Genre: Drama/Angst/Romance/Humour(in places)
Pairing/s: (in this chapter) USxUK (if you squint - unfortunately filler chapters are sometimes necessary)
Characters: (in this chapter) UK, US, Poland, France, Iceland, Switzerland, Canada.
Rating/Warnings: Overall NC-17. This chapter PG-13. Slight cussing.
Summary: The year is 2438. A little over one hundred years ago, Russia finally cracked and nuclear warheads were sent flying to every corner of the world. No one had time to react. Some countries were wounded, some lost forever. The smaller nations suffered the most. Russia disappeared, never to be heard of again. Finally, the world is beginning to piece itself back together, and there is movement in the irradiated lands of Old Russia. Something is stirring, and only the rag-tag group of remaining nations can discover what it is. Ivan Braginski, or something far worse...
‘Russia remained untouched. We investigated once, through the burned-out remains of Ivan’s home, but we found nothing. He and Natalia were the only ones that were not found. We assumed that Natalia’s love for her brother had overcome her wariness of him and she had joined him in his madness, but there were a few of us who believed otherwise. Natalia had been leaning more on the side of caution at the end of things, and had even been discussing treaties that she could make with other nations in order to protect herself. That she would side with Ivan... it didn’t ring true.
~ There is nothing good in war, except its ending. ~
Perhaps she was simply a very good actress. I don’t suppose we’ll ever know.
We’d always believed that if the worst came to the worst, he would attack Alfred first. Most of the surrounding nations were gone, so they would fall under his control easily, but America would have to be won. I had been dreading it for years, but when that scar had begun to fade I thought that just maybe, just maybe it wouldn’t happen.
Turns out I was wrong.’
They had been watching the humans moving about the ruins for little over half an hour, knowing that they only had two options. One would be to approach and hope, with the knowledge that they could very well end up in a fire fight, and the other was to go around them. Feliks had been pushing for the former option.
“I told you we should have gone through Alaska,” Vash muttered darkly, toying with his gun. Matthew glared at him, and the Swiss held his gaze for a long moment before dropping his eyes, frowning slightly.
“You know we couldn’t, Vash,” the Canadian told him. “Alaska’s too dangerous. He’d see us coming miles off, and it’s a good thing that we didn’t, because we’d all be dead now.” He looked over to his brother, who was being fussed over by Arthur after the shorter nation had noticed that the bleeding hadn’t stopped. Alfred was trying to placate the Englishman but he was having none of it, thankfully keeping his voice quiet though the sharp gestures that he was making told well enough of his annoyance.
“It was a good idea,” Francis murmured. “But Mathieu is correct, Vash.” He cast a faint smile over to the Swiss, who sighed in defeat and turned away, returning to watching the humans. Feliks was staring back in the direction that they had come from, his eyebrows drawn down and his eyes narrowed. He had recovered quickly enough from his spell of nausea but now he was being struck by the feeling that something was following them.
“Óskar?” he said quietly to the pale man beside him. “Can you see anything out there?”
“Anything... No, why do you ask me?”
Feliks frowned, shaking the feeling off and returning his attention to the group, moving to Vash’s side and peering at the people in the ruins. There was only one way that they were going to find out if these people were hostile or not. Placing his gun to one side, Feliks hopped over the small rise of rocks that they had been hiding behind and began walking briskly towards the town.
“Fe- Feliks! Fuck.” Vash picked up the gun that had been left behind and made an irritated sound, his gaze sliding to Francis as the man joined him to watch Feliks. The Pole was spotted, and the humans began to gesture to each other, a small group of them breaking away from the ruins to run to the stranger approaching them. They stopped a little way off, and the faint sound of talking reached back to the nations, Vash letting out a sharp curse as the Pole pointed right to where they were hiding. He turned around and waved, and after a moment, Óskar stood up, making his way over followed closely by the rest of the group. Feliks was speaking to one of the humans in animated Lithuanian, and as the nations approached he introduced them.
“Arthur Kirkland,” he said, and Arthur nodded nervously, blinking up at Alfred as the taller nation held his hand gently. “Alfred F. Jones, Matthew Williams, Vash Zwingli, Francis Bonnefoy, Óskar Sindrason.” With the name-giving over, Feliks spoke a little further with the humans, and then gestured for the nations to follow as they were led back towards the ruins.
“What’s going on, Feliks?” Alfred asked, pushing his glasses up.
“They’re a group of Lithuanians, they’ve been living here for years. There’s some Estonians and Latvians here too, and a few Russian families.”
“What are they all doing here?”
Surviving. That was something that they could all understand. It wasn’t Feliks’ country, but no one would be able to deny the expression of pride on his face as they were taken into the town. The surrealism of it wasn’t lost on any of them, and Arthur pressed close to Alfred’s side as they moved through the ruins and small groups of people, real people, who stopped in their daily lives and watched the group passing with barely disguised interest. Feliks didn’t seem worried at all, in fact he almost seemed happy, the faintest of smiles on his face as he spoke to the woman nearest to him. They were led to a ramshackle building that appeared to have been patched up with what remained of those around it, and a guard posted by the door eyed the small group suspiciously as they approached, though a quick word from the woman that Feliks was speaking with gained them entrance.
“This place doesn’t look safe, eh...” Matthew mumbled, hanging close to his brother who seemed far more concerned with looking after Arthur. He had to admit, though, that the Canadian had a point. The walls were alarmingly cracked, held up with what looked like railway sleepers in places, or propped with scaffolding poles. At the end of a long corridor an open door led into a large room, where an elderly man and a younger one were conversing, sitting either side of a tarnished wooden desk. As they entered, the two men looked up, and Feliks spoke, though he seemed a little more uncertain than before.
“They want to know what we’re doing here,” he murmured to his companions after a short conversation had taken place.
“So, tell them,” Alfred suggested, slipping one arm around Arthur’s shoulders. Beside them, Vash snorted softly, and looked up.
“You want Feliks to tell them that we’re searching for the physical embodiment of the nation that’s the entire cause of all this ruin? How do you think they’re going to take that, America?”
Arthur bristled, but Alfred gave a surprisingly benign smile that briefly lit his pale face and glanced at the Pole, who raised one eyebrow in questioning while Francis grabbed Vash’s arm and jerked him back, speaking to him in quick, irritated French. Biting the tip of his thumb in thought, Feliks shook his head, muttering something about everybody being totally ridiculous, almost flinching at the friendly hand dropped onto his shoulder by a level-headed Icelandic.
“I would say tell them that we are looking for someone... and we would appreciate any help that they could give to us,” Óskar said. “That is as near enough to the truth as to not be a lie, I think?” He smiled at Feliks, who shrugged a little, and spoke to the two men again, his words slow and careful and accompanied by several hand gestures as he went about explaining. It would be difficult enough to explain how such a diverse group of people had come together or even how they had managed to get into Lithuania in the first place, but that didn’t seem to be an issue at the moment. As they spoke, the younger of the two men gestured to Feliks’ weapon, and the Pole drew it, holding it loosely to show it to the human. Several words were exchanged, and Feliks looked suddenly worried, holstering his gun again and glancing anxiously to his companions.
“What is it?” Arthur asked, not comforted in the slightest by the expression on the Pole’s face.
“They say that they’ll help us with supplies, but... they want payment.”
“I don’t like the sound of that...” Francis muttered.
“It’s dangerous out here, and their weapons barely function anymore. They want ours.”
WELL HAI GAIZ. What do you know, I'm still alive. I haven't been very well I'm afraid~
Sorries for the lack of any substantial goodness in this chapter, fluffy or otherwise, but there will be more when Alfred starts to- ... well, that would be telling :3 Thanks for your patience X3
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