England and America handled the ladder carefully down the hallway, heading towards the central staircase that would lead them upstairs, and then to the loft. Their goal was just inches away, and with Belarus being in the west wing, she was unlikely to bother or attack them.
“Feels pretty good to suddenly be winning, doesn’t it?” America smiled.
“It does, actually,” England frowned. “Who do you think the first person to call should be?”
“Canada,” America said. “I feel I should at least let him know I’m still alive…”
“I can’t say I’ll be calling Sealand,” England sighed. “He’s hardly useful.”
“Eh, don’t be too harsh on the kid,” America laughed. “Do you think the Nordics would help us?”
“Possibly,” England thought of all the help they could get. “In this situation, I don’t see why they wouldn’t.”
“Austria and Hungary,” America said dreamily. “Oh, it’s too much! I’m just glad to finally get the hell out of here.”
After the comment about becoming one, Russia had lost all nerve. Unable to pretend he was braver and face Belarus, he turned and broke into a run.
“Leave me alone, Belarus!” he cried, as he ran down the hallway.
“Come back, big brother,” she yelled, following in quick pursuit. “I want to become one with you and marry you and have wonderful walks in the park with you!”
Where did the parks come from? Russia wondered, but he didn’t stop to question his sister’s general odd behaviour.
He swung round the corner and started dashing along the hallway, glancing over his shoulder every now and then to see that Belarus was catching up on him.
England paused at the sound of footsteps. He tried to glance past America, but couldn’t see beyond his ally or the ladder.
“Do you hear-” America began, but was brutally interrupted.
England braced himself at the sight of someone crashing into America, whose chin crashed into the ladder. It slipped from his grasp as he angled his body away from it to prevent any more damage being done to him. England watched his glasses fall from his face. Everything felt like it was moving in slow motion. Even the ladder being jammed into his gut from the force of the crash was painfully slow. The air rushed from his lungs as he pushed the ladder aside to the floor and braced himself for the next impact: Russia.
Having already crashed into America, Russia stumbled over the newly dropped ladder that England left in his path, he fell forwards, head-butting England in the process, where they both fell in a heap on the floor. Russia landed straight on England, but also hissed from a sharp pain in his arm from landing on his elbow in an attempt to break his fall.
It was a catastrophe.
Belarus, who was running at top speed, tried to slow herself down. Russia, seeing her coming, jumped to his feet and pulled England, who was gasping like a fish, up with him. America reached for his glasses just as Russia grabbed his jacket and hauled him along. In the style of Indiana Jones, he whipped his glasses up and snapped them on his face last minute whilst being dragged. Russia sucked in a breath from the pain in his arm, but kept running.
Belarus, unable to stop herself, tripped over the ladder and fell flat on her stomach. The crowbar skidded across the ground in front of her.
“I’m so sorry, Belarus,” Russia screamed as he ran along.
“Big… brother?” she sounded more confused than hurt as Russia continued ploughing down the hallway.
“What’s going on?” America yelled.
“We’re getting away from my sister,” Russia sharply turned around the corner.
England, winded from the weight of Russia, gasped like fish, as he was pulled into the library once more. Once released, he fell to his knees and focused on breathing, as Russia locked the door and dragged the sofa in front, as well as an additional bookshelf to go along with it. He slumped down on the sofa and stretched both arms before himself, wincing as he did so.
America turned the lights on and stood, glasses askew and jacket ruffled. “Are you OK?” he asked England.
Breathless, England nodded, and laid flat on the floor. The lights above danced like stars as he continued to breathe in and out, each breath becoming easier as he kept at it. Once he was sure the air was travelling properly through his lungs and air passages, he propped himself up on his elbows and looked at Russia.
“Where have you been?” he demanded. “You vanished at the beginning of this night and we’ve been looking for you ever since.”
“Really?” Russia looked surprised. “I…”
“Yes,” England gasped. “We realised we shouldn’t be blaming you for everything and thought we’d look for you but everyone’s been gradually disappearing.”
“Where’s France?” Russia asked.
“Gone,” England blew out a breath. “What’s wrong with your arm?”
Russia looked at him. “What?”
“You were… shaking it earlier,” England said. “Did you do something to it?”
He shook his head. “Nah. I’m fine.”
The three of them sat in awkward silence, none of them sure of what to say to one another. England was just relieved to have an extra member to the party, but he was well aware that America and Russia were enemies, or something close to that.
“I was mainly in the west wing,” Russia admitted. “But I did come over here once or twice…”
“We’ve been everywhere but the west wing downstairs,” America said.
“What was the ladder for?” Russia asked.
“The loft,” England said. “We were trying to get there.”
Another silence ensued. Russia kept glancing towards the door, and America kept giving Russia glowers, only to look towards England every now and then dubiously. England, fully recovered, tapped his knee uncomfortably through the silence. He could feel America’s eyes on him, and Russia seemed to be refusing to make eye contact with either of them.
“I thought she would’ve been here by now,” Russia murmured, listening against the door.
“Same,” America agreed darkly.
“Russia, is Belarus taking everyone?” England finally blurted out, and Russia turned in his seat on the sofa to look at them both, alarmed.
“No, Belarus isn’t the one,” he said. “She wouldn’t do that.”
“She was threatening to dispose of us earlier,” America scowled.
“She just doesn’t like you,” Russia frowned. “I know, I know… She’s very violent, but she honestly doesn’t do a lot with intent to harm. Seriously… If she had caught us after the truth or dare thing, the most she would’ve done to France is given him a shake and then she wouldn’t have known what to do afterwards.”
“Really?” America looked sceptical.
Russia nodded, and they all lapsed into silence again. England strongly believed it was Belarus. He also believed that Russia was in denial about his sister.
“Who do you think it is, then?” America asked through gritted teeth.
Russia rolled his eyes. “Ukraine.”
“That’s utter bollocks,” England blurted out and Russia turned his head to him, alarmed. “Ukraine would hardly do any of this. I think Belarus is the attacker.”
“No, I swear it’s Ukraine,” Russia looked horrified. “I would never usually blame either of my sisters for anything, but seriously, Ukraine has been acting strange and I think she’s the attacker.”
“She had tea and tarts with us only about half an hour ago,” America looked irritated. “If she was the attacker, surely she’d have poisoned the food or drugged it, since she made it herself.”
“She made it herself?” he looked confused.
“Yes, because all the Baltics have gone missing,” America glared.
“I don’t know why you’re looking at me like that,” Russia gave him a hard stare.
“Because you’re in denial,” America said, exasperated. “Your little sister Belarus is a psycho. A light shake? I’m fairly sure she was going to bash my brains out earlier with that crowbar she’s got. You know what else she has? Issues.”
“Please don’t talk about my sister in this way,” Russia looked uncomfortable.
“Belarus is dangerous,” America continued. “You need to accept that.”
“I swear on my life that it’s Ukraine,” Russia replied darkly.
“Ukraine wouldn’t do this,” America insisted. “Have you seen Belarus, though? She was chasing you down the freaking corridor! For all we know, you could have been next.”
“I would not be saying it was Ukraine if I didn’t have a reason,” Russia snapped. “At one point, yes, I thought it was Belarus, but some staggering facts about Italy’s whereabouts when he disappeared provoked me to reconsider. I might not have solid evidence, but I’ve got enough to keep me alive.”
“Go on, then,” America folded his arms. “Give me this theory of yours.”
“Italy was in the east wing bathroom,” Russia said rapidly. “Ukraine remained in the east wing. Belarus came to the west wing to see us. The amount of time it would’ve taken her to get to us means she wouldn’t have had time to dispose of Italy to arrive at the time she did. Belarus can’t be the one. Why is it Ukraine? She was the last person to see Germany and China.”
“But Belarus was outside when France was murdered and taken,” America protested.
“I don’t know what happened to France, but I can now assume that Japan went missing alongside Germany and China,” Russia argued.
“She said Latvia was with Germany and that they went to the bathroom and disappeared,” America said.
“She could’ve lied, da?” Russia glanced at him in disbelief.
“It’s true that she never mentioned China,” England said, suddenly feeling cold.
“Don’t listen to him, England,” America glared at them both. “His boss and Ukraine’s boss aren’t on good terms. He’s probably just accusing her out of spite.”
“Why would I do that?” Russia looked offended. “I don’t want either of my sisters being the attacker. I want to see them as innocent sisters, not murderous ones.”
“Saying Ukraine’s a killer is exactly the same as saying Canada is as well,” America snorted. “That just can’t happen.”
Russia shrugged, unsure of how to reply to that. England had to agree – Canada didn’t exactly stand out that much…
“How about we go there and demand answers?” America said.
“OK,” Russia stood and faced him.
The two glared at one another, and then set to moving aside the sofa and bookshelf.
“Please,” England frowned. “Let’s not do anything too brash.”
Somehow, he ended up leaving the room after Russia, with America stalking angrily behind him. Being sandwiched between the two when they were this heated about what was going on was nerve racking.
“You can guarantee that, when we ask her, we’ll be able to extract the information we desire, that being the locations of all the people she’s potentially killed,” America stated, sounding like a contract.
There was a feverish burning in his eyes. England realised that America had just gotten desperate.
“I swear of my life,” Russia sent him a dark look over his shoulder. “Although, I would like to think Ukraine hasn’t killed anyone, but just captured them…”
“Are you sure you can turn your sister in if it comes down to it?” America questioned. “Because if Ukraine is the attacker, then she’s committed crimes against all these countries and has potentially earned a lot of enemies.”
Russia turned around. “If it’s not Ukraine it’s Belarus. Either way, I and my sisters suffer, da?”
“He has a point,” England glanced over his shoulder. “Just lay off for a bit, OK?”
“Dude, this is the deciding point,” America said as they reached the door.
England found it strange that the door was closed, since they hadn’t closed it, and he was sure Ukraine had also left it open. However, Russia seemed unconcerned, and opened it after knocking.
“Hello, Ukra-” Russia walked into the room.
England peered round and raised both eyebrows. Tea was spilt across the table and on the carpet. The chocolates were scattered on the floor and some had been stepped on and crushed.
“Ukraine…” Russia looked horrified.
“Swear on your life, eh?” America’s voice shook – he sounded both breathless but also angry.
England turned just as Russia did and stared straight at the gun America held in his hand, aimed at Russia.