The Rose of Sharon

| Axis Powers Hetalia | Korea; Taiwan | T |

Sometimes Taiwan is woken by the nightmares that really are screams, but she knows better than to fall back asleep. Instead she opens her door just wide enough for her to slip through, as to not wake anyone else, and tiptoes across the hallway.

She does not bother to knock. This has happened often enough.

Korea is sitting up already, and when his door opens up he turns his head, his long face illuminated by the moonlight, to face her, as if he's been expecting her. (And, she thinks, he probably was.)

"Was it bad?" she asks softly.

He nods wordlessly and she makes her way over to him.

"What was it about?"

Korea looks away. "Same old thing," he mutters. "Only…it was Aniki who shot me, not – not Hyung."

"It was the battlefield?"

He gives her a nod of affirmation. It could have been any battlefield, on any day, in any month of those three agonizing years. Being young then – possibly only about eleven in human years – and being forced to fight on a bloody field to the death. That, he could handle. That, any of them could handle – they were nations, after all. But what he could never handle, the reason she'd come to his room and let him talk it out, was what would happen next.

Because that was when his brother would come out, holding a gun and pointing it at him.

"I-I thought I could handle it this time," he says, his face unusually somber. "I mean, I've seen it so many times before, over and over." He laughs, and it isn't his usual sunny laugh. "But then it isn't Hyung who's holding the gun. It's… it's China, and you know, it just..." He looks away again and buries his face in his hands.

She resists the urge to hug him. Hugging would not work. It never did.

"Hey, Mei?"

Taiwan looks down, knowing he's going to say more. "Hmm?"

He does, only this time it's not what she expects.

"Why did there have to be two of us?"

She looks at him – although she was always older by a few centuries, always his nuna, he towered over her, despite not being a hundred years old, even. She remembers Korea – not North, not South, just one unified country – she remembers him, back in Japan's house, comforting himself, comforting her. She remembers the end – Russia and America leading him into a bamboo forest, China waiting outside, a scream. Two little boys: one in red, one in blue.

The one in blue had been South Korea.

For one being born in wartime, he'd aged fast. America had taught him how to handle a gun, and he'd adapted fairly well. Soon he was taller than her, taller than her brothers. He'd loved China dearly, despite being his enemy, and even as his – their allies declared this fatal, dangerous, she'd understood.

She'd loved China like that, too, before that uprising happened.

"What do you mean?" she inquired, softly. "If Russia and America hadn't – hadn't interfered," she put forward, "You wouldn't be standing here, would you? You wouldn't have met Kiku, or Xiang, or Lien, or Yao. Or me."

"Yes," Korea replies, simply a 'yes,' and when his 'yes' isn't hyperactive at the mention of China's name she knows he is dead serious. She knows he's thinking of the sunken warship, the recent gunshot wound in his leg – it will probably leave a scar, they said – both "presents" from his brother.

"Perhaps," Taiwan tries again, "Perhaps there was always meant to be two of you."

His eyes flash, and he bends his head to look her in the eye. "What do you mean? Are you saying we'll never be unified again?" He'd heard of the first Korea from her, how cultured he was, how nice and warm and friendly he was, how deadly he could be in battle because he loved his people. Clearly his sister missed him. Could nations come back to life? Would that happen in light of a possibility of reunification?

"No! It's just that – I mean – uh…" she trails off. "Well, look at jiejie," she suddenly adds. She looks him in the eye again, and silently, she tells him things that had happened when he was still very young, too young to remember: Vietnam waking up and screaming at the sight of her new 'sister;' a doppelganger. How she'd almost died by killing South Vietnam, how their fragile family had been ripped apart even more.

"There's only one of her now, isn't there?" Taiwan says, finally. "And Gilbert and his brother." Fire; the end of the war, being taken away from his brother. Snow; the fall of the Wall, reuniting with his family. And Prussia – East Germany now – was still around and kicking.

Well, they and the Italy brothers were unified countries now, so did that mean South Korea wouldn't…

"And you and China?" he replies sharply, drawing himself out of his thoughts. He didn't like to think about what might happen.

She stiffens visibly. "Don't say that," she reminds him. "You know what they think of me."

Korea doesn't say anything for a while, and neither does she (which is odd, she thinks later, considering that in their family – or as much as they can be called a family, now, anyway – they're the ones who never shut up). They know, despite the fact that they love her as herself, as Mei, other nations are not especially fond of her government.

"But your point still stands," he finally says. "There are two of you, and neither of you is dissolving. Maybe it was always supposed to be that way."

"Contending for power?" she spits out. "Being forced to live away from everyone?"


"At least the freaking U.N. recognizes you!" she cries out.

"Shush," he says. "You'll wake them," he adds, hearing Vietnam groan through the thin walls. And besides, he says silently, this was never about comforting you, was it?

She bites her lip. "Your brother still loves you," she says finally.

"Of course he does. I think. I mean, he hasn't actually tried to kill me yet. Well, not recently, unless you count that nuke…"

"Do you think," she asks softly, "That – that China and I could…"

"Go to war?" he prompts.

"No!" she cries out again, then lowers her voice again. "Reconcile, I mean. Without…y'know, dissolving." He knows, after all, about the way China tells her to come home, willingly, so that they can resolve this peacefully, so that nobody had to die, so that no war had to happen.

He doesn't say anything for a while. "I don't know about my boss," he says in a low voice, "But–" here he gives her a real, wide smile. "As me? I think you can. He's your brother after all. He's mine, too. In a way. But, uh, yeah."

For a while Korea thinks she's going to cry. "Thanks," she says. "You and North, too. I mean, he's kind of my brother too, but he's more your brother than anything. I mean, you know what I mean." She gives him a brilliant smile. "I-I'd best be getting back to my room," she says. "Sleep well."

"Fat chance," he snorts. "It's three in the morning."

Taiwan's eyes widen at this and she darts back to her room muttering about beauty sleep and how she never gets enough of it, slipping him a "Good night," before closing the door.

He smiles fondly and checks the clock. One forty five. But then again, he probably wouldn't have had any nightmares anymore, anyway.

Obligatory Omake:

"Lien," Hong Kong says at breakfast, "You don't look like you got a lot of sleep."

"Shut up," their sister says, although what Hong Kong says is apparent: her usually tidy hair is messy and loose, and her eyes have bags underneath.

"Did anything happen last night?" Thailand asks cheerfully, handing out cups of tea.

"I don't know," Vietnam grumpily replies. "The one day we actually all decide to sleep here is the one day I can never get sleep at all. I kept thinking people were talking in the other room." She glares at Korea. "And since nobody was sleeping in the room on my left, it was you, wasn't it?" She pauses for a second. "Now that I think about it, Mei, you were there, too!"

Korea grins.

"What?" China looks affronted and looks ready to faint. "Already? My poor siblings! At such a young age, too…"

Japan rolls his eyes. "I do wish you wouldn't jump to such conclusions," he says, the annoyance obvious. "Perhaps you were just imagining things, sister. Or perhaps the walls of this house are just too thin." Another jab at China, who, thankfully, ignores it.

"Yes, that must be it," says Taiwan, smiling. "Now, about that movie we were going to see…"


I don't know. I really don't know.

This is me trying out a new theory - that Korea was one unified nation up until the Cold War, where everything went to hell and Yong Soo and his brother were born. But seeing as Italy has two personifications and I don't see anything exploding just yet, I don't know. This whole representation thing can get confusing (if Ancient Rome, Ancient Egypt, and Ancient Greece all fell and were replaced by their (grand)sons, why did the Ottoman Empire just get a name change? Stuff like that)

And I like Korea/Taiwan. Shut up. It's one of those pet pairings you can't help but like. And I like the fact that it would probably drive the rest of the Asians insane. However, this may be platonic or romantic depending on whether you've got your shipping goggles on.


"The sunken warship" means the warship that was sunk by a missile (believed to be North Korean) last March, which I believe I also wrote about (in "We Are the World" I think /shameless story plug). "The gunshot wound" was meant to represent the South Korean island that was nuked by the North recently (the name escapes me at the moment). The Rose of Sharon is the national flower of South Korea. I tried having a more symbolic title, but what the hell, I'm terrible with titles.

I sweaaar I'm working on my longfics. to the stars is admittedly my pet favorite, but I'm really trying. This was something to take my mind of finals (damn you to hell, biology.)

Lien is Vietnam and Xiang is Hong Kong.

And hey look, I'm contradicting myself! Now North Korea is male!

Anyway, review?