Disclaimer: Hetalia is not mine. Totally. Else I would, like, be aware that such a thing as a Parsons School of Design in New York City. Dude, he's been in the next borough for years and I haven't noticed!?—disregard the date of my indulgement...

--

China hated Russia.

Because Russia was a coward.

Because Russia was desperate.

Because Russia was a braggart.

He first had that impression long ago, and it had warped in his mind, a fickle carving restored many times over. The only mark that stayed there, etched deep as a spear was long, was one thing—

Ivan.

Simply Ivan—because it was Ivan that was the purple light, it was Ivan the terrible, it was Ivan who was mad. Ivan.

There were those times when Yao was a damsel in distress—how loathsome a term it was; how hateful and so condescending. But he was no damsel, but he was in distress—he was but a nation whose stubbornness had pulled him down, because the world never learned enough to pass the test.

There was some sort of glory in how he held his head high as those of the world reared their heads and turned to face him, eyes flashing and manes flinging. He was a buckling, miserable martyr in the changing world, and a proud ancient warrior whose sword was lifted high. It was almost like one of his many traditional stories told to squealing little children who laughed and idolized.

Then there was Ivan. Russia.

The man, the nation, was an enigma, an opaque sky of the land—his land—that he was taught to love and hate. He was eerie and insane, and more than anything China repulsed him. He frightened the old warrior.

And so the madman challenged the martyr—or the warrior. When it occurred, Yao froze—just froze; because what was there to do?

Russia stood in his park, and proclaimed Yao's people as...he dared to say it?...weak people of the East, cowards.

Yao froze—his eyes widened to platters, in horror, in hate. His knees shook, and his mouth opened to hang there.

There were cries of outrage from his people, who crowded about, but no one stepped forward.

He knew the balance was there, one foot down, arms spread as if to fly and avoid.

The time ticked, almost vaguely, but there, and thick in the air; Yao could feel it sweep in the air; his heart moved quickly, straining against his chest. His mouth was wide open, and only the small occasional squeaks threaded out—all his people around him were yelling.... And still no one stepped forward.

From the corner of his eye, as far as his awareness could stretch, there was someone walking into the fleshy din, a piece of paper in hand.

At first he disregarded this.

And then he heard a whisper among the immobile mob—he missed the words, just heard a straight and clear declaration above all the undulating rage he could not unleash himself.

He missed the words, but even a fool would have known what the proclamation was; and the silence that followed concluded the confusion.

He saw a man—one like any other of his people, an accurate stereotype. He stepped out and repeated his acceptance; and the Russian man blinked—once, twice.... The purple light faded.

--

"I'm sorry, Yao."

China froze.

His blood turned to ice, or was it fire?—time ticked again, persistent, unkind; it was merciless, a slow and crafty device of torture. It ticked and drew, ticked—Yao almost bit his lip—drew—he rounded on the baby-faced behemoth.

His first urge was to punch him—punch a soft wall that some sort of instinct that observed the slight chance it would move—and his second was to put his hands around the neck under that large scarf that rested around it. For a second, the urge to yell swept as a wave would—

And he did.

Almost.

"You just did it because you were told to," he sneered; curled his lip. His words escaped his mouth and came out as if he was biting, snapping at an air as a dog would. The only extra credit that existed was the clenching of his fists, which he did not do.

Russia remained silent, without anything to say.

Yao went on, relishing each and every delicious morsel of venom he could spit at the tall man whose hands were clearly enough snap his neck in half. He ranted, and raved, not too far, but enough to hurt, a tsunami. "You dare challenge me," he hissed, abandoning his "aru"; "you bragging coward. You challenge us and call us the weak men of the East, the sick men of Asia—and when someone does step up you dare forfeit—no better than a rabbit!" He could have spat, right there, if he wanted to—"You dare proclaim the greatest strength in the world, and yet to sink and cower—like a dog, and apologize to us only upon a humiliating defeat"—he gave the slightest of pauses to suck in a breath, the inhalation melding with his words—"you—you—" he faded for a moment "—you tortoise egg!"

Then he turned away, keeping as much of his cold dignity as he could, walking away.

"Yao!"

No answer.

"Yao!—Yao!"

--

From then on, Yao's pride rose.

His people—all because of one man—again felt the loyalty and love for their country, the pride—oh Heaven, the pride—when was the last time he had been able to feel it with so much right?

He could now smirk at England, at Russia, at Japan—every time they dared to challenge the alarming Huo Yuanjia—smirk at them with some rocking vengeance, his aching wounds they had inflicted beginning to heal, leaving only little shiny marks that he threw in their faces when he felt the need—because you have hurt me, and now I am hurting you; I will have the last laugh.

It was a warm love and a drunken glory.

--

The day he died, Yao raged.

He mourned, and raged when he was alone.

He walked out to a grassy plain that was totally empty—there he screamed, beat at the ground like a thrashing child or grieving woman, tore at his hair, cursed the heavens for the death of hope. He blamed Heaven for its failing divinity, he blamed the cowardly Europeans, he blamed Japan for forgetting him as a brother, he blamed England for poisoning him with opium, he blamed Russia for starting it all, he blamed himself for being so weak—

He raved, blamed everything, because it was all their fault.

He's dead, sobbed the frozen mind in his head. Huo Yuanjia. The one who's been defeating all the Westerners who try to humiliate us. The one who's brought us to love ourselves again. He's dead. Huo Yuanjia. He's dead. He's dead. Dead. Hope. Dead. DEAD!

He was then laid out on the grass, choking on his cries of grief, staring at the blue sky above, the white clouds. It was so beautiful.

Huo Yuanjia.

Pride—defeating Westerners who challenged him in combat and were defeated—who taught the people to have pride in their nation again—all in a time of his humiliation...

Yao wanted to howl at the sky. But his throat hurt too much.

--

"I'm sorry, Yao."

"No, you're not."

"Yao..."

"Get out of my house."

"Yao."

"Get out of my house," China repeated.

More than anything, he was irritated that Russia would actually march to his house and speak to him—an attempt to consol him. A pathetic one.

"Yao," was all Russia said. "I'm sorr—"

"Out."

"Hear me out!" Yao did not turn to see the hurt features on the man's face.

He did not answer.

"Yao, I'm sorry. I'm sorry he's dead."

A curl of the lip, though Ivan could not see it.

"Yao."

"Is that all you can say?" A manic laugh almost punctuated the remark.

"Yao. I mean it. I'm—I'm sorry."

"Hu shuo ba dao."

"I—I mean it. I think you meant "nonsense"...?

"But Yao, I mean it!"

China found it in himself to round on him, gritting his teeth. He was hardly like himself, he knew, but he committed these acts of anger that showed nothing but a fierce emotion against Russia—just because. "You do not," he growled, angrily. "He is still dead. You're still an annoyance. I hate you. Get. Out." He punched him in the flank—but the Russian did not stumble, did not move.

"Yao."

"That really is all you can say, isn't it?" This time he did laugh—a low, loathsome sound that creaked and slid; almost a cracked sob. "That was arsenic poisoning that killed him, in his medicine. You Westerners did it. It was either them or Japan. You would've done the same, Russia?—don't deny it."

A pause.

Then, "You don't know me, China." His voice had gone close to the ice and snow—the cold of his land.

"I don't need to. Get out of my house." Yao shook his head, because it was the first thing to do, and added an almost thoughtful "aru...."

He turned his back.

And then Russia was upon him, a bear, arms slithering around him, squeezing out his life, pleading as if Yao was still the one in control. "Yao. Please. You know I love you?—I do; and I'm so sorry. I really am, it hurts to see you hurt..."

At first Yao almost let out a surprised "Aru!"—but it turned to some harsher shock, that Russia was melting into a bald confessor, as if it was almost apple-pie to say it; as if he actually did not want to see him in pain unlike the sadist he was....

And suddenly Yao was sobbing—or close to it. It hurt so much to hear something so...loving...from a madman, something he had never even heard his precious siblings tell him, and the only one who could say something like that to him was insane, and the person he repulsed so much—he cried, and then he and Russia were both sobbing into each other, like a horribly-written love story that was warping into a young girl's fantasies. A madman loved him. His hope was gone, his nemesis was having the last laugh, he was descending into a darkness no one could emerge from, and insanity's proxy loved him. He had sunk so low, and he almost enjoyed it—a dark warmth, to receive love, which he had been so ready to abandon.

He did not restrain any longer—he cried into the big child that was crying into him—two old men who looked so unlike it, two mighty nations that suffered in their own battles that they were losing in.

It was almost as if it would last forever.

Russia left later, and they were both once again cold.

--

Huo Yuanjia was a man skilled in Kung Fu. He brought glory back to China in a time of its humiliation as other nations used it as they advanced in technology.

Wang Yao was a man and a nation. He was broken and fixed, so many times, in a cycle. A madman of the North gave him a healing salve at a time when he almost ended.

--

PT: Oh dear, what is this? D: I wrote a RussiaChina fic? –Jabs self- Mein Gott. Anyways, Huo Yuanjia was, indeed, a man skilled in Chinese martial arts. The incident in Russia is based off a real event and he did bring nationalism about in China, but was killed by poison, with several suspected culprits. Look it up, I don't need a longer note –twitch- Tortoise egg is a sort of insult, a common one, that sums up to bastard...that's my impression anyway. Hu shuo ba dao—just take it as "bullshit." So two things that are to spring up here—Chinese suffering and some hope last century, and a bit of RussiaChina romance for guilty pleasure xD –Shot-