A/N: This is CTD's last chapter, the one I have worked on the longest. It is comprised of two chapters mushed together, since I found no reason to separate them in the end. Once again, I thank everyone from the bottom of my heart for all the kind reviews/favs/alerts, for reading my story, for correcting my sp/grammatical mistakes, and mostly for supporting me and unconsciously helping me get better in my writing. (Even if you've just clicked it and hated the whole thing, thanks for considering about reading it! ^^)
Sidestory News: I think I've mentioned one more sidestory for CTD, and it's sitting there in my computer, nearly completed. I don't know if I should finish it. It's got Gilbert dancing like a boss. (Oh god, weird mental image. But it seemed like a good idea at the time. XD) If I write more sidestories for PTP, then one of them it might be based on this song: http :/www. youtube. com/ watch?v=nHNV27jKggI
Same gist as before: all sp/grammatical errors, DM linked words, and others will be corrected after publication. Happy Thanksgiving, guys. I hope you enjoyed Connecting the Dots and will look forward to the sequel.
Mi tomates! Mis tomates hermosos! Han encogido! [Spanish]—My tomatoes! My beautiful tomatoes! They've shrunk!
Final scene (music starts with the anon. girl's entrance) BGM: Fayray – MY EYES - http :/www .youtube .com/ watch?v=8RvW7-slgQs
Airplane Seating Arrangements:
Empty. Empty. AISLE. Empty. Empty. Rom. Spa. AISLE.
Russia. America. AISLE.Mikhail. Aloisa. Italy. Germany. AISLE. Adr. Ale.
Empty. Empty. AISLE. Felicita. Evan. Eng. Fran. AISLE.
Sequel News: I'm estimating PTP to be 10+ chapters, but that's only a guess. Also, there's the addition of more OCs, some of them to replace our lovely Angelina, hmm? (This is a work of fiction, name coincidence are NOT MY FAULT. LOL.) And I will try to add mpreg references in PTP. I SHALL DO MY BEST! –fire of determination starts burning my butt- XD Also, PTP will start around a year or two where CTD has left off and include explanations for information I have left undisclosed in CTD. First chapter will probably be published in two weeks.
SPOILER FOR THE END OF THIS CHAPTER: Wondering why Adrian didn't mention the American Revolution while reading his papers? Maybe because Alfred didn't include them—YOU DIDN'T HEAR IT FROM ME. 8D
EDIT: http :/ / staneshiftthewolf. deviant art. com/#/ d33i7lo GO LOOK AT THIS FANART, PEOPLE. THAT'S TRUE AMERICAN BEAUTY RIGHT THERE. FFFFFFF, thanks so much, Jyro~ Love you! XDD
Disclaimer: I don't own Hetalia.
3:52 P.M., on the airplane…
Alec rested his head on Adrian's shoulder, watching the city below turn into green and grey squares as the plane rose higher, the confrontations with Ethan Cole and James Stanton fading into the distance. His gaze softened; the days in D.C. felt like a month, as corny as it was to say it like that. They had escaped the D.C. clouds long ago, the sunlight now streaming through the window panes. Alec felt like his mind was floating elsewhere. Maybe he was delirious, but he honestly didn't care. He was grateful that Adrian had come back for him. He was just…just glad, he didn't know how else to put it. Adrian's arm was wrapped around his shoulders, and it was warm…
Adrian tucked his newspaper back into the seat pocket, noticing that Alec's eyes had slipped shut and his breathing settling into a steady rhythm. He, too, was tired, and he didn't think his head registered anything from reading the paper. He was surprised at how well Aloisa handled the situation with his mom; she actually managed to keep things running along for most of the morning. Mikhail was the one that had grudgingly packed his luggage after his hasty leave. His brother was four seats away from him, already asleep with a half-opened magazine on his lap. Aloisa removed the book and replaced it with a blanket. Perhaps she felt responsible for taking care of Mikhail when he'd done the same for her in the café.
Aloisa had had a short talk with Adrian when they met up at the airport before his mother pulled him away to some far-off corner. Adrian thought Alfred was going to scold him again, but his expression was more curious than in rage.
"Why? Why all this for him?"
"I love him," Adrian said simply.
Alfred nodded slowly. "And does he?"
He replied with determination, "Yes."
Then they had returned to board the plane. His mother gave him a playful nudge on the shoulders and left to chat with Alec's parents. Adrian exhaled as he saw Alfred (who had reverted to his Allie outfit back in the hotel) titter at Alec's mother, his curls and American flag earrings shaking along with his laughter. He stood tall and proud, radiating confidence and catching the attention of several young men happening to pass by (Ivan later warded them off with his threatening stares). But if their parents were who they said they were, why were they so…so normal? They were getting along so well, and it didn't feel like they were pretending. Why—?
Alec had sauntered over to him and touched his arm. "What's wrong?"
Adrian had gripped Alec's hand. "Nothing. Nothing's wrong."
The nations and the teens were in first class, but this time there was no need for Mikhail to invade the servers to add their tickets, too. Their parents had purchased theirs legally, and besides, the laptop was officially off limits to Mikhail as punishment for numerous accounts of hacking and for spending around twelve hours on several MMORPG sites.
Elizaveta was the one that was most sorry to see the kids leave. She had to go around and hug everyone at least twice before she was content. She and Aloisa had their share of dramatic anime tears moment while they exchanged phone numbers and email accounts (to which Ludwig greatly opposed but was afraid to protest after seeing what Aloisa had done to Gilbert). Elizaveta had given her a cooking pan as a parting gift.
"…a cooking pan?"
"Oh, it's pretty useful, especially around Prussia—ah, I mean, your Uncle Gilbert. Visit me when you come to Hungary, alright? Roderich and I can take you to lots of places, it'll be so fun! Or maybe we can go to Japan together and see Yukiko and Kiku!"
"Thank you, Miss Hungary, I'd love to come if my parents agree."
"Aw, you don't have to call me that," she'd cooed, "but it's awful cute the way you said it! And of course Feli-chan would agree, he's such a dear. Your dad, on the other hand…well, I'll make Feli-chan make him agree. It'd be even better if Adrian and Alec could come along…"
Adrian was thankful that Aloisa had stepped in for him. "Oh, I think they'll be too busy."
And Elizaveta had collapsed in a fit of maniacal giggles. Never mind, Adrian wasn't thankful at all. He had taken Alec's hand and led him away from the overcome ladies. God, he swore he could still hear them sniggering.
From her seat, Aloisa glimpsed at Adrian and saw him pull the window cover down and move into a comfortable position for Alec and himself before drifting into sleep. This morning must've been exhausting for him.But all ended well, even if it hadn't been the way she intended for it to end. Alfred and Aloisa had found Mikhail slumped over the laptop with six coffee-stained paper cups littered here and there. She had sensed the same burst of explosive energy about to erupt out of Alfred, but it was a stroke of luck when Evangeline called. Alfred didn't blame Aloisa at all for covering for Adrian, nope. He was so nice, though he did snatch her phone away and nag at Adrian for being irresponsible.
Now Alfred was sitting beside Ivan, his legs crossed and chewing on the tip of his pen. He was glaring intently at the deck of documents in his lap, all marked with Xs for signatures. Ivan pointed at a word on the paper and Alfred smacked his finger away with his pen ("Top secret government document, no touchy.") At the airport, Alfred was arguing into his cell phone like a little kid: Boss, I seriously forgot! I left them on my table and it looked really boring so I guess it blended into my furniture. No, I didn't forget on purpose, not this time…!
Aloisa wondered if it was really the President on the other end. It wasn't like she had any doubts of them being nations—okay, maybe she did. She had the right to ponder the impossibility of that, after all, even after witnessing Natalia in action and being in the World Conference. Every personification of a nation acted so amicable with each other, as if all previous wars were mere trifles. Aloisa had caught Yukiko before they had to depart for Japan. And she'd given one last question to the girl.
"What will happen to us after we become…them?" It was a vague inquiry, but Yukiko knew what she meant.
"You'll be whoever you are. Only—" Yukiko had paused. "Don't…don't forget who you used to be." She had a strained smile on her face, though she seemed to appear older and sadder than her age allowed her to be.
Aloisa had to kneel to hug Yukiko. "Thank you for everything."
She'd returned the affection by laying a comforting hand on Aloisa's back. "No matter what happens, Aloisa-san…we're all behind you and your friends."
She'd bowed to Aloisa and followed Kiku and Heracles to their gate, the emerald glow from her ever-present pin burning with life and unaccounted secrets. Behind Aloisa was her Onkel Gilbert with Matthew, who she now knew was Canada, saying their goodbyes to her parents. Gilbert had arranged to come home on a later date.
Aloisa had thoughtlessly ran towards her Onkel, who flinched when he saw her coming for him, but she only gave him a hug. She wasn't angry anymore, deciding that the reason she was furious over was childish.
"I'll see you later, Onkel Gilbert," she muttered and felt his arms finally relax around her.
"Don't let anybody like that Angelina girl get to you, Prinzessin. Take care of yourself until the Awesome Me gets back, oka—hold on, what's that behind your back?"
Her eye twitched when she heard the nickname. Aloisa moved the pan out of Gilbert's line of sight and looked up into his ruby orbs, grinning teasingly. "You too, Prussia. Don't have too much fun with Matthew!"
Then she'd run to Felicita, leaving a sputtering Gilbert and a blushing Matthew behind, snickering the whole way; the face her Onkel had made was beyond funny. It felt nice to joke around after these four days. She wanted to be a kid again and let her Mama and Vati take care of everything. Truthfully, it was hard work pretending to be a mom. God, just thinking that makes me feel so fail.
Aloisa put a hand up to her face where Thomas had struck. It was no longer swelling and neither did it throb with a dull pain like in the beginning, but she'd been holding her cheek the night before for so long with an ice pack the motion became familiar.
Feliciano stopped chattering to Ludwig and studied his daughter anxiously. Clad in a green summer dress and honey-gold ringlets, his brown eyes looked bigger and more worried than usual. "Aloisa, ve…? Does it still hurt?"
Aloisa's hand jumped away. "No. Not anymore."
"Okay." He settled back against his seat and began yammering to her Vati again, who adjusted his reading glasses and nodded aimlessly to Feliciano's words while turning the page in Aloisa's German Literature textbook.
Feliciano and Ludwig did not look like North Italy and Germany. They looked like her Mama and Vati. Her Vati was the one that made her read twenty pages of that dumb German Literature book last night (he'd actually brought it along) but slipped her a piece of gum so she wouldn't go to Feliciano and tell on him. Aloisa thought that was sort of silly, because he hadn't given her sweets to shut her up since she turned ten (Aloisa learned to blackmail him then, courtesy of her dear Onkel Gilbert) and she wouldn't have done so anyways, but she didn't say anything. That was his way of showing affection, and she thought it was cute. And her Mama…he had to be the nicest person on Earth, and possibly the most absent-minded. To label them as two powerful, battle-scarred nations was ridiculous, in a sense…
…unless they'd already lived so long they'd gained the ability to mask their past from everyone. How many lies has she been fed? How old exactly were her parents? What else were they hiding from her? How many people did her parents kill—
No. That area was taboo, she mustn't think about it. Aloisa peeked at her Mama, who was giggling as he talked and wildly gestured to show his point. Her Vati had given up on reading and just watched Feliciano with an expression that was a cross between a helpless smile and adoration. Her parents couldn't have killed anyone…could they?
She directed her gaze to her Vati's blue eyes. There was only one word to describe them: they were happy, full of love and…just plain joy. This was her Vati, he was a regular person, he was the one that broke down every time Blackie started to whimper for food (needless to say Blackie is now a pudgy dog) no matter how many times she told him not to. But when she looked a little closer at Ludwig's face, she felt her own eyes glaze over and soon everything disappeared in a sudden cloud of white mist.
Aloisa hurriedly grasped the armrests to make sure she was still on the plane; they were there, she hadn't gone anywhere, but she couldn't move her body. There was no sound, as if she'd become deaf. Her head was locked in place, forced to stare straight into the frightening mist that had covered her Vati's face.
Parts of the mist darkened until it formed the image of her Mama in his male form and her Vati. They were both dressed in dusty black military uniforms that used to be crisp and clean, their expressions somber. Feliciano was sitting on the gravel, his back against what seemed to be a shattered wooden fence. He gingerly pulled up his right sleeve to inspect his arm, poorly bandaged in coarse, blood-soaked linen. Ludwig didn't say anything or even look his way, so Feliciano pulled his sleeve down again. He took off his cap and lowered his chin to his knees, observing the apparent aftermath of a battlefield. Her Vati was stiffly standing beside Feliciano, his cap covering his eyes, a heavy coat draped around his shoulders. Feliciano called soundlessly for Ludwig, and the latter looked down; his eyes were an icy blue, void of any emotions and demanding absolute obedience. He, too, was battle-worn, with streaks of dried blood (his or someone else's, Aloisa wasn't sure) on his outfit, though he refused to show it.
Her Mama appeared weary as he mouthed the words, No more, and threw his gun away. The two watched the gun slide into a trench and Ludwig whipped around, his eyes flashing in disbelief and hurt, which swiftly morphed into a rabid glare. Aloisa thought she could detect a band of red on her Vati's right arm, but it quickly disappeared under the overcoat. In one fluid motion, Ludwig drew his gun out of his holster and pointed it at her Mama's forehead. His scowl alone looked lethal enough to kill. Normally, Feliciano would've panicked (heck, he panicked when the pasta burned or when the dogs jumped on him), but this time he was too tired to react in horror. Instead, his eyes grew downcast as he put his arms up in defeat. Then he began to cry silently, but he wasn't despairing for his life. Feliciano raised his head with difficulty one more time at Ludwig, and Aloisa's mind was instantly flooded with the background noises of shooting guns and men shouting out in pain. But she could hear her Mama, clear as day.
"You're not yourself anymore, Ludwig. I'm scared for you."
Her Vati's arm began to shake, as if the gun had become too heavy to lift. It dropped from his hand and landed with a thud. Ludwig took one step back, then another, until he was out of the picture and Aloisa could only see her Mama burying his head in his knees, his body racked with heartbreaking sobs.
Then the vision dissipated as fast as it had come. She could hear Evangeline and Felicita talking from behind her seat and Felicita's mom squawking to Antonio. It didn't seem like anyone noticed what she saw or heard. Aloisa couldn't help it and touched her cheek again. Her hand was shaking as bad as the Ludwig she saw in the mist and she felt really, really cold.
"Ludwig, ve, I'm hungry~!"
Aloisa cringed at what her Vati might say, but he only replied, "You had three plates of pasta before you got on the plane, Feliciano. You'll get a stomachache."
"No I won't!"
Was she…was she imagining the whole encounter between her parents? She'd never seen her Vati like that…so violent and dictatorial. What had Alfred said? Her thoughts raced back to a few hours before. They were walking on along the hallway, with her trying to keep Alfred from discovering where Adrian was.
"…That was kind of scary, seeing my dad like that yesterday. He's usually really, um, I guess you can say passive-aggressive."
"Yeah. He shouts a lot during meetings, but I haven't seen him get that angry that since…since post-World War Two, I think, when the Berlin Wall was erected…"
Was she seeing a past memory from World War Two? God, what was real and what wasn't? The more impossible questions she came up with, the more confused she got. At one point, Aloisa's head finally felt dizzy and she crashed onto Mikhail's shoulders. She would sleep fitfully for another three hours, for when Mikhail woke, he didn't dare to move just in case Aloisa got mad. He didn't have any lavender gelato as backup, but if he wasn't quite so nervous, he would've realized that he didn't mind having Aloisa next to him.
The folded newspaper from Adrian's seat would remain untouched until the flight attendant recycled it. It had their new headline for Thursday printed in bold: Mental patient escapes hospital.
8:23 P.M., Felicita's front lawn…
"Go back to your own house! Felicita has school tomorrow!"
Antonio jingled the keys and went through multiple others to find the house key. Felicita and Aloisa stood side by side, watching their parents argue with each other. They were originally going in different directions, but for some reason Feliciano made the cabbie follow them. The tomatoes vines were climbing all over the wall in scraggly bunches. It didn't look like Lisa stayed around to water them. Her Papa will definitely cry about that later, Felicita presumed. The sunset in California is the same as the one in D.C…I've never thought about it.
She looked at the four days worth of rolled-up newspapers piled on the lawn, all dotted with dried water droplets from the times the sprinklers hit them. She kicked them apart, reading the blurred headlines: Psychotic babysitter burns local school…Local high school going through drastic repairs…Berns: ex-arsonist or unstable?...Mental patient escapes hospital…holy crud. Felicita reached for the most recent one and scanned the columns, her heart pounding.
Aloisa twirled Elizaveta's gift around with both hands. She estimated that it weighed about ten pounds. The gift was fairly new, but Elizaveta had wrote 'Good luck, Aloisa!' on the back with permanent sharpie along with her signature. Whatever that meant. Maybe her Mama could use it to cook pasta. She couldn't think of any other ways to use a cooking pan.
Feliciano beamed at Lovino blankly. "So does Aloisa, ve~! But we live close by, so we can walk home…Wahh! Antonio planted tomatoes, too! But—"
Antonio swiveled his head to grin at Feliciano, and then at his prized tomato garden. "Of course we did, Feli! They're the most gorgeous…Dios mio!" Her Papa sank to the ground, his expression mortified. The keys clattered onto the cement. "Lovino! Mi tomates! Mis tomates hermosos! Han encogido!"
Lovino groaned and attempted to pull Antonio back on his feet. "They're just tomatoes, idiota. They'll grow back once you water them. Felicita! Where did Lisa go?"
Uh-oh. Felicita held up the newspaper. "A-about Lisa—"
Feliciano jumped forward, whisking the keys from the ground and unable to notice Antonio's dismay. "I want to see where fratello lives!"
Ludwig and Aloisa held up their hands at the same time. "Wait—!"
Too late. The key went into the keyhole (how Feliciano found the right one so fast, the world shall never know) and he turned it. But the door didn't emit the unlocking clicking-sound when he turned the key. Feliciano cocked his head to one side, the dusk air whistling past his brown curls.
"Fratello…? Did you not lock the door?"
Lovino glared up. "Huh? What kind of dumb question is that?"f
"Mama…" Felicita piped up, "maybe you should take a look—"
"Do I have to do everything for you? Move aside, Veneziano." Lovino twisted the knob and pushed the door open. It was quiet inside, the darkness nearly solid enough to touch. Lovino crossed his arms defiantly.
"…there's nothing in there, what are you talking—AGH!"
Out of the house came Lisa Berns with a giant kitchen knife poised to strike. She landed on Lovino, her hair tangled and glazed eyes more alive than they'd ever been. They tumbled to the ground, Lisa holding the knife above Lovino's head.
"Felicita…" Lisa rasped. "You're going to be with me forever and ever and ever…"
Lovino dodged just as the knife imbedded itself into the cement where his head had been. What the—how old was this woman anyways? He turned his head to see his reflection staring back at him in the knife. Wearing a dress or not, he was still the ex-head of the Italian Mafia; goddammit, all Mafia groups freaking originated from him! He jammed his high heels into the woman's bony waist and kicked her off. "Get the hell away from me!"
Lisa rolled away nimbly, almost like a cat. Ludwig locked his arms around her neck and Antonio snapped up from his slump to block Felicita. The rest of the grown-ups surrounded the woman in panic, pushing the two teens away. She's listening, Felicita knew, and apparently the nations also realized this, for they stayed silent. Lisa breathed raggedly, turning her head this way and that fervently.
It was purely accidental, but Felicita let out a squeak when she bumped into the mailbox while she was backing away. The sound was faint…and Lisa heard it. The old lady clenched down hard on Ludwig's arm, drawing blood, and wrenched out of his hold. Placing two hands on Spain's shoulders, she scrambled up his chest and launched herself up and towards Felicita ("Spagna, what the hell are you doing?"). Antonio was too surprised to do much except watch Lisa sail over his head. Her maniacal eyes and frizzed grey hair made her appear inhuman. Felicita momentarily couldn't register Lovino frantically yelling her name or see Aloisa run in front of her. She was frozen on the spot, spellbound by those milk-white eyes that couldn't possibly see her. Lisa's hands were outstretched, reaching for her face—
With shaky arms, Aloisa lifted Elizaveta's cooking pan swung it like a bat at Lisa's incoming face. The pan and Lisa collided with a sickening crack and she crumpled face first to the lawn in front of Felicita's feet, unconscious. Aloisa echaled heavily before she, too, fell to the ground in relief, her legs feeling like jello. She had no idea how Felicita managed to sneak out to join them for the trip with a person like her in the house.
"Thank you, Elizaveta, thank you," Aloisa muttered, gripping the handle tightly. She vowed she would treasure the pan forever.
"Aloisa, Felicita, mio Dio! Are you hurt?" Feliciano rushed to the two girls, his face pale.
Antonio rubbed his forehead, his poor tomatoes forgotten. "Lovi, that was our neighbor, right?"
Lovino hopped over the body and hugged his daughter, completely flustered. "How was I supposed to know? It's not my fault she turned into a freak while we're gone!"
Ludwig rubbed his wrist where Lisa had bit; she'd broke through the skin, but he could see his wound mending itself. A human had actually injured him by sheer contact…that was rare. "I'm calling the police."
Lovino stared at the still body of Lisa Berns, then at his own kitchen knife wedged in the concrete. This woman reminded him too much of Belarus.
For once, he didn't respond sarcastically to Ludwig. "Okay," he mumbled. "You do that."
7:12 A.M, Friday, Aloisa's front lawn…
The incident yesterday night was a mess; the police took forever getting to Felicita's house and moving a twitching Lisa into the ambulance. Aloisa's Mama had made her Vati take the day off today, meaning he was probably asleep. Aloisa bet that he was extremely tired (even if he didn't show it), so she walked her bicycle out of her backyard and parked it by the sidewalk, deciding to bike to school today. Aster, Berlitz, and Blackie came running after her, tails wagging and eager to play. She bent down and petted Aster, who rolled on its back, his leg wiggling. I guess the next door lady did take care of them, Aloisa thought. I should apologize to Onkel Gilbert when he gets back…Berlitz sat stiffly, his eats perked and face tilted upwards in pride. Aloisa scratched behind its ears and the Doberman visibly relaxed.
"And who might you be, Berlitz? Another country?"
"A city, perhaps. Or he could just be one of Germany's pets."
Aloisa startled and rose. Her Mama was standing at the door and coming down the steps, two yellow envelopes tucked under his arm. Aloisa found it fascinating that he always had time to do his hair and dress before she woke up. One could easily mistake her Mama, or any of the other mother countries, as women (did that mean Alec could masquerade as a girl?). Feliciano laughed as she gave Aloisa a paper bag, "Here you go."
"Mama! Oh, I left my lunch on the counter again…"
Feliciano held up three bone-shaped biscuits. "And there were dog treats in there. That explains why Aster was getting rounder."
Aloisa took the bag, embarrassed. "Vati was the one feeding them before. I thought this once wouldn't hurt."
"No, I didn't mean anything by it," Feliciano said offhandedly. "I came here to give you this." He handed her the envelopes; Aloisa took it, confused.
"Do you want me to stop by the post office—"
"No," he sighed. How unusual. Her Mama was never depressed, unless what Aloisa saw in the mist was true… "Your Papa and I were putting this together last night. We'd discussed it during our meeting, and the nations have decided to give their kids this."
"What is it?"
Feliciano gave her a weary smile, the same one Yukiko had had on at the airport. "You'll find out. You don't have to read it, though. It's up to you." He tossed the treats to the dogs and hugged Aloisa. "You better get going. Have a nice day at school, bambina."
Aloisa slipped the files in her backpack hesitantly and mounted her bike. "Bye, Mama."
She waved to Feliciano until she could no longer see him or the dogs. God, she felt like she was carrying bombs in her backpack, or maybe it was just her nerves getting to her. Aloisa passed Angelina's house (nothing changed, still pink, still looking pretty ugly to her) and rode down the path to the park. Whatever was inside the files couldn't be good, not with that melancholy expression her Mama gave her.
12:53 P.M., School…
Felicita seriously believed that Lisa had been in her room; the rest of her house was untouched. Her Papa had dragged out the charred dummy she'd made for Lisa from under her bed; its button eyes were dangling loosely on a brown thread and the recorder inside replayed her voice saying, "Hi Lisa!" in a manly tone. She wasn't going to risk letting any Lisa-voodoo kill her overnight, so Felicita spent the night in her parent's room yesterday. Maybe it was a childish thing to do, but she'd found more kitchen knives stashed inside her pillowcase.
Putting that aside, Felicita was back in high school. The same obnoxious lovers and whiners were still there, nothing had changed (besides the fact that Angelina 'inexplicably' did not come to school today), but she felt like she belonged now. Although she couldn't find Aloisa during lunch, she didn't particularly mind. She went to the library to catch up on her homework and projects her teachers had thrown to her; she was, unfortunately, very behind on school. Her parents had given her a clipped manila folder before she left for school; just gave it to her, no explanations, no questions, except saying that it was hers and she could look in it if she wanted to. She moved it under a geometry textbook so she wouldn't be tempted. She won't look in there for now, at least not without Aloisa.
The bell had rung five minutes ago, but there was a crowd outside the Art classroom. Students surrounded the doorway but didn't enter. The girls were giggling madly, the male students appearing very peeved about something.
Felicita tried to squeeze her way through. "Excuse me…"
A female student from the front whipped around and hissed, "We all want to talk to Alec, so you better wait your turn because we were here first!" The others nodded their consent.
What the—talk to Alec? Despite the girl's angry cries, Felicita surged forward until she reached the middle of the circle. "Alec!" she yelled over the crowd. "What the hell?"
Alec looked up, his eyes twinkling and bursting out in his heavy French accent, "Ah, ma cher! You are looking especially beautiful today!"
Six girls who thought Alec was talking to them swooned. The girl that had told Felicita off scowled at her before turning to Alec and smiling sweetly. "What were we talking about, Alec? The café in D.C., right? I've been to D.C. before, it's quite a wonderful place—"
Felicita threw a meaningful glance at Alec, and the blond put his hand on her shoulders. "Ah…would you excuse me, ma chaton?" he said to the previous girl.
The girl caught her breath, completely taken by Alec's charms. "O-okay." But she glowered at Felicita as Alec led her out of the crowd.
Felicita crossed her arms. "What the heck are you doing?"
"Chatting with the lovely ladies, non—?"
She gave him a little shove. "With that accent?"
Alec pouted, talking normally now. "They think it's cute."
"I thought you renounced flirting." Felicita tapped her feet, glancing at the jealous crowd whispering amongst themselves.
"Oh, don't mind them, I do renounce flirting. They were the ones that came up to me looking like they expected me to be very…um…French."
"What about Adrian?"
Alec cheeks got warm. "What about him?"
Alec put his back against the wall, his voice becoming smaller and smaller until he was whispering. "H-he came back to the airport to get me, of course I love only him…"
"Well, the girls make you look like an attention whore," Evangeline called out, coming down the hallway laden with textbooks. "Hello, Felicita, sorry I couldn't find you at school. The history teacher made me take a pre-test that took forever."
Felicita shrugged, half-smiling. "I'm loaded with stuff, too."
The circle of girls was slowly trickling into the classroom. The one that had gotten mad at Felicita lingered outside the doorway, however, apparently waiting for Alec.
"Well, that's too bad for you, Evan," Alec stuck his tongue out, "because I'm only an attention whore for one person—"
A voice blew into Alec's ear, "And who might that lucky person be, Mr. Collin Bitt?"
Alec jumped. "Oh God, Adrian!" His face flared up as Adrian nipped his throat gently; Alec felt even more embarrassed when his arms automatically wrapped around the other's neck.
Aloisa and Mikhail waved to the teens. "Felicita! Evangeline! Adrian and—" She turned to Mikhail, who looked rather green at the sight of his brother and Alec. "Mikhail…give me your camera."
"You have your cell phone, that should be sufficient—a-ah, okay, give me a moment…"
He bent down and rummaged in his backpack, not wanting Aloisa to have a freak-out moment right here. Damn, he was seriously considering bringing gelato to school. Or maybe carrying a printout of gelato, that might work.
Ms. Janey briskly stepped out of the room. "What is taking you kids so long—oh my!"
Adrian and Alec were kissing opening now, with Adrian supporting Alec's arched back like Ethan had done. Aloisa grinned at the teacher, her blue eyes glittering madly. "This is art!" she crowed. "Inspiration struck, and I asked these two models to pose for me. I'm going to send it to a studio for publishing in, um, Hungary. They're waiting for me."
Ms. Janey was at a loss for words, captivated by Adrian and Alec. "Oh…if that's the case…alright. But—"
"They will never pose like this again! This is love! This is passion! Note their disheveled clothes and how the taller guy is unbuttoning the blond's…oh." She turned her back to the couple, praying that she'd block enough so Ms. Janey couldn't see anything too revealing. "I'm sorry. We'll come inside right now."
Mikhail picked up his bag and gladly breezed into the room. Felicita followed Aloisa inside, noticing that the girl from before had gone. Evangeline stayed behind to flick Adrian's forehead.
"Ow! What the he—"
She put both hands on her waist. "I'm not letting my brother and you have sex during school hours. Find some other time to do it."
Alec wondered how red his cheeks could get before he exploded. "Adrian, please give my shirt back." He paused. "You…you weren't really going to…you know…?"
Adrian stared. "No."
The blond sighed in relief. "That's good."
But Adrian was actually hoping they could sneak into the restroom to continue. They could make it; it was right next door.
2:49 P.M., Afterschool, nearby café…
School ended hectically, complete with female students following Mikhail everywhere and girls climbing on top of each other to 'talk' with Alec. Unbelievable. Even the first day of school hadn't been that bad. Apparently Adrian thought it would be an excellent idea to carry Alec out of the hyper crowd bridal-style, but some deranged Alec-worshippers actually begun tearing at Adrian's jacket. It was amazing they escaped at all.
Currently, the teens were lounging on plush couches in a cozy den in some café Alec brought them to. The place was hidden and classy, not very fitting for a couple of high schoolers to hang out, but the waitresses seemed to recognize Alec and enthusiastically welcomed them in. A small nearby window was open and displayed the blue, cloudless sky. Felicita wondered if it was still raining in D.C.
She stabbed at her syrup-drenched waffles. There were barely any other patrons; she guessed that they would visit later. "How'd you find this place, Alec?"
The blond winked. "Exchange students have their ways."
Evangeline punched him lightly on the arm. Her laptop screen was glowing along with the hanging lamps. Her fingers ran up and down the keyboard deftly, finishing up the first paragraph of her English essay. "Just tell us."
"Okay, okay. I was walking home last week with…um…some girls…when I passed this café. The ladies who work here are nice—Gosh, I didn't mean it like that, stop laughing!"
Aloisa giggled, "From big time playboy to tragic heroine in four days, you are really something, Alec."
Alec flushed. "T-that was—"
Adrian scooted in closer to his lover. "As long as he's my tragic heroine—oof!"
Alec had socked Adrian's side hard. "Right. Tragic heroine."
"Anyways, did you guys bring the files?" Aloisa asked.
The teens took the envelopes out of their backpacks and showed them to Aloisa. All were simple, yellow folders, big enough to put printer paper in without folding it.
"Has anyone opened it?"
They shook their heads.
"Does anyone know what's in here?"
"Tell me, who gave this to you?"
Alec spoke up, "Our parents."
"What did they look like when they gave it to you?"
Evangeline offered, "Depressing." She typed one more word and saved the document. "Like they didn't want to look inside either."
Mikhail snorted in his coffee. "That is always a happy thought."
Aloisa switched to him. "What about your parents, Mikhail?"
He scratched the back of his neck. "My мама and Папа appeared amused. I do not think it matters much. It is probably okay to look inside."
"Okay, okay, be pushy."
Aloisa took a deep breath and undid the fasteners on the first envelope. She didn't know why she was so nervous, it's not like there really was a bomb in there…she hoped. She carefully pulled out the contents: paper clipped documents, the ones on the bottom laminated.
Alec laid the papers on the table to examine them. "That's it? Crummy paper?"
"I-I don't think so…" Aloisa scrutinized the last one; it was held in place by the plastic since it was falling apart and there were only crumbly pieces placed where they must've been when the paper was whole. It was difficult to read what was left of the writing.
There was a post-it note at the top of the page with a date written in blue ink: 962 A.D., dissolution July 1806 A.D. All documents near the top were modern printer paper, all printed mechanically with photos stapled to some pages. Around the corners of the pages were words in German scribbled with ballpoint pen. They looked illegible to Aloisa, but there were arrows drawn from the notes to underlined printed sentences.
Felicita gestured at the bottom, "Isn't that the President of Germany's signature…?"
It wasn't just one signature; the President dated and wrote out entire messages at the corner of the papers, mostly comments and questions referring to the documents. Her Vati's bold, square handwriting followed the President's cursive, supplying answers and other questions to counter the inquiries given.
She opened the other envelope, spilling out the papers in her hand and scanned them quickly. The papers were chronicled by date, the most recent on the top. Most were letters for Italy Veneziano from previous Prime Ministers and Presidents. "I don't know what this is—"
Felicita passed Aloisa one of her files. "You have North Italy's history. I've got South Italy. I think."
"I don't think they're history…"
Alec picked out another laminated sheet. "I have a deteriorated letter from the 15th century signed by some person named…Jehanne to…Francis Bonnefoy…oh, my God." He covered his mouth. "Oh, my God."
Evangeline checked her pile. "I have the recorded death of Jeanne d'Arc signed by…by my mum…what the hell?"
Adrian flipped through his stack. "I have twenty pages solely about the Cold War…is that hamburger grease on my paper?"
"I have the Russian version of the Cold War. And about six more documents about the Soviet Union." Mikhail dusted his paper. "They smell old."
"Hold it, hold it! Find the papers labeled with 1939 or dates close to that!"
Evangeline regarded Aloisa strangely. "What's wrong?"
"Just find it!" She went through all her papers for information pertaining to WWII, but it was as if they skipped right over the dates. "No…no…"
Adrian held up a crumpled piece of stationary. "I have a letter from my mom to Arthur Kirkland dated 1941."
Evangeline stared. "I have a letter from my mum to Alfred Jones dated 1941."
Alec plucked the letter from Adrian. "I think this one came first. 'I'm coming over right now.'" He paused. "That's all your mom wrote."
His sister blinked, confused. "Mines says, 'You're late, idiot.'"
Felicita slipped hers back into the manila files. "I don't have much on World War Two. There was only something about supplies and transportation."
"Do you think these are real?" Mikhail asked.
They were silent for a while, pondering the contents of the envelopes.
Why were some of her papers from her Vati's stack missing? Shouldn't he have included it? She'd like to know where they are, but she wasn't about to ask Ludwig. Perhaps there was a reason they weren't in there. She could tell the others about what she saw on the plane…but the event sounded made-up in her mind.
Alec set his teacup down and returned the files into his bag. "Can I see those photos you took of us, Aloisa?" It wasn't like he was trying to be insensitive, but he figured that there was no use contemplating what had already happened. It's not as if they could alter history. Although he, too, wondered why his parents had given them their old papers. It felt inappropriate, like reading someone's private journal without the owner's permission.
Evangeline saw what her brother was trying to do. She pushed Jeanne d'Arc out of her mind and cheerfully added, "I'd like to see your 'art,' too, Aloisa."
Aloisa was shaken out of her thoughts. "What—?"
"Come on, I know you were taking pictures—"
"Alec! I've finally found you!" squealed a high-pitched voice. She sounded like a harmless version of Angelina, but ten times more annoying. "Were you going to bring me here for our date?"
Alec smiled up at the girl, who was standing next to their table eagerly. It's that girl who yelled at me outside the Art classroom, Felicita thought.
Alec didn't seem to recall anything and naturally reverted into his French accent. "How may I help you, Miss…?"
She ignored the question. "We were talking about your D.C. trip a couple hours ago in school, and I thought it'd be great to continue our conversation—what's she doing here?" The girl pointed at Felicita belligerently. "Are you cheating on me?"
Adrian raised his eyebrows. "Cheating?"
Alec was equally confused. "What do you mean by that?"
The girl bristled. "We're going out, remember, Alec? We talked today and you called me pet names and—"
"Talking to you does not mean I'm dating you, and I've called plenty of other people pet names. I don't remember your real name, I apologize."
The Alec-admirer balled her fists. "Are you breaking up with me?"
Felicita whispered to Aloisa, "Is she serious?"
Aloisa retrieved her mini-camera from her backpack inside pocket (she'd found it during Art) and polished it with her sleeve. "Maybe."
Adrian wrapped his arms around Alec for the hundredth time, but this time he deliberately exaggerated the motion so the girl could see. "How could he be dating you when he's going out with me?" Having said that, he closed his eyes and deeply kissed Alec on the mouth.
The girl shrieked. Felicita relished the horrified grimace she was making. "No way! You can't—y-you can't be—I-I'm leaving!"
Mikhail took a cookie and watched the student stomp away. "Somebody did not take their happy pill today. Do girls always come up to him like that?" he asked Evangeline.
Evangeline entered another sentence in her essay and replied casually, "Sometimes they're guys. Those are harder to get rid of, though."
Aloisa's mini-camera clicked three times, but Alec caught the faint flash from the corner of his eyes. He pushed Adrian away and reached for Aloisa. "I'll take that!"
Evangeline's essay on the symbolism of Romeo and Juliet was coming along nicely, she thought, and she didn't even read the thing (she had help from Wikipedia and Sparknotes); second paragraph complete, only three more to go. She glanced at Mikhail, who was beginning to read the Cold War papers word by word. "What are you doing?"
"There is a whole page on Russian military intelligence in the 1950s handwritten by my Папа. Why would our parents give us this?"
Evangeline sipped her rose tea. "Maybe they don't need it anymore. It's like a used Christmas present rewrapped, you know?" Her mom's envelope was sitting snugly between her English textbook and Biology notebook in her backpack. She didn't think she needed them right this moment.
Meanwhile, Felicita had discovered an entire album of photos in Aloisa's bag. "You already printed the D.C. photos? Look, there's the one I took of Mikhail sleeping."
Said person scrambled up from his seat. "Let me see."
Aloisa gasped, "Wait! Don't rip the ones with Adrian and Alec!" She clamped her hand on her mouth. "Oops."
Alec practically pranced on Aloisa's lap. "You're not leaving with them!"
In the midst of their riot, Aloisa thought about how cheesy the journey had been. They'd hopped a flight to D.C. and spent four days believing in the craziest theory of their lives. Because of that one stupid suspicion that something was up with their parents, new friendships and loves were created. If there was a novel with a plot similar to their 'adventure,' Aloisa would've given it to Aster to bury in the backyard. They knew the trip was dangerous, yes, and how rash it was (they'd even gotten physically injured), but they'd decided to go anyways.
Though there were some technical details that they still didn't understand about the existence of non-human beings (their parents didn't seem like they were about to tell them anytime soon), they felt that they'd found out enough. There were too many questions, and perhaps she'd never receive the answers, but for now she was satisfied with leaving matters at that.
If it was true that her parents were nations, their kids were still humans for the time being. Aloisa refused to let the future ruin their good mood. Evangeline was tapping the album and saying something or the other about Ethan Cole and Alec, while Adrian stubbornly turned the page. Felicita chortled, showing Mikhail a photograph that she took at the Lincoln Memorial. A wisp of a cloud floated overhead, bringing an airy breeze into the café through the open window; it mussed Aloisa's bangs before dispersing quickly like the white mist. They weren't the same. Aloisa doubt if they'll ever be the same.
She retied her ponytail and laughed delightedly along with her friends. Aloisa mentally crossed out that earlier thought: she liked how things turned out and how they were randomly having afternoon tea in a high-class café. It'd be nice if we can stay together like this after we've become cities…Aloisa's files were on the table underneath broken cookies and several half-full porcelain teacups, forgotten. She won't worry about her Vati's missing papers.