Chapter 1: Prologue
Air conditioning had to have been the greatest invention, England thought. He sighed as he turned the vents towards his face with his usual scowl. His companion paid him no attention as he sang some ridiculous country song.
"Singin' yippie ki yea. I'm a saddle bum. Always on the run. Whichever way the wind blows, that's where I go. I'm a saddle bum."
"Must you sing while you unpack the suitcases?" England asked. He shot a glare over at the blonde American, who only returned a warm smile back. England furrowed his brow, thinking how it was too warm for that smile to be out.
"What's wrong? I thought you liked my Southern drawl." America tried to pout, but England wasn't fooled. "Or what, you want me to sing like one of your rock bands? I can even head bang."
"I'm sure you can." England closed his eyes, turning away from the man.
"England, what's got your brows in a twist?" America asked, dropping his Southern accent.
England started tossing the clothes a little more roughly into the drawers, not caring if some of them wrinkled. He decided not to answer, causing America to effectively shut up. However, this didn't make England any happier like America thought it would. Instead, it only made his frown increase.
America wasn't exactly just England's companion, but the two had started using less intimate words for their relationship for some time now. They had started to grow apart for reasons neither one looked deeper into, nor did they have the time. America's economic and social situation was growing worse and England's domestic woes caused him a nightly headache. However, the couple had felt that their relationship would always be a perfectly comfortable moment of peace. And then suddenly, it stopped. Awkward silences started, touches that should have been turned into ones that did not, and there was longer time between visits.
Always the optimistic, America organized a surprise road trip across his favorite ghost towns. England protested, but America honestly couldn't understand how being cooped up in his truck, music blasting, and the Englishman constantly complaining about the summer heat didn't bring the two closer. He even tried to be seductive on the first night, doing an awkward strip show that ended up with him sleeping on the floor. Still, he would not be deterred.
And yet, the trip was turning into a worse disaster than America knew. England was completely losing faith in their relationship as he saw America cower at the ghost stories and keep him up, crying about how England couldn't fall asleep first. Most of his thoughts were of surprise America was really a country and not the child he once knew. There was hardly any difference these days.
What happened to my strong hero? England thought to himself. He glanced over to see the sulking blonde and sighed again. He certainly wasn't here in their hotel room.
"America! Let's get going!" England yelled at the bathroom door. America was taking an unusually long time this morning making England all the more irritated. When America emerged, his arms out in a dramatic pose, England rolled his eyes and shoved the keys into the man's chest. "Took you long enough."
An old fashioned cowboy hat was atop his head and he wore leather boots even with spurs. England didn't notice the chaps, and he certainly paid no attention to his blue jeans with the big belt buckle. And he missed seeing the red bandana around his neck. In fact, England just ignored all of America and headed for the front door.
"Today's going to be an awesome day! I just know it!" Always cheerful, America quickly passed by England, holding open the door for him. However, the Englishman paid him no mind and stalked to the hotel's elevator. He was already dreading the half an hour ride out into the desert. Their destination just had to be an old cowboy ranch town in the middle of a desert.
"Maybe there was a reason no one wants to live in these places anymore," England grumbled under his breath. America didn't hear him and happily pressed the lobby button. He was back to singing, but this time it had changed to a pop song. "What did I say about singing?"
"Hey, it's my country, my rules." America's tone was merry as always, but his under bite made England go rigid. He narrowed his eyes in defiance, about ready to start an argument, but thought better of it. Remember the car ride, he told himself.
But the car ride couldn't be saved. America and England bickered the entire way from the biggest problem of who controls the radio station to insignificant squabbles, usually about the heat or America's weight problem, which just ended up in pregnant silences.
"For the record, I've been on a diet," America mumbled under his breath.
England chuckled slightly, causing America to glance over in hopes that many the mood would lighten. Instead, the older blonde returned a sarcastic smirk to the man. "I can't believe you actually said that."
America scowled, but decided to not say anything for once. It's just the heat, he told himself. He was really counting on this ghost town to be the ice breaker in their relationship. Maybe England would say what was really wrong and they could go back to the way things were.
"England?" America started. They were only one exit away from the town. From the corner of his eye he saw the blonde glance over. "This town means a lot to me. I hope it still means that much for you as well."
"What are you talking about?" England asked. He glanced out the window. "You know I never go to the desert, save for this impromptu trip."
America chewed on his lower lip. As he turned off the road and the sign came into view, a small, anxious smile formed. "M-maybe you just don't remember the name."
A broken and faded sign missing letters slowly passed by on the right. England raised an eyebrow as he turned to look at America. "Surely you jest. I have never been to a place such as Star City."
America stopped the car suddenly causing England to lurch forward and almost hit his head on the dashboard. He barked a few choice words and ignored the absolute hurt look America gave him. He opted to get out of the car for fear of his safety. However, the town he had just stepped into looked like an even worse option.
Every single aspect of the town was decaying and unappealing. Five buildings struggled to remain intact, their windows all broken and the wooden roof planks were sliding off. Signs were hanging off of their hinges and the letters completely faded. The other three buildings in the area were only shells of their original selves.
England wrinkled his nose, furrowed his brow, and turned to America in disgust. "What kind of joke is this?"
"Come on." America grabbed England's hand, dragging him towards a building. "Maybe this will jog your memory some. It's the saloon."
England wrenched his hand free, stepping back from America. As he caught his breath, he looked around. The desert sun shimmered through the planks showcasing the entire desolate bar. Tables were overturned and a ratty looking curtain was hanging over what seemed to be the remains of a stage. No memories could have come to England even if he tried. This dreary place was a far cry from England's own ghost towns, but even those he rarely frequented.
"America, what is going on?" England asked. He waved his hand out over the empty saloon. "You honestly expect me to remember ever being in a place such as this?"
America hoped over the bar and wiped at the dusty mirror behind the counter. "Just wait. It has to come to you! Remember, you were here and I was there!" America pointed to two empty spaces on the other side of the counter enthusiastically. "I bought you a drink and told you to get the hell out of town, but you just gave me that look you always give and called me a child."
"And then over here!" America jumped over the counter and rushed towards a fallen table. "You almost got into a fist fight with some guy and I totally had to protect you because I'm awesome like that."
England chuckled. "I assure you, if some bloke tried to get into a fist fight with me, I wouldn't need your protection."
"Well you did and I protected you." America's excited smile was starting to wan. "Don't tell me you really don't remember this stuff."
With a heavy sigh, England tried once more to recall these so-called memories he should have possessed. "America, I'm terribly sorry, but I truly have never been here in my entire life. I never came to visit you when you were in your Western years. That was after you act so foolishly and closed yourself up to the rest of the world."
"It wasn't foolish," America stared. "You know exactly why I did what I did."
"Quite honestly, I don't. Yes, yes, history and what-not say it was Washington's Will and the Monroe Doctrine, but for you personally, no I do not know why you got such a ridiculous idea to hide away into a shell. You weren't the one betrayed."
At this, England had to shoot America a challenging stare, hoping to make the younger blonde back down. As usual, it didn't. America simply challenged right back.
"You betrayed me," he said sternly.
England clicked his tongue to the roof of his mouth and let a haughty smirk escape his lips. "So it seems we're going down this old road again, eh?"
"I don't want to, England," America started, reaching for England's wrist. "I brought you here in hopes we could rekindle our relationship, but as usual you're a stodgy old bastard."
The same routine began with the boys; a tired and true act. The two bickered, carelessly throwing hurtful words back and forth thinking that they meant nothing to the other and not seeing how many cuts they were slicing into the other's heart. England could only take so much before his battered body would give in. America's words always hurt the most as they had since he first uttered the words "independence." He had hoped, however, that when he had also said, "I love you" there would be no more drawn out fights and pointless banter as was such the situation now.
England was the first to slam his fist into the poor wooden table, effectively cutting the argument short. "Enough! America, you are still such a petulant, ignorant, and selfish child! How we ever came to be together and then continue this charade of a 'Special Relationship' is beyond my understanding but I've had enough!"
America stopped, his confidence and ego completely caught off guard and shattered. "You don't mean that…"
"I do!" England turned and started for the batwing doors without seeing the broken expression on America's face. "Take me away from this God forsaken place now! I don't see how any part of this could be considered 'America the beautiful'!"
If England had waited a moment longer to chance a look over his shoulder, he might have seen a man destroyed by what England considered offhanded remarks. However, he could care less about the man he had spend over two decades sharing intimate moments with and was focused on getting back to an air conditioned hotel room. Then, in the future, a flight back home with some long awaited tea and quiet time. Like hell he was going to stay for the rest of the road trip.
The batwing door swung back and forth, creaking loudly until England couldn't hear anything more but those doors. Even the wind was muted. He turned to stare at the unusually loud swinging doors when the air filled with piano music. Then, horses neighing and men hollering in celebration surrounded him. Women's laughter and shrieks of surprise eventually joined the fray. And lots of cigarette smoke.
England coughed and stumbled back from the saloon. Steps that weren't there a moment before were under his feet, making the Englishman fall down into the desert road. Horses were fully saddled and tied up to posts outside the building. The building that was, only minutes earlier, completely abandoned and bruised by time, and was now bustling with life. There were dancing girls sitting on the arms of gamblers and cowboys, a lively piano bouncing in front of the stage, and old miners, having returned from looking in the mountains for their fortune, were scrambling for a drink at the bar.
The ground started to rumble, momentarily scaring England into thinking that perhaps it was one of those infamous earthquakes, but he soon saw the cause of concern. Ladies in long dresses and bonnets fled from the streets as five rough-looking cowboys tore down the street with guns blaring and their voices echoing off of the buildings. They spotted England, in his unusual attire for the century, and circled him.
Only one phrase came to England's mind at that moment. "Oh bloody hell."
Hoshiko2's cents: Welcome to my story! I hope you guys enjoy it! It'll be silly and right out of a Western movie! I'm aiming to have this be my July story, so I'll update every Sunday.
Batwing doors are saloon doors that swing in and out. Spurs are the pointy, circular metal devices on boots that they press into a horse's side to get it to go. By the way, Star City is REAL and is now one of hundreds of America's ghost towns. It was an old silver town that sprung up in the late 1800s.
Chapter 2: I'm an Old Cowhand
England meets the one person he didn't want to.
"What'chu sportin' there partner?" the cowboy wearing the red bandana over his face asked roughly. England could barely make out any features on the man other than he was tanned and had a chiseled face with a little bit of his beard showing over the top of his bandana. "You ain't from around here, are ya?"
"I'm afraid I'm not," England stared, his eyes carefully looking at all of the men. It was a mix between older Hispanic men and young Caucasian men, but all sported the same red bandana. They had the perfect image of a cowboy from their hats to their chaps. England smirked at the ridiculous display before them. "If I might ask, how much did America pay you gentlemen to dress-up and play cowboys?"
The men looked at each other in confusion before chuckling. The same tanned man spoke again. "Looks like we got ourselves a real Limey, boys!"
"You would do well not to call me that," England scolded, crossing his arms. "Now tell me how much America paid for this entire prank to be put on. I wager there are film crews around here and he's recording this in hopes I will react in some preposterous manner just so he gets a laugh out of this. Oh America, I gave you far too much credit. Even this is too much for you."
"Hey, Limey. Shut yer trap! We dun work fer any America." England turned his gaze back on the chiseled man. "And if ya mean our country, America, we sure dun work fer any country."
England nodded in mock understanding. "I see. So I take it you are all to be outlaws. Gunslingers and what-not? How stereotypical of you, America."
"Don't be using fancy words or nuthin' mister!" a younger cowboy exclaimed. It was then that England noticed they all had guns in their belts and whips wrapped around the horns of their saddle.
"Dun mind him, Limey." The chiseled man nodded at the young cowboy that had just outburst. "He didn' make it past tuh second grade."
England rolled his eyes. "Mm hm. That's quite lovely. Now if you would be so kind as to show me a way back to the town and then to the hotel I would appreciate it greatly."
"Leavin' so soon, are ya?" The men began to chuckle. "Sure, we could help ya out. …Fer a price."
"Of course, of course." England reached for his pocket. The men suddenly drew their arms, but England paid them no attention. "I only have Pounds and a few Euro's on me. I can write you all a check if you want."
"What's he talkin' 'bout?" the younger cowboy asked.
"Listen partner, we dun wan any 'a ya stinkin' European trash. Jus' give us yer gold an' silver." The men still hadn't put their guns away. England was amazed that America was still going along with this stupid prank and that all the other people hadn't bothered to get involved. In fact, they had completely fled the scene, leaving England to fend for himself. It didn't matter to him. What were a couple of cowboys to a pirate?
"I'm afraid I only have this pocket watch." England pulled out said item and dangled it from his fingers. It gleamed in the afternoon light, drawing the cowboy's attentions. England's expression softened when he saw the trinket. America had gotten it for him on one of their anniversaries and even remembered that England was fond of engraved items; especially of the sap variety. This one said "Love Always" on the back, and it caught England's eye as it dangled from is fingers.
Suddenly, the watch was grabbed by the chiseled cowboy, effectively snapping England out of his reserve. He barked, "Give that back!" making the men laugh loudly.
"This'll do jus' fine. Thank ya Limey."
England stormed towards the man, ignoring the guns trained on him. They got a shot off on him, striking the nation in the arm. He fell back in surprise, holding his wound. That certainly wasn't a prank or some Hollywood special effect, and he knew America wouldn't pay anyone to harm him. No, this truly hurt. England pulled back his hand to see the blood on his palm.
"Now look, ya paid us so we'll do our duty and show ya the way home." England looked back up at the cowboys, growling in contempt. "Oh wait… There ARE no Limeys in America anymore!"
Normally a nation carried a gun or even a knife with them, especially one like England. However, the Englishman had it in his head he'd be with his lover, therefore there would be no need for a weapon. He would be safe.
That stopped his thoughts. Yes, he had felt safe when he was with America. Despite their squabbles and eventual argument, he had habitually come to see America with the idea in his mind he would be comfortable and would actually not need a weapon. He didn't do such a thing with any other nation, save for his Commonwealths, but even then there were times he packed a pistol in case Australia did some asinine trip out into his badlands.
The men aimed their guns at England again, the man not noticing his imminent danger, lost in his thoughts. There was a premature gunshot making the blonde duck on instinct. Almost instantly after the first shot, four more shots rang out in unison. The men all dropped their guns, hissing as they held their unharmed hands. England looked in shock that a man had actually shot a gun from another man's hand. He turned, expecting some heroic gunslinger standing with an indifferent expression on his war-torn face. Instead he was met with the face of a sixteen year old blonde boy.
No, it was America.
"A-America?" England exclaimed.
Said boy paid no attention as he snatched the pocket watch from the lead cowboy's hand. He twirled his pistol around on his finger while smirking at the men. He was wearing a white shirt with a leather vest over it to match his brown chaps. There was a red and blue bandana tied around his neck, and the leather holster tied to his gun belt left little to the imagination of how well the boy was packing.
"Now what did I tell ya'll? Yer not welcome in these parts," America said slowly. He had the air of more ego than England had ever heard in the man He also looked so much stronger than he'd ever seen him.
"Sheriff, we was only havin' fun with the Limey," the young cowboy started. He stopped when America turned his gun on him.
"Don't call our guest that." America glanced at England. His bright blue eyes showed no recognition of just who England was. "He may be a Brit, but that war is long and dead. Now git!"
America shot off his gun once, down towards the hooves of the horse. The poor creature was startled and reared back on its hind legs. The other horses followed suit before turning tail and fleeing back down the street from where they came. The dust settled and townsfolk came rushing to America's side.
"Sheriff that was amazing!"
"Yee haw, sheriff! Ya saved the day again!"
Oh, so this explained the ego, England thought. He stepped away from the hero worshipping and watched America. The boy carried himself in a totally different way. He wasn't held down by the weight of being a Superpower, hated in the eyes of so many of the world and busy trying to help the rest. He wasn't neck deep in debt or dealing with social issues that made even England's head spin. No, this America was a boy still reveling in the fact he was a new nation, just a hundred years old.
But that meant England truly had gone back in time. He couldn't quite place the year, but he knew it was the late 1800s, meaning the Wild West was in its prime. The only thing America had to worry about was Native Americans, Mexico, and preparing for his upcoming Civil War.
"Sheriff Alfred!" a woman called. America instantly turned his head and a smile lit up his face. England had never seen a smile like that before, but figured it was one he usually reserved for his ladies. The man had retained some of his gentlemanly teachings he had gotten from back when he was a colony. A woman with short, bobby blonde hair and bright blue eyes rushed to America's side. She was wearing a bright blue and white dress, but looked far from that of a housewife. "I was so worried about you! Those vicious men! How dare they return to Silver City?"
America patted the woman on the hand, smiling that gentle smile. "It's all right, Miss Emily. They're just bullies that need to be put in their place."
Miss Emily wrapped her arm around America's and cooed. "You're so right, Alfred!"
America smiled at all the townsfolk crowding him. He then raised his free hand and waved towards the saloon. "DRINKS ARE ON THE HOUSE!"
The crowd cheered and shuffled towards the saloon. Miss Emily laughed as she pulled America along with her. America gave England the briefest of glances, causing England to follow. The boy looked like he wanted to talk about something. He was a little unsure of how to act when so many Americans were drunk with guns around, but he somehow felt safe with America around. The boy had just shot a gun from a man's hand. Even with England's numerous years as a pirate and later a soldier in two world wars, he wasn't that skilled. He hated to admit his admiration, so he kept his mouth shut and his eyes down. He joined America at the bar, but didn't order a drink.
"Sheriff Alfred, are you going to order tha man you just saved a drink too?" Miss Emily asked. She sized Arthur down with her bright blue eyes and luscious red lips. England was struck by how alike she was to America himself. The main difference was their chest. England felt his eyes were drawn to the fact her boobs managed to stay in behind her dress. "What's your name, dearie?"
"…Arthur," he replied after a moment. It had been so long since he had said his human name. He used to give it out when humans didn't know he was a country, but that was decades ago. Back before the second World War. "My name is Arthur Kirkland. It's a pleasure, ma'am."
Miss Emily giggled as England nodded to her with a courteous smile. "Well, I must say. I'm not used to be treated so nicely by a man. Other than Sheriff Alfred here, that is."
England's smile started to turn into a smirk. "Oh, you mean he treats you rather well?"
"Why yes sir! Sheriff Alfred is jus' about the nicest man in the territory! All the other towns wanted him, but he stayed here." Miss Emily smiled up at America who had acted as if he hadn't heard a word of their conversation about him. He was holding a shot glass and looking straight ahead, his face set with a hard blank expression. When Miss Emily looked at him, however, he glanced at her and smiled slightly. That same smile England hadn't seen before now.
"Well then you're all very lucky. Alfred always did have a way with guns." England almost missed the flash in America's eyes before the boy dipped his head back, taking his shot, and slamming the glass down on the counter.
"Oh! You know each other?" Miss Emily asked, her eyes lighting up. "You're a lot older than Sheriff Alfred, so you must be like a mentor or somethin', right?"
America and England's eyes met and the pain was evident in both of their eyes. England was the first to look away, a slight blush arising on his cheeks. He was still getting used to seeing an older America, complete with glasses and slightly wiser eyes. He didn't want to say it, he couldn't say it. He hadn't thought of America as his brother or even a colony in hundreds of years. It would be strange on his tongue to agree to it.
"You could say something like that," America started. He smirked as he filled his shot glass and slid it towards England. "We used to live together. He was horrible at his… 'brother' job, so I kicked him out."
England looked at the shot glass, frowned slightly, and then met America's stare. "I see it more as you were an ungrateful prat that just got too big for his shoes."
The tension filled the space between the two countries. Miss Emily felt as if she were no longer included in the conversation and looked down to her heels. England took the shot and drank it. He suddenly screwed up his face in disgust.
America burst out into laughter. "What's the matter, Arthur? Can't take my whiskey?"
England coughed a few times before licking his lips. It was such a hard and tasteless liquor, he hadn't tasted one like it in decades, spoiling himself on the good stuff these past years. "No…I have. This is just downright horrible."
"Well maybe you should try American beer for once."
"Would you boys excuse me?" Miss Emily took that moment to free her arm and hurry away from the angered men. Neither one took notice of her absence.
Instead, America opted to take that opportunity to grab England by the collar. The smell of that whiskey was coming off of his breath making England wrinkle his nose. They kept eye contact and almost brushed noses. America's eyes were full of hated he'd only seen aimed at Germany when America had joined the war and saw how absolutely devastated England was. But England didn't waver, he couldn't. He had to act like the England across the pond, sitting in his study and brooding over past pains.
"I told you to get out of my country," America seethed. The piano and chatter was much too loud for the townsfolk to hear. "I don't want to see you."
"Then why did you save me?" England asked quietly.
"I couldn't very well tell the world that the British Empire was shot and killed by some outlaws in my country, could I? They'd hate me." England was surprised at how much loathing seethed from the teen at the mere mention of other countries. Even his eyes looked as if they held a deeper hatred than he really let on. "Besides, you just looked so pathetic standing there. I had to step in."
England narrowed his eyes and gripped America's wrist tightly. "I hate to remind you, but I do not know your lands. I have never been this far out. How do you propose I get home?"
"There's a coach tomorrow," America started. He ripped his hand free of England's grip and stepped back a bit. "You can take that to St. Louis and then take another coach up to New York. You should remember that city real well."
"Yes, I remember." England sighed as he looked around. The atmosphere was so different to pubs back home, and yet, so similar. "Where shall I stay during the night?"
America tossed his head back, taking another shot. He nodded at the batwing doors. "There's a hotel across the street. Just ask for room 7."
With a quick glance at Miss Emily, England felt his face go red. "I will not stay in the room in which you fornicate with-"
America turned with an insulted look. "I'm not like that! How dare you? Room 7 is just the room I give to friends when they're in town."
England was horribly embarrassed. He looked away again, muttering how much of a child America was in favor of not pointing fingers at himself for his lewd comment. America said no more as he slammed the shot glass down one more time and walked away. He hadn't taken back the offer to use the room or made fun of England's own track record. But this wasn't the same America. This was a young, brash, reckless, and emotional America. He wasn't wise or as in control of his emotions, especially around England. He certainly wasn't holding back any of his anger or hurt, unlike the America he knew and dated. That America would smile and try to hide any problems in favor of not upsetting England or getting too stressed out himself. This America didn't know England anymore. They didn't have a shared history in trenches, hoisting their dead and wounded citizens through mud, patting one another on the back in congratulations, or standing side by side when terrorism struck their lands. And he certainly wasn't the same lad that made such passionate love to England, holding him during the night and kissing him awake in the morning. No, this America was only concerned with one thing.
The disappearance of England.
England looked down at his feet knowing that was how he had felt only a short while ago when he fought with his America. "How utterly brilliant…"
England walked into the tiny little hotel room with a scowl on his face. With one quick look around the four cornered room he instantly wished he was back in the hotel in his own time. The room was covered in faded floral print wallpaper with a plain bed in the middle and a simple chest of drawers to the left of it. On top of the drawers was a blue wash basin with a matching pitcher that faced the little window with the white curtains wafting in the evening breeze. England sighed as he moved to close the window. He could still hear the piano from the saloon.
Without even a book to read to keep him entertained, England sat on the edge of the bed and thought. For once he was without work, texts and calls from his political bosses, e-mails from other countries, meetings to attend to and obligations. He was surprised he had to will himself to calm down instead of itch to do something. Had it been that long since he was just sitting in a room and knowing he wasn't to be disturbed?
He lay back and sank into the pillow with a heavy sigh. Such a crazy day and yet he was nowhere near figuring out how to get home. Suddenly, an idea came to him. He knew a few time traveling spells and would have to write them down in order to recall which one to use best. The room held no paper in the drawers, so England trekked downstairs to ask the hotel clerk. After receiving a generous amount, England set to work writing down the spells from memory. He stayed in the lobby as it had a few tables and plush chairs and there weren't many people to bother him.
After a good solid hour, England looked up with a stiff neck. Over the front desk there was a small clock that read eight o'clock. He looked down at his scribbles and realized that none of the spells were reliable. A few he had already scratched out from personal memory of trying them out and ending up in his bed for months from sickness or injuries. One, he even tried on his brother, Scotland. The man still hadn't forgiven him for it.
England moved to the wash bin to clean his wound. It wasn't deep and it would heal by morning, given a country's ability to heal much faster, but he still wanted to give it a good wash so to not leave a scar. That was one event in his life he'd rather forget. However, he couldn't, no matter how hard he tried; not the gun shot wound, but America. Sure the America from his time was a brash teenager that acted too old for his maturity, but this America was too different. Too fiery. Too angry.
And that scared England more than having realized he'd been flung back in time.
Just as England was considering getting something to eat, the door to the hotel banged open. The citizens milling around in the lobby jumped and skittered away as a very drunk America stumbled into the room. England had seen America drunk a few times and each time meant something was very wrong with the country. Sure enough, America's anger could be felt across the room, especially when his blue eyes landed on England.
"You!" America started for the other. England got up and stood his ground until the two were nose to nose again. "I told you to get out."
England raised an eyebrow. "But you also told me I could use that room you generally reserve for your friends. Do you not recall this?"
"You're not my friend!" America shouted. He waved his hands around, one holding his hat. "So I don't like you here!"
England stared at the boy and had to keep his patience. It wasn't something that was entirely new, but seeing America in his teenage years certainly did bring about a new way to control his temper. A young, fussy baby America, he could handle. A rebellious pre-teen, well he couldn't exactly handle, but he had gone through it. A child in a grown man's body, he thought he could handle, but apparently he was very wrong.
"Alfred, this is very unbecoming of you. You are a sheriff now and you have responsibilities."
"Responsibilities!" America repeated. "You mean like the ones YOU didn't live up to?"
"Alfred, behave yourself. I didn't raise you to be some unruly child," England seethed. He hadn't used his authoritative tone of voice in some time, but he knew that it was definitely needed right now.
Unfortunately, this set America off even more. "Raise me? You didn't raise me! I raised myself! That's why I kicked your limey ass right back across the ocean!"
England sighed, horribly irritated. "No, Alfred, you didn't. You haven't matured one bit. If anything, you've regressed."
A few taut moments passed between the two before it looked as if America would strike England across the face. He reached for his gun and a few of the women gasped, shuffling to the door. England was quicker as he slapped America right on the cheek. The boy then stepped away, dropping his gun on the floor.
"I want you out of here," America growled, his eyes backing up the threat. He then turned and stumbled towards the door. When he crashed into the doorframe, he turned to look at the women staring in aghast at the sheriff. "Terribly sorry ma'am."
He then kicked the door open and could be heard clanking down the steps. England sighed, feeling his shoulders sagging from the relief that the drunken teenager was gone. However, he had left his gun. With a groan, England snatched up the gun and stalked towards the door.
America was already at the saloon. He had tripped on the steps, but two hands had grabbed him, lifting him up.
"Sheriff Alfred!" Miss Emily exclaimed. Her worried expression made America smile. "I think you've had enough to drink, mister."
America put his arm around Miss Emily's waist, drawing her flush to his body. "Miss Emily. How would you like to be with me for the evening?"
An excited gasp escaped the blonde's lips before she covered her smile with her hand. "Why Sheriff Alfred! I'd be delighted. But… do you think it'd be all right? I mean…you an' me…?"
"Who the hell cares?" America then moved in and stole the woman's lips. She gasped again, but wrapped her arms around him happily.
England walked up just as Miss Emily made a small contented moan into America's lips. A thousand smart-alack comments flooded his head, but none were uttered. He couldn't say anything. His mind was focusing on the fact that his heart was racing and his cheeks were growing hot. Instead, he threw the gun to the steps.
Miss Emily gasped and moved away from America. He held her close and glared over, knowing full well that England had been there a moment before. Countries always did have that innate sense of feeling another nearby. He stared at England, waiting for him to say something just so he could punch that man's jaw off. But England said nothing. He wasn't even looking at the couple. His eyes were averted to the ground and his face was so furiously red it had traveled up to his ears.
England turned on his heel and rushed back across the street to the hotel. He paid no attention to the fact that America was watching his retreating back with regretful pain in his eyes. What he didn't miss, however, was the look Miss Emily had on her face when he turned away. It was obvious she felt uncomfortable being there, between the two, almost as if America looked right through her and only saw England.
England tossed and turned all through the night. The bed squeaked under his constant moving, but it was the bed's fault for being so damn uncomfortable. England groaned and grunted, trying to find a comfortable position. But it wasn't the bed's fault. No, it was his mind's.
He sat up, panting. There was sweat dripping down his brow. He reached over and blindly searched for his pocket watch. When he found the little trinket, he clutched it close to his chest and sighed.
"It's okay," he whispered to himself. "He's not yours yet. It's all right. It's perfectly normal that the young lad would…shag with a woman before he was with you. Yes, yes, it's quite all right. You did a lot of your own shagging in your heyday too old boy. Yes, it'll be ok. He'll be yours someday."
But he wasn't his right now. Shortly before he had taken his trip back in time, he had fought rather nastily with America. The guilt rested heavy in his stomach, making it impossible to turn on his side or back without the weight to make his very core uncomfortable. Of all the things to say to him before he ended up back here. But would England say these things to America to his face? Of course not. The boy was barely a romantic. If England uttered one word of his immense pining for the younger boy, America would call him a sap and tease him about it for months. England could honestly do without that headache.
Still, that didn't change the fact that it was the worst feeling he'd ever felt. He'd been apart from America for months, almost years at a time before they had cemented their relationship shortly after WWII. But this, this constant unknown of when he'd see his America again, it killed him. It was driving him crazy. He couldn't deal with this young and uncontrollable America. Sure he never looked better in those chaps, but he was far too emotional. He wanted his America back.
England tossed again, wondering just what riled that boy up so. He held the pocket watch close to his heart, waiting for sleep.
A loud knock at England's door startled the nation awake. He had fallen asleep on his side, the watch still held tightly to his chest. He shot up just as America kicked open the door. Bracing for the worst, England was caught off guard when America appeared with a bright smile on his face.
"Yee haw! Good mornin' Arthur!" He came into the room as if he owned the place, and technically, he did. "It's time we get ya on that coach!"
England sighed, nodding his head. "Yes, but do we have to do it like this? I'm quite capable of getting myself up and down to the coach."
"I figured as much." America pulled open the drapes, sticking his head out and whopping in glee. "Whoo, it's going to be a beautiful day!"
England put his pocket watch in his pocket and moved to the water basin. After a few splashes on his face, he glanced back at America. "You're in a good mood."
America turned, his smile broader than ever. "Well that's because I always am when the weather is this nice!"
"I expect your time with Miss Emily went over well then." England had to force his heart to stop pounding in so much pain. He closed his eyes and took deep breaths.
America laughed nervously. "I guess you could say that. I don't remember much. I think I might have passed out."
England furrowed his brows. He turned to face the boy. "Then how is it you don't have a hangover?"
"I'm younger than you!" America exclaimed, his arms outstretched. He laughed as he looked around the room expectantly. "So I thought I'd come and help you with any of your affects."
"I don't have any affects," England mumbled.
America stopped for a moment, his smile leaving him momentarily. "Oh. You don't? You've been in that same outfit the entire time?"
"Is that a problem?" England remembered that it wasn't long ago he preferred to not shower and most of his people still felt that a shower twice a week was sufficient enough. He'd play that up, hiding the fact that his skin crawled knowing he was so dusty and dirty.
"No, but I dunno. I thought you powdered yourself up and put them perfumes on you all the time," America joked. He laughed when England shot him a glare.
"Do not confuse me with that frog."
A bell rang from downstairs. America looked out the window and smiled. "The coach is here! Let's get you going!"
"May I have breakfast first? I haven't even had tea."
"Nope! Let's go!" America shooed England closer to the door. "Come on. My country, my rules."
America bumped into the back of England. He called to the man, but England was far gone. His America had said the same thing shortly before they departed for this ghost town. How his heart ached all the more. He cried out in surprise when the younger America shoved him out of the room.
"Don't just stand there. You always told me that was rude." America smirked knowing it would make England growl at him. He was slightly surprised to see England stare at him sadly. Was that longing in his eyes? "Hurry up or you'll miss it."
The men didn't speak as they made their way down the hotel hallway. Once in the lobby, England thanked the receptionist and followed America out the door. The coach was a modest ruby red little vehicle with faded gold around the edges. The driver turned in his seat to look at England. He seized the man up and smirked slightly, turning back to the horses. England was about open the door when he heard Miss Emily's voice.
"Sheriff Alfred!" she called. She rushed up holding a basket of muffins. "I…I baked these for you."
"Why Miss Emily! That's awfully kind of you." America took the basket and beamed. "I'll be sure to eat these all up. Boy will my stomach be might happy by the end of the day."
"I made enough for your friend." Miss Emily glanced at England, giving him a small, unsure smile. "If you want, maybe he'd like some for his long journey back to England."
"Nah, he'll be fine." America stuffed one in his mouth and turned to England with a smile. "He's had longer trips back to England and was just fine."
Miss Emily frowned slightly in obvious disapproval. America laughed and waved his hand. "I'm only making a little joke, my dear." Keeping that same smile, he turned to England, thrusting the basket his way. "Here. I suppose this will be better than your scones."
England rolled his eyes. "My scones are quite delectable, thank you very much." He ignored America's teasing as he climbed into the coach. Looking at the window at the small town, he started thinking of just what he would do next. His spells had still ended up with nothing and the further away he got from America, the more confused and lost he would become. Last night he should have focused more at the problem at hand, but his heart had steered him in the wrong direction.
America suddenly appeared at the window, his arm hanging over the side and his head poking into the inside. He was looking at the floor and then the walls, but not at England. "Well, I sure hope you have a nice trip, Arthur."
"Thank you Alfred. If it's anything as pleasant as the trip here in this town was, I assure you I'll be fine." England mentally cursed himself. He shouldn't have provoked America's temper, knowing how fickle it was in this time era. However, America merely dumped the basket in the coach and moved away from the window.
The driver flicked the reigns, the horses neighing, and the coach lurched forward. England stared at the basket, a mixture of horrible feelings swelling in his stomach. He couldn't leave America. His or not, the boy was still the only connection he had. Surely there was still some way he could cooperate with the young teen to find a way back home without leaving him. By the time England had gathered enough courage to shout to America, they were just leaving the town.
America was sitting in his chair, slowly cutting a piece of wood with his knife. His eyes were sleepy. The afternoon sun reminded him just how long England had been gone. If he was here right now, maybe America would have something better to do on such a lazy day. Honestly, America was a damn good sheriff and there was hardly any crime in this town. That was a sign that it was high time he moved on to the next town. Maybe a really bad one like Tombstone or Carson City.
The hammering of heels on the wooden walkway alerted America. He looked over to see Miss Emily hurrying towards him. Putting on a sweet smile, he sat up straighter. "Well good afternoon Miss Emily."
"Sheriff!" She reached America and grabbed his arm. There was panic in her eyes. America shot up, worried just what it was. "You must hurry! There's been an attack!"
"An attack? Where?"
Miss Emily pointed out towards the street. A small gathering of people had started around what looked to be a man. America narrowed his eyes, trying to get a better view. The man was the driver of the coach England had taken earlier that morning. The man wasn't due back home for days and yet there he was. He was badly injured in the face, the crowd shuffling him towards the doctor's office.
America rushed to the coach. He ripped opened the door and found it was empty. He heard people around him recounting the tale they had heard from the driver. An ambush. Five men. America could feel his stomach plummet. Where was England?
Hoshiko2's cents: A robbery! Oh no!
Tombstone and Carson City are notorious in American history for being one of the bloodiest and most crime infested western towns back then. It took a band of brothers to help stomp it down. If you don't know, look it all up.
Chapter 3: Back in the Saddle Again
Drinking, card games, and brawls.
Horses were just never fast enough. As America surged out into the wilderness on his trusty stead, he vowed he would invent some device like a carriage that was faster than a horse. He kicked the sides of the horse, urging it to go faster.
The driver of the coach had said that it was the men from before that had tried to attack England. He claimed that the men had beaten up the driver, tossing him around their circle as he feebly tried to defend himself. They pulled England from the carriage and then sent the driver and the carriage back towards town. America was slightly worried for the man, but he seemed to have only suffered a few injuries. So it would be better for the man to be in the hands of a doctor than for America to hover over him in worry.
Shortly, the ridge where the carriage had been pulled over came into view. With a final kick to the side of the horse, America urged the horse on, hoping that England wasn't dead. He briefly recalled that Miss Emily had warned him it was possibly a trap set up by the men to attack America, but that wasn't important right now.
"Stupid, stupid England!" America grumbled under his breath. "And he calls me the dumb one! Tch! C'mon Ace, faster!"
He steered his horse to the hills where he could hide and overlook the situation before jumping in. He hoped if they had hurt England he was unconscious so it would be easier to handle everything without the English country interfering. Then again, he had no idea what awaited him.
Ace was pulled to a halt, and America jumped from his saddle. He crouched low, his gun at the ready, as he crept closer to a boulder. He would peer over the side to survey the area, and then attack if he saw an opening. He saw the men and they looked to be distracted. All were sitting on the ground in a circle and had their heads down.
America wasted no time. He jumped over the rock with his gun out and yelled, but he stopped when he saw England sitting calmly on a rock looking bored. He stood up at seeing America.
"So, you've finally arrived."
America stopped, lowering his guns. He looked at the men, only now that he was closer he could see they were all bound and gagged and were unconscious. "What? What happened here?"
"I detained them," England replied. "And then, I knew you'd be along, so I waited for you to return."
"But…" America turned to look at the other country. "You don't have a gun or nothin'!"
"Or anything, Alfred. Really." England walked past him and tapped him on the nose. "Your grammar is slowly slipping away the longer you're out under the sun. Atrocious."
England continued to walk up the hill where he stopped to look at the horse. He ran a hand along its muzzle. The horse responded well to him, turning into his touches and keeping still so that England could run his fingers through his mane.
"What a wonderful steed," he commented.
America holstered his gun and seethed. "Ace don't take kindly to strangers."
"He appears to like me just fine." England smiled at him, and America turned away.
He kicked at the foot of one of the men. "All right, get up. Come on, you're all under arrest."
The men dragged their feet as they were all shoved towards the horse. England stood waiting, watching as America tied them with a rope around their wrists, and then he held onto it so he could pull them along. The men were in a straight line, glaring at England. England simply smiled smugly back at them. America mounted his horse, keeping hold of the fugitives.
"Okay, on the horse," America said. England looked confused. "C'mon. I didn't bring a second. I thought you'd be dead or somethin', sos I just brought one. Now get on 'em."
England got up onto the horse with ease, settling right behind America. He wasn't the least bit surprised he could still mount a horse so effortlessly. Ace remained relaxed with the new country sitting on him. The two nations were a little awkward to be so close to each other and in such a curious way. Nevertheless, America clicked his tongue on the roof of his mouth twice and pressed his spurs into Ace's side. The horse began to trot out towards the desert, the men following behind.
"They're going to walk?" England asked.
"Of course. You can't expect me to show them mercy after havin' jumped that old man," America replied.
"Oh, yes, how is he?"
"He's right here. Why don't you ask him yourself?" America grinned at his own joke. England sat back with a frown.
He decided to look out at the scenery instead of scold him for his comment. The sky seemed to stretch on for miles, never quite touching the land as it teased the ground with small, fluffy white clouds, untouched by pollution. The ground itself was unforgiving, yet beautiful. It was flat and green, but full of texture, dotted with brown bushes. Then it lifted up into the mountains with snow capped tips. All in all, it was beauty the likes of which couldn't be seen anywhere else in the world.
England took in a deep breath. He wanted to spend the trip like this, not stuffed in a car full of unspoken words, with tense and hurt feelings, and not sure where he was in his relationship with America anymore. Of course, sitting on the backside of a horse with a younger version of his boyfriend after having been ambushed by five men wasn't exactly ideal either, but it all felt relaxing.
For the briefest of moments, England recalled how he fell in love with America in the first place.
America slammed the iron bar jail door closed and then locked it. He looked at the five men carefully, making sure he hadn't missed any concealed weapon, before he turned and headed for the front room. They had been unmasked, and England could clearly see all of them now. They were relatively young men, the eldest being in his early thirties. The chiseled faced man stood up and rushed the bars, shaking them as he spat at England.
"We'll get you, Limey!"
England was leaning against the wooden door frame with his arms crossed. He didn't look impressed. "I'd love to see you try."
"Don't talk to 'em," America said, passing England by. He pulled him into the other room, and then shut the door between the front room and the jail cells. He moved to the tiny stove in the far corner and lit up a makeshift cigarette.
England watched quietly. He should have known America would smoke when young, especially in this era. If he thought to scold him for it, it dried on his tongue given that he did for many years, and sometimes still snuck in a fag here and there when the stress got to him too much. Instead he moved to sit at a chair by a desk.
The jailhouse was simple. Made of wood, four walls, two desks, a stove, and a message board with ads for wanted men in the country. America hung his hat on a crude knob jutting out of the wood and took a seat at the other desk, his feet up on the table. He smoked in silence. England looked out the window to watch as the town passed them by.
Then, "So how do I get home now?"
America inhaled, and leaned his head back to exhale the smoke. "There's another carriage comin' at the end of the month. You'll have to wait 'till then."
"Is there a town nearby that has a train station?" England asked. He continued to look out the window.
"Not fer a good few miles, no." America's accent was making England's ear twitch in a bad way. "Until then, I guess yer stuck here."
England turned to look over at America. "So then, what do you do for fun around here?"
America put his cigarette out and stood. He strode over towards a small safe that sat on the floor near the desk England was at. He opened it without turning the lock and pulled out a bottle of nearly-empty whiskey. He popped the top and put it on the table.
"That's…that's it?" England eyed the bottle warily. He thought of last night and just how dry the alcohol had been. It hadn't burned, it just suffocated him and then left a bad after taste that still lingered on his tongue. "Is there anything that doesn't involve drinking yourself into a stupor?"
America grabbed the bottle, dipped his head back, and took a long swig of the whiskey. England grimaced as he watched. Just thinking back on how it tasted made the English country cringe. How America did it so effortlessly without a care was beyond him. Perhaps that was another reason he was so immune to his fast food in the future.
Just thinking of the America that he had left in the future made England depressed. Not enough to drink, but enough to want to try and figure out some things. Such as why America was so angry with him to the point he almost shot him last night and practically tossed him from his hotel room that morning. He chanced a glance at the American country and saw a glint in his eyes that wasn't always there when he was older.
This younger version was so full of raw and passionate anger. Was it all directed at him? England didn't want to think that America was truly that upset with him. Then again, back during this time England had been rather short tempered with the younger nation as well. Granted their political relationship had begun to rebuild during this time, it had yet to mend personal issues between them. That would require two world wars before they ever became that close again. That and more.
England smiled to himself just thinking of his America. It was enough to garner the attention of the America there. He frowned at seeing England smile so easily. It wasn't like the England he knew should be.
"What'chu smiling about?" he asked sourly.
England caught himself, and his smile vanished quickly. "Nothing."
America hummed, and then he looked out the window. He pursed his lips in thought. "Hey, you ever gone mining?"
"I should say not," England replied. He wrinkled his nose in disgust. "Dirty, filthy, and highly dangerous."
America cracked a devious smile. He turned fully to face England, beer in hand, and declared that was their activity. "Tomorrow. It's already too late in the day. I reckon you gotta start early in the day."
England's shoulder slumped. He shook his head. "No. I refuse."
"My country, my rules." England's face heated up at hearing the same motto once more. Was everything this young America going to do remind him of his America? Why did he feel so far away when he was right there?
England was hesitant to ask, but he felt it better to do so now than later. He had a month with the lad, so why not get everything out on the table now? "A-America…? How are we?"
"How do ya mean?"
"I mean…how are we fairing? Are you still…angry with me?" England was tugging on his sleeves. He suddenly was much hotter under his collar than he had been a moment ago. America's stare could be felt on the back of his neck. A bead of sweat trickled down his temple and along the artery on his throat.
"Of course," America replied at length. "Why wouldn't I be? Ya stabbed me in the back."
England sucked in air through his teeth sharply at this. His back automatically tensed, out of sheer habit. It had been so long since he and America had discussed the Revolutionary War, but the instinctive reaction was still deep in him. However, there was something he had that his past self didn't have- resistance to react. That was what America wanted right then, and he revealed in their spats. Anything to kick England down while he was on unfamiliar turf.
Too bad England was well versed in keeping his tongue by now. Instead of saying anything he grabbed the whiskey and took a drink. America watched with a raised eyebrow. The burning sensation caught him off guard again, and England shot forward in a fit of coughs. America chuckled.
"Can't take it?" England looked at him through the tears prickling his eyes. "It's okay. My stuff is much stronger than your crap back in England, huh? All watered down."
After taking a deep inhale to calm down, England stood to face America. "I can take it just fine. This is not real alcohol. One cannot possibly get drunk or be satisfied through this."
America snorted. He snatched back the whiskey, taking another drink. "Most folks 'round here just wanna get away from their thoughts. This'll help that there real quick. That and a round of Poker."
"How can you possibly play a game of cards when you're so incapacitated?"
Somehow, America's grin grew wider than before. He nodded towards the door. "Why don't I show ya how we do it here in the Wild West?"
England was never one to back down from a challenge, especially from America. However he was nervous that it involved whiskey and card games and angry card players as he so often saw in Western films. What if they accused England of cheating and tried to shoot him where he sat? England wouldn't die, but he'd have to pretend to be so. He had a strong feeling America wouldn't protect him or interfere in any part of the confrontation.
Still, there was an inkling of a thought seeping its way into his mind. How often would he get this kind of opportunity? And if this was a chance to get America to let his guard down finally, then he should take it. There was probably even less of a chance of that happening again for the duration of his stay.
"Show me the way, sheriff."
The bar was loud and smoky, but this wasn't anything new to England. Many of his pubs he frequented were a haze of smoke. He glanced around at the wooden room, admiring the crowded tables full of drunken men and card dealing fast hands, all bustling for one more drink or one more failed attempted to garner one of the bar maids into their wandering hands. The bartender nodded to America in a knowing way. England could only follow as he was led to the back of the bar, right in front of a large stage. A piano sat to the side of it and a dusty red curtain with a faded golden lace design across the middle. No one was on the stage or at the piano at the moment, so the bar was just full of raucous laughter and drunken talk. They took their seat at a round table and waited for someone to come take their orders.
Almost instantly England recognized this place as where America had taken him shortly because he was pulled backwards in time; shortly before they fought and England broke off their relations. Hadn't he mentioned some fight?
"Hey there, sheriff," said a gruff looking man from behind America. He had black gums and missing teeth, causing England to grimace. And here the world made fun of England for his teeth.
"Hey Flanders," America replied pleasantly. He gestured for the man to take a seat with them. "You havin' much luck?"
Flanders shook his head. "None yet."
"Then this should be a good night for you, huh?"
Flanders was nice for all of his smelly and off-putting appearance. He had a scraggly face with the makings of a long and dirty beard, which helped hide his scars and slightly burned face. He had a slight twitch to his movements, leading England to think he had been in one too many gun fights. At the thought of the weapon, England changed a glance to see the man was, indeed, packing. Then again, who wasn't in this era?
America invited other men to join him and England, the group of Americans all talking easily with each other. England didn't open his mouth for fear of being called out for being English. He knew where America stood in his feelings towards him, but he had no idea about his people. Suddenly, Miss Emily arrived by their side holding a tray of cold beers.
"What'll it be?" she asked cheerfully. England noticed she was wearing far less than she had earlier that day.
"Whiskey," America said. He smirked at England, about to order for him when England jumped at the chance. He couldn't stand one more take of that atrocity America called alcohol.
"Scotch." America frowned.
"You like that stuff?"
England shrugged and gave no reply. The other men had, luckily, missed his accent as they were lighting up a cigarette. They then pulled out money and looked to America expectantly. They were all gearing up to gamble. From seemingly nowhere, America produced a pack of cards and some loose change.
"Will yer Limey friend be joinin' you?" one of the men asked while watching England closely. Apparently one had heard his English accent.
"Hey." America was so loud and sharp he had startled everyone in the near vicinity. One poor maid even dropped a beer glass. America shot the cowboy a terse stare that gave his answer quite clearly. It was only until he began shuffling that everyone felt it safe to breathe again. England was quite caught off guard by this.
"Place your bets," America said, returning to his normal self. He then tossed a few coins to England's side of the table. He knew England had no American cash on him.
"You know how to play?" a man asked England.
The nation smirked, sweeping his cards together. "I've gambled a few times in my day."
Five Whiskies and seven Scotches later, America and England were in a heated battle. Both were far past drunk to know they actually had crap hands, but neither would back down. The other cowboys at the table had already folded, choosing to watch instead. They found the pair's antics much more amusing than the game. As they had played on, the men found America and England to be very similar in their pig-headedness, and their refusal to give in to the other made them lose money faster than America could produce it.
However, after a certain point, the men just let them win. It was rare America ever got this drunk, and even rarer that he lost so much. They considered this English fellow to be their nice little good luck charm for the evening. It didn't help that they had encouraged England to drink more, laughing as it caused him to bicker even more with their sheriff.
Now they waited with baited breath at the end of the hand. Both nations had gone all in.
"Read 'em an' weep, Artie," America declared. He laid his cards on the table with a haughty smirk as he looked at England. The cowboys blew out their cigarette smoke as they began chuckling.
"Sheriff," Flanders started. "A two and a three?"
"Fuck yeah," America said, slightly slurred. England instinctively winced at this. While it was fine to hear America swear in the future after hearing him do so, so often during the war, hearing it come from such an angelic looking boy was another matter completely.
Nevertheless, England grinned confidently. He placed his deck before everyone; the Ace and Queen of Spades. America pouted at seeing this, earning more laughs from the onlookers at the table. England shucked all of his winnings into his wallet. Even if he had no intention of using it again, the feeling he got watching America mourn the loss of his money was gratifying enough.
"Damn, sheriff," Flanders said. "He got ya good."
All the men began laughing, patting England on the shoulders in congratulations. However, this started something with England. He poked America in the chest, sneering at him.
"You're a bloody fool to think a crummy two and three could beat anything!"
America blushed, looking to his shuffling feet. "I thought you were bluffing."
That only made England cockier, and he began laughing at the other nation. "Still a twit! You may have a gun and run your own little form of, whatever, out here, but you're still obtuse!"
A man leaned over to America, whispering, "What's obtuse mean?"
America, now glaring at England, strode forward to grab him. But England stumbled back to avoid him, only to run into a cowboy carrying beer that splashed all over the front of his shirt. England turned around quickly to apologize.
"Oh, I'm terribly sorry there, old chap! I didn't see you. Oh my, you're a big boy. How ever did I miss you?"
This only incensed the muscular man more. He dropped his glass and aimed a fist at England's head, only America was faster. He slipped in between the two men and, with reflexes honed over the years of being a gun slinger, he punched the man in the jaw. The man flew into the table behind him, easily breaking the wood. However, this caused the men playing cards at the table to jump up angrily. America cursed as five gun wielding men rushed him with raised fists. And then a brawl broke out in the bar.
America was in the middle of the fray, mainly to protect a very drunken England. The nation had fallen on his butt and having far too difficult a time getting back up. Then, when he was up, he thought it a brilliant idea to pick up a chair and hurl it at a man. Only he missed and hit America instead.
America faltered more out of surprise than pain. He wheeled around, only to get socked in the jaw and fall to the ground. England, having seen this, grabbed another chair and smashed it down on the offender's head.
"Don't you dare hurt him you arsehole!" he shouted. It seemed England had gone from cocky nation to defensive empire in one fell swoop. He fought off anyone that came too close to America; his mind saying he was a little colony again from long ago.
America knew things could get ugly (well, uglier), so he grabbed England around the middle and made for the exit. England thought America was some "heinous fiend" and demanded to be put down, kicking and beating on America's back. There were few sober people out in the streets, so most of this embarrassing scene went unnoticed by anyone other than America.
They stumbled up the steps of the hotel, their boots clunking loudly on the stairs as England suddenly became heavier due to his legs refusing to work. And then he began rambling in America's ear.
"Oh Alfred, such strong arms. So thick. Mm, yes, thick and big. My goodness how big you will grow. Oh Alfred, you smell like gun powder. So sexy."
America all but hurled England onto the bed. His face was a furious shade of red. Frowning, he began taking England's shoes off. England lay there and continued to talk.
"Oh my… It's been so long since I've been attracted to you… Such a young, beautiful face. Ho ho, this sounds so scandalous!"
America huffed in frustration, tossing the last shoe over his shoulder. He moved to squat beside England who had turned to lie on his side. The England nation had a lazy smile on his face and glazed over eyes, yet it was eerie how he looked right through America. He put a hand on America's cheek.
"Stop it," America murmured. "Before you say something you regret."
"The only thing I regret…is putting distance between us." England's words slurred and he couldn't keep focus, but the intent was still there.
America ducked his head, making England's hand slip off. "Ya don't mean that… England you… You hate me… Remember?"
England shook his head. "My dear lad…" His fingers swept through the young nation's bangs. "How wrong you are…"
America stared at England, searching his eyes for truth; but unlike England, America didn't have that innate sense to stare into someone's soul, breaking down past their walls to their very core. And it didn't help that England had slipped his eyes closed and fallen asleep. America was left without concrete feelings- just emptiness.
Hoshiko2's cents: Do all the Western stereotypes! :Db
Chapter 4: It's the Cowboy Life For Me
England takes a step back to review his relationship.
Sunlight flooded England's vision, and briefly he thought he had dreamt up the Wild West, but when he saw a teenaged America garbed in cowboy attire, he knew he was wrong. God, how he wished it had been nothing but fantasy, then he could blame it all on his drinking. The hangover and heaviness to his hear certainly wasn't a dream. Maybe a nightmare.
"G'mornin'!" America exclaimed too cheerfully and too loudly. England groaned, burying his face under his pillow. "Get up, England! We got a big day ahead of us!"
"Doing what…" England's voice was muffled by the pillow, but America managed to hear him nonetheless.
"You're already a minor," England said. His face finally peeked out.
America ignored the pun to pull England up to sitting. "C'mon. Git up! Yer wastin' daylight!"
England grumbled at this. His future America often complained loudly if he was woken too early. True, England was an early riser, but not when he had a hangover. He simply pulled the covers back over his head instead.
"Git up, ol' man," America said in a teasing voice.
That did the trick.
England threw the covers off of his head and made sure America could clearly see the stink eye he was giving him. America saw the mess of hair on his head instead and burst into laughter.
"C'mon, there's food downstairs." America headed for the door.
He paused to wait for England, and England got a strange feeling he was being checked out. To avoid any awkward situations, he reached for his shoes only to notice his own body odor. He recoiled back with a wrinkled nose.
"Oh, bloody hell! I'm filthy!"
America laughed again. "We got a nickel shower 'round the corner. I'll take you after you eat some."
England nodded his appreciation. They trekked downstairs and into the hotel's attached restaurant just off of the lobby. A few people mingled around the lobby, not really having much else to do that early morning. The restaurant had a bar counter where a bartender stood cleaning the beer glasses, but the bar wasn't open yet. Nevertheless, America strode up to it to order for them both. Meanwhile, England claimed a table in the far corner.
He rubbed at a bruise on his cheek that he was certain made his skin an ugly discoloration. He groaned, thinking on all of the bad luck he'd had as of late, the worst being this strange time travel. Sadly, because of his constant time with America, he'd had no chance to look into the matter of the situation, which meant he didn't know how to reverse it either. Fairies weren't fond of the desert, so he ruled their interference out. It could be he stepped on some magical time trap, but that needed an immensely powerful spell to remain dormant in this town. Judging by the fact a time trap took its victim back to the exact day it was placed, England knew finding the culprit would probably be near impossible. And he doubted a simple cowboy or saloon girl had laid it. That left him with nothing.
A more pressing question, however, was how would he get home? Time traps, though rare, had happened before to England, and he knew of their tales. He was young and met one of the most amazing mages ever, but when he wandered too close to the mage while he was practicing, he fell into a time trap on accident. Luckily, the mage only set it to a few hours in the past and was able to send England back to his proper time.
England highly doubted his favorite mage could help him now, seeing as he was long since dead. Again, he was left with nothing. There was no possible way he could stay in this era, even if he hid from his past self that was actually back in the UK. That England was the correct one of this time, and he had no idea what America was up to across the ocean.
Thinking of the America back in his time had America slightly worried. He had vanished after such a nasty fight. Was America worried? Was he searching for him? It made England's heart clench painfully in a way he didn't think he'd react seeing as he hadn't worried about America in years. He was mad and hurt, yes, but if he didn't get home, this separation would be permanent and he'd never have a shot at fixing anything with America.
America from this era suddenly arrived, startling England from his thoughts. He was met with a gracious helping of steak, eggs, gravy, and biscuits. It then occurred to him that he hadn't eaten since his arrival two days ago. He barely had time to collect himself before America ushered him onto the carriage yesterday, and when he returned from the robbery, the two indulged themselves in drinking. That would explain how they got drunk so quickly.
England had to reign in his desire to toss aside manners and dive headfirst into the meal. America eyed him, not eating first; probably so he could watch England's reaction. At length, England picked up his fork and slowly started to eat. This cracked up America once more.
"Arthur, you're allowed to drop the act just once. No one is going to tell Europe."
England scoffed at him. "Shows how much you know about me. I care not for Europe's opinion of me."
America chuckled. "How American of you…"
"Don't you dare," England blanched. America laughed once more, and it even brought out a delicate grin on England's face.
This felt nice, like when the couple had first begun dating. It was full of careful touches of what to do, what not to say, where to look, and how to sit without arousing question. They would pause too often and over think every single thing. However, for England, it wasn't the same as before. He wasn't nervous because of his secret crush he had harbored for decades, but rather he didn't want to say something that would upset the time stream or make America suspicious.
So it was interesting to see the young cowboy smiling fondly at England, only to look away, completely flushed. He flustered as he hopped up out of his seat, only to knock the top of his knees into the underside of the table. "Um! I'm gonna check on the guys in jail!"
He rushed to the bar once more, thoroughly confusing England, and then returned with a cup of coffee. "I know you don't like this stuff, but… we don't have tea."
England smiled politely, taking the proffered cup. "Oh, thank you."
And just like that, America was all smiles again. His young face, not yet matured by war and economic hardship, reminded England of colonial times. It was simpler then, much like it was now, where it was perfectly acceptable to lay around all day and fish or tan in the fields. They didn't have to run about and check their e-mails.
England had a sneaky suspicion America was off the grid, and had been for some time judging by how well known he was in the town. Somehow, this only made England smile more. While the coffee looked black and disgusting, England gave it a try. He scowled at the bitter taste. In his peripheral vision he could see America watching him from the doorway. England only hoped he was still smiling.
England was used to horses. He loved them and knew them almost as if they were a part of him. However, this was a Mustang. They never seemed to tolerate him well, and England certainly found he couldn't handle the stallion's temperament. Jackson was his name, and while it looked like such a tame creature, all black and beautiful as the sun glistened off of its sleek body, the creature was far from it when England neared him. When he approached it initially, Jackson charged him, pushing England to the stable's fence. He shook his head so his mane flopped about and then he'd neigh angrily just before he ran to the opposite side of the stable.
The other cowboys were of no help, preferring to laugh than offer assistance. They already thought it a joke that an Englishman was attempting to go out and mine with their sheriff. What better way to spend the morning than to watch England fail miserably to get the damn creature over? America was sitting on the top fence with a stick of straw jutting out from his mouth. He looked more annoyed than amused as he watched, but he was just as useful as the cowhands.
Eventually, he jumped down into the stable. For a moment, England thought the nation had given up trying to get him to go, but America just calmly strode to Jackson. He held his hands up and made soft ticking noises, attracting the stallion's attention. Almost instantly the horse became more receptive. He trotted over as if on parade and pushed his snout to America's hand, forcing him to pet the horse. The nation laughed.
He's always had a way with animals, England thought fondly. It was a delight to see the younger America enjoying himself with horses again. It was a pleasantry that his future self grew out of, sadly. England couldn't quite pinpoint when exactly it happened, but one day America was very attached to nature and all of the fauna that inhabited it, and the next he was more focused on expanding his cities and paving over the beautiful countryside, making way for more houses and businesses. Then, suddenly, England realized he used to go on dates with America at the zoos around their countries in the Fifties, but they stopped. When was the last time they'd gone?
"Here," America said. He had brought England back Jackson, but kept a steady hand on the reign in case the horse tried to bolt again. "He said he doesn't like how you dress."
England looked down at his attire. It was out of place given this era's fashion. A T-shirt and jeans were rather off putting. No wonder he had attracted so much attention his first day here. However, it was hard to change clothes given that England had been transported without warning, otherwise he would've grabbed his suitcase.
Huffing in annoyance, England asked, "Well what does the horse suppose I do?"
Long ago, England had agreed to the fact America had an ability to communicate with animals, as long as the younger nation had agreed to England's Sight to see faeries and other magical beings. America never really came into this agreement, but he had let up in his taunts compared to when they were younger. Often. That didn't stop him from looking concerned when England chatted with seemingly nothing.
America grinned hauntingly. "Well, we need to fit ya to American style."
England was slightly horrified.
Half an hour later, and more money from America (making England's debt go up), and England had come out with an outfit he felt could pass for his high taste of fashion. He was now wearing a vest made of high class silk and cotton, a suit jacket, black pants, and a stylish cowboy hat. Secretly, England thought he looked pretty good. And if America's furtive glances were anything to go by, so did the other nation.
Jackson was a lot gentler towards England now. With nothing left to stall them, the duo set off for the mountains. Back in the future, England had felt himself melting from the heat, complaining constantly much to America's chagrin. At least then he had wind blowing in his face from the window being open if America insisted they not waste gas and use the air conditioner.
Now, there wasn't any breeze and the air was stale. England felt close to suffocating. He clutched the reigns for fear that he'd fall out of his saddle if he fainted. America, however, was singing. He was even riding one handed as if to show off.
"I'm a saddle bum. I like to lope along. Whichever way the wind blows, that's where I go. I'm a saddle bum."
England's eyes widened in recognition of the song. America had sung that same song during their trip to Star City. England sat up in his saddle in interest. Was that why America had sung it in the first place, because it reminded him of their trek to the mountains?
"You alive back there?" America called. "Yer so quiet."
England wiped at his brow. "I am a bit parched…"
America looked over his shoulder and nodded at the small container attached to England's hip. "Didja drink it all already?"
"I'm saving it for when we start to mine."
England reclined in his saddle to look up at the incredibly deep blue sky. It was so expansive, almost empty, without even a wisp of a cloud to dot the view. It had been so long since England had seen such an unobstructed view of the sky. Skyscrapers, rain clouds, and pollution fog made it near impossible. But here, it was common to see it all so clearly. No wonder America had left the East to come out West.
England felt a twinge of regret as he recalled having flung an insult at America shortly before he left about his beloved land being ugly. He'd truly been terrible, hadn't he? Seeing the golden hills and snow-capped mountains in all its glory caused England to regret the argument. As the days passed it was all becoming a silly reason to break up with someone he truly did love. Quickly, he became withdrawn into himself.
America continued to sing ahead of him. Thankfully, the song had changed. "Home, home on the range. Where the deer and the antelope play. Where seldom is heard a discouraging word and the skies are not cloudy all day."
"H-hey America, can you not sing?" England asked. He wanted peace for his quickly growing headache and heavy heart.
"Why not?" He pet his horse's mane. "Ace loves when I sing to him." England only sighed heavily in reply. "Okay, then I'll talk!"
And boy could he chatter. England knew that America could talk anyone's ear off, but his past self seemed much better at rambling than his future self was. By the time they had arrived at the mines, England knew the flora and fauna native to the territory, when it became a territory, and the natives that used to live here. Many were still living in various areas of the land, keeping to themselves for the most part.
America personally didn't get involved in any of the natives' affairs. Briefly, England recalled how America rarely talked of the Native Americans, constantly avoiding any acknowledgement about their existence, and skirting the topic of his connection to them and his past. England knew it was such a sore spot given how America had once been quite close to some of those that used to live in the East when he was young.
Luckily they had arrived at their destination and America didn't have to delve into the idea too deeply. England might have been thankful for avoiding that sensitive topic, but he was also nervous about the fact he was now expected to actually mine. He wasn't looking forward to being so dirty and sweaty. He'd just wash for the first time in days, and he didn't want to ruin his new clothes.
America hopped off of his horse and began to unpack their shovels. He had gone back to humming, much to England's dismay. It was so rare in the future to have such peace and quiet; he found he missed it, having become so accustomed to never having silence. When he was a child until his teen years, he never thought there'd be a time that he'd yearn for the sound of wind in the trees as his constant companion. Faintly, he could hear the calling of a falcon, the trickle of a far off river, and the wind whistling up the mountainside through the brush and trees.
"How beautiful," England murmured. He hadn't meant for it to be heard by America, but the nation had. And he smiled in a way that made England freeze.
It looked so familiar. So warm and open and just honest. A cold and unsettling realization struck England like ice water. That was the same smile America had given him when they first dated. It was one he only gave to England; one full of love. No other nation was allowed to see it as, like England, America wasn't too keen on opening himself fully to anyone else but his lover.
And he hadn't smiled at him like that in five years.
"Fire in the hole!"
America barely gave England any warning before he tossed a lit stick of dynamite into the mining hole where England was still chipping away at a rock. The English nation scrambled away to hide from the blest just before it exploded. It rattled his teeth and shook his bones, briefly reminding him of years past he'd rather not dwell on.
That thought sparked something in him that'd been bugging him since he laid eyes on America. This was 1861. Surely America not only had Texas-his glasses, but he should be starting his Civil War. England knew from experience that America had been heavily involved throughout the duration of the war. Had his appearance in the past somehow altered this? No, America in the future had recalled their time together here, so it wasn't possible. Was it? It was times like these England strongly wished he'd paid closer attention to Doctor Who.
"Yee haw, sheriff!" Startled, the two nations turned to see Flanders and a small group of old miners come from around a hill behind them. Their haul of silver was considerably smaller than America's. Then again, they didn't have the advantage of being the country and having an innate knowledge of the land.
"Flanders!" America rushed to greet his friend.
"I see you're having better luck here than at the card table."
America flushed, but waved it off. "It was fun last night, no matter what happened. That's the real prize."
"And today's prize?" Flanders looked over America's shoulder at the mine shaft, but then they flickered to England. The Englishman was surprised, but Flanders was so quick about it, it could have easily been seen as an accident; his eyes happened to linger just a little too long.
"Found a real nice vein," America replied. He nodded back at England. "He's never known what it's like to go mining."
Again, Flanders' eyes flashed to England, and hovered just long enough for England to feel uncomfortable by it. However, he refused to shiver or look away. He didn't want the man to know he'd caught his quick stare.
"Well it's almost sun down," Flanders said, returning his attention back to America. "Would you like to eat with us?"
"That's mighty kind of you!" America slapped a hand on his back. "Beans?"
"My specialty, sheriff!" an old man in the group said with a cackle.
England deflated at hearing this. He abhorred beans. To him, the only thing worse was escargot. On the upside, it made for a promising means to get out of the dark mines and sit down for a change, despite how unappealing the meal was.
The men set up camp by dumping their bags in a small clearing and then starting a fire. America helped by collecting some firewood. England stayed out of the way, knowing full well America wouldn't let him near the food to cook, and tended to the horses. It was the best he could do, really. He knew how to cook over an open flame, that sort of knowledge that'd been with you the majority of your life didn't just go away when the microwave was invented, but cooking beans was beyond him; mainly because he never took the time to want to know how to cook beans.
For a good while it was just the sound of the fire crackling, the breeze through the trees, and the silence of the desert pressing in on them from all sides, but not to suffocate them. Just to let them know they were being enveloped in this warm cocoon of the desert night. England sat off to the side of the circle of Americans to watch the sunset seemingly engulf the land, and the ground became a liquid gold with mountains rising out of it majestically to challenge the pink and purple sky.
Sighing, England wondered how long America had to savor this before he was ripped away to the cities, and finally understood why he'd brought him out to such an unforgiving countryside. Despite the heat, strange creatures, and unusual culture, England knew this is where America was himself. He didn't have to worry about the mail or orders, he could just enjoy the land as he once did when he was a colony; carefree and able to live off of the land. He might not have smiled truly for years and their relationship had dwindled into nothing more than a shame of love, but America had tried.
His heart was here, where the sky kissed the earth.
"I got a song for ya'll," an old man named McGraw said. He had brought along an old guitar that had seen better days. All night he'd play random tunes as he strummed along the strings. "Ya'll ever hear 'bout Pecos Bill?"
The Americans nodded as they ate their beans, but England frowned and shook his head, "I'm afraid I don't know the chap."
"He's an American super hero," McGraw replied with a toothless smile. England couldn't help but grimace at his black gums, no doubt destroyed over the years from chewing tobacco. "He's done some amazin' things."
"He ain't real," America mumbled. Curiously, he was red to his ears and heavily focused on his overcooked beans.
"Still, he's somethin' else! I'll show ya!"
McGraw then began to play a fast tune, his fingers flying across the strings. "Pecos Bill was quite a cowboy down in Texas. Why he's the Western super man to say the least. He was the roughest, toughest critter, never known to be a quitter, 'cause he never had no fear of man or beast. Once there was a drought that spread all over Texas. So to sunny California he did go. 'Though the gag is kinda corny he brought rainy from Californ-y, that's the way we got the Gulf of Mexico. Now once a band of rustlers stole a herd of cattle, but they didn't know the herd they stole was Bill's. And when he caught them crooked villains, Pecos knocked out all them fillings. That's the reason why there's gold in them thar hills. Pecos lost his way while traveling through the desert. It was ninety miles across the burning sand. He knew he'd never reach the border if he didn't get some water, so he got a stick and dug the Rio Grande. So yipe kae yea, fer the toughest critter West of the Alamo! That's Pecos!"
The men, save for America, all cheered in nationalistic pride, while England just clapped politely. Who knew super heroes went so far back in America's past, he thought. That might explain his obsession with the idea.
"I got a song," America said suddenly. He reached over and grabbed for the guitar.
"You can play?" England asked, feigning ignorance. He knew quite well America could play, but he only found out when the nation had serenaded him back during the Forties and Fifties. It's been years since England's heard him play. His voice might not be ideal, but his talent on the guitar was something to behold.
America cracked a nervous smile before playing. "Oh give me land, lots of land under starry skies above. Don't fence me in. Let me ride through the wide, open country that I love. Don't fence me in. Let me be by myself in the evening breeze, listen to the murmur of the cotton wood trees. Send me off forever, but I ask you please, don't fence me in. Oh don't fence me in. Papa, don't you fence me in…"
When he stopped, England felt a dagger pierce his heart almost like that of a bayonet. And it was raining. And America was right there, but he couldn't reach. England was above this by now. For him it was well over two hundred years since the Revolution, but not for America. With the added weight of the War of 1812 spilling fresh blood between them and the tension from the Civil War starting to crack, it was no wonder America was stretched as tight as a taut rubber band. England had once been similar, but now he should be over it, however that song had struck a sensitive chord. It had been a deliberate way to rile England up.
It then occurred to England that perhaps that was all America needed; someone to vent at. He had the main target to finally spew his feelings out, and England had simply ignored him. He was expected to get upset and be hurt and yell back, and in not doing so, England had created much more confusion and pain in America. He hadn't been given that closure on the issue, leaving him angrier than before. It was like a person starting a fight just to start a fight.
So England complied. He was hurt by America's words, so it wasn't a complete act; however he did up the ante a bit in his acting to make America believe he was more upset than he really was. England left the camp site and headed deep into the woods. America followed along as England wandered out until they were far from ear shot. They were at the edge of a dark cliff surrounded by trees, so there was less chance of the men overhearing them.
England had his back to America, but turned to face him with tears in his eyes. It was from frustration of everything weighing on his shoulders and the overwhelming desire to go home. He was tired of this America. There was so much he wanted to say to his America now.
"You've got quite a lot of nerve," England hissed.
America's face remained stoic. "Like you, showin' up and ruinin' everything? I know why you're here."
England bristled at this. "I didn't even want to come!"
"Don't lie! My boss sent you, didn't he? He just can't wait for me to get back! I told him I just needed time!"
"Time?" England tilted his head in thought for a moment, trying to arrange in his mind what America could possibly be getting at. "What do you mean…? Time out here? From…the war? I heard there's one starting soon. Are you…hiding from it?"
"YES!" America exploded in rage. He began pacing and England watching his hands, wary of if they rested on his guns still strapped to his waist. "So I'm yella! Is it so wrong I jus' want a break before I go back East? I already lost Texas! If I go back I'll be jus' like one of them-one of you Europeans!"
"You go back because that's your responsibility. You wanted to be a nation, this is your prize. You have to deal with the consequences."
"Like how you dealt with me?"
England sighed in agitation and sheer exhaustion of this overused situation. "Come off it, America! Why won't you just be a nation and get over it? If anyone is to be mad, it's me! I lost, not you! Remember? You gained everything and I was left with France laughing at me!"
"You burnt my capital!"
"You rebuilt it!" England flapped his hands in the air with another sigh, and then sat on a boulder behind him. "Honestly, this is no way a nation should act if he's to be taken seriously be the Europeans."
America suddenly chuckled, and his entire demeanor changed. "I don't want their approval. I've never cared what anyone says about me."
"This much is clear. Otherwise you wouldn't be such a bloody prat!"
It was no different from now and the future. They still tossed spiteful words back and forth as if it were a game. How sad to know they'd barely moved together in all this time. America was still in the mindset that it was him and only him in this vast world, while England still fought the world. Where did that leave room for love in their heart?
It seemed America was gearing up for another confrontation when his shoulders dropped as if all the fight slipped out of him. England watched him curiously. He had learned quickly to not expect anything with this America. His future self was all too predictable; he'd yell, pout, go off to eat and play video games, and either seek England out to apologize, or he'd wait for England to do so. It was strange to see this America relent so easily.
"I hate that Pecos Bill song," he said lowly.
"Because it's a lie." America sighed, almost dejectedly. "It's about me."
England was only mildly surprised by this. The song was silly, so it made sense America would write up such exaggerated lyrics about himself. "Then why did you write them?"
"I didn't." America rubbed his nose where his glasses should be, but this only made him angrier. He quickly dropped his hand to his side, forming it into a tight fist. "Someone did it back when I was at the Alamo. Called me Davy Crockett, and I told 'em to stop. So they called me Pecos Bill. They thought I was somethin' else the way I fought."
"I didn't know you were at the Alamo," England whispered. It wasn't a lie. In all the years he knew America such an event had never been mentioned.
America looked at the ground pensively. "I wish I could forget it, but people just want to make me remember… That's why I'm out here, to save whatever sanity I have left. I might…never be the same after this…"
England could sympathize. He'd had a few civil wars himself. After each one he always had a slightly new aspect to his personality. He knew that after this war America would emerge stronger, but so unstable with himself and the world that he'd isolate himself until his crash in the Twenties. His tiny peek out into the world theater during the First World War wasn't enough to make his appearance a permanent one; not yet anyways. It was no small wonder he'd run to his frontier to salvage the last of his freedom.
Nevertheless he had to face his problems head on. He did in the future, for the most part, so now was a good time to start learning to deal with his pain.
Signing, England softened his tone with the younger nation and used his human name as a more intimate meaning. "Alfred, I understand it'll be hard. By God, I've faced enough civil outbreaks to last a lifetime of most nations. However, running from your problems will only prolong the situation. Clinging to old grudges won't help either."
"You do it too," America started.
England held up a hand to stop him. "And I am working on this, but as I've said before it was me who lost everything. It will take some time before I can resolve this between us."
America lifted his head. "You lost everything…?"
Oh, brilliant, England thought. Might as well dig yourself deeper now that you're in this hole you created.
"I lost a colony. Me, the mighty British Empire. How pitiful." This wasn't the answer America wanted. He looked out at the forest dejectedly. "And… I lost you…"
Slowly America looked back at England. Oddly enough, England felt his heart leap into his stomach. It was exhilarating to have America's eyes spark excitement and anxiety in him once again. Perhaps there was some hope for them yet.
"I did lose," America mumbled as blush dusted his tan cheeks. "You never think that I lost someone important because you always forget yourself. I lost you…"
"I-I do not forget myself!"
America breathed a laugh. His stare became so much more invasive. "Yeah you do… It's always been that way since we met."
"Surely you jest." England's heart raced as America continued to stare. "I only think of my empire and nothing else."
"Then why are you here?"
England hesitated. Now that he thought about it, why had he followed America out to the desert in the first place? There was nothing he could do about this time trap, but why go on a vacation with America if he knew the relationship was on its last leg and he had better things to do back home? The reality of the situation was he just seemed to go along with America whenever the other nation asked him to come, or vice versa. America had done the same even when they knew the trip would end in them fighting and not speaking to each other for weeks. They were just that used to one another that they rarely questioned the other's motives about their invites.
"I know you, England. If you really didn't want to be mining or out in the desert, you would leave."
England gestured to the valley below. "Where would I go? I've no idea where I am."
"You're smart and resourceful. You'd find a way." America's voice had grown so strong in confidence. He never wavered from his piercing stare that was directed towards England. "You always would if France tried to pressure you into something."
England scoffed, "That's France. He's the exception to everything, and it's always a bad exception…"
America chuckled. "When will you two ever get along?"
"We can, but it's a matter of whether or not we'll like it."
"You don't hate me?" America asked suddenly. It was as if he were a child again, seeking acceptance from his guardian.
England wanted to smile, but that would ruin the mood. He wanted to remain firm, but not to where America didn't take his words to heart. "My dear lad, no. I may be… bitter from certain events, but it can't be helped now. You are a nation, albeit not a very strong one. But a nation you are. However, I must ask that you give me time. As you are having yours out here before you are forced to face such a horrible situation, I too must take the time to adjust to not having you in my life anymore."
"But, I'm still in your life," America said.
England paused to regard America. They shared a moment to smile in a friendly way, the first kind they had given one another since England's impromptu arrival.
Eventually they wandered back to camp. The men said nothing about their sudden vanishing act, and they instead all decided to turn in for the night. Tomorrow would be more mining, something England was not looking forward to. However, he thought that it might be easier now that they had gotten such a heavy weight off of their shoulders.
And then, there were eyes in England's dreams. They stared at him, violating him, and stripping him of his privacy. They knew he was a nation. They knew he was troubled. They just knew. Voices began to chant and they all spoke in a language England didn't know. Sometimes it was laced with English. One word stuck out more than anything: time.
Hoshiko2's cents: One more chapter left, everyone! Hope to see you there! There's just one aspect left of the Wild West I have yet to do. Can you figure it out?
Oh, Pecos Bill and Davy Crockett are both legendary characters that were created long after this time, but it's amusing to believe America was those men.
Chapter 5: Take Me Back to the Range
It's time to settle this.
England woke drenched in sweat. The sun hadn't yet risen, but it had shooed away the stars from the sky. America, Flanders, and the old miners were still sleeping. Not wanting to wake them, England quickly stole off into the wilderness. He knew there was a river nearby upon hearing it last night during his stand-off with America. Maybe some water would help calm him down.
He fell to his knees on the shore before the water, panting as if he had run the entire way. He was terrified. His heart hammered in his ears and his hands shook as he scooped water up, splashing it on his face. No spell had ever been so strong to penetrate through his shields right to his very core. Whoever had gotten though had seen and knew everything; that he was a country, his history, his sorrow over his broken relationship, and his current dilemma of being stuck in the past.
The river went quiet suddenly. England looked around in alarm when he saw a shadowed man standing on the opposite bank. He had long, braided black hair with two golden eagle feathers sticking out from his hair. He was naked except for a loin cloth and leather moccasins. He seemed fierce as his black eyes pierced England's own green. He was unarmed, but England was still fearful of an attack.
"Nation," the man breathed. His voice was as silent as the breeze on a still day. "Why have you come?"
"I...I was brought here," England whispered, daring not to speak too loudly.
"Why have you come?" the man repeated.
"Time trap," England replied, but the man was still not satisfied. "I was brought out here by America."
"I-I think it was to help our relation-"
England grew frustrated. "Why are you asking me? You're the bloke who invaded my dreams! You should know everything by now!"
The man tilted his head forward and this only served to darken his face. England would not be perturbed. He stood tall and proud against this unknown man, if he even was one. He suspected he was America's version of a magical being much like a fairy. There certainly was a lot of magic humming in the air. It strummed along England's forearms and swarmed around his head giving him a slight headache.
"Why have you come here?" the spirit asked once more. "I may know, but do you?"
"Yes, I told you! I came out here to the desert with America to fix this horrid relationship and then was taken back here in time!"
The man paused. "You came out to fix it?"
England took a moment as realization sunk in. He had been firmly against this trip and had argued with America every step of the way. He hadn't come to fix it, America had.
"I know you, England. If you really didn't want to be here, you would leave."
The man seemed to lessen slightly. "Forgiveness."
England didn't remember going back to sleep or even walking to camp after his strange confrontation with the Native American spirit, but the sun was clearly in the sky now. America was already up and making breakfast. Flanders and his men were gone. England sat up and rubbed at his stiff neck.
"Mornin'," America said. He sounded different; almost calmer. "I'm making some eggs and bacon."
"How did you get that?" England asked.
"I packed them yesterday. Flanders headed back to town already, so it's just us."
England willed himself not to get excited over this prospect. When had he changed from abhorring alone time with America to suddenly welcoming it? He coughed to hide the jitters that inhabited his stomach, and moved to help with cooking.
"Sleep well?" America asked. England nodded. "Um… I've been thinking… I think you're right. I should go back. I've stayed out here too long anyways. People will start to get suspicious. But… I also want to get back what's mine. I can't just…let it stay this way. I have to make a difference."
England smiled and pat America's leg out of a habit; one that started when they began dating. He only did it when he approved of something the nation did. "I'm proud of you."
America flushed right to his ear. "You-! You never say that!"
"Perhaps it's best I start doing so, then." America shyly smiled at England, and it felt things were on their way to improving between them.
They were better.
Mining only went for a few hours when America declared it time to head back to town. He did have a job to do. They loaded up their packs and set off for home. It was halfway there that England recalled his dream. He'd focused so hard on squashing its memory all through-out the morning that he'd forgotten he had wanted to ask America about it. If anyone had any clue about a Native American spirit, it was America, whether he wanted to talk about it or not.
"America, what do you know of the natives here? I know you told me of their history, but not of them presently. Have you angered any recently?"
America snorted angrily. "I do daily…"
"Yes, well, it's just… I saw a fellow this morning. He seemed to know who I was. I mean, he knew I was a country."
America shrugged. "Probably a spirit guardian. They lay traps all over the place for me of people, hoping to catch us."
"What do you mean, traps?" England asked slowly.
Another shrug. "You know, like ones that erase your memory, curse your family, or paralyze your body. I can always tell when one's nearby so I've never stepped on it."
"Could one do time travel?"
"I don't see why not. Indians are crazy…"
England frowned. "Having magic does not make one mad, you know."
"No, but-" America caught himself before he started to argue. "Look, just drop it. If this is the first you've seen of the sprit, then he probably cursed you."
England gulped. "What if I already set off a trap?"
America grinned at him evilly. "Then there's no hope for you!"
England rolled his eyes, prompting America to start laughing. They dropped the topic and remained quiet the remainder of the trip. It only took another twenty minutes until they arrived in the town, only to find it was deserted and dead quiet. There were no citizens milling about, rustlers passing through, or even a drunkard passed out on the steps outside of the bar.
For a moment, England thought that he'd returned to his time, but none of the buildings were desolate and America was still young on his horse beside him.
"Where is everyone?" England asked. He looked at America who didn't look none too pleased. "Amer-"
"Sh!" America jumped off of his horse. "Get along, Ace."
Ace galloped off towards the stables. England got off of his horse as well, but Jackson didn't seem in the mood to follow after the other horse. Instead he bit at England's hat.
A door was heard closing and the two nations turned quickly. They were relieved when they saw it was one of the men from the other night when they had gambled. His hands were up and he was scurrying to America with panic on his face.
"Sheriff," he hissed. He grabbed America's arms and hugged him towards the shadow of a house. "Get out of sight!"
The nation wasted little time. He took England with him as they hustled out of the middle of the street. Jackson stood there for a little while longer before trotting off on his own.
"Hold up?" America asked.
The man shook his head. "He's come for his sons."
"What?!" England was shocked. "But he was just here with us and he's been with us all night!"
"Where is he?" America asked seriously as he peered around the corner.
"The saloon. They got Miss Emily."
The click of America's gun silenced the two. He stood and began to head for the bar. England reached out sharply and grabbed his arm.
"Alfred, what're you doing?!"
"Keep out of sight," he said quickly. He looked at the other man. "He's unarmed so make sure he's okay."
The man nodded. England knew it was no use even if he asked for a gun; he wouldn't be allowed to fight. America was on a mission to be a hero. It was stupid and he might be injured, but if there was one that's been a constant in America's personality, it was that he would move mountains if that meant he could help someone; especially one of his own. England let him go.
America smiled his gratitude. He walked out into plain view with his hands by his sides, fingers itching in case he had to act quickly. No one appeared. It was far too still in the town. England had to wonder where the townsfolk where, but he could see them peeking out from behind curtains in the many buildings, doing their best to keep out of trouble. The sun was at high noon now and America's shadow had deserted him.
"Flanders!" America shouted. He stood just outside the bar, back straight and head held high. "Come out!"
The man appeared, still smiling and, surprisingly, unarmed. "I thought you'd never show, sheriff."
"You're not bright to be showing up unarmed," America said.
"Who says I am?" Flanders jerked his head over.
One of the old miners from last night came out from behind Flanders. He was gripping Miss Emily by the elbow, dragging her outside with a pistol pressed into her temple. The poor girl looked terrified. Her make-up was smeared by her tears. She whimpered upon seeing America.
"What d'ya want in return for her safety?" America asked lowly.
"My boys. You locked them up in your jail. Two of 'em are my own sons."
"They ambushed an old man and tried to rob from my friend."
Flanders smiled a crooked grin. "Gotta make a living."
"Not from robbing and mugging," America growled. "Your sons only had a few months in jail, but now you'll have to join them there."
"How do you expect to take me in?" Flanders asked, his voice dripping with a condescending tone.
"I'm a faster draw than you or any of your men."
"Really?" Flanders didn't sound convinced. "But who will you shoot? Me or him?"
Flanders looked over America's shoulder. The nation turned slowly to look at what Flanders was talking about. His eyes widened at seeing England being dragged out held at gun point by the man that had warned them just a moment ago. The man looked guilty and sweated as he held his pistol at England's cheek.
"Sorry sheriff… I needed the money…"
America grit his teeth. He turned back to Flanders. "Don't involve these two. It's between you and me."
"I have to level the playing field somehow," Flanders said with a shrug.
At this, America smiled confidently. "Then you haven't in any way." His flickered to Miss Emily.
Swiftly, Miss Emily used her free hand to slide across her body and chop down into the old minder's crotch, snatched the gun from him after he had fired it and yelped in pain, and then aimed it at Flanders' head. In a flash she produced a hand-held gun from between her breasts and pointed it at the injured old man, just in case he regained himself and tried for another attack.
England took that as his cue to punch the man holding him right in the face, grab the gun with one hand as he yanked it out of the man's grip, and shove him away with the gun aimed at his chest. The man skittered back in fear with his hands up. In seconds the two captures had become the captured.
America hadn't moved. "Like I said, you haven't leveled it in any way."
Flanders twitched and in that moment, America had rolled out of the way. Gunshots echoed in the town as it began to rain in bullets. Men from above fired off shotguns down of them from the roof tops. England and Miss Emily ran with America to the jail house. They huddled just inside, the walls being shot up with holes. America knocked out the glass in the windows and began firing out at the men on the roofs.
"Alfred!" England shouted over the noise. "Isn't there a better way than to kill them?!"
"I'm not killing them!" America yelled back. "Just injuring them so they stop firing! They'll live!"
Miss Emily joined him in the fray with her gun, shooting only to injure. England was quite impressed with the woman. She had seemed so unlike a gun totting fighter like America was, but he shouldn't have assumed anything in this time era.
It went quiet all of a sudden. It seemed everyone was out of bullets, but in reality it was because America had his hand up to signal Miss Emily to stop while outside, Flanders stood in the street with his own hand up. He had a pistol in his hand now.
"Sheriff! Let's settle this once and for all!"
"Why should I trust you?!" America shouted out, not letting too much of his head be seen from outside. "You've already tried an ambush attack on me once!"
Flanders was heard laughing from outside. "Let's be honest, we have the upper hand."
"Then why stop when you're ahead?" America asked slowly.
"I do not have any quarrel with your friends," Flanders said. "And I don't want my men hurt any more than necessary. You know I'm a fast hand. You scared you can't face me in a showdown?"
A real gun showdown, England thought with a stutter to his heart. The last match between two gunslingers. He knew America was a fast draw after having seen him shoot guns clear out of other men's hands, but he had no idea how good Flanders was. He wasn't worried about America being killed; if he was shot in a way that would spell death for a normal human being, the two nations would just have to have to fake his death and funeral, but that would be problematic for everyone, especially England who didn't need to be held up any longer.
Surprisingly, America got up and went to the door. Miss Emily jumped up to stop him, but England held her back. He knew it was impossible to get past the other nation's head fast determination to defeat his foe, as if this were some game. However, looking at America's eyes England could see that he wasn't going out there with all the bravado of a man about to win something. There was pain, reluctance, and an internal struggle as he opened the door and stepped outside. This wasn't fun for him.
The two men face one another and moved to stand in the street, walking the same distance apart without turning their backs to each other. They stood at opposite ends of the street, keeping eye contact. They tried to break through each other's stare. England knew from experience that it was near impossible to do so with America.
America's hands dangled at by his side, but his fingers didn't move like Flanders', whose seemed to twitch every so often in an attempt to fake out America to shoot first. However, the nation had caught on to this trick and wasn't buying it. England and Miss Emily watched from the window in painful apprehension. This was the first time England had seen a show down without it being on a movie screen. He didn't know how long these tended to go, but this one seemed to drag on.
There was no one on the street. No one had come to their aid during their shooting. Not one citizen tried to help their beloved sheriff.
And then, it was over. England had blinked, missing their movements, but he had heard the guns firing. When he opened his eyes a millisecond later, the two men had their guns out pointed at each other. No one moved. England had no idea who shot first, or if they had even hit each other. Then, Flanders fell backwards like a stiff plank of wood.
Someone hollered in cheer and then the townsfolk poured out from hiding to celebrate. America, however, looked pained. He pocketed his gun and put on a good show with a smile to his citizens, but he wasn't jolly about the outcome in the least. England watched from the outskirts. He knew that practiced smile all too well. He had to look that way when he watched his own citizens, most of them royal, killed right before him. But to kill them yourself must be even worse.
A showdown didn't have to happen, but for these people, it was the only way. They wouldn't want anything less than a climactic end from their sheriff, and America was all too willing to give it, if it meant Miss Emily and England were safe. England just could never get used to this Western lifestyle.
He approached America with a wary smile. He wasn't sure how to react; should he congratulate him or console him? America looked at England tiredly, but relaxed at seeing the nation was safe. The piano in the bar began to play, filling up the street with the sound of music. Inside, the townsfolk had begun to laugh and chatter loudly.
"You're an idiot," England said. "Are you okay?"
America nodded. "Yes. I'll be okay." He looked over at Miss Emily. "Good shootin'. All of that practice paid of then, huh?"
Miss Emily put her hands on her hips and smiled. "My pa said a girl's always have to watch her back if she's showing off her front."
America and England both nodded. America looked at the bar. "Why don't you head on in? Get a drink. It'll be on the house."
Miss Emily kissed America's cheek in gratitude, and then headed inside. America didn't fluster about as he had the first night of England's being here. He just smiled and watched her leave.
England chuckled. "Well, a kiss from the damsel for the hero?"
"A kiss from all the endings to… Oh never you mind." England felt bold. He leaned forward, grabbed America's hat to shield their faces, and then kissed him on the lips.
America tensed at the sudden intimacy, but he didn't push away. After a moment, England pulled back to find America with his eyes closed and lips slightly parted; adorable. Then, a smile lit up his face. He put his hat back on his head as he let out a true cowboy holler.
"YEE HAW! Come on! Let's celebrate!"
England guessed his kiss had only temporarily subdued that guilt he knew was weighing heavy in America's gut. It'd be a long time before he truly got over killing one of his own; a father, no less. Tonight, however, they had free drinks and partied to the saloon girls singing on stage. Miss Emily was particularly very hospitable to America and England, but America had turned all of his flirtations he normally returned to her. His attention was now solely focused on England. There was electricity between them now that hadn't been present before.
England's affections had returned. That spark of something was reignited in his chest. He deeply wished to be in his own time so that he could make amends with his America. He wanted to kiss him, hold him in his arms, look into those familiar eyes that had known war far worse than he could ever imagine, and tell him he still loved him. However, this young America had calmed down, making it much easier to be in his company. Considering he couldn't leave the town for at least a month, it would be nicer with this sort of company.
Of course, after he left America, England had no idea what he would do next. A solution still hadn't come to him. It he went home he could try to find a way to reserve the time trap. He'd scour through the multitude of magic books he had buried away in his basement, but that risked meeting his past self. It would almost certainly rip a hole in time and space.
Half-way through the night England looked over towards the bar to see if he could get another whiskey, but instead saw the same Native American spirit as before. He stood in the middle of the room without even being there. No one paid time attention and walked right around him, never actually touching him or looking his way. England clearly saw him and knew the spirit was only paying him attention. His very presence quieted the raucous room around England, and the sounds came out muffled like a television with the volume turned down low.
"Why are you here?" he asked again, just as he had that morning.
"To find my hero hadn't left me. To let America know he still has so much potential. To fall in love all over again."
This satisfied the spirit. He vanished, giving way to a torrent of sound as the bar noises returned. The saloon girls had taken to singing again up on stage.
"Happy trails to you. Until we meet again. Happy trails to you. Keep smilin' until then. Who cares about the clouds when we're together? Just sing a song and bring the sunny weather. Happy trails to you! 'Til we meet again!"
America was staring off at nothing, lost in thought, while the bar erupted into cheers at the women's dance. He then put a hand atop England's. "Let's go somewhere."
"Now?" England asked. His head was slightly buzzed from seeing the spirit a moment ago.
"No. Tomorrow." America's hand closed over England's. "I'll retire from being a sheriff here. We can travel together, back East. Just you an' me…"
England flushed, but smiled in a giddy way he hadn't felt in years. It was as if they were young lovers again, hiding their relationship from the world, and finding new ways to be together in complete secrecy. He desperately missed those exciting years. Perhaps he should start doing such exhilarating dates again to bring back the spice into the relationship.
"I'd love to," England said after a moment.
The rest of the night was a blur of booze, singing, and hesitant touches on England's neck and shoulders. He doesn't remember kissing America any more, but that doesn't mean it didn't happen. He does remember falling asleep holding America in a way his heart needed so that he could relieve himself of anxieties left over from his future.
When day broke England knew something was different. There was no commotion outside, no telltale sound of horses, and no sign of America in his arms. He lifted his head and was met with a sight of a decrepit hotel room overrun with sand and time. He looked over his shoulder only to fall off the bed as it gave way under his weight. The bed had gone from sturdy to old overnight. England scrambled up from the ground and hurried to the window now covered in grime and desert.
Sure enough, the street had returned to an empty lane and the buildings had looked as sad as the first time England saw them. Somehow he had returned home. The spirit had reversed the time trip.
Then, England's cell phone vibrated in his pocket. During the night he must have changed back into his regular clothes. He'd left his mobile in his pants when he had America buy him new clothes and it had been dead considering it was far out of its time. As England turned on the screen, the phone filled with all of the numerous texts, missed calls, and voicemails; all from America and all in a four hour span. England was relieved to see that he'd only been away for a few hours rather than days.
He tentatively answered his phone. " 'ello…?"
England held the phone away when America's voice bellowed in his ear. "Where the fuck have you been?! Jesus Christ, I've been looking for you for hours! Where are you?!"
England felt relief and happiness to not only hear his America, but to know his beloved still searched for him, even after all that time. He gulped, finding his voice, and said, "I'm…in our hotel room…"
"Stay right there!" America demanded. "I'll be right there!"
England hung up and waited. His mind whirled with what could possibly happen. What would he say or do? Would America end it all? Oh wait, England already had. Well, was it too late to fix it? If there was anything he learned from his cowboy adventures with a young America, there was no harm in trying.
Loud thumping echoed from downstairs, and then they came up the stairs and down the hallway until the door opened in a flourish. England turned and saw America exactly as he had left him, in his T-shirt and shorts, only now there was panic making his eyes look wild and a mixture of happiness and sheer anger on his face. England nearly began to cry at seeing him, but America was quicker to react.
"You asshole!" he shouted. "You stupid fucking asshole! You may have broken up with me, but you don't just run out into the desert off on your own! You didn't even have water! What if you got lost?!"
"I'm sorry," England whispered.
America averted his eyes and ran a hand through his hair. "Jeez… I get it. You hate me. But you didn't have to go storming out like that…"
"No," England said. "I don't…"
"You don't have to lie," America said sheepishly. He looked to the ground. "It's cool. We can work it out so this won't affect our politics, but… I won't…force you. We tried, but… it just didn't work."
"No," England repeated more forcefully. "No you fool. I don't want anything more than to make it work between us."
"Huh?" America looked up in surprise. "But…I thought…"
"I was angry and confused. I thought I'd lost you and that we had changed too much. It's true that you have, but you are still my lovely America. Still a hot headed, stubborn fool madly in love with me, and oh, Alfred!"
England rushed America, pushing himself into his chest and kissing him firmly on the mouth. He gripped America's face, his fingers pressing possessively into his skin. America was caught off guard. It must have been confusing for him to see England go from leaving him to kissing him. England broke the kiss and knew he had to explain how he had changed so drastically in the past four hours. But first he had to apologize.
"I'm so sorry I ran off," he started. "I had to clear my head…"
"So you came here?" America looked around at the room fondly. "Why?"
"I thought I'd forgotten. How could I have? Our time here meant so much to me. You protected me, showed me a new side to you, and we shared our first kiss…"
Arms finally encircled England at the waist. America looked into England's eyes. He was still so young behind that tough guise. That same hesitation was just there in the corner of his blue eyes.
"I thought you didn't care," America said quietly. "You never returned my letters… We had agreed to travel together, but come morning… you were gone."
"I had been called back by urgent matters back home," England replied. It wasn't a complete lie. Technically, he had been called back and the "matter" was his urgency to rectify his relationship. It's just he had no control over when he left. "I'm sorry. It was a difficult time for both of us."
America rested his forehead on England's shoulder. "Yeah… That war…"
England slipped his fingers into America's hair, kissing his temple. "It's okay, love."
America was silent; seeming to revel in the attention England gave him. They were familiar and comforting touches. Then, he asked, "You still love me?"
England pulled America's head up to look into his eyes, past his shields and bravado, and right into that wounded part of his heart. He knew he'd spend the next few years trying to heal that, as long as they did it together. "Yes, my dearest. How could I have almost lost you? How could we have hurt each other so much?"
"It's happened before," America replied with a slight chuckle.
England caressed America's face. "It'll take some time, but let's fix this. You're worth it."
America smiled, taking England's hand in his. He kissed the knuckles tenderly. "So are you."
"Let's take that trip now."
"You mean back East?" America's smile was steadily growing to an immense size.
England nodded, matching his smile. "Yes. And you can even sing in the car." They laughed together for a moment before something occurred to England. "Oh, what ever happened to Miss Emily and this town?"
America shuffled through the massive amount of history stored away in his head. "I didn't stay here much longer, but I know Miss Emily settled down and had herself a family. She had a good life. This town ran out its run on the silver rush and died out suddenly in 1868. It wasn't until 1871 that the place shut down for good."
"Shame. It used to be so lovely."
America looked over towards the window. "I found Flanders' grave while looking for you."
England studied America carefully. "Are you okay?"
America nodded. "I guess his death was just a prelude for the Civil War for me. So many boys… But it's okay. I'm okay."
England kissed America again, this time keeping it long and gentle. America kissed him back. He tightened his grip on the other nation. When they broke away they took a moment to not speak, but to look into each other's eyes. There was that secret promise to get better, to overcome this hardship.
"So does this mean we can ride off into the sunset together?" America asked.
England smirked, resisting the urge to laugh. "If you insist."
"Score!" America laughed. "C'mon, let's go. The car awaits!"
England, like so many times over the years, followed after America out of love and respect. He knew he'd continue to do so for many years to come. It was only natural at this point. Before they left the hotel room, though, England stopped America to kiss him one more time. They shared a brief kiss that sealed the promise of a hopeful future.
Hoshiko2's cents: And thus ends this miniseries. Thanks so much for reading, and I apologize for updating late. I was out of town and could not get to a computer. Also, I went back and fixed a critical mistake from last chapter- Davy Crockett WAS a real person. My apologies.
I have a sequel starting Sunday for Hospital Flowers. I hope you can follow along. Also, if you'd like to ask me any questions, please feel free to on my writing blog at 2kokoro.tumblr.com