Genre: Romance, Comedy(?)
Characters: America, England, Canada, unnamed civilians and some others
Rating: PG-13, for swears
Summary: America thought it would be funny to turn the device on himself. What’s the worst that could happen? Y’know, aside from accidentally falling in love with your friend.
This is my continuation of “America’s strange invention” from the end of Comic Diary 8.
Warnings: Pockets of headcanon, slight crackiness, buckets of UST, sensual heresy (in later chapters), sentimentality, America crying (ohgodwhat)
This chapter: America’s day doesn’t go very well.
Part one -- Part three, Part four, Part five, Part six
“What on earth is wrong with you?!”
England’s shout brought America back from his horrifying revelation.
“Huh?” he replied stupidly, mouth slack.
“I asked a simple question and you completely ignored me. Does my attention mean so little to you?”
America cast his eyes downward and fumbled with his fingers.
“Oh. ‘Msorry,” he mumbled. After waiting a moment, he looked up to find England staring at him as though he’d sprouted a second head. Fortunately, the meeting was called to start before England could question further.
For the first time in a long time, America was unsure of himself. Actions that would have been bold statements were now vague questions. When called on for his opinion, he stuttered. Stuttered. He, the United States of America, stuttered during an official meeting. He half expected the Earth to quake in response.
No wonder the military had been so keen to investigate his idea. Even though Japan doubted it, America was sure that if such technology made people feel like this, it could crumble the fiercest armies.
The other nations seemed to sense that something was off, and called on him less. They all had the occasional bad day. Or year. Or century. America sank into his chair and folded his arms stiffly, concentrating on the reflection in the conference table for as long as he could. He could feel a set of eyes on him, burning into his consciousness like flames, but he didn’t dare check to see if they were emerald green.
During the lunch break, before anyone had a chance to talk to him, he bolted out the door and into the sunlight. His head was pounding from the bright light as he padded along the pavement. He instantly regretted not bringing his custom Ray-Bans with him, and he ducked into the closest convenience store to find a cheap pair of clip-on sunglasses. They looked kind of lame but he wasn’t in the right frame of mind to give a damn. He emerged from the store with a smidgen of confidence and sanity regained, and walked straight into Canada.
“HEY! Watch where you’re going!” America yelled.
“You’re the one who crashed into me,” Canada mumbled. He brushed his suit off and took a moment to study America’s strained expression. “Is something wrong? You were acting strange this morning.”
They started to walk along the street, winding around a nearby city park.
“Jeez, are you stalking me now?” America asked with a pout.
Canada ignored his accusation. “Are you having Palin tremors again?”
He shivered. “Eugh. No, it’s nothing political. Kinda. I’m just having a weird day; you know how it is.”
Canada nodded and lowered his head. They walked in silence for a few minutes, occasionally pushing their glasses up in near-unison, until Canada spoke again.
“We’re neighbours, Al. You can tell me what’s wrong.”
“I hate it when you do that,” America insisted, shoving his hands angrily in his pockets.
Canada raised his voice, though it was still soft and ineffectual. “Your problems tend to affect me too. I have a right to know if something’s going on.”
America shook his head. “Not that. I hate it when you use the ‘u’. Bugs the shit outta me.”
“Th-the what? The ‘you’?”
“The ‘u’. I hate it when you put the ‘u’ in neighbor. Or favorite. It’s dumb.”
Canada stopped walking and rubbed his forehead. “How is...you can’t read what I’m saying.”
America kept walking, his pout more pronounced. “I can feel it.”
There was a tug at the corner of Canada’s lips as he caught up to America. “Ah. So this is about Arthur.”
America almost tripped over his own feet, but quickly regained composure. “What?! No! I was just telling you that it annoys me. Don’t turn it into something else!”
Canada smiled in that obnoxiously perceptive way that pissed America off. “Did you finally make a move?”
“A move? Move on what? What are you talking about?”
With a sigh, Canada wondered whether this was worth it. Then he noticed how tight America’s fist was clenched. Oh yes, this was worth it.
“Sorry, I thought you’d figured it out. Nevermind.”
America ran in front of Canada and blocked his path.
“Figured what out, Matt? Is there something you’re not telling me?”
Before Canada could respond, a cheerful alarm went off on his phone. He pulled it out of his pocket and checked the time. The assembly hall where their meetings were being held was just barely in sight from where they were standing.
“Sorry, we should be getting back. I’m gonna go.” He leaned forward and squeezed America’s forearm affectionately. “Good luck.”
America tried to object, but Canada was already power-walking back to the building. He started to stroll leisurely along the sidewalk, studying the patches of sunlight on the ground below and thinking about Canada’s puzzling behavior.
Why was Canada acting so shady? What did it have to do with England?
Why did it feel like he was missing out on something important?
He took his time walking back, considering these issues that were threatening his way of life, and got a rude awakening in the form of a statue that suddenly appeared in front of him. He walked head-on into the stone figure with a loud thud, and sank to his feet, holding his head. Crouching on his heels, he breathed slowly until he could stand again. His clip-on sunglasses were scratched to hell now, but the sun was still too bright for his eyes and he felt woozy.
America realized that he was just in front of his building and quickly made his way inside, holding his head. He was aware that the meeting had already resumed, but he ducked into the bathroom to clean up. Flipping his sunglasses up, he leaned forward to inspect the damage.
Compared to his appearance just a few hours earlier, he was a shameful mess. There was blood on his forehead where skin had connected with stone. The clip-ons made him look like a middle-aged father at the Boardwalk. Worst of all, he looked downright vulnerable. He couldn’t exactly place it, but something in his face made him look lost. It was exactly what he’d feared.
He dampened a paper towel and dabbed the blood away, revealing a shallow wound. It wasn’t as bad as it could have been, but it was clearly visible and stung like hell. After cleaning his injury, he yanked the clip-on shades off his glasses, thrust them into his pocket and checked his face again, smiling at himself and trying to see if he was still able to fake some confidence. His attempts were sad and disheartening.
Maybe he was just overthinking everything. He’d expected to be affected by the gun, he knew his relationship with England wasn’t exactly normal, and now he’d tricked himself into thinking he was in love or something. That could happen, right? He’d psyched himself out. If he just stopped focusing on it, maybe the problem would go away.
The clock on the wall said that he was nearly 15 minutes late, so he shot his reflection a pathetic-looking wink and hurried towards the meeting room.
His arrival was met with a chorus of groans and yells from a room that had obviously been waiting for him to show up. He kept his head down and ran to his seat.
“What were you thinking, keeping us waiting like that?” England grumbled as the next nation got up to speak. “I swear, you are the most self-centered, exasperating creature on the planet.”
America tried to leave his mind blank and impenetrable to devious mental influences. He turned to England, determined to test his theory. The look of concern when England noticed his injury cancelled out his efforts, and replaced any emptiness with a series of somersaults in his stomach.
England leaned forward. “Blimey, are you alright?”
America’s throat went dry, but he managed to creak out a reply. “Yeah, I’m okay. Just went for a walk and bumped my head.”
Quickly and unobtrusively, England brushed some stray hairs away from America’s forehead so he could see the full extent of it.
However, from America’s perspective, everything happened in slow motion. He saw the softness in England’s eyes and felt the warmth from his fingertips. The brief contact was almost too much.
“I’ll see if I have any plasters,” England said.
America calmed down a little as he watched England pull out a brown leather briefcase. Before he could stop himself, he spoke up. “Why would I have to plaster-“
England shot him a look.
“Oh. Right. Band-aid.”
The briefcase was opened and England began to rustle through it.
“Why do you keep band-aids in your briefcase?” America asked, sounding amused. The words came as natural as breathing.
“Is there something wrong with that?” England said in a mildly irritated tone.
“I dunno, it just seems kind of unnecessary.”
“Well excuse me for being prepared,” England snipped.
“You’re excused.” America grinned at his own joke. “Prepared for what? In case one of your reports gets a boo-boo?”
“It’s not unreasonable to think one might get a paper cut.”
“Oh, right. You gotta watch out for those. If you don’t take care of it right away they’ll have to chop your whole hand off.”
“Ungrateful little twat,” England said in a low, dangerous tone. Before England could throttle America, someone across the table cleared their throat, and both men noticed that they were being glared at quite intensely. England shut his briefcase violently and turned away in a huff. America looked away too, but a slight smile sprung up on his face.
Yes, this was normal. This was how it was supposed to feel, and their friendship worked well this way. Why else would they have fallen so easily into the pattern of argument? A little debate was good and healthy. If he could just fend off the mushy feelings, he might be okay after all.
He saw England out of the corner of his eye, and a pang of sadness struck him hard. The poor man looked even more deflated and melancholy than when he’d entered the room that morning. It made America’s skin prickle.
Maybe he’d been too harsh. England was only trying to help, and America had mocked him. He hadn’t considered England’s feelings at all. Was it possible that he’d gone too far? Was it possible he’d been…wrong? A wave of guilt passed over him.
This had to stop. He was turning into a total wuss.
After the meeting ended for the day, he made his way around the city, trying to find the loudest bar he could. He finally settled at a sports bar and tried to concentrate on a game, but random things kept reminding him of England.
A union jack on someone’s coat. Harry Potter TV spots. Someone sat down a few stools away and ordered a martini, prompting a flashback to a memorable night when they got wasted together and stumbled arm-in-arm down the streets of central London. America had passed out in Trafalgar Square and woken up to a crew of policeman trying to coax a half-naked England down from the statue of George IV, while England accused them of being “bloody cunting scoundrels” and insisted that it was his right to be up there. Yeah, they’d had some good times.
Finding little respite from his troubles, he sucked down a shot of whiskey before making his way back to the hotel and buying a first aid kit at the guest shop.
He threw his briefcase on the table once he was finally in his room, removed his coat and tie and dropped onto the bed, only to yelp and stand up again. He’d rolled onto the sunglasses in his pocket and been poked in the side. It seemed the day was going to do its darndest to end as badly as it had started.
With a loud clang, the clip-ons were in the trash can. After affixing a band-aid to his forehead, he spread out on the bed and stared at the window for a long time. The view passed from day to night as he watched. An idea hit him suddenly when he saw the silver case housing the gun. He rolled onto his back, pulled out his phone and dialed his assistant’s number.
After some small talk, he asked her if she could get him the number of one of the scientists working on the project. He started pacing around the room restlessly while waiting for her to sort it out. She called him back ten minutes later with someone’s personal number, and after thanking her profusely he dialed like a madman.
A trickle of relief entered his mind. He should have thought of this yesterday. Of course the scientists leading the project would have a solution. A man answered the phone and America immediately launched into an explanation of the incident while gesticulating wildly for the benefit of the empty room. He conveniently excluded the fact that he himself had been at the receiving end of the gun’s power.
“So, how do we fix it?” America asked finally, out of breath. “Do you have a reverse raygun or something?”
“I-I’m afraid we don’t have anything readily available, Mr. Jones.” The scientist sounded very perplexed by the question. “We can certainly look into it.”
“’Look into it’? How long will that take?” There was an edge of anxiety creeping into America’s voice. He stood in the middle of the room, as still as the air.
“I’m not sure. First we’ll have to establish if it’s possible to directly reverse the condition, and then we’ll need to run some tests.”
“Possible?!” The anxiety became hysteria.
“I’m sorry, Mr. Jones. You were given instructions not to discharge the weapon.”
“It was an accident! Why did you let me take something so dangerous in the first place?!”
“We listed the risks, but you refused to leave our office without a prototype. I believe your exact words were: ‘I don’t care, I want my homo-gun’.”
America had no recollection of this encounter, or using the Virginia accent the scientist was imitating. He stayed silent for some time.
“Sir,” the scientist asked after America hadn’t responded. “Sir, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean any disrespect, but that is what happened. We’ll look into this problem for you. There’s also a good chance that the condition could go away on its own.”
“Really?” America breathed.
“It’s possible. If we discover anything, we’ll contact you.”
America thanked him for his help and hung up the phone in trance-like state. His hotel room was dark, lit only by the city lights near his window. He sank down slowly onto the bed.
What was he going to do? Despite what everyone thought, he was a hard worker. If he couldn’t concentrate on anything, if he let it affect who he was, if he couldn’t stop thinking about…
What could he do?
Another glance at the metal case made him feel sick. If this was what being in love with a nation felt like, he wanted nothing to do with it. He just wanted to be himself again.
The evening passed as America lay in darkness, simply thinking. New memories came forth, and he was surprised at just how many there were. So many periods of sadness and joy and friendship that ran through his mind. He almost didn’t notice the transition from memory to dream.
He opened his eyes and gazed across an open field filled with bright lights and music. It felt so very familiar. Unlike most of the other memories, he couldn’t quite grasp onto it. Even though it felt like he was living it, the dream was not under his control. He took a step and felt the rush of the music and people around him, and heard that voice. England was standing next to him, looking slightly annoyed, trying hard to pretend he didn’t want to be there. Yes, it was all familiar. He remembered this night, and it couldn’t have been more than fifteen years ago. He’d taken England here to celebrate something…something silly and trivial, but it had felt important to him. However, he couldn’t figure out why he was reliving this memory. It hadn’t been a particularly extraordinary night. He wasn’t even sure why he remembered it so well.
They were moving now, walking past the booths and the games and all the greasy, delicious food. America pointed excitedly at the fortune teller, but England glared at him and started walking faster. When they got to the merry-go-round, America wouldn’t take “no” for an answer. England chose a unicorn, and flushed slightly when America snorted at his choice. After a few undignified attempts to mount the wily metal beast, England was forced to take America’s proffered hand in assistance while ranting that the “irons” weren’t in the right place. America didn’t know whether the fluttering in his heart and the warmth in his cheeks were part of the dream or the memory. He did recall the look that England had given him, and he knew that they were both thinking about how much had changed since the day England had given America his first riding lesson.
Once America was on his horse (seahorse, technically), the ride started and his energy was carried on the movement of it. He cheered and hollered, pumping his fist into the air and leaning back as though it was a real animal. A glance at his riding partner revealed a small smile on England’s lips, though it was swiftly replaced with a frown when America’s gaze was spotted. Still, America knew that England was enjoying himself on some level, and that boosted his energy even further.
The next hour or so became a blur of spun sugar and swirling lights and colors. The haze was quite literal; a dreamlike echo of feelings and senses and space. They went on several rides, punctuated by snippets of America insisting that they go on another ride, or go on the same ride again, and grumbles from England saying “no” and “absolutely not” and “maybe once more”.
At the end of the night, they finally made their way to the Ferris wheel. They climbed into a passenger car and settled in. England made America promise that it would be the last ride of the night. The wheel slowly started to turn, and they sat in silence, watching the busy world around them.
America remembered clearly what had happened next. In the awkward silence he had tried to rock their car back and forth, prompting England to yell at him. It turned into a tepid argument about the concept of “fun”. They left soon afterward, America dropped him off at his hotel and a couple of days later he was gone. Not the worst ending to a visit, but not particularly thrilling.
That had been the reality. The dream went in a different direction. As they ascended in the Ferris wheel, they moved closer together. England made a comment about it being a chilly night. His hand was now on America’s thigh, sweet and intimate. The moon shone softly on their faces as they leaned in close, soaring over the treetops. The kiss was soft and sweet, reconciling their past and everything that had separated them. Now America knew why it was this memory. It was what he’d wanted to happen. It was everything he’d wanted, and he was pretty sure it had always been this way, even then. His eyes felt heavy and though he tried to hold back, the tears formed anyway. He cried because it was frustrating, and he was so lonely and he couldn’t say what he wanted to say. The words had never formed on his lips or in his mind, but only in his heart.
And now he was holding England’s face gently, studying it in the moonlight. The closer he got, the hazier the dream became. A teardrop was rolling down England’s cheek, but it had fallen from America. England stared up at him with confusion and concern, but then smiled with such warmth that America didn’t think he would ever be sad again. Now England was moving closer, reaching up to kiss the tears away.
America woke with a jolt. He wiped a finger against the corner of his eye and then stared at the moist fingertip. At first he felt numb, but the terror soon set in.
This was the last straw. Now the gun was playing dirty, bringing up stupid memories that had no relevance to his life. He wasn’t going to take it anymore.
Today was going to be his day.
He was going to dominate the meeting and impress the world with his supreme skills.
He would be so amazing that they would all forget about their troubles and stand in awe of his political prowess.
He was…already late.
The glowing numbers mocked him. He grabbed his tie and his jacket and ran out the door.
- Ray-Bans. You know he rocks a pair of these babies.
- Clip-on sunglasses: frequently worn by Dads in Shorts
- To clarify, the Palin thing isn’t meant to imply anything about Alfred’s personal political leanings. It’s just a topic that people all over the country are aware of, and tend to have very strong feelings about, and I think that divide could manifest itself in Alfred’s life.
- Canadian English has elements of both American and British English. Traitors. (j/k ilu Canadabros)
- Band-aids = plasters = band-aids.
- George IV statue in Trafalgar Square. Looks very ride-able, especially with beer goggles.
- Irons = stirrups, where you’re supposed to put your foot when mounting a horse
- Ferris wheels are awesome but terrifying
- I tried to research the little details, but if there’s anything glaringly inaccurate then I’m sorry I’m sorry I’m sorry
Thanks to Erin for her help.
The next part probably won’t be posted for a little while. I’m leaving on a trip tomorrow and won’t be back until July.