Title: Mystery and Mayhem, Oh My!
Genre: AU, Mystery, Action/Adventure, Drama, Romance
Rating/Warnings: PG-13, mild language
Pairings: As of this chapter, Hints of Germany/Italy and Prussia/Canada
Summary: Ludwig didn't know what to expect upon taking this mission. He certainly didn't expect to have to deal with the chaos and confusion that surrounded a mystery the likes of which he had never seen before. He and Prussia attempt to find out what's going on while dealing with silent witnesses, strange Italians, and a growing number of disappearances. Can they solve the mystery in time or will everything be lost?
Chapter 1: In which there is a fish.
A whisper was heard from his left: “Psst! Hey!” It was louder then was really necessary, particularly since they were on a subway that appeared nearly completely empty save for a scarce few passengers that were spaced out quite a ways from them. He could not figure out why. Perhaps it was their attire? After all, it isn’t every day that one sees two men in a pristine (in his case) and a rather sloppily put on (his partner’s) suit step onto a train. Usually one would only see someone in their attire going around in expensive black cars with shaded windows. And usually they were. However, with the new administration there had been some budget cuts. So, public transport it was.
A sharp nudge in the ribs interrupted him from his thoughts with a corresponding, “West! Come on man! It’s our stop!” With a sigh, Ludwig stood up and picked up his briefcase, wondering how he always ended up with idiots as partners. Hopefully this one would last longer than the previous one; it was hard enough just training them to get them up to spec so that they could survive this… unique job.
Noticing that his partner had forgotten to take his bag (why couldn’t he just use a briefcase like everyone else? For that matter, why couldn’t he wear his suit properly? It wasn’t that hard and it made them look unprofessional. It was hard enough getting people to take them seriously), he turned to the albino and simply pointed towards the messenger bag, sighing.
“Come Prussia, let’s get this over with.”
Standing behind his one and only brother, Gilbert, he wondered for the 1,465th time how the two were related. They were supposed to be investigating, not flirting with some blond woman that he could scarcely see! He sighed and pinched the bridge of his nose, already feeling a stress headache coming on. The company’s psychologist to whom he was forced to go had told him that when he felt stressed, he needed to breathe through his nose and count backwards from ten. For once, he tried it. It did not work.
After a few more seconds, he simply dragged his brother away from the girl (?). He couldn’t tell anymore and was starting to wonder if the girl/guy was in fact something paranormal because it was downright odd for a person to look that fuzzy. Either way, he and his brother had more important things to do right now, like their jobs, which he made sure to stress the importance of to his partner/brother even though he knew it was a futile attempt. Whoever thought it was a good idea to pair the two together obviously was a couple of lederhosen short of an Oktoberfest.
Once they got far enough away from any eavesdropping passerby, he turned to his partner and said, “Listen, we have to go around and scout the area to see if what we’re investigating is even real. Do you remember what the claims are?” Gilbert put his hands on his hips and laughed with a devil-may-care attitude before replying, “Of course West!”
“Why do you insist on calling me that?” Ludwig inquired irritably.
“Because your codename is Germany and mine’s Prussia!”
“You do realize that Prussia does not exist anymore.”
“Kesesesese, of course it does! It’s way too awesome to just disappear like that!”
Ludwig sighed and placed his hand onto his head, realizing the futility of his argument. Clearly he would not be able to get it through his brother’s head, and it would be best to try and get on with their mission. Also, knowing Gilbert, it was extremely unlikely he bothered to read the mission report beforehand so he decided to fill him in.
“About one week ago the police started getting phone calls about a mysterious blue light coming from seemingly nowhere. Then there were phone calls about loud noises coming from alleyways and even from apartment buildings that no one was able to describe clearly. The noises were described from a warped ambulance siren to a jackhammer to a sheep’s “baa”.”
Stopping for a second, he took a deep breath and plunged onwards.
“Alone, these two factors could be written off as a coincidence or one of Earth’s oddities. But about two days ago, a call came in about a missing person. Soon after, two more reports came in about missing people. What made us suspect that the paranormal had a hand in this was the fact that in all three cases, the witnesses heard a strange sound coming from the apartments the night before the missing persons.”
“Geez, you sure like to talk a lot, don’t you West? Well don’t you worry, Gilbird and I have got this!” his partner yelled as he took the yellow chick off his head and proceed to give it instructions. With an excited and high-pitched “cheep!” Gilbird took off and flew in a random direction to scope out the area.
“Kesesese! Alright West! I’ve done my part so I can go back to that cute blond now, right? I bet if I hurry I can still catch him!”
At least that answered one question of his, although it brought up a whole crop of others… He noticed Gilbert attempting to walk off so he quickly grabbed his partner’s shoulder in a vice-grip and dragged him to the Mediterranean Apartment Complex, where the first cases of strange lights and sounds had been reported from. Hopefully they could at least get this done right if nothing else. After all, it was just interviewing people right? How could even his brother mess this up?
…He spoke too soon. Half an hour later they had gotten a total of six doors slammed in their faces, Gilbert had gotten three slaps, in two apartments no one was home, and only four people had actually talked to them – and even then only one had made an actual report. That one person unfortunately had not seen much: merely that a couple of nights ago she had seen a strange blue light coming from a nearby alleyway and when she went to investigate it, the light had disappeared. Afterwards when she had looked around there was nothing out of the ordinary in the alley except for her a fish which she decided to take home with her. He had checked the fish out and it seemed largely normal except that it had the peculiar ability to breathe air and not water. Well, he had seen stranger things in his line of work and it wasn’t hurting anyone so he choose to prioritize his immediate mission – and perhaps check back again sometime in the near future. When he saw that Gilbert was trying to get her to name it “Gilfish” he knew it was time to go.
And now here they were all the way up to floor F, apartment number 6. Praying to whatever god there may be out there (even though he was not all that religious) that this would go better, he knocked on the door and waited. And waited. Finally, he knocked on the door again, this time louder, hoping it would make his partner stop trying to get away. He refused to do this alone regardless of whether or not he could do it more efficiently without Gilbert. He had never been very good at talking to people.
Finally, he heard a “Veeeeeeee!!” followed by a “thump!” and the sound of muffled feet hurrying over to the door. When it opened he did not know what to expect, but he certainly had not expected this. In front of him was a short Italian with slept-in hair and a single curl that stretched far out beyond the others. But that wasn’t what surprised him; after all, this was New York City and there were certainly enough Italians here. What surprised him were the man’s eyes: they looked like they could just peer into his soul and see him for who he is. Yet surprisingly, they also appeared kind and understanding; just looking into eyes made him crave to spill all of his thoughts and feelings and fears to this stranger in front of him. But he could not for he had a job to do.
Sweeping aside the strange and unfamiliar feelings, he steeled himself to the task and told the Italian with the strange curl in front of him, “Pardon me sir. We are working with the police to investigate recent claims of strange occurrences in the area and are wondering if you can be of any help.”
The shorter man in front of him simply tilted his head and said, “Veee? Oh you’re here about the blue lights and weird noises!”
Finally, he had found someone else who might be able to help them. With a near-silent sigh of relief, Ludwig replied, “That is correct. You have seen or heard them?”
“Nope! I’ve only heard about them from my brother.”
“Ahh, and is he in?”
“Well he’s still working right now vee~, but he’ll be back soon!”
“I see. Well, I do not mean to impose, but perhaps we could wait out here until he returns?”
A confused blink greeted him. “We vee? I thought there was only you here…”
Suddenly Ludwig realized that, indeed, his brother had snuck off sometime while he was distracted. Sighing exasperatedly, he turned back to the Italian and said, “Yes well, my partner was here, but it appears he… found a lead and left to pursue it.”
“Ahhh! Well, in the meantime, why don’t you come inside? I don’t mind and it’ll be nice to have some company,” replied the still unnamed brunette in front of him. He ought to ask that soon. But how to do so without appearing awkward?
He decided to go with a simple response so he could opt out of the situation. “I do not wish to intrude,” he said formally.
“Veee~ It’s no problem, really!” the Italian happily exclaimed, appearing to fully mean anything and everything he ever said. This unfortunately meant that he had to accept, or at least that’s what his “A Guide for Germans Learning American Etiquette” book had said. He accepted defeat and so gracefully replied, “I suppose I’ll have to accept then,” and followed the Italian into his apartment listening to his cheerful banter making sure to give a response here or there in order to be polite.
Once inside he took a quick look around. It appeared to be rather messy and it was apparent that more than one person indeed did live there. Strangely enough, he did not see that many pictures: just a few with the brunette and another who looked just a bit older, as well as one or two with both brothers when they were children and an older man who had the same identifiable curls on his head, albeit none quite as long as the younger two. He wondered if perhaps the man was their father.
His thoughts were interrupted by a voice from the strange Italian, “Oh, that’s my grandpa and my brother there! My grandpa died when we both were young though.” So that was it. Still, he was their grandfather? He must have aged very well or had children very young.
Once again he heard that melodic voice, “Sit down at the table and I’ll get us some coffee, si?” before he once again heard the sound of feet walking off into another room, he presumed to be the kitchen. Feeling a little awkward having been caught staring at their photos, he walked across the room to the table and sat down in a chair. Briefly he wondered where his brother really had wandered off to, but dismissed the thought quickly enough, knowing it would bring nothing but another headache. He had heard that the company psychologist had been laid off and that his superior was trying his hand at it in order to save costs. While he may have held much respect for his superior, he did not like going to psychologists, let alone one he had to report to. A much too short time later, he saw the brunette walking into the room with two coffees and various accompaniments.
‘How fast could he have made that coffee?’ he briefly wondered.
“Oh! How rude, I never introduced myself vee~. My name is Feliciano Vargas. What’s yours?”
“Ah, it’s Beilschmidt. Ludwig Beilschmidt. I work with the government for special cases that the police cannot solve by themselves,” he replied, carefully omitting anything that might reveal his real job. He suddenly realized too late he had given his real name and not his cover name. He flushed a little but quickly recovered. He could not afford to lose his cool at the moment now that he had found a potential witness. However he did give himself a moment to curse those eyes of the Italian’s. They were like a force of nature.
“Wow, that sounds cool! I’m a chef at a restaurant, actually. And I paint sometimes too. Apparently people really like them, so I give them away for free even though one person once wanted to pay me $10,000 dollars for one of them. I couldn’t accept the money though, even though my brother yelled at me about it afterwards, because I have too much fun painting to charge people for it. I like it best when people are made happy by my art so all I need is their smiling faces! Speaking of which, you don’t smile much do you, vee~?”
Ludwig merely blinked at the flood of information coming from the smaller man, wondering if he had even seen the other take a breath the entire time. At least he now had a name to go with the face in front of him. Realizing that Feli-Vargas, Vargas was waiting for him to respond, he quickly replied, “Ahh… Yes, that’s what my partner tells me too. I take my job very seriously though and do not see the point in smiling when I have a job to do.”
“Aww but that’s so sad! You must smile sometime.”
Taken aback by the statement he realized that he could not remember the last time he had smiled. He blamed that on his stressful life though. Dealing with his brother both on the job and at home was enough to do that to a person.
At his silence, the Italian simply continued, “Well I’ll just have to show you some of my art then! That makes most everyone who sees it happy. Or at the very least they like it!” Standing up abruptly Vargas walked out of the room leaving Ludwig behind, confused and curious if he should be following. As he got up to go after the other man he saw a large painting being held by a pair of seemingly floating hands and feet. It was set down by what he realized was the bubbly Italian who then walked over to him and asked, “So how do you like it? I just completed it earlier today so it’s still a little wet.”
It was a painting of a field full of flowers, colorful and bright. In the background was a single tree with a child-version of Feliciano Vargas and his apparent grandfather sleeping with the younger leaning against the older underneath it. Oddly enough Vargas’ grandfather was wearing what appeared to be ancient Roman attire complete with a sword stuck in the ground next to him. Despite the military attire, he too appeared peaceful in his sleep. It all appeared incredibly realistic and he felt almost that he could walk into it and sit next to the two. Without him even realizing it he felt the corner of his mouth twitching upwards and his forehead smoothing itself out.
“Veeee~ You have a nice smile, Ludwig,” he heard next to him. Turning his head he saw the Italian looking at him with a bright smile and those piercing eyes staring at him with an unusual intensity. He felt his face flush and quickly turned his head away to escape those eyes.
He looked around, briefly searching for something else to focus on, but all he could see was a lot of mess. He twitched slightly when he fully realized how messy the apartment was. He could already feel his telekinetic powers starting to act up a little in response. Not for the first time he cursed his power’s semi-conscious love of cleaning. He appreciated cleaning as much as the next person, perhaps a bit more, but when his powers started to clean things without him meaning to with other people around it could cause complications. And while he may not know the person in front of him very well, the brunette was his only lead and he did not want lose that.
He spotted a stack of CDs next to a CD case and with that felt his telekinetic powers start to act on their own, organizing the CDs in alphabetical order and putting them away. Panicking a bit he looked back to Felic-Vargas and saw that luckily the Italian was still looking at him with those big brown eyes. Giving a sigh of relief inwardly while making sure to avoid looking directly into those eyes his mind raced trying to think of a way to keep the other distracted.
Finally he had it. He turned back to the painting and asked, “So what is this painting about?” His plan worked as he saw the other light up and immediately launch into an explanation complete with elaborate hand gestures. Darting his eyes back to the CDs he noticed that they had been organized, but now his telekinesis had decided to continue on to the clutter around the living room. This was bad. It would take a miracle to get out of this mess now.
Slam! He heard the front door open and tensed up, really starting to panic. He finally was able to force his powers to halt, but that meant that the coffee table clattered back down to the ground causing a loud “Bang!” That and he now had a tremendous headache from the effort and while he did not know how to see the future he could tell that his headache was only going to get worse.
Whoever it was that was at the front door reacted to the loud noise, yelling out, “Feliciano? You alright? You didn’t hurt yourself doing one of those damn paintings of yours again, did you? You know those ER people already look at us funny!”
He heard footsteps approaching and as the older Vargas stepped onto the wooden flooring that made up the living room area he got his first glimpse of the other man. He looked startlingly like his younger brother, but had his hair parted differently and that one odd curl jutted out from a different place. His expression was pulled into a grimace that looked just as at home on his face as a smile did on the younger Vargas’s. That same face soon saw him and contorted into an even deeper grimace, the older Italian’s eyes narrowing.
“Who the fuck is this, Feli! I thought I told you to stop letting in weird-ass strangers into our apartment!” came the yell from the elder Vargas.
“Vee~, but fratello, those are my fans...”
“This another one of your damn groupies too? Has he touched you anywhere personal? He looks the type with that creepy face! If he has, I swear to God he will not see the light of tomorrow!”
His face was creepy-looking? He heard the younger brunette reply, “Of course not fratello, he’s with the police!”
He realized he should perhaps step in at this point to defuse the situation, so he interjected with, “Actually I’m with the gov-”
He was cut off by the older, angrier one, “Oh damn it, not another one of those pigs! I keep telling you guys I don’t know what happened to that guy, alright? Goddamnit, leave me the fuck alone already…”
Baffled and more than a little curious, but unwilling to make the older one even angrier, Ludwig replied, “As I was saying, I am with the government investigating the recent disappearances and connecting strange occurrences.” The older Vargas flinched at that line.
He continued, “Your brother here told me you have experienced the recent phenomena. I would appreciate it if you could inform me as to what you’ve seen and heard so my partner and I can continue our investigation.” By the time he finished he noticed the other had gotten into a more guarded stance.
Taking both of those behaviors into account he was decidedly suspicious of this older brother. However it was all circumstantial so he would have to keep an eye out on this one and see if he revealed anything else that was peculiar. In the meantime, he waited for a response.
A stuttered reply came forth from the elder Vargas. “H-he must have remembered wrong! I haven’t heard or seen anything!”
The younger one interrupted, “Vee? But you told me you did…”
“You must have remembered wrong then, fratello.” The reply was given through grinding teeth. The younger one seemed to catch the hint finally and fell silent. An awkward silence enveloped the room.
Ludwig realized by that point that obviously he was going to get nothing from the Vargases. However, at least he had a lead, albeit one that refused to talk. It also at least gave weight to the idea that there was certainly something going on in this area. Whether or not it had to do with the paranormal he could not quite yet discern. He would worry about that later; for now, he figured he probably ought to leave.
His words pierced the stifling air enveloping the trio, “Well since you do not know anything, I suppose I should continue my investigation elsewhere.”
“Damn right, you should…” muttered the angry Italian.
His mouth pulled into an apologetic smile, the younger one talked over the older, saying, “I’m sorry we couldn’t help! You should visit again sometimes though. I’d love to talk to you later and maybe I’ll make you smile again~.” Ludwig flushed again at the memory and turned quickly to hide his embarrassment and looked to the door to leave.
He walked to the doorway and stood there for a moment, facing away from the other two, and replied, “I suppose I can come by again sometime to see if you have any information that would be useful in my investigation.” With that, he opened the door and walked out.
He did not have to wait long when Gilbert turned to face him and started his rant, “Oh man West! I thought that blondie was cute before, but he has a mean right hook too! I found him after I got away from you,” – Ludwig glared as he remembered that part, but his older brother merely continued, “and boy did he look surprised to see me! He said something about why I was able to see him, but I dunno what he was talking about. How anyone could miss someone that cute is beyond me!”
He felt a little bad when he realized that he only barely saw the blonde man, and the only reason he even noticed that the blonde was there was when his brother had started talking to the stranger.
“So of course I started chatting him up and things were going great so I decided to grace him with a little bit more of my awesome!” Gilbert continued.
Ahh, he had figured out what happened now. “So you groped him and he punched you,” he interjected.
“Bruder, why must you be so…”
He gave a longsuffering sigh; there was no arguing with his partner. “Sure, let’s go with that. Why are you so happy, then?”
He was flashed a bright grin as Gilbert replied, “I got his number!”
The two of them walked around for a while longer looking for clues and talking to people, but still had not obtained any information that they did not already know. Ludwig was starting to get frustrated and his partner was getting antsy, which was making him more obnoxious than usual, so he finally decided it was time for them to go back to their headquarters and report in.
He and his partner were walking towards the subway entrance when from the corner of his eye he saw something blue. He grabbed Gilbert’s arm and turned both of them in the direction of an alley now bathed in an eerie pale blue light. They gave each other a look and shifted back into work mode. Slowly they walked towards and into the alley. Soon they too were enveloped in the blue light as they entered the alleyway, but they could not figure out where it was coming from.
Suddenly there was a weird noise; to him it sounded like the sizzling of wurst being cooked. He realized this must be the phenomena that they had heard about so far. He looked around but still could not see anything but for Gilbird who had chosen that moment to come back to her master. He felt there must be something there, but they just could not see it.
All of a sudden he heard the sound of heavy footsteps coming from the opposite end of the alley from which they had entered. The blue light made it hard to tell who it could be and so he tensed up, readying himself for an attack and trusting his partner to do the same.
Yet then the noise abruptly stopped and the blue light followed shortly afterwards. He looked around only to find that the footsteps actually belonged to a familiar face, two familiar faces in fact.
The taller one with glasses that he knew as America noticed them as well. He raised his hand in a wave and said, “Hey guys! Fancy seeing you here!”
Gilbert quickly retorted, “We could ask you guys the same thing, ya know?”
England, the smaller one with abnormally large eyebrows that he had to consistently remind himself not to stare at, replied irritably, “Well we were chasing a thief we suspected to be using magic. We chase him down into this alleyway and end up finding you. I wonder what this says about you, eh Prussia?”
The albino bristled and was about to reply when Ludwig cut him off, “We were investigating this area in which there had been multiple calls to the police about a strange blue light and a weird sound and more recently several disappearances.”
America pouted, “Aww man, why do you guys get the cool mission! The hero should always be there to rescue the civilians-in-distress!”
He replied dryly, “Yes, well, seeing what has happened here, I imagine our two cases are related in some way. It would be too much of a coincidence for your thief to disappear into the light and sound that we’ve been investigating like that. We ought to go together and report this to Headquarters.”
England replied, “I have to agree with you on that one, Germany. Shall we be off then?”
“Yeah! That way we can report on my awesomeness in investigating, kesesese!”
“And I can report how I was so amazing, chasing after the villain, even if he did get away. But no worries, the hero will always catch the bad guy!”
“You dolt, you weren’t the only one chasing after him!”
Germany quickly tuned out their bickering and started walking towards the direction of the subway once again. He could already feel his headache coming back…
-This is an AU: the world they're in is pretty much our own, except they work for a secret branch of the government investigating paranormal/magical crimes that the police cannot handle.
-Germany has the power of telekinesis. Unfortunately his telekinesis has a penchant for cleaning.
-Prussia can communicate with Gilbird and use her as a scout. Also, Gilbird can shapeshift into a
chicken Prussian Hawk and be used to attack enemies. She's mainly a reconaissance bird though.
-England is a light wizard. The fact that he knows so many curses and has been caught several times by America performing one of those curses in his basement does not change that.
-America does not have any paranormal powers. What he has instead are two guns that fire magical bullets. The bullets are made by the organization's resident weapons expert, Switzerland.