A/N: Hello again, guys! Hazel here! Ready for another chapter~? Oh, lordy, I'm really sorry about how belated this is. x'D Summer's here but that seems to fail to translate into "free time". Ah, well, I'm glad I finally got this chapter up. I hope you enjoy it, sfsfafasf-
The door clicked shut behind him.
It was time to find Elizabeta and sort out this gender mess.
"I'll be a male again sooner than you can say 'sandwich'!"
He advanced down the hall and entered what he concluded was the main room of the house before pausing to have a look around.
Creamy carpet blanketed the floor, a compliment to the mute white wallpaper and mahogany furnishings that filled the room. There were items such as a television here and a phone dock over there, but the technology alone was not enough to mask the obsolete atmosphere of the house. While nothing was dusty or out of shape, the chairs and tables lain about had a very mundane and antique feel. Alfred had vaguely pictured Elizabeta's house looking like this, just with far more weapons or other lethal objects laying around and strewn about.
Alfred pushed his glasses up his nose. As absolutely interesting to him as the sofas and vases scattered about the room were, Elizabeta was nowhere in sight. He directed his attention elsewhere, mumbling, "This can't be much harder than a round of Where's Waldo, right?"
If this were any other nation's house, Alfred would simply parade himself from room to room until he found what he needed. The only problem was that this particular house belonged to Elizabeta. Alfred knew better than to do that in this case.
As much as Alfred would like to say that he was displaying such behavior due to being courteous towards her or simply because he was a gentlemen, the truth lay in Elizabeta's skillet: if she had such a weapon on her person when she was out of her house, what kind of horrifying cooking utensils lie in wait in her house? A spatula?! Alfred shuddered. I'm not going to risk anything seeing as I actually appreciate my face, thank you very much!
"… Who am I even thanking?" Alfred didn't have time to ponder this further as the dusty blonde's gaze fell on one of the sofas. Tiny wisps of ginger littered the cushion. Elizabeta has a cat? I guess that you do learn something new every day! Well, you know, asides from finding out that you're a chick. Not that that's significant or anything.
On the far side of the house was a doorway through which Alfred spotted a kitchen. As much as Alfred wished she was preparing a celebratory "Happy-Coming-to-My-House-Uninvited" cake, he seriously doubted she would be there at the moment.
That's when he decided that his patience was spent. After all, why waste so much energy searching like this when there was a much easier and certainly not eco-friendly alternative to locating Elizabeta? Stalking about her house in a predatory manner could leave bad impressions, after all!
He reached into his pocket to pull out his submarine radar. "..." After a moment, he reached into his other pocket. "Nothing here, either?"
… Where was his submarine radar?! Alfred fought panic. Had he left it in his submarine? Well, what fun was that?! Now he would have to use traditional peasant methods of finding her!
"Yo, Hungary!" Alfred called with a slight pout, ambling once more across the human-void room. "Where are you?"
After a moment, Alfred heard a distant reply; "I'm coming, one second!"
Alfred looked towards the voice in time to see Elizabeta emerge from an arching doorway, her arms overflowing with heaps upon heaps of…
Elizabeta dropped the load onto the nearest loveseat with a grunt. "Yes. I'm surprised that I had left so many outfits here! At least they'll have the chance to be used again opposed to hanging for an indefinite amount of time to gather dust."
Alfred eyed the various outfits before clearing his throat. "Uhh… okaaay." There was an awkward pause. "So, Hungary, let's discuss how to get me some err, assistance. I was thinking that maybe we- we being you- could invest in getting some high-class awesome gear to bump-up my manliness. You know, like some epic gaming consoles or firearms or some other cool technology like some 3D maneuver gear, or-"
Alfred was cut off by a loud snork. Elizabeta made the strange noise again and, like a dam bursting, failed to hold back an explosion of giggles."W-Why, America, that's completely ridiculous!"
"Wha- Hey! What part of that isn't anything but flawless?!" Alfred crossed his arms and allowed a noise of indignation to slip from his throat.
"Do you really believe that simply acting like a man will change your gender?" She laughed harder as though she had just told an old joke. Alfred could have sworn he discerned a knowing look in her eye, though just as quickly as the verdant glimmer had appeared it had vanished.
On second thought, Alfred vaguely remembered being told of days when Hungary was a young and strong lad from the other nations.
The American was ejected from his reverie as Elizabeta continued. "Actually, your daily behavior is what turned you into a female in the first place, so that logic makes sense..." She wiped at the corner of an eye, a final tiny giggle escaping from her. "Hmm, thigh-length or knee-length?"
"Yo, watch it! Unnecessary harshness much? You seem to forget that I don't know how this happened!" Alfred faltered and shot the pair of dresses Elizabeta held up a withering glare. "I... come on, I need you to pay attention, Hungary!"
"Whatever are you talking about, America? I am paying attention, didn't you say you needed help? With being female?" Elizabeta pushed the dress hangers into Alfred's hands. "Go try these on!"
"What?! I need help to not be a female! Don't you understand that?!"
Elizabeta tipped her head to the side. "I don't understand that at all, America. You should be happy; we definitely needed more female countries around!"
"T-That's not what I-! Gahh, dresses aren't exactly…! Penis-!"
Elizabeta shoved the sputtering Alfred into the bathroom and tossed the pair of dresses in after him, shutting the door with a most ominous fit of laughter before Alfred even had the chance to form a coherent objection.
Scowling, Alfred immediately reached for the doorknob. His attempts to pull it open proved futile. "What the crap? Let me out, Hungary!"
"Not until you try those on~" She trilled from the other side of the door.
"No way man, I already said I don't want to!"
"Then have fun eating cucumber-and-melon-scented soap tonight, dear!"
"T-That doesn't sound half bad, actually!"
"Then please, help yourself!"
Alfred groaned with every intent of annoying Elizabeta. It seemed as though she was determined to be the last to get a quip in!
Then I won't give her the satisfaction of my reply. Puffing his chest slightly, Alfred turned around to look over the bathroom. Which makes now the time to plan a totally rockin' awesome escape!
The bathroom was simple; a small shower rank with the tang of chlorine took up half of the floor space and a porcelain toilet with a matching sink took up almost all of the rest. Huh. She was serious about that cucumber-and-melon-scented soap thing.
Much to his dismay, the bathroom had no windows for him to make an epic and action-packed escape from.
Alfred moved to stand in front of the sink, carefully appraising the ceiling. There was an air vent directly above the toilet, but further inspection proved it was certainly too small to be climbed through. He then looked to the mirror; he wrinkled his nose slightly.
Alfred's hair stayed as a female as it had been when he was a male; short and scruffy, his Nantucket loyally and indelibly remaining where it had always been. In fact, the only major difference between now and before would be his unwelcomed chest cargo; his baggy clothes did a fine job in covering what curves he had acquired elsewhere.
… Was he going to have to go everywhere looking like this forever?!
Alfred's cowlick tickled.
Alfred stared at it, shocked. What could he possibly be forgetting at such a critical time?!
His gaze strayed to the two dresses heaped upon the floor.
Alfred reached forward with a hand. "Geh…" His other hand shot out and tightly grabbed it by the wrist.
No! He was trying to hide his aberration, not flaunt it for the world to see! He shooed the fleeting thought away and stiffly reached for the dresses with the new intent of hanging them on the shower curtain rack.
Alfred completed his task and tuned out the dresses from his mind, his chest puffed as he mentally rallied himself. He was determined to escape from this bathroom as soon as possible!
He began exploring once again.
There wasn't a cabinet under the sink, but after a moment it occurred to Alfred that the mirror was on hinges; he pulled it open to reveal nothing more than common bathroom toiletries. Awh. How anticlimactic. He closed it again. How, exactly, was this even going to help? He wanted out of here, damnit!
The tickle atop his head intensified.
"Okay, okay, chill out!" Alfred forced himself to set aside the hunt and slow down to brood. Was he forgetting anything?
His jacket? No... Alfred placed a foot atop the toilet seat and propped his chin on his palm. Tony? Nah, he was on vacation in France somewhere, not here.
What event was on his mind that was bugging him so much?!
... 'What event'? Was it even an event?
"Oh, shoot!" Recollection smashed into Alfred harder than a college kid with a case a beer. He had a flight tonight back to America from Britain! He had told this to Toris; such knowledge would surely fall into the grasp of Arthur before too long. Not that Alfred cared; that wasn't near as relevant as the fact that Alfred was to prepare for a meeting tomorrow with Kiku and their bosses as soon as he returned home. His boss would strangle him if he didn't attend this meeting!
I really need to get out of here if all she's going to do is waste my time by making me try on dresses like this!
He tip-toed towards the door, giving the handle a tiny jiggle.
"Did you put on the dress?"
The voice caused Alfred to start.
A snort. "Really? Then come out here and show me!"
Alfred hesitated. Elizabeta immediately jumped on the vulnerability.
"That's what I thought. America, would you just try putting one of them on? Please?"
"But Hungarryyy!" Alfred groaned, knocking his forehead against the door.
"'But Hungary' what?" Elizabeta chirped back without missing a beat.
This is hopeless! Alfred spun around and once again scoured the bathroom for a means of escape.
Sink, no…. Toilet… well, actually-
For the first time, Alfred discerned a handle mounted on an unusually placed drawer. Shuffling to stand before it, Alfred cautiously grabbed the handle and gave it a tug. He found himself staring down a dark and metallic hole. Wasn't this a clothes chute?
Alfred swept his gaze over the bathroom once more before deciding that this comparatively seemed quite promising for serving as a means of escape...
"America, what could possibly be taking you so long? Even if you aren't a girl, which you are, putting on a dress is quite self-explanatory!" She poked her head inside of the door. "Do you need help?"
Alfred threw the handle shut and pressed his back against the chute, trying to contort his expression into one that was as neutral as possible. He could automatically feel that he was failing at this task; his brows refused to un-furrow themselves and his lips were twitching in an impossible mix between a smile and a frown.
Elizabeta stepped into the bathroom, her eyes narrowed. "Don't even think about it."
Alfred anxiously grabbed the handle. "Stand back!"
"I'll do it!"
"Just stay still, I'll help-"
"Don't take one more step!"
Elizabeta wore a clearly unamused expression as she sighed. "Would you stop being so stubborn?" She pointedly lifted a foot and tapped it to the ground again. "I swear, you're just like a kid-"
"You did this!" Alfred hissed, whipping around and yanking open the chute. He didn't waste a moment in diving in, the darkness engulfing him as he slipped downwards.
Well... as he almost slipped downwards.
"Noo!" Alfred cried, thrashing and slithering in utter confusion. Why am I not falling down all 007-like?!
That's when Alfred realized that his hips were caught in the opening of the chute.
Oh. Oh! Okay, no biggie! He sucked in his stomach and attempted rolling over, but such an action while dangling face-first in a chute that was darker than Ivan's hopes and dreams proved to be exceedingly difficult. He hit his head with a loud smack on one of the metallic walls surrounding him. "Balls!"
He heard laughter from Elizabeta. "America, why did you think that using this to escape would work?"
Alfred glowered into the darkness that smelled vaguely of Tide detergent. "I-I just... thought that it would, okay?!"
"How do you expect to get out?"
"Err, I expect to get out soon, if that's what you mean! I can't see for crap!" The metal tomb of the chute swallowed his voice into its hollow bowels before regurgitating them back to him, adding an eerie undertone to his words. Alfred shuddered.
Elizabeta's laughter grew louder, reflecting much more mirth than Alfred was happy with. "Well, good luck with that!"
"W-What do you mean, 'good luck with that'? Are you not going to help me out?!"
"No~" Elizabeta didn't miss a beat in replying.
"What?!" Alfred cried, pounding his fists against the surrounding sheets of metal in indignance. He began coughing at the resulting cascade of dust. "You kind of have to!"
"Do I?" Alfred heard Elizabeta yawn. "I mean, I could just leave you to it and go and prepare dinner, or perhaps read a book, or I could... oh." A pause. "Hee."
"You could what?" Alfred squirmed. The position he was in, both physically and psychologically, was very uncomfortable."Just... Just do it- I can feel all of the blood rushing to my head. This can't be healthy! Can I sue somebody for this?"
"Just do it?" Elizabeta's smirk was very much so audible. "Well, if you're quite certain..."
Alfred heard the door close. He stiffened.
She did not just leave him in here!
There was no reply.
Alfred let out a whimper, wriggling backwards in a vain attempt to free himself. "Hunnnggaaarryyy!"
The door creaking signaled Elizabeta's return.
"Hungary! Are you going to get me out now?" Alfred felt relief swamp his tone; could inhaling Tide for too long bear the same results as bath salts?
Only silence greeted him.
F-Fine! It isn't like I need her, anyway... Alfred planted his toes on the wall directly below the chute and began straining to free himself. Come on, come on…!
The American continued to kick and tug; Alfred slipped back a fraction of an inch. A second more and Alfred slipped just slightly again. Almost...!
He abruptly exploded free of the darkness and tumbled onto his back, crushing an unfortunate Hungarian figure that had happened to be standing there.
"Hey- What?" Alfred rolled to his hands and knees, picking up a phone which had clattered out of Elizabeta's grasp. "Were you taking a picture?!"
Elizabeta beamed. "Many! Dearest Alfred, would you please get off of me?"
"Only after I delete these-"
The Hungarian grabbed Alfred's elbow in a vice grip. She wore a malicious smile. "I said, would you please get off of me?"
Alfred snorted. "I don't know, man! I mean... I could just leave you to it, or sit here and eat my cucumber-and-melon-scented dinner, or read a book (perhaps your texts), or-"
Elizabeta shot forward like a viper, grabbing Alfred by the shoulders and tossing him onto his back. She snatched her phone and pocketed it in a matter of heartbeats; before Alfred could grasp what was happening Elizabeta was wrestling his clothes off of his person.
"Wh- Woah, no! Knock it off!"
"Just give me ten seconds!"
Alfred continued trying to throw Elizabeta off. She was harsh in pinning him down, displaying not a single trace of mercy. Elizabeta grabbed a dress. It was a light blue and simple dress, perhaps the thigh-length she had mentioned; Alfred's eyes blew wide open. "Stop it!"
In a flurry of fists and hair, Alfred finally fought himself free and stumbled to his feet.
He stared down at the dress he now wore- somehow- with great disdain.
He snarled. "H-How the hell did you do that-"
"Hmm…" Elizabeta mused. She slowly circled around Alfred in a fashion much akin to a predator regarding its prey. "You really need something other than just boxers to wear under the dress, and maybe some jewelry…"
"No! I want to take this off!" Alfred fidgeted with the straps. Elizabeta slapped at his hands.
"Come along, we're getting you some nice underclothes!"
"Shh, your voice is very annoying!"
Alfred continued spitting out objections as Elizabeta herded him through the house and into a small room, tugging open a dresser drawer. She pulled out various articles of clothing before handing them to Alfred.
Alfred stared at the items shoved into his hands.
"Hey, I'd always wanted to get a girl out of her panties and bra but this isn't quite what I meant."
"Oh, I don't want to hear your laments of being forever alone; everybody knows about them already. Be quiet and put these on!" Elizabeta turned her back on Alfred. "If they don't fit, we'll get you more later. These are just temporary."
With a great deal of muttering he put the underclothes on (or at least attempted to- "Who the fuck invented bra hooks in the first place?!"). Once he signaled his completion through a snort, Elizabeta regarded him carefully and then nodded.
"See, America? You look better already!"
Alfred huffed into the mirror he was now being held [hostage] in front of. "Okay. Whatever you say."
"And now will you try on this dress, too?" Elizabeta smiled pleadingly, locking her fingers above her chest.
Alfred's glower intensified. "Yeah. Okay. Sure."
Elizabeta folded her arms and wrinkled her nose. "America, why are you being so stubborn? I'm helping you out, the least you could do is act in kind!"
Alfred's reflection glared directly back at him.
He turned to face the Hungarian, tugging uncomfortably at the material of the dress he wore. "I'm trying to turn back, yeah? and so far the only 'help' you've actually offered is clothes that are sooo 2007 and the beef in your kitchen that I actually kind of helped myself to."
Elizabeta stared at Alfred with the faintest hint of astonishment. Alfred took this chance to continue. "I'm... not sure why you're expecting me to treat you like my savior, man. You're actually just kind of making things a million times worse. I have places to be and you're just messing everything up!"
The Hungarian's eyes shadowed as she digested the meaning of Alfred's words. She looked down at the dress she held, and then at the one Alfred wore. "Oh. Right. Worse, and... I'm messing things up."
Alfred uneasily watched her as she walked the dress to the closet and hung it up among various other outfits.
She cast him the tiniest of glances and dropped her gaze to the hardwood floor.
Alfred felt the beginnings of guilt in his chest. "... What?" He asked almost suspiciously.
"What?" Elizabeta seemed to avoid making any and all eye contact. "Nothing. I'll hang that dress up for you if you'll return it to me."
She stepped forward, holding out a hand with a tiny smile.
Alfred took a step back. "Don't you 'nothing' me, you're acting all... all weird now! God, what'd I do?! What I said was only the truth!"
Elizabeta's demeanor shifted into that of anger before quickly transitioning into a sullen one. "You... did nothing. I just got my hopes up; that was my mistake." She smiled weakly again.
Alfred stiffened. No. No. Don't feel guilty, don't feel guilty-!
"I... No, wait, I'll..."
Elizabeta stared eagerly up at Alfred. He, in turn, curtly folded his arms.
"You..." Alfred rolled his eyes. "... just wanted to help, dude."
Elizabeta didn't speak verbally, but her gaze seemed to scream for him to continue.
"And it was... not your fault at all." Alfred sighed. "I'll... listen. To you. You know. Advice and stuff." Alfred inwardly groaned before he gestured towards the navy dress in the closet with a grunt. "You wanted me to try on that dress?
Elizabeta followed Alfred's gaze to the dress. She held her tongue; Alfred was compelled to sway her into believing him.
"Like, okay, look. I've been told for like a while now that in order to overcome a problem you've got to accept it first. So okay. I'll go halfway and accept it... for now. And you?" Alfred nodded at her. "Will you meet me halfway?"
Elizabeta looked thrown. She finally spoke, "And do what, exactly?"
"Well, you could..." Alfred tried to not allow his face to betray him as it threatened to break into a grin. "Take me shopping or something. Man! Where've you been?"
A smile slowly encroached upon Elizabeta's features. "You'd let me take you shopping? And pick outfits for you to wear? Without struggle?"
"Yeah, yeah…. You heard me. But! the clothes need to be pretty manly. And also American."
"Fine!" Elizabeta hopped once in place. "That's fine, I'll do it!"
Alfred rolled his eyes once more. "So... okay then. It's settled. In an hour or something we can go and-"
Alfred faced Elizabeta with wide eyes. "What?"
"Now!" She repeated, "We should go now!"
"Wait, woah, so soon? But-"
"Let's get going!"
"We're going now, America!"
The building yawned tall overhead, throwing a shadow far beyond where Alfred now stood. The red lettering atop said building stretched high into the sunny post-noon sky above.
"... 'Marks and Spencer'?" Alfred cupped a hand over his eyes, squinting heavily.
Gilbert snorted heavily. "Wow, America, you can read! Good for you!" The platinum blonde lifted his hands to clap.
"Hey, excuse you! I don't really remember much Hungarian!" Alfred frowned sharply at Gilbert as he shrugged and trot after Elizabeta.
"What, and it's my fault that you never paid any attention in those national language classes? Please."
"America, that's perfectly legible English." Elizabeta puffed. "And Gilbert, might I remind you that you aren't even supposed to be here? Keep it down, both of you." She walked past Alfred, pulling open the glass door to the store and nodding inwards. "Are you two coming?"
"Yeah, yeah. If I stay in this heat much longer I'll melt." Alfred trot past Elizabeta (not failing to grumble at Gilbert as he passed) and entered the store with a half-nod of thanks.
Inside, the store seemed to be lit mostly by the outdoor sunlight. Large glass tiles overhead allowed the sun to beam lazily into the building. "I wonder if you'd need sunscreen to enter this store in the summer, Prussia." Alfred mused, shoving his hands into his pockets and strolling on.
This peculiar method of lighting was not to say Marks and Spencer was a poor development; fancy decorations and exquisite floor tiles were placed within, creating a homely and warm atmosphere. The repetitive color scheme that was painted on the far walls and a few of the shelves reminded Alfred of autumn.
He looked over the various brands of clothes and mannequins displaying new and hip clothing brands; Alfred easily recognized that of Gucci, Armani, Burberry... "Thank God that there are some familiar names here!"
Various sections of the store were signaled by signs written in Hungarian; these heavily embroiled Alfred as he was unable to pull from his memory the meaning of these foreign advisories.
Elizabeta seemed to sense his struggle. "'Kids, summer clothes, athletic gear'..." She read. "Just the basics on this side of the store."
Alfred allowed his gaze to trail upwards, looking at the glass overhead with unease. "Is there not a second story?" He was baffled. Was there no system of escalators to be purposely broken for the sake of watching unfit people grow angry?
Elizabeta approached a table proudly displaying v-neck shirts. Gilbert stared over her shoulder with a snort of what was undoubtedly boredom. "No, though the ground floor isn't as small as it seems." She hummed. "While this is the more developed area of Vac, it isn't the richest. If you'd have just agreed to buy Hungarian brands of clothes opposed to American ones we could have stayed in Budapest, so this is on you."
"What? So we didn't have to drive for an hour in that tiny car?!"
"No, we did not. Don't act like you're just now learning this because I already told you, America. I only didn't argue harder as I personally don't mind either way; all of the towns and scenery in Hungary are lovely." She smiled as she held up a pale yellow shirt before wrinkling her nose with a mumble of abhorrence and setting it down again.
Alfred was ready to smash his head into the nearest wall. They had listened to orchestral suites for almost the entirety of the hour-long car trip to this distant town- and not at all by Alfred's choice.
While Alfred respected the classics, he personally preferred to listen to his music in wide varieties of styles at a time; Arthur had once explained this as a 'cultural diversity itch' or something of the sort.
"But it's Gustav Holst, he's an English composer!" Elizabeta had objected.
"Yeah, and we've been listening to Mars on repeat for twenty minutes now!" Alfred had replied.
"Fine. Okay. Then how about we play all seven other planets on repeat?"
"Eww, are you crazy? How about we play some metal?"
Both Alfred and Elizabeta sharply turned upon hearing the third voice in the car.
"Good morning~" Gilbert had trilled, pulling himself up from where he had lain on the ground behind the driver and passenger's seats.
"Y-You were napping in my car?!" Elizabeta squeaked.
"Actually, I was looking through your purse, but this is a thing that just kind of happened."
That had turned into a dreadfully long car trip filled with lots of arguing about directions, heavy metal, and fistfights.
Alfred shuddered. Never again.
"America, does this look nice to you?"
Alfred fixed his gaze curiously on a sequined shirt Elizabeta held up. "Nah, it's too... Shakira-esque."
She set the shirt down and presented a denim skirt. "How about this, then?"
Alfred eyed it warily. "Ehh... gyehh."
"'Ehh gyehh'?" She repeated. "That doesn't suffice as a legitimate reason to not like this! It's completely you!" Elizabeta held it up higher and animated the article of clothing with a shake.
"Nng..." Alfred's gaze swept over the surrounding clothing. "What about... that?"
"America, we are not getting you a leather spike-studded jacket."
Both Alfred and Gilbert released whines.
"You both are insane," Elizabeta snorted, turning pointedly away.
"How about we get him—her… it this?" Gilbert yanked on a gray sweater dangling from a standalone rack.
It failed to come off its hook. The entire rack crashed to the ground, producing a great cacophony of noise. Alfred jumped as sweaters scattered into a heap below, blanketing the floor with various ashen hues as metal hangers clattered against the cold and unforgiving tile below.
"What have you done?!" Elizabeta hissed, racing forward to begin picking up the scattered articles of clothing.
"W, what?! How is it my fault that the sweater didn't come off?!" Gilbert bent over immediately to join her, a frown written onto his features. "Your Hungarian sweaters were obviously no match for my awesome presence!"
"Would you-! Just... here, America, take these!" Elizabeta released her heap upon Alfred and made a frustrated noise in the back of her throat. "Stay here and don't break anything, you two. I'm going to get help."
She quickly walked away.
"Was? No, not if I can help it!" Gilbert rounded on Alfred, bouncing on his heels. "I'm going to try and stop her seeing as we can totally handle this mess ourselves!"
Before Alfred could squeeze in an objection Gilbert had thrown his sweaters onto the ground and slithered off.
"Uhh…" Alfred resorted to an imaginary facepalm as he had no free hands to complete the action himself. He attempted to continue bundling the sweaters into a heap with tiny mutters about not being a maid.
It had barely been two minutes before a man no older than twenty approached him from behind, clad in a Polo that read Marks and Spencer. Alfred turned to look at him with a vague note of panic as he realized neither Gilbert or Elizabeta were anywhere to be seen.
The worker's eyebrows shot up in surprise as he stared at the mess before him. "Van... Van valami probléma?"
Alfred's mouth opened and closed like a fish out of water.
"Halló?" The man gently prompted.
"Ö-Ön..." Wait, what was he doing? He didn't know Hungarian!
The worker continued to eye the sweaters, seemingly hesitant to take action. Alfred began stammering to speak. Luckily for him, there was a conveniently placed Hungarian sign next to some jeans very close by. "Ön nadrágot!" Alfred proudly read.
The man looked at him as though he'd grown another head. "Tessék?"
It was at this moment Elizabeta appeared, but Alfred was determined to continue this conversation on his own.
"Oh, goodness, just let me do the talking would you?" She turned to the man with a disarming smile as Alfred spluttered in objection. "Tudna beszél angolul?"
The man hesitated and nodded. "I-I will try my best. My English is not very good."
"Oh, thank God, I can understand you now, man!" Alfred stood up with a massive ball of sweaters cradled in his arms, grinning in relief.
"W-What happened to the big hook?" The man struggled out.
"The big hook?" Alfred paused. "Is that a like a hooker name, or-?"
"Buta!" Elizabeta waved angrily at Alfred with a shush. "Alf- A, Ahh, uhh," Elizabeta's expression briefly touched panic, "Aaaaa... Amelia... here... had an accident!"
"I already told you, this isn't my fa- 'Amelia'?" Alfred interrupted himself in confusion, though under the inquiring look of the man he quickly added, "E-Err, ahh, yes! Amelia! I am... I'm Amelia. Heh, heh. It's a pleasure."
The man nodded, though it was evident in his facial expression that he did not understand Alfred's words. "O-Okay. I'll clean this, is okay." He gestured nervously towards the sweaters Alfred held.
Alfred looked to Elizabeta with a strained expression. This situation was worse than trying to understand to his boss!
Elizabeta shot Alfred a smoldering glare. 'Apologize'! She mouthed.
Alfred huffed, ready to object again, though thought better of it and cleared his throat. "S'rry."
The man nodded with a tiny smile though made no attempt to reply as he relieved Alfred of his heap of sweaters.
The man grabbed a hanger and began working one of the sweaters back onto it. Alfred watched him with a horrible onslaught of remorse and began debating if he should offer to help again when Elizabeta hooked him by the ear. "Wh-?!"
She bluntly marched away from the scene. "You're such a moron!"
"Excuse me?" Alfred stumbled to match pace with the now-storming Hungarian. "Watch it, you nearly ran me into that mannequin! Where are we even going?"
"To Prussia. I can't take him anywhere without him finding a way to mess things up, and then there's you...! What am I, a babysitter?"
"Don't piss at me for something Prussia did! Not cool!" Alfred squirmed and slapped at her hand. "Oww, let go! Let me go!"
Elizabeta didn't relent.
Alfred continued to writhe; he accidentally kicked a shelf littered with bric-a-bracs. "I already told you, this isn't my fault!"
Elizabeta released him in favor of rounding on him, quick to snap back, "Oh, isn't it always! It's never, ever the great America's fault, is it?"
Alfred straightened himself and rubbed at his ear. "Would you chill out? What got your panties in a wad?" He faltered as Elizabeta's gaze grew murderous. "First, it wasn't me. Second, it seemed like it honest-to-god was a total slip up, he-"
"I don't want to hear it!"
"Hungary, just spare a sec' to hear me out! I-"
"You are being completely idiotic, America. You see, there is a reason why everybody-"
"What does the fox say?!"
The pair started as Alfred's phone began blasting the song.
Elizabeta and Alfred maintained a startled eye contact until Elizabeta bristled and blurted, "Aren't you going to shut that up?!"
"U-Uhh, right!" Alfred fumbled into his pocket and pulled out the vibrating device. He had known the identity of the caller the second the song had sounded. "I... I can't answer."
Elizabeta snorted and marched forward to hiss into Alfred's face, "Then turn it off! It's too loud, are you trying to attract attention?!"
"I... I can't not answer!"
After a moment of Elizabeta staring daggers at Alfred, undoubtedly with the intent to kill, he added, "It's Britain!"
Elizabeta was not granted the chance to reply as the ringing ended.
Alfred and Elizabeta stared at the phone; a brief aura of relief settled over the pair almost as delicately as the silence did.
America's hand tingled from where the item had been vibrating in his grasp moments prior. He looked up to find Elizabeta glowering at him.
"Now…" Elizabeta's verdant gaze held much chagrin. "America."
The phone promptly started to ring again.
"What does the fox say?!"
Alfred danced excitedly from foot to foot and flung the phone at Elizabeta. "Y-You answer it, I can't! He'll hear that I sound like a chick!"
Elizabeta just barely managed to catch it as the device threatened to leap from her grasp. "And I'll sound like less of a female than you?!" She threw it back, "This is your job! Don't depend on me to do your work for you!"
Alfred caught the phone; in fact, he caught it so tightly that his knuckles turned white. "I'm sorry. Did you just attempt to say that I was anything less than independent?"
"America! Now isn't the time, just-!" Elizabeta was cut off as Gilbert appeared from around a tall shelf of coats. The albino stepped between them and calmly took the item from Alfred, not wasting a moment as he pressed accept.
The relief Alfred had felt immediately crawled back up his throat as Gilbert thrust the phone into his face.
Alfred stared at the screen in a fashion much akin to a deer caught in headlights.
"A-America, are you alright?"
Elizabeta gestured angrily with her hands and Gilbert wore a sadistic grin. Alfred took the phone with trembling hands.
"A-Ahh, uhh, no. I mean, yes, I'm... He's alright. This..." His mind was racing a mile a minute. I am... I am...! He looked to Elizabeta for help.
She shrugged and failed to conceal a bitterly smug expression as she whispered, "You're nothing less than independent, right~?"
Well, fuck you, too! America flipped her off and did not forget to share this gesture with Gilbert. Who am I?! Uhh... Aha!
Alfred cleared his throat. His voice grew breathy and suave. "This is... The Big Hook."
Elizabeta slapped a hand sharply to her forehead and Gilbert released a single, sharp laugh before containing himself with a snicker.
"The... The Big Hook?" The suspicion in Arthur's voice was all too obvious.
Alfred tossed his head before remembering that Arthur couldn't see it. "Mmm, yes. I'm a bit occupied at the moment, see."
"Did you steal Am- Alfred's phone?!"
"I…" Alfred hesitated and began to speak very quickly, "Oh, the doorbell just rang, I-"
He hung up.
His palms were sweaty.
Elizabeta took Alfred's phone and pulled out the battery. "Prussia, you idiota! It's a matter of minutes until Britain traces hi- her here and finds out she's with me!"
Alfred shot her a queer look; upon receiving his distress signal Elizabeta added slowly, as though talking to a young child, "What if he thinks I kidnapped you or something?"
"I doubt he'd think that."
"Okay, point." Alfred took a step back. "I would first like to point out that it was you, Prussia, who answered the phone, not me, so thanks for that. Next, Hungary, don't forget that you're with me, and I'm the number one at pretty much everything! Just give me a second, I'll think of something."
The murderous look returned to Elizabeta's face.
Alfred cleared his throat and quickly continued, "We'll... We'll... buy some clothes and, err, disguise me!" Alfred picked up the nearest article of clothing he saw. "Here, I'll put on this and then... Is this a G-string?"
Elizabeta took the chattel from his hand and grabbed Alfred by the wrist. With a hiss at Gilbert to wait in the men's section, she lead Alfred towards the woman's section of the store. "Okay. Okay, that, for once, isn't a completely idiotic idea. We'll disguise you."
Alfred allowed himself to be herded between tables and racks of clothing. Elizabeta halted before a wall of various commodities.
"Here, take this..." She tossed a cardigan at him, looking around and repeating with a pair of leggings. "And this."
Alfred pulled the leggings off of where they had slapped onto his face. "Are these even my size?"
Elizabeta looked back at him; her face held a slight crease of worry. "I hope so. We need to hurry." She seemed to actually process what he said and her tone grew irritable. "That's why dressing rooms were invented. Do you not understand the concept of shopping?"
Alfred could not believe that they were about to go through this again. "No. As a matter of fact, no, I don't! Why would I? I'm not a female, remember?"
Elizabeta stopped. Apparently she couldn't believe that this was about to go down again, either. After a moment she sighed heavily and turned so that she could fully face him; Alfred immediately put his internal guard up for whatever she had to throw at him.
Elizabeta glared. Alfred cleared his throat and nodded mutely.
"America, as long as you have... physical traits of being a female, it doesn't matter what you say. You're a female. And for the time being, even if just temporarily, you need to acknowledge this." Elizabeta was not to be deterred by Alfred's grimace. "It isn't such a bad thing; the ratio of male countries to female countries is very uneven as is!"
"Yeah, as you make a point to keep saying." Alfred traced his finger over the edge of a shelf, frowning. "I don't want to acknowledge it. Like, hello? I'm America, Alfred F. Jones, the male! I don't give two squirts of duck crap about the ratio, I-"
Elizabeta leaned towards him. "America. What else are you to do? You can't simply state that you're America and use that as an excuse to walk into male bathrooms or wear male swimsuits. Think about the reality of having this body. It is absolutely imperative that you begin to acknowledge that you are a female. Even if just for now."
Alfred stared at the clothes piled on a nearby display. He just wanted to go back to how he had been merely twenty four hours ago!
"So…?" Elizabeta urged.
Alfred looked up at her with great contempt. "'So'?" He bitterly repeated.
"So will you acknowledge it?"
Alfred did not reply. They stared at each other in silence.
Was there really no way out of this? Alfred forced himself to lapse backwards and re-contemplate her words.
He hated to admit that she had a point when it came to clothing and bathrooms.
"..." He exhaled slowly.
"Are you going to keep fighting it? Or accept it?"
"..." Elizabeta's brow set. "America, that wasn't a 'yes' or 'no' question."
"Oh. Then, yeah as in... yeah. Yeah, I can accept that I'm a female."
The silence stretched on. Alfred could hardly stand being this uncomfortable.
Alfred perked a brow. "Okay?"
"Okay." She repeated. "You're a female, America."
Alfred was washed over with a very odd sensation followed by an equally unnerving clash of emotions. He wrung out his hands but Elizabeta beat him to speaking next.
"So... we can't call you Alfred Jones anymore."
He pouted. "Well, Amelia is stupid."
"Oh, really? You aren't a fan of Amelia Earhart?"
He didn't complain again.
Elizabeta, Alfred and Gilbert ended up walking out of the store with more clothes than either of them had anticipated. Three times more clothes, to be specific.
"Thanks for paying for my clothes, Hungary! It'd be so horrible if Britain somehow traced me back to your country through the use of my credit card, y'know? Gotta take any and all precautions for safety, nahaha!"
"Ja, I have to agree! Paying with your card really saved me from denting my own wallet!"
"... America? Prussia?"
"Yeah?" The two chimed.
They pulled open the doors to the car. Alfred peered in with growing apprehension.
"... Ungarn, I don't think all of these clothes are going to fit." Gilbert spoke Alfred's mind.
"You'd better make them fit," She remarked, making a face as though she had just bitten into a lemon. "I am not letting six thousand American dollars worth of clothing go to waste, even if none of it is mine!"
"Actually—" Gilbert reached into a bag.
Elizabeta fished out and quickly threw pair of sunglasses at his head. "If you pull out that skimpy and disgusting bikini again I will shove it up your-!"
"E-Err, soo, I'll just stick these in the trunk, then~!" Alfred announced, knocking on the car's trunk with a knee.
Ten minutes and two fistfights later, the trio finished the loading job.
To put it simply, the car was overflowing with clothes. This was an understatement.
"My poor, poor car…" Elizabeta seemed choked with grief as she took her place in the driver's seat. "It's so messy in here!"
"Big deal," Gilbert plopped into the seat adjacent to hers.
"Wait a second, where am I supposed to sit?" Alfred peered into the car's backseats; they were stuffed with clothing.
"Prussia, move; you were the stowaway to start so you can remain the stowaway until the end."
Alfred reached into the door with a glittery scarf, snagging the albino by the neck and wrestling him out of the seat so that he could instead be seated there.
Alfred tossed the scarf backwards and clicked in his seatbelt. He stared expectantly at Elizabeta until she finally rolled her eyes and did the same.
"Prussia, I cannot see out of the rear view mirror when you're sitting there." She moved some pants off of the dashboard so that she could view the road before her.
"Yeah, well, I can't feel my legs!"
Alfred muttered under his breath and threw the bags preventing the flow of blood to Gilbert's legs into the back of the car.
"My beautiful, beautiful car…" Elizabeta cried, fully laden with the anguish of a mourning mother as she tipped her forehead onto the steering wheel.
Alfred eyed the receipt carefully as he spoke. "Awhh, come on, Hungary, it's not like clothes can stain! 'Oh, shoot, dude! I just spilled my jeans on the leather seat again'! Haha, yeah, no. Don't worry about it so much and drive!"
Elizabeta cursed at him as she started the engine. The car purred to life. "Don't you dare tell me to not worry about my sweet Angyal!"
"America, don't start another catfight." Gilbert warned from behind.
Alfred held up his palms. "I'm not instigating anyone, okay? I'm just saying that the sooner you can get us to your place, the sooner I can get these clothes out of your… whatever you called it."
"Angyal." Elizabeta coldly corrected.
"Yup, that." Alfred nodded matter-of-factly and repeated, "Annngyullah. Main point to keep in mind: these'll be out of your car soon. Don't have an aneurysm or anything in the meanwhile."
They left the parking lot. Elizabeta swat a stray tag tickling at her shoulder. "... Not that I'm complaining, but you're leaving so soon?"
Alfred sank back into his seat and pursed his lips. "I have to; I have a meeting tomorrow."
"Oh?" Gilbert's head appeared between their seats, his chin nestled into a cup holder. "With who?"
Alfred was uneasy to reply though supposed such information couldn't hurt to be leaked. "Japan, his boss and my boss."
Elizabeta and Alfred entered immediate lockdown as they turned at a red light, stretching out all free limbs to ensure that the clothes didn't slide (more so for their own safety than the fabric's). Gilbert's lack of safety precautions resulted in his head being consumed by heaps of shirts and tank tops. They continued down the road, nearing what Alfred vaguely remembered was the entrance to the interstate (or at least what he assumed was the Hungarian equivalent).
"So you're… just going to go as a female?" Elizabeta asked.
Alfred grabbed a shoebox before it could slip off of the dashboard. "I don't exactly have a choice, now do I?"
Elizabeta tapped her fingers to the wheel. "I mean, you could always cross-dress… but I don't see the point in that. That's a temporary solution to what could be a permanent problem. You can only keep up a ruse for so long."
A beat of silence.
"I say just go to Japan as you are right now. Female."
Alfred vaguely wondered how Kiku would react and laughed. "That won't work, man, especially because our bosses are going to be there. I can't even imagine how my own boss would react!"
Elizabeta snorted softly. "I'm sure he'd be annoyed that he can't hit you over the head anymore."
Alfred stared at the road as it vanished under the front of her car. He sprawled forward and placed his chin on the dashboard. "Funny. Now, tell me about this cross-dressing you speak of."
"Oh, please, don't act like it's something you haven't done before!"
"N-Not as a female!" Alfred objected.
"You act like your entire life has changed now that you've changed genders." Elizabeta seemed to consider what she said. "Can you not learn to accept, adjust, and move on? That's an important life lesson, you know."
Alfred watched the trees and streetlights whizz by. If it were a better time, he would sneer at Elizabeta for actually following the concept of a speed limit.
Elizabeta sighed softly as she realized she had been ignored. "So. You'll need to get out make-up to start. Yes, make-up is necessary for feigning as a guy, don't ask. You'll need some base, foundation, and possibly powder concealer…"
Alfred bumped his head against the dashboard as they jerked into the driveway to Elizabeta's house.
He sat up slowly, blinking the bleariness from his eyes. "Wh…?"
"It's about time you woke up!" Gilbert shoved him on the shoulder. "Good grief, you snore louder than a train!"
Alfred looked around with great surprise, taking in their new location. "Woah, when did this happen?"
"You knocked out the second I started talking about make-up. What is wrong with you? I was trying to help!" Elizabeta piped, pulling the keys from ignition.
Alfred stretched his arms above his head as Elizabeta opened the door and stepped out of the vehicle. Alfred quickly did the same.
A brief episode of retrieving Gilbert's legs from the clothing articles that snared them, the trio united their strengths and labored the clothes out of the car and into Elizabeta's living room.
The room went from tidy and clean to disheveled and messy in a matter of five minutes.
Clothes, tags, loose strings and bags seemed to litter every surface and crevice of her living room.
This seemed to take a heavy toll on Elizabeta.
The young woman's fingers were constantly twitching and her face seemed ironed into a frown. She radiated an aura of dissatisfaction.
"Jeez, it looks like a tornado or something struck your house!" Alfred made an attempt to lighten the mood.
She bared her teeth in a hostile attempt at a smile. "Oh, really? I hadn't noticed!"
She paced restlessly from side to side, stepping over clothing with footwork that Alfred thought should have landed her in FIFA.
It only took her a moment to compose herself. "Prussia. When are you going home?"
"Home? Ahh… I'll be gone as soon as my brother gets out of a meeting. I can get a ride home with him." The albino sauntered towards the bathroom with a wave of his hand. "In other words, half an hour? An hour? Soon."
"A-And, America. How about you? When did you say your flight was?"
Alfred noted that she was insidiously fidgety. He decided to play it cool; it seemed as though her patience was dangerously close to expiring. "Ahh… Eight thirty. I'm just… I don't know how I'm supposed to get back to Britain in an hour, seeing as their time zone is different from this one."
"Do you need to borrow a jet?" Elizabeta blinked at him, adopting a slight growl. "My house looks like absolute trash now that there is so much litter everywhere; the sooner you return home, the sooner I can start to clean it up again."
Alfred loitered by the doorway in hope to stay out of her way. "You want me to take all of this with me in one flight?"
Elizabeta halted and kicked a bracelet, sending it rolling. Her verdant gaze was murderous. "Yes. Yes, I really do!"
Alfred rolled his eyes, taking this opportunity to cross her living room and flop down onto one of Elizabeta's couches. "You act like you can't handle anything being dirty for more than five minutes. What are you, a maid?"
She rounded on him with enough force to send a chill down his spine. Alfred swallowed. "Oh, right."
Elizabeta began pacing again at double-time. "Just… as long as they're gone soon. All of them. The clothes. Gone. Very, very soon."
Alfred watched her initiate the sequence of going back and forth and back and forth before daring to lick his lips. "Err."
The Hungarian halted, rounding on him. "'Err' what?" She demanded.
"E-Err clothes." Alfred picked a piece of cat fur off of a couch pillow while adopting a disarming smile. "I… am fairly certain I'm going to need to leave these here. At least for a little bit."
"You're funny, American." Elizabeta towered over him. Alfred held up the pillow defensively.
"No, no, just- like, put yourself in my shoes for a sec', okay? Now, what would the others think if they came into my house and saw all of these girl clothes?"
"What, you mean to say that they wouldn't notice that you were a female and would instead wonder about your most tangible of clothes?" Her gaze uneasily flitted to the clothes in question, a smile curling on her face before immediately wiping into a frown. She lifted her trembling hands to smooth her hair back.
Alfred was not about to deny that he was absolutely terrified. Perhaps there was a reason as to why Gilbert had fled to the bathroom.
"No, I mean, like…" He swallowed, thinking very carefully over his words before he spoke them, "The others would think I gave in to… you know, being a female. They'd think I went down without a fight or something, and that's the last thing I want anybody thinking about me!" Alfred pouted and straightened his shoulders in a silent challenge. "I can't take these clothes back with me."
"You think I should let you leave them here?!" Elizabeta snapped, her voice shrill in disbelief. She paused to inhale slowly. When she spoke again, her voice was drier than a smoker's. "Take them with you when you leave. It is no longer of my concern. I said I would help you, not provide you with personal storage. My house, my house..."
"I-I can pay you!" Alfred's tone grew frustrated. "Please, Hungary, you don't understand what I'm going through-!"
"I understand that you are ignorant and selfish." She chimed promptly. Her face adopted a look of annoyance. "This is one of my houses, America- my own living space! Why should I let you purchase that from me? Just take them with you! You need something nice to wear to your meeting tomorrow anyway, right?"
"Hungary, I… can't go. I'm still a female, so I can't." Alfred cast aside his worries of setting off Elizabeta's temper as he cried out, "Don't you understand that at all?!"
"God, here we go again, America! You acknowledged you were a female, so what's the big issue? So what if they find out?!"
Alfred immediately regretted not taking caution to prevent Elizabeta from blowing up.
"They can't just ignore you, you're a nation for God's sake!" Elizabeta spat, throwing up her arms. "To not go to the meeting is to avoid your duties as a country!"
"Hey, I didn't-!"
"Stop, America. Just shut up right now. If you do so little as imply that a female cannot run a country I will personally send you straight to hell. Do you understand me?" She shoved a finger into Alfred's face. "The only weak factor about you right now is you, America."
The second her last word fell, Alfred found that he could do nothing more than blanch.
He finally strung his racing thoughts into a coherent sentence. "I'm… sorry?"
"Did I stutter?"
Alfred's ears grew hot as he rose to his feet.
Elizabeta opened her mouth but Alfred tossed the pillow at her head before she could reply.
He marched to her front door, hesitated and promptly threw it open. He turned around, though he found that he had no words to say. With a snarl Alfred turned around and stormed out of her house.
A/N: Okay, guys! So despite this being finished for about a week already I've re-done it multiple times and today, finally fed up with how this chapter was written, threw Gilbert back in hoping to balance out the overall dead feeling of the chapter. This didn't turn out near as humorous as I wanted, but I'll have many chapters of humor throughout this story to make up for this specific chapter's dull-ness. x'D If you came to this story looking to laugh at Alf- I mean, read about Alfred, then don't worry; the entire story won't be focusing around Alfred and Elizabeta specifically. Pretty much all of the other characters will get an appearance soon. If you like Elizabeta and Gilbert? Then good, the next chapter involves them once again~
Also, while it seems upon first glance that this is filler, I had intended to use Alfred officially acknowledging himself as a female as a transition into using 'Amelia' and 'she', but I made a last-second decision that transitioning like that would be way too abrupt. I'll probably end up sticking to 'Alfred' and 'he'. What do you guys think?
This is overall a very awkward topic for a story but it's a challenge I strongly wish to overcome. x'D I would like to point out that while I'm all for equality between genders, I don't feel strongly enough to go burn somebody's house down or even leave the comfort of my house to do anything about it. This story is not specifically meant to bring attention to gender equality. Ohgosh, please don't murder me on claims of this being a perfect chance to do so or for somehow not supporting it by not dedicating this story to it, it's just that that is not what the story is about. This is supposed to be a humorous story with sprinkles of action here and there about a guy turning into a girl. It just somehow ended up as a FanFiction with Alfred at the head of it. Please don't come murder me in the night. u v u
Gahh, that is one wall of an author's note. x'D I'll wrap up quickly~
I have every intention of finishing the next chapter before this month is over. Thanks so much for those of you who reviewed, favorited, followed, and even just read this! It means a lot to me, hah~ ; v ; Continue to review about your thoughts (and especially if there are any errors seeing as I lack a beta), oho, and you shall plant a smile on a certain Hazel's face!
So how about that FIFA~ u w u