Loud music about partying and patriotism played through speakers all over the house while guests–mostly Europeans who sort of didn’t want to be there but sort of did–drank, danced, and tried to talk over the tunes. Hissing and exploding fireworks added to the auditory clutter, but at least they were pretty to look at.
Inside, America was filling his plate with hamburger sliders when he noticed Russia chatting up Canada near the punch bowl. He watched them with scrutiny for a few seconds, then decided to ruin the moment–but not before grabbing a couple of patriotically decorated popcorn balls.
“What’s up, guys?” He asked, trying to sound chummy as he somewhat obnoxiously interrupted their conversation. “What’cha talking about? Russia, you’re not trying to turn my sister against me again, are you?”
“What do you mean?” Russia asked with a lilted voice and a grin, but immediately leaned into Canada. “You know where to find me,” she whispered. Then, after making sure to meet and hold America’s gaze for for long enough to acknowledge his displeasure, she bounced off to find someone else with whom to mingle (and probably make uncomfortable).
With a half smile, Canada shook her head. “We were talking about dogs.”
America stood beside her and together they watched the room bustle with laughing, arguing, and slightly inebriated guests trying to dance to whatever country-pop hybrid was currently playing in surround sound.
“Yeah, but I didn’t want her over here drinking all the punch.”
“Then you should be bothering Australia ’cause she’s been hitting it hard all night.”
America brought an open hand, palm up, to the middle of his chest. “Drunk Australia.” The other hand mimicked the motion, but was brought up much higher. “Drunk Russia.”
“Oh, she’s not that bad.” Looking down, Canada gently scuffed the carpet with her shoe. “She’s got two dogs. Huskies.”
“I know. They don’t like me.”
“Well, that’s understandable.” She shot America a smile that he returned. “One had puppies last month. She showed me pictures and, gosh, they’re cute.”
The birthday boy offered her one of his maize inspired treats. “Is that what the whole ‘you know where to find me’ thing was about?”
“No, that was actually about toppling American hegemony.”
Soon a silence came over them, but it made neither of them uncomfortable. Decades ago they would be exchanging independence stories that were vastly different from the other’s, but by the 20th century they’d already told it all. Now they could talk about puppies and a quirky relative, and somehow this didn’t feel too different.
After a few moments, Canada leaned forward and squinted at someone across the room. “Is, is Mexico challenging you to a dance-off?”
“Oh, that’s what that is? I thought he was just making angry gestures at me.”
“Well, to be fair, yeah, that could be the case. But, uh, I think he’s just actually really into this song.” She turned to her brother. “Well? Go out there and embarrass yourself! Just… not too much, okay?”
The dance-off ended with the exchange of fiery but playful words and an agreement that it was a draw. The agreement was pointless, however, because America secretly declared himself the winner and Mexico would be telling his friends tomorrow that he kicked the United States’ ass on July 4th. When the self-proclaimed victor got his plate back there was a noticeable absence of hamburgers sliders, to which he gave Canada a pout. She laughed and shrugged.
“Uh… Russia did it?”