So if you know anything about my body of work I pretty much feel a necessity to randomly write creepy or disturbing things from time to time. This is one of them. It is about 100% inspired by the poem down there. Yeah...that's about all~ Off to write updates for my stories, sorry. -laughs-

Disclaimer: I do not own Hetalia or anything by Stephen Crane.


I saw a creature, naked, bestial,
Who, squatting upon the ground,
Held his heart in his hands,
And ate of it.

I said, "Is it good, friend?"
"It is bitter - bitter," he answered;
"But I like it
Because it is bitter,
And because it is my heart."

~Stephen Crane - 'The Black Riders and Other Lines'


From time to time Russia's heart would fall out. It was something he had simply gotten used to. An embarrassed giggle, a sheepish smile, he would retrieve it and place it back where it belonged. The other nations would usually find it disturbing as always and then things would go back to normal. And so when it fell out again as it had many a time before he went through the usual routine. That giggle, the smile, and he reached down for it.

Then something that was utterly unlike anything he had ever experienced occurred. A hand other than his own reached forward and snatched it up. A cold chill went down his spine and he looked up with wide eyes at the one who had taken his heart.

America looked down at the heart curiously, a sort of twisted, amused smile twitching over his lips. "Is this...what I think it is?"

Russia straightened up, smiling tightly at the man who was his nemesis, his rival. "I think you know what it is America. But if it is not obvious, that is my-"

"Your heart?" America interrupted. "That's really weird. Everything about you is so freaky Russia."

The smile on Russia's face did not twitch so much as tighten further. "Thank you for your input. May I have that back?"

"Oh? Mm...I dunno, mind if I ask some questions first?" America gave him a bright flash of teeth.

Unease went through Russia but he could never show that to America. Not him. Anyone but him. "...If you must do something so troublesome, go ahead."

"Okay then! Let's see...Does it hurt when I do this?" America began to squeeze his heart and a sharp, cold pain went through Russia.

Staggering backwards, Russia gasped loudly and clutched his chest. The pain was immense and detached all at once. "Stop!"

"Alright." America stopped squeezing but did not loosen his grip. "So it does hurt huh? Weird. But I wonder. It's sort of bizarre isn't it? A normal human couldn't live with their heart on the outside. I wonder if we even need our organs? Would we die or could we survive without a few?"

America cradled the heart in his hands, smiling cheerfully at Russia. "Want to find out?"

The look of horror was impossible for Russia to stifle. "N-nyet, America. I have no interest in such things."

A look of surprised disappointment appeared on America's face. "What? Really? Well that's not very fun. Come on Russia... I know how much you like to learn new, interesting things! And you do like games. Games are all about risks. So let's play a game with your heart. A game of chance. If you're lucky and win you'll live!"

A twitch of annoyance went through Russia. "Do not be so stupid, America! Return my heart to me!"

America began to snicker. "No, sorry, it's just if someone heard you and didn't realize what was going on it sounds like you've fallen in love with me. Ah, that's funny..."

"...America, do not do anything hasty. I simply ask that you-"

America cut him off sharply. "We're going to play now. Ready or not here we go!"

Quite abruptly he squeezed Russia's heart very hard and blinding pain went through him. With a feeling of nausea he was passed out cold on the ground before he even knew what had happened.

~.

Consciousness came back slowly, sluggishly. Russia blinked blearily and tried to move. He couldn't. Well, he could move forward a bit before he was impeded by a force holding his arms back. With great difficulty he willed away the aching fog in his head and paid attention to his surroundings.

A table sat before him. Dining room table? Seemed like it. Not familiar... The room was fairly plain with an unused feel to it. Enough so that he got the distinct feeling this was not a place people came often. His head drooped groggily. Sitting in a very sturdy chair... Russia gave his arms a tug. They were pulled behind his back, chained or something similar so that he would be obliged to stay where he was seated. Perhaps if he rested a moment he could break whatever held him.

A soft chuckle from behind made his spine stiffen and the hairs on the back of his neck stand up straight. "So, you're finally awake. I'm glad! Thought I might have really messed ya up there buddy."

America suddenly appeared at his side, leaning on the table next to him, an easy smile on his lips. Russia frowned at him slowly. "...What do you think you are doing America? You do realize I will wring your neck for this, da?"

America crinkled his nose almost playfully. "Sure, sure. Look at that, the eternal smile is gone! Score one point for me! Come on, we're not done playing." He pulled himself onto the table, sitting and kicking his legs like a child. "So y'know, England likes to read me poetry. Says it improves me or something. I dunno, usually it's boring and I hate it and just zone out. But there was this one little piece of something that caught my attention that he read me, from some American poet to see if that would make me pay more attention, and I can't quite get it out of my head. It always sort of came and went but after seeing your heart like that today... Mm, well..."

What was America going on about? Poetry? Russia's heart? What was the connection? "I do not understand America. Release me this instant."

America looked at him, head tilting to one side, obviously ignoring the demand. "Do you think hearts taste bitter?"

"Taste...?" Russia let out a low, nearly feral growl. What was this nonsense? Russia did not mind playing games with America, and psychological games were his favorite, but this was just irritating. He wasn't making any sense. "And why should I care if hearts taste bitter?"

"Well I care and I can't get it out of my head. Someone super bitter like you should be a great test subject anyway!"

Something horrific, an unwanted realization, rested on the fringe of Russia's understanding. He pushed it back as long as possible before it came crashing down on him. "America, where is my heart?"

America gave him a winning smile and patted his shoulder. "No worries, it's safe. I'll even go get it for you."

Launching himself from the table and landing with a thump, America disappeared from sight for a moment. Russia felt anxiety closing in on him. This wasn't one of their normal games. He did not fear weapons any more than he feared time. But his heart... His heart... surely he needed his heart?

With a slight flourish, America reappeared and placed a platter before Russia and right in the middle sat his heart. "See? It's fine. For now."

America pressed his face close to Russia's so they were a ghost away from being cheek to cheek. "Looks good, doesn't it buddy? I saw a creature, naked, bestial, Who, squatting up on the ground, Held his heart in his hands, And ate of it."

Russia turned his head and America did not move so that his lips brushed against cheek. He craned his neck back to break the contact. "I thought I was supposed to be the insane one."

"...What kind of creature eats of its own heart? I wonder. Not out of hunger...Can it taste its emotions?" He smirked slowly at the heart. "Or is it simply out of desperation?"

Russia spoke slowly, carefully. "If you are so very curious, eat your own heart."

"But my heart doesn't come out like yours. Such a pity." America finally turned and gave Russia a slow wink as he produced a fork and knife. "Lucky for us yours does, huh?"

It became difficult for Russia to breathe and he tugged at his wrists. He felt sluggish, weak. "You drugged me."

America drew the platter closer to himself. "Maybe just a little bit."

Before Russia could say another word America pierced the heart with the fork and began to slice a piece off. Russia's mouth dropped open in a scream that came out as a raspy squeak. Agony, intense, piercing agony that felt eternal shot through his chest. Russia blacked out for a moment, and when he became aware of himself he felt something being pressed to his lips. Not thinking, he opened his mouth to ask what it was and felt something smooth shoved into his mouth. Copper... The invading taste of copper. He gagged and a hand clamped over his mouth.

America gave Russia a near psychotic smile. "Is it good, friend?"

Feeling faint and sick, Russia choked down the piece of his heart. As America saw him swallow he took his hand away and Russia began to cough violently. America watched him with a waiting, expectant expression. "...Well?"

"Go die you Capitalist filth!" Russia violently rocked the chair and America had to steady it.

"Tsk, tsk, such bad manners you have at the dinner table. Hmm, maybe you didn't have a good enough bite. Let's try again."

Russia started to protest and was stopped short as America began to cut off another part. The pain was excruciating and that time a scream did escape Russia. He violently banged his forehead against the table, tears stinging his eyes. Anything to distract from the pain, to make it stop again.

America ran his fingers through Russia's hair then grabbed it, pulling him up. A trickle of blood slid from a new cut in his forehead, rolling down his face. "You're tougher than this! Come on, open up!"

Russia tried to turn his head away and America tightened his grip. "Damn it, how can you expect to get your dessert if you don't eat your heart first?" A burst of laughter followed the words and the fork was violently thrust into Russia's mouth. "There we go, savor it this time and tell me. How does it taste?"

It was all Russia could do to not vomit. He almost did, just to spite America. But it seemed like a bad idea to throw up his heart, odd as that sounded. He ate the newest piece listlessly and did not speak. The pain left his world hazy and Russia silently begged it to take him under completely.

America frowned at Russia's uncooperative behavior. "...Well, if you're going to be like that I'll just try some for myself."

Russia let his head hang, unresponsive. Miffed, America cut a good portion and examined it on his fork. "'It is bitter – bitter,' he answered. Oh so very bitter...Let's find out, mm?"

America popped it into his mouth and bit down. Russia's head snapped back, violet eyes open wide, tears sliding down his cheeks. America watched him, chewing slowly. His pain was exquisite. "It doesn't really taste like anything but a heart. That's kinda...disappointing. Maybe the heart tasted bitter because of the blood. But that's kinda literal isn't it? Aren't poems all about the deeper meaning?"

Was that imbecile truly trying to talk to him about poetry when he was in so much pain he could barely function? Russia let out a sound so pathetic it disgusted him. America smiled and leaned in, licking his cheek. "Your tears taste salty. Perhaps they are bitter too. Oh...tears are the bitterness of our hearts. Now that's poetic!"

America cut off another small piece and slid it into Russia's mouth, where it slipped to his throat nearly immediately and almost choked him. He swallowed hard and grimaced. But his body was becoming utterly numb and the pain became a tolerable buzz. America continued to speak words Russia did not register, cutting up pieces of his heart and feeding them to him, sometimes taking a bite for himself. Russia chewed mechanically, swallowed mechanically, nothing more than a semi-responsive doll.

"One last piece...Hm, who to give it to?" America gave it a small lick and Russia shuddered. With great deliberateness he gave Russia the last piece then pressed his mouth to Russia's, tongue slipping into his mouth. Russia bit it hard enough to make it bleed and still he did not pull away. Once the piece of heart had been swallowed and America still showed no signs of pulling away Russia lapped at the nick he had left. The blood was indistinguishable in taste to his own.

Finally America retreated. "Still no response?"

Russia stared at America. "...It ish..."

The world seemed to spin and he slumped forward again. Dark and cold...Sleep, sleep's cold embrace. That's what he needed...And so he thankfully escaped America's quasi poetic clutches.

America cursed silently. He had wanted an answer of some kind. Well, if Russia lived he might get one yet. If being the key word...

~.

America left the meeting, joking with England a moment longer before walking away. Russia hadn't been there but he hadn't heard of his death or anything. Then again his boss might not want anyone to know. Still, maybe it hadn't been the best idea to just leave him where he had taken him. Oh well.

Finding himself lost in the unfamiliar building, America frowned and paused. Had he taken a wrong turn? A left where it should have been a right? As he tried to figure out where he had gone wrong he was suddenly aware of a presence looming behind him.

An arm slipped around his waist and lips were pressed against his ear. A voice breathily whispered, "It grew back."

A chill or a thrill of excitement went through America, he wasn't quite sure which. "Oh yeah?"

"Quite monstrous, isn't it? I do wonder if it is my old heart rejuvenated or a new one...Wouldn't it be interesting if you had two hearts now? One that is yours and one that is mine? Tell me if you ever feel a double beat." America shivered as a tongue traced along the shell of his ear. "That truly hurt you know. I will find a way to pay you back in kind."

"Well, I figured that was always a risk." America smiled lazily at nothing.

"Oh but America, you have never hurt me so very intimately before. Tell me, did you come to understand that damned poem better through the taste of my heart?"

"I'm not gonna lie, I don't think I'm much of a poetry person. It goes right over my head. And you know, you never did answer my question. How did it taste? Is it good, friend?"

Russia smirked and let his hand slide up to America's torso, letting it rest right above his chest, hoping for a double th-thump, th-thump. "It is bitter – bitter, But I like it Because it is bitter, And because it is my heart."

~End