A/N: This is my last fic for SuicideMonday's birthday. This is a very sad piece of work, inspired by my best friend. Drop me a line if you liked it :)
Disclaimer: I neither own Hetalia Axis Powers nor any of the characters. They belong to Hidekazu Himaruya (c).
Sunrise On An Empty Field
It all started with a clenching of his heart.
The sudden painful tightening of his heart awoke him from troubled dreams and even before he got up and opened the curtains to look down on his capital city of Moscow and saw the chaos in the streets, he knew what was underfoot.
His heart continued throbbing in its millennial rhythm, never wavering, never stumbling.
Down there, crowds were flooding through the streets, screaming, yelling, waving banners, pictures; there was the occasional pitchfork, there were hands, fists and demands thrown into the crispy autumn air.
Another revolution. Another set of wounds waiting to be inflicted, another scar waiting to form inside him.
Roaring masses, washing up around the dais as waves rushing in from the sea. Undulating excitement, anger, hope and determination, flowing through the crowds.
A man standing tall on the dais, short brown hair, eyes of a fierce falcon, mouth tight, demeanour tense, to erupt at any moment. His voice, dark and daring, projected clearly over the heads of the masses.
"People of all Russia! We have gathered here today, of one mind and one body, with one will and one purpose! I ask of you- what is our common purpose?"
The masses boomed their answer back as one. "REVOLUTION!"
Head thrown back, brown hair whipped around his face in the autumn wind, a crow of assent. "Revolution!"
Shouts of fierce agreement, angry calls of support, ringing and echoing around Red Square. Expanses of heads, hats, hands and signs, farther than any eye could see.
The voice arose from the cacophony again, as though spurred on, supported and lifted high above by the shouts of the revolting crowds.
"We are suffering; our country is bleeding, stabbed in the back by its leaders! Where have the promises from long ago led us? What has become of 'land for the peasants'? What has become of 'bread for all'?"
Roaring accord. Signs with the communist symbol crossed by a black bar struck out toward the sky, thrust up and downward staccato-like in the churning sea of people.
"Communism itself has betrayed us, Lenin has betrayed us! What did we ever receive but empty promises, harder labour and less food? What is left for us? Nothing, and I repeat, nothing! There is no path but the one leading us forward, out of the red sea of despair into a new era!"
The loudest cheer yet ripped from the crowds and fists were raised in support.
And that had been only the first day. The first day of many yet to come.
On the second day, Russia could do nothing but stand among the crowds on Red Square as they shouted and cheered for this man who was preaching bloody revolution for a better Russia.
Russia did not feel better, though. With the agitation of his people came the centuries of pain, with each soldier or police man struck down or trampled by the masses, a small part of him cried out.
The wounds had begun to bleed.
Somewhere, deep inside, Russia felt an unsettling wrongness in the air. It suffused the revolting crowds, lingered in the aftermath of the man's inflammatory words.
Something was wrong with this revolution.
Revolutions hurt, there was no doubting that fact, but this was more than pain, building up in his being. He could not, as yet, recognise what made this revolution dangerously different.
Winding his beige scarf around his neck more tightly, Russia passed a group of yelling children, their faces contorted in borrowed anger, caught in the rip current of revolution.
He stopped for a moment, staring at them. Their anger seemed too dark for such young souls. He frowned more at the revolution than at them, but even so, an ice-cold burst of winter wind ripped through their small group, scattering the now frightened children. Their innocent eyes were searching the air, their surroundings, but Russia would always remain invisible to their human eyes.
LENIN HAS FALLEN! RUSTKOV
LENIN HAS FALLEN! RUSTKOVANNOUNCES NEW GOVERNMENT said the headline of the next day's issue of the Komsomolskaya Pravda newspaper.
Wearily, Russia scanned the article. So he was called Rustkov, the man who had riled up the people and held those speeches. Violet eyes settled on one word. Dictator. Dictator Rustkov. They were to have a dictatorship. No pretty words or evasive terms. No euphemisms. Interesting.
No more Marxism, the article proclaimed. No more hunger, no more lack of work. Private ownership of land and businesses. Capitalist ideas.
A shudder ran through Russia at the foreign thought. Capitalism. It spelled future, change and loss.
His pale hands gripped the newspaper tightly and he stared at his left hand, paper white, almost translucent. Paleness was normal. Translucence was not.
He examined his other hand and also found it alarmingly translucent. The light filtering in through the high windows into his study gave it an unhealthy glow, and if he lifted his hand toward the light, he could just barely see its shimmer through the layers of skin and bone.
What is happening to me?
The next day, Russia purposefully left for the new government building in Ulitsa Tverskaya, determined to find out what drastic change could have affected him, the country himself, to such an extent.
The streets were filled with military, soldiers marching toward their quarters at the outskirts of Moscow and others patrolling the streets with alert gazes.
He passed the guards at the entrance of the new government building and entered.
Upstairs, the meeting room was occupied.
The brown-haired man with the falcon eyes, Rustkov, as Russia knew now, was leaning over a manuscript with two other men that Russia assumed must be his advisors.
Russia walked in, unnoticed by the oblivious guards, and moved to tower over the three men concentrating on the papers on the table.
"Do you think that wise, Ivan?", one of the men spoke hesitantly, turning to Rustkov.
Russia almost took a step back. For an impossible second, he had believed the man was addressing him. Instead, it seemed that the new dictator shared his first name with Russia.
Ivan Rustkov lifted his stern gaze to glare at the man daring to question his plans. "This is exactly what our country needs. You are not implying that you are unfaithful to the new regime?"
The frightened man shook his head violently, apologising quickly and casting down his eyes.
"Then, tomorrow I will announce the rebirth of our country. And it will all begin with a new, powerful name."
Russia's head reeled. A new name? Why would they? Wasn't Russia powerful enough? Didn't Russia carry any weight, any meaning as a name anymore?
Russia felt, just as he had on those fateful days of previous revolutions, a terrible powerlessness, a feeling of being entirely in someone else's hands. As strong as he was, he was but Russia's personification, the country taking a human shape. He had no influence on politics or revolutions.
In helpless fury and bursts of unacknowledged fear, Russia stormed through the streets of Moscow, unwittingly leaving in his wake gusts of freezing wind that gathered into snowstorms, raging over Moscow and the surrounding lands in their white and slate-grey violence.
Lithuania had at first trembled a little when he had arrived- he had not lived in Russia's house for a while now- but now he was perched on the edge of his chair, looking frightened but worried.
"That sounds very serious. But..."- for a moment he looked undecided whether to dare to speak freely, but then his eyes took on a determined look- "...have faith in your people, Russia. They cannot accept a new name so easily."
A dangerously unhinged smile tugged spasmodically at Russia's lips as he held out the newspaper with white, pale hands that looked less... real today.
The Russian flag was painted across the front page, and it struck Lithuania speechless when he spotted the gold, rising sun that had been superimposed on the red portion of the original flag, with its gold rays cutting through the blue and white as diagonal lines.
Silence ensued. Russia's hands twitched and dropped the newspaper, the almost hysterical smile turning his lips upward in a parody of happiness. Only his eyes betrayed any sort of pain.
Lithuania bent over the article underneath the new flag. The shocking words remained imprinted in his mind. Rebirth. New name, new flag. Public response: enthusiastic.
He looked up. "That can't be true, the media lies. There must be those out there that want Russia back."
The tall nation appeared to not pay attention, gazing out the window with unfathomable eyes.
Lithuania quietly got up, walked to the cabinet and poured a glass of vodka, setting it in front of the disturbed nation.
Without looking up or acknowledging Lithuania, Russia took up the glass and drank the liquid down.
He stepped to the window, watching a man on the other side of the street take down a Russian flag from its flag post and painstakingly rolling it up before vanishing into his house again.
Lithuania had left already, leaving a few packets of sunflower seeds with him. A gesture of understanding. A gesture intended to comfort and condole. His love for sunflowers. He had not been given the flowers, no, those were seeds resting in the palm of his hand. Each was a new beginning of its own, a continuation of love. His love. The meaning of the seeds was not lost to Russia.
On a cloudless day a week later, Russia left Moscow for the surrounding lands. The streets had been filled with demonstrators, carrying the Russian flag and demanding their country's name back. And there had been those that were throwing stones at them, yelled insults and threats. Those that waved the splendid banner of the rising sun, proclaiming the new beginning.
Arriving in the countryside, Russia continued walking several hours. As he crested a hill, his searching gaze alighted on a sight that felt right.
The stretch of land was perfect. It was calm, with no villages or houses anywhere in the vicinity, the terrain a slightly downward sloping plain of flat earth.
Gently, Russia removed the sunflower seeds from his coat, carving a long gash into the ground with his hands. The earth beneath his fingers felt wet and fertile, but the earth's call he had heard all his life was quieter than it ever had been.
And as he carefully and lovingly placed each seed and closed the earth over each, he heard the earth singing, could feel Mother Russia sadly singing to him on the wind.
It had been days. Still, Russia was watching his capital city. The textile industry must have caught up to the people's and the government's demands, because every hour, more new flags were appearing as Russian flags were disappearing. The country of eternal sunrise?
Russia could only watch as his flags were less and less flown, disappearing into cellars and attics, some even burned by especially fanatic followers.
Russia was not someone to lie to himself. He knew he was fading, had known, in fact, from the moment his hands had taken on that pale white tint, that sickly colour that promised oblivion.
With each burnt flag, with each citizen to be arrested or killed due to their support of Russia, Russia could feel himself fading an infinitely small bit.
He returned to his sunflowers, bringing more seeds with him. He settled down near the ones he had already planted and dug with his bare hands to place the new sunflowers in the earth. The dirt under his fingernails was of no consequence to him. With every sunflower seed he planted, the earth responded, as though recognising him for who he was, Mother Russia's voice growing stronger with every sunflower.
Even as Russia walked back through the streets of Moscow, Mother Russia's voice lingered in his ear, singing for him, comforting him as he walked his long and lonely way home.
And with every day, he retrieved sunflower seeds, hundreds, no, thousands of them. The plain was becoming a field, with the first light green sprouts showing where he had first planted them.
Demonstrations stopped a few weeks later. Soldiers firing at the demonstrators painfully reminded Russia of Bloody Sunday, only that back then, he had been strong enough to ride out the pain as a good swimmer would a particularly dangerous wave.
Everything had been different back then. Back then, there was revolution, yes, but they were all fighting for him in the end.
Now, each shot from a rifle thundered through his ears, each death created red agony to flit through his vision. They were his only supporters, the only people that kept him alive with their belief, with their unwavering loyalty and their patriotism.
The demonstrations might have stopped, but Russia held onto the deep knowledge that an underground organisation had formed in his defence. They themselves held onto their ideals, never knowing they were the ones who, with their loyalty, keeping their beloved country from fading.
He could not seem to stop the process, however. Each day, he would wake up to see less of himself. Each day, he woke up feeling less substantial, less present in the world. Even the pale whiteness was fading. His complexion could no longer be confused with paleness- he had become almost ghost-like in appearance.
Occasionally, he found his hand passing through an object instead of grasping it and the thought scared him more than he had ever feared anything.
It was not the pain that he feared. He had lived through so much of it that he had grown numb to it. It was the void that he feared. Nothingness. Disappearing, not to go to heaven or hell, as humans did, but to grow fainter with every day until the last particles of his being dissolved into nothing, uncertain, unfathomable nothing. Maybe that nothing was called oblivion. Maybe it was simply a place where unwanted things went. Things, countries, where was the difference? This place for unwanted, rejected beings would be where they would spend the rest of their infinite days, being forgotten, forgotten for all eternity.
The day dawned bright and cloudless, as the day when he went to plant his sunflowers for the first time.
The streets were deceptively calm.
A sense of dread pervaded Russia as he opened his eyes and he knew with powerful certainty that something terrible was to happen on this day.
With the knowledge in mind, he sat at his desk and wrote letters. China, America, England, Germany, Italy, Japan... and finally Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. They all needed to understand where he had gone, why he had gone, why it had been unavoidable. His fountain pen fell from his fading hand several times each letter, splattering the paper with red spots of ink that looked remarkably like blood.
The time was drawing near; he could feel the minutes sliding through his grasp as his pen had slid through his fading fingers.
The first shots hurt the most.
Agony was ripping through him in bright flashes, curling tongues of acidic flames licking at his insides, while the screams of his last loyal followers pierced his eardrums.
Gathering up the letters in trembling, half-faded hands, Russia left them on the table for Lithuania to find. His hands would not allow him to carry them to the post anymore.
Russia stumbled down the stairs, out of the building. His vision was blurring, as the streets of his capital that was not really his anymore, churned in his vision. A slight wind was picking up, blowing through the streets, a sad echo of the storms that had arisen formerly.
Russia's departure from Moscow went unnoticed, and only a small black and grey cat sitting somewhere on a roof felt the change in the air, felt the shifting of the wind and knew that something integral had left the capital, never to return again.
He struggled on, as the shots resonated in his skull, as the life blood of his last supporters was draining into the earth that had formerly been called Russia. Each drop spilled took his body closer to the void.
The hill came into view. Russia had not come here in days, too weak to move, too weak to plant. He could see the brightness behind the hill, knew that it was only the hill blocking his sight of the sunrise.
As he placed foot in front of foot, he noticed his scarf crumbling away into tiny particles. He stopped to touch the beige scarf, remembering every fibre in it, every moment of his life that he had worn it.
The last drops of blood were trickling away, taking his life force and his body.
Russia reached the hill top with his last steps and watched as the sunrise bathed the field below.
The field was filled with Russia's sunflowers in full bloom, their shining brown and yellow heads appearing to greet the morning, with dew drops resting on their petals, falling from them as silent tears of goodbye. For a second, Russia simply stood there on the hill top, trying to imprint this view on his very soul. The land seemed to seize up, to cry out, earth's voice rose in denial and Mother Russia's voice arose from the field below to envelop him for one last time.
For the first time in centuries, a content smile appeared on Russia's face and as his body's last particles disintegrated, he watched the sunrise over the field of his sunflowers, over his love for this earth. And with wonder, he followed his dispersing particles as they danced in the sunrise, making them shimmer for a moment in front of him. A split second later, he felt his vision brighten and disperse and he felt himself soar over his sunflowers before oblivion took him in her arms.
They would never know what they had done.
In the distance, a cat mewled and the sunflowers cast down their heads. Earth had quietened in grief, but Mother Russia would be singing to her lost child for all eternity.