Author's Note: This is for dawn-crescendo at the USxUK livejournal Secret Santa. It will be five chapters long, and I'll have it completed by Christmas Eve!
By Everything is Magic
"I'm on my feet, I'm on the floor, I'm good to go," America sang along, his heart pounding almost as if in rhythm to the music, his feet thumping against the tiled floor in a run, his mp3 player jiggling, hanging secure from a clip on his backpack. He dodged students, skidding to the side upon almost running into a gaggle of girls, and then slamming his palm into a locker to keep himself from falling.
"Now all I need is just to hear a song I know," he continued, his voice growing winded as he sped toward his destination, his sneakers squeaking and scuffing the floor as he turned a sharp corner. One of his ear buds fell free from his ear, and he quickly shoved it back in with a quiet curse.
"I wanna always feel like part of this was mine." He stopped in front of the office door, inhaling a quick sharp breath, and slamming it open. "I wanna fall in love tonigh--- "
"Idiot, what do you want?"
America ripped his ear buds out and paused his mp3 player, shooting a smirk at the fellow student who had interrupted him.
England was standing across the room, hands at his hips and a characteristic scowl on his face. His uniform blazer was immaculately pressed, so crisp that America swore that he would have obtained something akin to a paper cut had he tried to touch one of the edges.
America ran a hand through his hair and shrugged, ignoring England's greeting as he sauntered across the room, stopping in front of a small table with a slit-top box atop it. "I honestly thought I'd turned this in already!" America reached in his pocket and pulled out a folded piece of paper, slipping it into the box. "It's a good thing I'm awesome and got here before four." He paused and glanced at his watch; 3:59.
"You're signing up for the band competition?" England was now next to America, and his perpetual frown had an edge of curiosity to it.
America nodded. "Yeah! I'm gonna be awesome."
He scoffed. "Right. Of course. How could I ever doubt you?"
"Good question." America grinned pressing his hand to the wall next to him. "Hey student council president, can you tell me who else signed up?"
England straightened his blazer and shook his head. "You know what? According to the clock right there, which by the way, is the clock I always go by for student council activities." He gestured to a round analog clock above the red cherry wood desk that was the most prominent piece of furniture in the student council room. "According to that clock, it was 4:01 when you put your slip in. Signups close at four."
America's shoulders drooped and he looked crestfallen. "C-c'mon England you wouldn't…"
The shorter boy sighed, and his cheeks pinked very slightly. "G-git. I'll let you enter, but don't get me wrong, it's not for you. It's just that I'd prefer you to win over some other people who have entered."
America turned, half-sitting on the edge of the table. "Wow! So you are capable of being considerate after all."
England whipped around, storming back to his desk with a furrow of his brows and a curse. "Don't make me take it back, America. I am the studen---"
"You are the student council president, I know." He made a face, as if imitating England's glower. "So who else is participating?"
The other boy raised his thick eyebrows. "Prussia, Finland, Poland, Seychelles and… Korea are the students I have forms from. I don't know who will be part of their bands though."
America tapped his chin. "I've got Canada on drums and Japan doing keyboard. I'll be doing lead vocals of course, because Hero Frequency needs my awesome voi---"
"Hero Frequency?" England leaned against the cherry wood desk, shuffling a stack of papers in his hands. "Preposterous."
"More like amazing," America countered. "Anyway, we're still looking for two more members…"
England averted his eyes away from America, down to the stack of papers. He tightened his grip on them. "I'm afraid I can't help you with that."
And then America was beside him, resting a hand on his stiff shoulder. "C'mon England. We could really use you on guitar…"
He jerked away from America's touch sharply, nearly dropping the papers in the process. "Don't you dare ask. I'm not going to help."
America reached out again, before thinking twice about it and pulling back. "But you're good at it, and we're friends so I thought…"
"We're friends?" England snapped. "We're friends when it's convenient for us, you mean?"
"E-England I--- "
"Get out," he interrupted. "I'll say you were too late to sign up if you don't leave now and drop it."
England bewildered America. He confused him so damn much that he often felt a headache coming on just at the thought of the student council president. He'd left at England's forceful urging, not wanting to risk losing his position in the school's Battle of the Bands. In truth, he'd been practicing his vocals for weeks, and he thought he was… well… pretty damn awesome.
England wasn't wrong. The two of them barely talked to each other unless they had a favor to ask of each other; whether it be England trying to borrow audio equipment from the sports teams for a student council assembly, or America asking for clearance on an extra hour of court time for the basketball team every Wednesday.
But it hadn't always been that way, America considered, as he sat on his bed in the dormitory and idly flipped through his pre-calculus textbook. When they'd entered high school, the two had been close, albeit bickering, friends.
Their interests had diverged though, and when England took on the role of student council president, their fights began to escalate as well. Playful bickering turned into legitimately hurtful arguments, and the negative tension between them turned into something palpable. America was an idiot, England abused his power, and now all their friendship was good for was the occasional exchange of favors.
And America guessed that it had finally gotten to England, judging by his earlier outburst. He sighed, running a hand down his face and slamming shut his textbook.
He felt a pang in his heart over it, tight, like the guitar strings that reminded him of England. England was an amazing player. America recalled going over to his dorm the first year of high school and listening to him. He was shy about playing publicly, and America couldn't understand why at all. In addition to being able to rock the six strings like no other, he had a raw, husky, and powerful singing voice that---
America pressed his hands to his cheeks and rubbed, willing the flush that had risen to them to go away.
His twin brother, Canada, who he shared his dorm with, would be back soon, and he wanted to be ready to talk about the band! Japan was coming over too. He shoved his textbook in his backpack and slid off his bed, running to the bathroom and rinsing his face with cool water in attempt to clear his head. They'd rock this, even if they only had… umm… drums and a keyboard. America's awesome was enough to make up for that, he knew it!
A soft knock on the door interrupted his thoughts, and he slid across the bathroom tile and answered his dormitory door. Japan and Canada greeted him, having found each other on the way to the dorm and come together.
America shot them both a grin and a booming 'hello,' before shutting the door behind them and quickly gesturing them to follow. Canada sat on his bed, and the other two shifted into a comfortable position on America's bed.
"I got us signed up!" America beamed at his two companions. Japan gave him a soft smile, toying with the fabric at the edge of his best friend's superhero comforter as he did so.
"Eh? That's good," Canada replied. "So…"
"Practices start tomorrow," America explained. "Each band is given two hours every other day after school in one of the music rooms."
"Sounds perfect, America," Japan said, "and the first round is…"
"First show is in three weeks," he answered, "so we'll have plenty of time to practice…"
Canada was leaning back against the wall now, using a white plush polar bear as a makeshift pillow. "What about--- "
"England's not doing it," America interrupted, his expressing turning sour. "His loss of course, because it's going to be so awesome he won't even be able to believe it."
"I-I'm sorry, America," Japan placed a hand on his shoulder, comforting but reserved. "I know we were counting on him."
America pulled away, and gestured with a wave of his hand toward Japan. "Hero Frequency is gonna be amazing, and you know what? We're better off without him. Stodgy guy like him would just bring us down…"
"But you said England was a great guitarist, eh."
At this, America's cheeks colored. "T-that doesn't mean anything. I'm sure we can find someone better. I promise I'll have a new guitarist for us in time for our first practice!"
Japan shot him a skeptical glance. "And when do the practices begin?"
At this, America laughed nervously, rubbing the back of his head as he did so. "Um, tomorrow."
"We're screwed, eh," Canada groaned, lying down on his bed all the way. America frowned for a moment, before brightening again.
"No way! D'you know how easy it will be to convince a girl to do this for me?" He argued. "I mean c'mon…"
"But you'll have to find someone who can play the guitar," Canada countered.
America deflated slightly. "Y-yeah well, Hero Frequency is destined for greatness, so I'm sure I will!"
Japan mulled on this for a moment, before nodding. "America certainly has the capability to be very persuasive. I'm sure he'll find someone..."
Canada sighed. "Or he could just ask England again…"
America threw a pillow at him.
America, much to even his own shock, came through on his promise to procure a guitarist. Okay, she was proficient as a bassist, but whatever, that would do. It's not like he was going to find anyone better this late in the game.
She was also completely crazy, and even if he'd tried flirting with her to get her attention and interest in taking the job, it's not as if she would have been receptive.
Belarus was interested in only one person, and in fact, that's why she'd agreed to do it in the first place. When he'd yelled very loudly across the cafeteria that afternoon, asking if anyone was interested, she had been the first to approach.
Belarus was in love with Russia. Russia did not acknowledge Belarus's affections. America and Russia hated each other. If Belarus got chummy with America, surely Russia would get jealous and come around, right?
Or at least, in so many clipped words, that's how Belarus had explained it when America had asked why she was offering her talents to the band. And she was good. She'd played for America in a break between classes, and he'd been impressed.
He didn't really care why she did it, just that she was committed to the job. And okay, maybe a little part of him was amused by it as well. Despite Russia's rejection of Belarus's romantic advances, it was obvious he cared about her in some manner, at least. So yeah, this probably would annoy Russia, which America thought would be pretty cool. And it's not like Russia could rightfully get on his case for it, as Belarus was the one who had volunteered. Really, that just made it better.
Plus she'd bring that kind of gothic Lolita thing to the band, which was pretty popular, and that might work in their advantage in the competition. It was an awesome arrangement overall, with many perks, if America did say so.
Belarus was keeping to herself in the corner of the room, plucking the strings of her bass guitar, while America, Japan, and Canada set up their equipment. The drum set and keyboard were being provided by the school, and both of the instrumentalists were toying with them, attempting to get a feel for these individual instruments before the practice formally started.
After playing a few short melodies on the keyboard, Japan approached America and pulled him to the side of the music room, imploring that they speak privately.
"What is it, Japan?" America asked. He leaned against the wall, pressed against a bulletin board that read 'HONOR BAND CAR WASH: APRIL TWENTY-FIRST' in bold, blocky, red construction paper letters.
Japan flitted his eyes to Belarus, who shot him a rueful stare and went back to her guitar. "I'm uh, glad you found someone, America," he said quietly.
America laughed shortly. "Yeah, I know she's not sunshine and daisies, but she's actually pretty good, I promise!"
He nodded. "Well she's an interesting choice, but I trust your decision. Anyway, that's not what I wanted to talk to you about."
The taller boy tensed slightly. "Huh?"
"It's about England." Japan looked up at him, brown eyes meeting blue, and an intent and thoughtful expression on his features.
America sighed and shook his head, running a hand through his hair and then pausing to rub his forehead. "England says he's tired of us just doing favors to each other, says we're friends only when it's convenient."
"Ah, I wondered when one of you would get upset about that."
"H-hey now!" America defended. "It's not like I don't get that, but what the hell does he want then? It's obvious that he doesn't want to be friends with me like we used to be…"
"What do you want, America?" Japan queried frankly. "If you'll excuse me asking, at least. I apologize if I'm making you uncomfortable…"
He shrugged. "Doesn't really matter, I guess. But I mean, you're the best friend I could ask for, really Japan…" America slapped a hand on his shoulder and squeezed it. "I don't need England."
And truly, Japan was an amazing friend. The two had a lot in common, and they'd only grown closer since America's friendship with England had crashed and burned. He wasn't into sports like America was (although they both loved baseball to a ridiculous degree), but science, math, technology, comic books, video games, pretty much everything else America liked, Japan did too. And he was supportive, and… America knew they were unlikely friends, the boisterous blonde and the quiet and subdued Asian boy, but it worked. Japan was enough. He didn't need England in his life, he---
His encouraging smile toward Japan was genuine, but Japan stiffened a bit. "I don't mean the same thing to you that England does, America, if you don't mind me saying." He exhaled. "It's not my wish to be England's replacement, and it's not as if I could be that anyway."
"Japan—no, I really do care about you, man!"
At this, Japan chuckled. "I know, America. I merely mean that—please understand how much I value your friendship, America, firstly. I merely mean that we occupy two different roles in your life."
America bit his lip and turned away, rubbing his elbow with one of his hands. "Practice will be starting soon, so…"
"You really wanted England to join, didn't you?"
America's eyes widened and his cheeks flushed high. "N-not really. I just thought it might work…" He shook his head. "I guess it'd be cool to maybe hang out a bit again, but if he doesn't want to, I get it."
"He'd probably come in here and dictate everything anyway, like the amazing student council president that he is." He feigned a scowl, and a terrible attempt at a British accent. "You, stand over there, and make sure your shirt is tucked in properly, school policy. Is that a chip on your guitar? Get it repaired soon. It looks sloppy."
Unbidden, Japan smiled a bit at this. "England can be a little overbearing, yes."
America snorted. "Yeah, just a little." But there was fondness in his expression, as he jogged back over to where Canada sat behind his drums and Belarus was now tuning her guitar. Japan followed. "Okay, are you guys ready for some serious awesome?"
Belarus frowned and continued her guitar ministrations, and Canada sighed and nodded. "The first round is just covers, everyone. We'll not be doing any original material at this one. There are six bands participating, and three get knocked out in the first round, one in the second show, and then it's the last two in a huge showdown."
He paused and grabbed the microphone, shooting a winning smile to his band members. "That's gonna be us, in all three rounds. So prepare for lots of practice, because we're going to take this thing. No one else stands a chance against Hero Frequency!"
America heard Belarus groan at the name of the band, but ignored it. "Belarus is going to be our bassist. She's really great, so make sure to uhh--- get to know her!"
"Hello," Belarus stated simply, before going back to her task. "This will make Russia jealous, right?"
America bit his lip. "Uh yeah, I'll make sure of it."
She glanced at him, a bit darkly. "Good."
He frowned, and the briefest of shivers went through him, before he flickered back into a smile. "All right! Canada on drums, Japan on keyboards, Belarus on bass, and me, the lead, on vocals. I think that's all we need, right?"
He waited for the replies of 'yes' or 'of course,' but instead what he heard next was a slamming open of the room's door. Whipping around, his blue eyes grew large and his mouth dropped open.
England stood there, his perfectly pressed uniform and his scowl unmistakable. And America feared for a moment, that he'd decided to disqualify them from the competition, that in his anger from the previous day, he'd concluded that 4:01 by his clock really was too late to sign up for the band competition. And he felt anger well up inside him, because England, even at his worst, had never done something this petty.
And then he noticed what England was holding. His precious Fender electric guitar, emblazoned with a Union Jack all across the front of the body. It looked bizarrely out of place and almost comedic, slung across his crisply pristine uniform. "I was standing outside the door, just by chance, and well- I don't think that's all you need. You really could do with a lead guitarist."
His face broke into a grin, unbidden. "E-England, are you…"
"Yes, I am," he interrupted, stepping into the room briskly and taking his place beside America. "I found out France was a part of Glorious Awesome." He rolled his eyes dramatically. "As you can imagine, that's Prussia's band. Well the last thing I'm going to do is allow that Frog to win this competition, so I figured I'd help by bringing a little bit of competency to Hero Frequency." His cheeks were slightly pink as he spoke, hooking his guitar up to the school's provided amp in the process. "So yes, don't misunderstand, this is for my sake that I'm doing this."
And America smiled, and for some reason like maybe he really did kind of want England to do this, and maybe even he sort of thought it might help their relationship out a bit, he felt his heart swell and he was readier than ever to do this damn thing.
Hero Frequency really was going to be the most awesome band ever.