America laughed into the night air of the new year. The streets glimmered with spots of confetti that had been tossed out a few nights previous, a crisp breeze swept through the streets. Everything felt fresh and wonderfully clean. The USSR had fallen for good, and citizens of all nations across the world rejoiced.

There had been so many faces, happy, crying with joy, elated in their deserved freedom. America strolled through the empty park as he recalled the flood of emotions that had resulted. And with such perfect timing the fall had come, ushering in a new year where people had hope.

Smiling to himself, he pulled a clear baggy of goldfish crackers out of his pocket before sitting on a park bench. First, their little tails were nipped off, then their bodies consumed whole. America's smile turned to a full on beam in the darkness, a growing, happy warmth causing him to believe that he could take on the rest of the world's problems now, banish them as easily as he banished little cheddar fish to his stomach.

Russia's morbid expression came to his mind, and he laughed again, loud and booming. He had looked pathetic. In the days of the new year America had only seen him once, during the yearly meeting the nations held to discuss their projects and objectives for the year to come.

When it came time for Russia to speak, his sole response had been a low grunt. No one pressed him for more. America had been very tempted to, though.

Something about the twist of Russia's lips, whether they were up or down America could not tell, had caused America's mind to form a barrage of mean-spirited jabs. But he refrained, knowing that England would throw a folder or two at his face if he spoke.

America continued to muse on the subject of Russia's presence at the meeting as he closed his eyes, head tilting back to rest on the wooden planks of the bench. He visualized Russia's face again and again, deciding that it had been a kind of smiling frown upon his lips. Russia could do impossible things like that.

America continued to pick at the mental image he had of Russia on that day. Russia had been shaking, his shoulders trembling, but there was nothing fearful or worried about the movements. It looked to America as if he had the shakes of one who has an amazing idea they are attempting to keep under wraps, but their body is desperately trying to betray them.

He opened his eyes and frowned. Russia really hadn't looked funny at all that day. Not apologetic, not scary, but... something so entirely different that it made America's heart quake to think about it.

Shaking his head of the troubling thoughts, America opened his eyes and looked around. It was too late for anyone to be out, that was why he had come. The stillness of the air and the vast emptiness of the park in the night was a comfort to him. Or at least, it usually was.

Now all America wanted was to be talking to someone, anyone, if only to find a new thread of thought to follow.

The flood of sweeping headlights powered along the street, and America lazily watched the path it illuminated. He wondered if it was a kindred spirit driving along, sharing the same love of the night. It would be too weird to flag the driver down and try to be friendly, but America hummed happily to himself at the thought of doing so.

Once the car had pulled around the corner, America returned the remaining goldfish to his pocket, replacing them with a small book of crossword puzzles. He glanced through the pages, most of them half-filled, some of them completely finished. None that he hadn't already started and gotten stumped with.

The flicker of wild eyes caught America's vision. He peered into the distance, squinting from where the glint had come from. They had been fleeting, the eyes, like those of an animal that had had a flashlight shone on them. America figured it must be a stray dog.

He wasn't terribly big on stray dogs. They had huge mouths, and even larger bodies. It was always a possibility that they would bite him, and while he knew it wasn't as if a simple animal could kill him, he didn't relish how much pain an attack would probably bring.

And yet America couldn't bring himself to simply leave. The poor creature had to be hungry, and most certainly cold. Chances were it would like a few crackers to help stave off its hunger. America took his last few goldfish out and sprinkled them on the ground, proud of himself for being such a stand-up citizen.

He stood and took a few steps away from the bench, admiring the small fish that swam about the pavement. They would make a good dinner for a dog, or at least a decent snack. America began to briskly stride away from the blotch of orange, deciding to watch the creature approach from a distance.

He soon situated himself between two birch trees, anxiously scratching at the bark with his nails as he waited for the dog. Sap began to adhere itself to his fingers and palms, and he distractedly began to rub his hands on his pants, cursing the stickiness of it all.

When he looked back to his bench, the dog was there. Pale and hunched, frighteningly large for an animal. It had dark fur around its legs, a white mane trailing from its neck. America marveled at its interesting markings momentarily, hands still slapping at his legs.

Then it stood, crushing the crackers beneath the heel of its foot.

An astonished swoon wrapped around America as the the creature reared up, no longer dog-like in appearance, but instead a beastly tower of a man. What he had originally taken for a mane was truly a scarf, the dark coloring of the legs, military issued boots.

A hand flew from his pant leg to his mouth, and America bit down fiercely on the webbing between thumb and index finger to stifle a startled cry. It was Russia. Hell, that didn't even begin to explain the wrongness of the situation. Russia, in New York, at an ungodly hour of the night, following America.

Upon the realization that Russia stalking him, America thrust himself back and away from the birch trees in surprise, only for his head to collide with a tree behind him. White streaked across his vision in thick lines as he flailed momentarily. He gritted his teeth against the burst of pain. The world faded, zoned a bit, before America's mind kicked into gear.

Everything came flooding back into focus, the shapes in the dark became sharp and clear images where before they had been blocky outlines. America could feel the rough gnarls of the tree behind him, the frigid bite of air against his skin, and smell the musky odor of the surrounding grounds.

Russia was facing in his direction. He knows, he knows and I am so dead right now, America groaned inside his head. There were no night critters bustling about, and he must have thrashed a bit when he backed up into the tree. He was sure to be found out.

Immediately his eyes were darting about, searching for an easy escape route. America wasn't even going to try and act as if Russia wasn't traipsing after him in the middle of the night. He was sure to have a bone to pick, and America preferred that his own limbs stay unbroken for as long as possible.

Everywhere he looked there was a blockade. Tall, wiry fences too big to quickly scale, concrete walls that provided no grip for his numbing hands. He had to take into account how far he was from home, as well. It was a good fifteen minute walk to the park, which meant he was at least a mile away.

He'd have to run, run like a wild creature. There was no way he could escape without bolting through the open. Maybe he could zigzag like so many prey animals did. No, no. He wasn't anyone's prey. He was a hunter, strong, courageous, unafraid of the unknown. He wouldn't prance about on the grass and paved paths in an attempt to shrug off Russia. That would only make him look like a world class idiot. A drunk one, at that.

Russia probably wasn't that fast of a runner, anyway. He had long legs, but only in proportion to the rest of his body. Like a draft horse, sturdy and steady over long distances with a ridiculous amount of power, but not necessarily speedy.

America, on the other hand, fancied himself a kind of thoroughbred. A sleek and well-trained racehorse that could hurdle any steeple and sprint across the ground beneath him with only the slightest effort. Yet his speed and presumed grace would be useless if a certain lead pipe honed in on his kneecap. Knowing Russia, he could throw that thing like a boomerang.

America continued to weigh his options, or really, lack of them. His eyes moved back to the bench where Russia was.

Except he wasn't there anymore.

With a great deal of self control, America refrained from purposefully bashing his head repeatedly against the trees. He was pretty sure he'd start crying over his own stupidity at any second. To let Russia out of his sight, to get lost in his own decision making instead of focusing on the immediate present, was a terrible decision now that he looked back on it.

He scanned the park grounds again, looking for any hint of his follower. Nothing. Not a trace of pale hair, nor dark boot, only the blackness of the night. America's vision stretched, tightened as his adrenaline rose. His surroundings looked almost flattened, his heart seized violently in his chest.

Through the haze of his panic, America had the sense to close his eyes and listen. He strained for the crinkle of dried leaf underfoot, the snapping of twigs, for the rustle of fabric as its owner moved. Only the thrumming of blood rushing through veins and beat of his own heart met America's ears.

Minutes dragged by as America waited, still listening intently for Russia to spring upon him. His eyes pried themselves open as the thump of his heart calmed. He peeked about, fully expecting to see the glint of a metal pipe as it came arcing towards his face.

Only darkness greeted his eyes, and yet he was still convinced Russia was lurking close by. America began to actively scout him out as stealthily as he could, peering around trees and peeking through bushes. Panic turned to curiosity as America continued to find no clues pointing to another presence. Had the other man only looked like Russia?

America stretched his arms above his head as he yawned. He checked his watch. Almost 3 in the morning. It seemed feasible to him that his tired mind had simply been playing tricks on him. But he was sure he had seen another person, just... probably not Russia.

Considering how cold it was, there was nothing suspicious if someone chose to wore a scarf to keep warm. The boots, well, maybe they had been from a military surplus store. They were certainly sturdy and long lasting. It wasn't suspicious for one to want footwear that would hold up for a long time. As for the pale hair, anyone could have that fair a shade if they went to a salon.

Slightly emboldened by the results of his reasoning, America was sure it was a run of the mill oddball who liked to crush crackers and roam empty parks. If by chance the man did decide to try and jump him, America knew he could easily defend himself, or make a break for it.

Zipping his worn jacket up to the collar, America forced himself to get a move on. He was more anxious than anything now, wanting only to run along home and smack the redial button on his phone. Any voice to talk to would be enough for him.

His shoes slapped against the pavement as he briskly covered ground, the odd bit of gravel scuffing against his soles. He turned the corner, following the same path the car he had seen previously took. Perhaps whoever had been driving it might still be around, and he could chat them up for a few minutes in order to settle his hackles

The street was dotted with parked cars, all of them dark and unremarkable in the dim flicker of street lamps. America slowed his pace as he passed them, glancing inside one after another as he made his way. He patted the hoods down, feeling for the warmth of a recently driven car.

Towards the end of the lane, ticking, snapping sounds caught his ear. The telltale noises of a cooling engine. The first flutters of solid relief passed over America's heart as he peered into the car, knowing there would be no one within, but needing to look anyway.

The interior dashboard was coated with sleek, unmarred leather. A few recent-looking newspapers littered the passenger seat, topped with several rags, some of which showed light stains. America frowned as he continued to scope out the insides, noting with a hint of sadness a heavy gray blanket strewn across the backseat along with a fluffed pillow. Whoever owned the car probably slept out of it.

But if the car served as sleeping quarters, they should have been in use at the moment. Chills slid down America's back as he straightened up. He started to regret taking the road he was on, something about it started to make him feel corralled, herded.

A blurred form bounded across America's path, and a strangled gasp escaped his throat. The creature whirled around to look at him, large, glinting eyes. A cat. America stomped his foot, frustrated that he had been alarmed by a small animal. The feline fled at the sight of his raised foot.

"Serves you right," he grumbled. "Sneaking up on unsuspecting heroes like that."

Behind America, a polite cough sounded, the kind one makes to attract attention to themselves. Before he could so much as take a breath, an arm curled around his midsection in a vice-like grip that hauled him backwards, holding him tight to his attacker.

America cried out in surprise and instinctively began to struggle, his elbows jabbing in back of him, searching to land a blow. A wet rag snaked over America's lower face. He flailed recklessly about in an attempt to get it off, jerking from side to side as best he could, refusing to take in air.

America was dragged backwards without warning, slammed down against the hood of the settling car. An elbow, not his own, connected with the middle of his back, causing him to cry out in pain before quickly shutting his mouth again.

His lungs burned from lack of oxygen, screaming, frigid pain filling them instead. He wouldn't breath. He couldn't, it wasn't an option. But America's body gave up before his mind did, relenting in its fight to get free, opting instead to gasp like a fish out of water.

Inky black trails dripped before America's eyes with his first intake of breath. His body loosened, slumped, twisted as it slid across the metal hood. Again he felt an arm wrapping around him, but it was distant, holding him from some far off place.

His being was skewed from his body, infinitesimally at first, but more so as he discovered he was being lifted. His mind was left on the pavement, duly noting the sound of a car door opening, while his body was unceremoniously laid across the backseat. A hand slid behind his head, raising it momentarily. When it pulled away, what America's addled consciousness thought might be a pillow took its place.

With what little strength remained in his body, America raised his own hand to swipe the cloth away. It connected with an arm, which effortlessly brushed him aside. America allowed his hand flop down and slurred out a protest, eyelids flickering as he struggled to let the other man know he really needed his brain back as soon as possible.

A faint, garbled voice responded as the world melted, churning slowly until it became solid sheet of black. With a sigh of finality, America gave himself up to the darkness.


Honestly, I have never used to upload any of my stories before. I apologize if something goes terribly wrong and the format turns into a bunch of tiny chanting heathens or something similar. This story is already written out to chapter 6, but since I am new to I might be slow to upload them (once a week or so?). I also upload weekly on my livejournal ( .com ) along with my other stories.

I hope you enjoy what I have written so far, and if not, then I thank you for taking the time to give this a chance.