"Hey, are you arright?"

England slowly opened his eyes, realizing that he'd dozed off- for who knows how long. A blush crept across his face, wiping off a bit of drool from his cheek- which made him notice a strange taste in his mouth. In turn that made him understand that it was because he hadn't eaten, which lastly made his stomach begin to growl. Ignoring it, he tried to force himself back into a reality that didn't quite seem to fit him.

"Engrand? Engrand-san?"

Finally recognising that someone was speaking, he sat up abruptly- causing him to nearly bash his head against theirs, as they had leaned over him while he slept. At the last minute he jerked back, preventing the first painful fate but gaining the full force of another; the back of his head cracked against the windowsill, so hard that it would no doubt leave a large welt. For a couple seconds, Iggy could see nothing but stars.

"Oh, dear." the voice said, with the air of mild concern. Rubbing the back of his head and trying to focus his eyes, Arthur sat up more slowly to meet the brown-eyed gaze of Japan.

"Ah, sorry. I guess I stayed up a bit too late last night." England muttered, eyebrows furrowing. What had he been dreaming about again? It had been something important... Damn my bastard mind! he growled to himself, frustrated at his poor memory. "So, what do you want?"

"Ah, yes. I was wrondering if you courd do me a favor and drop something off at Romania's house. He didn't show up today, and I have a feering that this was very important to him."

"Ahh, sure. What is it?" England asked, eyeing the plain cardboard box in Kiku's hands. Gingerly the Japanese man set the box in his lap.

"It's Brood."

"What?" England exclaimed in shock, shoving the box away from him disgustedly. "I'm not delivering bl- you wine bastard, that's sick!"

Japan nodded slightly, deep eyes brooding and thoughtful. As always. "My aprorogies, Engrand-san, arrow me to exprain better. It's a new product he asked for, an iron supprement. It's called 'Brood'."

"Oh." A little consoled, he picked up the box and examined it. "So, do you drink it or...?"

"Yes, it's drunken. Now excruse me, England-san, I must be going. Thank you for your assistance." With that, he bowed politely and turned away.

"Yeah... you're welcome." he answered awkwardly to Japan's retreating back. Rubbing his aching head again, he surveyed the room.

To his surprise, it was almost empty- indicating that the meeting had ended quite a while ago. A bolt of shock had his head throbbing painfully. How long was I out?

His heart stopped skipping beats when his emerald eyes came to rest on America, looking a little bit lost and helpless where he sat beside him. The expression on his face, that eager expression he had when he noticed that he was awake, was so sweet and puppylike that England couldn't help but break underneath it. Smiling tiredly, he tousled Alfreds' dirty-blonde hair until he produced a laugh.

Taking control of the situation, he rested one knee against England's chair in such a way that prevented him from standing- and as he struggled to, his leather-clad hands grasped his shoulders and pulled him in for a strong, but not rough, kiss. For a moment all of Iggy's sanity splattered like shrapnel, and in the time it took for him to frantically pull it back together he was brushing tongues with his American lover, a blush creeping over his cheeks.

Feeling the flush, he broke off and turned away in embarrassment and an amount of masked shame. I look like a drunk idiot.

America's hands were gentle as he used his fingertips to lift England's chin, stealing one or two more little tastes of his lips. "I guess we're going to Romania's, then?"

"Wine bastard! Can't I have any amount of privacy without-" Arthur exclaimed feverishly. He wasn't truly mad, but he needed to distract him from his weaker emotions while they rested in such plain sight.

"It wasn't exactly a private conversation, dude." he grinned in reply, as usual not letting his harsh words faze him. Taking him by his wrists, he hauled Iggy to his feet.

At the movement, his stomach growled loudly. This seemed to faze America, for some reason; the light smile became strained, then fell from his face altogether. Biting into his tongue, England looked elsewhere. Half on him expected another childish outburst from the masculine man with an infant's brain. But, catching England by surprise, he pursed his lips and stayed in deep silence. Part of this worried him even more than any screaming.

Awkwardly they stood there for a couple minutes, neither of them saying a word. What in bloody hell have I done this time?

"America?"

There was no reply but a thoughtful quiet. The pain of that was sufficient to make him flinch. Shaking his blonde head, wanting to scream, sob, anything to make him notice the wounds he was inflicting with his disappointed silence, Iggy gritted his teeth and marched towards the door. His eyes were filling up with tears. Angrily he bit them back. Don't think you get the privilege to cry over this!

As usual, though, America had his hand enclosed in thick, supple leather before he could escape. He looked down at their hands- not exactly surprised, but wondering what had brought it on.

"You won't get away that easily, dude!" He spoke amusedly, in a way that could only be portrayed as comforting. As England continued to stare, he crinkled the corners of his eyes in an invisible smile and squeezed his hand. "I love you,"

"Y-yeah, yeah, I love you too... now can I get to my car?" England snapped in reply. But judging by the laugh America had noticed his self-conscious shifting and the way he automatically squeezed back.

"You can talk to me about anything, dude. You understand?"

"Yes, I understand already! Now please-"

A weak little scream had both of them jumping. Heart stuttering, England glanced over at America.

"Did you hear that?" he hissed, heart stuttering.

"Yeah... it sounded... kind of like-"

Canada. Another scream sounded, much louder this time. Following the direction of the scream, he ran down the hallway to the dining room- not allowing himself time to think, forgetting to let go of America's glove. That turned out not to be such a problem; Alfred ran along beside him, then in front of him, pushing him behind.

"Stay behind me. The hero will protect you!"

"I don't need protecting, you git!" he retorted, clinging to his arm anxiously. The screams had broken to sobs, which emanated from the kitchen

What they found didn't surprise him- no, not in the least. But it made his heart jolt and his stomach turn. Canada lay crying in a trembling heap on the ground beside the stove, his slender body hunched over Kilimanjaro. Blood trickled slowly from the corner of his mouth, and one eye was swollen shut. The other stared, wide-eyed and fearful, at his attacker- an overbearing, terrifying Russia.

For a moment, the three of them- Canada excluded, being too consumed by fear- just stared at each other in shock. The only sounds that could be heard were the American's heavy breathing, Canada's whimpering, the soft 'kolkolkol' from Russia, and from England the loud pounding of blood in his ears. Time seemed to freeze in place as each assessed the situation.

Suddenly Russia grinned dementedly, breaking the spell with shattering force. Three things began to happen at once; Russia began to bring the pipe down upon Matthew once again- a pipe that England hadn't truly noticed until then. At the same time Alfred sprang to action, as always being an idiot and trying to act as heroic as his beloved Superman. Lastly, England placed himself in front of Canada. I would deserve it more than he does, anyway. he reasoned, thinking of how he'd managed- against all his attempts to stop it- to bring America into his world of stupid, pointless problems. Canada was still sobbing, he could hear the sounds from behind him. He pursed his lips and stiffened his posture, lifting his chin with quiet dignity. He would take this like a man, not a mouse. If he could still do that by now.

America had managed to stop a lot of the force behind Ivans blow, but not enough to prevent some amount of pain. England gasped, breath knocked out of him as the pipe crashed into his chest. It was a sharp pain, awakening. For the first time in a long time, through the ache spreading in his chest, he could really push his tangled emotions aside and focus.

Stumbling backwards, he stared at his hands in awe. What had caused this strange reaction?

Though close to doubling over in pain, Iggy straightened and with deliberate slowness lifted his gaze to Russia's. There wasn't any feeling behind it- it just seemed like the thing to do.

"England!" America cried, reaching out towards him. His blue eyes seemed worried, but England was too focused on the pain to understand it fully. When he focused on this physical cruelties, it was easier to breathe...

"He's half your size." he murmured to Ivan, voice hollow and void of its usual anger. The color seemed to have drained out of Alfred's face, he noticed. Then, with a sudden flush, America lunged forward and wrenched the metal pipe from Ivans hands. Funny, wasn't he afraid of Ivan before? Some of the feeling was starting to come back to him, as the pain numbed. A soft blush spread over his cheeks. His stupid hero complex... he's protecting me.

"Dammit, dude, will you watch where you're swinging that thing!" he cried, waving the iron pipe at the slightly startled Russia, then tossing it aside.

"I was just having a little conversation with Canada, I did not mean to have your mate jump in the way." he smiled, with a voice that clearly stated that he didn't actually mind what had happened. Standing and brushing himself off, he laughed. "But it can wait until later, no? Goodbye, then, everyone." With a significant glance at the shivering, moaning Canadian he walked to where the pipe had landed, picked it up, and left with one last disarming smile.

At the same moment England found himself collapsing on all fours, breaths coming in quick pants as a sudden, searing pain caught him in aftermath. But he wasn't the one who cried out- it was America, kneeling beside him and pulling him to his chest.

"I'm fine, you stupid git." he complained, wrenching away- although truly that was the last thing he'd wanted to do. "Go tend to the one who actually needs tending to."

This brought Canada more into attention- his small, frozen position, the blood that smeared his face and arm, the fear and pain in his doe-like eyes. England tried not to feel hurt when America left his side, to swing the other man courteously into his arms. Canada stayed frozen, barely even blinking.

"You 'kay, bro?" Alfred questioned, prodding his temple in confusion. Oh, no, not with the cheeseburgers again...

"Y-yes, I'm fine, brother..." Matthew whispered, tears streaming down his face. "I-I tried to make things private when he... when we... b-but he still says I've shamed him.."

Softly the older of the two began to say soothing words to the younger, as Arthur shook himself and rose awkwardly to his feet. He'd reached a new low, he noticed with a grim smile- he was pathetic enough to feel jealous of an abuse victim. Taking a deep breath, he quieted the urge to scream in frustration. Why couldn't his damned emotions understand that not everything was about him?

Sighing, he shook his head. He needed a break from this, from all of this, so badly. This strange situation- this life was beginning to affect his ability to think rationally.

England didn't feel his lips moving as he spoke, numb to the words he uttered. "Maybe he should stay at your place for a while... to make sure that Russia doesn't have at him again. To be on the safe side, I mean."

"Rad idea, dude!" America replied warmly.

At that Canada snugged up to America's chest with many thank-you's, making Englands stomach twist nauseatingly in greedy fury. He felt ready to kill, and he was fairly sure the only reason he refrained was because he couldn't decide... was it Canada he wanted dead, or himself? What the bloody hell is wrong with me?

"I can drive you two, if you don't mind stopping at Romania's first." he said, speaking like there was absolutely no out-of-place feeling running through him. If only the physical pain had lasted longer... just so he could think.

The fire that exploded in his chest at each step was too blunt to do enough, but the right amount to have him flinch each time his foot came down. Walking stiffly out of that and his pride, he went back to retrieve the box. America followed, carrying Canada- who was making adoring eyes up at Englands lover. Forever the introvert, England fisted his hands and narrowed his eyes at his destination.

By the time they reached the conference room again, it was empty of people. Good. No one would notice that there were frustrated tears in his eyes, and no one would ask repeatedly why he limped instead of walked. If they would've in the first place.

Without a word he picked up the box and tucked it under his arm. Then, on a whim, he grabbed the fork and examined it scrutinously. Something about the sharpness of its prongs spoke to him, even appealed to him. A strange feeling began to spread through his chest, telling him to keep it... for what purpose, he couldn't fathom- and he almost set it down because of that.

Then he remembered how clear his mind had been, how free he'd felt when Russia's attack had begun to take effect.

The fork glowed nicely in the light as it slid into his pocket.

He and everyone else is hanging, their screws are never tight enough

Living double lives, a friendship factory

Raising my antenna, I hear their talk. That guy is also a media monkey

A fraudulent way of business with a shrill voice, a dustley of existence

Though he supposed he should be giving his full attention to his brother while he was in such poor condition, America couldn't help but keep one eye on his beloved England. He was acting strange today. Had he been brainwashed by aliens or something? It seemed to be the only rational conclusion- after all, why else would he be acting so... odd? Alfred wanted to pull him into his arms and kiss him back to normal, but little groans from the cradle in which he held Matthew reminded him of how full his arms were already. Softly he kissed Canada's forehead, trying to quiet him down. It seemed to do the trick.

"Brother..." he whispered quietly, eyes wide with helpless wonder. Unsure how to react, he just smiled in reply and held him more closely. The curl on his brothers head bounced with each step.

"Well, looks like you're moving in again, bro." he laughed lovingly, then let his gaze travel once again to Iggy- just in time to see something white be enfolded in the fabric of his suitcoat pocket. America's head cocked to one side. So strange...

Then the Englishman looked up at him, and a beautiful flush fell over his cheeks. Tears glittered in his emerald eyes. America worriedly bit his lip. Was he still in pain, from...

From...

Anger suddenly took hold of his heart, white-hot and searing in its violent fury. How dare Russia do that to his love! No one was permitted to so much as touch the hero's boyfriend, and Ivan just up and- his face began to turn the same red as Englands, then deeper.

The look of hurt in Englands eyes at his change of expression stopped the anger dead. Stroking Matthews fair head thoughtfully- to be honest, half-wishing it being Englands- his voice and stance turned soft and concerned.

"Are you okay, man?" he asked, already coming up with plans to sweep him off his feet and care the hell out of him while still taking care of his dear brother. But Arthur just straightened, that usual steely glint coming back to his eyes, and nodded stiffly.

"Will you stop worrying? I'm bloody fine!" he growled, turning away.

America's heart ached, for the fact that his mate found it necessary to lie.


I didn't do very well on the accents... sorry... ^_^'