Genre: Drama/Angst/Romance/Humour(in places)
Pairing/s: (in this chapter) USxUK, PrussiaxCanada, GermanyxN.Italy
Characters: (in this chapter) US, Prussia, Canada, Germany, N. Italy, France, Poland.
Rating/Warnings: Overall NC-17. This chapter, PG-13 just to be safe.
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...
~ There is nothing good in war, except its ending. ~
‘I can’t remember the last time I saw the sun. The oppressive grey clouds haven’t cleared since the day that the bombs dropped. We all thought that we knew what to expect from a nuclear winter, but the reality was far, far worse than the fiction from one of Alfred’s terrible post-apocalyptic films. He’ll laugh about it, sometimes, when he has the energy to laugh (and energy these days is something sorely lacking in our rag-tag group), and say that if he and Kiku had banded together they could have written the best apocalyptic horror film of all time. Kiku, when he’s conscious, finds this amusing, since Alfred has always been a bad writer and too attached to his happy endings. So far, there doesn’t seem to be a happy ending in sight for us, and I almost wish that we were in one of those films, then at least our survival would be assured...
Alfred and I married in 2276, on July the fourth, five hundred years to the day after he first broke my heart. He hasn’t even come close to repeating that act since, and he is my shining light in this world, the one thing that keeps me waking with a smile after all these years of near-hopelessness. We were so desperately in love, practically married already; it was just a matter of paperwork. ‘The United Nations of America and Great Britain’ had a nice ring to it. He gave me Jamestown as a wedding gift.
I don’t know what I’d do without him.
It would only stand to reason that with things finally beginning to look brighter, with Kiku’s continued consciousness and Yao beginning to recover, that something would happen to knock everything off balance. We did not expect that ‘something’ would be Ivan.’
Canada had really been their only option. The once ignored and unnoticed nation had become the safest place in the world to be, and he had taken them all in happily, because that was his nature. Yao had opted to stay in China, along with the remaining Asian and Middle-Eastern nations, but they sent messages as often as they could, recently with increasingly good news. Word from Africa was rare, but Gupta occasionally managed to get a letter through. He seemed to be coping, though the loss of Alexandria and Cairo had hit him hard.
Matthew was thinking about all these things as he made his way back to his rooms, the Nordic’s words echoing in his mind. Something worse... the Russian Empire... If Ivan got a grip on the world now, in such a weakened state, they wouldn’t be able to stop him.
He stopped in front of the door, his fingers hesitating over the lock before he pressed his thumb to it and stepped inside. Matthew was still not used to not being ignored, to not being unnoticed... he’d only been truly noticed by one person over the three hundred years before Ivan unleashed the bombs on all of them. He looked around the bedroom door and smiled as his gaze fell on a tousled head of platinum blonde hair. Walking over, he sat down, and brushed his fingers over the soft curls. Almost instantly, the owner of them rolled onto his back, and looked up at Matthew, vague amusement in his dark eyes.
“Miaow,” he said, as Matthew continued to pet his hair. The Canadian laughed, and Gilbert pulled him down into a firm hug, nuzzling his neck and chuckling as Matthew batted at him.
“Not now, Gilbert,” the blonde whined, dragging himself away with some measure of reluctance and gazing fondly at the older man. Some two hundred years ago, the state of New Prussia (from its humble beginnings as ‘New Prussia, Ontario’) had been granted independence by Canada, though they remained for all intents and purposes a single nation. It suited the both of them, and Alfred had been endlessly amused by the fact that his little brother had ‘tied the knot’ before he had. “It isn’t a good time.”
“It’s never a good time,” Gilbert pouted. Matthew sighed, rolled his eyes a little, and leaned down to kiss him, keeping it brief and not allowing the man to draw him into anything.
“I love you,” he murmured. The Prussian made a quiet, almost embarrassed sound, mumbling the same in response and turning slightly pink. Matthew’s expression softened, then he sighed again, and glanced distractedly to the door. “The Nordics arrived a few hours ago,” he said then, pushing a hand through his hair and twisting his haircurl around one finger. “Something’s happening in Russia.”
Gilbert’s eyes widened, and he sat up quickly, his voice suddenly strained.
A loud bang distracted them, bouncing off the walls, followed by a long stream of harsh Italian curses. Matthew gave a weak smile, and Gilbert pinched the bridge of his nose, grimacing slightly. Heavy footsteps passed the door, and then the French swearing started, and the Canadian’s eyebrows rose.
“I think Ludwig finally got that car working,” he said. Gilbert cast him a sidelong look and patted his shoulder, then followed him as he stood and left, making his way to the sound of three arguing voices. Just before they reached the door, it burst open, and an irate Italian stormed out. Matthew instinctively grabbed his wrist as he passed, and Feliciano tugged, looking to the Canadian in disbelief when he didn’t let go. Feliciano’s face was red, smudged with oil and grease, a dark burn marking his right cheek, and his eyes were fierce.
“Ve!” he exclaimed, grasping Matthew’s wrist with his free hand and trying to break the man’s grip on him. “Let me go!”
“No,” Matthew replied calmly, and a moment later Ludwig appeared, cleaning his hands on a threadbare rag. Behind him, Francis was sporting a livid hand-mark across his face, and a fond look was passed between he and Matthew. A low, sputtering hum was sounding from the room, and Gilbert bounced enthusiastically on his heels, trying to look over his brother’s shoulder.
“Is it working, West?” he asked, meeting his brother’s blue eyes and grinning.
“It’s working.” Ludwig replied, pushing the rag into his pocket and turning away. Feliciano’s struggling abruptly stopped, and his expression turned momentarily helpless before he wrenched his arm free and hurried after Ludwig, slipping his hand into the German’s. After a brief hesitation, Ludwig put his arm around the smaller man, and Francis let out a soft sigh of relief. Raking a hand through his hair he leaned against the doorframe, keeping out of Gilbert’s way as the Prussian darted through eagerly. Matthew stepped up beside Francis, a small frown on his face.
“What happened?” he muttered.
“Ah, Mathieu,” the Frenchman sighed, his fingers brushing the mark on his cheek. “Feliciano got hit by the... ah... backfire, when the car started. It was rather a funny sight, but I should not have laughed.”
Matthew clasped the older man’s shoulder briefly, then nudged him through the door, following and watching with amusement as Gilbert examined the car closely. The Prussian prodded the machine, sending it scooting an inch or so over the floor, the hum increasing to what was almost a whine for a moment before it settled back.
“It’s crooked,” Gilbert said, tapping his lower lip and looking at the car like it was a complicated piece of abstract art. Making an exasperated sound, Ludwig smacked the back of his brother’s head, his eyes on Feliciano as the man leaned over the engine.
“It is crooked!” the Prussian protested. “It could use another few inches off the ground, too. If you go over a rock in that thing it’ll take the drive shaft clean off.”
“You don’t even know where the drive shaft is, idiota,” Feliciano muttered, his head still underneath the hood of the car. He tugged at something inside the engine, and the vehicle screeched, rising a little higher then dropping back down. Gilbert looked about to retort, stopped by the warning look on his brother’s face and falling to muttering darkly in a mix of his native language, English, and French. The Italian ignored him, his attention on Ludwig as the German ducked beneath the car hood. Frowning, Francis shook his head, heading for the door. He was stopped by Alfred, who muttered something to him quickly before he continued down the corridor.
“Hé,” Francis said, clapping his hands. “Alfred has called a meeting for everybody. I believe his phrasing was ‘this shit just got real’.”
After speaking to Francis, Alfred did not immediately head for the meeting room. He moved through the dim corridors, knocking on the final door he came to. When he got no answer, he opened it, turning on the light as he stepped inside. He moved through the silence, crossing to a second door and slowly opening it. A candle was lit on a table, and sat before it with his back to the door was a small blonde dressed in green. Alfred cleared his throat, and the man glanced over his shoulder, his green eyes dull as he lifted them to meet the American’s.
“What is it, Alfred?” The Pole’s voice was just as lifeless as the rest of him. He lifted a hand and rubbed it against the dark scar marking his cheek. His gaze showed the briefest flicker of irritation as Alfred faltered, then the taller man pushed his glasses further up his nose and cleared his throat.
“I’ve called a meet-”
“Why do you still wear those glasses, Alfred..?” Feliks asked, no longer looking at him, simply staring at the opposite wall. “They’re broken.”
Alfred took the glasses off, and looked at them, knowing what he would see even before he did it. At the corner of the left lens, a web of thin cracks was spread out over the glass. The American let out a soft sigh, and tucked the spectacles into his pocket. He would end up putting them back on, simply out of habit or some kind of emotional attachment, but it wasn’t worth arguing with Feliks over it.
“There, is that better?” he said. Feliks glanced at him, a painfully faint smile twitching at his lips, and he nodded slightly. Alfred continued. “Good. As I was saying... I’ve called a meeting. You need to be there, too.”
“Are you listening to me, Poland? It’s about Russia.”
Feliks blinked, and his shoulders straightened slightly. He stood, and crossed the room, stopping two feet away from the American and looking up at him.
“I heard you,” he said. “Meeting. I’m going.” He brushed past Alfred, and after a moment of stunned hesitation the taller man followed him, easily catching up and matching the other’s shorter strides.
“Russia, is it?” Feliks’ voice was cold, and Alfred made a soft sound of affirmation. The smaller man swore quietly. “I knew it. I knew that I could feel something...”
Don't you just love me and my quick updates? Poor Feliks.
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