He was hunched over his work desk, crunching numbers and inputting data into his desktop computer, completely absorbed.
He stopped, head snapping up as if struck with a sudden idea, pulling over a sketched map and scribbling on it rapidly.
He jolted and whirled around in his chair, hand reaching over his back for the gun that wasn't there. "Ah? Bruder? What is it?"
"It's time for the meeting, West. You ready?"
He checked his watch, eyebrows raised in surprise. "Already? I guess I got more carried away with work than I thought. I'll be out in a moment."
"Okay," Garrett murmured, smiling sadly as he closed the office door behind him. "So he really isn't Danny anymore, is he? Ludwig..." He sighed, slumping onto the couch and remembering his and Daniel's youth. They had so much fun, back in those days. Daniel had been serious, just as he is now, but he'd had fun too. And all too suddenly, Daniel was shipped out to Iraq.
Garrett clearly remembered when he went to pick his brother up at the airport, his excitement almost lost at the death filling Daniel's eyes. Bright young eyes were replaced with hollow emptiness, and Garrett could have screamed at whoever was in charge that let his dear little brother return home like this.
The weeks following his return found Daniel cooped up in his office, drawing out various military movements for wars the world would never see, flashes of Iraq dancing in his vision before slipping out of his shambled mind's reach. Every time a door or floorboard creaked Daniel would flinch, dodging to the side to avoid an expected shot. Almost nightly Garrett was woken by Daniel's howls of pain, memories of bloodshed and murder replaying in his dreams. But strangely, oh-so-strangely, Daniel seemed attached to warfare. And that, more than any of the other strange behaviors, frightened Garrett.
The solution to their problem was presented to him by a concerned co-worker of Daniel's, a perpetually worrying man named Christopher, handing him a business card for "Hetalia: World Series", eye-catching with it's colorful logo. Christopher had heard and witnessed Daniel's severe PTSD and explained to Garrett a therapy group that would help, he a testament to that (Christopher seemed normal enough, so Garrett really couldn't pinpoint what issues the man might have). He went on to say that he had written his Conference aliases, Lithuania and Toris, on the back of the card, and if Garrett or Daniel needed anything they could call him.
Garrett was more than a little suspicious of this so called "therapy", but he couldn't help but be extremely curious. He dialed the number later that evening, and within an hour he was Prussia, his brother Germany. Gilbert and Ludwig, two halves of a nation, just like the way he and Daniel completed each other.
The first World Conference was the death of Daniel and the birth of Ludwig, his brother literally becoming the manifestation of Germany. Truthfully, post-war Daniel and Ludwig were not too different, Ludwig standing just a bit straighter, more thunder in his voice when he addressed others. But additionally, Ludwig was...happier. He quirked small smiles on occasion, and he'd even made a friend. Feliciano, the cute little guy, clung to Ludwig's side like glue, insisting that they were best friends because of the historical alliance between Germany and Italy. And surprisingly, Ludwig didn't object.
However, despite the many changes Ludwig went through he still clung to the military as if it were a lifeline, but Garrett didn't dare let his brother go back there, go back to Iraq. He'd already lost Daniel, what if Ludwig didn't come back? He didn't dare think of that. He'd take care of his brother for as long as he could, until he got better, and the monthly meetings helped immensely.
Ludwig was not the only one to benefit from the meetings, though; Garrett, over the course of months of flirting across the conference table, fights over important and trivial things, offering snide remarks about the other and defending them in the same sentence, and the incredibly awkward moment of asking to exchange phone numbers, Garret fell into what he could only describe as love. Prussia was in love with Hungary. Gilbert was in love with Elizabeta. Garrett was in love with Lizzy. These three combinations of names were really no different from each other, their personalities not a far cry from their real personalities (Gilbert was just a tad bit more pompous and childish than Garrett, and Lizzy was significantly less creepy than Elizabeta).
Their connection was deeper than Garrett had ever thought possible between two lovers, Prussia and Hungary sharing such a long history, Gilbert and Elizabeta constantly puzzling over their feelings for each other and how they had shifted so much throughout the centuries, and Garrett and Lizzy learning more about each other every day. They spoke in a language all their own, their dynamic love exclusive only to them, never to be understood by anyone else.
Slowly but surely Ludwig was falling in love too, though such concepts were so foreign to him that he didn't even know they were there. Feliciano did, though, and that's what mattered.
"Bruder, I'm ready. Shall we go? Hey, don't slouch on the sofa like that! It's bad for you back and the cushions."
Garrett threw a cocky grin Ludwig's way, snarky humor painting his face. "Aww, West. I didn't know you cared!" He cackled loudly when Ludwig flushed deep red, trying to explain away his kindness but failing miserably.
It was moments like these that Garrett and Gilbert loved the best: Ludwig was being honest and open, and somewhere inside Daniel was blushing just as badly as Ludwig was. And these same moments, these same precious moments, made Garrett think that perhaps he'd never lost a brother, but gained one instead.