Francis sat in his hotel room in New york sipping wine and flipping the channels on the television, trying to find something worth his time on the American stations. The world conference this year was being hosted by Alfred this year and Francis was struggling to find some way of entertaining himself between the various meetings and conferences being held.
With a soft sigh and another sip of his wine the personification of France sets down the remote, still not having found something to his tastes, but not turning the television off. The station he had stopped on was running commercials and he figured it would do no harm to at least what sad program the American station was airing. The commercials come to an end and a catchy tune draws the Frenchman's attention to the screen. Flashing across the screen are various street signs that are not quite right. And then Francis realizes why. They are displaying rules of fashion rather than advice for the road.
With a smile and a chuckle He settles in and watches the show as two fashion police take over some poor fool's closet and gives it a major overhaul, taking said fool from flop to fab within the hour time slot of the show.
"Hmm. I wonder. Mon petit Matthieu would certainly benefit from the advice these two dish out." Swishing the wine in his glass about Francis ponders for a moment before grinning and setting down his drink. Pulling out his phone he proceeds to make a few calls to get his plan set into motion.
Francis steps into the cafe and glances around before spotting his soon to be best friends. Making his way over he smiles warmly and greets them like old friends.
"Ah, mes amis. I'm so grateful that you could meet me on such short notice."
A charming brunette stands with a smile. "Of course, how could we turn you down after your offer, especially after you sent us those pictures."
The man sitting next to the brunette nods in agreement and crosses his legs, "It hard to believe he dresses like that all the time. I'm surprised anyone takes him seriously at all."
Francis and the brunette take their seats and the frenchman plaits his hands on the table. "Ah, but that is the trouble you see, not many take notice of mon petit. Let alone listen to him. And I must say after having seen your work I am convinced that you two are the ones best suited to help Matthieu to over come the challenges his fashion choices have left him with.
The man and woman smile. "I do believe you are correct." With a smile to her companion, "Clinton it would be an injustice not to help the young man in question don't you think."
"Of course Stacey." Clinton turns to Francis. "So when would you like for us to start?"
"I was thinking we could simply grab him after the last meeting this week. That will give me the time I need to get his clothes brought down."
The three smile knowingly at each other before settling in and discussing random fashion things.
Matthew let out a sigh. It was the final meeting of the week and it also marked the end of another week of being overlooked, sat on and mistaken for his brother Alfred. He just didn't get it, he was just as much a nation as the rest of them, more so a nation than certain others *cough*Sealand*cough*(seriously how is it that that little brat was more visible than he was). But it was finally over. After this he could go home and just relax with some nice hot chocolate and fresh maple cookies. just the thought of it helped him to unwind after the stressful week.
After another hour the meeting was called to an end. Matthew stood and gathered his notes and other papers before heading out the door. Before he could take more than a few steps towards the door it was pushed open and two well dressed and confident people step in and make a beeline for the startled Canadian.
matthew wasn't startled by their entrance, it was more the camera crew that was following that gave him and the rest of the others still in the room a startled pause.
"Matthew Williams?" The two came up just short of him and he quickly looks around as though he is expecting their to be another Matthew Williams.
"You mean me?" He squeaks, clutching his briefcase to himself in place of the bear he so often carries. (He'd been told that had to leave it in his hotel room during meetings sometime in the fifties after it had bitten someone who had mistaken it for a stuffed bear.)
"Of course, and it seems we couldn't have come too soon."
Matthew looks at them in absolute confusion before he notices that Francis has stepped up and is smiling openly at the proceedings.
"Oh, um. Is there something I can help you with?"
Stacey steps up and wraps an arm around his shoulders, giving him a light friendly hug. "No but there is something we can help you with."
Clinton steps up and wraps an arm around Matthew as well. "You see your friends have noticed that you could use some help in how you portray yourself and they have come to us and asked us to help you out."
"Wha what?" Matthew's eyes flick about in panic, they made this sound like there was more than one person in on this, he had thought it was just Francis. "Maple!" another squeak.
"I'm Stacey and this is Clinton, and we're from..."
"TLC's What Not to Wear!"
Matthew looks straight into the camera, suddenly all of this seemed rather familiar. He had seen the show on several occasions when his brother invited him over for brotherly bonding and he gained the look of a deer in the headlights of a semi.
"Maple! B but..."
"Now normally we wave a prepaid card around and tell you its yours if you agree to our terms, however."
"Clinton reaches over and pulls Francis in front of the cameras as well, "Your good friend here has agreed to foot the bill for you."
Francis grins at the Canadian, "And you 'ave no out for this Matthieu. It will do you a world of good to do this and I will not take no for an answer."
Matthew nearly cringed at the look in his papa's eyes at that statement and began to wish that Alfred had not rushed right out the door and was here to save him from this. Sighing in defeat, Matthew slumps and waits for the nightmare that is about to begin to come to it inevitable end.
They had dragged Matthew to one of the smaller conference rooms in which they had set up a television and dvd player. Sitting down in the available seats Matthew began to wish he had Kumajirou with him so he could hide behind him during the humiliation he knew was about to be dished out.
"Now usually we follow someone around for a few weeks to get secret footage, but we are doing this at a rather last minute pace so most of the secret footage we've gotten has come from your friend Francis."
Matthew shoots a glare at the Frenchman sitting beside him before turning back to the television as Clinton turns it on and begins to run the footage. It was pictures mostly but it seemed that Francis had also supplied them with some home movies from Alfred's last birthday.
Matthew had basically just hung around in his usual hoodie, baggy jeans and sneakers, slumped against walls and corners clutching Kumajirou to himself.
The bear immediately draws the attention of the tv stars.
"Now, a grown man really shouldn't be carrying around a stuffed animal."
The video shows as someone nearly walks through Matthew, spilling their drink all over him and Kumajirou before moving on looking slightly confused about why they spilled their drink. Matthew watched with morbid fascination as the tv hosts registered the bears movements at being doused in punch. He was only grateful that somehow the camera hadn't been able to pick up the bear's complaint.
"Ok so... Its a pet then?"
The remaining footage wasn't so bad but it was more of the same. Oversized and ill-fitted suits and clothes. Sneakers always on his feet and Kumajirou, more often than not, in his arms. When the torture was complete Stacey and Clinton ordered that Matthew would meet up with them and the contents of his closet back at their studio the next day to begin the process.
Once the cameras and everyone had left Matthew didn't even have the energy to rip into Francis despite how much he really wanted to. He just headed up to his hotel room and crashed onto the bed and fell asleep. tomorrow after all would be a very busy and stressful day.
The next day Matthew walks into a large studio centered around two racks of clothes. Looking them over he sighs in both relief and exasperation. It seems that Francis had at least prevented them from getting his more historical clothing, He couldn't imagine the embarrassment from having to explain why he had military uniforms dating back to the French and Indian War in his wardrobe. His exasperation though was at the fact that his WWII uniform was on the rack. He would fight tooth and nail to keep that, that and his hockey jerseys. No way were they taking those, he'd even gotten them signed and had his own name and number on them. Sure he wore them to games and around the house but... "Maple!" he slumps as he realizes that would be exactly how he got into this situation in the first place.
Stacey and Clinton step up and the three begin to go over his rather sad wardrobe. They seem to zoom in on the sweatshirts first.
"Just how many of these do you own?" Stacey is holding up a red and white sweatshirt with a maple leaf on the front and back, she holds it out in something akin to disgust.
"Matthew you're a young man working in international politics you really shouldn't have any need for things like this."
"Lets get you into the 360 mirror then."
A quick change into something casual and Matthew finds himself getting thrust into a mirrored room to take it all in. Looking himself over he realizes just how shlumpy he does look and fiddles with his sleeves as the door behind him opens to reveal Stacey and Clinton who quickly tear into why this is wrong.
"Do you even know what you look like under these baggy clothes?"
"We'd maybe understand you were a bit larger but you're actually rather slim under this bag."
They drag him out of the 360 mirror and over to a mannequin dressed like it just came out of Abercrombie.
"We have here an example of what we'd like you to wear for everyday casual wear."
They go over why the long sleeved shirt layered under the button up short sleeved shirt and loose but fitted jeans would do so much to flatter the figure he hides with his other clothes.
Back to the racks of his clothes and Clinton pulls the WWII uniform from the rack, the question clear on his face.
"Ah, uh. I need to keep that."
"Why would you need to keep... What is this anyway?"
Matthew blushes and makes a grab for the cream coat with brown accents. "I uh, its really hard to find a good coat for hunting trips up in the Canadian Rockies?" it started out as a statement and ended up being more of a question.
Stacey takes the uniform and raises an eyebrow. "This is more than just a coat, it kind of looks like an old military uniform." She looks it over for tags and notices the patches marking his rank.
"So it is a military uniform?"
"Y yes, ah it was my grandfather's in WWII." The stain on his cheeks darkens as they realize what it is.
"Well as long as you promise to never wear it again you can keep it."
Matthew agrees quickly and the uniform is set aside as they focus in on his hockey jersey collection.
"You must have every Canadian team's jersey here."
"Not every team, just the professional ones..." Matthew fidgets again. "They were gifts from the teams and i wear them when I go to games or watch a game at home. I'd really like to keep them."
Stacey and Clinton look over the jerseys and notice they all have his name and signatures on them. Conceding the jerseys over to the save pile, again with the promise of when they are appropriate.
Back at the 360 mirror Matthew is standing there in his suit and realizes just how oversized it is. "I can't believe I never got this fitted properly."
The door opens and Stacey and Clinton step in once again.
"Fitted? You didn't even come close to getting something that fit you properly."
"It makes you look sloppy and no one is going to notice you if you look like some homeless slop off the streets."
They drag him back out of the mirror and show off another mannequin, this one dressed in a sharp suit.
"This is how you should look, sharp."
And they go over the various points to differentiate the mannequin's suit from the one Matthew is already wearing.
Matthew sighs and realizes they have a point. So many years of being ignored really had made him lazy in respect to how his suits fit.
They go through the rest of his clothes and its off to the 360 mirror again. This time they asked him to dress as he would if he were going on a date.
He wore a t-shirt with a skewed Canadian flag on it under a black and white zip up hoodie, dark baggy jeans with a wallet chain hanging out and low on his hip.
"This isn't so bad..."
He spoke too soon. Stacey and Clinton came in and told him exactly why it was wrong.
"This does nothing for you but hide you away."
Clinton reaches up and pulls off the hoodie, causing the Canadian to yelp in surprise and reach to cover his left arm.
"C can I please have that back?" He fidgets to cover his arm and the two tv hosts take notice of the large scar that travels up his arm from just above the wrist to up under the sleeve of his t-shirt. Seeing the scar Matthew was reminded of Quebec's attempt to break away from him a few years ago. It was rather embarrassing, he didn't know many nations though that were proud of scars like the one he bore. Even Alfred never bared his back where the scares from the civil war made a hideous criss-cross.
Clinton handed the shy Canadian his hoodie and the hosts led him out from the mirror and showed him a third mannequin dressed in a red dress shirt, dark skinny jeans and a leather belt.
they went on to explain why this was a better evening look before sending him off with the promise that his first day of shopping would start the next day.
"Stacey I have to say this is the strangest make over we've had to do yet."
"I know. It was rather strange that he had that old uniform and all those hockey jerseys with his name on them. He must be a rather big fan to have gotten them all."
Puzzling over the strangeness in his wardrobe, Stacey was the first to mention the scar.
"How do you think he got that scar? It didn't look new, but it wasn't very old at the same time."
It was Matthew's first shopping day and he dreaded that Francis may show up, but was rather relieved when he saw that the camera crew arrived without the frenchman or the hosts. With cameras in tow the Canadian heads off to go shopping.
Matthew is more relaxed with the smaller group that simply follows, but is still a bit tense due to the attention. His first stop was a men's clothing store where he was fitted for a few suits and got some dress shirts to go with them. He did rather well at following the rules here. But it was hard not to screw up when the only rule he needed to follow was 'get fitted'.
The next store was harder for him, he liked his hoodies and migrated straight for them before remembering the rules and heading to the dress shirts and also got himself a few pairs of slacks and dress pants.
the rest of the day was a bit of a blur with Matthew spending about half the money he was expected to.
The following day Matthew was prepared when Stacey and Clinton showed up while he was looking at jeans and dragged him off to the dressing room, grabbing a few outfits on the way. When he came out of the dressing room to show them how the clothes fit Clinton frowns at him.
"You should really stop slouching so much."
Matthew looks at him with surprise before pulling his shoulders back and straightening up to his full height. The two tv hosts smile and they show him how his slouching had effected the way his clothes fit him and they went around to all the stores he'd been to the day before and spent the rest of the assigned budget.
After the shopping Matthew was dreading what he knew to come next. Hair. He didn't like it when people did his hair, it was a necessary evil as it was and he had few problems with its maintenance other than that one flyaway curl that hung loose in front of his face.
Knowing it was inevitable he heads into the salon and sits in the chair as the hair stylist comes in. Before the man can even think to touch the Canadian's hair he speaks up. "I don't mean to be rude but," He points to the curl. "Could you please be gentle with this. I know its an odd request but I can't really explain it very well."
The stylist raises an eyebrow but shrugs, "Of course. So what would you like to do with your hair?" The stylist fluffs his hair a bit while he thinks.
He had been letting it grow out a bit, even so he was still getting mistaken for his brother. "Could you maybe lighten it up a bit. It actually used to be a bit lighter and had some red in it when I was younger... I rather liked it. I t got darker when I got older though."
"Hmm that won't be too hard to do."
The stylist fusses with the Canadians hair and gets it the way he asked. When he's done he reveals the new hair style to the young man and Matthew smiles, it was actually just the way he pictured it, as it had been when he was younger, back before Arthur had taken him from Francis.
The stylist leaves and Matthew again fidgets. Normally the next step would be a make-up consult. but he was a guy and most definitely would not wear make-up. So was he done now or did they have something else in mind.
Just as he was pondering it a young woman walked in pulling a small cart. She was wearing a white lab coat and the cart seems to have everything you would find at a glasses store.
Goody they wanted him to trade in Newfoundland for a different pair. Sighing he prepared to talk his way out of trading in for more fashionable glasses.
Talking his way out of getting new glasses had not been easy but he had managed and now it was time to reveal his make over to Stacey and Clinton. He showed off several of his new outfits and got compliments on his new hair style and the way the clothes fit him. He had surprised the two with how toned he truly was under all those baggy clothes and he thanked them. They had, inadvertently perhaps, helped him gain the confidence he needed to make himself noticed at meetings. He thanked them and headed off to what he knew must be the most difficult part of this whole adventure. He both looked forward to and feared how the reveal to his friends and family would turn out. Worst case scenario he is ignored and the status quo remains the same. And there was no best case scenario in his mind since anything would be better than the same thing that has been happening all his life.
Milling about in a cleared conference room in the hotel that they all had been staying in for the past few extra days after the world conference ended were Matthew's friends and family. Alfred was there, munching on a hamburger and getting scolded by Arthur. Francis was sipping a glass of wine and chatting with Gilbert and Antonio near the door. Gilbert had dragged Ludwig, who was chatting with Feliciano, while Lovino glared at the German. Denmark had invited himself when he heard that Matthew was the reason for the party and he had dragged the rest of the Nordics. Holland and Belgium chatted in another corner, again having come due to Matthew being who the party was for. Russia had come simply to see if he could convince the Canadian to become one with him.
Matthew stood outside the room, getting up the courage to finally push open that door and step in. The fear that this would be like so many birthdays that had never happened struck him, what if no one was in there? What if it was an empty room? His nerves getting to him, Matthew begins to shake slightly before stealing his resolve. He pushes down on the knob and opens the door.
Everyone in the room stops and turns to watch him enter and Matthew blushes bright red at all the attention, catching himself when he begins to shrink in on himself. Taking a deep breath he steps into the room further and is promptly tackled by a familiar silvery haired albino.
"Yo Birdie! You look awesome!"
After that the dam bursts and he is surrounded by people bombarding him with questions and compliments. No one mistakes him for his brother and everyone remembers him. Gilbert has an arm slung around his shoulders and is the first to notice the tears in the Canadians eyes.
"Hey, its not awesome to cry at your party Birdie."
Matthew looks up at Gilbert, a smile plastered on his face as the albino looks at him in confusion.
"I know Gil but, I'm just so happy. No one's forgetting me." The Canadians tears begin to flow more freely at the confession, the smile still on his face.
Gilbert smiles and takes the Canadians chin in his hand guiding his towards his own, stealing a gentle kiss from the Canadian. Gilbert barely manages to pull back before an energetic blonde plows into them, breaking them apart.
"Hey hey, that's my bro you're violating. Hands off!" Alfred glares at the albino as Matthew starts to chuckle and then full out laugh at his brother's antics.
"Al, sod off. If I want to get 'violated' by Gil, I will." Matthew steps around and help Gilbert to stand up, the albino shooting a smug look to the shocked American.