If he wasn't wading through water, he was trudging through wreckage. If he wasn't coughing up dust, he was choking on radiation. His people were screaming and crying, and thousands were stranded, in no position to be heard.
Put simply, Japan was a mess.
He sat in the corner of a room full of displaced humans, all unable to return to homes that had either been reduced to rubble, flooded by seawater, or declared unsafe because of their proximity to the collapsing nuclear power plant. While there was shelter here, it was crowded and noisy. There was hardly enough food, water, and medical aid to go around, and everyone was tense at the thought of aftershocks.
China stared across the room at his little brother, still his brother, despite all that had driven them apart over the centuries. It pained him to see Japan so low, so destroyed, when he was usually so strong…
He ducked through the doorway, stepping outside, which did not give a pleasant change of scenery. The building was miles away from the coast, but an onlooker would not have been able to tell, because the water left behind by the tsunami made the island appear to end very close by. There were even boats making use of the new rivers and mini-oceans to search for survivors. Two nations were just getting out of one of the boats—one tall and blond, who was helping the shorter brunette, who was sopping wet, out of the boat—and they quickly approached China.
"Is there any room in there?" England asked, pointing at the building.
China shook his head. "It's as stuffed as a toy panda, aru. You found more survivors?"
"Mostly corpses, but a few, yes," Israel said, scowling slightly as she wrung water out of her hair. "There's so much floating debris, we almost didn't find them at all, but one little kid was waving his bed sheet out of his window."
"Even then, we couldn't reach them with the boat," England added. "Israel had to swim out and fetch them… There's so much wreckage out there; it's bloody incredible."
China nodded. "There might be room at the school, aru. Just up the street, aru."
"I'll go check," said England, hurrying off.
Israel leaned against the building. "How is he?" she asked.
China sighed. "Take a look around you, aru. How do you think he is?"
"I mean mentally, China. I've been slogging through him physically all day."
"I don't know, aru," China amitted. "He's not talking. He just sits there. I'm worried about him, aru."
"There's a lot of us worried about him," Israel said. "I ran into Italy earlier. He and Germany were going to the power plant. They think the rest of the reactors are going to blow, too. Hungary, Austria, and even France have doctors here, up to their elbows in patients. America's trying to raise as much aid money as he can, but the tsunami hit him, too."
"I don't think that he'll be able to 'hero' our way out of this one, aru," China said, cracking a wry smile.
"Yeah…" Israel shrugged. "There's something good in all of this, though."
"China stared. "What good is there in all this destruction, aru? Are you insane, aru? You're always talking about ending violence, Israel, so what—?"
"B'vakasha, sheket, China," Israel interrupted. "Let me explain. Everyone who's here now—you, me, Germany, America, England, and everyone else—on any other day, we'd be fighting, arguing; we wouldn't be having anything to do with each other, not in a good way, at least. Now, see what happens if one of us is in real trouble! We all pitch in to help him as much as we can. Times like this are horrible, but they bring out the best in us."
China thought for a few moments.
"…I see your point, aru," he said. "It's still a terrible thing to happen, aru."
"I won't argue with you there," Israel replied.
England came running back towards the two Asian nations.
"There's space in the school," he said. "Switzerland says that they'll clear out another classroom for us."
Israel nodded. "Let's get these folks inside. China?"
China looked back towards the building, where he knew Japan was still sitting. Then he turned back to Israel and England.
"Let's go, aru," he said.
A.N.: Israel says "B'vakasha, sheket," in this story, which basically means "Please, be quiet," in Hebrew.
The idea for this little one-shot came to me right after the current disaster in Japan began. I'd only just heard that there had been an earthquake and tsunami, but when I got on the computer the first headline I saw was about other countries, from all over the world, sending aid. So I said to myself, "This is such a horrible thing, but also an oddly wonderfully good thing, because it makes everyone help each other." If only we didn't need a disaster to get us to help each other out!