By; Chibi Ra Chan
Will the day come when this battle, born of confusion, will end? It is different things to different people. Can the reality be that which is hidden? The reason is mere existence. Still, memories can be believed. Be not afraid. Entrust your body to the soothing waves of your memories. By and by, your fleeting rest will be over.
And everything will begin.
- Yen Sid's Book "A Future Story"
No one really understood how or at what rate a nation aged. When they say their age they're really just guessing. Some adopted birthdays, but they were always changing.
For Yong Soo in particular it was difficult to pinpoint his age. Korea had been around for centuries in some form or another. Before him there was his mother-nation, Silla and her brothers that made up his peninsula and when they disappeared he was born.
Yao had always guessed at how old he was by seeing how tall he was getting. But up until the last 100 years or so, he still looked younger than nations like Alfred who were less than 300 hundred years old.
Yong Soo himself had always been small, for the longest time he had the body of a child, even when he was nearly two thousand years old. It was only recently that his body had began to match his years, at least a little bit. He now stood at an impressive 173cm causing him tower over most of his people. He found that he had lost much of his baby fat, but still retained his usual puffy cheeks.
Physical stuff aside, he felt a lot older now too. The last couple of decades had taught him much about how to run his country and how to be a player on the world's stage. He could manage himself just fine now, he had a thriving market and a booming economy. Of course there was always that pesky northern half of his….
Every now and then he would lose track of time and almost always have some kind of issue to deal with concerning the north when he came to. It didn't happen all that often anymore, thankfully, and for the most part he was able to fix things himself.
It was a great mystery, what happened in those moments of forgetfulness. He never remembered anything, but he always woke up with the lingering feeling of immense sadness. Whatever was happening, he pitied whoever or whatever's feelings he was picking up on. No one should ever feel so hopeless.
But that wasn't what truly concerned Korea right now.
These thoughts were what gave him courage to walk into this leader's office, throw some papers on his desk, grin and exclaim, "We're gonna make ties with Beijing da-ze!"
'Today I am an adult.' he says to himself as the various aides in the office begin to scramble to read the documents. His president looks at him with a mixture of surprise, annoyance, most importantly, respect. 'Today I turn eighteen.'
For the first time in a long time Yong Soo felt like a real nation.
And one day out of the blue, a letter comes.
Unlike the multitude of letters that come for his officials and bosses all across his nation, this one is addressed to him personally.
Not, China, but Yao.
Naturally he tears the envelope open and throws himself into reading the note.
There is a moment of silent amazement, which quickly turns to disbelief and finally to panic. The small Chinese man is so full of conflicting emotions that he doesn't quite know how to take in the news that he never thought would come.
After many long years of being apart, Korea was finally reaching out toward him.
Meimei reads the formal documents that her little brother has handed to her with a heavy heart.
She wasn't surprised really; she had seen it coming for years. But it still stung.
"You-You're leaving too." She spoke quietly, still staring at the papers. First Japan and now Korea. Even though Yong Soo's leaving was her fault, it still made her wonder why everyone ended up leaving her.
The Korean boy nods, a sad look on his face. Meimei knows that trying to argue with him and asking him to stay will not do any good.
Yong Soo's mind is made up.
"It's not that you haven't been a good friend Nuna, because you have, though I'm still a little mad about you kissing me, but that's not the point da-ze the point is, well, things have changed." He pauses and tries to find the right wording. "Things have gotten complicated." He settles on.
He is unable to look at her and instead focuses his gaze on the tea she gave him earlier.
"Complicated how?" She asks, hands shaking a bit.
"My government says that we've gotta export more and they say that it isn't very cost effective to trade so much with you when others would buy more." Meimei watches as he begins to fidget a bit. He still cannot bring himself to look at her.
"What others do you mean Yong Soo?" He doesn't say anything, but the telltale blush on his cheeks speaks volumes.
Meimei feels anger flood her veins. "It's him isn't it?"
They both know what him she is talking about.
"Mei, I know you don't like him but-" She interrupts him, letting the official document fall to the floor in a flurry of manila paper.
"He's a horrible person; you should know that after everything he's put you through! I wish you could see him the way that I do. You can't cut off ties with people just because his government says-"
In the middle of her tirade, a thought occurs to her. She hated it, but she had to ask.
"Do you have anything to do with this?"
Korea tries to sooth his oncoming headache by rubbing his forehead. He knew that this wouldn't be easy, but he hadn't expected his sister to take the news so hard. "I told you my government wants-"
"No! I want to know if you had anything to do with this. Not your government, but you?" She yells, her long hair in a frenzy around her. "And don't think of lying to me. I'm still your elder sister."
Yong Soo feels his stomach sink. He hates this, he absolutely hates this, but he can't quite bring himself to lie to her when he is for all intents and purposes, abandoning her. So he finally faces her, his brown eyes shining with sadness, but also sincerity.
"It was my idea."
He watches as Meimei deflates and he swears he hears a sniffle. He wants to go and comfort her, because even if he doesn't love her the way he loves China, she is still family.
But he doesn't because he knows that Taiwan won't let him.
And from the sting of her hand as she slaps him across his left cheek, he knows that he is right.
"You choose him over me?" Her voice is deathly quiet and the color had drained from her face.
China was the one thing that Taiwan hated more than anything else. When he was younger he remembered Yao and Mei getting into a fight and then he didn't see her again until WWII. Then after that Yao had tried to take her back, only for her to leave yet again.
He was sure that it went far beyond just political tides. There was something that Meimei fundamentally detested about China, and to be left in favor of him was the ultimate betrayal.
"I love him Nuna. " He whispers while standing up and preparing to leave. He rubs his now sore face and curses. He wishes it wasn't like this, he wishes he didn't have to pick which part of his family he loved more. But he had made is choice.
Much to his surprise Meimei catches his hand just as he is about to walk out of her door. Even more surprising is when she hugs him; her long pink sleeves hitting him in the face. He hugs back without questioning it.
He can feel the tears streaming down her cheeks as she talks into his chest. "You stupid little boy, he's going to end up hurting you. He always does. China's love always ends badly, why don't you see that?"
He smiles and pulls away from his sister. He knows that the next time they met, her upset will have turned into anger, so he gently kisses her forehead and soothes down her hair. "I have to try though. I'll hate myself if I don't. Everything in life can't be easy da-ze or else it wouldn't be worth getting hurt for."
Meimei can only nod and let him go.
"It looks like Korea is making peace with China again." England says one day, after taking a sip of his traditional earl grey tea. Tea always made him feel better no matter what the situation. It was one of the few things that he and Xiang could still agree on. Things had been strained between them as of late.
Arthur attempts to make peace with the young man and he tells him this piece of confidential G8 information knowing how important it was to him.
Still, he approaches the subject with caution.
Arthur knows that Xiang is not the gullible child he had taken from a war ravaged Yao many years ago. He had grown up and matured after so long. It was no secret that the port city wanted nothing more than to return home to his family. Talk of Yong Soo especially made him want to leave. That had been his true reasoning for making him leave Korea after only a few years.
England had been foolish in thinking that he would be placated with one brother, with being close to his city. He had hoped it would be enough, but he was wrong. Francis had warned him not to mettle in the affairs of someone else's family but he didn't listen.
He never did it seemed.
Because when all was said and done it wasn't enough, if anything it made the boy want to leave even more. Hong Kong was miserable here, but Arthur just couldn't quite bring himself to let him go.
"Aa. That's good." Xiang says without looking at him. Instead he sits at the windowsill and watches as the hectic London traffic parades by.
Arthur feels his heart clench, but he talks through it. "It seems daft if you ask me. South Korea and China still work in two completely government systems, and Yong Soo's already burned the proverbial bridge with Taipei to do it. I can't see how this will end well for anyone."
Xiang doesn't turn to face him, but decades' worth of living with the boy allowed the blonde nation to know the emotions that run through his seemingly disinterested voice. "Maybe not, but what might seems like something horrible for you or the others just may mean the world to him."
England doesn't respond and Hong Kong doesn't elaborate any further. There is only an uncomfortable and suffocating silence lying between them now. Arthur pushes his breakfast away and stares that the boy whom he had grown attached to after all these years.
Even his beloved tea cannot make the guilt that is eating him up inside go away.
He knows that is time to let go. And he hates it.
Japan, for all his social etiquette and posturing, found this rather amusing.
"Aiiiiyaaah! What am I going to do aru?" China whined while pacing the hotel room in a nervous wreck. Kiku smiled and took a sip of his tea. It wasn't very often that his elder brother became so panicked. It was actually rather comical
"You should stop yelling first." He speaks calmly a small amount of mirth in his voice.
China glares at the Japanese man. "That's easy for you to say. This isn't a big deal for you."
Kiku doesn't argue with him, because he knows it will do no good. Yao had a bad case of nerves and needed to take it out on something lest he go crazy. It just so happened that he was the only one here at the moment.
"It's been decades since I've last seen him, what if things aren't the same aru?" He panics, pulling on his ponytail.
Japan, ever the realist, speaks. "It is Yong Soo, have you ever known him to change? He has been the same since you found him."
China hated to admit it but he had a point. Still, his mild panic attack wouldn't be cured so easily. "I don't think I can handle this aru. I'm too old to be dealing with this anymore. I can't believe I let myself get my hopes up again aru, I should have never-"
Annoyed, Kiku interrupts. "May I be honest with you Nii-sama?" He doesn't wait for Yao to answer however. "You have spent a large portion of the last four decades waiting to see Korea again. I have seen it, so have all the other nations. In fact the only nation that doesn't realizes how very much to yearn to see him, is you. And quite frankly I am tired of it."
Yao sighs dejectedly and rest's his head against the door frame. "I, I just don't want to mess things up again." He voices quietly as if saying out loud would confirm it. He was so afraid of ruining things yet again. It was perfectly understandable that he was apprehensive.
His younger brother sighs as well and comes to stand next to him. Japan lays a hand on his elder brother's shoulder in a rare show of understanding.
"Please take a page from Yong Soo's book and stop thinking about everything so much. Forget your reservations on the matter and 'go your own way' or whatever it is that he says."
Yao can't help but laugh at how strange it was to hear Yong Soo's dogma coming from Kiku's throat. "You're right, I have to calm down aru, take things as they come."
Kiku smiles and it is so unusual that Yao doesn't realize that he has opened the door they are standing next to. "I am glad you have come to your senses." The next thing the Chinese man knows he has been shoved out into the hotel hallway. "With al do respect nii-sama please do not come back until you have made up with Otouto, you are driving me crazy."
He slams the door shut and China is left to stare at the closed door in mild horror.
Everything after his impromptu diplomacy meeting is a frenzy of letters, negotiations, diplomatic meetings and countless hours spent going over the terms of the Chinese-South Korean trade agreements. At least for his boss and all his aides that is.
Yong Soo himself is too busy not worrying to get involved with all the fine print. Besides he had done his share of the work, he had severed ties with Meimei, who had moved from pitying him to downright hating his guts. He had also broken the news to Alfred and the others. While they didn't outwardly condemn him, he knew they weren't happy either.
China was still on shaky turns with most of Europe, but Yong Soo was sure that it wouldn't last long. He knew most of the European nations pretty well and he knew that their wallets would win out against their distrust of his brother. China had a lot to offer in the trade and monetary department.
Either way, Yong Soo was going through with this.
"I just don't get it." Lovino scowls from his spot on the Korean's hotel room bed. "The guy pretty much throws you to the wolves and you still want to be with the bastard?"
Korea rolls his eyes good naturedly. South Italy, while brash and out right rude, had become a good friend over the years. He valued the Italians opinion highly and he was the one he wanted to have with him today, the big day as he liked to call it.
Tonight was the day that the treaties and negotiation were officially signed and he would be able to be reunited with his brother at long last.
But Romano wasn't so happy about it and was being even more surly than usual, which was saying a lot.
"But Loooovi~!" He whines while jumping on the bed and flustering the smaller man into a huff. He laughs at his own words as much as he does the annoyed look on his face. Korea smirks and loops his arms around the brunette's shoulders. "It's true love! How can you deny me true love?"
Romano tries, in vain, to shove the Asian boy off of him. "Cut it out! Jesus, you're such a fucking kid, I'm trying to be serious here."
Yong Soo sighs and lets' go only to fall on the soft mattress. He stares at the ceiling instead of his friend. "You're no fun you know that? You need to be happy everyone in a while, it will do you wonders. Or better yet you need to get laid. Sex was invented in me but I'm sure your attitude could benefit from it too."
To his credit, Lovino only scoffs and punches the Asian in the arm, rather than the usual head-butt that such remarks normally call for. "I'm sooo sure. But you're avoiding the question."
"It's not even a question though, you don't like Yao and you never will. So me trying to tell you Hyung-nim's virtues is pointless." Yong Soo answers plainly.
Romano knows he is right so he doesn't say anything.
Lovino is very aware that he is supposed to forgive people's mistakes; he isn't supposed to pass judgment, that was God's job, not his. But he was an imperfect creature and he didn't delude himself into thinking that he held no malice in his heart.
He didn't like Yao; in fact he was sure he hated the elder Asian quite a bit. He could not forgive him for what he had done. Yong Soo may have been able to see past it and make peace but that didn't mean he had to.
The fact that Korea knew of his hateful feelings and was still his friend spoke volumes about Korean's capacity to accept people and forgive. He was a much better person than he was that much was apparent.
Silence prevails in the room until Romano can't stand it anymore. He hits him again.
"Ow, what was that one for?" Korea asks sitting up and rubbing his now sore arm.
Lovino's face is tomato red as he glares at him, though not with any real enthusiasm to it. "That's for lying. You did not invent sex. You're practically a nun."
Despite the bashing of his honor, Korea cannot help but take the bait. "I am not! Just because I'm saving myself for my true love doesn't mean I'm not freaky!"
The brunette makes a gaging sound and cringes. "Ew. This is why we don't let you anywhere near France. Never say that garbage again."
Yong Soo grins and feels the tension flood out of the air. "Say what, 'True love' or 'Freaky'?"
Romano allows a rare smile to grace his features before he wipes it off. He can't go around smiling for just anyone or they'd want him to do it all the time. And that shit was just not happening any time soon. So instead he scowls and throws one of the fluffy pillows at Korea's grinning face.
"It's about time those two made up if you ask me." Turkey says conversationally. France nods in agreement and takes a sip of his wine. The two are sitting in the hotels' tiny bar waiting for the official document signing and the obligatory party that would undoubtedly follow. They always did.
Sadly, Arthur would not be attending this event, he was much too busy with things in London, which France took as he didn't want to leave Hong Kong, or worse bring him here to get 'ideas'. Antonio and gilbert were not here either, leaving Francis to seek the company of the Turkish man who now sat in front of him.
It's was a welcome change, Sadiq would keep him on his toes.
"Oui, it has taken quite a long time. Then again, China has always been backwards when it comes to his emotions non?"
Turkey waves his hand dismissively. "I think you're giving Yao a little too much credit. All of this is the kid's doing." The blonde raises an eyebrow in question. He hadn't known that. He had assumed that it had been a mutual effort.
He smiles; it seemed as if Korea would just keep on amazing them all. "Yong Soo is a determined person. He most likely beat China to it." France had gotten over most of his upset with the tiny Asian man; he had had to. Just because he, Francis, was angry with him didn't not mean that he, France, could afford to be at odds with him. They were calling this treaty the 'Last holdout of the cold war.' Thus the reason so many nations like himself were here. Still, many of them had connections to the two nations chiefly involved.
Sadiq was one of those nations. The Turk had inexplicably become friends with South Korea. Francis secretly thought it was because the boy was as rowdy as the once empire. Also because he didn't want Greece to become friends with all of the Asians.
"But enough about Yao, we have not had the opportunity to speak in a long time my bearded friend. Tell me, comment sont des choses avec votre petite tulipe Elizavete? Surely she isn't still giving you trouble mon cher ami?" He teased, knowing very well that Sadiq was no closer to winning her over once and for all.
At least he thought so, Francis knew better though. Little Elizaveta was simply too stubborn to admit she was still quite smitten with him. The blonde simply loved it when nations were oblivious to their own love lives; it made for a good show.
Francis watched as Turkey's face, which for once was not covered with that silly mask, bled red with blush. He looked away, embarrassed. "Uh, um hey is that China?"
France rolled his eyes and sipped his chardonnay. "Don't try to change the subject Turquie."
"No, really Francis, That's China." He pointed over to the front desk, were Yao indeed stood. He spoke old Korean as he asked the receptionist something. The confused woman pointed to the elevator and Yao thanked her before going entering said machine.
Francis and Sadiq exchanged looks, the blonde smirking and the brunette laughing, finally taking a swig of his drink. "Well I stand corrected. Looks like the old man finally grew a pair."
"I will toast to that mon ami. Should we go and make sure he doesn't chicken out?"
"That is the best suggestion I've heard all day."
He honestly has no idea why he's doing this.
One minute he's worrying in his nice safe hotel room, the next he is asking the receptionist which room Yong Soo was in. His Korean was a bit rusty, he was nearly a century out of practice, but he found it and now he stood in front of the door, just staring.
'Maybe this isn't such a good idea aru….' The sensible part of his brain spoke but for once Yao didn't listen to it. Kiku was right; he thought about things too much. 'Act like Korea, act like Korea.' He chanted and took the last step toward the door that separated him and his brother.
…..And promptly tripped on the hallway carpeting and barreled into a decoration table. He cursed himself for being a little too much like Korea.
"Ow, that hurt aru." He whined, hoping no one saw his less than grateful display.
His palms are sweaty as he raises a hand to knock on the heavy wooden door, only to let it fall limply at his side just before making contact. 'Who am I kidding aru, I can't do this… I'm not impulsive. I'm just not. I don't think I can go through with this. We don't have to actually talk ever again, right aru? I can avoid Yong Soo for the rest of my life, right? Right aru?'
The words sounded pathetic even to him. Yao always prided himself on being honest and straightforward, but this was a different matter altogether. Everything seemed topsy-turvy whenever Korea was involved, and he found himself tongue-tied and awkward. The only way to get over it was just to blurt everything out and hope for the best.
Besides, China didn't think he could take another moment of not saying everything he wanted to Korea. He owned it to himself and to his brother.
So with his heart racing in his ears, he gulps and knocks on the door. Hard.
"When does this ceremony start again?" Vash asks irritably. He tries his hardest not watch his little sister who is preparing something in the small kitchenette with a handmade pink apron. Sometimes, Lili was too adorable for her own good.
"Tonight at eight brother." She answers softly.
Neither he nor Liechtenstein had particularly strong ties to anyone involved in the trade agreements that tonight's signing would set up. And he most certainly would not be letting his little sister anywhere near the party that would undoubtedly be following said trade signing. "Why did you want to come to this anyways?"
Lili smiled softly and sat in one of the room's armchairs, it made her look even tinier than usual.
"It is all very romantic don't you think? Like a fairytale almost. It makes me happy to know that two people who love each other can make it through such difficult circumstances."
Vash has to look away to hide his blush, she is just so adorable.
A comfortable silence settles between them, before a loud bang outside their room ruins it.
"Brother, what was that noise?"
Switzerland narrows his eyes at the door. It was bad enough that he was forced to be here, but Liechtenstein wanted to come and heavens knew he could never turn her down. And he'd be damned if he let anyone ruin it for her either.
With his characteristic anger, and gun hidden in his coat pocket just in case, Switzerland opens the door and looks at the spectacle outside.
'What the hell is wrong with Asia? We don't have these problems over here in Europe.'
When the door finally opens, Yao is unable to look at him. The pressure is too intense and he knows that if he was to look up into his almost-lover's face then he wouldn't be able to say anything at all. So he instead looks at the floor as if is the most fascinating piece of carpet he has ever seen in his life.
"Wh-" The small Chinese man doesn't let him answer, he simply holds up his hand in the universal gesture of silence.
"Don't say anything aru, just let me get some things off my chest first. Then I'll listen to everything you have to say. Alright?" He hears clothing shuffling and a 'hmh' but other than that Yong Soo says nothing.
China takes a deep breath and places a hand at the base of his throat to further calm his raging pulse.
And then, everything comes spilling out.
Thailand considered himself a rather easy going guy.
He enjoyed the simple things in life; nature, good food, entertainment and family just to name a few. But there was always fighting going on at home and he had learned after hundreds of years of mediation that there was no way to please everyone. It was best to let his people sort it out for themselves, lest he end up in civil war like some of his siblings.
It was a hard lesson for a nation to accept; that they can't fix all of their people's problems.
Sunan knew he didn't have the economic boom that the other 'Tigers' had, but he was grateful for the good fortune he did have and he worked with it.
Still, every once in a while it was nice to get away from it all and spend some time with his family. This was why he was in a hotel room in Seoul. Yong Soo asked for him and it had been ages since he had seen his elder brother Yao. He was sad that Meimei wasn't going to there but, that was to be expected after how sour things had ended between her and the others.
Hong Kong wouldn't be there either. Rumor had it that he was attempting to get out of England's control and the once empire was prolonging the process with all his might.
Thailand smiled and laughed a bit. "It wouldn't be like old times without there being drama." He says to himself.
It is then that he hears a crash outside his door. The tall Thai man quirks his head to the side. "Ana..?" He peaks his head outside to investigate.
"I love you. I always have aru. From that first moment that I found you half dead in the snow, I've loved you. At first I thought you'd be a replacement for Kiku since he left and Hong Kong was stolen from me by that bastard England and Taiwan hated me so much, but that's not what's important aru. What's important is that I was wrong, completely wrong. I love you, for you aru.
Ever since you first paraded in my home, knocked over a priceless vase and called me your Lao Po I've been fixated on you aru. It is completely ridiculous and against nearly everything I believe in but I can't pretend I'm not. You mean so much to aru.
I kept you away from your people not because you weren't ready but because I wasn't ready to be without you. I couldn't stand to be alone after having someone love me even though I'm selfish and jaded aru. You never once thought ill of me and I took advantage of that. And I'm sorry, so very sorry aru."
Yao clenches his fists into his black suit pants and wills himself to keep going on, despite the tears that are pooling in the corners of his eyes.
He struggles to find were to start again, but eventually the words come to him.
Alfred F. Jones disliked stairs. Actually that was an understatement, he hated stairs. He absolutely abhorred stairs with a white hot burning passion.
"Al, please stop sulking. You look ridiculous." Matthew says while looking back at his brother who was several steps below him out of breath.
In a show of extreme wit and sophistication, America blows a raspberry at the Canadian. "Why are we taking the stairs? There is a perfectly good elevator we can use."
Thankful that his brother couldn't see his face, Matthew smiles softly. Alfred could act like such a child sometimes. He would never say it out loud, not that anyone would hear it anyways, but he loved that childish streak in his brother. He never let things get to him, even when they probably should. He was just so sure of himself; Canada wished he was like that.
But Alfred never needed to know that or he would never let him live it down. "Because France, Turkey and Hungary were in that elevator and I want to be nowhere near there when Elizaveta explodes. Besides, you need the exercise."
Indignantly, America stomps his feet extra hard into already abused stairs. "I exercise all the time! Heroes have to stay fit in order to keep strong and-"
"Do you hear something?" Canada asks as they reach the 7th floor.
Alfred rolls his eyes and adjusts Texas. "Don't try to change the subject yo-"
"Be quiet chubby. I think I hear yelling." He looks down the hallway and sees what's causing the commotion. It is a very upset China. Something is off about the situation; he just couldn't put his finger on what though.
"Chubby! Who are you calling chubby?" America screeches with indignation. Without taking his eyes off the scene in front of him, Matthew elbow's Alfred in the stomach, effectively shutting him up. Upon closer inspection, Canada realizes what is 'off' about this situation. America realizes seconds after he does.
"Oh crap." They chime in together.
"I never wanted to hurt you. And I honestly thought that sending you away would save you aru. Save you from me. Because I wanted so badly to be lost in you, and that wasn't fair to you. You were too young to have to deal all the horrible things I was and am."
Still looking at the ground, Yao clutches his ponytail and wrings it between his fingers, his speech turning nearly frantic.
"So, I pushed you away aru. It was stupid, I know that now but I thought it would fix things at the time. The feelings would fade after some time apart, but they didn't. I was horribly lonely without you. The house felt haunted aru, like it wasn't even mine anymore. Every room had memories of you in it. Memories of you breaking something, or saying something dumb, they even started smelling like you aru! It felt like I was trapped. I was still being greedy and only thinking of how I was feeling. I never stopped to think that you'd be just as lost without me.
I felt like I'd ruined everything and I did aru!"
The tears were freely flowing by now, so much so that Yao didn't even notice the dig of the elevator opening, nor the people steeping out of it.
"What's going on?" Turkey asks, stepping out of the lift, thankful for any reason to get Francis to stop dropping hints to Elizaveta.
Thailand quickly shushes all three of them and points to the emotional scene taking place only yards away. He doesn't have to look at his two companions to know that they were both gushing, and one of them had a camera to record the event.
In fact China was so enraptured in his speech that he hadn't noticed any of the open doors with nations in various states of awe watching him break down.
And still, the words keep spilling out.
"I didn't know, I swear. I didn't know about anything in those letters until it was too late aru. I didn't want to know. And then everything blew up in Seoul and I thought you'd hate me forever especially after that final letter. I thought I had lost you! And I could understand why, I did everything I shouldn't have done aru. Tibet tried to tell me but I was too stubborn and grown up to see what was clear to you and everyone else.
You tamed me and I tamed you. Even after all of this mess and all the heartache I've caused, you wanted to see me again. You're my most precious person Yong Soo, the only one I ever want to have heartstrings with aru. I'll be your stupid Lao po or let you claim my non-existent breasts, whatever you want, as long as you don't leave me alone again aru!"
Yao takes a few shaky breaths and wipes his embarrassingly wet eyes. "Well, are you going to saw something aru?" He snaps, his nerves catching up to him.
And that is when the clapping starts.
China's eyes widen to the size of saucer plates and his head whips around so quickly, that he is hit with immediate whip lash, making the room spin.
"Aww, isn't that nice ana~"
"It's just like a fairy tale big brother."
" A truly marvelous expression of amour!"
"Not gonna, lie that was pretty gay China. Ow! Stop that Mattie! Okay, okay fine, it was cute. Geez no need to be violent."
Click, click, click.
"Way to go old man! It's about time!"
"Don't do such personal things in the hallways!"
"This is the most precious thing my maiden's heart has ever seen!"
Yao's face flames at the various catcalls and inappropriate words that are directed at him. 'T-they heard everything aru? This is the most embarrassing thing ever. How am I ever going to live those tears down at the next world meeting!' China wishes that the floor would open up and swallow him whole.
"Are you done yet bastard?" Once again, the Chinese man's attention is drawn back to 'Korea' "That was the sisseiest thing I've ever heard in my entire life. Be a fucking man for once."
Or at least he who he thought was Korea. There, standing in front of him with his arms crossed and a sour, yet touched, expression on his face was Romano.
Strike that, now he wishes the floor would swallow him whole. Yao's mouth hangs open in shock. 'Tian, t-tell me I didn't just do what I think I did.'
"I-I got the wrong door aru?" He is still shell shocked from the onslaught of embarrassment and shame that comes with having a nice portion of the international community knowing your deepest darkest secrets.
"Yeah, you did." Lovino answers with sarcasm. "Lover boy is over there you twit." He slams the door shut, but Yao's attention in on Korea, who is standing in the next doorway over, biting his lip adorably with tears streaming down his face.
"Did you mean all that stuff aniki?"
And suddenly, it is like the two of them are alone in the hallway, the shouts and jeers of the other's fading away. Yao is unable to do much but nod yes.
Yong Soo had grown up. He was no longer the little kid he had to fish out of the pond, he was an adult. Instead of making Yao feel uncomfortable, it made his heart beat faster than ever.
"You, you really mean it?" He asks through a sniffle and Yao smiles sheepishly.
"Yes, I do aru." Oh tian, this felt right. Everything felt wonderfully right in his world, like all the pieces had fallen into place after so very long of it being a jumbled puzzle. Yao was on cloud nine even if he had just made a complete fool of himself in front of his peers.
Yong Soo steps toward him and China trembles a little when he towers over him, his hands, now larger than his, coming to rest on his shoulders. "Your breasts really belong to me aniki?"
And as quick as it came about, the spell is broken.
"You said they belong to me. You weren't lying, right aniki?" Korea asks grinning wildly, his hand starting to wander.
Yao stares at him incredulously, ignoring the snort of laughter that he is sure came from America. "I give an incredibly embarrassing confession and all you're interested in are my breasts, which don't even exist aru, and is they belong to you?"
'I take it back, every last word! The brat might have grown physically but he's still as mature as a child aru!'
Yong Soo shakes his head happily before crushing him in a hug. "Well, yeah, I already knew all that other stuff. I just didn't think you'd give over ownership of your breasts to me so easily! This is the best day ever da-ze!"
Despite the stupidity of this statement, Yao tears up again because it is so typically Yong Soo of an answer. He didn't have to say any of those embarrassing things because Korea had known he loved him all along. He always knew, even when he didn't. "You are so dumb, you little brat." He answers, but his actions betray his words and China clutches the younger nation back with as much strength as he can muster.
He hears the yells and applause all around them and it doesn't bother him as much as it should. Because for the first time ever, Yao feels completely and utterly content with groped by a loud, brash, impulsive Korean boy who he somehow, against all odds, loves more than anything else in this world.
That is until Yong Soo suddenly let go of him and turn to look unashamed at their odd collection of friends and family. "Uh can you guys kinda go? Me and aniki are going to have sex now and I don't think he'd like it very much if you watched."
Yao nearly chokes at these words. "KOREA!"
"What? Fine they can stay, geez. I didn't realize you were that kinky aniki. Did you know that voyeurism originated in me?"
"T-T-THAT IS BESIDES THE POINT ARU!"
"It's okay, everyone can't be as amazing as me, you're a close second though."
"STOP SAYING SUCH VULGAR THINGS ARU!"
"But why? We were going to sex righ-"
The other nations, some of which were laughing, other who were shielding their sibling ear from the less than classy conversation, hear nothing else for China has pushed the Korean boy inside the hotel room and slammed the door shut. Presumably to do the vulgar things Yong Soo was just talking about.
"I just love treaty signings, don't you guys?" Elizaveta gushes cradling her now full camera to her cheast with a dreamy sigh.
"There are so many things wrong with what you've just said that I'm not going to try and explain them to you." Turkey says while ruffling her hair. "I need another drink if I'm going to make it to this treaty signing, come on Eli."
"I shall accompany you." France says joining the Turkish man in the lift.
"Don't call me that you savage of a man!" None the less she joins them.
Alfred bolts from the staircase to the elevator. "Ditto for me and Mattie! I need to drink something manly before I start saying a bunch of girly stuff too."
"Fine, I'll go only to make sure you don't do something dumb."
"Huh, did you say anything?'
Canada only sighs and joins them, used to not being heard.
"May I come too? I think my family is going to be busy for a while." Thailand asks with a characteristic smile.
"Sure!" America chirps, "The more the merrier!" The now packed elevator closes much to Switzerland's relief. Thankfully Lili had no desire to associate with such vulgar people. His sweet innocent sister was above such things-
"Big brother, what does voyeurism mean?" Liechtenstein asks curiously.
Vash vows to leave bullet holes in each and every one of them when he next sees them, neutrality be damned.
Later, after all things are said and done, when the treaties are signed and the parties have died out Yong Soo lays in bed with Yao curled around him and thinks.
He thinks of all the things that have brought him to this moment.
Of the circumstances that separated them for so long, and about the happenstance that has brought them back together again.
Of the people who have wedged themselves between them, and about he friends who have helped inch them closer one more.
Of the siblings that have hurt him, and of the siblings that were willing to take the time and build him whole again.
Of the moments when he has reached out to touch China, only to meet with a 'great wall' and the moments when their heart have been miles away, yet connected soundly by mere words on paper.
He thinks about how their lands can be so very far away from each other when they are laying here so close, limbs tanged and breaths mingling.
Yong Soo thinks of how very strange fate is to tie him so securely to a tiny little wisp of a man who took two centuries to figure out that they were destined for each other from the start.
"It's funny da-ze" he whispers pushing Yao's hair behind his ear, careful not to wake him. "The part of the story where the shining prince saves the princess is supposed to be the end. I was always afraid of what would happen once the story ended." Korea yawns and buries his nose into China's hair, the toll of today finally hitting him. "But, I'm not really afraid, not anymore Hyung-nim. I wonder why?"
Finally peaceful slumber claims him.
The night passes by slowly, without event. As if a strange calm has blanketed the usually hectic world, making it wind down and take part in the night's silent requiem.
Yet, as sure as can be, the sun will rise and the fleeting rest will be over. They will awaken tomorrow groggy and clumsy in a tangle of arms and legs, their will be bodies sore for use and their problems will return, for they always do. Korea will still struggles with his other half and Yao will still suffer the weight of 5000 years.
But amidst all this chaos their hearts will have been stitched back together tenderly with red thread, which will make all the difference.
And that is where the story will really begin.
Aging- I have always found it interesting that the nations age so sporadically. Countries like Korea in particular, so I went on to try and explain this a bit.
Taipei- In order to create economic and diplomatic ties with China, South Korea willingly cut ties with Taiwan. I felt bad for her, she was forgotten this entire story.
Nuna- Korean for sister.
Hong Kong- Around this time period, 1992ish, England officially began trying to figure out how to peacefully relinquish control over Hong Kong back to China. It would take Arthur another five years to actually let go of his once ward.
Lovino, Sadiq and Vash oh my- Italy and Turkey both have excellent ties with South Korea in nearly all areas. I fell in love with Lovino's brash character in chapter seven and I wanted to bring him back to lighten to mood, Turkey as well who is always adorable to me. France and Turkey are totally bros. Vash somehow wormed his way into this story with the help of Liechtenstein. And Thailand finally got a on screen part! All my goals for this story have been met.
French; Comment sont des choses avec votre petite tulipe Elizavete?- How are things going with your little tulip Elizaveta? I couldn't help it; I am a rabid Turkey/Hungary shipper and had to throw it in.
Lili- This is the name the fandom seems to have given Liechtenstein. I could resists adding her an Vash into the story.
'Tigers'- The east Asian Tigers is a name given to the east Asian nations that saw enormous financial success after WWII. The tigers are; South Korea, Taiwan, Singapore, and Hong Kong.
It's over, and I really mean it this time.
I'm very happy with the way this epilogue came out. While it was way longer than I originally planned I feel like it helped this story come full circle. Heartstrings started with tender, funny moments then it changed into something deeper something much more taboo and dark. With this epilogue it returned to being tender and funny.
When I originally set out to write this story it was for the seven deadly sins challenge over on livejournal, but someone else claimed the China/Korea pairing but never wrote anything. I had intended for it to be seven short unrelated stories, but the idea grew on its own and has literally become a constant in my life for the past year. Like a parasite it didn't allow me to write anything else until I worked on this. I started writing Heartstrings around this time last summer, even though I didn't publish it until Christmas, and I have been continually been tweaking it ever since.
Heartstrings is my crowning achievement in writing and I'd like to thank you all for making it a bigger success than I ever dreamed it could be.
It has been a long road and I eternally grateful to have you all walk with me along the way.
Forever and Eternally,