Disclaimer: I do not own Hetalia or any of its characters.
This chapter is dedicated to my grandmother, who died hours after I finished writing it.
"WHAT DO YOU BLOODY MEAN HE JUST DISAPPEARED!?"
Canada winced at the shrill pitch of his former guardian's furious shout as he tried to meet England's fiery gaze head on. He'd been dreading their reunion with the other nations the moment he realized they'd lost their target in that English restaurant.
France remained far more composed as he took a step forward to face the livid country directly.
"We mean exactly that Angleterre. The man ran into the basement and vanished from the area. At the present, we simply have no explanation as to how this occurred."
The grinding of teeth was quite audible around the entire room. The world had reconvened in the meeting hall in confusion and disappointment after the three pursuers had returned empty handed. Many sent glares of hostility towards them, unwilling to understand or accept the explanation they'd been given. They felt, rightfully so, that no one, nation or mortal, should have been able to simply disappear from thin air.
"Calm yourself England. You yourself felt him disappearing at around that time aru."
Said island nation whipped around to glare at China with furious green eyes.
"I am aware of that! And whatever it might look like, I am not mad at these three! What I'm damn pissed about is just how this bastard pulled his little vanishing act while several countries had been hot on his tail!"
"Are you sure that was exactly what happened?" Germany raised the question that everyone had been pondering, and the previously hidden suspicion in his eyes became glaringly obvious. "Personifications can do many things, but I am quite certain that teleportation is not one of them."
"Yes, that is what happened!" Australia countered, obviously furious with the notion that he was being blamed for the failed pursuit. "I don't know what or how, but that's what it is!"
"And how do we know you're telling the fucking truth!?" Romano spat. "How do we know you three aren't fucking responsible for this whole thing!?"
Australia rose from his seat, clearly ready to pummel the southern half of Italy into the ground, but felt himself being stopped by France and Canada on either side.
"Restrain your aggression Australia. As much as I despise to admit it, they have the right to be suspicious of us."
Canada breathed a sigh of relief as the offended country made a disgusted sound in his throat before sitting down with a thump.
But the damage was already done as the already choking tension in the room only increased with Romano's accusation. The weight of the world's stares was heavy and blinding with blatant hostility, and loath as he was to admit, Canada was beginning to wish that he were invisible again.
However, just as it appeared that the rest of the nations were about to verbally rip them to shreds, France once again intervened and took up the explanation for the two younger countries.
"Before you begin spouting your accusations, please listen to what I have to say. Canada, Australia and myself all headed towards the roof in the event that our escaped suspect would be able to exit the building. We had no communication beforehand and we only encountered each other near the top floors. If we had planned for this earlier, then we had no insurance that another country might have headed to the same destination as us, non?"
Here the Frenchman stopped as he defiantly returned the hundreds of glares being sent in his direction. The moment was thick with silence as the countries tensed under the pressure of the fierce staring contest, three nations against the rest of the world. Then at last, China, the voice of reason, let out a defeated sigh and broke the tension.
"They have a valid argument aru. Any single one of us had the potential to head to the roof. I don't think there's any point in pursuing this topic any further aru."
Canada heard Australia sigh in relief beside him, and he matched it with one of his own. The other nations, though still grumbling in suspicion, took to heart China's words and relaxed back into their chairs.
"Ok, whatever. Like, let's just say for now they don't have anything to do with it. Now what are we supposed to do?"
Poland was now speaking for the first time since confirming Lithuania's absence. Odd as it was, it seemed incredibly eerie to not see the flashy nation blathering about fashion and ponies.
But he did have a point and a very good question, rare as they came. No one answered immediately, and so the countries pushed themselves deeper into their chairs, engrossed in thought. Square one. They were completely back at square one.
Perhaps, Canada thought, that explained why the world had been so eager to blame the three of them for their shortcomings. In a situation like this, even accusing the innocent felt better than having no one to accuse at all. Perhaps it hadn't been the most decent of actions, but it still wasn't something he could hold a grudge against.
"What happened exactly though?" Spain was the first to speak, and the gazes of the world unified to redirect themselves towards him.
"It feels like we don't have a complete picture of what's going on right now. All I really know is that after the intruder fled the meeting room, Romano and I found him exiting a ventilation shaft on the ground level, and after we chased him to the seventh floor, he escaped through a window. What happened before and after?"
"Spain brings up a good point," Austria noted as he sat up straight in his chair. "I believe that none of us have a complete understanding of what occurred during our pursuit of the intruder, as only a select few of us managed to encounter him. Perhaps it would be wise to first establish a formal recount of all the events before we continue. It may provide us with information to work with."
"That sounds reasonable," Germany agreed. "Very well then. As my group was the one that followed him immediately after he left the room, we shall start."
And so, the various nations who had been directly involved in chasing the mysterious perpetrator launched into their own accounts of the event. England described the daring escape into the basement and the hidden bomb that had nearly blown them back to their capitals. China recalled the opened ventilation duct near the site of the explosion while Russia nodded silently in confirmation. Spain elaborated the short pursuit he'd engaged in with Romano, while the latter occasionally illustrated the events with a curse or two.
Finally, all eyes turned to France, Australia and Canada as they provided their own experience of the high-speed chase through the streets of London. The suspicion of the other countries, though notable toned down, remained nonetheless throughout their recounting, and England narrowed his eyes in fury as they mentioned the numerous innocents who'd nearly been disintegrated by the culprit's ruthless haste to shake his pursuers.
"Bloody bastard… when I get my hands on him…"
France resisted the urge to suggest he carry out punishment by force-feeding the man with his lethal scones.
And as expected, upon describing the abrupt end to their pursuit, several eyebrows rose in confusion, most notably that of England's.
"So… he really just disappeared?"
France gave his rival a withering glance. "I believe you've already asked that once, Angleterre."
"I'm aware!" England snapped. If there was one thing that never changed during a world crisis, it was how annoying the stupid frog was.
"But I still have a hard time believing it! The only way he really could have teleported is through use of very powerful dark magic!"
Despite the very serious situation they were currently in, most countries could not help but send him a withering glance at the mention of the mystic arts. Sensing this, England glared back, obviously furious that he wasn't being taken seriously.
"Well do you have any fancy teleportation machines or anything? Because I certainly don't see anyone else giving a better explanation!"
Norway, one of the few nations who had not appeared skeptical, nodded sagely, to the dismay of the ones sitting closer to him.
"It's possible. Certain magical entities can also spirit objects away to other locations, nations included."
France gave Canada an exasperated glance, who shuffled nervously and clung to Kumajirou a little tighter. He wasn't exactly a big believer of England's magic either, but it was true that he didn't really have any better ideas.
"Let's… not linger on that topic for the moment. What about how the culprit was able to deliver us the voices of the captured ones despite them not being in the country?"
Prussia rolled his eyes at Austria, the one who had asked the question.
"Don't be stupid, how hard could that possibly be? At the minimum, all you need is two phones and put the receivers next to each other. And that's not even bringing up the possibility that they might've been pre-recorded."
Cuba and Estonia suddenly opened the battered wooden doors as they entered the room, white plastic gloves on their hands as they placed a box on the table.
"Where were you two?"
The inquiry came from South Korea, who was leaning forward in his seat as he tried to get a closer look at what the two nations had just brought in.
"Germany asked us to go investigate the basement while the rest of you reconvened here."
Cuba sent a glance over to the blonde European, who nodded in confirmation.
Spain frowned and leaned forward as well.
"Alright then, what do you have there?"
Estonia carefully lifted the lid and fished out two dark, sooty, and extremely dented rectangular objects.
"Phones. You wouldn't believe how sturdy these things are made nowadays."
Cuba took the larger one and held it up for all to see.
"Iphone Four. Rather expensive to blow up if you ask me."
Estonia raised the other one, which was slightly smaller and squarer.
"Blackberry it seems. Canadian brand, right?"
Every turned to look at the country of origin, who shrank and nodded in confirmation.
England frowned as stood up for a closer look.
"America was taken while visiting Canada after all. It easily could have been picked up then. Besides, Blackberries aren't only sold in the country they're made in."
The suspicion cleared as the countries looked away. Canada sighed in relief.
"I doubt we can trace them to the stores they were bought from. The inner hardware's been melted beyond recognition. I already asked the forensic team down in the basement."
Estonia's news was met with scowls of frustration.
"So there's another dead end."
India groaned as he cast Denmark an irritated glance.
"Wonderful. So now what?"
Germany shook his head as he stood up wearily, already exhausted by his position of leadership.
"I don't think there's anything we can do here altogether. The culprit has already escaped and left little evidence to trace him. I believe the best we can do now is return to our homes and search individually."
The room became slightly uneasy as the other countries cast each other uncertain glances. Was this the only option they had left? Could they only search mindlessly with no other leads to follow now that they had no real evidence to go on?
France sighed and nodded his headed.
"I hate to agree, but I think Germany is correct. That sounds like the best option for now."
Canada closed his eyes and sank back into his seat in disappointment. His country was the second largest in the world, and much of it covered in barren icy landscapes at this time of year. He would definitely have his work cut out for him if the one they were searching for ever turned up on his homeland.
"Actually, I was thinking of something else."
Many were quite surprised to see Switzerland talking now, far calmer than he had been half an hour ago. His eyes still burned with steely rage, but he seemed to be taking great efforts to control himself for the sake of finding his sister.
Germany appeared hesitant for fear that the nation's explosive rage would once again present a problem, but nonetheless motioned for him to continue.
"Right now, we don't know who's responsible for this. It's still possible that someone in this very room is responsible. And he or she may not be alone."
The world tensed, and Canada folded nervously folded his hands on the table. Was Switzerland going to imply that no one should be trusted? Even after what Germany had mentioned about needing for everyone to work together?
But that was not the point Switzerland was trying to present. The temperamental nation stood up and pointed one finger on the table, fixing his gaze on all of his listening colleagues with no traceable sign of fear in his eyes.
"We should all be split into teams of no less than four. As a group, they should all investigate their respective countries together and keep each other informed of progress. At the same time, they should also keep an eye on each other, just in case one of them is a part of this mysterious… kidnapping clique."
A few nations began to nod in agreement, realizing that this was a fairly good idea, especially in light of suspicions currently running rampant.
"Also, though Germany's performance has been satisfactory, it wouldn't be wise to have a single leader. Each continent should have one nation in charge of the investigation, as a supervisor of sorts. In the event that any single team becomes suspicious of a member, they should inform not only the leader of their continent, but of at least three others as well."
One by one, the countries began to sit up straighter, nodding more with every passing word of Switzerland's. Some began to mumble to themselves, while others verbally voiced their consent.
"If any country is deemed suspicious enough by their teammates, then they should be immediately pulled from investigation for questioning by the three leaders contacted. This way, anyone with the potential to be involved can be detained before they can carry out any further objectives."
"Hold on," Cuba interrupted. "What if one of the leaders falls under suspicion?"
Switzerland looked at him gravely.
"The leaders will also be a part of a team. They are no more immune to suspicion and detainment than any other country."
Cuba paused for a moment, then shrugged his shoulders. The explanation sufficed. Having finished his speech, Switzerland looked around the table.
Austria adjusted his glasses.
"That's sounds fine to me. Any objections?"
The nations whispered among themselves and weighted opinions. No one seemed to be particularly averse to the idea.
"Alright then. In that case, how do you believe these teams should be formed?"
The question came from Germany, who didn't appear bothered by the idea of sharing leadership. Nervously, Canada raised a hand.
"I-If there are several nations working against us in tandem, we shouldn't be allowed to pick our own groups. I… I think we should draw names out of a hat."
Both France and England nodded, then gave each other disdainful looks, as if disturbed by the fact that they had actually agreed on something.
"I think that's fairly reasonable. I believe you've seen the notebooks I've provided for you all. Write down your names on a sheet of paper, and I'll come around and collect them."
England stood up and walked over to a nearby cupboard, pulling out a dusty old magician's hat. Several countries look at him in skeptic disbelief.
"Angleterre… You actually have a magician's hat in the world meeting hall? I'm sure Canada meant it in a figurative sense."
England blushed and sputtered at his rival, glaring at all those who dared to look as if they believed him to be insane.
"I-I just happen to have it here, alright? It suffices, doesn't it?!"
France rolled his eyes, but didn't say anymore. Canada resisted the urge to face palm.
Germany groaned quietly at his colleague's persistent interest in the supernatural, but supposed there was no harm in going along with it.
"Alright, fine. Is everyone ready?"
Most countries nodded their heads, while those with longer and more complicated names frantically scribbled down the last characters.
"Very well. China and Spain, go with England."
The last one glared towards Germany.
"Not trustworthy, am I?"
Their de facto leader deepened his frown.
"Just in case."
Not seeing a good reason to argue, England reluctantly allowed the ancient nation and his former rival to flank him as he walked around the long table, making sure that each country had written their own name only on the slip of paper that they submitted.
"While the names are being collected, let's proceed to the next order of business. We must assign the leaders for each continent."
Australia raised his hand.
"I guess I'll just be going along with the rest of Oceania since I'm also a continent on my own."
Germany nodded as he wrote himself a note.
"Point taken. Now then, Asia has forty-nine countries, Europe has forty-four, Africa has fifty-nine, North America has twenty three, Oceania has fourteen, and South America has twelve. Seeing as Asia has more countries, I'd suggest that Russia join Europe as a continent for now. If that's alright with you."
The blonde nation looked slightly wary as he looked towards the largest country in the room, the others slightly fearful for his reaction. To their relief, Russia nodded once and did not appear scornful of the idea. Swallowing, Germany turned and continued his agenda.
"Frankly, I don't think any leader can handle any more than twenty at a time should issues arise. Therefore I suggest that continents with large numbers of countries should have more than one leader."
The world nodded and muttered in agreement. Canada glanced over at England, who had just finished collecting the last of the names and was returning to his seat.
"In any case, the leaders should be countries with a strong voice in world issues and stable overall national conditions. I will be responsible as one of the supervisors in Europe, but one more is needed. I'll let you figure that out for yourselves."
Europe grumbled slightly at Germany's self-appointment, but saw not to waste time protesting. France and England began arguing heatedly while Spain watched from the sides, looking as if he wanted to speak, but not entirely sure of his ability to do so. Russia too towered over them, looking particularly ominous, though not entirely hostile.
Asia looked over to Germany as China raised his hand.
"I can be one of the supervisors for Asia aru. India has volunteered to be the other one."
Australia stood up for Oceania.
"I'll be the leader here. We only have fourteen countries."
Africa was next, and the representatives of South Africa and Egypt stood to address their peers.
"We'll handle our continent. Algeria will serve as a third if needed, since there are fifty-nine among us."
Germany looked pointedly at South America, who were still discussing among themselves. Finally, Brazil shrugged and stood up.
"Guess that'll be me."
As Germany scribbled down the name, the rest of the nations turned to the last continent left.
"North America, you're next aru."
The countries of the remaining continent looked at each other in uncertainty.
"Of course, America would've been the leader if he was here, but since he isn't…"
France looked pointedly at a certain young nation, who gulped and sank deeply into his chair. Seeing this, Cuba frowned and raised his hand.
"I'd say our leader should be Canada then."
Said nation squeaked in surprise at the sound of his name and looked up in fear as he saw the rest of the world looking towards him.
Mexico seemed uncertain for a moment, but nodded after a few seconds.
England paused in his argument with France to look in his direction with furrowed eyebrows.
"Canada? Are you sure? Will you be up to it?"
France glared at him and nailed him in the jaw with a fist.
"Imbecile! In case you don't recall, he is a member of the G8 and the second biggest power in North America. I think he will be fine."
England scowled and muttered an apology about forgetting him again as he gingerly rubbed the bruise on his face.
Germany sighed and wrote down the name of the currently trembling North American before looking towards the still bickering continent of Europe.
England glared towards him as if he was responsible for the whole mess, which in theory, was correct, as he had stirred up a slight ruckus in the continent with his self-appointment.
"Yes, we have decided it will be me."
France glared and stepped on his rival's foot, but ultimately stayed silent. Russia didn't seem any less furious as he glowered at his reluctantly accepted leader, but likewise did not protest.
"Good, then it is settled. All that we have left to do now is draw our teams."
England stood up and walked towards the hat, aware that he was once again being flanked by China and Spain. He picked it up and brought it to the front of the room and placed it before the whiteboard before turning to address the waiting nations.
"We will draw first since we're already here. After that, we'll start from Germany and go counter-clockwise. There must be at least three people at the front of the room at all times to confirm the validity of your draw. If you're called into a team by someone else, come up here and stand with them. If you accidentally draw your own name or the name of someone already on a team, simply throw it in the waste bin. When you've all gathered, walk to the side of the room so we can easily discern the groups at the end."
Canada paled. He was sitting three seats counter-clockwise from Germany, with only France and America's empty seat between them.
England was first, and as he reached towards the hat, China made sure to stir up the names before he stuck his hand in.
"Eye's closed aru."
The island nation glared at him before complying, turning his head the other way for good measure. The room was silent save for the rustling of paper as England pulled out three slips.
He scrutinized them for a few seconds before announcing his team aloud, China looking over his shoulder to ensure he wasn't making up any of them.
"Denmark, New Zealand, Netherlands, you're with me."
The three nations glanced towards each other before rising to join their new group mate. The four proceeded to the side of the room as China prepared for his turn.
"Switzerland, Austria, Sweden. We'll be working together aru."
The former two looked at each other in surprise before huffing and looking away in disdain, rising sulkily to join China at the front of the room. Sweden followed a short while behind, a silent giant tracing their footsteps.
Spain went next, covering his hands and facing the other way as he too pulled forth the names of his group.
"France, South Korea, India."
Shortly after the second and third groups had left the front of the room, Germany stood up and walked towards the hat. Canada hunched his shoulders, taking a deep breath to calm his nerves as he rose and followed, seeing as France had already been picked onto a group himself. Estonia, the one after him, trailed his lead.
Germany nodded towards him and Canada understood his silent message. Forcing his hands not to shake, he place Kumajirou on the ground and mixed the slips of paper together once more before offering the hat to his colleague. The stern nation closed his eyes and turned away as he placed a stiff hand into the pile of names, the very force of his thrust throwing Canada slightly off balance.
"Australia, Turkey, and… Scotland?"
Germany looked towards England in confusion.
"I believe you are the sole representative of the United Kingdom of Britain here, are you not?"
The island nation groaned and looked the other way.
"In a situation as dire as this one, I thought it would be best to involve as many others as possible. I placed the names of all my brothers."
Canada and Germany shared a glance before the latter handed the hat to him.
"Fine then. Australia and Turkey, let's go."
As the group of three made their way to the side of the room, Canada felt his stomach lurch as Russia, the next in line, rose to meet them at the front. Then Estonia gave him a nervous nod of encouragement as the northern country handed him the hat. He watched as the man nudged his glasses and stirred the papers once more before holding out the names to him, just as he had done seconds ago for Germany.
Inhaling deeply, Canada did as he'd seen the others before him, removing his glasses and pocketing them as he covered his eyes with a gloved hand, making sure to turn away so as to avert suspicion. He reached into the hat and felt among the rough textures of about two hundred pieces of folded paper, hoping desperately that he wouldn't pick a name that would be too difficult to work with.
At last, he distinguished the sensation of three separate slips, and uncovering his eyes, he made sure that he had the precise amount before opening them up with trembling hands. He absorbed the names printed before him, and with a voice just barely enough for the room to hear, he announced the members of the newly formed team.
"Hong Kong, Norway, and Hungary."
End Chapter 5
Note: Australia is kinda both a country and a continent, and its a little complicated to explain. It is, however, also a part of Oceania, so it made more sense to group him along that way.
Ok, there we are, chapter five is finally out. Again, long wait, unannounced hiatus, a plethora of excuses probably no one really cares about. If you need an explanation, it's probably along the lines of what I wrote in the author's note last chapter. Huge writer's block and all, couldn't write more than a few sentences for the last couple of months. Sorry?
Alright, now onto the chapter. Right now, the world is having a serious issue and no one knows who to trust, so they've set up a system to stop any potential conspirers in their tracks. But is that enough? Will they achieve their objectives before the three day limit is up? And will Canada be able to work well with the team he has been grouped with?
Speaking of Canada, I know he doesn't have much of a presence in this chapter. I know the story is Canada-centric (at least for the moment), but I also wanted to have the other countries actively participating as well, because as sad as it is, most meetings probably do run with Canada saying little, if anything at all. His teammates aren't very familiar with him either, save for Hong Kong, who's at least his adopted brother if both having England as their guardian at one point is enough to go by.
See, I purposely tried to keep the teams as random as possible, which is why the members of each group tend to have had little connection beforehand, or at least, from what has been seen of canon Hetalia events. There are however nations working with those whom they are more familiar with, just as they should be if the teams were really picked randomly.
Btw, I was really surprised to discover that North America had so many countries, and actually more than South America. Man, I feel really stupid now. Should've paid more attention in Geography class.
Sorry for long author's note. Sherlockdetective99, signing out.