Taiwan ran around the large house, opening doors and peeking inside of them in hopes of finding someone. Where could he have gone? He was never too far away from any of the children. It was odd for him to not be within their sights.
Taiwan ran around more, starting to feel panicked and worried. It had been a few hours since she had last seen him. She wasn't used to him not being around. He was always there holding her or feeding her or talking to her. He had to be around here somewhere! He just had to be! He wouldn't abandon the kids like that. Or would he…?
What if they did something to make him mad? What if he just got so frustrated with them that he felt no other option but to run away and leave them alone in that giant house to care for themselves!
Tears stung Taiwan's eyes as she racked her brain in hopes of remembering what it was she or the others did to Teacher to make him so angry. It couldn't have been anything big or she certainly would have remembered. Maybe, just maybe, it was a bunch of little things they did to upset him. Maybe his frustration had built up over time until he finally couldn't take it anymore! They had done something that was the last straw and he had finally had enough.
As she wiped her eyes she turned a corner and ran dead into someone, knocking her down. Excitement and happiness grew in her heart as she thought it was Teacher she ran into, but when she actually looked it wasn't. It was only her brother, South Korea. This was all too much for her. She couldn't help as the tears poured down her face. She cried out loudly, nearly scaring South Korea.
"I'm sorry!" he yelled over her crying. "It was an accident! I didn't mean to knock you over! Hey! I said I'm sorry!"
"Teacher!" Taiwan screamed through her tears.
"No! Don't call for him!"
South Korea looked desperately up and down the hallway, hoping and praying his Aniki wouldn't suddenly show up. He always showed up when one of them was crying and Korea knew this time would be no exception. He waited, his face covered by his hands, for Aniki to show up, however…he never did.
That was strange.
Aniki always showed up when one of them was crying. It never failed. He was always somehow magically by their side if he realized one of them was hurt or upset.
So…where was he?
Frankly, South Korea couldn't have been happier that Aniki hadn't shown up. It meant he wouldn't get in trouble for making Taiwan cry.
"Calm down! Please! I really didn't mean to knock you over! Please stop crying!" he begged, hoping she would listen.
"I-I'm not c-crying because of that!" Taiwan stuttered out. "It's Teacher. He's gone! I can't find him! I think he's left us!"
"Aniki? You're so silly! Why would he leave us? He wouldn't do that!"
"I can't find him at all! He won't come when I call him either. I think he's really gone, Korea. I think…I think he left…." Taiwan couldn't finish her sentence as she began sobbing again.
On the bright side South Korea wouldn't be in trouble for making Taiwan cry. However, if Aniki really left then that would present a big problem. At first South Korea was going to tell Taiwan she was absolutely wrong, but then he remembered Aniki didn't come when she started crying. He always did before. Also, South Korea had woken up all on his own today. Normally Aniki would have to come to wake him.
What if she was right? What if Aniki really did leave them all alone?
"Well that means we get this whole big house to ourselves! And there's no one to boss us around and…." he drifted off as he realized he was doing nothing to make Taiwan feel better. He only succeeded in making her cry even more.
"What did you do, Korea?"
South Korea's heart nearly stopped beating as he heard a voice behind him. However, there was no way that voice was his Aniki. He turned around to see Hong Kong walking toward him with Japan trailing right behind.
"Why are you crying, Taiwan? What did Korea do to upset you?" Hong Kong asked as he bent down next to Taiwan.
"I didn't do anything!" South Korea defended. "She's not upset about me! She's crying because Aniki abandoned us!"
"Excuse me?" Japan asked.
"Yep! He left us! He didn't come running when Taiwan started crying and he didn't come and wake me up this morning either! He's gone."
"He didn't wake me up today either," Japan agreed. "That doesn't mean he left us though. Did you look for him?"
Taiwan nodded her head as she continued to sob. "I look everywhere!" she said through her tears. "I don't know where he's at! Teacher! Teacher!"
"Don't cry," Hong Kong said. "Why would he leave us? He has no reason to."
"I think we made him mad!" Taiwan cried. "I think we did a lot of bad things and he finally had enough!"
"We're not bad though," Japan said. "Only Korea ever gets yelled at."
"That's not true!" South Korea yelled.
Hong Kong stared at Taiwan and gently rubbed her back, trying to ignore the sounds of South Korea's yelling. She looked at him with tears in her eyes, silently begging him to help her understand where their Teacher had gone.
"He wouldn't leave us if he was angry. He would explain to us why he was mad and tell us not to do it again. I'm sure he's just gone to the market or something."
"I think…maybe it was because we never said thank you."
South Korea stopped screaming as Taiwan's tiny voice was somehow heard over him. She wiped her eyes again though it did nothing to make her tears disappear.
"He does so much for us. He feeds us, takes care of us, holds us, loves us…and we never once tell him we're grateful!"
Her sobbing was loud and sorrowful. The others all looked around quietly, not wanting to say that what Taiwan said was true.
"I say thank you!" Hong Kong said, breaking the silence. "I think…once…maybe."
South Korea sat on the ground next to Taiwan, trying to hide the tears that were threatening to fall. "One time I had a nightmare and I woke up crying. Aniki came to me…he always comes when we cry…and he held me until I fell asleep again. I didn't say thank you in the morning when I saw him. I just demanded breakfast."
Taiwan sniffed. She tried to control herself as she spoke. "I saw a flower seller one time at the market. I loved the flowers so much and I wanted to have one so I could put it in my hair. I asked the seller for a flower, but he said I had to pay for it. I was about to start crying, but Teacher picked me up and bought the flower for me. He even put it in my hair for me! I was so happy and all I did was talk about how pretty the flower was. I didn't thank him."
"I wanted to learn to draw," Hong Kong said while still rubbing Taiwan's back. "I begged Teacher to show me how. I knew he was busy. I could see all of the important things he needed to get done, but he took the time out to show me how to draw a dragon. I didn't…I didn't thank him."
"He's taught me so much," Japan said. He sat down next to South Korea. "He taught me to write and he's been teaching me how to cook. He teaches me everything and I too have never thanked him."
The four children sat and thought about all of things their mentor, China, has done for them. He watched over them. He gave them a roof over their heads. He made sure they were never hungry. And most importantly he loved them.
Yet the children never once thanked him or told him they loved him causing him to leave them behind.
As if on cue all of the children broke into sobs. Even serious Hong Kong cried at the thought of his Teacher leaving them alone. They regretted never thanking him. They regretted never letting him know how grateful they were. He ran off and they had no one to blame but themselves.
"Oh, oh goodness! Children! Children!"
The young ones stopped everything as they saw the sight they've been waiting to see. China was running down the hallway, a terrified and worried expression on his face. The four kids instantly stood and ran toward their mentor, screaming for him. China fell to his knees, his arms wide open to embrace his children as they ran to him.
"What's the matter?" he asked worriedly. "Why are you all crying? Are you hurt? What's wrong?"
"We're sorry!" Taiwan cried.
"We promise we'll say thank you when you hold us!" South Korea yelled.
"And we'll thank you when you cook for us!" Hong Kong said.
"We'll thank you when you teach us too!" Japan added.
"Just don't ever leave us again!" Taiwan sobbed, rubbing her face in China's neck.
"What? What are you four talking about?"
China waited for his children to calm down. When their sobs lowered to sniffles Taiwan explained to him how he had ran off because they never showed how grateful they were for what he did. He listened to each one of them say how sorry they were and how much they loved him.
"You four are so silly," China said when they finished. By the end of it he too was in tears. He held Taiwan and Japan in his arms. Hong Kong leaned against his side and South Korea had climbed his way onto his back.
"I was in the garden and I had fallen asleep toward the back of it. I'm not surprised you didn't see me if you were looking for me. I love the four of you so much. I would never, ever leave you. There's no need to thank me. I know you four are grateful for what I do for you and I do these things because I love you."
"We love you too, Teacher," Taiwan said.
"Lots and lots and lots!" South Korea yelled excitedly.
"More than you know," Japan said.
"And we always will," Hong Kong said with a slight blush.
China smiled and gave each one of them a small kiss before standing. "I bet you guys are hungry from all that crying."
"Yeah!" South Korea cried. "I'm starving! I'm so hungry!"
"You're always hungry, Korea," Hong Kong told him.
"Nu uh! You are!"
And just like that things were back to the way they had always been.
I imagine China being dressed in a very pretty robes with his hair down when he finally meets up with his babies. Not fancy robes, but comfortable ones. ^_^
I hope everyone enjoys this story and I do want to dedicate it to my friend overseas on a tiny little island in the middle of Europe. Love you lots, MK!
Oh, and one more thing. To all who read this...go tell someone you love them and that you're grateful for all they've done for you. Really. You'll sound stupid, but I promise it's totally worth the result. ^_^