And it is done. An actual chapter. May I just say that Star deserves an award for not only being the quickest beta ever, but also the most faithful one for waiting almost a year for the next docx ;A;

Sorry for the delay, had to really work to get the ball rolling with this one, and when I did finally get on a roll we had family come into town. That and Merchant of Venice happened. But I digress. Also you guys are fully aware I did NOT intend to give you heart attacks when I posted that poll a few days ago, right? That was me being dumb and not thinking.

No chapter warnings, save for some badassery on Mattie's part. I do hope you'll eventually forgive me for disappearing, but I hope this makes up for it just a little?

The sun has not yet risen when the skies of London start to burn.

France receives the news first, what with being the closest to England's land. At first he refuses to believe it, running to the windows of his Parisian home to check. With blue eyes wide in shock he watches as chaos and fire rain down on the capitol of his ally's nation. The horrifying sight leaves him cold and shaking. Only after one of his maids comes in to ask if he is all right does France quietly excuse himself to his office, where he picks up the phone to inform the rest of the world.

Meanwhile in Moscow, Alfred Jones boards a plane to return home, trying to appear calm and relaxed against the given circumstances. A silky sweet voice in his head reminds him that what was done had to be done. That all his hard work would have been for nothing if England had been allowed to live. That Mattie was still safe because of it.

The American smiles hollowly and shuts his eyes, allowing the lull of the engines to sooth his fractured mind.

As soon as Alfred closes the front door, Canada collapses into his arms. The smaller nation sobs into his brother's shirt, spilling salty tears into the fabric and offering no explanation for them whatsoever. Alfred already knows, of course, but he plays along for the sake of it.

"Mattie, what's wrong? Did something happen?"

It takes him a moment to stop sobbing before the Canadian can answer. "Alfred, its Arthur. I got a call from Francis, he said London was on… was bur—"

Matthew chokes on his own words with a whimper and cries even harder. America gently rubs his brother's back, a bit unnerved to see him this way. He leads his twin to the living room and they both sit down on the couch. There the brothers remain, one quietly comforting the other, until the two of them drift off to sleep.

In the end, England's body is never found. His once proud country manages to retain some balance, but the rest of the nations know it will never be exactly the same ever again. Countries are not as connected to their nation personifications as they ought to be; they can continue to exist if the human form dies. But the initial shock of losing the essence of their country drove the citizens of into a momentary state of insanity and chaos. With the help of neighboring countries, the madness is quickly contained and sorted out, but the damage will always be present.

A few days later, a memorial service is held in London. Every single nation attends, except for Russia and his sisters. In a way, the rest are glad that he isn't there.

China of all people opens the ceremony, but he shows nothing but respect for the deceased nation. Even Switzerland looks sad, his head hung slightly in remorse. The service ends and many of the nations approach Alfred and Matthew with words of apology, of mourning and or encouragement. Alfred merely nods with each comment and thanks them for attending, but it tears at his insides with each tear-filled "I'm sorry for your loss" and "He was a good man." He wears a blank expression on his face through the whole ordeal. Matthew on the other hand doesn't ever seem to stop crying and nearly passes out from dehydration. Alfred uses this as an excuse to leave and once again thanks everyone for their kind words.

The trip home is quiet and tense. Matthew leans against the window, still a bit dizzy from earlier. For the first time since he'd heard the news about Arthur, he studies his brother carefully. Jaw tight and eyes blank, Alfred's face proves to be an unreadable map. Something about him strikes the Canadian as odd. As much as he and Arthur had fought and squabbled through the years, the British nation had raised him. Alfred loved Arthur and the news of his death must have been devastating for the blonde nation. So why hadn't he shown it?

Canada might have cried a little too much, but America had yet to shed a single tear.

As soon as they arrive home, Matthew watches his brother for any sign of mourning. Tears, shaking, even a frown. But his brother proves to be emotionless as he wordlessly goes to change out of his suit. With a sigh, Matthew goes to do the same.

The rest of the evening passes uneventfully, Alfred still not showing any hint of sadness towards the recent events and Matthew puzzling over his brother's reaction – or lack thereof. It's only during a most awkward dinner that the Canadian dares to bring it up at last.

"So… I thought the service today was nice. What did you think?"

He watches his brother pause ever so slightly between bites before nodding curtly.

"Kind of wished you had at least said a few words though. You knew him best."

America looks up sharply. "Sorry," he responds quietly. "I wasn't in much of a talking mood today. Besides, I thought Francis gave a good eulogy."

Canada gives him a rather disappointed look. "That's not really the point, Al. He was your friend, your former guardian. Surely you could have said something to honor his memory."

"His memory gets honored whether I say something or not, Matt. Why would anything I have to say make a difference?"

Canada slams down his silverware and glares. "What the hell is wrong with you?" The words ring out through the dining room, stronger and louder than what the quiet nation is used to. Alfred stares at his brother in shock, too stunned to reply. "Why are you acting so distant all of a sudden? This was Arthur, Alfred! He was your guardian, your best friend! And you have yet to shed a single tear for him!"

The American finds his voice and yells back, "What does it even matter if I cried or not? Why are you so hung up on that fact! I'm the hero, and heroes don't cry."

"Cut the crap, would you?" His tone is so harsh it causes Alfred to flinch. "In case you've forgotten, I'm your brother. I grew up with you! And I can't believe I have to remind you that you cried over EVERYTHING! Why is this any different!"

The American jumps to his feet. "What is your problem? You've been overanalyzing me for the past couple of days! Get off my case already!"

The Canadian rises to meet him. "BECAUSE I'VE NEVER SEEN YOU ACT LIKE THIS BEFORE!" His chest begins to ache slightly from the overexertion but he puts the pain aside. "In all the years we've been together, all the times we've interacted as nations and as brothers, I have never seen you act so cold towards anyone. It's like I don't even know you anymore!" Breathless and shaking, Matthew clutches his chest, grabbing the table for support. America moves towards his brother, concern washing over his face.

"Mattie, I'm sorry. Please just calm down, ok?"

The younger twin looks up at him, eyes still filled with anger. "I'm serious, though. Ever since this," he gestures to himself, "you've been acting so secretive, so distant. I know you try not to, Alfred, but it shows nonetheless." He softens his gaze for a moment. "Please, just tell me whatever it is that's bothering you. I can help you and you can trust me. I'm worried about you, Al."

America's face turns to stone and he backs away slowly.

"I'm sorry, but I can't."

"Why? What's so important that you can't even tell your own brother? We're twins; we're not supposed to keep secrets from each other."

Alfred glowers, his hands curling into fists. "I'm sorry, Matt, but it's for your own good. You'll understand someday."

Matthew straightens. "No. I don't think I'll ever understand." He regards his brother with contempt.

It unnerves the American slightly. Such an expression should never appear on his sweet and gentle brother's face. Such hateful, angry words should never escape those soft lips.

"Just… just go to bed, ok? It's been a long day. I'll clean up." The Canadian turns and begins to clear away the table.

"H-Hey, you can't tell me what to do, Matt. You're not my dad—"

Matthew slams the dishes back onto the table and whips around. "I KNOW I'M NOT YOUR DAD! HE'S DEAD! I'M ALL YOU HAVE LEFT! SO JUST GO TO YOUR FUCKING ROOM ALREADY!"

Alfred, pale and visibly shaken by his brother's cruel words, quietly turns away and goes to his room. Matthew watches him leave, then sinks into his chair and rests his head in his hands. He vaguely wonders when the tears falling down his face had started.

May I just say that it feels good to be back~

Reviews are lovely and appreciated, as always.