It's odd how drastically death changes people. Strange that it takes a thing as significant, yet as horrifyingly final as death to open a person's eyes, the want of a different life glowing in their pupils. It's horrible isn't it…? When a life is taken, that is when the situations surrounding start to change their forms, bending and twisting into something completely different. One would think that we would learn to value life and to stop all these horrific things before we had to lose someone.
No…we were foolish. Completely foolish and so very blind. We could not see that all this fighting and all this hatred was useless. All of this uncertainty and anger was so stupidly wasted when we could have been bettering not only ourselves but those around us. We could have used this problem as a chance to find solutions…no, we instead buried ourselves deeper and deeper into our pride until we couldn't see the light above our heads anymore.
I suppose…he was the only who could, and even if he couldn't see a light or a way through, he simply imagined it and tried to lead us all to it. Unfortunately…we noticed this far too late. We pit clawed our way back up from the soil to stand on solid land again. Only when we were so violently shaken up by the death of someone who we thought's smile would never depart from us could we look through different eyes.
Only then could we all stand back, silent and mortified, and see exactly what we had done.
The bombed areas of Berlin still needing to be rebuilt. The ravished lands of the Danes, people still nervous and shaking. The fearful people in Russia who's stomachs had gotten leaner, all money being used to fund this catastrophe. We had done all this… to our own people.
Only to turn to those who weren't in the war realize how horrible they were doing without all the fighting. The poverty that had shaken Central America. The overpopulation and insufficient housing in Asia. The mass starvation and unfair lives of all in Africa. Suffering everywhere… tears.
We had done this. To ourselves, to each other, to our own people. Turned a blind eye to everything and spun ourselves into our own selfishness, allowing those surrounding to drown without any promise or offer of comfort. We had allowed this go on in some way or another… hurt the very people we shared a common name with.
How dare we even consider ourselves human anymore…
Italy's death brought a great silence and with it a great sadness, yes, but also a wide spread epiphany. A new age of realization and a long period of mending. Almost like a rapid domino chain we all surrendered from the war. We all laid our guns to rest – silently promising to lock them away for decades possibly even centuries – and slowly starting the task we should have begun years ago.
At a slow and shaky pace, steps uneasy and faltering, we are making progress. Building projects to restore cities affected by the war are taking place, assistance coming from outside and unlikely nations. Debts are being paid off world-wide with even more unlikely assistance. Relief services are being stationed fast in every area possible, and the gaping wound that has been opened in our world is slowly starting to heal.
World peace is not with us yet but it is in the air, drifting softly becoming more and more realistic the harder we try and the more we persist. We were wrong the entire time. Peace is not given nor does it just happen.
For peace to happen, an effort must be made to put anger and pride aside while humiliation and happiness take its place regardless of whom it is for.
Canada heaved slightly as he lifted the heavy brown moving box, which was sealed tightly with tape, its mysterious contents remaining unknown. From the weight of the box his brother was either collecting rocks or storing extra lead in here. He balanced it on top of his forearms as he took cautious steps towards the car parked in the drive way in front of his house. The stretch of walkway felt like an eternity however, what was America keeping in here anyway?
He let it drop into the open trunk with a thud and brushed off his palms as he walked back inside and up the stairs to find the other blonde still poking around in his dresser.
After the war had ended Canada, had insisted America stay with him for a few weeks. When asked for a reason Canada simply stated he wanted to take care of his injuries and make sure he got the proper rest needed for healing. He of course hadn't told him that he couldn't bear the thought of being alone in his house. Even if the Canadian had nothing to worry about, he was still very much on edge. He didn't want to be away from America.
"What do you think you're going to find in there, the Fountain of Youth?" Canada asked, leaning against the door frame and catching the other's attention. His action was rewarded with a small smile and a soft chuckle.
"Maybe if I look hard enough."America took a moment to run a hand through his hair, brushing his bangs away from his eyes, "I just want to make sure I didn't, you know… forget anything."
Canada nodded and strolled over to the dresser, peering into the open drawer. It looked untouched, all of his own clothes were folded and America's nowhere in sight. He crouched down and looked in other drawers, helping the other blonde, but soon enough was stopped by a hand on his arm.
"Don't worry about it Matty, I've got it." America smiled. He hoped that Canada would actually stop helping him all together. In some way he even hoped Canada would get him side tracked. Offer him lunch or to go for a walk in the close by woods. Anything to prolong his departure from the Canadian.
America's nerves were also not the most at ease. He was practically on hay wire when he was left alone. Canada was a calm man, gentle and sweet, so it was easy to be relaxed around him. The feeling of someone else in the room with him – especially someone who was so close – was a great comfort. It let him know that someone was still there. Someone still loved him.
The past few months had been solid proof of it as well. The two were practically conjoined at the hip and were completely inseparable. Canada's offer came when both he and America were well enough to leave the hospital and return home. America accepted with almost no argument. America had taken a few weeks of course to redirect all his calls to his cell phone, gather absolutely everything he needed, and set himself up in Canada's home. He was able to settle business from there and the trip back to his capital was a short one.
The house held no words and barely any sounds the first two or three weeks of his visit. If possible, both men were as dead silent as they could be. Any small bang would send Canada flying and America was for once, not partial to words. However little they said they made up for in affection. Canada must have hugged America's arm at least fifteen times a day and stayed there for long periods of time. America would also check on Canada while he was sleeping multiple times throughout the night.
They eventually just ended up sleeping in the same bed after bumping into each other numerous times in the hallway on the way to each others' rooms.
America found it odd and angering how tragedy brought out the worst of truth in people. He also found it heart breakingly sad that the first sounds he heard from the Canadian's mouth since leaving the hospital were choked sobs and hiccups. Cuba certainly picked a wonderful time to decide that he couldn't handle commitment at the time and decided that Canada wasn't even truly in love with him.
When he had learned of Canada's heart break, America had been sleeping when he had heard his brother sobbing and immediately rushed down stairs. Canada had insisted he was fine and nothing was wrong and that America should return to his bedroom, but America had coaxed it out of him eventually. They remained in the kitchen, knelt down and cradling one another tightly, for what seemed like hours. Soothing words of comfort and promises of staying were made from the American, setting the Canadian at ease.
America quickly learned though, through sadness blooms euphoria, the greatest sense of happiness ever experienced. Perhaps because one feels so low there is nothing else to feel afterwards.
The next few days transitioned quickly from sadness to suddenly a great burst of life. It started with small conversations at the breakfast table but soon erupted into loud laughing fits all throughout the day at random times. Smiles returned to lips and brightness reentered both of their blue eyes. Life was with them.
Before either of them knew it, the day America had to leave was upon them as well. It was a surprise to the both of them. They hadn't expected this to come so early on. America had sighed but soon laughed saying that time flies when you're having fun. Canada, masked with a smile, nodded.
There was a long period of silence in front of the dresser, a pile of clothes off to their right and more boxes to their left. Both sat unmoving and crossed legged on the hard wood floor, the knees of their jeans suddenly fascinating. America tried to breathe in time with Canada and sit in the same position while it appeared as though Canada was off in space in his own mind.
"…You sure you're going to be alright here by yourself Matty…?"
Canada's head bobbed up and down. "I'll be fine. Don't worry about it. Things are starting to get better already. I mean, good things are taking place right? France and England got back together so the world can't be all bad."
America laughed from his throat. "Yeah you're right about that. I thought it would take a lot more to get those two together… how do they do it…?"
"Stay together? How does anyone stay together? There's so many people on this earth and there's so many things we can do wrong and mess up. We all get on each others' nerves and we're all so different… how does anyone stay together today?" He looked over to his brother, eyes scanning him for the answer.
"I'm not sure… maybe your heart just knows… I don't know."
More silence covered the two of them. America tried to think of something to say next but for once he was strained for words. Maybe instead of waiting for Canada to ask him to lunch he could ask Canada. What harm could it do? He could drive Canada to some out of the way place and treat him to lunch. Keep him out long enough to allow him to stay one more night…just one more night.
One more night…to tell Canada how he felt, America had postponed this long enough. Day after day he had promised to tell the blonde tomorrow, next week, next month. There was no tomorrow this time. Now was a better time as-
"Cuba started talking to me again… and he's being pleasant about it." America stopped in his tracks. Annoyance boiled up in his stomach and worry poured into his heart. No… no he wouldn't let this happen again. He would not let Canada be taken away from him again…
"Don't go back to him Matthew. You can do better." His eyes looked over to him, seriousness taking over the care free blue. "He hurt once, he'll do it again. Don't trust him."
"…I wasn't planning on going back to him."
"I just… I worry about you Matthew." Canada nodded. He got up from the floor and lifted another box, starting to leave the room again.
"Come on, we have more stuff to bring down."
America sighed and rose as well. He had missed his chance. He had annoyed Canada and with it lost any possibility of letting the truth come out. America heaved two boxes into his arms, clearing the pile, and headed down the stairs. He and Canada both deposited their shares of boxes into the trunk and closed it tight. America leaned against the back and shoved his hand in his jacket pockets, eyes taking to the sky.
"I'm gonna' miss this view Matty…"
"I'm going to miss you. It was nice having you here…" Canada replied softly, assuming the same position as the other man.
"I'll miss you too…" He turned his head to face the Canadian and smiled. "I promise to come visit."
Canada looked back and returned the soft smile with a chuckle, his look saying you'd better. His eyes remained focused on America and studied the cowlick drooped over his forehead. America could feel the words on the tip of his tongue, just say them, just say them, just-
But before he could even think of how to phrase them, Canada leaned forward and pressed a soft, endearing kiss to his lips, smiling and cheeks aglow in a blush. "I love you Alfred."
She hadn't watched the sun set in such a long time. The woman had almost forgotten how calming it was to watch the beautiful fiery orange fade in with the golden yellows, swirling together with soft pinks and hints of blue to create a beautiful canvas in the sky. A soft glow rose from the horizon creating comforting warmth as it blanketed the sand, covering it like a soft blanket. The wind was gentle and the skies were clear. For the first time in a long time, Iraq felt…at peace.
Iraq was seated on the balcony perched at the back of her house in a kitchen chair, blanket wrapped around her frail shoulders, with a cup of tea cradled in between her palms. Her hair was down and out in the open, waving down to her waist. It had gotten dry in the past couple of months as had her skin. Her eyes had dark rings underneath them – due to the lack of sleep she had gotten during the war – and had a constant sting in them. Her health was slowly improving as the fighting calmed down and she was able to breathe a bit easier these days.
Iraq leaned her head back and closed her eyes, breathing in the scent of a cool evening breeze and the aroma from her tea cup. Thinking about the past war made her heart race and her head spin. She could have spent hours blaming the others around her – and sometimes did – but she herself took on a good portion of the blame too… especially Italy's death.
Every time the mention of the Italian was brought up all she could see was herself yelling at him for messing up again. Screaming at him for sneaking off to see Germany. Actually hitting him for something minor. Iraq had lost such control over her temper and felt guilty…so guilty. Maybe if she had been a bit nicer…acted more caring… reassured the young man that everything would turn out for the best…
Had he died screaming? What was going through his mind? Probably Germany… the thought of never being able to see him again. Did he think of her while he was slipping out of consciousness? Did he curse her or did he think of her fondly? No, what reason would he have had…? She spent her time screaming at him…
Iraq sighed heavily, the weight of her heart heavily increasing, as her mind began to wander farther. Iraq knew she had lost control of her temper long ago but what was stopping her from getting it back? The fighting was over; peace was spreading slowly but steadily… so why did she still feel the need to be angry? Why did she still feel like screaming at the nearest living thing?
"I'm angry at myself…" Her words were quiet and muttered, barely audible, as she lowered her head and looked at her knees. "I've done this to myself. I've made mistakes that I can't fix…"
Another sigh came from her mouth. The word "mistake" brought only one image into her mind and made her heart clench so tightly, she almost was unable to breathe.
Where was he? The fighting had stopped; she hadn't done a malicious thing since the war ended. She was making attempts to apologize to other nations and create as much peace as she could. She was helping not only her people but the people from other nations she and others hurt. She had even tried to contact him a few times. She had stood nervously at her kitchen counter, one hand supporting her weight on the counter and the other gripping the phone next to her ear, while her stomach started to turn over as she heard the phone starting to ring.
Iran still had the same number right? He wouldn't change it right? Did she dial it correctly? What if he saw her number? What if he didn't pick up? What if he did pick up? What if…what if someone else picked up…? What if that someone else…was someone he was seeing? Please don't let him-
Her mind had jolted as she had fumbled over her words, trying to get her breathing back to a normal pace. "U-Uhm h-hello Huda, it's me…uhm Aasera and I was ju-"
"You've reached Huda Akbari. I'm unable to answer the phone at this time. Please leave a message and I'll return your call. Thank you."
Iraq had slammed the phone down before the answering machine even had a chance to beep.
Iraq's mind drifted away from the thought of the almost phone call and back to her pained reality. For the past few months – years even – all she had wanted to do was just talk to her long lost husband. Apologize for causing him so much pain and for dragging him into so many unnecessary issues and fights. Since the war had ended she had tried hard to get these words to him in any way she could. Emails that were left unsent, letters lying out of their unaddressed envelopes, and phone calls ended by slamming down on the receiver.
Iraq rose from her chair and walked to the edge of the balcony, watching the sun as it stooped below the horizon, leaving behind only a faint glow of pink and orange. Her eyes were shielded by her lids and she leaned onto the railing, letting the now cold wind brush over her face and neck.
One more time…one more time. Her mind was urging her to go, go and get the phone. Pick it up, dial, if he answers speak and if he doesn't leave a message. Get the word through to him. Before she could register what she was doing, her thoughts took over her actions as she reached into her bedroom, snatching the phone off the hook, and starting dialing Iran's number.
Every ringing was another beat of her heart she was sure would make it explode. Another two seconds of waiting, another two seconds of anticipation, another two seconds of fear...
Her mind starting trailing with the sound.
"Hello, this is Huda."
Iraq's heart leapt as she waited for the sentence to continue, informing her that he was not home at the time and she would have to leave a message. Instead she heard air, a soft wind blowing into the phone for a few seconds… breath.
"Hello…?" His voice resounded. She could see him so perfectly in her mind's eye looking at the display of the phone to see if the call had dropped and then placing it back to his ear. More in fear of him hanging up than of having to speak, she took a large breath and felt her heart grow to the size of the set sun.
"H-Hello Huda…it's me, Aasera."
There was a long pause.
"Hello…how are you?"
How could he remain so well composed and poised while she was over in her own land, shaking like a leaf, palms trembling and heart pounding? "Fine…better. Much better…"
"So I've heard."
Another long period of silence. Don't let him get bored…don't let him hang up! Keep talking, spit it out, tell him what you called for. Just say it… you love him don't you?
"Huda I-I…I wanted to apologize for…everything. The fighting, the worry I caused you… just everything. I know I had a horrible temper and I know I screamed every chance I got but I'm trying to change… the war is over and I'm trying to make peace, I really truly am. I'm just… I'm so sorry…I'm so sorry I hurt you so badly back then..."
Her voice was followed by an even longer silence. She bit her lip as her mind kept reeling, kept thinking, forming a sentence that rolled off her tongue before she could register that it was even bubbling up her throat.
"I love you Huda, I want you to come home."
An immediate response followed. "You always pick to call at the worst times Aasera…"
"I-I'm sorry. If I caught you at a bad time I can hang up and you can return my call-"
She was cut off by Iran's laugh, deep throated and sincere. "You called me right as I was packing my things. I'll be home soon, love."
To him, and to many others, it was seemingly unbelievable that he was standing here atop this hillside looking out at the waves of gold, waving gently in the wind, while breathed continued to leave and enter his chest. To others, this feat was impossible. Just the very act of him standing and breathing was something straight out of a fairy tale. To him, it was a triumph.
He was alive.
Though it certainly had been a struggle to remain that way.
Lithuania raised a hand to gently brush his shoulder, finger tips grazing over the slight protrusion in the smooth fabric of his shirt caused by heavy gauze bandaging. It was a struggle indeed and what a struggle it was. A struggle to keep breathing, a struggle to keep fighting the pain, a struggle to not allow himself to sleep, but the largest struggle was forcing himself to talk. The largest struggle he faced that horrid day was resisting the overwhelming exhaustion and pursuing whatever non-existent energy he had left to keep words flowing from his lips.
Lithuania was trying desperately to keep his mind from going back to that day. He didn't want to remember it anymore. With the newfound peace that was gracing the world, he wanted nothing more than to leave the past behind him and start over. A fresh beginning and a new life had been something he had been craving for years on end. Now when he finally received the chance to get it, his mind couldn't think of anything but the past.
The past was truly something he hated thinking about, dreaded even dawning upon. While most people felt a warm sense of nostalgia for their past years, the Lithuanian felt nothing but pain and shame. There had been good days but the bad heavily outweighed them. On most occasions, when questioned about his childhood by kinder strangers, he simply laughed it off and said he barely remembered it. However much of a lie it was, it kept them from asking any further.
He turned his emerald eyes to the sky and he let his top teeth run over his bottom lip. If he wanted this bright beautiful future so horribly why was he thinking about the past so much more often? No matter how much he tried, he couldn't get it off his mind. Small flashes from his much younger years randomly popped into his head, a few from young adult hood, but most memories had one defining element that made them similar…
Russia. This man had been completely lodged his mind ever since…that day. That grin would leave his mind's vision and his laugh was stuck in his head like a bad song on repeat. Even now, as he was still trying to fight off the memories, his glowing violet eyes were staring him down as a gun was being pointed at his forehead. Lithuania had remained frozen where he lay slumped against the wall. He had known any movement could have set the Russian off.
"I'll save you Lithuania. No one will be able to hurt you after this. No one can give you any more scars or cause you any more pain. You'll never cry again and you'll never have to fight. You can finally be happy Lithuania." Lithuania's stomach dropped when he heard the click of the gun, unwillingly envisioning bullets snapping into place. He knew he didn't have much time; he needed to find a way out of here…somehow…anything.
"I'll miss you so much Toris."
The words rolled off his tongue. "I'll miss you too Ivan… I love you." Though they were almost too late. Russia's eyes widened and his hand dropped, though his action was not stopped. A loud bang echoed throughout the room and Lithuania screamed as searing hot pain shot through his left shoulder. Lithuania had fallen onto his side gasping as he clutched his shoulder, warm blood oozing from in between his fingers.
Russia had just stood over him gaping. Surprised at possibly what he had just done, the smoking gun in his hand not being proof enough, and quite possibly surprised at what the Lithuanian had just said. He stooped onto his knees, his eyes still confused but now a sparkle of hope in them, and asked softly "What did you say Toris?"
Did the blood gushing from his body not exist to Russia? Was this all an act to him? Lithuania knew though if he wanted to live through this he would have to keep talking… just like the old days…
"I said…I love you Ivan…"
"Toris are you lying to me?"
"No, I wouldn't lie…to you about this." Lithuania paused to hold back a scream of pain. It almost felt as though his flesh was being torn straight off the bone. Help…he needed help. He couldn't die like this… "I really do Ivan…"
Russia said nothing for a long time. Russia just looked down and stared at him, purple eyes examining every single part of him. Could Russia see lies like stains on your clothes? Of course not, that was impossible…keep talking. Live. "Please Ivan…don't let me die. If… you save me then we can… be happy."
However much it hurt to do, Lithuania raised the hand that was gripping his shoulder up to the Russian's face and cupped his cheek, leaving a bloody hand print. He fought the excruciating pain and said "We can… be together and I'll never…leave again. Just don't let me…die Ivan otherwise it'll never…happen. Please Ivan… don't let me…"
The next thing Lithuania remembered was waking up in a hospital bed in even more pain. It hadn't been a pleasant experience and by no means a pleasant recovery. Then why… did his mind keep returning to that day? Returning to the shame, the horror, and the pain? Maybe perhaps because Russia had almost killed him or had saved his life?
Lithuania's shoulder started to ache once again, reminding him of the doctor's order to take it easy. He sighed softly and turned to head back into the house which was only a few feet away but was met with the sight of something…odd.
A bouquet of bright yellow sunflowers lay at his feet. He would have stepped on them if weren't for the bright blue bow that held them all together. His eyes trailed up from the flowers to the horizon in front of him and he froze, a deer in the headlights.
"Hello Toris…" Russia was standing only twenty feet at most away from him. His arms were at his sides and Lithuania couldn't see a weapon of any sort on him. How had he gotten these flowers right behind him without him knowing? How long had he been standing there? "I didn't come to hurt you Toris… I came to just…talk."
Little did Russia know, he would be doing all of the speaking. Toris hadn't said a word since the incident. "I won't come any closer, I promise. Those flowers are for you…if you want them, to get better. And also to apologize…"
As Russia paused Lithuania forced his muscles to relax to prevent his shoulder from cramping worse. Lithuania was still angry with Russia, he always had been, but that didn't mean he wasn't willing to listen. Lithuania continued to stare on at Russia as he continued to speak. "I've been apologizing to a good deal of people but the entire time I was, I knew I owed you the largest. I couldn't think of the words. I still can't entirely. Toris I…"
There was certain calmness to his voice. He almost sounded tired, exhausted, as though he had been fighting to stay alive as well. "I'm sorry. For…everything. For back then for now. I'm sorry for hurting you so many times and for not stopping, for being so selfish, for being so horrible. The hurt I've caused you… I'm paying for it Toris." Lithuania could see deep set rings about both of the Russian's eyes as he looked closer and Russia was beginning to look thinner than he should.
"I know you don't want to hear it Toris but I do love you, I truly do. I've never showed it to you, only lashed out at you. I couldn't believe someone made me feel that way… though I know I have no excuse. There is no excuse for how I acted… I don't expect you to forgive me Toris and I know my apology doesn't even deserve your acceptance…"
Russia paused once again and hung his head in seldom, looking utterly defeated. "I'm just hoping foolishly… one day we can be friends…"
Lithuania's eyes surveyed first the flowers lying at his feet. They appeared fresh and from Lithuania's memory of Russia's small garden, home grown. Out of all the minute apologies Russia had said to him, none of them included flowers. True, Lithuania thought, he could have gone much farther than flowers but everyone was feeling run down these days…a better apology would come in time.
His eyes once again looked back up to Russia who almost looked childish stand there with his hands lying limp and face turned to the ground. His sandy blonde hair was messy and his scarf was swaying in the wind, almost looking like it wanted to fly off its owner's neck…but it was rooted there.
That's when it dawned on Lithuania. The future he wanted was in front of him, as open as the sky with as many possibilities as the stars in it. Embracing his future didn't mean forgetting his past completely, it meant being able to accept it but be open to new views and a brighter tomorrow. It meant being able to defy what he had learned… and be able to look at something completely different.
Slowly, Lithuania bent down and picked up his flowers, cradling them in his elbow. He took his time as he walked towards the taller man and stopped in front of him. Lithuania's green eyes met Russia's violet.
"We will be one day Ivan." With that, Lithuania offered Russia a small but warm smile and an invitation inside for a cup of tea.
"I really wished you could have seen your face. It was hilarious. I mean for a second I thought you were actually going to put a hole through my skull, but then-"
"I'v h'rd th's story en'gh D'n-"
"Hey I think it's funny, I don't know why you don't! Anyway, I thought you were seriously going to kill me but then your eyes got this funny shine to them and you turned around for a second. I thought you had to reload your gun but then I realized you were actually crying."
"Ok D'n tha's en'gh!" Sweden attempted to jokingly clasp a hand over the Dane's mouth, only receiving a laugh and his hand being pushed away. Denmark's eyes shone with mischief as he continued to speak.
"Remember what I did after that?" Again Sweden tried to cover his mouth, this time by pinning Denmark underneath him and covering his lips, but Denmark twisted his head and kept talking. "Well since you're trying to shut me up you probably don't remember but, I got up, which wasn't easy with bound hands, and put my chin on your shoulder until you clung to me. Though I didn't cry because I never cry!" The Dane flashed the man above him a bright grin as the Swede rolled off and turned over onto his side on his side of the bed.
Sweden tried his best to ignore Denmark for the time being – he had already noticed that the clock displayed the time being at almost midnight – and focus on sleeping. He did have things to do tomorrow the required rest and he should be able to sleep through another one of Denmark's blown-out-of-proportion stories… even if this one did have some truth to it. Though Sweden knew, if he actually listened to Denmark's antics, the gears of his mind would start whirling and sleep wouldn't come for hours. Denmark always had a way of doing that, of getting into his head.
Sweden had never been able to identify if hated or liked that aspect of the Dane. On one hand it could mean he was a manipulative, cocky bastard and on the other it could just mean that Denmark knew him better than anyone else. Sweden supposed he would have to get used to the latter way of thinking again. He was trying to think a bit more on the positive side about Denmark and Denmark was trying to respect his boundaries and privacies.
Though of course that didn't stop Denmark from using the last of the hot water in the shower and most certainly didn't stop Sweden from snapping at Denmark over something trivial. It was a learning process. At the moment, he couldn't help but think positive about Denmark's chatter.
At least Denmark was talking.
After the Canadian invasion incident, complete with unpleasant memories of Denmark almost killing Canada completely and Denmark almost killing Sweden himself for that matter (and the awful twisted grin on the Dane's face), Denmark had faded away into unconsciousness once in the hospital. Sweden's wounds were considered cuts and bruises in comparison so there was no need to for him to stay long. Sweden had wandered down the hallway, with full intention of walking straight out the front door, when his eyes fell to Denmark's room and his feet shortly thereafter, followed. Denmark's eyes had been closed and body limp, various bandages and dark bruises covering his face and arms. Sweden hadn't been able to believe it, but he found himself pulling up a chair next to his bed and resting his head on the edge of the mattress.
What was even more unbelievable was the smile Denmark gave him when he woke up three days later. Sweden had still been planted right next to his bed in the chair, reading an old book he had found laying around, when he was interrupted by a soft rustling and slender fingers playing with a few stray hairs in the back of his head. "Nice to see you…Berwald. Really nice…"
After that, the best way to phrase would be to say that things just fell into place. Sweden considered leaving after Denmark woke up, but never did. Denmark was going to yell at Sweden for pointing a gun at his head, but instead was happy he didn't pull the trigger. Sweden was only going to visit Denmark that one day, but ended up coming back every day of the week and soon every day of the month. Denmark was going to tell Sweden to go home and stop bothering him, but always ended up pleading the nurse to allow Sweden to stay five minutes past visiting hours. Sweden was just going to give Denmark a ride home from the hospital the day he got out, but ended up staying for dinner. Denmark was just going to walk Sweden to the front door and say goodbye there, but ended up giving into his weak heart and kissing him. Sweden ended up kissing him back.
Apologies were whispered softly through breaks for air, forgiveness was given through the long missed embraces, and for that one moment in far too long of a time of fighting and harsh words and bitterness… everything was okay. Nowhere near perfect…but the both of them were fine with it being that way.
It didn't take long for Sweden to move back in, though it did take much effort on Denmark's part to bring him back. How many times Denmark held his hand and offered the Swede book length heartfelt apologies. The times that Denmark had to convince Sweden that there would be no relapse of the previous time they lived in the same house. The promise that no freedom would be taken away and this was of no political matter, just out of pure emotional want.
However happy he was, Denmark wasn't the same as he had been before the war. The Dane, who was usually outgoing and almost obnoxiously lively, was now withdrawn and near silent. Denmark didn't speak unless it was necessary, the corners of his mouth were constantly turned down, and most days he spent in his office, working for hours on end. Not that Sweden did much different, work and getting things in order came first these days, but he had to admit it would have been nice to hear more than three words from his lover at the dinner table.
Sweden also noticed the downtrodden look in Denmark's eyes. They were almost always looking down at the floor and constantly avoiding making any contacts with anyone else. Sweden could tell something was on Denmark's mind – stress, pain, life in general – but he knew he would have to pull the Dane's teeth before he would get a word out of him.
Thankfully though, his unbearable silence was starting to wear off, mostly when the two were alone together. If others were around, Denmark would act silent and secluded, keeping a large distance between himself and everyone else. However, when Denmark was with Sweden, he would randomly pop into the room Sweden was in and speak quietly for a few moments, eventually becoming more and more like his old self. Like now for example. When they had both gotten into bed at ten, the other man hadn't said a word, but now it was as if the terrors of war hadn't ravaged his mind.
Sweden's mind snapped out of his thoughts, mentally slapping himself for giving into daydreams, and another look at the clock revealed it was half past midnight. Denmark had fallen silent so Sweden wondered if he was asleep. He lay there still for a while, staring at the clock and listening to the sounds of the other man breathe. He had forgotten how lonely it was sleeping alone and how great it was to have someone near you as you were falling asleep. Sweden thought about rolling over throw an arm over the other man in the bed, but was beat to it.
Denmark, who as it turned out had not been asleep, turned over and curled an arm around Sweden's waist, resting his face at the base of his neck. "Can I tell you something Berwald…?"
Denmark's voice became quiet again, though this time it was peacefully serene instead of the now usual melancholy. Sweden could feel the brush of his lashes against his neck as he said, "When you were clinging to me and when you were crying… I was crying too. I was afraid that was going to be the very last time I saw you and even now… I'm scared you're going to leave again."
"'S th't why y've b'n s' qui't?"
Even though Denmark didn't respond, Sweden knew the answer was yes. In response, and it could have been the best answer Denmark could have asked for, Sweden silently turned over in bed and held the other man close. A thousand things to talk about were racing through the Swede's mind.
Was Denmark feeling alright? Was there anything he could do? Had everything been doing alright political wise? How about emotional? When had he developed that crazed smile he once saw? Why was he acting so strange that day? Would that side of him ever go away? Could Sweden handle it next time? Could Denmark handle it next time? Could the both of them make this work? Could the both of them put up with each other?
Maybe. Everything was a maybe. For now though, that was alright. They would work it out in the future. Denmark's fiery personality would come back. Peace would grace the both of them and everything would turn out okay…eventually.
However torn apart the world was, however controversial every single matter was, however disagreeable everyone was, and however difficult things were to discuss, there was only one matter that was completely certain. One issue that was finalized without anyone needing to discuss a word of it.
World meetings were dreadful these days, for many reasons. Sorrowful faces adorned every chair in the large room; every smile disappeared as soon as one's hand touched the door knob. Eyes were never lifted an inch higher than necessary – necessary in this case was the floor – and voices were always hardly audible. Hands fidgeted in laps nervously, lips were bitten, hair twirled, and hearts heavy. There was always an overwhelming sense of doom in the room, even if all the windows had been opened and the sun was shining. A heavy presence of guilt and shame, mixed with regret and anger.
And there was always that empty chair.
No one dared to touch it. Most hardly even looked in its direction. No one spoke of it or did a thing about it. Every single nation simply let it sit there, without a place marker and without a glass of water. Even without a name card, everyone already knew who this chair belonged to though no one dare speak the name.
This name however floated through the air like a winter breeze. It would float about carelessly, deciding to chill someone's neck but remain distant to another. It would interrupt a speech from America, halt France's pen from taking notes, almost choke China as he was taking a sip of water, and strangle the air out of everywhere as it wrapped around their necks.
It wasn't just a name. It was an absence, a void, a deep well, an ache, a missing piece, and an object of guilt. It caused South Italy's head to drop into his hands. It made Japan's jaw clench and hands fist tightly. It made Russia's stomach churn with deepest regret and eyes close. But most of all, it had forced Germany to plummet from life to almost a zombie like state. Germany was a mess.
At meetings he hardly ever spoke, barely even made a sound. His eyes never so much even glanced up from his folded hands. He never showed any emotion, except for the occasional scowl or heartbroken sigh which was still far too quiet to hear. No one could see it, but his heart had been completely shattered into pieces. Every beat hurt worse than the last. Every breath was an effort. Even blinking was exhausting to him. All fight had left him. All hope had vanished alongside Italy. The only thing that remained was a cold, lifeless shell.
Others had started off worrying about his well being, wondering if was ever going to speak again, though each time someone tried to approach him to try and talk to him, he would silently rise and walk away. By now, everyone had learned to let him sift through his own thoughts. Hopefully, Germany would find a way to pull himself out of his sadness while everyone else was trying to pull themselves out of the hole they dug themselves into.
Germany, on this certain day, sat silently per usual while listening to every country go down the line and speak their part. England was looking for new ways to pay off war debts; France was trying to fund rebuilding projects for damaged cities. It was all the same to him. Everyone was trying to fix themselves while trying to fix others at the same time. He knew progress was a great thing to have happening, but to him, none of it mattered. At the present, no matter how business oriented he tried to keep his brain, Germany didn't care if he ever paid everything off. He didn't care if other countries would ever fully trust him again. He didn't even care if he lived to see another day. Everything was black and dark, pointless.
Germany had never felt so alone. He felt completely on the outside. Japan had been reconnecting with China; brothers were brothers after all, which of course made the pangs of loneliness even worse. America and England, brothers who could have been considered father and son, were also becoming close again. France and Canada, the Koreas, Scandinavia. Everyone was closer. To family, to siblings. Even lovers were starting to bond again.
But what about him?
Where was his love?
Where was his connection?
Where was his happy ending?
Where was his brother?
Where was his lover?
That's right, passed away. Gone. In a better place. Never coming back. Never returning. Alone. He was alone. For good. Neither Italy nor Prussia were ever going to return. Never again was Prussia going to clamp a hand on his shoulder and tell him about a joke he had heard. Never again was Italy going to show up at his front door step unannounced with a plate of food made for me. Never again was Prussia going to rub his head when it was aching and tell him that he needed to relax. Never again was Italy going to reassure Germany that if ever needed to cry, he would never tell anyone and that he was there for. He was never going to see either of their faces again, never going to hear them laugh…
Germany was so far gone into his thoughts and sadness it hadn't a clue that the entire room had been staring at him. His first inclination was that the entire room had fallen silent, the second being someone softly calling his name. His eyes flicked to its origin and he saw England, more or less the neck down of England, looking at him.
"Germany… did you hear me a few seconds ago?" Germany shook his head to replace his speech once again.
The nation stood there for a moment, not saying anything either, while pulling nervously at his gloves. His cleared his throat twice before repeating the question that Germany hadn't heard the first time.
"Russia asked you if he may have a word…" Germany's eyes suddenly became livid. Russia. Just the name sent hot flashes of anger through his body. Germany had refused – outright refused – to speak or even look in the man's direction. And now he wanted to speak with him? No. Absolutely not. Why should Germany give him that privilege? Why should he give him the time of day? It was ludicrous to even ask him such a thing. He envisioned himself shaking his head no again, but didn't have time to actually act upon it before Russia started to speak.
"I would like to… say a few words of apology. Not only to you Germany but to this whole room and to…to North Italy." As the name rolled off his tongue, the entire room froze and everyone seemed to stop breathing. "I was…illogical. I wasn't thinking. I wasn't…right in my head. That's no excuse, I know… but please know, just because I was cruel does not mean I am not sorry… I regret what I did… I regret it all.
I know you don't forgive me Ludwig, I could tell you that before I even started talking, but I just hope you know that I hate what I did. Wherever Veneziano may be…I know he is in a far better place. I know that he would want you of all people to be happy and to… embrace this peace all of us are finding.
We all miss him in our own ways and we all know… it's not the same without him. I am so sorry for the pain I caused you…I am so sorry I caused Veneziano's passing… and Ludwig…?
I have never forgiven myself for what I did to Gilbert. Your brother loved you very much…"
That was it. Germany couldn't take it anymore. He had to get out of there. He couldn't be in the same room as this man anymore. He couldn't be in the same room with any of these people anymore. He couldn't take any more of these familiar faces. The faces of the people who had surrounded him for so many years. The faces of the people who his brother and Italy had been familiar with. All of them bore resemblance to each other. Personality traits, facial characteristics, experiences, enemies, allies, everyone was so similar. To him, to Italy, to everyone.
Without feeling the ground beneath his feet, Germany launched himself from his chair and went flying out the door. Soon enough the room was far behind him, the other's yells were distant, the hallways didn't exist, the doors leading outside were gone and there was only air and running. Running from everything. The pain. The fear. The loss. The ache. The sadness. The anger. Himself.
His knees were trembling and his legs were burning by the time he finally stopped. His eyes were wide and red as he stared in front of him, chest heaving up and down heavily.
And then, Germany sobbed. Germany dropped to his knees as if in surrender and threw his head to the sky screaming. His eyes clenched but that didn't stop the tears from falling down his face. His hands clenched his forehead as he dropped his head, body wracking with each cry. Every sob brought another with it, every flash of pain continued further. For every tear there were five more. For every thought of Italy, there was ten to follow. Germany had no idea how much more he could take.
Why couldn't he just die? He would be happier…he could be with Italy again! He could finally be with Italy! He could finally love him properly; have the lives they had both always wanted! He could hold him and kiss him every day! Just see him again! Why couldn't he just die?
He hadn't even realized he had been screaming these words, but he didn't care. He didn't care about anything…only the pain was present. Just the pain…
"Why…why can't you have mercy on me…? Why can't I die…? Why can't I just die…? Why do I have to still be here…?" Germany's voice shook with each word, every breath, every beat. Who he was talking to? He hadn't a clue…anyone who would listen…anyone.
"Because I don't want you dead…"
Germany's head jerked to look behind him.
His heart stopped beating.
His breath left him.
The pain flooded away from him.
Everything was gone…and everything returned.
Italy was standing there. Smiling. Breathing. Hair blowing gently in the wind. Healed. Eyes glowing in the sunlight. Skin without a flaw or scratch. Real.
"I-Italy…h-how I thought-"
"I don't like hearing you cry Ludwig…it hurts me too…please don't cry anymore. I heard you screaming and crying and it made me scared… I followed your voice here. I thought maybe I could help… maybe I could make you feel better…
I wanted to come back and be with you Ludwig…"
Without thinking, without any questions he ran forward. New tears sprouted from his eyes, tears of joy. His arms out stretched and pulled Italy in tightly, but of course not tight enough. His hair wound into his soft brown hair and he pressed his lips to forehead, cheeks, nose, neck, anywhere he could find.
"Italy I'm so so-"
"It's not your fault, it's not your fault. Please no more apologies, ve?" Italy smiled up at the German, body trembling and hand running over his cheek in comfort. "We can start all over. We can start again. Okay? Let's just start over okay?"
Germany nodded fiercely and kissed his lover with an even stronger passion, keeping him held close in his arms. "I love you Veneziano…I love you…"
"I love you Ludwig…"
And as they both kissed before the sunset, a promise of love and peace bestowing them, all the ties that were once snapped and strained and broken...were now once again...bonded.
That's where this tale ends I guess. Though I guess I shouldn't call it tale since everything that happened was true, not like anyone is ever going to read these words. Just in case you're wondering, if you're even there, things turned out for the better. Last I heard the world was shaping up. Relief efforts were being put into place, more and more people were becoming friends and helping each other, though that's all boring stuff to me. There isn't an end to this story. Just another beginning.
Another set of words I would have to give you and another story to tell you. Though I don't know what happens next, I was never sure what would happen next. Fault of mine I suppose. I will tell you something though, being a nation is easy. It's easy to deal with politics and even easier to sign your name on ten thousand papers. What's not easy is the emotions that go with it.
Try watching close friends of yours fade away into nothing because of what their boss did and be fine with it. Try watching your own landmarks burn to the ground and be "okay". It's not easy. However, I've already said enough, yammered your ear off long enough.
Though, I ask of you one more thing.
If anyone ever finds these papers and ever takes the time to read each word could you do me a favor? Could you tell West that I would have come back to visit him if I wanted? I had the power again to go back down but I gave it to Italy, I knew it would make him happy. Thank you.
…tell him that I love him.