5. The ones who save lives
When Iceland stopped the engine, Prussia was just about to start going down, having fastened the rope system to his climbing harness. Their other snowmobile was already working as their anchor and Denmark was sitting on the driver seat, ready to press the brakes down, when Prussia would start.
"What's the score?" England asked stepping down off of the sled.
America frowned at him. "This is not a sporting event, England."
"I know that much, git, now give me the damn situation so I can help."
"Prussia is going to climb down to help Germany and we'll then pull them both up. Need details?" Hungary said impatiently.
"The main force technique then?" Iceland asked and nodded to approve the plan.
"If it's called that. Now can we begin?"
Prussia moved to go down, but Norway stopped him. "Wait a moment, Prussia!" Norway grabbed one free ice axe and hammered it on the edge of the crevasse beside Prussia.
"What are you doing?" Prussia asked.
"Preventin' the snow from givin' in under friction," Norway answered simply without even looking at him. Behind him Denmark swore something about "forgetting about that." Norway guided the rope to run over the transverse piece of metal. "Now get goin'."
"I've so been waiting for that," Prussia crouched and grabbed the both edges of the chasm to slide himself down. Denmark pressed the break down and America, Sweden and Russia started to give Prussia more rope as he slowly disappeared into the crevasse. The rope system was made so that the weight to the three was at the minimum and to help pulling, they had had the rope go through the pulley. Hungary waited with the third rope for Prussia to get down to Germany. Iceland was lying down on the edge, giving Prussia instructions and watching him advance together with Norway who guarded the rope on the edge to make sure it wouldn't slip on the bare edge. England and Austria waited stand-by at the ropes to help at pulling or anything else needed.
"Slower," Iceland ordered to the three giving the rope. Sweden grunted him an answer and the rope slowed down, giving Prussia more time.
"This place is cramped," Prussia huffed and shifted his hands clenching his teeth.
"Be careful not to hit Germany while coming near," Norway instructed, speaking very clearly to make sure the Prussian wouldn't miss any advice.
"I know that," Prussia puffed and steered his way down with his feet. Germany was only two more meters below him.
"Prussia, you have to turn around, you can't help him if you're backwards," Iceland continued as Norway tried to adjust the rope a little. "The best would be that you could get him between your legs. Can you?"
"If that's the best, I'll do anything," Prussia pressed his palm to the wall and glanced upward. "Turning!" he warned.
"Halt!" Iceland commanded and the America company halted the rope and tensed.
Prussia swung himself around and after checking where Germany, his ropes, and feet were, he shouted an okay to continue.
Germany looked eyes half open when his brother directed himself down in front of him, just above Germany's left leg that was still the only thing keeping the younger German from falling.
"Yo, West," Prussia grinned and then turned to look up again. "I'm with him!"
Iceland commanded the halt again and Hungary came to the edge with the remaining rope. "Okay, Prussia?"
"Wait a second!" Prussia answered, checking his brother. "Jesus, you're pale. I'll get you up in a minute, I promise," he said as he held Germany's head between his hands. He was worried of how fast paced his brother was breathing. "Stay with me a while longer, okay? Hungary! The rope!"
"Coming!" And the rope swung down, slowing down just before hitting Prussia and landed into his hands, secured.
"Got it!" Prussia turned back to his brother and took his left hand that still clutched the rope Prussia had dropped down earlier. "You can let go of this now," Prussia counseled and started to fasten his brother to the right rope.
To their calamity, they hadn't noticed that Germany wasn't wearing his climbing harness, and now it was impossible to put it on at this point. Then again, using it would probably cause unnecessary pressure to Germany's thigh and therefore create a great deal of pain and worsen the injury. Prussia tied the rope around Germany's chest and shoulders and in the end bound it to himself. He left a bit of rope in front of Germany's chest so that he could grab it into his fist.
He settled his other hand to the other's upper arm. "Okay, I got you." He turned to up. "Ropes tight!" Turning back to Germany, he tensed his feet, leaning his back to the wall opposite to Germany. "Free your left leg."
"Wha–" Germany looked up at him.
"Do it, West. I got you, you're not falling," Prussia commanded, trying to sound as sure as he could. "I'm going to get you up from here. I am, West, trust me. Just this once," Prussia leaned closer and wound his other arm under Germany's armpit to his back, grabbing the ropes behind. "We can't get you up if you don't let go. Come on, hold on to me. We'll leave this place."
Germany took Prussia's shoulder first with his left hand and after hesitating a second, let his right hand rise as well to hold Prussia's upper arm.
When he let his left leg fall down from the position that was holding him still, he slipped from the jut and the weight of his right leg started weighting the bone fracture again. Germany cried out in pain. Prussia shouted the command up to the others and when they started raising up, he concentrated on making sure Germany didn't hit a wall on the way up. Prussia bit his lip and followed the wall with his legs as they rose up. He blessed the rope keeping Germany and him together, since his arms holding the other soon noticed the weight of what they were supporting.
Up in the surface, Sweden, Russia and America were putting their strength to good use at the end of the rope system. Hungary, Austria and England had come to help them. Iceland laid down on the edge giving instructions.
"Try to pull more steadily," he ordered and helped Norway to keep the rope still. "Prussia," he called down. "Try to stay as still as possible."
"They're lighter than I thought," Russia noted from the very end of the rope.
"Well, there are six of us," America huffed. "Come on everyone! Pull!"
"Argh," Prussia growled as the main rope started pressing him against the wall.
"Halt!" Iceland commanded. "Prussia, turn one fourth around."
"Then I can't control the wall," Prussia huffed back, but started turning.
"If you don't, we won't get you up or you get hurt while we try," Iceland explained strictly.
"Done," Prussia announced and took Germany closer as his grip had started to loosen.
"Okay, one more time. Haul!" Norway commanded this time.
Immediately when they started moving again, Germany's thigh got pressed between himself and Prussia's leg which pressed the wall. He grunted, gritting his teeth. His right leg rested almost only on his thigh muscles. He didn't even dare trying and moving anything under his knee.
"Just a little longer," Prussia told him and tried not to move his leg to avoid any high force impact.
When they were only at the edge of the crevasse, they faced yet another problem: they had to unfasten the rope holding the brothers together and get them up separately.
"England and Austria," Norway called bringing the two who had the less to do to him. "Ye'll take Germany."
England crept down to the edge and spoke to Prussia, who was only twenty centimeters down the crevasse. "Which one of his legs is unbroken?" he checked.
Prussia nodded to his right. "That one. The one further away from you."
England dropped a new rope into the crevasse and slipped the small loop on its end under Germany's sole. Prussia unfastened the rope keeping them together with his left hand, but kept his right on the ropes in front of Germany's chest. They both got their missions done at the same time.
It took them only a minute after that to get Germany finally out of the chasm. The loop under his feet had served as a step, pushing Germany up from the below, where also Prussia was doing his best to help, hanging still in the ropes while the others lifted Germany up. Austria and Norway took the hyperventilating Germany in their hands and pulled him away from the edge, trying to support his leg while hauling. It had twisted when he had exited the chasm. Prussia was up from the crevasse ten seconds after Germany.
He hopped to the surface with the helping hand of Iceland, huffing and a bit worn out, but otherwise perfectly fine. The same didn't apply to Germany.
"We need to get him to a hospital," Norway looked deep into Germany's eyes that were rapidly moving in the sudden bright light. Germany was shivering and his breath pitched high every now and then: the last twist on his thigh had exacerbated the fracture. "Germany. Can ye hear me?"
Germany nodded slightly and his hand twisted. "Yes... I can," his voice came out like he couldn't have moved his tongue properly. In sunlight they could see his face had turned slightly blue.
"He has hypothermia," Iceland diagnosed as Sweden came to them with a blanket.
"How bad?" Norway asked.
"I'd say moderate," Iceland answered.
"Speak human!" England snapped.
"If he gets much colder, it's really bad," Russia helped kindly.
"Thank you," England huffed, voice not-so-kindly reminding there were novices present.
"We'll have to get him to the camp and keep him warm," Hungary said, hurrying the Nordics.
"Who will take him?" America asked. "We still must get Finland so Norway and Iceland have to stay here. Plus, we need Russia's strength and there's absolutely no way Sweden wanted to leave now, right."
Sweden shook his head and the other Nordics approved to America's way of thinking, nodding.
"I could drive," Prussia offered and took his brother's hand.
"I think you should stay with your brother," Austria objected and shook his head. "I will drive."
"You?" Prussia raised an eyebrow, doubtfully.
Austria sent him a glare and helped Sweden and Prussia to move Germany to lie on a blanket. "For your better information, I am an Alpine country."
"Oh," Prussia answered, frowning. "That's right..."
It was quickly decided that Prussia, Austria and Hungary would take Germany back to the camp. Austria would drive and the other two keep Germany company on the sled, keeping him as warm and still as possible. While they were taking their leave, the others got ready to begin their second mission. Since they didn't know what kind of curves or narrow places the crevasse made deep down, Iceland would go down to look for the missing nation, being the most experienced ice-climber and also one of the smallest present. This time he would go down with a radiotelephone to keep contact.
"We'll be going," Hungary called and waved. "Be sure to come back with Finland, okay?"
"Leave it to us!" America promised and struck a pose.
"Get going before he gets worse," Denmark ordered. "France and Italy will be waiting at the camp."
"And hopefully some Greenlanders," Russia said and smiled. "Germany seems very impatient to be treated."
"Shut up and do your own job," Prussia snarled.
"We are leaving," Austria warned and started the engine. Prussia leaned down over Germany to keep him still and warm. Hungary secured Prussia from falling in turn.
Norway doubted Sweden even noticed them finally leaving.
"I would like to go down now," Iceland said impatiently.
.*** *** ***
France pulled the thread and obediently the tent slumped down, making it easier for him to handle. Italy appeared from the next tent with Austria's personal property and dropped it beside Russia's by the fire. Then he disappeared to the tent again to get Norway's luggage. While working he kept whistling and humming some Italian song, which he hardly remembered properly. Or from what France could tell, it changed a bit every now and then. France was happy the Italian wasn't so nervous anymore (or then he hid it well, but since it was Italy, France doubted that).
It was only the second tent they were working with since Italy had taken his time setting his brain on a work mode. France had found him a couple of times spacing off and staring towards the horizon where the snowmobiles had disappeared. He couldn't blame him though. He himself felt the same urge to know what was happening beyond the white landscape.
But right now it seemed Italy had gotten over the worst anxiety and was taking his worries out to the baggage. Just when France thought this could help them to pack up faster, he heard the engine again. His work-orientated mind snapped out of its serene thoughts back to the nervously waiting mode and he straightened quickly, turning around towards the sound.
No doubt about it. Someone was coming back.
Already? France wondered as he ran closer the sound and sheltered his eyes from the sun to see. They really had taken their time with the tents... "Italy! Italy!" the Frenchman called and the Italian's head popped out.
"What what what?" Italy asked, but heard the snowmobile as well. His expression changed from the one blissful to the one which told his brain was currently processing the information and was not to be disturbed. Then his eyes brightened like a child opening a Christmas present and he ran to France. "It's them, isn't it? They're coming back with Germany and Finland, aren't they? They did it, didn't they?"
France set his hand on Italy's head and shared a look with him. "Don't get too excited yet. It could be just someone picking up something they forgot. And either way." He turned to scan the snow and the approaching black spot. "There's is only one snowmobile. Not everyone could be returning."
.*** *** ***
Germany concentrated just on not losing his consciousness. He could understand Prussia was talking to him, but it faded under some other, loud noise he couldn't recognize first but then the familiar sound of a snowmobile flashed through his memory. What Prussia said, he didn't hear, but it couldn't be too important, he decided. His right leg hurt so much he couldn't anymore tell apart where was the actual fracture and what was only receiving the pain radiating from it.
He couldn't exactly tell where he was. A couple of times he tried opening his eyes but it felt so difficult and he started to feel sick whenever he saw the swirling reality his eyes twisted in front of him, he gave up the idea after a few tries. What he could understand, was that he was lying on his back on something shaking stand (a sled, his brain said, but his mind was reluctant to listen) and his brother lying next to, or more likely over, him.
At one point his attempt to not fall asleep failed and the next thing he knew, was that the one over him wasn't Prussia anymore, but...
"I...taly?" he mumbled and tried to force his eyes to stay open for a while.
"Ve!" Italy squeaked and hugged him, considerably carefully to be Italy. "Germany, I was sooo worried when I heard! Germany, you shouldn't do things like that!"
"Urgh..." Germany grunted and tried to move but noticed he was under heavy blankets. "Don't talk... so loud."
"Let him go," a new voice joined in. "Italy, Germany needs rest. And be careful with the thigh."
"Yes," Italy backed up and Germany turned his half open eyes to Austria.
"Hey, Austria," Germany said calmly and noticed the small sleep had been good for his brain; his eyes didn't swirl as bad as before. "It seems we brothers... caused you yet more trouble..."
"Don't worry about that," Austria answered and sat down beside him on the edge sled. They had figured it was no use moving the German while waiting for help to arrive. "I'm used to it."
Germany huffed smiling slightly. "That... makes it even worse, you know..."
Austria smiled back and leaned closer. "Are you warm?"
"I don't know," Germany closed his eyes and took a deep breath. The back of his head was thumbing again. "I'm warm, but... cold... at the same time," he spoke slowly as he felt like his tongue was stiffened like he had been to a dentist.
"Wouldn't want to try that, sounds very uncomfortable," a new voice commented. "And you're in quite a pain, non?"
Germany opened his eyes to give a half-hearted glare to France, but said nothing.
"Of course he's in pain!" a voice reached somewhere behind Germany's head where he couldn't see, but Germany would recognize that voice anywhere: Prussia. "Stop being an idiot in the most inappropriate moment."
"That wasn't a question, but an observation," France corrected. "But you, mister, shouldn't really cause so much grey hairs to others." He pointed to Germany and then let his fingers run through his golden locks. "Doesn't suit me. So stop getting yourself killed for whatever reason."
Austria sighed and turned to Germany. "Ignore him, it is his way of showing he was worried." France was about to object but Austria continued. "We have called a helicopter to take you to a hospital. It should be here any minute."
"Don't worry," Hungary smiled brightly, appearing from behind Austria, she too sitting on the edge, hands on Austria's shoulders. "We'll be here with you and accompany you during your ride. Just tell us if there's anything we can do for you."
"Ve," Italy took Germany's hand. "Everything will be okay! You will be alright and then we can have another vacation together. Maybe somewhere warmer..."
Germany nodded and closed his eyes to get some more sleep. Before he could, he remembered something and opened his eyes again. "Where..." he started and everyone turned their attention to him. "Where is Finland?"
This time his question met a moment of silence, before he heard moving and Prussia sat down beside Italy. "The others are looking for him. Don't worry about it, I'm sure they've already found him by now. You just rest and leave it us."
"But... he..." before Germany could resist more Austria set his hand to his forehead.
"Just get some sleep, Germany," he said calmly, but quietly. "The best you can do to help him, is to help yourself for now." Germany had problems hearing him. Then he noticed it wasn't Austria who spoke quietly, it was himself who was again falling asleep. That was his last coherent thought before slipping unconscious again.
.*** *** ***
The radiotelephone crackled.
And they waited.
A/N: Hello again. I hope you enjoyed this chapter. It might take me a while to get the next chapter out, but I will try to do it at least doing the beginning of October.
Ultrawolfie: As you can see I ended up with choosing Iceland instead. Norway would indeed not have been a bad choice, but in my mind, instead of having him, who is experienced in climbing on snowy mountains, have Iceland who has a glacier on his back yard, do this job. Thank you for your support for the past week or so, I appreciate you coming to see me.
Wings, I'll do my best to keep up with your skills. ^^b