"Fly with me."
"You heard me… Fly with me."
"I-I'm not too keen about being… in air, Amelia."
Alfred really was nervous about this. He looked to the woman at his side, uncertain of what to say to her, to convince her that her feet belonged on the ground, with his. However, Amelia Earhart was not to be deterred. Her enthusiasm was not helping. She was simply overly excited about her trip across the world. But he feared for her. If she missed one island, she was in trouble. No one would save her. It would rely heavily on her navigator and Alfred wasn't sure if the bimbo she had working with her was going to be able to handle the job she was assigning him. He wanted to go out and find her the best navigator the world had to offer, but she refused, though she did laugh at the thought. She had flown solo so many times that she was a good navigator herself, but he worried still.
"You'll be fine, Al!" she exclaimed, grinning broadly. "It's the bee's knees once you get up there!"
"I've never flown an airplane before, Amelia. Besides… You've got your whole life ahead of you. You just walked down the middle aisle!"
Amelia shook her head but there was a small smile on her face as she looked at her nation. That was expected for women about her age – to marry, but then again, Alfred liked her because she was different. She was refreshing compared to the other women who stuck to themselves, staying at home and conforming to what was expected of them. Flappers were always something that Alfred enjoyed seeing on his nights out on the town. She was married now, but she saw it more as a partnership than a relationship. Both she and her husband won bread for their family – technically his family because they hadn't had any children together. She spent a lot of her time with Alfred anyways, when she wasn't with her husband, which made people gossip but Amelia never really cared what other people thought of her.
"Stop being such a wet blanket! You've driven a car?"
Alfred nodded. He had driven a car. He had driven the first car and many of the new models after that. Henry Ford had personally asked America to test drive his first Model T and every car after that. It was just a given to let America test the newest and latest inventions from every company across his own country. He even took her in his newest car, driving her around town, taking her to the beach or other aviator shows. She loved the freedom that Alfred could give her – more than any other human could, because when Alfred was the ones giving the excuses as to why she missed one thing or another, then no one could argue with him because he was the nation. Though the citizens of his country didn't even know he existed, he was still high enough ranking to throw around his name and let people understand that he was a force to be reckoned with.
"Steered a yacht?"
Alfred nodded again. He had also taken her on one of his yachts, one that some Hollywood star had given him. At first, Alfred never saw the appeal of the silver screen. The actors and actresses had fake identities set up for them, lives were controlled and marriages were even set up to make people like the actors more. It made no sense to literally give the company everything that made you who you were. He would never let someone have that amount of control over him. He would rather eat England's scones and chase them down with bleach. It'd probably send him to the hospital to get his stomach pumped and make doctors wonder why he hadn't died. But he was a nation. Bleach and scones couldn't quite kill him. He would be a medical mystery for doctors for the rest of time. No one knew quite why nations were immortal, they just were.
"You're going to say it's dangerous, right? Or is this 'cause I'm a dame?"
She stepped in closer, to look at Alfred's face better, now all downcast. She lifted his chin, so that he would look at her, directly. He could never tell her it was because she was a woman. It was a far cry from the truth. He was proud that she was going to try to prove the world wrong about her flight across the Pacific, but he worried of course. He wanted a woman, any woman, but his precious Amelia, to risk the flight. However, her heart was dead set on it and he couldn't bring it in himself to say no to her so he relented. He loved her far too much and just about anything could happen in the skies with no one to save her. She would be in a fair amount of danger because of this. But she had risked her life when flying and breaking all of the other records she had broken.
"'s not like that, 'Melia…" Alfred said, "I'm just… I don't want anything to happen to you… that's all."
Amelia smiled at her nation. She recalled the day he approached her, introducing himself as the United States of America, telling her how proud he was of her and how he wished there were more people with as much munch as she had. So she took the packet she'd hidden beneath her jacket and held it out, offering it to Alfred. He stared at her, dumbfounded. At her insistence, he opened the parcel, to find a brown leather jacket – like one he'd seen Amelia wear often when she went flying. Except this one had a patch on it – his flag. As he lifted it out of the box he felt tears well up in his eyes. None of the humans he ever knew had bought him anything, not something with as much emotional value as that jacket had for Amelia.
"By facing your fears you find strength. There's more to life than being a passenger."
Alfred was awestruck. She was one of the most gorgeous, and striking girls he'd ever met in his life, yet she was so kind, so caring for him. She didn't care that he was a nation, that he would eventually outlive her or that he worked for the government. She loved him, just as he loved her. He had a ring in his breast pocket because he was going to ask her to marry him, but she remarried someone else. After she finished her flight, he was going to give it to her, propose, like any good man would, hope that she would say yes, despite being married already. She had already divorced once. What was a second time? He would marry her, be happy for a short period of time. It was hard because the economy was still recovering from the depression but Roosevelt had done a good job. Things were getting better. And for a minute, as his mind looked around to grasp at all the thoughts that were going around his mind, he just stared at her.
"Don't forget this either, Alfred. Adventure is worthwhile in itself."
"No one has made it!" her husband shouted.
"I will," Amelia growled, "I'm going to fly around the world."
America listened outside their door. He had been told that name wasn't going to be home that night so he had come to wish Amelia a safe trip. He looked down at the flowers in his hand. His heart had gotten ahead of him. He was going to try to propose before she left but he knew he couldn't. He would lie if she asked about the flowers. They were just to wish her well before her flight – that's what he would tell her. He really hoped he could get rid of them before she noticed. He never got her flowers before. He bought her chocolates and took her out to dinners before, some of the nicer dinner places he could afford but she did like burgers in a little place off of Route 66. He found he liked them too. The burgers were better than the barbeque.
"It can't be done…"
"Well, someone has to change that!"
Alfred smiled to himself at that. That was Amelia for you. Even her husband couldn't control her. No one could when it really came down to it, not even her parents who wanted her to be prim and proper and lady like. Alfred didn't hate them. They just rubbed him wrong because they sounded like England… It made him remember the Revolution. She was the freest woman he had ever met with a vision that touched the clouds themselves. She was just someone who demanded certain things from life. If she wasn't given them, she took them by force. No one believed a woman could fly. She proved them wrong. No one thought she could break she could break so many records, but so many had been set by her.
"Please know that I am aware of the hazards," Amelia continued, "I want to do it because I want to do it."
She had walked out, heading into her garden, so Alfred met her there, heading through the shadows to make sure her husband didn't see. The last thing he wanted were cops to come and try to arrest their nation. Roosevelt, while a goodhearted man, would be beyond livid if Alfred got arrested. He hadn't done anything that stupid since the prohibition era. He got caught at a Speakeasy back then and got toasted. Amelia thought that story was funny because she could never imagine him drunk now. She had squeaked when he snuck up behind her, wrapping his arms around her, knowing she needed the comfort. She looked up at him and then looked back out at the lake outside her house. She sighed to herself but wrapped her arms around his, holding her in place. As if he would go anywhere…
"You heard then…?"
Alfred didn't have to answer. She already knew that he had. She looked down, noticing the flowers at her side. She sighed again but put a hand on the flowers, touched that he would go out and get them for her. He had never done that before for him. She was tired of having so many people doubt her. She wanted people to respect her for being her, not because she was just a woman but because she was a good pilot – a spanking good one. She just wanted the freedoms the sky had to offer and she wanted to take Alfred with her one day. He promised to go, after she finished her journey around the world. That way she had initiative to come back to him. She laughed when he said that. She promised that she would come back, alive.
"I'll make it… I know I will…" she whispered to Alfred.
"I'll go tell the world you're on your way," Alfred whispered back.
She went missing.
Alfred went to each of her memorial services, all across the country. He left a single red rose at every service for her. Francis would thought it was romantic of him do to such a thing – the red roses part at least. He listened to speakers who remembered her but could never bring himself to speak in front of everyone. He spoke with her friends, family and fellow aviators. But he never took off that jacket. Even when others looked down on him for not wearing black as the proper sign of mourning, the jacket did not leave his person. Alfred would never get to marry her, to propose, to hold her, to kiss her, to do thousands of other things because she was gone. Raw emotion choked him and made his throat too raw to even speak. Alfred hadn't eaten, hadn't slept, and hadn't even moved from his room.
He had curled under his blankets, unable to cry anymore. Now he was just sitting on the couch, unable to bring himself to enjoy the nice weather. He hadn't even felt welcomed in his own home. 'Home Sweet Home' was a mantra that he rejected. It wasn't because that's the kind of thing you find hung on the walls of old people's homes, crocheted by prissy little prima donnas who want their house to appear be perfect in every way, shape and form. Alfred was immersed in his pain. H thought that none of the other nations knew why he wore the jacket either – save for England. The British man showed up at his door one day. Alfred let him in, half willingly. Arthur had sat down only after he had brewed tea for the both of them.
"How are you holding up lad?" Arthur asked.
"Dunno what you're talking about…" Alfred mumbled.
Arthur sighed. He knew Alfred was suffering from Amelia. He had felt it all himself. Alfred lost the love of his life – his fly girl. Arthur had lost his wife – his queen. Granted, Alfred was going to propose, but he hadn't. He wanted it to be special, but Arthur's wife went from old age. He reached under his shirt and pulled out a chain that hung around his neck. At first Alfred was too surprised to notice that England hadn't corrected him on his grammar to notice what was on the necklace but then he saw the ring, glittering in the light. It was a wedding band. Alfred instantly clutched at the pocket in the aviator's jacket, feeling the small box next to his heart. He felt as if England had just stabbed him in the heart just by showing him that.
"I know what you're feeling…" Arthur said, "I know the feeling all too well…"
Alfred now stared at Arthur in horror, the realization setting in as he stared at the glittering golden ring around the chain. The younger nations swallowed thickly. England lost a love too. He did understand after all and he had even come to show him that he was still moving on because of it. He was still playing the role of mentor and father when America needed him the most and he appreciated it for once instead of complaining. It made Alfred wonder if other nations too had felt pain like this. He felt it would be too painful for anyone to discuss. It was why he thought he was the only one. But it seemed he was wrong. Arthur had felt a pain like he had. Perhaps other nations like France or China had gone through heartache similar. It was a curse of being a nation. They outlived everyone aside from each other.
"D-Does it get any easier?" Alfred whispered.