Author's Notes and Disclaimer:

Here's another one-shot tale from the RDNA-verse, tidied up and slightly expanded from the original version on DeviantArt. This one in particular moves the clock further in time to 1970s America, though one that's not like our own.

In case you're curious, Postcard from the Valleys is a reference to The Personal Records of a Doctor and a direct one to The Sound of Music.

Also, I don't own Axis Powers Hetalia. All rights belong to their respective owners.

The First Cut: A RDNA-verse Snapshot

Or, The Angels of the Rye

New York City, New York State, American Federation. 1971.

There was once a house not far from the town of Sejny...

To many critics, The Angels of the Rye was a masterpiece well deserving of its 1958 Lens Award. To viewers, it was a tearful drama of a world now known only in books, photographs and museums. But what William Barker saw from his late father's private theatre was different. The First Cut, as his family called it, was something he would rather not view again. Then again in that room, it was the least he could do to honor his memory. The Cut itself was for the most part identical to the final version, if not for the inexplicable blanks and disturbingly airy "static" pervading it, among other things. He knew better.

"There's nowhere else to run, is there?"

He thought of Stanislaw Borkowski: father, director and first leader of the Polish Revivalist Party. He remembered almost verbatim the interview answers he gave to countless reporters. "It was homage to the events around my childhood," he claimed on a radio talk show. "A tale of lovers caught in the middle of the Terror. I had the privilege of meeting the inspirations in person." He remembered the painstaking effort taken to channel old records and half-recalled memories. He recalled the great lengths taken to find the right cast, even going as far south as New Vienna. His own decision to have nearly the entire reel spoken in Polish and Lithuanian was hailed as a mark of authenticity.

"Do you see the rye? It's beautiful..."

Then again, he never mentioned to the press his disappointment in capturing the right accents. How his choice to make "Jozefa," the lead female Pole, androgynous was deliberate. How the script, from the names to even some of the finer details, was both an attempt to veil and reveal what actually happened; indeed, the early drafts made mentions of a certain "Feliks" and "Toris." Neither did he ever mention the real names of his "inspirations." He reminded himself that these were the only ways the "rival to Postcard from the Valleys," as one American newspaper put it, could even see the light of day.

All this went through William's mind as he continued to watch. After seeing the story so many times, he knew by heart every sequence. It had already reached the climax. The mobs were approaching the house, their Red banners fluttering angrily in the air. The lovers decide to make the most of their remaining time together. Here was the scene that helped it win critical acclaim. And then came the moment that made all the difference.

"So, like, this is the end, right Liet?"

"Don't say another word. I'm here for you."

It was no longer the actors talking. Two vague, but young-looking figures seemed to take their place, speaking in passionate yet hauntingly ethereal voices; one of them even seemed to have a hint of blond hair. Nothing else was said, apart from the figures painfully, but stubbornly tying to hold each other into an embrace, followed by the sound of teardrops. Then they vanished. The moment had passed.

The whole thing lasted little more than two minutes. William found himself speechless. A thought entered his mind about a story his father kept repeating about Poland and Lithuania always looking after him. It seemed too much like patriotic zeal to even be considered literally back then, and in his logical mind it still was. He had long chosen to distance himself from the Revivalist movement. The Commonwealth was a faded memory. The whole matter was impossible. But what he saw and heard seemed to speak otherwise. He brushed it all aside as the reel ended. No one outside his family and a select few had seen the Cut. And he would see to it that no one else would view it again.

Only one thing echoed in his mind as he sealed away the footage forever. What sounded like a voice seemed to creep into the closing credits, which refused to leave his head and, he sensed, would continue to haunt him for years to come.

It seemed to say, " us..." It was simultaneously in Polish and Lithuanian. And with one final lock on the safe, it was gone. At least for the moment.