A/N: Hello again, everyone. The next chapter is here! Like I said, I'm going to try to get back to updating quicker. Because the quicker I update, the quicker I can be done with this story and move on to the next ones that I have planned. And, man, do I have a lot! It makes me so, soooo happy to read positive reviews. And, of course, that always makes writing new chapters fun for me! Though I have most of my stories already planned out, but that doesn't mean that they're not subject to change once I get into writing them. Whether it be unintentional due to me reading something or to me thinking that something should happen a certain way. I guess my stories can be influenced easily. The story itself is pretty concrete so it won't change. It's just little bits and pieces that can. So, don't think that you're missing out on a whole different story.

windalchemist001 : Lol, don't worry, not all is lost for the Hero and Ludwig!

RatedAwesome : I have to admit that it kind of made me sad as well when I was writing it as well, but alas, it had to be done. And I was kind of reluctant to write it because of the situation, but, again, it had to be done in order for the story to continue.

Mafia-chan : Thank you so much! It really made my day! I'm glad you like the way I write the characters. And I'm glad my writing brought out your feelings. Not just you, but everyone who had a reaction to it because they could sort of feel what Alfred and Ludwig felt. It makes it seem more real. Though, I have to ask, was Alfred out of character in just this chapter or in the whole story? I want to fix that so I don't stray too far from his character. But, I suppose he had to be a bit out of character for that situation (if that's what you were referring to). Though, sometimes, I find that being strictly in character restricts the character to certain emotions and actions. But, it is possible to keep a character in character, yet also putting one's own flavor into it.

Chevana : Wow, thank you, I'm glad you think that! And, no, you're absolutely not being rude. If anything, I actually welcome constructive criticism as long as it's not rude. Which defeats the purpose of being constructive. And, no, I don't intentionally do it. Actually I do, but that's only because it's easier to read. I've literally read stories where it's just a giant wall of text that made it difficult to read. So, I thought that I should double space the lines, but I do occasionally put paragraphs. And also, you're right about it being off because I have to say, that double spacing has been getting a bit awkward for me as of late, but I wasn't sure if I should change it considering most of the story is double spaced and if I suddenly switch format, it could be more awkward. But, I suppose it's not really fair for me to assume that people would have problems reading it in the traditional format. And I'm glad you pointed that out. Because if you read the reply I wrote to someone else, I said that writing a character strictly in character restricts them. And you're right about it being tiring, repetitive and, in some cases, downright annoying. I'll try to keep him in character but alter him a little bit to still make him him. But, I'm not sure what you mean by one sided. Thanks, I'm glad that you took the time to guide me in writing this story.

SUPER, MEGA, ULTRA, LONG chapter ahead! And, with all that said, Chapter 10 starts now!


Chapter 10

Alfred didn't know what he did after he had finally stopped crying.

Or, at least he didn't remember all that he had done once he stopped.

Let alone what he did for the next few days.

He remembered just lying in bed, staring out the window and up at the moon for a few hours and remembering all the good and fun times he had with Ludwig.

He then remembered finally getting up out of bed once he felt his stomach growling.

He opened the door and looked around to make sure that no one was around before walking out of his room and making his way downstairs.

He got into the kitchen and saw that there was no one there.

They must have all gone to their rooms.

And so, Alfred looked on the stove and saw that there was a pot on it.

Swallowing, Alfred walked over and made himself a plate full of food.

He sat down at the table and began eating.

And he noticed how good the food was.

Francis really knew how to cook!

Maybe he really should get those recipes from him.

To take home and make for himself once all this was over.

Alfred finished eating and put his plate in the sink before washing and putting it away.

Once he was done, he turned out all the lights and went back upstairs into his room.

He didn't remember anything else.

Well, after collapsing into his bed at least.

That was all he remembered.

He was just too grief stricken to remember anything else.

Which is probably why Alfred woke up feeling nothing.

Nothing.

This morning was different than all the other ones.

Because when Alfred woke up, he felt absolutely empty.

Like he just didn't have anything to look forward to.

And he didn't.

Because all of the time he could have spent with Ludwig was gone!

And so, when Alfred woke up, it felt like he was waking up to an empty world.

There wasn't even a reason to get up anymore.

Because there was nothing to look forward to, anyway.

And since Alfred would never see Ludwig again, there was no reason to even do anything.

Since Alfred wasn't going to be doing anything with Ludwig later.

Alfred turned over in his bed.

He was still groggy from coming home late and staying up later crying.

Alfred's eyes widened when he felt something cold underneath his cheek.

He sat up at looked down at his pillow.

And he saw that there was a damp spot on his pillow.

Most likely from when he had been crying last night.

And so, Alfred just sighed and turned the pillow over before resting his head back down on the now dry pillow.

Alfred sighed again and pulled the thick blankets over himself and covering his whole body up to his shoulders.

He felt like going back to sleep, but he couldn't.

But he didn't feel like getting up, either.

So, he just laid there with his eyes closed, trying to drift back into dreamland.

He was perfectly content to just lay there.

Feeling sorry for himself.

But then, Alfred thought, maybe all this was actually a good thing.

A blessing in disguise.

A silver lining.

Because without Ludwig in the way, maybe now he could focus on why he was here in the first place.

But wait, that made it sound like Ludwig was just something that needed to be removed.

Like he was just some sort of distraction or something.

No, that wasn't true.

Ludwig wasn't just some distraction that needed to be removed.

He was more than that.

Granted, he may have been a bit of a distraction.

But, that's not all he was!

He was more than that.

Much, much more!

Because he actually meant something to Alfred.

Although, it did sound weird coming from someone like him.

But it was true!

And it was the same for Ludwig too!

Well…at least it wasn't now.

Now, it was different!

Sure, Ludwig meant a lot to Alfred.

But the feeling was not mutual.

It was anything but.

Because Alfred didn't mean a thing to Ludwig.

Or at least…

Not anymore.

"Alfred? Allo, are you awake? Good morning. Breakfast is almost ready, ok? S-So…if you feel like it, feel free to come down and eat, alright?" Francis asked, knocking softly on Alfred's door.

But Alfred just grunted in response, not caring if Francis had heard him or not.

Francis just sighed and walked away from Alfred's door and Alfred just laid there in bed for a short while before he sighed and got up out of bed with a groan.

It doesn't matter what kind of world Alfred woke up to now.

Because a world without Ludwig was a world without anything.

Alfred got dressed and walked out of his room and down the hall with sad, downcast eyes.

He then made his way down the stairs and walked into the kitchen.

He looked up and saw that everyone looked at him before returning to eat quietly.

They all looked at him with awkward expressions with thinly veiled curiosity.

All except Francis who knew what was going on considering that he had talked to Alfred just last night.

And Alfred could just feel the awkwardness in the air.

But, instead of speaking up, Alfred chose not to say anything.

So, instead, he just walked forward, made himself a plate full of food and sat down and ate with everyone else in silence.

And Alfred just decided to keep his eyes on his plate as to avoid making eye-contact with anyone.

They all ate in silence.

Painfully awkward silence.

Just spoons and forks clinking against their plates.

Yes, it was silent.

Completely silent.

At least, for a short while, anyway.

"So, what was all that happening last night, Fredka?" Ivan asked, curiously after swallowing his food.

And Alfred suddenly froze up then.

His eyes still stayed glued to his plate, not wanting to look up.

"Ivan!" Arthur snapped, suddenly.

Yao just sighed. "Oh, geez."

And Francis just stared at Alfred with a worried look on his face.

"What?" Ivan asked, defensively. "I just wanted to know what happened! It looked like something went wrong." he added, softly.

"Ok, yes, maybe that's true, but that doesn't mean he wants to talk about it." Arthur said. "Especially not so soon after it just happened!"

Yao just shook his head and continued eating.

And Francis just kept glancing at Alfred, making sure to step in if need be just in case Alfred got mad at being asked such a personal question.

But then, Alfred finally relaxed after a long while of being tensed up and sighed.

"No, guys…it's ok." Alfred spoke up then.

Everyone looked at Alfred then.

He was still looking down at his plate.

"It's ok. He just asked a question." Alfred said.

Alfred then looked up from his plate at Francis.

Francis was looking back with a wary look on his face.

But, Alfred shook his head slightly to let Francis know that he wasn't going to tell everyone else exactly what had happened last night.

"No, Ivan. Nothing went wrong. I was just…eager to come back home." Alfred said.

Ivan blinked then. "Oh."

"But, you did end everything with that man, right?" Arthur asked.

Alfred tensed up suddenly before he relaxed again. "Y-Yeah."

Francis looked at Alfred and saw that his jaw was clenched.

"Good. What a worthless lead that man was." Arthur said, witheringly before putting another forkful of food into his mouth.

Francis didn't miss when Alfred suddenly clenched his fist.

And Francis could just feel the anger coming off of Alfred then.

"Y-Yeah…worthless." Alfred said, through clenched teeth.

"Well, that doesn't matter now. What's done is done. The only thing we can do now is just move on. Let's just forget about the past." Francis said.

Alfred looked up at Francis then.

And he saw that he was looking at him with a stern look on his face.

And Alfred just sighed and relaxed and finally calmed down.

He then went back to eating his food, trying to completely calm down.

A short while later, they were done eating and Alfred went straight back up to his room once everything was clean.

Once he closed his door behind him, he walked over to his bed and collapsed backwards and stared up at the ceiling.

Alfred then let out a loud sigh.

Wow.

He couldn't believe how bored he was.

He didn't know just how lost he could be without Ludwig.

It was almost like…

He didn't even have a purpose.

Did Ludwig really have that much influence on him?

And then, suddenly, Alfred couldn't help but wonder just how Ludwig was doing.

Did Ludwig feel the same as him?

Was Alfred on his mind as much as Ludwig was on his?

Did he think about Alfred as much as Alfred thought about him?

Did Alfred have a big influence on him as well?

Oh, God, Alfred wanted to know.

Because then, maybe he wouldn't feel quite so alone right now.

Hell, he didn't even know how he should even feel!

Alfred turned over onto his side and just stared at the wall.

Out of all the missions he went on, he never thought that this would happen.

He just couldn't believe it!

He had never encountered this before and he didn't know how to deal with it!

Alfred sighed loudly.

Maybe he really should go look for Ludwig like Francis had suggested earlier.

It would certainly help get his mind off things.

It would distract him and give him something to do.

But, then again.

No.

That was impossible!

Even if he wanted to find Ludwig…

He wouldn't even know where to look!

Hell, he didn't even know the first place to even start looking!

And Alfred suddenly thought about the hotel where they had first met.

Could Ludwig actually go back…there?

Would he actually go back there?

No.

He wouldn't!

Not when it had all the vivid memories and good times with Alfred.

Even if it was an unlikely place to begin looking, it was still a place to start!

And Alfred's heart suddenly started racing and he felt himself get excited for some reason.

But then his shoulders dropped and his heart slowed down to a calm rhythm.

No, that wouldn't happen.

Ludwig wouldn't go back to that hotel.

Not when it would remind him so much of Alfred.

He wouldn't go anywhere that reminded him of Alfred.

Because Ludwig hated Alfred.

Hated him!

And he should!

He had a right to!

He had a full justification to hate Alfred.

Because Alfred had lied to him!

Led him on.

Let him believe that they could be something more than they actually were.

And Alfred did all of that without even considering his feelings.

Or, at least…it started out that way.

But, everything changed once Alfred found out how Ludwig truly was.

And once he did, Alfred just couldn't lie to him anymore.

It just wasn't right!

Because Ludwig actually trusted him!

Trusted him enough to tell him his life story and all his worries and troubles.

And Alfred just abused that trust.

And, eventually, it got too much for him and he just had to confess.

Because he just couldn't do it anymore!

And because of that confession…

Ludwig hated Alfred.

And Alfred felt that he deserved it too.

Because Ludwig deserved better than that!

He deserved better than Alfred.

So, yes, Ludwig was right to hate Alfred.

Alfred the liar.

And, suddenly, Alfred's mind was attacked with guilt at Ludwig's confession.

'I-I…I-I loved you' Ludwig's soft, hurt whisper rang out in Alfred's ears.

Alfred covered his ears with both hands and groaned loudly.

Why, why did his mind decide to torment him now?

Of all times?

Ugh, was he really feeling that guilty?

Well, he did give Ludwig the ultimate disappointment.

Maybe that was it.

Maybe the reason why he was being attacked like this…

Was because his mind wanted him to feel like this.

Wanted him to actually find and actually make up with Ludwig.

Alfred scoffed and rolled his eyes and curled up in his bed.

Heh, yeah, right.

He couldn't just go out and find Ludwig.

Hell, he didn't even know where to start since the hotel would most likely turn up nothing.

He couldn't just go out and find him.

Let alone make up with him.

Yeah, sure he could go look for him.

He could maybe even find him.

But, making up…

Making up was a whole different story.

Getting Ludwig to forgive and make up with him would be fucking hard!

And, besides, Alfred thought with a pang of hurt in his heart.

Ludwig wouldn't want to make up with him anyways.

Hell, he wouldn't even want to forgive him let alone make up.

Not after all Alfred had done to him.

Not after Alfred had lied to him for so long.

But, then again…

Who's to say that Ludwig wouldn't forgive him?

Granted, it may be a tall order, but he could still try.

Even if Ludwig doesn't want anything thing to do with him anymore, he could still try.

Try to get him to forgive him.

And if he wouldn't…

Then Alfred would just have to wear him down.

Wear him down until he had no choice but to forgive him.

Alfred could be persistent when it came to getting whatever he wanted.

He wasn't a very patient person.

But, when it came to persuading people to give him whatever he wanted, he had all the time in the world.

Because he knew that he would just lead people to the inevitable.

They would just give in and comply with his demands.

If only just to shut him the hell up.

And Alfred had no doubt in his mind that Ludwig would end up the same.

Because, after all, who could resist his charm?

Alfred then sat up, smiling to himself.

He didn't care what Ludwig thought…

He didn't see the last of Alfred.

Alfred would see Ludwig again.

Even if he had to hunt him down to the ends of the Earth.

He would see him again.

It was time to stop feeling sorry for himself and start acting!

He had his low period, but now, it was time get back up, dust himself off and try again.

He couldn't just spend all of his time moping in bed all day and crying.

Crying never solved anything, goddammit!

He was the hero!

And heroes don't cry!

And it was with a quick burst of adrenaline that Alfred jumped up with a bright and determined smile on his face.

He then walked over to the window and pulled the curtains back and looked out at the bright orange sky.

The sun was beginning to set behind the horizon.

Wow…

Had he really been holed up in his room all day?

Well, he was daydreaming.

And he could spend the better part of a whole day sitting around daydreaming and thinking.

Alfred put his hand on the glass.

"I will find you, Ludwig. No matter where you are, no matter how long it takes, I will find you again." Alfred said, softly, with a purely determined look on his face.

Then, all of a sudden, Alfred heard his stomach growling and felt it rumble with hunger.

And it was then that Alfred noticed just how hungry he was.

Huh.

He must have been thinking so hard that he didn't even notice that he was practically starving.

And so, with that, Alfred closed the curtains back and walked towards the door to his room before opening it and walking out.

And, as soon as he opened it, he smelled the wonderful smell of Francis' cooking once again.

And once again, Alfred heard his stomach growling much louder than last time and felt it rumble almost violently.

He even began to salivate a bit.

He couldn't wait to stuff his face.

But, he had to keep his dignity in front of the others.

Especially Arthur.

Pain in the ass stick in the mud that he was.

Boy, he'd give Alfred the lecturing of a lifetime!

Something that Alfred didn't really care to hear ever!

But, nevertheless, Alfred closed the door behind him and continued on down the hall.

As Alfred got closer to the stairs, the powerful aroma of hot cooking food got even stronger!

He cheerfully made his way downstairs into the kitchen.

And everyone was already sitting down at the table.

"Hey, guys!" Alfred yelled, cheerfully with a bright smile on his face.

Everyone turned and looked at Alfred with confused looks on their faces.

Including Francis, who was putting the finishing touches on the cooking food, looked over in utter shock.

Because here was Alfred, who had been all mopey and distant for the past few days, now all bright and cheerful with a big, bright smile on his face and not a care in the world.

They were looking at Alfred as if he had three heads or something.

"What? Who died?" Alfred said, walking over to the table.

He sat down at the table with a sigh.

And everyone kept staring at him as if trying to figure out just who he was.

"Hey, what's cookin', Francis? I'm starved!" Alfred said, leaning back into his chair.

Francis chuckled, softly. "Now, just wait a minute, Alfred. It's almost ready."

And, sure enough, dinner was placed in front of everyone a few minutes later.

And, as expected, Alfred was the first one to dig in.

Everyone just stared at Alfred as he ate happily.

There was nothing but silence other than Alfred's fork clinking against the plate and his content moans through mouthfuls of food.

Ivan cleared his throat then. "Um…Fredka? Why are you in such good mood today?"

Alfred, feeling eyes on him looked up then.

And he saw that everyone was still staring at him.

Alfred blinked mid-chew and cocked an eyebrow before swallowing. "What? What're you guys lookin' at me like that for?"

"Well, you're awfully happy today." Arthur said.

"Yeah, you've been in your room for such a long time, I was starting to get worried." Yao said.

"Yeah, well, I figured that it's no point to be moping around all day when I could be doing something else with my time." Alfred said.

"Such a different attitude than the past few days, Alfred." Francis said. "What caused this change in you?

"Hmm…I don't know. I just felt that it was time to stop feelin' sorry for myself and just go do something about it." Alfred said, rubbing his chin.

And as Francis stared at Alfred, he couldn't help but notice that Alfred had a certain…gleam in his eyes.

And it was a gleam that was filled with the determination and the confidence that he once had earlier.

A gleam that told Francis that Alfred would be a lot more active in the next few days.

Hell, maybe even weeks!

Active doing what, Francis couldn't tell.

But, he had a faint nagging feeling that it had something to do with that man that he had been so keen on for the last few days.

"So, yeah, I'm not gonna feel sorry for myself anymore now that I have something to look forward to." Alfred continued, his voice finally making its way back into Francis' ears. "Hey, this is pretty good! Hey, Francis, can I have some more?"

Francis looked at Alfred then and saw that he was holding out his plate to him with a bright, cheery smile on his face.

Arthur cleared his throat then. "Ahem, I believe you mean, 'may I have some more…please'".

Alfred just rolled his eyes then. "Oh, whatever! It doesn't matter, anyway, he knew exactly what I meant! And no one asked you, anyways!"

And so, chuckling softly, Francis took Alfred's plate from him and graciously refilled it before handing it back to him.

And he then watched Alfred eat ravenously with a small smile on his face.

It was good to have him back to normal after such a long time of him moping.

Dinner came and went and everyone went up to their respective rooms to turn in for the night.

As Alfred lay down in this bed to go to sleep, he set his glasses down and stared up at the ceiling.

He lay back staring up at the ceiling, eyes slightly blurry from sleepiness and his lack of glasses.

Often times, he'd always wish that he had better vision.

It wasn't that he was completely blind without his glasses, but it was just enough where it was a little bit annoying.

He'd tried to go at least a day without wearing glasses, but he eventually got tired of blinking endlessly to try and clear his vision, to no avail, and squinting to read every so often.

He could see just fine without them, but there was always that one time every so often when he would need them.

And so, Alfred had always just given up and wore the goddamned things.

If only to just get whatever he had to do over with.

And having glasses was just so damned annoying!

They were always falling off whenever he was doing something important.

He always had to push them up when they slid down his nose every so often.

Plus, he was often worried about them because there was always the threat of them breaking.

So, he always had to make sure that he was very careful whenever he was doing something that could damage them.

Depending on whatever it was that he was doing.

Alfred turned over and flicked off the lamp.

Alfred yawned as his eyelids got heavier and heavier.

And the last thing Alfred thought about before he went to sleep was how he was going to go about finding Ludwig again.

He didn't know where to start so maybe he would just go around the city and just look.

Granted, it wasn't a very good idea, but it was at least a start.

Maybe he really will just start at the hotel and maybe just go from there.

And again, it wasn't a very good idea, but it was still a start.

A jumping off point of sorts.

But, he'll deal with all that later.

Right now, he was tired as all hell!

And so, with another yawn, Alfred finally fell asleep.

And, like so many times before he always fell asleep with Ludwig on his mind.

He thought about what he would do whenever he would find him again.

What he would say to him?

When would he find him?

And he could only hope that Ludwig would forgive him for all his past misdeeds.

A few hours later, Alfred woke up in a slightly better mood than he had in the past few days.

He went through the motions of a normal day with a cheerful outlook on life.

All because he knew that he would be looking for Ludwig and maybe even find him!

And, with each passing day, Alfred only grew cheerier.

This came as a surprise for everyone because they couldn't fathom why Alfred was so happy.

Including Francis, who was at a loss for words.

But Alfred didn't care, he was just glad that he would be searching for Ludwig in a few days.

It was something to look forward to.

Something to keep him busy so that he wouldn't keep thinking about him.

Something to keep his mind off of him.

In just a few days now, Alfred would be setting out to begin his search.

He didn't really know where he would start looking.

Or even how he would start looking.

Maybe he would just drive around, looking for him.

Ha.

Yeah, like that'll work.

What would he do, just drive down the street and hoping to see him?

Like he's just be walking down the street like it was just a normal day?

No, that would be fucking impossible!

This city was huge!

And driving down street by street just looking for one person would be completely insane!

It would be like looking for a needle in a haystack!

But, what else could he do?

He couldn't just go around looking blindly for Ludwig.

That would just be a giant waste of time because he wouldn't even know where to look in the first place!

And he couldn't just walk around either!

Because that would just be even slower and even more time consuming.

And he certainly couldn't just go around and ask people.

Because not only could he not speak German, he would also risk exposing himself if he just went around asking about a high-ranking Nazi commander's whereabouts.

It would be crazy to even try!

He could go out one day and never come back again because he got caught.

But, dammit, what else could he do?

He couldn't just walk around!

And, even if he did, what could he say?

Nothing!

Because even if he could speak to people, how would he describe him?

He couldn't describe him.

Not without giving away the most important features about him.

Thus getting himself into trouble.

This would all be so much easier if he had a…

And it was then that Alfred suddenly got a great idea.

Maybe he could just walk around.

He wouldn't even have to speak to anyone.

Yeah, that's it!

He could do that!

All he would need is a…picture

This all seemed like the best idea Alfred had had in his entire life.

At least for a few seconds, anyway.

And then, once the realization hit him, Alfred paled visibly.

A picture!

Oh, God, he didn't have a fucking picture!

Now, how was he going to look for Ludwig?!

Alfred ruffled his hair in exasperation.

He only had a few more days to come up with a plan.

But, dammit, he just couldn't think of one, the looking around the city seeming like the best idea.

He contemplated this, desperately, as he put on a change of clothes to make himself blend in.

Alfred looked over himself in the mirror.

He looked like any regular citizen.

A perfect cover.

Alfred sighed as he stood there thinking.

Well.

Today was the day.

The day when he would finally start looking for Ludwig.

After so much time apart, the urge to see him again was very strong.

Ludwig was probably long gone by now.

And Alfred couldn't think of a better way to look for him.

So, he just went back to his original plan.

It wasn't a very good one.

But, dammit, he had to try!

Even if it wasn't a very good way to start, he had to at least try!

Alfred looked at himself in the mirror once more before he opened the door to his room and walked out.

Alfred's heart began racing as he reached the stairs.

And, for a second, just a second, Alfred contemplated just turning back around and going back into his room.

He then took a deep breath and exhaled.

No.

No, he had to do this.

He had to!

Because how else would he find Ludwig again?

How else would he know if Ludwig forgave him or not?

By sitting in his room?

No!

And, so, steeling himself against his nervousness, Alfred finally took a step down the stairs.

He swallowed as he got lower and lower to the first floor.

Alfred could see the door inching into view as he descended.

He was almost there.

Once there, he could just open the door, step outside, go into the city and begin his search.

Alfred finally reached the first floor after what seemed like an eternity.

And all the while, he hadn't realized he'd been holding his breath until his lungs began screaming for air.

Alfred let out a gasping breath before taking in a few deep breaths and trying to calm himself.

The front door was right there.

All he had to do walk forward and open it.

Now that he was finally calm, Alfred set out towards the door.

When he got to the door, he reached out and grabbed the doorknob.

This was it.

This was the beginning of his search for Ludwig.

His long, long search for Ludwig.

And, hopefully, it won't be too long.

Though, Alfred knew that he shouldn't hold his breath.

Because who knew where Ludwig was now?

Well…

Might as well start now.

Who, knows, maybe he'll get lucky and-

"Alfred?" came a sudden voice.

Alfred flinched and hissed, cursing himself for taking too long thinking.

"Alfred, what are you doing?" came the voice again.

And Alfred just knew who it was by the sound of that accent.

Alfred tried to put on his best smile and turned around nonchalantly.

And turning around just confirmed Alfred's suspicion.

It was Francis.

"Oh, heh. He-Hey Francis. What's up?" Alfred asked.

"Oh, nothing. What are you doing?" Francis asked.

"O-Oh, nothing. Just, uh, just gonna get some fresh air." Alfred said.

And it was then that Francis noticed that Alfred was dressed very differently than what he was around the house.

"Where are you going?" Francis asked.

"Huh? Oh, out. Y-Y'know, to see the sights." Alfred said. "It's boring being cooped up in here, y'know?"

"Ah, I see." Francis said. "And what do you mean by 'see the sights'?"

"U-Umm…w-well, you know. J-Just lookin' for somethin' to do y'know? I-It get boring here." Alfred said.

And Francis didn't need Alfred to tell him that he was using that as an excuse.

An excuse to look for that man that Alfred had been so fixated on as of late.

And Francis could see it all over his face.

Plus the way Alfred talked made him instantly guilty.

"Alright then." Francis said, after a short while of silence.

Looks like Alfred decided to take his advice after all.

So, he actually came around.

Huh.

So, that's why he was so happy for the past week or two.

He was preparing to look for that man.

It was all starting to make sense to Francis as the pieces slowly started falling into place.

But, still.

Even though Alfred was finally taking his advice and looking for the man, Francis couldn't help but feel even the slightest bit nervous.

After all, Alfred couldn't even speak German.

So, how would he get himself out of trouble if something went wrong?

Francis tried not to think about that because he didn't feel like having to plan a rescue mission to get Alfred back.

But, then again, maybe he was just being paranoid.

This is Alfred, for God's sake, he could take care of himself.

If there was any trouble at all, rest assured that Alfred could get out of it.

"Geez, don't worry about me, I'll be fine!" Alfred said. "I just want to see what this place looks like."

And Francis just sighed then. "Alright, Alfred. Just don't do anything stupid."

Alfred scoffed. "Oh, please. Have I ever done anything stupid?"

Francis didn't know how to answer that.

"Whatever. Just be safe." Francis said.

"Alright, Francis. Well…see ya in a few hours!" Alfred said, smiling brightly and waving before opening the door.

Francis waved back and watched Alfred walk out the door.

And Alfred didn't see it, but before he closed the door behind him, Francis smiled before turning around.

And, if he would have listened as he closed the door, he would have heard what Francis said.

Oh, Alfred, you are such a terrible liar, mon ami." Francis said, smiling to himself.

Once Alfred was outside, he made his way to the awaiting limousine.

"Thanks for comin'." Alfred said, opening the door and getting in and closing it behind him. "I need to go into the city."

"Alright. Mind if I ask why? It's pretty early for you guys to need to do something." the driver said.

And Alfred blushed slightly and he cleared his throat. "U-Um…th-there's something I need to look for."

The driver cocked an eyebrow in confusion. "Really? Then why are you by yourself?"

Alfred blushed even more and tried to hide his face as he cleared his throat again. "U-Um…th-this is something that I have to do by myself."

Wow, Ludwig was really beginning to rub off on him.

The driver eyed him for a few short seconds before he just shrugged and started up the car and pulled off.

Once they were finally driving down the road, Alfred sighed in relief and stared out at the passing scenery.

As Alfred was staring out of the window, the driver spoke up.

"So, uh, where is this thing that you wanted to look for?" the driver asked.

Alfred turned his attention from the passing scenery to the driver. "Hmm? O-Oh…h-heh…w-well…u-umm…i-it's not really a thing so much as a person."

The driver blinked and looked back at Alfred. "A…person?"

"Y-Y…Yeah?" Alfred said, sheepishly.

"O…k. And where is this person that you were looking for?" the driver asked.

"U-Umm…w-well…u-uh…s-see…th-the thing is…I-I don't actually know." Alfred said, rubbing the back of his head nervously.

The driver's eyes widened. "Wh-What?! You don't know?!"

Alfred gulped. "W-Well, no, b-but I thought that maybe we could just drive around and I-I can just look around."

And the driver just looked at Alfred with a deadpan look on his face.

And Alfred gulped again. "L-Look, I-I know that seems like it's a bit much and that it's a bad method of searching for somebody in a city as big as this, but it's the only thing I could think of."

But the driver still looked at Alfred as if he were crazy.

"Please." Alfred begged. "I need to find him."

Alfred looked at him, imploringly.

Silently begging him to agree to drive him around.

The man eyed Alfred for a few more short moments.

He then sighed, wearily.

"It's that important to you, huh?" he asked, lowly.

Alfred nodded. "Yeah. It really is."

"Fine, I'll take you." the driver said.

Alfred smiled greatly then. "Thank you."

And with that, they continued towards the city.

Once they were almost there, the driver spoke up.

"So, do you have any idea where to start?" he asked.

"Umm…well…I was thinking of starting at the hotel. You know, since that's where we first met." Alfred said, scratching his head.

They headed over to the hotel and started from there.

They drove down street after street after street, with Alfred looking out the window, scouring the sidewalks with the eyes of a hawk.

He was ever hopeful of seeing Ludwig.

Alfred scanned the streets diligently, not once taking his eyes off of the passing scenery.

People walking in and out of shops, down the street, across the street and the like.

Alfred scanned all of these things, looking for what he wanted the most.

A tall well-built man.

Maybe even a flash of platinum blond hair.

Walking with confident, even steps.

And piercing icy-blue eyes, the color of the sky.

Oh, God, that's all that Alfred wanted.

All he wanted was just to see him!

But, as hour after hour passed, Alfred's enthusiasm slowly faded away.

And then he started doubting himself.

Why would Ludwig even be walking down these streets anyway?

He would have better things to do than walking through town.

Much better things to do.

And much more important things to do.

So, why would he be wasting his time here?

He could have been needed elsewhere.

If anything, he could get somebody else to go into town for him if he ever needed anything.

He wouldn't even have to lift a finger to do anything considering how much people respected him.

His hope dwindled with each passing hour.

As if someone took a chisel and began chipping away at his ego.

And as it got darker and darker, Alfred had to try with all his might to not give up right then.

Even after they had refueled every once in a while, Alfred still tried to keep his hopes up.

But, once it was nightfall, Alfred just sat in the backseat, despondent.

"Look, we've been driving around all day and you haven't had any luck in finding this guy. How about I take you home so you can get some rest? Then maybe you can try again tomorrow." the driver said.

But Alfred was just curled up into himself in the backseat.

Yet, he still nodded, nonetheless and spoke up.

"Yeah…alright…" Alfred said, staring down at the floor.

"Hey, don't look so down, kid." the driver said. "So what if you didn't find him today? After all, it's only the first day. You honestly didn't expect to find him on the first day, did you? You can try again tomorrow."

Alfred looked up and the driver smiled reassuringly at him.

And even though Alfred was feeling like a total failure, he still managed to smile back.

Even though it was just a small one.

"Don't worry, you'll find him." the driver said.

"Thanks." Alfred said.

And, with that, they turned around and headed for home.

After about an hour of silence, they finally reached the house.

Alfred got out of the car and wished the driver a goodnight before closing the car door behind him and walking to the front door.

When he unlocked the door and stepped inside, he heard talking.

Sighing, Alfred walked forward and into the kitchen to see everyone sitting at the table.

They all turned to look at him.

And, of course, Arthur was the first to speak up.

"Where the bloody hell have you been all day?" Arthur asked, standing up and putting his hands on his hips.

"I was…out." Alfred said.

He avoided looking at Francis who knew he had gone out earlier that day.

Arthur blinked in disbelief. "O-Out?! Wh-What do you mean 'out'?!"

"Now, now, Arthur. Calm down and let him explain." Francis said.

Francis then looked at Alfred with a look that said, 'Just come up with something!'

And Alfred took that as a hint and spoke up.

"I-I had a lead on something and I had to find out what it was." Alfred said.

Arthur blinked and crossed his arms. "Really? And did you find anything?"

"Uhh…I-I…n-no, I didn't find anything." Alfred said, sheepishly. "B-But, I was gonna try again tomorrow!"

And Arthur just scoffed and sat back down.

Francis gave a small sigh of relief.

"Come, Alfred, dinner is ready." Francis said, motioning Alfred over towards the table.

Alfred obliged and walked forward to sit down.

After dinner, everyone went up to their rooms, sated and full.

Alfred walked to his door and grabbed the knob.

"Alfred?" came a sudden voice.

He turned around and saw that it was Francis.

"Y-Yeah?" Alfred said.

"So, how was the sightseeing, Alfred? Did you enjoy it?" Francis asked.

"Huh? O-Oh, yeah! Yeah, I did enjoy it! I feel like I know this place much better now that I got a look at it. Now, I can be more useful whenever we have to go out." Alfred said.

Francis smiled. "Well, that's good, Alfred. I'm glad you're committed to our cause."

"Yeah, you betcha!" Alfred said.

"Alright, then. Well…bonne nuit, Alfred." Francis said.

"U-Um…y-yeah, s-sure." Alfred said.

And, with that, Francis walked back to his room and stepped in.

Alfred sighed and stepped inside his room as well.

Once inside, he closed the door and began stripping down to his underclothes.

He then climbed into bed and pulled off his glasses before laying them down on the nightstand and settling back into bed.

Ok, so maybe today wasn't a very good start, but he could still try again tomorrow.

And who knows?

Maybe he'll get lucky.

After all, how long could it take to find just one person?

Especially when that person had easily identifiable features.

So, Alfred was very confident that he would find Ludwig.

Even if it would take a while…

He will find Ludwig.

He was sure of it.

At least he was sure of it before he had to search again.

Because there he was, just like before, scouring the streets for Ludwig again and coming up with nothing.

Maybe it would be better if he were to get out and search for him on foot.

Granted it may be slower, but he could comb the streets much more accurately.

Because then he could go into shops, alleyways, and bars looking for Ludwig.

And, maybe because of the greater possibilities, Alfred felt his mood lifting.

"Hey, can we stop here?" Alfred said.

"Huh? Why?" the driver asked, cocking an eyebrow back at Alfred through the rearview mirror.

"Because I wanna get out and look around. I think it'll be better if I got out and walk. I can go inside buildings and look around." Alfred said.

Alfred was met with a strange look from the driver.

"You really want to get out and walk?" the driver asked.

"Yeah! I think I'll have a better chance of finding him if I can actually go into crowds and stores and stuff. I even saw a few bars I can go into." Alfred said.

The driver sighed. "What if you get lost? How are you going to find your way back?"

But, Alfred just waved an errant hand, dismissively. "Ah, don't worry about me, I'll be fine!"

The driver groaned. "You better know what you're doing, kid."

"Yeah, yeah, I know what I'm doing. Just pull over already." Alfred said.

The driver then pulled over and shut the car off.

He then looked back at Alfred in the rearview mirror. "Alright, there you go."

"Thanks. Now, stay here. I'll be back as soon as I can." Alfred said, scooting over to the door.

"Try not to be gone all day. I have things I need to do to, you know." the driver said.

"Yeah, yeah, alright. I'll be back in a few hours. But, it's not like you're trapped here, you know." Alfred said.

"Whatever, just go look for that guy, already." the driver said, rolling his eyes.

And, with that, Alfred stepped out of the car and onto the sidewalk before closing the door.

He looked around at the many hundreds of people walking around and then back at himself.

Good.

He blended in perfectly.

Alfred then looked back up at the crowd and tried searching for Ludwig.

He looked for anything that could give him a sense of where to go.

But, so far, he found nothing.

He then looked at the car he just came in and saw that the driver was staring at him.

The driver made a motion that said, 'Go on, already!'

And Alfred sighed and began walking.

As he made his way through the crowd, Alfred looked from side to side and in all different directions, looking for anything that would alert him to go in that direction.

The main thing he looked for were tall people.

People towering over others were very to see.

And Ludwig had that quality in spades.

He also looked for flashes of platinum blond hair.

Another quality that Ludwig had that was easy to identify.

Right along with his icy, sky blue eyes.

However, Alfred also made sure to not just look for those features.

He also looked for tall, blond, blue eyed people in dark clothing.

Black clothing, to be exact, considering that that was all he had seen Ludwig wear in his whole time knowing him.

So, looking for that combination that Alfred wanted shouldn't be that hard.

And, judging from the people that Alfred could see around him and far beyond, it should be a piece of cake.

Or, at least, it should have been.

Because once again, Alfred's expectations failed him as they set him up for yet another great disappointment.

Alfred passed by many more people that he could remember, let alone count, shops and bars, but still came up with nothing.

And walking in and out of the various stores and bars got him a couple of weird looks by many people, but he didn't care.

All he wanted was to find Ludwig.

Hour after hour passed and, again, Alfred found himself growing more despondent and hopeless.

God, he had hoped this would be easy!

How hard could it be to look for a person like Ludwig?

A person one could easily pick out from amongst a crowd.

But, then again, maybe Alfred knew deep down that looking for Ludwig wouldn't be as easy as he had thought.

Maybe he just wanted to believe that it would be easy.

Because hadn't Ludwig said that he always liked to focus on the positive aspect of things?

So, was it really so wrong for Alfred to want to find Ludwig in this city?

Even though the chances were abysmally low?

Was it so wrong to have hope despite being against such steep odds?

No.

There's nothing wrong with having hope!

But hope was what Alfred was losing yet again as his second day was slowly beginning to turn into his second night of searching.

And once it started to become nightfall, Alfred would have to abandon his search until tomorrow.

Because there was no way that he could find Ludwig in this low light.

His black uniform would blend in with the night, cruelly hiding him from Alfred's sight as if playing some kind of sick joke.

And so, as the sky got darker and darker, Alfred just decided to give up and go back to the car and go home.

It took a while for him to finally make his way back to the car considering he had to fight against the current of people walking the other way.

Once Alfred got to the car, he opened the door and got in.

The driver looked up at him and saw Alfred's sullen expression and sighed.

"Didn't find him, huh?" the driver asked.

Alfred shook his head. "Mmnh-mmnh…no."

The driver sighed. "Ah, well. Are you going to try again tomorrow?"

"Yeah, I guess. I mean, what kind of person would I be if I just gave up now?" Alfred asked.

The driver smiled. "That's the spirit."

And with that, he started up the car and headed home.

Alfred sat there, curled up into himself as he gazed out at the passing scenery.

It didn't take long to finally get home or at least it didn't feel like that to Alfred since he had been preoccupied with his thoughts the whole ride there.

When they came to a stop in front of the house, Alfred thanked the driver and wished him a goodnight before opening the car door, stepping out and closing the car door behind him.

When Alfred got to the front door, he unlocked it and stepped in.

Hearing voices upon his arrival, Alfred knew it was dinnertime and walked into the kitchen.

"So, did you find anything, Alfred?" Arthur said, with a snide remark.

And Alfred had to use all his will power to not give Arthur a dirty look then.

So, he just decided to take a deep breath to calm himself down before speaking up.

"No, Arthur, I didn't find anything. But my lead is still going strong." Alfred said.

"Hmm…well, we'll see how long that lead lasts." Arthur said.

And Alfred clenched his fists then. 'God, what the fuck is wrong with this dick?! One day he's sorta nice and sticks up for me and the next, he's being a fucking sarcastic asshole?! What the fuck?!'

This did not go unnoticed by Francis who quickly walked forward and interjected.

"Now, Arthur, Alfred's had a long day, so just let him be." Francis said. "I know you're worried about him, but he can take care of himself, non?"

And at this, Arthur's face dusted a light pink and he turned back towards the table. "Shut up, frog! Just get dinner ready, alright?"

"Certainly." Francis said, smiling.

He then gave Alfred a wink to assure him that everything was ok.

Alfred relaxed and gave a small smile back.

And, again, Alfred sat down for dinner just like yesterday.

After dinner, everyone went to their rooms following the same ritual as before.

"Goodnight, Alfred." Francis said.

"Goodnight, Francis." Alfred replied.

"While you're out, make sure you study this city so you don't get lost on one of our missions." Francis said.

Alfred smiled. "Yeah. I'll make sure that I do."

Francis smiled back before walking into his room and closing the door behind him.

Alfred stepped into his room as well.

He then sighed.

Another unsuccessful day, Alfred thought as he stripped down to go to bed.

Climbing into bed, Alfred took his glasses off and put them on the nightstand.

Lying back in bed, Alfred stared up at the ceiling and briefly wondered if he really should just give up.

But there was that small part of him that screamed at him for even thinking about that.

Because, deep down, he knew that if he gave up, he would never forgive himself.

And so, that was probably why Alfred would keep on searching.

It was the same cycle as the very first day.

Leaving with hope in his heart of finding Ludwig and returning home with broken spirits.

Then having to explain himself to Arthur and having dinner before going to bed only to wait for a new day to start over and try again.

Going out with high hopes and coming back with a broken resolve.

Day in and day out.

And with each passing day, Alfred's mood only deteriorated into solemnity.

Day in and day out.

The same cycle as the very first day.

This continued for days.

Weeks, even.

Alfred would always leave in the morning and come back late at night for dinner.

And sometimes, he wouldn't even eat.

He would just come home and go right upstairs and go to bed.

And the next day would be the same.

Alfred was obsessively going out each day to look for Ludwig.

Hell, it even got so often that the weeks turned into months.

And that's when everyone started getting worried.

Sometimes, Alfred wouldn't even pay attention whenever they had to go on a mission to infiltrate some place that he didn't recall because he was thinking about Ludwig too much.

One time, he almost got caught because he wasn't paying attention to his surroundings.

Oh, the lecture he was given when they had gotten home.

Damn Arthur, always talking his ear off.

But, he listened, hardly, and just nodded his head, staring at the floor, until Arthur was done talking.

But that still didn't stop him from going out compulsively and looking for Ludwig.

Until, finally, Francis had had enough.

"Alfred." Francis said, just as Alfred was about to walk out the door.

Alfred turned around and looked at Francis and sighed. "What?"

"Alfred, I'm worried about you." Francis said, walking over towards Alfred. "What is going on?"

"Nothing, Francis. I-I'm fine." Alfred said.

Francis sighed then. "Alfred, it's been almost a year since you started going out like this. What could you be looking for? You probably know this whole city like the back of your hand by now."

"I-It's nothing, Francis. Don't worry about it." Alfred said.

"Alfred. Mon ami, whatever you are looking for is probably gone by now, ok? Long gone." Francis said, knowing exactly what Alfred was doing.

Alfred bit his lip then. "D-Don't say that. I-I know I can find him-uh-it."

Francis sighed then. "Alfred, please-"

"Look, Francis, I gotta go, alright? I'll see you guys at dinner." Alfred said, turning back away from Francis and opening the door.

And Francis just watched as Alfred opened the door and step outside before closing it and walking towards the awaiting car that was going to take him on yet another search through the city.

And instead of stopping Alfred, Francis just shook his head and went back to whatever he was doing.

Francis sighed. "Mon dieu, this is not good for him to keep going out like this."

Alfred opened the car door and stepped in before closing it and scooting to the middle.

The driver looked up at him through the rearview mirror. "Same routine as yesterday?"

Alfred nodded, slowly. "Yeah…same routine as yesterday."

And, with that, the driver started up the car and drove off.

Once they were on the road to the city, Alfred couldn't help but feel lucky today.

Even if he had been searching for almost a year now.

He barely even noticed considering he was so wrapped up in searching for Ludwig.

Once they were further in the city, Alfred began his search yet again.

They went down street after street after street.

And, just like Francis had said, these once unfamiliar streets had become like lines on a map in Alfred's head.

He really did know this city like the back of his hand.

Now, he could navigate these streets without any problem at all.

They continued their search for the next few hours.

And, again, just like so many times before, Alfred began losing hope.

And, God, Alfred just felt like breaking down right then!

After all this time and still no Ludwig!

Still another failure!

And Alfred was about to call the whole goddamn thing off when all of a sudden…

A flash of black.

More specifically a black suit.

And Alfred instantly shot straight up and damn near pressed his face against the window.

"W-Wait, wait, stop. Turn around!" Alfred said, frantically.

"Whoa, what, what?!" the driver asked, suddenly surprised by Alfred's sudden outburst.

"T-Turn around! Turn around, please! I-I think I see him!" Alfred cried.

"Alright, alright, just calm down." the driver said, turning the car around.

The driver brought the car back down the street before turning back around.

"Slow down, slow down." Alfred said.

The driver sighed, but still obliged.

Alfred's face was pressed up against the window as he scoured the sidewalk once again.

He knew he saw someone walking down the sidewalk in a black suit, but where?!

He scanned the sidewalk, looking through the sea of people for that strangely familiar black suit.

Where was it, where was it?

Come on!

And then it finally came.

After a short while, that flash of black came to his eyes again.

Alfred was suddenly overcome with so much happiness that he thought he might pass out from the sheer euphoria that he was experiencing.

And he could have just jumped out from that moving car at just the sight of it.

But then he got a look at the person who was wearing the suit.

He was tall.

Check.

Well- built.

Check.

And…

Nothing else.

Because instead of that signature platinum blond hair was just black hair.

Jet black hair.

And instead of those icy sky blue eyes that Alfred had come to adore were brown eyes.

Chocolate brown eyes.

Yes, he was wearing the suit that Alfred had been looking for.

But it was the wrong person!

However, upon closer inspection, Alfred noticed that while it was the same color suit as Ludwig's, it was similar to his in that it was slightly different.

Compared to Ludwig's, it looked to be lower ranked than his, yet high enough to not be treated like a grunt.

Possibly middle to high-ranked, maybe a few ranks or two under Ludwig.

Still pretty well-respected by the looks of him.

And, goddammit, Alfred wanted to scream out right then.

Because, goddammit, this was not the person that he was looking for!

"Fuck!" Alfred hissed, angrily.

"What, what?! Is that him?" the driver asked.

And Alfred scoffed. "No!"

The driver groaned.

And it was then that Alfred remembered something from long ago.

Long ago from when he had been a few weeks to a few months into his search.

He could have sworn he'd seen this man before.

But he couldn't bring up the memory right now since he was too busy searching for Ludwig.

He was so busy looking for him that he had barely paid anyone else any attention.

Alfred thought hard for a moment, wondering where he could have seen that man before.

And then, it came to him!

That's it!

He remembered now!

A while ago when he was searching these streets, he had seen someone going in and out of bars.

But, Alfred had been so keen on finding Ludwig that his eyes just kept on flitting from person to person that he had barely registered anyone else in his mind.

But, now, he remembered.

Now, he remembered seeing that man walking down the street, going in and out of bars, staggering drunkenly after he came out.

Alfred just stared at the man with daggers in his eyes.

And he could feel nothing but hatred towards the man.

Hatred for having the nerve to trick him like that!

That is, until he got an idea.

And a good one at that.

He then got a mischievous smirk on his face.

"Hey, can you follow that guy?" Alfred asked.

"Huh? Why?" the driver asked.

"Because." Alfred said, still smirking. "There's something I wanna do."

The driver sighed. "Alright."

And, with that, they followed the man down the street for the next few hours, stopping whenever he went into bars and continuing when he came out.

And, as they followed him, Alfred studied him.

He studied his movements.

Studied the pattern of his stops and the directions he took.

They followed him until nightfall.

And they soon came to a house that seemed to belong to him.

They came to a stop a ways down the street in order to not draw suspicion from the man just in case he noticed that he was being followed.

Though Alfred had a feeling that he wouldn't have noticed considering how drunk he was.

Alfred watched as the man took out his keys and unlocked the door before stumbling inside.

And it was then that Alfred got a victorious look on his face.

"Good. It looks like that's his house." Alfred said.

"So, what now?" the driver asked.

Alfred relaxed back in his seat and crossed his arms behind his head. "Now, we go home."

The driver blinked. "Wh-Wh-What?! G-Go home?! After all we did today?!"

"Yeah." Alfred replied, confidently. "And, besides, I got an idea."

And so, the driver pulled off down the street before turning back around and coming back the way they came, heading for home.

And, all the while there, Alfred couldn't help but feel giddy.

Ok, sure, he didn't find Ludwig in all his time searching these city streets, but he found the next best thing!

He found another Nazi officer.

And a high-ranking one at that.

Granted, not as high-ranking as Ludwig, but still up there.

So, maybe Alfred could use him to get to Ludwig.

But how?

Alfred pondered this as they drove down the road.

He was so deep in thought that he didn't even notice that they were in front of the house.

"Hey. We're here." the driver said.

"Huh? Oh, alright." Alfred said.

He then opened the car door and stepped outside.

Alfred then turned to the driver and smiled.

"Hey. Thanks. For everything. For helping me for so long even though it all looked hopeless." Alfred said.

The driver scoffed and smiled back. "Ah, don't worry about it. If anything, I respect you for hanging in there for so long."

Alfred chuckled. "Heh. Yeah, I can be kinda stubborn when I want to be."

"You got that right." the driver said, chuckling slightly.

"Well…goodnight." Alfred said.

"Goodnight." the driver said back.

And, with that, Alfred closed the car door behind him and walked towards the front door as the car pulled out of the driveway.

Taking out his key, Alfred unlocked the door and stepped inside.

And, upon hearing those same voices, Alfred strode forward with a confident smirk and turned into the kitchen.

And everyone turned to look at him.

"Hi, guys!" Alfred said, cheerfully.

And everyone's eyes widened at Alfred's sudden mood change.

"Hmm. So, did you find anymore on this lead, you've been going on about, Alfred?" Arthur said.

And Alfred smirked then. "Why, yes, I did, Arthur."

"Really? Care to tell us what it is? I'd love to hear all about it." Arthur said, smugly.

"Hmph. Well, if you must know, I found another Nazi officer." Alfred said, crossing his arms.

Everyone's eyes widened yet again.

"Wh-Wh-Wha…" was all Arthur could say.

"Y-You did? Where?" Francis asked.

Alfred smiled confidently and walked forward and sat down at the table.

"Oh, you know, just somewhere in the city. Found him just walking down the street and in and out of bars. Followed him all the way home too." Alfred said.

"Really?" Arthur asked, slight doubt in his voice.

"Yep!" Alfred said. 'Ha, suck on that, Arthur!'

"So, is that why you're in such a good mood?" Yao asked.

"Yep! Sure is! After all this time, my work has finally paid off!" Alfred said, triumphantly.

Ivan smiled. "Well, I'm glad you feel better, Fredka."

"Yeah, me too! You know, at first, I thought that I should give up, but there was this little part of me that wouldn't let me forgive myself if I did. But, I hung in there!" Alfred said, happily.

Alfred then gave a loud, good-natured laugh.

And it was a laugh that he had not had in a long time.

"Well, Alfred, I'm glad that you found what you were looking for." Francis said.

"Me too! Though it wasn't exactly what I was looking for, it's a great start!" Alfred said.

A short while later, Francis served dinner.

Alfred was the first one to dig in, of course.

And he was not above chattering excitedly in between mouthfuls of food.

Francis watched as Alfred triumphantly told of his great find.

All the high points and all the low points.

After all those months of silence in the house, it was great to have a bit of ruckus once again.

After dinner, Alfred raced up to his room, eager to start the new day.

"Alfred, wait." Francis called out when Alfred was about to step into his room.

"Huh? What is it?" Alfred asked.

"I'm glad you were able to do what you needed to do. But, I have to ask, are you planning to go out again tomorrow?" Francis asked.

"Yeah. Why?" Alfred asked, confused.

"It's nothing. I just wanted to know." Francis said.

"Oh. Well, yeah, I was planning on it because there's one more thing for me to do." Alfred said, determination in his voice.

"Ah…I see, then." Francis said. "Alright, then...well…goodnight."

"Goodnight. Oh, and, Francis?" Alfred called out.

Francis turned back around. "Hmm?"

"Those outfits you guys got…how did you get them?" Alfred asked.

"Huh? Oufits? What outfits?" Francis asked.

Alfred sighed. "You know. Those uniforms. I meant how did you guys get them?"

Francis still looked confused.

Alfred groaned then.

"Ugh, oh, my God, Francis, the Nazi uniforms!" Alfred hissed.

"Huh? O-Ohh, those." Francis said, in realization.

And Alfred nodded slowly. "Yeah." he said, drawling and nodding slowly as if leading Francis towards the right answer.

And Francis chuckled then. "Ah, oui, I understand now."

"Yeah, so how'd you guys get them?" Alfred asked, curiously.

"Well, needless to say, we had to get a little rough." Francis said.

Alfred's eyes widened. "Really? Like how?"

"Oh, just a simple ambush. Knocked them unconscious and stole their uniforms." Francis said.

"Woah. That sounds so cool!" Alfred said.

Francis chuckled. "Mon ami, you are so easily excited."

"Huh? Hey, what's that supposed to mean? Am not!" Alfred said.

"Ah, well. Anyway, Alfred. Sleep well." Francis said.

Alfred watched as Francis made his way to his room and closed the door behind him.

He walked into his room as well.

He closed the door behind him and turned the lamp on before he began stripping his clothes off.

And, as he undressed, Alfred got an idea.

'Hm, I wonder…maybe I should get me one of those uniforms.' Alfred thought as he stripped down to his underclothes. 'I mean, it would certainly help me get close to Ludwig. It could even help me find him!'

And, at this thought, Alfred hastily threw his clothes across the nearby chair and happily dove into bed, eager to begin a new day.

Taking off his glasses and putting them on the dresser, Alfred lay back into the sheets.

He then turned over and turned the lamp off.

Sleep came effortlessly as Alfred was instantly unconscious as soon as his head hit the pillow.

After many months of endless searching, Alfred had finally found something to go on.

To think, if he had allowed himself to give up, he wouldn't have ever had the chance of seeing that man.

And those many months of endless searching had tired him out.

He didn't realize just how tired he was until he was finally put in a state of ease.

And the only thing that kept him going was Ludwig.

Ludwig wasn't worth giving up on.

Not after all they had been through together.

Sleep had seemed like total blur because Alfred had woken up to sunlight beaming down on his face.

And, for the first time in ages, Alfred had woken up in high spirits and all but shot up in bed.

He hopped out of bed and bounded to the bathroom in order to get ready for his big day today.

Since he wanted to make sure that that man he saw yesterday was well into his day without any suspicion, Alfred decided to wait until it was later in the afternoon to start his plan.

The hours ticked by slowly as Alfred sat there in his room, tapping his fingers together, anxiously.

Soon, soon, he would enact his little plan of getting closer to Ludwig.

So, when the time finally came for Alfred to leave, he all but sprinted to the door.

But not before grabbing a few essential items from his suitcase.

He glided to the steps and almost ran down them.

He took the first step with nervous excitement.

But then, all of a sudden, it hit him.

How was he going to subdue the man if he became violent?

Surely, he couldn't handle the man if he were with other people.

That would only end up disastrous for him.

So, that only left Alfred one option.

He would have to wait until the man was alone.

And, judging from what the man did yesterday, Alfred knew that he would just have to wait until the man went home.

But, who knows when he would decide to go home.

And, again, that left Alfred with one thing to do.

He had to lure him there.

Just in case he took a little bit too long for Alfred's tastes.

But, how could he make sure that the man would cooperate with him?

And then it suddenly hit Alfred then.

Ah-ha!

That's it!

Why didn't he think of that before?

But, who would have the thing he needed for this mission of his?

Alfred thought for a short while.

And then his face lit up.

He turned back and walked back into the hallway.

He looked from side to side, looking for someone who could help him.

Alfred then stepped in front of a door.

He stood in front of it for a short while, wondering if he should knock or not.

But then he sighed and just decided to knock anyway.

Mainly because he didn't have time for this.

He had a mission to carry out.

And so, Alfred finally knocked on the door.

A few seconds later, he heard footsteps coming towards the door.

And the next second later, the door opened.

"Oh, Fredka!" Ivan said, with a small childlike smile.

"Hi, Ivan." Alfred said.

"Is there something I can do for you?" Ivan asked, curiously.

"Yeah. I need something." Alfred said.

Ivan tilted his head in thought. "Hmm…ok. Come in, da?"

And, with that Ivan stepped to the side and let Alfred in his room.

A short while later, Alfred came out of Ivan's room with something in tow.

"Make sure to put it to good use, Fredka!" Ivan called out, smile still on his face.

"U-Um…y-yeah, I will. Thanks again, Ivan." Alfred said.

Alfred went down the stairs and out of the front door to the awaiting car.

Once he opened the car door, he quickly got in and shut the door.

"Alright, let's go! I'm gonna make a lot of progress today." Alfred said, confidently.

The driver sighed and started up the car before pulling off.

Alfred watched with anxious eyes as they got closer to the inner city.

And, once they got there, he immediately scanned the sidewalks and people for the man that he had seen yesterday.

One hour passed.

Two hours passed.

And still no sign of the man from yesterday.

Alfred's face paled then.

Uh-oh.

No.

Please, no.

Don't let this be the day that he decided to stay home!

Alfred was about to scream then, but then he saw it.

The flash of black among the sea of people.

And, God, Alfred almost cried out loud then.

Because, there he was, the man he saw yesterday, walking along down the street.

"Look, there he is!" Alfred said. "Ok, so, we're gonna do what we did yesterday. We're just gonna follow him."

The driver obliged followed the man down the street.

And, just like before, the man walked in and out of bars.

But, they still kept on his tail as he made his way through town, stopping only when he went inside.

This went on for a few more hours until the sky started turning orange.

And as the man went into yet another bar and Alfred briefly wondered just how much this man can drink!

The driver sighed and pulled over to wait for the man.

Hour after hour passed and the man was still inside of the bar.

The sky was now pitch black and the streetlights were flickering up above.

"What the hell is he doing?! Did he pass out or something?" the driver asked, impatiently.

"Ugh, I dunno, but he's been in there for way too long!" Alfred said.

He then looked around at their surroundings.

There weren't nearly as many people flooding these streets at night than there was at day.

And the cars were few and far in between.

So, if they were to continue following him, they would be given away because of the lack of various distractions that came with the city at daytime.

Which left Alfred with that one option that he had come up with earlier.

He had to lure the man out of the bar.

Something that Alfred really didn't want to do.

But, now he had to, since not only was there no way to follow him with the car anymore, he was also taking too long.

And that was something that Alfred didn't appreciate at all.

Because this man was taking up all his damn time!

"Hey. I'm gonna get out and go get him." Alfred said.

"W-Wait, what? Why?!" the driver asked in disbelief.

"Because this guy is taking too fuckin' long! And plus, I would have to get out anyway since we'd be found out if we followed him by car. Just look around. There's no other cars here that we would be able to blend into. And there's barely any people around either." Alfred said.

The driver looked around then. "Wow, you're right. But, how are you going to get him out here?"

"I'll think of something." Alfred said. "I'll be back as soon as possible."

And, with that, Alfred stepped out into the cold night air.

He took a deep breath to calm himself before walking into the bar.

It looked just like any scene one would expect to find in a bar.

People drinking, laughing loudly, some people singing drunkenly, and a few passed out.

As Alfred scanned the crowd of drunken people, he finally spotted the man he was looking for, chatting up some woman behind the counter.

She looked annoyed with him as he talked drunkenly to her.

She then said something Alfred couldn't understand and then walked off.

Maybe she had finally cut him off.

But the man just shrugged and chugged the last of his beer before setting the glass down.

Alfred watched as the man swayed back and forth for a short while.

Good.

That meant that he wasn't in his right state of mind.

And so, Alfred took this opportunity to walk towards the man.

How should he begin?

As he made his way closer, Alfred figured that he should do what he did to attract Ludwig's attention to that man.

So, he tried to put his best coy smile on as he walked up to the man.

When he got to him, he slid into the seat next to him.

"Hello." Alfred said, smoothly.

The man looked over at him and regarded him for a few seconds.

He then replied something, but he was so drunk that Alfred didn't think that he would have been able to understand him even if he spoke German.

But Alfred just smiled.

And the man smiled drunkenly back at him.

And he then yelled something out loud to the woman behind the counter.

She glared at him and hissed something angrily at him.

Alfred assumed that she didn't want to give him anymore drinks.

But, instead, the man pointed to him and muttered something.

The woman looked at him for a few seconds.

And Alfred couldn't do anything but smile sheepishly.

She then sighed and went to fill up yet another glass and gave it to Alfred before walking away.

The man then looked at Alfred expectantly.

But, Alfred didn't want to drink.

He had to keep his wits about him so that he could concentrate on his mission.

And the beer would just screw that up.

Even if it was just a glass.

Well, a glass of beer would be understating it.

It was more of a gigantic mug.

And, besides, Alfred didn't really like beer anyway.

And so, he just pushed the mug towards the man and smiled.

The man's eyes widened and he had an incredulous look on his flushed face.

Alfred just looked at him and smiled, motioning for him to take the glass.

The man then uttered something that Alfred assumed was a drunken thank you and took up the mug before drinking the entire contents of it.

And as he drank, Alfred couldn't help but just stare in wonder!

Just how many beers could this man drink?!

Because here he was, cut off, and he was still drinking!

How had he not passed out by now?!

This man seemed to be a real heavyweight.

Well, Alfred supposed, he was big and tall after all.

Almost as much as Ludwig, but only barely.

Ludwig had him beat in both height and build.

Ludwig was taller than him and he was more well-built than he was.

But, this guy wasn't exactly the ugliest guy in the world.

Alfred continued watching as the man downed the beer.

He then sat it down and burped loudly.

And as the man sat there, happy in his drunken daze, Alfred made his move.

He placed a hand on the man's lap and slowly moved up to his thigh making tickling motions as he went along.

The man noticed this and blushed deeply.

Alfred smiled wider at the man and scooted closer to him.

Alfred's hand rose higher and higher.

And, before Alfred's hand got to the man's crotch, to his and the man's relief, he jumped up in alarm.

And Alfred feigned a hurt look as the man stared at him.

The man swallowed and reached into his pocket to pull out a few bills of money that Alfred didn't recognize and sloppily placed them on the counter before walking forward.

The man then shook his head and muttered something incomprehensible that would probably sound the same if Alfred understood German.

As he passed him, Alfred smirked and reached out to caress the man's back all the way down to his lower back.

The man stopped and looked at Alfred, faced red with drunkenness and embarrassment.

Alfred hopped down off the barstool as his hand made its way lower.

And he kept his leering smile on all the while, making it more suggestive.

His hand fell on the man's waist and he then traced suggestive patterns on the man's hip before moving on.

Just as he was about to caress the man's backside, he shot forward with a yelp and looked back at Alfred with wide eyes.

Alfred just smiled back, coyly, and waved.

The man gulped and then turned back around before stumbling out of the bar.

Alfred smiled and watched the man from his place in the bar.

Once he was outside, Alfred decided to wait in the bar for a short while before he went after him.

After a few minutes, Alfred snickered and then began to follow the man from a distance.

He walked out of the bar and saw the man slowly making his way down the street.

He then looked at the driver and flashed a quick thumbs up before following after the man.

The driver made a gesture that said, 'Get on with it, already!'

Alfred nodded and jogged forward to catch up to the man.

He followed him in the same direction that he went yesterday.

He heard the man mumbling drunkenly to himself as they walked.

Alfred made sure not to lose him as they walked.

Though, considering how drunk he was, Alfred doubted that he would lose him even if he stood in the same spot for an hour.

But, he didn't want to take a chance.

So, Alfred continued following him.

But, all of a sudden, the man stopped.

Alfred froze and ran inside an alley with quick speed before the man turned around.

He looked around the corner and saw that the man was looking around suspiciously.

Alfred hoped that he was still drunk.

It would make at this easier.

Once the man was done looking around, he began stumbling forward again.

And Alfred came out of the alleyway and continued to follow him.

But, every time the man looked around, Alfred dove into an alleyway to avoid detection.

Geez, was he that bad at stalking the man had to check his surroundings every few minutes?

Either that or the man was very paranoid when he was drunk.

But, after the tenth or twentieth time, Alfred began to get quite annoyed by the man.

Alfred ducked around another corner as the man looked around.

They were getting closer to his house.

He could tell.

Alfred held the bottle that he was carrying through his coat pocket, ready to carry out his mission.

He had to wear another coat instead of his usual jacket just in case he might stick out among the crowd of people.

This coat had deeper pockets so that he could hide the bottle easier and not be seen as suspicious.

After he had to duck around yet another corner, Alfred wanted to scream.

He wished the man would stop looking around and just walk!

He chanced a look around the corner and saw that the man started walking again.

Alfred then pulled out the bottle from his coat and looked at it.

He still couldn't believe that Ivan just carried something like this.

"So, what do you need, Fredka?" Ivan asked, curiously.

Alfred sighed. "Ivan, do you have anything that can knock somebody out?"

Ivan tilted his head in thought. "No…" Ivan hummed. "Ah…wait a second…yes, I do."

Ivan then began looking through his things.

And after a short while of searching, Ivan exclaimed and produced a bottle of unfamiliar liquid and a rag.

He then handed them to Alfred, smiling softly. "Here you go."

Alfred held up the bottle of liquid and inspected the contents with a curious and confused expression.

"What is this?" Alfred asked.

Ivan giggled. "It's chloroform."

And Alfred's eyes widened then.

"Chl-Chl…Chloroform?!" Alfred asked in disbelief.

"Da!" Ivan said.

"I-Is this how you can go inside places undetected?" Alfred asked.

"Da!" Ivan said again.

"Why do you have chloroform?" Alfred asked.

Ivan giggled again and this time, it was a creepier giggle.

And it seemed like the room temperature dropped about twenty degrees.

Or maybe Alfred was just imagining it.

And maybe he was also imagining that weird aura that seemed to be emanating from Ivan.

And Alfred felt an icy cold chill run up his spine.

"U-Uh…o-ok, then. Th-Thanks, Ivan." Alfred said, backing up towards the door.

And, all of a sudden, the creepy giggling stopped and the aura receded as the room temperature seemed to return to normal.

"You are welcome." Ivan said, childlike smile still in place.

And, with that, Alfred opened the door to Ivan's room and walked out before hastily going down the hallway.

"Make sure to put it to good use, Fredka!" Ivan called out.

"U-Um…y-yeah, I will. Thanks again, Ivan." Alfred said.

Alfred shuddered at the recent memory.

Boy, was Ivan weird or what?

But at least he gave him this.

Alfred looked back around the corner to see that the man started walking once more.

Once he was a safe enough distance away, Alfred began following him again.

And a short while later, they came to a stop in front of the man's house.

Alfred watched as the man staggered up the steps and to his door from a safe distance away.

The man pulled out his keys and unlocked the door before staggering in and closing the door behind him.

Alfred saw the upstairs light flick on.

It was on for a few minutes before it went off.

He didn't chance going into his house yet because he was freshly in bed and most likely hovering between this world and the dream world.

Going inside now would disturb that and alert the man upstairs that there was an intruder in his house.

No, Alfred would have to wait for a while before he could do anything.

So, Alfred waited for about an hour or two before he began to make his move.

Surely, by now, the man would in a deep sleep thanks to all the beer he drank.

Not to mention the walk home should have tired him out.

Alfred made his way up to the man's front door.

Reaching into his pocket, Alfred pulled out his trusty lock pick.

It didn't take long for Alfred to pick the lock.

He was probably so determined to finally get to Ludwig again that he made quick work of the lock.

With the door finally unlocked, Alfred grabbed the knob before slowly opening the door.

He put the lock pick back in his pocket and stepped inside.

He closed it softly behind him and scanned the layout of the house.

The stairs to the second floor were right in front of him.

He then walked forward and began climbing the steps.

He went slowly to make sure that there was no rouge squeaky step.

But, so far, there were none.

A few steps later, Alfred was at the top of the stairs.

He had a mini celebration for himself for making it this far.

But, he still had yet to get what he wanted.

All of a sudden, Alfred heard loud snoring.

He looked in the direction where it was coming from.

And once he focused his hearing, Alfred heard it coming from a nearby room.

Walking towards the sound, Alfred came to a half-closed door.

When he opened it, Alfred saw the man lying in bed, fast asleep.

Actually, more like sprawled out across the bed.

Wow, this man was knocked out!

Alfred quietly made his way over to the man's side and looked down at him.

He then pulled out the bottle of chloroform that Ivan had given him from one pocket.

And he pulled the rag out from the other pocket.

Alfred looked down at the sleeping, defenseless man.

What a shame.

He almost hated to do this.

And after the man had treated him so nice.

Buying a beer for him.

Whether he was drunk or not.

But it had to be done.

It had to be done if Alfred ever wanted to see Ludwig again.

And so, unscrewing the top of the bottle, Alfred poured a small amount of chloroform on the rag and put the bottle down so that it won't spill in case there was a possible struggle.

Alfred took a few deep breaths in order to calm himself.

He couldn't believe that he was doing this.

So, with a sharp inhale of breath, Alfred bent down and pressed the rag to the man's mouth and nose.

The man's eyes shot open and he looked up at Alfred in panic.

He tried to wrestle Alfred, weakly, off of him, but Alfred was too strong for him because he was still drunk and the chloroform was starting to take its effect on him.

As he struggled against Alfred, each second, he got weaker and weaker.

"Shh, shh, shh, shh. There you go. There you go." Alfred said, softly.

And a few more seconds later, the man was unconscious, laying back against the bed.

Alfred looked him over, and for a split second, panic and guilt washed over him.

The man looked dead.

It sort of made Alfred feel like he had killed somebody.

And it was a feeling that Alfred didn't like.

But, he had to keep convincing himself that he was indeed not dead.

He wasn't dead.

He was just asleep.

Fast asleep.

Alfred pulled the rag from the man's mouth and nose and stood straight up.

He picked the bottle back up and screwed the top back on before placing it in one pocket and putting the rag in the other pocket.

Alfred then turned to the man's dresser, now unafraid of being noticed and interrupted, and saw that he had laid out his uniform and folded it neatly.

He picked up the clothes and emptied the pockets of the man's keys and other items they held.

Alfred picked up the man's shirt, tie, coat, gloves, belt, Iron Cross pendant, gun holster and pants and made sure he had everything to complete the ensemble.

He also picked up the man's shiny, immaculate shoes from the side of his dresser.

He looked over the articles of clothing, studying them.

There was something missing.

Alfred then looked around the whole entire room, trying to find out exactly what he was missing.

And then he saw it.

The hat.

It was the same as Ludwig's.

Resting on top of the man's nightstand.

Alfred smiled then.

So, that's what he was missing.

The hat!

It was so obvious!

Why didn't he notice it before?!

It's like the first thing one would see when looking at a Nazi officer!

After their suit, of course.

And so, walking back over to the dresser, Alfred picked up the cap and placed it on his head.

It was a perfect fit too!

Alfred looked at the unconscious man for a short while.

And, sighing, Alfred put the clothes down to pull the blankets from under the man and covering him with them.

Alfred then gathered the clothes back up and walked towards the door to the man's bedroom.

But, before he stepped out, he turned towards the man and smiled.

"Thanks. I needed these. Oh, and thanks for the beer as well." Alfred said.

And, with that, Alfred stepped out of the man's room.

Hopefully, when he comes to, he'll think all this was just a weird crazy dream.

And that he had just simply misplaced his clothes and hat.

Alfred opened the front door of the man's house and locked it from the inside so that no one would be any the wiser.

He also made sure to wipe the doorknob off, both front and back, before closing the door and walking down the steps of his porch.

Just before he set off down the street, Alfred looked up at the window to the room he was just in.

"Goodnight." Alfred said, before setting off back down the way he came.

As Alfred walked down the sidewalk, he couldn't help but feel giddy at his accomplishment.

A proper celebration would be in order once he got home.

His mission was a complete success!

And all it took was him feeling up some random man he had only ever seen walking down the street and never even met!

Without all the stopping, and ducking and dodging behind corners and inside alleyways, it took Alfred a lot less time to get back to where he originally was.

It was only about a twenty to thirty minute walk from where that man lived.

And so, when Alfred saw the car coming up in the distance, still sitting there when he had left, he had wanted with all his life to just sprint to the car.

But he didn't want to run because he didn't want to accidently drop any of his newly obtained clothes.

So, he just settled for walking.

When he got to the car, he knocked on the window.

And his knocking startled the driver awake.

The driver blinked sleepily to clear his vision.

And when he saw that it was Alfred smiling at him, he unlocked the doors.

Alfred opened the door and put his new clothes in first before getting in himself and scooting over and closing the door back.

The driver yawned and stretched before groaning.

"Damn, what the hell took you so long?" the driver asked.

Alfred chuckled then. "Heh. Yeah, sorry. I didn't think I'd be gone that long. But that man was so paranoid, he kept looking around like every five seconds. And when we finally got to his house, I had to wait for like two hours to make sure that he was completely asleep. But I think all the beer he drank really contributed, so thank God for that. It didn't take very long when I was in his house, though. Plus, I had to make sure to cover my tracks as I prepared to leave, of course."

"Alright." the driver said. "So, are you ready?"

Alfred smiled and settled back into his seat and crossed his arms behind his head and sighed, contently. "Yep! Ready whenever you are!"

And, with that, the driver started up the car and drove off before turning back around to where they had first came.

After a long while of silence, they finally came to a stop in front of the house.

"Here's your stop." the driver called back to Alfred.

"Alright." Alfred said, gathering up his things before getting out of the car. "Hey, thanks for everything, man. Seriously. Thank you so much for all you've done for me."

"Hey, call me John." John said.

"Huh? Why?" Alfred asked.

John sighed. "Because it's my name."

"O-Oh…o-ok then." Alfred said.

"Look, we've know each other for almost a whole year, I would think that we should be on first name basis by now." John said.

"Oh…ok then. Goodnight…John." Alfred said.

John chuckled. "It's ok if you're not used to it yet, but you'll get there. Goodnight…Alfred. And good luck with that…thing you're doing." John said, pointing the bundle of clothing that Alfred held.

"Um…ok, thanks." Alfred said.

And, with that, Alfred closed the car door and headed towards the front door.

Holding the clothes in one hand, Alfred fished the house key out of his pocket and unlocked the door and pushed it open.

He stepped in and closed the door behind him and locked it back.

When Alfred turned around, he noticed that the kitchen light was still on.

Was somebody still up?

At this hour?

And so, Alfred, with the bundle of clothes in tow, walked forward and into the kitchen.

But he didn't see anyone.

And he saw that the table was empty.

Well, empty, except for one table setting.

There was a plate of food on it and a note that said, "For Alfred."

And Alfred smiled then because he knew who was behind this.

Francis.

And so, Alfred put the clothes on table and picked up the note and read it.

To Alfred.

Even though you've been going out for all hours of the day, that doesn't mean you get to skip dinner. You need to keep your strength up, mon ami. Otherwise, you won't have any energy when you need it. Enjoy this meal. It should still be hot by the time you get back. Bon appétit and goodnight.

Francis didn't even have to sign his name for Alfred to know who it was.

Because only Francis would do something like this.

He was always so compassionate.

Always worrying about him whenever he was down.

So, Alfred sat down and began eating.

Wow.

Francis was right about the food still being hot by the time he got home.

Unless when he said it should still be hot, that meant that he actually kept the food hot for him.

How nice.

Alfred imagined Francis standing over a simmering pot with tired eyes and looking out for him.

And just before he got into the house, Francis quickly made him a plate before going off upstairs to his bedroom.

He couldn't help but feel guilty.

However, even though that could have been a possibility or not, Alfred still felt guilty.

Because here Francis was, making sure he had dinner even if Alfred came back at late and ungodly hours of the night.

Alfred finished his dinner with a contented sigh.

He got up and washed his plate out before putting it up.

Gathering up the clothes, Alfred turned out the kitchen light before heading upstairs.

He opened the door and stepped inside before turning on the lamp on the nightstand and closing the door behind him.

He put the clothes on the nearby dresser before he started stripping himself down for bed.

He took the bottle of chloroform out of his pocket and the rag from the other pocket and put them on the dresser before undressing himself.

Once undressed, Alfred climbed into bed with a smile on his face.

He put his glasses on the nightstand and turned the lamp off before lying back down.

As Alfred lay back, looking up at the ceiling, he couldn't help but feel a little giddy and excited about where that uniform can take him.

He could go to many different places with it now.

And hopefully, those places led to Ludwig.

As he dozed off, Alfred thought of just how long it's been since he saw Ludwig.

It's been almost a whole year.

A whole year.

Wow.

Goddamn.

It's been so long now that Alfred thought about it.

Too long, even.

And Alfred wondered what Ludwig was doing right now.

What he did during their time apart.

How he fared during their separation.

Was he as miserable as he was?

Did he think about him as much as Alfred did he?

Or did he…

Forget about him completely?

Alfred shook his head then.

No.

No, that was impossible!

Ludwig couldn't forget about him!

Not after all they had been through!

But, oh God, if he did

Alfred didn't know if he could take it.

Because what if he did actually find him one day?

And when he did find him, Ludwig would ask him, "Who are you?"

That would be so devastating for Alfred.

Because who could forget him?

Maybe Matthew, but not him!

Oh, God, Alfred hoped he was wrong!

He hoped he was wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong!

And so, Alfred tried not to think of the negative as he tried to go to sleep.

Finding Ludwig was what was important now.

It was his number one priority.

He'll deal with whatever would happen when he did find him.

But, right now, he only had to worry about finding him.

And that was what he intended to do.

Alfred thought about that as he finally dozed off to sleep.

The next day, Alfred awoke in a much better mood than the day before.

Because he was going to go out, find Ludwig and make up with him.

But, wait…

That seemed easier said than done.

Much, much easier.

Because how could he even get close to him?

Yeah, sure, he could find him, but how could he talk to him?

Especially when there would be people all around him?

Alfred got out of bed and went into the bathroom to get ready for the day.

He came out and began getting dressed.

Alfred pondered this as he got dressed.

Just how could he speak to him when the place around him would discourage speaking English?

Once Alfred was fully dressed, he put on his glasses and walked to his door.

And, just as he was about to twist the knob and open it, he noticed something.

And it was something that he hadn't seen in a long time.

It was that book.

It was that book Matthew gave him before he came here and that he had meant to thumb through.

The book on how to speak German.

It went on untouched for so long that it had been collecting dust.

Alfred eyed it for a few seconds before he sighed and picked up the book before blowing it off.

He opened it and walked over to his bed and began reading.

He read in absolute utter confusion.

Because the only things he could understand in the book were the explanations on how German is spoken and the translations.

Everything was making his head spin in confusion and ache.

But, still, Alfred kept reading on.

If he wanted to go out and see Ludwig again, he had to learn German.

Had to!

If he ever wanted to see him again.

Alfred was in his room all day, reading that book.

He didn't even know just how long he was in there until Francis knocked on his bedroom door.

"Alfred, it's time for dinner. Come down and eat." Francis's muffled voice said from behind the door.

"Alright." Alfred called out, not looking up from his book.

And, with that, Francis left.

Alfred continued reading his book for a few more short minutes before he finally put the book face down and got up.

He would continue reading after he was done eating.

Alfred walked out of his room and down the stairs and went into the kitchen.

He watched as Francis set everyone's dinner down in front of them.

And, as always, Francis' food always looked delicious.

Since Alfred was so impatient to finish reading his book, he began eating.

And, as he as ate, he realized just how hungry he was considering he was sitting on his bed, reading all day.

Alfred finished eating and washed his plate and utensils and put them up before going back upstairs and leaving confused stares in his wake.

They all looked at Francis who could only shrug in confusion.

Alfred bounded up the steps and into his room and closed the door to hurriedly snatch up the book again.

He plopped down onto the bed and continued reading.

He read many different words and even tried to pronounce them according to the pronunciation hints given.

He felt like a little child leaning how to talk.

Alfred blushed slightly.

And needless to say, it was a little embarrassing.

And it was also a little humbling.

Humbling to know that he was learning how to speak another language.

It was also a little bit exciting too.

Because just the thought of speaking to Ludwig in his language and actually understanding him was something that Alfred couldn't describe.

It made him feel happy.

Happy that he could connect with Ludwig in more ways than one.

And in a strange way, it made him feel…connected to him.

Even though they were miles apart.

Alfred continued reading until the sky was pitch black.

He couldn't make sense of most of it, but he was starting to understand some of it.

That was a little bit of progress at least.

While he was still far from being able to speak German, he could take solace in the fact that he was beginning to take the very first steps in actually learning it.

At that was what made this whole thing worth it.

It was worth this present struggle that he was going through.

Because Ludwig was worth the trouble.

And Alfred wondered what Ludwig's reaction would be he showed up and spoke to him in fluent German.

Would he be surprised?

Shocked?

Excited?

Or maybe even…happy?

Happy that Alfred would learn his language just for him?

He just couldn't wait to see the look on Ludwig's face when he showed up speaking to him in German.

Alfred yawned.

It was hard to believe, but he had been reading all day.

And that was something that Alfred had never been too keen on in his whole entire life!

So, it was a little bit weird for him to sit down and actually read all day and want to do it.

But Alfred was doing this for Ludwig.

Because if Ludwig wasn't there to be his motivation then Alfred highly doubted that he would be sitting here and reading a book like he was right now.

Alfred yawned again.

He rubbed his eyes, sleepily.

As he looked at the book, he decided to just go to bed instead of continuing to read so that he could get some rest.

He could continue reading tomorrow.

So, Alfred put the book face down on the dresser and began undressing.

Once he was in bed, Alfred lay back and stared up at the ceiling.

He'd start reading early in the morning as soon as he woke up.

He wanted to get a jump on it so that he could continue learning.

As Alfred dozed off, he couldn't help but feel a sense of pride because he was actually taking it upon himself to learn a new and unfamiliar language.

Just wait until Ludwig saw him again.

He'd be so happy.

The next morning, Alfred jumped out of bed and went to bathroom to get ready for the day.

He washed his face clean of sleepiness and brushed his teeth.

After he was done in the bathroom, Alfred began getting dressed.

Once he was fully dressed, instead of going down stairs, Alfred grabbed up the book and sat back down on his bed and read.

He continued reading all day until Francis knocked on his door again.

"Alfred, come on down. It's dinnertime." Francis said.

"Ok." Alfred said, still reading.

Francis stood there for a few more seconds and contemplated knocking again and asking Alfred if there was anything wrong, but he shook his head and decided against it and walked away.

After a few more minutes of reading, Alfred laid the book down face first before getting up and walking out of his room.

He made his way downstairs and into the kitchen and sat down at the table.

Alfred waited, impatiently, as Francis' placed their dinner in front of them.

He wanted Francis to hurry up so he could go back to reading again!

Once dinner was served, Alfred began eating as quickly as he could without looking like a complete and total slob.

And, just like last night, Alfred was the first one done and he washed his plate and utensils before putting them up and going back upstairs.

Alfred closed his door again and sat down on his bed to continue reading.

And, also like last night, he read until the sky was black.

Once he yawned, he decided to just put the book face down on the dresser and began undressing himself for bed.

Once he was in bed, he yawned again.

As he dozed off to sleep, Alfred felt a little better knowing that this would all work out for him in the end.

And it would be very beneficial to him in the future.

Because learning a new language opened to door to many different opportunities.

And soon, it would lead him straight to Ludwig.

The next day became the same ritual as the first two.

Alfred woke up, went to the bathroom to get ready for the day, got dressed, picked up his book and read until Francis knocked on his door, came down for dinner, finished, came back up, read until he was tired, and put the book up before undressing and going to bed.

This became all the events of Alfred's day.

He read the book in depth to the best of his ability and tried to understand it.

And he continued trying to pronounce the unfamiliar words on the paper as he read.

This cycle continued on like this for a few weeks.

He rarely came to dinner because he was too busy reading.

So, Francis had taken to bringing Alfred his dinners to his room and bringing the dishes down when he was done with them.

But this did not last very long.

Alfred was so involved in reading that he had stopped coming down for dinner all at once.

He just stayed holed up in his room reading his book all day.

And Francis was beginning to wonder if Alfred might have been suffering from some kind of bipolar disorder considering the current circumstances.

Alfred was happy, cheerful and associative one second and the next second he was quiet, solemn, and reclusive.

The others were starting to get worried, specifically Francis.

So, one day, Francis had had enough of Alfred cloistering himself up in his room and he went up to Alfred's room and knocked on his door.

"Alfred, may I come in?" Francis asked.

He heard Alfred sigh then.

"Yeah, yeah, come in." Alfred said, lowly.

And so, Francis opened the door to step in.

And Alfred looked up at Francis with a bored look on his face.

"What?" Alfred asked.

And Francis was about to open his mouth to reply until he saw that Alfred was reading a book, but his mouth fell closed instead.

He didn't know what to say.

So, Alfred just looked back down at his book and continued reading. "Look, if you're not gonna say anything, then forget it. I'm kinda in the middle of something here."

"Um…Alfred? What are you doing?" Francis asked, genuinely confused.

"I'm learning German." Alfred said, calmly, eyes flitting from one word to the next.

And this took Francis aback.

"Qu'est-ce que c'est?!" Francis exclaimed. "I-I mean, what?"

Alfred rolled his eyes and looked up. "You heard me. I said that I'm learning German."

Francis blinked.

"You're…learning…German?" Francis asked.

Alfred sighed. "Yeah. I mean, how else am I gonna be useful around here?"

He then looked back down and continued reading.

Francis stared at Alfred for a few seconds and he then walked towards him "Hmm. Well, you're never going to learn anything from a book, Alfred."

He then took the book from Alfred and scanned the pages that he was reading.

It was full of things that he knew that Alfred couldn't understand.

Mainly because they weren't being spoken to him.

And so, Francis scoffed and tossed the book on the bed.

Alfred saw this and he gasped, widening his eyes before turning back to Francis.

"Hey, what'd you do that for?! You made me lose my place!" Alfred cried.

And Francis sighed then. "Oh, Alfred. If you wanted to learn German, you could have just come to me."

Alfred's eyes widened. "Wh-What? Wh-Wh-Why?

"Because I can teach you!" Francis said. "We all can!"

And Alfred blushed then. "I-I don't know about that, Francis. I-It seems like much work on you guys' part."

And Francis chuckled then. "Oh, nonsense, mon ami! It's fine. And, besides, it'll be fun!"

Alfred just sat there, face red and babbling like an idiot. "B-But, wait, Francis-"

Francis then grabbed Alfred's hand and pulled him up. "We'll start first in the morning! Now, come on, dinner's ready!

And Alfred's mouth dropped then. "Wh-What?! I-In the morning?! Awwww!"

Francis led Alfred downstairs and into the kitchen.

"Everyone? I have something to tell you all!" Francis said.

And Arthur sighed then. "Oh, bloody hell. What is it now?"

"Well…you know how Alfred here has been holed up in his room for the past few weeks?" Francis asked.

Everyone nodded.

And Alfred blushed slightly.

"Well, it turns out that he's been trying to learn German! And from a book!" Francis said.

And everyone began laughing then.

Alfred growled and his face got redder.

"Now, now, everyone, stop laughing at Alfred." Francis said. "Now, I told Alfred that if he wanted to learn then he could have just come to me. I said I could teach him. We all could! So, what I want to know from you all is if you're willing to help me teach him."

Everyone was silent for a few seconds.

And then Ivan smiled. "Da! I'll help teach you, Fredka!"

"Alright. I'll help. But I won't be easy." Yao said.

Arthur was still silent, as if he was contemplating the offer.

"Well, Arthur? What do you say?" Francis asked.

Arthur hummed in thought.

And he then smirked.

Alfred gulped.

"Hmm…well…it's a tempting offer. I mean, teaching Alfred how to speak properly? It sounds quite fun. Fine. I shall help teach him as well." Arthur said.

When everyone agreed to help teach Alfred, he couldn't help but feel a little warm at the fact that they were willing to help him.

And it made him feel like he wasn't alone.

"Alright, then. Now that that's settled, let's all eat!" Francis exclaimed.

Alfred walked over and sat at the table as Francis passed out their food.

He ate his food quietly as he thought about everyone helping him.

What would they teach him?

How would they teach him?

Would they be good?

Would they be better than the book?

Once dinner was done, everyone cleaned up and headed upstairs.

"Now, everyone, we'll be starting tomorrow!" Francis called out.

Alfred walked to his room.

He tried to hurry up and get inside before anyone said anything to him.

"Oh, and Alfred?" Francis called out.

And Alfred flinched at the mention of his name.

Fuck.

Alfred turned around, trying his best to smile. "Y-Yeah?"

"Make sure you get enough rest. You have a busy day tomorrow. We all do." Francis said.

"Y-Yeah…s-sure." Alfred said.

Francis smiled. "Goodnight, Alfred."

Alfred smiled back. "Goodnight, Francis."

And, with that, Alfred opened the door and walked in before closing it behind him.

He walked over to the bed and picked the book up before putting it on the dresser.

Alfred then began undressing to go to bed.

Once he was undressed and in bed, Alfred wondered how long it would take to find Ludwig.

It had been almost a year since they had seen each other.

He wondered where he could have gone in that time.

Alfred briefly thought about that map that he had seen in Ludwig's room back when they were in France.

If those crossed out circles were indeed the places that he had been already, Alfred wondered how many of those other circles have been crossed out in the time that they had been apart.

What if he went to one of those places to look for Ludwig and it turns out that he was already there and had moved on already?

Oh, God, that would devastate Alfred.

Without the map, there would be no way to find him without some kind of miracle.

He hoped that he could find him soon.

And he hoped that the last time they saw each other wasn't the last time they saw each other.

He didn't want to lose track of him forever!

He didn't want their last moment to end on a bad note.

Alfred had to get Ludwig to forgive him.

He had to!

Or else he'd go crazy!

Just the thought of Ludwig hating him made Alfred feel terrible.

He couldn't handle the feeling of someone hating him.

Especially if that someone was Ludwig.

And he was determined to make Ludwig forgive him!

So, Alfred put thoughts of not finding Ludwig out of his head and just focused on actually finding him.

Because if he kept those negative thoughts of not finding Ludwig in his head then he would never find him because he would start having second thoughts about going to the next stop to only end up disappointed.

And so, to prevent that from happening, Alfred had to keep his spirits up.

He would go into this with an open mind.

Because who knows?

Maybe he'll get lucky and find him on the first stop.

Ok, maybe that was a little too much of an open mind.

But, it was better than thinking that he wasn't going to find him.

So, Alfred finally fell asleep with positive thoughts about his search for Ludwig.

And he would continue to think like this until he found Ludwig.

It would take some time, but Alfred would hang in there and never give up even though things look bleak.

He didn't give up when he was searching for Ludwig in the city.

And he wouldn't give up searching for Ludwig in other places either!

The next morning came with a soft knock at the door.

"Alfred? Alfred, mon ami, it's time to get up." Francis said, through the door.

Alfred groaned and opened one sleepy eye and looked over at the door.

God, he really didn't want to get up right now.

"Alfred, it's time to get up. Come eat breakfast and after, we'll begin your lessons." Francis said.

And Alfred wanted to scream right then.

He really didn't want to get up just to learn.

It was almost like he was in school again.

And so, forcing himself up, Alfred sat up in bed and yawned loudly before stretching. "Aww, alright, alright, already!"

Alfred crawled out of bed and walked to the bathroom to wash his face to wake himself up.

Walking out of the bathroom, Alfred got dressed before tying up his shoes and putting on his glasses and heading downstairs.

He walked into kitchen and he was greeted by Francis.

"Hello, Alfred! Are you ready to learn this morning?" Francis asked.

Alfred just grumbled tiredly and walked forward to sit down at the table.

"Good morning, Alfred." Arthur said with a smug air in his voice and a cup of coffee in hand.

And Alfred had to restrain the urge to snatch the cup from Arthur and pour the piping hot coffee over his head.

"So, this is how it's going to work." Francis said, passing out breakfast. "We'll all teach you, but we'll do it in shifts. We'll all trade off with one another each day. I'll go first, Yao will go second, Ivan goes third, and, finally Arthur will go last. Does that sound good to you, Alfred?"

Alfred sighed. "Yeah, I guess so."

And Francis clapped his hands together happily. "Incroyable! Magnifique! We'll get started as soon as breakfast is over!"

"Yay." Alfred said, sarcastically.

Once breakfast was over, Francis walked into the living room and pulled out a chalkboard.

"Come on, Alfred! It's time to start your lesson!" Francis said, beckoning Alfred over into the living room.

And so, with a great sigh, Alfred walked into the living room and plopped down onto the couch.

"Alright, let's get this over with." Alfred said, lazily.

And Francis smiled then. "Alright then! Welcome to German 101! I will be your teacher today!"

And Alfred groaned and rolled his eyes.

This was going to be a difficult journey to learn to a new language.

The first day wasn't really so bad as Alfred had thought.

He was mainly just learning how to say what his name was.

Probably the most important thing when learn learning a new language.

He had actually learned a lot that day.

And it was a lot more than that book could ever teach him.

So, maybe Francis was actually right about that.

However, that was only the first day.

The second day was a little bit tougher.

When Yao said that he wasn't going to be easy, he meant it.

He really fuckin' meant it.

Teaching him the alphabet and numbers all in the same day.

Though he had a little bit better time with understanding the numbers since most of them sounded like English anyway.

And Yao had told him that English and German weren't really all that different, so he should have a little bit of an easier time than if he were to learn another language, yet that didn't mean that they were the same.

So, that was a little comforting for Alfred.

But, just a little bit.

The third day was a little bit easier since Ivan wasn't nearly as strict as Yao was.

He taught with that small smile on his face at all times.

It made Alfred feel safe in learning because it made him unafraid to ask questions.

And Ivan would answer them all with a patient tone in his voice.

He learned how certain words are pronounced and how to properly say them.

The fourth day had to be the most infuriating day in Alfred's life!

He learned how grammar works and when he would repeat after Arthur, he was always interrupted in midsentence with Arthur's correct pronunciation.

God, can he at least give him a chance to get it wrong and actually correct him and explain it to him?

Instead of stopping him and interrupting his thought processes.

And the next day, the teaching order started over and went back to Francis again.

And it went in order only to start back over again.

This all lasted for the next few weeks.

And, in those next few weeks, Alfred started to notice the teaching styles of everyone.

Francis was strict yet gentle.

And if Alfred got something wrong many, many times, Francis would sigh and chide him gently and give him a few more chances to try and get it right before giving him the correct answer.

Yao was difficult yet helpful.

He was more straightforward and direct in his teaching and he would often have Alfred write stuff on the chalkboard before explaining to him the various sentence structures among other things like how past, present and future sentences worked.

Ivan was confusing yet patient.

He often said a lot of things that confused Alfred and it would take a while for Alfred to understand what he was saying, but Ivan would just stand there patiently and wait for Alfred to come to the conclusion for himself and then nod in agreement.

Arthur was a total pain in the ass yet he was strangely a surprisingly good teacher.

And even though he would still constantly rudely interrupt him in the middle of his sentences, it strangely prevented those pronunciation mistakes out of fear that Arthur would correct him.

Those next grueling months made Alfred regret even letting everyone teach him.

Every day, day in and day out was the same exact thing.

Wake up, eat breakfast, learn German until dinnertime, eat dinner and then go to bed.

And rinse and repeat the next morning.

Alfred went through this nonstop.

The lessons stopped only when Alfred had to go the bathroom or shower.

The only breaks he got were Christmas and New Year's.

And even those were boring because Alfred couldn't celebrate them like he wanted to!

So, when Christmas came around, everyone just came down for breakfast and wished each other a Merry Christmas.

And it was the same thing with New Year's.

Francis made a special dinner to commemorate both occasions.

So, when it was the day before New Year's, they all gathered around the table and did a toast to the New Year before they ate.

But, after that, everything went back to normal.

The months after that were the same.

Everyone taught Alfred German all day, every day.

And as time passed, Alfred learned even more about how everyone taught.

Francis was nurturing.

"Like this?" Alfred asked, confused as he wrote something on the chalkboard.

"Non, non, Alfred." Francis said, softly. "It goes like this."

Alfred watched as Francis crossed out a mistake and wrote the correct one over it.

"O-Oh…s-sorry." Alfred said, erasing his mistake and fixing it.

"Oh, non, don't be sorry, Alfred." Francis said. "You're just learning, so it's ok if you make mistakes."

Francis explained why Alfred was wrong and made sure to make him practice over and over again until he understood it.

Yao was crazy.

"No, no, no! Not like that, like this!" Yao yelled, writing angrily on the chalkboard.

Alfred flinched and gulped.

Geez, did he have to yell like that?

God, the way he got so angry over little mistakes made Alfred afraid to even make any.

Teachers who are teaching language to first timers shouldn't get angry!

Or course first timers are going to get stuff wrong!

What did they expect, for them to get it right the first time?

Besides, isn't that the reason why language teachers teach language in the first place so that they could help people learn?

"U-Um…s-so like this?" Alfred asked, nervously.

Yao groaned loudly and began yelling in Chinese.

As he yelled irritably, he began shaking the chalkboard.

Alfred's eyes widened as he stared at Yao.

Was he really that mad?

"Wh-Whoa, whoa, whoa, dude! Calm down!" Alfred yelled.

Yao stopped shaking the chalkboard and sighed before panting and turning back around.

"Ok. I may have lost it there, but I'm calm now. Ok. We'll try it again." Yao said.

Alfred nodded.

And he made sure to pay close attention this time so as to not cause another meltdown from Yao.

Ivan was creepy.

"O-Ohh…I get it now! I-It goes like this, right?" Alfred asked, finished writing his response.

But Ivan shook his head. "Nyet. Wrong again, Fredka."

And Alfred groaned and clutched his hair in his hands. "Oh, my God, why oh why does this have to be so freakin' hard?!"

"It is not hard, Fredka, you just need to practice more." Ivan said, smoothly. "Now, what is this one?"

Alfred looked at the sentence that Ivan had written.

He could understand some of it, but not all of it.

Something that he felt pride in.

Because it meant that he was getting closer and closer to being able to find Ludwig.

"Ooh, ooh, I know, I know!" Alfred cried, scribbling down his response.

He then lifted up the piece of paper so that Ivan could see it.

He had hope gleaming in his eyes.

But, when Ivan had shaken his head, Alfred's hope diminished.

And Alfred groaned again when Ivan pointed to another sentence that he wanted Alfred to translate.

And, again, Alfred scribbled down the response that he thought was right before showing it to Ivan.

And, again, just like before, Ivan just shook his head.

And this continued on for a while.

Alfred wrote a response that he thought was right.

And Ivan shook his head again.

So, when Alfred showed Ivan yet another wrong answer, he became despondent.

Ivan shook his head yet again.

And this time, the small smile he had on his face grew.

He walked over the couch and sat down next to Alfred.

He then turned towards Alfred, smile still in place.

And, just like before, when Ivan had given him the chloroform and Alfred had asked why he had it, Alfred swore he felt the room get colder and that menacing aura around Ivan appear again.

"Do you want to die, Fredka?" Ivan asked, suddenly.

Alfred's eyes widened then.

And he briefly wondered if Ivan was joking or not.

Alfred blinked. "U-Uh…wh-wha-"

"Because that is what will happen to you if you don't start learning quickly." Ivan said with his creepy smile still in place. "They will know that you don't speak German and they will kill you."

And Alfred thought he was imagining it, but that aura got even bigger.

And, God, did it send icy cold chills down his spine.

"Wh-Wh-What?! I-I'll die?!" Alfred almost shrieked.

"Da!" Ivan said. "Oh, I wonder how they'll do it. Maybe shoot you, or bury you alive. Maybe they could hang you. Oh! Maybe they'll tear all your limbs off and watch you bleed to death!"

And Alfred visibly paled then.

"Wh-Wh-Wh-Wh…" was all Alfred could say.

He didn't want to be buried alive.

And he most certainly didn't want to be torn limb from limb and bleed to death.

"So, are you ready to begin learning, Fredka?" Ivan asked.

Alfred gulped and nodded quickly.

And as soon as Alfred agreed, the room temperature went back to normal and the aura around Ivan dissipated.

"Now, let us begin where we left off, da?" Ivan asked.

Alfred nodded again quickly.

And Arthur was hell!

"No, Alfred. Do it again." Arthur said.

Alfred groaned loudly. "Aww, come on, I did it like ten times already!"

"I don't care, Alfred. Not even if you have to do it 100 times. You need to learn this, Alfred." Arthur said.

Alfred erased yet another mistake and rewrote it to correct it. "Boy, you're a reeeeaaaal pain, you know that?"

Arthur scoffed. "Well, I'm supposed to be a 'pain'. I'm your teacher, Alfred."

Alfred huffed, finishing his work before handing it to Arthur.

Arthur took it and looked over it with a scrutinizing eye.

And after a few seconds, Arthur smiled. "Very well done, Alfred. I'm actually very impressed. And that's something that rarely ever happens to me."

Alfred smiled and blushed, slightly, feeling proud of himself.

He was actually getting the hang of all this.

"Now that we're done here. Take this to do in your spare time." Arthur said, handing Alfred a piece of paper. "I made you a little worksheet so that you can practice."

"Aww, what? Homework?!" Alfred cried, loudly. "This ain't school!"

And Arthur's eyebrow twitched in annoyance then.

He then cleared his throat.

"Ok, first of all, it's 'this isn't school' and second, I gave you that so that you can work on it and study it." Arthur said.

Alfred groaned loudly at the very idea of him studying.

"Ugh, fine, I'll do it." Alfred grumbled, annoyed.

"And hurry up because you have a test in a few hours." Arthur said.

And Alfred's mouth dropped open right then as he gaped at Arthur.

"Y-Y…Y-You gotta be kidding me. A-A test?!A freakin' test?! What the hell is this?! This is bull!" Alfred cried.

Arthur scoffed. "Oh, will you stop being such a baby?! This is to help you learn, remember? You'll never learn if you don't practice! You know, you really should be grateful that we're even helping you in the first place. We didn't have to help you, but we chose to!"

Alfred sighed deeply.

Arthur was right.

They really didn't have to help him, but they chose to help him.

"You're right." Alfred said, lowly. "I'm sorry. And thank you guys for helping me."

Arthur hummed. "Hmm, finally. And you're welcome. Now, off you go. I'll be there shortly to give you your test."

And, with that, Alfred went into the kitchen and sat down at the table to do his "homework".

It took a while, but he was able to do it with relative ease.

And he finished it just before Arthur came in to check on him.

"Alright. Time's up. Let me see how you did." Arthur said.

Alfred held onto it, hesitantly.

And it was almost like he didn't want to give it to Arthur.

"Now, now, don't be like that. Give it here." Arthur said.

Alfred sheepishly handed in the paper with a small blush on his face.

Arthur took the paper from Alfred and looked over it.

"Good job, Alfred." Arthur said.

And Alfred sighed in relief then.

Thank God.

"Now, are you ready for your test?" Arthur asked.

Alfred froze.

Oh, yeah.

Right.

He had forgotten about the test.

Fuck.

And Alfred sighed then. "Oh, alright, then."

Arthur smiled then. "Good. Now, here, take this."

Arthur handed Alfred a piece of paper.

Alfred took it and looked at both sides before he looked back up at Arthur.

"There's nothing on it." Alfred said, utterly confused.

"That's because you didn't let me finish." Arthur said.

"Ugh, fine then. Go on." Alfred said.

"The reason why there's nothing on it is because it is a written test." Arthur said.

Alfred's mouth dropped.

"Y-You…You're kidding, right?" Alfred asked.

"Oh, no, Alfred, I'm very serious. It is imperative that you learn to speak, read and write in German." Arthur said.

"Oh, I can't believe this." Alfred said, hanging his head.

"Oh, believe it, Alfred." Arthur said.

Alfred sighed for what had to be the millionth time.

This was starting to be too much work for him.

"Now, are you ready to begin you test, Alfred?" Arthur asked.

Alfred sighed again. "Yeah, yeah, what do I have to do?"

"Your assignment is to write me a paragraph telling me what your name is, what your favorite food is, what your hobbies are and what you like to do." Arthur said. "You have thirty minutes."

"What?!" Alfred cried. "Thirty minutes?! That's freakin' impossible! There's no way I can do this in thirty minutes!"

Arthur sighed then. "Fine, then. You have an hour. Now, hurry up and start."

Alfred rolled his eyes then. "Fine, whatever."

And so, Alfred began writing everything that Arthur told him to write.

It was a little bit hard for him, but he managed to pull through.

But that measly thirty minutes that Arthur gave him would not have been enough.

Time slowly ticked by as Alfred wrote, erased and fixed his mistakes.

Yes, the hour was definitely needed.

And so, when an hour passed by, Arthur walked into the kitchen and looked over Alfred's should. "All right, time's up, Alfred."

When Arthur tried to grab Alfred's paper, Alfred scooted away and looked at Arthur with narrowed eyes before returning to scribble more words onto the paper.

And Arthur blinked almost in disbelief.

Well…this was Alfred, after all.

"Alfred! I said that time's up!" Arthur yelled.

"N-No, w-wait, wait, wait, I'm not done yet!" Alfred cried.

"I don't care, Alfred! It's fine if you're not done yet. Just let me see what you have!" Arthur yelled.

"W-Wait, wait. Almost done…almost done." Alfred said, mostly to himself as he trailed off.

"Ugh, Alfred, the purpose of a test is to see how much you learned within the given time limit." Arthur said.

But, Alfred didn't reply.

So, Arthur crossed his arms and groaned loudly.

And he watched as Alfred scribbled and scratched away at his paper for a few short minutes.

"Done!" Alfred cried, triumphantly as he held up his paper.

Arthur sighed then. "Good. Now, will you let me see it?!"

Alfred gave Arthur the paper, confidently.

Arthur looked over the paper. "Ugh, good God, your writing is atrocious."

Alfred huffed then, blushing. "Hey, you're supposed to be checking my handwriting! A-And no one asked you, anyways."

"Well…aside from the handwriting, you did well. Very well. It seems as though you have learned quite a bit in these past few months." Arthur said.

Alfred chuckled. "Ha! You're damn right! You bet your ass, I did!"

Arthur sighed, loudly. "Calm down, Alfred. Well, at any rate, you passed."

Alfred blinked in disbelief. "I-I passed? R-Really?!"

Arthur hesitated for a short while. "Yes…you did."

Alfred stood up from the chair and cheered loudly. "Whaa-hoo! Yeah! I did it! I freakin' passed!"

Arthur face palmed.

Yep.

He knew he'd regret it if he told him.

Yet, he did it anyway.

As the lessons went on, Alfred understood more and more of what everyone was teaching him.

And he asked fewer questions in each lesson.

He really was getting the hang of it.

And, pretty soon, he would be speaking German.

Oh, Alfred couldn't wait.

He'd find Ludwig quicker with this newly acquired skill of his.

As Alfred continued to improve on this newfound skill, his confidence only grew.

Soon, everyone all began to speak to him in only German.

And with a little bit of help from the others, Alfred began to understand it even more!

And he would even give a reply in German!

"Ah, félicitations, Alfred!" Francis said, as they were all gathered around for dinner. "Or should I say, 'glückwünsche', Alfred! You have learned everything that we have to teach you. So, to hone and sharpen your new skill, we will only speak to you in German. No English. Just only German. Ok?"

Alfred gulped then. "J-Just…German?"

Francis smiled. "Don't worry, Alfred. We'll help you, but only if you're legitimately stuck. So, then, and only then, can you speak English. Is that ok with you, Alfred?"

"U-Um…b-but why do you have to do that? I-I mean, I'm already comfortable with it, s-so why do we have to do it?" Alfred asked.

"Oh, Alfred, it's not going to be forever! It's only going to be for a short while. You know, to just test your listening and comprehension skills." Francis said.

Alfred groaned.

Great.

Yeah, add on more hard stuff.

"We'll start in the morning. But, for now, let's eat!" Francis said.

Dinner came and went and Alfred went to his room.

"Alfred." Francis called.

Alfred turned around. "Yeah?"

Francis smiled. "Good job, Alfred. Really. Ah, it almost seems like yesterday when you started learning German. And now, here you are, nearly fluent in it. I'm so proud of you, Alfred."

Alfred blushed. "Y-Yeah…w-well, thank you for teaching me. All of you. Thanks. Really."

Francis chuckled. "You're very welcome, Alfred."

They bid each other a goodnight and Alfred walked into his room.

He got undressed and practically jumped into bed.

Once in bed, Alfred settled himself into the soft blankets and he began to doze off.

And the last thing he thought of before he went to sleep was his eventual reunion with Ludwig.

The next morning, Alfred was woken up by a knock on the door.

And instead of the usual "Alfred, it's time to get up and eat breakfast.", Francis said something in German.

And it took to Alfred some time to process it because he was still sleepy, but he eventually understood that Francis wanted him to get up and come eat breakfast.

Basically the same thing, but in German.

And so, Alfred got up out of bed and continued his usual routine of going to the bathroom to freshen up and getting dressed to go downstairs and eat breakfast.

Alfred's day was basically the exact same as the other ones before.

Except without the lessons.

And every word out of someone's mouth was in German.

And this continued for the next few weeks.

Whenever someone said something to Alfred, he would reply in near-perfect German.

And everyone congratulated him.

Even Arthur smiled a little bit at Alfred's nearly perfect mastery.

A few more months went by and Alfred was now speaking like any regular German citizen.

He had improved greatly from the first day.

In leaps and bounds Arthur had once said.

But then came the true test.

Alfred had to pretend like he was lost in the streets of Berlin and had to ask his way around.

They dropped him off in one place and told him to get to another place by asking random people.

Even though, at this point, Alfred knew this city like the back of his hand.

But, he went along with it anyway.

After all, this whole exercise was to test his language skills, not how well he knew the city.

And, as he asked people for directions, he did it without any problem at all.

No weird looks, no suspicious stares.

Nothing.

It was like he was one of them.

And so, a few hours later, Alfred had finally come to the meeting place where everyone was waiting.

When Alfred finally saw them, he was overcome with relief and he practically sprinted towards them.

And as soon as he got over to them, he almost collapsed from exhaustion.

Because the meeting place was basically on the opposite side of the city.

Stupid bastards.

Making him walk that far.

Oh, well, at least he got good exercise from all that walking.

He could take solace in that at least.

So, Alfred stepped inside the awaiting car and they drove home.

Once they were home, Francis started dinner and Alfred helped him to make sure that it was done faster since he was so hungry from all that walking he had to do earlier.

So, when dinner was finally done, Alfred was the first one at the table, already ready to eat.

Everyone else came down a short while later.

Francis passed out everyone's dinner and Alfred was about to dig into his food when Francis stopped him.

"Now, wait a minute, Alfred." Francis said, holding up a hand. "Before you eat, we just wanted to say how proud we are of you. You've really come a long way."

Alfred blushed slightly. "Yeah, yeah, thanks."

"Oh, oui. I still think you have a few more thank yous to give out, non?" Francis asked.

"What? To who?" Alfred asked.

Francis pointed to Ivan and Yao.

"To them." Francis said.

"What? I thanked them!" Alfred said.

"Not personally." Francis pointed out.

Alfred sighed then. "Thank you Ivan and Yao for helping teach me how to speak German."

"You are welcome, Fredka! It was fun to help!" Ivan said.

"It was tough teaching you, but you finally understood. You are welcome." Yao said.

"Now, can I eat?! I'm freakin' hungry over here thanks to you guys walking me across this whole city like a freakin' work horse!" Alfred said.

Francis chuckled then. "Well, we had to be sure that you learned properly. If you could interact with the people, then that means you have!"

"Well, you could have thought of a different way. You know, one that doesn't involve me walking across a city." Alfred said.

"Well, the bigger the area, the more people you talk to. Thus honing your skills even more." Francis said.

"Wha-ugh, fine whatever." Alfred grumbled.

And, with that, Alfred began tearing into his food.

Francis sighed.

Some things never change.

As everybody ate, Francis decided to play a little joke on Alfred.

Another test of sorts.

Just to test his comprehension.

"Hey, Arthur, have you noticed how fat Alfred is getting?" Francis said, leaning towards Arthur and speaking in a not-so-quiet voice.

Everyone chuckled.

"H-Hey, I'm not getting fat! I understood that, you know!" Alfred cried.

Francis laughed. "Come on, Alfred, I didn't mean it. I was just testing you to see if you were listening."

"A-And you do it by calling me fat?!" Alfred asked.

"Well, how else are you going to understand if someone insults you in German?" Francis asked.

And Alfred suddenly had the urge to push his food away.

But, he couldn't since he was almost done anyway.

So, he had no choice but to finish.

Alfred leaned back in his chair and poked at his stomach.

"I am not fat." Alfred muttered.

"Come on, Alfred, finish up. It's not going to eat itself." Francis said.

Alfred sat up and continued eating.

Though it was much slower than how he ate before.

"Oh, come on, Alfred, he said he didn't mean it. Does it really bother you that much?" Arthur asked.

But, Alfred didn't answer.

He just kept eating until he was done and got up to wash his dishes and put them away before walking out of the kitchen.

And just before he walked out, he turned around and looked at everyone.

"Thank you all for teaching me German and thank you all for building me up just to tear me down." Alfred said.

And, with that, he walked out of the kitchen and up the stairs.

"Maybe that was a little much." Yao said.

"Hmm. Da, I agree." Ivan said.

"Oh, bloody hell, he was just joking. That idiot shouldn't be so damned sensitive." Arthur said.

"Yes, but there are things you just don't say." Yao said. "It was a little funny, but that was wrong."

"Da, maybe…Fredka is umm…how do you say it…self-conscious? About his body?" Ivan said.

"You've got to be kidding me." Arthur said.

And Francis sighed then. "Non, they're right. I was only teasing. And I meant it as a test so that I could see if he could understand or not. Well, I guess I should go apologize to him, then."

When Alfred got into his room, he immediately began undressing and turned on the lamp before jumping into bed.

Alfred lay in his bed, already undressed and ready to go to sleep.

But there was one thing that was bothering him and preventing him from going to sleep.

"I-I am not f-fat. O-Ok, maybe I put on a little weight, b-but, i-it's not noticeable, right?" Alfred asked himself, quietly.

And, all of a sudden, a knock came at the door.

Alfred didn't hear it because he was so wrapped up in himself.

Another knock, this time louder.

This startled Alfred and he jump straight up in bed. "Y-Yeah, who is it?"

The person cleared their throat. "It's me, Francis."

And Alfred scoffed. "Oh, it's you."

Francis shrank back at the way Alfred said "you".

"Ok, maybe I deserved that. But, I just wanted to say that I was sorry, Alfred. You have to know I didn't mean it. I meant it was one final test. I wanted to say something that would get your attention. I didn't mean to hit a nerve, but if I did, I'm sorry." Francis said.

There was a long pause.

And Francis was sure that Alfred had fallen asleep or had just simply chose to ignore him.

And he was about to walk away when Alfred finally spoke up.

"S-So…y-you don't really think th-that I'm…f-fat?" Alfred stuttered.

"Non." Francis said.

"Oh, that's such a relief! For a second there, I thought you were serious!" Alfred said, relieved.

"So…do you forgive me?" Francis asked.

"Hmm. Well, I suppose so." Alfred said. "Though, you still kinda hurt my feelings even if you joking and or testing me."

"Oui, and I apologize for that." Francis said.

"Ok, then. Now, I'm kinda tired and I wanna go to bed. Cya tomorrow." Alfred said.

"Alright. Goodnight, Alfred." Francis said.

Alfred yawned. "Goodnight, Francis."

Alfred heard Francis walk away and close his door behind him.

He then turned over towards the lamp and flicked it off.

And, as soon as he got more comfortable, he fell asleep.

The next morning, Alfred woke up with a smile on his face.

Because now that he could speak German, he would have a much easier time finding Ludwig.

And that was what was the most exciting!

To think, after all this time, he would finally get to see Ludwig again.

It was almost like it was a dream!

And Alfred wondered if Ludwig changed during that time.

How much did Ludwig change?

How did Ludwig change?

What about Ludwig changed?

Did Ludwig change?

He sure did!

He changed a lot!

God, he couldn't wait to see Ludwig again!

Alfred hopped out of bed to get ready for the day.

He came out of the bathroom, feeling refreshed.

When he got dressed, he walked to the door of his bedroom and, just as he was about open the door, he looked over and saw the bottle of chloroform and the rag on his dresser.

He'd better give them back to Ivan since he didn't need them anymore.

So, Alfred grabbed them up before walking down the hall to Ivan's room.

He knocked on the door and Ivan answered a few seconds later.

"Da? Oh, Fredka, can I help you?" Ivan asked.

Alfred handed the bottle and rag to Ivan. "Here. Y'know, thanks for letting me borrow them."

Ivan smiled. "You are very welcome! Did it come in handy?"

Alfred nodded. "Yeah. It did. It really did."

Ivan's smile widened. "Well, I'm glad it worked out for you!"

Alfred smiled back. "Yeah. Me too. Well. I gotta go. There's something I need to do."

"Ok. See you later, Fredka!" Ivan said.

"Yeah. See you later." Alfred said, before walking away.

He heard Ivan's door close just as he walked back into his room.

He closed the door behind him and looked at the uniform on the dresser.

Alfred then shrugged before walking over and picking it up and looking at it.

Well, he had it.

Now, he might as well try it on.

Just to see how it fits him.

And so, Alfred began undressing to try it on.

He put the pants on before looping the belt around his waist.

Then came the gun holster, shirt, tie, coat, gloves, Iron Cross pendant, shoes and then, finally, the hat to tie it all together.

Once he was done, Alfred looked at himself in the mirror.

He looked perfect!

Just like any other Nazi officer.

Granted, the suit was a little big on him since he had taken it from a man nearly Ludwig's size, but he should be fine.

The hat fit perfectly, though.

As Alfred looked at himself in the mirror, he couldn't help but feel a sense of accomplishment.

Because with this suit, he'd be able to find Ludwig much faster than without it.

With it, he would blend in.

But, without it, he would stand out.

So, this was the absolute perfect disguise!

Alfred then walked over to the window and looked out and saw that it was midday.

"I will find you, Ludwig. That is my promise to you." Alfred said, softly.

He then looked back at himself in the mirror.

Well, might as well show off his new disguise to everybody.

So, Alfred walked over to his door and opened it before stepping out.

He heard voices coming from downstairs.

He smiled and made his way down the hallway and to the stairs before descending them.

Alfred couldn't wait for everyone to see him with his new disguise on.

And so, when he finally got downstairs, Alfred spoke up, loudly.

"Hey, guys! How do I look?" Alfred said, interrupting everybody with a big smile across his face.

Everyone turned and looked at Alfred with wide eyes.

They all looked shocked.

"Well? Huh? Huh? How do I look?" Alfred asked, spinning around.

Everyone then came over and surrounded Alfred.

And Alfred felt like the center of attention then.

"How did you get this?" Yao asked.

"Oh, you know. I just kinda 'borrowed' it for a bit." Alfred said.

"But, who did you get it from?" Arthur asked.

Alfred shrugged. "I don't know. It was some guy I saw walking down the street when I was searching for Lud-uh, I mean, that thing I was searching for. S-So, y'know, I thought I'd just take his uniform."

"But, how did you take it from him? Did you ambush him?" Francis asked.

Alfred chuckled. "Heh, nope!"

And Ivan's face lit up. "Oh, so that's how you used it, da?"

Alfred nodded. "Yeah!"

Everyone looked confused so Alfred told them how he went about getting that man's uniform.

He blushed when he told them what he had to do to get the man out of the bar.

He told them about him borrowing the chloroform and rag from Ivan and following the drunken man home and ducking around a corner each time the man looked around and behind him suspiciously.

Alfred also told them about having to wait outside for two hours to make sure that he was asleep before picking his lock and going inside.

Alfred told them about sneaking into the man's house and up the stairs to his room.

He told them about the struggle and how he took the man's clothes while he was unconscious.

Alfred then finished by telling them how he made sure to wipe off everything that he had touched and to leave no trace before leaving his house and coming back to the car before coming home.

"Oh, so it did come in handy, da?" Ivan asked.

"Yep, it sure did! Thanks again, Ivan! I really needed it!" Alfred said.

"You are welcome, Fredka." Ivan said.

"Good work, Alfred." Francis said.

"Thanks, Francis." Alfred said.

"All right, everyone, let's get back to discussing the mission." Francis said.

Everyone went back into the living room.

And Alfred was about to follow them when Francis stopped him.

"Not you, Alfred." Francis said.

"What? But, why not?" Alfred asked.

"Because you can't come." Francis said.

Alfred's eyes widened. "Wh-Wh…Why?"

"Because I said so. There's something else I need for you to do." Francis said.

"Wh-What? But, that's not fair, Francis! I should be able to go too! Just as much as anyone else!" Alfred cried.

"Will you calm down, Alfred?" Francis said. "You don't even know what I'm going to tell you."

Alfred huffed. "Y-Yeah, w-well…s-so what? I want to go too!"

"Alfred, will you calm down?!" Francis hissed. "Listen to me! The reason that I'm doing this is because you are the only one that can do this!"

Alfred's eyes widened then. "Wha…r-really?!"

Francis nodded. "Oui."

And Alfred smiled then.

Oh, really?

Something only he could do, eh?

Well, looks like somebody is in need of a hero!

"Well, then." Alfred said, crossing his arms and smirking confidently. "Ok, then. But, I am a little upset that you didn't tell me about the mission, Francis."

Francis sighed then. "Oui, oui, I'll tell you about it later. But this is important."

"Yeah? And what do you have to tell me?" Alfred asked.

"Well, while you were, out 'exploring the city', I found out some great news." Francis said. "News that I think you would very much like to hear."

And Alfred nodded, eagerly. "Yeah? Uh-huh, uh-huh? What is it? What is it?"

Francis sighed before looking Alfred directly in the eye before leaning close and whispering, "I know where that man-Ludwig-is."

And Alfred's eyes widened almost comically large then. "Wh-Wh…What?!"


Whew, now, that was a long chapter. I seriously didn't mean to even make it that long! But, at this point, I'm sure you guys have come to know that I can never make a chapter as short as I intend it to be. Especially when I have fun with it!

P.S. Yes, I know I'm a liar, saying that I was gonna get back to my sort of usual updating schedule, but I am really trying, I swear! I'll get back to it eventually. And also, I didn't feel like saying "the driver" all the time because it was getting really awkward for me, so I just came up with the name "John". I'm so terrible at coming up with names. Anyways, please read and review. And look forward to the next chapter! =).