The world is as silent as a tomb.

Romano isn't sure if that is the right word to use to describe the crushing quiet pressing on his ears with fingers so strong it feels as though his eardrums will burst from the pressure. Graves are silent, mostly, but mourners visit and mice scurry and ghosts wail, so maybe a tomb isn't the right word to use.

As quiet as death wouldn't be right, either. Romano has heard death, heard the rattling breath of failing lungs, heard the pathetic attempts at speaking as cold fingers tighten around throats. He hadn't felt death yet, although her lips have grazed his cheek, but he has heard it, seen it, smelled it. Death is all around him, sinking her bony fingers into frozen ground and frozen corpses, leering at him with haunting eyes and blood-flecked lips.

Bodies are stalked in hazardous piles around him, threatening to fall and crush him beneath them, turn him into one of them. They are covered in snow, snow that doesn't melt because they aren't warm enough to melt it. Eyes stare blankly, blood drips from pale lips to white ground.

Russia lies spread on the ground to his right, limbs twisted at awkward angles Romano is sure that they're not suppose to bend to. His hair has turned to rust from caked-on blood, his mouth open to reveal a bloody cavern, teeth long gone. One eye is missing, the eyelid draping in loosely, and the other glares at him, lavender hardened to pure crystalline poison. His coat is in tatters, hanging off his stick of a body.

Romano wonders why Russia doesn't stand up, brush himself off, smile that creepy smile he always used to smile and go about his business invading, persuading, threatening. Why Russia is lying there, stiller and quieter then he had ever been before.

France is sprawled only a few inches away from Russia, face pressed into the icy, snow covered ground. His hair is chopped, awkwardly, unlike his usually smooth curls. One arm is missing, his shirt sleeve soaked in dried blood. The other hand is curled just in front of his head, the tips of his fingers stained a dark brown. The back of his shirt is ripped open, showing the world the long, dark red gorge trailing along on his spine.

Romano wonders why France hasn't seen him yet, why France isn't coming over to bother him. Why France is lying as still and as quietly as Russia, why he hasn't bothered to wipe the blood from his body yet. It isn't like him to ignore something like that; it isn't like France to ignore something like that.

Poland is flung on top of the nearest stack of bodies, his face turned upwards, looking towards the steel-gray sky. His eyes, as green as new grass, are blank, and bloodshot, turning the edges of his green irises a murky brown. His chin is crusted in dried blood, his uniform ripped and revealing the long scratch circling his neck.

Romano wonders how Poland can sit so still. Poland is never still, always moving, always fidgeting, always tapping, humming, dancing, laughing, breathing. Poland is never still, never silent, never, never, never.

Romano knows, in the back of his cracked mind, that he is being silly and childish. Russia and France and Poland can't move any more. They can't breath in summer air, can't watch the sun rise, can't fight in the world meetings with America, can't steal chocolate from Switzerland and run away laughing, can't breath, move, laugh, live.

Not any more.

Romano feels his eyes burn as he sits and stares at them, their bodies, their corpses as snow falls from the sky to rest. He stares, and stares, until his eyes ache, but he can't even bring himself to blink.

He wonders who else is dead. He turns his head slowly, taking in the numerous bodies of humans, all wide eyes and blank stares, dried blood and torn clothing, wounds and the reek of death.

Austria lies on the ground behind him, glasses gone to god-knows-where. His face is as pale as the snow surrounding him, broken only by the red line that stretches from his hairline to his collarbone. His hair sticks up, his mouth hangs open to show his bloody mouth. His eyes are, thankfully, shut, hands folded over his throat, fingers limp.

Romano bites his lip and looks away, feeling his stomach churn.

He wonders where the other Nations are. His brother is alive, he knows that much, because he can feel Venciano, like a second heartbeat, pressing against his chest. He hopes Germany is with him, because he knows Germany will keep his brother safe, no matter what. Germany will protect his brother from the cold fingers of death, even if she tries to grip Italy's neck, breathe her poison into him. Germany will save him.

He knows he won't die himself, even though his heart feels as if it is being crushed and devoured whole, still beating. Even though his breathing tears at his throat, even though the world is slipping in and out of focus. Enough of his people have survived this; he will as well, no matter how much he longs for release.

Romano tries to get up, but his legs are too weak to support him, and his body doesn't want to move, too paralyzed by shock and grief. Snow is covering him, and he is shaking violently, teeth chattering loudly.

But he can't move from this spot, so he sits and stays where he is, eyes fixed dead ahead, vision blurring one color into another. The silence is making his head spin, filling his ears with a buzz so loud that he almost misses it when someone yells his name.

He freezes, not sure if what he's hearing is real or not. There is nothing around him except for stacks of people too long gone to say anything. Silence buzzes and his teeth clatter together, snow falling gently to the lifeless ground.


His jaw is locked; he can't say a word, no matter how hard he tries. A pathetic squeak forces its way past his lips, strangled and muted. He pauses, and inhales deeply, razor-sharp, ice-cold air biting the inside of his lungs.

"I'm here..." he whispers, then, coughing and inhaling again, says, louder this time, "I'm here! I'm alive!"

"Romano?" The voice is nearer now, worry overpowering the accent that touches the words. "Romano, where are you?" He knows that voice, knows that voice as well as he knows his brother's.

"Spain, they're all dead." His voice cracks on the last word, and he is ashamed to hear the quiver in his speech. "Poland, Russia, France, Austria...they're all dead, and they're staring at me! I don't want to die like them!"

"Romano, tell me where you are, and I'll get you out of here." Spain's voice has the commanding bite to it that Romano hasn't heard since the days of pirates and crusades, and he quiets.

"Inside the ring of dead people," he says, "That's where I am."

"There's a hundred rings of dead people." Romano feels bile rise up in his throat at those words. Thousands dead, thousands of stacks of bodies, thousands of shells left empty. He sucks in a shuddering breath as he tries to stand once more, shutting his eyes tightly for a moment.

He almost collapses again when he finds himself standing upright, knees shaking. He wobbles a bit as he takes one hesitant step, then another, towards the wall of dead, passing Russia, Austria, France, Poland...he doesn't look at them, doesn't look at the faces of those gone as he forces himself to climb up the wall. Their skin is clammy, as cold as ice, and he tries not to shudder as he pulls himself up and over.

Spain is standing on the other side, blood trickling from some wound on his head, matting his hair to his face. His green eyes, as dark as a forest at night, are fogged with worry and fear, exhaustion and grief, his movements jerky. His clothing isn't ripped at all, but blood has stiffened his shirt's collar, plastering it to his neck.

His face shows his relief as he hurries forward, catching Romano as he tries to scramble down the wall of the dead. He cradles Romano to his chest, pressing his face into Romano's hair. Romano hears him sniffling, his chest shaking. Spain's hands are trembling as he pulls Romano close.

"I was so afraid you were dead," Spain whispers against his head, his lips pressed to Romano's forehead. "I was so scared...Estonia and Egypt and Korea and Taiwan and Prussia and Australia and Tibet...I saw them die, I saw them go, and I was so, so scared that you were dead like them...." Spain's breath hitches, sounding almost like a sob as he presses Romano even closer.

The words are spilling out now, flowing as rapidly as wine once had from France's bottles, words tripping over one another like drunks in Spain's hurry to get them all out. "And they're all dead and there's so few of us left and I don't know what to do anymore. America's about to die and England won't stop sobbing and Japan is bleeding all over the place and China won't wake up..." he trails off, words fading to sniffles and tears.

Romano can't think of what to say, can't think of anything to do as Spain presses his face in his hair and sobs. His hand, shaking still, reaches up to rest on Spain's shoulder. Spain freezes at the touch, his tears slowing.

"Please don't cry..." Romano whispers. His lips hurt and he tastes blood on his tongue. "I don't want you to cry...not right now, not ever..." He buries his face in Spain's shirt, speaking into his chest. "I can't...I don't...Not when the world has ended; tears make it all worse....Please...stop crying..."

He isn't sure if Spain understands him, but he feels Spain's grip on him tighten, and they stand there a moment longer, snow kissing their cheeks as tears run down their faces. Romano feels exhausted and sick to his stomach, sick of the world and her cruel games. But Spain is warm, warmer then the frozen tears from the steel-gray sky, and Spain is holding him so close that Romano can feel his steady heartbeat.

The end of the world as he had known it has come and gone. Dead are piled around for miles, houses burn, and the remaining people cry and work 'til their fingers bleed, trying to rebuild something like the life they once had. Nation's blood stains the ground, grief is something so thick they can taste it, bitter and nasty.

Spain turns away from the piles of bodies and heads towards god-knows-where, still cradling Romano to his chest, leaving a line of footprints in the snow behind them, white stained with red.

Romano doesn't look back, and neither does Spain.


Author's Note

I deserve to be shot by Switzerland for this, then boiled in oil, then fed to the wild bears of Yellowstone.

Because not only am I ignoring everything else I have to write (mainly because I have writer's block on all of it) , the only thing I end up writing is end-of-the-world crap that isn't even good end-of-the-world crap.

I had the hardest time killing the countries. Sorry if I killed/maimed a country in which you live, it's nothing personal.

I'm going to go hit myself with a stick now.