In Which Each Nation Has A Wish
Chapter 1 (2/?); America's Wish
"The embodiment of a nation?"
"Yeah…That's why Yuko-san told me. I don't get it, though. Isn't it a little impossible for him to be land AND WHY AM I TELLING YOU THIS! I COULD HAVE BEEN HAVING LUNCH WITH HIMAWARI-CHAN AND TALKING WITH HER INSTEAD!"
"Kunogi has late lunch, remember?" Reaching over, Domeki plucked a rice ball from Watanuki's bento, earning him an indignant cry.
"I know that!" The seer yelled, and Domeki plugged his ears. "I just don't understand why you're here!"
"You wanted to talk about this with someone, right?" The archer responded, his expressionless face looking over to the gawking boy.
"So he's land. It isn't as if it's the first weird thing you've encountered, right?"
It was silent for a while, with only the sound of others downstairs chatting away and scattered footsteps.
Watanuki turned to Domeki with a slightly annoyed face (he talked, how could he not get annoyed?). "What?"
"Croquettes." The archer repeated, setting his chopsticks down as he finished his bento. "Make croquettes tomorrow."
"WHAT DO I LOOK LIKE TO YOU, A SERVANT! I DON'T TAKE ORDERS FROM A BEADY EYED GUY LIKE YOU! WHO DO YOU THINK YOU ARE, O-" Right in the middle of his ranting (not that Domeki was listening, he had his fingers in his ears to prevent deafness from the close proximity), the bell rang, signaling the end of lunch.
Getting up and ignoring the heterochromatic boy's yelling on the steps, he began to walk down the flight of stairs. "Hurry up or you'll be late." Was all he said, leaving Watanuki to snarl and jab at nothing in particular with his windmill motions his arms made.
"I DON'T NEED YOU TO TELL ME THAT YOU JERK! YOU DON'T EVEN SAY THANKS FOR THE MEAL OR HELP ME CLEAN UP! STUPID USELESS OAF!"
"—And then I walked into class late because of someone!" He was snarling at the taller boy but Watanuki's mood did a complete 180 as Himawari laughed, causing him to swoon over her (mentally, of course!)
"You two are such good friends!"
"Whaaattt? With him?" The seer jabbed a thumb to the archer who looked bored (then again when didn't he?). "No way!"
The trio was heading off of school grounds, having decided to walk home together.
It was only supposed to be Himawari-chan and I but this jerk butted in as always!
Glaring at the taller teen, Domeki looked over to him and stared. "You look stupid like that."
All three of them looked over with a surprised gaze (well, at least Watanuki and Himawari did, Domeki was as expressionless as ever) to the direction of which the laugh came from.
"Ah, Alfred-san!" Watanuki exclaimed, his surprise clear on his face and in his voice.
"Hey, Watanuki! And I told you, just call me Alfred! Ok?~" Winking, Alfred grinned widely.
"You know him?" Domeki asked as they walked over to where Alfred stood.
"Yeah, he's the guy I was telling you about." Turning his head forward to look up at Alfred, Watanuki became confused. "Uh, Alfred-s-Er, Alfred?" He asked.
"Yeah? What's up?" Still grinning his trademark grin, Alfred's hands were shoved in his pockets. He seemed a bit different than he did yesterday.
"Not to be rude, but…Why are you here?"
"Huh? Oh! Right! She—Yuko, right?" Watanuki nodded. "Yeah, she told me to wait here for you."
Alfred peered over Alfred, noticing the other two people he was walking with. "I didn't know you were walking home with other people!" Lifting his hand in a greeting, Alfred grinned wider. "Hey, there! Nice to meet you!"
"Likewise." Domeki said shortly, and Himawari smiled which nearly made Watanuki faint from the brilliance of it.
"Ah! Are you a friend of Watanuki-kun's? It's nice to meet you!" Laughing sweetly like the chime of bells, Himawari was looking at Alfred so she was too busy to notice Watanuki fawning over her in the background.
At least, until he realized Alfred's words.
"Wait, what?" Blinking rapidly a few times, Watanuki tilted his head. "Wait for me? Why?"
"I dunno, didn't really pay attention." He flashed a grin as Watanuki slammed the palm of his hand into his forehead and laughed nervously.
"O-Ok, so you'll be walking with us then?"
Watanuki furrowed his eyebrows. "What? But I thought—"
"Yuko said that it'd only be us two." Alfred said, looking a bit apologetic to the three teens. "Sorry."
Inwardly, Watanuki cried.
"It's alright! See you tomorrow, Watanuki-kun!" Himawari's cheerful voice brought him out of his mental sulking, and all Watanuki could do was to sputter and hold his shaking army out as she walked away.
"B-But Himawari-chaaaannn!" He whined, watching as she walked off.
Then he felt something itching at the back of his neck. It annoyed him. The only thing he knew that would annoy him right now would be…
"What are you staring at?" He spat out at Domeki, who didn't move or blink or even shift. He seemed to be really concentrated on staring at Watanuki, his eyes narrowed a bit to make them look even more beady. Watanuki was beginning to get a little weirded out before those eyes shifted to Alfred for a few scant seconds.
Then, finally the golden-eyed boy began to walk off. "Croquettes." That was the last thing he said.
"YOU STUPID—! I DON'T TAKE ORDERS FROM YOU, I'VE ALREADY ESTABLISHED THAT! YOU UNCOUTCH, UNMANNERED CAVEMAN! JUST WHO DO YOU THINK YOU ARE, HUH? AND MIGHTY? WELL I'VE GOT NEWS FOR YOU, EYES! I'M NOT MAKING CROQUETTES TOMORROW!" Shaking his arms and legs in what looked like a weird dance to everyone else, Watanuki looked like a pissed off cat. A pissed off cat that just had freezing cold water dumped on it.
"Haha! You kind of remind me of Arthur, with the way you get angry!" Alfred exclaimed, and when Watanuki turned to face him already suspecting a grin at his face, he was a bit startled to find that the grin was not a grin but a smile and if possible…It was brighter - wider – than his grins.
"Arthur?" He asked, amazed at how happy the man sounded just simply saying the person's name.
"Yeah," Alfred nodded, "He's an old friend of mine. A really old friend…" His smile became tinted with what seemed like melancholy, and his eyes became distant, like a cloudy day warning the oncoming signs of rain.
"Oh…" Watanuki murmured, and decided not to press the manner because some things were better left unsaid until it was wanted to be said.
Noticing the abrupt silence that seemed to rein the spot they were in, Alfred's eyes brightened up again and he grinned now. It was amazing how you could tell the difference between his grin and his smile. His smile seemed much more genuine.2
"You know, your friend reminds me of Berwald."
"Berwald, this creepy Swedish dude. He's always so silent and his eyes are reaaalllyyy tiny. He's really tall and intimidating."
"No wonder…" Watanuki mumbled, a grin quirking up at the fact that Domeki came across like that to Alfred.
"I was also wondering," The blonde began, and leaned forward to get a closer look at Watanuki who in turn leaned back and looked surprised at the sudden close proximity between them.
"W-What?" He asked, and began to relax and bend forwards again as Alfred stood straight again.
"Why are your eyes different colors?"
It was silent for a few moments as Watanuki's eyes widened.
Of course, of course he'd ask that question.
He gave a wry smile that wasn't really a smile at all because smiles were supposed to be happy and gave a half-hearted, weak laugh.
"It's a long story…" He finally said, and as if without even thinking about it, his hand rose up to his right eye to self-consciously touch it.
All the while, Alfred stared at him, his eyes narrowing a bit as he became uncharacteristically serious at the teen's expression, because he knew. He knew, like Watanuki knew, that there were some things left unsaid unless they needed to be.
"It's getting dark!" Pointing to the sky, Alfred grinned as he changed the subject. He would pretend not to notice, pretend not to know because hey, he was used to acting that way. It was for the best most times, not to let the other person know you knew. He would pretend to not notice the feelings in the air, instead focusing on making things lighter or pretend that he didn't know any better.
Sometimes, ignorance was bliss.
"Oh, crap!" Watanuki yelled, his bi-colored eyes widening as he already felt the air around them drop and felt shivers up and down his spine. "W-We have to go, now!"
Confused by Watanuki's sudden change in behavior, Alfred decided it best not to question it because he too felt something…strange, and it didn't feel comfortable in the least. "Alright, lead the way, soldier!"
Briefly amazed at how the man could stay calm in a situation like this before remembering that he probably couldn't see spirits, Watanuki began to pick up his pace, glancing behind only to notice Alfred was gone before he noticed him at his side, matching him step for step.
"So, why the sudden change in pace?" The American asked, hands behind his head.
"I''m—uh…Yuko-san told me to get to the shop early today, and I need to hurry up before I'm in trouble!"
Well, at least half of it was true. Except he wished it wasn't.
"Oh, sorry…I've been told I talk a lot, and people are really annoyed by it…" Alfred confessed, looking guilty and very much like a kicked puppy.
"I-It's not your fault, really!" Before the seer had any chance to say anything else, however, he noticed a giant purple glob of mass from the corner of his eye, and that giant purple glob of mass began to approach them.
Crap crap crap crap crappppp!
It wasn't weird that a spirit showed up at night, and was chasing after him. The weird part was that it wasn't only looking at him but it looked at Alfred too.
The weirdest part was that Alfred looked nervous – paranoid - with his eyes darting back and forth and shivers running up and down his body every few seconds.
"Are-Are you ok?" Watanuki managed to huff out, running at full speed now with Alfred right next to him.
"Y-Yeah!" There was a crack in his voice, and his pitch went up a bit. "J-Just fine! It's..it's just a little chilly out, is all. Weird, huh? It's summer and not even full n-night-time yet, h-haha…"
Not exactly buying his bluff but not exactly having the time to ask either, Watanuki just nodded and looked back as he saw the giant blob chase after them still, along with a few new friends.
"Oh, you've gotta be kidding me!" He cried out, his skin crawling as he felt something slide against his shoulder and engulf it, moving down his back and to his neck. "GET-OFF-OF-MEEEEEEE!" He yelled, flailing and squirming as he desperately tried to shake the spirit off.
"W-What's wrong?" By now, Alfred looked frightened, and he sure as hell felt it too. Something didn't feel right…
It felt like he had just watched one of the scariest horror movies, and the electricity had gone out so he had no one to call to come over to his house and stay the night and there was this horrible noise in the back of his head—
It wasn't his imagination after all. At least, he didn't think it was. There was this noise in the back of his head, but he couldn't figure out what it was. Not that he wanted to, it gave him the chills if he concentrated on it.
"A-Are we almost there y-yet?" Great, his voice had nearly died out and he sounded pathetic. Him, America!
Looking over to his partner, Alfred noticed he didn't look so well and that his breathing was hard. He had slowed down a bit too, and shook and squirmed furiously as if trying to get something off. The more he stared, it seemed as if something was appearing, like—
It's just the dark Alfred convinced himself stubbornly, and grabbed Watanuki's wrist to help him since he seemed to be having trouble.
Blinking as his eyes began to adjust more, Alfred saw the shop in sight and despite the feeling of fright being turned on a few notches higher ever since he grabbed Watanuki and something akin to weight being pushed down on him, Alfred only gripped the teenager harder (not enough to hurt, though!) and made his way to the shop, past the fence, to the door, and inside.
Amazingly enough, once he stepped inside the feelings he just had seemed to have quelled and vanished entirely.
He told himself it was because he was inside a house with other people in it, and not outside in the dark.
"Watanuki's back! Watanuki's back!" Maru and Moro chanted, holding hands and spinning in a circle as they laughed.
"Yo, Watanuki! Had fun?" Mokona hopped over to the pair, a knowing grin on his face.
"WHY YOU LITTLE-! YOU KNOW DAMN WELL I DIDN'T HAVE FUN! I JUST WENT THROUGH HELL RIGHT NOW TRYING TO GET BACK HERE WITHOUT BEING EATEN!"
Having been catching his breath, Alfred looked surprised and in that moment of surprise dropped his clueless act. "What? Eaten?"
Watanuki's eyes widened as he realized his slip-up. "Oh—Uhm, I meant that—"
"I see the two of you have come back safely."
All eyes turned to the speaker and Watanuki's savior at this moment; Yuko.
He sighed in relief until something clicked in his brain.
"NO THANKS TO YOU!" He screeched, nearly hitting his head on the shoji in front of him.
"Now, now Watanuki. Is that any way to speak to your employer?"
"YOU ALMOST GOT ME KILLED!"
"Yes, then who would've cooked me my meals?" Yuko sighed wistfully.
"Relax, I made sure you two wouldn't be in any real danger. If you both had simply gone here earlier, you wouldn't have had that much trouble, would you?"
"Now that's settled! Watanuki, get us some beer, will you? Oh, and cook us some good snacks, too!"
"MOKONA'S HUNGRRRYYY! FEED ME FEED ME!"
"ARE YOU KIDDING ME! I JUST GOT BACK NO MORE THAN THREE MINUTES AGO AFTER NEARLY BEING GOBBLED UP AND YOU WANT ME TO MAKE FOOD FOR YOU!"
"That's right! Hop to it, Watanuki! And make it quick!" Giggling like a schoolgirl, Yuko turned to Alfred who had been taking his shoes off and watched this all with an amused grin. "Now, Alfred, how about you and I have a little chat on the patio, hmm?"
Blinking, Alfred steeled himself not to look at her…female body parts (which was pretty hard to do considering her choice of 'clothing'). "U-Uh, sure…" He stammered, getting up and following her while Watanuki practically had an aneurysm.
"THAT'S ALL SHE CAN THINK ABOUT! FOOD AND ALCOHOL! I NEVER GET ANY RESPECT AROUND HERE!" Stomping around angrily while putting on his coverall apron (definitely not the one from Domeki, NO WAY!) and his head wrap, the seer made his way to the kitchen while grumbling about having to deal with drunks and clean up their mess afterwards.
"What did he mean by 'eaten'?" The blonde asked, tilting his head to look over to Yuko.
"Exactly what it implies. If you two hadn't ran when you did, you would have been eaten. Both of you."
"But by what?" Alfred asked, confused. And it showed, with the way his brows were furrowed.
The shopkeeper's ruby eyes stared at him, past his skin, and into his soul. "You act as though you don't know."
A feeling washed over him like cold water being dumped on his body suddenly. "I...I don't know. I don't know what you're talking about." He said, his eyes becoming wide and dilated.
In a sense, he was telling the truth.
"You do. But you choose to close yourself off from the truth. You know what you felt, and you know what made you feel that way. But you don't want to acknowledge it."
The feeling of cold water turned to freezing ice, right down to the core of his soul and mind.
"I-I just realized—I have to go do something right now, important business with my boss—I-I gotta go now." Standing up abruptly with his body language all wrong from his usual laid-back self, Alfred gave a quick bow and murmured a 'thank you for letting me stay here' before turning around and opening the doors.
He bumped into a surprised Watanuki, who nearly dropped the serving tray in his hands.
"Sorry, Watanuki." Alfred didn't even grin, only a small twitch of the lips, and his tone apologetic.
His eyes were troubled, shaken.
"It's alright…" Turning around as he watched the taller male go to the entrance hall and sit down on the dip to put his shoes on hurriedly, Watanuki wondered why he was so different all of a sudden.
He looked a bit different when they were walking (really running) back here, but nothing like this.
The only person he knew who could make people react like that was Yuko.
"I'll—I'll probably see you tomorrow, alright? Say hi to your friends for me! Bye!" Giving a half-hearted laugh that seemed more like a choke, Alfred turned on his heels and exited the shop.
"Alfred…" The teenager was left staring at the empty air where the American had just been.
"What happened? Why did he leave? He looked so shaken." Placing the ochoko down in front of Yuko, Watanuki waited for her answer.
"Think about it, Watanuki. Why did he look so frightened while you two were making your way here?"
"I don't know…He said it was dark." It seemed a little odd that someone with his strength and age, not to mention his status in the world was afraid of the dark, but everyone had their thing.
"And you believed him?" Watanuki's employer raised an eyebrow.
"Well, no. Not really. But it could be possible—"
"Why were you frightened?"
"Well that's obvious." Watanuki said dryly, nearly rolling his eyes. "There were spirits ready to gobble me up, of course. But what does that have to do with Alfred?"
"Alfred…He began to look frightened soon after you did, am I correct?"
The bespectacled boy was silent for a while as he remembered and—
"Yeah…" His eyes widened. Alfred…He couldn't possibly see them…Could he? "He can't really—"
"He can't." Shifting so that her legs were pulled up to the side while outstretched and her side was facing the front gate, Yuko made herself comfortable. "He can't see the spirits you can. Not yet, at least. But he can hear them. To a certain degree."
"What do you mean?" Her employee asked.
"He's closed himself off to that world. He wants nothing to do with it. He's frightened, that if he does acknowledge it, he won't be able to be in control of anything. Which is something someone like him fears. Especially if you're him."3
"So you mean he can't see them..because he doesn't want to?" Was that even possible? Watanuki didn't want to, either! But he still saw them!
"That's half of it. He also doesn't see them because he's convinced himself he can. Not just that, but he's convinced himself that they don't exist. All for the sake of being in control." Yuko sighed, and drank her cup of alcohol quickly. "Of course, not all can be perfect. He's made up of people. Millions of people. People who don't believe, and people who do. Not all who believe can see, but there are some who can. And it's those people who prevent him from not seeing them completely. Of course, it's those people who can't see spirits that help him."
Clutching the serving tray tightly while it lay in his lap, Watanuki stared down at it, his eyes tracing each circle as he tried to understand what Yuko was saying.
"Then there's himself. There's a part of him that knows this, that hasn't been convinced. That part of him is the reason why he was frightened. Why he gets frightened from things such as horror movies." Watching as Watanuki poured her another cup, she continued. "What he thinks is making him better is doing more harm than good. He becomes paranoid, restless, and bothers those around him. He causes pain to those who can see, those close to him. Though he cannot see spirits right now, they can see him."
Two mismatched eyes widened. "So what you're saying is—"
"He has poisoned himself with this belief. And if he does not realize this and get rid of it soon, it will be too late."
Croquettes: a small fried food roll containing usually as main ingredients mashed potatoes, and/or minced meat shellfish, fish, vegetables, egg, onions, spices, or any of the combination thereof, sometimes with a filling, often encased in breadcrumbs. (Taken from wiki)
His smile seemed much more genuine: It's my theory that Alfred's grins are usually used to cheer people up or hide the fact that he knows what's going on (whether it be bad or good). It's his attempt at keeping things light when he knows they won't be. He grins a lot, and it's become a habit, so when he smiles it's completely genuine and shows how he really feels.
"He's closed himself off to that world. He wants nothing to do with it. He's frightened, that if he does acknowledge it, he won't be able to be in control of anything. Which is something someone like him fears. Especially if you're him.": Another one of my theories. I think that Alfred can see spirits, but just chooses not to because he feels as though if he acknowledges the fact they exist, he acknowledges the fact that they're completely different from what he's known his whole life and he can't be in control of situations if anything happens. No one knows this except for Yuko and now Watanuki. I've explained the rest in the story. ;3