Disclaimer: Still do not own Hetalia or anything associated with it. Except this plot, for what it is worth.
A/N: Holy cow, this has taken so long... Sorry, sorry, sorry! I really hadn't expected this to get so popular so I had just started writing without plotting all the way through. Last chapter was as far as I had planned for so I suddenly had a "Uh, what now?" conundrum. Apologies for the ridiculously long wait but life happens. Even though I do not hold stories ransom for reviews, I would like to thank everyone that did leave a review during the long hiatus; every time I saw one it reminded me that someone cared about reading more so that added a lot of motivation. I can't promise updates will be any faster (though I do hope for a lot more than once a year) but I'm not giving up on this story in any foreseeable future.
My Brother's Keeper
"It is one of the blessings of old friends that you can afford to be stupid with them."
-Ralph Waldo Emerson
Chapter Six: The Pieces Start to Think for Themselves
Preparing for what was about to happen, the moment he tried to take a deep breath, Wataru was overtaken by Yuichi's lips. Falling under his sweet breath, the slight fever emanated from their mingled mouths and began to spread through Wataru's body.
Shifting the angle of his head and alternating between soft and deep kisses, Wataru found himself tightly embraced by Yuichi. Something about the way that his arms wrapped around his back, warming him like the sun, brought back memories.
Their warm tongues entwined-
Just as Hungary sighed softly in deep contentment, her whole body suddenly stiffened. Green eyes flashed up angrily from their perusal of poetic boy love, narrowing with acute irritation. Certain instincts were tingling... The sudden tense atmosphere made her two companions look up from their reading material.
"Is something wrong, Elizabeta?" Taiwan asked with some concern.
Belgium lifted her elbows off the pretty café table the three had been sharing and sat back in her seat. "I thought you liked that series, cutsie as it is," she commented. Her finger kept her place in a volume of Gravitation. "Don't like the pairing anymore or something?"
Hungary shook her head, "No, no, no. It's... Hmm, how do I say this?" She shifted in her seat to look back at the World Conference Center. "Gilbert is up to something..."
Meanwhile, in a dark room where the ink black shadows were barely held at bay by three flickering candles on a round circular table, four countries were having their own private conference.
Germany reluctantly admitted, "It does make some sense. I do admit that things felt a tad odd today, though I wasn't sure how."
"I noticed nothing odd at all," Italy piped in, although no one had asked him. His characteristic smile was spread widely across his face as though they were discussing something delightful. As usual this blatant happiness was in stark contrast to the heavy atmosphere of the room.
"An alien on the other hand..." Germany continued as if his brunette shadow hadn't spoken, a nerve in his forehead twitching as if he were allergic to the very stupidity of what they were discussing. "That's... Um..." He was looking for the nicest way to put this. "It's a bit far-fetched."
"Hm," Japan merely nodded, looking the most serious out of all of them. "Thank you very much for your input, Germany. It is good to have reasonable doubt." Of course, just from the look on his face it was impossible to tell whether he actually agreed with the blonde or not.
Germany sighed, suddenly very tired.
"Um," Lithuania gently prodded Japan's shoulder and leaned in to whisper, "Is it a good idea to tell them? I mean, we don't really know for sure..."
Italy, never one to let silence lull, took this chance to contribute some conversation. "My brother told me about this one summer," he started, settling in for a long story, "in Sicily, where things kept catching on fire! It was such a horrible problem!"
"I am sure on this," Japan insisted with a stubbornness he rarely displayed. "I have seen many of America's documentaries on aliens and this scenario matches with one I have seen many times. We must stop it before it goes too far."
"Fire is a common problem to have in the summer, isn't it?" Germany asked, wearily humoring Italy.
Lithuania tried a different solution, "He could just be having an off day. Everyone has an off day. That doesn't mean he's an alien." Part of him felt like shouting as to why they were even seriously considering an alien theory first, but he kept that to himself. Plus, the worry-wort part of him was becoming increasingly nervous for America's safety.
"Not when things are catching on fire that shouldn't catch on fire all by themselves!" Italy shouted, becoming distressed as he continued to remember the story. "Like a chair! Or a water-pipe! Or a guy's pants!"
Something in Japan's expression seemed to flicker, almost like a frown, as if he wanted to disagree but couldn't quite find a way how to yet. "We shouldn't take any chances," he said at last. "If we find proof, he's an alien imposter, then we can involve others. If not and he's not an alien, then..." He cut himself off and whatever conclusion went with that sentence remained an unspoken, unpleasant thought.
Germany did not make a reply. His expression was dazed, once again not able to comprehend the situation he was in or how he got in it.
"Luckily it was only for that one summer," Italy continued, calming down. The quick cycle of these emotions left little wonder as to how Germany so often was worn down by the other. "The priests came and blessed the appliances and the fires went away. At first we thought that it was the railway line, but it turned out not to be. I wonder what caused it all. Don't you, Germany?"
Lithuania sighed again and leaned back. "Then why tell Germany and Italy?" he wondered aloud. What he wondered inwardly was: why get him involved? Why sit together in a private room? Why were the lights off except for a flickering candle on one table? Was the atmosphere supposed to be creepy? What was the point? And how did he get into any of this?
"What was the purpose of that story, Italy?" Germany sighed. "What even made you think of it?"
Japan shook his head to clear it. "We need the help," he explained. "And Germany is really quite good at coming up at plans." Executing them was another matter- but he didn't really think that was Germany's fault exactly.
"Because it's so mysterious!" Italy chirped. "Just like this is! With aliens and everything. It's all very mysterious." He grinned mischievously, amused like usual with himself.
Lithuania admitted that made some sense and of course Japan would think of Germany for this. Germany might be the most reliable one here. "Yet you came to me first," he noted aloud, curious. "Why is that?" He and Japan didn't usually interact.
Once again Germany didn't really have anything to say; he just rubbed at his temples.
Japan turned to him- Lithuania- and gave him a curious look, as though it were quite obvious. "You're a good friend of America's," he answered. "He speaks of you often. I thought that put you in a position to be of some help."
"He speaks of me?" Lithuania repeated with a grin, feeling very flattered. Oh how nostalgic to think of his time spent working for America! It had been some of the happiest days of his life. Though why did people always seem surprised that the two of them could genuinely be friends? It was baffling.
"Yes..." Japan admitted reluctantly and this time his expression was once again shuttered against any interpretation. However there was a frown on his face again that hinted that something once more displeased him.
Just then the door burst open, framing Prussia in a halo of light streaming from the hallway. "Greetings!" he declared with a wide grin. Three skateboards from somewhere were tucked under his arm. "Is there any duct tape or rope in this room? For no particular reason..."
A feeling of dread sunk in Germany's stomach. "Why?" he asked hesitantly, not knowing if he wanted to know the answer.
"I just said 'for no reason'," the older Germanic brother explained absently. "What's with the lights?" He leaned over and flipped the switch a few times only for it to do nothing.
"They don't work right now," Japan spoke up in a tone that implied he wanted the other to leave which of course sounded perfectly polite and neutral.
"I think the janitor's hall might have some rope," Lithuania sheepishly brought up. "I don't know about duct tape-"
"Right-o!" Prussia straightened and shouted just as he slammed closed the door. "Off I go! Hahahahaha!"
"Going back to the subject at hand," Germany turned back around, massaging the nerves that were threatening to throb in his forehead, "I believe that we must proceed cautiously. We could perhaps agree that something odd is going on. However, when it comes to determining if America is being impersonated by an alien-"
"Oh, I know!" Italy cried with sudden enthusiasm, raising his hand high up into the air. "I know a good way to go about that. We can just ask America-"
"Our methods should be of a subtle nature," Germany tried to continue as if not interrupted, but a certain emphasis to his words gave away that he had heard Italy. "Something that will not draw too much attention. If he is an- um, imposter, then it would be best to not let him know we are on to him. If he is truly America, then we would just look silly." The blonde nation sighed here, giving away which prospect he found the most likely.
"If only Tony were here," Lithuania frowned. "But he's still off on his vacation in Bermuda." The alien might only be able to throw some light on the situation because of his friendship with America, but also because as a being from outer space, he might have some knowledge of other extraterrestrials? Then again it might be a bit racist to think that way.
"Does he have a birthmark of some kind?" Germany asked, already coming up with a plan. "Something that would be difficult for someone to try and replicate? They might not think to hide something that is not usually seen by others."
"Oh! Oh!" Italy's hand shot up in the air. "A tattoo of Ronald McDonald on his ass!"
The other occupants of the table blinked in confusion.
"Does he have a tattoo like that?" Germany inquired reluctantly.
"Oh, I don't know," shrugged Italy carelessly, still grinning. "But wouldn't it be funny if he did?"
Germany's face met the gloved palm of his right hand as he sighed yet again.
"I don't know about a birthmark.." Lithuania said slowly, after he took a few moments to think it over. "But would a scar work?"
For the first time Germany looked hopeful, "What kind of scar?"
"On his chest. Right here," Lithuania traced down a line over his heart. "It's a bit faint but if you look closely, it's there." He had discovered it by accident while accompanying America on his many beach trips during those good ol' days. America had gotten his head stuck in the belly of a Great White Shark- that was a long story- and while administering First-Aid, Lithuania had noticed its faint pinkness. "I don't know what it's from though." He had tried to ask about it- countries don't scary very easily- but had only received an indecipherable answer. Then again that was mostly because America's head was surrounded by shark and it was a bit difficult to understand anything he was trying to say. Lithuania had forgotten all about that scar until now.
"How do you know about that?" asked Japan, his tone oddly sharp. He seemed to look at the brunette with new suspicion.
Before the Baltic nation could explain, however, the door was once more flung open. The four nations inside the room cringed at the sudden flood of light. This time the silhouette in the doorway was much smaller. "Do you guys have any duct tape or rope?" chirped Sealand, His arms were trying to maintain a hold around a dozen cans of spray paint of different colors.
Before anyone could answer, Prussia's voice came shouting down the hall, "I ALREADY ASKED THEM!"
"Oh, ok! Sorry!" he grinned at the room's occupants and then slammed the door shut.
They could still faintly hear Prussia yell, "DID YOU FIND THAT BOTTLE OF SUPER GLUE?" and Sealand's faint reply of, "YEAH, A GINORMOUS BOTTLE OF IT!" as he ran down the hall.
Germany's gloved fingers rubbed at his temples and he took a deep breath and mumbled something like, "I don't want to know, I don't want to know…" Italy patted him sympathetically on the back.
"So…" Lithuania started, breaking the silence after a few moments. "Would that scar help?"
"I think it might," was Germany's answer as he regained his usual prepared-for-anything attitude. "It's a start at least. If this America doesn't have it, then that would be a big clue. Our scars don't just disappear. Now we just need a way to check…"
"So we need a way to make him take off his clothes?" Lithuania asked, skeptical. This wasn't France they were dealing with; no one was going to strip down just because they ask.
"We only need him to take his shirt off," Japan corrected, again soundly oddly short. He ignored the confused look the brunette threw his way. "I mean, he doesn't have to get completely bare. Let's have some decency please."
…If Lithuania didn't know better, he could have sworn that Japan was blushing? Oh, but the island country was naturally so modest, that could be why. Neither of the European nations seemed to notice anything strange.
"Oh! Oh!" Up went Italy's hand in the air, just like a proper schoolboy. "Romano and I love to take our clothes off when it's hot! So if we make it really, really hot in here, we can get America to take his shirt off! Then we can check to see if he has that tattoo!"
"Scar," corrected Japan.
"Right!" chirped Italy, undeterred.
"Actually," Germany said slowly, almost incredulous, "That's not a bad idea…"
It had been a long day of boring conferences and even though neither of them had done much in particular in those sessions, both America and Canada had retired to their shared hotel room- an economic move that had all the countries bunking up- feeling utterly drained. Both had begun to prepare for bed- Kumajiro was already snoring away atop Canada's bed and America's was littered with all his unpacked luggage-when America began to complain.
"I can't believe this," he whined, flopping atop the bed- or more accurately his many pieces of clothing. "It's not even that late!"
"Early to bed, early to rise," Canada murmured, smoothing back the sheets.
"There's only one TV," sighed America, looking at the electronic device with dismay. "How are we supposed to live?"
"Well," Canada tried to suggest something but he was of course cut-off.
"Here," America tossed the remote over to him- no, at him for it ended up bonking him on the head. "Go ahead and choose something to watch. I'm going to order room service. Do you want anything?" The hotel phone was already up against the younger brother's ear. "Pancakes or something right?"
As pancakes smothered in maple syrup did sound good- power of suggestion probably though it was a shame the hotel probably wouldn't have the authentic maple syrup- Canada said nothing and turned on the TV. He was too tired to read himself to sleep and there were worse things than relaxing to a TV program. Also, he never got to choose what to watch when they were together! It was highly tempting to try and find something in French, but he got lost in the struggle to find just something entertaining. At last he settled on a show that had just started and seemed fairly interesting.
After ordering a bit of everything from room service, America wiggled on his bed simultaneously finding a comfortable lounging position as well as pushing off the mess from the covers. "What did you find?" he asked with a yawn- which was quickly cut off as he choked. The giant letters spelling out the title of "World's Scariest Haunted Places" on the screen caused him to momentarily forget how to breathe. "B-but, b-b-but-" His fingers clutched at the blanket as he paled.
"This is what I wanted to watch," Canada explained in a tone that was deceivingly simple but also implied if-you-make-me-change-this-then-you-are-a-jerk somehow as well.
"Um, right… Yeah, ok. No problem," America coughed and tried to look casual. He was going to be a nice little brother and let Canada watch what he had picked out! Because he was awesome like that!
The next two hours were some of the longest that America had ever known. The narrator introduce site after site infamous for disturbing ghostly phenomenon. Of course, it also had to be explained why these ghosts were so angry with everyone- because being dead wasn't a downer enough- and the show delved into blood-chilling histories of murderers with axes or chainsaws- or in one creative place, a spear- and suicides and dead children and people locked in closets, haunting the mortal realm forevermore. Sometimes their antics were caught in video or in pictures, with the narrator helpfully highlight where the ghostly presence was. It was apparently a special showing as there were no commercials and that made the viewing seem even longer.
The knock on the door for room service made America scream and he hurried the food inside as quick as possible, practically throwing the pancakes at his brother. It occurred to him several times- as he was munching down on steak and pizza and calamari- that he could ask Canada to change the channel- but no! He was not going to wimp out on his brother! Not after seeing how much this show meant to him! A hero was not afraid of any ghosts!
And so two commercial-free hours passed very, very slowly…
As the credits rolled, America was trembling so fiercely he was shaking. He tried to laugh but it came out very breathless. "Th-that wasn't t-t-too scary for y-you, was it?" he stuttered. "Hope y-you can f-fall asleep tonight, bro! … Bro? Canada!" Looking over at the other bed, he was stunned to see the other already fast asleep, snoring cozily, with the pancakes still untouched upon the bed. "When did you fall asleep?"
The next morning a very refreshed Canada was befuddled as to why his bleary-eyed twin was so upset with him…
Cuba burst out laughing. He had been snickering and chuckling throughout the telling but upon the story's finish, he couldn't contain himself anymore. Head tilted back and arms hugging his sides, all the raucous laughter came pouring out. His profuse amusement made it hard for America to keep scowling. He had told the story from Canada's point of view- trying to hint strongly that "he" had planned the entire occurrence and how mean "he" was- but apparently this had made it only more entertaining to Cuba.
"That's a good story!" chortled Cuba when he could speak again. He smacked "Canada" on the back companionably. "I didn't know the Capitalist was so afraid of ghosts! It's too funny!"
Instead of protesting that he wasn't afraid, just unnerved- like he wanted to- America instead took a big bit of ice cream, emptying his second large container. It was a good think he and his twin shared a large appetite for the stuff. So far it seemed as if he hadn't blow their cover, but should he eat another donut just in case? He was quite liking the maple-bacon flavored ones.
"Now, me?" said Cuba, jabbing a thumb toward his chest. "Man, ghosts don't scare me at all." Then, after a pause, "Monsters though… Man, those are another story."
America nodded in understanding. Monsters weren't as bad as ghosts- because you could kill a monster with enough guns or explosives- but he didn't care much for them either. "Those stone angels were the worst," he muttered. "Majorly creepy." He had only just started to see the appeal of England's beloved show "Doctor Who", but he had nearly stopped watching the show altogether after that episode and had avoided New York for awhile when the monsters had made a reappearance. He hadn't had any stone angels on his property, but destroying some garden gnomes had helped make him feel better.
Wiping tears of mirth from his eyes, Cuba rose to his feet and said, "Unfortunately I should get going. It might have been a short conference today, but there's lots of stuff to get ready. I wish I had it as easy as you."
"There are some perks to being me," America smiled at his own inside-joke.
"Yeah, like having a friend like me!" grinned Cuba as he picked up his cooler. "I'll see you later, Matthew! Let's go ice skating sometime!"
"Or bobsledding!" America called after him. "Like in that movie!" Cuba just laughed, shook his head, and waved as he left. It took a moment for the blonde to realize: 1) No, wait, that had been Jamica he was thinking of with the unexpected bobsled team in the Olympics and 2) He had just had friendly banter with Cuba and it had felt natural.
He better find Canada fast so they could switch back. This Candian-ness seemed infectious.
Yeah, he'll go find him after he finishes this donut.
Hungary's BoyxLove Novel: The beginning sections of this fic were taken directly from the first novel of "Only the Ring Finger Knows" by Satoru Kannagi. I like the series but I can totally admit that it's a giant pile of smoop.
Belgium's BoyxLove Novel: This is a manga series called "Gravitation" by Maki Murakami which was basically my "Twilight" stage. It's not the most healthy of relationships and most of it was incredibly random. Is it still popular these days?
Spontaneous Combustion in Italy: This actually happened- as far as a TV program and a few online articles can tell me. I couldn't find the exact city this occurred in but I think it was somewhere in Sicily. The strangest things would just suddenly catch on fire one summer, and they never discovered what caused it. They also really did have the priests come and bless the household appliances. I'm sure that helped...
America's story: Also based on a true story although a more personal one. I'm terrified of ghost stories- you know that episode with America and Japan watching a ghost program? Yeah, America has my reaction down precisely- but my brother isn't. I was trying to be a nice sister and let him choose what to watch and he fell asleep on me! (This happened like five years ago and I still haven't forgiven him for it. Haha!)
This chapter is dedicated to
EVERY SINGLE REVIEWER
that was kind enough to leave this story a review while it was on hiatus.