After the peace established at the end of the last war, the project had been started. A global project. One where every single Nation would contribute. It was no longer something to keep to themselves, this was something to belong to all of mankind.
Dreams of space travel. Actual space travel, with people, going further than their own atmosphere, to places maybe even further than the moon. England could not understand where all of the time possibly could have gone that they were now actually working on this together.
At least, as together as they possibly could. It was easy to see who was taking control of the project. Japan and America, both too exuberant and bringing up ideas that sounded like they would be completely stupid, then bringing up information which established that doing so would be possible. Then, of course, America had to start the argument about sliding doors in space with Germany. After all, America had to have it as Star Trek as possible.
This would have annoyed England, except for the fact he was so relieved that America was in any condition to argue about something so frivolous. America collapsed into his chair during break, which was an action most people probably saw coming.
"You should not have expended so much energy, Alfred," Japan said.
"I was not expending so much," America complained. "Just enough! I'm just sitting down so other people can do stuff!"
"Of course you are," Japan smiled, patting him on the shoulder. "I will get us lunch."
"Can you stop at–"
"Shh..." Japan tapped a finger against his lips. "Leave it to me."
These two were getting married. England did not know whether to cry or glare. After all, the sweetness was not going to last long, no matter if they remained on good terms. Tapping his pen against the table, England quickly stopped himself in lieu of jotting down something else in his notes.
"You've really bounced back quickly," he said non-committally, loud enough that perhaps America would hear it.
"Well, yeah," America responded, as though it were supposed to be obvious. "That's the power of–"
"Don't you dare." England did his best not to slam his pen down on the table, glaring over at him. "If you dare say something as stupid as it's because of love, you are dumber than I thought you were."
"Not dumb," America pointed at him. "Happier. There's a difference. Geeze, England, glad to see your optimism hard at work today."
"Why don't you take it from someone with a bit more life experience," England rolled his eyes. "This thing you call love? Temporary insanity."
"Uh... no," America responded, leaning back in his chair a little bit. "Japan's older than you. And he believes in it."
As long as Japan doesn't hear it, England thought, slightly amused at the Asian countries' adversity against mentioning their age as being 'old'. "I wouldn't call Japan..." Sane, was the end of the sentence that England decided not to say. He really did not want to start up the sanity argument. Especially not with America. That was begging for trouble. "...as someone who really believes in it," England finished lamely.
"Someday, someone's going to declare that they're in love with you," America shrugged. "And you're going to have to call me when that happens, because I want to watch the hilarity of you trying to logic them into admitting that there's no such thing as love to someone who loves you."
England rolled his eyes and went to go get some cof– tea, tea! He was going to get himself some tea. He was going to get himself anything which required him leaving here now and not continuing this rather silly conversation with America. Escaping the meeting room, he went down the hall to see if there was any tea left or whether he was going to end up having to drive out to someplace nearby.
If he left, all probability would say he would be late in returning. He did not really like driving around Finland's place.
England rose an eyebrow at the proffered cup, but took it nevertheless. "What do you think, France?" he commented nonchalantly. "Will today offer any complete decisions that will not be argued about within twenty four hours?"
France chuckled. "Never. Thankfully we politicians have been rendered obsolete in part to this project or it would never be completed."
"It still might not," England reminded him. The tea was not half bad for having been made by a French frog. England sipped at it, slowly calming down from his previous conversation with America. "I've actually pinned a lot of my hopes on this project. If we can all keep our act together... a united front against whatever could be out there."
"Oui," France agreed, looking rather expectant. "For once things do not look hopeless in this regard. Though I do not expect us to ever stop fighting about the details."
Perhaps they would not. There was a reason there were so many different countries instead of just one of them that represented the Human race. "Do you ever think we could go?"
France glanced over at him oddly. "What do you mean?"
"My dear England, isn't that what we are talking about?"
"I didn't mean it like that," he scowled, glaring at the Frenchman before staring down into his cup of tea. "I meant us."
In his peripheral vision, England could see the other blink a few times before responding, obviously surprised at the prospect. "You think so?"
"That's my point. Can you imagine what it would be like beyond Earth's atmosphere? There has been some astronauts who have spoken about that... and stepping on another solar body? Can you imagine not being on Earth?"
There was his point. They were Nations and consisted of so many things – one of the most important which was the land they used to squabble over left and right. So many lines had been established for so long by this point. Their boundaries were no longer so temporary. Would it be physically possible to leave the planet they were so entangled in?
And, if they had the opportunity, would any of them actually do so?
"I don't think I could."
France nodded, agreeing without saying anything.
They were unlikely to think of this particular subject again for a long time and England was just fine with that. It did not bode well when they started thinking about things in any light other than as a country.
Which was why he knew the upcoming marriage would not last forever. Hopefully America and Japan would enjoy what they had while they had it.
There was something wrong.
Spain could not put his finger on it. He sat through the meeting, enjoying the company and the conversations, uncertain about certain subjects, concealing slight irritation when certain ideas were placed on the back burner.
"What's on your mind, mon ami?"
"Hm?" Spain hummed questioningly as he looked over at France. When he had replaced Belgium at his left he was not certain, but neither did he mind. "How I'm not following half of this~"
"Who is?" France chuckled, glancing around the table. "Can't hear it to even try for that much. You notice Vietnam? Doesn't she look so much better?"
Spain glanced over to her and had to agree with France. Not that he had seen much of her since her floods, but the fact she was not dripping anymore was an obvious statement as to how much she had recovered. The oddest thing about that was the fact she was sitting next to Korea and did not seem to care. The oddest part of that was Korea.
Which once again reminded Spain there was something wrong, but he still had no idea what.
"Did you go and tell her so?" he asked France. France laughed, shaking his head.
"Only if I want to be punched in the face. Merci, mais non. What's going on with you?"
If they were needed in the main discussion, someone would fill them in. It was with no reservation that Spain stopped paying attention to the rest of the room to focus in on his conversation with France. "Nothing newer than what I told you last time we spoke," he said, trying to remember the last time they spoke. "What all did we talk about then?"
"That was last Monday!" France crowed mockingly. "Already forgotten?"
Spain thought about it. "Yes," he replied. "What were we talking about?"
France opened his mouth to respond and did not say a word.
This was what was wrong. It was with France's blank expression that Spain remembered. Prussia. They were talking about Prussia. Historically speaking, it would not be a problem to remember these things. But they were talking about him now and suddenly the memory would be gone.
They were forgetting about him, about how he should be here with them, making as much ruckus as he always had.
"Gilbert," Francis finally said, voice quiet as if someone else would react adversely if they heard that name being said. "We were talking about Gilbert."
A single question repeated in his head, as it had been for so long now. How did I forget him? It seemed simply incredulous. How could they have forgotten?
"How many times have we been that desperate?" France asked, not seeming to expect an answer.
"Never that desperate," Spain could not help but say. "Prussia's the only one who could ever pull off that much of it at one time."
That seemed to stagnate their conversation and turn France even more quiet.
"Are we going to remember saying this?" Spain questioned himself.
France did not answer and Antonio realized that he already did not know what he was asking about.
"What do you think of the new power plan~?" Spain asked cheerfully.
The Frenchman shrugged. "I think there could be a better option, but who listens to me anymore?"
Something felt wrong. France patted him on the shoulder as he went on to complain about Russia and then about Finland and Sweden.
Spain commented how he thought Belarus was adorable now, but something seemed wrong about saying that when he could not think of what was supposed to be so wrong.
Yet he could not remember.
This was the second instalment to their most recent favourite game and America was even more certain that the commander in there was yelling at them rather than their characters. But that would be strange because he was not talking about the fourth wall or anything, so he put those thoughts aside as they began to play.
Kiku stopped, almost about to look away from the screen at him, but did well to keep playing. "Toronto is your brother's city, not yours."
"I was just making sure you were still paying attention," Alfred replied, glad to be proven right.
Japan sighed. "All we do is shout places at each other."
"We aren't shouting," America frowned, keeping Japan's character from being consumed by a zombie. "Got your back."
"I am not shouting," Japan revised his statement as they headed out of the bunker. "I simply think there should be a better way of solving our dilemma."
"Dilemma's a pretty harsh word for it."
"Then what would you call it?"
Alfred frowned. "Difference of opinion."
"Certainly it is that," his fiancé agreed, hitting another zombie with a table leg before it bit Alfred's character. "Where are the refugees?"
"They're supposed to be near the city square," he responded, reloading his weapon. "Though I guess I get what you mean by shouting. We've stopped trying to convince each other and now all we're doing is – to your left – repeating places at each other."
They could do what other Nations had done. They both already had their own homes. They could alternate between the two. But it was not like a hundred years ago. Spending half the year living in another country might make it seem like something was wrong. Not just to their people and government, but to themselves.
All of that notwithstanding, Alfred did not want to do that. Oh yeah, he loved his house. It was great. But he was starting something new and he wanted to build a new place to commemorate it. Build a house for the both of them. Which Japan had thought was an interesting idea, except for the fact neither of them could agree where the house should be.
And no matter how many times he told Japan that there did not seem like there would be enough room in his country to build anything, Japan would come back with a comment or another which was totally untrue. Japan could be a sore loser sometimes, though America supposed he had not really lost if he was being stubborn enough not to give in.
"I was wondering when you would realize that," Kiku said, small smile on his face. "I have lost track of the amount of times you have said Wichita."
"Less than Portland, right? And Osaka's like... every other suggestion from you! You're the one who– here're the masses!"
They paused in their conversation to try and kill a zombie horde. It was not long before both of their characters had been eaten and they found themselves being yelled at by the commander again.
"Is he yelling at us, or at us?" Alfred asked.
"You have already asked that, Alfred. Of course it is the characters." Despite saying so, Kiku looked slightly uncomfortable throughout the entire briefing. "Perhaps we should narrow down our own ideas, before suggesting them."
"I thought we both started out with our own ideas and it was the whole 'sharing of them' that got us suggesting every city in our homes."
"You will choose three and I will choose three," Japan said. "And from those six we will decide."
Well, it sounded good enough to Alfred. Not that he was likely to choose any of Kiku's choices, but part of him almost wanted Kiku to convince him.
It would be interesting.
All the invitations were sent out. Including the one to Korea that Japan had not wanted to give in the first place. Then again, there were several Nations Japan wished he could have missed inviting, but America had made it impossible to miss China, so he was left with the few he had taken from the list to address himself.
Though he did wonder why they did not send it as an e-mail, but Alfred had been insistent that there be paper wastage and Kiku had given in. The excuse had been that it would be more personal. America had an odd idea about what was personal and what was not. In fact, it seemed that he was always changing his mind about that too. Japan had let this one slide. It was something that would have been very important to himself too, once.
Actually, he might have been the one to suggest sending the invitations by post, but America was certainly the one to go insane over the idea.
Still, Vietnam had to have Korea invited as well and there was no way of telling her that the invitation had been lost in the mail or something like that. She had very quickly made him feel guilty though. Which did not make any sense. Simply because he wanted less to go wrong during his wedding he was the bad guy for not inviting Korea? It was a very uncomfortable situation that had been easily rectified by giving Vietnam Korea's invitation to be hand delivered to the other Nation in her house.
It was as if she had timed it to be right before his next visit to Germany. Italy had insisted he go over and talk some sense into the other about something (right before considering the intelligence of Japan's sense, Italy could be very insulting without knowing he was sometimes). Not that Japan needed an excuse to go visit Germany.
"Japan! Come in. How are you?"
"I am doing well, thank you," Japan replied as he walked inside. Right off the bat he could see what it was Feliciano had been so worried about.
Germany looked drawn, he looked tired. It was too soon after the recovery to expect him to be able to feel perfect, but the vision of him like this was disheartening to say the least. "I... got your invitation. Congratulations."
"Thank you," Japan said again, before he got another look at Germany's face. "Is there something wrong?"
"No, no!" Germany shook his head as they walked into the living room. "Noding is wrong! It vas just... Actually, I heard about it from America before I got your invitation."
"You did not mention it before," Japan commented as he sat down, a slight frown on his face. Unless America had only just mentioned it, but America was not the type of person to have kept it from anyone and Japan knew that he and Germany were keeping themselves updated on Prussia. Not that that was a subject Japan would dare broach with the German.
"Yes. Vell." Ludwig stood there awkwardly. "Vould you like something to drink?"
"No, I am fine."
It seemed against his will that Germany sat down across from him. "It's not any of my business, but..."
"Yes?" Japan asked, trying to prompt Germany beyond his hesitation. Germany cleared his throat.
"Are you sure about this?"
Japan blinked. "I am not thirsty, but thank you for asking."
"No!" Germany shook his head. "I didn't mean–! I meant about... getting married."
Oh. He should have known that was what his friend was talking about. "Of course I am."
"You tried to marry Italy once because he hugged you," Ludwig pointed out.
At one time he might have protested that and explained himself quite thoroughly. But the comparison to what happened with him and Feliciano with what was now happening with him and Alfred was so ridiculous Kiku could not help but laugh.
"I am not marrying America because he hugged me!" he managed to say through his laughter, practically doubled over.
Germany tugged at his collar, looking uncomfortable. "I didn't mean dat!"
Wiping the tears from his eyes, Japan managed to calm himself down. "I know, Germany, I know. I am sorry."
"Don't be. I just didn't explain myself correctly."
Thankfully they changed subject. Germany was pleased Korea had gotten an invitation and Japan had to hide his guilt all over again. To think that Vietnam could hold that over his head! Yet Germany was so subtly proud of Korea. It was something Kiku had not seen of his friend in a long time.
Ludwig was worn, yet glad for another Nation's recovery.
Ludwig was faltering.
He was getting married.
He was married.
When Alfred thought about it, it was strange to think that one day it was a plan and the next day it was a promise that had been carried through. He and Japan were married on a warm summer's day and every Nation was there to witness it.
Sure England was grouchy. Sure Cuba kept yelling at him (or his brother, America could never tell). Sure China was actually using Hong Kong to hide behind. Sure Finland accidentally knocked over one of the punch bowls causing Cameroon to slip. Sure Italy kept talking to them as if they had forgotten they had just gotten married (it was the North's enthusiasm, Japan reminded him, as if America did not know what Italy was like). Sure Germany actually lost a drinking match to Ukraine (no one was likely to ever let him live that down). And sure Switzerland had not stayed beyond the reception.
America had never been so happy in his life.
Well, that was a lie. But he certainly was happy now. It was up there on the happiness meter. Not that he used metric or anything.
They ended up in Japan. Not that America had given in or anything. They were still coming up with a good agreement.
Kiku gave him a sidelong look. "Yes?"
And the two of them went out to watch some baseball.
The age idea was not based off of Asian people, at least not as much as it is based off of the personalities of the Asian countries. Because it is funny to think that they can proclaim they have survived through so much and yet still be offended by someone calling them old. I think China would prefer it if others said he was 'well-lived'.