Characters: China (Yao), Japan (Kiku), South Korea (Yong Soo)
Bunny's note: This story includes homosexual relationships and homophobia.
Disclaimer: Wait, why am I doing a disclaimer? Hetalia Axis Powers is mine because I wrote history and stole the copyright from Himaruya-sensei.
The corridor was dark, lit only by a single flickering oil lamp, the silent veils masking the sound of soft footfalls as two boys padded across the wooden floor. The older of the two was ten-year-old Kiku; the other his brother Yong Soo who had just turned eight.
The night was cloudy with barely any moonlight penetrating the windows along the corridor. Mother and father should have been asleep long ago and big brother Yao should have come to say good night. None of this happened. Neither said a word, yet their thoughts were the same: 'where was father? Where was mother? Where is my big brother?'
Somehow, they didn't think they would like the answer.
The boys loved their brother. Although he was eighteen (a very grown up age), he always had time for them, always stopped to bandage a scraped knee and comforted them when they had nightmares. Sometimes (and these times couldn't help but be numerous), they felt their brother loved them more than their parents ever could.
"Absolutely not! I will not hear of such a-… a foolish idea!" Their father's voice tore through the dark veils, causing both boys to freeze in their tracks.
"But father, please at least tell me why you do not agree." Yao's voice, desperate, pleading seemingly cracking under strain. He didn't need his father to tell him why, he could practically write a book listing down every single thing that was wrong, but asking for reasons gave him hope, however empty they might be.
The patter of bare feet on wood intensified as Kiku and Yong Soo hurried towards their father's study where a long sliver of light sliced the oaken floor apart.
From their position, the interior of the room was thrown into stark detail: father's huge form paced furiously, his footsteps thumping vigorously; mother sat uptight, rigid, arms crossed, lips pressed into a thin line; Yao had his back to the door but they didn't need to see his face to know its pale, sweat-slicked desperation.
"Yao," harsh, icy voice which did not belong to a mother, "your father and I will on no account agree to your idiocy. Ivan Braginski is a foreigner. You know very well what the foreigners have done to us. They are horrific, barbarians who have looted and plundered from us and left us in ruins! Above all, this-this foreigner is a man!"
"Are they fighting again?" Yong Soo's voice was barely a whisper, but it carried over the outbreak of yelling streaming steadily from within the study. Kiku did not answer.
Ever since Ivan Braginski had walked into their lives, there was always fighting: their parents fought with their brother, their brother tried reasoning until he too cracked and started shouting (this was terrifying in itself for they had never seen their brother lose his cool) and somehow, Ivan Braginski was caught in the tangled mess.
To Yong Soo, Ivan Braginski was rather like an interesting specimen at the zoo: he had blond hair, unlike his own dark tresses, pale lilac eyes (eyes that were fascinating and almost demonic to any small Asian child), and had to be at least six feet tall (a head taller than their father).
Not too long after he had met him, Yong Soo had decided that Ivan Braginski was some sort of alien life-from which did not belong to the naïve, self-centered world children inhabited. He liked to touch people, it seemed, and his favorite 'touch subejct' happened to be his big brother Yao. He was always putting his arm around big brother Yao's shoulder or his waist. Yong Soo found this rather disconcerting: no one, absolutely no one was allowed to touch you, save for family. Still, big brother Yao didn't seem to mind too much; he complained that Ivan shouldn't do such things in front of him (Yong Soo), but he didn't push him away, as his parents said he should, so that probably meant that Ivan was in some way related; but how could he be related when he didn't look anything like them?
Yong Soo often wondered what big brother Yao and Ivan Braginski did when they were alone. He was not allowed to be around when big brother Yao was with 'the scary man' (as Yong Soo called him): Kiku would miraculously appear and drag his away. He had asked Kiku what they did once and his only answer was an evasive 'talking'. This, he found rather odd; he simply couldn't comprehend why people could sit for hours on end, moving only their tongues. Talking was a grown-up sort of thing, which Yong Soo was certain his big brother never engaged in (he was his brother, for God's sake, not a grown-up!). Surely it was a lot more fun outdoors, where there were other children to play with? Even the boats by the river were more interesting. Somehow, Yong Soo had a faint suspicion that Kiku was lying. He would have liked to ask big brother Yao himself, but Kiku said it was rude.
From within the glowing walls, he heard his big brother say something, an inaudible, miserable mutter. His father exploded.
"Idiotic boy! I don't know where I went wrong with you! Hasn't anything I said gone into that thick skull of yours? You are not leaving, on any account. You are the oldest son, for God's sake, you're eighteen! Old enough to earn a living, old enough to be thinking about marrying a good woman and having children! How can you prove yourself to be a great man if you have such preposterous ideas?"
"Yao," their mother spoke again, her voice gentler, almost persuasive, "you're not thinking this through properly. Have you considered your future? How would you live in a world which hates you? Your father and I cannot hate you, you're our son after all, but two men being together is just…" she shuddered, "…just so wrong."
Kiku felt a soft tug on his long sleeve and jumped slightly. Yong Soo's eyes looked eerily opaque in the dim light of the corridor.
"What does mother mean?" He whispered, "Why is it wrong for two men to be together?"
Kiku stared at his younger brother, lost for words. He felt his mouth go dry. What should he say? What could he say? That men were supposed to marry women and have children afterwards? Should he perhaps tell Yong Soo 'big brother Yao is wrong to love another man and should marry a woman instead'? That was of course, the logically right answer, but Kiku couldn't bring himself to say it. If he did, it would be the same as admitting that big brother Yao was wrong, and he couldn't, wouldn't believe that big brother Yao could ever be wrong. Big brother Yao was the good boy of the family, helpful, caring and loving. He could never be wrong!
It was strange and uncomfortable for the ten-year-old to think of two men getting married, but these weren't ordinary men; one was his brother and the other, his brother's lover.
No, that couldn't be right! 'Lover' was a word used for a woman whom a man loved, not a man whom another man loved!
Why was life so confusing?
"I think it's ok though," Yong Soo pressed on, "mother always told us to love everyone. She said love should be given to all, even the poorer children down the street. Surely aniki is right to love a man too?"
So young, so innocent, childish little brother.
Kiku knew too much, learned far too quickly. He had always been able to pick up hints, always been able to read between the lines, always been admired for his apparent gift at reading the atmosphere. Now, he wished he couldn't. How he wished he could just shut his eyes and tell himself that all was well, like Yong Soo, or be blatantly ignorant of the painful grimace big brother Yao wore whenever their parents mentioned 'the foreigner'.
Maybe, if Kiku couldn't read expressions quite as well, he would find it easier to copy his parents and reject his brother's love for Ivan Braginski. After all, a good son would follow his parents' example.
Yao's voice again (and how glad Kiku was that he couldn't see his face).
"I wish I were a woman instead." his voice was low, a pale whisper, and yet, everyone heard it. For a moment, there was silence, eerie ghostly silence. Kiku could hear Yong Soo's shallow breaths, terrified little heart thumping violently while his chest barely moved.
"Very well then," their father's voice rang out. "If you want to be a woman so badly, you can get out of my house."
Silence, silence again, but this time, tangible, sticky, and suffocating; then,
"Aniki!" The grown-ups froze as the study door burst open and Yong Soo barreled straight into his brother's lap. "Aniki, I don't want you to go! You're a really, really nice big brother and you bandage up my wounds for me and read me stories and make really good dumplings and I don't really care if you don't let me swim in the river or if you won't buy me a new kite or if you love a man, but I don't want you to go and I- I-…" Yong Soo began hiccupping into his brother's robe.
Yao's eyes slid to the doorway where Kiku stood, horrified at having been discovered. Their father was gaping, staring in stunted disbelief at his two other sons.
"How long have you two been there?" his face was an ashen gray.
"Umm… well… not so long… we uh…" Kiku began, stuttering wildly. Yong Soo cut across him.
"We heard everything!" He wailed with renewed fervor, "Papa, I don't understand! Why is it wrong for aniki to love the scary man? You and Mama always said to love everyone and aniki loves everyone like that boy who coughs all the time and the woman with no house like ours and the scary man too!"
"Yong Soo…" Yao began gently, petting his brother's back, "… it's not what you think. I'm sure…"
"Aniki, I don't understand what you say either!" Yong Soo was reaching a rapid crescendo, "I like being a boy very, very much. Being a girl is so silly! You have to wear those really long dresses and tie up your hair which is very boring and stupid. Girls don't get to play in the river; they just have silly little dolls! I like being a boy, aniki and shouldn't you be really happy that you don't have to be a stupid girl?"
For a while, no one said anything, then, wordlessly, Yao picked Yong Soo up with one hand and walked out the room. Kiku followed silently.
I am just a child, please don't hurt me.
Don't let them come near me
Or take me away, to the far and silent land
Which grown-ups inhabit.
Bunny's note: Hello reader =) you may have found this story boring, confusing or both. If you have any questions, feel free to ask. Constructive criticism is appreciated.
As you probably noticed, I dropped Yao's 'aru'. I've always found it rather cute, which doesn't really seem to suit the mood of the story.