October 29th was a very important day to Matthew. It was the day he saw his brother fall. (and he fell hard) It was the day his brother was no longer the hero. (no one could look up to someone who was on the ground) It was the day where Matthew, as much as he loathed himself for even thinking it, was better than him. (not for long, but a short time that made Matthew wonder why no one could tell them apart when they were so clearly different)
Alfred had been feeling under the weather for the past month, but nothing so fatal that England would stop pretending to hate him and come down to visit. Being the good brother that he is, and acting on direct orders from his boss to improve relations between the two countries, Canada went to visit him. (Matthew wondered what Alfred was going to think of him, now that he was slowly becoming his own nation)
Stepping out of his cab onto Wall Street, Matthew could only stare around in awe and the sheer size of the city. Skyscrapers stretched up around him, brushing the underbellies of clouds and people filed past the building in an endless, inconsistent, ever-changing march that seemed to breath the very life of the city with each mismatched step. There was a yell behind him and he looked around to see Alfred hurrying towards him, practically throwing himself at his little brother. (Matthew wondered how Alfred had so much energy for one that was supposedly sick.)
"Matthew!" He crowed, holding him at arm's length, his brilliant smile almost masking the bruised bags under his eyes, "Thanks for coming bro! C'mon! I've got to show you something!" And, without waiting for a hello from the northern nation, or even a 'yes' of acknowledgment, he dragged Canada across the busy street into a very impressive-looking building. (Matthew wondered why his Parliament barely matched the grandiose of a simple street in downtown New York)
Inside there was an explosion of noise, motion and vim. It was a large room, Alfred and Matthew looked down from a second level at the hundreds of men running around small hut-shaped desks. "It's great, isn't it Matt?" Alfred said, placing his hands on his hips and thrusting out his chest proudly. "Bet you've never seen anything like it." (Matthew wondered if Alfred even knew he had his own stock exchange)
He wasn't given must time to ruminate as Alfred's arms slipped around his shoulder, pulling him down the stairs snd into the crowd. People jostled him from every side, yelling, fighting and doing everything they could to have themselves noticed among the din of people. (Matthew wondered how that he felt so small beside the shorter twin.)
"We're on the cutting edge here," America said, sweeping a hand through his hair, "This is the future right here Mattie, we're living it!" He laughed heartily, slapping his brother on the back. (Matthew wondered if he was the only one to have noticed that the clamour on the trade floor was growing more and more panicked with each passing moment)
Without warning, Alfred clutched his shoulder, nails digging in so hard that Canada cried out. "Al-alfred!" He said, turning to face his brother and hands flying to his mouth and he cried out again, "Alfred!?" (Matthew wondered if he had even seen such a pale face.)
The fingers gripped harder into his shoulder and his brother sagged against him, breathing ragged and shallow. Grabbing him, Canada dragged his brother away from the growing pandemonium, shoving his way through the sea of men and leaning him against the wall. He himself was huffing now, a feeling of dread, from his own self and his people, growing his gut. Something was changing in the world. (Matthew wondered if Alfred had seen this coming.)
"M-matt?" A trembling voice so unfamiliar that Matthew thought it was someone else talking, issued form America. He turned his attention away from the chaos that now reigned on the trading floor, "Matthew… I…" Alfred's fingers were brushing the side of his mouth, so that when he lifted them to show them to his brother, they were coated in scarlet. Twin eyes stared the the blood. (Matthew wondered if this was all a dream)
Blue eyes rolled into the back of his head and the severe grip loosened as America fell the to ground. He lay there for a moment, twitching slightly, blood still bubbling at the corner of his mouth. All around them havoc was raging, from the wild yells of the stockbrokers, the strangled cries of men losing everything and the disarray of trampling footsteps. And Canada could only watch as new wounds appeared on every inch of his brother's body, fear clutching his heart. (Matthew wondered how long it was going to take until he was in a similar state)
Alfred opened his eyes, coughing violently, shivers racking his seemingly shrinking frame. With what seemed to be an enormous effort, he hoisted himself onto all fours, still coughing, blood splattering onto the floor. "Al!" Matthew fell to his knees beside his brother, a hand flying to his trembling back while the other reached towards his cheek. America's face was gripped in pain, teeth clenched and eyes blazing. His blood continued to run down his chin, dripping onto his hand. Canada hesitated for a moment, before cupping his brother's chin, feeling the warm blood seep between his fingers. "Al, are you okay?" A stupid question. The tears in his skin seeped blood. A new cut slowly sliced right above his brow. He was still trembling. He was still coughing. Blood was still covering every inch of his skin. (Matthew wondered if a human body even had that much blood)
"Do I look okay?!" The voice was harsh. Alfred batted his brother's hand away. "Canada." (His false name. Something Alfred never used) "Just... Just go." America slowly got his feet, examining the cuts that now ran rampant along his arms and hands. His blue eyes were sharp and glassy. His brother gave him a hurt look, took a deep breath and stormed off, not even daring to look back in case Alfred saw the tears in his eyes. (Matthew wondered how something so callous could sound so broken)
October 29th was a very important day to Matthew. It was the day the world realized that The United States of America was just like the rest of them, just as venerable, just as weak, just as human. It was the day Alfred, in the eyes of some, finally got what he deserved.
It was the day when Matthew realized that Alfred only looked tall.
(Matthew wondered how he never noticed.)