Russia has dreamed of standing like this, just like this, in front of the demon bird. If not in his dreams, he contents himself with mirrors and windows, perhaps a clear lake. The image never changes. It should be worrying, that he should stand like this in front of a comrade—but the other nation had done something Russia would not be able to forgive so easily.

He stands as tall as he is able to be, shoulders set and cold fury in every line. His eyes do not narrow, only fade; only sharpen, as good weapons are meant to do. There is no color in his cheeks, vengeance has chilled his blood, and his hands lie at his sides, waiting.

"Avstriya."

The other nation jerks as if pulled from a trance, and by the sight of the shadows slithering away, it is a logical assumption. He raises a hand to his eyes, to his lips, and stares indifferently at the blood on his fingertips before speaking, his voice a raspy whisper.

"What do you want, Braginsky?"

Your head, on a silver platter, with your tongue cut off

"Stay away from the little one."

The words are spoken with authority, and Austria is smart enough to be able to hear the malicious wish veiled in his command, but he is still not lucid enough to avoid it.

"He is not a princess, Braginsky, andbut you are still a beast."

AAnd almost sweetly, Russia replies, "No, that is you."

Here Austria cringes, and the other nation relishes the look on his face, as if it were a mark, like the one Austria had given him not too long ago. Russia walks towards him, crushing dead leaves in his wake, the sound enough like breaking brittle bones that Austria is having trouble remembering why they should not fight.

"Do you miss them?"

"What… do you mean?"

I didn't mean anything

"Avstriya, I need to speak with you." He must try to be patient, Russia reminds himself. The little one would not want them to fight again, it would accomplish nothing. Perhaps, he inwardly agrees, but what the little one does not know, what he cannot hear, cannot hurt him.

He misses the nuances in Russia's tone, instead hearing his own—detached and feather light, saying, He couldn't speak at all.

He tried, but he couldn't

"What you did today was unacceptable—"

"Is he alright…?"

He was so pale, so weak

What if he was dying, all over again?

"Braginsky, I asked you a question—"

Russia snapped.

"N-yet!"

Austria raised his head at the force behind the word, just in time to see Russia's frail façade break, exposing the raw anger he'd been keeping in check.

"N-yet! He is not alright, he has never been alright—we have all just pretended, but today you, you…"

In Russia's mind he sees they who sleep the sleep of kings, and in his mind Russia weeps. No one could wake them, not even him.

He takes a shuddering breath, steeling himself against the shocked look in Austria's eyes, the only part of him that seemed inclined to move at all.

"For what you did to him, I should kill you," the other nation stated quite coldly, and Austria had enough of his wits about him to see that Russia did not lie. His back straightened, but Russia had turned his gaze away. He spoke quietly,

"But you have a name that you call him by… It is your name, and we have sworn long ago to honor that…" he gives the silent nation a cold once-over, as if searching for the chinks in his armor. Austria meets his gaze head on, still guardless, still dazed, but no longer out of his depth. Russia had done what this 'afternoon stroll' could not—he'd reminded him why things had suddenly spiraled out of control.

The name, his name, my name—the name I call him by.

The name he would not hear.

Beyond Austria's frail form, Russia stares at the setting sun.

"Tonight is mine, da."

And with that, he walked off, crushed leaves underfoot and faintly, Austria hears the screaming.

.

.

.

.

.

caesura

Author's Notes: My apologies for the lateness of these two meager chapters. ;_; I need to keep my GPA up. Though, with midterms coming up, I'll need to burn off some creative juices. ^o^ But rejoice! The ending is clear now! :) I hope you enjoy these chapters, the next will come sometime in August.