Well here we have it, the final chapter! A thousand thank yous to everyone who has read this far. And to everyone who has reviewed, it has been really overwhelming! :D And a really huge thank you to those that have done Second Chance fanworks! That's just the awesomest thing ever. There have been some fics, art, and even a song. Check 'em out in my profile!
Disclaimer: Hetalia's not mine.
"Well this is weird." Alfred settled onto the grass, skin prickling. "Really weird. And creepy." As long as they were in Ottawa, Canada had decided to show Alfred the vast war memorial cemetery where many Canadian and American heroes had been buried, before he and England took off on their trip.
Canada nodded, resting a hand on the grave stone. "Ah, England and I had a long, bitter fight about where to bury him. I don't know why he even tried. Why would we bury him in Europe?"
"Well, he had to try, I suppose..." Alfred traced the name and dates (which were accurate, and made him wonder if people who saw it thought it was a joke). "That's just weird. It's like my own grave."
"I suppose so."
Alfred touched the dirt at the base of the stone. "Hi, America," he chirped. "Um. I'm you, so I guess there isn't much I could tell you that you don't already know. Though everyone still talks about you like you're a different person, even when they say you're not, because this is the most confusing situation ever..."
Canada smiled wanly. "Al..."
"But I guess it's your memories they miss, huh?" Alfred went on. "It has been cool seeing your memories. Send me more, okay? Preferably the nicer ones." He settled back, smiling at Canada. A thought occurred to him. "Are all of them buried outside their borders?"
Canada shook his head. "Some of them are still in their countries."
"Oh." He'd thought he'd stumbled across a great revelation. Ah well. Then another thought occurred to him. "You know? I don't see why I couldn't be buried in Europe after I'm dead."
"What? Fair's fair, then you'd each have one!"
Canada made a face. "Must we talk about that?"
"It's not like I plan on it happening soon. What else am I supposed to think about in a cemetery? Visiting practically my own grave?" Alfred sighed. "The only thing I worry about is dying alone. I don't want to do that again..."
"Again?" Canada's head snapped up to stare at Alfred. "Al... did you dream... that?"
"Oh. Uh." Oops. "Maybe?"
"Oh." Canada studied him, chewing on his lower lip. "Could you tell me about it? Some day. Not now."
Alfred nodded. He supposed he could, if Canada really wanted to know.
"Is there anything else you haven't told us about?"
"Uh..." Alfred shrugged. "Other unpleasant stuff. Oh. I'm sorry, by the way."
Canada tilted his head. "For what?"
"For burning your stuff."
Canada gave him a blank look for a moment, before understanding dawned. "What, you mean York?" Alfred nodded, and Canada burst into laughter. "We forgave each other a long time ago, but thank you. And I'm sorry for sending England to burn your stuff."
Alfred grinned. "It's okay. I actually thought it was kind of sweet that you didn't want to do it yourself."
"The hell I didn't. I just didn't feel well enough to go myself."
Canada smiled. "Are you ready to go?"
Alfred glanced back at the gravestone. "Yeah, I think so. I need to go buy some swim trunks."
"All right." Canada patted the grave, and they stood. "Hmm..."
"What?" Alfred said, leading the way out.
"Just thinking. You've stressed plenty about whether England loves you for you or just for America, but you've never really wondered that about me."
"Oh." Alfred laughed. "Yeah. I guess because you accepted me quicker. And... Idunno... I just never really worried about you." He scratched his head, smile falling a bit. "You don't, do you? You wouldn't want his memories restored if they messed with mine, would you? Even if it restored his being an immortal nation?"
"Of course not," Canada scoffed. "I'd never want your memories messed with." He winked at Alfred. "You love hockey, and Canadian beer, and you don't make fun of my accent-"
"You have an accent?"
Canada smiled fondly, linking arms with his brother. "I'm joking. Mostly. It would be nice if you didn't quite have the same suicidal heroic tendencies, though..."
"Ah... England already lectured me about that." Alfred let out a sigh, thinking back to a recent conversation with his grumpy lover.
"I think we need to set some ground rules for your heroism."
"What?" Alfred pouted. "Oh, come on..."
"I am not at all joking," England said, looking just as serious as he claimed he was. "If you break any of them, there will be consequences. Do you understand?"
"Um." Alfred swallowed. "Right. Yes."
"Good. The most important rule is that you will never, ever put yourself in danger to rescue or protect one of us."
"No buts! We are immortal, and heal quickly. You do not have any such luxuries. Heroics on our behalf would be pointless and foolish. I don't care if you don't get hurt, you will still be in big trouble."
"All right, all right!" Alfred crossed his arms, pouting. "And you totally are not immortal, or I wouldn't be here..."
England snorted. "If my country is ever on the brink of destruction, there probably wouldn't be much you could do to save me, anyway. I'm sure they would have died naturally if they hadn't been killed immediately."
"I already promised!"
Alfred rolled his eyes. "I promise I will never risk my life to protect one of the nations..."
"So don't worry," Alfred grumbled. "England does not trust me, I swear."
"I can't imagine why not," Canada said, patting Alfred on the back. "He's only known you for several centuries."
"Shut up. I could burn something else, you know."
"Careful, you idiot! You don't have your strength back." With an annoyed huff, Romano maneuvered one of Antonio's arms around his own shoulder. "Do I have to do everything?"
"Sorry." Antonio, as usual, ignored the verbal abuse. He knew what it really meant. And anyway, he was too busy staring out at the gorgeous, sparkling blue waters of the harbor—his harbor! On his land! Antonio Fernandez Carriedo was now the proud owner of the Salento peninsula—or, as he had called it when he requested the area in response to Romano's query, 'the high heel part of your country'. With a carefree grin, Antonio watched a couple seagulls swoop by.
"Are you sure this is the spot you want?" Romano said. "There's lots of places closer to, you know, Spain. Like in France."
"I don't want a part of France!" Antonio laughed.
"Good. I mean..." Romano shrugged slightly. "You shouldn't be by Spain, anyway, really. If you were ever tempted to check it out, I'd have to kill you."
"You don't have to worry about that." Antonio shuddered. "I am not at all interested in visiting Spain." His smile quickly returned. "Besides. Isn't this kind of like marriage among your kind?"
Romano spluttered, ears turning red. "N-no. That's when two countries join."
"And Spain is now a part of Italy!"
"Th-that's... uh..." Romano turned his face away, staring out at the water. "Stop teasing me."
"I'm not." Antonio gripped Romano's chin and tilted his face back, then planted a soft kiss on his lips. "I love you, stupid."
Antonio couldn't swear to it, but there seemed to be a different quality to Romano's blush. Softer? Pinker? Wait, did he just say something? "What was that?"
"I said I love you, too."
"Oh." Antonio smiled. "Good."
Romano resumed staring at the harbor. "Would you really want to...? I mean, if my boss ever decided to actually join with another country for whatever reason..."
"I'm not jealous of political alliances," Antonio scoffed. "Just try and pick somebody you'd be hot with, at least."
"What?" Antonio clung tighter to Romano.
Not much had changed. They did not, however, talk about their time in captivity, as part of an unspoken agreement. Some day, perhaps. But for the time being they were content to concentrate on the present, on the future, instead.
"We have to hurry," Antonio said, holding up a fist.
"Because you know at the very least Alfred and Roderich will want to marry their nation companion. They aren't going to beat us!"
Romano snorted, rolling his eyes. "You and your romantic competition..." He shot a scowl at Antonio. "I'm not wearing a dress."
"Obviously not." Antonio laughed. "Why would either of us? You're the one who assumed you'd be wearing a dress, not me."
"Come on!" Antonio finally squirmed out of Romano's grip, praying he didn't stumble again. "Let's go check out that castle you told me about. I've never owned a castle before.
Lili refused to become involved. She lay on her stomach, watching the Danube river flow by while tuning out her brother yelling at Hungary. Lili had a feeling Vash and Hungary would not make for good country-mates.
"Vash and I are just friends, dear," Roderich said, trying to go for flattery to placate her. "We are not going to pose like that."
"Hell no," Vash added. "You corrupted innocent little Lakshmi, you aren't corrupting us, too."
"I don't know what you're talking about," Hungary huffed. "When I said 'put your arm around him', I meant in a friendly way, for the picture. You're the ones who assumed I meant intimately! What does that say about you?"
Lili could see the boys exchange a glance out of the corner of her eye. "Uh..." Vash said. "It... it means we've known you for too long."
"Let's just forget it," Roderich said, sounding flustered. "I'll play us a tune. A nice river-watching song."
"Oh!" Hungary sounded thrilled. "Please do."
Lili smiled over at Vash as he settled down beside her on the Danube's bank. "It will be fun, all of us sharing borders."
"Oh, yeah," Vash muttered. "Great." But he smiled anyway as Roderich serenaded them on his small travel-size keyboard he had brought along for just such emergencies.
"Come on!" Yong Soo beamed. "Say it."
"No," China said.
"No," Kiku said, crossing his arms.
"Pleeease?" Yong Soo bounced slightly.
The pair exchanged a glance, and sighed in defeat.
"Fine," Kiku said. "Aniki."
"Ge ge," China added.
Yong Soo grinned in delight. "That wasn't so hard, was it?"
Kiku gave his friend a polite smile. He was six months older, and China was... god only knew... but if it made Yong Soo happy... He ruffled Yong Soo's hair and turned back to their surroundings. "You know, neither of us know any Chinese..."
"That's okay," China said. "You'll pick it up."
"You have an unfair advantage." Yong Soo reached around Kiku, going for his chest. "You can already read the five billion letter thingies."
Kiku ducked away. "Not quite that many."
"Four and a half billion, then."
Kiku gave Yong Soo another pat on the head, then tugged his camera out, snapping a few shots of Beiling Park. "So what does this entail, anyway, nii-chan?"
China smiled fondly at him. "What does what entail, aru?"
"I've never owned a large chunk of land before. Will people pay me taxes? Do I have to care for them?"
China blinked. "Um..."
"Will I have my own army?"
"No, no." The nation laughed. "It's just a formality, Kiku. You don't have to do anything."
"I want my own army!" Yong Soo said. "That would be awesome!"
"No armies." China crossed his arms. "I don't want to hear about you two having border disputes or anything."
"Japan and South Korean war?" A grin spread across Yong Soo's face. "That sounds like fun! Without the armies and actual trying to hurt each other..."
Seated on a bench nearby, Lakshmi eyed them from over the top of her book. Judging by the boys on the cover, Kiku guessed it was something Hungary had loaned her. "Boys..."
"We won't involve you!" Yong Soo said. "I wouldn't declare war on a girl."
China smacked the back of his head. "Stop that, aru."
Yong Soo winced and rubbed his head. "What'd I do? I was being nice to her."
"It's still too soon to joke about war."
"Well, I didn't mean..."
"Human boys never grow up," Lakshmi said, tucking her book away and rejoining them. "Come on, get some pictures of me to show everyone."
Kiku eyed the food stall he had been about to take pictures of, but nodded his agreement. He could get to his photos of strange foreign food later.
Katyusha strolled along the street, Russia on one arm and Belarus on the other. She was unable to take her eyes off the mountains that lined the horizon as they walked, occasionally tripping over unexpected bumps along the ground. It was rather chillier than the climate she was used to in early September, but that's where her knitting came in handy. All three were bedecked with new scarves, and had gloves ready if the temperature dropped further.
"You're not really giving me the whole thing, are you?" Katyusha said, happy to be able to drop back into the Ukrainian her parents had taught her.
"The whole thing," Russia said. "Don't you want it?"
"It's so big!" Katyusha laughed in delight. "And doesn't it technically belong to Alfred?"
Russia shook his head. "It was given back to me. He doesn't need more than one of his old states."
"You're sure I get the whole thing?"
"I suppose I will miss being neighbors with Canada again," Russia mused. "But it's a very pretty state—country—part of—well, whatever it is now. I want you to have it. And you'll be closer to home than you would be in Russia. And I come here a lot, so you won't miss me."
"Really?" Katyusha swept her gaze over the Anchorage streets.
"I have a home here, too, though I usually stayed in New Ukraine. But I will come here to my other new Ukraine."
Katyusha pressed her lips together, to keep from snickering at the cheesiness. He meant well. "All right."
"I'll visit a lot, too," Belarus said. "You need a bodyguard, anyway. If someone else ever tried that again..."
"We know what you would do," Russia said, sounding pained. And considering he was the one who had taken care of Spencer, that... that said a lot about Belarus, really. Katyusha was glad she did not remember the time when Russia had been deathly afraid of his sister. She much preferred her family getting along.
"There is a good Russian place over there," Russia said, gesturing with his head. "I believe we were... interrupted the last time we all tried to go out to eat at one."
"That sounds like fun," Katyusha said, shivering slightly. "But you don't get more than one bottle of vodka."
"And dinner before dessert."
Russia sagged. "Okay, sister."
Alfred picked his coconut up to take a sip of the fruity concoction that swirled within, digging his toes into the warm sand. Now this was a nice way to spend a day. "Darling, if you slather on any more of that goop, you're going to anti-tan and be even paler."
England did not cease in his application of sunblock. "I don't care. I burned the last time I was here. Nude sunbathing. It was an experience I never want to relive."
"Well keep your trunks on while we're out in the sun," Alfred said. He tried to not notice when England slathered some sunblock onto his hands and stuck them down his shorts. "Good grief..."
"Better safe than sorry."
"I have never been less turned on by someone touching himself." Alfred made a selection from his stack of literature. Cocktails and comic books on the beach, life was good. He made it through three comics before drowsiness overcame him, and Alfred fell asleep with the fourth spread across his face.
One short nap and shared sunset later, Alfred and England found themselves back in their luxurious hotel room, seated together on the bed and chatting about whatever.
"I'm going to miss being perceived as Canada's twin," Alfred mused after they had exhausted the topic of cream versus maple syrup in tea.
England looked up. "Eh?" He scowled. "Dammit, now you've got me doing it. Anyway, what are you talking about?"
"Well, after a few years or so I'll have to start passing as his older brother." Alfred sighed. "And someday I'll have to be his father or uncle, or something." He glanced over at England, who was looking as frowny as he usually did when the subject of Alfred's humanity came up. "And then some day, you'll be my trophy boyfriend, and I'll be the cradle robbing old perv."
England pursed his lips, the scowl lines in his forehead ironing out. "Trophy boyfriend? Really?"
"Yup! Everyone will wonder how an old coot like me got so lucky."
England seemed to like that idea. He eyed Alfred expectantly, anticipating something or other.
"Oh. I was waiting for you to say something about how, for the time being, I'm the old coot with the trophy boyfriend."
"Oh, dammit." Alfred smacked a fist into his other palm. "I can't believe I missed that!"
England chuckled, crawling closer to Alfred. "How am I supposed to know you love me if you miss an opportunity to make fun of my age?"
"Well, I do love you, you ancient old mummy, you."
"Mm." England leaned in for a kiss, hands sliding onto his bare shoulders and pushing Alfred back against the pillows, following him down.
Alfred rubbed their noses together. "Kinda takes some of the fun out of things, not wearing much to begin with. What's sex without the pre-show stripping?
"I'm not going to complain about looking at your body all day long." England kissed down Alfred's chest, though he paused to sit halfway back up and just look down at Alfred. He reached down to brush a few strands of hair off of Alfred's forehead, sweeping them back. "I'm so glad you came back to me."
"Me too." Alfred lifted a hand to caress England's cheek, who nuzzled into it. England then gripped Alfred's wrist and moved the hand away so that he could kiss the palm. He moved on down the arm, placing kisses along it, and had just started in on his neck when a knock at the door startled them both.
"Were we expecting someone?" Alfred whispered.
England shook his head. "I don't know. Room service?" He made a face. "Did you order another of those horrible burgers with pineapple?"
And then a voice joined the knocking. "Alfie!"
England glared down at his lover. "You have got to be kidding me!"
"What did I do to deserve this?"
Alfred patted England's hip. "Is the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland whining?"
England swatted his hand away. "Is the United State of Hawaii's family interfering in my love life?"
"I'll take care of it."
"Yeah, because they listen to you..." England rolled off of him, stalking into the bathroom while muttering about how they had only been there one day.
Shaking his head, Alfred pulled a robe on before heading over to answer the door. So much for their romantic getaway.
"And that is where the new concert hall is going to be," Roderich said, showing everyone yet another photo from his little corner of Hungary.
"What a surprise," Antonio said.
It was a crisp autumn day, their campus scattered with fallen red and orange leaves. Classes wouldn't start for a bit, and they had not seen much of each other since their rescue. Lakshmi had joined them as well despite not being a student there, just to hang out.
Roderich tucked the photo away with a smile. "So how is everybody?"
"We own parts of countries," Yong Soo said. "We were countries. And now we're going back to school... I think we're all feeling a bit anticlimactic!"
Roderich's smile grew. "Well, yes. But that's not what I meant..."
They fell into an uneasy silence, staring at the grass that was scattered with leaves and other students. They occasionally glanced at each other, waiting for somebody else to be the first to say something.
Kiku finally spoke up. "It's been helpful, having so many friends who understand. China and the others, and all of you... I think I would be a lot worse off if I had to go through it alone."
Lili nodded, clinging to her brother. "I hated it so much, seeing Vash being hurt, but I also don't know what I'd have done without him."
Antonio wished that wasn't true, but it was. Witnessing Romano's torture had been a torture itself, but... they had also comforted each other.
"I think it will be nice, getting back into a normal routine," Katyusha said. "Being back at school, it almost makes the whole ordeal feel like a dream."
"It does, kind of..." Antonio said. "Oh, hey, look who decided to join us," Antonio waved as Alfred finally jogged over. He did a double take, as did everyone else, and they all stared at him.
"What?" Alfred said with a grin.
Antonio swallowed. "Does he... does he know you have that?"
Alfred flicked the end of his scarf. "Of course! He gave me the old one, since he has a new one." Al scratched his head. "He did mention a deal we had made. I'm not sure what he was talking about..."
"That doesn't sound good." Antonio nudged him. "So, look at you, all tan. Have a fun trip? Just the two of you?"
"Not exactly." Alfred made a face. "I mean, it was fun, yes. But it wasn't just the two of us for long. First my parents came, then Canada, then Mexico, so it was more of a family vacation." He pursed his lips. "And France showed up at some point, but you know, bathing suits and nude beaches..."
"No alone time?" Yong Soo said, pouting. "That sucks."
"Well, we did have some alone time. And it was worth it, really, to see my mom mothering Canada. And trying to hook him up with various random people." Alfred's grin widened.
Antonio chuckled. "Well?"
"Did he hook up with anybody?"
"Oh!" Alfred shook his head, laughing. "I don't know."
"That's not what we were wondering," Vash said, elbowing Antonio. "So going there didn't change you, did it?"
"Me?" Alfred shook his head again. "Should it have? None of you changed, I'm assuming."
"No," Lili said, "but you're the only one whose new land actually used to belong to you."
"We didn't really think it would work," Antonio said. "But we thought we'd ask."
"Nah." Alfred flopped down onto a bench. "We're stuck being all mortal." He tilted his face back, staring up at the clouds. "I can't fly, either."
"What?" said several of them.
"You flew just fine," Kiku added.
"Not anymore. I tried, when we went on an island tour in this little plane. I, uh, nearly got us all killed... or whatever happens to nations." He grimaced. "Canada screams like a girl."
"Of course he does," Antonio said, patting Alfred on the shoulder. "He's your twin."
Alfred laughed and nodded, though the grin quickly morphed into a scowl. "Hey, wait..."
"We're all going out to eat later," Vash said. "You can come if you want."
"Sounds good." Alfred glanced at his watch. "I do want to hear about everyone's trips, but I slept in and we're running out of time..."
"I had better go, too," Lakshmi said. "I'll see you all later." She waved, and headed off.
Alfred stood, and nearly fell back over when Yong Soo pounced on him. "Too bad it's not like when we were kids," Yong Soo said cheerfully, "when students had to write essays about their summer vacations."
"Oh yes," Vash said, "because we want to be shipped off to an asylum."
Antonio grinned. "Let's meet back here at three." He blew his friends a kiss, and headed toward his first class.
It was Friday night, the first of the new school year. Alfred wasn't one to give up tradition, so he and Kiku were settled on the couch with a bowl of popcorn.
"What did you get?" Kiku asked with weary resignation.
Alfred held up a few movies. Words like 'haunting' and 'paranormal' featured prominently in the titles. Kiku sighed. "I don't know why I always let you choose the movies..."
"Because I have awesome taste." Alfred chose one to pop in, then settled back beside Kiku again. "Feels like forever since we've done this."
"Back then, we were just a couple of regular college blokes."
"Blokes?" Kiku chuckled. "What has your boyfriend done to you, Alfred-kun?"
"Nothing! Oh god..." Alfred hid his face.
"It's just the credits, Al..." Kiku patted his friend on the shoulder, and settled back to watch as the actual movie started. "Come on, look. They're just talking."
They watched the movie in relative silence (not counting the variety of noises Alfred made), until about halfway through when poor Al just couldn't take it anymore and hid his face in Kiku's chest.
"Alfred-kun..." Kiku stroked his hair.
"I can turn it off."
"Are you kidding? This movie's awesome!"
He actually sounded sincere. Kiku shrugged. "Hey..."
"Um..." Kiku swallowed. "You know, I never really thanked you."
"What, for yesterday? What's a round of beers between friends?"
Kiku couldn't help but smile. "No, no. For... coming for me."
"Oh." Alfred sat back up, staring at the television and blushing slightly. For someone who frequently declared himself a hero, he seemed a rather bashful when it came to being sincerely thanked for it. "That. Well hey, you'd come for me if I was being held captive in, like, Tokyo, wouldn't you?"
"I would," Kiku said.
"Right. We're awesome like that." Alfred tossed a handful of popcorn into his mouth, and that was the end of that, apparently. They resumed watching the movie, Alfred whimpering and whining the whole time, and Kiku knew he wouldn't be getting a good (or alone) night's sleep that night.
Maybe next Friday, Kiku would pick the movies.
I... I can't believe it's over. o_o Now what do I do with myself? Well, aside from work on other stuff. lol
Well, my apologies, I know just about everyone wanted them to become nations again. :) But sadly, that was never the intent.
So no one died, yay! Well, except bad guys. Several people expressed concern regarding the 'tragedy' genre, but that was just in reference to the deaths of America and everyone previously. Hey, I picked the genres when all I had written was the first chapter. XD I guess I could change them, but eh. It works. Picking just two genres sucks.
So... why were they reborn as humans with the occasional odd ability? Probably for the same reason the nations were born in the first place. XD
Anyhoo. The end! I'm not averse to the idea of a sequel. But that would have to wait for a nice solid plot bunny, especially since I have a bad history of sequel plots fizzling out in mid-write. ^^; But maybe someday. Until then, this tale's finished!