A/N: This is a little one-shot comprised of the song "Never Too Late" by Three Days Grace and inspired by the Hetalia fan fiction "Seven Little Killers" by Lucky-Angel135, the joined account of two awesome authoresses who were kind enough to allow me to use their uber-original plot line for this story. (If you're an APH fan and haven't read it, DO IT! You'll be glad you did.) I adore their rendition of JapanXAmerica, and the lyrics seemed to fit so well; here's hoping I did them justice! ;)

Please R&R, and listen to the song while you're at it - get the full experience!

Disclaimer: I do not own SLK, Japan, America, anything else from APH, or "Never Too Late". (Haha, guess that makes this pretty unoriginal, huh?)

Warning: This songfic spoils a few SLK plot points, so I suggest reading at least up to chapter 26 or 27 before proceeding!

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This world will never be what I expected

Looking back, Japan wondered just how the hell he got here. How long ago had it been since things had been normal? It seemed like it had been forever.

Who would've thought that he'd be trying to solve murders? Murders of nations who had just been alive. They shouldn't be dead, couldn't be dead.

And if I don't belong who would've guessed it?

Somehow, by some impossible circumstances, they were. Japan felt like he was living in some sort of twisted nightmare, and despite his composed veneer, he wondered if he'd really be able to take it. What if I end up like China?

Some part of him felt like it'd be almost a relief to slip into such blissful nothingness. But then he thought about the one good thing that had happened to him since this mess started. The only good to come out of it.

I will not leave alone everything that I own

To make you feel like it's not too late, it's never too late.

America had become just about everything to him. Japan wished that he could make things better for the nation, but he'd already tried that. He could still see Reynold's blank eyes, feel that strange victorious sensation that he got after the bastard's breathing had seized. All he'd wanted was to make things better, even just a little bit.

It hadn't exactly worked out. But still, he wanted it for Alfred even more than he wanted it for himself. He wanted to see his blue eyes light up again, to see his smile that was so brilliant that it made him smile, too. But what if it was impossible to make things better for either of them?

Even if I say it'll be alright.

Still I hear you say you want to end your life.

He didn't know if he'd be able to do it. He didn't even know what he felt for America was truly love. He didn't know anything, including what in this fucked up world they now lived in he was going to do. He didn't even know if there was anything that could be done.

Now and again we try to just stay alive

Japan needed time to think it through, yet he feared that he didn't have it. More nations were dieing, especially the ones who knew what had happened to Reynolds. And of course Japan knew what had happened - he was the one who'd done it, after all. He put his face in his hands, pressing his brown eyes tightly shut. The image of the twisted corpse still haunted him.

Maybe we'll turn it all around

'Cause it's not too late, it's never too late.

Pushing his hands through his dark hair and looking up towards the ceiling, the heavens, whatever was up there, he realized that it didn't matter if he "loved" America. Sure, it seemed to matter a lot to America. But there was no reason for Japan to agonize over those four little letters. Without any label, he still knew that he cared about him. Even knowing that he'd been through hell and back for Alfred, Japan still wasn't sure if he'd do anything differently. Because he cared about him, more than anything. If only America still felt the same.

Japan looked down at his right hand. The one that had hit America across the face, knocked him to the ground. It was almost too much to bare.

No one will ever see this side reflected

And if there's something wrong who would've guessed it?

He'd never had any intentions of hurting him. After hearing what had happened to Canada, all that Japan had wanted was to race home and comfort him. But America just wouldn't stop. He kept talking and talking, and he just wouldn't shut up. And although Japan had avoided Greece during the entire trip, and he knew that it just wasn't like that anymore, he couldn't stand the thought of his former lover being killed so brutally. He couldn't stand anyone else being hurt, not any more than they already were.

But hurting America, emotionally or physically - Or both in my case, Japan thought, cringing with regret - was unacceptable. It was hypocritical. The hand that had stricken Alfred burned with the memory, and he felt tears stir in the back of his eyes.

And I have left alone everything that I own

To make you feel like it's not too late, it's never too late.

His surroundings blurred as exhaustion overtook his weary brown eyes. Frowning, he rubbed them with the back of his hands. Not that it mattered; there was nothing left to see. Everything he had recognized of his former life and the life he had been trying to build in the midst of all this chaos was broken beyond recognition. Maybe even beyond repair.

Including himself.

Even if I say it'll be alright

Still I hear you say you want to end your life

He'd seen the coverings on the mirrors. He'd seen the way Alfred wouldn't look at him, wouldn't even look at his own reflection. It just looked too much like his poor slain twin. Despite all of the times he'd comforted America in the past, he knew that it would be useless to try now.

Now and again we try to just stay alive

Forget losing it like China. It'd be even easier simply to die, like all of those murdered nations who had no idea how lucky they were to leave it all behind…

Maybe we'll turn it all around

Japan winced at the thought, pressing his hands against the kitchen counter and leaning over it. No, he thought forcefully. He had things to live for. He may not have Vietnam, Korea, or even China anymore, but he did have family left. And he had friends, like Germany and Italy, maybe even Greece in a weird way.

'Cause it's not too late, it's never too late.

And he may not exactly have had America, but he hadn't lost him yet.

He hadn't lost all hope yet, either.

The world we knew won't come back

As if conjured by his thoughts, Alfred walked into the kitchen where Japan was sitting. The saying "speak of the devil" came to mind, but despite his disheveled appearance and the memory of the way he'd malevolently forced the knowledge onto Heracles, America was far from a devil. If anything, before the trip, when he was happy and made Japan happy, he'd seemed like an angel. But now, with the brief flash of surprise on his face when he saw Japan there, and the hurt that crossed his face before he looked away, he seemed like one who had been dragged down to earth.

"America," Japan said softly, then louder when the nation didn't seem as if he heard. But he acknowledged sadly that as America looked into the refrigerator he'd heard him, but still wouldn't look at him.

Japan cleared his throat to rid it of the painful knot. "Alfred. Please."

The time we've lost, can't get it back

America looked up slowly - the first time he'd looked directly at his "darlin'" since their fight - his eyes dark and empty. The void look in them prompted Japan to walk over suddenly. Before America even had time to look away, he was there and closing the refrigerator door so that there was nothing between them.

His hand wanted to reach up and rest on America's cheek, his lips wanted to taste his kiss, his arms wanted to embrace him. But he kept his hands clenched, his arms at his sides and his mouth pressed in a frown. He had to do this right. He wouldn't scare him away. "You don't know that when you called, I picked up so quickly because I was holding the phone, just about to call you. I was going to tell you about Greece being there. And I felt awful about lying to you." Feeling a blush rise up in his cheeks, Japan looked down. "I still do."

Looking back into America's eyes, they appeared dark and unmoved.

The life we had won't be ours again.

This shouldn't be so hard. Why must it be so difficult? Everything else was so messed up, and this was something that had seemed so right. Japan wanted to keep it. He needed to keep it. Gazing into America's eyes determinedly, he said softly "I never wanted for you to lose your trust in me. "

For a brief moment, something seemed to stir on America's face. His expression, for just a split second, had seemed pained. But his stoic mask returned, and he looked away sharply, as if looking at Japan for so long had been painful. Japan's gaze didn't budge, but America didn't look back at him.

This world will never be what I expected

And if I don't belong…

"Alfred," Japan said softly as America turned and walked away. The nation didn't glance back.

Even if I say it'll be alright

There had to be some way to make this right.

Still I hear you say you want to end your life.

That bright, naïve, cheery person was still inside of America, buried somewhere deep under rubble and memories. And no matter what had happened, what Vietnam had told him, what he'd seen, Japan knew that it wouldn't go away. It would have to break through eventually.

Now and again we try to just stay alive

And when it did, Japan would be right there.

Maybe we'll turn it all around

'Cause it's not too late it's never too late

He'd always be right there for him. Maybe it wasn't better for either of them, but he couldn't walk away, even if he wanted to.

Maybe we'll turn it all around

Things wouldn't be the way they were before, and probably wouldn't be better. But they could be different, maybe not in a bad way, right?

'Cause it's not too late it's never too late.

Japan watched America's back as he walked away. The suppressed tears spilled over, and he wiped one away before giving up on it. It was just useless to try and stop some things.

So he cried softly, for all of the nation's who were dead, all of the ones who were alive and afraid. For his broken family, his broken relationship. For all of the pieces that seemed like they could never be put back together again. For the stupid and stubborn hope that he knew would drive him to try to do just that anyway.

He had to do it. For himself, and for America. Because it didn't matter what he thought. It didn't matter what he'd said, or rather what he hadn't. He was sorry beyond words that he'd hurt America.

It's not too late, it's never too late.

He thought of their embraces, their kisses, their shared glances. And Japan knew that he loved him.