A/N: Hello, everyone! This is a surprise oneshot I got the plot bunny for two nights ago. I spent a few hours writing it (all of which I spend sobbing my eyes out) and it's finally done!
Warning, this piece turned out to be more existential than expected, so if anyone has issues with existential depression/anxiety, know that there's a lot of the theme of facing death ahead.
It may or may not be extremely depressing, but I promise there's a light at the end of the tunnel, so if you can make it to the end, I'll be so happy!
I hope you enjoy it~
They knew it was coming.
At first, no one seemed to want to believe it. Who would?
People tried to carry on with their everyday lives, pretending it was another one of those silly superstitions, like the 2012 scare a few thousand years back. But that was ancient history now, people were much more gullible then, and surely no such thing could be happening now, at the Earth's Golden Age.
It was just another hoax, but it wasn't going to work this time. They would carry on.
So they tried to tell themselves.
Feliciano was cleaning.
Well, not so much cleaning as repeatedly wiping off the kitchen counters with a shaky hand, waiting frantically for his brother to come home.
Come home. Hurry home. Where are you? Where are you? Are the streets already a wreck?
Feliciano could feel it. The burning- the land had started burning.
It was so unbearably hot.
He was safe, in his air-conditioned home, but it was only a matter of time before the extreme heat put that out of commission, as well, and his home would begin to boil just like so many others. He'd been careful. He'd gone through his whole home and sealed it, making it airtight, trying to prolong the end a bit longer, trying to preserve his home for even just a few hours longer.
He wondered if a few hours would even make a difference in the end.
Come home, where are you?
Please come home.
Dio, Dio, let him come home one last time.
It was certainly the last time. There was no mistaking it. The blast had awoken everyone in the early morning the day before, and as everyone looked out their windows, confused, groggy and fearful, they saw the one thing they were sure couldn't ever possibly be happening.
The sun was dying.
It was bursting, expanding, turning to a giant swelling ball of destructive ending flame, and it was coming towards them so quickly. Too quickly.
It was only the afternoon of the second day since it started, but they all knew now that it must be the end.
After all, none of them would survive to actually see their planet absorbed by their star, their once so beautiful, precious star that had been light and life and now was suddenly turning against them, taking them down with it in death.
Surely, today was the last day.
It was more peaceful that Feliciano thought it would have been. He expected chaos, rushing, mad dashes for home and family and loved ones and insanity and screaming and fear and crying-
And he stops.
Remembers that such days of panic were long gone.
Funny how such memories from so long ago could have such a strong impact on him even now.
Ancient history, as they said.
Thus, Feliciano paused, his hand still shaking, a death grip around the towel he was using to wipe the counters, as he realized that he was truly so very, very old.
How old am I? he wondered, remembering once more that even his extended life had to end one day. How old am I, on the day of my death? How old…
Everyone's life will end and there is nothing you could do to stop it- Feliciano knew that most humans lived never completely understanding or grasping the concept that one day, they simply… wouldn't wake.
He knew there were many older than him, wiser, more experienced, but even then, he still was one of the oldest around, even if his youth had lasted the longest.
He was still young, even now. He hadn't aged since 2000. What was it now? 14528, he remembered. And he still looked a young, healthy twenty. Even his older brother remained unchanged, still carrying the face of an everyday 23-year old.
His mind snapped back to Lovino.
Come home, come home.
The land was getting hotter. The land was burning, his people were burning, he could feel the fires starting, the air in his lungs becoming humid, as all the water of the earth evaporated to the air with so much heat from the sun.
Life was burning, his only world and Earth was burning.
What a wonderful world can be painted with a swipe of a brush, he remembered, an old, old song, he used to sing as a child.
The world would be no longer in a few hours.
Where was his other half?
Where is my brother?
But he feels his people's fear, welling up in him, hears their soft crying and can practically feel them clinging to each other for their last moments.
Where are my arms to take refuge in? Where is my precious person to hold?
The two cats in the household soon joined him, looking just as tired and weak as Feliciano felt. Gino and Vito, the two cats Feliciano and Lovino had owned since even when they were a young, newly independent nation, looked just as exhausted, despite their bodies being trapped forever in their physical prime just like those of their owners. The two cats mirrored Feliciano and Lovino in a way, seeming to take after their respective owners.
He remembered the day he found them- three abandoned kittens in a box, and Feliciano just had to bring them home. Lovino took one- Vito- and Valentino (little Seborga, oh, Feliciano wondered if he was already gone) took Milo, and that left Feliciano with Gino, who was actually a girl, but he found out far too late, and now Gino thinks her name is Gino and not Gina, but it can't be helped, and it's kind of a funny story really, so...
So many memories… are they really so far away, now?
Both cats weakly sat at Feliciano's feet, and Feliciano knelt down to pet them both as well.
"D-Don't be afraid," Feliciano murmured to the felines. "I'm right here. I'm right here. I'll be with you, right here," he whispered, feeling himself start to shake as the reality set in. Maybe he was comforting himself more than the cats.
Today, he was going to die.
Today, everyone was going to die.
Today, the world would end.
Feliciano felt like crying, but he held himself together. He knew how the rest of the world must be… Quietly calling their loved ones, saying goodbyes, tying up loose ends, ending old feuds, forgetting the grudges. Holding each other close and quietly reminding each other that they loved each other to the end.
I love you, so please come home.
And the door opened and quickly slammed shut again, as Lovino rushed in, panting heavily, practically tearing the house apart to find his brother.
"Vino!" Feliciano called out, and Lovino ran to him in the kitchen, wrapping his arms around him tightly and holding him close, clutching him tightly.
"Feliciano…" Lovino breathed out, clinging to him, burying his face into Feliciano's hair and pressing kisses into it, one arm tightly around Feliciano's waist, while the other wrapped up his back and ended with his fingers tangled in Feliciano's hair. Feliciano melted into the embrace, trying not to just burst into tears right there.
"H-How much longer… do you think we have?" Feliciano whispered, covering his brother's face in kisses.
"Just a few hours, at most," Lovino replied, his voice just as shaky as his brother's.
Feliciano began to cry, and Lovino's fists clenched. For a few moments, they were silent, while the two adult cats on the floor tried to comfort their owners, weaving between their legs.
"Amore, let's go to the sea," Feliciano finally whispered, sobbing softly. "One last time."
"Feliciano, you can't be serious. It's… outside, it's…"
"Please," Feliciano pleaded weakly, looking up at his brother with eyes glistening with tears.
"...Let's at least say goodbye to the house," Lovino said softly.
Feliciano sobbed softly and nodded, and his hand lowered to take his brother's, intertwining their fingers and squeezing his hand tightly, afraid to let go.
They wandered through their home one last time, Gino and Vito following faithfully at their heels.
It was so strange. To go through their home, room by room, one last time.
In their living room, they smiled and laughed weakly as they talked softly of nights by the fire, or their many Christmases, the shared kisses and slow dances and little bits of life scattered in every corner of the room.
They moved on.
In the music room, Feliciano played a song on the harp for his brother, something slow and sweet, mournful. And Lovino accompanied him on the violin, silent all the while. The two cats sat weakly at Lovino's feet, listening to the music one last time. They played a bit on the piano, Feliciano played a few old and familiar tunes on the flute, they strummed the strings of their guitars one last time.
The music rang and faded, leaving the room feeling so empty. Feliciano was shaking when he took his brother's hand again. Gino was starting to stumble too, Vito nudging and pushing her along to try and keep Gino moving.
They looked out the windows, at what remained of their orchards, fields, crops, the flowers and all the gardens. Wilted and burned away, now. But they remembered. They remembered working hard together to cultivate the soil of this beautiful earth and produce fresh fruit, to sell and to eat. The days spent playing and soaking each other with the hose more than getting any actual work done. Or some days lazing about in the shade beneath the trees, just watching the clouds go by.
Feliciano led the way upstairs.
The art room was next. So many beautiful paintings and sculptures, pottery works and glass works and any type of hand-created beauty- it was there, all around the room, in stacks, on shelves, sometimes still on easels. Memories of messy paint-fights and portrait sessions, shared sketch-work and paintings that contained the strokes of both their brushes filled their mind as the scent of paint and clay filled their lungs as they breathed in.
Lovino took a small canvas and a bit of red, white, and green paint, creating a simple flag with his free hand. Feliciano felt more tears run down his cheeks, and leaned on his brother, his head resting on his shoulder for a few moments as they thought of their flag, what it stood for- and eventually, they remembered their Unification. Their bound hands squeezed a little tighter.
They moved to their bedroom next, and Feliciano had to stop in the doorway, shaking. He just couldn't stop trembling- it was that horror, that existential dread creeping in, as if he were just a human, just a human facing inevitable death for the first and last time, and not the hundredth. Lovino looked over the room from there, patient and letting his little brother take his time, take baby steps into the room. This was the place they'd cuddled and kissed and made love for millennia, sleeping together and protecting each other from nightmares and the cold of nights.
And there, right there, on the bedside table, was Feliciano's precious music box.
The most precious Christmas gift Lovino had ever given him. He'd taken such incredibly meticulous care of it, that it was still good as new, as if it was still the second millennium instead of the fifteenth. Its song still rang out, light, and clear, so very beautiful and containing some of their strongest memories.
"Wait, please," he murmured, before taking the music box and heading up to the attic. Lovino followed along curiously, having a good idea of what he was trying to do.
Up in the attic were all the relics of their life. Items worth millions were hidden away here, simply for historic value or for things of actual million-dollar quality. They were well-kept secrets of Italy, tucked away in this attic, in the home of Italia Veneziano and Italia Romano.
Feliciano took a flag, one carefully cared for but nonetheless worn- from the day of their Unification, so long ago. He wrapped the music box carefully in it, and then walked downstairs. Lovino followed, gently petting the two cats again before he moved, silently observing his brother's actions. The cats purred weakly, appreciating the comfort. They were uneasy, too.
"Lovino, pick out a good bottle of wine for us, per favore?" Feliciano asked as he entered the kitchen and got out a picnic basket. He carefully set the flag-wrapped music box inside, before going to through the kitchen and gathering the last ingredients left- some basil, olive oil, tomatoes, and bread. He made some simple bruschetta, a dish that had been shared by the two brothers for so long they couldn't remember life before it, one that captured their country in such a simple, yet delicious treat. He wrapped it carefully in a small container, and set that in the picnic basket as well.
Lovino carefully selected the oldest, finest wine they had.
Only the best for today.
He offered it to Feliciano, who smiled softly at it, taking it and placing it in the basket as well, with two wine glasses.
Feliciano also bought a small cup of milk as well, and with a shaking hand placed it in the basket, after placing a lid on it to make sure it wouldn't spill. He also placed a corkscrew inside, to uncork the wine with, placed a picnic blanket and another smaller one inside, and then closed the basket gently.
Eyes full of tears again, Feliciano took his brother's hand, his other hand carrying the basket.
"Are you sure?" Lovino asked softly. "We can stay here, to the end, if you want. It's alright."
"No, I… I'll be alright," Feliciano said with a weak smile. "I'd rather be out by our sea, out in our land, under our sky, when we go." Lovino nodded in understanding, and gently led Feliciano out into the burning heat.
"Addio," they both whispered to their home, before reluctantly walking towards the shore, about ten minutes' walk away. Gino and Vito, with their movements becoming more sluggish, stumbled after their owners- and soon enough, Feliciano let go of Lovino's hand to scoop up Gino in an arm, while Lovino scooped up Vito.
It was a tiring walk.
Usually, the walk seemed so simple, so easy, so carefree, but now… now the air felt heavy with dread and mourning, it was so scalding hot, the world was burning and it showed- their usual blue sky was tainted red.
They trekked up their favorite seaside cliff, perching so they had an excellent view of the sea below, the horizon, the burning sun, and if they turned around, a blurry look at their home as well. The water still formed small waves that washed on and off the sandy shore below, creating a soothing sound even in the chaos of the solar system.
Feliciano spread out the picnic basket and set the basket down on it, before sitting on it as well.
Lovino almost smiled- leave it to Feliciano to have a picnic during the end of the world. But somber still, he sat as well, taking the other blanket and making a cushion of it, placing the cats on top of it. They were losing strength by the minute, and wearily lied down, heads on their paws. As young as the cats all looked, they were still so very old themselves.
Lovino poured out the milk for them, and Feliciano opened up the bruschetta, before pouring out the wine for themselves.
It was a silent meal, their fingers intertwined while their free hands picked up pieces of bruschetta and playfully fed each other one last time. Once that was gone, they took their glasses.
Feliciano swirled his wine around in his glass quietly, staring into the reddish liquid.
Lovino suddenly raised his glass towards his brother.
"To us," he said softly. "To a beautiful, wonderful world, and the life we finally got to have in it," Lovino finished. Feliciano stared at him, tears rolling down his cheeks, and lightly clinked their glasses together.
"T-To us," Feliciano echoed softly, draining the glass in the hopes that somehow the alcohol would stem his tears. Lovino did the same, before leaning down to capture Feliciano's lips in a kiss, a long, slow, sweet one that he tried to pour his infinite love into. It wasn't enough, but… Feliciano understood nonetheless. Besides, the kiss would comfort him, calm him, and Lovino knew it. Even now, Lovino was trying to hold it all together while comforting his more emotional brother.
The cats meowed tiredly.
The two brothers looked over, worried, biting their lips. The cats knew their time was ending, too.
After one last look of adoration, love, loyalty, trust, and hope, their eyes closed, and they stopped breathing.
Lovino held Feliciano close and tight, Feliciano clinging to him as he cried and sobbed at the loss of their faithful companions. Lovino had tears running down his own cheeks, and buried his face into Feliciano's hair to try and hide them, while Feliciano's face was buried into Lovino's neck.
Damn it, damn it all, Lovino thought to himself, fists clenched as he held Feliciano close.
It was becoming more real to them. It was coming.
Feliciano couldn't be strong anymore. He broke down into a panicked mess.
"I-I'm so scared, Vino, I'm so scared…!" he whimpered, clinging to his brother.
"Don't be. We're just going to see nonno again, aren't we?" Lovino asked softly, but stubbornly, alluding to the times they remembered their grandfather's spirit coming to see them. "We're going into History just like him, that's all." Or maybe that had all just been a shared hallucination, but right now, they wanted to believe there would be something more. They needed to believe there was something more, or they'd go mad.
"Caro… if the world ends, doesn't history vanish with it? Who's left to remember history?" Feliciano whimpered, fearful and clinging to him. Lovino trembled as well, feeling the severity of the situation finally come crashing down onto him as well.
"Then we'll… we'll make the best of the time we have left," Lovino whispered softly, feeling the heat become unbearable, deadly, stifling. "E-Even if it's just a little while."
It was close. So close, they could feel it, they could feel themselves fading, ever-so-slowly.
"Feliciano…" Lovino began softly, taking his brother's hands in his.
"I'm so grateful that I have lived this long with you, lived such a long, incredible life with you. You are the most incredible, precious person I've ever known, and I'm so, so glad you existed, mio principino," Lovino said, covering Feliciano's face in kisses, before giving him many long, slow kisses to the lips. He held Feliciano close, tight, never wanting to let him go again.
He could be open here, he could be honest without shame, because now, it was just him and his little brother. Just the two of them in a dying world, or so it felt like.
Feliciano looked his brother in the eyes, and each found the other's eyes full of tears.
"Amore, I'm so, so scared. But if I have to go with you, then… I'm not so afraid anymore," Feliciano whispered. "I wanted independence, I wanted strength, just so we could finally live a peaceful life together-and I'm just so glad, so happy, so blessed and… I just can't believe I have this, have you. Thank you, for the joy you've added to my life," Feliciano said softly, before kissing Lovino a few more times.
They held each other tight, and felt their bodies growing weak.
It was so, so hot. The world was dying.
Their people were dying, the world was ending.
With the last of his strength, Feliciano took out the music box and unwrapped it, wrapping the large flag over their shoulders. Lovino smiled weakly- Feliciano was sentimental to the end, it seemed- and pulled their cats into his arms and lied down. Feliciano lied down beside Lovino, curling up to him, their flag being their funeral drape, and opened up the music box.
"Ti amo," came the soft, simultaneous whispers.
They held each other tight, the cats' peacefully still bodies carefully nestled between them, and they listened to their song one last time.
It was over.
"Wake up," Feliciano heard a familiar voice say. He slowly opened his eyes, finding himself lying on familiar grass, in familiar white clothes. He felt such a soft breeze, and it was oddly warm, but not uncomfortable- certainly not the blaze he just remembered feeling.
Slowly opening his eyes and sitting up, he found Gino purring in his lap, and Feliciano paused for a moment, in shock, before smiling wide, feeling some tears of relief well up in his eyes and fall. He stroked his old pet's fur, and looked around, finding Vito was pawing mischievously at Lovino's ear.
Relieved, Feliciano looked over to his side, and smiled. Lovino was peacefully sleeping beside him.
He gently kissed his brother awake, laughing in delight when he saw his brother's wide, surprised eyes.
"Lovino, we're here. History's still here…!" Feliciano said softly.
"We're… dead," Lovino said first, eyes wide, swallowing hard, looking like he was trying to get used to the fact. He shot up and looked around in awe, trying to take in the picturesque, cliché-seeming landscape. Was this real? Or was this all some hallucination he was having before he actually died? "We're... fucking dead." It was a slow, confused, and also somewhat relieved statement. It was hard to express how he was feeling, at the moment.
"Si, but it's okay!" Feliciano said, far too excited and relieved for words. "We're safe now, amore. We're safe!" he said hugging Lovino tightly, and feeling Lovino hug back. They weren't sure how long they spent just holding each other, but once they pulled apart, they looked around more closely.
Lovino looked around in awe, finding their home nearby, their fields and orchards intact. He found the things from the picnic, music box and flag and all, neatly arranged on their front porch, waiting to be returned to their proper places.
And there were voices! There were so many Nations bustling about, so many voices chattering and confused and lost but also relieved and- oh, but they were all here! All of them, their homes and lands all placed together in a picturesque landscape and making them truly neighbors, as if they were all just humans living in a small town instead of nations living oceans apart. Lovino was overwhelmed, trying to recognize houses and yards and pick out familiar voices, trying to see who was here and who was still "on the way."
But Feliciano distracted him with another kiss, then smiled wide, laughing and playfully bowling his brother over.
They were home.
It was finally time for the Nations to rest.
Feliciano pulled his brother up in excitement, showing off his unblemished, new, scar-free skin unmarred by wars and devastation of disasters gone by, and Lovino smiled so wide. They covered each other in kisses, before Feliciano began to eagerly tug his brother in a certain direction.
"Come on, caro," Feliciano said softly, as Gino and Vito happily weaved between Lovino's ankles, making the elder Italian smile. "Let's go find Nonno and ask him to show us around…"
"Si… Let's go find that old bastard so I can start kicking his ass," Lovino said with a small laugh, and a smirk. "I have a lot to say to him."
Feliciano pouted and whined, protesting any potential violence towards their grandfather, and thus the two began a playful tussle and chase through who knows where, tumbling over the grassy hills and eventually settling down to cuddle close while their cats clambered over them curiously.
Feeling happily at peace with the universe now, they realized their long, troubling lives as Nations were over. And with that realization, they intertwined their fingers and lied close together on the grass, feeling the cats worming their way to snuggle between them, and rested, smiling up at their brand new sky.
A/N: And there it is. I hope it was enjoyable.
I'm aware that the end of the world would truly occur in a few billion years as opposed to a few thousand, but... for some reason, having them stick around billions of years seems almost crueler. The life of a Nation is painful, after all.
Drop a review?