Disclaimer of this Chapter : As always. Probably swearing, eh? Even though I know you guys know, I just enjoy writing these disclaimers, really.
Ownership : Definitely do not own Hetalia. I'm also making NO PROFIT off of this. Awesome.
Important Note : As this story gets more into the government, I must STRESS that everything I make up is just that... MADE UP. I am not expressing ANY opinion of the Canadian (or other) Government, and this is merely for plot-device awesomeness. Okay? As well as, ALL character actions and interactions are based off of CHARACTER TRAITS. I am not making fun of/slandering or putting down any nation in question. Thanks.

Oh my GOODNESS. What is this? A chapter? A week after? A miracle, I know. Actually, I intended this to be up on MONDAY, but since the website seemed to be having issues, I decided against actually posting it till I was sure that whatever issues those were went away. And they have! And I am a very happy Aru. Yes. Very happy.

I also got another fanart! Please go to my profile to check out the awesomeness.


Chapter 20 Summary : Canada is almost there, America is faking something that is too hard to fake and something is happening that could spell life or death if they don't address it soon.


- Chapter 20 - Abandoned -

Everything had such a huge potential to go wrong. Everything had already gone to hell in a hand basket, and England just wasn't sure if they could handle any more mistakes. He never showed it at the time, but when Germany had said Matthew had 'gone' and Alfred started to freak out over it meaning his brother's death... Arthur was sure his heart had stopped a little. He was afraid that if they made any more mistakes, then it would no longer be a misunderstanding when they were told that Canada had 'gone'.

He breathed out. It was frustrating, but they had to wait. As much as he wanted to act right away, they had to wait. It was foolish to attempt to leave in the middle of the night, and so they had decided they had better rest, make plans, then leave in the morning.

He had insisted they try at night, but Germany pointed out that it'd look highly suspicious if they tried to slink out in the dark. They already had enough suspicions around them, and they couldn't afford anymore.

Arthur glanced about the darkened room, shifting underneath the makeshift covers of his improvised mattress. Gilbert was still sprawled on the couch, doing much better, and now was just asleep rather than semiconscious; Germany was leaning against the wall, somehow able to just sleep there without any means of comfort, and America was curled up on the floor in a rumple of whatever sheets and blankets they could scrounge.

America wasn't asleep though, England was wise to that. He had lived with his son long enough; and though they didn't live together anymore, he was experienced with how America sounded when he slept.

So England was sure that Alfred was wide awake; just as he was.

Arthur couldn't blame Germany for wanting to sleep. He had a very long day and- What was he thinking? England chastised himself. Of course Ludwig needed to sleep, he had a tough day! And so had he! He deserved sleep as much - if not more - than Germany did. Ah… but alas, Arthur found he just couldn't bring himself to fall into a slumber.

There was just too much going on; too many worries to process.

In the silence of the room, Alfred shifted in his sheets, turning over in a light rustle, facing the curtain-drawn window.

England sighed again and slowly pushed himself up. He felt stiff and tired; exhausted. He could do with a good bit of sleep, but he just couldn't obtain it. Quietly and carefully, he stepped from his blankets and strode across the room.

Stopping a few feet from Alfred, who - he could see with a mere glance - still had his glasses on and his eyes were still open, England leaned slightly to get a better look at him. America didn't look at Arthur, but made no attempts to pretend he had been anything close to asleep.

Arthur glanced to him, and then leaned against the windowsill, taking a glimpse down at the quietness below.

People had temporarily given up - for the most part. He had noticed this when they had turned off all the lights, and he remembered - with mild amusement - at the befuddled news reporters saying that it looked like people were going to bed in the buildings.

At least it was a moment of silence; a moment of much-needed rest. Sure, there were still people, and the media-machine was still ever-present, but it was a sort of quiet that he could revel in.

He turned to Alfred, and knelt down.

He reached out carefully and put his hand on America's shoulder, bringing America's attention to him. Alfred's eyes were still painfully somewhere else, even when he glanced at England in mild acknowledgement.

"Come on," Arthur said quietly. "We both can't sleep. That much is obvious. Let's walk about the buildings, mn? Clear our heads? Perhaps see if we can make ourselves a cup of tea."

Arthur still hadn't forgiven Alfred - by absolutely no means had he forgotten the atrocity that America had unwittingly thrown at his brother - but his lack of forgiveness didn't breach into any realm of cruelty, or refusal to see that America was in pain. He knew that Alfred was frightened, just as he was. He wasn't cruel enough to ignore it.

"Come now," he encouraged.

Slowly, America did sit up. And slower still, he started to slip out of his own nest of sheets and blankets before standing.

"Right. Come on."

England gestured to the door, signalled to be quiet, pressing his finger to his own lips. Not that America needed any such reminder; he had been all but mute since his previous fright.

The door shut quietly behind them with a click, and satisfied that he didn't stir either Gilbert or Ludwig, Arthur walked a few paces with Alfred before attempting to steal a look up at him.

Then England spoke, "... Are you ready for tomorrow, then?"

"Mn."

It wasn't the most eloquent answer, and he hated to admit that he wished America was more verbal about it. He expected there to be more gusto in his voice.

"Do you know what you're going to do? Know what you're going to say? You do know that this is all resting on you, right? We're relying on you getting out of this ruddy mess that y-..." he trailed. "I mean," he changed tactic, "... You need to be ready if we can get out of this right."

America slowed to a stop, hands in his pockets. He was staring out a window to his side, standing in the middle of the hall.

England paused, stopping himself and turning his head back to look at his son. "... Alfred?"

A long silence played between them. It was hard to see in the dark, but the hallway was lined with windows and a deep blue light splayed upon them both. Alfred's face was mostly shaded in the dark, and his glasses flickered with reflected light when he shifted.

"... I really fucked up, didn't I?"

Arthur was so taken aback by his sudden speech that he almost didn't register what he had said. Alfred had been playing near-mute so well, that he hadn't anticipated the man to say anything at all to him. He only expected grunts and monosyllabics.

"Well..." England was broken from his surprise. "Yes. You did. I can't deny that, and I won't."

America didn't flinch; he still stared out that window, looking down at the darkened grounds below.

Arthur continued. "You are the reason this has happened, Alfred. Don't forget that. It was you that brought this down upon us - and Matthew - and I hope you realise that a-"

"Shut up," came from Alfred, quietly. He didn't say it bitingly, or sourly, or in threat. It was as dull and muted as the light around them. America was still not looking at him.

"I beg your pardon?" Arthur asked, incredulous. "Shut up? I daresay I won't, Alfred. I won't. You deserve to hear this. You need to hear this. You've caused so much trouble tha-"

America cut across him. "... I've heard it enough in my own head, thanks." He finally turned to look at Arthur. "You don't need to keep on saying it. I already know."

Arthur was taken aback, but not hindered. "I'm sorry if you feel that way, but you need to hear it, Alfred. You did something so profoundly stupid that at first I really couldn't believe it. I didn't know what possessed you. I tried to understand, Alfred, I really did. I tried to get into your head and tried to understand why you did it. But I can't. You left your brother; you left him, Alfred, and you came here. There were so many others things you could've done instead."

"I wasn't going to watch Matthew suffer," America said tightly, face still hard to see. "I just couldn't watch him suffer anymore. You saw him. He thought he was going to die before, England. He thought he was going to die. A-and then he just acted so weirdly blank and... I -"

"- acted like an idiot."

"I said shut up! You don't need to tell me that! I already know that!"

"I don't think you've been told it enough," England said tersely, hissing it as so he didn't raise his voice. They were still too close to the room where Germany and his brother were sleeping. "Alfred, I frankly think you'll never hear it enough."

"I don't want to hear it."

"You wouldn't have started this conversation if you hadn't. You know full-well about my opinion of you right now. However, I was merely wishing to walk with you so we can clear our heads. You started a conversation that I was by no means going to start myself," England pointed out sharply. "So don't whine when you get exactly what you asked for."

Alfred turned away again, walking to the window and leaning against the sill.

Arthur was annoyed, but he was far too exhausted to express any more anger at that very moment. By all means, he felt as if he should go on another tirade against the American, but it must have been his tiredness that stopped him -

- That or the expression on Alfred's face, from what little he could see in the pale moonlight.

America was quiet for a few seconds, and then he spoke. It was almost cheerful - nearly painfully so - and he spoke with a light faltering conviction, "So! I... I'll just... Tomorrow I'm gunna just gunna go out there and tell them that I was... just testing Mattie. T... that I was just seeing how good my 'bro's' defences were and I was just being a hero. Hahaha."

It was slightly disconcerting to hear, but England nodded nevertheless.

"Yep. I can do that! I can totally pretend that... that's what I was doing. I... I can try to get their attention away so you can g-get out of here! I'll say I got people that looked like you guys to come 'cause you two were being stick-in-the-muds or something..." His laugh flickered painfully. "Then you can slip out, under cover... and you can get to Mattie!"

"Well... That is the plan. It's not going to work for long, you realise. People aren't that stupid."

"Y-yeah... but... I'm the hero! So... I'll... I'll do it. I'll get them distracted then... then we can get Mattie to safety and... yeah."

England hoped beyond hope that Alfred's conviction would be more believable when it came time to convince the people. Arthur could only hope that if he was so painfully fake about his exuberance, the people would take it as disappointment that his 'plan' had 'failed'.

Alfred was back to the window, focusing on it a little too hard, and his expression tight.

Arthur sighed then stepped up to him. He didn't forgive him for his actions... but...

He put a hand on America's shoulder. "... It'll be alright, Alfred. As much as what has happened, and I'll admit this... Matthew will be alright. He's made of much tougher stuff than most people give him credit for."

"Yeah... but..."

"Don't have such little faith. Think. Matthew was strong enough to try to get himself here. I doubt he'll fail in getting here and that's why we must work hard, alright? He's a strong person; something like this isn't going to kill him." England tried to assure him of this, but he was doubtful himself.

"I'm scared."

Arthur looked at Alfred quietly for a moment, and then put his hand to rest on the other's head. "... I know, Alfred. I am too."

...

"- Of course, we can't be certain of what exactly is happening. There have been a few witnesses making claims to possible violence and have given reports of shouting, but there can be no further confirmation. It appears that who exactly is inside - it is definitely believed to be the representation of America - has given strict orders for anyone inside to not make contact with the outside world in any way, shape or form. One could almost compare this to a hostage situation -"

The channel changed.

"- in all this? Where? I find it personally odd that we don't have one ourselves. All of this could have been avoided if we also had the privilege of having one too. So what does this mean for our country? If we don't have a -"

Changed again.

"No word from the American Government. They have no comment on any of the happenings in Canada currently, but they are neither refuting or confirming that the representation of the United States of America is currently in the nation Capitol of Canada. What does this mean exactly? We have a leading expert in the relationship between nations and -"

The radio was flicked off.

Fingers glanced off of a table, idly drumming a tuneless melody for a moment more while the listener paused in his thoughts.

It was just very amusing. So very amusing. He knew that something like this was eventually going to happen, and he couldn't contain his glee at being correct about the situation. He knew it. One of them had done something so stupid and now it was going to all blow up in everyone's faces.

Ah, he had to correct himself. Everyone's faces but his. Because, of course, Russia hadn't done anything wrong whatsoever. He merely gave Canada the warning he deserved. Matthew was no longer a true nation. He was weak. Repulsive. He let this happen. He let all of this fall around his ears and now he was paying for it.

How humourous the current situation was though! Ivan mused to himself of what America could have possibly done to cause the bedlam to happen. What could have been going through his head? The news reports were nothing remotely helpful in telling Ivan any of the specifics. They just repeated the same story of seeing America crash into the Liaison Offices before being followed by England and Germany of all people.

Germany? Is that what they did when he left? Had they so sourly needed someone big and strong with them that they replaced his presence with Germany? It was absolutely disgusting.

But somehow oh-so very amusing…

Russia leaned back casually, one hand remaining on the table-top and drumming very softly to his thoughts.

"Stupid, weak, pathetic Matvey. If you only became one with Russia, then this never would have happened. Though... I do not wish to catch your sickness now." He said it all to the absolute emptiness of the room.

He sat there for a moment, gleeful at the situation, but still very curious of how it was going to pan out. What did the stupid America try to do? What were England and Germany doing there exactly? Where was Canada in all this?

Was Matthew going to die?

He didn't muse further as at that moment; a cold chill blew across his bare neck. His anger snapped in a cold aura. Ivan's hand hit the table, fist clenched. He didn't care what happened.

As long as everyone else left him alone and out of it-

It was his final thought before he slammed the window shut.

...

"... So... let me get this fucking - ow - straight. You're gunna have him pr-pretend - ow - to h-have 'planned' this - OW - the whole time?" Prussia asked, his voice was slurred and marred by his mangled jaw, the pain was none-too-pleasant.

Germany knelt beside him, pressing one of the remaining soft icepacks to his brother's face. "Ja. That is the plan, Bruder."

"Brüderchen," Gilbert said, looking at his brother flatly and trying to just talk without moving his teeth. "... This... is... - ow - stupid!"

"It is the only plan that we have, Gilbert," Ludwig informed him, adjusting the icepack to better numb the injured jaw. "And do you think you are going to be able to walk? We will be able to disguise your appearance well enough. But we need you to be able to get to one of the cars convincingly..."

"Of c-course! I'm awesom - god fucking dammit that hurts!"

Germany sighed sympathetically and turned his head to the two nations standing behind them. "Are you ready?"

America nodded blankly, England looked unsure.

Alfred paused for a second, then reached in his pocket and pulled out something, throwing it at Germany to catch.

"A scarf?" Germany inquired after catching it, turning the red-knit scarf over in his hands. "Why are you-"

"To cover him up. His face. People won't notice his bruises so much if he's already wearing red," Alfred said simply. He spoke again quickly before Prussia refuted in disgust, "And it's not mine, by the way. It's Mattie's. I didn't remembered I still had it in my coat till now. So treat it nice, 'kay? Or I'll kick your ass."

England gave Alfred a very scathing and warning look. Germany ignored America's comment for the most part, and Gilbert - upon hearing who the scarf's owner really was - took it without question and started wrapping it around his neck.

"Red goes w-with my awesome eyes anyway!" he exclaimed, muffled by injury and wool.

"Right," England started while Gilbert was being bundled up by his brother, a hood being tugged over his head so all that remained between it and the scarf was a nose and two red eyes. "... right... So... We're going to go out there very soon."

Germany nodded, standing from his kneeling position, satisfied that Prussia was upright and willing to go through with it.

"... Alfred," Arthur said, turning to his son. "Now. You understand what you have to do then, right? You completely understand what you have to do?"

Alfred nodded. "Yeah. I completely understand. I can definitely do this."

"Yer gun' haf to," Gilbert half-slurred from behind his coverings. "M'gunna f'k you 'p otherwise."

America ignored this, turning away from them. "I... I was thinking that I will try to lead them over there," he strode to the window and pointed across the way. "There's a building over there, and if I get everyone to go over there, then the rest of you can sort of pile out... You guys might not have to get involved at all."

"I don't care where you go, Alfred, as long as we can get out of here and to Matthew before he gets here. This place is giving me the willies and I don't like it."

Germany frowned. As much has he had been focusing on other things, the buildings also bothered him somewhat. It wasn't obvious to him, but there was an instinctually disturbing feeling that radiated from the buildings when he focused hard enough. It made him want to leave.

Pushing that thought aside, Germany opened the door. "Alright then, Jones. I think you best make good on your plan now. Waiting now will only cause more issues. And remember: We are going to try to look like civilians. Try to keep our names out of it as best you can, and it could lighten the blow against Williams considerably in the long-run."

"Got it."

"We will be leaving ten or so minutes after we see you've distracted them, so try to keep their attentions long enough till we give you a signal," Ludwig gestured with his cell phone to imply where the signal was coming from. "Do you understand?"

"Yes. We've gone over this a million times. So yes. I understand completely."

Germany nodded to England, then stepped aside from the door. "... Good luck."

...

Matthew breathed, chest pained and heaving. He hadn't meant to. He hadn't meant to at all! But he had fallen asleep in his car when he pulled aside for a few minutes to regain his bearing and nerves. Kumajirou didn't so much as try to wake him up either. So he had fallen asleep and now it was already morning. Though very early morning, but more hours passed than he wanted and he had no idea what sort of horrible things could have happened during his rest.

He was running.

Matthew knew instinctively where his Liaison Offices were. If he really wanted to, and if he was able, he could walk to them with no map, no compass, from some remote small town in British Columbia.

But finding them wasn't the issue; it was getting there in time.

Canada felt the rise and fall of something swimming through the base of his stomach and chest. Something was going to happen, and he could almost feel the flood of attention shifting from one point to another. Something had changed, and he knew he was too late to stop it.

It scared him; though he didn't know what it was. The closer he got to the offices, the tighter the feeling in his chest became; and the closer he got, the more he felt that there was going to be something there that he will not like to see. Something that he was going to hate. Something painful.

But he kept running, Kumajirou bouncing after him in a four-legged gallop as the massive Parliament Buildings came into view.

It struck him immediately as odd that there were large chain-link fences around the whole of the buildings. Normally it was wide and open, people were able to walk on the grass to get to the buildings, if they pleased, but now it was impossible. That thought was pushed from Canada's mind immediately as he knew where an entrance was.

He jogged, the painful tightness in his chest increasing as he streaked past news vehicles and an overdose of cars that plugged up the streets and parking lot. There were so many people! Just what exactly did Alfred try to do? What had he done to cause the media to get so involved?

He shouldn't have been surprised, he should have expected the media to be there - and he knew they were there - but just what exactly had Alfred done to keep a constant and steady stream of people going through the only remaining entrances?

He slowed to a stop, panting for breath, putting a hand on one of the fence poles of the chain-links as he gulped for air. Looking up, he was hit with shock when he saw police tape and temporary fences put up around the entrances.

"What?" Matthew breathed. "How am I supposed to get in there?"

He could glimpse, just barely glimpse, a crowd of people on the inside, and saw flashes of cameras and the glares of hundreds of tiny screens of cellular phones or other recording devices through the thin flicker of morning snow.

"Damnit," Canada muttered under his breath. "Damnit..."

Looking around himself desperately, and glad to see there were no people, he grabbed the edge of a wooden crate that was in front of a stack of others - they were covering one of the openings in the fence - and began to physically drag it across wet morning-dewed grass.

"Maybe you should wait here," Kumajirou said, pushing the crate on the other end with the top of his head. "Maybe you should wait for the others."

Matthew laughed dryly, which turned into a cough. "And... what? Wait for the worst to happen? Can you see all those people? Something is going on, and I have to stop it. Whatever it is. I don't know what Alfred is doing, but I have to protect my government and my citizens."

"... You don't have to go in there. You can wait here." Kumajirou said, though he was still helping Canada, pretty much aware that he was stubbornly going to not listen and go anyway.

Canada climbed onto the crate, teetering, feeling satisfied at the height it gave him and gripped onto the links of the fence. "I'm sorry, Kuma, but I have to go. I have to."

"... I know."

Matthew watched in surprise as Kumajirou - with a wiggle of his bottom - heaved a jump, latched onto the fence, and scrambled up and over the edge of it. With a swift and graceful 'plonk' the polar bear was over on the other side. Dusting himself off carefully, Kumajirou looked up at his owner.

Canada grinned, snuffing air out of his nose in amusement, and began to try to pull himself upwards.

It was much harder than it should have been.

It was only then that he realised he had a great feeling of numbness in his wrist - which he only just recalled was fractured or broken - and his arms felt shaky and weak right down to the very joints. But he pressed on, shoving the tips of his boots into each of the gaps on the chain-link and heaving himself upwards.

It took some doing, but Matthew found himself at the top of the fence, and he clung there, suddenly very uncertain.

"... I... I didn't th... think how to get down..."

He looked warily at the ground below, and the lack of anything soft for him to land on.

"Just be slow and careful," Kumajirou advised. "Don't land on me," he added, stepping back warily from the precarious Canadian.

Matthew did just that; gripping as hard as he could, he swung his legs over the top, and began his descent down the other side, his fingers growing sore and stiff with the effort of holding up his weight, however light he might have been.

He only had a foot or two to go when his grip failed him, and not realising he was falling until he was already halfway to the ground, he hit pavement with a harsh 'thump', the wind knocked straight from his lungs in one fell swoop.

Canada curled up and gasped for air, trying to fill his lungs with much-needed oxygen, his head spinning violently.

"O-...O... Okay..." Matthew swallowed after a minute, wincing at identical long scrapes along his forearms where his coat had been pushed up in the fall. "T... that was a bit st-stupid..."

Satisfied that Canada was not hurt - aside from being temporarily winded and scraped - Kumajirou answered with, "... I'm not going to even respond to that."

Canada shuffled to his feet once he could breathe properly enough, steadying himself against the fence with a loose grip. Now he had to have a sort of plan. He got in, but what was he going to do now?

He knew that Kumajirou was going to keep on suggesting that he just wait for someone to show up and take him home. He knew that Kumajirou was going to say that England or Germany or Prussia or whoever was going to come and get him and all would be well.

But he had gotten that far; and if he had gotten that far, then Canada wasn't going to give up when he was so close. He was so close. So close that he could hear the sounds of loud incredulous speech from plethora of people that were crowded around one of the side buildings.

Steadying himself again, Matthew broke off from the chain link fence and started on his way towards the building in question.

The crowd almost reminded him of a demonstration or a protest. As he got closer, he could see that people - employees, civilians and news reporters - were congregated around one of the lesser buildings, all staring up at some sort of spectacle that was going on.

Just what was going on? He was expecting America to go for one of the main offices. Alfred wasn't the kind of guy to half-ass anything, and Canada was pretty sure that his brother was going to go straight towards the head of the Liaison Offices, or anyone associated with them directly. He'd go after something like that, not a side building of which Matthew recognised as being the sub-department that dealt with many trivial organisational issues.

He stepped closer, arms - scrapes already having stopped bleeding - wrapped around himself as he approached slowly.

He didn't notice and didn't question some of the equipment that were scattered in the parking lots - great big bulldozers and other such machinery. He paid them no mind as he rounded the corner and stepped into the outskirts of the crowd.

Nobody noticed him as more than just him filtered into the ground, joining to view what was going on.

It was then when Matthew saw him. He saw Alfred. Alfred was standing on top of the steps that led up to the office building and was looking down at all the people below. He was saying something, but Canada couldn't hear what.

Just what was he doing! First he went rampaging to the buildings, and now he was plainly revealing himself?

A twist of something tugged at his insides and Matthew recoiled, taking in a heavy gasp. He stepped closer upon recovery, arm firmly around his middle, and strained to hear what he was saying.

But he couldn't. The incredulous murmur of the crowd was too loud, and he could only pick up on sparing segments of, "- totally thought it was -" and "- just testing -" and "- kind of forgot -".

"Testing?" Matthew muttered. "Testing what?"

Someone in the crowd heard him and turned. "Just got here, eh?" the older man said, turning to Canada, not the faintest note of recognition on his face, "I just got here m'self! I was wondering what all the hullabaloo was going on here! So I said to my wife I came here to check it out, see."

Canada nodded absently. "Did you hear what he was... saying?" Matthew asked. "What's going on?"

"You haven't been listening to the news, eh? Well. He came here, see, last night. And we hear that the representative of America himself comes a-runnin' in like he was the want to kill. Of course, the news is all over it straight away. But it's so all-over-the-place, so it got really hard to say what was goin' on," he explained. "But he just came out now! Says that he was doing a security check for his 'brother nation' and that he was being a 'hero'. Isn't that amazing!" The older man said, incredulously. "I always thought that Americans astounded me with what they did, but this America fellow," he gestured with his cane, "Is right up there with the weirdoes!"

Matthew only listened to half of what the man said. A security check? Why was Alfred running a security check?

He thanked the man with a swift nod and pushed past him, squirming between people and trying to slither closer to America.

Again, nobody paid him much mind or attention. No double-takes as he worked his way through the crowd and closer to Alfred.

"- So yeah! I didn't mean to scare you! But I was just... testing! Yeah! I mean... look at all the stuff that's been going on! I was just curious! I mean, we share the longest border in the word! I wanted to be sure that you all were safe from... negative stuff. Right?"

What was he going on about?

It didn't make any sense. He was pretty sure that America had been on a mission of divine retribution and wanted to attack every member of Canada's parliament till he got explanations. Not do security checks and talk about it while standing at the top of the stairs of a random side-office.

A reporter spoke out loudly over the speech of the crowd, cutting clearly through the ambient noise and reaching to Alfred. "Why did you decide to do it here? Why not the actual capital buildings? Why at this parliamentary sector that has been scheduled for demolition within the next week?"

America faltered, Matthew gagged.

Demolition?

Alfred's face had gone a strange shade of white and he continued speaking, voice now wavering beyond the absolutely fake smile. "W-why? I... er... well... I thought that this might cause a bit of an uproar if... uh... people... questioned it... so... u-uh...t... this was... a... test... run?" He ended it with a very unconvincing tone, the corner of his mouth twitching.

Canada's ears rang and he heard nought of a word of what Alfred had to say. He stood there, horrified. Demolition. Surely, they were just joking. They weren't going to do any sort of demolition there, were they?

He staggered, pressing his hand to his stomach painfully.

What was going on? Why didn't he know about this? Were they moving offices? Was that what was going on? Were they moving the buildings? Perhaps there was something with them? Why were they being demolished?

Demolished...

The word rang through his ears.

Unknowingly, he was stepping back out of the crowd, and away from his white-faced brother who was now feebly trying to explain something, but was being cut-off by reporters now demanding why his arm was in a sling. Canada didn't notice any of it. All he was aware of were the word 'scheduled for demolition' repeating through his head.

What was...

Why didn't he...

Ears ringing, Canada now outside the crowd, he retreated backward until he slammed into the wall behind him.

What? What was going on? What? Demolished? Surely he heard that wrong; but the twist in his stomach told him that it was right. Now that he was there, he could feel the emptiness that the buildings possessed, feel that they were indeed going to be demolished…

One by one. All of them.

Matthew wheezed, his breath constricting as air came harder to him. He all but forgot Kumajirou was there, who knocked his head gently against Canada's legs as he struggled for breaths.

No... No...

"Get a hold... of... yourself," he breathed between closed teeth. "Get... a... hold of yourself..."

He swallowed a few times, forcing deep and shuddering breaths.

He had to do something. This was why he came, right? To do something? He couldn't just stand around and pretend that nothing was going on. He couldn't just stand idly by and pretend that he didn't hear what he just heard. Canada couldn't deny the acidic feeling at the base of his stomach that rose at the mention of the news.

He had to do something.

But what?

He glanced around, his hand pressed to his chest as he heaved heavy breaths, and caught sight of the main building. It didn't seem to have the same empty, hollow feeling that the building Matthew leant upon had.

He shoved himself off the wall roughly, staggering, and sweeping past a concerned Kumajirou, he stepped off and away from the still-busied crowd, who didn't notice the young man in the slightest.

His breaths continued being shallow and ragged as he pressed forward. With absolute determination, and with a ray of hope he approached the impressive-looking building that he used to frequent what felt like oh-so-long ago. Matthew was going to demand answers. He wanted answers. He wanted to know what was going on.

A flood of questions that he wanted to ask - demand - were already being flowing through his mind. What was going on? Why were the buildings being demolished? What did Alfred do? Why wasn't he getting paperwork anymore? What did the Prime Minister phone him about before? Why didn't he get phoned back? Why did they get rid of the line connecting them? Why was he being ignored and shafted whenever he had tried to phone before? What was going on?

These and many more questions rose to his mind as he shoved the doors open with great effort.

The building had a strange... empty feeling.

It didn't feel dead and lifeless as the other did, but there was a certain feeling of loneliness as he walked inside. The sounds of his footsteps only emphasised this as they echoed against the hard marble floor.

No longer were the milling of office workers 'to and fro'ing between offices. No longer did he see familiar faces that greeted him pleasantly some time ago when he still used to visit. How long had it been since he was last there? A year? Two? Three? Ten? He wasn't sure anymore; time felt distorted.

Staggering, he made it to the front desk, leaning on the high-counter when he made it there, breathing hard.

There was no receptionist.

"... You should leave," Kumajirou said to his right, standing on his hind legs, paw on his back. "You should get out of here."

"No..." Canada said. "No... I have to... find out... what's... going on..."

"I don't think that's a good idea."

"It's fine. S-shut up Kuma," Matthew pressed.

His bear fell silent.

Canada breathed, heaving pained breaths, looking left and right, trying to catch sight of another human being. He was sure there were people there, he was sure there were people still in the offices. Or was he mistaken about that too? Was he just unable to read what was going on anymore? Was he just assuming it was all alright like he had before, when clearly, if they were slated for demolition...

A warm uncomfortable feeling tingled in his sinus and he sniffed before pressing the back of his hand on his nose. "Augh... not now..."

Drawing back his hand, he looked at the blood was there, before pinching the bridge of his nose with two fingers as a couple of soft 'plicks' of arrant blood dripped onto the countertop.

"D-dammit..."

"You should sit do-"

"Be quiet."

Canada pushed away from the table, wiping away flecks of red with his other hand, leaving small smears. His nosebleed wasn't that bad, he told himself. It was just a dribble. Besides, he had far more important things to attend to -

"... MATTHEW?"

He whirled around, seeing the figures of England, Germany and what seemed to be Prussia striding out of one of the elevators.

They all stood dumbly still for a second. Gilbert had been partially supported by his brother, but had stood straight upon sight of Matthew. Germany was staring forward and England had such an amazing face of shock, it near looked like he had fainted with his eyes wide open.

Canada's hand dropped to his side, absolutely stunned, letting his nose freely ooze. "D... dad... what...?"

The gap between him and England disappeared in milliseconds as Arthur tore down the hallway and embraced his son.

"Oh-thank-god! Oh-thank-god!"

"D-dad... W-"

"I've been so worried. I've been ripe with anxiety! Once I heard that you had gone I thought I was going to di-... Good lord! Your nose!"

A handkerchief firmly pinched his nose as Germany and Prussia approached as well.

"I was beside myself with worry Matthew! Don't you ever do that again!" Arthur was almost hysterical. "I thought you may have collapsed! Fainted in the street! When you were driving! I thought maybe you managed to accidentally launch yourself off a bridge or into a ditch and -" A loud gasp of air cut off his statement and England continued. "Thank god you're okay. Oh-thank-god."

Canada was feeling his knees give way, and Arthur had to be encouraged to let go as so Germany could guide Matthew to one of the waiting couches before he buckled.

England was right beside him, fussing. "We almost left. We were on our way down! We saw that Alfred had distracted everyone and- There you were! You were right there! I thought we'd have to look everywhere for you! I was already listening to news reports about accidents - just in case - and there was already a very nasty one that happened just a few streets awa- ... What did you do to yourself! Your arms are scraped and bruised!"

"Kirkland," Germany cut off any more of England's worried speech. "Enough. Let Williams speak."

"... R... right. Right. Of course. I... I apologise Matthew, It's just..." He spoke quickly, "I was really worried."

Canada had to laugh. It might've been inappropriate, but he gave a short snort of air between his wheezing breaths, somehow... appreciating England in his flustered glory.

"S'okay... I... I'm really sorry... but... I had to..."

Germany knelt down, looking at Matthew seriously before addressing him. "Williams. If there is anything wrong, you need to tell us right now."

Matthew considered telling them outright about the buildings, about the fact they were being slated for demolition, about the fact that he was feeling numb and shaky and he no longer wanted to be there despite his earlier vicious want for answers.

But he didn't do any of those things. Instead, he swallowed, nodded and said, "Y... yes... b... but... Not here..."

His want to approach whoever was responsible had deflated upon his father's embrace. Now he wanted nothing more than curl up in his room for a while and think about it before he did anything. He didn't want to look at anyone in the offices.

"I... I'll explain... later... I.. I want to leave..."

Ludwig nodded, standing.

"Of course Matthew. Of course. We'll get you to one of the cars and - where did you park your car? I presume you took a car..."

"It's... nearby..."

"We will worry about it later," Germany said. He was already standing by the doorway, looking between slats of the blinds. "We need to hurry up. Jones is going to soon 'make a break for it' and we do not want to be left here when he does."

"... Right." Arthur nodded. He stood slowly, holding onto Matthew and helping to bring him to a standing position. "... Can you walk?"

Canada nodded. "Y... yeah."

Wrapping an arm around his shoulder, England began to guide his son, letting Matthew continue pinching his own nose against a still-thankfully-light nosebleed.

With an apprehensive breath, Germany pushed open the front doors, and ushered Arthur and Matthew out, followed by Gilbert, then himself, Kumajirou trotting past him to walk with Canada. He closed the doors as quietly as he could, and gestured for them to leave around a back entrance.

"They've... closed up the entrances in the fences," Canada explained. "Nobody can get in or out... I... I had to climb over the fence."

"It must have been done in the middle of the night by the RCMP; for security purposes."

"Is that where you got those nasty scrapes?" England chastised. "I'm going to have to check you in the car to be sure you haven't done anything else to yourself."

It was Gilbert who spoke in responses to the dilemma, his speech strange since he was keeping his teeth shut to do so. "Dude... We can just... get through the barriers. We need'ta get outta here - ow - and we... -ow- ...have our cars around that way. We c-can't risk -ow- any chances!"

"Gilbert wha-"

"Later, Birdie."

Germany nodded. "It's the best plan. Let's continue."

As they walked towards one of the gaps in the fence (that one blocked with roughly-stacked cinderblocks), Matthew stared back, unable to see past the large building, but knowing that his brother was still talking to the people there.

He felt a twang of guilt, or upset. They were leaving without Alfred? Were they? As angry as he was with America, and as affronted and violated as he may have felt with his actions, Matthew didn't want to leave him behind.

He may have deserved some trouble... but being stuck there...?

England's warm hand on his shoulder squeezed him gently from those thoughts. "Come on now, lad," Arthur encouraged. "Everything will be alright in the end. How's your nose...?"

"... Alright..." he lied behind the dampening cloth, and he tried his damndest to pay no attention to the demolition machinery he had ignored only minutes before.

Matthew had a very bad feeling that it definitely wasn't over yet.


Author's Note : This chapter was written fairly quickly and I feel VERY good about it. I enjoyed this chapter very much, and while it isn't OMG EXTREME like other chapters, it was very necessary. More things are coming into play, and while it seems to have 'rested', we all have to remember that Alfred still has to get out of there… and that Mattie isn't exactly all peaches and cream at the moment…

… ah well.

I got another fanart too! Awesome! Thank my awesome beta for that and for awesomely betaing. Oh yes.

… and it seems like Russia has appeared again, da? I knew he wasn't going to be gone forever… kolkolkol


Chapter 21 Preview : America makes a break for it. A revelation about Matthew comes crashing down around his ears violently, and a very certain Russian is very displeased by something… Basically, ohhh shit, SHIT and…. Ohgodohgod.


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