Hello and welcome to my first (real) multichaptered fic! I even posted it on my birthday, to make it extra special.
I promisepromisepromise this one will get finished, and you won't be waiting months for updates. I hate it when people do that to me, so I've written a fair portion of this one ahead of time as a safety measure.
I hope you enjoy.
Disclaimer: We don't own Hetalia. Sorry.
It was always the worst at night.
The thrashing. The yelling. The crying.
The nightly episodes had taken their toll on the nation. America's terrors were violent and painful to watch. The strong nation reduced to a convulsing mess of shakes and pleads and tears, sobbing as though his heart had been ripped from his chest and stolen, never to be seen again.
Fortunately, Alfred lived alone.
"No!" Alfred screamed, waking himself up with a mighty jolt that nearly toppled him off of his mattress. He sat upright at once, trembling as though he'd just watched the scariest of his movie collection.
The white sheets stuck to his sweaty, clammy skin as a breeze from the window caused him to shiver harder. He must have kicked off the heavy down comforter, he thought through his panic, as it was now lying unceremoniously in a soft blue puddle on the floor. He'd grab it in a second, Alfred promised himself. Just as soon as his heart stopped racing.
Another dream, the American cursed internally. He looked at his digital clock, sitting on the nightstand. The numbers flashed at him with an angry red glare. 1:32. Too early, he thought absently.
A few minutes passed. The occasional tear continued to roll unchecked down Alfred's face; the nation hardly noticed.
At 2:00, he felt composed enough to leave the haven of his bed; at least temporarily. He padded to his grand ensuite, taking a navy washcloth and soaking it with cool water.
Before he sponged his forehead, the nation glanced in the mirror.
Though he expected his face to be red from the crying, it was in fact as pale as it had ever been. Perhaps paler than it had ever been.
The area around his eyes was red from tears, of course, but his normally sky blue eyes seemed darker, though still bright with the threat of tears. He looked like...someone, he thought. Of course, like himself, but familiar in another way, too.
Sighing, Alfred mopped his warm forehead and raked a hand through his more-unruly-than-usual hair, attempting to make the blonde mop lie somewhat flatter than it was currently.
Losing battle. He soon gave up, shrugging and giving his reflection a wan grin.
He turned off the light and headed back into his bedroom, using the thin band of moonlight to pick his way across the various things strewn across his room. Instead of going back to bed, however, the American chose to sit on his tiny bedroom window bench. He wasn't much of a reader, and was even less likely to spend long periods of time deep in thought. The bench was very seldom used for anything other than a place to throw his bomber at the end of the day.
He carefully peeled back the sheer curtain, the lights of Washington D.C. meeting his gaze. He hoped that the sight of his beautiful capital could bring him some comfort tonight.
Instead, all he could do was muse about his dream. Strangely enough, though it had nearly brought America to hysterics, he couldn't recall a single detail of whatever he'd dreamed of. What on earth could draw such a reaction from him, night after night?
It would be a bit more bearable, he thought, if only he could remember.
What a bright day, Alfred thought to himself. In fact, it was unseasonably warm for the time of the year. Vancouver was known across the continent for its rain, not its blinding sunlight. The sunbeams reflecting off the glass skyscrapers bounced to light up the streets, making February in Vancouver look more like Phoenix in June. Alfred doubted he really needed his signature beaten up brown bomber on a day like today, but, truth be told, the nation felt naked without it.
He was glad he'd picked such a great time to visit the city. The American didn't mind snow too much; he just wasn't a big fan of the West Coast rain so prevalent in Washington state. No, this is nice. Not too hot, not too cold.
Alfred pushed his way awkwardly through the bustling pedestrians exiting a nearby skytrain station. Of course, morning rush hour. The suits and skirts gave the time of day away if the brisk pace everyone seemed to be moving at didn't. It wasn't quite fast enough to be a run, yet definetly not as leisurely a speed as Alfred usually liked to walk.
Funny, he thought, it was though the pedestrians were moving as fast as was polite. Strange people.
Though he had meetings with the local senator that afternoon, the American had decided earlier to spend the day exploring. For some reason, he couldn't quite remember visiting this particular capital of his before. He knew he must have at some point, but he just couldn't picture it.
The bustling streets felt familiar somehow, but also a bit foreign, as though he were visiting Hawaii, or even Puerto Rico. But this is a continental state, he thought to himself, shaking his head slightly. Oh well. Probably just didn't have enough coffee this morning.
He wandered aimlessly, attempting to get his bearings in the morning light. However, every intersection, every street sign, every familiar building only served to confuse the nation further.
He was sure he recognized Vancouver.
The problem seemed to be he remembered it very differently.
The street he was on now, for instance. Alfred was certain he remembered it with large blue and green banners hanging from the streetlights.
The ornate stone building that held the senator's office. Wasn't that once an art gallery or theatre, something like that?
Didn't there used to be some kind of tree lining the street here? A birch, or maybe a maple?
Blood flushed to Alfred's face as his heart sounded in his ears. This strange version of deja vu was making him nauseous.
Stumbling a bit, the nation spotted a small wooden bench up ahead, shaded by a lovely, leafy tree. Not empty, but it'll do. Alfred attempted to hurry over without ruining the ornate cobbled sidewalk with his breakfast and managed to sit before the dizziness took him completely. Avoiding looking at his elderly benchmate, who had began to stare at him, he sighed and buried his head in his hands in an attempt to will the sudden vertigo away.
Damn. He'd been having such an awesome day, too.
Peeking out through his fingers, Alfred people-watched the busy Vancouverites. It was a crowded area, some kind of main artery for the many pedestrians, he figured. The bench happened to be right by a green space that seemed popular with the locals; at least it was that morning. He stared absently as a particularly large group flooded the area, drowning out the background in a sea of light winter apparel.
Suddenly, he sat up, attentive. A flash of gold in the midst of the swarm had caught Alfred's eye.
At first he thought it was simply the strange morning light, or his imagination, or both, simply playing tricks on him.
He saw another flash.
Then just a sliver of a glimpse of a face.
Just a fraction of a second was the look. Not enough for it to even fully register in Alfred's consciousness. All he knew was he'd seen that face before. And he really didn't know many people in this neck of the woods.
Curious, the American stood and began walking towards the crowd. He strode slowly at first, but a third glimpse of dark blonde spurred him to pick up the pace considerably. This time, Alfred shoved through the crowd less than politely in his rush; he ignored the disgruntled "hey"s left in his wake.
Alfred's pushing brought him eventually to the opposite side of the group. As the people cleared, the American scanned the area with his bright blue eyes, pushing Texas up on his nose. Strange, where could he have gone?
He chose to follow the pathway and soon found that it wrapped around a large nearby building. Already his impromptu search was proving rather fruitless. At least he was feeling better; the sudden distraction seemed to have cured Alfred's just as sudden vertigo.
Grinning in relief, he turned a corner and found himself surrounded by cherry blossom trees. It would normally be much too early for any blossoms to show, but the two months of spring temperatures appeared to have tricked the delicate branches into showing the first few pale pink flowers prematurely. They hung a canopy over Alfred's path and littered the ground, laying a carpet of petals in front of his feet.
America knew that these cherry blossoms weren't native to the West Coast. The stunning transplanted trees must have been a gift from Kiku, but Alfred couldn't quite remember the moment.
Through the screen of falling petals, a figure could be seen in the distance. Breaking from his reverie, Alfred watched the man turn left down what he assumed was a nearby alleyway. As the figure turned the sun hit his hair, creating for an instant a golden halo.
Alfred stared, unblinking. That man...could it really be the same person as before? he wondered though he knew the answer.
In a fluid motion, Alfred went from standing still to sprinting, skidding into the petals as he ran. He stopped short at the turn, staring into the alley. Though it wasn't a long distance to the spot where he'd last seen the mysterious man, the figure was nowhere to be seen. The only thing greeting Alfred down the narrow corridor was a cold, damp brick wall and a strange, sweet scent in the air.
"Hello?" the nation called down the path, just in case. His own voice was the only answer, sounding almost like a whisper as it bounced off of the high walls around him to echo back. Obviously, there was no one there; had never been.
What in the world is going on with me?
Alfred began to wander back to the downtown area, pausing only to ask a few passersby whether they'd seen the same figure, though privately he had already began to refer to the man as more of a spectre; his own personal apparition.
He had always believed in ghosts and the like; a fear that he had carried with him since his childhood. He had once believed in wendigos and forest spirits, as did the native people to his land. Instead of growing out of this, Alfred became more convinced of the existence of the supernatural, much to Arthur's chagrin. Other nations would scoff at his horror movie obsession, but few knew of the reasoning behind it.
Feeling shaky, Alfred turned away from the direction of his meeting and pulled out his cell phone. He dialed as he walked, heading towards the grey stone Fairmont hotel and his room.
The ornate copper roof, green with age, reminded him of another building, though he couldn't remember which. Maybe something in Austria?
Finally the line was answered. "Yes, hello Linda, this is Mr. Jones." Alfred moved with the herd across the busy intersection, nearly at the hotel lobby. "I'm calling to cancel my appointment this afternoon."
Just so you know, the first chapter is by far the lamest I've written. I swear it'll get better, just give me a chance!
But anyway, if you enjoyed it, and you feel like taking a moment out of your day and you feel like it, please review! Or favourite, those are lovely. Just a note: I'd like to say I take criticism well, but I have a spirit that is, alas, easily crushed, so please please please be gentle with your criticisms. .