Silence smothered the tense atmosphere, echoing around the occupants within the increasingly claustrophobic room. Paul's head was flung stiffly to one side from the impact of the slap, his expression unemotional but his firsts clenched into tight balls at his sides, turning the skin over his knuckles a milky-white. Matthias and Lukas sat in a surprised alarm, Lukas leaning slightly closer to his older brother.

"Right," Berwald suddenly huffed, shattering everybody's shock as he marched between Mrs Knox and Paul, pushing his glasses further up his nose, "I believe you've said all you needed to say, so leave." He pointed to the door to emphasis his point, keeping his face stern, as if he was talking to a three-year-old. Mrs Knox flared her nostrils, much like a bull ready to charge, and levelled herself up to him.

"How dare you-"She started, growling up at the taller man but was but off by Berwald's lack of patience.

"Yes, I dare, now move."

"Don't speak to my wife in that manner," Mr Knox piped up from behind his wife like some scared rabbit hiding from a fox, "You are below us."

"Sure, whatever, now leave," After gazing her stone stare at every single person in the room, realising they all felt the same, Mrs Knox bared her teeth as if she were a mongrel, clicking her pointed shoes harshly against the floor before stomping off out of the room with as much grace as an elephant in high heels. Mr Knox scampered along behind her, the good little lap dog he was, keeping his eyes firmly on the bobbing head of his wife. Tino blinked, watching them as they left before turning to taller man.

"Wow…" He mumbled, causing Berwald to look at him in surprise before shrugging, grinning reassuringly at their two nekos still on the sofa. Paul, rubbing his reddening cheek to try and lessen the throbbing sting, nodded his head at the human in gratitude.

"Thank you," He sighed, "She's never been easy to deal with."

"It was nothing."

"Excuse me?" Spinning around at the sound of a new voice, Tino instantly recognised the doctor from earlier standing in the doorway, clipboard still in hand and looking slightly uncomfortable under everybody's questioning looks, "Are you all waiting to see Emil?"

"Is he ok?" Lukas sprung up from the sofa, watching the doctor with concerned eyes as Matthias stood too, resting a hand on his shoulder, "Can we see him?"

"He can have visitors but not all of you at once, it will overwhelm him."

"You three go," Tino smiled kindly, brining Lukas into a comforting hug to calm his pet "He doesn't know Berwald or myself so it would be better if we're introduced properly later on, it may confuse him otherwise" Nodding, Lukas let out a shuddering breath he hadn't realised he'd been holding.

"Thank you."

"I must warn you, he's hooked up to quite a few machines," The doctor warned as he led them down the hundredth corridor, lab coat flapping wildly behind him, "But they are all there to help him. Also it's best if you let him sleep for now and don't try to wake him, it will help him heal quicker."

"Of course," Matthias agreed as the doctor brought them to a halt by a large door with a square glass window taking up the top half of it. Behind him, Matthias was aware of their father nervously hopping from one foot to another, nibbling his lip anxiously.

"I'll leave you be," The doctor nodded, before walking away and leaving the nekos to enter the dimly lit room via the lightly squeaking door. Almost instantly Lukas smacked his hand over his mouth, trying to muffle a choked sob that threatened to pass his lips.

Scarlet carpet covered the floor in a dusty layer, spreading from the left-hand corner they'd entered from to another in one big swoop. A window, fairly large and with lime green curtains hanging either side let in dark light from the moon, snowflakes fluttering passed the pane, lost in their own dance routines. Dim orange lights on the left wall opposite and above the bed gave the room a calm, almost relaxing feeling despite resting within a hectic hospital. In the right corner mirroring the door an old armchair which one would've been bright green now gloomily moped in the corner, the design of it dated and the colour miserable.

Flowers of coral red drooped in a glass vase, sending scattering petals onto the white plastic stack of draws to the left of the bed which stood before a hard-looking chair. Computers sat on the right side, glowing with red and green lines and flickering lights. Between the two an old hospital bed sat, grey metal framework holding the mattress from the ground.

There lay Emil, pallid against the dull white bed sheets settled over him with only his arms, chest and head visible. Limp ivory locks fluttered around his face, creating a near invisible halo upon the pillows stacked up so he was just about sitting, a small bandage looping around his forehead and tucked under his still ears. Bleached clothing thinly covered his body, underneath miles of bandages could be seen snaking their way across his skin like a deadly viper.

Wires also slid alongside them, attaching Emil to various whirring machines which bleeped and beeped away, signalling heart-rates and core temperatures. Beneath the sheets Lukas could see that Emil's left leg was heavily plastered to protect the fragile healing bone. Nestled in the crook of the neko's arm, a crimson drip slowly dropped away, accompanied by a clear IV following a similar method of giving Emil the fluids he needed. Across his peaceful, almost angelic face as the boy dreamed, a see-through mask let a constant flow of oxygen wash over him, distorting his features so they appeared a little crooked.

It took seconds for Lukas to reach his brother's side.

Gently, as if he was made of the most fragile glass in the world, Lukas press his shaking hand on top of his baby brother's head, as if to assure himself that Emil was really there and he wasn't seeing some sort of horrible, nightmarish mirage. Matthias joined him the other side of the bed, swallowing harshly and sitting down in a bone-chillingly cold chair. Blinking several times to clear his rapidly fogging vision, Lukas turned away to face their father, who still stood motionless in the doorway, as if someone had simply pressed 'pause' on his life. Swiftly, the middle brother cleared the distance between them, taking hold of Paul's hand and gently leading him over to the bed.

"It's ok," He assured quietly, giving the hand a squeeze, "He doesn't bite." Lukas wasn't sure where the sturdiness in his voice was coming from, he personally felt as if he was going to break down into a fit of sorrowed but relieved tears.

"I know," Their father's voice was timid, uncertain, as he was led to a chair, "B-but I…He's…"

"Your son," Matthias finished, carefully taking Emil's hand into his own and running his thumb over Emil's knuckles, "And we're going to stay right here until he wakes up, right?" Catching both of their eyes, the three of them nodded before gazing back down at the cub, longing for that time to be soon.

Matthias blanked when he turned his sight from Emil to Lukas who strolled into the room, shopping bags bunched up in the crooks of his arm. Their dad followed soon after, looking flushed from Lukas' obvious shopping spree in the hospital's gift shop. Without a doubt Matthias could see that the shop workers would be planning their trips across the globe by now. Lukas, who was now unloading himself of the bags and plonking them down in the armchair, smirked at his expression.

"H-how much did you buy?" Matthias blinked, getting up to examine the contense of the bags, "Or, more importantly, who was paying?"

"Dad volunteered," Lukas shrugged, "So I figured that I'd get Emil some presents."

"I only sent you down to get a drink!" Matthias complained, giving a sympathetic look to his father, "And I don't dad volunteered for all…This," He waved his hand at the bags to emphasis his point, but Lukas batted it away.

"You can go with him next time," The butler said weakly, shaking his head before going over to Emil's bedside. Lukas began ferreting through the bags as Matthias picked out a few odd items now in their ownership. Who would want a llama that sung 'I love you' in a Mexican voice? Or about a dozen 'get well soon' cards? Or…

"What even is this?" He asked, holding up the toy animal for his shopaholic brother to see, "A duck?" Lukas rolled his eyes and scoffed, snatching the toy from his grasp.

"No" He groaned, taking hold of the inappropriately placed label and holding it up for Matthias to see, "It's a puffin, see?"

"Duck, puffin, the same thing," The elder contradicted causing Lukas to raise an eyebrow, his tail twisting from side to side.

"No, they're not."

"They both eat fish."

"Ducks don't."

"…But they both live in water."

"Yes, but they don't look remotely similar."

"Sure they do."

"No they don't."


"Boys," Their dad interrupted, rubbing his eyes tiredly from his seat, "I thought you would've at least grown out of this by now."

"Matthias started it."

"No I didn't!"

"You thought it was a duck."

"It looks like a duck!"

"Whatever," Lukas finally gave up with a sigh (much to the joy of their father) and strolled over to Emil, leaning over to brush away a few strands of pearly hair from his eyes before silently pulling the sheet away a bit and placing the puffin under Emil's limp arm then tucking them both in. He didn't know why, but he had a feeling that his baby brother would like it.

Sorry for the wait, like always, life is getting in the way of my writing! But at least Mr Puffin is finally in the picture (or should I say Mr Duck?!)

Sorry for any spelling errors.

I don't own Hetalia.

Please review! It encourages me to write more!