20: Vive La France
“It all started out when Sealand came to me looking for an efficient way to get you and the others to notice him,” France explained. “I told him it was Halloween soon, and that he could use that as an excuse. The next day, he came with this plan of his, and I was delighted. 'Anything to make England uncomfortable', I thought at the time and it was also a way to find amusement from this whole thing. I told him to call Latvia and set this plan in Russia’s house, because I knew it would be more interesting if the host was someone nobody really liked or trusted…”
Russia glowered at him and he shrugged.
“Well, if you’re going to act the way you do, don’t be so surprised,” France warned. “No matter; Latvia followed Sealand’s instructions as he usually does. Once that was put into motion, it was all about getting you to go. Sealand was in my plane during the meeting we had at your house, England. I knew that you and America would be anxious about this whole event, and that you’d have some kind of meeting. If I acted openly against it, I didn’t look suspicious, but I also wanted you to generally agree to go. That’s where Italy came in. He would naturally just accept the party invitation, and out of pity, you’d all go along with him. I even suggested it, and seeing as I was on a roll, it worked out fine.
“Getting Sealand into Russia’s house was the hardest part,” France admitted. “Smuggling a twelve year old boy inside wasn't as easy as he seemed to believe, but that’s where Latvia came in. I flew my plane off in the distance, even though I was sure I could land with you guys. That gave Sealand and me enough time to prepare. I acted lost, with Sealand watching me from the shadows. Lithuania came to collect me, and that was how Sealand identified where the house was. As we all know, the Baltics are usually on rotating door duty. When the time was right, Latvia let his friend in the house and told him to go hide.
“When Italy disappeared, I knew the plan had been set into motion,” France nodded. “I had told them to stick together during the attacks, which they seemed to do fine, because Sealand already told me how they managed to get Lithuania.”
Russia glanced at Latvia once more, who shifted awkwardly from foot to foot and refused to meet his gaze. England wondered if this was where Latvia’s lies were revealed.
“When we split up, that was fantastic,” France gleamed. “I knew that two young boys would never be able to take down older, more powerful nations. When I was with you, England, as well as America, I noticed them tailing us, but only because I was looking for them. I started purposely going ahead and indicated I wanted to be taken. It was better if I was in the shadows as well. You two stayed in Belarus’s room, whereas I went into Ukraine’s, and I pretended to be mauled to death, knowing full well that you’d both be too terrified to leave the room. That gave all three of us a chance to get away.
“By then, I suppose that’s when we started to split up,” France said. “Latvia ended up serving Ukraine for a while, I had to pretend I was tied up in the room, even though I was the only one not blindfolded, and Sealand was the only one capable of moving around freely. I told him to target China or Japan, because they were the smallest in build and therefore easiest to take. Sealand returned with China gagged and blindfolded, much to my delight.
“I’ll admit, I was very surprised when Latvia dragged Germany into the little room,” France raised both eyebrows. “It turns out that China was incapable of using any martial arts techniques because Latvia had spiked their tea. I was surprised at first, but it turns out he’d found some sleeping tablets in the kitchen medicine cabinet and had given them a quarter tablet each. He’d mashed it into powder and sprinkled it in the bottom. That meant Ukraine wasn't effected, whereas China and Germany were. Drowsy and not nearly as fast as he could've been, I don’t doubt Latvia made Germany an easy take.”
All eyes were on Latvia, including Sealand.
“You drugged them?” Sealand gawked.
“I-I-I… How else was I…” Latvia swallowed, unable to defend himself.
France shrugged, choosing to ignore the conflict. “He only told me because he worried they’d be overdosed. I said no. They’d be fine, because the tablets he used were only for mild sleeping issues. Germany and China wouldn't even notice themselves getting slower and more relaxed. I'm sure the boys told you about how they got Estonia and Ukraine. My major role was to sit with the hostages and pretend to be blindfolded. I spoke, and they couldn't see that I wasn't bound up like they were. Latvia also did that with Germany, to pretend. It was all very clever, really.
“I intended to get Belarus next,” France said. “I'm sorry, but I felt it would be better to get the girls aside from what was happening, and Ukraine would probably feel better to have her sister with her. I'm not immoral. That’s when the boys told me America had gone on a rampage. I told them we needed to instantly go up, but neither was enthusiastic and I don’t blame them for that. I tried to go, but Sealand begged me not to. I insisted, and Latvia said the time wasn't right, that I would get shot. However, I needed to tell America the truth and get him to calm down.
“The boys had different ideas,” France admitted. “They left, and Latvia locked the door. I was stuck in, but I was more concerned for them, as they were heading towards the gunfire. Everything seemed to sort itself out, though, and I think they were probably right. At the sight of America with a gun, I would've turned tail and fled…”
“But why France?” England demanded. “Why would you do this in the first place, and why would you let it go so far?”
France thought for a moment. “I suppose I wanted to scare you, England. You were my main target, and since you react so badly to these things, it would be hilarious to have you in a situation like that with Russia and America, who hate one another. As to why I’d go so far? Because everyone who was taken to that room is a grown, mature adult. Nobody was harmed until America started shooting bullets. Did you know some people can pay to be kidnapped just for the thrill of it? They take you unexpectedly and without telling you how or when. This was nothing compared to something like that! However, America was not in on the plans.”
“OK, so you chose my house because you knew people would accuse me?” Russia asked flatly. “You smuggled a child across the Russian border just to have a laugh at England? You manipulated two children only for the purpose of this playing out? And you’re the one saying I'm the bad one?”
France laughed nervously. “I understand this hasn't been taken as well as I’d have liked, but surely it can become something we can all put behind us?”
“What about Japan?” England asked. “Was he involved? Because he hasn't been mentioned.”
“Oh, true,” Russia frowned. “All three of you didn't mention Japan once.”
“Oh, sugar!” Sealand’s eyes widened. “I forgot; I locked him in the meat hangar!”
“You what?” Latvia looked at him. “That place is freezing because it’s close to the outside and used to preserve meat!”
“I remember sneaking after him in that little passage and just pushing him,” Sealand panicked. “I was going to return there, but I forgot about him entirely.”
“Well, we need to get him out!” France looked worried. “What if he froze to death?”
“I don’t want to be a murderer,” Sealand burst into tears.
“Well this was a hoot and a half,” England rolled his eyes. “Seeing as your terrible plan has failed miserably, France, how about Latvia goes to retrieve Japan, and the rest of us unite with the others? Where are they?”
“The lounge Ukraine watches TV in,” France replied sullenly.
As a group, they all travelled. Together, England and France dragged America along. Belarus helped Russia walk and Sealand and Latvia walked at the front with their heads bowed. Sealand was trying not to cry anymore and Latvia had a fearful expression in his eyes. England was just glad this was over, yet he remained unwilling to look France in the eye.
When they passed the kitchen corridor, Latvia branched off to rescue Japan, and they all entered the lounge where everyone was gathered. All heads turned, their expressions icy and unfriendly. Sealand, unable to take it, started sobbing again.
“Oh, this is sad,” Ukraine frowned. “He’s only a little boy and once things were out of control, he couldn't handle them!”
She pulled Sealand into her arms, bubbling over herself with tears. England frowned and sidestepped them, where he and France laid America across the couch.
“What happened to you guys?” China asked, some chocolates in his hands, looking at England, who was still geared up; America, who was completely out of it; and Russia, who looked like he’d walked in the middle of a Mafia gun war.
“We've been through a lot tonight,” England explained, and Russia finally collapsed as if that was answer enough.
“He’s dead!” Sealand cried. “This is all my fault! I'm a-”
“He’s not dead!” Belarus growled, checking his pulse. “My poor brother has just been through too much.”
“Mr Russia!” Lithuania crouched beside him. “How did this happen to him?”
“America’s little brain couldn't handle the situation and he started shooting at us,” England folded his arms. “You know what I want? A bloody apology. I can’t believe the three of you took things as far as you did.”
Sealand grabbed his trouser leg. “I'm so sorry, jerk England. It’ll never happen again. I promise; I swear!”
England awkwardly patted him and pushed him gently away. “Look, I understand you didn't intend this to happen, but I honestly think you should have considered the consequences of taking Italy in the first place. You've both endangered and frightened a lot of people tonight.”
He glared at France and waited.
After a moment, France relented and sighed. “OK, I'm very sorry as to what has happened.”
“I should think so,” Germany folded his arms. “Now, where is Latvia? I want an explanation.”
“I'm here, Mr Germany,” Latvia said, guiding a shuddering Japan into the room.
His skin was pale from the cold, and Latvia had provided him with a blanket. He sat him on the couch wedged in between Italy and Germany where he continued to shiver but said nothing at all.
“Considering it’s already been said, I drugged your tea and attacked you from behind,” Latvia winced. “I'm so sorry.”
“I think we’ll need to have some kind of conference for this,” Germany sighed. “I understand that this was all meant to be light hearted, but you all took things way too far. I'm thinking perhaps a community service type punishment opposed to payment, because this was all an accidental situation.”
“Wow, thank you for being so understanding, Mr Germany,” Latvia looked surprised.
“I was hoping for payment, aru,” China scowled. “But I’ll just assume straight off the bat that no one else will be agreeing with me.”
A silence followed that confirmed his theory and he scowled.
“How about we organise everything tomorrow?” Estonia suggested tiredly. “Not many people are exactly fit to discuss international business and we've all missed out on valuable sleep.”
There was general murmured consensus. Ukraine organised a room for everyone, and England was just relieved to put his head down on a pillow. He closed his eyes, and finally drifted off into the world of sleep.