Running his fingers through his hair, America looked in the mirror before splashing some water on his palm and attempting to force Nantucket to lie down flat; every time he'd thought he finally had it, the stubborn cowlick popped right back up again. He sighed. "Okay. I can do this. I'm the friggin' United States of America—I can handle a little something like this. I will not freak out. It's just like the World Conference, only… completely freaking different."

Dejectedly, he sulked out of the bathroom and sat down at the kitchen table, dropping his head onto it as Tony patted him on the back.

"I'm screwed."

On the way to his 'meeting,' he tried not to white-knuckle the steering wheel, opting instead to work on his greeting. He really couldn't decide between something fun, like, "'Sup? Name's Alfred," or something a little more serious, like, "Morning. I'm Alfred."

Once he'd parked his car, he began the most nerve-wracking trek inside of a building he'd ever had to experience, giving himself a quick pep talk after passing through the main set of doors and heading toward the room he'd been assigned to.

After one last mental motivation, he pushed the door open.

The last thing he'd been expecting was a room filled with kids that couldn't have been more than a couple of years younger than he was (biologically, anyway. He highly doubted any of them were even close to two-hundred and thirty). Oh crap oh crap oh crap oh crap… "Good morning. I'm Mr. Jones, your substitute teacher."

Oh, the formality. He mentally slapped himself, continuing with, "You can just call me Alfred, though."

A girl in the front row raised her hand and, after being prompted by America, asked, "How old are you? You barely look any older than I am."

Aw, fuck. How the hell was he supposed to answer that? "Um, I'm…" Think, dude, think! "…nineteen. But I'm the world's best when it comes to my history."

"What do you mean, 'your history?'" a redheaded kid from the back piped up, resting his chin in his hands.

He blinked, readjusting Texas over his eyes before walking over to the door and peeking out, sticking his head out to check for anyone coming. Closing the door again, he went back to standing in the front center of the room. "England will kill me for telling you this, but…" Now or never, bro. "…I'm the personification of the United States of America."

The class stared at him as though he'd grown an extra head. Finally, a girl with long black hair, icy blue eyes and braces said, "Are you on an acid trip?"

That would be the reason he was always advised not to tell his citizens who he really was. "Uh, no. I'm seriously America." Having had enough of the strange looks, he jumped into a full and proper explanation of the whole 'countries being people' spiel, even delving into some American history in the midst.

Needless to say, by the end of his speech the entire class not only believed him, but was suddenly more interested in US History than ever before. The redhead from before (whose name was Vince, as America had learned) shot his hand up in the air and asked, "In your opinion, what point in history was the worst or most difficult for you?"

He pondered this. The Civil War was a pain in the ass, but was overcome fairly quickly; the Great Depression fucking sucked, but the world learned to deal with it; and World War II was tough only because of Germany, damn it. "Probably the Revolutionary War," he replied, thinking back to what had happened during that time. "Separating from England was one of the toughest things I've ever had to do."

Ashley (the first girl that had asked a question) cocked her head to the side and furrowed her eyebrows, lips pursed. "I don't understand," she said confusedly, eyebrows lessening their distance from each other with every passing moment. "England was taxing you without any representation, and overall he was a bit of a douche. Why would it be hard to separate?"

Fiddling with the hem of his bomber jacket, he answered, "Well, England was my big brother. Way back when, long before I was even a colony, England and France fought over who was going to be my guardian—whose colony I was going to be. As you know, England won in the end, and France took Canada instead."

"If he was your big brother, why did he act like such an ass?" one of the kids from the second row, Alex, wondered.

A moment was spent figuring out to explain it to the class before America opened his mouth again, going into the 'growth' of countries and how fast he himself had grown, which startled England and caused him to enact policies in an attempt to keep him down. "I think he was just jealous because I was taller than him," he finished with a laugh.

"Do you still hate each other?"

He shook his head. "No, but I wouldn't classify us as 'on good terms,' either. We still have some reconciling to do. Anyway—" The bell signaling the end of the class period cut him off, and he bid goodbye to the students before sitting down at the teacher's desk and pulling out his cell phone. I have him on speed dial. Should I…?

Taking a deep breath, he held down the '2' button and patiently waited for the other line to be picked up. "What is it, America?" a slightly peeved, British accent-laced voice asked with a sigh.

"I'm sorry."

"For what?"


"…as am I."