monty should be the only one who gets this but thinking about frozen is actually giving me more lenience towards older!matthew/madeleine
monty should be the only one who gets this but thinking about frozen is actually giving me more lenience towards older!matthew/madeleine
Between Frozen 2 and SPN if I see siblings do a forehead touch I will cry on the spot
Listen I love anime pretty boys but don’t let me think about them
No one asked but I just felt like sharing my favorite Canada x Country ships and why!! Again warning people who can't respect others opinions to turn away now!
4. RusCan -- In all honesty the reason I like Ruscan was because it was the first fanfic I stumbled upon. I love the concept of the two loners trope who empathized with each other. That and my guilty pleasure is abuse smut! Theres just something about a possessive Russia that entices me! Yea I said it, judge me.
3. Gercan --This ship is such a rarepair it makes it so hard to find any content on them. But luckily, this wonderful user by the name of @amoxesyoew has the absolute best Gercan content ever. Once I laid eyes upon their art I fell in love! Historically speaking there's not much that I know about them but WW1 & WW2 but that can make for some great angsty fics and their modern day relations and personalities make for some cute fluff. Imagine it, Lud and Matty on an afternoon stroll with Kuma and Lud's dogs, holding each others hands♡.
2. UkCan (platonic & romantic) -- This one often leaves me confused, as I'm not the greatest fan of USUK and often times feel hypocritical for liking UKCan romantically. But I ship them for history and politics. Canada is one of the most loyal countries in UK commonwealth, and the history between them can lead to some good fics like Arthur giving up Alaska to America. Or Canada feeling inadequate compared to America and asks of Arthur his worth as both his son/brother and a nation (or lover if you will).
1. AMECAN FOR LIFE BABY (platonic and romantic)-- Can you tell this is my favorite ship!?♡. And oh yeah, I can hear the haters in the distance screaming that its incest. But wow I must have amnesia cause I don't recall asking. AmeCan is great! We got undefended borders, we mock each other like hell, but care about each other when it matters. In terms of personality, Canada's calm demeanor (and passive aggression on occasion) matched with Alfred's outgoing personality just works so well in my mind. Canada needs someone to bring out his more outgoing side and Alfie needs someone to keep him in check. No offense to any UsUk shippers but I could never see how America and Britain could get along, let alone have smexy times together with personalities that similar and such a tense history. But to each their own.
That's it from me y'all! From your sista from the 6!
AmeCan edits i made a while ago <3
Today I’m going to talk about two of my favorite characters in this anime. Once again anything I talk about is my opinion, You don’t have to agree, but feel free to comment your thoughts and always remember to challenge your own bias and thinking. Now let’s get started!
Today we’re looking at these wonderful adorkable bros America and Canada
First off, I want to address this misconception that America & Canada hate each other. Now I’m not certain where that notion came from but I would have to guess that it stemmed from the strip Fly Mr. Canada, Fly! I believe that most fans have seen this strip at this point and correlate Canada insulting America for three hours straight stems from Canada’s “hatred” for America. Now this would all be true depending on your perspective or rather the perspective you have based which character you prefer. Some Canada fans will be so proud of him for berating America for 3 hours while America fans will see it as unwarranted abuse(often disregarding the fact that America initiated both the fight and the insults). In any case neither of them were right, it was a spat. Fights are common amongst family members (especially when we don’t understand them well), I have 2 younger siblings and I fight with them and it does happen that I get the upper hand in arguments and say things I don’t mean and this includes attacking their weak-points (which is obviously wrong). But do I hate them? Of course not. They don’t hate each other, and I believe if you see it that way then maybe you need to stop looking at things via your own bias and favoritism for a character/country. (or maybe stop using that “hatred” to make sense out of /fuel your ships).
Now, Whether you love them as brothers or see them in a romantic light, these two countries have a very complex and interesting history together, one that had many obstacles but in the end made us very good allies, with you know an undefended border (yah we tight like that).
I just adore their brotherly relationship. Now I do wish that the Manga and Anime elaborated their relationship a bit more but for what we see it’s evident that they’re very close (with Canada knowing more about America and his country, bc Canadians watch American news and politics for fun, we also happen to know a lot about our southern neighbor, apparently though it’s not the same the other way around) this is made clear in the strip I mentioned earlier as Matt was able to list off an extensive amount of ways Alfred irritates him during their fight while Al didn’t have much to say. Now another reason I love their relationship is how relatable it can be in the sense of Canada being the younger brother who looks up to and has an inferiority complex where his big brother is concerned and America the star, the one that shines brighter than the sun, who is often times so caught up in himself. It is important to note that despite this both characters respect each other’s strengths and do care about each other. Yes they have their moments where they will argue and don’t truly understand each other because their personalities are so different, but that in itself is what makes their relationship so good, two people with opposing views and behaviors who attempt to understand the other better. I think this is what makes the American/Canadian relationship so fascinating, we may not always get along but we’re aware that we rely on one another and would have each other’s backs.
@feynavaley has an excellent analysis on their relationship and the respective characters personalities and I just adore it! Give it a read if you haven’t.
HOW DARE YOU SHIP THESE BROTHERS TOGETHER! YOU’RE GOING STRAIGHT TO HELL! IT’S SO PROBLEMATIC!! YOU’RE A SICK TWISTED INDIVIDUAL!! Remember my previous post on shipping? Ya, I know that they’re brothers but remember someone can still counteract this by saying that Spamano, USUK, Franada is equally as wrong. Now yes I do grasp the notion that yes AmeCan is incest seeing as they’re brothers, but some people just happen to like these two characters together and sadly it just so happens that they’re brothers. And honestly AmeCan shippers have one of the best grasps on American/Canadian history/politics, in addition to truly understanding these two as characters and their countries IRL and they turn it into something amazing. They truly know how to balance the characters personalities and they don’t play favorites between them (sometimes). I have read AmeCan fics and just adored them even knowing that they’re brothers. Now that doesn’t mean I condone incest IRL it just so happens that my favorite characters are brothers, which kind of sucks. I love AmeCan bc it can be so fluffy and yet so angsty all at once! You take the complexities of their relationship (both in Hetalia canon and IRL) and now add romance and drama into it!! Man that’s just JUICY! I do love the notion of America invading Canada during 1812, this idea of America sadden by Canada’s refusal to join him during the revolution and once the ideologies of Manifest Destiny sinks in he decides to not only mess with Britain and get him to see him as a force to be reckoned with, but also attempts to take Canada away. (Yeah I'm clearly the most unpatriotic Canadian ever). I do love the fics of these two countries uniting to forge a powerful nation (albeit no Canadian would actually agree to that lol we love you but not that much maybe put a ring on it first). It is also interesting that some shippers don’t even acknowledge that they’re brothers while others do and yet it doesn’t bother them (bc they’re countries and aren’t bound by what humans say is wrong or right?) Maybe that’s a way for them to feel less guilty about what they ship (bc people won’t leave them alone). But yet again it doesn’t make your ship any better or make those people who ship it bad human beings. Bc all Hetalia ships can be seen as problematic.
So yes I love America and Canada as brothers or otherwise! Their relationship is wonderful and fascinating, a bond that cannot be broken that easily (I was scared that Trump would have though). But as a wise man once said
"Geography has made us neighbours. History has made us friends. Economics has made us partners. And necessity has made us allies. Those whom nature hath so joined together, let no man put asunder." - JFK
An Hetalia Canada in Snow White costume drawing i made because he's a beautiful princess 💗💗☺️👸
so like a month or so ago i came across an artwork that was like “matthew williams reminds me of sam winchester” and i don’t think i’ll ever recover from that
an old mmd i made
Hi! I thought I’d try posting a fanfic here on tumblr. It’s an angsty USCan thing inspired by The Handmaid’s Tale that I wrote back in 2019. Alfred is the extreme patriarchal, theocratic, totalitarian state of Gilead. It’s as dark as you might expect it to be, with dystopian international politics, misogyny, and internalised homophobia being major themes. Also features England, Mexico, and Japan playing minor roles!
Word length: 10,179
Summary: America has become Gilead, international relations are frayed beyond repair, and Canada is still barely coping. In place of a partner, friend, and lover, is now a dangerous decoy – Canada is flailing around the trap it sets for him. The old America, somehow, was still there – that hope felt like all Canada had. After all, the past was not a foreign country, it was just too easy to remember them to be doing things differently there. (rated M, 18+ only please!)
Read on AO3 or under the cut!
through a glass, darkly
Say what you want to give him a fair judgement, but on the world stage, nobody liked Gilead. He was the kind of character who made his animosities explicit. But you could point out he had his allies. Getting along with Russia, China, and Iran was at least easier for him now, as he wasn't, well, as I’d imagine they'd put it, so goddamn sanctimonious anymore. He’s minding his own business, and most of all, just showing some basic respect with foreign affairs. Sure, Saudi Arabia could now make jokes to Gilead that America would've considered with suspicion. I think even Japan is learning to let up with his dependency on America with Gilead, appreciating Gilead's emphatic impartiality in how Japan chose his vote, where America was known for taunting the indecisive nation to jump on the bandwagon.
These were only allies, though, not friends. America had his areas of friction in however many wretched corners of the globe you could name. What I’d argue is that America at least always had his heart in the right place in every intention, no matter the amount of juvenility or recklessness the action's execution might've reflected. And so, he had his chains of bad decisions made by his repertoire of diabolical presidents, but America in the flesh? He was his own man and he knew that sometimes -- when interacting with other nation personifications, that this simple fact was all he had playing in his favour. Have your state ideology denounced, have your economy sanctioned, and why not, your leader deposed of -- by Americans -- and then meet this one American who will buy you a coffee and later that evening show you that he has a deeper understanding of what goes on -- and you’ll be doubting the simple, scalpel cut kind of understanding of matters that the government sells to America at large. Judge him all you want, the flaws of his country within and without, he nevertheless harboured a pain that was difficult to access. He prided himself on how simple and sellable his ideals were -- freedom, what could be so difficult to understand about that? Something so deceptive in its simplicity. Identities and competition. Voices like marbles beating against each other as they scattered. Which is why I say I don't think America was sanctimonious the way certain others do, a thought shared by others who knew him like I did.
No, the one who is sanctimonious is Gilead.
We of the West had given up early trying to tolerate the fundamentalist amongst ourselves. Germany was supposed to be a leader but is growing weaker with his economy; France's revolutionary spirit has been misguided far enough to turn him into a full-blown misanthrope. Ever the secularist, who had at a point in his life housed three hostile popes in his country at once, he saw little good in the world, especially in that beyond his borders. He had been guided to the goal to pull the EU apart by its seams. But these days that didn’t even matter. The journalists know it already: it existed only formally now, what kind of supranational entity means anything when the patchwork of its components have come loose? And Gilead didn't care about these phenomena, which would've stopped America's heart. Trade and defense agreements with Gilead have agreed to cooperate in no further interstate coordination. These days we had to watch our own backs.
England loved America, but did nothing as Alfred traded his liberal theory for a return to the bible. It was not a rejection of the present. It was an alternative to thinking about a better future. Typical America: eloquent, charismatic, and impossible not to admire for still possessing that drive to achieve the better world the English could barely fathom to have in the 17th century, and still, not today either. How could he step in America's corruption if it was so hard to tell at what point he had to step in? The America before his liberalism was the young puritan living in the bush that England could call his younger brother. This was what affected England, for if not, it was that America before his liberalism, the rules of the world still were in the hands of the British Empire. (To be fair, this is just my speculation. I've lost count of how many drunken arguments I've had with Arthur about this, now. At this point he must think that I've grown to become too bold.)
What friends America had have now assumed roles of spectators. England and France were disgusted by what their former protege had become. Gilead was a betrayal, a son that had developed into a man that was villainous and embarrassing. The concept of speaking to Gilead was comparable to consorting with a carcinogen. This was the most demonstrable case of Gilead antipathy. Some of America's other friends -- Japan, Taiwan, Pakistan, Israel, for instance -- watched on the inception of Gilead with morbid fascination. The Latin Americans could only hope for the best for themselves, as usual, too entangled in their own dilemmas to entertain the thought of the megalomaniac gringo beyond pragmatic concerns. Mexico wouldn't talk to Gilead beyond what bilateral interests required; you'd think her long standing irritation with her neighbour would finally distill into pure dislike. But she was familiar with America in nearly the same depth I did, and I knew she was ultimately heartbroken with what had happened with him.
And so, you could line up every praise given by a foreign leader or press for Gilead, its achievements, and seeming moral impeccability. Then I could draw up every rumour of what really goes on in this pariah state, every testimony of every Gilead citizen taking refuge in my country. I could suggest a way we could understand what it means to be sanctimonious, but what would that accomplish now? (For so long I've thought of this, and have been involved in arguments, I've taken every side. It's ruined me.)
Gilead is Alfred, who no longer has curiosity in the world, or care for those weaker than him, or even a base respect for women. He is who I grew up with, warred with, and fell in love with, though that was long ago, when we knew each other better.
America was a word I was intimate with, Gilead was a cipher. The world may not like him, but still he could wear the smile that I couldn't help but cherish.
I stayed on my course. I walked faster. This area was crowded; I’d easily disappear in it.
These days I don't talk to people. It had gone from being a preference to being a principle.
I rounded the corner at the intersection, going right, and a hand grabbed my shoulder. I spun around. Mexico's hand fell away, and she was panting, breath perspiring in the cool air to veil her face.
"Ah--" she tried reaching for me again. I stepped back.
"Why're you using my real name?"
"Why aren't you answering?" she shot back. "I was pretty loud and clear."
"Yeah, you were. What do you think all these people thought of you calling somebody by that name?"
We're in Dublin for a world conference. Well, "world" conference, given the handful of Western states that attended still possessed the hubris to call themselves the world. Most of Western Europe was here, but there were a few oddities. Mexico included. The conference that was supposed to include the entire world was being held in Seattle. This one was being held for those few nations that ritualistically boycott any conference in Gilead; it was unabashedly political. Only three conferences have been held in Gilead, and I’ve boycotted the first two. Most of the Europeans have consistently boycotted the conferences, alongside, of course, the “United States”, now duly represented by the state of Alaska.
However, tomorrow I’ll be going to Seattle. That lost any value of my being here. I wanted to show my personal support for the boycott, but I couldn't afford any more snubs of Gilead, still Canada's largest trading partner and influence on foreign policy. This was my boss's rationale when we argued about which conference I would be attending when the dates were announced. It was perfectly reasonable. I told all of this to Mexico when she asked me which conference I'd be going to, and considering my circumstances, she decided to follow my tracks and attend both conferences too. Her government was following a general Gilead policy similar to mine, but I didn't expect Mexico herself to take the steps I was. I was known for my hesitation to maintain a position regarding controversies, where Mexico would take and commit to a side with boldness. Regardless, I didn't question her. I didn't bother myself with conversation beyond the essentials of what business was at hand.
"Why aren't you answering me?" she demanded. Her features hardened. She knows it's hard to talk to me anymore and I know my increasing recalcitrance is what she needs the least to get by with Gilead.
I shake my head. I wasn't going to waste my time, but of course, I wasn't going to anywhere in particular, and she wasn't going to be fooled. As I turned away she continued.
"Hey, Canada. I, ah... I don't think I'm going to come with you to Seattle tomorrow."
"You don't ‘think’?" I turned back to her, sighing. "You've gotten a ticket already."
"I can't stand being there."
Certainly I could understand, for the way the Gileadeans treated foreigners wasn't with our idea of dignity -- particularly for the women. Along with being strictly monitored at all times, there was no guarantee she wouldn’t be chided by strangers for being caught reading words. I shrugged at her. "So? Why did you decide to come along in the first place?"
"I thought you'd need the company. It isn't often that nations boycott one event only partially, so I'd imagine either side of the event wouldn't be very pleased with this indecisiveness of yours."
"I didn't need the company. It's best for you to stay here."
She frowned at me, as I'd given her the incorrect response. I then understood.
"What are you trying to accomplish?" I inquired just as she opened her mouth to continue. "Don't try to-- to expect me to be... a certain way."
She laughed softly. "Matthew..." Her smile was rueful, and I looked away. I waited for her to tease.
"I'll be honest then. I don't know what I was expecting. All I wanted was to be with you. Gilead's a bully. I thought it'd help lighten the burden of his abuse if he'd have it directed at two people rather than one. Do you understand?" She paused to search my face. "Look. Gilead is trouble, and the two of us know him like nobody else does." I didn't react, and she lost her forgiving demeanour. "Nevermind," she mumbled. "I’m coming with you."
I shook my head. "It's, ah-- it isn't safe for you anyway."
She stepped back, with a look of incredulity on her face. "You'd think I wouldn't be safe there?" she said with a snort. "Oh, Matthew... ever the failed gentleman you are."
I smile faintly at that. "I think I'm finally coming to terms that I never will meet that standard."
"Oh, no, not completely, dead. Though you do have your charm at times." Her brows quirk upwards. "Where are you headed off to?"
I couldn't lie to her. "Just..." I sighed. I was going to, where, to meet up with somebody? Who? Was I going to a bookshop? The bank? Church? The Taoiseach of Ireland? "Anywhere, really," I said, far more sheepishly than I intended. "I just wanted to clear my head. Get away from them all."
"Right." She nodded. I nodded and shrugged, and began walking again, Mexico following along. I pulled out a cigarette to light. "It was getting ugly in there."
These "alternative" conferences don't go the way one would hope, if the sought alternative to whatever was going on with a collective of people who tolerated Gilead is thought to be better than them. I didn't think what transpired in the course of the few days of this conference I've experienced was either productive or enjoyable. It was difficult for nations to get along these days. As the attendance of this small conference comprised of mostly Western Europeans, there was more animosity. The European Union was falling apart thanks to the suspicion amongst the nations who were expected, by virtue of the European project itself, to trust each other. And because these sources of mistrust were far too complex for each European to properly understand, each reverted to their own reductive, fabricated understandings of their country's position vis-a-vis the continent, leading to more friction with each other. This lead to many petty squabbles over terminologies and facts, protracting discussions on each item on the conference agenda to mind-numbing lengths. While Germany was constantly defending himself against verbal attacks from France, Italy was taking interest in watching cooking shows with a completely disengaged Greece on his laptop. Austria was finding new ways to be a pedant in commenting on the rhetorical weaknesses in each speech. With deliberate innocuousness, Spain would pose hypothetical questions about a nation's integrity. And in the meeting that I had just come out of, as we had been discussing the management of austerity, something immaterial had triggered an argument between Britain and Ireland that was marked by a chilling passive-aggressiveness. It was over Northern Ireland. Germany had no choice but to adjourn the meeting early.
Mexico and I ruminated over this as we walked. I watched my environment, noting that we were heading away from the dense part of the streets. I was familiar with this part of the city, having visited it many times in the past. Mexico took my wrist in her hold.
"Matthew, it isn't right."
I furrowed my brows, and returned my gaze to her. She continued.
"We can't do anything when we're split up like this. Europe is back to their power struggles. None of them will have much social capital on the world stage when each of them stands entirely-- unabashedly-- for herself. And-- they're setting themselves up on the mutual path to self-destruction."
"Hm. Well, at least there's one thing they're united in: agreement that they can't afford losing military coordination against external threats. Threats which now include the nation who once took on the role as Europe's guardian. But leadership hasn't been great in that regard anyway."
"We need to be more than that. Than just-- fear. Or caution. Or pragmatism-- whatever the hell those experts are calling it," Mexico said. "If only it were two nations in solidarity." She squeezed my wrist.
I looked out back to the street. A blurred line of cars was rolling by like a tape of film, the tires grinding the black slush. I was shivering, and eager to get into a warm space. Thankfully, it appeared that I seemed to now recognize this area.
"Juana, would you like to go to a bookstore?"
I plugged my phone in and brought it back to life, only to be met with five missed calls and a text message written with all capitals. They were from England, and he was distraught.
"Is there something wrong, Canada?"
I took a deep breath in and looked up to Japan. "I left without telling anybody but the host, Ireland. I thought Mexico would've taken the initiative to announce our departures to the group."
I give him a wry smile. "England's freaking out. I'm not surprised. Rather, I’m pleased that neither Mexico nor I told him we'd be coming here. He would've scolded my ear off."
Japan peeked at my phone’s screen. "You should call him back."
"Tell me, how is the conference going so far?"
He regarded me with narrowed eyes. "Fine," he answered. "We're making decent progress on all fronts. Ame-- er, Gilead-san, he's quite responsible."
This is the first conference in Gilead Japan hadn’t boycotted. Attendance to conferences in Gilead is growing each time one is held.
"Yeah. I’d imagine he is," I concurred. The two of us were sitting in the lounge. I'd just arrived, and right now the meeting was on lunch break. By my carelessness I'd forgotten my phone charger in my room in Dublin, and so asked Japan to borrow his, hence his company at the present. Mexico was out getting us food and a new charger for myself.
I started at the booming voice behind me. Alfred, standing behind the sofa. I stood up and faced him.
"You should alert your host of your arrival, you know," he said with a wide grin. I couldn't get used to his new manner of speaking. "Canada-- my closest neighbour. How're you?" And he looked so different too. The changes were minimal-- blond hair darkened from an immaculate job with gel, glasses lost with Texas-- but they were impactful. People thought we looked identical, and though we both used to take this common belief to be a falsehood, I certainly knew America as well as my own mirror image.
"I'm just having my phone charged," I replied with the smallest possible voice. "Sorry for not telling you-- I, uh, I just got here, and didn't know where you were..."
He shook his head. "No, not to worry. I’m just ever so glad you're here." He came around the sofa, and stood before me. His hand reached out to clutch my shoulder. I felt weak. "Obviously, I could have benefitted far more if you'd have attended from the very beginning," he continued. He was smiling and trying to meet my gaze. "We're sure next time Gilead hosts a conference, I can count on you to be by my side at all times." He squeezed my shoulder before releasing it. "Mexico too." His smile disappeared completely, and he turned his attention to Japan. "Well?"
Japan was focused on me, boring into my side a purposeful stare. "I mean it. Your conference is a great success by far," he said, gaze dropping to his feet.
Before I could move to intervene, Alfred seized Japan's face by his chin, forcing his head so that their eyes could meet. I stepped forward. "Hey--"
"It flatters me that not only your mind is changed about Gilead, but that you have such kind words to say. Right to the face of Gilead, like an honourable man," said Alfred. He frowned down at the hand he was using to hold Japan’s face, and let it be released, retracting his hand with a jerk. "Is there something the matter?" he then asked me.
I could only shake my head, glancing at either man. He stepped towards me again.
"I hope you'll feel the same way about our conference. I'm looking forward to having you seated at Gilead's side." He stuffed his hands into his pants pockets. "Oh, and tell England that you're pleased to be here. Just a suggestion." He nodded, and sauntered away. I had nothing to say.
"I’m okay," Japan said, rubbing his jaw demurely. "If you were wondering, that is."
"Jesus," I whispered.
"You best hope he didn't bug this room, because that word could get you into trouble." He narrowed his eyes at me again. I looked down at my phone, turning it on and considering England's messages again. I glanced over my shoulder at the direction where Gilead made his exit. "I'd like to see what he'd do to me," I muttered. "That asshole."
ARE YOU ABSOLUTELY DAFT? YOU CAN'T JUST ABANDON THE BOYCOTT WITHOUT A WORD ONLY TO SLITHER INTO GILEAD'S CLUTCHES. DO YOU REALIZE THE EMBARRASSMENT YOU'RE CAUSING US? IRRESPONSIBLE. read England's text. After a moment of pained consideration, I sighed and typed out a new message.
Sorry Arthur. I didn't have a choice. But it's awful as ever here.
Mexico and I entered a dark, clean room. We were purposefully late. I didn't have the patience to make small talk with the others as they streamed in. Now I could slip into a seat unseen, as I tended to always do without problem. It should have been especially easy, as somebody had drawn the dark grey blinds over the large window panes of the adjacent wall.
I found out quickly that there were no available seats. As I despaired over the realization that Gilead hadn't provided his latecomer attendees with seating, I relocated Mexico and saw her taking a seat. I glanced about the table again. Vietnam was now standing and delivering her position on the topic at hand, and I found that the one spare seat available was unfortunately placed next to Gilead. I lingered opposite from where Vietnam stood lest anybody take note of the seatless Canadian hovering anxiously about. I didn't dare go back out the single door in the room available for exit; that was too close to Vietnam. As I started to recede to a corner, Gilead called out my name. Vietnam stopped, and I froze.
"There's a seat for you here, Canada," he said, with a hand on the backrest of the empty chair. Everybody was looking at me. This was mortifying. Blanking, I sped to claim the seat.
"Praise be, everybody, my good neighbour Canada has blessed us with his presence. He had enough of the nonsense of ignoring world matters, like we see so many of our fellow nations doing. Irresponsible. Isn't it?" He directed the question to me, but I could only smirk at that. Be amazed, he actually managed to make me want to laugh. Noticing my amusement, he smiled back.
"By the way, it’s rude to be late," he warned me.
"Um, well I'll be continuing," said Vietnam to us all.
"No, you won't. We think we've heard enough." Gilead waved his hand in dismissal. "Who's next?"
"But I haven't even gotten to my main point yet," Vietnam protested. Gilead put a finger to the corner of his lips in thought.
"Yes, please go on," China encouraged her, rousing from the rest of the table some sullen sounds of agreement.
"No, no. I want to hear Canada's position now," said Gilead tightly. I shook my head, giving Vietnam the most explicitly apologetic look my face could muster.
"It's still her go," I said. I felt my body curl into the seat against my volition.
Vietnam cleared her throat. "Well, as I--"
"Do you have a position or not?" Gilead demanded me, leaning forward with the vehemence of his question. I glared at him, offering no response. If only that noise of support for her had the volume of unanimity and stood at that moment. What would Gilead do? Call the guards in?
"I’ll remind you," he then addressed Vietnam. "That it is a great privilege for women to speak in this space. An inappropriate one, really."
I saw Vietnam scowl. "Whatever. Go ahead, then." I wanted to protest, but she sat down, gaze neutralized of any dissent. I dug my short nails into my palms.
"Okay," I said with a sigh. I pulled out the paper from my folder and stood. The topic they were now discussing was the protections of global LGBT communities-- all "gender traitors,” in Gilead's preferred jargon. In the programme he'd given us beforehand, the subject was listed "The Problem of 'LGBT' Groups,” which was, knowing him, chosen for no more than entertainment value. Talk about a meeting on “world matters,” as if they were worth mattering in any serious way. While I don't believe Vietnam was a notable leader in LGBT rights, I do remember the nation being progressive relative to her neighbours on this front, and so whatever her position consisted of, it couldn't have been of too much interest to Gilead. But he couldn't be expecting anything more valuable in the speech that I prepared. While certain other foreign governments have taken sanction to further repress its own female and LGBT populations upon witnessing a nation that once championed freedom and rights had radically reversed its position, I knew my own nation's commitment to improving the conditions of these populations would only strengthen.
I presented my position without a trace of the scruples a Gilead citizen would armour their consciousnesses with. I finished to a meagre set of applauses, one source I noticed coming from Juana. I gave a small smile. When I glanced at my side, I found a predictably bored Gilead. He called on the next presenter, Yemen.
"I’m surprised you didn't cut me off," I muttered to Gilead as Yemen began. He looked at me askance.
"I just miss hearing you speak like that. It's so rare."
He whispered it, and I could only barely catch the words. I regret doing so.
"I thank you all for another successful day. The quote I would like to share with you all for today is from Corinthians 1: 13." This was a city on a hill that had found its light. Alfred's smile was magnanimous and his hands were tense.
Alfred reserved the chair closest to him for me. We were like the king and his captured queen. He oversaw the regime of his conference with obsessive control, so within my first day here I learnt why Japan said that good progress was being made. He took the liberty to cut short or fiercely interrogate any expression of a view he found worthless, especially if one came from a female nation. The misogyny he'd been inculcated with as Gilead, of the kind he'd harboured thoughtlessly as a child and puritan, was over performed. He was insecure about the amount of women here, not because of the threat of their sex but because of how his superiors would be assessing the outcome of the meeting. He will be providing a report of how his conference reached its conclusions on its discussed topics, and he couldn't risk revealing that the female attendees played any sizeable roles in developing decisions.
That was, at least, my theory.
"'When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.
"'For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.
""And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.'" He recited the verses as he looked at each person around the table, gaze settling on me last, just as he did with the quote closing yesterday's meeting.
As soon as that meeting yesterday ended, I tore away to the refuge of my hotel room. I was overwhelmed, disturbed, and conveniently jet lagged. I thrust myself into bed and slept until Mexico came knocking at my door, asking for me to come out to have dinner with her and some others, waiting for at least fifteen minutes until giving up. After looking at some old pictures of America and I in my photo library and ignoring two of England's calls, I switched my phone off. I dined on the complementary energy bars and tea, and passed time reading a thriller I picked up at the Dublin bookstore with Mexico, before falling back asleep at two in the morning.
The next day, to close the meeting, America proclaimed, "And thus the meeting is adjourned--"
I rolled my eyes; America was loathe to say "thus".
"I look forward to convening again next time."
Surely none of these bored nations now leaving this room held these formalities in favour. I bunched up my papers and stuck them into a binder.
Alfred noticed how fast I'd left yesterday. I'd ignored his calls for me to wait as I bustled away. He knew that I didn't leave the room to have dinner. He told me that he knew at the beginning of today's meeting, and he followed it up by questioning why I chose to spend that time in isolation, not bothering to mask his condescension. I told him that he didn't have to care, well, nobody had to care about why I do the things I do. It wasn't in anybody's realm of interests.
I was going to charge out again, but Alfred wouldn't fail again in letting me go. He seized my wrist.
I would've jerked away if it weren't for the waver in the word. I only looked at him over my shoulder.
He stepped forward, our linked arms loosening between us.
"What are your plans for tonight?" he asked. I shrugged.
"I'll stay in again, probably."
"You really ought not to," he said, his hands grip faltering on my wrist before unlatching. I made myself roll my eyes.
"I've been in this city often enough, so I don't really need to tour. And I haven't been in the mood to do anything with anyone," I told him, though I knew that wasn't enough to have him understand.
"Well, I know you're not one for big things with people, so how 'bout settling for just small things with one person?"
"I've got that already." I've got just myself and my meagre dinner, a satisfying stay for three more days before taking a coach back up to Vancouver.
He frowned. "So you're staying in with somebody else? Who?"
"Canada," Mexico called from behind me. "Hey, could you do me a favour?"
She was offering me an escape from Gilead's attention. "Sure. Anything," I said. Gilead took my wrist again.
"Canada," he said. A corner of his mouth was quirked upwards, and Alfred said my name the way he did before we'd go out to cause some trouble somewhere. Regret pricked my skin. "I have an idea of what we could do tonight. I’ll see you later?"
"Uh, Matt, we need a driver," said Mexico, redirecting my attention. She smirked, and glanced at Gilead.
"For what, you want me to drive you out to find a McDonalds you can drive through?" I asked, with a serious demeanour.
"A drive through McDonald's? In Gilead?" she asked, now grinning.
Gilead was silent and polite. I was supposed to be laughing with her, but the violence hidden behind Gilead's reticence was impossible to ignore to anyone who could tell it was there.
"Find me in my room--" I told him in a near whisper.
"I'll be there at five." He nodded at me, and pocketing his hands, he strolled away.
"Let's go," muttered Mexico, who was at this point holding my arm. We proceeded out of the dark conference room.
"You know he'd want to be bugging me," I said. "And you want him to," she replied, quiet. I pried my arm from her grasp.
"What are you talking about? He was giving me no choice."
She cast her gaze downwards. "I don't know. But..."
"But?" I couldn't restrain my incredulity at her implication.
She frowns, looking back up. I follow her gaze and see Japan standing by the snacks table, attention absorbed by his phone. "Hey!" Mexico calls to him.
"Ah, Canada." Japan looked up to greet me with a smile. I was immobilized, restraining any show of exasperation, because I didn't want to deal with anybody's good intentions for me. We were in Gilead, you need not be reminded, and so they pitied or admired me. Canada floundered with Gilead's eccentricities, but it took in refugees tirelessly. I didn't do enough; what little I could do mattered. I couldn't bear responding to the accusations.
"I was wondering if you could do something for me," he said, coming up to me. He was scrutinizing my face explicitly.
He hummed. "You seem tense. I hope Mexico didn't drag you from any business you ought to be attending now..."
Mexico had already slipped away, which I only noticed up to that point when I checked our surroundings for her. Struck with a vehemence, I shook my head at Japan.
"It can't have anything to do with Gilead," I stated, deadpan and direct, I didn't want to waste time. I was in a rush to return to the insularity of my room, but knowing Gilead would be coming over at the time he'd offer me, I figured I must bustle off elsewhere, anywhere, only to deliberately miss the date.
"No, it doesn't," Japan said with caution. "I wanted you to fill me in on what happened at Dublin."
"Nothing. Did something happen?"
Japan sighed. "I don't think so. But-- England wants to know how you're doing. He barely got the chance to speak with you."
Irritation spiked through my veins-- and this was terrible, I know, for it was those who were once my closest friends, England, Japan, Mexico, for instance-- who now got on my nerves the easiest. They knew I didn't talk to anybody anymore, and yet when they'd come to me to do so anyway, it was with as little grace as possible. England had the least tact, which is why I'd been avoiding him while in Dublin.
"I'm sorry but, I just don't care if he's worried about me. I'm not his responsibility anymore. I haven't been so for a long time." He never really cared for me when I was -- I was barely worth more than a passing thought back then. So many years ago.
Japan was restraining his own annoyance. "Canada, you know that it has nothing to do with him being your...your," his eyebrows furrowed, searching for the appropriate word.
"Former master?" I offered, deadpan.
"I was going to say, erm, elder brother," Japan said. I laughed wryly. That was the term Arthur preferred. "Master" made him gag. "But that aside, you know what my point is, with all due respect. We must care for each other, mustn't we? I worry too knowing that you're intent on spending your time off the conference locked up in your room."
I was getting tired of this conversation. "I appreciate it. Thank you, really." I have heard it all before, and I hadn't changed, asides from becoming more bitter. "But I have a different way of seeing things now. I think and live differently. And this world I'm living in now, I'm realizing, is one I have a much better grasp of. I could never comprehend what was going on before. Well, not completely."
"The world with Gilead in it?"
"The world where hope for democracy has finally died." And I felt as though I couldn't keep up any pretence that it hadn't.
"Canada, you can't blame yourself for what happened to America."
I looked up at him. Japan had advanced to place a hand on my shoulder, and I don't shake him away.
"I didn't-- say that."
"But you do blame yourself," Japan said. The face I was so used to seeing in a cast of stoicism was breaking haltingly before me. "You might not be conscious of it. But I see it. And so does England--"
Japan's eyes widened, his attention caught by Gilead behind me. I stayed still as a deer in headlights, not daring to look at him. But Gilead was approaching, and then I took Japan by the arm, turning him around and then charging forward.
"Fine," I said to Japan, as I had no choice but to continue the conversation, and my tone remained hushed. "Maybe I blame myself to an extent, but we all are complicit in having this... pariah come into being. Especially England. So-- damnit-- He had always listened more to England than to me!"
"Hey, Matt-- Canada? Japan?" Gilead was pursuing us. I looked at Japan to my side, who was looking straight ahead without any trace of inconvenience on his countenance, although his mouth was open in some disturbance.
"Want to continue this in my room?" I asked him. "I like privacy, you must've realized."
"S-sure," he accepted, glancing at me with an eyebrow raised.
Again, my free arm was seized. "Canada,"
I tried to break free, but Gilead held fast. I whipped around to face him with a glare.
"What? Why are you following me?" His grip loosened on me at my snap. I broke from him, my heart racing. I had to calm down-- I couldn't look at him, I had to look at Japan, then down, at our shoes.
"I was just walking along and heard your voice, and wondered what you were up to," he said, and I could hear the drop of his guard in it. He was being more earnest than defensive. "What're you guys up to?" He posed the question as though he felt excluded.
"Canada and I were catching up," Japan answered.
"What happened with Mexico?"
I should have asked Japan the same thing. I was immobilized, uncertain of the answer to produce that would let me get away.
"She went to the room we are meeting in. We're just discussing things," Japan explained.
"Dublin," I blurted. Gilead regarded me with raised brows.
"That's interesting. Really. I'm curious."
I had regained my glare and directed it at him. Gilead was unwavering, defences coming back up.
"Well, tell me later on," he resolved, knowing enough now how to read what is not explicitly spoken. He checked his watch. "When I get you in, an hour, or so. Okay? Which room will you be in?"
“My own. As I’m sure I’ve already told you,” I said. It was set then. I thought I’d make my best efforts in avoiding him, but it would be all in vain.
So, accuse me of being unfair to Gilead. Avoiding him, and avoiding talking or thinking about him. Maybe I am a cynic. I can’t say I had any principles to uphold for anymore, because I would at least be standing up against him regularly. Being where I am and who I am relative to Gilead, I had a position reserved exclusively for myself at the forefront of the coalition against what Gilead stood for in the world. But if you wanted a more concrete, hardheaded look at the phenomenon of Gilead, then I’m not the one to tell the story.
Maybe you could agree with Japan. Where did all this abhorrence of mine for Gilead come from? Anybody who knew what I’ve seen and what I’ve felt, Alfred’s body quaking with frustration in my arms, after sleepless nights when injustice has been witnessed -- in abrupt, rapacious incidents, or in the slow bruising of the nation, pain accreting under the skin. Liberty, or something like that, until three centuries would finally bear enough witness against him to crush the spirit that had ever had hope in the first place. And in the end, his ego would permit nobody but me so close to his vulnerabilities. I could do nothing to help him help himself.
We didn’t speak of it any further once Japan and I got back to my room. He’d finally accepted the fact that it was best not to try to engage in any conversation at all with me. Maybe you could call me a difficult person, and if you did, I wouldn’t argue with you.
We watched the news in silence for half an hour. He looked over the book I’d bought in Dublin, and it led him to making at least one remark.
“A Night in Byzantium, an erotic thriller?” He was amused. I laughed.
“It’s about, um, Ancient Rome. A Christian and a Roman fall in love before the Edict of Milan is passed,” I explained.
“And these characters… are ‘gender traitors’.”
I glanced at him to catch his wide grin. I’d long come to disregard what the pain of being lonely and forgotten was like after embracing the necessity of solitude. But for this once, I appreciated the company he gave me that evening, though he left shortly afterwards so that he wouldn’t be seen when Gilead would come over.
And when Gilead showed up knocking at the door, I’d discovered him to have exchanged his business suit for something more casual yet smart. His hair, already previously done to a soldierly neatness, was now styled to free some strands to let them flail about by command. I was, on the other hand, still clad in the standard outfit of the day, minus the blazer. I hadn’t even bothered to style my hair, and these days I feel less of the need to. I took my wallet and room key. Shoved beneath the fold of the blanket, the book was concealed from Gilead’s sight.
“Where are we going?” I asked. I played indifference and boredom. I slouched and kept my attention fixed elsewhere, so that he’d have no trouble understanding that I had little enthusiasm for whatever he’d had planned to do with me.
“I’ve got to take you to one of the steakhouses that opened up here recently. I’d say it’s easily climbed up to being one of the best in the country. And you’d never guess it’s lab grown meat!”
We left in his car. We could’ve been driving to the Rockies for one of our annual ski-trip sojourns. He played some old, pop Americana music from half a century ago, undeniably now forbidden, but why expect me to dare question him for it? And he waxed on and on about life, complaining about the first inane subject that materialized in his consciousness, and when once I would have supplemented his stream-of-conscious monologues with quips, I now was reduced to a passive psychologist type, as the situation at large had me simply baffled, but I made a show of giving little care to what he said. Yes, I was baffled, but also clung to every detail he narrated to me. He’s still picky with his vegetables, and now he’s bitter about the raised price of processed snacks because of how his economy was now structured.
The steak place was far more upscale than I’d expected. It was the arrangement of dimly lit sleek surfaces, a sluggish live string quartet, and cogs-in-the-clockwork waiters that tend to appeal to quiet, obeisant tastes. Gilead was given a generous budget, as he was a white man in government, his nation being was as prosperous as ever. He had made reservations for two under “Alfred F. Jones”. I made no comment.
He had exhausted all information about himself he deemed necessary for me to know by the time the appetizers had come, and then he insisted that it was time for me to share how I’ve been.
There was only one answer. “I’ve been doing very well.”
“Oh, have you? You know, it’s been so long since we’ve been out, doing anything together or just talking, you know.”
Any close observer of Gilead, this man marching his fork through his salad before me, would come to realize that he possessed no sense of having any past. One would assume he was supposed to be a new nation rather than a different version of the one that had been representing the territory that the European colonists had claimed. But revolutions didn’t do that to us. What they did was alter how we remembered our memories so that we’d forsake what we were before. The past was not a foreign country, and it was too easy to remember them to be doing things differently there.
It could only hurt for him to be before me, eating to his heart’s delight, Alfred intact, under the skin of some other beast. I didn’t reply to him, occupying myself instead with my food.
“Matthew? You’ve been so quiet.”
He wasn’t wrong. Two years have passed since Gilead had come to surface and take over, as cancer does once the tumor develops fully. Our ski-trips and other excursions have been put on hold long before Gilead came to be. I can’t remember the last time we’ve gone out for a meal under the spell of normalcy, because such occasions weren’t supposed to be special or memorable. We were friends, we were lovers.
“Maybe you want to talk about Dublin?”
I looked up at him. He was taking a sip of his wine. “They’re worried about me,” I said.
He nodded, placing the glass back down. “Well, if you’re doing as well as you say you are, why should they be?”
“I think you know already.”
“I guess I have a sense. I don’t know how you’re really doing, though, Matt, I don’t think anybody knows. And in this case, I don’t think that no news is good news. But regardless of that, well, I want you to know that I’m really glad you came here.”
He shouldn’t be inviting me to eat out with me now. He wasn’t supposed to be reserving seats for me next to himself in the conference. We aren’t friends now and there wasn’t supposed to be any hints that there ever was more than us being neighbours.
“Why?” I then asked.
He laughed, sheepish. The waiter came to take away our plates and he averted his gaze from me, and continued once we were alone again. “Because I miss you,” he said, voice lowered. “It’s been so long. Obviously. Didn’t you miss me?”
“Why do you think I should?”
“Don’t you? We ought to be like brothers.”
“Why? Because we once lived together with Arthur?”
“Because it’s the best for both of us if our relations were normalized.” His smile faded as he came to articulate the truth.
“My brothers are those who I share common traditions and values with,” I refuted him. I didn’t need him to reiterate the reasons my boss gave to justify my attendance at Gilead’s conference as though he believed in them.
“Oh, are they? You don’t seem to care any longer for whatever dead value system Mr. Kirkland believes in, if he’s one of those you consider to be a ‘brother’. Otherwise you wouldn’t be avoiding him, pretending as though there was nothing worth in your relationship anymore. Attending these boycott conferences but neglecting to contribute to anything -- just passing me and whatever awful things you think I represent off as a hollow gesture.”
I couldn’t respond. I couldn’t reveal that I couldn’t, and pointedly ignored him. The waiter returned with our main course -- the steak was sizzling and seductively aromatic.
“Mm. Thank you very much. My absolute favourite,” said Gilead to the waiter. I stole a petulant glance at the waiter, and I could discern in his slanted eyes and sneer a disapproval as he addressed his customer.
“Of course,” he said curtly, before flitting away. With a survey about the relatively small room, I could see all male diners, unbreakable in their uniforms of monolithic hair and black suits. Commanders, dining with each other, a few with their Wives. Mr. Jones here was deviating from the norm, it appeared, with his substandard, yet carefully calibrated flaws in his appearance. He was of a dubious government position, I was guessing, but not strange or poor enough to be worth questioning. The wine Gilead had ordered for us had the priciest tag on the menu.
He took a few moments of repose to relish his first few bites of the steak. I cut into mine, having the meat break beneath the knife and yield the satisfying gush of blood-juice. Artificial meat ordered rare, plump with blood that has never run through the heart of an animal. A triumph of science.
“Wonderful, isn’t it?” He asked me.
“Yes,” I muttered.
“I’m glad you’re enjoying yourself.” He paused to take out his phone, and took a moment to regard something on it. “Matthew. I do have an idea of why they worry for you. I keep track because you’re always so distant from me, and seemingly more close to them. But-- well… there’s this. ‘You’ve been avoiding me all day yesterday, even though I’d made plans with Caitlyn to have you for dinner. You play an instrumental role in this conference, yet you pretend you don’t care for it.’ And there’s this: ‘Are you absolutely daft? You can’t just abandon the boycott without a word only to slither into Gilead’s clutches. Do you realize the embarrassment you’re causing us? Irresponsible.’”
I swallowed a half-chewed lump of meat as he finished. “H-how…”
“Oh, Matthew.” He bit his lip as he tried to parse his thoughts. “I had Japan make copies of some of the data on your phone for me when you left it with him. But don’t be angry with him -- I coerced him into doing it. It was the only way he’d listen to me.”
My fork and knife dropped, clattering from the plate to the table. “What-- what the fuck,” I breathed.
“That’s because he wouldn’t understand!” he said, voice hushed. “Because in all honesty, I really care and… and I really do sometimes worry for you too. But -- fuck, you’re so far away. And I have so little under my control.”
My hands shove at the table as I kick my chair back. “You’re unbelievable,” I proclaim. The sloppy words come out with an unintended force, and Alfred glances around us to take in the fact that we had now drawn the attention of those around us.
“Hey, can I just explain myself?” He asked, flashing an appeasing half-grin. “I understand why you’d be upset, but if you can just understand me-- I know only you can understand me, Matthew, you always do.”
“No, I don’t. I don’t understand or even know you, I just can’t anymore, Alfred-- I could only understand America!”
The volume of the room extinguished itself. The gunpowder softness of my voice had been lit and exploded out of my control. Now, Alfred and I held the attention of every Gileadean in the room. I caught sight of one of them muttering something to the waiter, glancing at us. The waiter promptly attended to us.
“My apologies, the discussion got a bit heated,” Gilead said, smoothly. The waiter levelled his barbed scrutiny on me and my companion.
“Yes, as they sometimes do. Unfortunately, we have a zero-tolerance policy for disturbances of our patrons-- and for disruptive talk about sensitive issues.”
I raised my feeble pair of hands. “Sorry. Ah-- I’m Canadian,” I said, obligated out of fear of the Gileadean state’s capriciousness to excuse myself.
“We simply cannot have these disturbances, Mr. Jones,” the waiter told Gilead. “I’m afraid I need to ask you to leave.”
Gilead appeared to be confounded. “But… at least let us finish our steaks.” He looked at me with helplessness as I stood up to retrieve my coat. The waiter remained in place, not having to explain himself any further. So Gilead gulped down the rest of the wine in his glass, and I followed suit, and he took the wine bottle, and we went off together for our coats. He paid our meals at the front, and we went out to collect the car that the valet drove up for us.
“Shit,” he said. We exchanged nothing else, and drove back in silence. I kept my attention trained on the window. I felt like a child again.
When we rolled back into his parking space at the hotel’s parking garage, he stayed put. I waited for him to get out, until he took out the bottle and held it before me.
“Have the rest,” he said. I sighed and took it from him.
“Christ, I-- I don’t fucking know what’s going on,” I croaked, looking down at the label.
He snorted lightly, probably at my misuse of a sacred name. “Well, me neither.”
I looked at him, barely distinguishing his features in the meagre light. I’d make sure this is the last time I’ll spend a moment of such intimacy with him. And so I ought to take the chance to speak. To say anything and hope it’d be meaningful.
“I don’t talk to people anymore,” I confessed. It sounded like another excuse, though I wasn’t sure exactly for what.
“Neither do I,” he said, distant, gazing out to the wall before the windshield. “Not really, anyway.
“And… I do miss you too.”
“America. You miss America.”
“Yes. That’s who you are.”
He shook his head. A moment of silence passed. I thought I’d try to touch him -- My hand reached out to make contact with his. He didn’t move. I closed my grip around his inert hand, and still receiving no response, I lifted it up. He then withdrew before I could lift it to touch my cheek.
“Shit,” he whispered, looking down at his freed hand.
“I missed you, Al.” I reached to have my fingers graze his jaw. My fear and frustration, as it seemed, have been expelled in the restaurant. He tilted his head towards me. Then he withdrew again, and ran his hand through his hair, thoroughly messing it up.
“You’re a gender traitor,” he breathed. I frowned at that, recoiling back into my seat.
“Fuck that,” I snapped. “Do you realize how juv--”
I stopped when he pulled out from the side shelf of the door a book and held it before me, so that I could make out the cover.
“A Night in Byzantium?” he asked, his teeth bared in fascination.
“Japan…” I told him to hide the book somewhere before he’d leave, and he told me he’d put it amongst the bedsheets. I hadn’t bothered to look after that. I felt my muscles tense at Gilead, but the anger couldn’t come into fruition. Fatigue overwhelmed me instead.
“You’d be lynched for this if you lived here,” he hissed at me. “Does it give you some kind of perverted pleasure to be sneaking this material into my country and expecting that nobody would find out? Reading it and knowing that it’s absolutely illegal?”
I give him a wry smile. “Yes.”
He tossed the book at the door on my side. He glared at the windshield, before looking back at me with ferocity. He seized the back of my head, and after another second of studying my face, my hair in his fist, he leaned forward to kiss me.
It lasted for a few more seconds, until I moaned. He broke away, and the horror was barely visible in his eyes. He glanced away, panting lightly, and then he looked back at me.
“Oh, Matt.” His hand came up to brush at my cheeks, and I realized that tears had escaped my eyes. I sniffle, and then lean forward so that I could kiss him again. His lips relented to my tongue, and I tried to hold him closer.
When we parted again, I exited the car and went over to his side. He emerged too, and once he was disengaged I hugged him, and again kissed him, pressing our bodies together, pressing him into the car. This lasted briefly, as he removed me from him.
“Somebody’s gonna see,” he gasped, eyes dodging about.
“Let’s go to my room,” I suggested.
We ascended from the parking garage to my floor, not encountering anybody we knew by good fortune. He followed me into my room, and I ravaged him against the door the moment it closed behind us.
What followed was only to be expected. We collapsed into each other, physically and urgently, the bed receiving our tender bodies, our selves pared of our clothes and guards and fears. We were mangled with each other, and I whimpered his name against the sound of tearing cloth. He pried my knees apart with the tenderness of pulling a fruit open. Amongst the discarded sheets was everything else that mattered: Dublin, the people who cared for me, the self-loathing, the homophobia, the failed dinner, the next and final day of conference. We fell asleep under the wraps of each other, the cum, sweat, tears drying and cooling on each others’ skins.
Seven months later
The letters had come out last night. I saw them this morning, and attended the meeting with my boss in the afternoon to decide on what our Gilead policy would be doing in response. The next day, economic ties with Gilead were cut.
The day after that, I boarded a plane to London.
There was at once enough about Gilead for me to despise him, and at the same time, too much to properly understand him. But I did feel, still, that I knew the world better now, despite the smoke that my southern neighbour has shrouded himself with. No longer would I prop him up as the mirror in which I’d seek my image in; the most valuable can shatter, and to pick up the pieces is always a painful, arduous, and dangerous task. Especially if you’ve never before had to confront such a challenge.
Arthur drove out to pick me up at the airport. I hugged him as soon as I saw him, feeling like a child again, but in a way that was humbling rather than humilifying. He returned a fierce embrace. This was only my friend: not an egoist bent on taking control over my life, and far more than nothing at all.
Canada had taken a major stance against the perverted regime that governed its southern neighbour, and Arthur commended this as an important step to show that whatever value system it was established on was unacceptable, morally abhorrent, grotesque-- the British man was never short on his eloquence when it came to condemnation and criticism, and I’d forgotten that I’d missed this about him.
England’s skies were clad in silver, and as I stepped out of his car, I could feel the fog run and billow against my face. The trim garden before the modest-sized cottage thrived in the damp midday heat, and I could smell the clean lustre of the grass and cobbled roads. Inside, I was served tea, biscuits with cream and strawberries. We enjoyed our snacks on the century-old couch Arthur had had reupholstered only last year, and we watched some TV.
He didn’t bring up the topic of Gilead again after we’d discussed the matter of the letters in the car. It was me who’d brought it up, the next day, after another meal I’d cooked of sole and asparagus. We took a walk through the neighbourhood, towards the golf course.
“I’ve been blaming myself for what had happened to Alfred,” I started, and I could see him brace himself. The issue of what was to blame for the rise of Gilead has been discussed between us countless times, and our inability to agree on any conclusions, over the many instances of these discussions, had led to my previous drift away from him. I continued, “And that’s what had caused me to lose hope in trying to meaningfully oppose him. I hated myself so much, and this vulnerability I felt was so crippling.”
He was caught off-guard with the sudden change in tone, but he was listening. “I’ve thought so, Matthew. But there is something else, though, isn’t there?” he coaxed.
I paused, my throat seizing up as I tried to construe the words. “Well -- about half a year ago, when I ditched you guys to attend that conference in Seattle…” I trailed off, and he remained patient. “I, ah, I messed up. I don’t know, I guess I just gave in. I really thought Alfred was… was feeling regret. Loss, you know. For what he once was. I thought that’s why he reached out to me, because, there was so much we’ve been through together, and even more that I’ve helped him with.”
“Yes, I know,” Arthur acknowledged. We approached the train tracks, and we climbed the footbridge. I stopped midway and observed the tracks.
“In the moment, I’d just perceived that we were normal again. I was… spellbound.”
“‘Spellbound’, huh?” He commented. Next to me, he was leaning forward, arms crossed on the rail. “Nothing’s ever really ‘normal’, is it? No matter how much we try to set standards for what ought to be normal in the world.”
“Then we should believe in it,” I said. Not in the past, but what we could have in the future. That is where the heart of the America I knew lay.
We stood there, waiting in silence for nothing in particular. The fog thickened as the dusk approached, and the sunlight filtering through the surrounding forest refracted an aureate gleam through the substance of the air. Arthur laid his hand over mine. “I loved him,” he murmured.
The earth supporting the bridge shuddered, and a train barraged into sight. The rusty, brutish vehicle trundled beneath our feet, we watched it pass and we reveled soundlessly.
*stares into the distance* what if. what if I gave Sam and Dean styled codependency. to other characters [shot]
APH 1812!Canada: *coughing*
APH Prussia: *sigh* Honestly kid,i give up
APH 1812!Canada: W-Wait-
APH Prussia: America could do better,that boy was easier to train
APH 1812!Canada: M-Mr.Prussia i-i-
APH Prussia: *leaves*
APH 1812!Canada: URGH! *kicks a rock*
APH 1812!America: Hey...
APH 1812!Canada: LEAVE ME ALONE!
APH 1812!America: ...
APH 1812!Canada: *sobbing*
APH 1812!America: Cana-
APH 1812!Canada: I-I’m useless....
APH 1812!America: No,no you’re no-
APH 1812!Canada: Yes i am! It’s been 2 months of training and i can’t defend myself from a single punch! I miss all shots and hit everything but not the target! How can i fight in a war if i fall just by a slap on my cheek?!
APH 1812!America: ...
APH 1812!Canada: *sobbing* W-Why did i even agree with this?...i-i’m just wasting everybody’s time...i would be more useful just keeping being Britain’s obedient boy....
APH 1812!America: Is that so?
APH 1812!Canada: H-Huh?
APH 1812!Canada: !
APH 1812!America: ...
APH 1812!Canada: A-America? Why...?
APH 1812!America: He was too easy on you
APH 1812!Canada: W-What do you mean?
APH 1812!America: That was not training,that was like watching a baby fighting a teddy bear,pathetic
APH 1812!Canada: H-Huh?
APH 1812!America: I’ll train you
APH 1812!Canada: W-Wha-
APH 1812!America: If you want to fight in this war,you need to be strong,i want you to break at least one of my ribs
APH 1812!Canada: A-Are you crazy?! I-I can’t hur-
APH 1812!America: If you can’t hurt me then you can’t hurt Britain, you’re still attached to him
APH 1812!Canada: W-What? That’s not-
APH 1812!America: Everytime that Spain tries to wake you up,you say: “I’ll be there in 5 minutes Mr.England”. Even with the way he treated you,you’re still attached to him,what if he say: “Canada lad,i’m sorry for what i did,i promise i won’t do this to you again,please come back!”,would you still go back to him?
APH 1812!Canada: ...
APH 1812!America: A simple apology is not enough and you know this
APH 1812!Canada: I...
APH 1812!America: Do you want to be strong Canada?
APH 1812!Canada: Y-Yes
APH 1812!America: Good,i'll make a man out of you *pat his head*
APH 1812!Canada: *blushes* T-Thank you America
APH 1812!America: Hn,be ready in the morning,we’ll be starting at 03:15am
APH 1812!Canada: Hm! Okay! *leaves*
APH 1812!America: ...
APH 1812!America: Hn *smiles*
I hc Canada as really kinky, so I bet him and America get up to some really wild stuff for valentines day
APH America: OH MY GOD WHAT HAPPENED HERE DUDE?! WHY KUMAJIRO IS HEADLESS?! WHY EVERYONE IS DEAD?!
APH Canada: Hehe
APH America: EHE TE NANDAYO?!
i’m several hours late with this scribble
bonus couple’s costume: