Characters: America, England, Canada, Russia, China, France, Japan, and others. (In this chapter: England, Canada, China, Russia, and a few OCs)
Rating: PG 13 for minor violence
Warnings: Human names and OCs and eventual character death.
Summary: It's a troubling time, where just being an everyday citizen is rough, it's even harder for the nations who carry the burdens of all of their people. So much that they start to get sick. But what if they couldn't get better? What if the nations themselves begin to change as their people's fears turn into madness?
This chapter: Some downtime doesn't always mean it'll be relaxing.
(I have a new icon. Swanky, eh? It's AJ, only the picture I found didn't have black eyes, but red will do.)
It was a long night; a night with one less country in the world. It was a strange and alien idea to Matt and kept him awake at night. He was already so weak and tired from the chase earlier that day, but he was under too much stress to even close his eyes. He was gone, his brother, his annoying, obnoxious, over bearing big brother. The same one who was the only guy to constantly have his back. He was no longer in this world.
It was too quiet.
"Matt?" The Canadian jumped as he looked over to see Arthur stick his head in the bedroom. It was the middle of the night and yet Arthur looked less ready to sleep than Matt did. "Well thank Mary you're still breathing...I'm going to go gray from all of this stress... Are you feeling better?"
"No…" His voice wobbled in his throat, but he forced it to be calm. "He's gone…"
Arthur winced at Matt's words, the sheer fact of his statement sinking in. He hadn't really thought of Alfred's passing, not listening to any of the news reports or watched as the country burned. He refused to believe that everything Alfred worked for, everything so many citizens died for had been crushed over night. He didn't want to think that he had lost a friend. He didn't want to know the world was still tilted to the left.
"I don't know what to say...I mean..." Arthur's voice caught and he had to look away.
It was then he noticed the room they were in. To anyone else it was just a room with four wooden walls, one window, and one door. A small bed and an accompanying nightstand with a basin sitting on it were the only items in the room. It was cold and empty, save for the two nations sitting in silence. But to Arthur, it held so many memories.
Memories of nights tucking in two small blonde heads begging not to go to sleep so early in the day, cradling a crying boy as he sniffled about a scary dream, and of falling asleep beside two babies that were more like brothers. To sum it up, it felt warm and alive to Arthur. It was anything but a room with four wooden walls, one window, and one door with only a bed. It was Alfred and Matthew's old bedroom they shared.
Matt had noticed the room too. He cleared his voice, making Arthur look back to him. "This… is this...? The old...house…?"
Arthur nodded. "You…remember?"
"Of course." Matt looked at the bed sheet, fondling it between his fingers fondly. "You used to tuck us in here after we played all day or were at our studies. How could I forget?"
Arthur looked away. He could feel the weight sinking in, but he pushed it away. He couldn't think Alfred was dead or that he and the others were sick. That a demonic child with black eyes was hunting him and the other nations down, wanting to kill them. He refused to believe that he, the United Kingdom of England and Northern Ireland was hiding in an abandoned cottage that he used to share with his old colonies for fear of his life.
Because if he did, it would be true.
"I'm sorry." Matt's voice broke the silence and startled Arthur.
"You have nothing to be sorry for," Arthur whispered. He tried to smile reassuringly, but where was his confidence when it had been stripped from him?
"I just... I need my...my brother..." It hit Matt then that in the morning, he wouldn't receive his daily texts from Alfred asking him how the pancakes were, whatever that meant. His heart sped up and a hole formed in his stomach. He started to breathe faster, tearing up. "If he fell... then what's...going to happen to us...? I've never been as strong as Alfred... will I fall too...?
Arthur shook his head. "No...NO I won't let this happen to anyone else! I promise you Matthew...we will get through with this."
"I…I hope so…"
It was morning , but no one had slept. Jeff had been put on first watch, Abby listening in on the radio, while the nations were dismissed to other make shift bedrooms. Ivan didn't trust the agents despite Abby's help in rescuing them. He remained on guard at the window, his pipe twirling in his hands. It was the only way to keep his mind focused on those black eyes and that threat rather than his people rising up against him, possibly trying to take him down. Again.
Yao had constantly gotten up in the middle of the night, complaining that he needed more tea or some rice. The supplies were limited so he had to make do, but he was Chinese. Not just Chinese, but China. He could make rocks taste good with enough spices if he wanted to. Still, it wasn't tea or rice he needed.
Sometime during the early morning, Abby had finally risen from her spot in front of the radio and television. Yao, hovering in the background with a fresh cup of tea, watched her. She had bags under her eyes and looked worse off than he did. But then again, he hadn't just lost his entire country to anarchy either.
"Miss Abigail?" Yao asked. He offered her his cup with a small smile. "I think you should rest, aru."
Abigail took the cup, thanking him. "Two more agents are coming. Once they arrive I will rest."
"You need to be at the top of your game." The two had jumped at Ivan's voice joining them from the hallway. He appeared, eyeing Abigail suspiciously. "You're no good to us if you're sluggish from sleep."
"I'll be fine," Abigail replied sternly. "As an agent, I've been trained to be ready at a moment's notice."
She turned her attention to a country less hostile and smiled. "Sir Wang, would you like anything to eat?"
"Aiyah!" Yao threw a fist in the air, his energy coming from seemingly nowhere. "As if I would let a girl like you cook, aru. You saved our lives back there and have been up all night! I can cook, aru!"
Before Abigail could speak, Jeff's head had poked into the room from the window. "Did I hear food? Oh yes and will China cook?"
"Jeff! Show some respect!" Abigail scolded. "You're talking to The People's Republic of China!"
Jeff blushed, embarrassed. "Sorry, ma'am. Er, Sir China, are you cooking?"
"No, he's a guest," Abigail replied.
"I insist I cook, aru!" Yao protested. He could feel his stress aching to get away if he could just get some more ingredients and cook a real meal. "I can cook a feast!"
Ivan rolled his eyes, no longer interested in this conversation. He wasn't hungry. His mind was racing to formulate a plan since the others were not doing the same.
"Ah, but sir, you're a nation," Abigail started, looking distressed.
"And he's 4000 years old. I think he can handle himself," Jeff interrupted.
Abigail turned, huffing. "But we should treat him with respect!"
There were footsteps, stopping at the door that alerted Ivan. "Then treat him with respect and let him cook, Abby."
The agents and Yao looked over. A man in full black camouflage sporting two large guns on his shoulders and many smaller ones attached to his belt stood in the doorway. He had tanned skin and black hair, his dark eyes scanning the room quickly.
"Way to be on look out, Jefferson," the man mumbled.
Jeff blushed more. "Oh oops…"
"Ben!" Abigail exclaimed. She pushed Ivan's water pipe aside as she approached the new man. "This is another agent, Benjamin. He's our weapon's expert."
"Looks like it," Yao mumbled. He eyed the weapons as Ben began to unpack them from his straps.
"Where's Lee?" Jeff asked. He climbed in through the window, obviously giving up trying to keep his post.
Ben shrugged. "You know him. Probably out there 'roughing it' as always. He'll show up when he wants to."
"Just how many agents are coming?" Ivan asked. He lazily picked up one of Ben's weapons, inspecting it. It wasn't because he was interested, no, it was only to make sure the thing worked correctly, that's all.
"Lee will be the final agent," Abigail replied.
Yao couldn't help but look at the arsenal Ben was still taking off of him. "No one knows of this place, right, aru?"
"Nothing to worry about, sir!" Jeff proclaimed enthusiastically. Yao and Ivan looked at him instantly. His tone. It was so similar to Alfred's. "Only the top agents, Sir Jones, Sir Williams, and Sir Kirkland know of this place. Well, now you guys do too."
Ben looked at Jeff, forcing back a slight smile. "I'm surprised. It's almost six and you are without food?"
Jeff groaned, holding his stomach. "I know! I'm starving!"
"Aiyah!" Yao slapped his hands to his face, suddenly remembering his mission. "I was going to cook, aru!"
"We don't have much food," Abigail started.
"If it's food, I can run out and get some." Jeff was already half way out the window. "The nearest store isn't that far."
Ben moved away from the conversation as Jeff and Yao began to talk food. He changed the station of the television that was silently still playing in the background. Abigail and Ivan took notice, scooting over.
"What's going on out there, Ben?" Abigail asked.
"Not much that we know of," Ben sighed. He ran his hands through his dark curls. "The world didn't take to America's falling very well… There's word that this has actually started alerting other rebels around the world to start attacking the government as well."
"Would those be in countries that are sick?" Ivan asked. He had a sinking feeling that the answer was yes. "If that's true then that would mean this attack on America was a global attack on us all."
"We can't be sure on that yet, sir," Ben started. "Although that was a theory a few of the agents have discussed. However, because China is affected, we can't connect the dots."
"If it were just Democratic nations, we could probably say that much was true." Abigail crossed her arms, thinking. "But Sir Wang is Communist."
"Not only that," Ben started. He stopped at a television channel and stared at the others. "But these countries are not the only ones to be affected."
The television was slowly turned up, attracting Yao and Jeff to hustle over. The scene was off people panicking and police men trying to rope the people in. Some buildings and cars had been smashed. The headline on the bottom was in Hungarian, but all the agents and countries could read it.
"As news of America's death as well as the government's upheaval, many countries are starting to pull out of the EU," the news reporter started. "There has been disturbing evidence that other countries, such as Germany and France, are in danger of their government toppling as well while the Russian and British government have gone eerily silent in the past 24 hours. The President and Prime Minister have declared a national isolation as well as a withdrawal from the EU, effective immediately, until things calm down."
The group turned to see Arthur slowly walk into the front room. His eyes were red and slightly puffy while his hair was an even worse mess than normal. He looked straight at the television in fear, fear that another of his friends was in danger.
No, he thought, panicked. I lost one, please not another! I finally have friends and they're bloody dying!
"There's no official word yet, sir," Ben said calmly. "But they can't find France at the moment."
"Has an agent been dispatched to him?" Jeff asked warily.
Abigail nodded. "Betty was already on her way two nights ago. She should have made contact with him already and hopefully gotten him to safety."
There was a pregnant pause as the boys looked at Abigail. Then, "You put Betty in charge?"
Abigail blushed slightly and frowned. "Yes? What of it? Her French is impeccable."
Arthur pushed between the others and turned the volume up more. The news cast had switched to show Austria now.
"We've just received frightening news that the Republic of Austria has just threatened war on Hungary unless the President and Prime Minister agree to have our beloved Miss Hungary talk to Mr. Austria. However, both of our countries have been missing since last night and even the government claims to not know where they are."
Abigail panicked. "I didn't think ahead to them and didn't send an agent!"
"Send one now," Ben said sternly.
"At this rate, the virus will spread from France and Germany to Italy and Spain and the rest of Europe," Ivan mumbled. He started thinking quickly. His sisters. The Baltics. "What about Eastern Europe?"
"And Asia?" Yao asked, his voice rising in fear. The tumultuous news from Europe had startled the nation. If Europe was unraveling, Asia couldn't be too far behind, especially if Kiku…
"I'm sorry, but news is surprisingly slow. Most of it is repetitive," Ben explained. "Almost all the news stations are focused on just America, though I'm sure they've moved to Europe's problems now as well. At this point in time, Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Hungary, and Japan have declared national isolationism."
"You mean he's still alive?" Yao asked breathless. His heart skipped as he was thrilled to hear there was a chance Kiku had managed to get out alive. "Japan, I mean."
Ben nodded. "He was shown making a speech that the issues of the world do not affect him or his people and he hasn't been heard about since. That was sometime around two in the morning."
"Two?" Arthur looked over, confused. "That doesn't add up. We arrived here around eight in the evening. Surely Japan couldn't have made it back home in that amount of time and was able to give a speech that quickly…"
Ben shrugged. "Just reporting what I've heard about so far, sir."
Abigail sighed. "Perhaps we should rest and wait for more news to come in. We'll devise a plan while Sir Wang cooks up some food."
Yao nodded, his eyes out of focus. Cooking would take his mind off of Kiku's current state. He had closed back up again. The last time he had done so was because of how depressed he was. Yao had tried to help back then, but Kiku made it abundantly clear he wanted nothing to do with his former brother or any of his other siblings.
Is that why? Yao thought. Are you sad, Kiku…?
Abigail turned and stopped when she saw Arthur. He was growing pale and then suddenly very green. She moved forward, a gentle hand touching his arm. She realized that all of this might be too much for Arthur to take in all at once.
"Sir Kirkland...? Are you all right? You look very ill."
Arthur violently moved away. He tore his eyes from the television, ignoring the stares the humans and countries gave him as he hurriedly excused himself. He rushed to the bathroom, barely able to close the door, before he fell to the floor. He sobbed into his hands but not before he vomited in the toilet. He distantly thought that Alfred must have installed indoor plumbing some time ago. Unfortunately that made him cry harder. He held his arms, shaking as he tried to will himself to stop, mentally saying that a country such as him doesn't cry.
But he didn't know what kind of country he was anymore.
The weak voice caused Arthur to snap out of his moment, his tears stopping almost instantaneously. He shivered as he saw a very malnourished looking nation leaning against the wall, his blonde hair falling onto his shoulders like lead weights. His violet eyes were a dull grey.
"Matthew." Arthur collected himself, flushing the toilet casually, as he stood up. "Why are you up? You look awful. Please go and rest."
Matt shook his head, moving to grab for Arthur. "You… You look so sad."
Arthur smiled weakly, a feeble attempt. "No, I just realized I hadn't had anything to eat since the morning of last. I'm a little famished, that's all."
Footsteps were heard approaching them. Arthur wiped any remaining evidence of his episode before greeting the two agents at the door.
"Sir Kirkland?" Abigail called, worried. Jeff was at her side. "Are you all right, sir?"
"Yes, quite all right. I'm sorry for worrying you two."
Abigail regarded Matt standing to her right. "Sir Williams, please go back and lay down."
The two agents tried to shuffle Matt away from Arthur, but he refused to move until Arthur left the bathroom. They managed to get him into the front room, promising food if he sat down to catch his breath. The poor man hadn't gotten any better since Arthur had last seen him. He guessed that he hadn't gotten any sleep and by the looks of things, even a good night's rest wouldn't help revive any color or energy in his body. He was just as defeated as Alfred had been shortly before he passed.
Abigail moved towards the kitchen to get a glass of water leaving Jeff and Ben to handle with the weary Canadian. However, as soon as she had moved away, Matt grabbed Jeff by his arm, squeezing tighter than any mortal could have done so. He growled like some kind of animal and swung the blonde over his head towards the wall.
The three nations watching were caught off guard and hesitated. It was in that instant that Ben and Abigail were in front of Matt, their guns drawn. How Ben had grabbed a gun from the table on the other side of the room was beyond any of the nations, but no one noticed or cared. Matt's sudden change in behavior had them all taking steps back, Ivan pulling out his water pipe for safety measures.
Jeff had turned over so he hit the wall as softly as a cat and then jumped up to the ceiling. In a swift movement while he hung upside down, he pulled out a gun and came down at Matt. When he landed on his shoulders, pointing the gun at his head, Matt snarled and flailed his arms. He spun around, wildly trying to throw the human off of him, but he stayed.
Abigail and Ben moved in, trying to hold down Matt by his arms, but it was the same as when Alfred had tried to break free from his hold. He yelled and cursed, snarling and madly spiraling. The countries were beside themselves in sheer aghast. Not once had Matt ever shown this type of behavior in the history of his existence.
Matt had managed to hurl Jeff from his back. He grabbed a wooden chair, breaking off the leg, and using that as a makeshift bat. He swatted at the agents' guns, but missed horribly. The agents were far too elusive and moved aside with ease. Matt didn't give up. He just swung faster and harder. The countries ducked as Matt almost hit them.
Ivan growled and started to intervene, but Yao stopped him. He was terrified.
"Get the tranquilizers!" someone shouted.
In that next instant, Matt was face down on the floor, but his bat still in his hand. He kicked and screamed, throwing as bad a temper tantrum as Alfred had. Jeff was on his back, holding him down and calling for Abigail and Ben to hurry.
Arthur watched, the world tilting more and more to the left. People and voices blurred. He faintly recalled seeing Abigail slam a needle into Matt's arm, Jeff and Ben trying to keep the crazed nation under control, and Matt's eyes turning black.
"Matthew!" Arthur called. His voice was just as it had been centuries ago; scolding. He glared down at Matt as if he had just broken a vase, something he and his brother had done once or twice when they were still newborn colonies. "Stop this at once!"
And he did as he was told instantly. He looked at Arthur, his eyes returning to dull purple. Jeff and Ben sighed, but didn't move until Matt's body had gone lax underneath them. Abigail moved away with a relieved sigh of her own.
"What was THAT!" Yao exclaimed.
Jeff got up, turning Matt over. He quickly checked his vital signs and nodded. He was still alive. "Have you ever thought about what would happen if you went along with these changes?"
Ivan scoffed. "We have changed multiple times in our lives. It's nothing new."
"But that's why you're sick. You guys are going against what the people want. You're comfortable the way you are now, right?" Jeff asked. He stood up, brushing himself off. "But if you went along with it, your personality would change. Canada is fighting a losing battle with anarchy."
"So that's what that was?" Yao asked. He hadn't realized that he was almost hyperventilating.
"Pretty much," Ben replied.
"But you said that if we went against it, there would be a new nation," Arthur said. "Like…that child…"
The nations all saw a flash of black eyes in their mind and repressed a shudder.
"If Matt is fighting back his virus, then there's a baby nation of him back in Canada?"
"It's possible," Abigail said. "But at this rate, it looks like because of Sir Jones' fall, Sir Williams' baby is weak and Sir Williams will turn in favor of his virus."
It was silent for a few moments before Ivan dared to ask, "How long?"
"By the looks of things… he has only a few hours before he completely turns into an anarchist state…"
Hoshiko2's cents: A little bit of a shorter chapter this time around. School is heating up (7 classes) and I work daily, so there may be a few times my writing is lack and for that, I apologize. This chapter really wasn't much but a bit of a downtime. The next chapter will bring back a character from a previous chapter, so please look forward to it!
Also, tomorrow will be a side story of Russia from when he was a child. It's in the timeline of this series, but you don't have to read it if you don't want to (kind of how Tatemae was).