Genre: Drama/Angst/Romance/Humour(in places)
Pairing/s: (in this chapter) USxUK.
Characters: (in this chapter) UK, US, Poland, France, Iceland, Switzerland, Canada.
Rating/Warnings: Overall NC-17. This chapter PG-13 for 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...
~ There is nothing good in war, except its ending. ~
‘It’s strange how you become so used to something that living without it seems impossible. Computers, cars, everything that made our lives so easy before had to be scavenged and salvaged, and our reliance on technology didn’t make it a pleasant learning experience. We survived, though... ironically by using far older versions of the conveniences that we had become accustomed to. I can’t say I didn’t enjoy it, just a little, but then, I have seen far more primitive times than these.
It was the younger nations who found it the most difficult and Alfred especially. I’m quite sure that he went through some kind of hamburger withdrawal during the first few years. The older ones like myself, Yao, Gilbert and Heracles coped with much more ease, remembering well enough what it was like before man reached the ‘pinnacle of technological development’.
Alfred hasn’t called me ‘old man’ since he realised that I was far better equipped to cope with the current situation.
I almost miss it.’
It was four hours before they saw land after they finally left Canada, and Arthur craned in his seat as he spied the familiar coastline through a small break in the clouds. He felt Matthew’s hand on his shoulder, comforting, reminding him keenly of the loss of his brothers, but he couldn’t take his eyes off the scarred country for the seconds that felt like eternity before the clouds closed again. He turned away from the window with a sigh, and met Feliks’ eyes, seeing understanding in the Pole’s gaze and managing a weak smile. By grace of representing the whole of the United Kingdom and small parts of the rest of the world that he still held sway over, as well as his partnership with Alfred, Arthur hadn’t suffered the same fate that his brothers had, who had already been weakened enough by flooding and the increasingly violent weather. They hadn’t been able to stand up to the bombing.
Francis was oddly pensive for the entire flight, but Arthur hadn’t failed to notice the faint black stains that still lingered on the man’s fingers, or the bruise around his left eye. He hadn’t questioned either, but the knowing look that he had shot to the Frenchman when he had first seen the ink-marks had been more than enough to say that he knew exactly what had happened.
“Seat belts, mes amis,” Francis said suddenly, indicating where a small light had come on above the cockpit doorway.
Not long after that, a shout was heard, followed by an alarming stuttering sound that rattled through the plane. Shaken out of sleep, Óskar looked mildly concerned for a moment before settling back into his usual stoic expression, just in time for the plane to lurch alarmingly.
“What the bloody hell are you doing, Alfred!?” Arthur shouted, unbuckling his seat belt and stumbling to the cockpit, almost falling into Feliks’ lap as the plane shuddered again. He leaned in the doorway, and moved his eyes slowly over the flashing lights and twitching dials. Alfred and Vash were moving in perfect tandem, while yelling curses at each other in their respective languages, and Arthur could have laughed if it hadn’t been for the cold chill of fear that swept through him.
“Get back to your seat and buckle up, Arthur,” Alfred told him distractedly, reaching over Vash to press a couple of buttons.
“Get back into your damn seat and buckle the fuck up, England!” the American snapped, causing an immediate retreat. A little pale, Arthur returned to his seat and did as he’d been told, grabbing the arm rests tightly as the plane gave another jerk. He didn’t dare look out of the window but he could see the glaring white light, knowing that they’d ducked below the cloud line. Beside him, Matthew had his gaze fixed grimly forwards, and on the other side of the plane, Óskar, Francis and Feliks were watching the cockpit doorway, listening to the two pilots giving sharp instructions.
“How many times, Vash? I don’t speak whatever language you’re yelling at me!” Alfred was saying as he poked his head out, pushing his glasses up the bridge of his nose. “We have a bit of a problem, guys,” he said then. “We may experience some slight turbulence, and then... uh... explode. Not to worry!” He disappeared again, leaving his passengers to exchange bewildered glances. Feliks began to giggle.
“Oh, this is like, totally fantastic,” he said, ignoring the incredulous looks that were sent his way. “We’re all going to die.”
“We’re not going to die, Pólland,” Óskar murmured calmly. “Alfred is a better pilot than you would give him credit for.”
There was room for doubt in Óskar’s statement as the plane lurched again, and Francis swore under his breath. Arthur couldn’t believe that after all this, they were going to die in a plane crash. A shrill, hair-raising sound of screeching metal had them all cringing, and then they were below the clouds, and Arthur could see land stretching in every direction. He could also see the very obvious fact that they were heading towards it. A not-so-reassuring holler of ‘shit, shit, shit!’ rose up from the front of the plane along with something in a grating mixture of French, Italian and German that sounded as if it contained more or less the same sentiments.
“Brace yourselves!” Alfred called. Arthur shut his eyes tightly and bit his bottom lip, feeling Matthew grip his arm and listening to Feliks’ laughing from the other side of the plane. Alfred and Vash fought with the controls, wrestling the plane out of its nose-dive, but not soon enough to stop the inevitable impact that sent everyone lurching forwards. Arthur’s head made firm contact with the seat in front of him and he blacked out, unaware of Matthew wrapping his arms around him and tucking his head down, keeping them both safe until they finally ground to a stop.
Óskar was the first to slowly uncurl from his brace position, brushing his pale hair out of his face and carefully shaking Feliks, who uttered a low groan and lifted his head, wiping blood from a small cut at his hairline. He looked up in time to see Francis fight his way out of his seat belt and bolt for the cockpit, shouting for help as he did so. Feliks and Óskar got up unsteadily, moving past the prone forms of Matthew and Arthur as the Canadian let out a quiet sound of pain. In the cockpit, both Alfred and Vash were unconscious, slumped over their respective controls. Francis cast a quick look out of the window, the unfamiliar landscape holding the characteristic war-torn look that every nation was inflicted with. They were lucky that planes were made out of sturdier materials than they used to be, and that Alfred was indeed a better pilot than Feliks had given him credit for, or they would have turned into just another feature.
Both pilots were pulled from the cockpit and brought into the back of the plane, Feliks and Óskar supporting Alfred while Francis carried Vash easily. Matthew had come to his senses by then and was worriedly checking Arthur for signs of life, pressing two fingers to his pulse and sitting him up, trying to bring him ‘round.
“Arthur? Come on, Arthur,” he muttered, mostly to himself, making a sound of relief when the older nation groaned in complaint, lifting a shaky hand to his head. “Oh thank God...”
“Am I dead?” Arthur mumbled, wincing as the Canadian hugged him tightly. “Is Alfred okay?”
Matthew froze. Alfred. He stood up quickly and moved to the rear of the plane, where Alfred and Vash had been laid on the floor. A large bruise was blossoming over Vash’s forehead, curling around to his cheek, and Alfred had blood trickling from several small cuts on his face. Miraculously, the glasses that Matthew had given him weren’t broken. The Canadian yelped, falling to his knees beside his brother in time to see his blue eyes crack open, a little dazed.
“Ugh... Matt... don’t yell so loud,” the American told him, gritting his teeth and sitting up. “Did I do it? Did we land?”
“We landed... sort of,” Matthew said, smiling a little. Alfred managed to look triumphant, glancing over to Francis who was hovering worriedly over a still unconscious Vash. “Hey, Francis, is he okay?”
“I believe so, Mathieu,” was the concerned reply. Óskar stood to check on the supplies, murmuring under his breath in quiet Icelandic until Feliks and Matthew moved to join him, at which point he politely switched to English. Arthur finally got up, taking one look at Alfred before running to him and almost knocking him flat on his back, holding onto him tightly.
“You brave, reckless idiot,” he whispered into the younger man’s shoulder, hearing a muttered Italian expletive announcing that Vash had woken up. Feliks pushed the door open, and leaned out, taking an experimental breath before jumping out and raising his hand to his eyes, squinting over the dim landscape.
“Where are we?” Alfred asked, frowning a little as Feliks remained silent. Arthur detached himself from his husband and stood, moving to the door and leaning out.
“I know where we are,” the Pole said, and it took a moment for Arthur to find him, spotting him on his knees on the dry ground, his palm pressed to it and his eyes tightly shut. “Lithuania.”
This was perfect. They were over two thousand miles away from where they were supposed to be, and even a quick look up and down the plane was enough to tell that they weren’t going to get it off the ground again.
“Is there a problem, Arthur?” Francis was looking at the Englishman as he turned around wearily, rubbing his head and trying to ignore the increasingly painful headache pounding over his skull.
“You could say that, Francis. Just a small problem.”
Anyone who knows where the 'we may experience some slight turbulence...' line came from gets a cookie :3
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