melissa_42: drawn woman in a sweater (kitty stealth)
[personal profile] melissa_42
Title: An infinite capacity for self-deception (1/?)
Fandom: Latin Hetalia
Characters: Martina (fem!Argentina), Luciana (fem!Brazil), The Green Eyed Monster, Sebastián (Uruguay), Daniel (Paraguay), Manuela (fem!Chile), and possibly more. Not everyone is in every chapter, but they'll all be in the story eventually.
Pairings: mainly Martina/Luciana...and some others...
Rating: PG-ish, but the rating may go up in later chapters
Warnings: Human AU with lots of fem!characters and some swearing.
A/N: I cannot take credit for the title, which comes from a quote by Tony Schwartz, president of The Energy Project. Also, none of the characters are mine.

Summary: Martina cannot be held accountable for blowing up at Luciana's stupidity.


Though she was by no means an artist, Martina felt that she had an eye for color and form and contrast and all that jazz, so much so that if she really wanted to, she could be a brilliant photographer. It wasn't that she lacked talent, she just lacked time, and screw Daniel for giggling at those out-of-focus pictures she'd taken of the wildflowers they'd seen when they went camping last month; that had been on purpose. She could be the best damned photographer in the Southern Cone if she tried.

The point was that she knew how to appreciate scenes from a purely objective viewpoint. For example, this one. From where Martina was seated, the sun shone in through the wide window directly behind Luciana, throwing a halo around her silhouette while leaving her features darkened, a trick of the light on her retinas rather than a simple shadow. It highlighted the texture of her hair as individual strands, splayed around her head like a crown of fire. She looked absolutely radiant, she was some kind of powerful, ardent goddess. From a purely objective viewpoint, of course.

It was too much for Martina, so she snapped her gaze away before she could become even more entranced, spearing at the pasta on her plate as she listened to her friend alight on a new topic of conversation. Or maybe it wasn't new, and Martina had simply lost track of what they had been talking about.

"He's really grown into himself, hasn't he?" Luciana commented, resting her chin in the palm of her hand and staring off into space just over Martina's right shoulder.

Martina looked behind herself. The only other person in the vicinity was her cousin Sebastián, who was wiping down the counters in the kitchen. "Who are you talking about?" she asked, perplexed.

"Sebas, of course," Luciana replied, giving Martina a strange look. "Who else?"

"I don't know. Sometimes you just ramble on about any stupid little thing that pops into your mind." Martina slid another forkful of food into her mouth, looking up at Luciana through her golden eyelashes. "You could have been talking about the newspaper vendor down the street, for all I know."

Luciana pursed her lips and glared. "What's that supposed to mean? Are you saying I talk too much?"

"Maybe I am."

As soon as Luciana opened her mouth for a sharp retort, she immediately snapped it shut. Her eyes narrowed, and she pointed an accusing finger at Martina. "Don't think I don't know what you're up to. You're trying to derail the conversation."

"I don't know what you're talking about," Martina said, staring with great interest at her lacquered fingernails.

"Sure you don't. So, don't you think so?"

"Think so about what?"

"Think that Sebas has really grown into himself," Luciana cried in irritation.

In the kitchen, Sebastián looked up briefly from his work and asked, "Are you two talking about me behind my back?"

Luciana threw him her most charming smile, the one where she showed off her sparkling teeth and tilted her head just so. "Of course not, Sebinho," she cooed, winking for good measure.

It wasn't her best smile, Martina thought offhandedly, just the one she only ever used when she was trying to play coy or was lying, so obviously faked that Martina was clueless as to how other people could fall for it. The one she used with Martina was much more genuine. And beautiful. For a moment, Martina wondered why exactly she could recognize the differences in her smiles, but then Luciana cleared her throat. She was still waiting for an answer.

"I don't even know what that's supposed to mean, 'grown into himself.' Do you need some remedial Spanish lessons or something?"

Luciana scowled. "That's - I don' Spanish is-" Her jaw clenched a bit, and her eyes lowered briefly before she looked back up at Martina and sighed. "I meant that he's grown more handsome. Don't you think so?"

"If you like gangly limbed four-eyes, I suppose," Martina replied, shrugging in what she hoped was a nonchalant manner. Somehow this conversation was aggravating her, but she wasn't quite sure why.

"Well, I think his new glasses make him look sophisticated," Luciana countered, tapping her cheek in thought. "Plus it looks like he's not even trying to look good. Unlike someone I know." There was that wink again, but this time she smiled for real, the skin around her eyes crinkling, and the one dimple in her cheek puckering in. She showed far too many teeth, the expression made her look so absurd and stupid, and Martina couldn't look at her, or she might do something absurd or stupid.

"You shut your mouth," she spat instead. "You don't know what you're talking about."

"I was just kidding. Geez, you're acting weird today," Luciana said, dropping her fork on her plate. "Well, weirder than normal, at least. What's your problem? Seriously, I'm not trying to make fun of you, I mean, you say it about yourself all the time, and besides, you just made fun of me, so we're even-"

"That's not it."

"Of course it counts, you just said I couldn't speak your stupid language."

"No, that's not what I-"

"Yes it is, you-"

"Would you just shut up and listen already?" Martina demanded. "Quit talking about my cousin like that."

Recognition lit up in Luciana's face, and her eyes grew sly. "Oh, so you don't like it when I talk about Sebas and his sexy glasses?"

Martina glared back. "You know what? No, I don't like it. So shut up." There was vitriol in her voice, enough to make Luciana jump.

"Calm down already. I'll stop if you really want me to."

"Yeah, like you can manage to keep your fat mouth shut for more than two seconds-"

She knew she'd gone too far when Luciana clapped a hand over her full, dark lips and widened her eyes as if she had just been slapped. She could have apologized there, could have told her that she had only meant that Luciana talked too much, could have wondered aloud how someone so beautiful could be so self-conscious about their appearance. There were so many options available to quickly resolve the situation, but Martina sat wordlessly by as the passing insult festered in her friend's mind.

"Fine," Luciana shouted, her voice rising enough that Sebastián's hand paused in its strokes across the counter. She stood up, pushing her chair back with a loud screech, and gathered her belongings. "I'm leaving. I hope you get over yourself by tomorrow because I'm still coming over to see that stupid French movie with you." With that she stormed out of the room, slamming the front door behind her with a loud thunk. Martina flinched at the sound but otherwise made no move.

"So you were talking about me," Sebastián said, coming over to push Luciana's chair back into its spot at the table and picking up her plate and silverware.

"Oh, leave me alone," Martina snapped. With a roll of his eyes, Sebastián and went back to the kitchen to clean the dishes.

Martina wasn't sure what to make of the incident. In fact, she'd actually been looking forward to seeing Luciana that afternoon, even going so far as to reschedule a salon appointment when she'd found out that Luciana had managed to get off work, but when Luciana came, all she seemed to want to talk about were men: some tall and handsome man with slicked back hair she'd seen on the bus ride over, a college student with tattoos at the coffee shop, hell, even a man in a swimsuit she'd seen on a billboard, and to top it all off, Sebastián.

Why can't she have the decency to pay attention to me when she's over here? she thought, gnawing at her lip.

But the real problem here wasn't Luciana's inexplicable fixation on men - Martina was sure she wouldn't be so put out if this were really just about random men they didn't know. It was her sudden fixation on Sebastián. Again.

When they were in middle school, Luciana had moved to Buenos Aires with her parents, and Martina's cousin became quickly caught up in her hurricane of energy. Back then, Sebastián had been much leaner and lankier, a little too slight for his age, and his thin, chin-length hair had given him a softer, more feminine look that belied the hard angles of the man he would grow up to be. On the other hand, Luciana had looked like a little Brazilian demon with big, sparkling dark eyes and wild, curly hair that stuck out where it wanted to and seemed to have a personality of its own. Granted, her hair was still rather wild, but now she at least attempted to wrangle it into a manageable shape. Luciana had climbed trees and caught frogs and tracked mud everywhere she went, and somehow she'd managed to drag Sebastián into her shenanigans, much to Martina's dismay.

To Martina, it was as if a stranger had come and kidnapped one of her best friends, and she wasn't going to take it lying down. Intent on sabotaging their relationship, she used every excuse in the book to make Sebastián miss his little 'dates', erased every message on the answering machine from Luciana, and spread nasty rumors about her around school, so that their classmates were left wondering if Luciana really had that many diseases and if she'd really ever eaten human flesh in the rain forest. Luciana had simply laughed off the rumors with hard, flat eyes, and they found themselves in equilibrium.

She seethed whenever she saw the pair holding hands, and when Sebastián confirmed that they had kissed behind the school, she snuck into Luciana's backpack and ripped apart one of her books, the thick one with the dog-eared pages in Portuguese that she always carried with her but that Martina had never seen her read.

Luciana had been furious, her eyes sparkling with tears of dismay when she'd seen the shredded pages on her desk at school, and she knew, she knew who the culprit was. So she took a pair of scissors to one of Martina's golden pigtails, and Martina had bawled for an hour straight until her feet and hands went numb from lack of oxygen and she was afraid her eyes would stay permanently red when she'd seen the damage in the bathroom mirror.

While the trip to the headmistress's office had accomplished nothing, it was Sebastián himself who had put an end to the entire affair, declaring that since he didn't want to have to choose a side anymore, he was supporting neither of them in their little childish war. He told them they were acting like brats, and that their stupid pranks would do nothing to win him over. It was a blow for both girls.

But things had happened, big things, and they had changed, so they were different now, right? Okay, there was still a bit of antagonism running between them at times, but wasn't that how everyone's relationships worked? And now it was more like a mildly distracting itch that made them blow up sometimes, nothing like the burning animosity from when they were kids. Still, their spats were usually all Luciana's fault, obviously, because of course she had to go and upset everything with her complete indiscretion -

"Hey," Sebastián said, breaking into Martina's thoughts. "Did Luci tell you that she thought I'm handsome or something?"

"No," Martina spat, snatching up her own plate, stomping over to the kitchen, and dumping the food into the garbage with vigor. "And even if she did, she's a complete oaf, so it's not like her opinion should even matter to anyone."

"Right," Sebastián responded.

"Shut up."

He sighed, and snatched the plate and fork from her hands as she was scraping them against each other. "Stop before you break something." Martina scowled at him as he ran the dishes under the faucet and gently rinsed the excess food from them, rubbing with exasperation at the scratch marks she had left on the plate. "Now what's this all about?"

"What's what all about?" Martina asked, leaning back against the counter with her arms crossed in front of her chest. "Her stupid head's so full of brigadeiros that she doesn't listen to anything I say and makes up her own interpretations."

Sebastián turned around to look at her. "That's not what I'm talking about. You got mad before that, when you were talking about me. What, are you jealous?"

"Jealous of what?" she cried.

"Do I even need to answer that? It's like middle school all over again. You know, when Luci and I were pseudo-dating?" He rolled his eyes when Martina pursed her lips.

She hated when he was too perceptive, which was practically all the time.

He continued. "With one notable difference." With a raised eyebrow, he contemplated Martina for a moment. "I don't understand; you usually jump right into things without thinking. What's holding you back this time?"

"What the hell are you talking about?" Martina growled, stamping her foot. The sound that the bare skin of her sole made when slapping against the kitchen tiles was not nearly satisfying enough, so she turned around and stomped out of the room and down the hall to her bedroom.

"I'm glad we had this conversation," Sebastián called from the kitchen.

Martina slammed the door of her room. Sometimes she regretted moving in with her cousins, especially when all she really wanted was to be alone with herself. She flopped down on the bed face first and let out a groan. With an outstretched arm, her searching fingers found the folded, Day-Glo yellow tank top lying at the foot of her bed. She brought it to her face before flinging it across the room. Stupid Luciana. The woman had spilled sauce all over herself a few days back, and though Martina had initially laughed at her for her clumsiness, she'd eventually given in and let her borrow a clean shirt while she washed the stained one. She'd told Luciana that it was because she couldn't bear to let people think that she was associating with someone who would walk around with big brown blotches on their clothes, but really, as she'd turned around red-faced when Luciana had peeled the top off and slipped into a borrowed one from Martina's closet, she was forced to admit to herself that she might have given in because she didn't like to see Luciana pout like that. So she'd washed the top, or rather made Sebastián wash it - he was better at stain removal - and had folded it and left it in her room to give back to Luciana, but then Luciana had gone and been a stupid, insufferable, man-crazy imbecile, and Martina really wanted to rip it up or stain it permanently or -

No, she didn't want that. She wanted Luciana to come back so they could lie on her bed and listen to music or maybe just talk, and Luciana would look so surprised and happy when Martina gave her back the clean shirt, and Martina would tell her that she wanted the atrocity out of her house, but in reality she hoped that Luciana would wear it again soon because it made her look as bright as the sun.

She was still being purely objective, of course.

Next Chapter

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melissa_42: drawn woman in a sweater (Default)

January 2012

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