Ukraine's boss had forbidden her from visiting Russia, but nobody had said he couldn't visit her. The natural compulsion of nations to obey their leaders had made finding loopholes something of a game for them. Their countries' relations aside, Russia loved his sister, and the least he could do after the pain he'd caused her over the centuries was to drop in and see her occasionally.
This time, as he helped out carrying heavy loads and feeding the animals on her farm, he wondered who the strange little kid was.
Of course a kid hanging around wasn't unusual - Ukraine often found children and teens from the local villages to help her with the farm work. She needed the work and they needed the money. But this one, a smiling little girl with braided pigtails and grubby overalls, had a definite aura of something not quite human. Surely she couldn't be a micronation? He'd have heard if Ukraine had one of those. She didn't look like a local, either; her skin was an ambiguous shade of beige-brown under the dirt, her hair dark brown, and something about her facial features reminded him of Spain. When he heard her speaking to Ukraine her accent was definitely American, though her Ukrainian vocabulary and grammar were perfect.
To Russia's astonishment, the little girl reached into her overalls and pulled out a small bag, which clinked. Russia recognised the sound of money. The girl handed the bag to the beaming Ukraine, then looped a rope around the neck of a cow and headed off down the dirt track away from the farm.
Russia's curiosity could stand no more. He dropped his pitchfork and followed the child. He was careful to stay at a safe distance, unsure how she'd take to being followed. She didn't notice, dancing and singing; the song was in the universal nation-tongue, so she definitely wasn't a normal human, but what the heck was she?
A mile or two of walking took them to another farm. A smaller one, tattered and worn-down. A family were waiting; thin, their clothes patched, but their faces alight with hope. The little girl greeted them with a smile and handed over the cow's halter to the mother, patting the cow where its side swelled with a growing calf. The mother wept with joy, the father patted the girl's head, and the half-dozen children danced circles around her and the cow, laughing and whooping.
"You remember our agreement, right?" the girl said in Ukrainian, pointing to the cow. "Pass on the gift."
"Of course, of course," said the man, hugging his overjoyed wife. "We can't thank you enough, miss."
"No need to!" the girl said, giving him a gap-toothed grin. "Just look after the cow, and yourselves."
More weeping and laughing, and soon enough the girl was heading back down the path the way she came, as the family led their new cow into the field. Russia tried to hide, but the track was empty of any convenient rocks or vegetation larger than grass blades. The girl stopped in front of him and blinked up at him, and he giggled nervously and twisted his fingers in his scarf.
"I know you've been following me, sir," said the little girl in perfect if heavily-accented Russian. "You could have just talked to me. But it's okay if you're shy, a lot of my sisters and brothers are too." She extended a hand. "You're Mr Russia, aren't you? I've worked with your people too, but I don't think we've met. Ms Ukraine's told me a lot about you."
"Well, it's very nice to meet you, miss," said Russia, taking her tiny chubby hand in his huge hairy one. "If I may ask, who are you and, uh, what are you? You're clearly not a human, but you don't really seem like a nation."
"The name on my passport's Lucy West, and no, I'm not a nation. I'm an organisation. I was born in Spain, live in America, and I travel a lot. I go wherever people need me. You saw the cow, right?"
"Yes, I did. I thought you were going to sell it for Ukraine."
"Not exactly. The family on this farm have had problems recently and need money. I bought the cow from Ms Ukraine and gave it to them, and if it has a female calf, they agreed to give the calf to someone else who needs a cow. It's helping people, and it's helping your sister. It's slow, but it works. Mr West - that's my first boss - always said people who need milk do better with a cow than a cup."
"Wise words. But you haven't really answered my question," Russia pointed out.
Lucy beamed. "The name's Heifer International, Mr Russia. It's nice to meet you."
Inspired by finding out that the nation of Prussia originally sprang from the Order of St Maria, which was a group of travelling doctors (not in a telephone box, sadly) before it became a military order. I figure if Prussia started out as the personification of an organisation, he might not be the only one. Okay, this is an excuse to plug my favourite charities. Hope it inspires some people to donate ;) And if you don't have money to donate, spread awareness in the hopes someone else does. And write cute fanfics, because that makes the world better in teeny ways as well.