Warning: This is a temporary chapter. It will probably be replaced as soon as I get my computer working again. So... yes.
I had a bit of trouble with the names for this chapter, considering neither Greece's nor Turkey's has been standardized using roman letters yet. So, I went with the arbitrary spelling of 'Heracles' and 'Sadiq', which I think is what is also used on the 'official' Hetalia scanlations that so many people have worked hard on translating. So I don't want to hear people being like, 'HE'S ACTUALLY NAMED HERCULES' because I will just whip out my dictionary and show you that ヘラクレス, which is his 'official' name, can be spelled Heracles, Hercules, Herakles, Herakuresu and about fifty thousand other ways – some of which aren't even Greek. SO. Deal with my arbitrary nature. *grin*
Also Turkey's speech is insane. I tired to make him sound like an ambiguous city-slicker to work with the whole 'Tokyo accent' thing, but it failed in a most spectacular manner.
Talks in Bars
Scene 6: Legacies
Heracles gave a quiet laugh as he trailed a bottle cap on a string across the bar top, emerald eyes sparkling with delight as the kitten chased recklessly after it. Next to him, perched on the edge of a bar stool, Kiku sat watching the Greek man with a fond smile on his face.
Heracles jerked the string. "Her. Penelope."
"Penelope." Kiku tested the strange word, struggling to make it sound as close to the other man's pronunciation as possible. He frowned. "It is a strange name."
"You think so?" Heracles hid the bottle cap under one of his palms, and the kitten batted a soft paw against his tan hand. "It's common in my house."
Kiku flushed, stammering slightly, "A-Ah, I did not mean that it is a poor name by any means. It is just odd to me –"
"Relax." Heracles picked up the small tortoiseshell kitten, plopping her in the surprised Kiku's lap. "Don't apologize. Call her what you want."
Kiku hesitantly stroked the soft fur, laughing in quiet delight as the kitten began to purr. Heracles smiled. "She likes you."
The Japanese man's mirth faded as he scratched the kitten under its chin. "Heracles-san…" Kiku sighed, "I am afraid I invited you here with an ulterior motive in mind."
"What would that be?" Heracles seemed disinterested, fiddling with the label on his beer.
Kiku placed the kitten back on the counter to let it sniff a bowl of peanuts, and turned to face Heracles. He swallowed, "I-"
Suddenly the door to the bar slammed open and a tall figure stepped over the threshold, chin held high as though he owned the place. Sadiq adjusted his mask underneath his hooded sweatshirt, and looked around the bar, a smug grin on his face. Kiku's dark eyes flickered to the side as he saw Heracles visibly stiffen. The Japanese man sighed and placed a restraining arm on the tall man's shoulder.
"Please calm yourself, Heracles-san," Kiku murmured as he watched Sadiq stop to chat up a terrified waitress. "This was the ulterior motive of which I spoke."
"An ulterior motive to ostracize yourself from me forever?" Heracles hissed, wrenching his shoulder out of the younger man's grip and grabbing the mewling kitten off of the bar top.
"Half an hour." Kiku swiveled on his bar stool to grab another beer. "Give me half an hour of your patience, and… and… next time you visit my house I will buy you a whole new pornography collection."
Heracles stared at the Japanese man. "Pornography," he said dryly, "You think you can bribe me to talk to… him… with pornography."
Kiku nodded. "Yes."
Heracles looked forlornly at the exit, clutching the squirming Penelope to his chest, but he simply gave a dramatic sigh and remained seated.
Sadiq finally reached the bar after traumatizing no fewer than three waitresses with his most lurid pickup lines. He sidled onto the bar stool next to Kiku, pointedly ignoring the scowling Greek man seated on his other side. Amber eyes flashed behind the mask as Sadiq clapped the Japanese man on the back.
"Kiku! How you doin'?"
Kiku beamed up at the Turk. "Fine," he chirped, handing the taller man an opened beer. "Did you happen to see who else is here?" Kiku leaned backwards slightly to afford Sadiq a view of the scowling Greek.
"I'd noticed," Sadiq deadpanned, taking a swig of his beer. "Jus' choosin' t' ignore 'im."
Heracles made a quiet noise of irritation. Kiku fidgeted. Sadiq took another drink. The waitresses steered clear of the three tense looking seated nations as the seconds dragged painfully on.
Suddenly, the kitten sprang up on the counter top, pouncing on a lone peanut that was skittering across the wooden surface. Sadiq let out a bark of laughter and reached out to grab the kitten by the scruff of her neck.
"You still caryin' these things around?" he sneered, peering into the kitten's puzzled face.
"Give her back," Heracles growled, pushing himself away from the bar with a quick jerk.
Sadiq's eyes flickered behind his mask. "Inna minute," he said casually, cradling the kitten in his arms where it snuggled against his chest, purring audibly. Kiku quirked a grin at the surprising picture the brutal Turk made with the tiny kitten.
"Penelope likes you," the Japanese man said, reaching out to pet the kitten. Heracles made a noise like he was swallowing rusty nails, but slowly lowered himself back into his seat when Kiku shot him a pleading look over his shoulder.
Sadiq chuckled maliciously. "Penelope, huh…" he mused as he urged the kitten to crawl into his sweatshirt pocket. "I'dve named it Killer."
"Of course," Heracles said, his voice dredged in sarcasm, "How appropriate."
The Turk ignored him. "I 'member when you were a kid. You were scared stiff of these things."
Kiku laughed, his eyes shining with amusement. "Really? Heracles-san was afraid of cats?"
Heracles scowled into his beer, but said nothing.
"Terrified," Sadiq grinned evilly, snagging his own drink off the counter. "Used 't cling 't my leg, cryin' like a girl." He pitched his voice higher, clutching the bottle to his chest, "'Sadiq! Sadiiiiq it's gonna eat me! Save me! Saaaave me!" The Turk burst out laughing, shaking his head. "Damn you were such a brat." He took another swig, "Ev'ry time Egypt'd come over draggin' one of those animals along, you'd shriek an' try 'n crawl inna vase t' escape."
Kiku turned to fix Heracles with an eager and questioning grin. Heracles faltered slightly as he took his next drink, and then gave a heavy sigh. "It's… true," he muttered, wrenching the label off his beer completely. "Except for the screaming. That's ... its twisted imagination."
"Used t' shriek like that whenever I wore m' mask too," Sadiq mused, grinning like a madman, "You'd try t' pull it offa my face with those itty bitty fingers a yours."
"I-I have always wondered why you wear that mask," Kiku admitted hesitantly. "I imagine it is rather difficult to see out of…"
The Turk nodded sagely, pushing the hood away from his face. "Yeah. Gotta base most've my vision on movement."
Kiku clapped his hands in delight. "Like a tyrannosaurus rex!" he said excitedly, flushing when others in the bar turned to stare at him. Sadiq laughed uproariously. "Hear that, brat?" he crowed, slamming his beer on the counter. "Kiku thinks I'mma fuckin' T-Rex!"
"Couldn't agree more," Heracles threw back a shot of ouzo. "Lumbering beast, brain the size of a walnut, useless forearms… sounds like you."
Sadiq scowled. "Man, can't lemme have anythin'," he grumbled, pulling the now slightly squashed kitten out of his pocket. "Still a brat."
"Don't call me brat, neanderthal."
"Don' call me neanderthal you little shit!"
"Gentlemen!" Kiku snapped, placing his beer on the counter with a loud thump. "Please try and calm yourselves!"
"The fuck you invite 'im for if you wanted me t' be calm?" Sadiq groaned, cracking the top off of another beer.
"Agreed. For once," Heracles said sourly. "What insanity made you think this was a good idea?"
Kiku let out a calming breath and pushed aside the empty beer bottles. "Because," he said slowly, "when I am alone with one of you, all you seem to be capable of doing is talking about the other."
"The fuck makes you think-"
Both men stopped mid rant, glaring over the top of Kiku's head at each other.
Kiku took another deep drink and tried again. "There is obviously some sort of bond between the two of you, and I was curious to see-"
"A bond? The hell does-"
"What do you-"
"One at a time!" Kiku yelled, pinching the bridge of his nose in an uncharacteristic show of impatience. When both men opened their mouths, Kiku pointed to his left. "Heracles-san, you may start." Sadiq took another draught of his beer, scowling.
The Greek unclenched his teeth. "Just… tell me what you were thinking."
"As I said. There is a bond between you two." Kiku picked up Penelope off the counter and placed her on his lap. "I was curious to see exactly what that bond entailed."
"Well now y'know," Sadiq grumbled, "Mutual hatred abounds." He cradled the beer in his palm, frowning behind the stark white mask. "The brat's mum was sucha fox… kinda had high hopes for the kid."
Heracles choked on his beer. "D-Don't talk about my mother that way!" he coughed, attempting to glare at the Turk.
Sadiq grinned, "'S true. Envy of the ancient world, lemme tell ya. Rome n' me kept gunnin' for her attention. She shot us down ev'ry time. But then…" he trailed off, staring into his beer. "None of 'em left anymore," the Turk said quietly, throwing back a hit of rum. "Brat's got 'er eyes though. Emerald color."
Heracles remained silent, pouring himself another shot. Kiku's expression softened as he said hesitantly, "Ya-… China… used to tell me stories about all of you ancient ones."
"Hey!" Sadiq yelled indignantly, slamming his shot glass on the table. "Don' group me in with all of those dead ones! I ain't ancient!"
Heracles rested his head on the bar top. "You wear that disgusting mask to hide your rotting ancient face. Don't try and hide it."
"'S not disgustin'," Sadiq grumbled. "'S tradition."
Kiku let a small smile grace his features. "I have to admit, Sadiq-san. I am rather curious as to what you look like without the mask."
"Well keep wonderin'," the Turk snapped, fumbling for the bottle of rum. "An' don' gimme those… those stupid puppy dog eyes! It ain' happenin'!"
Kiku frowned, eyes crossing as he tried to focus on the bottle in front of him. "What does that mean, 'puppy eyes'?"
"There! Those!" Sadiq pointed an accusing finger into the Japanese man's face, "Those're puppy dog eyes! The brat used 't make them when I refused t' give 'im candy!"
"Did not," Heracles slurred, twisting the cap off of a fresh bottle of beer. "'Sides, I hate… hate candy."
Kiku smiled sadly, resting his head on the counter top. "You… you were family, weren't you." The Japanese man lifted his head slightly to pillow it on his arms. "A long time ago…"
"Sure," Heracles plucked Penelope out of Kiku's lap, "If being conquered by an arrogant prick is 'family', then yes, we were."
"Emphasis on the 'were'," Sadiq said sourly.
"Still…" Kiku's voice was muffled against his arm, "You two… have history. Have a history together that no one else can ever... I… I am rather envious of this."
"Fuck history," Sadiq snapped, taking another swig of rum directly from the bottle. "Can't trust the damn thing at all."
"It's hilarious how you just dismiss history just because you're ashamed of how you acted a few hundred years ago." Heracles narrowed his green eyes, shrugging out of his jacket and grabbing for his beer. "Go hide behind your mask like a goddamn coward because of what your empire did."
Sadiq snarled, "I protected you for years, brat! Made sure no one else-"
"Get off your fucking high horse, Sadiq!" Heracles snapped, shredding the bottle label with deft fingers. "You made a career out of slaughtering people. Don't try and dress it up with nice words. You're not Rome. You never were."
The entire bar fell silent for a moment before the ambient noise picked up again slowly, drowning out the heavy tension that had fallen over the three nations. Suddenly Kiku staggered to his feet, saying slowly, "I… I think I need to go get another few… beers." The Japanese man stumbled off barely under his own power. The other two watched him go with equally amused expressions on their faces.
"Th' man can barely hold 'is liquor," Sadiq drawled, draining the last of the rum into his waiting glass. "Guess 's true what they say 'bout Asians."
"Racially typing people," Heracles muttered. "Not earning any points."
Sadiq ground his teeth. An awkward silence smothered the two, before suddenly, Sadiq reached up and removed his mask, placing it gently on the bar top. He had a faint tan line that rimmed his sunken eyes as he blinked owlishly, adjusting to the dim light of the bar. His hair was unkempt, his face streaked with dirt, and he looked as though he hadn't slept for a few centuries.
Heracles' emerald eyes flickered up to meet the deep amber ones, a small frown on his face. "I'd forgotten…" he murmured, turning back to his drink. "How I hate it when you do that."
Sadiq rubbed a weary palm over the five o'clock shadow on his face. "You're th' only one, brat," he grumbled, "Billions of sexy ladies'd die 't get a glimpse of my handsome mug."
"What you meant to say was that millions of women would be stricken with convulsions if they ever saw your train wreck of a face."
Sadiq rolled his eyes, resting his chin on his hand. "We'd get along a lot better if you'd jus' admit you find me sexy."
Heracles let out a derisive snort. "Not even a miracle like that could fix this." He frowned into his empty beer bottle, and his eyes widened in surprise as the Turk slid his own half full bottle across the bar. Heracles paused before taking a cautious sip. Sadiq stared at the younger man for a moment before blurting out.
"Your mum… she was a cool lady."
"So you've said."
"How mucha 'er do you 'member?"
Heracles finished the beer. "None."
Sadiq's amber eyes softened slightly. "Kinda sad, that. Not even knowin' your own mum."
Heracles shrugged. "Not like she knew me either. And I don't think anyone besides you even remembers her anymore. The real her. Not what's in books."
The Turk rubbed his chin. "You're right, prob'bly." He sighed. "Fuck. I am old." The remark passed without comment, and Sadiq flicked his amber eyes to the left to focus on the younger man's face. He licked his lips hesitantly. "She made me promise. Otherwise… I don't know if I'dve even bothered." Sadiq took a drink.
Heracles remained silent, staring down at the sleeping Penelope in his lap before picking her up and placing her on the counter, where she meowed fitfully before falling back asleep.
Sadiq stared at the kitten a moment before picking his mask up off the counter and lifting it to his face again. Suddenly a hand on his arm stopped him. Heracles' dark emerald eyes were slightly unfocused as they stared up into the Turk's face. Sadiq waited a moment before raising one eyebrow. "What-"
"Quiet," Heracles snapped, his gaze not wavering. "Thinking."
A few more moments passed, before Sadiq coughed, "How long-"
"'Til I say so. Plebeian."
Heracles gave a frustrated growl and released the older man's sleeve with an exasperated flourish. Sadiq placed his mask back down on the counter top, where Penelope instantly began batting at it with one small paw. The two watched the kitten cavorting across the bar top before Sadiq suddenly spoke.
"Us 'n Egypt… we're pretty much the only ones left, huh. That 'member 'im."
Heracles pushed the empty beer bottles aside. "Those boys of his don't…"
"Maybe a little." Sadiq stroked the kitten's tortoiseshell fur. "But not at 'is prime. Not when he coulda given even me a run for my money."
"Your ego is stupidly indestructible as ever."
Sadiq snorted, "'T build an empire, ya gotta have ego. He knew it, your mum knew it, even those young kids of 'is know."
Heracles picked up the mask. "Divide and conquer."
Sadiq glanced at the younger man with sharp eyes. "Survival of the fittest."
"More pretty words." Heracles toyed with the thin mask, a slightly sad expression on his face. "I remember the first day you wore this."
Sadiq reached out with one rough hand to grab the mask out of the younger man's hands. "Thought you might." He deftly placed it on his face, shadowing his eyes. "You'd be better off fortettin'."
Heracles stared up at the other man with a detached expression. "Don't think I ever could."
The two sat in silence for a moment until Sadiq suddenly frowned. "Feels like we're missin' somethin'."
The two men stared at each other, before Heracles said slowly. "Where's Kiku?"
Sadiq blew his bangs out of his face. "…Fuck."
Five minutes later, the two were standing in the men's bathroom, both staring down at Kiku, who had fallen asleep fully clothed leaning against the side of an open stall. Sadiq sighed. "You want top end or bottom?"
"Depends." Heracles gently shoved Penelope deeper into his coat pocket. "How far we have to carry him?"
"Jus' to a taxi."
Sadiq nodded and reached down to hoist the peacefully sleeping Japanese man up, staggering slightly under the weight. He glared at the Greek when Heracles didn't budge. "You gonna help me?"
"You look like you have it under control," Heracles said tiredly. "I'll act as management."
The Turk made a few choked noises of frustration before he readjusted Kiku over his shoulder, kicking his way through the bathroom door. Heracles tossed some money down on the bar top as they passed, throwing the startled waitress a tired smile.
They managed to get Kiku settled into a taxi, and then both made to get in. Heracles sighed. "I should.."
Sadiq's eyes narrowed behind his mask, but he stepped backwards to let the shorter man slide into the taxi, slamming the door shut behind the Greek. Suddenly he opened the door again to stare into Heracles's startled face.
The Turk frowned. "So… we doin' this again sometime?"
Heracles just stared at him for a moment before saying slowly, "Wouldn't count on it." He shut the cab door.
Sadiq watched the taxi pull away from the curb, a pensive expression on his hidden face. He sighed, pulling off his mask to get a better view of the night sky, barely visible through the clouds of fog. The Turk closed his eyes.
"Promised you, didn' I. An' I kept my word. Unlike some rat bastard who'll remain nameless." Sadiq closed his eyes, shoving his hands into his sweatshirt pocket.
"But he's still 'ere. Still alive an' as annoyin' as ever. Still hates my guts jus' like you taught 'im to. Still looks too damn much like you."
A quarter of an hour passed before Sadiq opened his eyes. He slipped his mask back on.
"You 'n me, kid."
He leaned against the side of the bar, eying the stream of beautiful people flooding into the noisy and colorful building across the street.
Sadiq smiled bitterly.
"Guess a remnant of history's 'bout the only bond we got left."