Chapter Five: Our Hero Hits the Skies
"Thanks for the lift to the airport," England said. As he slid out of the front seat, he noticed a small crowd was gathering, seemingly staring at him. "Err...America...is there a stain on my suit or something?" England asked. America rounded his precious car (lovingly sliding his hand over the trunk as he did so) and flashed England a cocky grin.
"Nope. They're checking out the car...and possibly me," America winked. England noticed then that the onlookers did tend to be primarily males, harried along by their wives but stopping to shoot longing, love-sick glances at the vehicle England had just exited.
"Let me guess—over-compensating with your car, again? I don't see what's so special about a vehicle that you required us to stop twice for petrol on the relatively short ride to the airport," England jibed. Secretly, though, he was rather fond of the American's new acquisition. It seemed to suit his big, flashy personality. It's engine was noisy in that thrilling way, which made one feel as if they were about to fly off the pavement.
"England, don't talk about her like that. She's right here. Ladies are sensitive about how much they eat," America patted the car's rear quarter panel, as if she were a faithful dog. Now ignoring England completely he said, "Don't you worry, baby. Daddy will get you all the gas money can buy. Who's daddy's baby girl? That's right, you are."
"Oh for heaven's sake, would you stop? You look absolutely ridiculous," England said, fishing for his baggage in the backseat. Finally, a man broke away from his frustrated wife and actually shook America's hand.
"She's beautiful," he praised. "Congratulations, man."
"Thanks!" America replied, still lovingly patting his car. England finally freed his luggage and gave Alfred a pointed glare. This was the part where he was supposed to be saying goodbye to him. Instead, England was going to have to fight for his attention with a bloody car.
"What's she running?" the admirer asked. Now another man had joined. America leaned against the vehicle with his chest puffed out, eyes practically sparkling to match his 100-watt grin.
"500 horses in an aluminum V8. She's a ZL1 Camaro—only 50 of them made, ya know."
"Alfred, I'm leaving."
"The COPO package? Are you kidding me? Can I get a picture?"
"Sure! You wanna look under the hood?" Alfred replied.
"I said: I'm leaving, Alfred. Back to England. My plane could go down in the Atlantic and I might never see you again. Here's your chance to say goodbye."
"Be there in a sec, Arty," America waved at him dismissively, primping like a peacock in front of his gathering crowd. Now there were roughly six guys of varying ages practically dry humping the car. England scowled. Next time, he was taking a bloody cab. True to his word, he stomped off, his tidy black rolling suitcase bouncing along behind him as he tugged it violently along.
'The nerve!' England fumed, knocking over small children and at least two elderly people on his rampage to the check-in.
"Arthur! Arthur, wait!" England kept going, ignoring the loud yelling, until he stood at the end of a line for baggage check. The overenthusiastic idiot nearly barreled into him, leaning on his shoulder and panting dramatically. "Geez! Aren't you going to say goodbye to me?"
"You and your vehicle were clearly having an intimate moment. I certainly didn't want to interrupt," England replied, his brows forking downwards ominously. Missing the sarcasm, America replied.
"Well, yeah, it's hard to just leave her in a parking spot when she looks at you like she does. She's been treated really badly in the past, Arthur. I can't just leave her there thinking I might not come back."
"I might not come back," England growled. America blinked at him in confusion.
"I see you, like, all the time. I only get an hour each day to polish her and check her tread depth and make sure all her gauges are adjusted..."
"Was there a point in you following me?" Arthur interrupted, moving forward a spot in line.
"Well, I wanted to say goodbye properly, of course. Aren't you going to miss me?" Alfred asked.
"But...but I'm gonna miss you, Arthur!"
"You can watch movies with your ZXY Camaroon, or whatever the hell she is."
"Uh, she's a Camaro, one of the greatest cars ever created by man, and I would...butshe only likes watching that stupid Herbie movie remake with Lindsey Lohan, and there's really only so many times I can watch that movie, even for the love of my life."
"I'm officially ignoring you now."
Alfred, of course, had to make that impossible. Not noticing (or caring) about the uncomfortable look on the man's face in line behind them, the taller nation wrapped his arms around England's shoulders in a tight squeeze and then ruffled his hair.
"You won't crash into the Atlantic—American plane, remember? You'll call me, right?"
"'Cause I'll be waiting until ya do. Don't work too hard, okay? Let me know when you're safe in London. It was really fun hanging out with you yesterday...maybe we can do it again at the World Cup? Ironman 2 is coming out soon, ya know."
"I...I'll let you know when I've landed. I had a very enjoyable time, as well."
Arthur thought for a moment that Alfred might kiss his cheek, because he suddenly leaned in suspiciously, but instead Arthur felt his hand being energetically shaken.
"See ya later, Arthur! Bye! What do you guys say in England? Oh yeah! Cheerio old chap!"
England grit his teeth and turned away pointedly from the energetic American still waving happily at him as he left the airport. 'Why did it have to be him? Why couldn't I have fallen for Greece? Japan, even! Someone with culture and dignity and...'
"Sorry, excuse me, I just forgot something, sorry!" England turned to look back in the queue only to see America pushing and tripping over baggage to get back to his side. England raised a brow questioningly. It was almost his turn to check-in.
"I forgot to give you this. I got it at the gas station," America explained, pulling something a little squished out of his pants pocket. America pushed it into his hand and England looked down. It was a blueberry muffin, with a cartoony little smiling sun on the wrapper that proudly claimed 'I'll make you strong! One whole serving of fruit! No additives!'
"Since you slept in late, you didn't get a chance to grab any breakfast at the hotel. I didn't want you to get hungry! It's got a whole serving of blueberries. Perfect, huh? Alright, well now I'm really off."
Arthur smiled sentimentally at the sugary muffin in his hand. 'Oh yeah, that's why. You're quite wonderful sometimes, Alfred F. Jones.'
"Next in line!" a woman shouted. Arthur glanced up, thinking, 'To hell with it, I'm just going to kiss him!' But Alfred was already gone, dodging and weaving back through the crowd.
America stood in a small office at Camp Edwards, located in Cape Cod, dressed crisply in a sleek blue suit. A small American flag pin adorned his lapel, identical to the one on the president's ensemble. He'd driven eight hours to the Massachusetts Military Reservation to meet with his boss after giving Arthur a lift to the airport the previous day. He could have made it there much faster by flying, or even walking (if he used his mystical powers as a nation) but Alfred loved nothing more than hitting his highways in a great car in pretty weather and just cruising.
The MMR was bustling with activity, which was typical, as it was home to the US Coast Guard, the Army National Guard, and the Otis Air National Guard Base. Camp Edwards was located in the northern sector of the reservation, which spanned nearly 15,000 acres.
"I've got an assignment for you at NASA," the President informed him crisply. "Consider it the closest thing I can give you to a vacation. I know you've been working hard, and I appreciate it. I was informed you even took personal time this past weekend to escort England around the capital. Our ties with England are weak after Iraq, but they're crucial. So thank you for taking some initiative on that front. Now...how would you feel about getting up in the air in a B-24 Liberator again?"
"Are you kidding me? The Witchcraft or Ole 927?"
"Well, that's the best part. Witchcraft, as you probably know, is kept here in Massachusetts, and Ole 927 is down in Texas. There's going to be a very special air show at Ellington Field for veterans, featuring the simultaneous flight of both aircrafts. I've been told, however, that the plane is difficult to fly, and the usual pilot for the Witchcraft had a bad fall and broke his leg and wrist. They thought they'd have to cancel the Liberator part of the show, but I told them I knew a pilot who could more than handle the job. So what do you say, America? Your assignment is to deliver the Witchcraft to Ellington Field, where you'll rendezvous with a Mr. Dave Miller. The two of you will fly in the air show together and then you'll report to NASA after that. Once your assignment is complete, you'll be off to represent us in the World Cup."
America gave a jaunty salute. "I'm on it, Mr. President!"
The President smiled and tossed an access badge to Alfred.
"You're going to need a co-pilot, of course. Think your brother would be interested?"
Alfred laughed and said, "Now it's a diplomacy assignment, too?"
"I said it was like a vacation. You know I'm going to keep my most trusted man busy. Have fun, though, America. You've earned a break."
"Thanks! I'll give Matthew a call and see if he feels like getting some frequent flier miles."
Happy like a kid in a candy shop, America left the office practically skipping. He fished his phone out of his pocket and speed-dialed Matty.
"Hello?" Matty answered.
"Hey Matty! What would you say if I told you we had to sink some German U-boats?"
"WHAT? You're attacking G-Germany? Alfred, you can't be serious! What on earth would make you want to do a thing like that? Have you told England what you're planning? I really don't think he'll let you..."
America's booming laughter finally silenced Matthew on the other end of the line.
"That's not a very funny joke, Alfred!" Canada chastised. Still snickering, America finally offered a decent explanation that didn't include the outbreak of WWIII.
"I've been given an assignment to fly an old B-24 Liberator from here in Cape Cod down to Texas for an air show. Problem is, there's not too many pilots left these days that are up to the task of manning the Liberator. I seem to recall, though, that you're pretty handy when it comes to flying B-24s in June."
On the other end of the line, Matthew was blushing at the rare praise; he had been part of a rather historic flight crew in June of '44, in which he and his crew sunk not one but two German U-boats in the span of 22 minutes. Matthew smiled at the idea that his twin wanted to spend some quality time with him, and had thought of him when he needed a co-pilot.
"Of course! I'd l-love to! Where do I meet you, Alfie?"
"That's not far at all. I can be there in a few hours."
"Great, Matty. I'll see ya in a few."
Still near bursting with excitement, America decided he'd jump the gun and give England a call first to share the exciting news.
England was jet lagged, and poorly prepared for the budgeting meeting with the fairly new Prime Minister. He was shuffling through his notes (scowling at the doodles in the margins that someone had obviously saw fit to add) and trying to present his findings. As if the task weren't difficult enough on roughly three hours of sleep, some idiot's phone started ringing on the loudest volume.
Somewhere after midnight
In my wildest fantasy
Somewhere just beyond my reach
There's someone reaching back for me...
"Could you please be so kind as to turn off your mobile!" Arthur bellowed. There was a general shuffling in bags and purses, but the ringing continued.
Racing on the thunder
And rising with the heat
It's gonna take a Superman
To sweep me off my feet!
England blinked at the odd Superman reference, and his eyes dropped in horror to his own briefcase kicked partially under the table. 'Oh gods. He's changed my ringtones. That. Bloody. Wanker!' Arthur dove for the briefcase, but not before the most damning chorus belted out of the phone.
I need a hero! I'm holding out for a hero
'Til the end of the night
He's gotta be strong
And he's gotta be fast
And he's gotta be fresh from the fight!
I need a hero!
Arthur furiously jabbed a button hoping to silence the infernal device, but as he hardly ever used the thing he only succeeded in answering and putting it on speaker.
"England? You there? It's me! America! Guess what?"
England did not want to guess, and he certainly did not want to leave the American rambling on the mobile to embarrass him further. Finally, finally, he found the button to disconnect the call.
He crawled out from under the table with a sheepish look on his face, cheeks burning in mortification. The Prime Minister quirked an eyebrow.
"I...err...I can e-explain. It must have been America's idea of a prank. I offer my most sincere apologies and beg you to...err...I was on...we were discussing...yes! Here! The 30% cut to the Arts Council England has i-improved our bottom line c-considerably this quarter and I think..."
"England?" his boss asked, as he laced his fingers together under his chin.
"Yes?" England asked, obviously still very flustered.
"I think it would be best if we rescheduled this meeting. While you've clearly made a heroic attempt..."
"Super, old chap, really super..." another cabinet member interjected with a snicker.
Smiling, the Prime Minister continued, "Perhaps if you get some sleep 'til the end of the night...your presentation will be a bit more clear."
"Y-yes, Prime Minister. I do apologize once more for..."
"No need, Arthur. Just get some rest...and do please change America's ring tone. It doesn't exactly reflect very well on us, now does it?"
Burning with embarrassment, England hastily packed up his notes and collected his baggage. Ignoring the snickers and chuckles to the best of his ability, England left the meeting room in the sort of temper that made him wish it was still the age of piracy.
"Hmm, that's weird. Guess the call got dropped. Ah well, he'll call me back. Heh! I bet he let it ring so long because he liked the totally awesome new ringtones I put on his phone!" Pleased with the favor he'd done for Arthur, Alfred exited the building all smiles and waved down a jeep that was heading over to the air strip.
A/N: Thanks for such wonderful feedback everyone! It's really motivating me to crank out the chapters! :) Oh, and I apologize for small mistakes. I don't have a beta and now that I'm back at work from Thanksgiving Break, I won't have much time to self-edit the chapters. Sorry in advance!
Not too many notes for this chapter, but since a couple people seem to like the extra info, here ya go...
The ZL1 Camaro is probably every muscle car enthusiasts' dream ride. It's one of the rarest and fastest, meant primarily for drag racing as it can hit sixty in about five seconds. It's a very beautiful, flashy looking car, which is why I thought America would somehow manage to get his hands on one and restore it.
The B-24 Liberator is a heavy bomber that was used during WWII. I've gotten to tour the Ole 927 and it's an amazing aircraft. It's got a lot of excellent virtues which make it one of my favorite planes ever, but it's drawbacks are that it's an extremely difficult plane to fly, with very heavy controls, and it has a bad tendency to catch on fire. Since it was a lot lighter than the B-17 Fortress (which is what most people think of when they think WWII plane), it took damage more easily, but it also got the job done much faster in the right conditions.
Just because I could, I put Matthew on the crew of the famous Canadian pilot K.O. Moore. No shit, this pilot's real name is literally the abbreviation for knock out...which is exactly what he did to two German U-boats on one flight on June 8, 1944, in the span of 22 minutes. Now a days, that doesn't sound so impressive, but back in the 40s, planes didn't have radar. This pilot took a very heavy, difficult to maneuver plane and spotted the shadow of a submarine on the ocean at night from a very high altitude. Not only did he hit that one (which was a little like finding a needle in a haystack) but he then happened upon another one, pulled off a pretty spectacular maneuver, and bombed the hell out of a second one. Needless to say, he became the most decorated Canadian airman and set an awesome aviation record that wasn't ever beaten. So yay for Canada!
Oh, and America changed his ringtone on England's phone to be I Need a Hero, which most people know from the soundtrack of Shrek. If you haven't heard it, check it out on youtube because it's a very Alfred-esque type theme song, lolz.