I: The Demon's Entrance
A nagging feeling at the back of his mind, England lit the last of the black candles around the room before finishing the summoning circle. His long, black cloak floated about him as he walked, making him look otherworldly as he whispered the ancient words, many of which he no longer knew the meanings of.
Hood up so it cast a thin shadow over his face, he stood between a tall, iron candelabra holding black tapers and a stand with a dish that held loose incense. Vervain would call to the darker parts of the spirit realm, while the dragon’s blood should aid in protection.
Hands out in front of him, fingers outstretched, England closed his eyes and chanted, voice like a song. The notes wove through and around the summoning circle like an intricate web that grew stronger with each line.
The air grew heavy, and England’s heart pounded as he felt energy pull away from him, his very aura twisting into thin threads to reinforce the web he was making. As he opened his eyes, the chalk on the concrete floor glowed, getting brighter and brighter until his emerald eyes began to water from pain.
Yet, he refused to even blink, the words now bleeding through his clenched teeth.
His arms began to shake; sweat beaded along his hairline. He could see the light begin to coalesce, the chant making it become a solid as it formed a dome over the circle, large enough to hold the demon England was perfectly capable of summoning—he knew he was.
The blast was unexpected, all the candles extinguishing at once for some time as England pushed himself onto one knee, accidentally pulling at his cloak. His hood was yanked from his head at the pull, and he readjusted his stance as he tried to get his breath back. Sweat ran down the back of his neck, and England wiped at his forehead before any of the salt-laden beads could roll into his eyes.
“Dammit!” he hissed, his hand finding the hot coal that had been in the dish for the incense.
The candles relit in unison, and England clutched his burnt hand to his chest when an all-too familiar voice made him jump:
“Motherfucker! Son of a whore!”
Rage at both himself and the American pumped through his veins; England leapt to his feet as he whirled around, cloak flying up at the motion.
Inside the circle, shadows cast by the candles made the man’s coloring darker, but his height, the bomber jacket, and that cowlick… It was definitely Amer—
There was a loud bang as a wooden bat hit the floor. England’s hands began to shake as the rage flushed from his system, replaced by the twisting strike of apprehension.
Something was wrong.
The bat held many nails at the wide end, and even in the shadows, the fact blood stained the metal and wood was unmistakable.
“I finally had that damned Russki right where I wanted him!” the younger nation roared, throwing something else onto the floor.
It was a cigarette.
America didn’t smoke. He hated the smell.
This man was turned around as he ranted, but England could now see that it wasn’t just the shadows. This man’s hair was dark brown, and there was blood splatter on his sleeves and tattered jeans. His trainers were stained in a way that suggested he had recently been standing in a pool of blood.
What the hell have I done? England asked himself as he clutched his hurt hand even harder, though he no longer felt the pain.
Turning around and eyes squeezed shut as he scowled, the dark-haired man continued his rant: “And you better not be fucking trying to shove those damned cupcakes—”
When the man opened his eyes, they almost went as wide as England’s.
His eyes were red as the blood staining his clothes and bat.
Eyebrows rising, the stranger remarked, “You’re not Oliver. Sure look like a hell lot like him, though….”
His lips twisted into a smirk the blonde hated seeing on a face identical to America’s. It made the rage return, and the part of England’s mind that had been telling him this was a bad idea was now telling him to banish this man—and fast.
Unfortunately, it was rare he actually listened to that voice, his curiosity oftentimes winning him over.
“Who the bloody hell are you?” the Brit demanded, hands going to his side as he straightened himself and his eyes narrowed.
He was in charge here.
Taking off the sunglasses that had been resting just above the tip of his nose, the America look-a-like replied in an arrogant tone, “Allen. Feel free to call me Al.”
It sounded much too close to ‘Alfred’ for England’s liking.
“That what your friends call you?” he snarled, watching as Allen secured his sunglasses atop his head and bent down to grab his bat—never breaking eye contact.
The chuckle was anything but friendly.
“Guess you could call ‘em that,” said Allen.
He sauntered over towards the edge of the circle; pale green light separated him from the rest of the world. The way he looked into the blonde’s eyes sent chill after chill down his spine, yet, he stood his ground. He was not one to be visibly shaken easily.
“So this must be one of those ‘other worlds’ Oliver likes to go on about,” murmured Allen, eyes now moving around the basement. “Weird, Oliver usually does this sort of crap in his kitchen.”
So this was a version of America in a parallel universe, and apparently this ‘Oliver’ was a different version of England. Not only that, but Allen seemed very aware of Oliver’s use of magic, whereas America had no idea England practiced.
“So you know of other worlds?” asked the Brit.
He should really get started on sending Allen back, but curiosity was getting the better of him. In all his years, he had never summoned someone from a different dimension. Hell, last time he’d tried, he’d ended up with Russia!
“Sure.” Allen shrugged, lifting up his bat so it rested on one shoulder, blood starting to drip from the crooked nails. “In exchange for… an ingredient for his cupcakes, he sent Steve somewhere for me and even gave me a way to watch the fun.”
Something about that made more shivers slide down England’s spine. He wasn’t sure if it had to do with whatever this ingredient was or whatever had been done with this Steve character, but England was very sure he would rather not know. Sometimes ignorance truly was bliss.
“Looking a little pale, there,” said Allen with a smirk and cock of the head. “Hope you’re not losing your…” He stepped back and drew back the bat, knees bent and elbows out. “Concentration.”
Eyes wide again, England shot up his hands, ready to begin strengthening the barrier when the bat struck the dome.
The force made England slide back several inches, and he struggled to keep his balance before trying again, noticing the scowl on Allen’s face. Hitting the barrier like that should have sent pain through his body, the equivalent of getting hit by several Taser guns.
Yet, Allen somehow managed to stay on his feet and swing at the barrier again before England could even begin reweaving the spell.
The dome shattered, and England flew into the concrete wall and hit the ground hard. He felt as though lighting had struck him through his crown to his feet and back up again.
The candles went out once more, and the light created by the spell was gone, destroyed by Allen’s brute force.
“Shoulda banished me when you had the chance,” laughed Allen as darkness began to overtake England’s vision. “See ya, later. This should be fun…”
Since the Brit wasn’t going to stay out-cold for long, Allen made sure to get out of there, though the darkness caused him to trip a few times before he finally found the stairs.
It’s like he lives for making a spooky atmosphere, thought the brunette as he scowled, his foot hitting the door when he reached the top.
It opened into a spacious den, all spick-and-span, reminding Allen more of Kuro’s place than Oliver’s. The demented cupcake-lover left his place so helter-skelter, it made even Allen want to clean up. This world’s England, though, looked to be fastidious to the point of obsession. It was so bizarre compared to what the American expected to see, irritation immediately bloomed within him, making him twitch.
Holding his bat out, Allen knocked over a vase that was in the center of the coffee table, water and lilies spilling as porcelain fragments scattered. He knocked down pictures, pausing for a moment to snatch one up from the broken glass and stuff it into his pocket. He headed for the front door, and he knocked over another vase plus some knick-knacks on a long, narrow table pushed up against one wall.
Outside, the sun was out, so Allen put on his tinted glasses, bat coming up to rest on his shoulder as he descended the three steps leading from the door to the walk past the front yard.
The house looked to be the only one for some distance, and up ahead on the narrow road, a black car headed this way, so Allen ducked behind a nearby tree, a forest surrounding the left side of the manor.
“Oh, Angleterre left his door open,” mused the man that had come out of the cab.
He was a dead ringer for Jean-Luc back home, though his eyes and hair were different. This guy also looked like he’d spent probably an hour or more getting ready, not a blond hair out of place, clothes clean and pressed, stubble looking like it was trimmed to purposefully give him a somewhat devil-may-care edge, and fair skin scrubbed and practically glowing.
This was a man that would look at Jean-Luc, who preferred to smoke or drink in the darkness of his home in clothes worn days at a time, in utter disgust.
He’d be fun to play with for a bit.
Stopping upon passing the tree, France blinked and looked at Allen in confusion.
“Alfred? I thought you were arriving tomorrow with Mathieu….”
The suitcase fell from his grip as Allen stepped forward from the shadows, smirking at the shocked and horrified look that came over the Frenchman’s face.
“Mon Dieu…,” murmured France, taking a step back as he crossed himself.
“He ain’t helpin’ ya,” said Allen, smirk deepening. “But I’m in a good mood, so if you want, go ahead and pray a little. I got time.”
“Smart man!” Allen laughed, chasing after him.
With a single swing, Allen broke through the front door, which France had tried to slam in his face.
“Angleterre!” shrieked the blond man, vaulting over the couch. “Mon Dieu, c’est ta faute! I just know it!”
He swore as Allen’s bat made contact with his back, sending him sprawling onto the floor, one hand shakily lifting to the light blue cushions of the shorter couch so he could push himself up.
Allen kicked him in the side so he’d roll over, grinning at the pained look on France’s face as his arms shook. Blood was already beginning to stain the carpet beneath him, the chipped and rusted nails having torn at his salmon-colored shirt and fair skin. Allen’s sunglasses began to slip down the bridge of his nose, and France’s sky blue eyes widened upon seeing those crimson orbs staring back at them.
“Think you’d never seen red eyes before,” Allen chuckled.
“Démon…,” whispered France, rolling out of the way just in time when the bat came down where his head had once been.
“Aw…,” drawled Allen in mock-hurt as he took another swing, only managing to nick the man on the shoulder. “You really shouldn’t call people names. It hurts their feelings!”
When France managed to get to his feet and lunge at Allen, the brunette dodged, barking a laugh.
“So you do have some fight in you!” Allen guffawed. “For a minute I thought you’d surrender if I was a fucking Girl Scout sellin’ cookies!”
Getting up, France gritted his teeth and clutched at his wounded shoulder, blood seeping through his fingers.
“Tu ne gagneras pas…” France lunged again, hands out like he was going to grab the bat.
Smirking, Allen let him and then wrenched him off with a half-step forward and sideways motion, putting him off-balance.
“Je gagne,” the brunette mocked as he brought down his shoulder onto the Frenchman’s back, where his neck met his shoulders.
There was a gagging sound as France went down onto the low table, a few of the porcelain fragments slicing into the skin of his hands and wrists.
From downstairs, Allen heard something metal fall over, signaling that England was now awake, so the American gave a half-hearted swing down onto France’s back, making him fall onto his side on the ground, eyes half-lidded and pupils so large, the irises were barely visible.
Time to find someone else to play with.
As soon as England was conscious, he tried to find the staircase but instead found the candelabra and sent it falling to the ground, tapers rolling across the concrete floor. The blond man let out a whispered oath and made a mental map of where in the basement he was, quickly able to find the staircase and get into the living room.
Once there, England fell, heart skipping a beat when he spotted France bleeding on the carpet. His back and one shoulder held deep lacerations, but the smaller ones were already beginning to heal.
Taking off his cloak, England rushed into the kitchen and grabbed a salve from one of the cabinets. It was in an aluminum tin, and England took it to France, kneeling by him.
The smell of peppermint, tea tree, and lavender was strong, and Francis twitched when the translucent substance touched his back, stinging as it seeped into the cuts. Nations healed rather quickly, depending on various factors (often having to do with the state of the lands they personified), but the salve would help speed up the process.
Suddenly, England was on his back, a small piece of porcelain sticking the back of his neck. Atop him was France, who grasped the collar of England’s shirt, popping off one of the buttons as his hands shook. The Frenchman seethed, and blood dripped onto England’s shirt as France gathered enough breath to force out some of the words crowding his frenzied mind.
“Who was that?” he demanded in a breath, pupils slowly shrinking to a normal size.
Not even bothering to shove France off of him like he normally would, England responded, “His name is Allen, apparently. He’s a different version of Alfred.”
Hands still shaking even after he let Arthur go and got off of him, Francis said, “He… he looked so much like him…, but his eyes…” One of his hands curled into a tight fist. “I swear, you know you are going to Hell and are adamant on bringing it here so the rest of us can suffer with you.”
France was one of the few nations that knew England practiced witchcraft—he’d discovered this after seeing the fey playing around in his study one day. He didn’t like it, though there were many things either could say he hated about the other.
Pushing himself to his feet, England looked around the room. Could be worse. “We need to find him. Find him so I can banish him before anyone else gets hurt.”
France said nothing, just sat there on the floor as England headed back into the kitchen. He hadn’t done a locator spell in years. Hopefully, it would work, and fast. Germany and Italy would be arriving in about an hour, followed by Russia. Tomorrow, Japan and China would arrive early in the morning and America and Canada closer to noon.
The locator spell worked best using an object that belonged to the person, but that obviously wasn’t happening, so he would have to improvise.
Allen was America from a parallel dimension, right?
England headed for his storage closet down the hall in the back of the manor.
In London, Allen stomped down on his cigarette. Strapped to his back was a long, narrow bag his bat currently occupied, and he’d relieved a guy of his clean jeans and button-up grey shirt. Puddles had washed his sneakers mostly-clean, rain only now beginning to recede.
It had come in unexpectedly, and by the way the sky looked, more was sure to come.
Rubbing his hands together, Allen walked out of the alleyway, heading down a street past some shops. He hadn’t killed a man with only his hands in some time, having grown attached to his favorite weapon.
Well, it hadn’t been only his hands.
Allen’s victim had been carrying a pocket knife, so the brunette had decided to take a page out of Luciano’s book and had used it to cut out the middle-aged man’s tongue so he wouldn’t be able to scream for help. Allen had then stuffed the muscle into the dark-haired man’s throat, making him suffocate on it as he burned him along his neck and chest with the end of his cigarette.
Along with the knife, Allen had also kept the notes in his victim’s wallet. The money didn’t look all that different from Oliver’s, but this land sure did.
As bad as Allen’s and James’s homes were, Europe back in his world was almost always dark, pollution and smoke suffocating the sunlight into a state that was neither death nor life.
Even Viktor would complain about his beloved General Winter trying to freeze him solid.
Eyes out for a new victim to pass the time, Allen spotted a couple that made his head tilt in puzzlement.
The short man wore a black shirt and blue tie and was skipping; he held the hand of a much taller blond man walking behind him with long strides.
The taller of the two looked down at his auburn-haired friend with a small frown, though Allen could see a hint of red in his cheeks that suggested he secretly liked having his friend pull him along. Or maybe he just liked having him touch him in general. Allen didn’t know nor care.
“Looks like Luciano and Lutz,” Allen murmured, eyes narrowing behind his sunglasses.
Hurrying, Allen fell into step a good distance behind the two—not too close to get caught easily but not too far to lose them.
The shorter man sounded like he was singing some nonsense tune, and he could go up against Oliver with that happy-go-lucky prance of his.
It seemed impossible that this man could be tied, in any way, to Luciano, the man that had brought Allen’s world to its knees. Luciano had led with Lutz in step behind him, taking over with brute force as his twin brother, Flavio, worked the underworld, causing other nations to fall from within.
Kuro had been a major force as well, Allen scowling as his heart pumped rage through his body at the memory of what he had done to him and his home. His scars still ached.
He would forgive Luciano before he ever forgave Kuro, and forgiveness was not something Allen simply handed out. It was a weak force, offered as a white flag flimsy and delicate as tissue paper.
At one point, this world’s Germany straightened, head turning one way and the other; his ice-blue eyes scanned his surroundings. Allen made sure to try and keep out of sight, using the files of people walking this way and that to keep himself hidden.
However, when Germany whispered something into Italy’s ear, making him stop singing and cock his head to one side in bewilderment, Allen knew the jig was up.
Still, though, he kept following. A true villain didn’t run away like some pansy; he stalked his prey until the end.
A cab was hailed, and the luggage went in along with Italy, who had a worried look on his face, though it was hard to tell, seeing as it looked like his eyes were closed. He said something, and the German shook his head as he replied.
The Italian hung his head but got into the cab, and after it drove off, Germany kept walking before turning into an alley, Allen smiling as he followed.
Allen took out one of his cigarettes and stuck it into his mouth as he grabbed his lighter from the other pocket. “Guess I need to work on my stalking skills.”
Germany whirled around in shock at the sound of his voice, Allen lighting his cigarette before putting the lighter away.
The tall man blinked a few times, and Allen found it odd seeing a Germany that wasn’t riddled with scars—many given to him by his so-called ally.
“Amer… Nein.” Germany shook his head and stood up straighter, regaining composure. “Who are you?”
The brunette took the bag off of his back and unzipped it, holding onto his cigarette with his teeth as he blew smoke out around it. “Call me Al. You can thank England for calling me here.”
“Why do you look like America?” Germany demanded, eyes narrowing.
“’Cause I am America, bitch!”
God, that look of confusion, shock, and horror just wasn’t ever going to get old.
Germany dodged Allen’s blow easily, and it was obvious from the get-go he would be a much more formidable opponent than France.
Good. Every villain needed a challenge.