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The 'Hug'

By dooder's nin


Chapter 1

It wasn't too different a day than any other when comparing one day to another, but the buildup to that particular day meant that things were a little different. With the end of winter came other seasonal storms and events that could be as chaotic as the personification of its country. Tropical storms, hurricanes, tornadoes, brushfires, drought, and heatwaves could be occurring in different parts of the country and Alfred had been feeling a migraine coming on with the first forecast of a sub-tropical storm that was being broadcast for people to keep an eye on. He had mostly disregarded the throbbing headache he'd had for the past couple of days, used to them by now. And despite what everyone else thought of him, he was familiar with how to handle a cold. His other antics were done mostly to get a ruse out of the other nations – even though there were plenty of moments of genuine childishness, but he couldn't help himself. It always felt better to keep optimistic and smile more than to be as grouchy as some of the other personifications. But with the migraine he was getting, Alfred began to wonder if maybe they were all experiencing such pains all the time.

He smirked a little as he filled his thermos with some coffee before grabbing one of the folders with his speeches for the meeting he was supposed to be attending the next day. Alfred took a sip and waited for the caffeine to work its wonders before glancing at his watch and realizing that he'd better start heading to the airport if he was to keep from receiving the usual call from his boss to remind him that he was running behind. But he figured that, as usual, he could just make his typical entrance to these world meetings whether on time or not. It wasn't like he'd be missing anything other than the usual bickering, although he did always find it amusing. He and his brother often spent some time commenting on the European propensity for holding what were now ridiculous grudges, Matthew typically finding a way to make his brother laugh. When he wasn't being invisible to even Alfred with his disappearing skills, Alfred had to admit that his northern neighbor and brother had a pretty good sense of humor. Just looking at the amount of Canadian comedians working in Hollywood was good enough evidence to support that, but Matthew was content where he was for the most part. Alfred considered calling him from his car as he pulled away from his house with his luggage and obligatory travel snacks, but figured that it was likely his brother was also somewhat affected by the rains that were traveling along the eastern area of his territory. But just as he was about to drop the idea entirely, his brother's number showed up on his car's Bluetooth system. He chuckled at his brother's apparent psychic skills and answered.

"Hey Mattie!" Alfred said with as much enthusiasm he could muster to keep his highly observant brother from worrying. "I was just about to call ya! I'm on my way to the airport now. We still plannin' on carpoolin' to the hotel from the airport? My boss was cool with it…sorta…" he said, taking another sip of his drink.

"Hi Alfred." Mathew's more quiet voice responded. "I was just checking on that. I'm good with that plan, but I wanted to know if you were feeling alright? I know I'm feeling a little under the weather with the connection to the land and all, but I also know you have that nasty habit of not getting enough sleep." Mathew said, Alfred sighing as his brother reprimanded him. There were times when Canada's prolonged attachment to England left him wondering how much of Arthur's personality was irreversibly ingrained in him, particularly the nagging to get him to watch himself a little better.

"Yes Mattie. It's ten o'clock and all's well." Alfred sarcastically replied. "Got a good, solid five hours in before I grabbed my stuff and jumped in the truck. I'll be fine and dandy for y'all when I give my speech - not that any of the other nations would get my meaning." He said, thinking back over how ridiculously insane the reactions were to his proposal for a marketing scheme of 'Globalman' to raise awareness and funds to combat global warming. He did get to be a superpower for a reason and with some issues, he knew marketing was the first step. Just like with his numerous other big-time corporations, the food industry one of his favorite. Still, he thought building a humongous robot-like thing would have been cool anyway without having a reason to build it.

"Easy Alfred…" Mattie answered with a bit of humor in his voice. "No need to get all worked up cowboy. And clearly something's wrong, eh? You slip into one of your other accents when you're losing your focus." Mattie said, Alfred wincing as he knew his brother found him out. "I know you spent some time in the Midwest recently, but try and not overwhelm the other nations. You know what happened the last time you showed up with that southern drawl of yours and you're on your own with France if that happens." Mattie said, laughing over the phone at the image of the last world meeting America had shown up to with his southern dialect. France hadn't heard that in a while and had been more out of it than usual with his preoccupation with romanticism, spouting out all sorts of recommendations when he recognized that accent as belonging to Louisiana.

"Thanks Mattie. Feelin' the brotherly love here." Alfred replied, not bothering to try and revert back to the usual accent the other nations recognized as the standard American accent. "But I got it. I'll be right as rain in no time. Speaking of which, you gettin' those headaches too?" He said as he neared the airport.

"Yeah…but it's not too bad. I actually get to sleep at night, eh?" Mathew teased. "But seriously Al, you know how we can be susceptible to regular colds too so take something on the plane. Okay?" He said, earning another sigh from Alfred who pulled up to the building for the plane his boss had assigned him. He parked the car and leaned back into the seat.

"Yeah. Will do, bro." Alfred said. "It's about eleven hours from here to London so I should get some sleep on the plane." He said, knowing that he still had plenty of files he needed the time to look over rather than sleep for the entire trip. He knew Matthew might say something, knowing his work ethic was far stricter than the other nations realized, overlooking that feature of America, but Canada didn't push him any further.

"Alright Al. I'm taking off now so I'll talk to you later. Take care." Mathew said before hanging up after a brief goodbye from Alfred. Taking a deep breath and rubbing his forehead, Alfred finally got out of his car and started to take his luggage out, thanking the airport workers who assisted him. He took his seat, sinking into it as he tried to get comfortable. He pulled out the file he'd been looking at before he left, the plane starting to take off. He looked out the window before turning back to his stack of papers, internally cringing at his complete lack of desire to do anything other than maybe throw on a good movie and take a nap.

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