By; Chibi Ra Chan
Pairing; none really, slight favoritism of China/Korea but nothing major as of now.
Inspired Song; 'Kagome, Kagome' by Hatsume Miku and Megurine Luka.
Once upon a time, back when the world was much less complicated and there was not so much to worry about, he and his siblings played games. Their favorites were always the ones that involved a lot of running around and at the time he could run around with them. Now not so much. Age had brought him wisdom far beyond his appearance, yet it also brought him aches and pains.
He always remembered one game in particular, one that Kiku had taught them, the most.
He would sit in the grass and close his eyes, taking his job as the 'Oni'. They would all join hands and circle him round and round, singing to a rhythm that they couldn't exactly understand, yet recited none the less.
"Kagome, Kagome little bird in a cage…"
He knew where they really were the entire time, Yao knew his sibling's voices by heart. Sweet Taiwan's girlish trill from the south, Hong Kong's deep voice to his east, Korea's tone deaf, but enthusiastic singing to his north and Japan's soft monotone to the west of him. The object of this game was to figure out who exactly was standing behind him when the song ended.
Of course, the game was not a challenge to him at all. If he had wanted to he could easily end the game now, but he would never do such a thing. It meant so much to them.
"When will you ever come out?"
Yes, the game had been so innocent then, they would finish their song and he would guess who was behind him, but never correctly on the first try. He did not want them to feel bad, they were the light of his long life after all. And the boys would get flustered if he guessed them when it was really Taiwan, they were adorable like that.
But in this particular game, something changed. He must of slipped for a single second because by time they finished their final verse he had no idea where anyone was.
As irrational as it seemed, China felt fear. He did not like not knowing where his siblings were or what they were doing. It didn't help that he could feel them all around him, casting shadows, silent as statues, he could feel their eyes on him, and the pair that was aimed at his back uneased him the most.
He was not as naïve as them. While many had forgotten the song's original meaning, he had not.
In the original it was a lost child in the middle. It's protectors, the crane and the turtle, would circle to keep him safe from wandering spirits, but they would tire and sleep, leaving the child alone for only a few moments. The person behind him was actually the Oni, disguised as one of his protectors. When the turtle and the crane slept, he would steal the child away and devour his soul.
It was unsettling to think about, but now with silent and often troublesome nations surrounding him while he was defenseless, it was a very real possibility. Only which child would betray him? Gentle Taiwan, unshakable Hong Kong, affectionate Korea or …
"In the evening of the dawn…"
Japan, if any of them were capable of betraying him, it was the island nation. As of late he had been even more introverted then before. And more then once, China had found him just staring at the others, Korea in particular, with an unreadable expression in his gaze. Despite being alive for centuries, Yao could never figure out what that boy was thinking.
"Kiku?" He asked dreading the answer.
"How'd you know aniki? We were extra quiet this time." Taiwan asked, slightly put out that they had lost so quickly. Yao opened his eyes as Yong Soo tackled him, wrapping his tiny fingers around his neck. He was the smallest nation, at less then a hundred years old his body was still fragile and delicate, only at about three in human years.
"Hyung-nim knows everyting!!" He proclaimed, a slight lisp to his voice, he was still learning to speak after all. China smiled a bit, his worry momentarily forgotten. Korea's affections never ceased to amaze him, he had never found a nation so young before and his carefree attitude often broke through the monotone of his siblings, pulling them out of their shells.
"Gēgē, it's nearly dusk. Yong Soo needs to go to bed." Mummered Hong Kong, ever the responsible one. Besides himself, he was the closest to their little family's resident baby. China nearly beamed with pride. Xiāng was such a good brother.
"That's right. " Taiwan chimed in her tone light once more, the lost game already forgotten. "Soo-chan is so small, he needs all the sleep he can get." She laughed at Korea's upset expression.
"Not small!" Korea retorted the best he could, before settling on sticking his tongue at his only sister instead. The two elder children began their walk to the house, Taiwan doing the talking and Xiāng nodding every once in awhile.
It didn't take a genius to figure out he fancied the girl, yet it also wasn't too difficult to see that she loved Japan fiercely. It was just a little infatuation now, but one day it would cause trouble, he was sure of it.
"The crane and the turtle must have slipped away…."
Standing up and wiping the grass from his pants, Yao secured Yong Soo to his hip, and felt the creeping sensation of being watched again.
"Kiku-nini?" Korea supplied pointing behind his back with a chubby finger.
For the first time since the games' end China was reminded of the eldest of his siblings. Indeed his guess had been correct; it was Japan who had been behind him. But as he stood motionless with the setting sun bathing him in deep red hues, Yao knew that something was wrong.
Never before had he radiated such intense emotion, his usually impassive brown eyes flickered with something darker then he had ever seen in a nine year old before. Anger was there, contempt and annoyance were present as well, but it was the violently clear way he looked at Korea that caused Yao the clutch the toddler closer to him.
Icy malice and jealousy practically pierced into both him and Korea. This was made even more eerie by the fact that he moved not an inch, he was unnaturally still. Kiku had never acted this way before, yet at the same time Korea had not been here very long, and before he found the child, Kiku had always been his secret favorite.
Now it was Yong Soo that garnered most of his and the other's attention.
How had he missed this? Such obvious resentment and hatred for his youngest sibling, a mere baby nation, when had this happened? Yao fought the urge to take a step backwards when Yong Soo, realizing that something was very wrong, started to whimper into his side.
"I guess I'm the Oni now, right aniki?" He spoke without taking his eyes away from the crying child. China knew that this statement had almost nothing to do with their game and all too much to do with his place in the family.
"Just who stands behind you now?"
Hoisting Korea onto his shoulder and murmuring soothing words to him, China gazed at Japan and spoke with deep meaning.
"It is just a game Kiku. It means as much as you let it aru." Japan merely glared harder, causing Korea to bury his head into his hair, trying to avoid the argument. China regarded the boy as calmly as he could manage and crouched down to meet his eye level. "This never happened, do you hear me? You must forget this jealousy and release your anger Kiku, it will only eat you up inside aru. Do you understand?" When he didn't respond, Yao took his chin in the hand that wasn't holding Korea.
"Japan. Do you understand what I am saying aru?" his voice held no room for argument.
And just a quickly as the episode began, it ended. Japan blinked rapidly, the spell of discontentment was broken and he was back to his usual self. Kiku nodded at him, "I am sorry, I didn't mean to worry you Nii-sama, or to upset otouto." Japan smiled apologetically and raised a hand to pet his youngest brother.
Years from now, China would consider this the moment that changed everything and set into motion a chain of events that would only result in heartache for all of them.
Just before Kiku's fingers could touch a single tuft of Yong Soo's hair, Yao yanked the child away from him, fearful of what he could still do to the baby. The only sound between them was Korea's continued hiccupping crying.
They stayed like that for nearly a minute. Yao hushing Korea, cursing himself for flinching away from a nine year old, and Kiku staring at the pair, hand still out reached; hurt shining clearly in his eyes. But the young island nation quickly hid it, nodding grimly and clenching his teeth before running to catch up with the others.
Yao continued to try and calm Korea down the entire walk back. The words were almost meant to reassure him as well. "This means nothing aru. It is simply a little jealousy gone array, nothing more. Nothing more then that aru. Shhhhhhh…..it's okay little one. This will pass aru."
Even as Yong Soo relaxed and began to babble incoherently in his own tongue and sucking on the ends of his ponytail, China was not calmed so easily. The unsettling feeling would not leave him, no matter how normal everything once more seemed.
Now that he had seen that side of Kiku he could not get it out of his mind, it just keep circling and circling around him, refusing to let him have reprieve. 'This is only the beginning aru.' he thought gravely.
This would not go away, no matter what he said. Japan would never stop resenting him for picking a new favorite, Taiwan would never leave Kiku's side, no matter how many sanctions and rules he pushed on her, and Hong Kong would never get over the fact that his first and only love would never love him in return.
And what of Korea? Would he turn on him one day as well? Yao prayed he would not, he didn't think he could stand it if they all left him one day.
China would never let them play the game again, that much he was sure of. It's pretty words and seemingly innocent rules fell too close to the real world they lived in. As nations one never knows just who was truly your friend and who was an enemy. And most times, it was the one closest to you, your precious person, who was the one to stab you in the back when you aren't paying attention.
"Who really is standing behind me now aru?" he asked with a sigh, collecting himself to enter the house and pretend everything was fine.
Unsurprisingly neither the setting sun, nor Yong Soo had any answer for him.
[1. Oni- Japanese for 'demon' or 'ogre']
[2. Yao calls Hong Kong, Xiāng, which is short for the of mandarin name for Hong Kong, Xiānggang. Special thanks to Lochesh who pointed this out to me!]
[3. Gēgē - Chinese for brother.]
[4. Hyung-nim- Korean, the most respectful way to call someone 'brother']
[5. Nii-sama- The Japanese equivalent of 'Hyung-nim']
Ending Notes- I don't know how I ended up writing this, it just popped into my mind the other day and seemed to just write it's self. I came up with this as a possible reason as to why Japan betrayed China.
I took into account the actual historical reasoning, the whole first Sino-Japanese war, which was mainly them fighting over who got Korea. So in my head!canon, Japan must have been a tad bit jealous that he was no longer the favorite sibling, and this, I guess, planted the seeds of his rebellion.
Sure lets go with that one. Please drop a review and tell me what you think! I'm thinking about writing this as a mini series, but I'm not so sure…
Forever and Eternally,