I can't believe you lost to France. You're struck from my awesome list!
Alice's hand tightened around her cell phone. Her arm twitched with the urge to throw the phone onto the ground and stomp on it for good measure. Only picturing her boss's disappointment held her back.
"Bloody Prussia!" she growled.
She shut off her phone, stuffed it into the back pocket of her jeans and swiped angrily at her eyes. They were leaking again. Sodding allergies!
"Are you crying, Angleterre?" Marianne's cloyingly-sweet voice slithered its way into Alice's ears like something equally disgusting as France. Say, a leech. Yes, a leech was a very fitting comparison for France. "Don't take it so hard. It's just a game!"
Later, Alice would claim that she had been provoked beyond the point any nation of good breeding could be expected to endure with a stiff upper lip.
Later yet, she would knock on Marianne's door – they stayed with their football teams, in the same hotel – and ask her if her black eye still ached. She would smirk and gloat that she had ruined Marianne's evening, but they would both know that it was her way to apologize.
Right then, the sound of skin hitting skin was very satisfying.
As soon as Alice got back from watching the end of Japan and Germany's game with Marianne, she called Julchen.
She had intended to drown her misery in alcohol, but it seemed like she would have other duties to attend to.
"I can't believe you lost to Japan," she said in her sweetest voice, channeling her inner – yuck! – France. "You're struck from my awesome list."
"Fuck you!" Julchen snarled. She sounded like she was choking.
Alice's guts twisted. "Are you crying?"
"Don't be stupid! I'm too awesome to cry over some stupid game!"
Alice sat down on her bed amidst the sea of England memorabilia she had spread out before the game to pick the perfect clothes for tonight. When she got back, she had been too disappointed to pack it away. She picked up the jersey she had worn to the game and hugged it to her chest. Tears sprung up in her eyes again as her eyes wandered over the collection of flags, scarves and hats. She sniffled.
"Are you crying?"
"No more than you!" Alice snapped.
"Yeah," Julchen said quietly.
For a while, Alice heard no sound other than Julchen's ragged breathing.
"I was certain we would win," Julchen offered finally. Her voice was barely above a whisper.
Alice made a conscious effort to bite back the snarky remarks just begging to be voiced aloud. It was bloody unfair. She finally got to take revenge for last year's World Cup and she just couldn't bring herself to do it. "I was certain we would win, too."
"I wanted to play you in the final."
"I wanted to beat you in the final."
"Hah! I would have kicked your lame English ass!"
"As soon as I see you in person, I'm going to kick your German arse to London and back!"
Julchen snorted. "You're too unawesome to beat me." A moment of silence. "Are you coming?"
"Tomorrow. Nothing's keeping me here anymore!"
"I'll see you in Berlin then."
There was another lull in their conversation. Alice kicked off her shoes and curled up on her England flag.
"By the way… Alice?" Julchen's voice had turned low and sultry.
"Bring your jersey. I haven't slain a lion since the 1800s."
She didn't laugh. She didn't. Well, maybe she laughed a teeny-weeny little bit, but only because she couldn't slap Julchen. "Sod you, Prussia!"
"I don't think so," Julchen crowed. "I'm going to do awesome things to your body and you're going to sing my praises. In German.France and Japan's lame semi-finals have nothing on us!"
"France and Japan have nothing on us," Alice corrected with a crooked smile. She wiped the last tears from the corners of her eyes. They didn't burn anymore.
"We're too awesome for that tournament."
Another bout of silence.
Alice went to the minibar and dumped the entire collection of frustratingly tiny yet expensive bottles on the bed.
"I gave Marianne a black eye," she said as she pulled the ribbons out of her hair.
Julchen was silent for a moment and then she laughed uproariously. "I love you."
"Of course you do!" Alice replied briskly even as her cheeks burned red.
"Well?" Julchen snapped expectantly. "Aren't you going to say it!" Her voice held all the sweetness of the Prussian soldier she was, but Alice knew her well enough to discern that her voice shook just the slightest bit, that it was just a tad shriller than usual.
"I love you, too." She opened a bottle of some German liquor and drank it down in one.
"Hey! What are you doing?"
"I'm getting drunk." She twirled the small bottle around. "I lost to France. If that's no reason to get smashed, I don't know what is."
Julchen laughed. "I was going to go to a bar. Guess I'll go back to my room instead…"
Alice's brows furrowed in confusion. "What are you talking about?"
"We're going to have drunken phone sex!"
"Prussia!" Alice snapped.
Julchen snickered. "You're kinky when you're drunk!"
"And you have no shame!"
"And you're not drunk enough to be fun!"
Alice twirled a bottle of rum around. "Yet…" she drawled.
On the other end of the line, Julchen gulped audibly.
Alice smirked. She had lost against France, but this was a game she fully intended to win.