And in the night, Russia stays outside wrapped up in thick overcoats and color faded scarves and a hand woven blanket Greece once gave him. The merciless January chill means little to him now in this moment; the way his eyes sting, the way his nose reddens, the way the palms of his bare hands burn on the ice cold surface of the iron railing he refuses to let go . On the patio of his top floor Moscow apartment, he watches his people dance along his snow smothered streets. His children hold hands and promise silly things under the glow of lights and laughter; and from above, his tired old eyes soften and shine in the moonlight.

Tonight is the eve of the New Year, and (Mother)Russia is happy.

When he shuts his eyes, General Winter's embrace becomes gentle, familiar, welcome. He knows, he knows within the darkness of his eyelids that his youths now fill the many clubs of his night scene. His religious, the still faithful, line up for Midnight Mass. His families fill up tables, feasting in mirth despite the world wide recession.

Eleven times, the digital watch on his wrist rings eleven times. [1] The apartment behind him remains void of human presence, filled only with the rhythmic pulse of many ticking faceless clocks.

Tonight, his own table is empty.


She knit him kid gloves once, woven from the furs and the fabrics of their shared land. Warm, he remembers - they were warm despite being a few sizes too big, amateurishly made.

"You'll fit them one day, brother," she promised with her sheepish smile, "You'll grow to be big and strong, and no one will ever hurt us again."

"Already big." Little sister always interrupted, tugging at the tail ends of the elder siblings' coats. "Already strong."

He lost them. Centuries ago, he hid them away in the drawers of his hundred room house and never caught sight of those gloves ever again.


Greece is the first to visit, wrapping strong arms around his middle and kissing him on both cheeks. Greece does not hesitate to touch him, so Russia simply lets him.

At his guest's lethargic suggestion, Russia attends morning mass. Together, the two situate and separate themselves from the worshiping humans in the last pew of the church. Mimicking his people's traditions, Russia genuflects at the kneelers, while Greece sticks to his own habits rooted in his seat. Greece keeps his chin tilted down to his chest; Russia stands erect.

Though whether they sit or rise from their seats, Greece slumps against him, body constantly gravitating towards his and near sleep. With a subdued sigh, the northern nation merely keeps the coat on his companion draped across his broad, sloped shoulders. Keeps the hair from his tanned face, keeps the coldness at bay, large, daunting hands surprisingly practiced in their gentleness.

The end of the service arrives with a resounding bell chime, nearly overpowering Russia's soft spoken voice, "Come"; but thankfully, Greece fully wakes, blinking away the stubborn sands of sleep and stretching creaky limbs, before the old grandmothers church send glares in their direction.

Through a jaw popping yawn, "Sorry."

"It is no problem." His children walk in throngs around them. New snow and confetti remnants from the celebrations from the night before crunch underneath the soles of their boots. "You are not so used to this weather."

"Unfortunately." Another yawn, and Greece pauses in his stride to sloppily lean against a library's outer-wall. "Cigarette?"

Russia nods.

In the open morning air, smoke clouds from their menthol cigarettes drown out the divine incense still clinging to their skin. Greece's nose lazily digs into the creases of his scarf, heated nicotine breath traveling up and around Russia's freezing earlobes.

"You do not smell like vodka today," notes Greece smartly, his cancer stick hanging limp between his fingers. "You smell fresh."

A tilt of the head and a small vacant smile, "Thank you."


"Will they come?"


"Your family."

Breathe in. "They said that they might stop by."

Breathe out. "So they will."

Silence. The rush of cars on the streets.

"Do not be angry with me, Russia."

"I am not," says Russia, every word carefully calculated, every syllable a spec of burning ember, "I could never be."

"They will keep their word," repeats Greece steadily, murmured into the frost of Russia's winter coat. "Blood does not turn into water."

Russia remembers sunken cheeks and jutting ribs. Radiation burns. He remembers how his sisters' blood stained his hands for weeks and wet the soles of his boots. He remembers the fear and determination in their eyes as they wrenched themselves away from the grasps of his fingers.

He puts out his cigarette.


Text messages and formal phone calls of well wishing flood his cellphone throughout the day. Nations flit in and out of the Kremlin, some remaining longer than others. Gifts and tokens are given, received, accepted. The Baltic brothers share a quiet luncheon with him, France and Germany stop by for a brief chat. Diplomacy has him maintaining slant edged smirks and carefully firm handshakes with America, has him responding to England's phone call in calm, congenial tones.

Black and white suit and tie affairs, business driven and impersonal.

The sun kisses the broad line of the horizon when China steps in; and it is then when Greece places a hand on his shoulder and asks for the key to his apartment.

"Tired," explains Greece at Russia who raises an eyebrow but entrusts a spare key in his not-cousin's palm regardless.

"I'll be there soon."


Russia waits and works.

He files menial paperwork while China talks of trade and the West over tea. He rids imaginary dust from his desk until China leaves, until his President and Prime Minister enter his office, offer him a drink, and suggest that he rests.

Today has been long and busy. His eyes darken like the night sky when he nods in agreement to that sentiment, insides hot with vodka, and begins his trek home alone.


The smells of a feast reach him before he gains functional coherency past his pleasant alcohol buzz to fumble with the locks to his door. It swings open as he pauses at the knob, hesitant.

Belarus blinks impassively up at him.

"Sister," Russia affirms numbly, and stumbles back a step into the snow when her slender arms wrap the best they can around his barrel chest, when her face buries into the lapels of his coat. In an automatic gesture, he smooths the pale locks of her hair down back into place, melts the snowflakes that come stuck to her scalp with the extra heat of his hand. Stiffly, he guides them both inside. "How did you...?"

"Ah! We didn't mean to bother you, brother. It's – you see, Greece let us in on his way out," apologies Ukraine from the kitchen, his apron much too big on her, her smile much too small, "I didn't mean to intrude at such a late hour. We can leave, if you -"

"No." A gulp shoves the lump in his throat away. His table is set; his tv is on set to a popular comedy show. Newly knit gloves await him atop the fireplace. "No. You may stay for dinner." Tentatively, he looks at her, only to glance back down at Belarus' form the next second. "Please."

He can feel her warmth in her voice, and Belarus against his chest, "If that is what you wish, Vanya."

Together they share the first dinner of the New Year.

[1] The country of Russia encompasses eleven time zones.

:/ Apologies for any inaccuracies regarding Russian tradition/culture. I don't mean to offend, I wrote this in a hurry lajsd.