Chapter Ten – The Nations React

"Ve-ve, Motherfuckers."

To say that the other nations were surprised would perhaps be considered the understatement of the century. Excluding England, the assembled personifications ranged in emotions from shock, to confusion, to utter disbelief.

America was definitely erring on the side of complete confusion. The self-proclaimed hero had no clue what was going on and failed to see the consequences of Italy's grand entrance. Thoughtfully, the American pondered whether Italy had finally found the book Reading the Mood, thereby completing their sacred quest. He was far too hungry for these kinds of brain teasers and settled on handling the situation the best way he knew how to – by tugging a milkshake and a hamburger out of his briefcase and tucking in. The slurps and munching noises echoed around the quiet room.

Russia was also in the confused category, although definitely on the more pleasant side of the confused category. Having long ago established that Italy was a country of excellent fashion taste, Russia incorrectly interpreted the events as the latest trends in Rome and Venice. He wondered whether he ought to follow the Italian's new trends. The spunk in the Italian's attitude was harder for the Russian to compute. Russia furrowed his brows in deep thought, letting out little "hm" noises of contemplation. After a good minute, the evidence clicked into place. Of course! How could Russia have been so stupid? Clearly, the Italian was desperate to become one with Mother Russia and was resorting to unusual measures to try and impress him. Russia could not help the blush that spread over his pale features. All of this was for him? How sweet! He clasped his hands together in pure joy. Italy would be a great new friend for him. If only his little Baltics could go to such lengths to please him.

In all China's long years, he had never seen anything that had surprised him as much as Italy's entrance. Quietly, he wondered if he had actually passed on and was now in some room in Hell awaiting an eternity of (apparently) evil Italy, Germany's shouting and Japan being indifferent. It had been a good life, he supposed. Although it was just a shame he had not gone to buy that latest Hello Kitty cushion. He wondered if Hell even had Hello Kitty. If not, would it be worth trying to get into Heaven? It was then that realisation dawned on the Chinese man – he was still back in the conference room and this was actually happening. He needed to spend less time studying Western after-death philosophy and more time buying Hello Kitty. A slow smile came over his features and he nodded to himself, clearly Italy turning into a Punk was the poke he needed to get his priorities straight. Under the table he began to search eBay for limited edition Hello Kitty cushions and slowly spent his country's national budget for the arts and sciences on some excellent Hello Kitty purchases.

Although Japan kept his incredibly neutral façade, the nation was very shocked. All this time and Hungary was right! Italy and Germany were obviously a couple! Why else would the Italian go to such lengths to dress in tight, leather trousers after an argument with Germany? There was no other logical explanation! I mean the German's tastes practically screamed kinky and even Italy was bright enough to work that out. Japan was barely conscious of his hand reaching for his camera phone and snapping some excellent shots of the Italian in his new style. It was only when he tasted blood on his lip did he realise he had had a nosebleed. Pulling out a handkerchief from his pocket he quickly held it up to his nose with one hand, whilst texting Hungary frantically with the other. Ah…his manga art would be inspired for years with this development.

Canada sipped his cup of coffee. Out of everyone in the room he was probably the least surprised and confused (the exceptions being England and Italy of course). The Canadian had figured out that Germany had upset Italy (the Italian would never leave Germany's side for any other reason). England and Italy were obviously together because of their simultaneous disappearance and lack of communication with the rest of the nations. England was still bitter towards Germany for goodness knows what excuse – the man could hold a grudge for centuries! It did not take a genius to figure out that England was going to encourage Italy to have a little revenge. Unfortunately, the collective brain cells of the rest of the nations in the room was below the brain cells contained in the average donkey. That, combined with Canada's invisibility powers meant that the chances of them finding out what England and Italy were up to were non-existent. Still, the manner of their revenge had taken the Canadian by surprise. Somehow, Canada was disappointed that Italy had not decided to make pancakes as his revenge. He took another sip of his coffee and settled back comfortably in his chair. He might as well make the most of the entertainment.

Big Brother France was very proud of his Little Brother Italy. Finally, the little Italian was all grown up and making his own way in the world. Still, France was not entirely convinced about the manner of Italy's maturity. France had always seen Italy as taking after himself – cowardly, fashionable and good looking. The Frenchman had even decided to teach little Italy how to profit from the side-lines like a good big brother. He supposed he could work with this new development, although he definitely needed to do something about the hair. France had not seen someone with hair like that since England's punk phase…ah…England. Of course. The Frenchman tilted his head to set his blue-eyed gaze on the Englishman. Someone who one would expect to be overreacting completely, was calmly sitting with his legs crossed, sipping a cup of tea. France had no idea where he had got his tea from. The only time France actually believed in England's magic was when cups of tea seemed to magically appear as if from thin air. France narrowed his eyes at England and then looked between Italy and England. Yes, he could definitely see the Englishman's handiwork now he had made the connection. France was even sure he recognised one or two of Italy's earrings as England's. He would have to have a little talk with England later – after all, little Italy only had one Big Brother – and he did not share power! Or something like that anyway…

Germany was perhaps the very definition of the word gormless. In fact, later accounts of the events in that room would add in the tale of Germany travelling all the way to New Zealand to reclaim his gorm. Of course, the tale was nonsense, but it did highlight the fact that Germany did not stop gaping for hours. Disbelief was the German's main reaction, but other than that he did not know what to feel. He was definitely in the region of confused. Possibly angry? Or was that just innate German anger? It was hard to tell. Shell-shocked perhaps? He felt a little of the blood drain out of his face and wondered if he would faint. The only thing the German knew for certain was that he needed a beer. Or two. Or forty-seven…

-Hetalia-

In the air vent above the conference room sat three figures. Spain and Prussia had resumed their position of the previous day, hoping to up their pranking game. They had been surprised to find that somebody had already beet them to their favourite spot. Romano was sitting there with a selection of snacks and a small camera on a tripod pointed down at the conference room. He glowered as the two nations crawled over to him.

"What are you two bastards doing here?"

"Romano! My little tomato! I didn't expect to see you here? You look well. Would you like some churros?" Spain practically purred at the presence of his favourite Southern Italian.

"Go away you jerk." He grumbled, but took the churros that Spain offered him and started to munch, the food sating his mood marginally.

"What's with the camera? Were you hoping to film my awesomeness?" Prussia interjected.

"You'll see. But sit tight and don't make a sound, bastards."

Intrigued, the two had done as instructed. They quietly sat and watched the scene unfold. It was only when Italy came into the room that the penny dropped for Spain.

"I forgot about that!" Spain announced quietly. The Spaniard would certainly have to travel further than New Zealand to reclaim his gorm.

Prussia was gawping down at the scene. Slowly his brain kicked into gear and he nodded thoughtfully. Italy wanted to compete with him in terms of pranks! This was a serious step up for sure. But Prussia was not to be beaten that easily. Still, part of the joy of Italy's prank was the fact that it was so unusual for Italy to do anything that might upset Germany. Italy was also a huge coward and would probably fall asleep halfway through any prank that took longer than five minutes to prepare. Italy was laying down the gauntlet for sure. Prussia wondered if Italy had had help to prepare such a committed prank. Romano certainly had had a hand in it, but Romano was not much braver than his brother. He frowned thoughtfully. The only other person to be missing from the conference was that stuffy Englishman. Prussia was sure that England would never do something like that, despite the nation's occasional rebellious streak. Could it have been someone outside the conference? Spain seemed to know about it, but seemed to have forgotten and was with Prussia most of the time anyway. Whoever, it was, Prussia was going to have to up his prank game to let Italy and his patron know who was the King of Pranks.

"Prank of the year award goes to your brother Romano. I'll be sure to get it framed." He said with quiet sarcasm, his eyes glinting with mischief as he expanded his pranking schemes.

Meanwhile, Romano was trying to hold back his laughter at the expressions of the different nations. He kept the camera steady, panning through to the different reactions. America turning to food. Russia smiling inanely. China going to his phone to look up goodness knows what. Japan's nose bleed. The chair drinking coffee? France glaring at England (nothing unusual there). And Germany…the Potato Bastard looked like he was going to set his jaw into an open position for eternity. Romano could not help but allow a small smile to light up his features and he reminded himself to thank England personally at a later date.

A/N: I don't own Hetalia, Lord of the Rings or Hello Kitty. Thanks for reading and reviewing. I hope you enjoyed this latest chapter.