Dro: Written on a whim as I contemplated another potential America-centric multi-chapter fic. This is what I sometimes wonder about America.

Story Summary: Alfred contemplates the facade of idiocy he's always worn for the world and all the consequences associated with it. Unfortunately, the alternative just might be worse.

Warnings: Mildly disturbing concepts

Disclaimer: As usual, Dro has not acquired the rights to APH. And never will...

Alfred had never been the fool that the world made him out to be. He ignored the atmosphere because it kept him oblivious, and as he had learned in the past, ignorance was bliss. So in his ignorance, he had constructed a nest wherein his personality matured. And it was that personality that he allowed to override any other lingering sense of self. The America that the world was exposed to was the America Alfred had allowed himself to become. Nothing more. Nothing less.

Occasionally—very rarely—Alfred considered climbing out of that nest, back past the threshold of ignorance and out into the overcast brightness that was high-end intelligence and overtly matured emotion. But he would quickly banish most of these thoughts into the depths of his mind, past the door to ignorance, past the nest, and further into the deepest shadows of his thoughts. If Alfred had one desire in life, it was to be happy and free, both of which were incompatible with the level of understanding he sometimes desired.

He had learned the hard way in the past that tilting too much toward a semblance of intellectuality would inevitably cause his country to sway dangerously on its axis. So Alfred banished those thoughts away to that broom cupboard in the back of his mind. Out of necessity. Out of fear. Out of a voracious need to maintain his illusion of childlike innocence and selfishness. Because, he thought, if he did not maintain those things, the country that was America was known to be would surely cease to exist.

Alfred was not blind to the world around him. He took the snickers from the many nations who ridiculed him not so silently all in stride, knowing deep down they were all wrong about everything. Sometimes that made him snicker in return, which he would pass off as an obnoxious laugh to accompany some inane and ludicrous plan that he would force his brain to come up with. It was hard making things so ridiculous. It was an art, really. An art he absolutely detested.

He took Arthur's chastising and yelling and angry slurs and half-serious jabs with a grain of salt. Arthur was bitter. And he showed it even though the man tried to pass off most things as half-hearted jokes or true disdain for his former colony. Arthur would never hate him though. He knew that much. Unfortunately, he also knew it was the "idiot America" that Arthur would never hate. Alfred often imagined how quickly Arthur's feelings would devolve into resentment if he started acting like he could act, like if he would if that America could fit into the world. Yet another reason to play the fool.

The same thing went for everyone around the table. Even Matt. Even his own little brother. How quickly would Matthew shy away from him if he saw the true potential inside his brother? He would back away the same as the rest of the world would, Alfred knew. Because that is exactly what the world would do. A dumb America was the America everyone wanted. An America that was inept was an America that could be swayed and manipulated and bought out. An America that was anything else was a dangerous America, an America that could do those same things to them. And while Matt would not necessarily want to do any of those things, Alfred could still feel the potential fear there.

An adept America could easily breed adeptness within his people. And an adept American people could breed potential danger for every nation in the world, including their northern neighbor. An adept America, while more proficient and intelligent, also held the potential for more deeply engrained corruption. A stupid America with the sentiments of a extreme ideology could be swayed away from it like a temperamental child offered candy. A smart America with said ideology was a threat. A threat the world did not want or need. A threat the world feared so much that most of it would never even consider such a preposterous idea. Because, they assured themselves, Alfred was a fool, and he would stay that way, so they were safe.

There was—it was a mere possibility, now—one single person in the entire world who may have had an inkling of what lay behind the nest inside the ignorance of America's mind. And that single person in the entire world was Ivan Braginsky. He only had this possibility of an inkling because at one point in time—during the height of the maddening Cold War that Alfred would much rather forget—he'd slipped. Not completely. He'd caught himself in the midst of saying something incriminating to the existence of his intelligence, so he'd cut himself abruptly off and belted out another senseless curse at the looming Russian.

But Ivan had narrowed his violets. His pupils had glinted. Some new, foreign thought was being entertained by his brain now, something never seen before. And Alfred knew he had just nudged himself that much closer to a fate that would ultimately destroy him. From that point on, he had been extra careful around the Russian; if possible, he made himself even more of the idiot he was supposed to be. Anything to dissuade Russia from nurturing the seed that had been planted in his mind. He would starve that seed before it sprouted, no matter what the cost. If he could have, he would've ripped it right out of the Russian's mind—



"Have you even heard a single word I've said, you git?"

"Of course! I'm the hero! I hear everything!" Because he really was when it all came down to it, even if the rest of the world never understood why.

"Right then. So, what is my proposed solution to the crisis in—?"

"Who cares? It's time to break for lunch!" He pointed to the nonexistent watch on his wrist, pushed his chair out, and charged out of the room, laughing that God-awful obnoxious snicker-disguising-laugh that he'd been fooling the world with for his entire life.

The hero.

That was really what it all came down to, wasn't it?

The stupid America claimed he was a hero, but in reality, he was nothing but an arrogant fool. That was the shared sentiment of the world, wasn't it?

If only they knew, he mused, what he hid behind the nest within the chamber of ignorance in his brain. If only they knew, he mused, how stifling all his potential was saving them from the inevitable destruction they would all inadvertently face at his hands, even if he never raised a fist toward them. He wouldn't need to for most of them. Most would cower in fear, panic, and rashly retaliate. The world would quickly fall into chaos. And then they would heap the blame on him despite the fact he hadn't raised a single weapon or made a single hit. Because despite the fact that they would be dealing with a new and foreign America, it would still be America in their minds, and thus, they would blame him for everything.

The problem was that that new America would not take the blame sitting down. Whereas Alfred would laugh at the blame that was slapped in his face, the other America would not. The other America would take swift revenge in the cleverest of ways. He would use all their connections, all their misconceptions, all his gathered knowledge of their weakness—he knew so, so many—and he would crush them with it in one foul swoop. The nations of the world would crumble in an instant and…

And that was why that hidden thing behind the nest within the ignorance of Alfred's brain needed to stay that way. Hidden. He turned the faucet on. Cold. As cold as it would get. And he splashed it in his face. Again. And again. And again. And he turned it off and glanced at his reflection in the mirror.

And he froze.

For the briefest millisecond, Alfred could've sworn he saw it. He blinked several times, relief filling him as he watched it vanish and recede back to where it belonged. How had that happened? He wondered. How had he been so careless? He needed to be more vigilant. He had to keep it locked away in that dusty broom cupboard where it belonged, lest anyone inadvertently see it and set up the chain reaction of falling dominoes that would define the world if it got out.

Because that is what would happen. There was no doubt. The America defined by it would watch and wait and play all his cards right. He would do everything to assert the pieces would all land in his favor, even that meant taking out every nation around him. Because the America defined by it was not the America defined without it. Alfred would never dream of using Arthur or Matt for gain. No. No. Never. But the other Alfred that occasionally rattled the handle of that dusty broom cupboard…he wouldn't even bat an eyelash. He would do what put America ahead of the game. He would do only what was best for his country. Nothing more. Nothing less.

And in so doing, that America would destroy the world.

So, you see, in the end, Alfred truly was a hero. He let the idea sink in and take hold and grow and spread to encompass every other country's perception of him. For him, it was reality. For them, it was a baseless fantasy. And he wouldn't have it any other way. Because if they knew he was a hero, then they would know he was hiding it, and if they knew that, then, well…he would lose that hero status altogether.

So Alfred blinked a few more times, making sure it didn't resurface. It didn't. Relieved, he plastered on his idiot smile, ruffled up his idiot hair, adjusted his idiot jacket, and turned to head back out the bathroom door to face the world that believed he was the idiot he'd always pretended to be. And really, Alfred wouldn't have that any other way. Because despite the fact that he wanted nothing more than to desperately help his own country, despite the fact that he wanted those he loved to love him back—because as an idiot, he was adorable, not lovable—despite the fact that every single day it gnawed away at him more and more, despite the fact that he sat there and allowed tragedy after tragedy to befall the world when he could've prevented them using it…

…despite all those things, Alfred kept it hidden away.

Because he knew what would happen if he didn't.

He knew what would happen if he utilized it.

It. Knowledge. Intelligence. Reasoning.

If he utilized it, everything the idiot cared about would crumble into dust.

If he utilized it, everything the idiot loved would die.

If he utilized it, the idiot would die along with them.

And if there was anything Alfred loved more than what the idiot loved, it was the idiot, the idiot that had kept him alive for the last four centuries. It was the idiot he wanted to keep alive more than anything.

So he would kept it hidden away.

Even though doing so was slowly destroying him from the inside out.

Dro: I write such happy things, don't I?