Disclaimer: You wish Hetalia belonged to me.

A/N: Catalyst is almost complete! Thank you for all of the support and sorry for the delay. School and stuff…you know how it is.

Mei's day at the dance company seemed better than most days. She and the other dancers practiced together and amongst themselves, perfecting their art. No one said a word to Mei and Mei didn't hear her name accompanied by some foul word. To any victim of bullying, this would be a godsend. However, to Mei, the sudden calm around her seemed strange, ominous even.

The girl put on her jacket as she prepared herself to leave from another day of hard work. It was the middle of summer and the weather was unusually cool. Mei was a pretty superstitious girl (she got this from Yao) so her suspicious view on the seemingly good day was furthered by the drab forecast.

As Mei gathered her belongings and began to leave for the day, she was stopped by an unexpected visitor to her dressing room. She looked at the hand that touched her shoulder ever so gently and followed the pasty hand up to the covered arm and looked at the calm face that stared into her eyes.

"Kiku," she said.

"Mei-chan, can we talk for a moment?"

Mei hesitated. The last time she was alone with her boss, the Japanese man tried to do the horizontal tango with her. And his motives to Mei were a little clear by the way he touched her shoulder. She jerked her shoulder from underneath Kiku's hand and shot him a glare.

"Sure… but I have to leave in a minute."

"It'll only take a minute. I promise."

Mei nodded and took a quick glance behind her to see if her glass soda bottle was still on her table. She couldn't be too careful around Kiku anymore.

"I have heard quite a few rumors about you this week, Mei-chan."

Mei raised an eyebrow. "Yes, and…?" she didn't mean for her words to come out with a nasty attitude, they just did. And plus, Mei didn't want to be bothered with Kiku at all.

"The rumors were regarding some…sexual escapades. I know what you do is your personal business but when it puts the company's reputation on the line, I have to address it."

"But Mr. Honda! Those rumors aren't true!" Mei interjected.

"…Do you have any proof? I have claims from quite a few company members."

"N-no…" Mei admitted with a defeated sigh. "But what makes their claims more valid than mine?"

"Similar stories from a lot of alibis," Kiku explained. That made sense. If everyone heard the same rumors then all of it would seem true, but in actuality the whole thing was a big misunderstanding. And of course, Kiku would believe everyone else. Life was so unfair.

"So…?" Mei prodded, wanting him to go on but not wanting to hear the words she knew were coming next.

"So, we have to let you go."

Mei literally felt her heart break. A potpourri of emotions roused in Mei's soul but she could not describe or show how she was feeling at this moment. The girl's mouth gaped only slightly but other than that, her face remained exactly the same.

"A-are you serious?" She asked. She knew the answer. Yes. Not only was Kiku a serious man, not capable of making a good joke, this was not a funny joke at all!

Kiku nodded slowly. "I'm sorry, Mei-chan. The rumors surrounding you were not a good reflection of the Taiyo Dance Company. So, I hope you understand."

"Yes, I do," Mei replied with a slight nod. "But one question: who will be the lead now?"

"Natalia-san. She is your understudy after all." Again, Mei nodded. This time she was silent and ignorant of the fact that her own "friend" and understudy was actually the one who caused this situation. After a moment of silence, Kiku said, "You have a week to move out," and he walked away.

The Taiwanese girl sighed and began to gather her small things. "It was fun while it lasted." She grabbed a bag and stood in the doorway looking at her posh dressing room. "There go my dreams," she murmured sadly before turning the light out and closing the door with a soft thud.

She silently wiped her tears away and rushed out the door of the place that did not accept her nor believe her. Mei wasn't looking where she was going and accidentally bumped into someone. "Ump! Sorry!" Mei exclaimed, keeping her head low and wiping her tears away with the back of her hand.

"Mei…?"

She looked up and met the violet gave of Xiang's best friend, Emil. "E-emil?" Mei shrunk. She seemed even more ashamed of her melancholy because of Emil's sudden appearance before her. The girl knew she had to suck it up but pretending to stay strong in front of her lost love's best friend caused Mei to break down even more.

Emil, shocked and confused, patted Mei's quivering shoulder lowering his voice to sooth her. "What's wrong?"

Through a mess of tears and snot, Mei lifted her head and stared at Emil with reddened eyes cause by tears of agony. She sniffled softly and Emil rubbed her shoulder gently as the doe-eyed girl began to tell her story.

"…I-I got kicked out of the c-company," she said, bottom lip trembling. Emil's mouth parted into a small "O" shape. He was not expecting that one. "Why?" he asked her, trying not to prod too much.

Mei lifted her head and her face contorted as if she smelled something foul. "Rumors. They said that I was sleeping with my boss." Her usually sweet and pleasant voice was replaced with one of resent and bitterness.

"Ah…" That was all Emil could utter. Especially considering he was the one who first spoke those virulent words. At that moment in time, when he confessed his love to Xiang, everything he said felt right. Now, however, he felt dirty and evil for saying those lies about Mei. And now her future was jeopardized because of his petty envy. Emil may have not been the worst person in the world, but he did have a soul.

"Mei?" She looked up at him with her wide and wet eyes. "I think I should be completely honest with you. I was the one who started the rumor about you"

In an instant, Mei's face grew red with anger as she began to punch the Icelandic teen relentlessly. He tried to hold her back, quietly protesting and asking her to stop but she would not cease the beating. How dare he spread dirty lies about her? How dare he blemish her reputation and ruin her future? And how dare he see her suffer everyday without feeling a hint of guilt?

Through tears and rage, Emil managed to grab the girl's fists, stopping her violent punches. "Mei…cut it out!" he yelled. She looked at him, mentally impaling his heart with black daggers. "If you stop trying to kill me, will you listen to my story?"

"Why should I?" Her words bit him.

"I know it won't make much of a difference now but…at least you can understand why I'm a dumbass."

Mei sighed and nodded silently. Her body became relaxed and Emil took this as a sign to let her hands go. "I loved Xiang." His words were soft and slow. Mei's face grew surprised. "I thought I did, anyway," Emil continued. "He liked you so much and I was so jealous that…I told him you slept with Kiku."

"Why?" Mei breathed. "Why would you do that?"

"Lust made me a fool," he admitted. "I remember seeing you come out of Kiku's office one day. That's why I drew the conclusion that if Xiang thought you were a whore, he would come to me…"

Staring blankly ahead, as if she was trying to erase a memory, Mei robotically said, "He tried to rape me. Kiku tried to rape me."

Emil was not prepared for the words that came out of Mei's mouth. He felt stupid and even more heartless than before. Usually cool, calm, and collected, Emil began to stutter, trying to find the words to express his regret.

"Mei, I…I…"

"You didn't know," She finished with a sigh. "It doesn't matter much now. Xiang doesn't want to be bothered with me…I guess I'll see you later. Thanks for being honest." The Taiwanese girl lowered her head sadly and maneuvered herself around the other and started to walk off.

"Wait…" Emil said, grabbing onto her wrist, without even turning around. "I know for a fact that he still loves you."

Mei didn't bother looking at him. Her words came out soft instead of harsh like she intended. "How do you know that?"

"Xiang and I…we haven't had a civil conversation since I told him that lie," Emil began. "And..and whenever we do talk, its mostly about how much he misses you."

"Really?" the girl asked and the Icelandic boy nodded in response. "He really cares about you, Mei."

Mei yanked her wrist from his grip with her unknowing strength, much to the surprise of Emil. Despite her strength, when Mei faced Emil, her expression remained solemn. "If he really cares, why is he acting this way?" she inquired softly.

"Xiang can be really stupid." That statement made Mei smile slightly. "I'm serious! He's probably just confused on the whole ordeal and has no clue how to handle these rumors so he just distanced himself."

Mei thought for a second. It sounded like Xiang; he was a quiet boy who rarely spoke to anyone about his feelings. The only people whom he spoke to were Mei and Emil and as of now, Xiang wasn't on good terms with either of them. Yeah…he must be confused…and hurt, Mei thought.

She looked up at Emil. "How do you think I can win him back?"

"Tell him the truth," the fair haired boy advised. "I'll do my part as well."

Mei beamed. "Xie xie, Emil." She patted the boy's shoulder and as he opened his mouth to say something, Mei dashed off wearing a huge goofy grin, leaving Emil in the dust.

"…How rude," he murmured, amusement on his face, before walking off.


Mei ran home as fast as she could. The girl had no time to wait on the bus so she opted into putting her dancer's legs into work. The talk that she had with Emil inspired her to go after Xiang and ask for his love one more time and hopefully, he would give it to her. First, she would go home, eat, and then primp to make herself presentable for Xiang. Then, she would go over to Xiang's house and hopefully everything would be perfect. Hopefully.

Within minutes, Mei approached her and Yao's humble abode and she when reached the door, Mei fumbled in her pocket and hurriedly retrieved her keys and opened the door. She kicked off her shoes and sprinted to the kitchen to where she presumed Yao would be.

"Yao-ge! I'm going out to−" Mei paused mid-sentence and could not prepare herself for the shock that sat at the kitchen table.

"Arthur?"