Ever since you told Matthew he was a country, you had noticed some significant changes happen to him. It wasn't physical, but mental, as you had decided. He began spending much more time locked away in his room, usually with Mr. Kumajiro, who still, unfortunately, couldn't remember who he was. You hoped that this was just a phase that would've passed once Matthew got used to the fact that he was a country. But when the next meeting occurred almost a month after you told him the truth, you saw that he still hadn't changed.
Your head was spinning with thoughts when the both of you traveled to the meeting. You missed the way Matthew used to act before he was a country—shy, but sweet, happy, and obedient. Now, he was isolated, much quieter than he was before, but grumpy whenever you tried talking to him, and you even began to think he was starting to become a bit depressed. And because you believed it was only fair, you took the blame out on England. You were going to have a talk with him once you and Matthew arrived at the meeting.
Thankfully, when you opened the door to the meeting room and looked inside, you saw that there were already a few people there, and France wasn't one of them. However, when your gaze settled on England, who was sitting in one of the chairs and looking over his papers that were placed on the table, you felt a certain hatred grow inside you.
"Matthew," you began as the both of you started heading towards a pair of empty seats, "do you mind holding my bag while I go have a quick chat with England?"
A few seconds of silence passed before you realized that Matthew stopped walking, and you came to a halt as well, turning around to face him. He was looking at you uncertainly, a frown visible across his face as he held Mr. Kumajiro tightly. You thought he was going to refuse, but after a few seconds, Matthew nodded. "Sure, Mom," he said blankly.
You smiled as you lifted your bag from your shoulder by its strap and handed it over to Matthew. "Thank you, Mattie. You can go find someplace to sit, if you'd like."
Matthew obeyed, and as he walked over to one of the empty seats, Kumajiro in one arm and your bag in the other, you approached England from behind, making sure he wouldn't see you. When you were standing directly behind his chair, you lifted your finger and gave him a sharp tap on the shoulder.
Instantly, England turned his head around to look up at you, and once he met your gaze, he frowned. "Is there something you need, _____?" he asked you, the annoyance detectable in his voice.
In return, you crossed your arms and glared at him. "We need to talk."
As soon as both you and England were out of earshot from Matthew and any other country that was in the meeting room, you let a few more moments pass in silence before you began to talk.
"Why the hell did you have to force me to tell Matthew that he was a country?" you asked angrily as you clenched your hands into fists and dropped them to your sides.
England chuckled as he rolled his eyes, causing you to become even more irritated. "_____, I'm afraid that you've forgotten the fact that you were the one who proposed this in the first place."
You growled. "And how on earth is that true?"
A tiny smirk came to England's face as he replied calmly. "After I told you whether or not you were aware of Matthew representing a country, you asked 'How should we tell him?' which states that you were the first one to suggest the idea."
You stayed silent for a few moments as you realized that you didn't know how to respond. England was right. You were the one who asked whether or not Matthew should've been told, so it was your idea first. "B-But still," you said, trying hardest to sound opposing, "you were the one who said I should've told him, and the way you were talking to me made it sound persuasive. So, it's still your fault!"
The smirk that was on England's face turned into a smile. "Well, since you're the one who's taking care of Matthew, and you're the one who he refers to as his mother, you should've decided whether or not it would've been best to let him know or not. Since you always seem so opposing, you should know that you don't always have to listen to me."
A few more moments of silence passed with you staring down at the ground, purposely avoiding England's gaze. You realized that he was more or less right. You often challenged people and didn't listen to them, and this time, it was no different. You were Matthew's mother after all, so you should've known what kind of impact it was going to have on him instead of just assuming everything would've been fine.
You sighed as you loosened your hands so that they were no longer clenched as you stared at the ground worriedly. "But now what am I going to do? Matthew's upset, he isolated himself, and he's acting so much more stubborn and depressed than he was before I told him he was a country."
England frowned. "Well, he just has to get used to it. Being a country requires a lot of hard work and responsibility, but I don't complain. Besides, Matthew doesn't have to represent a country if he doesn't want to."
"But I told him that being a country is a big responsibility," you said softly. "And now he thinks that since he already ages like a country, it's mandatory for him to represent one."
"Did you try explaining to him that that isn't the case?" England asked as he raised an eyebrow.
"Yes, I did," you said as you once again clenched your hands. "But he told me to leave before I got the chance to fully explain. I don't know if he'll ever understand," you finished hopelessly.
A few more minutes of silence passed, which was broken by England sighing. "Well, you'll just have to find a way to deal with this on your own. Maybe if it helps, explain to him again that he doesn't have to be a country if he doesn't want to."
"I don't know," you murmured. "I just need some time to think things through."
England nodded as he began to head back towards his seat. "Good luck, _____."
You instantly lifted your gaze from the ground and turned your head around to look at him. "Was that supposed to be sarcasm?" you asked loudly.
England turned around to face you and smiled. "No, it wasn't."
You glared at him as you felt your cheeks turn slightly red. "I don't need your support," you muttered, loud enough for him to hear.
A few more moments passed with you standing there, staring at the ground. You sighed before you made your way towards the door and opened it, stepping out into the hallway. As soon as you closed the door behind you, you pressed your back against it and ran a hand through your hair as you stared at the ceiling. Well, England had been of no use to you in this conversation, since you still didn't figure out how to make Matthew feel better. But he was right. It was your responsibility to control what you said to Matthew, and know about the kinds of effects it might've had on him.
You sighed before you lowered your gaze so that you were looking in front of you, and as soon as you did, your eyes widened in surprise. There, sitting on the floor with his back pressed against the wall, staring down at the ground with a bored look on his face, was who you assumed to be Matthew. You didn't bother asking where Kuma was.
"Hey, Matthew," you said as you approached him, pausing a few feet in front of him. "What are you doing sitting out here by yourself? I thought I told you to stay inside."
"Huh?" he said, and you felt your heart skip a beat. When had Matthew's quiet voice changed so suddenly? Instantly, the boy lifted his head so that he was gazing up at you. You let out a squeak when you took in his face. He had blue eyes, hair the same color as Matthew's but not as wavy, and the curly ahoge was replaced by a cowlick.
"Hey," you said, your voice filled with surprise. "You're not—"
The boy quickly jumped to his feet and looked at you intensely. He was about the same height as Matthew, and looked to be about the same age as well. "I'm not Matthew," the kid said loudly. "I'm America. Who are you?"
"A-America…?" you asked, your voice filling with interest. This kid already represented a country?
"That's right!" the kid said as he laughed and pointed to himself. "Nobody ever mistakes me for someone else because I'm too awesome!"
You chuckled as you dropped your hands down to your sides. "Well, I'm _____. And I'm sorry for mistaking you for Matthew. It's just that…you look a lot like him."
"Really?" America asked as he set his blue gaze upon you. "Do you think I could meet him?"
You smiled. "Of course! Once the meeting's over, I can introduce him to you."
America looked up at you excitedly. "Cool! Where is he?"
You pointed a finger towards the door to the meeting room. "He's in there."
America's gaze followed your finger, and once his gaze set on the door, he frowned. "Does he represent a country?"
You laughed softly. "Well, he is a country, but he doesn't represent one…yet."
America groaned as he crossed his arms and glared at the door. "It's not fair!"
You looked at him in confusion. "What's not fair?"
America sighed and rolled his eyes. "It's not fair that some kid who doesn't represent a country is allowed to go inside the meeting room, but a kid who does represent a country, like me, isn't!"
You blinked. "Why aren't you allowed in the meeting room?"
America looked up at you, his eyes filled with annoyance. "Because England wouldn't let me! He said I'm too young to be allowed to go inside the meeting room!"
"England…?" you echoed in surprise. "You mean…England's taking care of you?"
"Duh!" America said. "Even though he's awesome and all, sometimes he can be really unfair, like now."
"I never knew that England was taking care of someone…" you murmured. "He never told me anything."
America sighed as he pressed his back against the wall. "Well, he's been my guardian for like, a long time."
"Ah, that's interesting," you said. A few more seconds passed in silence before you drifted your gaze off to the door. "Well, I really should be heading inside. If the meeting's starting, I don't want to miss it."
America looked up at you and smiled. "It was nice meeting you, _____."
You returned the smile. "Same here, America. I'll see you after the meeting." With that, you entered the door to the meeting room and closed it behind you before taking your seat next to Matthew. America didn't seem to mind the fact that he was a kid and he already represented a country. You wondered why it was different with Matthew.
As soon as the meeting was over, you led Matthew outside the door to the meeting room. "Before we leave, Mattie," you said to him as the both of you stepped outside the door, "there's someone I want you to meet first."
When the both of you stepped out into the hallway, your gaze brightened when you saw America standing in the same place as usual, playing with his fingers.
"Hey, America!" you said, causing him to look up at you. You gently pushed Matthew forward from behind. "This is Matthew. Matthew, this is America."
America looked at Matthew in awe, not paying attention to the fact that the other began to shrink back. "Wow, _____ was right when you said you look like me!" he said in amazement. "It's just…your hair is wavy and your eyes are purple!"
Matthew, who had his gaze fixed on the ground, shakily lifted his head to meet America's gaze. He swallowed, tightening his hold on Mr. Kumajiro. "Who are you?" the bear asked as he lifted his head to stare at America with black, beady eyes.
"Whoa, a talking bear?" America asked loudly, his voice filled with surprise. "That's so awesome! I'm America, by the way!" he said to the bear. "I never knew that polar bears could talk," he added as he lifted his gaze to meet Matthew's.
"Th-They don't," the other responded quietly. "I don't know why Mr. Kumamichi does."
"Is that the bear's name?" America asked in amusement. "Mr. Kumamichi is a pretty funny name for a polar bear!"
"Actually, it's Mr. Kumajiro," you piped up from your place behind Matthew. "I guess that Matthew still didn't learn how to properly pronounce the bear's name."
"Oh, okay," America said understandingly as he nodded. Turning so that he was once again gazing at Matthew, he asked, "Why don't you represent a country? I do, and it's awesome!"
"I-I don't know…" Matthew said quietly as he kept his gaze fixed on the ground.
America laughed. "Well, you totally should! Then, we can be like brothers!"
Crap, you thought. Now, America was persuading Matthew to become a country. That was the very last thing you needed.
You heard the door open behind you as England stepped out. "Oh, there you are, America," he said as he approached the boy. "I see you've made some, ah…friends."
"Hey, England!" America said as he looked up at the Brit. "How come _____ is allowed to bring Matthew with her to the meeting room but I can't go inside too?"
England paused next to you, shifting his gaze so that it met yours, and you frowned at him. He drifted his gaze down to Matthew, who was still staring at the ground, before he drew his gaze back to America, who was still demanding an answer. England smiled. "America, I told you many times that you're not ready."
"But Matthew is?" America asked, annoyance visible in his voice. "Come on, England! I want to go inside the meeting room with you next time! Please?"
You chuckled at America's energetic behavior, and England sighed as he looked down at America. "All right. I'll think about it."
"Okay!" America said in satisfaction before England took his hand and started leading him down the hallway, leaving only you and Matthew.
"Hey, Mom…" Matthew began as he looked up at you, uncertainty in his eyes. "America represents a country, and he's the same age as me. That means I have to become a country too, right?"
"No, Mattie," you said reassuringly as you looked down at him. "You can become a country only if you want to. If you don't want to, then you don't have to."
"That's not true!" Matthew said loudly. "If I already age like a country, it makes sense that I represent one! I have to, Mom. It's not like I have a choice. If America is my age and he represents a country, then the same goes for me!"
Before you could've protested, Matthew began walking forward, not even bothering to look back at you. You sighed desolately before you quietly followed him.