s e p a r a t i o n

characters: China, Japan

warnings: implications, dark themes, total lack of structure

series: Axis Powers Hetalia

prompt: He is so close he can almost touch him. Then he does, and it feels like there's more than an ocean separating them.

( first , )

He is the one found in the middle of the forest. China is bored, nothing can be done. The boy is young, he wants to teach him, those eyes look like ones of a good student.

China teaches him to speak.

"Lao shi," the younger says. China nods, proudly. The boy giggles, claps his hands, and repeats:

"Lao lao!"

China frowns, ready to correct. He's not old--just...

Well, maybe he is old. He laughs, patting the child's head. Eyes as dark as his look up. He is momentarily caught off guard; are those the eyes of a child?

The stare leaves as quickly as it came, replaced by a sincere smile. China shrugs it off, leaning down to kindly kiss his forehead good-night.

A not-asleep hand curls around his hair; latches its fingers around the lock and pulls on it.

"Aru--!" China yelps, prying his hair out of the clenched fists. They are all relatively young, and like the previous stare (and sentence, and meeting), China shrugs it off and thinks nothing more of it.

( second , )

Years go by fast when you're not counting your birthdays, and Japan isn't one to celebrate with himself.

Life has been busy lately, and he's trying to improve himself. The Westerners seem crazy, yes. But they are also brilliant and there is much to gain from their ways and lifestyles.

So he dons a suit and learns to tie a tie. He throws his kimonos and hakamas to the side, not knowing if he will ever wear them again. He learns their language, learns their history, learns their technology.

China pays him a visit one day; he realizes the vast difference between the two of them.

The other one is still wearing "traditional" garb. He still has his hair long, tied back in a lax manner; he still wears his outfit that keeps together not by zippers or buttons, but knots and strings.

Inferior, he thinks.

But China is his teacher, and he need not hold it against him.

Japan is still very new to the Western ideas and ideals, but he takes it upon himself to educate China on the better ways.

After all, by doing this, he would be repaying a rather heavy debt, now wouldn't he?

So naturally, it comes a shock when China laughs with mirth, shaking his head so gently that Japan cannot even see the ponytail move. He declines the offer, as playfully and light-heartedly as he always does.

He drinks the tea at as slow a pace as normal, and when he's done, he gives a customary "Arigataru!" and with a magnificent sweep of his sleeves and a light kiss on the forehead, he leaves.

Japan sits, alone.

China doesn't understand; maybe he never will.

But there is still a debt, a debt waiting to be repaid.

( third , )

China would rather play with pandas and kitties than fight. But time dictates that he cannot escape wars, even if they are one-sided.

Especially if they are one-sided.

He doesn't want to "modernize", not now, not ever. Japan can be as mean and cruel and heartless as he wants to be; China does not care if he is the ruler of the setting sun or the dying sun or the drying sun.

If it means being the loser, he'll pick that as opposed to fighting and killing and destroying.

Japan doesn't talk to him as much anymore; he's mostly with Germany and Italy. China doesn't mind; he has the forest which is filled with pandas and cats to play with.

Being lonely is something one gets used to with age.

The welcoming bell rings in front, and he sees Japan step through the front gates. China welcomes him, suit and tie and "modernization" and all, as he always does. He pours tea, brings out food, and they sit around the table in the garden. He makes small talk about the affairs and alliances of their neighbors (Belarus has apparently tried to kill Lithuania once again for taking Russia's eyes off her) and doesn't even try to gauge Japan's emotions or reactions.

He trusts--

Tea spills, a cup shatters; he drops the kettle and sees the eyes that have refused to see him until now.

"China, your time is setting, and I want control of this place," Japan says calmly, a gun pointed at the other's temple.

A gun--?

"Japan, what's the matter-aru?" His face is filled with questions; mostly why, why, why.

"I need more; I need more in order to be accepted by the West," China suddenly remembers the same eyes from a long time ago, and he wonders where did the smiles go. Japan whispers an apology, ever so polite, before knocking his neighbor out.

It's the deed, not the words that China is not willing to believe.

( fourth , )

He is, for all-intensive purposes, the winner.

There was never a fight really. He picks up the dropped gun, pockets it, and then lifts China onto a shoulder. His teacher is a couple centimeters taller than him, but his lithe form provides no weight at all.

Japan opens the door leading to the inner chambers; he carries China into the master bedroom with no difficulty. Just because he hasn't been here recently does not mean he cannot remember.

He really only needs the garden, needs to scare China into agreeing.

That was the original plan; he even made a contract for the occasion.

But he can't stand those looks, those eyes. Not even shock or betrayal was protrayed. Simply complete and utter bewilderment. As if Japan would have never done this, as if China had not seen it coming for what, a couple centuries now?

And then the answer is there; and really, he feels that Italy reminds him of China sometimes--so willfully ignorant and unknowingly naïve.

A sigh, a glance over at the carefree fool in bed.

Japan leans down, gracefully, to place a gentle kiss on his cheekbone; he is the student, not the teacher, and a kiss on the forehead is one reserved for China.

China rolls the other way, eyelids fluttering but fists not curling.

Japan pretends he does not see.

( fifth , )

The door is shoved open and an openly fuming Japan storms in; it's amazing how "modernized" his student has become.

China lifts his tired head; he has always hated wars, and with good reason.

"You--" Japan starts, suit crinkled and tie askew, "You've been in contact with England?!" His voice is accusing, demanding; where is China's precious student? Where is his precious neighbor?

"Yes; he's been supporting my pandas with lots of food, aru," China does not see what the big deal is; Japan already occupies the larger portion of his garden, if any of his beloved pandas were to be killed by Japan, well, China doesn't think he can forgive that.

A hard yank of the ponytail; head tilting, eyes narrowing; breathe comes near his ear.

China hears him: he hears the voice of his long-gone student.

"You've never understood, not once," Japan says, traces of desperation and hopefulness mixed into one terrible-sounding voice, "You've always betrayed me, you've always--"

"I have never betrayed you," China says calmly, dropping all hints of humor, "You have done everything wrong, my dear Japan,"

"Everything wrong? Everything wrong?" Disgust, sneer; yes, yes, please be human again, "You're the one who hasn't even grown out of qi pao's and firebombs yet! You're the one who's so blatantly ignorant,"

"Ignorant of what? My own tradition? My own heritage? My own history?" China pauses, but Japan has nothing to say, "Am I the one who has been uncaring of myself?" He raises an eyebrow, but doesn't wince at the pain.

Japan withdraws; the crumple of the suit, a clatter of a button.

Without a word, he leaves, and China sinks into the floor, into the wall, into anything that will take him.

Where is the young boy?

( sixth , )

A sob, a gasp; a cough, a cry.

Japan brushes back China's hair, wipes the tears from the other's face. So it was not England he attacked, but America. Same difference, he figures; same difference.

China leans against him while he ties the other's hair in an identical knot.

Soon, it will all be over, he tells his old teacher. Soon, all of Asia will fall under his rule.

Warm hands reach up and bring his head down only to plant an equally-gentle kiss on what would be his forehead, but his bangs cover it up. China lets him go.

He relaxes, exhales; a debt still hangs.

( seventh , )


A shot.

Japan freezes, then falls to the floor. America's face says it all: he will not be getting up again.

China runs towards him; his student, his captor, his neighbor. His hand reaches his face, the blood's stench makes his vision swirl.

Finally, he can touch him; but there seems to be more than an ocean separating them now.

For time's sake, he kisses his forehead good-night.