Ramble #1: When I fade, when I grow weak, I don't ask you for help, only that you remember me as I used to be.

~0o0+0o0~

"England?"

"What is it, lad?"

"When I grow up, I wanna be just like you!"

The United Kingdom stumbled behind the earth trench, a blossom of red seeping through his pants, face smeared with ash and soot. Tiredly, he slumped against the trench walls, sluggishly reloading his rifle, fingers trembling as wave after wave of pain wracked his lithe form.

He could feel his empire falling... His heart had been heavily bombed, his treasury bled dry, his Asian colonies were beginning to doubt his power as they succumbed to Japanese rule... Even as he locked the bullets in, he could hear Malaya cry out in agony, the little girl screaming in outrage as Japan advanced upon neighbouring Singapore.

"I won't allow it..!"

His unfocused emeralds trailed over to the youthful nation at his side, covering for him as he took a moment's breather. The boy's- no- the man's determined sapphires locked on the battlefield and his defined jaw set as he shot down their enemies. That same stance, the same eyes, the wasted battlefield around them... All that they needed was for England to be the one America was aiming at, and some rain.

Yes, rain would be good.

It seemed so long ago, when the little colony had last called England an amazing nation, someone he would want to become, someone he was proud to be the little brother of.

"I'm not your brother anymore! Realize that, England!"

And then... And then he was lost. And freedom had sure done the young nation an extraordinary amount of good, quickly amassing a great deal of wealth and an admirable military force (not that he'd ever admit that out loud). The other nations had learnt to fear him, respect him and his opinions...

"Why can't I shoot? God damn it!"

... While the Great British Empire slowly declined, faded into the background, fell behind his unwitting successor, stumbling as he tried to regain the lead. Proud as he was, England wasn't about to deny the reality of the situation. America was easily the richest country in these tough times, cleverly remaining neutral and using his immense wealth to 'help' both sides of the battle, profiting from them all.

Until Pearl Harbour, when Japan brought him over to the Allies' side, awakening a sleeping tiger. Oh Japan, yet another rising nation. He was by no means young, but he had been isolated for so long and had rebound with astonishing speed, quickly conquering Eastern waters and invading China. England's heart clenched with empathy over China's plight, though only able to imagine what it was like for China to be betrayed twice by his former charge, he could imagine to pain of his ally as he slowly faded from the battles against his 'successor'.

In with the new and out with the old, huh?

He felt as though he and China were the white noises over the radio, distracting and annoying, unwelcome and detracting from the true broadcasts that were America and Japan. Lingering behind like an unpleasant odour with no source, and therefore could not be rid of.

"America," he began shakily, eyes still glazed as he attempted to focus on the ground before him, golden locks caked brown with the blood from his head.

"Holy mother of fuck!" cried the other as he ducked down, a single bullet whizzing a hole through the centre of his Nantucket hair. He began fumbling with a magazine from his utility belt, struggling to get it into the gun in his haste. Gritting his teeth in concentration, he finally replied, "Yea? What's up?"

"When… When I grow weak… Please remember me for who I was," in hindsight, he felt a little corny for saying such a thing in the middle of a raging battlefield to a guy who was only half-listening and probably didn't give a shit.

"Like what? A stuffy old fogey with too much tea and a tree up his ass? That's a pathetic thing to remember," America bit back with impatience as the magazine finally clicked into place, earning a triumphant grin from the nation as he swiftly turned back to the mayhem.

England snorted and managed a bitter chuckle. Yeah, he grinned, that's a bloody pathetic thing to be remembered as. With that, the fallen empire picked up his rifle and followed his companion's lead, easily sniping down a Nazi unit despite the fog over his eyes, crazed grin set upon his weary features.

~0o0+0o0~

"America…"

Beep… Beep…

"You used to be… so great."

Inhale… Beep… Shudder… Exhale… Beep…

"America?"

The tired nation let out another shaky breath, slowly peeling back his heavy eyelids, turning bloodshot sapphires to the man at his bedside to acknowledge his words. He shut them almost immediately, a violent spasm ripping through his frail form as his overly sensitized pupils were struck with the intense hospital lighting.

"E-E-Engl-gla…" the former superpower growled furiously in his throat, exasperated at his stutter and failing strength, calming slightly when England's cool, calloused hand began threading through his lifeless locks comfortingly. The elder of the two sighed, settling back to peel an apple.

"You know," the Briton began quietly, "I always thought I'd be amongst the first to fade after…"

Another tired sigh.

"How could this have happened to you? To all of you?" Arthur's voice was just over a whisper, hands stilling and lowering as his head bowed in mourning. America didn't have to ask who the others were.

"It was a mess," the hospitalized nation tried, "there wasn't even a victor… Just a…" violent coughing, curdling blood, "J-Just a ceasefire that never ended."

The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, soon to become the United Kingdom of America and the British Isles, maintained his silence, not trusting his voice just yet.

"You used to be so great…"

"A-America… I…"

A strangled groan clawed its way through the dying nation's already abused throat, his back arching with pain as cold sweat broke out upon his heated brow. Despite his situation, America grinned cheekily at the UK, "I love you too honey."

A poorly stifled sob escaped the Briton's lips, and Arthur raised a hand to wipe away the sweat on the American's brow with his kerchief. With no small effort, the dying man shakily caressed his lover's cheek with a bony hand, brushing away the tears that fell from his golden lashes. His eyes snapped open as an anguished wail pierced the air from down the corridor…

"不要啊! 日本, 不要走呀! 日本儿! 日本儿! 你回来呀! 我求求你。。。 求求你。。。"

"…Japan's gone ahead of me…" America murmured with a playful hint of dissatisfaction in his voice, which only caused England's sobs to escalate.

"Don't leave me again… Please…" England hiccoughed into the rapidly cooling hand cupping his cheek, pressing it there in a vain attempt to give the man some warmth, "you weren't supposed to go first… I'm older than you!"

"England," America began shakily, struggling against the lead weights that were his eyelids, hungrily drinking in the sight of his lover while he still had the chance.

"Y-Yea? What do you- What's up?" Here Arthur hiccoughed again, hands tightening almost painfully over Alfred's own, except that America had already lost sensation in that region.

"You can't help, England," America began, wincing as this brought a fresh assault of tears to England's emeralds, "I'm fading, it's inevitable. Just- Just remember Iggy, I was pretty… pretty awesome once. Don't forget the awesome hero that swept you off your feet, you hear."

"You… You sound like Prussia… Yes, I won't forget. I couldn't possibly," a gentle smile crossed his features at the look of pure contentment that graced the other man's hollowed face.

"Heh… Like Prussia, huh? Perhaps I could… P'raps I cou' co beh an… uh… haun' hyu," America murmured incoherently with a dizzy grin dancing on his lips, his hand disintegrating from within England's grasp.

"No… no… Don't go…Don't…" England's hands were still clasped together, almost as if in prayer to a god he didn't believe in, his trembling arms resting on an empty bed.

"It would seem aru," a quiet voice at the door whispered, throat hoarse from crying a few moments ago, "That once again, all that's left over the radio… is just the old white noise."

~0o0+End+0o0~

Chapter Word Count: 1436.

Chinese Translation: "No! Japan, don't go! Japan-aru! Japan-aru! Come back! I'm begging you... 'm begging you..."

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