This is a follow-up to my other Hetalia fic, "Avalon." If you haven't read this, I'm afraid that this isn't going to make any sense.
Disclaimer: I do not own anything involved with Hetalia. However, Avalon and the other mini-nations that show up here, are mine.
Songs for a New World
The sheer emptiness of the room was mind-boggling.
America stood at the head of the table that had long served as meeting place for the World Summit, looking around at the gathered nations. There were so few of them. He knew that things had been bad – god, he knew how bad things had been, and they had lost so many people, but… "Is this really everyone?"
"Everyone who's willing to come, aru," China said softly, accentuating his words with a slight sigh. "There are few others still on the outside. Whether they will join us or not, remains to be seen."
"Fine then," America sighed, running a hand through his hair. He picked up a clipboard from his designated place and began to move around the table. "Nobody wants to do this, but I guess someone has to: Census time."
The words hung in the air like the bodies of rats that had leapt from a doomed ship. Taking a census – a 'roll call' as it might have been called in normal times – meant tallying up their dead. It meant putting down on paper, once and for all, just how many nations they had lost in the last few months.
America suppressed a pained wince as he crossed England's name off the list. His hand shook a bit, and his fellow nations gave him the time he needed to compose himself. He took a deep breath and began the task at hand. "All right…so. Canada and I came here together."
"Matthew-san is here?" Japan interrupted, looking surprised. "I haven't seen him."
"He's outside in the hall." With a surprise, America thought, and allowed himself a small smile. They needed to keep their 'find' under wraps for just a little while longer, until the time was just right. "I'll call him in when we get the meeting started."
Japan looked relieved. "I see. That's good to here. Very, very good to hear."
"Good to see you too, Kiku," America said honestly, and patted the Eastern nation on the shoulder. "And you, Yao. I'm sorry to hear about Hong Kong and Tibet."
"Korea is gone now, as well," China said softly, his eyes closed with pain. "And Taiwan."
"We all are, aru."
America nodded gravely and crossed the new names off the list, moving to the next seat. "Francis. Thank you for coming."
"Of course, mon frère," France said with an honest smile, reaching for the American's hand. "I would not miss it for the world.
America took the grasping hand and gave it a squeeze. France looked older than he'd ever seen a nation age – by human standards, he must have been in his forties, coming up on middle aged. For a nation, he seemed ancient, almost fragile, and he was growing weaker by the day. He probably didn't have a lot of time left, and America made the mental note that he and Canada should escort France home, to make sure he didn't fade alone.
With another affectionate squeeze, he continued on. "Germany, you're looking well. And the Itali–"
"There's only one Italy now," Feliciano managed to say before he burst into tears and buried his eyes in Germany's shoulder.
Germany slipped an arm around the smaller man's and met the census-taker's eye. "We're both stable, thank you. But his elder brother has moved on."
Guilt gnawed at America's gut. "I'm sor–"
"Stop saying you're sorry," Germany snapped. "We're all sorry. We have to move past that."
"A-At least," Feliciano sniffed, rubbing his eye and managing a small smile. "Nii-san got to be with Spain-san. They went together, holding hands and smiling all the way."
America nodded, glad to see the Italian's cheerful demeanor had made it through as well. The census continued.
Prussia had been absent since the beginning, apparently deciding to pave the way for the rest of them with his awesome self.
Switzerland reported that Austria and Hungary had retreated to the mountains together, but that their villa had been abandoned when he had gone to check. Switzerland himself looked as healthy as ever, and had taken to defending his old friend's land and remaining people. Liechtenstein, who looked equally robust and perhaps a bit stronger than before, watched over Hungary's.
Seychelles, thanks to the unusual tectonic activity that had come with all the other disasters in the world, actually came out with more land than she'd had before, and her people were taking full advantage of it. She could not, however, provide any news of her fellow island nation, Cuba.
Greece was well, but solemn and depressed. Turkey and Egypt, he explained, had not been so lucky. Australia, likewise, was healthy and hale, and openly offered his support to anyone who might need an extra boost.
The other continents checked in without noting more than they already knew. South America's numbers had been reduced from 12 countries to seven, three of which were present; Africa, from 53 to 14 with only six representatives. What was left of the Middle East were actually supporting each other, rather than bickering, doing what they could to treat each other's wounds.
"No way," America said, staring at the empty chair where his greatest rival should have been. "I don't believe it. It's just not possible. There's no way that Russia could be–"
"He's alive," Poland offered up, scowling. "But, like, you don't wanna see him around here anytime soon."
Lithuania cleared his throat, drawing attention away from "He hasn't been very, um, stable lately. Ever since his sisters…"
"I would not expect to see Ivan again," China said seriously. "Not as we have known him, aru. This change, he will not adjust to easily. We should be on guard against him, aru."
America scowled over the top of the clipboard. "Don't start talking like that, this isn't the time. Lithuania, Poland, you two are still doing all right?"
"Yes," Lithuania said, taking Poland's hand. "I believe we will do quite well from now on, Mister America."
"Like, of course!" Poland laughed. "We're gonna pull together and be, like, even better than ever! Right, Liet?"
Lithuania nodded, squeezing his old friend's hand. His estranged brothers were nowhere to be found, and it left an air of depression around him, but Poland's presence soothed the pain.
America ticked off the names, making a slight note about the renewed Lithuanian-Polish contract in the margins for whomever it was that kept track of those things. He ran the end of his pen down the length of the form, checking who was still unaccounted for. "Let's see, that's North Asia and the Baltics. All that's left is Scandinavia."
Denmark raised his hand, sitting alone in the between four empty seats. His attitude was as laid-back and carefree as ever, but his gaze was serious as he reported in. "I'm here representing all the Scandinavian territories."
America swallowed heavily at that. "You mean, everyone else is…?"
"The floods hit us pretty hard, y'know?" Denmark sighed, folding his hands on the table in front of him. "Me and Sweden, we're all that's left."
"And where is he?"
"Mourning. He took Finland's death pretty hard."
"Understandable," America sighed, scratching out the last few names and setting his clipboard down on the table. "We'll give him all the time he needs. He'll catch up with us eventually. They all will."
"Like there's even any point."
Switzerland's words cut through the room like a bullet in a crowded theater. Liechtenstein tugged on his sleeve pleadingly. "Big brother…"
"Look at us," Switzerland continued, ignoring his sister's pleading for him to remain silent. "We're down to a third of what we used to be. The map's changed so much you can't even recognize it. In fifty years, we've lost over 3 billion people world-wide, and who's to say it's not just going to get worse from here? Damn it, we couldn't even get along when everything wasn't going to hell. We'd be better off just watching out for our own interests from here on out. It'd give us all a better chance."
Nobody said anything, but everybody felt the weight of his words. They shifted awkwardly in their seats, not looking at one another, all thinking the same thing.
But America wouldn't hear it.
"You can't start thinking like that!" he insisted, slamming his hands onto the podium. "This isn't the end. It can't be!"
More silence, more tense than before. America bit his lip, looking around at his fellow nations with steadfast determination, and drew on every great preacher that had ever lived in his borders to give the speech of a hundred lifetimes.
"Look," he began, lowering his voice to a gentle level. "I know people are dying. I know how bad it's been. We've all lost somebody – brothers, sisters, friends. Caretakers. People we loved. Family. They're all gone. But that doesn't mean this is the end for all of us.
"We all had someone once, didn't we? Someone who cared for us, when we were too young to do it ourselves. They watched out for us, taught us how to make it in the world, showed us the way. They taught us how to live. Now…now it's our turn.
"This isn't the end of the world. It can't be. There's still hope."
Switzerland narrowed his eyes. "And just how do you know that?"
"Because I've seen it," America straightened, his eyes narrowed with determination. "And now you will, too."
With that, he strode to the rear of the room and threw open the double doors that led into the hallway. He stepped out just enough to see down the hall and called, "Okay, Mattie. You can bring him in now."
There was a rustle of curious whispers as footsteps began to echo their way towards them, right up until the moment that Canada appeared in the door. Then, they were silenced by a collective gasp of surprise.
"America!" Seychelles gasped, covering her mouth with her hands. "Is that really a…?"
"Yup," America grinned, taking the squirming white-haired toddler out of Canada's arms. "He's one of us. His name's Avalon, and he'll be taking over England's island from now on. Say hi to everyone, Avalon."
The little boy blushed shyly beneath his bushy white eyebrows and clung to America's shirt with his hands. "Um…H-Hi…"
Almost instantly, the gathered nations were on their feet and crowding around the North America twins. Avalon clung to America's neck, startled by the sudden rush of attention.
"Oh, I think we're scaring him," Lithuania said softly, looking genuinely concerned by the revelation. "Maybe we should back off…"
"Now way, Liet, he's cool!" Poland insisted, tugging his friend closer. "Look, he's just shy! Like, and look at those eyebrows!"
"Ve, ve, you're right! Hey Ludwig, you think he'll ever grow into 'em?"
China looked absolutely beside himself. "He's so cute, aru!"
"And still so small," Japan said with an uncertain gaze. "Will he really be able to take care of himself?"
"Not for a while, no," America assured, grinning at Canada over the top of Avalon's head. "But Mattie and I are gonna watch out for him until he is. For now at least, he's a protectorate of the joint North American Union. Our bosses finished up the paperwork this morning."
If anyone had any objections, they were lost in the storm of congratulations and proclamations of jealousy that followed the announcement. The energy that had once filled the room with every World Meeting was starting to come back, slowly but surely, building with excitement over their newest addition.
"Um," Liechtenstein looked up at America with big, almost pleading eyes. She opened and closed her hands as though she couldn't quite bring herself to say the words. "Can I…Could I…?"
"Sure thing!" America grinned, understanding instantly, and swung Avalon down into the girl's grasp.
Liechtenstein held the child tight, terrified that she would drop him. Avalon held onto her shoulders with one hand, using the other to grasp a bit of hair tied in place by the girl's bow. He stared at her a moment, giving her hair a curious little tug. "You're really pretty."
Liechtenstein, Belgium, Seychelles and the other female nations melted instantly into a chorus of aw's.
"A charmer!" Denmark burst out laughing. "Who'd have thought? England's spawn is a natural charmer!"
"Obviously, a talent he acquired from else, oui?" France said with a slight chuckle. He was still sitting in his chair – it put too much strain on his joints to hop up and down at a moment's notice – but no less involved in the excitement than everyone else.
Smiling broadly, he turned to Liechtenstein and stretched out his arms, motioning for her to pass the child over. "Come, come, mon petite. Come and see your papi."
Liechtenstein shuffled over to him, tipping a bit this way and that under the child's weight, and deposited Avalon into France's lap. France turned the child around to face him, supporting his back with one arm and leaning back just enough to give him a look-over. Whatever he found, it brought a smile to his face.
"Ah, little one," he sighed happily, planting a kiss on Avalon's forehead. "You are so cute."
"Everybody keeps saying that," Avalon said, bewildered, and France laughed.
Canada, who had remained quiet throughout everything, content to watch things unfold, cracked a grin at that. France seemed more at peace now than he had for months, since before even England had passed away. If this really was the end for him, then Canada was glad he could offer his older brother one last bit of happiness before he had to go.
While the rest of the nations remained focused on the child, Switzerland turned to America. He narrowed his eyes and wrinkled his brow, trying to comprehend the other's angle. "What are you trying to prove with this?"
"That this isn't the end," America said confidently, giving the smaller, older nation a grin. "Not for the world, and not for us. We all know that a bunch of new countries tend to come in at the same time –in generations, like we did, like China always said. There's no way Avalon can be the only one, there's bound to be more soon enough. They're coming in to take over from the ones we're losing, and it's going to fall on us to show them what's what."
The other nations, hearing his words, glanced to each other. Their faces ran the gambit of expressions – excited, nervous, confused, afraid – but they all, silently, knew that he was right.
America cleared his throat, straightened his stance and silently prayed to his great former bosses for one last burst of inspiration. This was the big one, after all. "I think it's important that, when we do find these new countries, we raise them together. As friends. I mean, we always had these world meeting to make a difference, right? To find a way to solve everyone's problems. But it never really worked, because, like you said, we've always had such a hard time getting along. So maybe, if we get them all started as friends now, they can do what we couldn't."
There was a spattering of agreement, quickly giving way to excited chatter and plan-making. Some, like Switzerland, still looked doubtful, but they were remained silent in the wake of the enthusiasm that spread amongst their friends and companions. Italy, especially, was almost bursting with excitement, chattering to Germany about how great it would be to raise a baby together. Germany was growing redder and redder at the very thought.
"I…I don't think you and I are ready for that, Feliciano."
"Ve~, don't say that, Ludwig!" Italy insisted, tugging on his partner's sleeve. "You'll be the best papa ever, just like Grandpa Rome was for me! You'll be really, really good for the bambinos, I know you will! We all will!"
"They will be good for us as well, it seems," China said. He smiled up at America warmly, looking wise without appearing old, as was his way. "You've grown up quite nicely, aru. England would be very proud."
America flushed red at that and sputtered. Canada's smile broadened. There was a cough from the doorway.
The nations turned as a group to find a large, familiar shape standing there, cradling a small figure in his arms.
"Sweden?" asked a bewildered Poland, breaking the silence. "What…like, who is that?"
The little brown-haired boy hide his eyes – mirror images of Finland's – in Sweden's shoulder. The large man shifted his grip to hold the child closer, mumbling in his usual way. "M'son."
There was a sharp intake of air as the surrounding nations gasped in surprise. For a moment, no one said anything. Then America's trademark grin spread across his face, and he strode across the room to clap his fellow 'new father' on the shoulder.
"Congratulations, buddy," he said, and pulled him into the room to give their newest addition a warm and sincere world-wide welcome.
A/N 2 So…I can't really call this a sequel, because it's not a sequel. The term 'sequel' indicates a plot, which really, this piece does not have. It's not even really a story, I don't think. It's more like…an establishing shot. It's my way of opening this timeline up so other people can play in it, should they so choose. It also makes it easier for me to transition into an actual sequel, which may be forthcoming, as inspired by the kink meme.