Okay, my readers. This is it. The final chapter. At least, of this story. You're probably asking 'what's going to happen with the payback from the bet' and everything. Well...that's what sequels are for. XD So please, enjoy this long, last chapter.
Disclaimer: I do not own Hetalia, but I own my boys.
When they finally got out of the bathroom, they ran into England in the adjacent hallway.
"There you are," he said in relief, passing right by them and going to America, leaning up and kissing him gently. "You're all right, aren't you?"
"I'm fine. I promise, I'm fine," he said, wrapping his arms around his waist. They started to whisper together and the four of them decided that they should give the two of them some privacy. They wandered off some way down the hallway.
"So now what?" Alex asked. Theo thought for a moment, and then wondered why the hell he was thinking, and why Alex was asking, when it was obvious.
"We stick by him for the rest of our lives," Theo said.
"You know, Alex, for someone so smart you sure do ask some stupid questions," Nick observed. Alex glared at him.
"I was just asking. And anyway, someone has to ask the obvious."
"We have to make sure that America doesn't actually manage to drive himself crazy, like he already is," Jack said. They all turned to look at England and America. America looked sheepish when England looked positively livid and worried at the same time. He hit him and then kissed him deeply in quick succession.
"Good luck with that. It's not easy, I tell you. He drives me crazy sometimes," Canada said from somewhere behind them. They all jumped and turned again, to see Canada and France standing there.
"Well, there are four of us, so we can easily overpower him with sheer force of will," Alex said.
"We're also not going to give up on him anytime soon for anything as stupid as that," Theo said.
Canada and France exchanged glances.
"What?" Nick asked irritably, looking between the two of them. "Didn't expect four humans to be able to understand?"
Canada nudged France, hard, with his elbow. "Ow! Mathieu…"
"Francis," he hissed, glaring at him over his wire frame glasses. "You know what to do."
"Ah, yes… I must…apologize for what happened in D.C. and calling you 'humans'."
"Though I think that warning shot was enough to scare you off," Canada said wryly.
"Who even fired that?" Jack asked. "I thought it was coming from the tree…"
"It was coming from the tree. And who do you think fired it?" Canada asked them, and glanced over at his brother, who was still getting berated by England.
"…America fired it? He was in that tree that entire time we were there?" Alex asked.
Nick snorted. "Figures he would be there for that."
"Not like he could have revealed himself tous, though," Theo said. "We still had no idea what was going on."
"And even worse, he looked like, a nineteen year old," Jack said.
"He always looks like that," Nick said. "We have been over this, right?"
"But we didn't know that, and we still were ninety-year old men!"
"…We still are ninety-year old men," Nick said, incredibly amused. "We just look like nineteen year olds now."
"You know what I mean!" Jack yelled, exasperated and waving his hands in the air. Alex started to snicker. "And stop laughing, Alex. You wouldn't have believed him if he had decided to show himself then, you non-believer."
"Are you ever going to drop that? I'm a philosopher! I have reasonable doubt, damn it!"
"…Are they always like this?" France asked Theo.
"Who? I don't see anybody that I know right now, other than America. So you must be mistaken, because I don't have three friends who bicker like ten year olds," Theo said, glaring at them in quick succession.
"…Theo, you know you love us. Without us, your life would be incredibly boring," Nick said, grinning. Jack threw an arm around Theo's shoulders, matching Nick's mischievous grin.
"Anyway, Theo, who would you glare at?"
'My history students," Theo said, ducking under Jack's arm. "Though they were always more mature than you three."
"I hate to burst your bubble, but you are retired," Alex added. "You did remember that, or have you finally gone senile?"
"Are you seriously asking that?" Nick asked. "Really, Alex. Really," he gestured down at himself.
"It's a completely viable question. Maybe fairy magic doesn't work on senility."
"Non-believer. Fairy magic works on everything! Like people, illnesses, trees, rocks, blades of grass, little woodland creatures-"
"SHUT UP, JACK!"
"Mon dieu, they must be friends of Ameriqué. They are giving me a migraine," France said, pressing at his temples.
"If it would make you feel better, the snarky good-looking black haired one is actually bisexual, so-" France was over there in less than five seconds. "I didn't even finish the sentence!"
"Ah, mon cher," France said, leaning into Nick's personal space and taking his hand. "I didn't seem to catch your name."
"Am I being hit on in broad daylight?"
"It's the UN," Canada offered. "Nobody cares. There is illicit homosexual sex in the third floor broom closet."
"Well, at least that's good-Wait a minute. How did you know I was bisexual?" Nick shouted, shaking off France's hand. "And sorry, I don't date skeevy Frenchman. Really, you need to shave, and be less flashy. I already saw it all and I'm not particularly impressed."
"Oh, it was in your FBI file," Canada said, as France tried to stave off the heart failure from being so unceremoniously rejected. "I saw it after the entire tree debacle."
"It's in my FBI file? America!" Nick shouted. Jack peered up at the ceiling.
"…Do I dare ask?" Alex said, looking at him.
"I'm seeing if that shout broke any of the light bulbs. They are rather fragile things." That earned him a glare from Nick and a sigh of resignation from Theo.
"What, what? What's wrong?" America said, appearing from across the hall.
"The FBI knows I'm bisexual?"
"Well, yeah, it was in your file," America said. "Why?"
"How the hell do they know that!"
"Nick, it's the FBI. It's not that difficult to figure out," Alex said. "It's not an acronym of Federal Bureau of Investigation for nothing."
"…Thank you for your input, Captain Obvious!"
"What Alex said is basically it, Nick. If it makes you feel any better, they know all of your favorite bands, the size of shampoo you buy the most, your birthmarks, and the type of cereal that you like to eat and whether it's the type that gets the fun prizes or not," America said cheerfully. "I think that Captain Crunch always has the best prizes, but I like the crunch berries too."
"I like Captain Crunch!" Jack said. "Better than Lucky Charms."
"Lucky Charms is the best cereal on the planet," Alex said quite seriously. "Don't knock the Lucky Charms."
"…The spokesperson for it is a leprechaun, Alex! What the hell happened to reasonable doubt?" Jack asked him, poking him in the arm.
"The little marshmallows are so good, though!" he said defensively. "I love the marshmallows."
"I like Frosted Mini Wheats, personally," Theo put in. "The frosted side is really good once you get it soggy with milk."
"You would like Frosted Mini Wheats, Theo," Jack said, snorting. "So…sensible."
"Hey, don't know the Frosted Mini Wheats. They're good for you, kind of like Cheerios. I like Cheerios," America said.
"Yeah, but Cheerios have honey in them, and you can get the ones frosted with yogurt and stuff…"
"So, wait a minute. Are you saying that I'm the last person to know that everybody knows I'm bisexual?" Nick asked. The four of them nodded. "Figures that would happen to me; I was always so afraid of getting found out that now everybody knows. Anyway, don't be stupid. Everybody knows that Coco Puffs are the best goddamn cereal on the planet. C'mon, they turn the milk chocolate!"
"…Arthur," Canada said, turning to England who was staring at them. "Welcome to hell."
"I don't know what you're talking about, lad. I live across the Atlantic. You share a border with Alfred," England said, raising one rather large eyebrow at him before saying, "To be honest I've always preferred Weetabix, but that's a British cereal. Though there's something to be said for Frosted Flakes in the morning with a cup of Earl Grey."
"The tiger, babe? Nobody even likes that tiger!"
"Everybody likes the rabbit, though. I've always wanted to smack the kids who won't give the poor rabbit some Trix," Nick said.
"Technically, it wouldn't exactly be good for rabbits, feeding them Trix. What if kids started to feed their pet rabbits Trix?" Alex asked.
"Details, Alex! And anyway, it's an anthropomorphic rabbit! Are you discriminating against anthropomorphic peoples?"
"No! Who do we even know who's-" He looked at America and England. "Never mind! Forget I said that! And anyway, Lucky never got his Lucky Charms. He didn't even get the limited edition little hourglass ones! It's a cereal thing. The spokesperson never gets to eat the cereal!"
"What about the toucan? He always got his Fruit Loops," Jack pointed out.
"…Fruit Loops? Aren't they the incredibly fruity little circles?" England asked. "Like Cheerios, only for the people with an addiction for sugar who like to rot their teeth out, Alfred?"
"Hey, don't knock the Fruit Loops. I like the Fruit Loops."
"I like Fruit Loops too," Theo said.
"But…but…Frosted Mini Wheats," Jack said. "What happened to healthy?"
"Sometimes you have to eat healthy, and sometimes you just have to rot your teeth out," Theo said, with the air of a wise man.
"…I can't believe I'm hearing this," Canada said, standing next to France. "…Francis, are you even listening to this?"
"…I cannot believe that I, the country of l'amour, would be turned down so rudely! Except by Angleterre, he had no taste to begin with."
Nick leaned over in his seat to whisper in America's ear, "Is it always this boring?" He gestured around at the meeting, where the Nations of the world (plus for slightly-ordinary humans) were gathered.
"Always," America answered quietly, pausing in his doodling on his notes. "People go on and on as if this stuff actually means something."
"But it doesn't?" Theo asked, from the other side of Nick.
"Of course it doesn't. Why do you think I don't try? I have fun coming up with incredibly crazy ideas, though." He laughed quietly. "Our governments do this to get us out of their hair for a certain amount of time."
"But that's… But you're their country," Alex said. "Their country, damn it. You would think that would have certain… I don't know… connotations? Philosophically, you're what the government stands for."
"That's not exactly true," he said quietly. "I'm not an ideal or the government… People always think that. I'm the land, pure and simple. From the Appalachians to the Rockies, to the plains of Alaska, to the badlands of Texas, it's all me. The land, the people… that's what I am. I was here before the government, before the stereotypes, and as long as people continue to believe in me, I'll still be here."
"…We'll always believe in you, 'Meri," Nick said, quite seriously. "We meant what we said. All of us. We'll always be here." He glanced over at them, and it struck Theo just how blue America's eyes were. He'd never noticed, before, but they shined behind his glasses with some sort of light. And now that he looked, he saw that every other Nation had that. They always did say that eyes were the windows to the soul.
"You guys might regret that someday," he said, but he was smiling. "Anyway, don't worry, this meeting's almost over, and then we're leaving and I'm taking my vacation whether they like it or not."
"Our vacation, you mean," Theo said. "We're coming with."
"And you're paying for our tickets, since we technically don't have any money," Nick said.
"I promise that the FBI is working on switching your accounts to mine, and moving your stuff. When we get back to my house, it'll all be there," America said, turning back to his notes and pretending to write.
"And then…" Alex trailed off.
"And then our lives are never boring again," Nick said. "Obviously, Alex."
"Aren't we glad we went looking for him?" Jack said, grinning. Nick snorted.
"You didn't want to climb up all those stairs. You would have given up and gone home, if we had left it up to you."
"I would not!"
"Must you two be so loud?" Theo said, glaring at them. "Quiet down."
"And anyway, Nick, you just like to sit at home and watch re-runs of All in the Family," Alex said, grinning.
"…Shut up, Alex, just…shut up."
"What have I said about us being respectable veterans?" The three of them looked at Theo, and all started to laugh, stifling it behind their hands. They were right back at the beginning again, and a lot of things were the same…
He looked over at America, doodling on England's notes as England glared at him and tried to shoo him off.
And yet…everything was different.
"…I can't believe you're leaving…" Jack said, trailing off as he looked at America, bags packed and beside him, waiting for his transport. "Why are you leaving?"
"My tour is over," America said, shrugging. "At least here it is." He couldn't tell them the truth, the real truth, and it hurt. It would probably always hurt that the last memory he had of them were them waving goodbye.
"You'll keep in touch, won't you, Alfred?" Theo asked. "We want to know how you're doing, where you've been transferred to, everything."
"Sure," he lied easily. "I'll even come visit you after the war is over."
"This war…it's never going to be over," Alex said. America frowned at him.
"Of course it's going to be over. It's not going to last forever. No war can last forever."
"No, Alex. It will be over. I'll make sure of it." He would, too. No matter what it took. The war was almost over in Europe, anyway. Then he would have to fight with Japan, in the Pacific, but at least they would be okay. "None of you are allowed to die between now and then."
"Of course we're not going to die," Theo said, gesturing at his left shoulder. "And I'll even be extra careful."
"…Nick, you're awfully quiet," America said, looking at him. He sniffed. "Are you…crying?"
"Not crying, damn it! I have hay fever!" Nick said, sniffing a bit more. America sighed and hugged him tightly.
"…You better not die either," Nick said quietly into his shoulder. "Sometimes I think that with all the crazy stuff you do, that you have a death wish."
"I promise I won't die either." He couldn't truly die, anyway, but if gave them piece of mind, then he would tell them that. At that moment, he heard the whirl of the helicopter blades and felt the wind start to tug at his clothes.
"They sent you a helicopter?" Nick asked, amused. "I thought you'd get shipped out in a truck with a bunch of other people."
"Yeah, well…" The door slid open and a man in army fatigues poked his head out, motioning to America. America broke away from Nick, grabbing his bags in one hand and his dog tags in another. "I'll never take them off! Ever!" he shouted over the din of the helicopter and the blowing wind.
"Just go, Alfred!" Alex shouted. "See you later!"
"Because this isn't goodbye!" Theo said. "We'll see each other again soon!" He gave them a sad, sad smile and dashed over to the copter, ducking in as the man closed the door and he came face to face with a Secret Serviceman.
"Mr. Jones, sir," he said, saluting and handing America a bag, which he knew contained his Air Force uniform and his bomber jacket. He dug out his bomber jacket and slipped it on, feeling the comforting weight of the leather on him. And now, he wasn't Private Alfred F. Jones anymore. He was the United States of America, and he was going to win this goddamn war against that stupid Kraut.
"Where are we going?" he asked calmly, settling back down on a seat, flicking his eyes out the window to see the tiny black specks that were his friends fading away. America wondered if they were still waving.
"The President and the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom are waiting for you in London, along with Mr. Kirkland, sir. We'll be there in a few hours."
Finally, he thought. He could see England again; see how much he was hurt, and hug him, and kiss him, until that stiff upper lip just faded away. He could see his boss again; figure out what the hell was going on in this war and how they could win it, preferably in the next year or so.
His hand slid up and gripped at the dog tags that were bouncing and clinking on his chest from the rumble of the engine.
And he, America, could never see them again.
Final Notes: Wheetabix is a English healthy cereal, kind of like Cheerios. I would hope everybody knows what the other types of cereal were in this chapter. That's about it, for notes, other than yes, helicopters were invented in the 1920's, just not in widespread mass production until 1943. And now, thanks to my beta and rp partner, Jess, who's England I based my England on for characterization, and Kiran, who let me rant about this and read it even though she's never finished watching Hetalia. And thanks to all of you, who read, reviewed, alerted, and favorited my story. I worked very hard on this, and I'm glad you all liked it.