Yekaterina Braginskaya enjoyed World Meetings.
Sure, everyone fought most of the time, and nobody went near her because she was always with Ivan (She often wondered why everyone seemed so afraid of him,) and Natalya (Well, she could understand that,) but it was definitely better than staying at home and doing nothing.
She wasn't antisocial, she was shy. She wasn't cold, she was fearful. So it was pleasing to be in the crowded meeting room, surrounded by people who considered her a friend and people who didn't consider her anything at all. Nobody talked to her, but it was nice to watch people talk and be somewhat included.
Even if it meant having Francis breathe down her neck, trying to look down her high-cut shirt without her noticing.
Even if it meant having to dodge odd lumpy objects (England's cooking, no less,) that Alfred had begun to use as projectiles in the past few Meetings.
Even if it meant having to be in the same room as…
"Everybody, halt die schnauze!"
The room immediately became quiet at the barked order.
"It's about time you stop fighting amongst yourselves and to try and create some ORDER!" A fist banged down on the table, hard enough to make it tremble for one brief second. All eyes went to the owner of the fist— and the voice—a tall man with icy blue eyes and blond hair, neatly slicked back. Yekaterina felt herself shudder.
"That's better," he said, his words harshly accented yet easy to understand, "Now, I would like you all to take the time to stop being idiots and try to solve your issues right here without all the noise and fighting!"
The only person who didn't seem solemn or terrified was her brother, the young woman noted, scanning the faces of the people in the room. Ivan just sat there, content as a cat in a sunbeam. It always amazed her how strong he was, but sometimes she wondered if this man could be just as strong.
"Ludwig!" a childish, whiny voice called out, intruding the speech, "Fratello pinched me!"
"Italy! Shut up!" the German man ordered, making the boy wince. The two Italian brothers were next to him, the older looking scornfully at the younger, who was frowning pitifully. Continuing in a softer tone that was none-the-gentler, "Herr England and Herr America, why is it that every time you two are put in the same room you go at each other like dogs fighting over meat?"
"Don't compare me to a dog, Kraut!" hissed Arthur Kirkland, momentarily unthreatened by the larger man.
At the same time, Alfred Jones, the American, laughed and replied, "He just wants me, is all! He's so jealous of—"
"Shut up, you insufferable brat!"
Yekaterina looked over at Ivan, who was watching the shouting match with the slightest smile. She then caught the eye of her sister, who rolled her eyes, showing her contempt over the entire thing. "Idiots," Natalya hissed, loud enough so only her siblings could hear. Only her sister seemed to, so she wrapped her arms around her brother's waist, whispering something to him. Yekaterina sighed and looked at the clock. Five minutes until the meeting ended. Sometimes she wished that they would try to solve the issue of the day early on so they could get things accomplished during the rest of the time. What kinds of things, she didn't know, but it would be nice to find out for a change.
"Mr. Germany has very pretty eyes, Katyusha, don't you think so?" her brother suddenly remarked, quietly. Yekaterina couldn't help but feel a bit disturbed, but she, as usual, played along.
"Of course, брат," she whispered, and looked at the clock again. Four minutes left.
A paper airplane sailed across the room and hit the back of Alfred's head before swooping through the floor.
"That's enough, HerrIraq!" Ludwig shouted, his eyes flashing with anger.
"He is usually so quiet and reserved," Ivan said, "Today he is so furious. It makes me happy."
"It is good that you are happy, Ivan," she replied, distracted by the German man's face, so focused, so controlled— even in such anger…
A bell rang, the sound making everybody sigh. Everybody except for him.
"None of you have discipline! It's a wonder how you're all alive today!" he concluded standing upright and gathering his papers into a neat stack with a sweep of his arm. Within thirty seconds the room was clear of everyone except for Romano and Veneziano, the Italy brothers.
And, for once, Yekaterina and her siblings. Ivan stood and, Natalia at his heels, began to walk towards Ludwig, that faint, mocking smile on his lips. "Brother, what are you doing?" the Ukrainian woman asked, following him as well.
"Mr. Germany, you lost your temper today," Ivan remarked, his eyes full of malice that his older sister didn't interpret as anything but playfulness. She fought hard against the urge to step back as the German man's eyes, as blue as the January sky and just as cold, turned up to look at the Russian who stood before him. Then they darted to her, and her breath caught in her throat.
"I am tired of the useless arguing. I wish things could be simpler," he said, looking back to Ivan, "I do not usually get so angry. I apologize—" his gaze turned again to Yekaterina "—if I had offended anyone."
"I think you should yell more, Herr Germany, it brings on so much nostalgia. Reminds me of the days when you wore that long black trench coat and that pretty red armband." His voice was mocking, and his smile had been replaced by a sneer.
"Brother," she whispered, tugging on his sleeve.
The German's eyes were cold and calculating. "I suppose it also reminds you of a time when you nearly killed your own sister for your own selfish benefit."
Yekaterina felt as if her heart had been stuck with a pin. Memories she had been so successful to hide slowly crept into her conscious. Tears slowly leaked into her eyes, tears that she couldn't let fall. Not in front of him.
"Brother, leave the foolish man, it is time to go," Natalya cooed, tangling her arm around Ivan's, a gesture which he ignored. Ludwig raised an eyebrow at this, and turned away, putting the stack of papers into a briefcase, closing it, and holding it at his side. He nodded harshly at the two, and then gazed at Yekaterina with a softened expression.
"I am sorry, Frau Ukraine."
He walked past them and out the door.