Author's Notes: FINALLY! A chapter! I'm so sorry it's taken so long for me to update, my life is just insane.
This chapter was beta-ed by Capt. Hasting.
Disclaimer: I don't own Axis Powers: Hetalia.
Washington DC "Casey" belongs to RubberChi.
North Carolina "Savannah" belongs to elektraeriseros.
Florida "Rachel" belongs to XxToxicDeathXx.
Georgia "Darcy" belongs to Kendall N.S.
Maryland = Madison
Virginia = Jackson/Jack (I started off naming him Andrew but that's N. California's name so I had to change it. Sorry if I didn't correct it every time…I think I did though.)
Delaware = Robert
S. Carolina = ?
Maryland fiddled with her auburn hair as she glanced around the meeting room. Seven other states, all considered South Atlantic states, were seated around the table. On her right was Virginia, who was hunched over some new piece of technology. His dark hair hung loose around his face making it difficult for Madison to see his expression. She could easily picture it though, Jack always wore the most serious expression when he was working on one of his "great inventions."
Next to Virginia were Delaware and Georgia. Robert had his arms crossed and seemed to be glaring at everyone (he never was fond of being considered a southern state especially after the Civil War) while Georgia was trying to split up a fight between North and South Carolina. The two had never really gotten along although their relationship had certainly improved since the colonial period.
To Maryland's left was West Virginia, one of the only states at the meeting that didn't know what was going on. Currently the fair haired girl was glowering at Virginia. Unlike the tension between the Carolinas, West Virginia and Virginia's relationship still remained rocky.
At the very end of the table was Florida, the only other state that didn't know about what was going on with their father. Maryland half expected Southern California to spill the beans to her but she had obviously kept her mouth shut, an event that occurred less often than a solar eclipse. Especially considering that despite their constant commercial wars and bets over who could get the most tourists, the two girls were very close. The last Madison had heard, Ashley was trying to convince Rachel to dye her long, black hair platinum blonde.
Maryland was drawn out of her observations when Virginia grabbed her shoulder.
"Maddie, I think I've got it figured out!"
Madison looked at the odd object in Jack's hands.
"What is that?"
The younger state rolled his eyes.
"It's going to help with finding you-know-who, duh."
"Who have you lost now, Jack?" asked West Virginia with a smirk.
"No one, Abigail."
"Then who is you-know-who?"
Maryland's eyes darted around as she tried to think up an excuse. Maybe it would just be best to tell Abigail and Rachel now. It wasn't an easy way to break the news but they were going to find out in the next few minutes anyway. Before she could think up a good answer Jack gave his own.
"Voldemort of course. Who else would it be?"
Abigail let out a sigh and muttered something under her breath along the lines of "idiot confederate." To which his reply was a small smile and a nod of his head.
"Lookie here, if I just move this wire here and then connect this one with the green one then they should—
A puff of smoke erupted from the charred gadget and into Jack's ecstatic face. "Now that, was awesome!" He turned to Madison expectantly and frowned when he saw the shocked expression on her face.
"Oh come on, you can't tell me that scared you. It was so cool!"
"Jackson, I think it's time you stopped playing with your little toys." Robert said coldly, seemingly unshaken by the smoking device in Andrew's hands.
"They're not toys, they're inventions."
"Right...Well, why don't you wipe the soot from your face so that we can get down to business?" Delaware then turned his gaze to Maryland, "Madison would you like to do that honors?"
All eyes turned to the state in question. She hated having all the attention on her. She was content being the small, background player of the family. This meeting had been a big step for her since she usually preferred to listen rather than tell everyone what was going on. Public speaking wasn't really her strong suit. However, Casey had been desperate for help and Madison felt obliged to assist the overworked capital in any way she could, even if it meant doing things far outside her comfort range.
She cleared her throat and looked around, she seemed to have everyone's attention, aside from Florida who was messing around with her phone.
"Umm, Rachel? I'm going to start the meeting now?"
The girl continued to lean back in her seat while giggling at something on her phone. Her chair balanced precariously on two legs.
West Virginia grabbed the back of Florida's chair and pushed it backwards gently. Everyone watched as Florida's brown eyes widened and she let out a shriek, followed by the audible bang as the chair hit the ground.
"What the hell? Abby, that was totally uncalled for!" A now pale Rachel complained as she stood up from the floor, her voice cracking.
"Maybe if you had been paying attention I wouldn't have had to do it. Madison wants to start the meeting."
Rachel looked at Maryland, "Oh… Sorry Madison."
"Uh, it's ok. I think I'll start now, alright?"
Once Florida was sitting in her chair Maryland began her little speech.
"S-so, I know we all got the email from Casey about Dad. He's still missing. No one has seen him for almost three months. Umm…we don't know what's going on."
Rachel and Abigail looked around incredulously. No one else in the room seemed shocked by the news. West Virginia and Florida were the only states in their "group" that weren't one of the thirteen original colonies and, consequently, were the only ones who hadn't already been told about what was going on.
"Haha, funny joke Maryland," Florida said with a smile, "but if they aren't buying it, neither am I."
"I'm not joking."
West Virginia scowled. "I know you older states think it's amusing to mess with us younger states but this isn't funny."
Her statement was met with silence. Madison wished this was only a joke and that they could start laughing about how gullible the two had been. She knew the others were wishing the same thing. Even Delaware, who had no trouble with speaking, was remaining silent.
"Guys, cut out the crap. I'm leaving."
Abigail began to gather her coat and bag. Just as she was about to reach the door Virginia stood up, frustration was evident on his face as he watched his little sister turn to look at him.
"What now?" She asked with a sneer.
His voice came out low and even, more serious than Madison had heard it in since the attacks on the Pentagon. "Dad is missing. It's time you got over this vendetta you have against everyone older than you and start listening to us. Especially now. We have to be able to work together and if you're going to be immature we're only going to have more problems."
Abigail opened her mouth to say something but was hushed by the serious look on everyone's faces. She walked back to her seat and sat down.
"So this is for real then?" Florida's voice was quiet as she asked her question.
No one spoke as Virginia confirmed their situation. It was final now.
Alfred F. Jones was missing.
"Rise and shine!"
Alfred flinched, they were back. They always came back. How many days had it been? Two? Three? He could never remember, the days were threaded together, impossibly seamless. He could never tell how long it had been since he was kidnapped.
Alfred forced his eyes open and was met with the same two faces that greeted him everyday. And everyday it never ceased to amaze him that it was them. Two faces he was sure were his allies, his friends. Yet, here they were, grinning down at him, enjoying his pain. Their motives were a mystery to him and they had yet to explain why they had captured him.
"Time to get up Al." The taller one giggled as the other offered Alfred a hand, knowing full well that he couldn't grab it. He pulled at his restraints but they were as strong as ever.
"Having trouble there?" The other one mocked.
He glared at them. They knew as much as he did that he wouldn't be able to grab that hand. In the beginning he had been hopeful. Perhaps one day he would have been able to pull free and then the two would have more trouble on their hands than they could have ever imagined. But the days had gone by and he was still stuck.
Then there was the pain.
It had been subtle at first, just a dull ache deep in his muscles, something he could ignore. He willed himself to believe it was only stiffness from sitting in the same position day in and day out. Eventually, he accepted it though. The pain increased with every passing day, moving from a dull ache to an excruciating throb. Every beat of his heart spread a vile poison through his body, it wrapped its fingers around his muscles and bones, seemingly crushing everything. The pain was always with him spending the long nights whispering in his ears and the days taunting him with sparse moments of peace.
He never gave up though. He would pull at the restraints until he passed out if that's what it came to.
"Not going to put much of a fight today, hmmm?" They both smirked at him. They knew exactly what he was going through, he had tried to hide it and pretend that he was fine but they weren't dumb. They saw right through it.
He was going to put up a fight today, like he always did. Alfred gritted his teeth and began to strain against the metal around his wrists, he ignored the pain which had started to scream at him. He was America, he was the hero. Heroes never give up. He knew that this attempt would get him but that didn't stop him from trying, today could be his lucky day.
"Looks like he's having trouble there." The taller one turned to his shorter counterpart wearing a mock look of concern.
"Poor little Al. Do you want some help?"
It was becoming too much for him, he was getting nowhere. Alfred let his muscles relax and stared up at the ceiling. He had to ignore them, maybe they would go away. He shut his eyes and tried to slow his breathing.
"You're a lot less interesting as a prisoner than I would have thought."
Even with his eyes shut Alfred knew who had said it, their voice was so familiar, it hurt. He fought back the urge to say something. Let them be disappointed, it meant he had won this one. A small smirk found its way onto his face.
A hand grabbed his chin and roughly jerked it up, slamming his head against the wall behind him. Stars danced in front of his eyes as he blinked and tried to focus.
"Don't get cocky, Jones." The shorter one said, his eyes narrowing.
The other man rested a hand on his partner's shoulder and smiled softly, "Easy there. I like a little defiance in my prisoners. Keeps things interesting." His small smile stretched into an over-enthusiastic grin as he fixed his gaze on Alfred.
Alfred tried not to squirm. He'd never had a problem with those eyes until now. They were, dark, corrupt. He had never seen them like that before and it shocked him. He would never admit it but they scared him, those eyes. They always seemed so happy and carefree. But now, now they were warped and angry, observing and seeing all but never changing. There was something lost in those eyes.
A sudden breath of air next to his ear caused him to jump. The man was right next to him, a cruel smirk on his face.
"Do I make you uncomfortable, Alfred?" he whispered, his harsh eyes locked with Alfred's. "Maybe, after all this," He grabbed Alfred's hair and pulled him closer. "you'll understand how I felt everyday." he growled.
The man pushed him away causing Alfred to turn his face from the voice, not wanting to see what had become of someone he thought he knew so well. When had that smiling face become so twisted? He was angry at himself for not noticing, not seeing what was going on around him.
Again, a gloved hand grabbed his chin but, instead of the forceful blow from earlier, turned his face gently back in toward the man. The eerie smile on his face was back and his eyes were closed, almost making him seem normal again.
"Look at me when I'm talking to you, it's impolite not to." The haunted eyes opened, causing Alfred to shiver. There was something not right about them but he kept his gaze steady, unwilling to show anything but indifference and strength.
"Much better. Well, I'd best be going. Wouldn't want to miss that world meeting, now would I?" The man laughed and ruffled Alfred's hair. "I'll make sure to visit you as soon as I get back, though." He assured Alfred.
With that, the two men exited the room, leaving Alfred alone with his thoughts. He had suspected the world meeting would be coming up soon. He couldn't help wondering what would happen when he never showed. Would the world worry? Or would they just assume he was his normal scatterbrained self? Surely one of them would wonder or care about where he was. He'd missed a lot of meetings lately, it would be unusual if they didn't suspect something.
Knowing his states though, they had probably come up with some cover up to explain his absences. Consequently, they had probably planned something for the world meeting as well that would stop any questions from being asked about what happened to him for the past months. Or was it weeks?
He desperately wanted to ask about how much time had passed but he knew better, they would never tell him what he wanted to know. That was why it was so important that he remained unresponsive to anything they said to him. He had to make them think he didn't care, that he wasn't interested in what they had to say. He may not have always acted very bright but he knew what to do in difficult situations. It didn't matter if you were smart, only that you knew and could outsmart your enemies.
And Alfred knew both his "enemies" well.
He looked to the corner of the room where a camera had once been installed. He used to stare at it and wonder if they were staring back, watching his every move. After he had started to get weaker they had removed the camera, obviously unconcerned about whether he could break his restraints or not.
That was their first wrong move.
As soon as the camera was gone Alfred had set to work trying to break his restraints. It hadn't taken long for him to realize that the strong alloy they claimed held his arms against the wall wasn't welded as it should have been. There was a small, fine crack running through the restraint that held back his left arm, proof that a hasty and careless job had been done during the welding process. Unfortunately for them, this crack was located on a weaker, thinner part of the restraint.
Whoever had made these shackles had either assumed he wouldn't be strong enough to cause any damage to the crack or hadn't noticed it. He himself wouldn't have noticed it if it hadn't been one of the only things he could look at in the bare room. Everyday since the camera had been removed he had focused on weakening the restraint and increasing the crack. It was a slow and painful process but slowly, the crack had grown in size.
He had been sure not to draw any attention to the weakening joint when the men were around and, when he did struggle against the restraints, to put more stress on the stronger right one than the left one. So far, they seemed not to notice. He still tried desperately to break his restraints when they were around but now he had secret weapon, something that could lead to his eventual freedom.
He just had to keep trying.
AN: So there you are. I'm sorry I haven't been responding to reviews. I haven't been able to find the time which makes me feel really lame. Thank you so much for reviewing, all y'all are amazing. :D I'm glad you've been enjoying this little story thus far.