A week later found the house somewhat empty.
"They clean up my house fast," Wales told France cheerfully. "Now it is fit enough to live in... again!"
"So I take it you're going to go and live in it." France would miss seeing Wales every day, but Wales looked too happy for him to mention any. Thankfully his arms were fully functional. He could cook his own food and not have to put his life in the hands of England's cooking.
"Je suis très heureux pour toi."
France was not certain if England was happy with the fact they were the only two in the house after that, but as Francis mentioned, Arthur had his room back so what did he have to complain about? Of course, that was before he remembered the British lived to have something to complain about and it would not take long for England to find something unsatisfactory about the arrangement.
"You can throw me out of the house now," he mentioned in passing. Arthur looked up from his tea.
"What the fuck are you talking about?" There was no venom in that sentence, no anger.
"You said as soon you could throw me out of the house..." Francis reminded him, raising both of his hands in surrender. "We could always test out your strength, if you wanted~"
"Shut up." Arthur went back to reading his book. "And make me breakfast."
Francis laughed so hard and so long he nearly fell over. Arthur threw his book at him, but it simply ended up sliding near the refrigerator. He hid his own grin behind his teacup.
"Is this your way of asking me to move in?"
"Move in?" Arthur looked shocked. "Heavens no! How would I deal with you everyday?"
"You have been dealing with me everyday," Francis reminded him. Arthur rolled his eyes.
"And ignoring you half the time. Be reasonable, Francis. We couldn't live with each other for very long without killing each other."
"We've done it before." Francis joined him at the table. Arthur looked thoughtful.
"You cannot stand the rain."
"Non! Bref, c'est vraiment..."
"In a few more months of being well, you would want to go back to your country and you'd want me to come with you," Arthur continued. "I wouldn't want to go and we would argue over it. Then, after both deciding this was a stupid argument, we would break up and end up in our own houses hating each other."
Francis pouted, hooking his left leg around Arthur's right leg. "How harsh..."
"I'm just saying it straight," Arthur grinned, leaning over the table slightly. "The fact you are only complaining about it means you agree." Francis was very conscious of Arthur's left foot trailing up the inside of his thigh.
"So you are telling me to pack my bags while you are groping me."
"You started it," Arthur rolled his eyes. "And you don't have any bags to pack. I'm not kicking you out, Francis, you just don't live here. Believe me, we'll both be happier this way."
"I'd be happier with y–"
"And don't even start with that romantic crap, dear." Arthur smirked. "Doesn't work."
"But, Arthur! You love anything dealing with romanticism," Francis taunted, his lips right in front of Arthur's. As soon as Arthur moved forward, Francis sat back in his chair. Which was right when Arthur's foot pressed a little too hard forward.
"But you suck at it," Arthur said as he left Francis to writhe on the floor. Francis groaned.
They were married and Arthur still played hard to get.
When Francis left the house was too empty.
It was only because he had gotten so used to company lately. Arthur had lived a lot of his life with his house consisting of only him. It was nothing new. And considering how long it had been since it had just been him in his house... Arthur felt relaxed.
This lasted for about an hour before he began missing the company a Nation could provide.
Funny, considering I would lock myself in my study to get away from everyone else, Arthur reminded himself.
"You sure you did not want him to stay?"
"It was not a question of whether I wanted him to stay," Arthur told Llyr. "I just know we would not last that long that way."
"But you love him."
"Maybe," he admitted with a wry smile. "But I've thought that one before. I am just being smarter about it now."
"There could still be another solution." She shrugged. She shrugged because she wanted there to be an easier solution. If there was, Arthur could not think of one. At least, not one for right now.
There was a knock on the door. Arthur nearly wheeled himself backwards before he remembered he was no longer in a wheelchair. Shaking his head, he rose to his feet and headed to the front door. He opened the door to see someone he was not expecting to see.
"Arthur!" Matthew blinked. "Are you all right, eh? You're up! I mean, Francis told me, but I–"
"I know, I know," Arthur sighed. "Calm down Matthew, it's all right."
"Are you okay?"
"Last time I checked." Arthur nodded. Matthew looked relieved at that. "What brings you here, Matty? I know you aren't here to see me." Matthew opened his mouth to protest and Arthur shook his head. "I wasn't letting anyone see me, you know that."
"I... came to see Francis, eh."
"He's not here anymore." The sudden panic which came to Matthew's face was both sad and humourous. "I mean he went home."
"Oh." Matthew nodded, relieved and embarrassed by his sudden leap to conclusions. "Well..."
"Do you want a cup of tea, or should you head off to his house before dark?" Arthur asked. Matthew looked conflicted. Arthur shook his head. "Go and see France."
"I just wanted to say," Matthew spoke up quickly, before rethinking his words once more. "I... Now that the storms are over... I'm going out to look for Alfred."
Look for Alfred. Arthur felt numb, but that way his thoughts could keep coming. Could he still be out there? I closed myself off because I did not want to deal with the truth if he is not still alive. But...
"No." Matthew shook his head. Arthur suddenly remembered the subject between him and Japan that Japan could not speak about, that England could not ask about.
"No, actually... with Ivan, eh."
Which meant Kiku was still on his own.
"As long as someone is keeping an eye on him." Arthur thought about it. Thought about it and came to a decision.
I am going to go look for America.
"Good luck, Matthew. Find him."
Matthew smiled. "I will." And though it might not be Matthew who found him, neither had any doubts that someone would.
"Mes excuses... I haven't gotten to the dusting yet."
At least his house was not in shambles, which was something that Francis had been very much afraid of. It was much better off than he had thought it would be, which reaffirmed the thought that someone else had to have been here and cleaned things up while he was staying at Arthur's place. Whether it was Arthur or one of his brothers Francis was not certain. He was not going to ask. If none of them mentioned it, they would not want to talk about it.
"No problem, eh. I didn't come to burden you with cleaning up for me," Matthew responded as he sat down, setting the glass Francis had given him on the table. Francis looked at the Nation he had raised in admiration. He knew why Matthew was here. He could tell by the way Matthew looked like he was ready to go somewhere.
Francis might not agree that what Matthew was going to do was going to yield any results, but he could appreciate the effort. Appreciate the effort and hope that maybe, against all odds, that it would be successful.
"So, you're finally going to go looking for America?" he questioned. Matthew blinked, obviously surprised.
"Yeah, with Ivan. I think he misses having someone to argue with as much as he argued with Al."
Francis was not certain about that, America and Russia did a bit more than just argue. Unless Matthew considered arguing to include fists and weapons. But he could believe that Russia was irritated he had nothing to do with America's fall. He could also believe that for some reason Russia enjoyed betting beaten up by America. Masochist and sadist all in one package. Very disturbing.
Not that Francis had a right to talk. To get into Arthur's pants meant one had to be a masochist on some level.
"You mean... beat up?"
"That too." Matthew sighed. "Either way, he has started missing him. And he used to try to convince me not to go! Ivan's really a big baby, eh."
"A very large one," Francis snickered. He quickly sobered up. "I hope you find him, Matthieu."
"Things can only get better from here," Matthew said earnestly. "Only better."
"Tôt ou tard," Francis agreed, lifting his glass. "And all we can do is our best... to get to that point."
Glass clinked together and they both downed the contents of their glasses.
"Alfred is alive."
Roy continued to stare at him.
"And I'll find him."
Roy was inclined to tell Arthur that he thought that would be a waste of time. America might be alive, but Roy was certain Alfred was not. What was left of America was likely to turn into something else. Reintegrating back into the abandoned states and cities... a lot was going to change. And in the end it was probably not going to be Alfred.
If he was not dead already and a new America now born. And a new America now born did not mean it was going to be Alfred at all. It could not be. Too much had changed since when Finland and Sweden first saw him. Since he had chosen Arthur to raise him.
Roy looked at Arthur and could see that Arthur believed his words completely. There was no doubt, no hesitation. He sighed.
"Ye're in denial," he said. "An' America cannae be alive. But–" he cut in before Arthur could retort. "Ai'm proud o' ye. Ai could nae be more proud o' ye, whe'er 'e's alive or nae."
He hugged him. Partly because of being proud and partly because he knew that Arthur would protest against getting a brotherly hug.
"Ew, get off me Scotland!"
Roy chuckled and eventually Arthur stopped protesting.
"Ye're still short."
"Okay, let go of me, wanker!"
They had spent one straight week out here. No results.
"You were lucky... marrying him because he asked you."
Kiku looked over at him blankly. "You are lucky. You married France and he is still here."
Arthur was somewhat surprised by Kiku's words. Thinking about it though, he should not have been. He laughed, watching the cold air give a form to his response. "I think we both could have wished for better," he admitted.
"Better situations," Kiku reaffirmed. "As for the people... we could not have asked for anything more."
Arthur considered it. Kiku's complete faith and dedication to Alfred was both alien for a Nation and refreshing for a life. It made him feel ashamed, all of that time he wasted just feeling sorry for himself. Meanwhile Kiku had been out here since as soon as he was able to. Looking for so long all on his own.
"Do you think we are getting closer?" Arthur inhaled, tasting the night rain. Other than for the rain it was silent. Just the rain and them.
"We always are, England. We will find him soon."
Kiku's boss called him back for a meeting. They said their goodbyes and exchanged their promises to contact each other before returning to the continent of North America. Arthur wondered where Matthew and Ivan were right now, whether they were going to be more successful than he and Kiku.
He was tired, but an accomplished tired. Needing a rest that he had finally earned. He would return home, rest, and come back.
But Arthur knew the place he was going to return to was not going to be home.
One might think after more than one thousand years of existence that one might get tired of going to work. They would be right, but after being unable to for a while, France found that he was grateful to get back into the swing of things. See his people, his government, find what had changed during his immediate absence.
There was never the few awkward days in returning. He was back into his niche instantly. Back to talking with his people, discovering important and less important facts and rumours.
And talking in French all of the time. He certain missed doing that with people who would respond in the same language and not stare at him as if he were a freak.
Finally he would return home to try and put it into some semblance of order. This day he returned home to see someone sitting on his doorstep.
"Don't you miss your rain?" Francis asked the other Nation. Arthur looked up at him.
"I missed you already."
Francis laughed as Arthur rose to his feet. His laughter slowly faded away as Arthur held a red rose out to him.
"Je n'avais pas l'intention de tomber amoureux de toi," Francis admitted, taking the rose from Arthur's fingertips. "Mais... je t'aime vraiment."
"Shut up," Arthur grumbled, blushing all the way to his ears. "Je... Je ne sais pas si je t'aime. Mais... je sais que je te veux."
"I can live with that." Francis smiled. After all, he was pretty certain by this point he knew what Arthur really meant by saying those words. The way he said them told Francis everything.
Arthur loved him.
He slid the flower into Arthur's hair and kissed him.
"Je suis très heureux pour toi" = "I am very happy for you."
"Non! Bref, c'est vraiment..." = "No! Well, it actually..."
"Mes excuses..." = "My apologies..."
"Tôt ou tard" = "Sooner or later."
"Je n'avais pas l'intention de tomber amoureux de toi. Mais... je t'aime vraiment" = "I did not mean to fall in love with you. But... I do love you."
"Je ne sais pas si je t'aime. Mais... je sais que je te veux" = "I don't know if I love you. But... I know that I want you."
The end of another story! Not as spectacular as my last, I must admit, but I knew that was going to be the case. It was a little more informative and a little more just downright depressing. Hopefully it has wet your appetites for the prequel, of which I think will be more epic than either of them. But first things first, I am now going to write the sequel to Comedy of Errors, titled Much Ado About Everything. There is a poll on my profile which will establish my updating schedule. Let me warn you – the more times I update a week, the later I will probably put up the story. School is in session, I am trying to find a job in this suffering economy... all of the fun real life stuff which puts fanfic writing on the back burner. But I like being able to give you all a consistent updating schedule. Helps me with my organizational skills.
A shout out to my reviewers – I know school has started, but I am very happy with the fact you all managed to give me some feedback so I knew people were still reading, wondering, and caring! EmoLollipop, crimson-obsidian-rose, Hispanic Tenshi, spider wench, Gigi, WhimsicalShmoo, AnimeDutchess, LaRequinne, Tanya Tsuki, I Spazz With Pizzazz... anyone I forgot to mention, and those who only reviewed once or twice.
I want to thank everyone who helped my out with my languages, especially Gigi. Any time I can entertain others and be taught at the same time is a good time.
Next, I want to say how happy I was for all of the responses to my last author's note. The fact that I struck so many chords and you all understood pleases me. Sometimes we on the internet (especially those who write fanfiction) can miss the fact that some very open minds, intelligent minds, are here. Just because the rest of the world may think we are wasting our time is not so!
How about another omake, chickies? I know you will love this one... Again, I will have to say 'read at your own risk'.
Warning: Some non-Nations are in focus.
Some of them had gotten sick from the disease. Some had died. Some had lived, but barely. And here they were, somehow cut off from the rest of the world in a place which looked like it should function, but no longer did. Physical communication was not allowed into the outside world. They were the infected. And until those who were being tested upon had conclusions drawn upon them the groups of infected were forced to set up life where they saw fit.
Occasionally, but what had been becoming rarer and rarer, was they would find someone. Someone wandering aimlessly, someone just staying in one of the empty cities, who could not be bothered to leave, someone unconscious from whatever reason. Finding groups was wonderful. Finding individuals was a miracle. How could someone stay alone for that long, what had happened, where were they heading and planning to do all by themselves?
Their latest addition had been wandering down the ruins of Interstate 70. He looked like he had not eaten in a long time, which was surprising because finding food in towns was easy, it was not getting spoiled or rotten food that was difficult.
Jeffery Solomon usually was in charge. People did not mind – he had been mayor of a small town and some of what he knew could be applied to their small group, how to deal with people. So when the stranger woke up, he was the one sitting there to greet him.
"Howdy stranger." The man sat up, not slowly. He looked somewhat surprised by him. Not that Solomon blamed him, for who knew how long he had been out there alone. "Slow up there," he laughed, holding out a glass of water. "Here y'go."
He took the water and began drinking it, downing nearly the entire thing in a few gulps. Then came the expected coughing. Solomon helped him out with a few pats to the back. He was almost afraid to. They had all been through hell, but this man looked worse off than any of them, like he would fall apart as soon as Solomon touched him.
Had he been in Kansas City when the bomb went off? No, that was impossible. No one was alive from there from when that bomb went off. Thankfully most of the population had been able to evacuate by then.
"Thanks," the blond said. He rubbed at his eyes and Solomon took the other man's glasses from his jacket pocket and handed them over. One of the lenses was slightly cracked and both looked far from able to be cleaned, but they were still his. "Thanks."
"I'm Jeff Solomon, sort of in charge of this group of Displaced," he introduced. "What's your name?"
The man spoke without hesitation. "Alfred F. Jones."
"And what does the 'F' stand for?"
At that, Jones seemed slightly embarrassed. "It... doesn't really matter, does it? It's... Francis."
"Francis..." Solomon repeated. "Good name, what's wrong with it?"
"Well, it was actually payment for a favour." The newcomer looked down at the bed. "A guy helped me get out on my own and he made me change my middle name."
"That's a strange form of payment," Solomon laughed, suddenly hoping the other would not take offense at that. He did not seem to.
"He was a strange person," Jones responded.
"What did it used to be?"
"Before you were forced to change... What did your middle name used to be?"
Jones stared at him for a minute before staring off into the distance. "Actually... Franklin."
"From the Middle English frankelin," Solomon recalled, from a class in a school which now seemed so long ago. It was probably empty now. "Means 'free man'."
Jones nodded slowly, which was strange. Not too many people knew the supposed origins of their names, it was all too old for people not into history to care much about. "That's always been very ironic to me."
Jones did not seem ready to elaborate on that, not that Solomon minded. "I've... never told anyone any of that before."
"Glad to be in your confidence." Solomon patted him once more on the shoulder. "Welcome aboard, Jones."
The prequel will be titled Destroying Alfred. No promises how soon it will be put up, but when it is that will be the title.
Thanking you all,