A/N: Alright, so, I was watching the 'Canada's the Man' fanvid on the Youtube and a plotbunny leapt out of it and latched onto my face. Since I'd like to breathe, I had to write this in order to get rid of it. Basically it's just 'inspired' by that, though. Oh, and everybody's gender is still the same, so it's more about the identity swap than the cross-dressing.
Summary: When America decides to blow off a four-week world summit event, he ropes Canada into pretending to be him.
Pairings: Lots. The important ones are Canada/Prussia and US/UK, though.
He was sure he must have missed a sentence or heard something wrong somewhere in all of what his brother had just told him. Surely he couldn't have understood it correctly.
"I want you to pretend to be me," Alfred said again, looking for all the world as if this was the most reasonable sentence he could utter and gee, Matty, are you having hearing troubles? Matthew shook his head a little bit. He blinked. Then he opened his mouth, but when he tried to settle on just one question, the flood of them seemed to crash in the back of his throat. So what came out was more along the lines of a vaguely horrified 'guh?'.
Alfred waved him off, as if he'd actually asked a successful question and not just kind of pathetically failed to. "Trust me, it'll be a snap. People are always mistaking you for me anyway, and don't think I haven't seen those impressions of me you do when you think no one's looking. Of course, if they need real awesomeness they'll be kind of screwed, but you're pretty good at faking it."
You suck, you rude jerk, Matthew thought with a vehemence which never seemed to escape the confines of his own mind.
Alfred patted him on the shoulder.
He cleared his throat. "Um," he began, fumbling between such questions as 'did you hit your head on the way over here?' and 'what the hell are you talking about?'. "Why?" he asked instead.
His brother blinked. "Why what?" he replied. Then he clapped his hands together, painfully close to knocking Matthew's glasses off. "Oh, why do I want you to pretend to be me! Right. Ha ha! I guess I should have probably explained that first!"
You mean before you marched in here and started demanding I impersonate you? Yes, that might have been wise, Matthew thought sarcastically. Then he muttered it out loud in French, along with a few choice swear words that his brother was utterly oblivious to. Alfred adopted his 'I've got a plan' expression, which usually meant that the word 'hero' would be in excessive use very shortly, and planted one fist into his open palm.
"We keep having these long-running world summit meetings," he said. Matthew, of course, was aware of this. He attended all of them, even if no one was aware of his presence. "It's been eating up a lot of our time. I think someone's trying to use them to distract me while they build WMD's behind our backs." He nodded once, expression utterly serious. "So I wanted to skip this meeting and see what I could find out while it's going on. But if I just don't show up, they might decide to cancel it. That's where you come in."
Matthew gaped at him.
"If you pretend to be me – even if you can't pull it off for the whole four weeks, I'll understand, I mean, there's only so long you can fake my level of awesomeness for – then they won't cancel, and I can hunt around while everyone else is distracted."
He lowered his hands onto Matthew's shoulders, fixing him with a very serious look. "So you see, it's pretty important."
It took Matthew almost half a minute to remember that his jaw had muscles, and close it.
Mother. Fucking. Maple.
"…Y-you want me to spend four weeks at the world summit event pretending – in front of all the other nations – to be you, so that you can go around spying on them? And you think I need to do this because if you just said you weren't going, that they'd cancel the whole thing?" he asked.
With a broad smile, America nodded.
"I knew you'd understand," he said. "And hey, look at this way – you'll get to be an honorary hero!"
He really needed to work on not being such a goddamn pushover.
It was almost shameful how easily he caved. Especially when the plan was as absolutely insane as this one. He sighed, looking at himself in the full-length mirror which Alfred had wheeled in front of him. He was dressed in his brother's favorite clothes, the weight of the jacket feeling a little weird on him, but not nearly as weird as the cold air on the back of his neck. He hadn't even been able to open his mouth to start protesting before his brother had gone at his hair with a pair of scissors.
It was still much wavier than Alfred's, even shorter.
Alfred slung an arm heavily over his shoulder as he stared at himself with something akin to horror.
Alfred sniffed. "I bet you never knew you could look this great," he says. "I should start doing make-overs. I'm really good at it."
I hope you die in a fire, Matthew thought.
"This won't work," was what he said out loud, though, comparing their reflections. Really, they did look very similar, but it was only at a glance. When you actually paid attention then all the little details started to add up, and even if nobody paid attention to him, practically everyone noticed Alfred. They'd be able to tell that something was… off, even if they didn't guess what it was.
"Sure it will," his brother declared. "Besides, you only need to keep it going for long enough that they won't get suspicious until it's too late."
At which point they'll probably string me up for tricking them.
Matthew sighed. "But I have to be there as Canada, too, you know," he pointed out, raising a hand to self-consciously pat at his hair. "It's not like I can be in two places at once."
Alfred waved off his concerns. "Just put that bear of yours in your chair. It's not like anyone will notice."
My pet can't make decisions on behalf on my nation! he thought angrily, the comment causing a spark of resentment to flare in his chest. "B-but – "
"Relax, Matty, it's not like anything important ever really happens at these things."
"That's not -"
"And if something really does come up then you can just drop the act, okay? But only if it's an emergency," he insisted. "All you really have to do is start the meetings, pretend to be awesome, and then when everyone's finished yelling at one another end the meeting and do it all again the next day. Simple, really."
"I don't think -"
"I know, I know, you're not a hero so it'll seem strange to have that kind of power, but you can handle it. Just ask yourself 'what would America do?' and try to do that."
There was a pause.
"…I just threw up a little in my mouth."
"Really? That's weird. But good weird, since this recession has been giving me wicked bouts of nausea. Work with it," Alfred advised. Then he grabbed Matthew by his shoulders and pulled them back, causing him to straighten out of the dejected slouch he'd fallen into. "Now, c'mon, do that impression you do of me."
Immediately, he felt his cheeks go red. His impression of his brother wasn't meant to be… exactly… flattering.
"A-are you sure?"
His brother rolled his eyes. "That wasn't a thing like me, Matty."
"It wasn't supposed to be!"
"C'mon, get in the mindset. You're not silly old boring Canada anymore. For the next few weeks, you're AMERICA!" Alfred insisted.
"I'm not boring!"
"That's the spirit. You're not boring, you're America! Run with it!"
Matthew elbowed him in the gut.
Almost immediately he felt the inevitable surge of guilt and remorse and spun around, eyes the size of saucers. "Oh, geez, I'm sorry! Are you alright? I didn't hurt you, did I?"
Alfred just sighed, not looking the least bit injured. "Well, we've got all day to practice. When a hero like me puts his mind to something, nothing can stand in his way! Not even a challenge like this!"
Matthew elbowed him again.
Technically speaking, Prussia was no longer a nation. Technically speaking, the Berlin wall had come down, East and West Germany had been reunited, and Gilbert should have, by all reasoning, ceased to exist. Faded from the lingering ghost he had become after the war until he was as gone as Rome and Germania and Greece's mother and every other nation that had been dissolved, abolished, or otherwise destroyed. Technically speaking Prussia was dead, and logically so ought to be Gilbert, and neither had any business attending a boring world summit meeting for four weeks.
Technicalities were stupid, though, and nothing against pure, refined awesomeness. Which was what Prussia was made of, naturally. He was therefore exempt from the laws of the universe as they applied to everyone else.
Well, at least that was how he explained the fact that he wasn't dead. Roderich had some bullshit theory that involved West's mental state and human consciousness and Gilbert's own stubborn refusal to let anything go, but what did he know about it? Okay, so, yeah, he hadn't exactly been feeling great since that whole 'you don't exist anymore' fiasco, and he got sick a lot more often and didn't really 'feel' things from 'his' land or rulers the way he used to, but he was still here. Awesomeness was the only convincing explanation.
It was also the only one which didn't terrify the living shit out of him, but he kept that to himself.
The point was that even if he shouldn't have technically been at the meeting, he was feeling bored out of his skull and it had been a while since he'd seen the other nations (well, not by their standards, obviously) so he decided to go. He was sick of getting left out of the party (even if the 'party' was really just everyone yelling at one another over a big long table – it was all fun and games until France started stripping) and he wanted to properly terrorize someone. Maybe seize some vital regions to start rebuilding Prussia (and yeah, he kind of knew it was unrealistic, given that he couldn't even run a mile these days, but like that had ever mattered) or meddle in a few social dynamics.
Just like old times.
Except, of course, in 'old times' the world had been… well, not smaller, but maybe he'd just been bigger himself? Either way, as he followed Ludwig towards the large summit building he couldn't help but feel a little surprised (not overwhelmed, though, no way) at the number of nations present. Obviously it wasn't like the big political meetings which their bosses had. The air was more casual, given that most of them had known one another in some form for much longer than most humans lived, and there was no need for translators or really anyone other than just… themselves. But it was still a pretty hefty head-count. Little pockets of nations gathered and clustered, he spotted the Nordics and some who were probably commonwealth (there was only one way to get eyebrows that fugly), and sure enough it wasn't long before he and West were bombarded with cries of 'Germany~!', and he also saw Roderich and Elizaveta heading their way at the same time.
The Italian goofball latched onto his brother with his usual enthusiasm and overblown affection, which West responded to with a badly hidden smile and 'pat on the back' that, of course, wasn't a hug. At all. Naturally.
Gilbert snickered. Feliciano managed to press the weirdest buttons when it came to his brother.
"What are you doing here?!" was Elizaveta's greeting as she and Roderich approached, folding her arms and giving him that familiar 'hello, you' look of hers. It had gotten somewhat less murderous in recent years – he liked to think it was because she'd mellowed, but in reality it was probably because she wasn't sure if he'd drop dead at any given moment or not.
"I made the executive decision to begin seizing more vital regions," he replied. "This seemed like a good place to start. Plenty of fresh meat." He let his gaze dart pointedly in the direction of – who was that? His eyes narrowed, and the tiny nation in question (looked like England, huh) made an 'eep' sound and dashed away.
Ludwig rolled his eyes. "Try and keep from tormenting anyone who doesn't know you," he asked. For his own part Gilbert was just relieved. It was good to know that he could still frighten small children.
"But it's alright to torment anyone who does?"
Roderich cut in, then, and Gilbert realized that it had been a while since he'd spoken to the Austrian because he'd almost forgotten what a condescending ass he was. "Anyone who already knows you will obviously be wise to your condition," he said.
His eyes narrowed.
"And what 'condition' would that be?"
Before anyone could shove their foot into their mouth (and frankly, there was no possible answer to that question which wouldn't have pissed him off) Feliciano broke in. "Do we have to argue? We should eat before the meeting starts. They're always so long. Hey, hey, Germany~! Let's go find Japan and have some Pasta, like old times!"
It was amazing how Gilbert could hear the capital letter on 'Pasta'.
Ludwig looked like he was about to reject the idea out of his general sense of priorities, so Gilbert smacked him on the back.
"Have fun," he said. "I'm going to go look around."
After all, if he wanted to spend time with his brother, his brother's – boyfriend? Life-partner-who-wasn't-technically-married-to-him? Friend with benefits? – whatever the hell he was, Elizaveta, and Roderich, he could do that pretty easily from home. No, he wanted to see something interesting. Preferably something that could make him forget that he was some kind of awesome zombie nation.
Or, you know, scare small children until somebody made him stop. Either one was good.
He made his way through the throngs of nations. Some had gone inside, but most seemed content at this early stage of the proceedings to just sort of mill about outdoors, enjoying the fine weather and exchanging the usual pleasantries. Distantly he thought he could hear the familiar sounds of Turkey and Greece trying to kill one another, and he spotted Russia walking around and looking a little more tired than Gilbert remembered. That business with Georgia obviously wasn't suiting the large nation – not that he'd expect it to. But it looked like a lot of them had turned up. He was a bit surprised. Weren't these meetings notoriously kind of… useless?
After all, it wasn't like any of them actually made political decisions, they just sort of went with the flow of their bosses and people and advised things. But, then again, Gilbert supposed, it wasn't like he himself had come for any political reasons either.
What a weird excuse for a party, he thought.
"America!" a familiar voice bellowed, and he turned his head slightly towards the sound of it.
Ah, yes, because it just wouldn't be a party without the clowns, now would it? His eyes slipped past several figures before it finally settled on the not-too-far distance, and the chaotic trio of England (still short and wearing caterpillars over his eyes), France (who looked as quintessentially like himself as he ever did) and…
Frowning, Gilbert squinted. The guy was definitely dressed like America, wearing the stupid jacket and gloves, and he looked like him. A lot like him, in fact. Enough so that he thought, for a moment, that he'd just been out of the loop for long enough that the other nation had just switched to a new shampoo or something. Maybe he'd been spending more time with France. Hell, if England's eyebrows were contagious, it stood to reason that wavy hair could be, too.
But no. His awesome-senses were tingling, and as his brain tried to focus on the answer – it was like one of those brain-teaser puzzles, where you look at it and look at it and suddenly, poof, there's a cow! – the brief memory of maple syrup and "It'll be called New Prussia, you know!" flitted through his mind.
Oh. Puzzle solved. Now the only question was why Canada was pretending to be America.
Maybe they got bored and switched places? If he and West looked even remotely alike, he knew he'd be trying to pull that one all of the time. Imagine the possibilities!
…Okay, well, actually he couldn't think of any just then, but that was irrelevant since he and his brother were about as far from identical as it came. So if he actually did think of anything then he'd just have to live with the disappointment of never being able to do it (or maybe clone himself) and that wouldn't be awesome. It would just be annoying. Not to mention a waste of valuable brain power.
It was kind of funny, though, watching England rag on Canada while he thought he was ragging on America. How could he honestly not tell? He was a little sketchy on the details, but he was pretty sure the Brit had raised both nations – or at least taken care of them when they were small. They weren't even as identical as Feliciano and Lovino.
Come to think of it, hadn't Francis had a hand in raising those two as well?
He blinked, and watched as Canada seemed to flounder a little under England's onslaught. He earned himself a weird look from the other two nations for it. But then a moment later he found his feet, and Gilbert's interest peaked a little as the North American came back with a whole lot of bravado. He snorted. It was a pretty good impersonation, actually, but a little too exaggerated when you knew what you were looking for.
Not that anyone else seemed to notice. England went back to his yelling, and Gilbert mused that he had found something interesting. That was fast. He made his way over, a smirk curling the corners of his mouth.
"-Can't believe you didn't even talk to me before you made that deal with Bermuda, you just never think, do you?!" he heard England demand as he came within range of his sharp, angry hissing. Before Canada could give his answer to that accusation, all three nations noticed his presence.
France blinked. England raised his eyebrows at him slightly, while Canada just looked uncomfortable in America's jacket.
"Prussia," England said. "What are you doing here?"
"Right now?" he asked. "Watching you make an idiot out of yourself. Feel free to continue – I'll just take a seat over here." Then he gave Canada a look and a wink, and noticed all of the color drain out of his face. England bristled.
"Ah, mon ami," said France. "One might as well watch him breathe. They are equally common occurrences."
"Well you'd know all about breathing idiocy, wouldn't you?" England snapped at him without missing a beat.
"Oh just give it a rest, please," Canada said almost under his breath, folding his arms and giving them both unhappy looks. He seemed momentarily taken aback when the pair responded by turning to him in some surprise.
Gilbert grinned, leaned back against the bench he'd settled onto, and folded his hands behind his head.
"…Are you feeling alright?" England asked, his mouth twitching downwards into a frown.
For a moment Canada floundered again, obviously not used to having France and England pay attention to him when he said things. He cleared his throat, shifting a little as the two older nations looked at him with – concern, maybe? Suspicion? Hell if Gilbert could tell.
"I have to go puke," he suddenly declared, and then mumbling something about recessions and long trips he dashed off into the building.
Gilbert stood back up. He gave France and England his best evil smirk and cheerful wave, and then followed after Canada.
Matthew didn't even manage to make it to the bathroom without incident. Along the way he'd gotten stopped by Australia (who'd squinted at him, but didn't seem to actually figure anything out) and Russia (who'd done that thing where he grabbed his shoulder and held it just a little too tightly) and then only just managed to dodge about six other nations. Alfred's jacket seemed to have some kind of anti-invisibility effect.
It was more than a little disconcerting. He was used to nobody noticing him, and now it seemed like everybody was!
Things didn't actually improve once he got to the bathrooms, either, because they weren't exactly empty.
"America! You bastard!" he heard a familiar voice bellow right as he opened the door, and a moment later came face to face with Cuba.
Reflexively, he opened his mouth to correct the other nation – no, no it's Canada! – but then stopped himself, abruptly remembering that he was pretending to be his brother, of course, so he couldn't tell his friend about his mistake. But barring that he really didn't know what kind of response to make. Cuba clenched his fists, looking big and as foreboding as he had when they first met and he'd beaten Matthew to a pulp.
Which wasn't any good, because if Cuba attacked the real Alfred then it would just be kind of like punching a wall, but Matthew would legitimately get the crap beaten out of him.
He braced himself, wondering if he could get away with running. It wasn't something his brother would ever do under the circumstances, but he wasn't about to get hospitalized over this. Cuba glared at him. Then, with an unfriendly little growl of disapproval, he marched past him, doing nothing more than bumping his shoulder rather harshly.
Matthew let out a breath he hadn't realized he'd been holding.
"Ooh, close call," a sly voice said from behind him, and he turned around to see Prussia standing just inside the doorway his friend had exited through.
"Prussia? What are you doing here?"
"Following you around, obviously," Prussia replied. "What'd you do with your bear, anyway?"
"Oh, he's alright, I just left him to wander on his own for now. He's probably gone and found… New… Zealand…" he trailed off, feeling a mixture of acute embarrassment and, to be honest, relief overtake him. "…How did you know?"
Prussia scoffed. "I'm way too awesome to fall for such an obvious trick," he said. "I mean, your hair's wavy, it's got red in it, your eyes are more purple than blue, you hold yourself completely differently when you forget to do an impression of him, and you're a little skinnier, too. Someone with my level intelligence wouldn't miss it."
Matthew felt all of the heat rush up to his face. He was utterly speechless.
Prussia… recognized him? Even when he was trying to be mistaken for Alfred?
He didn't think that the former nation had know his brother that well. Even Arthur and Francis hadn't been able to tell! Matthew had been thinking that it was just that he really was so much like a bland version of Alfred that it was impossible.
"H-hey, what… are you crying?" Prussia blurted, his expression shifting from sly to incredulous. Matthew immediately raised a hand up to his face. His eyes were wet, although nothing had actually made it as far as his cheeks.
"No," he immediately replied. "I was just – it's dusty in here. That's all." He took off his glasses and batted rather brusquely at his eyes, and there was a long, awkward silence. Then Prussia lifted a hand, pointed at him, and started cackling.
"That was the best you could come up with? Dust? Wow. Even West'll shoot for 'eye infection' or something like that."
"But it really is dusty!"
Prussia just cackled that much harder. Matthew tried to be angry with him – in theory he ought to have been – but he couldn't quite manage it. His mind was too busy reeling. So instead he just went over to the sinks and tried to make himself look a little less like he was kind of crying a teensy bit. After a while the laughter quieted down.
He jumped about a mile when he felt a pair of hands come to rest on his shoulders, and when he looked up he saw Prussia's slightly creepy visage over his own shoulder in the mirror. "So," the former nation said. "Why are you pretending to be Captain Jackass?"
Matthew stiffened slightly at the insult to Alfred. "Does it really matter?" he asked. "The jig's up now anyway." I didn't even last a full hour…
"Who says I'll tell anyone?" he asked.
"Why wouldn't you tell anyone?" Matthew asked in honest confusion. In response the hands on his shoulders tightened in momentary amusement, and Prussia smirked.
"What would be the fun in that? Right now it looks like I'm the only one who's figured it out. If I blow the whistle then you'll be humiliated – but if I keep quiet, then everyone else gets played for a fool. Besides, this looks like decent blackmail material," he concluded, and then his grin turned almost feral. "I know! Surrender your vital regions to Prussia, or I'll reveal your secret to the world!"
Matthew turned roughly the same color as the borders on his flag.
"If I have to choose between my vital regions and Alfred's lunatic plan, I'll just march right out there and tell everyone myself," he said, and then moved towards the door.
He was blocked by Prussia, who promptly moved to stand in front of him. "Fine, fine," the former nation agreed. "You can't blame me for trying. If you ever want to be more awesome, though, you can always change your mind."
It occurred to Matthew that he sounded kind of like Alfred. Only much, much creepier.
As if he could read his thoughts, Prussia smirked at him again, and then folded his arms. "Just let me in on it," he said. "I'll keep my mouth shut. Hell, if it's funny enough I might even help you."
The tragedy of it, really, was that Matthew had been looking forward to having his deceit uncovered (as poorly as it might reflect on his competence) since he really didn't want to keep doing this. But he couldn't in good conscience just willfully blow Alfred's insane, ill-advised, remarkably uncomfortable plan…
Wait, why couldn't he do that again?
The mental image of his brother's stricken face flashed before his eyes. Oh yeah, that was why – because he was an utter doormat. Right. Of course. Silly of him to forget.
Well, Prussia wouldn't exactly be his number one choice in terms of a confidant (he was still looking rather creepily and expectantly at him, actually) but since he knew already…
"Alfred wanted me to pretend to be him so that he could skip the conference. He was convinced that if he didn't show up then the event would get canceled." He decided to leave out the part about spying on everyone else. It seemed prudent.
Prussia raised an eyebrow at him. "Yeah? So what's in it for you?" he asked, after waiting a moment and realizing that that was all Matthew planned on saying.
Matthew blinked. "Hell if I know," he muttered before he could think the better of it.
They were interrupted, then, when the bathroom door swung open again. Arthur halted just inside the threshold, looking between the two of them. His eyes narrowed slightly at Prussia.
"If you're feeling better then we should start getting ready for the first meeting, don't you think?" he said, directing the question towards Matthew.
"Of course. I'm sorry if I kept you waiting," he replied automatically.
Arthur looked at him like he'd suddenly grown another head. There was a brief, awkward pause, and then both of them jumped a little in surprise when Prussia clapped Matthew on the shoulder.
"You'll get the hang of that whole sarcasm thing eventually, America," he said. Then, snickering a little to himself, he made his way out, seemingly oblivious to the death-glare which Arthur had started shooting at him.
"What were you doing?" the Englishman demanded as soon as he was out of earshot. "Hanging around with Prussia, of all people? What's going on?"
Matthew took a moment to channel his inner Alfred, bolstering himself against talking this way to Arthur and trying to make sure he didn't stutter. "None of your business. Get off my back!" he griped, and then pushed past him without even so much as an 'excuse me' or 'pardonnez moi'.
He had to beat down against a sudden surge of guilt at being so impolite. It took him the entire walk to the assembly hall to manage it, too.