[ red ]
(drabble, general, tragic, some romance? / "history" is the winner's loud gloat)
characters: China, England/UK; bits and pieces of US/America, Japan, France, and Russia
warnings: mentions of communism; sex, explicits, and alcohol
series: Axis Powers Hetalia
prompt: The first time you offered to help him was a lie. The second time, you tried. Come third, and he declines.
China is age-old; will not die, cannot die.
It's the rationalization England holds onto when the other complains of the Opium Trade. China's eyes are heavily glossed, his cheeks rosy and fists clenched at his sides. He looks beautiful, the Western power thinks, stroking a cheek and gently removing a weakened arm. The asian clothing falls to the floor soon after, and England carries him to the bed.
The drugs are circulating, that much he knows.
But China is age-old; China cannot die, and he's stronger than he looks, England realizes.
Other nations would have already lost the ability to speak, but here he is, kissing down the other's neck (there are no whimpers or whines, no gasps or pleads--a surprise) and he hears China speak, voice clear as the day, unmarred by drugs or hormones or time.
"Stop this trade, aru."
Of course, England consents, licking and nuzzling wherever China will let him. The other tastes musky, like tea, and he rather likes the smell of opium wafting through even breathes.
"Alright; thank-you, aru."
China brings two arms up to loop about his neck as England strokes the small of his back. Though physically exhausting, the Asian country brings up the strength to participate in the activity; the promises of freedom too sweet to resist.
It is one afternoon that melts into the night. England leaves before the day breaks, and when China wakes up to America's sheepish smile, he has the decency to look embarrassed.
It is only after a day that he discovers England to have been lying.
"Stop, please, Japan--aru..." But the other pays no heed. He was once a brother, once a friend, once a neighbor. Now? Now he is an enemy, and the entire world is an enemy.
China wonders if, if he could overpower Japan. Maybe he can, maybe he can't. But the act of trying would lead to both of them losing large parts of themselves to the Westerners. It is better he be defeated by Japan than by time or sickness or invasion.
After all, Japan was once a part of him, right?
Kisses, touches; some light, some hard. He gasps at times (Japan is winning, he knows this, but there's no other way) and tightens his grip on Japan's suit at other times.
His skin is flushed with humiliation; his state of undress in comparison to Japan's full-clothed self is mortifying. That is just what Japan wants. Maybe, maybe if he continues to give?
All he wants is peace, really.
Japan licks a straight line from his shoulder to his back. He has already made a scar down the same spot, and the way his fingers are scratching, almost clawing, makes China think of a repeat performance. China tries to find his voice within the strangled beggings and horrible whimpers that Japan manages to elicit from somewhere within him.
He could shove him off--he could bruise Japan, maybe even cut him, scar him, three times worse than what Japan has done to him.
But how will peace be achieved?
How will there be anything left at all?
Japan strokes his cheek, kisses his eyelids, licks the salty trail of tears. His other hand is circling around, stroking (tender, teasing, taunting) around him and he suddenly all too aware of everything and nothing. The press of their lips, the crinkle of Japan's clothing, the darkness that seems to be swallowing the two of them up.
"Ah--aru..." China moans, unceremoniously throwing his head back. He has gone down without a fight; will this achieve peace at last?
The door opens, light streams in, and Japan turns. China looks towards the light, his eyes focus and then unfocus.
England stands at the doorway, unflinching. Japan curls his lip, turning his back to the European in order to give China a final goodbye (a declaration or victory, a declaration of conquest, really); clutching the sweaty longblackhair to tilt his head up for a kiss.
Great Britain says nothing at this, says nothing as Japan leaves.
He offers a hankerchief but no apologies.
China would like to blame it on England, would like to blame the problem on anyone, really. But it's not their fault; this is a problem concerning himself and Japan. Outsiders were never welcome in the first place.
With fluid grace (he stumbles--once--because he catches England watching), he dons his fallen robe, walking out of the room and ignoring the huge chunk of pride he has left behind in it.
"China," England speaks. The addressed stops, but does not turn around. "I'll get the League of Nations on this, I promise. Japan cannot be allowed to do as he pleases to such an extent."
"We shall see, aru," is the reply. No polite bow, no turn of the heel, simply a stride in the opposite direction. It's hopeless to have hope; this is a conflict between two neighbors and it is not in England's right to interfere. China might forgive, but he will not forget, and he remembers the Opium War too well to let his guard down any further.
All the same, there is hope--he has hope.
Only later, while recuperating, does he hear that the League of Nations brushed off any attempts to assist him, how Japan exited the League and no one made any effort to stop him.
He does not hear of how England tried to appeal for his case.
There is a tank on or under or some part of his bed. In it is liquid; almost-luminscently-red liquid. This is what China opens his eyes to see. His people want this, he realizes. To a certain degree, he curses them, for being so indecisive and moody for so long.
But they are only him, after all. He would do; has done the same for them.
Where is the peace he had promised himself?
A delicate step brings him closer to the pool. He can see his reflection, he can see his weary expression. He does not understand why people will continue to respect him even when they know he is the reason Japan has stolen their pride, why both Communists and Party members are dying left and right.
Understanding dawns upon him; the reason for the red liquid being placed right in his chamber. Voices call out to him: some are hopeful, most are pleading. Jump in, jump in, jump in, they repeat. He hovers on the edge of the pool. These are his people. These are the people whom he has watched grow up, get old, die, and be reborn. These are the people who want peace as much as he.
It is daunting of course; so many questions swim through his head, all at once and overwhelming him.
His hand (left one; is it ironique, as France would say?) slips into the pool. Reflexively, he immediately pools it out. The liquid is lukewarm, his hands are sticky. The smell is of copper and iron from the "industrial" days. He hated those times, instinctively wanting to retch at the thought of the smells and sights that accompany that particular memory.
Maybe it's all just in his head.
Once again, the door is uncourteously slammed open and England strides in. No greetings, no apologies, and China has all the right to be furious. But he isn't, he is old and he is tired, but he is not furious.
"China," England starts, "Don't do this. It's not the right way for peace."
It's what he has been doubting ever since the beginning. But having England spell it out to his face is too much, too much. Just the concept of England saying something makes China wish to prove it wrong. He whirls about, ready to deliver a long-overdue speech about peace and the "right" ways to obtain it.
A flicker of surprise in both their eyes, a second passes by, and then China falls backward into the pool.
Panic; chaos. He can't possibly breathe in this water. There doesn't seem to be any bottom at all! The red--the red--his hands grapple desperately for the edge of the pool.
In a heartbeat, England's hands are on top of his hands on top of the glass, and China suddenly realizes how deep the "pool" really is. He looks into England's eyes, sees the sorrow, the wish for peace, and--?
"China," there is a note of desperation in the other nation's tone (it's the red, he thinks; the red), "I'll protect you this time around. You don't have to do this in order to get peace. Please," the glass is not made to the clung to, and China can feel England bleeding because of the cuts and cracks, "just give me another chance, I promise Japan will never invade you again."
And China smiles, wishing that England had said this a couple decades past.
"I'm sorry, aru," and he feels the Kingdom's hands tighten their grip even more. It matters not; it's simply more blood loss for the English. China forces himself to smile, honestly, because this may be the last time (maybe it is even the first time--) and, "You've come too late; this is--"
With a forceful push of his wrists, China manages to break off the glass that he is hanging onto. He sinks into the murky depths of the red water and remembers that England's blood is still on his wrist (and Japan's scent is still everywhere). With great effort, he samples the red (on the red in the red underneath the red) on his wrist.