Alfred burst through the doors in Russia's manor. The guards had stopped him for a moment, checked his papers and he hit the gas. Dawn's rental car was sitting in the driveway but there was no sign of Dawn herself. America swallowed. She was supposed to be home two days ago. It had taken three days to convince his boss to let him go after her. Alfred was going to have words with the man later. Obama didn't realize that Alaska was as much of a child to Alfred as Sasha and Malia were to him. He had to protect his kids, even if it meant running off when there was lots of work to do. But there Alfred was, running as if his life depended on it. He had just jumped out of the car as soon as he parked, nearly ripping the key out of the ignition. So who cares if he might have to replace it later for nearly destroying it? Alaska was worth a little more than a car.
He kicked the door down. Toris, who had been on the stairs when he kicked it open, squeaked in surprise when he saw Alfred burst into the room. He nearly dropped the tea tray in his hands but America was quicker. He dashed to the other nation's side and caught it. Lithuania expected America to joke that he just rescued him from certain disaster, but America wasn't playing games at the moment. There was no amusement on his face as he looked up at the startled Lithuanian nation in front of him. The brunet flinched away from Alfred. He felt his mouth go dry, because he had seen that look before – that look of protective insanity. It was the same look that Russia got whenever someone made the mistake of mentioning the former Soviet Union and how much power it had originally had way back when.
"Toris, where is she?" America demanded.
"Alaska!" Alfred snapped, "Where is Alaska?"
Toris shivered at the dark tone in Alfred's voice. He hadn't heard that tone since the communism scare during the Cold War. It was a terrifying trip to the past and something that Lithuania did not want to repeat. Alfred was beyond paranoid back then. That look had returned to his eyes, making the other nation tremble. While Alfred had been a good friend throughout the years, he was hard to deal with when he was like that. Well, actually, that would be a lie. Alfred was hard to deal with at any point in his life. It took a tactical hand and a well practiced patience in order to deal with him that very few actually managed to achieve. One would think that England or someone who had known Alfred for a very long time would have been able to manage the man but it wasn't like that in the slightest. No one could manage Alfred except for his States – his children if you would.
"U-Upstairs… In h-her room… Third on the ri-right…"
Alfred nodded. He handed Toris the tea tray and ran off. He tore down the hallways, as if the devil himself were after him. He just had to get to Dawn no matter what. Russia was not to be trusted in the slightest. He feared for his State. In a way his States were his children, each a little part of him that was running around in the world, working in the government to help him. He nearly grinned as he recalled introducing England to all fifty States at once. His face had been priceless but other than that, Alfred kept his States to himself. Sure, Antonio was close with Florida and Francis helped Alfred keep a firm hand on Louisiana when he first adopted the State, but he tried to keep the other countries away from his States, hence the war with Mexico over Texas. Alfred still had scars from the Alamo that refused to heal. And he sure as hell wasn't going to forgive Mexico for killing Davy Crocket that day either. Actually, it was a sore subject for either nation since neither had let it go yet.
"Ru-Russia's with her!" Toris called.
That made Alfred's blood boil just to think of Russia being in Alaska's room with her. Then it hit him like a ton of bricks. They were alone. Lithuania was downstairs and he knew that Lativa and Estonia were getting ready for the next World Meeting. He doubled his pace. Dawn should have known better than to have stayed alone with Russia. The commi might have tried to sway her to his side, brainwashed her or something as equally evil. Alfred growled at the very thought. His anger was pulsing with his heartbeat, swelling like some wave. However, the wave of his anger was not going to be held back by any floodgates humanly, or nationly, possible. If one hair was touched on Dawn's head, Alfred would tear Ivan limb-from-limb, peace keeping and possible wars be damned because no one hurts his States.
He burst into the room. Dawn and Russia jumped and they looked up in alarm, practically expecting someone to have come in with a gun but they looked in relief when they saw it was just America. The two had been simply sitting in two arm chairs by the fire. There had been cards in their hand. At first, Alfred assumed Russian Roulette but there wasn't a gun in sight. In fact, both looked surprised and highly disappointed that their game had been interrupted. But instead of letting it bother them the two just stared at Alfred, waiting for him to say something. However, Alfred's brain was mush. He just stood there, gaping like a fish. Dawn just turned to face Russia, placing her cards down on the table. She had a decent hand, maybe even one to beat Russia but Alfred had no idea what card game he just walked in on. But if he wasn't mistaken it was just a game of Go Fish. There wasn't anything dangerous about Go Fish.
"He came for me," Dawn said, "I win the bet."
Russia smiled. He reached into his coat pocket and pulled out some Rubles. Dawn took the money with a smile. She pocketed the money before getting out of her seat. She walked over to her father. Alfred felt weak at the knees. So much for his impressive entrance, scaring Russia, taking Dawn back and being on his merry way. In every single comic book, movie or story, the damsel was supposed to be in distress, the hero – that was him – rushes in, saves the day, defeats the villain and they all lived happily ever after, aside from the villain of course. No one cared what happened to the bad guy after he either went to jail or died for whatever cause he was fighting for, which was nine times out of ten wrong because the hero was the one in the right, because he was the hero! Heroes were never wrong. However, Alfred found himself in one of those outlier situations, the situation that didn't match the pattern of those that came before it. He was under prepared for this, but he wasn't going to let that stop him. He was a hero! Heroes never gave up!
"I… Don't understand," Alfred choked out.
Dawn laughed. She took Alfred's arm and led him towards the fire, towards Russia. Alfred tried to pull away but even as a State, Dawn had a nation's strength. She forced him to sit down in a chair, close to the fire but not too close to Russia. She may have liked both Alfred and Ivan but she knew they wouldn't get along just because of her, or put aside their differences because she asked them to. They would continue to harbor anxious relations between the two of them. For the most part, as nations they were rather neutral about one another now, however, as people they still disliked each other immensely. Dawn would be the first person to admit the hyper active Nation was missing a few screws, four or five crayons, and a whole lot of pancakes. And that wasn't even the beginning of it. She didn't even want to delve into Russia's issues. However, both seemed to realize that this meant a lot to her so they were tolerating one another. But she knew if she left the room they would be at each other's throats in a heartbeat.
"Dad, I didn't come home because there was a snow storm," Dawn said, "We were snowed in. Ivan let me stay here for the night."
"B-But… You could have called me!" Alfred shouted.
Dawn held up her cell phone. She wiggled it back and forth. Alfred caught sight of the IPhone he bought her for her last birthday. She had yet to get an upgrade, which in a way made him feel touched that she kept it, but also slightly offended because she hadn't upgraded to the next level up. Upgraded phones were important. Alfred himself had to have the newest of the new technology on the market. New York, Maryland and California were all the same. Maryland possessed them more or less because she had to have the newest gadgets for all the legal work she did in the capital and it was just easier for her to access all that information through the newer technology. Dawn just used what she had because she really didn't see the need to upgrade without a reason. She had no reason as of the moment. Her phone still worked and she really didn't want to grow accustomed to using a new phone. It was just one of her personal preferences. She knew it was a strange habit but she did that as a person, not a State.
Alfred felt all of the anger seeping out of him. He wasn't sure what he was supposed to feel at the moment. So instead, he shifted in his chair. He wasn't sure what to do with Russia in the room. Sure, he and Ivan pretended to get along in front of their bosses, but really the two hated one another. They were allowed to. They were partially human as well so there were nations who hated one another, despite the fact they had good political ties. Look at England and France, they were the best to say they had a good relationship politically, but the two absolutely hated one another with such a deep and utter passion. But there really wasn't anything to do aside from let things run their course. So America sat back, though tensely. He was ready to reach for the handgun in the breast pocket of his coat at any time. And he was sure Russia had that damned pipe of his somewhere around the room. After all, the man never left without that pipe.
"Relax, comrade, I made sure that my pilots were going to give her a direct flight home, da," Russia informed America.
"But that's not until after lunch," Dawn reminded the other nation.
Ivan nodded. Alfred grimaced. He would really rather not stay for lunch but the look in Dawn's eyes made it impossible for him to say no to her. She just looked so happy, so pleased that things were 'going well' that Alfred couldn't say no. The things he did for his States, honestly. Now he knew how Arthur felt when Alfred was a kid. Granted, Arthur really only had a few kids to look after at a time, Alfred had fifty plus all of the territories that he managed. Being a superpower was hard work, but America fit the job perfectly because he was a hero, after all. But even now, he was still apprehensive about staying for lunch in the home of someone he had a war with. Well, actually, it was just because it was Russia and because of their history together. Sure, bygones were bygones but some of the things they did just couldn't be swept under the rug and forgotten about. Just like how Matthew could never forgive Alfred for forgetting him all the time.
"I… I just…"
Dawn smiled. It was like Alfred's brain had imploded in his head. She could practically see steam fizzling out of his red ears. All logical thought left the man, but really there wasn't much to begin with sometimes. As scatterbrained as Alfred was, she wouldn't change him for the world. He was a good parent and a good friend, loyal, kind and daring. She was shier. In fact, she probably would have stayed to herself had not Alfred introduced her to Canada and his Providences. She was good friends with Canada's 'children' as well as her brother and sister States. However, her dad could act so childishly some times. She almost felt like she was the parent and he was the child. She knew that Maryland and Virginia sometimes felt the same way. But there were times where Alfred's wisdom was able to shine through. She just smiled at her father.
"Deal again?" Russia asked.
She nodded, gathering up all the cards on the table. Then she started to shuffle through them, making sure to mix them up properly so no one got a 'stacked' hand. America just sat slumped in the seat next to her. She smiled at the man, trying her best not to laugh at the completely drained expression on his face. She was glad that Alfred came for her. It meant that he cared. She and Russia had only made the bet to make the evening lively. And the snow did come in rather heavily, far too heavily for her to drive in because her rental wasn't suited for driving in snow. Russia offered to take her to the airport, but she didn't want him driving in the weather either. So she ended up staying the night. It was a nice thing for Russia to do for her. It just so happened, that Lithuania was also visiting Russia at the same time much to Dawn's delight. So he offered to make lunch before Alfred burst through the door. Dawn sighed. Alfred must have given Toris quite the shock. She just hoped that her dad didn't do anything rash to scare the nation. She rather liked Lithuania.
She started shelling out cards. Lithuania walked into the room, carrying lunch. He now had an extra plate and an extra cup. Dawn smiled. She added another hand, just for Toris to join along with them. It was nice to get to play cards with the people she cared about. She didn't get to spend a lot of time with Alfred anymore because he was just so busy. In fact, when he did come to her house it was to talk politically about drilling for oil on her land but she constantly refused because if he did that her land would be irreparable after he was done. It would damage her lands and it would damage her. She couldn't allow his actions to hurt her wildlife. It would only be a little bit of oil. She wasn't willing to kill the wildlife for just a few years of oil. She shook her head. If she started thinking of that she might just grow weepy or at least angry enough to start snapping at everyone. It really depended on how she felt that day. She was pretty sure she would cry today, but she didn't want to do that, not in front of her friends and family.
"You always do this. You do things without thinking," Dawn said.
"It's called winging it."
She sighed in exasperation. Toris, who had picked up his stack of cards, was hiding a smile behind it. He looked nervously over at Ivan, who was actually chuckling. Trust America to do something stupid and brush it off. But that was also some sort of the man's charm. The only reason he worked so hard was because he strove to make himself noticed by the other nations, even if it meant being absolutely obnoxious, sticking his nose where it didn't belong or even trying to fight in wars that were really none of his concern. Sure he threw his weight around a lot but he was he just wanted to be recognized. Dawn smiled at her dad. The man was truly something different. But she wouldn't change him. None of the States would, well, except for the spending habits his boss and his boss' co-workers tended to have but that was a joint problem. Alfred had no control over how the money was spent and all of the States could see how much it was really devastating him to see the economy suffer as much as it was. Ohio said that America came over one night, sobbing his heart out to her, apologizing over and over, saying he was such a bad person and an even worse parent. Tennessee offered to bring some moonshine over but Kentucky thought better of it since Alfred was almost as drunk as Arthur could get.
"One day, winging it is going to backfire on you," Dawn said.
"Well, that day hasn't arrived yet," Alfred replied.
Lunch was peaceful for the most part. Toris even joined them. They had some Russian dishes and small sandwiches that Toris had made at the very last second. Alfred didn't dare touch the Russian food. Ivan didn't dare touch the sandwiches. Alaska couldn't have been happier. Honestly, Alfred was just glad to see that smile on her face. Ivan seemed pretty cool with everything too. However, the sooner Alfred got out of there the better. Relations with Russia had been and always would be tense. But it was time to head out. Dawn stood at Alfred's side looking at Ivan. Toris smiled and she hugged him tightly, missing him greatly already. He always had been so kind to her when she was just a little territory. She missed him and the other Baltics but she wasn't alone anymore. In fact, her visit had brought a smile to her face and a skip to her step. She felt so much better than she had in years. It was just because of one little visit.
"It was nice to see you," Dawn said.
"Da, you can come over whenever you like, Alaska," Ivan told her.
She smiled and stepped forward, hugging the large nation. Alfred shifted slightly. He didn't know how he felt about her hugging his arch rival but he didn't say anything because he honestly didn't want to hurt Alaska's feelings. When she pulled away, Dawn looked over at America. In her eyes he saw something and cringed. He knew he would have to play nice with Ivan because of that look. He shifted anxiously. He looked down, rubbing the back of his neck. He felt very much like a child being scolded by his mother if he didn't do something nice. He looked up at Ivan, feeling disgust rolling in his stomach. He shook his head. He was a hero. He had done much worse in his many years as a nation. Surely, he could suck it up for a minute and at least pretend to be nice for Alaska's sake. She had put up with him many times. But she had also used him many times, for example when one of her Senators used Congress to build a bridge to an island that only housed one family, but she actually had nothing to do with that because it was just one Senator.
"Er… Thanks for taking care of her," America said, offhandedly.
"Nyet," Russia disagreed, "Thank you, comrade…"
The two of them stood awkwardly for a moment. Then they shook hands, firmly, as if trying to break the other's hand. But then they instantly let go, not wanting to have to touch one another any longer than they had to. Then the two of them just stood there, awkwardly glaring at one another as darkly as they could. Dawn and Toris exchanged looks. Then Alaska laughed. She wrapped her arm around Alfred's shoulder. She wanted to get out of there before Alfred's tolerance level of Ivan skyrocketed and the United States would no longer take it. It would be highly unfortunate if America tried to declare war on Russia. It might even escalade to a WWIII. Alaska didn't want that on her head. The whole world would hate her if it ever came to that, especially some of the European countries. Everyone kept predicting Germany to start the third world war, but with the rate things were going the war on terror was going to escalade sooner or later. She swallowed nervously.
"We should be going… New York is going to pitch a fit that I wasn't there at his party last night," Dawn said.
Russia leaned forward and kissed Dawn on the forehead. She blinked in surprise. The older nation just smiled at her, kindly. The tenderness and kindness behind the action was surprising everyone who was standing near him. He wasn't exactly what the other nations would refer to as a 'gentle' giant, considering his history and how bloody it was in the past. The Romanov family was a fine example of that sort of behavior. The family was taken away from their homes and then shot. Because the young princesses had jewels sewn into their clothes – for the sake of having money should they ever have to flee from the country – they slowly started to bleed to death. But when their attackers saw the bullets bouncing off Bolsheviks stabbed them with the bayonets. When that did not work they shot each of the little girls in the head at point blank. Or at least that was one of the theories. People still hoped that little Anastasia had gotten away. The best imposter of the young princess was Anna Anderson. She contended that she had feigned death amongst the bodies of her family members and servants, and was able to make her escape with the help of a compassionate guard who rescued her from amongst the corpses after noticing that she was still alive.
But later, in 2008, a Russian scientist did a test on bodies found away from the rest of the royal family, proving that it was one of the Grand Duchesses. Anastasia was found at last. The bodies of her family had been found and it was assumed that Anastasia or her sister Maria had escaped. However, that was not true. August 23, 2007, a Russian archaeologist announced the discovery of two burned, partial skeletons at a bonfire site near Yekaterinburg. Anastasia's body was burned and charred with the body of Tsarevich Alexei, her brother. While the bodies of the Grand Duchesses could not be identified, it was assumed that the body with Alexei was Anastasia because it fit her build but it also could have fit Maria's, however, all the bodies managed to prove through DNA testing was that the entire Romanov family died that night. Alaska remembered how sad she had been when she knew how much that family meant to Russia. She had met the family once, only because America had business near Russia but Alaska was forbidden from seeing Russia. America never really did trust Alaska, except during the Civil War when England and France supported the South and Russia supported the North.
"Be good for Amerika, da?"
She smiled. Normally it was supposed to be the other way around. Everyone always told Alfred to be good to his States, England especially. But they did it with reason, because everyone knew how America was. England always was a pretty good guy, except for when he came to Alfred's birthday party completely wasted. One of the former colonies always had to take him back across the 'pond' and to his home. However, they did not complain. It was better than the one year when France tried to take him back home. The States still shivered whenever Alfred brought it up, even if he was joking about it. Alaska knew she would never be able to look at France the same way ever again. She most certainly did not want to be caught alone, drunk or high in his presence. But when he wasn't trying to molest people he was actually a very nice man. The States just had to catch him at the right time, or wait until Louisiana was around. France still had a huge soft spot for the nation, especially after Katrina when he couldn't walk around and had to either be carried around or wheeled around in a wheelchair.
"Da…" Ivan sighed, "You do not need to worry about taking the other rental car back. I will do it myself."
"Are you sure?" Alaska asked.
He pat her on the head. He held out his hands expectantly. She sighed and fished her rental car keys out of her pocket. Before she could protest the keys were gently eased out of her hands. She was pouting slightly. However, Ivan just chuckled, a rich and deep sound that made someone wonder his age. It could have passed for someone of barely twenty but it also could have passed for someone who was thirty. It surprised Alfred because all America had ever heard of laughter from Russia was his creepy childish giggle and the occasional 'kol' – though Alfred doubted the 'kol' was actually supposed to be laughter. But then again America never did understand Russia. He probably never would understand Russia. Toris smiled over at Alaska. She looked at him, slightly exasperated but still smiling at the way the two super nations were acting.
"Run along, little one…" Ivan ordered.
She turned and started to walk away. America started to move to but he heard Ivan sigh. The sound only caught Alfred's interest because it actually sounded almost depressed, broken, and dejected. He turned around, half expecting some stupid remark from the other nation but there was a look that made America looked at him in surprise. Ivan was watching her with a sort of saddened longing, like the parents Alfred had watched, taking their children to college for the first time, which Alfred had done for his States, at least once or twice each so they could learn more about the humans they were supposed to be representing, plus, what better way to learn about political sciences than through the colleges that they were also a part of. Dawn was none the wiser. Alfred nearly smiled. They said he couldn't read the atmosphere. He knew well enough to know that Russia was sad about letting Dawn go back to the States, even if that was where she belonged now, whether Russia wanted her back or not.
"She's all grown up now…" Ivan muttered.
"Yeah, they do that sometimes…" America said, "Trust me… I would know…"
Especially considering how many States he had. Watching the States grow older and older was tough for Alfred, even with the adopted ones he had like Hawaii, Alaska and Texas, just to name a few. Just thinking about Texas made Alfred shift his glasses. Ivan smiled, though it wasn't his creepy smile that normally made people scoot away from him. This one was creepy but in a different way, maybe because it was with the rarity of a real smile. Alfred just stared at him, waiting for Russia to say something because obviously the man had something on his mind or else he would have let America go without a word further. Alfred just wanted to get home. He was craving McDonalds like a pregnant woman craved peanut butter, pickles and ice cream. Then he shook his head. That was a really bad comparison. He wasn't pregnant.
"I do not regret letting you take her," Ivan said, "She is happier now… It was for the better."
America looked out to see Alaska standing by his rental car. She tilted her head to the side, looking like the perfect picture of winter, dressed warmly in a winter coat that Oregon had given her the year before. She also had a scarf and hat given to her by Washington for her birthday. Her little black boots were barely visible in the snow that had rolled in. She did think Alfred's car was larger than hers. It was an SUV after all and compared to her tiny little four door car, his was more likely to get through the snow and the ice easier. Alfred turned to her and clicked the lock on his key. The door unlocked and his State climbed into the car. Her cheeks were already turning pink because of the tinting cold that was reaching her. Snow was, after all, the only thing she really had left with Alaska anymore so she enjoyed spending time in it, however she knew when to go inside and when to go out.
"Yeah… You're right…" Alfred said, "But don't worry. I'll keep taking good care of her."
Ivan smiled tightly. He reached into his jacket, pulling something out, just to show Alfred he still had that lead pipe of his. Alfred wrinkled his nose. In his coat pocket he had a gun. It was pressing against his chest and he was tempted to bring it out to show he was also armed but Lithuania was there, so was Alaska. They could get hurt if Russia and America would start to fight, especially with as violently as Alfred and Ivan went after each other. That was a threat if he ever heard one. But then again a conversation with Russia without an insult was like a World Meeting where France didn't strip naked and Italy did not ask for pasta. It only happened once, because somehow Canada duck taped France's clothes to him, to which everyone wondered where he got the duck tape. Italy did not ask for pasta because it was in Italy's home and he had some brought to him during the meeting.
"Whatever… I'm out of here! I can't be caught with a commie like you!"
"Ah, yes, the hero cannot ruin his reputation."
"Fuck off you commie bastard!"
Russia yanked Lithuania inside the home almost violently. Lithuania, unfortunately or not, was used to this sort of behavior but since the fall of Soviet Russia he found that Russia wasn't as bad as he thought, so long as Lithuania did not spend large extended periods of time with Ivan. Ivan paused for a moment before giving Alfred a scathing look that practically screamed that Alfred better sleep with one eye open from now on. Alfred saw that look a lot during the Cold War. Honestly, what was he thinking with that war? He had just been so paranoid. The door was slammed shut as Alfred trailed down the steps. Alaska sat in the front seat of the car. But when she saw America lingering she got out, feeling concerned. She rushed over to him, leaving footprints in the snow behind her. Alfred just smiled and let her grip his forearms. The worried look on her face was enough to warm his heart and make him forget about the snow for a moment. Right now he was just Alfred and she was Dawn. There was no America for a moment and Alaska was the furthest thing from his mind. He was just a father with his little girl.
"What were you talking about, dad?" Alaska asked.
America smiled. He reached towards his State and wrapped her in his arms. Dawn stood there for a moment. Then she buried her face in Alfred's neck. She didn't know why Alfred was hugging her so tightly but she shrugged and let it go. Alfred was Alfred. She didn't really want to question it. Besides, he didn't hug people often, despite what everyone would think. Sure, America was affectionate, but his standard of personal space was actually completely different from that of someone like Spain or France. In Spain, scientists did a study concluding that people there on average received about three hugs a day. And then there was the way some nations greeted one another by kissing them on the cheek that America simply did not do. But for now, Dawn decided just relishing the hug was a good thing. It was a good thing her other siblings weren't there to ruin the moment like they did on past family reunions or her birthday.
"Just talking, sweetie, we were just talking…" Alfred whispered.
OOC Russia is OOC! Ugh… I hate how this turned out… It just seemed that he would have one of those paternal moments… But then go back to being creeper Russia.
Okay, so I tried to mention as many States as could come up within the story and using facts that I knew were to be true. I didn't want to simply assume something. I normally would have tried to have squeezed all fifty in but honestly I didn't want to try to keep track of which ones I used and which ones I didn't, plus fifty states are a lot to do research on!