"Hopefully this'll all blow over soon enough." Matthew fervently hoped so as well, but he privately doubted that the end would come so soon. By the looks of it, the conflict was only in its early stages - a violent, volatile reaction that had only just begun its combustion and would run its course for several years at least. Seeing the state his brother was in now, Matthew feared what a prolonged war might do to him.
"I haven't looked in the mirror much since February 4th, and even when I do, it's not myself that I'm looking at. I see him, he sees me. It depends on who's in control. You're right about one thing, though - I would be able to see my injuries that way." With a rush of guilt, Matthew realized his former words would have been far more cutting than he’d intended. The division between Lee and Alfred was more complex than he’d expected, and unnervingly so. How much longer could one body cater such radically different personas?
To his relief, Alfred finally complied and took a seat, albeit reluctantly. "I know that more battles are happening. I know that four more states seceded and joined the Confederacy." He said impassively, his gaze drifting toward the window. Though Alfred left the implications unspoken, they weighed heavily in Matthew’s mind. Four states. Each one meant more Lee and less Alfred. Each one meant that the rift between the two halves of the country was growing deeper.
As if on cue, Lee spoke up. "They seceded because your boss decided to send 75,000 more soldiers our way instead of backin' off." "He just wants to keep the union." Alfred said in a tone that spoke of many headaches and arguments past. "By stompin' all over the rights of good southern folk? Screw that! We're declarin' our independence." Matthew watched the exchange with growing alarm. Now was certainly much to soon for another round between them. He drew a sharp breath and braced himself in preparation to intervene in case the animosity escalated to violence once again; he wasn’t about to let his brother bulldoze himself a second time today.
"SHUT UP! You can't declare independence, you're a part of me!" Alfred burst out, clutching his head in both hands. This seemed to culminate the clash, but Alfred remained hunched over, gasping for air. Now that the façade of nonchalance he’d fought hard to maintain had slipped away, Matthew could see plainly how much this war was hurting him at every moment. “Alfred? Try to take a few deep breaths…” Matthew sat down beside him and rested a hand on his shoulder, lending him a physical lifeline in a world of splintering sanity and diverging commonalities.
Watching his brother literally tear himself apart was agonizing. He felt helpless, knowing that there was little he could do to alleviate the turmoil that Alfred faced. ”Don’t let him get to you. You’re stronger than he is; remember that, okay? It’s going to be tough for a few years, but hang in there. I know you’ll pull through.” Violet eyes sought blue, willing him to believe it, willing himself to believe it. ”If you need me, I’ll be here.” Not just as his international neighbour, but as his brother.
With a pang, he recalled that it had been many years since circumstance had permitted him to really act like a brother. At best, a nation spirit’s relationships were cultivated on salt and quicksand, subject to the fickle whims of government and politics, and seldom allowed to persevere the way friendships could among humans. Nothing had been truly right since the Revolution had put him and Alfred on opposing sides, and their nations could not sit comfortably side by side as long as he remained a colony of the British Empire. Who knew where they’d be in another couple of years? Matthew dreaded the possibility of England picking sides but he refused to let such uncertainties hound him now.
International alliances were mutable and ever-shifting, but some things wouldn’t change. Alfred was still his brother, and Matthew would uphold that bond, British colony or not.