Author: Pit Viper of Doom PM
He'd promised to wait, so he'll wait for as long as it takes, broken promises or not.Rated: Fiction K+ - English - Angst/Romance - N. Italy & Germany - Chapters: 2 - Words: 3,297 - Reviews: 4 - Favs: 14 - Follows: 13 - Updated: 03-11-12 - Published: 03-05-12 - id: 7899712
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
As nations went, precious few could claim to be more spineless than Italy Veneziano.
He would be the first to admit it. Where others talked big and rarely took a hit lying down, Italy wheedled and cajoled and whined, and generally took everything lying down, be it a kick in the face, a death threat, or a strongly-worded letter. The last time the nation himself had honestly participated in a fight, much less won one, was a distant memory; now he took pains to treat them like a third coming of the Plague. Those old wars had been awful enough, but the one he now found himself in, the aptly but rather unimaginatively named "Great War," was frankly beyond him. "It's just a summer war," they said. "We'll be home for Christmas," they said. Showed how much humans knew. They could clamor for war and violence all they wanted, but Italy wouldn't throw himself into that sort of danger for all the pasta the world could give him. (Besides, pasta from anywhere that wasn't Italy probably wasn't worth his time, anyway.)
Hence the tomato box he was now hiding in.
His bosses knew where he was, in any case. In fact, one of them (whose exact name and position escaped him, because honestly he had more important things to worry about, like not being shot) had spent a good amount of time kicking the crate uselessly, demanding to know if the nation intended to stay in a wooden crate in the middle of the woods for the entirety of the war.
That was kind of the point.
Courage may not have been one of Italy's virtues, but patience definitely was.
Italy huddled miserably in his box, his knees drawn up close to his chin, his lower back bent awkwardly. It was cramped and uncomfortable, and his stomach was growling with hunger (when was the last time he'd eaten?), but he made no move to change his position. Anything was better than being out there, in the line of fire, or in those awful trenches. He'd spent a good amount of time in those trenches, and however cramped, dark, and lacking in food his box was, at least it was dry and vermin-free. Rats got so big when they ate people, and Italy hated rats almost as much as he hated fighting. They made him think of the Plague, and of the scoldings he used to receive from Mr. Austria whenever the stern older nation found them loose in the house–
It was a mouse, the furiously blushing young nation explained, twiddling his thumbs bashfully. He'd been chasing a mouse and he'd been so distracted that he hadn't noticed it was Italy's skirts the little rodent had scurried under, and he didn't mean anything by it, honest, and he was very, very sorry and it would never happen again, cross his heart, and Italy understood and wasn't mad at him, right? A beaming Italy simply giggled and thanked him for helping him catch mice. He hugged him, too, because he so loved to see Holy Rome turn even redder–
Italy started, accidentally banging his head against the lid of the crate as he came abruptly out of his daydream. Tears springing to his eyes, he rubbed the now tender spot ruefully. The pain was making his eyes water, not the memory. He'd cried all his tears already, a lifetime ago for a human.
It still hurt. The soreness in his head was already fading, but the dull ache in his chest had never really gone away.
Italy curled up even tighter in the small space, hugging his knees and pressing his chin to them almost painfully. It had been lonely in the big, empty mansion when Holy Rome left, it had been even lonelier when he found out he wasn't coming back, and now, cowering in a crate all by himself while war raged in the distance, he might as well have been the only person in the world. He buried his face in his knees and tried not to whimper.
To make matters worse, there was a rumor going around that one of the Central Powers was on its way to invade him, which was what drove him to stay in the crate through hunger and loneliness. As if this wasn't a guarantee of death by itself, the prospective invader was supposed to be Germany. He'd never met Germany himself, but he did know for a fact that Germany was Prussia's brother.
Italy remembered Prussia well from the years he'd spent living in Holy Rome's house, though the other nation had only made brief visits. Prussia was powerful, arrogant, bloodthirsty, and pretty much everything that Italy wasn't. He hadn't known that Prussia had a brother, but if the two had anything in common, then Italy didn't want to risk leaving the safety of his box. Trembling from head to foot, he shifted in his hiding place and tried to make himself as small as possible.
It wasn't the first time he'd ever wished he could be brave like Holy Rome.
Footsteps in the grass outside startled him, and he covered his mouth to muffle a whimper. It was him, Germany. He just knew it. There was a big, scary nation out there, and if Italy made a single noise, he was going to come over here, open the box, break his knees, and shoot him. Or maybe he'd just shoot him without even opening the box. You could never tell with some countries.
Or maybe, just maybe, if Italy was very, very quiet, he'd think nothing of a tomato crate in the woods, and he'd go away.
The footsteps came closer, rustling in the grass. Italy shook uncontrollably, kept his hand clamped over his mouth, and tried to focus on breathing through his nose. Staying alive was his only goal at this point, and breathing was an important part of staying alive, wasn't it? A pulse was another, equally important part, but at the moment he was sure his pounding heartbeat could be heard for miles.
Go away... please, just go away...
The sound of heavy boots on grass halted just outside of his hiding place. Italy's eyes were wide in the darkness of the crate, his heart practically in his throat.
Something hard and solid clacked against the surface of the crate, and Italy felt his nerves go to pieces. In the previous tense moments, he had built up terrified energy like a rabbit about to bolt. With nowhere to run, it all went to his head and his mouth, and he simultaneously performed two of the things he did best: he panicked, and he talked.
His mouth was barely under his control anymore as he babbled in terror, wheedling, fibbing, and begging, anything to keep the person outside from opening his box. He was barely aware of what, exactly, was coming out of his mouth, not that it mattered much to him. Despite his best efforts, his hiding place shook and shifted, and he clouted his head against the lid again. There was an ominous cracking, and suddenly sunlight was shining down on him as the lid was torn away. Italy sat bolt upright, eyes shut to keep from crying with fear as he continued his shrill, mindless stream of excuses, apologies, and pleas. Tears still forced their way past his closed eyelids.
His heart nearly stopped altogether when he felt himself be lifted out of the crate by the back of his uniform. The top button dug painfully into his throat, and he wailed aloud, his hands clasped beseechingly at his still-unseen enemy. Pride? What use was pride if he was about to die? (Even if it would be nice to see Holy Rome and Grandpa Rome again—no, don't think like that, Italy, don't think like that.)
All at once, the invader's unfamiliar voice, deep and clipped and heavily accented, cut through his words and his thoughts.
"Let me ask you a question. Are you a descendant of the great Rome?"
Italy's frightened wailing halted abruptly, and his terror gave way to hope. He opened his eyes a crack, and though tears still blurred his vision, he could just make out the shape of the tall figure in front of him. This nation knew Grandpa Rome. He even called him "great." That was a good sign. That was a very good sign.
"Wait, you know Grandpa Rome?" he asked, not yet daring to lift his hands to wipe the tears from his eyes (that might spook him, and that might mean getting shot). "I'm his grandson, Italy. I'm just a nice guy who loves pasta and pizza—" (Maybe if Germany got to know him, he wouldn't shoot him? It was worth a try.) "I'm so relieved. I thought you were mean and scary, but it looks like we can get along just fine." Abruptly, Germany released him, and in his immense relief he crumpled to a kneeling position beside the open crate. He smiled tentatively. "Maybe we can be frie—?"
The butt end of Germany's gun connected with his jaw, accompanied by the hulking nation's booming, enraged voice. "Go to hell, you pasta-loving bastard!"
Italy was knocked to the ground by the blow, his head narrowly missing the box as he landed flat on his back, his hand flying to his face. The relief he had felt was fading rapidly, reducing him to trembling and whimpering on the ground as Germany towered over him.
He's gonna shoot me, he's gonna shoot me, he's gonna shoot me, what do I do, what do I do? The tears in his eyes spilled over, and he wiped them away instinctively, allowing himself his first clear view of Germany.
Italy's whimpering ended with a high-pitched squeak. He froze where he was, his hand still clutching the side of his face. It would probably bruise later, but that was the last thing on his mind because oh dear God, am I dead already?
The hapless Italy stared numbly up at the nation above him, his mouth half open with shock.
It... it couldn't be. It just... couldn't.
With all the...
Big brother France even said...
And yet it couldn't not be.
Anyone else would have passed it off as insignificant similarities, coincidences, maybe shared relatives, if that. Over a hundred years had passed, after all. Memories faded, faces changed. Anyone else would have called it wishful thinking.
But Italy? Italy was many things, not all of them good or useful, but he was an artist. If there was one thing he knew, it was detail. And trade. But mostly detail.
And there was a certain face he'd drawn enough times to have each individual centimeter of it memorized.
The shape of the jaw here and there, the way blonde hair framed that fair-skinned face, and Italy's artist's eye could clearly picture what he would look like if, rather than combed back from his face, his golden-blond hair was allowed to fall loosely over his forehead, right above those clear blue eyes.
But at the same time, Italy was reluctant to admit, so much was different. His brow was fixed in a permanent frown, and those eyes... The last time he'd seen those eyes, they were warm and happy and maybe just a little bit wet (though Italy would have let him pretend they weren't). Now they were flat, cold, and barely readable.
It was not the joyful reunion that Italy had once imagined as a child. It was that dull ache in his heart that refused to go away. It was a painful, confusing tangle of fear and uncertainty and held-back tears. Staring up into his supposed enemy's cold, considering face, Italy felt sick to his stomach and dared not speak the words on his tongue.
Holy Rome? Is that you?