged the arm of a flustered Lithuanian model as she bounced excitedly at something she saw in the shop window; a Hungarian Hetaloid walked calmly beside an older woman as they seem to carry on a relatively pleasant conversation.
Any other day would have been better to go out, you originally thought, but you've been putting things off longer than you really should have. You were supposed to be out running errands - namely picking up some groceries and maybe a few other things - and, since the shopping district of the city was fairly close to your apartment, you thought it best not to risk driving in this weather and hoof it instead. It was a cold that could freeze hell over, but as long as you could be quick, it was manageable. Originally you had planned to go on your own, like usual, but Matthew insisted on helping. Insisted, as in, frantically scribbling 'please?' on the board to thrust at you and gripping your hand as you were about to leave. It really didn't take you long to give in, and there wasn't any other reason to keep him stranded and bored at home. If anything, he would make for good company and an extra pair of helping hands.
You didn't know why he was so determined to go with you at first, but the longer you thought about it, it may have something to do with being stuck in the apartment all day with little to nothing to do. The most that you notice when you'd get home from work each day was that he'd immediately have some dinner waiting for you and the apartment was nearly spotless. Maybe he needed a hobby if he was going to stay in the apartment day in and day out, because as nice as it was to be welcomed to a clean home and a handsome young chef, you didn't want him going batty. Admittedly, you can understand his eagerness to go outside if it meant getting a breath of fresh air. ... Or could Hetaloids 'get' fresh air? Oh, stop thinking so much, it's just a figure of speech.
In any case, you were happy that he would rather go with you than wander off on his own. Your grip on his hand tightened a little at this idea. No way, you'd actually freak out if you had gone back to the apartment and found he wasn't there. It would not only break the four-month routine you both had, but it would have been so unusual for him to just leave without warning. He would at least ask or even just let you know ahead of time, right? But even if it was to explore, you could only imagine him getting lost or being kidnapped or something horrible like that.
Cut that out, girl! you scolded yourself. It's okay! He's not going anywhere! IF something does happen, he came with a tracker! ...Oh great, now you're considering using that piece of nonsense? A tracker, for pete's sake. Matthew may be technically a Hetaloid and may have come in a box, but he's sure to have common sense. Plus, you weren't going to cage him like that, you were sure he could use a little independence now and again. Man, sometimes the thoughts that wander in your head were just so intrusive. Not to mention the ones that occassionally slipped through when you both are resting in the same bed... URGH. STOP THAT.
Once you finally refocused on the present, you found yourselves standing before a shop window, staring at some poster advertisements that were plastered on the glass. Huh? How'd you get here? Weren't you just heading for the grocer? You looked up at the shop sign - 'Antiques' - and shook your head. This wasn't someplace you were planning to go today, but as you stood their, the poster further drew your attention. Upon closer inspection, you could just make out the enlarged font from the fog on the glass of the window:
ALL NEW! Hetaloid Upgraded! V.2 of your Favorite Hetalia Characters! Trade in your model today for a greater, improved experience!
Grouped in the poster, you recognized all the classic Hetaloid models - America, England, Italy, Germany, Japan, among others - and saw that it included a comparison picture to the other side, where each model definitely looked the part: shinier hair, more attractive, smiling faces, etc. It took you only a brief moment to remember that you've passed this poster a couple times in the past month. It's been up and announced for a while, then, probably since the start of Christmas season. In reality you've only glanced at it a few times, but it was never of any real interest to you. But why were you standing here just now all of a sudden? You blinked, and you turned to your own Hetaloid standing quietly still beside you.
Your heart skipped a beat.
Matthew's widened lavender eyes were boring holes into the glass the way he was staring through, his lips parted only slightly in a small somber frown. His posture was rigid, as was his gloved grip on your hand. Realization sunk in: he was the one who led the both of you to the window. Had the title caught his eye? Was it the pictures? Though the rest of him was unbelieveably still, his eyes were flitting back and forth between the faces of the 'old' and the 'new' models on the poster. Was he... comparing them? You took another glance at the poster, and your heart sunk.
Not only was he comparing the upgrades, but his model wasn't even on the advertisement.
That's right. The Canadian's model was always short in stock, something that had posed a challenge for you when you were scouring for a seller online - even your friends tried to tell you how hard they were to come across. It wasn't because they were a hot sale... but it was because a buyer for them was rare. They were not mass-produced like the other models, but they were made in handfuls and tucked away. You knew you weren't the only one who sought a Canada Hetaloid yourself, but the fact that there weren't many to begin with... was a bittersweet feeling.
It was bittersweet, because on one hand, you were unique to have a rare model like Matthew. Something that the average Hetalia collector would be jealous of. But on the other hand, only collectors seemed to have them nowadays: you were one of the few exceptions to this formula.
You knew you weren't a collector. Even if you sought to be one, you couldn't even afford a second Hetaloid. But the idea of this sweet person beside you going unnoticed was heartwrenching. That wasn't something you thought about when you were browsing for sellers online - you seldom thought about the rarity of these types of models, and when you did, it only drove you further to get a Canada Hetaloid specifically. You never thought that you'd be standing out here in the cold, hand-in-hand with this gentle person beside you, staring at a poster that could make you feel like your heart was being rended in two.
And that was enough.
You pulled hard on his hand, drawing him quickly away from the window and the advertisement. The jerk was so sudden that he nearly stumbled across and almost fell into you, a shocked and bewildered look befalling his features when you turned to look back at him. However, his face tightened in worry when he saw yours - You were staring sternly at him, looking almost angry.
But you weren't angry. Not in the slightest. In fact, right now, the sadness racking and twisting your insides was making it very difficult to keep your breathing straight. You had to be stern. You had to be firm. You took both of his hands and held them tight, forcing him to lean down a little - this was only between the two of you. Nobody on the street needed to hear.
"Matthew, you need to listen to me." You voice broke slightly, and you swallowed, hoping the dryness in your mouth and in your throat would quickly disappear. "I told you before and I'll tell you again: You are not going anywhere." Your gloved grip tightened, and despite the warmth that came from his own mitts, heat had drained from your shaking fingers. "You don't need to be 'upgraded'. They're stupid gimmicks to get more sales, okay? A-And..." Your teeth clenched as you struggled for the right words. "... And even... even if there isn't any 'second version' of you, I don't care. Okay? So don't... don't ever think that I'd trade you. Do you understand me, Matthew?"
The last few words came out a little harsher than you intended, but you needed to get these stupid ideas out of his head. Gosh, you were sounding more and more like a mother chastising a small child. But this wasn't a child, and you weren't his mother - he's a cherished friend, and you needed to set things clear, even if it meant being a little harsh.
You gave him a steadfast stare, watching as he blinked and the way his eyes darted back and forth between yours. His mouth had gone slightly agap, stunned at your sudden declaration. He just stood there, watching, inspecting your unwavering look; the passers-by began to eye the two of you oddly as they walked past. However, the longer he continued to look at you, the warmer your collar started to grow.
The flakes continued to fall around you; you glanced suddenly at the way his breath fogged at the edge of his lips; a snowflake was caught in the exhaust and melted in the heat of his exhale. You could just feel the warmth of it touch your nose and melt a bit of the frost. How warm was your own breath just now? When you consciously focused on that, you realized that your breathing was becoming short and staggered. Your heart was fluttering at an unusually rapid pace in your chest, and you began to realize just how close and small you were to this lofting Canadian standing before you. Especially the way he was leaning over you... even if it was to create some privacy in the suddenly-serious conversation, the way you noticed his dirty blonde locks dangling over his face and almost directly over yours nearly completely swept away the balance in your knees. You couldn't understand just why all these little details became the sudden focus of your attention, and out of sheer embarrassment, you quickly looked away. You cheeks were burning.
It doesn't take long before his eyes softened and a gentle smile replaced the once-somber expression that sallowed his face. Matthew tenderly brought your hands to his face, bending down slightly so as you weren't forced to reach too high, and meekly breathed onto your cold, thin-threaded gloves.
It was like a truck slammed into your face. You looked as if you were just caught in headlights, eyes wide and disbelieving as you watched him warm your hands and rub them in his own. When you stiffened, his eyes glanced back up and peered at you in innocent curiosity from behind those broken spectacles. You just stared back unblinkingly, and you could only imagine the look of shock still plastered on your features.
It was all coming back - those intrusive thoughts of burying yourself in his warm arms, cuddling into him as you lay in bed, falling asleep with the warmest pillow you could possibly imagine; Intertwining your fingers with his, the way the breath from his mouth on your chilled fingers just seemed so real and made your heart pump full throttle; The thoughts that came from your previous suggestive conversations with Lottie and Gen, the endless possibilities... They were all returning and piling up like a trainwreck, and your imagination was only improving...
Oh my god, Matthew, don't you realize just what you're doing, you stupid Canadian!?
As if reading your mind, the Canadian stopped short. He blinked a few times, face falling in confusion, and then, soon enough, the realization seemed to hit when he quickly lowered your hands and straightened like a street pole. Utter embarrassment colored his face as he clutched your hands apologetically, and his mouth opened and closed in rapid succession as though mouthing his absent words could try and make this situation less awkward. It wasn't any less frustrating, however, because he had quickly pursed his mouth and was staring with new level of shyness at his snowboots buried beneath the snow. Quite possibly wishing to just let the ground swallow him up right then and there, but you could only assume. That's kind of how you felt right about now.
And to think, you were just out to get some groceries.
"'s ev'ryth'ng 'lright?"
Both you and Matthew nearly jumped out of your skins at the sound of the low inquiry, and you clutched his hand even tighter when you stared up at the lofting source. It was the Swedish model you saw earlier, staring down at you hard with a fierce expression on his darkened face. You knew it was the same one, because there, sitting on his shoulders, were the same Sealand model and the unfamiliar child you saw before, both of whom were peering down at you with amused curiosity. You had to clamp a hand over your mouth not to shriek in surprise, and Matthew was cowering beside you, gripping your hand just as tight.
The Swedish Hetaloid's stare didn't falter.
"Berwald, dear, don't stare, you're scaring them," came a gentle voice from behind. The lumbering Hetaloid looked back up and turned his massive frame to the source of the voice. You and Matthew managed to look down away from the intimidating creature only to see the very unintimidating smile of a sweet-looking middle-aged woman, her hand latched onto the arm of the slightly taller man beside her.
She reminded you of those successful homeowner retailers you'd occassionally see on television - beneath her expensive-looking black beret cascaded thick tufts of brunette hair, falling long over her heavy and equally expensive-looking winter coat. The man next to her must've been her husband, appearing to be of the same age with a similarly-fashioned pricey coat draped around his taller frame. He didn't wear anything on the top of his short salt-and-pepper hair slowly being covered in flakes of snow, and you could just barely make out signs of well-maintained facial hair behind his scarf. The woman beamed pleasantly at you, tilting her head to the side.
"Is everything alright, darling?" Her question couldn't be anything less than lighthearted. Her whole demeanor was friendly and unobtrusive, something that was both refreshing and was calming to your nerves, even if only a little. It still didn't help any that this lumbering Swede was several heads over you and staring at you from his silhouette. The smaller woman let loose a small chuckle. "Please excuse Berwald, he generally has that effect on people the first time around. Though he's a big sweetheart, aren't you, dear?" The woman had gone up to the lofting Hetaloid and reached up to lovingly pat his jaw. The Swedish model only grunted.
"So you guys okay, then?" The Sealand model piped up in his English accent, swinging his legs eagerly on Berwald's broad shoulder. Clearly he was impatient and ready to get going. Acting his physical age, so to speak.
At this notion, you felt a little silly that you and Matthew were the whole reason behind this small commotion - in fact, this small gathering was drawing even more curious attention from off the sidewalk. A few people even stopped to stare and murmur, maybe about the ginormous Swede standing before you, but you weren't completely positive. Though you were still rather uncomfortable and a little unnerved under the Hetaloid's stare, the silent squeeze to your hand calmed you enough to give the woman a polite smile.
"T-Thank you, we're fine," you managed to say, trying your darndest to avoid looking at Berwald. You knew that the other Hetalia characters found him pretty scary, but it was different when he was up close - it was downright terrifying. "I'm sorry if we were bothering anyone."
"Oh, you weren't a bother!" The woman's smile only brightened, turning infectious; you could feel the tug at your own lips when you saw her, turning your polite smile into something a little more natural. She then approached you and took your free hand in her own, the beautiful white of the cotton and embroidery contrasting heavily to the cheap brown threads around your fingers. "You just looked like you were having a problem, and we wanted to help." She patted your hand affectionately. "My name is Claire. May I ask yours, darling?"
Wait, what? You stared at her dumbly, slightly taken aback by this little exchange - She was unbelieveably friendly for a stranger off the street. Not only that, but you'd expect a wealthy-looking woman such as herself to be sipping tea by the fireplace and wearing all kind of ornate jewelry instead of speaking and attending to a young white-collar worker like you. Unable to really think of anything else to say, you murmured, "(F-First name)..."
"(First name), such a pretty name." She gave your hand a fond squeeze before releasing it to bring her own hands to her face, and she rubbed her cheeks before letting out a chill-induced exhale. "My my my, the way this weather's been lately, you'd think we were facing another Ice Age!" She chuckled at her own joke.
"Mommy, can we go now?" the unfamiliar child on the Swede's other shoulder whined. When you managed to look past the lofting Hetaloid's scary exterior, you saw the little girl looked no older than six. Most of her figure was buried within a thick winter coat, bright pink snow pants with equally gaudy snow boots, and several scarves were tucked around her neck beneath a heavy-looking bomber hat. The sight itself brought a hand to your lips to stifle a giggle.
The woman named Claire turned her attention to the munchkin and nodded at her chidingly. "Yes, Lucy, we'll be going soon." She turned back around to face you again, her cheerful expression now tinged with a hint of apology. "Motherhood calls," she quipped sweetly, the crows' feet crinkling in her smile. "In any case, I'm glad nothing's the matter. By the way," She leaned over a little, her periwinkle-blue eyes glittering at the blonde standing beside you. "I also noticed you have yourself your own Hetaloid!" At this acknowledgement, Matthew bowed his head bashfully and shuffled his feet in the shifting snow. Claire turned her gaze back over to you, her eyes gleaming almost as brightly as the falling snow. "Is he a Canadian model perchance?"
Both you and Matthew perked up at the sound of the inquiry. You were actually pretty surprised that she managed to guess correctly on the first try - sometimes you heard that he would be mistaken for the American model more often than not, and it certainly didn't help that the two looked so much alike. Honestly, with his curl hidden beneath his cap, it was nothing short of miraculous that Claire was able to determine the correct model. Or you could be thinking too much into it. Again.
"Uh, yeah," you answered after a moment. Your (eye color) eyes fell back upon Matthew's, and once his lavender gaze met yours, you felt a smile instinctively draw out on your face. He smiled back timidly. "Yeah, this is Matthew."
The way Claire's hand collided in an eager clap made the both of you jump yet again. "Oh, how wonderful!" Her gleeful exclamation was nothing short of a squeal, which was a sight to see in itself - Claire was most definitely a fangirl. Her grin drew out from ear to ear. "My dear, you are the first Canada model owner I've seen in all these years, and it's so wonderful to finally see one in person!"
"Y-Yeah, he's pretty special to me." Why did your cheeks have to burn so much when you said this?
"Mommyyyy..." came the child's whine atop the Swede's broad shoulder.
"Oh, all right," Claire sighed softly. Her excitement didn't deflate enough, however, for her not to dig through her expensive-looking purse and pull out a small memo book and a gorgeous pen. After scribbling something down, she tore the little memo slip from the book and handed it out to you, her bright smile never leaving her face. "I'm so sorry to cut this short, but baby girl is cold. However, I would love to have you over sometime for lunch, if that is all right? I would love to chat with you about Hetaloids when you're free, (first name)!"
Even as you took the proffered slip in your hand and watched the odd group shuffle off, you still couldn't quite wrap your head around the whole situation. What... exactly happened? One moment you were having trouble breathing and the next you were being invited out to lunch by one of the friendliest women you've ever met. You knew you didn't stand out, at least not much. If anything, you would've believed that the strangest you seemed was that you and Matthew just looked like a shy couple taking a stroll through the district. And even that couldn't have been so strange, could it?
... Wait, did you just mentally refer to you and Mattie as a couple?
Thank goodness for scarves... you thought as your cheeks were quite possibly the palette of Spain's tomatoes.
Matthew must've noticed your sudden stillness because he had given your hand another squeeze. You turned and looked at him, still feeling a little dumbfounded about the whole situation, but then your mind cleared a little when you how gentle his gaze was upon you and just how flushed his cheeks were. You froze.
Oh man oh man.
He heard you call him special. He heard that. Everything.
Well, DUH. He was standing beside you the entire time! Why are you getting so flustered about this? Is it because you never told him just how special he is? Because he is, right?
Of course he is, but the way you seemed to say it sounded like you two were, I dunno, a thing, or something... And that's not true!
You felt another squeeze.
Ugh, stop doing this to yourself, honestly! If you keep overthinking like this, then it's going to get all awkward and weird and--
You were tugged hard enough to be spun to the side, and your thought process stopped short when you felt something thick and warm wrap tightly around you, you face suddenly buried in something just as warm.
Your heart skipped a beat, your breathing turning nothing short of quick and brief. Your eyes widened, and a lump caught in your throat. You didn't know why it took you longer than it should have to process what just happened, but once it did, your eyes fluttered shut and you allowed yourself to be held close by this tender figure beside you. When you started to sink into him, Matthew's embrace held you tighter, his face pressed into your shoulder.
Just for a moment, you didn't want to care: The people in the street didn't matter; The looks you were now recieving didn't mean a thing; The chill that settled on your toes from standing still in the snow for too long wasn't of any concern. Just for a moment... the world was dulled out. Just for this moment...
Matthew slowly pulled away.
At the absence of his warmth, your brow furrowed and your eyes fluttered back open. The blonde looked down at you from his taller height, a little smile creasing his face and pushing his cheeks that was so endearing you could only watch in silent awe. At your quiet gawking, he pulled away a little further, most likely to prevent further awkwardness, and he cupped his mitted hand around the back of his neck shyly.
You composed yourself as quickly as you could, a small tremor racing through your body as the warmth of his hug lingered, and you turned to see his lips moving, his gaze still on you. Was he trying to say something?
Of course, he didn't have his board... too encumbersome for what was supposed to be a short errand... but once you squinted slightly and concentrated on the way his lips moved, you could just make out what they formed.
He was saying, 'Thank you.'
It took you only a moment to understand why, and in slight embarrassment, you hid your face further in your scarf and gripped his hand tighter to tug him along, to finish your errands - The hand that you will come to realize you haven't let go this entire endeavor. The warmth that you won't be forgetting anytime soon. The words that came out of your mouth only a short time earlier.
He was thanking you for calling him special.