Kinkmeme de-anon, prompt was for revenge being attempted on the wrong person. This prompt is very relevant to my interests ;) This was my immediate idea, as a prequel to my other fic "Yi Ya Huan Ya" and sequel to a request I made myself involving the dragon nursing China back to health. There really needs to be more fic involving the dragon. I'll admit I'm not really using his dub dialect as it's hard to a) write and b) take seriously in circumstances this dark. "Ta ma de" = Chinese cursing (thank you, Firefly). "Ryu-sama" = Japanese for "dragon" with the suffix for addressing a superior.

The January breeze bit into Japan's face, and he tugged his scarf higher, humming to himself as he walked. He needed to get away from talk of strategy for a while, and the cliffside was a perfect place for a quiet walk. His hiking staff pushed the long grass out of the way as he wandered closer to the brink, not fearing a fall. He knew his own coastline as well as the back of his hand, literally, and knew the location of every possibly treacherous point well enough to be safe.

As he inhaled the sweet cold of the sea breeze, he realised he wasn't alone. He turned to see an old man, tall and thin with eyebrows rivalling England's and a moustache which brushed his shoulders, also looking out to sea. The man's hair was white and his back bent, but he carried no walking stick; Japan wondered how he'd made it up the cliffside path without one. The man's coat was thin, but he didn't seem to feel the cold. Japan didn't recognise him. He tried to access his inbuilt memories of all his people; nothing. Must be a foreigner.

He decided to make conversation. "Beautiful, isn't it?"

"Indeed," said the man, in a raspy and eerily familiar voice. The accent was distinctly Chinese. Oh. Well, this was awkward. Japan wasn't sure he wanted to talk to someone from the country with which he was at war. He himself had nothing in particular against China's people - much as he wanted the land and resources, he didn't hate the people as so many of his own humans did - but conversing with them may not be safe. He wondered what the man was even doing in Japan.

A note of bitterness entered the strange man's voice. "This land is beautiful. Such a shame it hides such a twisted core. Honda Kiku."

"What?" Japan stared. "How do you know my name? Who the hell are you?"

The old man's drooping moustache seemed to be taking on an odd green tint, and his nails were extending. Japan backed away, raising his staff, and the man's eyes suddenly blazed red.

"Who are you?" Japan demanded again, his heel resting on the very brink of the cliff. He felt a few tiny pebbles give way beneath his foot, and shifted his weight, ready to move forwards in an attack or an escape.

There was a blast of heat and smoke, and hot steel-sharp claws closed around Japan's throat. His cry of pain was cut off with his breath, and he dropped the staff as his feet left the ground and he was spun around in the air and dangled over the edge of the cliff.

"I know the secrets of bringing true death to nations, you treacherous scum," came a hiss in his ear. "The only reason I won't is because then I can't kill you again!"

Japan struggled to see what was holding him, unable to turn his head because of the iron grip. Through the rising tears, he saw a green scaled snout out of the corner of his eye. With a start, he recognised his attacker.

"Dragon? What? You can't- ah!" The claws dug harder into Japan's neck, drawing blood, and the dragon leaned further out over the cliff. The sea crashed against the rocks below.

"Don't give me that! China told me what you did! I dug him out of the ruins, I saw what you did to him - your own brother! Wasn't it enough to cut his heart out?"

"What?" Japan choked, hands scrabbling frantically at the dragon's claws. "I haven't left Honshu for the past three months! My boss wanted me to stay in easy reach! What are you talking about?"

The dragon's glare softened, turning to surprise, and his grip loosened enough to prevent Japan choking to death. "What?"

Japan clutched his captor's claws tighter, hoping not to fall. "I've been here! Of course I've been working on the war effort, and I know his capital fell, but I wasn't there! I didn't think China would be that angry! We are at war, remember? It's not like he hasn't lost cities before! It happens! Humans breed fast, it'll be back to normal in a decade or two!"

"You really don't know?" The dragon pulled Japan back onto safe ground and let go of him, backing away and staring into his face, apparently attempting to determine whether he was lying.

The expression on the dragon's face set a seed of concern blooming in Japan's mind. "What happened to China? Was he hurt? Killed? Has he come back yet?" he asked, the pitch of his voice rising with each question. "I know we're at war, but he's still my brother. I don't iwant/i him to be hurt."

Insofar as a dragon could look horrified, he did. "... Ta ma de. You don't know," he murmured.

Japan's eyes narrowed. "Ryu-sama, what has happened to my brother?"