For the first time since coming to the Nordic Mansion – Anni is not woken up by anyone.
Rolling over in her bed she does a double take when she notices the time. Ten o'clock. Usually Haldur wakes her around eight – nine if she went to bed late.
Throwing the covers away she has a quick shower and gets dressed in a hurry – barely bothering to brush her hair before she makes her way downstairs.
As her feet touch the bottom floor she hears voices from the kitchen.
"Look, I don't like it – but Nor has a point. We need to throw them off the trail" Anni recognises the voice as Denmark's – she knows she shouldn't listen to other people's conversations; however this is a matter that seems to concern herself. So she's going to push her good manners away and listen. Besides – they kidnapped her; not as if that entitles her to behave well mannered in return.
"Throw them off the trail?" Finland's voice is not as happy as it usually is "They've already been here! No other trails exist but the one leading to our place! Russia won't change that!" the Finnish man sounds desperate for something – as if he's scared or angry. It's hard to determine without seeing his expression.
"Finland...please...I know you're not on the best terms with Russia..." Norway's cold voice interjects
"Understatement of the year." The Finnish male mutters angrily
"Just hear me out..."
Anni can't hear anything, but she presumes they all just nodded in agreement, because Norway continues speaking seconds later
"Russia owes me a favour, and considering he's got two sisters it shouldn't be too difficult for them to create a false trail away from us."
"I doubt he'd allow that plan, he cares for his family." Sweden interjects before falling silent again.
"If they do it correctly no one will be in danger." Norway adds sharply and Anni winces as she can only imagine the icy glare the Nordic man must be giving the others.
"All in favour, raise your hand..." Denmark commands and Anni can hear slight ruffling of fabric and chairs moving as the others undoubtedly raise their hand in agreement.
"Great, then we all agree." the Dane concludes.
"I'll go wake Anni then..." The petite female blinks in fear as she hears Haldur rise from his seat while speaking. With careful steps she makes it back to the staircase before the kitchen door opens, but the frightened look on her face tell Iceland she's at least heard some of their conversation.
As he turns around in the doorway, Anni holds her breath in fear and anticipation
"Oi, can someone get something good ready for breakfast? She'll probably be really hungry for waiting so long..."
She can't believe her eyes as Iceland slowly closes the door and silently makes his way over to her, grabbing her gently by the hand and pulling her upstairs quickly.
Once they're upstairs and behind closed doors he turns to face her, a hint of anger present in his eyes.
"Didn't your brother tell you eavesdropping is rude?" despite the low and soft whispers of his voice, she can still detect the anger underlying every syllable.
"I don't like being kept in the dark." she hisses back with new-found courage. Haldur has never hurt her, even if his grip on her hand is becoming slightly painful it's not unbearable.
"It's for your own protection!" He growls back at her and tightens his grip on her hand.
"Protection from what and who? I don't see how you guys kidnapping me protects me from anything." she spits back, ignoring the numbing feeling in her hand.
"For your own good we can't tell you that! You know that."
Anni fumes with frustration and anger at his words – they mean nothing to her but more secrets. Raising her free hand she slaps Haldur across the face with all her might.
The white haired youth yelps and lets go of her hand, rubbing his sore and already reddening face.
"I'm old enough to take care of myself! I think I'm entitled to know what good you kidnapping me is!" she demands as she holds a stern glare against the taller male.
Iceland seems confounded by her words as he sinks down on the edge of her bed.
"It wasn't our original plan." he mumbles after a while.
"What wasn't the plan?" Anni enquires sternly – like a teacher berating a student for not doing his homework.
"We were supposed to let you come on your own accord...kidnapping was a last minute order when things went astray..."
"Spain and his family were further ahead in their investigation than we had initially thought, so we didn't have any choice. Finland and Sweden tried to slow them down, but that only worked for a while..."
As he speaks a few pieces of the puzzle fall into place.
She'd been on her way home from work when the gunshots rang through the streets. At first she'd though it might have been from one of the men she had initially thought was stalking her – yet when she turned to look he was gone.
When the gunshots grew nearer she had panicked and ran. Voices had ordered her to stop – but she refused to listen and ran as fast as her legs would allow.
"But why me?" she shakily asks as her expression soften.
"Because you're very important..."
"Your Family" Haldur meets her eyes for a brief second before his gaze is again diverted to the floor "and me..." he mumbles so softly the blonde girl can barely make it out. However there is no doubt it's what he said.
Forgotten is this 'family' he spoke off, all she wants to know is why he said those last to words.
"To you? How can I be important to you? You've known me for less than a week..."
Haldur shakes his head. Taking a seat next to him on her bed, Anni can see the profound blush on the Nordic's features as he tries to hide it with his white bangs.
"We...we've met before...several times."
Anni blinks several times and tries to conjure up memories of having met someone like Haldur in the past. "A-Are you sure...I mean, I don't remember it."
"No..of course you wouldn't. We were really young..." he sighs before rising from the bed.
Before she can think her hand dart out to grab the edge of his shirt, her grip firm as she stops him from getting too far away from her.
"I'm eighteen...if we met when we were younger and only you remember...how much older than me are you?" she enquires carefully as she studies his still blushing features. She wants to remember this so badly.
"Two years...you where six at the time..I'd just turned 8..." his gaze shifts away from her as he tries to make her let go of her shirt.
Anni doesn't know what to say
"Sorry" she mumbles as she let's go of his shirt, letting him leave the room.
As the clock ticks away, Anni tries to remember anything about a white haired boy from when she was six.
They'd moved around a lot when she was younger – Basch got jobs dotted around the world and they were on the move until she was 14. Perhaps she had met Haldur when she was younger. It was a possibility – and he had no reason to lie about such a thing.
It took her another hour before she made her way downstairs. Finland smiling cheerily at her as he handed her a bowl of soured cream porridge – a dish she'd been served the other day and taken a great liking to.
Eating her breakfast it slowly dawned on her that Haldur had not mentioned to the other Nordics at all that she had over heard their conversation. In a way it furthered her proof to her own mind that he was on her side – that he really did only have the best of intentions for her.
It's around dinner time that the 'guests' arrive.
Anni is told to stay away and considering the stern glare in Norway's eyes as he commands everyone about; the petite woman decides to do as she's told.
Besides; Finland seems more than happy enough to have someone join him in preparing the meal.
Scraping the thin skin of the new potatoes, Anni clears her throat slightly – gaining the attention from Tino.
"Something wrong Miss Anni?"
"Pardon me if this is out of line...but who is this 'Russia' and why don't you like him'?"
Finland's expression darken as his grip on the wooden spoon stirring the sauce tightens considerably – to the point it seems as if it will snap at any second.
"He's the worst man in the northern part of the city" he finally spits out.
Its frightening to hear the normally cheery Finnish male so angry and bitter.
"What happened...?" she carefully enquires as she drops a ready peeled potato into a pot of water.
A minute of silence follow after her question, and for a while Anni thinks she's over stepped the boundaries with her curiosity.
Then with a sigh Finland starts to speak.
"I used to work on my own...anyone with the right amount of money could hire my mercenary services. It was a pretty good deal – I chose my own missions, did as I wanted and no one controlled anything. Then Russia came along and demanded any 'lone wolf' in the area to join him. Of course I resisted – gave a damn good fight too I'll have you know..."
"But...you seem so scared of him..."
The Finnish male scrunches up his face as he spits his words out
"Ivan Braginsky...that's his real name. He's got more money than you'd imagine...his strength is immense and his contacts even more so. He ruined everything. I won the battle – yet he won the war."
The name is spoken with such venom it's painfully clear to her now – Finland isn't scared; just very, very angry.
"What do you mean?"
"All my reputation, all the money I had – everything I'd worked so hard to achieve: he tore down in days. He was unstoppable..."
"How did you end up with Denmark and the rest then?" he's answered her other questions, so perhaps she'll get to know more about him like this. It's a lot easier to stay around the Nordic gang members when their past is less of a mystery.
"Sweden is an old acquaintance of mine...we go far back. Somewhere along the line he was recruited into Denmark's 'family' and when he heard about my run-in with Ivan he convinced Denmark and Norway to give me a position here"
Anni blinks stares at Tino in confusion.
"Oh right...I guess it's not that apparent... But Denmark is the head of our Family"
"But..but..Norway?" As far as she's seen it's the shorter Nordic who gives orders and spends hours in the large office at the end of the hallway sorting out paperwork.
"Yeah, Norway takes care of a lot of things – he's kinda the voice of reason. But in an emergency Denmark's word is law."
"Wow" she breathes out in awe – this changes a few things of her image of them all.
She didn't think Denmark would follow orders from anyone 'below' him – nor did she even imagine someone as structured and strict as Norway would allow himself to have a family 'head' like Denmark.
"Doesn't matter – Denmark liked Norway's idea; so we'll follow it."
"But Tino... if Russia is so bad...why is Norway making him help you all...?" it really doesn't make sense in her head.
"Because Denmark and Russia have been drinking buddies since before they could legally drink anything alcoholic; not to mention that Norway knows a lot of people."
"Do..do you think he'll do what they ask?"
"I presume so...Norway is good at convincing people..." the Finnish male shrugs
For a the remainder of the hour they try to change the subject to something more cheerful. Something Finland manages once he tells Anni about his great adventures as a mercenary in the Finnish mountains.
"So...Erik..let me get this straight...you want myself to risk the lives of my dear and precious sisters to make Antonio lose track of this little policeman's sister? I do not see how it will gain the Soviet's at all." the Russian's voice is oddly cheery, with a smile to match.
The underlying tone is far from those things – it sends shivers down Iceland's spine as he tries to sit upright in the chair next to Norway.
"You have misunderstood me then Ivan," Norway replies with a calm demeanour,
"-neither you nor your family will be at risk. All you need is for someone in your family to disguise themselves as Anni, travel to an airport where someone else in your family takes pictures of them. These pictures are then sent to Antonio's mansion. Even if he might not believe it a hundred percent – it should throw him off our trail for the time being. We need time, nothing else."
The tall male taps his fingers against the table in a slow rhythm as he considers the operation.
"I can see how it would work, but what is in it for me?"
"A connection and a deal with Cuba." Norway states flatly in response.
"The gun supplier?" The Russian's eyes light up like stars at the mention of the name.
"Correct. Guns and a few other...goods. I have the connection you want...all I ask in return is that you throw Spain off our trail for a couple of days."
"It will be done!" Russia rises up from his chair and extends his hand across the table. Shaking Norway and Denmark's hand in turn. To Iceland he simply smiles happily before turning to his right hand helper, Lithuania.
"Liet – arrange flights, photographers and a few dresses."
"Who's going to wear the dress?" the brunette male asks worriedly.
"I'm sure Poland will do it for a few crates of vodka for his bar," Russia giggles happily.
"If not, Latvia will do it." the tall male shrugs with a bright smile.
Iceland can't help but pity Latvia. He's met the young man on a few occasions up through the years – they're rather close in age, thus find it easier to connect. He says a silent prayer that he's under the protection of Denmark and Norway – thus no other family can force him to join. The gods know Russia has tried before.
"Of course." Lithuania agrees warily as he presses a few buttons on his phone.
"Pleasure doing business with you Nordics." the large Russian male laughs as he slaps a large hand against Denmark's back.
"Always a pleasure Ivan." Denmark laughs back with as much enthusiasm as Russia.
"We need to go drinking again!"
"That we do! Once all this blows over and our mission is over I'll definitively come over for a drink!" the Dane smiles happily as he shakes Ivan's hand again before the soviet leader takes his leave through the front door.
Once the door is closed and bolted up again Norway turns to Denmark with a bitter expression.
"One drink? What a lie..."
"Oh come on Nor! I'm not that bad!"
The Dane replies as he follows after the shorter male into the kitchen. Anni watches in amusement, but tries to hide slightly when Iceland enters a moment after them.
"I had to rescue you out of a tree the last time you went drinking with Ivan." Norway rolls his eyes and takes his seat by the dinner table.
"All right...but that only happened once..." Denmark laughs sheepishly
"Just remember we're not rescuing you again." Sweden adds with a slight smirk.
"Oi, I'm the boss! You're all supposed to help me when I'm in need!"
"Not when it involves Russia." Finland states flatly as he places the dinner on the table.
Anni giggles quietly to herself as Denmark pouts at his family member's harsh words.
It's still odd to think he's the leader and ultimate decision maker. Perhaps she'll enquire with Haldur tomorrow about why they follow him. If the white haired male is willing to meet her eye.
Badass Finland needs more love, so I tried to find a valid reason for him to dislike Ivan - and hopefully it worked.
I also personally adore the idea of Finland as a mercenary/sniper.