So wow, I've finally decided to post a new story. A Hetalia one, at that. This was inspired by a prompt on LJ along the lines of showing how the countries interact with their citizens. I would post this on there as well, but I don't know how... and I'm way too timid on the internet. OTL;; Ah well, hopefully my writing style has vastly improved from my last stories. It's been a good number of years... I hope you like it!
Disclaimer: I DO NOT OWN AXIS POWERS HETALIA OR ANY OF THE CHARACTERS FROM SAID SERIES. All depicted anthropomorphisms of countries are for entertainment purposes only and are not meant to offend.
Warning: Rated T for language and some mature ideas. I don't think that either of those are in this chapter, but they will be present in future installments.
His family was waiting for him at home, of that he was sure. He didn't want to face them – that, he was also certain of. The man hardly could face himself;he rubbed his eyes roughly, hunching into his chest.
So this was what being useless felt like. A little bit bitter… and heavy, like a weight sitting in the bottom of his stomach. Maybe that was why the man couldn't seem to get up from the bench. The feeling was akin to that of failure; he had experienced both that day. And he knew that it was his fault. It was his fault that he hadn't been able to find a solution to the sudden decline in advertising success. It was his fault he had let the team down when he couldn't organize them well enough to tackle the problem. It was his fault when his boss had called the man angrily into his office.
It was his fault that his job was now someone else's. And it had only taken one day. Three minutes, actually – it took his boss that long to explain all of the man's shortcomings and to release him from his position in the company. His last paycheck would come in a week. And then it was over. Just like that, he had become useless.
But these feelings were nothing compared to his dread of going home, facing his wife, who had been nothing but hardworking and loyal to him. Facing his two children, who were working hard in school to make bright futures for themselves. Revealing that he had failed them, along with everyone else.
It was almost too much to bear. He was lost, sitting there on that bench. And he knew he wasn't the only one in Tokyo to be jobless, but it sure felt that way.
Looking up, he saw around him men and women in business suits lugging briefcases. Students clothed in uniforms chatted amiably among themselves as they waited at stoplights, no doubt on their way home from school. Nobody stopped to look at him, nobody stopped to say anything.
He definitely felt alone, and that was just as bad as feeling useless.
The sound of car horns made him cringe, and he was shaken out of his thoughts. Sighing, he stood slowly – feeling his age in the way his back cracked and his legs stiffened. Maybe, he thought, maybe my time is just starting to pass… A depressing thought, but it was exactly what he felt.
Picking up his own briefcase, now not worth anything, he started to trudge down the sidewalk. It wasn't towards his home, however; he just wasn't ready. He didn't know if he'd ever be ready. But now… was just not the time. He needed to be alone. He needed to come to terms with his own failure before he could tell anyone else.
Besides, a bitter voice in his thoughts said, you're of no use to anymore, anyway. Maybe it was time for him to just disappear.
A bar seemed like a good place to do that. He found one on the corner of two not quite-busy streets. If one had asked him the number of blocks he had walked to get there, the man wouldn't have been able to answer. He was completely lost in his thoughts, and was surprised that he could even recognize what a bar was.
The inside was dark and smelled like smoke. The man coughed a little – he wasn't used to this type of place. The atmosphere, however, seemed to be an echo of his mind at the moment; empty, dark, and depressing. To him right now, it seemed perfect.
He sat down at the front, sliding onto the stool with an unfamiliar feeling – he had gone to bars before, but those days had been put behind him awhile ago once he had outgrown being a teenager and had gained a family. He had never missed it… and even now he couldn't get used to the feeling of being here.
The tender walked up to him, and, with a grim sense of masochism, the man forced himself to acknowledge that even this person in front of him had a job while he didn't. He bit his lip, tossed his yen onto the counter, and ordered.
The alcohol did not make him feel better, like he had been counting on it to do. It burned in the back of his throat going down, and immediately made his stomach rise up in protest. It had really been a long time since he drank anything, he admitted to himself. His vision wasn't blurry, but he could feel the effects of the drinks start to make themselves known. However, even with his mind spinning slightly, he couldn't forget his lost job. And he definitely couldn't rid his mind of the soon-to-be disappointed faces of his wife and children.
In fact, with the alcohol bringing up unpleasant thoughts in his head, the man was now hearing his own father's voice in his head.
'You can't honestly think you can live this way, can you?'
'I will not believe that you have brought so much dishonor to the family name.'
It had been awhile since that bitter voice had spoken to him. How fitting that it would resurface now. He left the bar, holding his head and willing everything to just disappear. Leave him alone. His situation was tortuous enough – he didn't need anything else. Images flashed through his head relentlessly, each one making him feel worse than the last. Walking down the sidewalk, he didn't care where he was going. He felt the curb drop out beneath him, but the man could only think of the voices and pictures flashing through his mind of his wife, his father, his kids, his boss…
"Sir?" He felt a hand on his shoulder, and let it guide him backwards. The man stumbled a little on the curb, letting his own hands drop from his face to see who had spoken. A young man stood before him, staring at him seriously. He had straight black hair which fell to the sides of his face neatly, and was small of stature.
"Sir, are you feeling okay?" the other man asked concernedly. He didn't hear him. Instead, he was distracted by the fact that it was now dark. He and the other person were illuminated under a streetlight. Cars passing by had their headlights on. He hadn't really been in the bar that long, had he? What was that, three hours? More? The man reeled slightly in disbelief. First he lost his job, and now he was leaving his family at home – alone at night? What kind of person was he?
The man who had pulled him off the street was trying to get his attention. "Sir? Sir? I'm afraid you need to answer me, otherwise I can't help you…"
"I don't want you to help me," the man said as soon as he could get his mouth under control.
"But you seem troubled."
I just lost my family's only source of income, and you think I'm troubled? How perceptive. Guiltily, he shoved that thought aside – this young man was only trying to help. "No, please… just… leave me be." He tried to smile at the other, but knew that it came out pained. He started to walk away, but the young man followed.
"At least allow me to escort you to where you are going."
Where was he going? Even he didn't know that. His first impulse was to go home… but that couldn't happen. He still wasn't ready. He wasn't sure he was ever going to be ready.
He couldn't do anything but heave a choked sigh, and then stumble forward into a jerky walk. The alcohol was affecting him worse than he had expected. The young man stayed silent as he walked beside him. In some corner of his bleary mind, the man realized that he was walking much slower than he normally would – patiently keeping in step with him. Did he really seem that needy? Or maybe the kid pitied him? He didn't want pity; he just wanted his job back!
With a grunt, he tried to quicken his pace and stand up straight, but suddenly the ground seemed to slant. He stumbled over his feet only to fall into the young man, who was now supporting him carefully.
"Maybe, if you tell me your address, I can help you get home. It is late at night, after all." The young man helped to steady him, but still had a hand on his shoulder, as if he were liable to tip over at any moment. Maybe he was – the man couldn't be sure of his own footing, but this just seemed all wrong to him. This kid was acting too concerned about him; about a man who couldn't even face his family because of his lost job. He was too pathetic – the kid had no idea what kind of failure he was talking to.
"Please, just… just go home," he choked out, brushing him off. To his surprise, the other man's hand wrapped around his wrist and held it tightly.
"Sir, I'm trying to get you home," the boy said gently, but firmly. "But why don't you tell me first why you don't want to?"
A dry chuckle came out of the man's throat unbidden. "Because I have nothing more to bring them." The admission hurt just as much as he thought it would. Now a silence hung between them.
"You lost your job?" the younger one asked quietly. At the other's nod, he developed a small frown, his brown eyes looking extremely troubled. "That doesn't mean you have nothing left to give your family; it doesn't mean that at all."
"They won't think that," he responded quietly. He glanced at the young man. The other's eyes, to his surprise, seemed to age as they looked at him.
"I'm disappointed that you have so little faith in your family."
"No, that's not it at all! My wife loves me, and my kids do, too! I would trust them with everything."
"So why aren't you with them?"
Those words hit home, and the man bowed his head in shame. He did trust his family with anything, and the look in the young man's determined face was clear: 'Why shouldn't you trust them with this, too?'
Because he was scared that they would reject him now, that was why. The dishonor he had brought with disappointment…
But… didn't that prove that he wasn't trusting them? That wasn't right – he needed to trust them. They were his world...
He felt awful once again, but for the first time that day it wasn't because he was feeling sorry for himself. It was because he had truly failed them by fearing their reaction.
The man looked up at the other, who was now smiling slightly. What a wise kid, he thought with respect. "My address is 1308 on Kishisono Street. My name is Hitoro Marufuji." He stood up tall this time without a hitch, and looked down at the man he now considered his near-guardian angel. "W-will you please help me home?"
As Japan left the house, Mrs. Hitoro bowed deeply to him, Marufuji's two sons gathered around her knees. "I cannot express my full gratitude towards you. Thank you for bringing him home safely."
Japan blushed and shook his head as he bowed back. "Please, I do not require thanks. It was a pleasure to meet him." He smiled at her. "You have quite an exceptional husband."
She returned the smile wholeheartedly. "I know – I am very fortunate. I'm not worried about his job status at all," she said quietly, holding her children close. "I trust him."
"He knew you would." Japan bowed once again and strode down the gravel walk. The children shouted out goodbyes to him as their mother closed the door.
At the gates, Japan turned around. Making sure that no one was watching, he took out a couple bills from his breast pocket and slipped them into the mailbox marked "Hitoro." He was glad that they had so much faith in each other, and Japan hoped that the extra money would help them along, also. Sometimes, people just needed an extra boost.
As the country continued on his way, he observed the neighborhood around him. For Tokyo, this was a nice area in which to live, with houses spread out enough to allow for a few patches of green grass in the yards around him. He smiled. His own home was very far away from here, on the other side of the city, but the island country would not mind the travel. He was just content knowing that Marufuji had made it home to his caring family. Japan knew that it was the type of life many would wish for. He also knew that Marufuji and his family would make it through these harder times with every ounce of their love and pride in tact.
The Japanese tended to have a skill for accomplishing such feats in any condition.
Hopefully it was actually (dareisayit) entertaining? Thoughtful? If you like it, I would love to hear your comments! If you hate it, review anyway! Constructive criticism is put up on a pedestal in the forefront of my mind to be worshipped.
Next chapter will be England. I don't know how many there will be, but at the moment I have around ten different one-shots planned. Thanks so much for reading!