Genre: Drama/Angst/Romance/Humour(in places)
Pairing/s: (in this chapter) USxUK. (Mention of PolandxLithuania, PrussiaxCanada)
Characters: (in this chapter) UK, US, Poland, France, Iceland, Switzerland, Canada.
Rating/Warnings: Overall NC-17. This chapter PG-13. Some angst.
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 was surprising to see how well the humans coped. They had never seen a disaster like this, one that could threaten their entire existence. I wasn’t the only one who was proud of how they banded together, forming small communities and travelling between them to set up trade routes and peace agreements. It was almost like old times, and Alfred told me once that he didn’t understand how I’d done it back in the day.
Like the humans, we banded together in groups. Myself, most of the remaining European nations, and Alfred took ourselves over to Canada, where Matthew was only too happy to take us in (such a good boy). Yao and the Asian nations set up base in China. It was some time before we heard (with no small measure of relief) that the Nordics were alive and well, for the most part, and safe in Norway. Australia and New Zealand were quick to join each other, though the African nations remained scattered for a long time before news finally began to reach us.
Though, it would be a lie to say that we didn’t change. Alfred lost a lot of his innocence, became far more serious... and although it was a pleasant thing at first not to have to feel as if I was constantly mothering him, I found that I began to encourage his occasional silliness. It didn’t seem right to have Alfred as world-weary as I had been feeling for centuries.’
It was too late to start moving, and even though they had been relatively sheltered since the bombings they knew how dangerous it could be to move at night. With fairly little effort they tilted the plane so that the tip of one wing touched the ground, creating a rudimentary shelter beneath it. Pulling a few things from the inside of the plane apart gave them enough material for a fire, which the small group huddled around save for Óskar, who was used to far cooler temperatures and offered to take the first watch, standing at the makeshift entrance to their little shelter with a gun holstered at his hip. Arthur pressed close to Alfred’s side, half inside his coat, trying not to worry about where they were going to go from here.
“We can’t just give up,” Matthew said, picking up a slim piece of wood and poking the fire with it before throwing it into the flames. Sighing, Vash dropped onto his back and put his forearm over his eyes, and Feliks shook his head.
“You’re right,” he murmured, drawing his knees up to his chest and wrapping his arms around his legs. “We’ve come too far already, and if we’re not going to get back, then we should keep moving forwards.”
A silent agreement followed that remark, a quiet sound breaking it some minutes later. It took several moments before Francis mutely pointed to the Icelandic, and all attention fell on him followed by the realisation that he was softly singing under his breath. They stared, and as if feeling eyes on him, Óskar’s voice faltered and he glanced back over his shoulder. Arthur said something to him, in a language that Alfred had never heard him speak before, and Óskar’s eyebrows lifted as he responded in a similar, though somewhat halting dialect.
“What language was that, Arthur?” Alfred asked, moving his chin from its comfortable position on top of Arthur’s head to look at the shorter nation.
“English,” Arthur replied, and Alfred snorted. The Englishman rolled his eyes and leaned against the younger man. “Old English, from long before I found you.”
“Eh? So why can Óskar-?”
“Old Icelandic and Old English have similar roots. We couldn’t have a detailed conversation, but there are enough similarities for me to be able to tell him that his singing voice is very pleasant.” Arthur smiled a little, and Óskar gave a small, amused bow before returning to his watch. Resting his head against Alfred’s shoulder, Arthur gazed thoughtfully into the fire, jogged out of his thoughts by the American moving to slip his arm around his waist.
“What do you think you’d be doing now, if it hadn’t happened?” Alfred asked, taking the lack of response that followed as reason enough to go first, checking his watch before he spoke. “It’s about four o’ clock back home... I’d probably be thinking about what to have for dinner...” He smiled, and Arthur laughed, lifting his head and lightly bumping the bridge of his nose against Alfred’s jaw, pressing a brief kiss to his neck. Alfred hugged him tighter, and looked over to Francis as the man cleared his throat.
“I would no doubt be enjoying a glass of wine,” he sighed wistfully. “With a beautiful woman...”
“Hell, France, do you ever think of anything else?” Vash grumbled from the other side of the fire, and Arthur had to duck his head to hide the smirk on his face.
“What I would be doing would depend upon where I was,” the Englishman said. “At my home in London, I’d be drinking a cup of tea, and having supper...”
“And if you were with me you’d be trying to get out of bed for the seventh time,” Alfred teased, not allowing the older man to pull away as he batted at the American and uttered several irritated sounds. It wasn’t long before he gave up, and Alfred was quite happy to continue hugging him despite his half-hearted pouting. “While telling me ‘bloody hell, Alfred, you are not having sodding hamburgers again’.” His mimicry of Arthur’s accent was good enough to have the Englishman laughing again, and he settled contentedly to his husband’s side, looking to Feliks.
“What about you?”
“Me?” Feliks blinked, frowned, then his expression softened a little and he lowered his chin onto his knees, drawing patterns in the dusty ground with the tip of one finger. “I’d be in bed, asleep, with... with Toris curled around me.” He sighed softly, hugging his legs. “I miss Toris.” The Pole managed a faint smile as Francis placed one hand on his shoulder, looking over to Óskar, who was humming quietly.
“What would you be doing right now?” Feliks asked, absently rubbing at the dried blood on his forehead.
“Doing..? Hm...” Óskar frowned a little, looking back out into the darkness, pale blue eyes narrowing. “I would be finishing a good meal, and looking forward to having a quiet night with my brother Aleksander. We used to sit out together and watch the Aurora Borealis.”
“Sounds nice...” Arthur murmured, shutting his eyes and making himself comfortable. “Matthew?”
“I’d be cooking,” the Canadian said, leaning forwards and holding his hands out to the warmth of the fire. “Because I always have to start early... Gilbert likes to try and help but he isn’t a very good cook.” He smiled fondly. “It is fun, though.”
“This is ridiculous,” Vash muttered. “You’re just making yourselves miserable.”
“On the contrary,” Francis told him, shifting until he was beside the smaller blonde. Eyeing him mistrustfully, Vash sat up, but didn’t move away, meeting the other man’s eyes. “We are cheering ourselves with thoughts of happier times. It is your turn.” He made a small gesture of encouragement, and Vash frowned, silent for several minutes before he finally spoke.
“At nine o’ clock... I would be listening to Lili’s piano lesson. Her tutor, he used to smack her across the knuckles when she played a wrong note... so I fired him.”
“Fired him, mm?” Francis queried, obviously amused. The Swiss winced, and a tiny smile twitched at one corner of his lips.
“I shot one of his fingers off,” he admitted. “After that, no one wanted to teach her. She begged me for weeks to ask Roderich, and I refused... I came home one night and he was there. She’d gone ahead and asked him herself. I couldn’t be angry, though... she loved the piano. Roderich and I eventually became good friends... I’d missed it, you know...” His eyes closed briefly, and then he stood up, moving to where Óskar stood. “I’ll take next watch,” he said firmly, stepping back to allow the Icelandic to pass him. “Get some sleep. We have a lot of walking ahead of us.”
It was sound advice, and though rest was long in coming each nation eventually drifted off, while Vash kept a silent vigil at the entrance to their shelter. Dawn was breaking when Alfred was startled from sleep, a hiss of pain escaping him as he sat up, clutching his shoulder. Disturbed by the American’s movements, Arthur looked at him, instantly paling and jerking upright.
“Alfred...” he whispered in shock. “What..?”
Alfred didn’t reply, his jacket and shirt pulled from his shoulder, wide eyed and staring at the blood seeping slowly between his fingers.
DUN DUN DUUUUUUUN~
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