The Jersey Pinelands were a really nice place to live, Alfred thought, scratching behind his ear and using his tongue to lap up the drying blood staining his clawed fingers with an almost naïve expression and demeanor. It was secluded, spacious, and there were plenty of animals roaming around that no one would miss them if he had just a few a day to keep himself alive. Admittedly, he liked livestock the best, but with all the urbanizing and city growth, there hadn't been much farming left in the past few decades.
The white-tailed deer was good, he thought, picking the last bits of good meat off the carcass' bones, but nowhere near as amazing as the cattle had been in the past. And it definitely wasn't as tasty as gray squirrel, but it took nearly six of those to fill him up.
A snap caught his attention and he perked up, glancing in the direction of the noise to see an emanating glow peeking from between the leaves. It had to be another wanderer, he figured, sticking his right index finger in his mouth and sucking purposefully. Nothing to worry about.
It was kind of entertaining to watch the little glow move slowly along, and a voice muttered, "Blasted trees ripped my bloody toga," as Alfred stifled a giggle. So the pretty glow was a man, and a man with a British accent, no less. And apparently, he was wearing a dress. How humiliating.
Curiosity officially piqued, Alfred stood silently and dashed behind a tree to avoid being seen, spotting the pissy Brit just a little ways in front of him, still muttering swears underneath his breath. The man was indeed in a dress/toga/partially ripped cloth that barely covered enough to be considered clothing, and the first thing he noticed when the man turned and stared right at the tree he was hiding behind were the eyebrows; oh God, the eyebrows.
"I know you're there," the man said sternly, crossing his arms over his chest and furrowing his impressive eyebrows, "so come out, damn it."
Almost sheepishly, Alfred sneaked out from his position behind the trunk and smiled toothily at the glowy-man, revealing a set of sharpened teeth that were still slightly bloodstained. "What are you doing in my pinelands?" Alfred asked, stalking closer as the eyebrow guy gulped almost unnoticeably, the slight blush on his cheeks accentuating a cut that ran from right underneath one eye to his chin. "Who are you?" Close enough now to smell him, he added, "What are you?"
"I am Britannia Angel," he replied, motioning to his halo and wings, "and I am an angel of the Lord. I seem to be lost in the pinelands." Suspiciously, Britannia Angel eyed the teen and asked, "What are you doing out here by yourself? Shouldn't you be at home with your mum and dad? Urban legend has it that a murderous demon haunts this area."
Alfred looked put-off, jutting his bottom lip out in a pout and moving closer to the angel, effectively pinning him against a tree before leaning in to press their noses together. "I know the legend," he said, "and I'm sure you've been told that it's a hideous beast, a devilish nightmare, hell on earth, right?" When Britannia Angel nodded, Alfred sighed and rolled gleaming red eyes. "They wouldn't say that if they'd just get to know me better…"
. . .
At the meeting the next morning, England was complaining about the fact that it was in America once again and seemed hell-bent on bitching about everything possible. When America walked into the meeting fifteen minutes late, he paused with his doughnut centimeters away from his mouth and stared at England—this, of course, made the Brit feel uncomfortable. "What do you want, git?"
"What happened to your face, dude?" he asked, dodging the binder his former mentor threw at him and narrowly avoiding dropping his breakfast. "Touchy. I meant what that cut on your face is. Are you okay?"
A cut? Strange… He lifted a hand and ran it down his cheek; sure enough, there was a scabbed over gash stretching all the way down his cheek. "I was not aware that I was cut in the first place, though I suppose I am okay. Don't you have a meeting to start?"
. . .
Licking sharpened canines, Alfred adjusted his seat on the branch and kicked his legs back and forth as he watched that guy from a few weeks before—what was his name again? Something "Angel"… Britannia?—stumble through his pinelands again. "Hey, you're back!" he exclaimed, hooking his knees over the branch and hanging upside-down, giving the angel quite a scare.
"Jesus Christ!" he gasped, a hand clutching his chest as Alfred sniggered and reached a hand out to poke him in the head. "What the bloody fuck is your problem, lad?"
Sighing, Alfred slinked his way to the ground before chuckling darkly, bright red eyes glowing eerily in the dead of the night. "You still don't believe me, do you?" he mused, running his tongue over his lips and moving a little too close for comfort.
"Of course I don't believe you, idiot!" Britannia Angel retorted, wings quivering with fear. "There's no logical explanation as to why you seem to think you're the infamous Jersey Devil! The reports and supposed sightings over the years describe a more hellish beast, not some… child with personality problems!"
With a huff, Alfred unfurled leathery wings and used them to pull himself high enough into the air to hover. "So what you're saying," he said thoughtfully, smirking at the astonished look on the angel's face and moving into a laying position in mid-air, "is that I can't possibly be the Jersey Devil because I'm too cute and pretty, right? Did it ever occur to you that legends are referred to as such because they aren't necessarily true?" Dropping his feet back to the ground, the crimson-eyed blond folded his wings and looked hungrily at Britannia Angel. "As you can see, I'm no monster; I never have been."
When the devil grabbed his wrist, Britannia Angel tried to yank it out of his grip but had no success, though he didn't stop trying. "Don't touch me, you arsehole! Let go of me this instant!"
"Mmm…" A pause, then, "Nope. I can be just as human as you, you know. I can do this," he ran a finger lightly down his cheek, taking caution to avoid reopening the scabbed cut, "and this," he trailed his free hand down the angel's arm, twining their fingers together and using it to pull them closer, "and this."
And suddenly, heaven and hell met in a messy, furious, one-sided kiss.
. . .
Seeing America with an obviously broken nose and the two black eyes accompanying such an injury was not what England had expected when he asked the younger nation to join him for lunch. More confusing was the fact that he himself had a split lip and bruised knuckles.
America slid into the seat opposite his ex-brother and touched his nose tenderly, taking note of his companion's injuries as well. "Did you hit me, or something? 'Cause I don't remember getting into a fight with you, or anyone at all for that matter."
"I don't believe we had an altercation," England replied, drumming his fingers on the tabletop and choosing to ignore the rest of the American's questions until he changed the topic. But something about it all still bugged him mercilessly, and he wasn't even sure if he wanted to know what the hell was going on.
. . .
A week and a half after their last encounter, Britannia Angel and the Jersey Devil met again in the Pine Barrens of New Jersey. "You've looked up the legend again, haven't you?" Alfred asked, noticing the angel's apprehension and attempts to stay as far away as possible. "It's mostly farce, anyway."
The angel snorted. "It is said that legend has it—"
Alfred cut him off. "Legend has it that in 1735, a Pines resident known as Mother Leeds found herself pregnant for the thirteenth time. Mother Leeds was not living a wealthy lifestyle by any means. Her husband was a drunkard who made few efforts to provide for his wife and twelve children. Reaching the point of absolute exasperation upon learning of her thirteenth child's forthcoming, she raised her hands to the heavens and proclaimed, 'Let this one be a devil!'"
Frozen in place due to sheer shock, Britannia Angel could do nothing but listen to Alfred recount the generally accepted legend in a somewhat bored and nonchalant voice.
"She went into labor a few months later, on a tumultuously stormy night, no longer mindful of the curse she had uttered previously regarding her unborn child. Her children and husband huddled together in one room of their Leeds' Point home while local midwives gathered to deliver the baby in another. By all accounts the birth went routinely, and the thirteenth Leeds child was a seemingly normal baby boy.
"Within minutes however, Mother Leeds' unholy wish of months before began to come to fruition. The baby started to change, and metamorphosed right before her very eyes. Within moments it transformed from a beautiful newborn baby into a hideous creature unlike anything the world had ever seen.
"The wailing infant began growing at an incredible rate. It sprouted horns from the top of its head and talon-like claws tore through the tips of its fingers. Leathery bat-like wings unfurled from its back, and hair and feathers sprouted all over the child's body. Its eyes began glowing bright red as they grew larger in the monster's gnarled and snarling face. The creature savagely attacked its own mother, killing her, then turned its attention to the rest of the horrified onlookers who witnessed its tempestuous transformation. It flew at them, clawing and biting, voicing unearthly shrieks the entire time. It tore the midwives limb from limb, maiming some and killing others.
"The monster then knocked down the door to the next room where its own father and siblings cowered in fear and attacked them all, killing as many as it could. Those who survived to tell the tale then watched in horror as the rotten beast sprinted to the chimney and flew up it, destroying it on the way and leaving a pile of rubble in its wake. The creature then made good its escape into the darkness and desolation of the Pines, where it has lived ever since. To this day the creature, known varyingly as the Leeds Devil and the Jersey Devil, claims the Pines as its own, and terrorizes any who are unfortunate enough to encounter it," he finished, letting out a hissed breath of air in irritation. "Really, they couldn't even be bothered to find out the truth. Lazy, lazy, lazy."
At that point, the toga-clad being was more than confused. "How do you… how do you know that?"
"Psh. As if I don't know my own 'history.' Jeez. I always like to know what the general public likes to think of me, because it's just too much fun to 'own up' to the legends just to fuck with their heads. 'S how I pass the time."
. . .
Through binoculars, America glared and muttered to himself as he spied on Virgin Islands' date with Mexico. "Keep your slimy paws off my daughter, you beaner son of a bitch," he mumbled to no one in particular, adjusting the focus of the binoculars and frowning as Mexico wrapped an arm around her shoulders and offered to share his soda. "Damn it, he's being too suave! Shit!"
"What on earth are you doing, you moron?"
Acknowledging England's presence with a grunt, America replied, "Protecting my baby's chastity for her own sake. I don't trust that Mexico…"
England sighed. How did this idiot ever manage to become a father? And have to "share" custody with The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, no less? "For God's sake, America, let her live her life. You're unbelievable. Besides, I have a question to ask of you."
Lowering the binoculars, America craned his neck to look at England. "Yeah?"
"…what do you know about the 'Jersey Devil'?"
. . .
"I don't know why I keep coming here," Britannia Angel confessed to the thick cover of trees, running a hand through his already messy sandy blond hair. "I try to stay away to the best of my abilities, but I'm drawn back here time and time again. It's almost as though something thinks I'm destined to be here, in these damned Pine Barrens, despite my will to stay the hell away."
His confession was met with a deafening silence, the only noises heard coming from the various wild animals wandering between the trees in the dark of the night. He shifted where he stood, kicking up a bit of dirt with his sandal as a light breeze ruffled his tunic.
He sucked in a breath, continuing with, "My recent actions have led me to the decision of staying here." After a moment, he added, "Permanently."
A pair of hellish red eyes emerged from the shadows of the trees, accompanied by the dark, low laughter he'd become accustomed to over the past few months. Slowly, Alfred walked out of the pitch blackness and over to where the angel stood, taking his face in his clawed hands and leaning forward to whisper into his ear.
"Welcome to the dark side," he murmured, licking the shell of his ear and delighting in the shiver that ran through that still-holy body. "We've been expecting you."
Author's Note: Don't ask. Just… just don't.
Jersey Devil legend from weirdnj(.)com. Fucked up idea from the darkest recesses of my fucked up little mind.