Russia gently lifted the letter, shaking as he read it. The same table that previously dripped with invisible tears was now stained with blood.

His Kiku was gone.

Forever.

For once, there was nothing Russia could do. No amount of threats to others who had taken him away, begs and pleas to his boyfriend who had left the scarf-wearing nation, forcefulness and violence and wars…nothing could bring his precious, beautiful Kiku back.

Ivan wanted to scream.

Instead, he punched the table in frustration, the glass breaking and cutting him, mixing Kiku's blood with his own.

Kiku had left him again. Permanently.

Over the years they had been together, Ivan slowly noticed Kiku changing. He became less carefree. He'd gotten quieter. But not in an actual quiet way. He talked and smiled just enough to mask how he was feeling, but Ivan knew something was up.

For a few days one time, Kiku looked really bad. He was pale. His eyes were tired and held no emotion. He was full of hate. Ivan could tell, because Ivan had been like that once.

When Kiku had left him that time, he thought it was because he hated Ivan.

He talked to England. Threatened him. He knew the fucking limey had fed his Kiku some sort of lies.

Eventually, Kiku returned to him. And things were almost back to normal.

Almost.

After a while, Kiku started becoming depressed again. Whenever Ivan left the house, he worried about Kiku. The other didn't eat very much, or talk very much. He'd stop trying to mask his feelings. And Kiku would suddenly act up at the smallest, most seemingly random things.

He would lash out at America, which had originally pleased Russia. Surely his Kiku was finally seeing sense about the capitalist bastard.

But then he noticed how Kiku would shy away from everyone and hide in his room when Ivan had people over. His friends, his drinking buddies.

So Russia stopped drinking, thinking that was perhaps the problem. It was hard, it was painful. His memories and flashbacks were clear without his vodka. But he would go through the pain. He would go through anything for Kiku.

But it still didn't help. The more and more Ivan stopped doing violent and detrimental activities, choosing instead to hang out with Canada and playing hockey or watch scary movies, the worse Kiku got.

Finally Japan snapped.

He left Ivan in the middle of the night without a word.

Then one day, he'd suddenly returned. His face was smiling. His eyes were bright. He seemed happy again. Ivan had figured he just needed time away. He didn't care why Kiku had left him, just as long as he was back.

Yet as he read the letter, everything made sense to him.

He'd admitted, it had been a stupid move to take Hungary's dare. He shouldn't have cared that she was calling him a wimp. He shouldn't have kissed a man that wasn't Kiku.

But the sex with Canada had happened before him and Kiku. It had happened because of Kiku, because the other had rejected him again and Ivan was sick of it. So he'd gotten drunk. Drunk and horny. And he'd slept with Canada, against the maple-loving nation's will.

He hadn't even thought to tell Kiku. He knew the Japanese man had been hurt when he had found out, but he seemed better after Russia had explained.

And England. England had no idea of his feelings of Japan. Japan was different; he was so much more than the rest. Ivan had broken and stabbed a few hearts before in the sake of advancing his nation, but he would never do that to Kiku. He loved Kiku. Ivan had never loved before, yet somehow he'd found the strongest love in a tiny island nation not too far from him. And Kiku returning that love had made him the happiest man alive.

If only Kiku had told him. Ivan could have cleared things up. But instead Japan had kept his anger and hate and jealousy and depression all contained in a tiny jar, opening it only when it was about to burst and emptying it just enough so that he could fill it back up later.

Kiku had been playing a game with himself.

The first strike was to see if Ivan noticed what was wrong.

The second was to see if Ivan even cared.

Russia knew he'd never been worthy of Kiku. He should have paid more attention. He should have done something. He didn't deserve the Japanese man.

But that didn't mean he didn't want to have him.

Kiku had been playing a game. And Ivan had lost.

Three strikes.

Three strikes, and Kiku was out.


Goodbye.