Genre: Drama/Angst/Romance/Humour(in places)
Pairing/s: (in this chapter) USxUK, Canada/Prussia, Poland/Lithuania (hints of France/Switzerland, if you squint really hard).
Characters: (in this chapter) UK, US, Poland, France, Iceland, Switzerland, Canada.
Rating/Warnings: Overall NC-17. This chapter U.
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... It’s Vash.”
“Oui, I know.”
“Can I come in?”
The door creaked open, closed, and a slim shadow slipped in, a gentle weight as he sat stiffly on the edge of Francis’ mattress.
“Something wrong, mon ami?”
“No, I just-”
Silence. Francis closed his eyes but it made no difference.
“... I see.”
Vash touched Francis’ hand, but neither of them flinched away. After a while, Francis opened his eyes again.
“You do know that you’re touching my hand?”
“Ah.” More silence, and then – “Why are you-?”
“Shut up, Bonnefoy.”
The weight shifted, fingers tickled up Francis’ arm, and Vash lay down gingerly. From the smell of chocolate and gunpowder, Francis knew the smaller man had his back to him.
“Is something troubling you, mon cher?”
“I’m jealous of them, you know.”
“Arthur and Alfred.”
“The world could fall apart around them and they’d not notice.”
“That already happened.”
“You know what I mean.”
A sigh, and Vash’s weight shifted.
“I wish I could have had that with someone.”
Vash shivered. Francis moved slowly, hesitantly.
“What are you doing?”
“I’m putting my arm around you.”
“I know that.”
“Then why ask? You are cold, are you not?”
There was a long pause, the kind that turns seconds into minutes, and minutes into an eternity.
“... Don’t try anything funny.”
“Hm? Oh, Óskar.”
“You are awake late.”
Matthew smiled, and patted the spot beside him. Óskar sat and lifted his eyes skywards, his gaze finding the fuzzy haze behind the clouds that marked the position of the moon.
“It gives me comfort to know that my brothers see the same moon.”
“I never thought of it like that.”
The Canadian looked up too, and he smiled again.
“Do you miss him?”
Óskar gave a small nod, and Matthew sighed. He’d been trying not to think about Gilbert. They’d been together for so long now that it almost hurt to not see him every day.
“We’re quite similar, you and I,” the Icelandic man said, giving Matthew a friendly look. “Both often mistaken for other nations, both overlooked by Russia...”
Even unscarred as he was by attacks, Matthew’s body ached. He felt the suffering of his people and no doubt Óskar felt the same.
“We never did hear much of you,” Matthew said then. “Never sticking your nose in where it wasn’t wanted, never in trouble...”
“Well, there was that one time, with the banks.”
“Oh, yes, but no one remembers that anymore.”
Óskar laughed, and Matthew looked at him in surprise, unable to recall the last time he’d seen the man so animated.
“Arthur does,” he pointed out.
“Arthur remembers a lot of things,” was the quick retort.
After that, they sat silently, enjoying each other’s company in the way that only two naturally quiet people can.
“Hold still, I need to check it.”
“But it hurts.”
“It’ll hurt a lot more if it gets infected, Alfred, now stop squirming.”
The bandage was peeled back and the gauze pad removed from the American’s shoulder, and this time Arthur didn’t stop the younger man from looking. The stitches were holding for now, though the Englishman couldn’t be sure just how much longer they would continue to do so.
“Uh... Artie..? That doesn’t look too great.”
Alfred had gone white, and he didn’t resist as Arthur gently touched his face and turned it away. Drawing a small bowl of heated water to him he carefully cleaned the wound, and Alfred didn’t look at it again. Perhaps it was because it was Ivan, or because Alfred was so weak, or a mixture of the two, but the injury looked far worse and far angrier than even the ones the bombs had produced. Injury on the land of the nation took a much different form to injury to the physical body, and it took so much longer to heal.
“I don’t feel very well...” Alfred said in a small voice. His blue eyes were wide and worried and he looked at Arthur, suddenly a child needing reassurance.
“Oh, Alfred...” He sat up and drew the young man close, tucking him against his chest and stroking his hair. “You’re going to be okay.”
“I promise, Alfred. I won't let anything bad happen to you.”
Feliks sat just outside the ruins of the town, seated on the ground with his palms pressed against the dirt. His eyes were closed and every now and then his fingers would twitch. He opened his eyes and drew patterns in the dusty earth, a little smile on his face. Even with all the pain he’d suffered with Toris’ loss, it felt good to be close to him. He could almost hear the man’s voice in his head, and if he shut his eyes tightly enough, he could just about picture him.
The Pole opened his eyes, troubled. It was becoming more and more difficult to picture Toris, to imagine his voice and the cute way that his nose wrinkled when he laughed. He didn’t want to forget, but forgetting made it hurt less. Eventually the pain would subside, and the memories would take over.
“It isn’t wonderful,” he murmured to himself. “But it’s better.”
He had to keep reminding himself that Toris wouldn’t want this. Toris, who had always been happy and smiling, even when things were at their worst. Even when the threat of war had been on his doorstep. Toris, who had sacrificed precious seconds that he could have used to get away to warn Feliks so that he could live.
Feliks patted the ground gently, and got to his feet, pushing his hands into his pockets.
“Aš visada myliu tave, Toris,” he said softly, drawing in a slow breath and uttering a final word before he turned and headed back into the town.
I know this is different, but there were a few things that needed saying, and I didn't want to go through another three chapters saying them when there's so much to be getting on with. So here you go, an intermission.
Aš visada myliu tave - I will always love you
Sudie - Goodbye
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