Axis Powers Hetalia © Hidekazu Himaruya

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Toris shaded his eyes from the bright, orangey glare of the lowering sun as he quietly slipped out the German family's front door. After making sure the door didn't slam itself shut behind him, he quickly headed down the porch's three low steps and started down the walkway leading towards the main road. He had only made it to the edge of the drive when he heard a rather irritated voice call out loudly from behind him.

"Now what do you think you're doing?" Gilbert asked. "The park's the other way."

"I'm going to Feliciano's. Although I fear I may be a bit late."

"How late?"

"About three days, by time I actually get there."

Gilbert studied Toris' solitary figure at the end of the drive for a moment, thinking. Finally, he sighed. Then shrugged. "I'll go with you."

Surprised, Toris asked, "Why is that?"

"Because if I don't you might meet another bear."

"There are no bears in Germany," Toris teased.

"Then I'm coming because I'm just that awesome."

"Sure," Toris shrugged, waiting for Gilbert to catch up. "I won't mind the company."

The two traveled on in silence, contentedly listening to the gravelly crunch of the roadway beneath their feet as they steadily made their way towards Feliciano's house. The late evening air was fresh and crisp, with just enough of a breeze to keep the two companions comfortably cool as they walked along the roadway side-by-side. For most of the journey, Gilbert remained close enough to occasionally bump into Toris' arm if he didn't pay attention to where his feet were going.

After the third time Gilbert's elbow did run into Toris, Toris asked, "Should I move over?"

Gilbert looked up with surprise. " I was just remembering the beer-houses on this part of the road, and if the patrons are driving themselves home..." He grinned to show he was joking, and sidestepped to allow Toris more space.

Toris watched Gilbert move in time to awkwardly twist past a light pole that was just beginning to flicker itself into luminescent existence for the evening. After narrowly dodging the metal pole, Gilbert tried to erase his blunder by showing off; he spun himself around into a much-elaborated pivoted twirl, long red scarf flying out around him, looking as confident as if the maneuver had been planned all along. He came to a stop facing Toris once more, grinning with his hands on his hips as he met the other's gaze.

Toris raised an eyebrow at his companion's antics. "Showoff."

Gilbert's brow furrowed. "I'm awesome," he corrected.

"Trying to impress...?"

"Nobody," Gilbert sniffed. "I just felt like doing that."

"Sure," Toris replied, having a hard time hiding his smile any longer.

"You don't believe me?" Gilbert asked.

"There's a bunch of pretty girls right over there," he said, pointing to the giggling females. "If you didn't do it on purpose, you have great timing."

Gilbert looked over his shoulder and gave the women a smile. "Huh," he muttered. "Didn't even see 'em."

With that, both travelers lapsed into a comfortable silence, with Gilbert still occasionally bumping into Toris (but this time it was on purpose, and turned into a shoving match until they started noticing the oncoming traffic). The sky gradually darkened into painted shades of blue and purple as the sun began to set, and it was well into the evening before they reached the low wooden fence marking Vash's property. Illuminated by the moon's bright light and the silently twinkling stars, (as well as the aid of some additional light poles and floodlights) the outer gardens belonging to the Swiss household looked as if they were somehow magical. The fruit trees cast deep shadows that melted gently into the surrounding darkness with unbroken fluidity, providing Gilbert and Toris plenty of opportunity to hide as they crossed the otherwise flat terrain.

Unfortunately, having traveled in accordance with Feliks' plan (for Toris figured Feliks' would have had no reason to deviate from it), Gilbert and Toris were required to cross the heavily-guarded Swiss part of the world before they could safely enter Feliciano's neighborhood. This meant they had to sneak through Vash's gardens undetected.

Toris held his breath as he slid his slender form behind a large fruit tree, watching carefully as Gilbert's ruby eyes reflected a passing floodlight sweep. The intense security lights had recently been installed for the purpose of keeping a certain Italian from trampling through these very gardens in the middle of the night...much like they were now doing.

Daring to breathe again after the sweeping beam of the security light passed, Toris abandoned his hiding place and cautiously moved forward, dropping down low to tuck his semi-curled body beneath a nearby bush. He quietly waited for Gilbert to catch up with him. Together, the two trespassers sprinted forward when safe, paused when they had to, and aimed directly for the deepest shadows pooling softly along the side of Vash's richly-guarded house. Only when they had made it to the safety of said shadows did they dare relax. But only just a little.

They quietly inched their way along the sideboards beneath Vash's second-story porch and crept towards the opposite side of the house just as another powerful beam swept across the gardens, very clearly illuminating their previous hiding places. Sweating and nervous, Toris thought, not for the first time, that he'd rather die than have to follow through another of Feliks' stupid plans ever again. Oh, why didn't he just take the safer route through Roderich's neighborhood? At least the Austrian stayed inside all day and slept at night like normal people did! Besides that, Roderich never carried anything more lethal than a conductor's baton with him!

But Roderich didn't like Gilbert much, so they had agreed to avoid him entirely. Great choice, Toris. Real smart.

Being as cautious, quiet, and swift as possible helped Toris and Gilbert remain undetected as they tiptoed along the side of the house. Despite their hearts pounding at alarmingly fast rates, thumping much too loudly for Toris to feel comfortable in the silence they were trying to preserve, nothing major went wrong until Gilbert caught a particularly strong whiff of a nearby flowering bush and sneezed. Several times, quite loudly.

"Who's there?" The sharp question immediately sliced through the tense air.

Toris and Gilbert froze. Vash was nearby...they hadn't seen him, but the sound of his demanding voice was way too close for comfort. And they both knew he always carried a gun with him, fully prepared to shoot first and ask questions later if necessary (he'd probably deem their trespassing through his prized gardens as a "necessary" type of situation). With eyes wide, Toris searched desperately for either a hiding place or Vash's location...but could find neither.

Suddenly, another voice jolted its way through the heavy silence. "Ve!" it said.

Vash's voice came again, loud and almost snarling, "Feliciano?"


There was a long, angry sigh. A slight pause. Then: "Dammit. It's always you." Toris and Gilbert tensed as a shifting noise came from above their heads...they pressed further into the shadows as they heard the harsh sounds of a gun being cocked and made ready to fire...and when Toris shakily looked up, he could see the business end of a double-barreled shotgun attempting to take aim...

And then the loud crack! of a bullet bit through the night.

Or perhaps it was three shots...Vash could squeeze off rounds faster than Toris cared to count. But Toris and Gilbert did not waste their time counting when they were so fortuitously presented with this opportunity to escape. They quickly slid out of sight, knowing Vash would be looking for Feliciano to cross his path on the way to Ludwig's, but luckily, Toris and Gilbert were running in the opposite direction, and had a much smaller chance of being spotted by the irritated sharpshooter.

Toris rolled to his hands and knees, gasping on the road just beyond Vash's property, feeling very much relieved that they had survived such a near encounter with the Swiss gun-maniac. Gilbert, on the other hand, was supporting himself against a tree, wheezing just as hard as Toris, but grinning widely as he did so.

"Guess we...saw...another bear," he chuckled. "Just...our luck."

"No...," Toris replied. "The the woods...had a much better temper." They both laughed weakly at their shared joke.

"Ve!" added a third happy voice.

Toris' head shot up, looking desperately for the Italian who had saved their lives, relieved to discover that Feliciano hadn't been shot in the process. But no matter where Toris looked, he couldn't see Feliciano anywhere!

"Up here," Gilbert said, pointing to his head.

Toris looked up. The bird stared back at him with its little beady black eyes. "I...didn't know he could do that," Toris said.

"Neither did I," Gilbert shrugged. "But it's closer to a 'peep' sound than that wailing siren it blared at us back in the forest."

"I guess your bird's just...awesome, then?"

"Yeah," Gilbert grinned. "Awesome."

Having recovered, the two travelers picked themselves up and continued on their journey. Walking through the night, laughing underneath the sparkling stars, they made jokes about Swiss bears and birds that could be used in place of emergency sirens since they didn't require electricity to work. Toris and Gilbert arrived at Feliciano's house in the drizzly early morning hours of the following day. To their mutual surprise, Ludwig was there to greet them, wordlessly counting his push-ups outside on Feliciano's front porch.

"Uh...West?" Gilbert asked, temporarily halting his brother's exercise routine.

"Ah, so you made it!" Ludwig exclaimed, clapping a hand on both Gilbert's and Toris' shoulders. Looking at Toris, he said, "Feliks was worried about you."

"What? Feliks is here?"

"He's been here two days."

Toris groaned. Somehow, that was typical.

"Like, yeah, Liet," a cheery voice said from behind him. "I was, like, totally worried about you! But I see you made it okay."

"How'd you get here?" Toris asked, confused, but happy to know his friend had made it safely through the parkland.

"I, like, took that path we talked about. Y'know, the one where we hopped through Ludwig's backyard, had lunch with him, and then skipped across Vash's lawn without being shot at? That plan."

Toris frowned. "I thought we were utterly lost."

"No way!" Feliks looked surprised. "I wasn't lost at all! In fact, getting away from that awful bear totally put me right in front of Ludwig's place. You, like, ran in the wrong direction, so I guess that means you were the one who was lost. Not me."

Toris sighed, and rubbed his tired face in a hand. Yes, this was typical of Feliks...and yet, he couldn't bring himself to stay mad at his best friend for long. Feliks would always be Feliks, he supposed.

"You're here!" Feliciano chirped happily as he came running down the steps to greet his two newest guests.

"Yeah," Gilbert answered, staring intensely at Feliciano until the Italian shook with fear and hid behind Ludwig, uttering little unhappy "Ve-Ve" noises along the way. Or, at least, continuing the unblinking stare was what Gilbert tried to do before Ludwig bopped him upside his head and told him to quit scaring their generous Italian host.

Heartily, the friends laughed as they told various stories over breakfast, including Toris' recent misadventures (leaving out the passport business), ate as much good food as they possibly could, and enjoyed being in each other's company after so long a separation.

Although it saddened Toris to part ways with his friends at the end of the day, with Ludwig and Gilbert heading back to their house and Toris and Feliks heading back towards Feliks', Toris couldn't be entirely disappointed: they had all planned to meet up again for a picnic in the near future.

"You know what, Liet?" Feliks asked, his thoughtful voice cutting through Toris' daydreams of warm bread rolls and cold slices of watermelon.


"I think I know how we can get back home without, like, entertaining that dumb bear. It'll totally be no problem at all."

"Really?" Toris asked, skeptical.

"Yep! Just trust me!" And with that, Feliks turned and marched off towards Slovenia's house, careful to keep his pristine white-and-pink sneakers out of any muddy puddles left on the street's rain-slicked surface.

Oh boy, Toris thought with a slight roll of his eyes, but, trusting his best friend as always, he too turned toward the eastern horizon and began the long, long, long trek home.