A/N: This is it, the last chapter of PTP before we go on to the sequel (which, as of now, is still a big jumble of notes). I'm being repetitive, but I want to thank you guys, everyone who has read this story, for following CTD up to here. If all goes well (which probably won't, 'cause I've got to study for SATs and go to tutoring classes), there will be a short sequel, the last installment to the CTD series—Sketching Out Memories.I will see you guys then, if that ever happens! ^u^
NEWS: Did you guys vote for the CTD/PTP website avatar? There is a prize from me; the winner will get a written sidestory (topic of their choice) on CTD/PTP. And also, I noticed a lot of wonderful fanarts for CTD/PTP over there, so please go check them out! Thank you all for being so kind! ;A;
Notes:-This chapter has undergone so many revisions; I wanted it to turn out to be a decent ending. XD My brain is so fried right now.
-I think I will be writing another USUK story if time allows, a parody of sorts where Alfred is dreaming himself in all these movies and Arthur seems to be his heroine in every single one.
-England will eventually forget about what happened in 1960.
-To a reviewer, Sofia: Thank you for taking your time and reading! And yes, I agree with you, sometimes my characters do turn out Sue-ish, and my world history is absolute fail; I will be more careful on the possible sequel! Once again, thank you for informing me~ ^u^
-As for what happened to Evangeline's cell phone, I think I will get to that in SOM.
Sp/grammatical errors and DM linked words and plotholes (lol) will be corrected after publication.
Disclaimer: I do not own Hetalia.
Friday, December 2, present, 2:14 P.M., Drama classroom…
Ms. Stevens had practically pounced on Aloisa when she walked through the door, gushing about deadlines and the play and asking exactly where she disappeared off to for the past few days and on and on until her sentences melded into a train-crash of a paragraph. She was just as Aloisa remembered—middle-aged, irritating; but despite all that, Aloisa found that she kind of missed her, much to her surprise.
"We went to…um…Canada. To pick up my uncle." Aloisa fumbled with her words for a moment, the onslaught of possible fibs tangling her tongue. She had told six of her friends different stories whenever they questioned her whereabouts, and for some reason one of them had involved escaping convicts (her mother's suggestion, actually). "And our car broke down."
The lady barely batted an eyelash, shoving at her the script. "Well, as long as you're here now! Really, I thought I was going to have to move along with the play without you!"
Aloisa went along with her until the teacher moved on to talk to another student about poise and stage directions. She meandered over to Evangeline, who was tapping furiously on her laptop. "How'd yesterday go?" she asked.
"My mum declared the basement off limits now, no one goes in except for hi—er, her," Evangeline said, correcting herself for the sake of the other students. "And apparently my brother thought it would be funny if he told Adrian we have a ghost in out house now."
"Dunno. Either way, I don't think Adrian will be dropping by for a while," Evangeline said. "Are you still in the Christmas play?"
Aloisa showed her the script. "She insisted. You?"
"She gave the part to the understudy. I'll be backstage with Felicita watching you guys prance around in your fairy costumes." Evangeline stared at the screen intently, rapidly scrolling down and scanning the document. "She is also going to tell us that the opening date has been postponed to January."
"How exactly do you know this?"
"I have my ways."
Aloisa put one finger on the laptop and snapped it shut. "You made Mikhail hack the school system."
"Hey! I didn't save it yet!" The girl frowned at Aloisa, though she didn't deny the accusation. "Does it really matter?"
"Seriously, you are going to land him in jail someday."
She huffed and leaned back, turning her attention to a blue-eyed boy surrounded by a gaggle of giggling girls. "That guy there, that's our new backdrop designer."
Aloisa peered at the new boy, rolling her eyes when he winked at her. "Exchange student?"
She squinted at him curiously. "More like another Alec."
"Alec will be pissed that he's being upstaged," Aloisa muttered, swinging her gaze to Adrian and Alec's empty seats. "Where is he, anyways?"
The bell rang, and Aloisa gave a tiny start. As the students took their seats, Evangeline turned around to face Aloisa, concern flashing in her eyes. "Is your mum alright?" she whispered.
Thinking back on it, that was what puzzled Aloisa most, the fact that her parents didn't mention anything about 1960 or the mirror this morning at all. "He's okay. Evan, did your parents talk to you about—"
Evangeline felt a hand tap her on the shoulder then. She raised an eyebrow at the new student, her eye twitching at how much he actually towered over her. He had to be at least as tall as Adrian. "Yes?"
"I don't think I've seen you two in this classroom before," the boy commented, slipping into his seat and setting his backpack on the ground.
British, she thought. Definitely a British accent. "Same goes for you," she said drily.
"I apologize," he said, his lips curving in amusement. "My name's Ian. Just moved in from London the day before, actually. Are you from England, by any chance?"
She tucked her laptop into her bag, a little creeped out by the way the boy was ogling at her. Frankly, he wasn't unattractive, not in the least, but there was an air of familiarity about him that unnerved her; it was as if she'd seen him from somewhere before. "Half, I suppose. I'm sorry, did you want something, um…Ian?"
Ian shook his head. "Nothing—I-I mean, you just look like this person I saw in my grandfather's photo album."
Evangeline blinked. "Haven't heard that one before."
"Take a look at this," Ian said, reaching into his pocket and withdrawing a black and white photo, somewhat yellowed with age. "This is like, from prehistoric ages. That's my grandfather when he's about seventeen or so," he pointed the teenager out. "And that person…doesn't he look like you? His name is Alec, or at least that's what it says on the back. Man, I honestly thought that guy was a girl at first."
"Don't be ridicu—" She stopped mid-sentence and seized the picture. "What the—where did you get this?"
"My grandfather made me look for this watch that he lost. Nicked this from his attic when I was looking around, I thought maybe that'd tick him off, since he's real touchy about his stuff. He'll flip out, that's for sure, but that's only if he finds out." He laughed. "Besides, there's no way he's going to fly all the way over here for a picture."
"Aloisa!" she hissed at the girl. "Aloisa, look at this!"
The blond lifted her head. "Wha—"
"Aloisa! Please be quiet!" Ms. Stevens crossed her arms, her lips forming a thin line. "Unless there is something interesting you'd like to share with the rest of us?"
"N-no, I'm sorry." She glared at Evangeline, mouthing 'What do you want?'"
"I have some important announcements!" Ms. Stevens bellowed out, as though the class was hard of hearing. "The play date has been moved to January 25th, along with…" She droned on, oblivious to the fact that half the class was fiddling their pencils around in disinterest and the other half was chatting discreetly amongst themselves.
In the middle of Ms. Stevens's speech, the door decided to open, letting in a frazzled looking Alec (who just happened to be limping) and Adrian, following behind him with a playful smile. "You forgot your scarf, Alec—"
Alec's eyes widened and instantly snatched it back, turning his neck and revealing a trail of bruises. "Give that back!" He plopped down in his seat, quickly rewrapping the scarf around his neck. "I'm so sorry, Ms. Stevens, I—" He slapped away Adrian's outreached hand before continuing, "I twisted my ankle. And Adrian was helping me. Right, Adrian?"
"Yep," Adrian agreed flatly. "Fell down some stairs."
At that exact moment, Ian stood up and stared at Alec. His mouth fell open to a gape as he blinked multiple times, as if he thought he was seeing things. "Your name…" he said slowly, "Your name is Alec?"
Alec brushed a stray bang out of his face. "Yeah, I'm Ale—woah!" His expression switched to one of mortification. "My God! H-how did—how did you get here?"
"You're the guy from my grandfather's picture!" Ian reclaimed the photo from Evangeline's shaky hand and held it up. "This is you, isn't it?"
He remained silent for a second, but his face drained of color when he saw the picture. "…No?"
"You are! You're Alec, you look exactly like him—!"
"No, that is not me, you need new contacts or somethi—please let go of my shoulder—"
Melanie took her chance and launched herself on Adrian, grabbing onto his arm and pushing her face right up to his. "I couldn't find you all day! I missed you so much! Do you want to come to my house so we can practice our lines? We have a lot of lines together, don't we, Adrian?"
"…Okay, I am completely lost—"
She pulled a fake pout, making a face that she clearly thought was supposed to look utterly adorable and irresistible. "It's Alec again, isn't it? He's such a loser, stop hanging out with him! You'd have more fun with me—"
Aloisa could literally see Evangeline's face turn scarlet. "That's my brother you're talking about, you little bit—!"
In five minutes flat, the Drama classroom had once again transformed into a storm of yelling and heated accusations. At one point, Aloisa thought she even saw someone's half-eaten sandwich being flung over her head. Ms. Stevens's frantic protests did nothing to calm the crowd, and it took both Alec and Adrian to peel an enraged Evangeline off of Melanie.
It was only when a student from the French classroom pushed the sliding wall and stuck her head through, yelling out obscenities in a mix of elementary French and English, did the commotion finally die down.
And what Aloisa found ironic was that the girl that screamed at them to shut up was the one who had been hanging off of Francis's waist just a couple days ago.
Afterschool, creek path along the park, on the way home, 3:01 P.M…
"I can't believe you left behind a picture with you in it," Evangeline admonished, crossing her arms and scowling at Alec.
"I didn't know the idiot was going to keep it," he said peevishly. "Don't tell Maman, okay?"
"What's in it for me?"
He groaned. "Why is it that whenever I ask for help there always have to be something 'in it' for you?"
In the end, after the whole Drama fiasco, Ms. Stevens composed herself and deducted ten points from everyone in the class, along with a stern warning, as if redeeming position by performing her teacher-ly duty of lecturing (which she hardly did in the first place). Adrian had finally lost Melanie, as did Alec with Ian, in the crowd when the bell rang, but neither knew exactly how to deal with the situation without involving their parents.
Felicita was swinging her bag back and forth as she walked, her expression troubled. "I'm getting this feeling that somebody is following us."
"This might not be the best time to say that," Mikhail said, looking around the empty street warily.
"It's probably nothing," she murmured. "It's just that…" Every time the group's chatters faded away, the rustling noise of grass would stop; when the conversation picked up, the sounds would return, accompanied by heavy footfalls.
Aloisa grinned. "Well, if it's nothing then—"
And out of the bushes, a shadow leaped right for Aloisa, cackling uproariously. "Aloisa!"
Mikhail was preparing to jump in front of the blond in an attempt to shield her from the attacker until said attacker somehow crash-landed on him. "I got you, Alo—ugh—"
In that split second, Aloisa had fallen backwards and landed on her bottom, changing the man's target and knocking him right onto Mikhail. Felicita thought Aloisa would really start to bash on the guy with her textbook, but she hesitated at the last moment, gaping at him in disbelief. "Onkel Gilbert?"
Mikhail rolled him off onto the sidewalk, pressing his palm to his forehead as he got to his feet. He had not seen that one coming.
"You didn't have to hit so damn hard, Aloisa—"
"What the hell were you doing?"
"Saying hi, what do you think—"
"Why can't you say hi like normal people?" she cried in exasperation. "Oh God, I'm so sorry, Mikhail—Say sorry, Onkel!"
Gilbert pulled himself up and studied Mikhail, his red eyes narrowing. "Sorry, Russia, didn't see you there." Before Aloisa could smack his arm, he sidestepped and his smirk returned. "I know you guys are all stunned to see the Awesome Me here, but I didn't come here just for you to admire my awesomeness!"
"We don't need it," Aloisa replied blandly.
He ignored her, letting out a string of his weird snickering. "I actually wanted you guys to meet someone who's almost as awesome as me!" He placed both hands on his waist, smiling in a superior fashion, and Evangeline noted that the little chick on his head was imitating him by displaying its fluffy wings and chirping enthusiastically.
From down the street appeared a man sprouting a curl from the top of his hair, panting hard as if he had been running to catch up with Gilbert. "Gilbert, don't run off like that!" he chided.
When he looked up, he gave the teens a shy smile, although his face lit up when he recognized Aloisa and Evangeline. Standing next to Gilbert, the two made a mismatched pair, but it was clear that Gilbert doted on him, the way the Prussian pulled him closer and ruffled his hair.
"I haven't seen you girls in a while," Matthew remarked. "I heard about…um, what happened the last few days. Are you all alright?"
Adrian wanted to say something so it wouldn't make him look like a dolt in front of Alec, but he found that Matthew looked so similar to his mom he could scarcely tell them apart from a distance. But while Alfred was loud and flashy, he was reserved and slight, filling in the part of modesty Gilbert never had in the first place.
Other than that, Matthew was totally Alfred's clone. Twin. Whatever.
Gilbert seemed surprised; his brow arched upwards in questioning. "You already know them, Mattie?"
"Just Evangeline and Aloisa," he said. "I've met all of them last year, remember, Gil?"
Matthew exhaled. "Really, Gil—"
"My brain is too awesome for little details, that's why I have you here!" He placed a kiss on the blond's forehead, earning him a disgruntled sniff from Matthew. "Oh yeah. I thought today was Japan's kid's birthday or something."
"I know when her birthday is, Onkel, we've been planning something for her—"
"Last minute planning, you mean," Evangeline stressed.
"I had the idea for a while, Evan. I just ran out of time." Aloisa leaned on one leg, annoyed. "Besides, Yukiko's birthday is on Fr—"
Her birthday is on Friday, and today is…
"Oh, shit." Aloisa placed ran her fingers through her hair, pacing around. "Okay, okay. Felicita, Mikhail, and I will go to my house to get the presents. Adrian, Evangeline, and Alec will go to their house to get the food—no wait. Alec will blow up the kitchen, you come with us, and Felicita will switch places with him—"
"—and we'll bring everything and meet at the park. Any questions?"
"Yeah, I got one," Alec snapped. "How come everyone assumes that I can't cook—"
"Because it's true. Adrian, bring him, you're coming with us! Mikhail, go with Evangeline!"
"I can walk by myself just fine! Let me down—!"
Mikhail seemed slightly disappointed but he complied and set off in the opposite direction, leaving his brother, who was currently piggybacking a furious Alec, trying to avoid the arms flailing around his head. Felicita, on the other hand, played the thumps of those solemn footsteps she'd heard over and over again in her mind; somehow she felt that they sounded too weighted and ominous to have belonged to either Gilbert or Matthew, although she didn't bring it up.
Matthew let his hand hover over Gilbert's shoulder, getting his attention. "Yeah, what is it, Mattie?"
"I'm going to go with Evangeline," he said. "I haven't seen France or England for a while now, I want to talk with them about some things."
"I thought I was supposed to show you around!" Gilbert began to argue, but he shut up when the Canadian gazed at him imploringly. "Okay. Okay, fine, be that way. I'll just wallow in my awesomeness. By myself."
"Don't be such a drama queen. I'll see you at the park. Oh, and—" Matthew turned on his heels and looked as sternly as he could at the other. "—World Summit is next year, according to my boss. We haven't decided the location yet, but I want you to swear that you won't do anything stupid."
"When have I ever done that?"
"You know, last year when you walked in half-drunk." He sighed, his lashes lowering. "Promise me, Gil: just stay out of the meeting room. Or I'll lock you out if I have to. And don't drink too much."
"I'm not falling for that puppy-dog face anymore. This is a difficult decision, Mattie. I don't know if I can do it. Beer, or you. Beer, or you…beer…or beer—ow, ow, ow, alright, alright, I was kidding!"
"You better be."
Gilbert rubbed the sore spot on his arm where Matthew had twisted until a notion struck him. "Hey, Mattie, I almost forgot! I heard that your brother's having another kid!"
Matthew skidded to a sudden stop, the curl on his head defying all laws of gravity and bouncing up and down as if it had a mind of its own. "Excuse me?"
January 25, present, school theatre, 5:00 P.M…
For all intents and purposes, they expected to be a small gathering for Yukiko at the park. Until thirty other nations magically showed up out of thin air and somehow changed the event into a carnival of sorts. Not that anyone minded, of course.
They had given Yukiko a scrapbook stocked full with the pictures from the D.C. trip, and a red satin hair ribbon. Natalia wouldn't stop following Adrian around, with Elizaveta sometimes, if Alec was present. Hanna's parents looked interesting, Felicita thought; although Tino assured Evangeline and her several times that Berwald wasn't as frightening as he appeared, they had a difficult time judging for themselves when the Swede's glower intensified into a death glare as he laid eyes on Denmark. If looks could kill, they concluded, the park would be in flames by now.
Aloisa also noticed no one talked about their little accidental trip to the past. In fact, it was as if they were purposely avoiding that particular subject for reasons unknown.
But it seemed that everyone enjoyed themselves. There was pasta, cuisines from half the world; Francis had successfully kept Arthur out of the kitchen, Gilbert got drunk (as was the norm), Norway didn't looked like he had the heart to beat up Denmark (too much) this time, and nations were introduced. And when Yukiko grabbed a handful of balloons and released them into the night sky, it felt like they carried away a small fraction of the insecurities brought back from 1960.
Christmas was hectic as usual. Aloisa didn't know what to say when Berwald mentioned that "m'wife will b' d'liver'ng presents all n'ght."
"Like Santa Claus," she said, half-chuckling out of nervousness.
"H' is S'nta."
She honestly believed that Berwald was joking, even with that intimidating scowl plastered on his face. That is, until Tino flew across the sky in a sleigh pulled by fucking reindeers, throwing down colored boxes which, by some miracle, landed right in Aloisa's hands.
That aside, winter vacation passed by as it had before: Feliciano made too many Christmas cookies (again), Gilbert drank too much (again), and so on and so forth.
It had been around a month since Yukiko and her parents flew back to Japan. During those four weeks, the kids had shifted back to reality; Felicita had her exams coming up, as did Evangeline. Aloisa and Mikhail were stressing about colleges, their situation as impending-cities being pushed to the back of their heads; they hadn't completely forgotten that matter though. Alec had his sights set on a design college, focusing more on research than, well, Adrian. But Felicita would still see the two around campus; Alec leaning on Adrian's back and working on his laptop, Adrian flipping through a thick book of programming language or whatnot that she could barely understand. They'd stay there for an afternoon, and as cliché as it sounded, enjoying each other's presence as they finished up their studies.
What should she do? Felicita wondered. In one month, her friends had all become preoccupied, and it scared her that she didn't exactly know what she was going to do. It was as though she was the only one that felt like a little kid. She really hoped her dad was joking when he suggested that she should become a farmer and harvest tomatoes (needless to say, Lovino slapped him upside the head).
Felicita was hanging up plastic vines around the stage when Ian sauntered in, carrying the backdrop in a roll under his arm. "Need a hand?" he asked.
"Sure." At least Ian wasn't as much of a creeper as James Chase had been, even Alec admitted to that. After he recovered from his initial shock, he seemed to have let the matter go entirely. 'Coincidence,' he had said nonchalantly—or was it 'Photoshop'? Felicita couldn't remember. "Can you get a ladder for me?"
While he bustled around backstage, Felicita couldn't help herself and popped a question, "You're a senior, aren't you?"
"Yeah? What about it?"
He returned with the ladder, and Felicita scrambled up, motioning for him to hand her the ornaments. "What do you plan on doing after high school?"
"Not sure. Maybe go back to London. Or I might hang around. Which would you prefer?" he added cheekily.
She chucked a wax apple at him, which he caught neatly in one hand. "It wouldn't hurt if I stayed," he continued, tossing the apple back. "My grades aren't that atrocious. I could move to Hollywood and become a movie star—"
"You could be the school janitor," Felicita said.
He shrugged good-naturedly. "Somebody's got to do that."
"Right. Pass the duct tape—" She paused, her eyes catching the silhouette of a shadowy figure by the far exit. "Who's that?"
Ian glanced about, scrunching up his eyes as he viewed the dimmed room. "Who's who?"
"That guy, overth…wait, he's gone—s-stop laughing, I'm not kidding! There really was this guy there, and he was staring at me—"
"Oh, I believe you, sweetheart. I mean, who wouldn't want to stare at you?"
"Ha, ha, don't call me that."
He picked up the backdrop, slinging them onto his shoulder. "My apologies. I'll just be moving these to the back. And you—" He flashed his teeth, and Felicita nearly forgot that she was supposed to be pissed. "I will see you backstage in an hour—"
"—and watch out for stalkers!"
But that made her think a bit. Why would anyone have a reason for following her?
January 25, present, school theatre, backstage, 8:10 P.M…
The show was proceeding along rather well, in spite of the disaster Alec was sure they'd been headed for. And okay, even though Melanie was intent on sticking her foot out to trip him every time he got too close, and despite that the female population of the audience (mostly mothers and college girls) were crowded around Francis, thus further provoking Arthur, and even though it had begun raining outside (pouring, actually), even though Adrian's mom started cheering for his sons as if he was at a baseball game, and that Natalia had managed to sneak backstage to film every part that included either of her nephews…
So the course of the play hadn't run as smoothly as it could've, but it was still a hell lot better than what he'd expected, technical difficulties and all.
The bows were done, the curtain had gone down, and the rest of the cast were moving around in a dazed trance, congratulatory pats on the backs exchanged as they passed by. Ellen Mercer, Aloisa's friend, rushed up to Alec with an apologetic expression, her face flushed from wearing the heavy dress, as was Helena's costume, and the spotlights.
"I'm so sorry, Alec! I screwed up in a lot of places, I just blanked out, you know—"
He gave her a quick hug. "You did great."
"Not as well as you. By the way, someone was asking for you just a minute ago. Left backstage exit," Ellen said, pointing it out.
"Not sure. Might be your fans or something. See you later!"
As she moved away, another figure came up and wrapped their arms around Alec, pressing a kiss to his neck. "Good job out there," Adrian commented. "How'd I do?"
"You didn't mess up as bad as I thought," Alec answered, leaning back and letting his head rest in on Adrian's shoulder for a minute. "But there's room for improvement."
"Of course there is," he echoed sarcastically, but he grinned amusedly at the other. "Are you free tomorrow?"
"Maybe." Alec untangled himself and attempted to look cross. "And why don't we bring Melanie along while we're at it? Us three, we'll have such a swell time—"
"She won't know where I'm going."
"She doesn't have to know," Alec countered. "She probably planted a GPS in your brain when you were sleeping."
"Scout's honor, Alec."
"You weren't a boy scout."
His face turned stubborn. "Yeah I was," he insisted. "My mom made me."
Adrian reached out and grasped his wrist, his teasing smile falling. "Alec!"
"I'll think about it—"
"Then that's a yes. Pick you up at three!"
Alec whipped around, alarmed, but Adrian had dashed away in time and caught up to Mikhail, shrugging off his costume coat and flinging it on one of the chairs. There was no helping that anymore; once Adrian set his mind on something, his decision hardly wavered again. I guess you can count that as perseverance, if you put it in a nice way, Alec thought.
He wandered to the far corner, checking behind the stacked boxes for whoever Ellen said had called. "Hello?"
Alec whistled a short note. "If no one's here, I'm just gonna—aah—mmph!"
He barely had any time to react when the hand reached out and covered his mouth, grabbing him behind the curtains. Right next to his ear, a low voice growled, "Stay quiet and I'll let you go."
The blond nodded, too frightened to oppose; he instantly backed up against the boxes when he was released, breathing hard. "W-who—"
"Haven't seen you in a while," the man mused. "You've grown up. Congratulations on the play, Alec." He produced a single rose from within his coat and offered it from his right hand, his lips cracking into a simper as he rolled the last word off his tongue. Half of his face was obscured by the shadows and his hat; Alec took note that his left arm he kept hidden behind his back.
Alec didn't move. "Who are you?"
"I don't suppose you would care to remember me. Your friend gave me this little slit on my throat." He traced the line with a finger, scowling. "She did worse to my hand, but you wouldn't know that."
"I-I don't understand—"
The man chuckled darkly, lifting Alec's chin with his good hand. "I'm not supposed to talk to you, as were my orders, but I'd hate to see your pretty face scarred. I offer you a choice: come with me, and answer all the questions I ask, or stay and watch your friends and parents get hunted down like animals."
"You're crazy!" Alec slapped his wrist away. "Y-you wouldn't dare do something like that!"
"I wouldn't," he agreed. "I won't touch a hair on your friends or parents, and neither will my boss. We don't have to."
Footsteps echoed on the wooden planks, followed by someone calling for him. "Alec! Alec, where'd you go?"
Alec flinched as the man tucked the rose behind his ear, stepping backwards towards the open exit. Night air flowed in from the outside and blew his bangs astray. The rain had stopped, leaving behind a damp, musky smell. "Think about it, Alec."
Evangeline poked her head in the curtains curiously, blinking at Alec in a befuddled manner. "Nice flower," she said. "You ready to go?"
He tentatively laid his hand on his ear, his fingers brushing against petals before he threw it down. "…Yeah, I'm ready."
December 3, 1980, World Meeting room, 6:32 P.M…
"…and we will stop here for now. We'll continue the meeting next Friday, same time."
America watched Germany shuffle his papers as an eager Italy held on to his arm, chattering about pasta and Spain and cats; normally Germany would shake him off, but he did nothing of the sort. He even looked like he was listening (okay, half-listening) to what the brunette was spewing out.
As slow as some might call him, America already knew that France and England were together. Sure, England almost seemed to have expected him to fuss about it, but he didn't. He was a hero, and right now, the heroes had to get their priorities straightened and fight back against the rising forces of communism (mainly Russia, the creepy bastard) before the world disintegrated under commie regime.
England seemed happier, though most of the time he appeared more aggravated by France's streaking habits than not. It was really too bad he wasn't the one making the Brit smile, America thought.
As nations filed out of the meeting room, America remained in his spot, acting as if he was leafing over the documents that had been gone over today. France had looked especially spirited when he led England out of the room, despite swears and protests being flung at him. Ah, well, it was Friday. Maybe he had something ridiculous planned, like a romantic escapade that America knew England pretended to hate—
"America?" ventured a voice. "May I have a moment?"
His heart skipped a beat. "Goddammit, Braginski. Don't sneak up on people." At least the commie and him were no longer on first-name basis. America stuffed the files back into his briefcase and pushed his chair in, hinting that he was leaving and didn't want to talk. "What do you want?"
"I believe my boss has requested a meeting with you, seeing as there are some matters that we should go through." He raised an eyebrow. "Are you free right now?"
"If you're asking me out, it ain't working." He grabbed his overcoat and slung it over his shoulder. "Whatever your boss wants, that's his problem. Why don't you tell him to leave a message at the front desk—"
America had hardly gone a few steps before Russia called out, "What if it wasn't my boss who wanted to talk with you?"
"…What are you saying?" He didn't turn around, lest show Russia how red his face had gotten.
"What if I was asking you out?"
"I—" Dammit, what was he doing? "Piss off."
A loud cheer erupted outside, and down the hall America saw France pull a clearly embarrassed England into a kiss, Japan and Hungary snapping pictures at warp speed, and nations clapping and offering their congratulations. America caught sight of a glimmer on England's left hand before the crowd closed in and blocked his view.
He was silent, then, "No funny business, Braginski."
Russia blinked. "Excuse—"
"How many times do you want me to say it?" America grumbled, thoroughly flustered. "One drink, that's it."
A smile crept up. "I am not sure I under—"
"Dammit, Braginski, I don't have all day! Take it or leave it!"
"Very well," he said, beaming delightedly, "Alfred."
December 31, 1981, England's office, 7:12 P.M…
England was twirling his fountain pen in one, concentrating on his planner until the words started to blur. Dinner with Francis, 8:00, was circled many times, with the name Francis scratched out and replaced by 'frog'. He laid his cheek on the other side of the planner, staring at nothing in particular. He had reached the last page of the calendar, and as a product of his boredom he had scribbled out, The Future, in the corner of the paper, decorated with little fairies and a doodle of a unicorn.
The door opened and his assistant walked in, bearing a bunch of letters. "Mr. Kirkland, please excuse me—"
The Brit snapped back upright, closing his planner with a slap and busied himself with a pile of papers that happened to be handily located to his right. "Ah, yes, Charles…I was just…working."
"Alright, sir. This is the mail today," he explained, placing them in neat stacks on England's desk. "These are all from the Parliament—"
"Shouldn't Kate have checked them first?" he asked, referring to the front desk.
"She went home early," Charles said. "Her father's birthday is today, I believe…"
"I see…" England tapped the second pile. "And these?"
"From Mr. Matthew Williams. And these are sent by Mr. Jones's boss."
"Doesn't Alfred do anything by himself?" England said, frowning in disapproval. "Pushing responsibilities onto other people…"
"His boss has informed us that Mr. Jones is in…" He squinted at his clipboard. "Russia, it says. Diplomatic trip."
"Diplomatic trip my arse," England muttered, but there was a hint of humor present in his tone. "What else?"
"That's it, Mr. Kirkland," the assistant said. "Have fun on your dinner with Mr. Bonnefoy."
England started to cough, having choked on his own sentence. "How—how do you know that?"
"Mr. Bonnefoy himself phoned us as a reminder."
Bloody frog. "I-is that so? What else did he say?"
"Not much, sir. Is there anything else, Mr. Kirkland?"
"N-no. Thank you, Charles."
His assistant nodded farewell and excused himself, leaving England to slump back on his chair. Who would've thought it'd have come to this? England mused. Russia and Alfred. Next thing you know they'll be having kids or something.
Into his mind popped up a very vague image of two teenagers, the two sporting a blend of both America and Russia's traits. And strangely, he had difficulty recalling where and when he'd seen these faces. At last, he just resigned to the fact that his imagination must be shooting up for him to even conjure up a picture of future Russia-America hybrids. His eyes wandered to his reopened planner, landing on the page he'd been scrawling on.
As for the future…
December 31, 1988, restaurant in Italy, 8:12 P.M…
Italy gazed gladly at Germany, practically bouncing in his seat. They were in a restaurant in Italy, dining on the rooftop. Each table was relatively far apart, so the soft chitchat from the other patrons were kept at a dim hum. The candlelight illuminated Italy's face, lighting up his smile. "It isn't often you ask me out for dinner, Germany!" He looked down at his plate shyly then. "Thank you, ve…"
"It's the end of the year, I thought we might celebrate."
"Of course!" Italy said brightly. "We should celebrate that Spain proposed to my fratello, and that he said yes! You know, after fratello slapped him and cried, that is."
We should be celebrating that Romano moved to Spain's house for good, Germany thought. Not that he wasn't staying there four times a week already. "I suppose—"
"Spain was so happy, ve! He even picked fratello up like he did a long time ago, but then he had to set him down because fratello was trying to tear out his face…" Italy shrugged, then sighed contently. "I heard that Kiku is dating Greece. And that Gilbert is with Canada!"
"Bruder? He never told me this."
"I'm sure he will. Later." Italy idly twirled the pasta on his fork, staring elsewhere. "Everyone is so changed…"
Germany gave him a steady look. "We won't change," he said determinedly.
"Hm?" Italy turned back, his attention diverted. "Oh, I wasn't talking about that."
Italy picked up his wineglass delicately and looked longingly into the red liquid. "Nothing is forever, Germany. But thank you for telling me this." He grinned. "After all, if Ludwig is here with me, I'm happy."
Italy's joyous expression was familiar, comforting, and it reminded him of a nameless little girl from seemingly centuries ago. The memory was always misty and distorted whenever it happened to come up. He would dream himself wearing a dark cloak, meeting with a girl that bore an uncanny resemblance to Italy.
For now, he raised his glass to Italy. "Cheers."
He would not know this, but in three years, he would recall the scene more clearly, until he could hear the girl call his other name and promise him that she'd be waiting for him to come back.
On that day, he will propose to Italy. Not as a country, not as Holy Roman Empire.
February 21, present, Aloisa's home, 12:10 P.M…
Aloisa could hear her uncle arguing with Felicita's mom (God knows why they kept coming over to eat) downstairs, yelling about who could use the kitchen first. Then came a crash and a splatter, followed by Ludwig's deafening roar and her name.
As for the future…
Her desk was cluttered with schoolwork and scattered papers; photos were taped on the wall, one of them being the one from when she was little—they were at the beach, Gilbert had forced some poor passerby to take the picture and then made several copies of it; he was pulling the corners of Ludwig's mouth into an awkward smile, like a Jack-o'-Lantern. Feliciano was chortling at the three, while Aloisa dug her hands into Ludwig's hair and messed it up. She hadn't thought much about the picture before.
"I'm coming!" She tossed the documents her parents had given her back into the yellow file, slipping it under her history textbook.
…well, who knows.