A Million Miles to One
Disclaimer: Hetalia belongs entirely to Hidekaz Himaruya. None of the events in this story are designed to mirror real life. Don't start flaming me just because you think that your country is being portrayed in a negative fashion.
Background: This story is set one year after the dissolution of NATO, and six months after the discovery of multiple new oil deposits in Australia. America, contrary to the events that are occurring now, has not pulled out of the East.
Pairings: GerIta, SpaMano, sorta-kinda-USUK, and a few others...
23rd August, 2014
"The way I see it, there is only one remaining solution." England sighed, running a tired hand through his messy blonde hair. "We pull out of the East. For good. We have already done-"
"What!" To no one's surprise, America had leapt up from his seat, blue eyes wide behind wire-framed glasses.
"Be reasonable, America," said Germany, calmly meeting the Nation's frantic gaze. "Our economies cannot afford the extra expense of what could quite possibly be a futile mission. As it is, the European Union-"
"The Union is practically finished," America retaliated, gesturing wildly around the conference table. England and Germany followed the sweep, quickly assessing the other nations present; all were looking unbearably fatigued, lips tight with an accumulation of stress and pain.
"Your point?" asked Germany wearily, sinking slowly back into his chair.
"My point is…" America seemed to be grasping for the correct words: words which would convey his message without completely alienating his contacts. But then, his open face seemed to set, and he cleared his throat roughly. "My point is that you can all do whatever the hell you want. Let me do the same."
There was a moment's hushed silence. North Italy, who had up until this point been fast asleep, blinked dazedly, clinging tightly to Ludwig's shirt.
"That seems reasonable enough," said England, looking down at the table, so as to prevent himself from making eye-contact with anyone. "However, I cannot fund or condone any further action that you choose to take."
The freshly formed grin slipped from America's face.
"I second that."
"Also acknowledged, aru~"
As his last hopes of receiving economic support fell away, America felt a sharp stab to the chest, and he was unsure as to whether the pain stemmed from his country's wellbeing, or from his own volatile emotions.
"We will send through the official documents tonight," muttered England. "Meeting adjourned."
The countries slowly filed out through the gaping double doors, sometimes alone, sometimes murmuring softly to their neighbours. Alfred felt slightly ghost-like: everyone's eyes slid through him, and no one dared to touch him or speak to him, or even acknowledge his existence.
England, who had finally packed up his briefcase, similarly turned to go. But a heavy hand on his shoulder stopped him in his tracks.
"What do you want, America?"
America bit his lip, glancing away, out through one of the arching windows, towards the darkening London sky: for once untainted by rain.
"When you said that you couldn't help me out… Did you really mean that… you wouldn't? If you were given the choice?"
Arthur finally looked back up, and America flinched at the unadulterated numbness of his gaze. The right hand corner of his mouth had flicked up into an emotionless smirk, devoid of both sympathy and hate.
"That was… perceptive of you."
America's grasp slackened, and England lightly knocked his arm away, disappearing down the empty corridor.
Later that day
The fax came through at eight o'clock, the harsh dial-tone jilting America out of his reverie. In the corner of the 'family' room, the muted television flickered off, and the lights died overhead.
It obviously didn't take much to max out the power in England, these days.
America retrieved the extensive, yet deceptively simple document from the slot, and, with shaking hands, he lit a spare candle.
A line of familiar signatures ran their way down two sides of a page, followed by another lengthy list of criteria.
He signed without a second thought.
2nd September, 2014
At three a.m., America picked up the phone, bleary-eyed, hair dishevelled, with a sinking feeling in his heart.
"America. This is Germany."
America frowned in confusion, leaning over to switch on his bedside light. The room glowed softky around him, and shadows flickered weirdly in their corners.
Terrified, he flicked it swiftly back off again.
"America? Are you there?"
"Yeah," he replied shakily. "What's up, Germany?"
"You were right. The Union has been dissolved."
It took Alfred's sleep-befuddled brain a few moments to comprehend the message.
"The European Union?"
"Yes," said Germany patiently. "The plans were finalized only a few hours ago. We are splitting off into out prior economic systems. You should be closely monitoring your stock-market for any changes that this division may entail."
"Will everyone be okay?"
Germany heaved a sigh, which rustled down the telephone line like wind through crusted Autumn leaves. "Most of us will be fine. However…"
"Don't attempt to help," Germany warned. "Attitudes towards you aren't very positive, at the moment. Your constant requests for assistance without return were considered to be very presumptuous."
"Spain. Greece, to an extent. Italy."
Now America could hear the stress lining his tone, and he knew that, due to Italy's hardship, Germany wouldn't be faring too well, emotionally…
"Don't try anything," repeated Germany, mistaking his silence for dangerous thought. "Acting the hero isn't going to help anyone, especially yourself."
"Sure," America conceded. "Thanks… ya know… for bothering to tell me."
"Don't mention it. To anyone."
He dropped the phone back into the dock, rolled over, and attempted to go back to sleep. He never did. He waited for the ghosts to disappear, and watched the room grow slowly lighter, and when the news of a series of major crashes in the American stock market arrived, unannounced at his front door, he wasn't at all surprised.
Neither was he surprised – only wounded – when certain agreements were declared void, and all European trade with America was permanently halted.
16th October, 2014
Two months later, there was not a single American worker, soldier or student left in the East. Costs had vastly risen, and continued exportation and alliance had proved to be much too expensive.
Saudi Arabia responded in turn.
14th November, 2014
America, shaking violently, and fighting down the urge to vomit, made a frantic call to Australia.
16th November, 2014
Two days later, Australia agreed to the mass mining and exportation of coal. The plan was focused expressly on America.
30th November, 2014
"G'day, Britain," Australia greeted, as the other nation stepped off his private aeroplane. He was surprised by the distinct iciness lining his mentor's eyes, and he subconsciously braced himself for the confrontation that was sure to come.
The pair walked in silence to the waiting vehicle. The dark-tinted windows rolled slowly up, blocking them from view.
"How are you?" asked England. His tone was pleasant enough, but there was an underlying note of sarcasm which made the hairs on the back of Australia's neck stand on end.
"Fine. And yourself?"
England seemed to consider the question. "I'm not feeling too well at the moment, actually. My left ear's itching like mad."
Australia frowned, wondering where this was going. When it came to business, England always had a hidden agenda.
"Funny," the other nation continued. "I could've sworn that I've felt the same itch before… Must've been… what, three hundred years ago, now?" He looked up at Australia beseechingly, as if seeking his opinion.
Australia racked his brain, searching for the relevant facts….
Then his face paled, correlating perfectly with a sickening swooping sensation, hurtling down from his throat to his stomach.
"Very slow, aren't you?" commented England, nonchalantly.
Australia didn't dare to speak.
"Tell me. Are you consciously trying to antagonize our relationship?"
"Our relationship? I don't-"
"Would you care to explain the story behind your sudden oil exports to America, and your equally sudden withdrawal to everywhere else?"
"I'm still supplying Europe with oil!" exclaimed Australia. "But I've never been one of the sole providers before. Now that the Arab nations have withdrawn their supply, I-"
"Let me rephrase," cut in England. "You are providing America with large quantities of oil, disproportionate to the quantity demanded of you in your original agreement. Why is that?"
"I was hardly supplying anything before," said Australia. His palms, clamped together in his lap, were starting to perspire. "But…" He broke off, a mere second too late, praying that Briatin wouldn't have noticed.
"But what, Australia?"
"…there's a new arrangement." The words tumbled out in a confused flurry, choking in Australia's throat. He had to cough to clear his wind-pipe.
England was silent for a moment, as if he was digesting the information. "You didn't inform me of this."
Soft. Dangerous. Only made worse by the confused hurt backing the statement.
"I wasn't instructed to tell you. Or any other European nation, at that."
Australia could feel England's eyes boring holes into the sides of his head. A bead of sweat slipped down from his hairling, and it felt unnervingly like blood.
"No, Oz," said England, chuckling. "You were instructed not to tell me."
"Is there a difference?"
"Yes. A huge one."
After a brief silence, England began to softly hum. The tune was familiar… an old war song, perhaps. He went on for a few verses, and then paused, as if a stray thought had suddenly crossed his mind.
"Why do you keep trying to lie to me? You need more practice, you know."
Australia attempted to protest, but stopped abruptly as he registered England's next words.
"Last night, I received an interesting call from Russia. He seemed to think that we could somehow strengthen our relations if he notified me of the new American-Australian contract. SO tell me… why did Russia know of this matter when I didn't? We are still part of the same Commonwealth, correct?"
Australia did not dare deny or confirm. His neck and jaw were frozen in numb, horrified shock.
"Unless…" Now England laughed: really laughed. "So predictable. You're searching for allies. You notify Ivan, in the vain hope that it will win his favour. And he notifies me, hoping to accomplish the exact same thing."
Australia flushed darkly, turning away in a hopeless attempt to hide his face.
"Let me make my point," said England. "Your first responsibility is to Britain. Make sure that you uphold that. But… if you wish to forge alliances, I would advise that you select better candidates."
"What do you mean by that?" The words were little more than a hoarse croak – barely audible, despite the silence.
"America is finished," England stated, bluntly.
The words resonated around the car: inside Australia's head, and he had to squint to dim the sudden racket.
"The European... prior European Union isn't looking too great either," retorted Australia.
"Britain is faring well. As are France and Germany."
"What about everyone else?"
England's huge eyebrows furrowed, forging tiny creases in the bridge of his nose. "Oz, sometimes you have to look out for your own people above all else. That is a simple fact of life."
And although this statement twanged a nasty string inside Australia's heart, he couldn't find a valid argument with which to retaliate. Bringing up 'loyalty' would only open himself up to criticism: What about your loyalty to Britain?
Instead, he dove for the last resort. Their personal lives.
"I heard… I thought… that you loved him."
England's face instantly grew stony, and his lips curled upward, baring his teeth.
"Then you bloody well thought wrong, didn't you?"
He wrenched open the car door, clambering out and striding angrily back, across the desert dust, to the waiting jet.
Australia stared after him, unable to shake the feeling that he had just made a massive mistake.
England muttered a few terse words to the waiting attendants, who vacated the main cabin and closed the doors behind him, leaving him entirely alone.
And it was only as the plane took flight that he allowed himself to collapse into a chair, and allowed himself to feel, and allowed himself to cry.
21st December, 2014
America awoke in his Manhattan apartment to chaos, and eleven new text messages.
The winter streets were chilly and bare, with only the occasional passing cab left to prove that the city hadn't been completely abandoned during the night. The climate was tense, on-edge, and the majority of America's citizens were enclosed in their houses, gathered around radios and television sets, anxiously waiting for any sign of… well, anything.
And that was what was so frustrating about this whole mess, America thought. The sheer lack of global panic, of emergency, despite the heaving political climate.
The oil trade with Australia was only a temporary fix for a mammoth problem. America had no way of properly compensating, for there was nothing to compensate with. Since no one could identify what the problem actually was, finding a working solution was proving to be difficult.
His eyes wandered unwillingly over to the bedside table, where his flashing mobile phone resided.
Eleven messages. One from Japan. Another from Australia. All the rest were from England.
Japan's was simply. A subtle, probing check-up on the current state of his affairs. America deleted it.
Australia's was slightly more earth-shattering.
'Separated from the Commonwealth. This doesn't change anything for you, mate.'
That would make things easier for them, at least… America vaguely wondered whether New Zealand was also contemplating a split.
'I don wan…'
'Can I SeE…'
'Im sorry, but…'
'I cantwork now…'
Such a simple word. So meaningless, but still…
With trembling fingers, America dialled England's number. On the third ring, he answered.
"Yeah," he replied, left breathless by the sudden surge of relief. "England… Are you okay? It's just that… You sent me all those texts, and I thought that-"
"Sorry about that," said England brusquely. "I was drunk. It won't happen again."
"But Artie… I just… I'm sorry for not calling you after the conference. I was really pissed off, ya know? But I understand why, now. So-"
"I appreciate the thought," said England. "But it wasn't necessary."
America sighed, walking back over to view the dull morning sky, stretching endlessly above his land, blotting out the sun. "Can… can I see you? I'll fly over to your place, and everything. I'll buy you dinner, and we could go see a movie…"
"America." England choked, and blinked hastily to rid his eyes of the incomprehensible stinging that had seemed to plague them lately. "Alfred. I can't."
He hung up. Alfred didn't. He just stood there, in his ratty old t-shirt and boxers, listening to the dial tone.
AN. Let's hear it, everybody. 'DAAAAWWW…' All I could think of was America, standing alone in his bedroom, looking all adorable and heartbroken. Love it? Like it? Hate it? Please leave me a review. ConCrit is appreciated. It lets me know whether my characters are OC.
Speaking of OC's… You may have found Australia (in particular) to be this. I find it very hard to write him as a 'true blue Aussie.' I have also never visited the Northern Territory (which is mostly desert, and where he and England met up), but I would love to go someday!