Characters/Pairings: America, Russia (with past Russia/America), OC!Alaska, and with Japan, England, and OC!Hawaii in supporting roles.
Rating: T for Teen, to be on the safe side.
Warnings: Implied past mpreg, misadventurers with alien technology, little kid OCs, hints of dark themes. This is set in the 1960s, so there's some anti-Communist rhetoric from America. This is actually about as safe and heartwarming as I come.
Summary: De-anon from the kink meme. Alaska's other dad isn't there for his eighth birthday -- so Alaska reasons that if Russia can't come to him, he'll go to Russia. America reacts as expected.
X-posted to russiamerica
"Dad? Wake up, Dad."
"Mmmm?" America cracked open one eye, blinked hard, then cautiously opened the other to look up at the earnest, hopeful face of his youngest son. "Is it morning already?" America mumbled as he sat up in the bed, rubbing the sleep from his eyes. The cold air stung his skin; he wanted nothing more than to dive back beneath his warm, comforting blankets.
Alaska snuggled closer to him, his tiny but warm body molding to America's own. "It's my birthday today, Dad," he reminded America in his soft little voice.
America kissed the top of his head and ruffled Alaska's hair fondly. "It sure is," he agreed. "What would you like for breakfast? Pancakes?"
"With blueberries?" Alaska's eyes lit up.
America stretched, then climbed from the bed. Alaska held up his arms to be picked up, and America obliged. Still clad in their pajamas, they headed for the kitchen.
"Hawaii's still asleep," Alaska told America as they padded down the stairs.
"That's okay," America said. "She can sleep for awhile longer. This morning will just be you and me, right?"
Alaska nuzzled his face to America's chest. America felt a little pang; Alaska and Hawaii had been born almost nine months apart, so for Alaska's entire life it had never been just him and America. Even when Hawaii wasn't demanding attention there was always something -- some crisis, some meeting, somewhere to be, something that needed doing. To steal a few hours for his son's birthday where it could be just the two of them... it wasn't fair to Alaska that so little time had been made for him.
As they entered the kitchen, America swung Alaska up, up, up then brought him down and rubbed their cheeks together, first the left side and then the right. Alaska squealed and wiggled. "Your face is scratchy, Dad!" he said, before giggling helplessly.
America rubbed at his unshaven face. "Maybe I'm turning into a beast!" He growled to hear Alaska giggle again. "Hey, that reminds me..." He sat his son down in a chair, then turned to open one of the top cabinets. He pulled out a box with a big red bow. "Your uncle Canada found this for you, so when you see him next time you gotta tell him what?"
"That I love him this much!" Alaska cried, flinging his arms out as wide as they would go. He looked so adorable in his pajamas with his tossled fair hair that America couldn't resist giving him the box with the big red bow right then and there.
"Happy birthday, kiddo," America said as he dropped to one knee and kissed Alaska on the cheek.
Alaska was so excited to tear open the gift that he didn't think to kiss America back or tell him 'thank you.' Bits of brightly colored wrapping paper flew into the air as Alaska tore open the the box and popped the lid off. "Oh!" Alaska gasped as he looked into the box, his eyes wide.
"Do you like it?" America asked anxiously.
Alaska pulled out a soft brown stuffed bear, then clutched it to his chest. "I love it!" he told America, his little hands caressing the fake fur. "Uncle Canada got me this?"
"He sure did. It's a Russian brown bear."
"A Russian brown bear," Alaska repeated, and then he snuggled the toy to his chest. Ever since he could talk, Alaska would beg America for gifts from "my papa's country". He was mad for anything Russian, anything that could remind him of the father he'd never met. It drove America crazy trying to find him something appropriately Russian for a gift. Last year he'd even bought Alaska some of those little Russian nesting dolls, expecting that they would be played with once and then stuck in their box and forgotten, but surprisingly Alaska kept them in a place of honor on his desk and handled them with more gentleness than one would expect from a seven-year-old boy.
"What's my papa's human name?" Alaska asked.
"Then that's my bear's name, too," declared Alaska. He hugged the bear and examined its button eyes and pinched its soft little ears while America clattered about with the stove and pancake batter. As he poured the batter onto the smoking skillet, America stole glances at his son and Ivan-bear, and felt another pang.
His other children all knew their fathers (or mother, in the case of the half-dozen he'd had with Mexico); in fact, their other parents often quarrelled over them, bragging about who's children were the most beautiful, the smartest, the most talented. Only America played no favorites -- only he had to love them all equally. But it was only Alaska that he had to love enough for two.
It wasn't that he regretted keeping Russia away from Alaska -- what was he supposed to do, anyway? Let Russia rock Alaska's cradle with one hand while keeping the other hovering over the red button? But no matter how much America hated Russia -- hated his evil, paranoid, red red red politics -- he wouldn't turn Alaska against Russia. He wouldn't teach their son to hate him. He wondered if things had been different, if Russia would've been as considerate.
Alaska sat up eagerly in his chair as America approached with blueberry pancakes. Ivan-bear remained in his lap, the red bow adorning his neck. Even as Alaska grabbed for his fork, he asked, "You did send my papa my letter, right?"
"I sure did," America assured him, placing a stack of pancakes on Alaska's plate. "Santa Claus promised it'd get to him by his Christmas." Finland didn't particularly like carrying Alaska's yearly letters to Russia, but America trusted him to get them there.
Alaska rested his chin on his hand. "Do you think he'll write me back this year?"
"I dunno, kiddo," said America softly. "I know he wants to. But you know the Communists won't let him, just like they won't let him come visit you."
"But one day he will, right?" Alaska asked, looking up at his parent anxiously. "When the Communists are gone?"
"One day," America told him. After a moment he cleared his throat and said, "C'mon, dig in. Our pancakes are getting cold!"
Alaska smiled. "Not awesome!"
They ate their breakfast, America only half paying attention to his food. Instead, he studied his son, marveling that it had been eight years already. His little ones aged at almost the same rate as human children until their aging stalled out at about sixteen or seventeen (his eldest, Virginia, could pass for America's twin sister) but that meant was that childhood was as fleeting for their kind as it was for humans.
America had forty-nine other children living, and he knew every one of them in ways that only a parent could know them. With the memory of an immortal, he could recall exactly the scent of their skin as babies; the many scrapes he had kissed away for teary-eyed toddlers; and each and every first word. He even had abilities no human parent had ever been blessed with -- America had known the moment each of his children had been conceived, and even now, if he closed his eyes and concentrated, he could feel in his bones where each of them was standing on this earth.
But even so, this youngest son of his was, in some ways, a mystery even to him. From time to time Alaska would go quiet and tilt his head to the side, as though listening to the faraway sound of one of his Snowy Owls flying on hushed wings over the tundra. All of America's other children had been born roaring like lion cubs, waving their tiny fists in indignation, but Alaska had come into this world blue and silent.
A polite rapping at the door, and Alaska looked up from his plate. "I think that's Hawaii's dad," he said.
America checked his watch. "Right on time."
"I'll let him in," Alaska said, hopping from his chair and bounding for the door.
Alaska had always been fascinated with Japan, the only one among his siblings' fathers who visited their home regularly (in all fairness, this was because his other siblings lived in their own homes now, and were visited by their fathers there). When he was very little, Alaska had thought Japan, with his delicate features and long kimono, was a girl and had called him "Miss Japan" until America, laughing, finally convinced him that Japan was Hawaii's dad and not her mother.
Sure enough, Japan was standing at the door. "Good morning, obo-chan," he told Alaska, with a polite nod of the head.
"G'morning, Mr. Japan," Alaska replied. "Are you here to pick up Hawaii?"
"I am," Japan replied. America waved at him, and Japan responded with a bow.
"Hey, let's go get dressed," America said, taking Alaska by the hand. "Japan is taking Hawaii for the day, so you and me are going ice-skating."
"Really?" Alaska's eyes lit up. "Can I bring Ivan?"
Japan's brow quirked slightly, which for him was a sign of great dismay. America chuckled softly and said, "Ivan is the name of the bear."
"Dad, can I?" pleaded Alaska, plucking at America's sleeve.
"He can ride in the car," America promised him as they made their way back upstairs, followed by Japan. "But he can't go on the ice."
"Awww," Alaska pouted. He patted Ivan-bear on the head, as though consoling him.
Japan disappeared into Hawaii's room, and a few moments later America and Alaska heard her shriek of delight. "Otou-san!" Although he couldn't see them, America knew that right now his youngest daughter had thrown her arms around Japan's neck, her little feet dangling as Japan lifted her out of her bed.
Alaska's pout had deepened into a frown, and he clutched Ivan-bear to him. America, who could read no one but for his children, saw the look on Alaska's face was not so much jealously as longing for something which he'd never had.
Quickly he caught the boy up in his arms, babbling something ridiculous about all the ice-skating they were going to do, and carried him into his bedroom to change. They bundled into scarves and mittens and coats (even Ivan-bear wore a tiny coat borrowed from one of Hawaii's dolls) and after exchanging good mornings and happy birthdays and goodbyes with Japan and Hawaii, they piled into America's car.
"Dad," Alaska said as America buckled him in, "if my papa can't come to see me, could I go to visit him?"
America stuck the key in the ignition, silently cursing Russia for putting him in this position, faced with a child's innocent question without an easy answer. "Kiddo, I don't think that's a good idea."
"Because of the communists?"
"Yeah. They won't let you see him, and even if they did, they wouldn't let you come back home. They'd make you stay there and use you for -- for propaganda." America slowly backed out of their driveway and into the street, glancing from the rear-view mirror to his son's face every few seconds.
Alaska's face crumpled. "Why do they have to ruin everything?" he said. "Why doesn't my papa get rid of them?"
"He's trying, he's been trying for a long time," America lied. "Communism is like an infection. It's like he's been sick for years and years, since even before you were born. That's why we have to be so vigilant when it comes to communism, because it spreads like a disease."
Alaska took a deep breath and held it for a few moments. "Okay," he said, and then in a softer voice that America couldn't hear over the traffic, "but what if the communists didn't know I was there?"
They parked beside a frozen lake surrounded by trees groaning under their burdens of snow. America was glad to see they were the only people there; his children liked playing with human kids, but being around humans always meant uncomfortable questions and having to remind his little states to call him "Alfred". One consequence of his eternal youth was that he didn't look old enough to buy a beer, much less be the parent of a school-aged child. Alaska looked and acted a year or two younger than he was, but even so America couldn't pass for his father. Long ago, back in 1822, when America had six children under the age of seven, he had tried growing a beard to look older, but only succeeded in looking like a youth with wispy facial hair.
Alaska was first on the ice, as always; he had the natural ability of one born to skate. America glided after him, laughing as Alaska skated circles around him and even slid through his legs. Alaska grinned ear to ear, his cheeks very red, clearly having the time of his life. The only sounds were their voices and the hiss of skates on ice.
When they were both too tired to skate any more, America and Alaska sat on the edge of the lake, side by side, tugging loose laces and pulling off one another's hats to see their hair stick up every-which-way. Alaska was so tuckered out that America ended up carrying him to the car, buckling him in next to Ivan-bear.
"Dad," Alaska said, then paused to yawn. "This was the best birthday ever."
"Thanks, kiddo," America told him, pinching Alaska's nose to see him wrinkle it in response. America had nightmares sometimes about Russia meeting Alaska and saying vicious, evil things to him, saying that Alaska wasn't his, that he didn't love him -- but God, Alaska even had Russia's nose. There was no denying him.
Alaska dozed off before he even got the car cranked back up, Ivan-bear snug in his lap, his pale lashes touching his cheeks. America sighed as he began the drive back home. Russia, you don't know what you're missing out on.
They pulled into the driveway to see a large box, almost ten feet high and six feet wide, sitting on the front lawn of America's house. Alaska yawned as America unbuckled him and woke him up, and then he gaped in amazement. "What's that?"
"Something Tony's been working on," America said, sitting Alaska down and prying open the front of the box. "It's an experimental weather balloon, using alien technology to make it undetectable by radar -- wow! Look at it!"
'It' was a cylindrical tube with an end that swung open to reveal a compartment filled with buttons and screens. This, America explained, was where all the specialized equipment would go eventually. "This is just the prototype," he said. "But it's amazing! Look, these tubes connect to this foil stuff here to inflate it -- that's the balloon. It'll go higher and stay aloft longer than any other balloon."
"But why does it need to be undetectable?" Alaska asked, peering inside. He was small enough to crawl into the compartment and examine all the buttons and switches.
"Because sometimes balloons like this fly into hostile territory," America went on. "And we don't want someone thinking its a spy plane and shooting it down... hey look, these vents allow us to control its movement. The onboard computer can make the balloon navigate! Tony really outdid himself with this one."
Alaska crawled back out of the compartment. "How far can it go?"
"This prototype can manage an Atlantic crossing, or at least that's what Tony thinks," America said proudly as he closed the box again. "We'll be able to track hurricanes in the ocean!"
America with his super-strength easily carried the box into the garage for safe-keeping, and with that safely stored they headed inside the house.
In the living room, they found Japan and Hawaii on the sofa, watching Captain Kangaroo. Or at least they had been, as Japan and Hawaii had fallen asleep in one another's arms, Hawaii sprawled across Japan's lap, her head tucked under his chin, Japan curled around her protectively. In sleep, father and daughter had the same serene expressions.
America tiptoed over and turned off the television, then felt a little hand plucking at his sleeve. Alaska took his hand and whispered, "I love you, Dad."
"Hey," America said, with a fond crooked smile. "Ditto, kiddo."
Alaska stuck his head under the faucet, washing away the shampoo from his hair. "All done?" asked his dad as he strolled into the bathroom holding a stack of towels fresh and hot from the dryer.
"Yep," said Alaska cheerfully, pushing wet hair from his face. "I even got behind my ears."
"That's my good boy," America said, lifting him from the bathtub and wrapping him in a towel. Alaska giggled as his dad rubbed him from his shoulders to the top of his head, making damp tendrils of hair stick up everywhere. His dad put the rest of the towels in the cabinet while Alaska tugged on his pajamas.
"Dad," Alaska said as America swept him up into his arms and gave him a kiss on the cheek. "Dad... do you love Mr. Japan?"
America almost choked at that. "Wh-why do you ask?"
Alaska chewed at his lower lip. When he was very little, he had hoped that Mr. Japan would come to stay, and they could all live together and be a family just like on television. But Mr. Japan had never treated him with anything other than politeness, and slowly Alaska came to understand that he would always just be Hawaii's dad, not his, too. But he was hesitant to tell his dad all of this -- want if Dad wanted Mr. Japan to come live with them one day? Alaska didn't want to make him upset. "Well, you and Mr. Japan have Hawaii. And, um, don't you need love to have a baby?"
America strolled from the bathroom into the living room in silence, as though taking his time to come up with an answer. "I care a lot about Japan, but I don't love him the way I love you and your brothers and sisters. We're not in love, forever love." He sat Alaska down on the floor then began fiddling with the radio on the shelf.
"But you do need love to have a baby? Right?"
America licked his bottom lip, a habit he only had when he was asked a question he didn't want to answer. "No, kiddo. You don't need love to make babies," he admitted finally. He twisted the dial until he came to a station still playing Christmas music.
This revelation made Alaska's chest tighten. He gulped for a deep breath, all at once wanting America's comfort but also not wanting his dad to notice his distress. "Does -- does that mean you don't love my papa?" he asked.
America went still, his hands braced on the wall on either side of the shelf. Suddenly it seemed like the clock ticked very loudly; Alaska stood quietly, regretting his question. At last, his dad turned and knelt next to him, one hand on Alaska's shoulder. "Son... your father and I, we... we don't always get along. But I will always be so grateful to have you. So, yeah, I love him for giving you to me. Okay?"
"Okay," said Alaska in a whisper of a voice. America kissed him on the forehead even as Bing Crosby's voice melted on the last lyric of "I'll Be Home For Christmas."
"Heh," his dad said, standing and reaching for the radio. "That reminds me -- your father's Christmas will be in a couple of days. Crazy Russkies with their crazy calendars."
Alaska yawned and said, "I'm going to bed, dad."
"Do you want me to tuck you in?"
Alaska shook his head and smiled lopsidedly. "Nah, I can do it." He padded back to his room and climbed into bed, where Ivan-bear was waiting for him, perched on a pillow. Down the hall, he could hear America switching between scratchy, static-filled radio stations, before finally settling on one playing something that sounded faintly like Sinatra. Sighing, Alaska pulled Ivan-bear close and curled up in the cool sheets. Instead of singing along with Sinatra, he began murmuring, very low and softly to himself, "...if only in my dreams..."
The morning after his birthday, Alaska awoke with a plan.
If his papa couldn't come to see him -- and America couldn't send him to Russia -- why couldn't he meet with Russia in secret? He thought it over during breakfast and the plan just seemed better and better. The Communists couldn't keep him if they never knew he was there.
The biggest problem, of course, was that there was no way he could just sneak off to the Soviet Union without his dad finding out. Even a little kid like Hawaii knew that Russia lived far away and it would take many hours just to get to him, much less to get back. Alaska thought this part over while watching television with his sister. He knew without a doubt that America would never say yes to his plan, but then, didn't his dad always say it was better to ask forgiveness than ask permission?
Over the rest of the day, Alaska thought out every detail. He would take the balloon -- there was plenty of room for him to ride inside, and he could program it to carry him to Moscow. The Commies would never see him coming in the balloon, and after he met Russia he could get back inside and take it home. He could fly away at night while America was asleep, leaving a letter behind explaining everything so his dad didn't worry. No matter how he looked at it, Alaska couldn't think of a flaw in his plan.
"Scoot over," Hawaii whined dramatically, pushing at her brother. "You're blocking the TV!"
"You sit too close to it," Alaska warned her ominously. "It'll make you go blind."
Hawaii rolled her eyes and then flopped down on her belly in front of the TV, placing a pad of paper and a fistful of crayons before her. Bored with cartoons, Alaska looked through the crumpled papers she'd already colored. Hawaii had drawn some cartoon characters -- another page was covered in crudely-drawn horses, or maybe they were puppies -- and then a magnificent family portrait of her holding hands with both America and Japan. Alaska knew it was them because Hawaii had drawn herself wearing her favorite flower-print dress. America was colored entirely in bright red, but he was the tallest and had a big smile. Japan wore one of his long dresses and was colored purple.
There was no Alaska in the picture.
Alaska carefully placed the drawing back in the pile of Hawaii's other drawings. His sister didn't notice; she was already hard at work on a picture of an elephant with wings. He quietly stood up and retreated to his room.
There Alaska found a small knapsack that he took with him when he and his dad went on hikes. He emptied it out and stuffed in a clean shirt and a compass. Then he went to the kitchen and made a couple of sandwiches, and added those to the knapsack, too.
"Alaska!" called his dad's voice from downstairs. "Come down for lunch!"
"Okay," he replied, sticking his head out of his bedroom door. "I'll be right there!" Alaska stashed the knapsack under the bed and then ran down to join his father and sister.
At the table, over a plate piled high with hamburgers, America asked his children, "You'll be back at school tomorrow. Feeling good about it?"
I'll be in the Soviet Union tomorrow, thought Alaska, but he chewed thoughtfully and swallowed before saying, "Yeah, really good."
Alaska waited until he was sure his dad and Hawaii were both safely asleep, and then he put his cunning plan into action.
First, to buy himself as much time as possible, he needed to make sure his dad slept in the next morning. He accomplished this by tip-toeing into America's room and unplugging the alarm clock. America was almost as heavy a sleeper as Uncle Canada, and it'd probably be nearly noon before he woke up on his own. Alaska placed a letter explaining the situation on the pillow next to America's head. He didn't want his dad to freak out or anything when he woke up and found him gone.
Alaska then carried his bear and knapsack into the garage and stowed them safely inside the ballon. Now came the hard part: getting the balloon out of the garage and getting it airborn.
Alaska, like all of America's children, had inherited some of his parent's superhuman strength, but even so he couldn't lift and carry a balloon as big as this. Instead, he first opened the garage door, then got behind the balloon and pushed it out onto the driveway. This took the better part of half an hour and left him sweaty and exhausted, but now there was room to inflate the balloon and an open sky to fly it in. He changed into a clean sweater and coat, put his mittens in his pocket, and climbed inside the balloon. The control panel was simple enough; Alaska typed in 'Moscow, Soviet Union', then flipped the switches marked 'Engage'.
He sat back and held his breath expectantly. For a few minutes all Alaska heard was the whir-whir of the engines cutting on, and then a sudden jerk as the balloon lifted into the air. Alaska yelped a little as the balloon scraped against the branches of a tree, but moments later they were too high for trees to be a nuisance. He peered out the tiny porthole and watched as his house got smaller and smaller and finally faded into the inky dark and the glare of electric lights. The balloon floated along, following a highway for a time and then went aloft over the ccean, and all Alaska could see was the perfect darkness of the Atlantic at midnight.
For the first hour or so, Alaska was too excited to sleep, but finally tiredness caught up to him. He made a little pallet with his coat and curled up, Ivan-bear beside him. As he dozed off, Alaska smiled and thought, I wish I had some way to let my papa know I'm coming...
America yawned and stretched, and after a few moments two things occured to him: first, that it was much too bright outside for seven in the morning, and secondly, that he had not been awakened by the wail of his alarm clock. He turned his head and blinked blearily in the direction of his clock, only to find that it was off. America picked it up, and found the plug dangling uselessly behind it. Groaning, he groped for his glasses, and having put them on, picked up his wristwatch from the bedside table and glared at it as though all this were its fault.
His blue eyes went comically wide. "Eleven forty-five!" he said aloud. "Oh man, the kids are so late for school." He'd have to drop them off before going to his office, and now he was behind on paperwork, too. Great, just great.
America sat up in bed and rubbed his eyes. Something crinkled next to him, and he looked down to see a folded piece of paper caught between the pillow and the quilt. He plucked it out, then opened it up and scanned the page. He reached the end of the message, then went back and reread it again more quickly.
In Alaska's blocky little-kid scrawl, it read:
I took the
When Alaska awoke and peered out of the porthole to see land, the sun was already hanging low over the horizon. He had chased the night across the ocean.
Suddenly, the balloon pitched, and Alaska yelped and flailed for a handhold. What was wrong?! The flight had been smooth across the Atlantic, and there wasn't a storm outside. Was something wrong with the balloon?
Alaska's stomach lurched as the balloon lost altitude. The intruments were going haywire, whirring and blinking, and Alaska could do nothing but grab Ivan-bear and brace for impact.
The balloon touched down with a solid bump, but after a moment Alaska lifted his head and realized that he was alive and unharmed. He opened the hatch and clambered out.
He had landed on a cliffside overlooking the crashing waves of the Atlantic. Dazed, Alaska turned to see a small cottage almost hidden behind a wall of flowering plants; the garden was much better maintained than the shabby but cozy looking house. It was the sort of cottage that grandmothers lived in on TV, Alaska thought.
The cottage door flew open and a man stormed out, swatting furiously at things Alaska couldn't see. He had yellow hair like America, but a different shade, and bushy eyebrows. Alaska was staring at him, anxiously trying to think of a reason that he had landed beside his cottage in a balloon, when the stranger said, "Shoo, you lot! Yes, I see the boy! Yes, I know he's America's! I should bloody well know, I saw him when he was just a toddler a few years ago. What was that -- I shouldn't talk that way in front of a child? Bloody hell."
Alaska gawked at him. The stranger continued debating with thin air, barely glancing at Alaska or his balloon.
"Um, 'scuse me," Alaska said, plucking at the stranger's sleeve. "Can you tell me where I am?"
"Where you are?" The stranger blinked at him, his invisible friends momentarily forgotten. "You landed in my tulip patch, that's where you are! Not that it's entirely your fault, mind, some of it was Thwistlewaite's doing..."
Alaska looked down and saw to his dismay that both he and his balloon were standing atop a bed of very crushed tulips. "I'm sorry," he said, flushing with embarassment. "I didn't mean to squash your flowers." He wondered who this 'Thwistlewaite' person was that the stranger was talking to, and how you spelled 'Thwistlewaite', anyway.
"Yes, well, your father shouldn't let you lot fly around in balloons," the stranger said as he sat down and regarded the sad remains of his tulips. "It took a lot of magic to keep these blooming all winter. Never mind that now -- Thwistlewaite, tell the young gentleman you're sorry."
Several moments passed before Alaska hesitantly asked, "Wh-who're you talking to?"
"Thwistlewaite said he's sorry," the stranger informed him grandly. "And I'm talking to my fairies."
"Of course! Who do you think brought your balloon here?"
Fairies would've been Alaska's last guess, for sure. "What's your name, mister?"
"You don't know? Of course not, you were such a little thing last time I saw you. Goodness, but you grew to look like your father -- I mean Russia of course, you like quite a bit like America, but there's no denying you're Russia's child. What was America thinking. Anyway, my name is England, part of the United Kingdom and all that." He tipped an imaginary hat to Alaska.
Alaska recognized the name; Mr. England had raised his dad years and years and years ago. "Um, may I use your bathroom? And maybe have a glass of milk?"
England eyed him up and down. "You need a cup of tea, that's what you need." He stood and dusted off his pants. "Come along, then. The WC is the second door on the right."
Alaska sat down and had a cup of tea with England, followed by something curious-looking that had probably once been seafood but was now jellied and gooey. Alaska hid most of it in his napkin. Even though the food was gross, Mr. England wasn't so bad, even though he kept pausing to fuss or gush at one of his fairies.
"Run along now," England told him after they'd washed up. "The fairies will let you fly off, I've made sure of that."
"Thank you for the dinner," Alaska told him solemnly. This was certainly the oddest dinner he'd ever had, and he had forty-nine brothers and sisters, so that was saying something. "Goodbye Mr. England, and goodbye to your... friends." He climbed back in his balloon and closed the hatch securely.
As the balloon rose into the air, England waved to Alaska, then startled a bit as his phone began to ring from inside the cottage. "I'm coming, I'm coming," he grumbled, stomping back inside. "No, Thwistlewaite, we're not going to 'keep' him. He's a boy not a puppy! Besides, can you imagine what Russia would think -- well I bloody well can and it's not a pleasant thought --"
The phone rang insistantly.
"All right, all right! 'Ello... Bloody Yank, what do you want? What? What do you mean, he stole the balloon and left to find Russia...?"
In his conference room in the White House, America sat slumped across a desk, his head buried in his arms.
After reading Alaska's letter, he had rapidly cycled through several stages in quick succession: disbelief, shock, horror, and finally, utter panic. He'd had just enough presence of mind to call his eldest daughter, Virginia, to come over and keep Hawaii for him; he was in no shape to look after her. America had then rushed to the White House to inform his president and Alaska's governor of the state's disappearance.
"Ah, calm down now, Alfred," his president told him, clearly dismayed by America's uncharacteristically terrified expression. "I'm sure little Alaska will be all right. Besides, aren't all fifty of your children immortal?"
Tears spilled from America's eyes. "Fifty-three," he said.
"Fifty-three. I had fifty-three children."
His president blinked rapidly. "But there's only fifty states."
"I had fifty-three children." America's voice wavered. "We're not immortal, just... hard to kill. And if the Commies get their hands on him -- if they do anything to him -- I d-don't know what I'm gonna do."
After that, there'd been nothing to do but start calling the others -- his other states already knew about Alaska's disappearance, thanks to Virginia, and that meant that Canada and Mexico were the next to know, thanks to the children they had in common with America. The message had gotten somewhat garbled by the time it reached them, because Canada called America first, in a panic, thinking that Russia was trying to kidnap their children. Mexico responded by issuing an ominous warning that she would consider any threat against one of her children to be a threat against herself. It had taken America almost half an hour to talk her down.
In the midst of all that, America felt the link he shared with Alaska, the same link he shared with all his children, which meant that Alaska was alive. And then the link grew stronger, which meant that Alaska had made footfall somewhere... England. America had lurched for the phone, trying to dial England's number, which would've been easier had his hands not shook so much.
A near-miss -- Alaska had just flown off again. America calculated that he had about four hours before Alaska and his balloon arrived in Moscow. And that meant there was only one person left to call.
America picked up the red telephone.
Author's Note: The 53 children America refers to include, besides his 50 extant states, the defunct states of Franklin (1784-1788), Deseret (1849-1851), and Absaroka (1939).