It's seven o' clock in the morning on August 5, 1945.

America doesn't want to do it, he really doesn't, it's just that his boss said yes and he has no choice but to go along with what he says. He knows the consequences of such actions, and while said actions may finally bring an end to the war in the Pacific, he's not sure if he can handle the repercussions and the guilty feelings he's sure to start getting in no time at all.

He doesn't want to do it because he really, truly, does like Japan—he has nothing against him in particular, just against his boss and the pilots that wrecked his Pearl Harbor, his naval base. Japan has never done anything to him; no, no, just his people, and Japan really can't be blamed for what they say or do. They have free will, after all.

He doesn't want to do it because he's afraid of what the other nations might think, of what they'll say about him behind his back, of what they'll do to him for making such a big decision. Will they still think him a hero after the villainous acts he's being forced to commit? Can he still call himself a hero, knowing what he's done to a friend? What will England think of him, now that his hand is forced in a matter he never wanted to deal with in the first place? What will France think? China? Russia? His own brother, Canada? Will his fellow Allies just turn and walk away like he did to England all those years ago? He's not sure if he can handle being hated, despised, ostracized from the free world for eternity because of an order from his boss.

He doesn't want to do it because lives are lives, regardless of their nationality or past, and what others of their race have done shouldn't affect their own lives; it's just not fair. But America's a country, and countries must do what their people want, what their people choose, even if they don't think it's such a good idea or they just don't want to go along with it. He knows that Japan's involvement in the war is his boss' idea, and in the Land of the Free the story is the same, and he'd much rather just sit down with Japan and try to get him to talk his boss out of the war. But that'll never happen—it's wartime, not time for peaceful negotiations.

It's seven o' clock in the morning on August 5, 1945, and America is alone in his room, huddled underneath the blankets despite the raging heat of late summer and his severe lack of an air-conditioned house. He makes a mental note to call an electrician before poking his head out from under the sheets and staring at the ceiling. Unable to stop it, or just unwilling to try, a lone tear escapes his sky blue eyes and slides down his face, landing on the bed sheets and leaving a small, circular stain.

Only ten hours left before America becomes a mass murderer.

But it's not just ten hours, no, not at all, because his government isn't planning one, but two attacks on Japan, and there's a part of him that wants to warn his Asian friend, to warn him of what is to come, but another part of him that says, "Fuck it. He attacked you. Let the bastard pay," and he's not sure which side is his hero side, his good side. Hell, he's not even sure if he has a good side anymore, because he sure as hell can't differentiate between what's truly right and wrong right now.

On one hand, he can execute his power as a country and stop the bombings of Japan, effectively making him a hero for Japan and his people, and maybe the threat of a looming attack will be enough to instigate peace talks; on the other hand, he could go through with the attacks and be the hero for his hundreds of millions of Americans, and his people wouldn't hate him and they'd love him love him love him because he spared American lives for the small cost of millions of dead Japanese.

That's the thing, though. America has Japanese people that are citizens of America, citizens of him, his people, his children, and they might have family back home that would be killed in the blast, not to mention the fact that he knows Japan has Americans over in his lands, whether they be visiting or permanent residents, and America doesn't know whether or not it's worth it. Surely being in Japan during the war doesn't make them enemies or traitors, right? They're just… they're just there. They can't help it.

Nantucket quivering as pathetically as his bottom lip, America looks over at his clock and feels the back of his eyes sting, burning with the heat of unshed tears that he's almost ready to let loose, no holds barred.

It's ten o' clock in the morning on August 5, 1945.

Only seven hours left before America becomes the very thing he swears to oppose.

America sits up and hugs his knees to his chest, burying his mouth in his kneecaps and blinking away tears that shouldn't really be there because he's a hero and heroes don't cry, no, never, not even when they know that they're about to be responsible for killing millions of their friend's children. He vaguely wonders what Japan is doing—is he in the cold North, where the weather is freaky even in summertime, or is he perhaps in the warmer, more tropical South, enjoying the livable nighttime climate before going to bed, since it's one in the morning over there? Maybe he's already in bed.

Not that it truly matters where he is, because in seven hours, in twenty-five thousand, two hundred seconds, he'll feel every fucking death no matter his location because that's the price of being a country, that's the price of virtual immortality. During the American Revolution, when America was just a teenager trying to prove his worth to his older "brother," he felt every single one of his soldiers' pain when they were shot, stabbed, injured, whatever; during the Civil War, he felt everything, whether they be Union or Confederate soldiers, because they were all still Americans; and he knows for a fact that Germany, however Nazi his boss may have been, truly felt the pain and suffering of every last Jewish citizen that Hitler had ordered captured and tortured.

He knows that Japan's been through this type of pain in the past—they all have, regardless of their age or military history, because that comes with the country representation package—but he's unsure of whether or not he's ever had to deal with an attack so widespread, so violent, so deadly as the one that hangs in the balance, cocked and ready to go at the drop of a hat.

For the first time in his life, America wishes that he was just a normal human, one that had died along with the colonists of Roanoke like he would have if he wasn't a goddamned country. He's not sure he can ever look at Japan again without feeling sick to his stomach with guilt, and when the bomb falls in just a few hours he imagines Japan, on his knees and bleeding out, staring up at him with wide brown eyes as if saying, "Why? Why did you do this to me? I thought we were friends; why would you do this to me? Don't you care about me? Don't you like me? Why?"

It's two o' clock in the afternoon on August 5, 1945.

Only three more hours.

The clock doesn't stop ticking, not for one moment, as America finally breaks and lets go of the hold on his tears, allowing them to fall freely without hindering them in any way. Some part of him is saying that he deserves this, that he deserves this pain and guilt and sickness and shitty feeling, and some other part of him wants to contradict that but can't, and agrees with that "some part."

Only two more hours.

His door is locked and many of his governmental figures come and knock on it, but he's not going to come out and they know better than to forcibly unlock that door; he is America, after all, and sleeps with a rifle within arm's reach of any position on the bed he could be in.

Only one more hour.

Fifty minutes.






And then it's over, but it's not, it's not over, it'll never be over because now America has foreign blood on his hands, the very idea of which kept him from entering the war in the first place, but just like in the First World War, he was forced to abandon neutrality.

The American President doesn't see his broken country for almost a full month after the second attack on August 9, 1945, the one on Nagasaki, and when he does he realizes just how messed up and guilty the young man looks, dark bags occupying the space under his eyes and pale overtaking his usually excitement-flushed skin. He's alive but dead, his soul having died the moment that first bomb hit the ground of Hiroshima.

He doesn't see Japan again until late 1956, when he's in the middle of a backburner war with Russia and the damn Soviet Union, but the next time their paths cross the Asian nation is still in a wheelchair, being carted around by Italy and Romano (though the latter doesn't look all too happy with the situation). They don't actually speak to each other, as they're on opposite sides of the hall, but their eyes meet and America mouths, "I'm sorry," to which Japan replies, with a small upward quirk of the lips, "I know."

Two words; those two words are all it takes for America's own lips to twitch just enough to be called a smile, all it takes for him to know that he's forgiven and that his friend doesn't hate him. He understands now that Japan knew it wasn't his fault, nor was it his decision, and he's accepted that and forgiven the blond with all his heart.

Those two words are all it takes for America to know that he's still a hero.

Author's Note: This is pretty much the World War II section of "How to Become a Successful Nation" when it's off its Prozac. ._.