IN WHICH Canada Loses Quebec (Blame America)

Canada wakes up to his alarm clock at nine AM as usual.

As usual, he hits the ALARM OFF button, rolls over, and goes back to sleep.

Nobody remembers Canada, or if they do, they think he's America. This sucks 99.9% of the time. The other 0.1% of the time it's great news, because even though he has a lively intra-country political life, he never has any appointments to go to except the G8 and sometimes the UN, and the ... exciting ... visits of America. (He loves his brother, and sometimes Canada wishes more people would notice him and not confuse him with America, but he is also extremely glad that he is not America.)

The most interesting intra-country politics of Canada are caused by his glasses. This would probably be funny to everyone who isn't America. Canada sometimes wonders what the world must look like through Texas, a quintessentially American place; Canada's own Quebec gives things a distinctly Frenchappearance, which is to say, everything is in focus but awfully flowery.

At 10:15 AM Canada finally rolls back over and blinks myopically at his alarm clock. He doesn't have anywhere to be but he's not going to spend the whole day in bed. Blindly groping at the nightstand with one hand, he rubs the sleep crust from his eyes with the other.

He meets maplewood desk. And more maplewood desk. (And a ceramic lamp.)

Canada's eyes fly wide open and he sits straight up in bed, frantically searching the nightstand for his glasses with his fingers while squinting, but finds nothing; throwing back the covers, he flails his way to the floor, feeling around in the space between the nightstand and the bed, and the carpet around the nightstand, and thrusting his arm behind the nightstand in hopes of hearing a distinctive glasses rattle, but there's nothing. In the midst of his frantic search Kumajirou noses the door open, takes a heavy seat, and watches his owner crawl around.

Canada looks up, distraught. "Kumajiro-! Quebec seceded!"

Kumajiro tilts his head. "... Who are you, again?"

"I'm Canada!" Canada wails, and drags himself to his feet. He has to see the newspaper, or watch the news channel, or something, and find out why his glasses have deserted him. He doesn't make it two feet before the phone rings, which is so startling that he falls flat on his face.

The phone is on the dresser. Canada is near-sighted enough that it's a black blur from where he sits on the ground, but he knows his own house well enough to walk around it blindfolded (as any good nation would). He scrambles back to his feet and, feeling irritated at this interruption, squints at the caller ID.

America? "Go figure," he sighs to Kumajiro, and picks up. "Can this wait, America? I seem to have, ah, misplaced Quebec."

There's an awkward pause and for a second Canada's afraid America's boss borrowed America's phone or something, and then America says, "Yeah. About that."

Canada feels a horrible sense of dread.

America sighs into the mouthpiece and blusters, "Dude, no wonder you're such a wimp. How do you get anything done looking at so many roses?"

Canada slaps his palm against his face.

This is the sort of thing that is never supposed to happen, because swapping glasses when one is a living country is actually swapping territory. Quebec is always making noise about being sovereign but Canada's pretty sure Quebec doesn't want to be a state, either.

Also, Canada definitely doesn't want Texas.

"Please, please tell me you still have Texas," Canada pleads.

"Yeah, I've got them too," America admits. "Don't know how that happened." Then he snickers. "Hey, all those years ago, if I'd only realized that it was as simple as taking your glasses I wouldn't have had to-"

"If you do anything to Quebec I will burn down your White House. Again," Canada threatens, and America makes warding noises.

"Okay, okay, geez. I'll just pop right over and drop them off. I don't know what you're all uptight about, they keep trying to leave anyway, don't they?"

"Not seriously. At least, not lately," Canada mumbles. "Are you coming right away? You should come right away."

"I'm putting on my boots now," America promises. "Don't knock anything over waiting for me, bro!" The wink is almost audible as he hangs up.

There's a lot of things Canada doesn't like about America, but when he says he's going to be somewhere he's always on time (and almost never early, and never late). He lives by the clock and he's always doing something. Canada doesn't envy this at all, although he grudgingly admires it.

He gets dressed while he's waiting for his brother and when America lets himself in (to be fair, Canada lets himself into America's house too), the first thing he says is, "wow, I was expecting way more destruction!" His breath streams from his mouth until he shuts the door. "You know, this is a little random, but your place is as cold as Russia's but you're not afraid of the cold or the dark like he is. Why is that?"

A typically tactless question, Canada thinks while America strips off his boots. "General Winter isn't a monster. He's just a fact of life," he points out. "Why should I be afraid of him, eh?"

America unwinds the scarf from his neck and unzips his coat, fumbling in his pockets while nodding. "Still, I couldn't stand being cold like that all the time. Well," he elaborates, "There's Alaska, but I don't really feel it." There's not a lot of people in Alaska for America to feel, Canada supposes.

After rifling through his pockets for long enough that Canada's beginning to think that America's forgotten the glasses themselves, America pulls out a glasses case with a triumphant, "Hah!" He thrusts the case into Canada's hands. "Sorry about taking them, bro - and I'm seriously sorry." Canada doesn't quite manage a sarcastic laugh and opens the case to find Quebec in pristine condition; he quickly slips them on and America's face resolves into sharp focus, grinning and flushed from the cold.

There's an awkward pause and Canada says, "I was just about to make breakfast. Would you like-"

"Breakfast? This late?" America frowns at his watch, and his face clears. "Great time for brunch, though! Thanks!"

"Don't insult people in the same breath as accepting an invitation!" Canada scolds, but America's humming 'God Save the Queen' (No, wait, he calls it 'My Country something something') and coming into the kitchen and, as usual, Canada goes unheard.

He sighs and trudges after America because sadly, he's used to it.

Breakfast is waffles because America loves maple syrup (and so does Canada) and so the waffles are just an excuse to eat the syrup. They inhale roughly the same amount of food, then Canada turns down the eating contest before America can suggest it. Instead they have an arm-wrestling contest. Canada wins, which makes the overall score 151-149 in Canada's favor. America vows to win the next match, as usual.

"Well, I should probably get going," America says, glancing at his watch again. "I've got a lot of stuff to do, after all."

"Wait," Canada says, more timidly than he meant to, but America hesitates in getting up from the table anyway.

"What's up?"

"It's just, you wore Quebec."

"Yeah, and I never want to wear them again," America says with a completely disgusted look on his face. "Why'd I keep going after it back then?"

Quebec is a proud part of me! It's a great territory even if it is different from the rest of me! is what Canada wantsto say. What he says instead is, "I guess I was just curious ... what things looked like through Texas."

America's eyebrows go up. "Oh, yeah, you know - it's awesome! Wanna see?" He whips off his glasses and offers them to Canada.

Canada is a little surprised by how free America is with his glasses - but hey, America's glasses aren't constantly trying to secede either. He takes them and slips them on his face and -

Everything goes fuzzy. Very, very fuzzy. Canada is sharply disoriented with the realization that his brother is not near-sighted, but far-sighted.

Of course,he thinks, squinting, and even though his eyes water with the effort of focusing, he gradually starts to make things out ...

"America! Why does everything look like the Wild West! And why are there American flags everywhere-!"

"I told you - awesome!" America exclaims. "Dude, take a look at my waist. It even has X-ray visions to see concealed guns!"

"You're not allowed to carry those in my house-!"

America laughs, long and loud, and points out, "It makes World Conferences way more interesting!"

Canada whips the glasses off and rubs his eyes. "Quebec is better than this ..."

America takes back his glasses and settles them on his nose. "You wouldthink so. Pansy."

"Hoser," Canada retorts, replacing Quebec, flowers and all.