Author's Notes: Based on this prompt from the kink meme: "Turkey being old and frail… because the Ottoman Empire was called "the sick man of Europe". RUN WITH IT." However I've got a feeling that's not really what the fic wound up being about. I might want to warn for the history: there's nothing I expect anyone to find particularly sensitive, but still wars and such being treated in a serious manner, so be careful. No real pairings, except maybe a childhood implication of Aus/Swiss... which could turn into an implication for these two at the end? That's not really what it's meant to mean, though. Further notes down below.

The Sleepwalkers

Nobody answers the door when he shows up. He's not particularly ashamed of having to pick the lock; perhaps in normal circumstances it would be discourteous, but this has happened before and the man never remembers well enough to be angry.

He steps inside and shuts the door fairly loudly, just so Turkey knows someone has arrived. "Turkey?" he calls out. "If you can walk, come into the hall. If not..."

"'M in the kitchen!" calls a voice, trailing off on the last words. He sounds shaky. Austria sighs and navigates his way there.

He finds Turkey collapsed over a chair, head buried in his hands and oddly, without his mask. Austria sighs. "I assume you are not feeling particularly well today?"

"Fuck off." Austria rolls his eyes at the man's vulgarity and his inability to think of an actual retort.

"Come on, get up. If you're feeling ill, you should go back to bed."

Turkey raises his head long enough to smirk. "Why, didn' know you felt so much about me, honey..."

Austria's stomach clenches. "Don't be disgusting. I just don't want you seen passing out on your kitchen floor; it's not good for your image. And that is bad for my image."

"Urgh... Not well enough to understand that shit..." Austria sighs. He has explained to Turkey the ramifications of the crumbling state of the Ottoman Empire as they relate to Austria's own empire, but Turkey just seems to ignore him. Or forget. Austria's not sure.

"I'm not going to be able to carry you. I need you to try and move yourself. Try and stand up, at least."

With a groan, Turkey does so. He's shaky on his feet and Austria has to place an arm around him so he doesn't fall over. Turkey leans against him. "Thanks."

Austria cringes at the weight (and perhaps, at the gratitude). "I'm not here because I like you," he says, and Turkey snorts. "Don't put all your weight on me like that. You're too heavy."

"Sorry," Turkey mumbles, and slowly they stumble down the corridor to a bedroom. The bed is covered in fine silks and other expensive materials, but is surprisingly small.

Austria doesn't think about it.

Turkey just lies there, eyes drifting closed. Austria stares.

"Really? You're not even going to... get undressed or use blankets or anything?"

Turkey blinks. "Huh? Oh, yeah..." This doesn't really happen, though, as he starts drifting off again.

Austria nurses the bridge of his nose. "Honestly, you're worse than Italy sometimes. Or Greece."

Turkey cringes, even looking half-asleep.

"I – I'm sorry, I didn't mean to say that," he says. That was not a good thing to remind Turkey of that, especially not right now. He's tries not to get caught up on the first part of the sentence himself. Poor, sweet little Italy, screaming at him that "I am here; I am a thing, I am not geography, I am just as much as a country as you, ve!"

Italy and his brother are trying so hard to live up to their grandfather's legacy now. Perhaps one day they'll succeed.

"'S okay," mutters Turkey. "Ungrateful brat."

Austria sighs. Turkey always says things like that. "Indeed. Now, if you're not going to take care of yourself..."

Austria, somewhat reluctantly, has to begin to undress the other man. Turkey chuckles at him again. "You sure ain't here for less noble reasons?"

Austria glowers. "Of course I'm here for ignoble reasons. I'm manipulating you in your incredible frail state for political purposes; nothing more, nothing less. Now shut up and stop irritating me."

Turkey smirks again before his eyes close again. "Dad used to take care of me when I was sick... we wondered all over the place, but whenever there was an issue he was just sort of there. Still don't get how that one happened."

"I'm fascinated, really," Austria says dryly (and he does not secretly wish Turkey will continue talking).

"He'd tell us all stories, to... Kyrg'd whine and complain, and Uz'd make fun of her, and Kaz'd always be asleep like five words in anyway, Az wouldn't be paying attention... Turkmen n' me, we'd always listen through... And then he'd start crying, and Kyrg would yell at him... it was kinda funny..."

Austria has no idea who any of those people are.

"Did anyone ever do that for you?"

Austria's stomach clenches. Switzerland used to, back when they were children. He'd blush and complain, tell Austria how he wasn't his mother and how Austria should grow up; he shouldn't need a story to fall asleep.

Then Austria would turn on his side, and Switzerland would sigh. He'd start whispering tiny tales into Austria's ear; of princes and warriors and dragons, and a recurring theme of weak men proving themselves to be much stronger, Austria noticed. Then, when the story was over and Switzerland thought Austria was asleep, he'd lean over and press a tiny, childish kiss to Austria's cheek, before wishing him goodnight.


Austria doesn't talk about that sort of thing.

Turkey smiles to himself. "Right." Austria doesn't know if Turkey enjoys the schadenfreude or simply doesn't believe him or something else entirely, but it doesn't matter. Since when does he care what Turkey thinks?

He finally manages to remove the more uncomfortable items of Turkey's clothing (with no help from the man himself). "There," he says, pushing Turkey to the side so he can raise the blankets. "Well, get in."

Turkey does move enough to do that, and Austria tucks him in (because Turkey acts like an overgrown child anyway). "Thanks," he mutters. "Fuck my head hurts."

"I am not taking you back to the kitchen," Austria says.

"Wasn' askin'. Just..." Turkey sighs and closes his eyes again. "Bet they're all about t' kill each other back home."

Austria raises an eyebrow. "I don't understand why you go here, anyway. Shouldn't they be able to take care of you?"

"Ya think they would?" Turkey opens his eyes to give a dubious look. "Nah. I'm – I'm rotting carcass, and they're like vultures. Weaker I seem, the quicker they start chewin'."

"You can still be quite a formidable opponent, you know. There's a reason we want you on our side. When you're not like this..."

Turkey has his good days and his bad days. This is a bad one, if he cannot even walk on his own, but... sometimes, Austria is as frightened of him as he was in 1683.

He remembers that battle. He supposes it may have been him closest brush with death. He can't be sure, but if Poland hadn't turned up to save him–

Bile rises in his throat and he closes his eyes. Don't. Don't even think about that.

There's nothing to feel guilty about. If you'd done nothing, Prussia and Russia would have taken the lot anyway. Poland's people are better off, having at least some of them be with you.

Austria swallows hard and pries his eyes open again. He shouldn't worry. He did what anyone would have. Poland should have expected it. He's probably hiding... somewhere, whining all the while.

Perhaps he is hiding in Turkey. The man might have a reason for not recognising the partitions after all?

He shakes his head. No. That all happened centuries ago; whatever it is, it is done.

"Yeah, well..." Turkey gives a sigh and drags Austria back to reality. "It ain't helping much so far."

Austria's lips are tight. "You'll see." He has no idea what will happen, but it's good to indulge Turkey's ego.

"Right," Turkey says. "They're... they're all gonna go, aren't they?"

"...Perhaps." Austria wishes Turkey would stop asking him difficult questions. "You don't know what will happen."

There's a pause. Austria wants to pose a difficult question of his own.

"Do you regret, leaving your... siblings?"

Turkey answers annoyingly quickly. "Nah. They all got taken over by Russia, anyway, and fuck knows I wouldn't let that happen to me."

Oh, so that's who they are.

"Hmm." Austria's not sure what to say now, but he's sure there's more to be said.

"That kid of yours is sure makin' a name for himself, though," says Turkey.

"He's not my 'kid'." Nobody quite knows who Germany is, where he came from. Austria knows how long he's been around. He hopes no-one else has noticed.

"Right," Turkey nods. He looks like he's feeling better, somehow. "Still, Britain and France and shit – he's got 'em running scared. Guess the young 'uns are cut out for this better after all, hey?"

"I think Prussia's responsible for half of it," he says. "Please don't tell him I said that, though."

"Wouldn't dream of it."

Austria's scared of Germany as well. Even Prussia is. Germany was meant to be under Prussia's control, advancing his ambitions, but the boy is quickly getting out of hand. Germany believes he should be like the others. Powerful. Feared. Nobody quite knows what he'll do.

...Austria remembers that desperation to control people. Within his empire and without, it's all he's ever done. He still does it, but with Germany...

Austria may be the only person who knows who he really is. And as such, he's the only person who has to remember what they did to him; all of them.

(There's still a large scar on Germany's ribs the poor boy has no idea how he got. Magdeburg.)

Austria's tired of this. Tired of feeling guilty. Tired of feeling guilty and then reminding himself he's done absolutely nothing abnormal; compared to some, he's been absolutely kind (he's heard things about England and France overseas that make him want to be sick). Does everyone feel this way? Are they meant to? Are they meant to be doing any of this at all? Why is it so hard just to make people stay?

"Turkey? Are you still awake?"

"Yeah?" Turkey blinks a couple of times. "Y'know, for someone who was so insistent on me going to bed, you don't seem too keen on letting me sleep."

"I apologise," he says. "It's just... why did you call me here? Why me, of all people?"

That hint of a smile that's been playing on Turkey's features ever since he got here; it suddenly vanishes. "Why d'ya think?"

"I don't know, Turkey. That's why I asked."

The man sighs. "I'm dying, y'know," he says. "And... well, no-one's gonna wait for the dying guy unless they can get somethin' out of it. You know that better than anyone."

Austria holds his breath. He has no idea what to say.

"...I don't wanna die alone."

Austria lets out his breath. He suddenly feels... tired. Tired and sad.

(He feels like Turkey.)

Slowly, he reaches out and takes the other man's hand. "Everyone dies alone."

But Turkey has fallen asleep.

Looking around the room awkwardly, he leans over and kisses Turkey, softly, on the cheek. "Goodnight."


-Fic is set prior to World War I, when the Ottoman Empire was in a state of disarray/collapse. The Austro-Hungarian Empire propped up the failing Ottomans, both because they feared new threats in the Balkans more, and because the collapse of that empire would set a bad precedent for their own.

-During the period of Italian unification, Austria at one point referred to Italy as "just a geographic expression." Independence wars and such ensued. Italian unification was... complicated.

-"Kyrg", "Uz", "Turkmen", "Az", and "Kaz", refer to Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan, respectively. (They probably wouldn't have been called that at the time, and maybe wouldn't have been divided on those same ethnic lines, but call it a matter of artistic liscence). They are the 5 Turkic states that are not Turkey. Turkestan was the original name for the region where the different Turkic peoples lived; around Central Asia/North-Western China.

-During the Battle of Vienna (1683), Turkey came very close to capturing Vienna. The Austrians were saved by the arrival of the Polish cavalry. During the Partitions of Poland, their territory was divided between Austria, Russia and Prussia.

-The Sack of Magdeburg was one of the most infamous atrocities of the Thirty Years War; Imperial troops raided the city of Magdeburg, killing 25, 000 of the city's 30, 000 inhabitants.