Characters: FACE ensemble. No pairings.
Warnings: Language. Typical France being France. Lots and lots of punny/word-related jokes.
Summary: In which a party is planned following the end of the War in Europe, arguing ensues, and France's will to live is utterly destroyed.
A/N: (Slightly early) Merry Christmas, chlothar! Also, I honestly have no idea why this fic is so looong. It was supposed to be ~1000 words or so, and now it's more than 3x that. -.- WRYYYYY
France arrived to the meeting fashionably late. The reason for this was that he was France, and France always did the fashionable thing. — And if something wasn’t already fashionable, well, it became fashionable whenever he felt like doing it. When other people didn’t shower or brush their hair for a week, then proceeded to walk around outside mostly naked, they were gross. When France did it, he was déshabillé. (You could tell that that was a good thing by the fact that it had a nice, French word to describe it.)
Of course, in this instance, France’s lateness was almost certainly contributed to by the fact that he had had an unforeseen amount of trouble untying himself that morning, and even more trouble trying to find his keys in the midst of all those oysters that had wound up all over the floor. The war was finally over, in Europe at least! He would have found it hard not to celebrate, and so he regretted nothing. Not that he usually did to begin with. Still, those oysters had gotten a bit slippery, and he had fallen flat on his face twice as he tried to get to the door that morning.
Still, he liked to think that his fashionableness was nevertheless the main reason.
When he arrived at the conference room, he was slightly annoyed to discover that he did not seem to have missed very much — making it that much harder for him to think of an excuse to ask one of the others out to dinner afterward. He checked his watch, realized that he was only forty-five minutes late, and cursed himself for having hurried so much.
Surveying the conference room, France found it to be a very dismal place. The large, blandly-decorated room was mostly empty, with several tables and chairs pushed up against the walls and a large potted plant sitting and withering sadly in a corner. The only occupants of the room were standing in the empty space that had been cleared in its middle, and were arguing in the exasperated tones of those who had almost certainly been at it for the full forty-five minutes France had missed.
France shuffled his feet absentmindedly. For what was supposed to be a meeting to discuss an upcoming party in honor of the Allies’ victory, this was awfully lacking. And why had only England and America showed up, at each other’s throats, no less?
France glanced around the room another time, but it was fruitless: it had been quite clear at first sight that there was nobody else there. Besides, Russia would have been a bit difficult to hide; the man wasn’t exactly petit, after all. France managed with great difficulty to choke back a sob at that thought. He had been planning on telling Russia that he could really get used to the idea of a great big bear of a man —
“Look, look! See? France showed up, didn’t he?” asked America in an all-too-familiar tone of smug satisfaction. “Hey France, you got your invite all right, didn’t you?”
“Oh, bloody — I wasn’t talking about France anyway, was I?”
(France wondered whether or not he ought to feel insulted by that. He probably should. Then again, as of late, he and England had been getting along better than they had for centuries . . . . )
“All right, so you did tell him we were meeting, then?” England pressed on. “Then in that case, where the hell is he?”
“I don’t know. Maybe he’s off, oh, let’s see, being a communist somewhere.”
“What — That doesn’t even make sense. Listen, did you or did you not send Russia —”
“Does too make sense! Communists,” America stated authoritatively, hands on his hips (manly hips, mind you; heroic hips, even), “Can’t get letters delivered to them anyway. Because nobody likes them.”
“Is not! I . . . I read it in a book.”
“That’s rubbish too. You haven’t read a book since you were fourteen.” And even then, he added mentally, I do wish you wouldn’t have. Surely any parent would be concerned for a child who had anything written by Locke hidden under his mattress. Oh yes, he had tried to be a good mother country . . . er, father . . . er, brother . . . thing . . . but this boy — !
“That’s a lie!” fumed America. “I read a whole book just last week. And it was really deep and moving, and I bet you’ve never read anything like that.”
“Really. I wouldn’t have thought you capable, quite frankly, my dear lad.”
“Yeah! And it was really, really good. It was about this boy, and his name was Dick, right? And then there was this girl, and her name was Jane. And they had a dog, too.”
“And, and, they were playing out in the street with their dog, but then they lost the dog. And it was really scary and sad, and I was like, completely at the edge of my seat, wondering if they would ever get the dog back. I tell ya, whoever wrote that book was a genius. You could borrow it, you know. If you wanted to be smarter.”
Thunderstruck, England stood and stared at his distressing offspring for a full minute. His mouth opened and closed several times in complete silence.
“You know what? That’s it,” he said at last, shaking his head and then looking up (and as he did so, his eyebrows shone marvelously in the light, like two giant, demonic wooly bear caterpillars). “I’m disowning you.”
“Good, because I already disowned you,” said America, sticking out his tongue.
The two glared at each other in silence. France coughed delicately.
“We can plan without Russia here, you know,” he pointed out. “We’ll just make sure that he gets invited when the actual dinner comes round. Calm down.”
England scowled somewhat, but felt inclined to agree. France was, surprisingly, right. If only America weren’t behaving in such a ridiculous way . . . .
France took another look around the dismal room. It was really quite lacking in every respect, and he couldn’t help but feel that if someone had only found a nice French interior designer to put some nice French furniture in it, the whole place would have a lot more class.
Still, there seemed to be little he could do at the moment other than sit at one of the very ugly tables and wait for America and England to cease their arguing.
Despite his scorn for the furniture, however, France was still astonished when one of the chairs yelped upon being sat on. He stared at it in confusion.
There was something very, very wrong with that chair.
In fact, it didn’t even look like a chair at all.
Whoever had made it had no taste whatsoever, to choose such a distressing design.
Why, it almost looked like . . .
“Hi, France,” muttered Canada, sounding more than a little gloomy. “You know they’ve been arguing for the entire time?”
They sat in silence for a few moments and watched the other two.
“How long do you think it will last?” wondered France with a sigh. Normally he had no objection to watching conflict and passion between two handsome young gentlemen, but today’s installment seemed unlikely to fulfil any of his fantasies.
“I have no idea.” Canada rolled his eyes to show his exasperation. “Honestly, they are worst they’ve been in years. It’s because they’re both so . . . arrogant now. I think it’ll take some sort of miracle to get them back on good terms.”
It was an hour later, and great progress had been made in restoring the world to democracy.
. . . Okay, actually all that had happened was that America and England had finally stopped quarreling long enough to acknowledge France’s arrival, Canada’s existence, and the fact that were here in this conference room for other reasons than standing around and arguing. Still, that counted as progress.
“The purpose,” began England, “Of our meeting here today is to plan our upcoming party in celebration of the fact that —”
“Of the fact that we totally kicked Germany’s bitch ass!”
“I had been thinking of phrasing that in a less crude and stupid manner, America. But, yes. We will celebrate the fact that we have, erm . . .”
France yawned loudly, which was his way of expressing the opinion that England was frequently no less crude and stupid than America, especially when it came to ugly word choices. But what would one expect from someone who had developed such a uniquely hideous language as that?
“Angleterre, you may say that we have delivered the coup de grâce to that fool, if you would like to speak beautifully for once.”
England stared at him coldly. “Who is this we you speak of? I remember some things that I did, but as I recall, you seem to have rolled over amazingly quickly. I suppose you must have enjoyed yourself, though. Did you take the time to lick his boots?”
France made an angry sputtering noise.
“France and Germany,” England continued in a sing-song voice, “Sitting in a tree, F-U-C-”
“Not that you would understand anything of the sort, but at least I have been able to hold out until the end, even if I was defeated by Germany’s handsome young men. Le France shall never face true defeat!”
“Oh, do shut up, won’t you? Anyway, obviously it will be necessary for us to plan an appropriate menu for the event. Personally, I’m up for anything, as long as it’s not more sauerkraut. Get it? Sour Kraut?”
America grimaced. “Do you know that he’s been saying that all day? All day. He thinks it’s the funniest thing ever, or something.”
“It is the funniest thing ever!” England snapped.
America looked like he was considering arguing with him again. Meanwhile, France was thinking how he could best tend to his wounded pride, and Canada had, temporarily, gone back to being forgotten.
“All right, then. What do you lads think for the menu? I was thinking perhaps —”
“Lads?” wondered America.
“Oh, I know what you want, Angleterre,” said France with a smile. “Roast beef, isn’t that it? I ask you, have you ever heard of anything so ridiculous? What kind of civilized nation thinks roast beef counts as a proper meal, I just don’t know.”
England scowled. “As I was saying before I was so rudely interrupted, I was thinking perhaps we could have some steak-and-kidney pie for the main dish. That’s a nice, filling — ”
He trailed off as he noticed that, inexplicably, America had blanched white as a sheet.
“You put kidneys in your pie?” he asked in horror. “So it was you all along!”
“What — what are you on about now?”
America turned to France and Canada worriedly. “You don’t know what that psychopath’s been doing. Okay, okay, listen. So, like sometime last week, I went to this hotel with this girl. And then next thing I know, I’m waking up in a bathtub full of ice. And someone’d put a phone next to the bath tub, and there was a note on the phone that said I should call an ambulance . . . ”
England stared. Not for the first time that day, he was beginning to wonder how he had managed to raise someone so . . . so . . . like that.
“I think,” said France tartly, “That perhaps the menu should be left in the hands of one who actually knows how to pick up a fork the right way around.”
This was shortly after England’s suggestion of rotting organ meats and stale, slightly soggy toast had been rejected; Canada’s opinion that scrambled eggs with ketchup on them weren’t bad was quashed; and America had been sent to sit in the corner and think about his life choices until he was able to tell them whether or not he had actually misplaced his kidneys.
France found a notepad on one of the tables and began to write. It was easy. What did he need those other fools for, anyway? France could plan a menu in his sleep, and, in fact, apparently had. At least, that was his only explanation for why he so often woke up covered in chocolate sauce with no clue as to how it had gotten there.
France had always been of the opinion that French food was the best in the world. It was eerily similar to the way that the French language was also the most beautiful in the world, French fashion the most scintillating, and French boys and girls the most fun. (Although, in all fairness, he hardly discriminated on this last point. France loved to meet people from all over the world.)
After a few minutes, he looked at the menu he had prepared. The wine list could perhaps use some finishing touches later, but otherwise he knew it would be delightful. And he was quite pleased to say that there was absolutely nothing that England knew how to cook anywhere on it. He had, several centuries ago, once opined that anything England was capable of cooking was not food in the first place, and was probably poisonous. That had earned him several months locked below deck on one of England’s pirate ships, while the pirate in question forced him to eat nothing but cuts of meat that tasted like chunks of wool that had been left out in the rain. Mysteriously, this experience had done absolutely nothing to better his opinion of English cookery.
“Okay, let’s take a look-see.” Although America still seemed somewhat unsure about the state of his kidneys, no one had been entirely willing to actually make him go back to his corner.
“So, we start off with some . . . Hey! That’s really dirty.” As an afterthought, he added, “I’m the hero, so I don’t go to those kinds of parties.”
England groaned. “What did he put on there?”
America waved the sheet of paper back and forth in distress. “See? See? That’s really naughty. I know what that means. He wants to start off with ‘whores devours’. Except he can’t even spell it good.”
Canada coughed gently. How had he not seen this one coming? “That’s hors d’oeuvres.”
America stared at him blankly, then after a while said, “Oh wait, sorry. Misread. It’s horse de-oovers. But what’s a horse de-oover?”
Canada sighed. England muttered something about retroactive birth control, and France had begun to look rather pale and was currently fanning himself with the second version of the wine list.
Canada found himself fairly unique among the nations of the world, second only to the non-invited Russia in terms of sheer amount of mile after mile of snowy, frozen plains . . . and then, after that, even more frozen snowy plains. Okay, so maybe he didn’t have much variety in his life. But he had frozen snowy plains, and lots of them, and that had to be worth something . . . right?
Anyway. In all of his years of traversing frigid landscapes, Canada had come to be one of the foremost experts in the world on cold-weather animals. He found himself continually impressed by the adaptations they developed to survive in the extreme, bone-chilling coldness of, well, him. Many animals, for instance, had a thick layer of blubber which insulated them.
It had been many years before Canada was willing to admit to himself that his brother in fact had a similar adaptation.
Although he had no way of proving it, Canada had developed a highly advanced scientific theory concerning his brother: America had evolved a thick band of blubber that went all the way around his brain and which protected him from any information he happened to not feel like absorbing at that moment.
Evolutionarily speaking, it was brilliant. However, it did have the unfortunate side-effect of making it almost impossible to actually get a point across to him.
However, the fact remained that he had to try to get through to his brother. He was, after all, the only one who had ever actually won an argument with him. (And that had been a desperately hard-won victory indeed. But, after thirty hours, he had finally been able to convince America in the end that he was a separate country and not, in fact, a talking mirror that moved around of its own accord.)
Therefore, he knew that if anyone could convince America of the reality of hors d’oeuvres as a type of food, it was him.
It took fifty minutes for Canada to win America over — time that no one was ever going to get back, although given what happened during it, it’s hard to imagine why they would want to.
“So,” began America, tapping the sheet of paper skeptically with his forefinger, “You’re saying this hoarse dovers stuff is . . . um . . . well, it’s just food, right?”
“A breakthrough,” said England, his tone halfway between sarcastic and genuinely impressed.
“Hors d’oeuvres,” corrected Canada helpfully. “They’re just little dishes served before the main meal.”
America nodded seriously. “And that’s, um. Horduhrvers?”
“Hors d’oeuvres,” his brother pressed. “That’s, like, eh, or-duhrvs.”
“Oared herbs?” wondered America.
France continued to spasm violently on the floor.
The reader may now be wondering: Why was France spasming violently on the floor in the first place? And am I even old enough to hear the explanation?
It began during America and Canada’s discussion. Unfortunately, no one had noticed at the time. Canada had been too intent on discovering some means of getting through to his brother, America was too astonished at the new information he was learning, and England had entered a state of near-catatonic boredom.
Now, however, it was impossible to ignore the fact that something was terribly wrong with France.
“Huh.” It was perhaps not the most insightful comment ever, but at least it was succinct. Besides, there was little else that one could meaningfully say about France’s dreadfully twitching form.
“Is he having some kind of fit?” England wondered.
“I think I see foam coming out of his mouth,” noted Canada.
“Wait, stop!” commanded America in his most heroic tone.
“I think he’s trying to say something.”
“I think I hear it too,” murmured Canada, and he knelt down to hear better. “He’s saying . . . oh. That’s peculiar. He’s saying, ‘My language, my language.’”
America and England looked at France’s prone form, then back to each other blankly.
“I don’t see what that’s about. I thought he collapsed while Canada and I were just talking about those things . . . uh, those oared herbs — ”
At that France gave out a piercing cry of pain.
England bit his lip in indecision. Too many thoughts and feelings were swirling around in his head for him to make sense of any of them. On the one hand, this was yet another obnoxious thing America had done today. Not even bothering to invite Russia was bad enough, and now he had managed to destroy France’s will to live with mispronunciations? England hadn’t even known that was possible, but trust that idiot to do such a thing . . . .
On the other hand.
He looked down at France’s still slightly twitching form.
The words roast beef echoed again and again in his head.
He felt the corners of his lips turn ever so slightly upward.
“Good lad,” he said, and patted America on the back. “Job well done.”
“And that, like France said earlier,” said America, “Is the coop dee grayce.”
France shuddered and made a peculiar screeching noise.
3000+ words for what's basically a dumb joke about the inability of Americans to pronounce French words. . . . Um, so yeah. That's that.
I am thoroughly of the belief that France's language is his weak spot, though. Why else would he need L'Académie française to regulate the proper uses of his language for him?
a child who had anything written by Locke hidden under his mattress - Actually, I have a suspicion that the actual influence of John Locke's Two Treatises of Government on the American Revolution tends to be highly overstated. However, it is true that people tend to give Locke a lot of credit
It was about this boy, and his name was Dick, right? - Given that I think the vast majority of people in this fandom
Roast beef - I really don't understand the origins of this at all, or the cultural significance of it, but I am told that one of the ways the French tease English tourists is to mutter 'Roast beef' at them. (????????)
And then next thing I know, I’m waking up in a bathtub full of ice - Actually, I guess America's ahead of the times after all, given that this urban legend doesn't seem to have started to circulate until the early 90s. But hey, he's America and he's the hero, so I'm sure he can be as anachronistic as he wants.
second only to the non-invited Russia in terms of sheer amount of mile after mile of snowy, frozen plains - Actually, Canada is the second-largest country (in terms of landmass) in the entire world. Canada, you should be so awesome, and so . . . not constantly forgotten-about!