Me rambling. I wrote this because I was bored... I haven't bothered to reread and edit, so you'll have to accept it as-is. Enjoy, I hope. :)
Those two words, which the little Canadian had heard many times before from Ivan's lips, still managed to overwhelm him with emotion- possibly more so each time than the time before. But it was never pleasure that washed through his lean, pale body- instead, it was pure, dark fear. His masters' voice was soft as always- happy, sweet in a childlike sort of way... but that just made his nerves fray and his heart jump, thudding, to his throat. He squeezed Kilimanjaro tightly, trying desperately to calm the terror coursing through his veins before Russia's hunting instinct took its toll.
When Canada didn't move the man stalked forward and grasped Matthew's tie tightly, yanking him so fiercely towards him that the golden-furred bear tumbled from his arms. He slammed hard into Russia's chest.
"No..." he whispered, voice so quiet that he could barely hear it himself. Ivan smiled, a dark aura resonating from his body.
"What was that?"
"N-nothing!" the boy cried quickly, hands fisting in Russia's shirt, pressing tightly to the other males' cool chest.
Russia laughed. Matthew could tell how the patheticness he showed, and helplessness, pleased his master. Neither made any move to hide or stop his pleasure, the Russian's pet letting his owner hug him as tightly as he'd hugged Kilimanjaro. But was the pleasure enough to prevent his pain, or was it goading Ivan on? Tears sparkled in the Canadians wide blue eyes, streaming down his pale cheeks when he squeezed them shut.
"You were sleeping with that American boy again, no?"
Matthew wasn't fooled by the cheeriness in his voice. A shudder overtook his body. But before he could reply Ivan grasped his collar and tossed him to one side. He skidded across the ground.
He hadn't slept with Alfred since Russia had first seized his vital regions. That was the truth. But that didn't mean he hadn't sought comfort from the heroic man, hadn't cuddled in his older brothers' much stronger arms and cried. Russia was a cruel man. And right now, he was about to receive the brunt of his wrath.
If he told the truth denied it, he would be punished for lying. He'd also be punished if he told the real lie- that he had. He attempted to ignore the searing pain in his face and side, whimpering, frantically trying to decide which answer would suit Ivan best.
When he didn't reply fast enough, the Russian pulled out his iron pipe and whacked him hard in the stomach. The Canadian gasped and curled up on himself, winded and panting.
Another blow cracked his shoulder, sending a pain so merciless through his neck and upper body that he screamed aloud. Why? Why, God? Why?
"Yes, yes I did!" Canada whined in a pleading voice, covering his face with his good arm. The lie. And just like that, sob after sob after sob began to break from his throat. He'd never be brave enough to tell the truth, not like his brother America.
The beating stopped. Why has he stopped? Panic fluttered through his stuttering heart. When Ivan ceased torture so abruptly, it was for one of two reasons- either he was interrupted by someone or something... or he was about to start a torture much worse.
Ivan's hand patted his injured shoulder. It didn't hurt- it had already begun to numb. But it made him jump anyway, paranoid and scared of pain.
When there was no further punishment, he lifted trembling eyes to his masters' face. He refused to believe this mercy was real.
He was right to doubt. As soon as he'd exposed his cheek the pipe smashed against it, crushing his face against the ground. Then his steel-toed boot dug into his ribs, rolling him to his back.
The little Canadians' chest heaved, each breath sending fresh agony throughout his battered body. His eyes closed. He couldn't watch this. Please, please let my brother come soon...
"M-master-" he began weakly, only to have the breath forced from his lungs by Ivan's boot. And another pitiless blow from his iron stick, this one colliding with his temple and pitching him into a blackened daze.
"This American must be irresistible, no? For you to make love so often? Perhaps he'd make a good replacement for a disobedient pet."
He didn't want to know what would happen to his former pet. But he had a pretty good guess. His hands fisted, shuddering. He had no quarrel with death, not anymore. But who would feed poor Kilimanjaro? Who would take care of him and protect him... protect him from people like his master?
If I'm going to die anyway... Matthew gulped.
"M-master Russia... please..."
"Please give Kilimanjaro to America..."
Don't take it personally...
"I know he'll take good care of him..."
"When I die..."
That was probably the bravest thing he'd ever said in his life, though it was something so pathetic his brother wouldn't think to speak it. But he, he felt stronger now that he'd given up hope. Suddenly, but not surprisingly, he didn't want his brother to come. Not yet- not until he was good and dead. If he came before then, he'd nurse Matthew back to health- and he'd have to go through this again. This and the rant his brother gave him each time, telling him to do the one thing he couldn't.
To leave Ivan.
He couldn't leave Ivan.
He loved him too much.
Russia's hand gripped both of his wrists none-too-gently, yanking him to his knees, yanking him from his thoughts. The Canadian made a soft noise of surprise.
"I won't be killing you."
A weak groan. He couldn't hear that.
"I think I'll let you loose. You can go back to your former life- being a quiet, unheard, unwanted ghost. That would be much better, no?"
Ivan let go of Matthews' wrists then, making the Canadian fall to all fours. Somehow he managed to drag his injured body to his masters' feet, wrapping his arms around his legs possessively... desperately.
"No... no..." he pleaded. He... he couldn't take that. He just couldn't. He needed Ivan. He was too cowardly to take his own life, and if someone like his master didn't take it for him he'd... he'd continue to stay alive... but he'd be too miserable to live.
Russia stepped out of his grip, leaving the Canadian reaching towards him helplessly. His violet eyes glinted with a fury that didn't reach his all-too-innocent face. Matthew was so engrossed in the horrible, beautiful sight that he didn't see the iron pipe, swinging through the air... and didn't feel it collide with his temple one last time.
The pain in his head was unbearable, so intense he felt ready to vomit. He couldn't find his limbs or mouth, or even his eyelids, though the faint red light that shone through them hit his helpless eyes with an agonizing intensity. The only thing that kept them from burning out of their sockets was the soft shadow of a man that fluttered over his vision every once in a while.
He felt like he was bobbing in waves. Being carried... the little Canadian thought dazedly, breathing in a scent so familiar... the scent of hamburgers and Axe mixed together. A tear rolled down his cheek. God, he felt so bad... h-his arm. His shoulder. Why can't I feel my shoulder? Desperately he tried to move his arm- unable to move even his uninjured limbs. The world spun dizzyingly, making he sheer terror he felt seem strangely faint. God, help me, please!
The muscular arms tightened around him. The soft, supple fabric of a slightly worn shirt pressed gently against his cheek, brushing lightly back and forth as the man walked.
As Matthew began to surface and take more note of his surroundings, he recognised the feel of his Kilimanjaro, the familiar weight atop his chest. His good arm managed to snuggle him lovingly. The bear may not remember his name, but at least he still had the ability to... at least he wasn't dead.
"A-America..." he managed to croak, turning his face towards the warmth and steadiness of his brothers' chest.
"'Sup, bro," he replied quietly, his voice careful. Canada had learned to recognise anger, though, with all his experience in seeing it of late, and he could easily tell how Alfred was seething. Disappointment. A disappointment. As always. he thought to himself, the core of him quivering with unvoiced sobs.
"I-I'm s-s-s-sorry..." he rasped, opening his eyes and blinking up at his brother through a fuzzy haze. All he could make out were splotches of peach, gold and blue. Try a he might, he couldn't get his eyes to focus.
"You mad, bro? Watcha apologizing to me for?" he snapped lightly. One hand disappeared for a moment, leaving a chilled sensation on his abandoned flesh. The American flicked his wrist, then pushed something that he held in the same hand along the bridge of the younger boys' nose. His sight cleared immediately. My glasses.
Sighing, Matthew stared up at his hero's face. It amazed him, how he hadn't seen America's boastings as true until he'd joined Russia... despite his lack of modesty, there was no denying that the handsome blonde man- Canada's more skilled twin whose resemblance surely showed- was more worthy of that title than anyone. Even Ivan. Especially Matthew.
As he continued to stare, he suddenly realized that something was missing from America's person. He sat up a bit, opening his mouth to speak... but his shifting revealed the lost item- the trademark pilots' jacket was acting as his bed, a cushion and a weight distributor resting between him and his brothers' arms.
At the same time that this happened, he also realized that his battered body couldn't take the strain of movement. To his dismay it doubled itself over and began to vomit, the bloody backwash splattering over Alfred's expensive leather boots. The Canadians' limbs locking made pain sear deeper into his flesh. Ashamed and pained, just so very tired, he began his sobbing anew. Images of chainsaws flashed through his mind.
To his surprise, Alfred didn't act angry or upset like his master would've. Instead he showed only worried affection, cuddling him closer and kissing his burning forehead. His older brothers' disgust was only a slight twinge, one that faded after only a second.
"Looks like I showed up right on time, as usual!" he grinned, eyes glittering triumphantly. "Dude, that guy totally almost killed you! But of course, I saved you, because I'm the hero!"
The first couple times the Canadians' brother had come to save him, he was 100% grateful . Back when he thought he didn't deserve the treatment Russia gave him, and that it was only a temporary thing. But as weeks rolled by in pain and terror, Matthew realizing slowly that his love and master could only be satisfied by those horrid things, he began to appreciate him saving his life less and less. But he would never tell America that. Instead he smiled up at his hero meekly, nodding once.
"How did you get me away from Russia this time?" he asked, without having to think about it. The question had been repeated so many times that each individual answer had begun to blur together.
"Just told him to back off, man. And hen he didn't I grabbed ya and ran. Just like Superman!"
That answer stuck out a bit from the others. Ivan had always let America take him when he came before now... tears came to Matthews eyes as he remembered those rejections, then he smiled wistfully when he thought of how his Russian hadn't let him go this time.
"Why did you take me from him?"
Alfred's mouth fell agape. "Why- he knocked you unconscious, dude! And he was still havin' at ya! Woulda broken every bone in your scrawny little body if I hadn't stepped in..." he huffed, chest swelling with pride.
"But he didn't want you to take me..." Canada whispered. He began to struggle weakly, groaning as the sensitive, bruised parts of his fragile body pressed too deeply against America. His brother just kept walking, oblivious to his suffering and his fight to break free. He was so weak it didn't make a difference to the older man.
"Come on, bro! It's like you want him to keep doing this to ya!" Alfred exclaimed, mouth set in a grim line. The guys' nuts! I mean, hell! When I went in there he- he tried to kiss me! No one kisses the hero without permission!"
Canada couldn't stifle a gasp of pain, falling limp. A pain unlike anything he'd felt before shot through his heart, leaving him bawling. H-he really is going to replace me...!
"D-dude, calm down, man!" America gasped, startled at the reaction. Matthew squeezed Kilimanjaro so roughly he made a cry of his own, shaking his dull-blonde head wildly.
"H-how... how?" he sobbed. "How could he do this to me? Haven't I done so much for him... God, am I really that worthless? How?"
"Let him replace you!" he growled suddenly.
The little Canadian froze.
"Get with me, bro! I'll treat ya better than that dude does!"
He tried to protest, but his tongue was frozen in place. Tears ceased to roll down his face- he was too startled to cry.
"All he does is play with you, Matt! I love you!"
"How what?" the American roared feverishly. It was obvious that all his emotion was in those words. Canada gulped, cuddling close to his older brother.
"How can I abandon master?" he whispered pathetically, closing his eyes. "I... I need him..."
"You don't need him, bro! Unless you have an major addiction to medical bills? How can you still think he loves ya when ya hafta call him 'master'?"
"H-he takes good care of me..."
"He slaps ya around every day!"
Canada groaned again, his pain now more emotional now than physical. Alfred had never talked to him like this before. He could barely take it. How could his brother make him decide between the two of them? Even if Russia abused his position, he was still master and still his mate. He had claim over him, and Matthew deserved what cruelties he gave. America was his brother, though, and treated him so nicely...
"Can I think it over...?"
"Sure, bro. Why not." he sighed. Matthew took a deep, shaky breath and delved back into thought.
Why should it matter if Russia beat him up every once in a while? After all, he did deserve it most of the time- and it didn't happen so often as that. In fact, there were quite a few sweet little moments between then. Quiet moments, where his master would allow him to snuggle with him on the couch, eating popcorn and watching a movie... nights where he was deemed worthy of gentleness in Ivan's bed. Those moments were special, they meant the world to his battered servant. What would he do without them? And even if those moments ceased to exist, he'd sworn allegiance to the larger country... and he held so much love for him as a mate.
But America, he had no doubt, would treat him better than he deserved. He'd request his presence on the dirty couch in his unkempt living room, to watch an American horror flick that'd scare the hell out of them both... which would end up with them making out on the rug between the couch and TV. His eyes might stray towards other men where Russia's didn't, but America would also make the combination interesting... even if it did break Matthew's heart...
Who would he choose? Not thinking about what he deserved... what- who- did he want?
Looking into his heart, bruised as it was, it was clear that there was only one answer.
Alfred's pace slowed when the Canadian tugged on his shirt sleeve. "Yeah?" he asked, bright blue eyes hopeful. Canada sighed, bracing himself. No turning back after this...
Ever-so-slowly, a smile managed to creep over Matthews' face. An expression that felt unnatural after such a long time with it being absent.
"Alfred, I've made my decision."