'Do you regret it?
A single question that spanned centuries, a different thought for every nation. Upon asking any of them the question they would tilt their heads quizzically and smile an oh so fake smile at you before walking away. But if you were fast enough you would see the shadows of past memories in their eyes before they turned, see it in the tenseness of their shoulders, see it in the movement of their hands to their weapons when they smiled.
The girl who asked Russia was only a child, barely older than six. She had smiled up at him and gazed at his bandaged wounds with large blue eyes as she clutched a homemade rabbit between war torn hands.
"Do you regret it sir?" she had asked, a slight shudder running through her as harsh yells in German and the accompanying screams in Russians reached them through the cold still air. The giant nation gazed at her with fever clouded purple eyes and shook his head, childish smile coming across his face to relieve her fears.
"No my little one. I do not."
But the figure he was talking to was a young girl, a woman, with hair as red as the blood that spilled from the gunshot wound that claimed her life, as red as the revered flag of Communism that was wrapped around his chest. He reached out with his pipe and pushed the little girl back into the bolthole where he had been instructed to hide. If he couldn't save one of his children during the Revolution then he would save this one during the Second War to end all wars.
The boy who asked Japan was sitting on a park bench, swinging his feet backwards and forwards as he gazed at the paper birds bobbing around amongst the cherry blossoms floating on the water. He turned his head to Japan and frowned slightly at the cane resting by the Asian nation's side and the white bandages that were unfurling slightly near his left ankle, revealing burn scarred skin.
"Do you regret it? Whatever it was that gave you that scar?"
Japan smiled serenely and shook his head as he felt the panic from his people begin to siphon through him as he felt the familiar itch of American bombers enter his airspace. A single image of cold clear metal flashed through his mind and the feeling of power and control rushed through his war torn frame even as the familiar feelings of horror and self-loathing followed closely on their heels with the clear memory of wide brown caring eyes staring up at him in shock and a pale hand cupping his cheek for the last time.
"My child, do you want some sweets?" Japan asked, pressing a single fruit drop into the boy's eagerly outstretched hand as the boy moved closer to the nation's side looking for protection as eyes turned skywards and screams began to sound as a bomb fell towards the city of Nagasaki.
When Germany was asked that question, the young man fidgeted nervously with his hands tucked into his pockets when the cold blue gaze snapped from the small chip of painted rock clutched desperately in gloved hands to him.
"Do you regret it?" he repeated himself, swallowing nervously, eyes tracing the scars that unfurled over every visible inch of the German nation's skin.
"No," Germany stated curtly studying the young man in the uniform whose back straightened even more and hands shot out of his pockets as heavy footsteps echoed down the corridor, "I do not."
His eyes lost their focus slightly and a figure could be seen standing behind him, a cocky smirk on his face and a bright yellow chick nestled in his hair as a gloved hand beckoned Ludwig to his feet and out into the morning air. Cheers erupted as the proclamation was announced: The wall was coming down. Germany smiled and a single tear rolled down his cheek, maybe now he would have a body to bury instead of just a memory.
An old woman asked England as she pressed a few coupons into an orphaned child's hands, she had seen his dark gaze upon them and asked in the tone of someone who is not afraid anymore, of a civilian who has lived through more than they should.
"Do you regret anything in your life?" she asked him, old eyes bright as they watched the child run off into the nearest shop, a wide smile on their face. England paused and pulls the cigarette away from his lips, watching the smoky poisons float up into the grey smog that surrounded London before shaking his head and smiling carefully at the woman.
"No ma'am I am afraid that I do not," he said calmly to alleviate her fears even as he felt the fire that scorched his land now as another wave of bombers struck, mimicking that of the fires that burnt his people many years ago under the banner of righteousness and justice, just like now. He saluted her, uniform neat yet still stained with his own blood and that of his brothers in arms and gestured for her to enter the store first. He knew that there was a Morrison shelter in corner of the store, he was confident in his ability to save this old woman who gave her last coupons to a starving child even if he couldn't save all of his children fighting and dying to keep him free.
A woman asked Prussia as she bandaged up his wounds from where he lay in the pure white snow, staining it red with his blood so it matched his devilish eyes.
She sighed, her breath fogging on the air underneath the eyes of the guards with Prussian blood on his hands and rested her hand caringly on his forehead before she asked, "Do you regret anything in your life?"
His trademark smirk found its way to his lips from somewhere in the depths of his blackened soul and he shook his head enthusiastically, clumps of blood-stained snow flying off and landing on the polished boots of the guards.
"Of course not," he laughed, gaze landing absentmindedly on a young boy running through the streets clutching a loaf of bread to his chest, sunlight reflecting off of his coveted blonde hair. The boy turned and looked quizzically at the albino as he sensed the gaze upon him and continued onwards in his quest back home. But the figure that Prussia could see, smiled a smile that lit up the Prussian nation's world and twirled around in delight, black cape flying out behind him as the tri-cornered hat flew off his head revealing bright blonde hair and bright blue eyes filled with childish delight.
Many would assume that a woman would have asked France this question, but that couldn't have been farther from the truth.
"Do you regret anything in your life my son?" the old priest asked in concern when the French nation had recovered enough to form words and had raised himself up into a half sitting position, ignoring the burning from the symbol carved into his skin to grasp desperately at the priest's hand.
"No my father. I do not," he gasped out as the burning in his back reminded him of another burning pain from a scar long since healed. The agony of the shimmering blade falling swiftly down on his bare throat as he knelt and smiled warmly at a small girl with cropped black hair and the flash of a red birthmark behind her left ear that could be seen when she turned away to bury her head in her mother's shoulder as the blade crashed down on his neck.
"Forgive me my father, for I have sinned," France whispered as the priest rested a hand on his head and blessed him despite his new devilish brand on his back.
A young woman asked North Italy as she gathered the flowers that she had dropped in her joy.
"Have you ever regretted a decision but you haven't been able to do anything about it?" she giggled as their hands brushed as Feliciano helped her gather the purple hyacinths. Tilting his head slightly to one side in a manner reminiscent of a young child he glanced over her shoulder at his brother who had heard the question and had turned pale.
"No I don't think I have beautiful lady~" he laughed with her even as the pained look on Romano's face was similar to same look that he had seen on Germany's face as he had walked away from the Axis hand in hand with his brother. North Italy had been unable to stop himself from glancing back and the heartbreak that he had seen on his most treasured love's face had broken his barely fixed heart again. He hadn't known that he could survive the same heartbreak twice but he had and North Italy could feel his freedom return with the bullets that thudded into Mussolini's chest. But he knew that his heart would never heal and as he stood up and turned his face upwards, closing his eyes to feel the warmth of the sun's rays, the faces of his young love and his current one melded together in his mind. But a stone settled into his heart upon the remembrance that neither would be his.
South Italy froze as the innocent question reached his ears and he felt the blood drain from his face as he felt his brother's questioning gaze upon him. Angry with himself he whirled around and stared stubbornly at an alley wall. A childish drawing of a smiling tomato had been painted onto it many years ago as the paint was beginning to flake off and disfigure the painting.
He could still here the words that resonated in his ears, words that he tried so hard to take back: "I hate you..." Whispered or screamed, how he said them made no difference. South Italy had said these words three times in his life to three different people and he could no longer take them back. Whispered to his grandfather's retreating back as North Italy was carried away from him and his Southern counterpart was left to the wolves. Screamed at a battered and bloodied Spain as Austria pulled him away, even as South Italy fought with all of his might to stay. Spain knelt there and didn't stir, didn't reach for him even as a single tear rolled down the Spaniards cheek. Spoken to his brother shortly before the South dragged the North away from their once Allies towards their once enemies. It wasn't much, but his fire was all he possessed and he would use it all to make his words go away, even if that meant his death.
A general barked this question at America as the nation sat frozen in the cockpit of his plane as Pearl Harbour burned sparking fire in his limbs and behind his eyes, in the depths of his soul.
"Do you regret anything son? Because if you don't start moving then you will!" The faint flickering lights, candles in a tornado, the lives of his people were being wiped out and he couldn't move.
Fighting through the agonising pain he shouted back, "No sir I do not and I will not!" The engine whirred and the plane was soon soaring through the air as America allowed himself to laugh hysterically as pain coursed through his body, similar to the sensation of feeling his own people starve to death from something that could have been prevented. After the war he stood over the prone form of Japan and bowed his head as a tear rolled down his cheek and the same general wearily walked up and clapped his hand on the American nation's shoulder. America raised his head and breathed out slowly as he felt his people rejoice, but he knew that he would never join them. For blood was soaked into his skin and it would never go away.
China cannot remember who asked him, too fever gone to even remember his surroundings he screamed at the sky and bit into the hand of the people who held him down.
"Do you regret it?" Words whispered into his ear that pierced the fog and settled into his brain causing him to turn his face away from the sky and to press it into his sleeve. It wasn't like this haze of unrelenting pain and the sensation of his citizens being brutally murdered, he was the oldest nation; he had lived through wars that would make a lesser nation go mad through the pain, lived through the drug addiction that had claimed the lives of many of his people. This pain was reminiscent of the agony that he had felt too many times in his recent years and he when he closed his eyes in his brief moments of clarity all he saw was the war torn face of the nation who would always be his little brother, regardless of whatever happened between them he knew that Kiku would always be Yao's little brother even if the rift between Japan and China was too big to be bridged because of selfishness.
"Do I regret it?"
No-one asked Canada. He asked himself as he lay outside in the snow, feeling the pain slid slowly up his leg and coil around his spine. The quiet Canadian nation had given all he could give and felt not-whole, not-quite-there. While the other nations were fighting in the trenches, risking their lives in the trenches and risking their secret in order to protect single people, he was working alongside his and watching as his civilians sickened and wasted away in front of his eyes while they worked tirelessly to support the others. The ash got into his hair, into his lungs reminiscent of another time when he stood and watched a different capital burn in front of his eyes and felt another nation's pain as if it was his own. But then it had only been one and now because his supplies were used by every nation he felt all their pain, their suffering, their hatred. "Do I regret it?" he mused aloud, flinging a battered ball back to a group of children whose laughter lifted the groups of haggard citizens who were trooping in and out of the factory, their lungs filled with smoke. He shook his head and laughed along with the children before he bent over double, coughing harshly before he felt soothing hands on his back, on his arms supporting him until he felt safe enough to raise his head and smile at the his citizens who loved and cared for him even as they died.
And they would breathe slowly as they walked away and tilted their heads to the sky as their lips moved in the age old words: "Please God, save my people."
Inspired by the YouTube video: [APH] The Falling Skies of WWII.