Wow what up? Where have I been? Awesoming.

In all seriousness my apologies this took so long to update. You see I am an artist first and a writer second. In short I have been working on the comic that gave birth to this story quiet avidly that I put this fic on the back is not to say that I do not both read and imensly enjoy all of your thoughtful comments and feedback, because I do and thank you for them very very very much! Your support is most apreciated and is a big piece of the pie as to why (rhymed there lol) I have kept this fanfic going!

So cheers to you!

Any way I sincerely hope you enjoy this next chapter!

"Tell me, Alfred…"

The tight rope of surprise restricted America's heart and jerked up, bringing Russia back into acute focus. America swallowed hard and struggling to listen to what Ivan was saying. The battered nation had been lost in his thoughts, observing the changing colors in Russia's eyes, trying to make sense of them.

The hand that Ivan had been using to cradle Alfred's head, came up and slowly tilted him forward so that they could be at the same eye level. This was one of the many small considerations that Russia would always lavish upon Alfred. Ivan came to a halt at what appeared to be the outcropping of America's capitol. Alfred broke Ivan's gaze to look around them.

When had they exited the city?

Russia had seemed to be walking so slowly like he was wading through murky water or moving over broken glass. Then again perhaps it was just Alfred who had been stuck in slow motion, his reality seemed to slow to a rough stop-and-go ever since the first bomb had struck. Since the first flash of agony, opening his red eyes to the endless screaming.

Always the screaming.

America and his children had been stupefied in the impossibility of what had happened. The ungraspable future still to come and the sinking feeling that Alfred got when he thought of what Russia might do. What he himself would not and could not do.

"Tell me where they are." Ivan's cool cheek rested against his own, lips brushing and coxing the shell of his ear.

It was almost as if Russia were trying to will the answers out of him by his kind actions alone.

The Russian held Alfred half flushed against his much larger, much stronger frame. Had it been a different situation Alfred might have been intimidated by the sheer possessiveness of Ivan's hold, the firm but yielding hands that held him so very close and in place.

America's eyebrows furrowed to the interruption to the flow of his scattered thoughts, this disruption flaring bright and hot in his personal slow reality. The shot of panic only to be drugged by the smoke that stretched lazily away from burning buildings to reach toward the sky. The smoke looked like fat black houseflies that hung over the open rotting carcass that was his country, his body and heart.

There was the ever-present shill ringing in his ears, Alfred looked about them at everything and at nothing.

Conflicting instincts and emotions kept clashing, fear and desperation that churned his empty stomach up and back over. The fires burning his people peeled the ocean blue of his eyes to become orange and red.

It took everything in him to reply.

"I….Ru..Russia." Alfred's voice came out parched and as rough as the ground under Ivan's feet.

This new effort to answer and please was instantly rewarded with the misery of acknowledging reality; so intense it nearly silenced Alfred again completely.

Alfred's eyes widened, it seemed that by speaking he had awoken some terrible beast that had lain dormant in his half couscous state of mind. That by understanding and trying to reply to Russia's question had brought about reality and it was slamming thunderously down around him, Alfred's own frail voice had literally awakened himself to a living hell. The sudden awareness was as overwhelming as when one is half asleep in a warm, dark room, only to be blinded when someone carelessly switches on a bright light.

Alfred could not describe in what way he was hurting because he could hardly explain it to himself. It was unlike any sensation he had ever felt before; the only word that came close was burning. Once his mind wrapped around that phrase it would not unwrap from it. The word repeating over and over again in his head as wave after wave of dull, throbbing agony tore and mutilated him from the inside out. America's eyes spilled over and he grabbed onto Ivan, fingers pulling at a strong shoulder, digging in.

"I don't….I can't…it's…!" Alfred smashed his words and thoughts together; frantically hoping that if he could just get them out he might make sense to Russia, that Ivan could piece them together and allow America to escape back into himself, to rest again.

Alfred wanted Ivan to understand that his previous request was one that was beyond what he could satisfy. America could not tell Ivan where the invaders were because he simply couldn't focus. The bombs were still going off, people were still dying and to try to locate who was where through that constant avalanche of chaos was just inconceivable. Alfred was barley able to hold himself back from trying to get free and run back into his capitol, his instincts as a nation screaming at him to find and help his people.

Get up. Go Help. Find them. Find them. Find them. They're burning. Burning. Burning. Burning.

I'm burning.

Burning. Burning. Burning!

"It…hurts…" Alfred fruitlessly licked at his spitting lips and tried again. Letting go of Ivan, Alfred fisted his paling hair into tight knots, weaved through and past bleeding fingers.

" much..Iv..Ivan.." His throat wanted to close up but he didn't let it, continuing to swallow down putrid air and back out important words. "So…I..I don'tknow."

Russia held him tighter and looked at America with a frantic regret, knowing he had spoken carelessly and in doing so had unintentionally overwhelmed Alfred. His silver eyebrows slanted up at such an angle Russia thought they would split open his forehead.

"Wor…worthless…I…I'm sor…sorry.." Alfred snarled at himself, voice tight and bitter.

Worthless…I can't get up. I can't help them. I can't find them. Burning. Burning. Burning.

"It's ok, Alfred."

A break in the pattern.

There seemed to be an abrupt blanket of snow over the fire that was eating away at America. Red eyes returned to a glassy blue and Alfred could feel something give way and change.

But what?

"I'm here."

Ghosting movements passed over Alfred's fevered flesh, wrapping delicately around him and soaking in to just beneath his skin. Changing…something was changing again. Shifting the colors in his skies from grotesque maroon to rich amaranthine purple.

"I will take care of you."

Russia's voice tipped down low and smooth. Alfred wished there were words he could fit together to offer Ivan just how much that meant to him. Russia moved America against himself. Alfred in turn clung on and draped himself over the shoulders of the other nation as if he could become part of Russia; in that moment he desperately wanted to, delirious with grateful relief.

He wanted to ask Russia what was happening, why he suddenly felt so much better. America couldn't help but feel that Russia somehow knew, that he was part of it. Hundreds of invisible fingers seemed to be placing themselves upon him; Alfred had never felt this sensation before. All he knew was that they were important but he couldn't grasp as to why or how. The pain was still there but it seemed irrelevant, he felt impossibly safe.

"I promise, America, it will be ok."

Voices painted in foreign tones whispered across Alfred's wrecked land. He could hear the words but they were intangible and lost to him, everywhere and nowhere all at once.

"It will be ok, Alfred."

Russia repeated and America believed him because all at once his people stopped screaming and Alfred finally understood.

The Russian troops had arrived.


There is just so much….blood.

It covered everything, covered him. Blood from the 'animals' who had nearly taken everything away from him. The red liquid appeared black between the sporadic hot flashes of white light that erupted from the barrel of his gun as he shot them all to hell.

Ivan remembered the first time blood had been spilled by his hands, remembered how it gushed and sprayed out to stain him, taint him. He recalled how he had been horrifically surprised by just how hot it was, so hot it seemed to burn him, sear and melt away his skin. However the blood being spilt now felt cold to Russia, probably because he hardly felt anything at all.

He didn't feel it as it splattered over him to run down his pale cheeks and under his chin. The black, cold substance was washing away the American blood that had been there before, leaving Ivan not feeling dirty but oh so clean.

Screams eventually died out and strained thin.

America had begged him not to do this, hadn't he?

Not to leave him.

Not to kill them.

Frantic hands scrambled and grabbed at his boots, Russia sneered and pressed down hard. The hands stilled and fell away.

Russia grinned.

It hadn't been difficult to find them really. Ivan had simply opened himself up, his troops had just arrived on American soil, and this doubling his senses and making him feel strong, alive in a way but very much dead in another.

The faceless ones had been in America's capitol celebrating their supposed victory. Voices high and bright with excitement. Their joy however had rapidly churned over to confusion and broke into horror. Since Russia now had a strong presence throughout America due to his still arriving soldiers, Ivan could feel his children finding them all over.

Like a doctor ridding a patient of tumors, Russia jammed in his wrath and cut them out. There were no words for how Russia was feeling; his emotions had him dumb, deaf and blind.

Ivan had lost grip, and was losing himself.

Russia dimly understood there were many of them but he was a great deal more. Currently he was standing in a crowd of corpses, fallen enemy soldiers that he gave no attention to after they had fallen to the ground around him. Ivan did not stop to ask questions or inquire as to who they were or why they had attacked America.

Who and why would come later, in the now there was just the fact that they had attacked and Ivan could see nothing but Alfred's blood red eyes in his head, spinning his world in unstable vivid colors. Russia would know the leader once he found them. Nations stood out red hot from the rest of their humans; the people around him now had no real color and appeared to Ivan as just an unimportant mass. A mess to be briefly dealt with and brutally destroyed, Ivan was saving his full attentions for their leader.

Amongst the invaders Russia also found Alfred's children. Their backs to the wall, eyes flashing and fighting in defiance even though they were grossly outnumbered.

Well not anymore….

"They killed her!"

A man's voice cried brokenly to Ivan's far right. Russia looked around and found the source of the sound coming from a kneeling figure, hunched protectively and impossibly small over a slighter, crumpled one. The two were dwarfed by a crumbling apartment building, which seemed about to crush them under the weight of its sheer size. Ivan started toward the voice and shape of a weeping man.

A part of him said to ignore them that by staying would not help. Listening would not change what had happened, why the man was crying. Russia could not stop himself despite this; his feet carried him onward ignorant of logic, moved by human feeling. Nations really were powerless to the humans they protected, this being either their children or who they themselves held reservations for. They existed to act as the physical embodiment of their countries people, possessing their own emotions but always drawn to the help and serve.

"I wanted to get her a cake at the store, because this is her favorite holiday and I…"

On closer inspection Russia made out the details of the crouching form to be that of a sobbing man and a child beneath him. Ivan suddenly came rushing back into himself feeling cold and horribly sick. The man's was holding the child so that her head was resting in his lap, round face tilted up to Ivan. The man was not looking at Russia but at his dead child, Ivan wondered how the father had even known he was there at all.

It then occurred to Ivan that perhaps the man didn't and was just talking out loud.

Grief was an odd living thing, both ignorant and sensitive to what transpired around it.

Like Russia the man was covered in large black splotches but not from spilling blood but from trying to stop the spilling of his daughter's.

"I noticed she was admiring one in the store's bakery when we were shopping yesterday, a small red and white one…so I got up early to buy it….to surprise her."

The man paused and looked up at Ivan, Russia's breath painfully caught in his throat.

"I brought you something!" Glittering blue eyes carried with a breathy happy voice.

"Is there an celebratory occasion I was unaware of?" Ivan asked tensely, eying the hideous pink cupcake thrust under his nose.

"Does there need to be a special occasion to surprise a buddy?" Alfred had chuckled and danced away, walking on the balls of his feel so he was always light and bouncy. Russia had watched him go unaware of the grin that America had transferred from himself to Ivan's lips.

Russia blinked sharply wrenching away from the memory, feeling too much and sorely wishing not to.

"We usually can't buy things like that because its just the two of us and the economy has been so bad….I thought that if I could just do this one thing for her….that I could be…" The man looked back down at his child and smoothed her dirty hair away from her face.

"A good father…. if only for awhile….if only for today…."

Russia felt something hot slide down his cheek but gave no move or reaction to it.

"But I'm not…!"

The man pulled the girl farther onto his lap, half embracing her and slowly rocking back and forth in slow jerky movements.

"They came when I was away…bombing our home while she was still sleeping…and I felt it….I felt it like I was the one who was dieing…"

Familiar tones carried in the voices of Russia's children echoed along the broken walls that made up the burning city. Some of Ivan's soldiers were following the sound of the man's raw voice.

Shapes appeared through the smoke and all at once Ivan's whispering children, their eyes wide and white as they looked upon the crying father and dead child, surrounded Russia and the man. They seemed to hardly notice Russia or the bodies of the enemy soldiers he had butchered around them. One of Ivan's children, a middle aged man knelt down and reached for the weeping man, whispering in soothing words that only Ivan and the other soldiers could understand. The Russian soldier gently placed his hand on the middle of the man's back and switched to soft, broken English.

"Come with us. We care for both of you, get you warm and cleaned up, yes?" The intended soothing words had the opposite effect on the man. He looked up fearfully at the soldier, green eyes wide and frantic as if he only just realized their presence.

"No! I won't let you!"

His hands stilling through this daughter's hair, she only looked to be ten years old with round cheeks and small dirty hands. Ivan wondered if she would have laughed in excitement when given the cake her father wanted to surprise her with.

What color had her eyes been?

Did she smile often or dance endearingly as Alfred did when excited or listening to jazz music?

Who was she and who would she have become?

"Won't let us do what?" The soldier asked softly, barely audible after a few measured moments.

"I won't let you 'take care of me', this is…" The man briefly removed his hands to gesture jerkily to his clothes that were stained red and black.

"All I have left of her…"

Ivan's jaw tightened and understood what the man meant. His soldier did as well. The man did not want them to take him away and clean him, wash his clothes. The red stains covering the fabric of the father's shirt, pants and streaking through his graying hair was her blood.

Blood was all that he had left of his daughter, the remnants of her last moments living. The man did not want them to take that away from him, take her away from him.

"Forgive me. Please allow me to stay here." Russia's soldier moved closer to the man, Ivan could physically feel his child's empathy for the father. "I would like to keep you both company, if I may?"

However the man was not looking at him anymore but back down at his daughter, eyes distant and ears unhearing again after the promise of peace. The Russian soldier did not remove his hand from the father's back and remained silent, the other soldiers moved away to set up watch.

Ivan stepped back and turned slowly away. His children watched him go but made no move to interact with him. They did not have to, in a way they understood what he was and if Russia wanted to he could command them at will.

He had no desire to lead anyone however and the soldiers themselves had already acted out the only command he would have given. That order to stay with and protect the American man and his dead child for as long as he wanted to remain there. Russia wondered if the man would ever smile again at all.

"I wanted to get her a cake at the store, because this is her favorite holiday…"

"I thought that if I could just do this one thing for her….that I could be…"

Ivan swallowed desperately around the closing of his throat, wanting to remember and forget at the same time. He could hear Alfred's desperate voice blending with that of the grieving father, Ivan had to fight down the urge to go back to Alfred.

He had not been prepared to find that man and his child, Ivan had gone into the capitol mind hard and set on vengeance. Russia had wanted to numb himself with the mindless action of killing, before he found that man Ivan had felt nothing but rage. The hot emotion was still there but along with it was that of a deep feeling of sickness. The images and words of a man who had just lost his reason for living struck far to close to home for Ivan. It made the shapes around him sharpen and become too real.

"How will he come back from this?" Russia whispered brokenly, remembering the first time he had realized he was in love with Alfred.

It was the end of World War 2 and the Allies had been celebrating, everyone except Ivan and Alfred. Not to say the America was not celebrating, Russia had yet to see him at the party. He sat still and bored as the other nations shouted and danced their joys, their happiness was not from the fact that they had won the war but that they had not lost it. A notion that Ivan himself could understand and gravely appreciate.

There was still so much to rebuild, healing that would never truly complete. They may not have actually lost the war but that did not mean they had been at all spared. For the moment this fact was placed in the back of everyone's mind, everyone's except Russia's. There was still the snarling of his people, the farmers who had been forced to burn their homes and food as to keep the Axis Powers from obtaining it. The fools had not learned from the example he had set of Napoleon, did not learn what the gravity of his wrath entailed.

In the end it had been both he and Alfred, standing opposite each other, Russia smiling at him as the Axis soldiers run away from his children so that they could be captured by America's. Despite the war being won Russia was far from finished. Soundlessly Ivan rose from the small table he had been sitting at, sliding his drink along and up with him. None of the other Allies stopped him or asked where he was headed. This was not in respect for Ivan's privacy but from their new found fear of him. They had been there when the Russians invaded Germany, had seen what they had done.

The celebrations were being held in one of the few remaining buildings in London, Arthur had insisted and had earned the right to do so with his valiant fighting in the war. Russia breathed in deep as he stepped out into the buzzing night air, which hung in curtains over the city street. England's children were laughing and dancing despite that ruble that littered the pavement and their obvious wrecked city. Ivan watched them and smiled despite himself, they were a very strong people and England has the right to be proud.

It was late yet you wouldn't know it by the vast activity through out London and in all the Allies cities and towns that night. Yes victory was a grand thing Ivan thought but revenge was even grander.

"Ok but you gotta be careful with it though!" A familiar voice sounded from around the corner of the building Ivan was standing in front of.

"I will! I will! Just light it already!" Came a different voice, younge and ritch with English tones.

Russia started toward the two voices languidly, sipping his strong drink as he went.

"Oh man, if Arthur knew I was allowing one of his own such frivolity I would be in for a serious walloping!"

"Who is Arthur?" The youthful voice asked curiously.

"No body, no body. Ok do you know what your wish is?"

Russia came around the corner just in time to see America, still clad in his pilot uniform, kneeling before an English youth. The enthusiastic blonde's attention as totally on the boy, holding before him a small stick that was very thin and half as long as Alfred's forearm. The boy appeared to be about twelve and could hardly sit still in the excitement of the moment, a tired but pleased woman at the boy's side watching the American interact with her son.

"Yes!" The boy exclaimed tiny hands coming up as Alfred passed the funny little stick to him, the child held the slender twig as if it were the Holy Grail itself.

"Ok now remember what I told you?" Alfred said in sudden grave seriousness.

"As soon as it lights…" The boy turned mock serious to mirror Alfred.

"You have to wave it around and dance with your friends but don't touch the end!" Alfred inclined his head back to the group of similar aged boys behind him. The small group whispering excitedly to each other, watching the American in rapture but far to shy to get any closer. Ivan snorted in amusement under his breath.

Without further ado the American whipped out a small silver lighter and with a crack light it and held it up to the tip of the sick, farthest away from the boy's trembling hands. All at once there was a burst of light and the end exploded in vibrant whites, hot pinks and gold. The boy gave a gasp but did not shy from the bright hissing colors, his mother on the other hand looked a bit distressed. Alfred smiled up at her reassuringly and the tension in her shoulders eased.

"Wha…what is it?" He asked breathlessly.

"Why it's liquid fire and magic!" Alfred exclaimed as if it were the most common knowledge there was, gloved hands sweeping wide and all about them.

The boy looked from the incredible object in his fingers to Alfred forgetting all at once what he was suppose to do.

"Well go on then!" Alfred said with a kind voice and a gentle smile. "If you don't run and dance your wish won't come true!"

That did it. Off the boy went shouting and laughing his friends that quickly joined him to share in his treasure. The small firework sending fragments of light shooting off every which way, Russia did not miss the grateful look the woman shot Alfred as he got to his feet before she went to watch over her boy. Alfred stayed in place, hands clasping behind his back as he watched them go.

A warmth settled in Ivan's chest at the scene that had nothing to do with the alcohol he was drinking. America's back stayed facing Russia giving the other nation some time to consider the him.

Russia had never known quiet what to make of the boy who at such a young age was so strong and unfeelingly met his eye with neither nervousness or fear. The American nation seemed to be always moving forward with his chin raised and voice sure and bright. He could be most infuriating at times mainly due to his difference of opinion with that to Russia's on how Government was to be run or how he handled his children. But that never stopped Russia from acknowledging the young man and respecting him, if only a little begrudgingly.

Russia seemed to always be following Alfred, this being with his eyes, thoughts or movements was irrelevant. He wished secretly that America would follow him too, if only a little. It was tremendously frustrating to Russia in way that he couldn't quiet understand when ever he watched Alfred in a group of nations, looking at all of them so avidly yet never at him.

Russia wanted America to look at him and only him. It was Russia who stood tall and strong next to him, not England or China or France but he, Russia. Alfred owed him that consideration; his devote attention, owed him much more.

"Do you make a habit out of staring at people or am I just special?"

Russia jumped a little and cursed himself for it, eyes now glued to the back of America's head. The younger nation had not turned around to address him but his voice was so different to everything around them that to Russia it had seemed quiet loud.

"How very arrogant of you Amerika, to consider yourself favored in my attentions." Russia fired back somewhat harshly. He hadn't intended to sound rude but he also didn't enjoy being taken by surprise.

"Why else would you be staring at me for almost three minutes now?" America said nonchalantly still facing away from Ivan, giving off an air that he really did not care if Russia answered him or not. This provoked Ivan into action, he would make America listen and care. Make him look at Ivan.

"How do you know I am not merely plotting to harm you? The war is over and with it our common foe." Russia moved forward slowly closing the sizable gap between he and Alfred, movements bordering on predatory.

"Hmm and do you plan to hurt me Russia?" Alfred gracefully pivoted on his left heel to sweep around and look at Ivan, blue eyes flashing in warm amusement. Ivan's heart stuttered.

"I could." Russia drawled picking his way through the small bits of litter and left over war wreckage, eyes locking onto Alfred's. He wanted Alfred to look at him, acknowledge him, follow him with blue kind eyes the way he followed America with his. He was getting close to America now, could see the reflection of the saturated street lights in his eyes.

"You could." Alfred agreed but stood his ground. "But why would you want to do that to me Russia?"

'To make you see. To work out the pain in my chest that won't seem to go away. Pain I can't make stop because your always there, even when your not.' Was what Russia wanted to say to America but didn't.

Instead he reached for Alfred to pull the other man in close but Alfred moved away. Russia's hand fell back to his side and he looked at Alfred with a desperation that he couldn't quiet understand. America turned away from Russia again to watch to boy laugh and play with his friends, Russia had forgotten all about them.

"We have not won anything." Alfred said in a voice that ran dull and flat. "That boy wished for his father to come back but his father is dead."

Russia remained silent and moved to stand at Alfred's side, watching the boy and mother as well. America understood war in the same vain that he did but out of curiosity he asked him.

"If this is not victory then what is it?"

Alfred's face eased somewhat and he half turned to look up at Russia wearing a face so honest it startled Ivan.

"Peace." Ivan's eyes widened and his throat caught at the truth of what Alfred had just said. "This is peace nothing more and nothing less."

Alfred's shoulder brushed Ivan's as he walked forward to join the boy and his friends, offering generous smiles and more sparklers for the children to dance and run with. Ivan watched him go laughing and weaving though the crowds hardly breathing and realizing he was devastatingly in love.

R&R my lovelies! 3 Comic can be read on my DA just go to my profile to get the link. :]