Hopefully this won't offend anyone; I am in no way insulting either characters/countries. So please enjoy.
Disclamer: I do not own Hetalia: Axis Powers or any of its characters.
Korea woke to a piercing ringing that burst beside him.
Grumbling drowsily, he carelessly crashed a hand onto the alarm clock, more or less quieting the incessant noise. It was only after a minute or two had passed before he reluctantly lifted himself off of the futon, nearly losing his balance doing so. He struggled to open his half-lidded eyes as he squinted at the timepiece. It was half past one in the morning. A dull laugh erupted from his throat when he realized he set the alarm to watch his favorite Korean drama which aired only late in the night. Of course, the awaiting drama episode he had looked forward to was the least of his concerns.
He had the same nightmare again.
He stumbled into the kitchen, shielding his eyes momentarily when he flicked on the lights. He grabbed a teapot on the dining table to fix himself a cup of hot tea; perhaps it could help clear his mind. As he waited for the water to boil, he eased himself onto a chair. Below him, a stack of newspapers sat invitingly on the hard-wood floor. Letting out a sigh, he picked up the most recent copy and flipped it open.
"Legislative violence occurs once again in South Korea's National Assembly…" he read aloud in a monotonous tone.
"North Korea conducts its second nuclear test…"
"South Korea's ex-president commits suicide…"
A heavy silence followed soon after the words escaped his lips. Abruptly, he slashed at the papers, throwing them roughly out of his sight, disregarding the sheets that scattered messily all over the kitchen floor. With an unsteady expression, he stared at his hands before covering his face with them and slumped forward mutely.
And the dream played in his head repeatedly like a broken projector.
"Your patience couldn't last for more than 9 years?"*
Blotches of crimson stain his pale face, white uniform, and polished blade as he advances towards me. My heart races in panic and I let out a stifled cry as I crawd to the back of the crumbling wall. Stabbing pain engulfs my entire body each time I move. The wounds do not stop bleeding. I take in a shaky breath, inhaling the air filled with screams and smoke. He stops within a foot from me. Slowly, the bloody blade gently slides underneath my chin and lifts it up, forcing my eyes to meet his.
"Did you think these protests would succeed?" His obsidian eyes were laughing. Laughing at his dominance, laughing at his overwhelming power, laughing at the unquestionable control he has over me.
I spit blood in his face. Without hesitation, he replies by smashing the hilt of his sword across my head. The sound of metal making contact with my skull is deafening in my ears. I cough wetly as blood drops down my lips.
'Save me, aniki.'
The blade leaves my chin only to be replaced by a hand roughly grabbing my collar. Feebly I try to push it away. "I'm going to be here for a while." A repulsively kind smile adorns his features. "Why don't we try to get along?"
I cannot fight back. I cannot rebel. Independence is but a distant memory that no longer exists.
I drop my hands in defeat and say nothing.
The dream that plagued him with past horrors.
"Please don't." My protests are weak, desperate. "You've already taken our independence, the lives of our men, our culture, our land... You don't need any more from us."
The girls are hauled into trucks like sacks of garbage.* Their cries are silenced when the back doors are slammed shut. His eyes stare through me, as if he is looking at thin air.
"Those girls don't deserve this."
"They will serve the Heavenly Emperor and support the soldiers fighting against our enemy." He watches the truck drive away. "It is a true honor."
Something seizes my stomach, but I do not bother to open my lips when I hear the excuse that has been repeated every day.
"Besides, you wouldn't want some foreign power to invade your country, would you?" he begins to walk way, a cruel smile playing the corners of his lips. "You need my protection."
I can only drop to my knees as his figure grows smaller in the distance.
The surroundings unexpectedly change, and suddenly I am dragged through the events that proceed; America's victory in the Pacific War, Russia and America splitting my sister and me apart, the bloody Korean War, until finally--
The dream that contained his undisclosed sentiments, his darkest secrets buried under countless facades of reassuring smiles.
--I am covered in filth and dirt, wearing remnants of what once proudly was my blue and white hanbok. As I lift my sullen eyes, I see him—he is standing in a field in silence. His outfit is neat and gleaming and a bright smile adorns is face. The scars from the war I loved to see are no longer present. Many different nations surround him, and each are congratulating him on his newest innovations, his great influence in Asia, patting him on the back, complimenting him—
A wave of rage crashes upon me and I push my feet off the ground and charge at him, but a heavy weight yanks me back. I am shackled to the ground by thick chains. I thrash violently against the restraints, but to no avail. I yell, I curse in desperation, in brutal fury until my throat becomes raw, but they do not hear me.
I shut my eyes.
"Why are you congratulating him, why—he's nothing but a monster! Haven't you all seen what he has done?"
Tears trail down my cheeks.
"Stop paying attention to him, he deserves none of it, pay attention to me, to me—"
A knock on the door broke Korea out of his ghastly reverie.
He rubbed his eyes briefly and glanced at the door. Visitors were never common during the middle of the night, but he felt oddly relieved for the interruption. He hastily dressed in his traditional hanbok and rushed out to meet unexpected guest. He slowly slid the door open to see Japan standing at the entrance.
"Ja…" Something unpleasant was stuck in his throat. "Japan—"
Suddenly he felt as if he was reliving the moments of his memories, his nightmare, and all the emotions rushed past him like a harsh blizzard. His head was throbbing, aching, his body felt heavier than stone, and he felt—maybe imagined—cold sweat breaking out on his forehead—
"Korea? Are you all right?"
Korea blinked. He took a deep breath and held it. "I—" Exhale. "I'm sorry. I'm fine."
Japan only nodded. Softly. Uncertainly. "I was just taking a walk, and I saw the lights on in your house. I just thought maybe I'd, um…" he paused and lowered his eyes to the brown doormat.
Korea's eyes seemed to fog up as he stared at the smaller nation standing before him. It wasn't until a few seconds had passed before he stepped to the side and lightly pushed open the door. His body was moving on its own.
"Oh... Oh! Well. Why don't you come in?"
Korea shut the door and led Japan to the living room. He pulled out two cushions from under the sofa and set them on the floor. When Korea motioned for him to sit, Japan silently complied. He nodded somewhat rigidly and disappeared into the kitchen.
"I was just making some tea." Sounds of cups clinking and the hiss from the steam in the teapot echoed into the living room. The fragrance of barley wafted through the entrance. "Would you like some?"
"Yes please." Japan's fingers mingled with the edge of the cushion as he waited. His ears perked when the he heard the last drops of tea fall into the cups and footsteps creak against the floor.
"Here," Korea offered. Japan lowered his head in gratitude and steadied the cup's handle with his index finger and thumb. The invisible traces on his hand where Japans' fingertips brushed felt ice cold.
Korea tried to sit down as casually as possible, kicking his legs open and slouching backwards against his left hand. His right was occupied with gently twirling his own cup of tea; with dull eyes, he watched the hot contents splash against the inner walls. Japan could only watch cautious eyes, once bringing his cup to his lips to take an inadequate sip.
Japan jolted at the sudden break of silence.
"How's the tea?"
"It's, um…" Japan faltered. "It's good. Very good."
"I know everyone else prefers your Green tea, but…" Korea replied, a certain animosity stirring in his tone, "This is all I have."
"What—wait, no… " he shook his head. "Barley's fine. I mean, it's not—"
"So my tea's all right only if you like it."
A momentary panic washed over Japan as his eyes widened. "No, that—that's not what I meant."
Korea's eyes bore into Japan, who was shaking his head vigorously. He let out a dark chuckle. "I know you didn't. Of course…of course you wouldn't." A pause. "I've just…a lot of stuff has been bothering me lately."
Japan gave a fleeting glance at the abandoned newspapers littered across the kitchen floor.
"Actually, I…um…have been reading the news and, well….many things have happened to you." He tugged at his sleeve, struggling to meet Korea's eyes. "I just wanted to know if you're all right."
"All right?" Korea repeated, testing the words. Japan, the one during the occupation, the one with cold eyes—he's asking if I'm all right— it was hilarious. And he almost laughed, too. "What about you? How've you been?"
Japan's posture wavered a little at the unexpected question. "Well, I..." he gulped and put down his cup. "I'm doing fine. I suppose."
Korea drew out a long breath as a cold smile teased the corner of his lips, a smile that never quite reached his eyes. "Aren't you always. Always in tip-top shape, huh?"
"What do you want?" Korea interrupted pointedly, his grip on his cup tightening until his knuckles turned white. "Are you here to laugh at how I'm about to lose my fucking mind?"
All color flushed out from Japan's face.
"It's funny, isn't it?" The grin didn't leave Korea's face. "After all I've gone through…I end up dragging myself into a shit hole. That's what I get for being a weak little nation, hm?"
"No, I—" Japan started.
Then Korea jumped to his feet. All the concealed rage exploded into millions of mindless words, pouring out of a broken dam uncontrollably. His voice was rapidly increasing. He wanted to shout at the nation before him, scream, beat, stab--
"—And what about you?! A merciless killer, a demon—" Japan winced at the words. "You're perfectly fine, as if there isn't a care in the world. Your economy's booming, everyone has high regards for you--It must be a great feeling, right?"
Japan could only shake his head frantically, his mouth thinning into a line.
"Over and over, I've always been conquered, bullied, forced to obey to the whims of everyone around me—" His voice cracked, but he spoke faster, "As if I'm some worthless nation to trade from country to country. You kill my queen, you annex my country, you destroy us in every way possible, and what do I get?"
Korea chucked his mug in the direction of the scattered newspapers. Smashing against a wall, the ear-splitting shatter echoed throughout the room as the cooled tea slowly crept around the floor. A strangled gasp escaped from Japan's throat.
"My sister is ripped away from me, she attacks me—"
His words boiled in anger as he all but screams, nearly forgetting to breathe.
"My government gets corrupt, my former boss fucking throws himself off a cliff, and my sister's out to nuke every living thing off the face of this planet."
Then Korea whispered coldly, "But you."
Japan's shoulders stiffened and he bit the bottom of his lip.
"America saves your ass by taking those terrible research on human experimentation*, other European countries help rebuild your nation after the war, and everyone's just enthralled by your intelligence and poise--"
"I'm sorry," Japan whispered desperately, but his apology was left unheard.
"You deserve none of this! You should be starving, weak, begging for our mercy—" With wild eyes lost in rage, he advanced on Japan and roughly seized him by the shoulder. Japan didn't pull away. Korea's breathing was labored, heaving, with years of turmoil lunging out of his throat. "All this popularity, all your success, you don't need it, you'll never need it—"
His throat felt like a fissure was splitting it in two, but he didn't care. He was louder now, screaming until the walls rattled at the crazed power, the wrath of his words. "I hate you!" he roared at the top of his lungs. "I hate you, I hate you, I hate you—"
He shoved Japan away. Japan bumped into the edge of a table, knocking over books and papers, but neither of them cared—
"I hate you—"
His whole body shook violently, his mind about to explode, and the only way to prevent it was to keep on repeating, to let everything out—
"I hate you—"
Like a broken record, Korea continued to shoot out the same words, until his voice slowly disintegrated, the release of anger steadily leaking away. His arms fell limply, his shoulders slumped in exhaustion. Knees buckled and fell to the floor. His chest rose and fell unevenly, and there was only the heavy pant of the broken nation.
Something liquid formed at the corners of his eyes, but Korea made no move to hide them.
Then Korea confessed, "I'm jealous of you."
The words hung in the tense air. Japan only sat against the table, not bothering to fix his disheveled clothes. He could only stare with wide eyes.
"Jealous—I'm jealous of someone like you—you destroyed me, tortured me inside out, you betrayed aniki, and left us to rot in the sun--" His breathing was ragged, and somehow he couldn't believe the words spouting out of his own mouth.
"I should hate you, I should rather die than envy you, but I don't—I can't. I want to be like you, Japan, just like you—"
Hot tears tailed down Korea's flushed cheeks and onto the floor. "All the nations care about you, your well-being, your discoveries and your culture, and I'm nothing but an insignificance. I wish they—I wish they'd care about me."
His voice was no louder than a hoarse whisper.
"You…" he gasped noisily, and wanted to rip himself apart as he spoke, "You have everything while I can only feed off of your shadow"
And then the chaos ended. The rage was already evaporating like the warm breath on a frosted morning. Korea was hunched over the floor; his head hung low, his arms hanging on the side, and the fiery light dying in his half-lidded eyes. His shallow intake of breath as he tried to suppress a sob was the only sound in the otherwise silent house. Seconds passed, and slowly he covered his face with hands and his back arched, as if he was bowing—maybe he was. The tears still flowed.
Japan felt his heart tear. Out of pain, anger, sorrow, pity, guilt. But he took it all, held it all in. Gently, while perhaps trembling slightly, he reached out a hand and rested it on Korea's shoulder. Korea's muscles tensed, but made no move to shake the presence off.
"I…" Japan wet his lips and managed to speak for what seemed like the first in decades. "I'm sorry."
Korea did not reply.
"I can't—" he could only hesitate with an open mouth like a fish, uncertain of what words to pick. "I don't know what to say."
Suddenly, Korea felt his body ache from head to toe from exhaustion. He was tired, so tired--
"Leave," Came a muffled croak from the crouched nation. A stinging pain stabbed his throat each time he uttered a word. "…Please. If you can't help me, you're just wasting my time."
Both of them knew Japan could be of no aid to Korea, but Japan nodded meekly. Quietly, he set his cup on the table—the tea only reduced by one sip—and stood. He smoothed out the wrinkles of his collar and bowed to Korea. He circled around the table, passed the ruined kitchen, and into the doorway.
He stopped and turned his head to find Korea standing at the entrance to the living room. Korea's eyes were red and puffy, and his pupils were now but unfathomable holes of black and brown.
Japan stared into those endless pits, and he felt like he was being sucked in.
"I still hate you." Korea's voice was quiet.
"And I'll always loathe you."
Japan then slid the door open and stepped outside, into the cool breeze of the night.
Before Japan could reply, the door slammed soundly in his face.
And it was silent once again.
After he was sure Japan had left, Korea leaned against the wall, sank to his knees, and let out a dry, cracked sob.
Now let's have a little history session:
* = Japan annexed Korea in 1910. It wasn't until 9 years later that Korea protested (on a large scale, of course) with its March 1st Independence Movement in 1919. These protests were violently supressed by the Japanese Army.
Second * = This scene refers to Comfort Women, where during World War II, over 200,000 women, primarily Korean and Chinese, were forced to be, to put it simply, sex slaves for the Japanese soldiers.
Third * = During the Second Sino-Japanese War and World War II, the Japanese Army performed experimentations on humans, mostly Chinese, Russian, and Korean, for research and development on biological and chemical warfare. The United States, despite how unethical and morally repulsive it was, found the research valuable and promised to let the scientists free if they could aquire the research.
Yes, such a thing as angsty!Korea exists! What theee. And since there is no official character for North Korea, I decided to refer to her has 'Korea's sister'. And no, I have no idea if she's a female or male.