American Trains

Chapter 1: The Desert

Warning: This story will contain: violence, character death, swearing, sexual acts (yaoi/slash/boyxboy, whatever you want to call it) and some sensitive material.

Hetalia and all its characters, etc. belong to Himayura Hidekaz. I own nothing but the plot, the cowboys and their horses. ;)

Beta-ed by ykwyh26 (Kay). :)

A/N: First attempt at published Fanfiction. Therefore I beseech you, have mercy on this n00b! Dx

AU in the American Midwest. I've attempted to keep the story as historically accurate as possible. All historical notes will be in the bottom A/N.

Anyway, I'll shut up and just let you read the story! XD

Alfred narrowed his eyes against the blinding afternoon sunlight pouring down on the dusty expanse set out before him. Even the rough hat perched on his head could not completely eliminate the nuisance of the sun as it bounced right back off the dust and into his line of sight. He blinked a few times and resisted the urge to swipe his dusty gloves across his eyes.

The cowboy gave a hefty sigh as he continued his work. With hands confidently loose on the reins he steered his chestnut quarter horse after the moving mass of cattle. Not far off around the herd more cowboys were doing the same thing: steering and driving and just doing their job.

Alfred could honestly say he didn't like any of them. They all wore scowls under their dust-coated, rimmed hats. Some openly swore their troubles, hollering to keep a few of the braver animals in check.

Normally, Alfred was cheerful fellow, but out on this miserable open hell-space he found himself becoming more and more agitated at every little upset. He found himself acting more like one of those other scowling fellows. One word from another sour-mouthed cowboy set him off and made him grit his teeth. Eighteen hours in the saddle and only a few uncomfortable hours lying uselessly on the ground trying to sleep did that to you though.

So the herd and the cowboys kept on, mostly in heavy silence or random angry outbursts due to the tension rich air. Alfred silently dared them to try and talk to him or order him to another part of the herd, anything to relieve the budding fury in his gut. A good yelling match might be just what he needed to blow off built-up steam. By the end of the day, he was just that irked.

But when nothing of the sort occurred though, Alfred settled for the silence and watched the space between his mount's tall ears.

As they padded on, they came upon a much flatter expanse of land with a bit more greenery than usual. His horse suddenly skirted around a thorny looking bush that Alfredthought might have been horse-apple and he wondered if the land they were crossing might have been someone's farm.

He looked around but couldn't spot any fencing, animals or ranch; only the long string of horse-apple bushes lining a small strip.

Odd. The cowboy thought but shrugged it off.

They continued on for an unmeasured amount of time that certainly felt like forever to the cowboy, but eventually the sun began to dip too far below the horizon for the exhausted cowboys to keep on.

They circled to stop the herd before setting up a small campsite, digging a pit for the fire.

Alfred circled one final time to make sure nothing was lingering on the outskirts of their site, mostly looking for rouge carnivores and maybe a few late night snakes but found everything all clear. He let his horse return to the camp at an easy pace to find the rest of his working team already settling for the night.

One on the far end with dark hair and sun-crisped skin addressed him with a rude wave (Alfred could not remember his name though) and he wiggled his feet in his sleeping bag.

"Hey, take first watch, would ya?" He ordered rhetorically and the others smirked. "I mean, we're all already set, and ya still on your horse and all." Obviously this had been planned judging by the smug grins most of them wore as they looked at Alfred, who felt his lips quirk in a sneer.

"Fine." He said dismissively and turned his horse around. He heard them laugh loudly as the blond trotted his horse out of the glare of the fire and cursed harshly under his breath.

Earlier today he'd have jumped from the saddle to deck anyone who'd have suggested it, but inside the cowboy almost welcomed the chance to avoid them now. He was tired and suddenly cold as the desert air released the day's heat.

The blond's shoulders drooped and he let his eye lids shut for a moment. It felt incredibly good but the tall blond swore he wasn't going to fall asleep on watch. The cowboy wasn't about to give his fellows another reason to laugh at or taunt him. Eventually though, he felt himself start to slope in the saddle and forced himself upright.

This is gonna be a long night.He thought to himself and tried to focus on something to keep himself awake.

After a few lame attempts, he just settled on watching his mount's ears twitch. He absently ran his fingers through the horse's coarse mane, unable to feel the strands through his leather gloves: Anything to distract himself from the wondrous thoughts of sleep.

The night stretched on without event and just as Alfred could no longer bear to stay awake, and he turned to go wake another cowboy for watch, he heard a strange noise. His horse shifted below him and let out a soft snort, its barrel body shuddering. The blond narrowed his eyes and urged his mount toward the noise. The horse obeyed but his ears swiveled in annoyance, or maybe fear. The sleep-deprived cowboy found it hard to tell in his muddled mind.

The noise grew louder and obviously closer. Alfred could faintly make out a dark body writhing against the pale ground. He squinted, was… was that a person?

Alfred paused his horse with a very slight tug and stared down at the man dressed in what may have once been a suit, now merely shredded cloth, struggling with his legs caught in a mass of rusted barbwire. The noise had been the man struggling and swearing with a strange accent.

The tangled man suddenly noticed Alfred's approach and glared up with an angry spark in his bright emerald eyes

"Well, don't just sit there you git! Help me!"

:DDDDD Hurray for chapter 1 and an awful cliffhanger!

Anyway, reviews are super special awesome! :D

Horse-apples are these funny thorny bushes that some ranchers used to grow along their fences to keep their cattle from escaping or cowboys from stomping over their lands. Most animals will likely stay away from something that tangling and painful on their limbs. ;) The real name for the plant is Maclura pomifera.