A/N: Edited as of December 2012.
Warnings: Contains Russian Roulette (clearly), drug references, snapped!Italy, the Mafia, (side) character death, USUK confessions, and a bit of GerIta.
Feliciano Vargas was in no way a name feared among his associates. In fact, the rambunctious nation of Italy was one of the least threatening.
Once he snapped, however, the story changed.
His descent into madness was not slow, like the destruction it was bringing to his country's people: it was all at once, like a plastic membrane holding his inner turmoil suddenly tore apart, releasing everything it had once dutifully held. The country's history had him balanced on a tightrope wire, and after years of standing upon it, his strength receded, causing him to fall. No, not only had he fallen - he'd been pushed.
Thanks to that exact reason, fate saw the G8 crew, along with Yao Wang, assembled in a basement - of what building, only Feliciano knew. The eight men would have quite a rude awakening after the drugs he had spiked the punch with at their last meeting wore off; they would become aware of the creaky metal chairs they were all strapped into surrounding a small wooden table, the only illumination offered to them being the single light bulb hanging above their heads. It would frighten them.
Feliciano would only laugh.
Ludwig was the first to shake off the drugs. He opened his eyes, blinking multiple times to clear the milky fog from his vision. "What... Where...? He blinked again, then caught his breath once he caught sight of the rugged-looking group of men gathered at the far corner of the room.
"Feliciano?" Ludwig tensed, the movement making him aware of the fact that he could not move his legs. "Where am I? What's going on? Who are those people?"
"Slow down, dumbass," another voice - someone from the mysterious crowd of men - piped up. Ludwig recognized it immediately as Feliciano's brother, Lovino. "One question at a time."
Accompanied by clicking steps courtesy of his rough, military-style boots, Feliciano finally stepped into Ludwig's line of vision. "No, Romano. No questions at all."
The Italian flashed Ludwig a deceptively innocent grin as he leaned his elbows on the table, stretching forward between the unconscious Yao and Alfred so that his face was not three inches from the German's. "I really don't want to kill you, Germany, but if the bullet chooses you..."
"Bullet?" Ludwig thrashed fruitlessly in his bonds. "Get me away from here!"
Feliciano shushed him gently, stepping back from the table just as Ivan and Alfred simultaneously began to stir.
It took the latter all of five seconds to realize something was terribly amiss. "Where the hell are we?" he exclaimed lividly. His following attempt to stand was thwarted by the clamps binding him to his chair.
With slow, lithe strides, the redhead circled around the table, halting at the space between Ludwig and Arthur, right across from Alfred.
The aforementioned American felt his breathing hitch in his throat, azure eyes darkening once he'd caught sight of Arthur's unconscious form. "What the fuck, Italy?" He growled, peering over his shoulder to see the unidentified group of men standing there staring back at him. "And who are they?"
"Shut up," Lovino - the only one Alfred recognized in the cluster - demanded icily.
Feliciano's eyes glinted as another cruelly fake smile blossomed on his face. His gaze flickered to Ivan, whom had yet to speak, though he'd been awake for quite some time now.
"Don't tell me to shut up!" Alfred continued, clenching his fists. "Tell me why the hell we're in this shithole, strapped into out seats, and unconscious!"
"You think we're gonna listen to you? How cute." Feliciano, with a mere lift of his chin, summoned a rather large man from the mob, then nodded at Alfred. The man wordlessly obeyed; he strode over, grabbed a fistful of the American's hair, and yanked his head back.
"You tellin' us what to do, eh?" the man rasped, strong odors of cigars and wine wafting off his breath. Alfred wrinkled his nose and grabbed the other's wrist, trying to push him away without any pleasing results. The man laughed at the attempt, fueling the blonde's fury even further.
"Get your filthy hand offa me!
"America," Ludwig warned sternly. "Be quiet."
Ivan, the only one entirely unfazed by the situation, shifted his gaze from the man ruthlessly tugging at Alfred's hair to a just-awakening Kiku.
The personification of Japan opened his eyes, aware of a fuzzy feeling in his head and a prickling in his legs like pins and needles. It only took a moment of blinking before he noticed Alfred, a snarl marring his features, head tipped back by the burly-looking man behind him.
A sudden rush of panic hit him. With a nervous tremble, he peered around the table. From where he sat, he noted, the order in a clockwise motion was Ludwig, Arthur, Matthew, Ivan, Alfred, Yao, and Francis.
So, his first assumption had been right: Everyone was here. ...But where was 'here'?
He looked to his left and saw Feliciano standing next to Ludwig, eyes trained on the man across from the table. After a brief second, those eyes were on him, vibrant orbs concentrating on his face. "Good, there's only four more left to wait for!" he chirped, apparently finished scrutinizing him and walking back to join the other men gathered on the wall.
The one harassing Alfred joined them as well, but not before giving a cruel laugh and forcing the man's head onto the table.
Everything was deathly quiet until Feliciano faced Lovino, and the two began conversing in low, rapid Italian. The others soon followed suit, and a quiet thrumming chatter spread across the group like falling dominoes, every accent unmistakable as their leader's own.
That was when Ludwig's heart sank. "Mafia," he announced to no one in particular, his voice a coarse whisper.
Kiku swallowed hard, Ivan nodded in realization, and Alfred muttered bitter profanities under his breath.
"If I wasn't entirely convinced before that nothing good will come of this," Kiku murmured sullenly, "then I most certainly am now."
Alfred leaned his elbows on the table, holding his head in his hands. "Not only will it not be good - it'll be awful."
"But..." Ivan cocked his head. "What would Italy want with us?"
The inquiry evoked a silence around the table that only broke when Arthur groaned groggily. A few seconds later, Matthew stirred as well.
Alfred expelled a shaky breath. "Thank God you guys are all right."
All it took was that single proclamation, and Arthur was panicked. "Wait, what? Wh-where-"
"Shh, Italy will hear y-"
No one even had time to register who had hissed the warning before Feliciano looked up, the corners of his mouth curling into another of his faux-naive smiles. "Ah, I guess now would be a good time to tell you all what's gonna happen to you." He giggled, as if something about what he had said was humorous, then crooked his finger at his brother. "Come on, Lovi. Let's tell them."
With a nod, Lovino followed Feliciano to the table again, walking up behind Francis' chair. "The Frenchman isn't awake," he announced, then glanced to his right. "Neither is the Chinese one."
"I know," Feliciano replied, giggling again. "Care to do the honors?"
A rare grin graced the elder Vargas' face. "Sí, of course." His right hand slipped into the inner pocket of his khaki jacket, then withdrew bearing an army knife.
"Hey! Stop! What are you gonna do?" Alfred cried, alarmed. Ludwig snapped a second warning at him, effectively shutting him up, though, by the way his lower lip was quivering, Ludwig knew he wanted to rebuke.
Lovino flicked the blade up, its metal catching the dim light above in a faded glint. Then, with a steady hand, he plunged the tip of it into Francis' shoulder.
The blonde's eyes flew open, and his arm jerked instinctively, sending the metal slicing through more of his arm. He screamed; Lovino smirked. "My apologies. I'm very clumsy." He yanked the knife out, examining the blood-drenched weapon with an acute interest.
Beside Francis, Yao woke with a start, wide eyes frantically searching the room while his heart thumped against his ribcage. "Wh-what was that?"
No one responded.
Instead, the Frenchman glared at Lovino, who snapped the blade back into its resting place and glared back, all traces of a smile gone from his face. "Chigi! Don't give me that look, bastard!" He shoved the knife into his pocket irritably.
"That's all." Feliciano nodded once, and Lovino returned to his side. "Grazie."
"No problem, Fratello. I've been wanting to do that for a long time."
The younger brother nodded merrily, reaching into his own jacket and pulling out a beat-up-looking revolver. Many nervous stares accumulated around the table, which Feliciano took delight in as he casually began loading bullets.
Ivan, with his usual smile miraculously still in place, raised a hand.
Lovino opened his mouth to bark a retort to the motion, but his brother stopped loading his gun long enough to extend a hand in front of him. "No. Let him."
Ivan cocked his head, putting his hand down. "What time is it?"
Ludwig grit his teeth. Of all the things the Russian could have asked, he thought bitterly. What was the point of that?
"It's..." Feliciano paused, looking thoroughly bemused as he checked his watch. "Three A.M. Why?"
"Rohypnol," said the seated man off-handedly, his eyes darkening as they met their captor's. "The Date Rape drug. Before our meeting, you must have hidden it in something. The punch, yes? It's the only thing everyone here would agree to ingest. The meeting...it began at seven P.M., and was meant to end at nine. The drug's effects would have become apparent long before then if everyone took a drink upon entering - which they did. That gave you plenty of time to drag all of us down here, as the drug's effects typically last up to eight hours. Eight hours - seven to three."
Ludwig hardly blinked before he cast an uncomfortable look at Ivan, then Feliciano.
The latter's eyebrows furrowed. "Aw, my secret has been spoiled!" He feigned a pout and looked down as he put the last bullet in. "Good job, Ivan. Now, since you're really smart, you can tell me what this revolver is for, can't you?"
Ivan pursed his lips, saying nothing.
Feliciano smiled wider. "Maybe this will help." Slowly, he set three fingers on the chamber, spinning the old-fashioned cylinder with a single skilled flick of the wrist.
"Russkaya Ruletka," the Russian said quickly, eyebrows rising in something akin to amusement. "As Americans say, 'Russian Roulette.'"
"Bingo," Lovino said, crossing his arms and shooting the other man a self-satisfied grin.
"You're quite the sadist, Italy," the Russian said lightly. His tone was not berating in the least, and this unnerved the table's occupants.
"How can I be? I don't want to watch you suffer..."
"You just want to watch us die," Ivan agreed. "But you misunderstand me."
"How?" Feliciano looked confused again, as did his brother.
"I am not pointing out your lust for physical pain, but, rather, your want to cause emotional damage. You want to see us shoot each other, yes?"
A giggle left Feliciano's mouth. "You're right."
The air fell silent as the Italian set the gun gingerly in the center of the table. "So, here are the rules. I'll pick who goes first. Whoever I choose spins the gun, and whoever the barrel faces when it stops, the person that spun has to shoot at them!"
"Easy, si?" Lovino remarked, eyes glinting wickedly as his younger half left his side to stand behind Alfred.
After a long stretch of silence, Feliciano laid his hand on the American's head, causing the latter to visibly tense. "Eenie...," the former started quietly, his voice barely clearing a whisper. He slowly approached the back of Yao's chair, doing the same thing he'd done to Alfred. "Meenie..." He continued moving clockwise around the table. "Mainee, mo... Catch a tiger by the toe, if he hollers, let him go... My mama told me to pick the very best one and you," he stopped moving for a moment, letting his palm rest on Kiku's head.
"Mercy," Kiku whispered, tightly closing his eyes. He felt tremors begin shaking his body when the silence continued, and Feliciano's hand stayed atop his head. But, finally, the man moved on to Ludwig.
"...are." He took a single step.
With a devious grin, his hand settled on Arthur's hair. "It."
The Brit had never been more mortified in his whole existence as we was at that moment. And it showed, for when Feliciano gripped his wrist and led his hand to the gun, his entire arm was shaking.
Everyone at the table watched unfalteringly, each of them bearing either a nervously flushed face, or a grim expression. Matthew, Alfred, and Kiku - each of whom belonged to the former category - felt their heart speed up as Arthur's fingers pressed against the revolver, prepared to spin it. The rest of them, except Ivan, lowered their gazes to their laps, unwilling to watch the outcome.
The sound of wood being scratched echoed throughout the little room, signaling Arthur had spun.
Feliciano stepped back, watching the gun rotate around and around and around... A full ten seconds passed before it finally stopped, and everyone previously looking down quickly glanced up at the same time.
Yao. It had landed on the nation of China.
Arthur's fingers slowly curled around the gun's handle, his wide eyes never leaving Yao's equally panicked ones as he lifted the gun off the table.
Kiku had to look away.
His death was instantaneous.
Arthur sobbed dryly, nearly dropping the gun as he set it back on the table. "Gods, Yao, I'm sorry! I-I'm so sorry."
Kiku clutched the sides of his head, his mouth opening to release a shaky sob of his own. Not his brother...not Yao.
Feliciano hummed. "One down."
"Seven to go," Lovino finished.
"Good, Arthur, you get to spin again!"
"No... Absolutely not."
The captor of the group moved fluidly to Arthur's side, leaning down so that his mouth was next to the man's ear. "Spin," he whispered. "Or else."
It was a vague threat, but it served its purpose; Arthur spun the weapon again, and this time, it stopped on Ivan.
Once again, Feliciano backed away, watching the men with a rather admiring expression.
Arthur lifted the gun, his index finger clenching on the trigger. His hopes of it being a blank were short-lived, and another man was crossed off the list.
Lovino walked over and pressed a button on the back of Yao's chair, undoing the clamps on the corpse's legs. "I'll get Lou to take care of these," he notified Feliciano, gesturing towards Yao and Ivan.
"Grazie. Now, time for Arthur to spin again."
Arthur was visibly tense, though this time he spun again without hesitation. "It...," he choked out, "it landed on me."
"Then," began Feliciano lightly, "take the shot."
Alfred bit his lip, tears stinging at his eyes. He prayed it would be a blank. If it wasn't, he hoped the death would be painless. God, he really didn't want to lose Arthur... He would rather die himself.
Arthur swallowed thickly and pressed the nozzle against his head, squeezing his eyes shut as he pulled the trigger for the third time.
A blank; Alfred and Arthur simultaneously sighed in relief.
"Give the gun to Matthew," The younger Vargas commanded, crossing his arms. "You had your fun."
Arthur did as he was told, his arm still shaking as he handed the terrible object over to the rather green-in-the-face Canadian. Matthew held onto it with trembling fingers for a few brief seconds before setting it back down and spinning it weakly.
It stopped on Kiku, who looked up at Matthew with worried eyes. The younger nation proceeded to aim the gun - though his shaking arm was making it very hard - and shot it off.
Kiku cried out as a bullet tore through his arm, instinctively clutching the wound with his opposite hand.
Matthew quickly set the gun down, horrified. "I'm so sorry, Kiku! O-oh my God, I'm s-sorry!"
The island nation forced a small smile, silently forgiving the other.
"Your turn, Kiku." Feliciano giggled. "Since you're not dead, the honor is passed to you!"
With some difficulty (such difficulty resulting in both trying to ignore the tears trailing down his face, as well as the stinging wound in his arm), he raised his good limb up, setting his hand on the revolver and spinning it. His fingers left bloody prints on the metal, reminding his body even further of the searing pain it was in.
It spun a full one-eighty, landing on Matthew. Feliciano clapped. "Back-and-forthsies."
Kiku repressed an angered remark. This psychopath was acting like it was some kind of game!
"It's okay, Kiku," Matthew whispered, clenching his fists in his lap. "If I die, I want you to know that I value your friendship. All of you...I do."
If anyone hadn't been reduced to tears before, they were slowly crumbling, sans the usual stoic country of Germany.
Kiku took a breath and held it; he raised the gun, set his finger on the trigger.
"Je t'aime, mon Mathieu. I love you, son." Francis wouldn't look up, as he was already shaking his head back and forth hysterically.
"J-je t'aime, Papa..."
Kiku shot the gun, not quite mustering the courage to open his eyes and see if it had been a blank. Francis' following sob told him that it wasn't.
Feeling ashamed, Kiku set the gun back in the middle of the table, listening to the sounds of Lovino unlatching the clamps on Matthew's chair and carrying his body away. Right before Feliciano could remind him, Kiku spun again, leaving more bloody prints in his fingers' wake.
Alfred's heart sank when it halted on him. "Kiku..."
The elder man looked up, biting his bottom lip hard enough to draw blood, and aimed the revolver.
Instead of shooting right away, he sat there, frozen for the longest time while his gaze stayed locked with Alfred's.
He really looked pitiful, with a sickly shade to his face, his eyes blurred and red, and sitting alone between two empty chairs that had once been Ivan and Yao. Suddenly, the great nation looked very small and meek, and more than anything in the world, Kiku wished Alfred would be the one to make it out alive.
That is, assuming Feliciano played by the rules, and allowed the last person alive to leave. At this point, things were shaky with the Italian's sanity and sense - so Kiku could not be entirely sure.
Another sharp bang rang out, and, to Kiku's relief, nothing but a puff of gray smoke was emitted from the killing machine.
Alfred swallowed hard; it was his turn to spin.
He reached out, trying fruitlessly to keep his arm steady. His fingertips touched the warm blood of his companion, and he jerked his hand away, swallowing. "Sorry," he apologized to no one in particular, then tried again.
This time he succeeded, and the object flung into a rotation cycle, gradually slowing down until it came to a halt on Arthur. The silence that followed was mocking them, of that they were sure.
For a moment, Alfred had to look away, then he inhaled deeply, his eyes trained on the gun as he lifted it. He took aim at his former caretaker's head. "Arthur... I-I love you...! A-and... Fuck. I'm sorry for anything I've said or done that made you think otherwise." He closed his eyes, pausing a second before shooting the gun with a frightened cringe.
Fervently, he shook his head, as if denying to himself what he'd just done. He didn't bother opening his eyes as he very nearly slammed the gun onto the table. "No, no, no..."
"Alfred," Arthur stammered, trying to speak over the pounding in his chest. "It was a blank."
Slowly, Alfred reopened his eyes, relief flooding over him stronger than it had when the shot aimed at him had blanked.
The Brit appeared cadaverous, but, along with the color slowly returning to his face, the corners of his mouth quirked up in a wan smile. He reached out for the gun, spinning it. "Alfred...," he began, his voice hollow. "I love you too. And before one of us dies, I want you to know that."
Alfred swallowed hard. He couldn't gather the will to smile back.
Nothing else was said, leaving the room with the echoes of metal on wood.
The gun inched to a stop ten seconds later with Arthur staring at it hopelessly, his eyes raking over the object's bloodied length and following it up to meet Francis' gaze.
The latter also wore a sad smile, but he straightened in his chair as if he were fine. "Well, Angleterre, you've always wanted to do this, after all." He laughed once, humorlessly - almost bitterly.
Arthur felt fresh tears sting at his eyes as he picked the revolver up. "That's not true. It's never been true."
Francis' eyebrows furrowed; the younger man continued speaking, his hand quivering slightly. "I know we've fought, Francis, but..." He paused to swallow, hating how broken his voice sounded. "You're my friend. You've always been my friend."
For a split-second, the Frenchman's eyes lit up. "That's heavenly to hear," he replied, bowing his head. "Go ahead and shoot."
Falteringly, Arthur raised his other hand up to support the first. "I don't know if it means anything now, but-"
Francis cut the other man off without raising his head. "It means everything, Arthur. It means I die happy." It was that moment he lifted his head, smiling softly.
Arthur's face contorted in pain.
He pulled the trigger.
Kiku flinched as the body to his right slumped over. Lovino ordered one of the other men to retrieve it this time.
Wordlessly, Arthur set the gun down again, keeping his head down as he readied himself to spin. Before he could, Feliciano cut him off with a sharp, "No."
"What?" the former croaked.
"You've spun enough already. Let someone else do it." He hummed whilst he contemplated. "Aha. I think Germany should spin!"
Ludwig glanced at Feliciano, straightening in his chair. Feliciano knew that pose; he knew that the man's tense form and stoic face all pointed towards his growing trepidation. Ludwig knew that he knew, and this only interested the Italian male further.
Neither one of them spoke for the longest time - no one did, as a matter of fact. The tension in the air subsided some, but the foreboding feeling of what was to come did not spare a moment in its reign.
Finally, after an eternity of waiting (or so it seemed), Ludwig touched his fingers to the gun, spinning it at a quick pace. When it slowed around Canada's empty seat, he looked at Feliciano one more time, their gazes meeting with an intangible electric jolt.
Alfred let out a breath he'd been holding. "It landed on me," he said with a whisper.
There was no hesitation as Ludwig raised the gun, features composed, eyes hollow. He shot it off with a bang, and nothing but smoke erupted from the barrel. Alfred swallowed hard, pressing a hand to his chest.
"Your turn," Feliciano remarked with a giggle.
Alfred spun, briefly picturing this whole ordeal as a sick parody of Spin the Bottle. He almost laughed at the image, though this was mostly because of his sanity slowly slipping through his fingers, as opposed to it being for the sake of humor.
It spun once, twice, three times, four, then five, six, seven, eight spins, nine spins, ten... It slowed at eleven, the aged metal scraping against bare wood until it halted on Kiku.
"Please... Don't make me," Alfred muttered, squeezing his eyes shut.
Kiku's lip twitched. He wanted to say something, but he knew well that no words could comfort his friend now.
Feliciano laughed. Lovino laughed. The rest of them laughed like it was the funniest thing they'd ever seen - just another entertainment source.
The American no longer resembled the world's super power, but instead, a grotesque, dulled form of what once had been, Kiku reluctantly noted. It reminded him of World War Two, when the man had looked so fragile and broken, and-
Alfred shot the gun and the sound pulsed in Kiku's ears. But he wasn't dead. He wasn't entirely sure if this was good or not, but, disregarding that thought, he spun once the other man had set the weapon back down.
"Does your arm hurt?" Lovino teased, sitting in the empty chair that had once been Ivan's and setting his ankle on his opposite knee.
"Yes," Kiku mumbled, watching the blur of the instrument before him as it performed its rotation. "More than anything," he added, for good measure. Not that it would actually do anything except make Lovino snicker harder.
The object decided on the night's second one-eighty, and the island nation bit his lip, raising the gun with both hands. "Gomenasai..." He shot it, wincing as it rocked his body against the chair's back.
Arthur made a pained sound, covering his hand with his mouth.
Kiku could no longer cry, as much as he wanted to, even as he watched Lovino stand up and undo the clasps on Alfred's chair. "So long, bastardo." He sneered at the corpse, even sparing a grin in Arthur's direction as he hoisted it over his shoulder. "I think I'll take care of this one personally."
The stinging of his wound was nothing compared to the ache in his chest, the Japanese man decided, spinning again without a word.
"Oh, Germany, look!" Feliciano cheered, tilting his head in another mockery of the innocence he didn't possess.
Ludwig looked down just as the weapon stopped on him, then looked to his right at a shivering Kiku. "Go ahead and shoot me," he said sternly. "If I die tonight, I will die vithout the tears of a weaker man."
He watched carefully as the revolver was lifted, staring straight down the barrel that quivered along with Kiku's hand. No, he wasn't going to break. He wasn't going to cry, or scream, or even blink.
When the gun was shot, Ludwig held fast to his intentions, feeling relieved for having done so when the weapon blanked.
Kiku couldn't even will his arm to move and set the gun back down, so Ludwig took it from him, taking care to spin it with a lower force than he initially would have, lest it twirl off the table and shoot one of the Mafiosos in the back of the room. He had a feeling that if he accidentally killed one of them, the consequences would be dire.
Despite his reduced-strength spin, the weapon went on spinning for quite some time. Tension rose thick into the air; even Feliciano was on edge, peering over Ludwig's shoulder to watch the gun's flashes of dirtied silver blur in a mock circle, not halting until fate decided it should.
Fate took its chance on Arthur.
Ludwig hated thinking it, but he never really liked the Briton anyway. (It was an easier choice than Kiku, whom he'd been allied with for years now.) Still, he did not wish to harm the poor man, especially after he'd just lost his childhood friend and his love to those fatal shots - one of which he had delivered.
Well, it didn't really matter what he thought, now did it? There was only a one in three chance he would live to ponder his personal opinions anyway.
Arthur swallowed hard, breaking Ludwig's thought barrier. "Thank you," the former said curtly, his voice strained.
Ludwig grunted. "What for?"
"I was thanking the gun more than you."
"You're sounding weird. Tell me what you mean."
"I mean I don't care if I die now. I would actually much rather." The Englishman averted his gaze from Ludwig's face to the tabletop. "Shoot, please."
There was an awkward silence following the request, but it was very soon shattered by the bang of a shot - a shot that was blank.
"Damn it," the island nation muttered, spinning the gun on the tabletop as it came upon his turn. "Damn it all to bloody fucking hell."
Silence for another small while. Ludwig noticed that the tension seemed to disappear for a moment, but, slowly, the scraping of the rotating death-machine brought the sense of foreboding back on the room.
Feliciano cocked his head to the side, interested in the expression Arthur got when the barrel returned its aim to him. He practically snatched it up, pressing the tip against his head and pulling the trigger.
Another blank; Arthur squeezed his eyes closed. "N-no, I'm firing again."
"That's cheating!" Feliciano pouted. He thought about trying to stop him, but waved it off. Instead, he just sat back to watch Arthur furiously pull the trigger two more times until it finally shot off.
This spawned the worst mess of the evening, but the only one that seemed bothered by it was Kiku, who turned a sickly green color once the blood spattered from the hole in the dead nation's head. He whimpered a little, quietly murmuring that he was going to be sick.
Ludwig cast him a brief glance of sympathy before returning to his usual emotionless demeanor.
"That means there's only two left!" Feliciano chirped, excitement evident in his voice. "This is always the best part!"
Ludwig decided he'd spare Kiku the turmoil of having to spin the gun first.
From the entryway hidden in the far corner of the room, Lovino entered, wiping his hands on his pants. "Did I miss the end, Fratello?"
"No. It's just starting."
Even the Mafiosos were gathering around the table now, apparently done smoking their cigars in the back and vying for a better entertainment source than playing Bloody Knuckles with each other.
The weapon spun around quite a number of times, landing squarely on Kiku.
Ludwig forced a bitter smile, picking up the gun and muttering a rushed, "Do not show weakness."
Kiku nodded once, meeting the blonde's eyes with a gaze of determination only marred by the tears pooling at the corners of his eyes. The expression did little to hide his weakness, but Ludwig credited him for giving it his all.
He pulled the trigger, and it clicked into place. It wasn't a blank, Ludwig knew, yet Kiku was not dead.
Feliciano let out an annoyed breath. "The gun is out of bullets," he muttered in disappointment.
A spark of hope fluttered in Kiku's chest. Did that mean he and Ludwig would be free to go?
The answer shattered whatever glimmer of positivity the raven-haired country held. Feliciano hummed, borrowing a gun from one of the Mafia men and withdrawing a single bullet. "Here's what we're gonna do." He took the revolver from the table, inserted the lone bullet into the chamber, and spun it so that its location was lost within the chamber's confines.
"Romano." Ludwig and Kiku were startled by the sudden gruffness in Feliciano's tone.
Lovino hopped up just as he'd began to lower himself into one of the chairs, successfully banging his knee on the underside of the table as he did. Aside from wincing a bit from the impact, he pretended like it never happened and hustled over to his younger brother. "Si, Fratello?"
"Undo the clasps."
The elder Vargas obediently did as he was told, starting with the closer Kiku, then Ludwig next.
Both of them were hustled through the mob of mock-spectators. The men backed away from Ludwig as he came through, save for the few that purposefully knocked shoulders with him and laughed; for Kiku, most of them blew cigar smoke in his face, and one of them backhanded his arm where the bullet wound was, eliciting a hiss of pain.
Once they'd made it through the crowd, they were told to stand against opposite walls, resulting in an arrangement that spaced them about six meters apart - the approximate width of the rectangular room.
Feliciano approached Kiku and thrust the gun into his hand. "There is one bullet in here. You two will keep shooting until the bullet is released." With that, the Italian stepped back, his smile reappearing as he glanced at Ludwig from across the room.
Kiku held up the gun with both hands, looking more frightened than he had since he'd first awoken. "Germany," he whispered.
Kiku shot, aware of the Mafiosos crowding around them again, looking interested at first, then disappointed when it turned out to be a blank. One of them offered to be the person who delivered the gun back and forth, taking the revolver from the Japanese nation and passing it along to Ludwig.
"Well, Japan - Kiku, if I could - I'm glad..." Ludwig paused, his face contorting a bit as he tried hard to phrase his statement. "I..." He gave an exasperated sigh, holding the gun up and tightening his finger around the trigger slightly.
Kiku's heart sped up even faster for a few seconds, thinking briefly that Ludwig was glad to shoot him. I'm glad I'm finally able to get rid of you. That was probably what he wanted to say.
Instead, he heard, "I'm glad you stuck around. You were a good ally. And a great friend." Ludwig took his shot, which also resulted in nothing more than a wisp of white smoke.
It went back and forth like this a few times, and at every shot, the men standing around them would lean forward expectantly, only to shrink back again whenever the bullet failed to present itself.
Once the revolver ended back up in Kiku's hand, he could feel, for the first time, just how heavy it was. Before now, he hadn't noticed before what it really felt like to hold an object that had caused so many deaths. His hand shook as he raised it, but he realized that his arm was no longer hurting. His eyes blurred a bit, and, despite everything, he smiled.
Ludwig set his lips. "Kiku." He said his name slowly. "Put the gun down."
Feliciano's eyebrows furrowed. "Germany,you're not the one making the rules."
The island nation looked a bit confused, wondering if he should listen to Ludwig or Feliciano.
"Put it down. Now." Ludwig gave him a stern look, but it was much softer than the ones he normally gave when he was being serious.
Kiku decided to put the gun on the floor like Ludwig instructed.
There was a long stretch where no one said anything, which, after a while, someone in the mob broke by whispering something to the man beside him. Low murmurs proceeded to spread like wildfire among the group. This left Lovino steaming with impatience and Feliciano looking annoyed.
Ludwig nodded once at Kiku. "You're a brave man." He saluted the smaller country, standing like that until Kiku's eyes glazed over.
His ally saluting him was the last thing Kiku saw before his vision blacked, but he still had just enough of his senses left to register the feel of the smile spreading wider on his face. His auditory sense dulled until the only thing he could hear was the low thrum of something beating in the distance, which he registered as his heart. When that noise stopped too, all of his tension fled away. He felt at peace.
Everything once again went quiet until Feliciano broke the silence a few moments later with, "He's dead."
Everyone already knew that, but it helped the atmosphere a bit for it to be said aloud. No one had realized what was happening until Ludwig had given a soldier's salute.
Lovino grinned cheekily, glad for everything to be over. He hoisted the body into his arms, handing it off to the man named Lou. "The bullet wound," he said with a laugh. "He died of blood loss."
"Not quite how I saw the game ending," Feliciano pouted, watching with something akin to regret as Lou carried Kiku's lifeless form outside to be discarded. "I was expecting it to go out with..."
"More of a bang?" one of the Mafia men suggested, grinning like a goof.
Ludwig stared tiredly at the spot where Kiku had previously been standing. "All right, Italy. What now?"
The criminal that was his ally took a second to adjourn the collection of men, waiting until the lot of them poured out of the room before he replied. "Well..." He smiled, striding over to the man and pressing their bodies together, looking up at him. "I had intended to make the survivor my slave."
Ludwig nodded once, though there wasn't a question for him to have nodded as answer for. "Why Japan? Why didn't you just kill the allies? Why involve me and Kiku, too?"
"Because. More fun that way."
"More fun? What if me and Japan had both... What if one of the allies had survived? They had a much better chance of living then Kiku and I had. There were six of them... Only two of us."
"I had a different plan for everyone."
"He'd stay with me and make weapons."
"Do you know how many countries would pay a lot of money to have his head on a plate?"
Ludwig felt a tinge of awe. Feliciano really thought this out.
"He's a very good-looking boy..."
"You mean...? You wouldn't."
"Wouldn't I?" Feliciano giggled, cocking his head and regarding Ludwig with a half-lidded stare. "Maybe I wanna do the same to you."
The German man didn't know what to say. He was pretty sure his expression said it all for him, anyway.
Feliciano stood on tip-toe, undoing the first few buttons of Ludwig's military jacket with a sly grin. "But you don't mind, do you?" He didn't even give the other male a chance to answer before he craned his neck and brought their lips together.
Feliciano muttered something against Ludwig's mouth, then nipped at his bottom lip, his hands grasping at the open ends of the latter's jacket.
While Ludwig subconsciously snaked his arms around the Italian's waist, he parted his lips slightly, mind reeling as he felt their tongues brush together, so light a touch he swore Feliciano was toying with him.
It didn't even get farther than that before the redhead pulled back, looking very self-satisfied. Fiery amber eyes met darkened blue ones, and, with a proud hum, Feliciano whispered, "You're mine."