MW: Proof that I am not dead. Sorry for not updating anything lately. School was drawing to an end and I had to deal with AP testing, finals, and my driver's test. I did well on all of them, so now, two days after school's out, I'm here with an one-shot.
Okay, so remember in episode 14 of Beautiful World how there was this American soldier who found Germany in the supply camp.
I wrote a fic about him.
Actually, I wrote this around the time the episode came out, it just took forever to be beta'd. Anyways, the soldier's name in this is Rory Beck (just in case there's any confusion). There are a few other OCs, but they ain't important.
I hope you all enjoy!
Story Summary: Rory Beck was always the paranoid one and everyone in his platoon mocked him for it. That is, until his paranoia leads him to discover a certain German nation.
Warnings: Strong language, character death, blood/gore, and violence.
Disclaimer: Hetalia is owned by Himaruya Hidekaze.
~Prickling in My Skin~
"You're too paranoid, Beck ."
That was something I heard a lot.
"Calm down Rory! It's just a bunny!"
Far too often for my comfort.
"Scared of a little rain, dipshit?"
Maybe I was teased one too many times as a child. Maybe my brothers shouldn't have snuck up behind me while we were playing tag in the fields of Colorado. Maybe I shouldn't have listened to my mother when she warned me of the Big Bad Wolf. There could be a million ways I could have prevented the pricking of my skin when I feel as though something wrong could possibly happen.
In a way, it was a curse. All of the other officers in my platoon jeered at me and called me a pussy. It took all of my willpower not to turn the turrets against them. Yet, in a strange and benevolent way, it was a blessing. It was because of my seventh sense that I was able to meet the man that changed everything.
All in all, I met him three times.
During the first time, I was stationed in the Vichy France. I remember it clearly. Surrounded by a thick forest of brush and trees, it felt so safe in our camp of army tents and mud. There, in our closed off world, there were no Nazis at our heels. There was nothing waiting for us but the sweet arms of an easy lady. Here, there was no war.
During this day, my fellow soldiers and I were gathered around a boulder as we played cards. They were dirty, the corners stained with mud and sweat. There was a missing jack and two of clubs, but none of us cared. Our minds were set on gambling worthless bibles and wrinkled pictures of pretty girls. "Sledgehammer's gonna win this one!" Samuel exclaimed, nudging the man he called Sledgehammer with his elbow. A ginger with rosy red cheeks, Samuel looked like a little kid again when he winked. "He's been having the best of luck since he met Mr. America!"
We all laughed, jabbing our elbows and passing around a flask of whiskey. Technically, we weren't supposed to drink on duty, but no one cared. It was hard to when the next battle would leave us with less gambling partners. Sending us jokers glares, the private we called Sledgehammer chewed on the end of his cigarette. "Don't make fun of me, dipshits," he snapped, pointing a sharp finger at our faces. "If you meet your country, you get good luck for the rest of your life. And you wanna know something? I did! Last month, I was in a load of shit when-"
I could not help myself. I jumped to my feet, shoving my cards in my pockets as I waved my hands in the air, finishing, "When, out of nowhere, a sturdy blond matching the photos in New Times came to the rescue." I laughed again, starting a rotation around the boulder. I was like a magician to a crowd of children- spelling out the words to my myths with an animated face. "He had a smile that broke through the smoke of the bombs." I made circles with my fingers and placed them over my eyes. "He had glasses and a cowlick on his head. But the most radiant thing of all-" I bent in front of Sledgehammer, placing two fingers on my freckled cheeks. "-was his smile. And I knew that at the moment, he was my country. That was Mr. America."
Everyone erupted into another fit of laughter. Clutching my side, I fell back into my spot, shoving the guys as they chanted 'Mr. America' over and over again. Sledgehammer pressed his lips before throwing the cards at us. A king of hearts and a two of spades landed on my lap. "Dammit guys! It's true!" He snapped, "I saw Mr. America! How else would I get through half of the shit I've gone through lately?"
"Same way the rest of us have been," Samuel replied. "Pure-fucking-luck."
I froze, the smile dropping from my face. All over my skin, I could feel the prickling of pins and needles. It started at my neck, spreading over my body like an infectious disease. As the laughter started again, I could not help but to look behind me. Our supply tent was there, looking relatively harmless. Nothing looked wrong, yet I could tell. There was something off about it. Something was amiss.
Samuel waved a hand in front of my face. "Earth to Rory, is something wrong?"
I shook my head. "There's something wrong with the supply tent," I told him.
Everyone in our group groaned. "Not this shit again," Sledgehammer mourned, rolling his head on his neck. The smoke from his cig made a gray circle in the air. "We've been over this, Beck . The Germans made you paranoid. There ain't anything in there."
I placed my cards on the boulder and stood. "Still, I'm going to go check it out."
"You'll have to fold then."
I threw my arms up in the air. "Fine! See if I care!" I marched away, my face turning red as the treatment I gave Sledgehammer was dealt to me. I could hear them mockingly tell of the sad little fable of the little boy who cried "German! German!"
"I hate them sometimes," I thought, balling my fists. "If only they would-" That was when I heard them- two voices, speaking low and hushed. I paused a few feet from the tent entrance. The prickling in my skin worsened. That did not sound like English. Gulping, I straightened my back and ran a hand over my head of hair. Just me being paranoid? I'll show them.
I glanced back at the boulder and saw that everyone was looking at me. They wanted to know if I was right or wrong again. I could not help but to smirk. "Who's there?" I called, trotting through the flap of the tent.
Their surprised groans were so satisfying that I realized too late that there actually was someone inside. A muscular man, wearing the same uniform I was- American. His pale blond hair was slicked back, revealing how truly fair his skin and eyes were. A pair of glasses was perched on his nose. My hand subconsciously shot to my side. Great, I forgot my gun. It didn't seem as though that would be necessary, though. The man, standing in front of one of the crates, was nervously unarmed.
I felt my face soften, though my resolve did not falter. I heard two voices after all.
"Is there someone else here?" I demanded, marching straight into his face. It was hard to intimadate him like that. He was a few inches taller than me. I glanced around the tent. The two of us were alone. No signs of any other presence. No signs as anyone hiding. "I thought I heard someone else talking . . ." I snapped my gaze back at the man. "Are you alone?" I asked.
The man looked startled. He took a small step back from me, trying to keep a straight face as he explained, "Er, I was talking to myself." I didn't believe him.
I took another step forward, getting even closer to his face. There were no signs of freckles or scars or burns- something all soldiers here possessed. Yet, he had a better build than most of my platoon. I tried to not let that bug me as I said, "I haven't seen you around here and it doesn't seem like you are American." I took a deep breath. "Perhaps you are-"
"But what are you saying?" I paused. There, on the man's face was a bright smile. He laughed a little, excitedly saying, "I love hamburgers! I am American!"
For a second, I saw it.
I saw the Mr. America that Sledgehammer talked about. I saw the glasses and the smile. And, for a moment, I felt the familiarity- the one people say you get when you meet your country.
But what was I thinking? This guy looked nothing like the Mr. America in the newspapers! I shook the idea from my head. First my irrational paranoia and now this. What was I turning into? "I see it now!" I said, trying to sound casual and carefree. "Sorry for doubting you." I glanced around, trying to think of another thing to say. "It's almost time to eat," I said. "So it is best that you rush."
The man seemed shocked. I wouldn't blame him- I turned from distrusting him to being his best friend in a matter of seconds. "Y-yeah, thanks a lot," he muttered.
Feeling embarrassed all over again, I quickly made my way out. The man resumed his talking out loud regimen. I couldn't stick around and listen, though. Samuel and Sledgehammer and the rest of the men were jeering at me again.
At dinner, I did not see the man again. It took me to the next battle to figure out why.
I was standing in a mud filled trench in the middle of the night. My ears were ringing from the echoes of the fighting- men crying, bombs blasting, guns booming. I had been sent back to get ammo for the machine guns, a task that took me a little over ten minutes. It was pitch black, the crescent moon barely giving me any light to travel by. I tripped over countless roots, yet I did not drop any of the rounds. The lives of so many- Samuel, Sledgehammer, the Germans -depended on them.
But I came back too late.
Everyone in my trench was dead. Sledgehammer, Samuel, the guy who always lent the cards- everyone. The rounds dropped from my arms as I stared at their twisted faces, painted in the dark color of their blood. My eyes traveled to every face, drinking in the horror of the sight. There was the guy who cleaned my gun for me. He had six rounds in his chest. There was Ralph, the kid from Ohio who always read the bible. He was face down in the mud.
A placed a hand over my mouth. No. How could any of this happen? How could I have let something like this happen? I could have prevented this. They didn't have to be just more names for a memorial. I placed a hand on my face as a strangled sob left my mouth.
"Ugh, Beck . Is that you?" A small, relieved, smile cracked across my face as Sledgehammer winced in pain. "What the fuck took you so long?"
I felt ready to cry. Without much through, I quickly ran to his side and fell to my knees. "Jesus Christ- you're alive!" I yelled, taking his hand in mine. It was caked in blood and mud, though it was pleasantly warm to the touch. "Holy shit- you gotta have three slugs in you! How the hell are you still alive?"
He grimaced, flashing his blacken teeth. "Don't they always say that meeting your country gives you good luck?"
"Then I am sorry for ruining that."
In one swift motion, I grabbed my rifle, turned around, and aimed it at the intruder. Standing there, dressed in dirt covered clothes and armed with a rifle of his own, was the man from the tent. This time, however, the prickling had every right to be buzzing beneath my skin. The man was now wearing a German uniform.
I narrowed my eyes at the murderer and aimed my gun right between his eyes. Maybe, if I shot him now, I wouldn't feel the guilt. That day in the tent- if I had been more forceful and reported him, then maybe everyone else would still be alive. "Who are you?" I growled, clicking my ammo into place. "You have five seconds to tell me or I shoot."
"But I am not aiming at you," the man said, glancing at his own weapon. True to his words, the barrel was pointed down at the ground, not at us.
I could feel Sledgehammer give me his usual scowl. A small voice in my head kicked at my senses, screaming, "Come on Rory! Just shoot the bastard already!"
I ignore it. "Five."
"Do you really want to know my name?" The man asked suddenly.
I let my counting do the talking. "Four."
He pressed his lips, weighing his options for a long moment. In the background, the symphony of war filled the air with its horrific melody. I thought I heard a soldier give a fellow his last rites, being the priest in a last minute sacrament of reconciliation. The man's hard eyes, no longer bound by his glasses, did not hesitate to pierce right through me as he introduced himself. "I am Germany."
My eyes went wide.
My grip on the gun lessened.
"Herr Germany?" I breathed. Sledgehammer's already weak breathing was becoming labored. We were up against a . . .
Suddenly, I grinded my teeth and pulled the trigger. A roar joined the song of war. The man grunted, placing a hand over the hole on his face, but he did not fall down. He stumbled a few paces, trying to regain his balance as he wiped the blood from his eyes. I sat there was a hung mouth. I shot him in the face and yet we was still alive! "Only countries can hurt other countries," I realized, remember one of the first lessons at school—countries live on their own plane of existence.
The weight of everything finally struck me.
"You're Herr Germany," I breathed again, dropping my gun. The prickling was now a sting, making every touch a painful sensation. I placed a hand over my mouth, scrambling onto the other side of Sledgehammer. "You're a country. You-"
"Yes, my people killed everyone in this trench," Herr Germany said evenly. In a way, he sounded exhausted, like he already had too many things on his mind to deal with me. "But that is war. You should not be so horrified."
I clenched my fist. "Men are dying because of you!" I screamed. "Peek over the ledge, dumbass! There's a hell out there! I'm less horrified of how much of a monster you are and more of how little humanity there is right now because of you!"
"But does murder not do that to humans?" Herr Germany asked. "Take away your humanity?" I did not answer. "That is the way it is then. You take away a man's morals and he is nothing more than an animal. When he is an animal, he is led not by logic, but by the primitive need to survive. It is the only way he will survive this hell. Here, there is no place for humanity."
My veins popped in my arms. My hair was coming undone from its smoothed back perfection while the country's remained perfect. Yet I did not say anything. I felt as though he wanted me to provoke him, give him a reason to shot.
Maybe that was his plan because after a minute of silence, he placed the rifle strap back over his shoulder and turned around. "There is a Red Cross three miles out from here. Get your friend there before he bleeds out," he said. He reached into his pocket. I gained enough sense to grab my gun and aimed right at him. Herr Germany paused for a moment, before tossing me something from his pocket. It landed on my lap softly- a roll of bandages. "That should help with the bleeding until you get there." He turned and started to climb out of the trench. Mud slid under his feet, piling on top of Simon's back. "He will make it if you hurry."
Placing a hand in Sledgehammer's, I shot the country a dirty look. "Why are you letting us live?" I demanded.
He didn't even turn around to answer. "I cannot kill my own people."
That was the second time I met him.
It took me until the third day after the battle- the third day by Sledgehammer's side at the Red Cross -to realize what he meant. In their plane of existence, a country is forbidden under most circumstances from killing any of his own people.
I was part German.
For years afterwards, I marveled at how lucky I was. Like Sledgehammer's story of Mr. America, no one believed my tale of Herr Germany. I tried numerous times to get Sledgehammer to back me up, but blood loss had made him so delirious that his side of the story was illegitimate. After the first few times, I stopped talking about it.
The pricking of my skin seemed to become more acute. My paranoia turned into an actual danger radar as the buzzing became more accurate. There were less false alarms. Whenever my seventh sense kicked in, there was a guarantee that I was right, that my paranoia was legitimized. But people never believed me. When I warned them of my 'gut feeling', they would nodded their heads and give me a hollow promise to take caution. The grand majority of them, even when my paranoia was legitimized, never believed me. They made a mockery of me whenever they thought that I was not listening.
By the following Christmas, I could care less.
The war passed over. The Germans were no longer the enemy and the Soviets were. We were all sent back home to resume civilian life. Sledgehammer went to his girlfriend's place in Texas while I returned to Colorado. I found out that my brother died in the Pacific two months prior. Another lost an arm. The eldest, the one who taught me how to climb trees, was barely able to pat my back and grace me with a smile. "You're lucky," he told me that night. "That you can even remember how to do that."
Yes. I was filled with luck from Herr Germany.
I met Cynthia the following year. She made be the happiest man in the world. She never minded when I woke up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat, visions of war and terror. She is the sweetest, most loving person I could ever hope for. She and the children make me remember why I fought in the first place- peace. Peace at home, peace at mind.
Cynthia was the first person to suggest that I go to back to France, to the place where we fought that dark battle. "They're building a memorial there, Rory," she said, stroking my cheek as we sat at the dinner table. "They've asked you to attend."
"I lost a lot of friends in that battle," I said.
"Mothers lost sons in that battle." She sighed and kissed my lips. "Rory, you're a part of history now. One day the kids will be opening history books and reading about how Herr Germany invaded Pan Poland, how Mr. America defeated Japan-san. They'll be able to raise their hands and tell about how their father fought in France. This memorial is just a symbol of that."
I sighed and leaned back in my chair. Every time she tried to talk to me about this, the prickling on my skin would return. Pins and needles up and down my arms and legs. I unconsciously scratched my arms, begging for it to go away. They only did when I promised myself to stay far, far away from that place. "I don't know . . ." Her looked harden and my will weakened. Any promise could be broken for Cynthia. "Okay. If Sledgehammer agrees to go, then I will too."
She called him up that night, talking in a sweet tone to my dear war friend. Later, she grandly entered bedroom with a large grin, holding my old suitcase and a map to France.
I was not really sure what I expected the memorial to be like. They explained to Sledgehammer and I that we had to arrive in our old uniforms, medals and all, and line up with the remaining veterans. Under the hot French sun, we listened to Monsieur France, Mr. Britain, and Mr. America give their speeches about history and bravery and nationalism. They placed floral wreaths around a marble stone, inscribed with the names of the dead. I resisted the urge to tug at my collar and faint from heat stroke.
This was the place where I met Herr Germany for the third and last time.
Before I knew it, the ceremony was over.
French, English, and British men stood with family and comrades in their own little bubbles, trying to talk casually. That was hard to do when you knew that you were standing on a gravesite. Mr. America and the rest of the countries attending were talking to many of their civilians, lightening up the mood as they asked about the family and job. That was where Sledgehammer was now, trying to see if Mr. America remember the battle he first saw him at.
I, meanwhile, held a hand over the black marble of the memorial, brushing my finger over the smooth surface. My finger traced the firm, white letters of Samuel's name. "You should not feel guilty." I jerked away, holding my arm over my face as I stepped back. There, kneeling at the base of the memorial, was Herr Germany. He hadn't changed one bit. Dressed in a black suit, his fair hair was slicked back, giving me a clear view of his blue eyes. They were not cold, as I always remembered them to be. No, they were worn.
I was not all that surprised by his lack of change. Countries do not age very easily. I should know that- I see pictures of Herr Germany in the newspaper every day. In his hand, he held a white rose. He held it over a small spot between the potted flowers and fancy wreaths, lingering in a small thought. I could see it in his hard face- the pain it took him to gently place it on the lush, green grass.
I frowned. "What gives you the right to say that?" I spat, crossing my arms over my chest.
He did not look at me as he shrugged. "Plenty of reasons, the first and foremost being this: you are a good person. I can tell just by looking at you."
"Well, you're looking wrong," I said, turning away. I watched Sledgehammer as he and Mr. America talked to each other like old friends. It was nothing special- everyone is 'friends' with his country. I took a tense breath. "Do you even know who I am?"
Herr Germany was quiet for a long moment. Was he thinking about the war front or merely maintaining dominance over the situation by making me wait? He drilled his fingers on his knees, saying, "You are Rory Oscar Beck , an American soldier with German heritage. I spared your life so that you may save your comrade. You thought that I was an American. You told me to rush so that I would not miss dinner. I remember you."
My arms ached with the prickling. A voice in my head screamed for me to abandon ship, leave this danger behind. I bit my lips, puffing hot air from my red cheeks. "Okay, so you remember me. So what? You act as though I am someone who never got over the war. Well, Herr Germany, I did. I am completely fine and-"
"I was not asking you to 'get over' the war." I paused, watching with curiosity as he steadily rose to his feet. He did not look upset- quite the contrary. His face was a stone mask, never to be broken and never to reveal his true thoughts. Herr Germany buried his hands in his pockets as he looked down at the memorial. His reflection frowned back at him.
We were silent.
"I was asking you to always remember it. The paranoid are the best rulers of nations, so says Machiavelli. He also says that it is better to be feared than loved. I am here to tell you that the world should be governed in love, not blood and iron. The world needs more people like you, Rory Beck: always on alert, waiting for the next tragedy. It will be people like you who can make sure that none of this ever happens again. It will be people like you who will give mothers back their sons."
I shook my head at him. "You make me sound like some sort of martyr," I said simply. "I'm just a kid who's too paranoid for his own good."
Herr Germany grimaced. "That is what you may think, but-" He turned and with one last nod to the memorial, started to walk away. "-You are telling this to the country who caused the world's worst war. Paranoia may be a curse, but it is a good one to have."
I stood in a stunned silence. I heard nothing- not the wind, the people, the earth. My hands felt cold and clammy. For the first time in my life, someone said that my paranoia was a good thing. Someone said that my paranoia will help others.
The prickling did not leave my skin, even after the man was long gone, disappeared like a mirage into the crowd. I didn't think the prickling would ever leave me again.
MW: When you give MidnasWolf an OC, she will make sure that he is significantly tortured and lives a rather horrible life.
Sorry about that. Just reading it I can see the spot in the story when all y'all realize that this wasn't going to be a happy one. Sorry, but it's so much easier to write angst than fluff.
Fanboy will probably be updated next. I plan on starting another story over the summer where the Tomato gang are serial killers and Cuba and America are the bickering detectives who have to stop them. Within Ash and Snow will be updated sometime soon.
Thank you all for reading! I hope you all enjoyed!