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country roads, take me home

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UK does not like turning to a woman, nor do they like turning to man. He looks at himself in the mirror, as he changes form to a woman, then a man. He does not like changing gender to gender, no matter how much he thinks it is a blessing. She doesn't want to look at her reflection, in case she starts sobbing. If she does, her wife and children will hear her and will see their father in a weakened state, then they will not respect him anymore. France might leave him. With tears in their eyes, they suit up in the suit that they always wear, but this time, Britain hates wearing his beloved suit now.


Today was a meeting in the United Nations today, so he has to look his best, even if it means appearing masculine, or feminine. He combs his hair and smooths it, then goes to the kitchen to cook his children's and wife's breakfast. The first one to come down the stairs was Canada. Canada chooses to be a woman today, as her hair is stringy and messy. Britain sighs as they look at the fine mess.


"Please tell my you will wash your hair", Britain says as they serve their daughter her breakfast. Canada smiles.


"I will, father, do not worry." There it is again. He used to love being called 'mother', 'father', but over the years he grew tired of it, and he wanted to try something new. Britain then turns off the stove, and distribute plates on the mostly empty table, save for Canada. She sits on a chair beside Canada and starts to eat, as dawn's light shines onto the house, waking everyone up from their slumber.


France wakes up, her beautiful face still intact, and hair smooth and silky, as always. She sits right next to Britain, and starts to eat after greeting her husband. The next one up was Australia, followed closely by New Zealand, and finally America, the last one to wake up because he is stubborn. As stubborn as Britain, perhaps.


"You all better behave yourselves in the meeting today", Britain says as he pours himself a cup of tea, trying to get his hands to stop shaking.


America rolls his eyes. "We know, dad."


Britain sighs. "I just wish that everyone could see that you are all angels, and not the first impression you have made with some of the countries from before."


"Sure dad", Canada says, putting maple syrup into her pancakes.


"You heard the latest gossip, though?", America interrupts.


"We do not gossip in this house", France reprimands America.


"Mom, it's a really weird thing. Japan split himself in like, half. You know that culture he has?"


"Oh, you mean those peculiar cartoons with cat ears?", New Zealand asks.


America snaps his fingers. "Right! Well, he said to me in a message that he can't balance all the political issues and animation stuff so he split himself into two distinct people."


"So, he has a sibling now?", France asks.


America shrugs. "Apparently."


Britain digests this information as he sips on his tea. He remembers a time when he and Japan were close allies, friends, but it faded away after Japan decided to ally with Germany during World War Two. He sighs, wishing they could be friends again. Oh well. Japan brought this upon himself after two atomic bombs.


She and the others start to get ready, and she takes a bath, putting it on a warm water setting, enjoying it until remembering that she didn't want her body to be like this. They were now kneeling on the tub, wiping their eyes as they try to turn off the shower and get a towel. They wrap themselves up and walks through his wardrobe, where he tries to pick something that can go with him, but all he finds are suits and ties and skirts and he didn't like how he was going to wear these in another meeting. They feel... hollow, and empty, as they try and gnaw him to bits and pieces.


Britain snaps out of it, and picks a suit, realizing that maybe this one could help him comfort himself. He gathers his family as they now crowd in the car and drive all the way to United Nation's headquarters. Luckily enough, they're all early, and they pile into their seats.


"United, it is great to see you!", UK greets UN, and they both shake hands.


"Me too, Britain", they say. See, all unions in the world are genderless, meaning they have no gender and their pronouns are they/them. UK wishes that the same could be applied to him, but she still doesn't know why she's so uncomfortable with her own pronouns. She keeps fluctuating from male to female and vise versa, but it never satisfies her.


All countries come flooding in, and Britain goes to sit on his respective seat, at the end of the European desk and beside France, and holds her hand. She smiles at him, and he smiles back. The Asian countries were the last to enter, of course, and in comes Japan, in a traditional kimono, holding his briefcase full of documents. He has dark circles in his eyes, something he has had ever since the second world war was resolved. America said that he went mad after he lost, and that he had held his children as he tries to not let them go. Maybe that is why his hands are always shaking, and he wears gloves. His hair is tied up into a messy bun, as he sits down right between China and Philippines.


"Alright, we are now here to discuss whatever political issues you all have!", UN says in a cheerful manner, and everyone applauds. "Our first speaker for this hour is Mister Japan." Everyone gives Japan a polite and appropriate round of applause as he takes his documents and puts them on the podium, and clears his throat.


"Good morning, everyone", he says in that monotone voice, unfeeling and incomprehensible to what he is feeling behind that face. He generally has a cold look that he copied from Britain, of course. "Before I continue my speech, I would like to talk about division. My division."


Britain and France look at each other, then back at Japan. Japan is now gripping the sides of his podium, as he tries to look at everyone with a firm but calm expression, meaning no harm. Britain has taught Japan too much about facial expressions.


"It was not an easy decision, to split myself in half like that", Japan continues. "But I do not wish to burden myself with handling my political issues and people, bombarding with my need of cultivating entertainment purposes for everyone involved. So I decided to split myself in half; one dealing with my fully developed culture and entertainment, and one strict and politically diverse- me. Though, making two versions of me had consequences, something that I feel will always happen when everyone tries to attempt the impossible." Japan stops for a quick breath, then continues. "My sister has no memory, whatsoever, of-" he flinches, "past events, nor does she have any idea what was going on around her anymore. She, like all countries, is genderfluid. But, it seems that I am not."


Britain finds himself confused. What did Japan mean that he is not genderfluid. All countries can take one gender form to another gender form. Did he lose that ability after he split himself?


"It seems, that I also split apart my genderfluidity from me entirely, and with that, I cannot fluctuate from gender to gender. My proper pronouns are they/them, something you are all familiar with with the other nations."


Whispers flood over the room of what Japan has just said. Every country in the world always look down on their unions, no matter how important they are on keeping world peace. It is because they believe that a genderless country is a curse. But Britain does not think that they are abominations or curses. He feels jealous that they are not withheld in the gender spectrum. Britain sighs as he sees his shaking hands. Her gloves feel hot under her skin, and she looks at France with a smile, and she smiles back.


Japan clears his throat, as he arranges his papers. "Anyway, since my announcement is out of the way, I wish you can respect my pronouns. With that said, let us move on to the meeting."


Britain only heard bits of the meeting and debates happening because of the thoughts churning in their head. Maybe he can converse with Japan about pronouns, and gender. The only thing that stands in their way is an awkward reunion, but he hopes that they would try and settle their differences aside. After the meeting, America asks to have more time in the place, and Britain happily tells him it is alright to wander around the place.


"France?", she asks, taking her wife's hand. France's sweet smile melts her heart, always.


"Yes?", she asks in that honey-sweet voice that has Britain melting.


"May I talk to Japan?"


"What prompted you to speak to him after the second war? I thought you felt betrayed that he has sided with... him." France has the same distaste for the past as Britain does.


"I know, but I want our relationship to be like the old days, when we used to be allies trying to not be scared of Russia."


France giggles. "I remember the times you were quaking whenever you hear the words 'Russia'." Britain's cheeks are flushed with red, remembering the times she had complained about Russia to France. France touches their shoulder, and kisses them on the cheek. "Of course you can talk to your former friend."


Britain smiles at their wife, and they call after Japan, who was gathering all of his documents. They look up, confusion in their eyes, replaced with a guarded expression.


"Britain, what a nice surprise", Japan says. Their voice is cold and smooth, his expression heavily stoic and guarded. Their gloved hands makes Britain wonder if Japan carries scars of the war. Their messy bun was undoing itself during the meeting, and most of it are now hair strands blocking their face. "What can I do for you?"


"I wish to talk about our relationship with each other, and I wish to improve it", Britain says. It is embarrassing to be face-to-face with a former friend. When they were still friends, and Britain had not lost territories, he was much taller than Japan. Now Japan was inches taller than him.


"Well, if you wish to be associated with me again, we shall converse about this", Japan replies. "When do you want to meet up?"


"The earliest I will be waiting for you is tomorrow. We can meet up here." Japan nods.


"I see then. Farewell."


Britain didn't want Japan to go yet, but they know that it is impolite to tell someone you don't want them to leave yet.


The next day, Britain drives around UN's building, trying to find Japan. He had one of his semi-formal outfits on, not wanting to look regal for a social event. He's had ten cups of tea last night, so he could not sleep. He wants to open up to France about what he's feeling inside of his body, how he doesn't want to be two different genders. But it seems that his pride is stronger than the chains of love. He finds Japan, who has just arrived from the bus, their eyes stuck on the screen of their phone, circular glasses falling of the bridge of their nose, and their mouth obscured with a mask. Unlike yesterday, they weren't wearing a traditional kimono, rather, the fashion style trending in their area right now. Their hair was tied into a bun, which was slowly falling off. Britain presses the horn on his car, alerting Japan that he is there.


They have a silent morning at Italy's restaurant, which doubles as a cafe in the morning due to not having many customers coming and buying pizza at such an early date (well, if they're not America).  They silently sip their coffee (tea, in Britain's case), staring at each other, wondering who will snap and ask how well they are today.


"You invited me here to have a conversation about the relations between our countries", Japan speaks up. "Speak up, now, or you are just wasting my time."


Britain remembered that attitude. It was his. He used to be so impatient in the twentieth century, that he would comment that a conversation would be a literal waste of time.


"Yes, I am here to talk about improving our relations, after we've had our... falling out", Britain words their argument before the second world war broke out carefully. "But I also wish to talk about your opinion."


Japan looks up from their phone, with raised eyebrows. "Opinion on what?"


Britain tries to relax himself as possible, trying hard not to let Japan sense his discomfort by his shaking hands or uncomfortable posture. After all, Japan has always been very observant. "Gender."


Japan puts their phone down, fixing his glasses. "Well, my opinion on gender as a whole is debatable. I have been questioning what gender I am satisfied with, since I am neither satisfied with just being male or female. Do not get me wrong, I loved being a genderfluid person, but I want to be strictly one gender, a gender not a male, nor female, nor both. I just wanna be in a gender void, for all my life. And when I finally separated my sister from myself, I finally felt... satisfied with nothing in me. Gender is not a barrier to things you cannot do as an opposite one, they are just there to... exist, inside of you, in my opinion." Japan sips on his coffee. "Why do you ask, UK?"


"Well, I've been feeling... tired, of being a man, or a woman. Because in the end, I don't feel satisfied in being... both. I don't know, as much as everyone thinks that being genderfluid is a blessing, I view it as a curse, because I thought that... that I can change into a gender outside of male and female. What you said yesterday- I knew that I wanted to be like that. A gender void. Gender neutral."


Japan did not say anything, and Britain thought that Japan had recorded their speech and sent it online, but instead, Japan smiles. The dark circles under his eyes seem to brighten, as he smiles softly.


"Well, that is quite a philosophical conversation about gender", Japan says. "You wish to be just like me? Like UN? NATO? EU?"


Britain nods. "Yes. I feel like you all have no limits."


"But genderfluid people have no limits to what they wear, or their rights, Britain."


Britain sighs. "I know. I want to change from gender to gender, but it's getting quite tired to be restrained to one gender stereotype when I can be... like you."


Japan nods. "Well, what pronouns do you wish to use, then?"


"Oh, nothing much. A simple they/them is simple enough."


Japan chuckles, smiling wider, something that Britain had never seen after their falling out. "What is so funny?"


"Remember when we were still friends during the early twentieth century?", Japan asks, sipping on another cup of his coffee.


UK raises a brow. "Yes, what, does this feel like a deja vu to you or anything?"


"Yes, but in reverse. Instead of you giving advice, it is I who gives you one."


Britain chuckles as they pour another cup of tea into his cup. "My, how times have changed."


Japan sighs, looking at the counter to find Italy cleaning it. "Yes."


Britain breathes in and out, feeling confident about their family supporting them after consulting with Japan; they have made plans on trading resources and meeting up in Italy's restaurant whenever they need to talk about their trade relations, or if Britain needs advice. Their gloved hand touches the brass doorknob, and they turn it, to find their family in the living room. America was playing video games with Australia, New Zealand and Canada were watching them play, cheering them on, while their husband, France, was humming and drawing on his sketchpad. Britain clears their throat, and America instinctively pauses the game.


"Hi, Dad", America greets. Britain cringes at the word; they would've taken it warmly, but now it seems like a word to... trigger them.


Britain nods as they makes their way and place a kiss on France's cheek, who chuckles and kisses them back, but this time, on the lips. They need to say it now, knowing that it will change their family dynamic forever, even if it would make them distance themselves from their own parent.


"Remember that I had a meeting with Japan today?", Britain asks cautiously. "Well, other than talking about improving the relations of both our countries, I also talked about what I've been... feeling about myself, a lot lately."


France quirks a brow. "But, we are here, and we would always try and support you, whatever you're going through."


Britain sighs. "I know, but... I just feel ashamed to talk about this issue that has been plaguing me for over a decade, and I've been thinking about how I don't like being fluid."


"But Dad", America says, and then again, Britain's hands clench the couch's hand rest. "Being genderfluid is, like, a blessing, or something."


Britain sighs. "It used to be, for me. Then the wars happened, then organizations with no gender at all starts to patrol us, and I feel like I do not want being a fluid individual. I wish to be void of it all."


"Like what Japan said yesterday?", Canada asks. "Being gender neutral like the rest of the organizations?"


Britain nods. "Yes, basically like that."


America scratches his head. "Well, you could have told me. Told us about what you're going through. But what are we going to call you now? I liked calling you dad or mom."


"Don't think I didn't see your hands shaking or your body freezing whenever they call you mom or dad", France says. "And I know you love authority around this house, so you don't want your children to be calling you by your name."


"What if we just mix mother and father together?", America speaks up, always the crafty one out of all his siblings. "Like, 'Moda', 'Damo', 'Momda', or something."


Britain just shrugs, something they don't really do often. "Well, it is better than 'Mum' or 'Dad', so, I shall take the risks."


America chuckles, then hugs Britain, followed by all of their children, and then their partner. Britain smiles and embraces all of them, loving the warmth they share.