Pairings: ??/America, future PruCan, future FrUK. Other pairings are implied.
Warnings: Crack-y situations, Language, OOCness, Alternate Universe


When he opened the door, he kept his body pressed close to it, using it like a shield to hide from view. Outside, the wind howled like a woman in mourning, shaking the trees down to their roots and rattling all the shutters he'd taken care to shut tight in case of a storm. And in front of him, two strangers stared back, hoods pulled high over their heads to combat the vicious weather.

"Are you Mr. Williams?" One of them asked. It was too dark to see a mouth move and the wind was too loud to locate the body the question had originated from, but he heard it all the same. He nibbled a little at some of the dead skin on his lower lip before relaxing his shoulders.

"Alfred." He stated. "It makes me feel old when people talk to me like that, so just call me Alfred. It's nearly midnight, er'you looking for rooms?"

The one already closest to the door took a step towards him and he nearly slammed it shut in his face. He was jumpy, he couldn't deny that. Strange noises in an old inn and living by himself had made him weary about leaving his bed before the sun rose. You never knew what might be waiting to snatch at your ankles.

"Yes, actually, we spoke to a man named Ludwig and he said you had rooms available." The stranger's voice was soft and friendly. Alfred found he liked that one already, but he really couldn't name why.

"I do. Come on in." He mumbled, opening the door all the way to grant them entrance. Both took tentative steps past him, stopping just inside the door when he drifted back to light the lanterns. "Close the door? It's hard enough to heat this damn place."

The heavy oak door slammed shut as the lanterns flared to life, dragging the room out of darkness. His new patrons scanned all of the dusty tables in the room, then the staircase to the second floor.

"Do you not get a lot of people here, Mr. Will—Alfred?"

Alfred watched them as they both pulled their hoods down. The one that had yet to speak to him was blond, sporting a relatively unimpressed expression. The second one, the nice one, was a brunet. One sweeping glance was all he needed to see that they were well-dressed and if he squinted, he could see from across the room that they shared green eyes of the same shade.

"No, I don't. In case you haven't noticed, this town isn't anywhere close to the main roads. Only a few traders come through here after the harvest." He said, watching them closely. Neither had looked at him, not once since they'd entered. It wouldn't have been strange if they been nervous about is, but they were just staring at everything, examining. "You guys want something to drink? Food?"

"No, we're fine." The blond responded, sauntering—no, that was a sashay—over to one of the tables in the middle of the room and seating himself. "Seriously, you don't need to… Like, wait on us or anything."

"… It's kind of my job, I'm not—"

"Do you live alone?"

Alfred looked away from the blond one. The brunet was staring at him pointedly now, the warmth that had been in his gaze before now overshadowed by something else that was cold and business-like. Alfred's stomach turned.

"…Yes… For the most part. What're your names?" He shot back, sounding a bit harsher than he was intending to originally. Nervous energy that had been building up since earlier that night was starting to flare through his legs, making him fidget. He wanted to talk. God, he wanted to talk. It had been a week since Ludwig had last had the time to come up and help him around the inn and his brother wasn't due home for… he didn't know how long. But these were strange questions to ask an inn keeper, moreover a man that you hadn't introduced yourself to yet. Alfred wasn't an exceptionally observant person, not by nature, but something wasn't quite right.

"Toris." The 'nice' one replied, pleasant smile returning.

"Feliks." Was the answer supplied by the second one as he examined his nails. Alfred's toes curled nervously. He was suddenly hyper-aware of how underdressed he was, still in his night clothes and barefoot.

Outside, a particularly miserable sounding gust of wind tore past, serving as a reminder that the river, the main body of the town, was too far away even at a terrified sprint.

"Why are you two here?"

"We're travelers." Toris said, his tone back to the friendly pitch he'd first spoken with. And it was genuine, for the most part.

"No, you're not. Travelers don't show up like this so late at night, asking questions like yours, 'specially not in this town. I think you should leave." Alfred muttered. His voice was just loud enough for them to hear.

"You're, like, the rudest host ever. Can't believe we're supposed to bring you back with us."

"What?"

Feliks didn't seem to think what he'd said was any sort of slip, but Toris's demeanor faltered.

"Feliks is being a bit blunt." Toris said, flashing a nervous little grin that he probably hoped would calm the man now staring at him with untrusting blue eyes. He stood up and Alfred found himself jumping back a little.

He was behind the bar and they were between him and the door. Not that he was thinking of running, he wasn't a coward. It was just nice to have all of his options available. Toris moved towards him, Feliks following some sort of cue and standing up.

"Get out." He spat, inching his way towards the door leading to the kitchen. He could at least grab a knife.

"But you've got to come with us." Toris's voice was pleading.

"No."

"I'm sorry, Alfred, but you don't have a choice."

Alfred's stomach lurched when Feliks dove around his companion to block the door to the kitchen, moving too fast for someone that seemed a bit sluggish personality-wise. He didn't wait for them both to rush him before he had hauled himself over the bar. Toris made a grab for him, narrowly catching the sleeve of his shirt. It was enough for him to yank, dragging Alfred's torso back while his legs kept going.

He was overbalanced and on the floor in an instant, a yelp of surprise tearing from his throat as the wind was knocked out of him. His vision reeled, the colors of the room streaming together in the dim lighting.

When his vision returned to him, Toris was staring down at him and Feliks was drifting in and out of his peripheral vision. Toris gave him an apologetic smile.

"I'm really sorry."

Alfred closed his eyes, a heaviness seeping into his muscles. It was followed promptly by nausea.

"Wha…t're you doing… to me?"

Toris crouched down next to him, petting his hair like a mother would a child.

"It's magic. I'm sure you haven't seen much of it in your life."

His tongue was useless in his mouth, so he didn't respond. Toris continued.

"Don't worry, I won't hurt you. Everything's going to be fine. You're going somewhere new."

*

The next morning was calm. The wind had gone, the sky was clear and the town bustled like always along the elaborate walkways that traversed the river.

When Ludwig found the inn empty, he searched it top to bottom—even resorting to checking hiding places that hadn't been used since he and Alfred were children, playing games with their brothers.

Nothing.

Alfred was gone.


A/N: So, this starts out really ominous and creepy, but it's actually geared a lot more towards humor when it picks up. I wrote this, originally, to give myself something to play with-- so a bunch of the characters might not be in the roles you'd expect them. I hope this entertains you all as much as it entertained me when I was brain-storming it.