Hello everybody! I know most of you probably won't even read this so I'll keep it short. The chapters will be kind of long, sorry. Implied pairings include AusxSwiss (obviously), RusCan, HongxTai, GerxIta, and PruxHun plus several others. Contains language, violence and sexual content (which is probably why you're even reading this xD) and is marked MATURE accordingly. Now, please enjoy!

...xXx...

When Switzerland had caught up to the two men and slid into the backseat of the violet Audi, he felt a hand clasp him on the shoulder. He turned to see Germany nodding at him—grateful for his presence—before turning back to his cell phone as Austria hit the gas.

Despite the mid-morning traffic, the musician sped through the streets quickly, narrowly avoiding other cars and pedestrians while chatting on his own cell.

The Swiss flinched slightly when the man cursed and flung his phone into the passenger seat as he braked for a red light. "Where are we going exactly?" the blonde asked carefully.

"We're going to pay my boss a visit," Austria murmured, sounding way more calm than he looked. "I want to know exactly what's going on. How the fire got started and who started it, etcetera."

Switzerland met his gaze for a moment in the rearview mirror. "I think we both know the answers to those questions."

There was a solemn pause before the aristocrat's eyes left his and held steadfast on the road in front of them. No more words were spoken the rest of the car ride aside from Germany's heated discussion with his own boss. The Swiss could feel the tension in the air spitting and crackling like a batch of lightning—and beneath it he could start to feel the utter sorrow radiating from the other men, filling the cab with gloom. He opened his mouth to say something, anything, to convey his sympathy—no, empathy. He was apart of this land just as much as them and could almost feel the fire seething through his veins like he knew it was doing to his kin.

Germany had finished his phone call and had rested his elbows on his knees, burying his face into his hands. Rarely did any of the German countries reveal the more touchy emotions like sadness to others, especially amongst themselves, but this lapse in control was not looked down upon by either of his company. It was a shared moment of silence in which each of them understood one another without having to speak. Switzerland felt his own bones begin to ache for them and he reached out to clasp both Germany's shoulder and Austria's in front of him, a small token of comraderie in which the blonde was pledging himself to help in their endeavor. Both leaned a bit into his touch and he gave them a reassuring squeeze.

They were going to catch these bastards.

xXx…

Liechtenstein stood on the curb outside of the grocery store with the Italian, both of them weighed down with bags of food while they waited for Prussia to pull Germany's rental car up.

Italy gave a sigh. "I hope Ludwig and Austria will be ok."

The girl looked up at the moping brunette, offering asmall smile. "Don't worry, Mr. Italy—"

"Veneziano."

"Veneziano." Her smile widened. "I'm sure they'll get everything sorted out and be alright."

Italy beamed down at her, lifting his grocery laden arms into the air. "Yeah. Totally! I'm sure Luddy will be ok, ve!" He paused, his cheeks reddening. He quickly put down his arms and ducked his head in embarrassment. "A-And Austria, too . . ."

The smaller country giggled at his expression, shifting the bags in her arms. "Yes, of course."

A red BMW 550i sedan stopped in front of them and the trunk popped open, Prussia stepping out of the car. He walked towards Liechtenstein and took the heavy groceries from her as Italy stashed his in the trunk. She blinked in surprise, her green eyes following the silver-haired man as he went around to the back of the car. He glanced up at her as he began setting the bags in the trunk, catching her gaze. "What are you looking at?"

The little blonde gripped her dress tightly. "Danke shön."

Prussia paused a second, giving a barely-there nod before ducking his head behind the trunk lid.

Liechtenstein blinked in disbelief again. Was the Prussian . . . actually trying to be nice to her? And . . . was he embarrassed about that? No. No, that didn't sound right. What the hell was he supposed to be embarrassed about? And why was he all of a sudden being nice to her? Prussian had only ever shown sarcasm and distaste at her presence.

And she was totally over thinking this.

"Get in the car, airhead, before I drive off without you." Red eyes glared at her as the man closed the trunk, brushing past her. The girl shook herself from her thoughts and slid into the backseat of the sedan. Glancing at Italy in the frontseat as she belted herself in, the silver-haired man poked his head in the driver's side window. "I'll be just a moment."

Prussia stepped away from the car and made his way back towards the store. Most of the crowd that had gathered to watch the tragic news of the fire had dissipated, headed home or went to finish their shopping—like they had done. He had to admit to himself that he didn't plan on having to grocery shop with Italy and the chick today, or any day for that matter. The Italian was alright, but he didn't really care for Switzerland's little sister. However . . .

She wasn't that bad.

She just looked too much like him.

That broody bastard with the stick too far up his ass.

Though, he doubted the Swiss had actually ever tried having a stick up his—

"Hallo."

A force slamming into him ripped him away from his thoughts, and before he could blink his body was dragged around the corner of the store and into an alleyway. He swung his arm blindly and he could feel his knuckles connecting with a jaw. A loud yelp of pain sounded and he was able to twist away, whipping around to see two men standing before him: one thin and lanky with a red bandana tied around his face and gray eyes, the other a hulking man with a blue bandana who was currently rubbing his cheek where the Prussian's fist had hit it.

"What do you want?" Prussia barked in his native tongue, his fists raised in a defensive stance.

The red bandana guy held up his hands in surrender, taking a step back. "Hey, we're here to give you a message. We're not here to fight." Gray eyes glanced over at his partner. "Though you did clock Albatross pretty good."

"Shut up, Sparrow," the blue bandana hissed, straightening up.

Sparrow? Albatross? What the hell was up with the weird ass nicknames? Wait a minute . . . Prussia's burning red eyes narrowed at the two men and he lowered his hands, his body beginning to relax. "Are you Silver's men?" he asked.

Liechtenstein had sprung out of the car the instant she saw Prussia get nabbed by a couple of guys, yelling for Italy to stay and keep the car running. Even though the two of them didn't get along—at all—she still ran over to try and protect the man. He would probably hate her for even thinking that, but the fact of the matter was that he was no longer a country and, thus, could die as easily as any other human. Plus, trying to help was the right thing to do.

Racing towards the entrance to the alleyway, the girl stopped in her tracks and hugged her body to the brick wall. Hands on her knives, she carefully peeked around the corner. Adrenaline seared through her veins when she spotted Prussia standing with his back to a dumpster, his fists at the ready. She was just about to jump in and help when she heard one of the men speaking to him. Then he suddenly lowered his hands, calming himself and talking back.

What is he doing? Liechtenstein thought. Her emerald orbs squinted at the scene, trying to listen in.

". . . Agent Silver's men?" she just caught the last bit of Prussia's sentence.

"That we are," one of the men replied, the one with a red bandana around his face.

"Then why the hell did you fuckin' grab me?!"

"W-We needed to get you alone, sir," the brute with a blue bandana answered this time.

"We were supposed to give you this message yesterday but you had already left and it took awhile for our master to find you because we lost you at the airport."

The girl could see red eyes rolling up to the sky even from where she stood. She had to strain, though, to hear the Prussian mutter, "The little bastard could have just texted me."

"Too risky."

"Whatever. What the hell does he want me to do now? I already managed to convince my dense brother that we should come here."

What? Who were these guys? The tiny country's pulse quickened as she continued to listen to the conversation, a bad feeling settling into her gut.

"He says that you—" the red bandana began his sentence but then stopped, and Liechtenstein had to pull her gaze away swiftly back behind the wall as he glanced around. The mysterious man then whispered something unintelligible and there was a pause. He spoke up again and she was forced to use all of her willpower to hear him say, "He says that all you have to do is to plant this in Austria's home and we'll take it from there. Then just go back home and wait. We'll contact you. But before you go, there's something we have to deal with first."

Liechtenstein waited silently a moment before the slight sound of shoes scuffing pavement a few feet away from her snapped her back to attention. She hurriedly burst away from the wall just as a large arm swung around to grab her, catching the back of her dress. She gave a long shriek, purposely ignoring her weapons, and caught the attention of a group of passersby.

"Helfen Sie mir!" she shouted. Just as the pedestrians ran towards her, yelling at the crook who grabbed her dress, she could feel the violet material rip and she managed to literally tear herself away. Feet pounding not nearly as fast as her heart across the asphalt, she flung open the driver's side door of the BMW and slipped in.

Italy gave a surprised gasp as Liechtenstein punched her foot down on the gas, the tires squealing as the car took off from the curb.

The tiny country did her best to try and stay composed as she struggled to see where she was going and keep the car in her lane. As she adjusted her seat forward and up, she noticed that the Italian was spitting questions at her.

"Ve! Are you alright? What happened? Where's Gilbert, ve? Why did we leave him back there?"

Once she got herself situated and her heart composed itself, she buckled herself in and looked over into worried brown eyes.

"Y-Yeah, I'm fine Mr. Italy—I-I mean, Veneziano, I-I'm sorry but there were these m-men after me a-and I just had to get away f-from them," she stuttered out. Huh. Apparently she wasn't as calm as she thought.

Liechtenstein felt a warm hand on her thigh and she glanced down to see Italy's fingers touching the white satin under-dress she had on, visible beneath the huge rip in her clothing.

"Your dress . . ." he began.

The girl patted his hand lightly before waving off his concern. "I'm fine, really," she said, taking a slow, deep, soothing breath. She nodded to herself, finally feeling her nerves starting to settle down. "I'm fine," she stated again, more to herself this time.

Italy eyed her carefully for a moment before settling back into his own seat. "So where are we going?"

"Back to Mr. Austria's house, I guess. There's nowhere else to go."

"What about Gilbert, ve?"

"I don't know." The tiny country flinched slightly at the name, her mind still trying to process the conversation she had overheard. What with Prussia talking to these shady looking men, wearing bandanas and snatching him off the sidewalk, she was having difficulty understanding what she had just witnessed. They had been talking about doing something to Austria, and while she didn't know what exactly, it still made her on edge. And what the red bandana man said about the Prussian . . .

"Veneziano?" Liechtenstein asked softly, catching the humming man's attention.

"Ve?"

"Can you promise me something?" She wasn't sure whether or not she could ask this of him.

Italy grinned at her. "What is it, bella?"

"Could you . . ." the girl took a deep breath, turning on the highway. "When we all get back to the mansion, all of us, do you think you could convince Mr. Germany to take you back home?"

"But . . . ve?" The Italian's eyes widened in confusion at her. "But I'm staying with Luddy and Gil in Berlin."

"Oh, no! I didn't mean that he had to take you home home, I meant if you could get him to take you two—you and Prussia—back to Berlin," she corrected quickly.

"Why?"

"Because . . . Prussia is going to try and hurt Mr. Austria tonight." It wasn't exactly a lie, but at the same time she didn't really know if that statement was true or not. The only thing she did know was that he was planning something with those bandana wearing thugs and some guy called 'Agent Silver.' Whatever it was, she wanted to prevent it at all costs because it didn't sound right.

"Ve? Really?" Italy chirped and she nodded. She saw him twisting his hands in his shirt in her peripheral vision, a rare thoughtful look on his face. There were a few minutes of silence, aside from the quiet alternative rock music on the radio, before he spoke up once more. "Is that why we left Prussia back there?"

The smaller country didn't fail to notice the name change on Italy's part. "Ja," she murmured. She spared another quick glance at him, her bright gem eyes pleading. "Please? Oh, won't you help me with this, Vene, bitte?"

The Italian smiled somewhat at her abbreviation of his name, closing his eyes happily and nodding. "Si, bella, I'll help."

The relief flooding over her almost made her miss their exit, and she let out a breath she didn't know she had been holding. "Danke! Oh, danke so viel. Promise me you won't tell anyone?"

"I promise, ve!"

Liechtenstein drove them the rest of the way back with a smile on her face. Feeling accomplished that she had semi-gotten Mr. Austria a way to avoid Prussia, she put aside the incident that just happened and enjoyed the car ride with her newfound ally. So yeah, she smiled.

Not even noticing the white van trailing behind her.

xXx…

"Switzerland, what are you doing here?"

The country in question shifted from foot to foot nervously. Austria, Germany, and he had entered the Austrian's capital building a few moments before, pushing past press, PR officials, and security quickly to head for the president's office. Having Austria with them was a blessing, as the security detail seemed determined to keep the German and Swiss outside. It wasn't until the aristocrat had flashed a badge and murmured that they were with him did the burly guards let them go.

The marble floor and paintings lining the hallways glided past them swiftly as they hurriedly followed the brunette. When they had reached the office, the president had been leaning over a pile of papers on his desk with his secretary and several high officials chatting away in his ear. One of the officials was just spouting something involving a terrorist attack when Austria burst into the room, Germany and Switzerland hanging back out in the hallway.

"I demand to know what's going on!" the musician hissed.

The room went silent for a moment before the president ordered everyone else to leave. The man that had mention terrorists protested until the commander gave him a glare and he slunk out of the room with everyone else, passing curious glances to the three countries loitering in the doorway.

And so that's where they were now. Austria's boss had snapped at him for being difficult to get a hold of and he didn't even glance twice at Germany's presence—as the fire was also his problem. But as soon as the hardened eyes spotted the Swiss the man had stiffened, adjusting his glasses and asking why the blonde country was there as well.

"I'm . . . on holiday?" he offered, sharing a look with Austria. He said the first excuse that came to mind because he didn't think the man's boss would take kindly to him 'babysitting' his country. Especially with their recent history.

"You picked a hell of a time to vacation," the president grumbled, shuffling the stack of papers on his desk.

"You never answered my question," Austria said, frustration steeling his voice.

The commander straightened the papers, his voice gruff as he said, "Have you seen the news lately? We know about as much as the press, and they probably are finding out more than we are at this point." He frowned at the Swiss again but the blonde held his ground until the man spoke again. "Switzerland, Germany, if you wouldn't mind waiting outside, I need to talk to him. Privately."

They didn't need to be told twice and, even though the Swiss was unhappy to be left out, he stepped out of the room, sharing a glance with Austria before closing the door and taking a seat on the hallway bench with Germany.

xXx…

"Now then," Austria's boss began once the other two countries were gone.

"What started the fire?" the aristocrat asked, though deep down he already knew who the culprits were.

"We don't know," the president admitted. He gave a tired sigh and slumped back into his leather chair, taking off his glasses and rubbing his face.

Austria began to pace back and forth in the office as his boss continued to speak, absently rubbing at the burning sensation on his right arm.

"There were no lightning storms along the border yesterday or today that could have caused such a blaze."

"Mmm."

"Even if there had been it is doubtful that this was an accident. The fire was so controlled as it has only spread along our border with Germany that the only assumption can be that it was purposeful. However . . ."

The commander let his words die as he finally looked at his country. Austria was pretty much making a track around the room, needlessly straightening objects or his outfit, brushing back his hair, adjusting his glasses, and rubbing his arms as if they itched. He was also muttering, but the man could only catch snippets of it. "History . . . Centuries and centuries of history just . . . As if it didn't matter . . . And my people . . . oh god—"

"Austria."

The country snapped his head up at his boss's stern tone, tearing himself away from his agitated state. The man looked just as exhausted as he felt but was doing a pretty good job of keeping it together. Austria quit his pacing and cleared his throat, embarrassed at his momentary actions. He couldn't let himself panic—that wouldn't help anyone.

"My apologies."

His boss nodded and was about to speak again when he gave a rough cough, grabbing a few tissues off of his desk and coughing into them. Austria's heart sank and he leaned his hands on the desk.

"You're not doing any better?" he asked in concern.

"Neither are you," the president gruffed out, throwing the tissues away. "First the contagion and now we have to worry about damn terrorist attacks. Do you have any idea who could be the culprit?"

The aristocrat gave a sigh and sat down across from the man. It was about time he'd told his boss what had happened, considering he'd been putting it off for the past couple days. So that's just what he did.

The man sat quietly through most of the country's story as he told him all about Salzburg and the alleyway incident. Austria purposefully left out Switzerland and Liechtenstein, not wanting to make things more complicated than they already were. When he was finished, his boss quickly wrote down the men's descriptions that the musician gave him and the van. He would have his secretary notify all police departments and news networks to put out an APB out for them as soon as possible. When he was done scribbling, he looked back up at his country.

"Now then, here's what I would like for you to do . . ."

xXx…

Switzerland had his eyes closed for a long time as he sat on the uncomfortably plush and iron bench outside the Austrian President's office. Germany had been called in to speak with the other two a little over an hour ago and, thus, he was left to his thoughts as he was, yet again, discluded. The room was sound proof so there was no trying to listen in on what was being discussed. Instead, his mind played through the events of earlier.

It was the fire that had caused Austria's massive attack at the store. His hands clenched tightly into the fabric of his discarded coat that lay beside him on the bench. His hands weren't the only thing to tighten up as he thought of the scare he had gone through inside the closet. When he thought that the musician had truly died . . .

"R-Roderich, please, you can't do this. Not now. Y-You can't. You can't 'cause I-I . . . just no. Please . . ."

Switzerland's eyes flew open to stare incredulously out the velvet draped window opposite him. What . . . What had he been about to say to the aristocrat in that moment?

"You can't 'cause I-I . . ."

His cheeks flushed in unknown embarrassment. He really had no idea what he would have said in that moment, but the implications made his cheeks redden and his heartbeat quicken all the same.

The Swiss coughed into his hand and forced his thoughts away from the subject. Instead, he focused on remembering as much as he could about the two men who had followed them into the grocery mart. He mentally jotted down every physical aspect he could remember.

One was about 5'6 with either tied back or close-shaved hair hidden under a black hoodie. Odd gray eyes, almost silver. Red bandana over his lower face. Left hand and wrist bandaged—most likely because of the scuffle with Austria.

The other was way taller, close to 6'4 at least. Short brown hair, blue eyes, blue bandana. Trenchcoat.

It wasn't much to go on, but he filed away the information nonetheless.

A country never forgot a face.

Switzerland started as Austria burst out of the doors to his right, shouting back inside, "I'm not doing it and that's final!" The brunette muttered angry insults under his breath as he stomped down the hallway as dignified as he could, ignoring the blonde completely.

The Swiss stood up quickly to follow the pissed off aristocrat, when a hand on his shoulder halted his movements. He glanced back to see Germany inclining his head back towards the office. "He wants to talk to you."

He must have looked surprised since the German nodded in confirmation before following after the seething musician.

Switzerland blinked a moment in confusion. After a moment he straightened his shoulders, still unsure of what happened, and, his face set in serious determination, walked into the Presidential Office, shutting the door behind him with a soft click.

xXx…

Hello again, it's been awhile since I've had to vent over anything, so here goes.

My day was absolute hell.

It's started off great, I suppose, despite the fact that I somehow woke up outside. I went and made breakfast and then went to check on my two house guests. I'm glad they're sleeping well here—Lilli especially seems to have settled right in. Vash is still a little uncomfortable, as expected. After all, this isn't his home anymore. I wonder if he feels like he's unwelcome? Maybe I should do something to quell those fears.

Anyway, I'm glad he didn't wake up when I was checking him for a fever. That could have complicated thing between us even further. Or . . . maybe it wouldn't have? He did lean into my palm when I touched his cheek as he slept. But, alas, whatever reason he did that must have disappeared as soon I'd frightened him awake.

I've also begun to question his feelings for me a lot the past few days, not just because of this morning's incident. But also when I blacked out earlier in the store, in that dreadfully tiny janitorial closet. Vash had cried for me. Really cried for me. I must question him on this later. And his body being pressed so close to mine . . . It would be a lie if I said I wasn't disappointed when Lilli and the others freed us from our predicament.

Speaking of Vash, he's still not here. It's close to 9 o'clock at night. Where could he be? Probably still at the office. I wonder what he could be discussing with my boss that could take all day to talk about.

Oh yeah, back to my original purpose for writing today.

So, my meeting with the President didn't go exactly as I had planned. Not only did I get into a major confrontation with my boss, but it had also been in front of Ludwig. And then I had stormed away—admittedly—like a child. I was terribly discomfited afterward, though, and spent our whole drive back home switching between apologizing for his behavior and ranting about what he had told me to do.

He wants me to leave.

To abandon my people.

My country.

Myself.

To go and stay with Ludwig or Elizabeta until this whole situation blows over.

Like hell I am going to do that. Despite my usual politeness, I told my boss just exactly what I thought of that idea. It wasn't one of my shining moments. But even though he is the leader of my country, my boss, he has no right ordering me to do this. Whether or not I am here doesn't matter if my people and I don't survive this onslaught of disease and terrorism, so I have chosen to stay. In a metaphorical sense, I am going down with my ship.

Sadly, that was just the start of my horrible day. I believe the real reason as to my needing to vent on paper (which I haven't done in months, might I note) has to be none other than that silvery, red-eyed scoundrel who seems intent on ruining my life every chance he gets.

When Ludwig and I had arrived home earlier, it was only about noon. It's weird to think how early all of this happened. This day has flown by. Anyway, when we returned here we happened to walk in on quite a—oh, how shall I put this? Awkard? No, no, not quite. Desperate? No . . .

Dangerous is the word I'm looking for. Yes, we walked in on a dangerous situation.

Let's just say it was shock that probably held Ludwig and I back at first. I mean, when we stepped through the doors the first thing that appeared in front of us was Lilli—this sweet, innocent girl who's barely 5ft tall—pinning a certain idiot up against the foyer wall. One of her knees was dug into the man's abdomen as a dainty arm pressed tightly against his throat.

I have never seen a sight that was both alarming and a tad bit hilarious at the same time. The fact that this little girl who barely weighs anything overpowering a full grown man nearly made me laugh. However the severity of the situation quickly set in once we saw Prussia reaching for a vase nearby to use as a weapon, and Ludwig and myself dashed forward to break up the scuffle. I easily lifted the girl away from him as Germany detained his brother.

It surprised me how much Lilli was shaking I my arms—and truly she weighs next to nothing. Whether with anger or fear I couldn't see because whatever emotions were in her big eyes immediately disappeared as soon as I had taken her into my arms. I gave her a stern glare, to be sure. Violence is not suited for a young lady. Country or not. But she just looked surprised at my interference for an instant before hugging me tightly. Who was more taken aback in that moment, I don't know.

I, of course, couldn't stay mad at her for long. I don't know what this feeling for her in my chest is exactly—perhaps paternal affection? Or maybe I was just leading up to another heart attack.

Once we had separated the two, I left Lilli with Ludwig and Veneziano—who had appeared silently after the fight ended—and pulled Prussia down the hall into my study. I had choice words I wished to give him, plus questions about what had been going on. Here, I shall write down as much as I can remember of the conversation, including our actions, to chronicle this exact event that nearly made me kill this man:

"What on Earth are you doing?" I had only raised my voice a little.

"What do you mean? She attacked me." Red eyes narrowed at me. Rude.

I crossed my arms. "Are you serious? You're twice her size! Not that I'm giving you reason to fight Liechten—you know what? Why were you two even fighting in the first place?"

"It's none of your business!"

"Like hell it is!" Again, my voice was only barely raised. "You come into my house, and assault my guests—"

"Oh, stop being such a tight ass. Yet again, you always did have a—"

And so I smacked him with the riding crop that was nearby on the desk. Not one of my prouder moments, but I was so angry that he even dared to change the subject to one such as that. I believe this is when I got really furious. Here's the rest of the conversation:

"Do not speak of that! How dare you bring that up!"

Prussia just gave me a stupid grin and rubbed his cheek. "It seems you're still sore about about that. Tell me, are you still sore in other places other than that icy heart of yours?"

I raised the crop again. "You . . . You vulgar ass!" He caught the crop when I swung it at his smug face again and pushed me against my desk. It was painful against my hips and—I'll admit only to you, journal—that a spike of fear rang through my veins.

"Ooo, there's that fiery spirit that I've missed," he laughed. "You keep it so well hidden."

"You used me to get to Hungary. All you do is use and use, never thinking of the repercussions," I spat at him.

"Oh, and you don't?"

"I will not be talked down to!"

"What? You can dish it out but can't take it?" A mocking grin. Those demonic eyes taunting me. Knowing that he was messing with me.

I shoved him away with a swift kick aimed at his vital regions, which he barely missed. And I wish he hadn't.

"Gah! I'm done with this! Leave. Now." I pointed at the door crossly and when he made no move to leave, I gave up and pushed past him.

But then he grabbed my arm and I felt a chill run down my spine as hot breath was pressed against my ear.

"Watch yourself, Roddy."

Oh, I was about to slap him if the urge to run at his words didn't kick in beforehand.

I can't help it.

All those memories of that time came flooding back and I—I just couldn't be in the same room as him any longer. You, journal, you already know. However, for nearly the past nine hours I have moved around my house and cleaned aimlessly. Sweet Lilli tried to help me, but I just told her to get some rest from the scare she's had and—oh dear, when I saw he ripped dress! I swear that man is such a brute. If he comes anywhere near my house again I swear I'll . . . I'll come up with a good threat later.

Right this moment, now that I've written down everything that happened I am doing my best to put that man from my thoughts. He got me so worked up earlier that I did eventually have an attack. I do feel bad for Ludwig and kicking him out early, as well, but there were just too many people in my house. I couldn't take it at the moment. So, he had taken his brother and left—how those two are ever related I will truly never understand. They'd left for a hotel nearby for the night, I suppose, so Veneziano opted to stay here. I didn't really want him here at first, and tried to convince him to leave with the others, but the face he had given me broke my resolve.

He and Lilli helped me with cleaning—against my better wishes. Well, Lilli helped with cleaning and the Italian made lunch, and then dinner not too long ago. I couldn't stomach it, though, put off from all the events of today. Veneziano seemed disappointed to the point of tears, so I told him to store some away for me and I shall eat it later. Hopefully. I believe I might soon, I can start to feel my hunger pains.

I convinced Lilli to give me her dress so I can mend the tear in the fabric instead of just throwing it out. Really! It's such a beautiful lavender, it'd be a shame to waste it. The two of them are resting now, thankfully planted in front of the television watching one of the movies from my collection—the Titanic, I think—afraid to put on live TV for the news. I don't blame them for wanting to ignore the world for the moment. Maybe when I'm done with Lilli's dress I'll go join them. Or I could take a break, this dining chair is hurting my back somewhat.

Oh. Oh was that the door? Yes, yes it was. It looks like Vash is home. I'm eager to hear about his day and clear my mind of troubles.

. . .

Vash is home. I like the sound of that.

~Fin

xXx…

Austria gently closed the leather bound journal and tied it shut. He gave a sigh and leaned back away from the dining table, stretching his back. He glanced over into the kitchen and could see a familiar blonde man slowly trudge into the room. His hair was slightly disheveled and he looked incredibly wore down. The man didn't even look up to see him; instead he just threw down his coat and scarf on the counter and immediately headed for the refrigerator.

The musician gave a small huff of concern, resting his head in his hand as he watched the Swiss pull out the large bowl of spaghetti leftovers. The Austrian just sat in stillness, listening to the Titanic echoing in the background, along with a few comments from the two countries watching it, and scrutinizing the man in front of him preparing the cold food.

As a particularly loud orchestral sequence arose from the television behind him, Austria couldn't help but turn and look to see a ballroom flashing across the screen. A small smile tugged at his lips as memories of many balls and dances flitted through his mind. He continued to watch the movie from a distance until a small clank of a plate being set down caught his attention.

He leaned away from the table again and looked to see the blonde sitting down at the chair to his right, setting his food down. He also glanced down at the table to see an identical plate of food steaming in front of him. His chest began to heat up and he smiled softly at the food. "Danke schön."

"Bitte schön," Switzerland barely muttered out before digging into his plate of pasta.

Austria's smile widened and he stood up to go fetch them some ice tea to drink. The Swiss muttered his own thank you when he handed it to him, and soon the both of them were eating and drinking in silence, paying the most attention to the Titanic in the living room. Liechtenstein had sleepily turned her head at the sound of her brother's entrance and called out a soft 'Welcome back,' Italy waving a 'hello' to him, too, before the both of them turned back to the television.

The musician was brimming with questions to ask the blonde, but he waited patiently for the man to settle down. He just focused on keeping his food down—and refraining from inhaling the pasta as fast as he could because he was, indeed, starving. He hadn't eaten all day, but with the way the day had gone he just simply hadn't thought of it. And the Swiss probably guessed this to be the case since, without even glancing at him, he had reheated a fair portion of food for him.

Switzerland sat quietly beside him, sipping at his tea slowly once he finished eating. The aristocrat could see the stress visible on his face, and he knew by how intently he was staring at the TV that the man was prolonging the inevitable questions that the Austrian was going to ask him.

And though he really wanted to know what his boss and the Swiss had talked about for so long, he instead went a different route.

Austria pushed his empty plate away from himself and turned more towards the blonde, seeing the country's shoulders tense up at his movement. But the blonde still kept watching the movie. It wasn't until the brunette began to lean towards him did he snap his attention to the man beside him, quickly leaning his face just a tad out of reach.

Green eyes were wide as he sputtered in a harsh whisper, "W-What the hell are you doing?!"

The Austrian just gave him a slightly disappointed look, eyebrows furrowing. "I was about to thank you."

"Th-Thank me how?! You could just say it!" The Swiss kept up his whisper so as not to alert the other two countries. "And f-for what, exactly?"

The musician raised his hand up and stroked his thumb on the blonde's left cheek, brushing up under a shocked eye softly. "You cried for me."

"Wait, what?"

The aristocrat sighed, continuing to rub the man's cheek as along as he would let him. "Did you know it's easier for someone who cries a lot to hold in their tears than someone who doesn't cry a lot? You cried for me. Not many people would do that anymore."

Switzerland was so dumbfounded by the statement that the only thing he could come up with was, "My tears were just an allergic reaction being so close to that frilly necktie of yours." He paused. "France would."

Austria gave a small smirk at the comment. "France cries at everything. And Italy."

"Liechtenstein did," the blonde said faintly, casting his eyes down at the table. He gradually looked back up at the man still absently stroking his cheek. "Wait, was that a vague reference to me?"

"I was simply stating a fact that would help prove my point."

"Uh huh." Switzerland leaned out of the musician's touch and rested his head on his own hand, leaning on the table while looking suspiciously at him. "So you believe I should shed some tears to help relieve my burden?"

"No, it was just a simple fact."

The blonde rolled his eyes to the ceiling, and gestured melodramatically at the man. "Oh dear, is your shoulder available? I feel a sob coming on!" He huffed and took a sip of his tea. "Screw you, too, idiot."

The Austrian just began to laugh that lilting, exhilarating laugh of his and the Swiss couldn't help but only sigh half-angrily. "Why are you laughing? I just insulted you!"

Austria hummed pleasantly and stared warmly at him with calm violet orbs. "At least you're acknowledging me."

"What's that supposed to mean? I've been here for five days, now, so of course I've acknowledged you!"

The aristocrat just hummed again and lifted his hand to touch the blonde's chin. "We got a little off topic, now didn't we?" The Swiss froze in panic as his heart began to thump heavily.

"Now, are you going to let me thank you?"

"H-How, exactly?" He couldn't keep the stutter out of his voice.

"By fucking you so hard up against this dinner table until the legs give out."

Switzerland's cheeks began to turn a cute cherry color and he gasped when the brunette's thumb ran along his bottom lip.

Austria was thankful that he hadn't really voiced that option aloud. It would have complicated things possibly beyond repair. Damn, his lewd thoughts were starting to surface, what with the Swiss making that really adorable expression at his touch. Instead, he said, "Like how we used to thank each other when we were little. Just a simple peck on the cheek."

The blonde's emerald eyes just stared at him incredulously as he mumbled out, "Yeah, well, we're men now. Grown ones, at that, too. There's nothing simple about . . . doing that."

The Austrian blinked.

Oh. Oh. This might become a problem later on.

He'd never even gave a thought as to the Swiss' sexual orientation—though in the man's country it's not like there was public prejudice towards this kind of thing. As long as you didn't flaunt it, no one cared. And as for himself, he never really preferred either gender, what mattered to him was the type feelings he had for whomever he cared for.

And did he care for Switzerland.

Oh, he most certainly did.

"But still," he finally spoke up after a moment of awkward silence, pulling away from his thoughts. He decided to turn on his charm and gave a little pout, lightly patting the other country's cheek with his fingertips. "Please? Just let me do this?"

He could see the internal struggle happening behind Switzerland's guarded façade until finally the man gave a heavy sigh and turned to look at the television again. In the light flashing on his face from the screen, the musician could still see a dark blush coating that lovely skin of his. He gave a curt nod, scrunching his eyes closed tightly. "Fine."

Austria's heart soared and he wasted no time in going in for the kill. He gently splayed his fingers over the man's throat and underside of his chin, his other hand playing with the small hairs at the nape of his neck. He caringly pressed his lips to the blonde's cheek, never ceasing to wonder at how smooth and supple the skin was beneath his lips. Like a silky desert, the Austrian couldn't help but nip at the cheek tenderly, closing his eyes in bliss. He whispered a passionate, "Vielen dank," and his fevered breath tickled the blonde's cheek.

He could feel the Swiss shudder beneath his touch, a tiny whimper sounding beneath his fingertips—and that's when his control faltered. He began laying equally vigorous kisses all over the skin beneath his lips, cheeks, jaw, neck, loving the irresistible taste and heat against his own skin. His right hand gave a small tug at the man's hair as his other hand snaked up the lithe throat. Switzerland gulped beneath his touch nervously and his thumb yet again rested upon a plump bottom lip, spreading those pink luscious lips apart just as a ragged gasp escaped the blonde. The musician directed his gaze hungrily upon the man's envyingly succulent mouth and he began to direct his line of abuse down towards the blonde's lips. He gave a slight growl as he spread them farther apart to allow him immediate access to the hot, wet cavern that he was dying to explore and taste every crevice of. He pulled just a centimeter away as he moved the man's jaw so he was facing him directly and he'd be lying if he said he didn't get an immediate arousal at the man's expression. The look he was giving him—mouth parted invitingly, pupils dialated, heavy gasping, cheeks flushed and skin reddening even more from the sudden enthusiastic attention—it was so erotic it should be illegal.

But in his moment of hesitation the country in his grasp seemed to snap back to reality and swiftly, if a bit clumsily, slid out the other side of the chair. He grabbed his plate and all but jogged into the kitchen. Austria's hands were still midair and he lowered them in defeat, sighing in exasperation and running a hand through his hair. He heard the sink turn on as the Swiss began to wash his dishes frantically, looking as intent as one could be when trying to ignore something else.

Damn. Damn it all. He blew it.

The aristocrat stood up and pushed both the dining table chairs in, grabbing his own dishes. He saw Liechtenstein and Italy begin to get up from the couch as the movie's end credits played, stretching and yawning. Apparently they hadn't seen anything so that was good. He walked into the kitchen and set his plate in the sink on top of the blonde's, seeing his neighboring country tense up at him being so near after what just happened.

He was about to turn away from the man ignoring him and glaring down at the dishes, refusing to look at him, when he heard Switzerland spit out harshly, "That was not a little peck."

Yep.

He blew it.

There was no hope left for him to salvage the situation.

Even though a knock sounding from the front door gave him a needed distraction from his current inner scolding, he was still left in a daze. Austria stepped out of the kitchen and into the foyer, opening the front door to see Germany standing there.

"I'm here to pick Italy up," he said, adjusting his green scarf against the cold and the Austrian quickly ushered him inside. The musician felt a presence behind him and turned to see the brunette in question walking up to them, sleepily rubbing his eyes.

"Ve, Luddy?"

"Hmm? What is it?"

"C-Can I stay here tonight?" Italy asked, pleading just a bit with those bright brown eyes of his as he glanced in between the two Germans. "Please, ve?"

Austria looked to find that Germany's expression was a tad disappointed, if also bit weary as he crossed his arms. The aristocrat thought it might be because he didn't want to be separated from the Italian, or have to deal with his brother all night by himself. Or both.

"You shouldn't trouble him, Vene," the blonde muttered, not really protesting.

Before Italy could say anything Austria spoke up and gave a kind smile to him. "How about you go with Luwig, hmm?" The Italian looked crestfallen so he continued with, "If you're good about it you can come and visit me tomorrow if you wish, yes? I'm not going anywhere."

Italy still looked a little deflated but nodded in agreement before going to collect his jacket. In the meantime, the German gave him a relieved look. "Danke."

Austria just shook his head. "No, it's fine. I'm sorry to burden you with this . . . How are you?"

Germany uncrossed his arms, shuffling his feet slightly. That's when the brunette noticed how the man was favoring his left side, shifting most of his weight onto his right foot and somewhat cradling his left arm against his torso. He saw the Austrian notice his actions so he didn't say a word in response.

The aristocrat just stared sadly down at the wooden floor, repeating, "I'm sorry."

"This isn't your fault," the blonde grunted out, straightening up a bit in frustration. "We'll find these insane bastards and make them pay, be sure of that."

Austria couldn't help but smile as the German's usual fierceness began to show itself, comforting him a little. Italy returned with a thick coat and scarf on and the two of them promptly left after saying their goodbyes to everyone.

The country slowly closed and locked the front door, prolonging the inevitable confrontation he and a certain Swiss were sure to have.

However, when he turned back to the rest of the house, he saw Switzerland dressed in a heavy jacket turning around the corner with his suitcase in hand, a tired Liechtenstein by his side. Austria's heart gave a painful thump and he took a frightened step back to block the door. Was he going to leave?! Did he really upset him that much when he kissed him? Damn, he really messed things up . . !

"Where are you going?"

"I'm going back home," Switzerland said, stopping in the foyer to put his boots on and not sparing him a glance.

The musician did his best to hide the desperation in his voice. "Will you be coming back?"

The blonde finished tying his laces and stood up, finally facing him with a look that was brimming with sarcasm. "Of course I'm coming back, idiot, I've left half my stuff here. And I'm not about to leave Lilli here with you forever, either."

The flood of relief that assailed him nearly made him have to lean up against the door for support. That was when he noticed that Liechtenstein was already wearing a cotton blue nightgown and standing barefoot next to the Swiss. She perked up a bit and said, "I'll be staying here with you, though, if that's alright, Mr. Austria."

He couldn't help his bright smile as he was still getting over his scare. "Good company is always welcome to stay." He turned to the blonde, knowing this was a grave matter and that he was trusting him immensely by leaving his little sister here with him. "I'll look after her, don't worry."

The Swiss rolled his eyes. "She's staying here to look after you, idiot. Not the other way around. And I'll only be gone a day, at most." His tone was only half serious, though, and he gave a miniscule nod of appreciation. There was a strained moment of silence between them as Liechtenstein gave her brother a goodbye hug and Austria opened the door for him, handing him the keys to the Audi. Their hands touched briefly and Swiss only met his eyes for a short second before dashing away and—oh. Oh, was that . . ?

A bit of pink tinged the tips of his ears as he bashfully tucked a strand of blonde hair behind one said ear. He strolled down the porch and towards the car, the light from the house illuminating a small wave he gave them. Austria's heart rocketed against his ribcage.

So, it seemed hope wasn't dead after all.

xXx…

Hallo all of you lovely fanfiction readers you. I'm officially OUT of my hiatus, so enjoy, mon amis, for I am sooooo glad to be back! :D

~WhisperWeeper