Kinkmeme prompt: "After living life for so long, seeing so many nations fall and rise, witnessing cruel murder and the whole range of horrors brought on by war, they must be tired of it. Despite what messes their nations get into, the personifications themselves could only want peace." Not meaning to imply that what's going on in too many places and what has happened before hasn't been horrible, just that I like to think of the nation-tans as wanting it to stop as much as we do. I've been losing faith in humanity recently and need to write something with a little hope in it.
"You've joined the Free Tibet campaign?"
"You've joined the Free Tibet campaign."
"You. Have joined the Free Tibet campaign."
"But ... you're ... China."
Yao smiles proudly and expectantly at Narayan. He doesn't get up. He's been in Yao's little basement room for decades now, locked in most of the time and not responding when Yao comes in to talk to him. He calls it peaceful protest, Yao calls it contrariness. Yao insists he only wants to help, and brings food sometimes. Not bad food either, but Narayan won't touch it. Nations don't technically need to eat or drink, and after the first week or so his digestive system broke the habit and shut down. So long ago, he's forgotten what it's like. Sometimes Yao threatens him, hits him, cajoles him, begs him to resist, to respond somehow. He ignores him. It's not like Yao can kill him. Most of the time he meditates, and remembers freedom.
Narayan sighs and shakes his head. "You're drunk."
"Yes I am."
"If you want me to leave, you could just say so and unlock the stupid door."
"I don't want you to leave!" Yao wails, hugging the surprised Narayan. "Everyone always leaves me! It's not fair!"
"What the- then why did you join?"
"I know humans," Yao says proudly. "Look at it this way. What d'you want more, freedom or to stop your people dying? If you had to pick?"
"To stop my people dying, of course, but-"
"See, humans do too. Obviously. And this campaign might be willing to compromise. Like, you stay here but people stop dying. Yeah?"
"... Now you put it that way, it does make some kind of sense. I'd prefer to be able to leave, but if I had to choose one option ... I guess I see your point."
"Don't tell my bosses. They'll get mad."
"What on earth brought this on?"
"I don't know. It's just ..." Yao mumbles, slumping onto Narayan's shoulder to support himself. "I'm old, Narayan. Even for a nation. And I've seen shit I didn't want to see, too fucking often. I try to help people and it never goes the way I want. And this morning I just looked at myself in the mirror and said 'Fuck it, I'm not gonna do this anymore'."
"Please stop touching me."
Yao ignores him. "I didn't want your people to die, you know. I really didn't. I know what it's like and it fucking hurts."
Narayan points accusingly to the bloodstains on his yellow robe. After all this time they're still as clear as ever. "Then why didn't you tell your bosses to stop it?"
Yao's voice shakes. "To protect us all. Because it never bothered me before, so if I tried to stop it, someone would ask why."
To Narayan's surprise, Yao unbuttons his shirt, exposing a deep scar. "I tell you how I got this?"
"Didn't tell you I was there in person, did I?"
"You may have mentioned it."
"I tell you how bad it was?"
"No you don't." Yao grins drunkenly and makes an extremely illustrative hand gesture. "See, I couldn't let anyone find out. It gets out that it's possible to take a nation down like that, none of our bosses will ever respect any of us again. We already run on the honour system with 'em. And I can't tell any other humans, because I can't tell them I exist in the first fucking place." Yao giggles, alcohol fogging his breath. "I can make sure nothing happens to you, even if I can't help your humans. That's why I want you to stay here. I just want to help. Nobody ever cares when I want to help them ..." Tears rise in his eyes and start to trickle onto Narayan's robe.
Narayan pushes him away and firmly tells him "I'd appreciate it if you came back after you sobered up. You're probably going to hate yourself for telling me all this in the morning."
Yao hauls himself upright and totters unsteadily to the door. "Maybe," he calls back over his shoulder. "But I needed to say it."
Yao leaves the door unlocked. Narayan's not sure if he meant to, or if he's just so drunk he forgot.
Narayan looks at the food. Rice and a cup of water. Not much, but it looks fresh, at least.
He picks it up and eats a little. His stomach throbs as it finally awakens, and saliva trickles into his mouth. Funny how he didn't realise how much he missed this.
He finishes the rice, and looks at the open door.
His sandals tucked into his robe, he walks silently into the hallway. Maybe if he steals some clothes from China's room he'll be able to get out in public without being noticed, make his way to India with so many of his exiles ...
He hears weeping from the kitchen, and peers in. Yao is slumped across the table, bottle in hand. Vodka; must be a gift from Ivan. A trickle of it drips from China's mouth onto the table, and he's too drunk to stop it.
Much as Tibet wants to be free, maybe Narayan should stick around for a while. He hates China, but Yao needs him.
"May I ask one thing?"
"I'm not allowed to just let you go."
"That's not it. I wanted to ask ... can I come with you to the next World Meeting? I miss them."
Yao blinks up at him. "... Sure."