Chapter 1: Love Lost
It was a hot day for Rome in September. The sun streamed down on the cobblestone streets and baked the brick sidewalks. For those unused to the heat, it was a new type of misery, and to those accustomed to it, it was a monotonous and familiar torture. All in all, there was a general feeling of despair in the large and well-furnished conference room, as well as an unwritten and desperate desire to go to the beach. A slight buzz of speech colored the undertone of disgruntled silence in the air. The people in this room were well versed in the careful and meticulous art of complaining, for they were countries, both cursed and blessed with the burden of immortality and representation of nations.
As the temperature climbed into the 40's and not a whisper of a breeze whistled through the air, their burden began to feel more and more like a curse. By now, the more rambunctious were considering just blowing off the meeting, while the slightly less so were hoping that they would in order that they would have an excuse to do so as well. However as country after country filed in, everyone resigned themselves to wasted time, and incredible torment.
The blonde man at the head of the table, Germany, cleared his throat. "Vhat Dummkopfs! Vhere are Italy and Romano? They are supposed to be leading this meeting!"
A cheerful brown-haired man with a definite hangover raised his hand. "I haven't seen Romano or Feli since last night," he remarked, "but if the amount of wine they had last night is anything to go off of, I would say they slept in."
"Vhat idiots!" mumbled a disgruntled Germany "they should know not to drink the night before a meeting!"
"Don't be jerk Vest! You know you had seven beers last night!" shouted a white haired man with an incredibly obnoxious laugh.
Germany almost looked offended, but then, the double French doors were thrown open with a crash and all was forgotten, because that's when everything went to hell.
Lovino ran in. He wore a loose grey t-shirt, and combat boots. He looked as if he had dressed in a hurry. He was carrying a pistol, and had turned and crouched, facing the door as if expecting something. "Get down!" he screamed. The nations all dived under the table, years of combat experience had taught them the importance of those words. The eldest Italian brother crouched in front of the table, muscles tensed, pistol cocked and ready, but hands shaking. Something terrible must have happened, and then terrible walked through the door.
Italy Veniciano Vargas walked in the entryway. A grin of malice adorned his face. There was something sadistic about his smile, and the way he twirled a razor sharp knife in his black gloved hand. The nations looked on in horror and realized there was something horribly, terribly wrong.
Shot after shot rang out, Romano had fired; but each one grew more and more wild and inaccurate. The closest grazed Italy's cheek, the farthest nearly hit America. Romano's hands were shaking violently, and if one had looked closer, one could have seen the tears seeping through his eyes threatening to fall. "Vhat are you doing Romano!?" cried Germany. He stood up to, hand stretched out to stop him.
"No bastardo! stay where you are!" Romano tackled the tall nation to the ground. "He would never forgive himself if he attacked you" he hissed.
"Fratello...!" rang out Italy's normally kind voice. "I'm bored of our games! Let's play something new! No more tag, let's play...pin the tale on the donkey!"
"Feli! come on," shouted Romano, "I know you are in there, even if that bastard Luciano got out!"
"Now you're no fun are you! You guessed right away that I wasn't poor sweet little Italy." You know your brother so well don't you, you love him too, for all your poor little inferiority complex. You are fond of little Italy aren't you?"
"Romano shook slightly, but still stood his ground. "Come on big brother, say it, say you love him and I'll consider letting him go" came Italy's sickly-sweet voice.
"Romano ground his teeth. "Fine! Yes I love him, he's my brother, of course I love him, now let him go!"
Italy looked like he was thinking. "Ummmmmmmm...How about no!" He let out a terrible laugh of exhilaration. "Here's the deal, if you play two truths and one lie with me, I'll let him go for sure."
Romano looked desperate. He knew the probability that Luciano was lying, but there were few other options. "Fine, I will play. But you must swear on the Holy Mother that you will set him free afterwards."
"I swear on the Holy Mother and on all that is good and holy in this land" shouted Italy. "Now that that is over with let me tell you the rules."
Suddenly, a sickening thump was heard, as well as a grunt of pain. Alfred, who had been stealthily making his way behind Italy, had fallen to his knees clutching his stomach, a knife protruding from his gut.
"Alfred!" cried England. He made a move to get up, but was stopped by a pistol cocked and loaded and pointed his way.
"Oh he'll be fine," said Italy dismissively, " he'll just die and come back to life. Though I do have to admit I wouldn't want to be him," America groaned in the background, "it is a rather painful and long way to die."
England looked murderous, but slowly retreated back under the table. "Now where were we?" Italy continued. "Ah yes, rules. The basic principle of the game is the same as usual except that we both have to promise not to lie, and whoever looses after two turns has to die."
"Fine," grunted out Romano. The other countries looked shocked. "I swear," Italy gave him a pointed look, "I swear on the Holy Mother and on all that is good and holy in this land."
"Excellent, I'll begin." said Italy excitedly, "1. Feliciano loves Ludwig more than Romano 2. Feliciano finds Romano useless. and 3. Feliciano wishes Romano had never been born so they wouldn't have to share their country.
After each statement, Romano began to waver. It was as if each statement was physically affecting him. His legs trembled, until finally he fell. "Romano!" yelled Spain worriedly.
"Stay bastardo! I don't want him to kill you too!"
"Yes yes very wise older brother." said Italy. "Now which one is a lie?"
"Italy! Stop this madness!" shouted Germany.
Italy's head swiveled over to Germany, "Now now Doitsu, this is important, stay on the ground where you belong! We wouldn't want big brother Romano to lose the game now would we? I don't know if his heart could survive another blow. Now big brother, which is the lie?"
"None...none of them are true!..." but after each word, Romano seemed to grow weaker and weaker. "I am not useless! I am here for a reason!"
"Now now brother! We know that is not true, you know I can't lie. We don't need you anymore. I am plenty enough for one country. There is no need for two Italy's. You have to go! Italy's smile seemed to grow even wider, and more cruel. He looked down at Romano with something akin to joy; a twisted, sick joy. A joy that did not even deserve the name.
Romano's eyes drifted closed slowly, his mouth barely forming his last words. "You broke the rules Luciano, you lied."
At his words, Italy turned around and for a second, a blip in the fabric of time, the nations almost thought they saw a tear fall from his eyes. But then in a moment, it was gone. He kneeled at his brother's body and made the sign of the cross, then crouched further and whispered something into his ear. "I didn't, its all true. I cannot lie, you know I can't. I die if I lie. It was the irony of Fate, letting us live inside you all but never allowing us to use all our tricks to achieve our true purpose." Suddenly, he stopped, as if realization of some grand purpose, slowly but surely a harsh laugh rang out across the room. "Ha ha ha ha ha ha! You do realize what this means older brother?!" Italy looked at Romano's still form and slowly closing eyelashes. "It means that Italy is finally whole again! Without the will of your younger, stronger, more important and loved brother, you cannot exist. He was keeping you alive, but I have started the process of killing you! It won't be so easy to reverse it either. Italy looked on the scene with joy and sadistic pleasure.
Romano at his feet, practically dead, a groaning and dying America, a shocked and distraught world. It was chaos and he loved it. "I have accomplished what I came for. Feliciano's life is now a living hell. Goodbye all! Don't let the bedbugs bite while I'm gone! But actually...now that I think about it...let those suckers breed!"
Chapter 2: Love Returns
Introduction to the OC's.
"Generally, 19th century Romanticism was a reaction against the harsh mechanization of the workplace as well as the monotony of social life."
In a a perfectly normal classroom, in a relatively normal school, was a girl. This girl called herself Lillian King, her real name, was a secret of her past. The time before the safety and monotony of school was a bloody and dangerous life. She was running from it, the looming shadow of her past. This time her happiness would not fail, this time, she would not lose her heart, this time, she would have a family.
This girl was special, skilled, and important, but for now, she was merely bored. When one was used to a life of high stakes adventures, learning about the various art styles of 19th century Europe was rather underwhelming. But for now, the girl was content to live quietly with her sister in a good school and have a normal life.
"Now, can anyone tell me how socialism developed in France and what the general result was?" Mr. Anderson looked around, eyes sweeping the rows of uninterested teenagers. Lillian nonchalantly put her head down, doing the 'please don't call on me gesture.'
"Lillian, how about you?"
"Shocking," she thought, "well...um...it was only a very small part of the radical party in France and though it received some concessions at first, they were eventually stamped out."
Anderson looked surprised, "correct," he remarked and then continued on his mind numbing tirade.
Suddenly, she was torn from her mental dialogue, a high pitched scream rent the air. Almost from habit, her hand went to her waist, fingers reaching for the knife she kept well hidden. In the same moment, all her classmates jumped. She shot a worried look to her friend Rose across the room. Mr. Anderson strode to the back of the room and was about to enter the next class when a voice she knew well rang through the air.
"Robin! Robin! 我现在需要你在哪里!"(Where are you I need you now) It was the voice of Rin, a voice she knew well, an echo, a ghost of her old life. In shock, she sprang up without a thought and shot past her bewildered teacher into the next room. The scene was one she had never wanted to see. The 12th graders in the classroom were all halfway out of their seats. The girl who had screamed, Natalie, was being held by her equally shocked boyfriend. It took her a moment to realize why they were all so afraid until she saw the gun on the floor. Of course, Rin had entered an American high school with a loaded pistol, only him. He hadn't shot of course, but he had managed to terrify everyone. Rin himself was hunched over on the ground, gun a few feet away from him. Standing over him was another 12th grader. This was not just any senior, it was Tai. He was Korean international, rich as hell, and looked like a K-pop star. He was also, unfortunately, a black belt in Tai Quan Do.
"等等，停止，他不会伤害任何人!" (Wait, stop, he wont hurt anyone!) She cried, forgetting to speak in English. Now at this school, Lillian had tried to keep a low profile. She was the good girl with a slightly rebellious side that only came out among friends. She was introverted, but had a few close friends, namely her sister, June, and Rose. She had definitely not made the impression that she was close friends with any murderous serial killers, or spoke Mandarin. On account of this, every senior in the class, as well as all the juniors who had long since come over, stared at her. At any other time, she would have tried to reason her way out of it, but it was too late. Her illusion of normality had completely shattered, she was vulnerable and exposed.
"Speak in English," she hissed to Rin, in a last ditch attempt to save herself. She ran over to the gun and with practiced ease, quickly unloaded it and slid it across the room. Putting her hands up, she slowly moved in front of Rin and helped him to his feet. He staggered up, looking worn and weary. He looked much the same as when she had left him two years ago. His black hair was shaggy, if a little longer, and pulled into the man bun that she had so laughingly hated. He had warm, kind brown eyes and a smile that lit up the room. She often had wondered what had befallen him that he had joined the mafia. But she never asked, origin stories were rarely pleasant in their line of work. Suddenly she was torn out of nostalgia as he began to sag against her. It was only then that she saw the stab wound in his stomach. He collapsed on the ground. A million thoughts ran through her head, Oh God how she had missed him, his smirk, his kind words, his encouragement, his help. But there was one clear thought that ran through her like a drop of water collecting to form a waterfall. Roaring through her head, "he's dying, he's dying, he's dying, he's dying." She sank to her knees by his heaving chest. "What could have happened that... Are you?... No of course you are. You're fine, you're fine, you're always fine! You always pull through. Right? Tell me you'll be ok!" Her head sank to his chest, hiding the tears that threatened to fall. "I missed you so so much!" she choked out. The waterfall of emotions pouring from her mouth in the words and emotions she had kept hidden beneath the surface.
A soft smile graced his face, and a gentle shaking hand lifted to brush aside the curly hair he had loved so much. "私の妹, (my little sister-Japanese) I love you here and I loved you there, and it is nearly time for me to leave. But before I go," his speech cracked, "before I go I must tell you. He found out, the Don, I don't know how but he did, he is coming after you. When I heard that he had sent... sent the Angel after you I left Tokyo and headed here. I took a while but I finally found you. This morning...this morning I met the Angel, he gave me this." He gestured to the ever increasing patch of red on his grey hoodie. "I wrapped it, it managed to miss all major organs, but I didn't account for the poison... Its coursing through every vein..." his eyes were screwed tightly shut in agony. Then they blinked open. " I'm finished." His hand stoked her cheek, and wiped away a tear. "I loved you," he said, "with every fiber of my being I loved you...and I want you to know that I go to a better place. But there is one more thing you must promise me; and here I must repeat myself for the last time. Live, live for June, live for Statue, Jin Mai, Duke, and all the people who loved you...but most of all, live for me. Be unapologetically yourself, never lose the stars in your eyes and always remember to love again." At this, his hand went slack, his eyelashes fluttered shut, and in a moment, in a second, he was gone. There was disbelief, denial, anger, but mostly sorrow on her face. And though perhaps no one in the room understood the scene around them, they all shared in her grief as they saw her eyes widen and heard her desperate cry of NO! She pleaded over and over, "Wake up! 目を覚ます!"
She was on a mission once, standard arms deal, only it was up in Russia. For some reason that was then unknown, the Shanghai branch was tasked with monitoring an East coast Russia to Alaska arms deal. She had gone up there, her, Rin, and an older guy who had been called Statue. It was mid January and at least -12 degrees celsius. They were driving along in their heated jeep across some long frozen ice plain when they saw the ocean. Since they had just finished up their mission, they decided to check it out. There were penguins sliding and a white capped grey ocean. Lillian ran ahead meaning to take a picture, but she wandered too close to the edge. The ice cracked, and she plummeted into the icy water. She didn't remember much else afterwards until she woke up safe and sound in a Russian hotel near the Chinese border. But she did remember the cold, the numbness, the feeling that everything was frozen in time, even thought itself. And she did remember Rin, only 15 at the time, jumping in to save her.
That was how the world felt. Numb, frozen, spinning, a million memories flashed through her mind. His grin, his never ending scheme to get Statue to laugh, his protection, his kindness, and most of all, his love. He was some how father, brother, and best friend all along. He filled half the hole in her heart with his never ending joy and vibrancy. She remembered his last words to her as he helped her escape. The Yakuza were shooting up the place, Statue was dead, Jin Mai was dead, even Duke, but he didn't waver. He smuggled her out the door with her sister giving them the one thousand dollars he had saved for college in America. "Live" he said to her "this life is my story, it is only a chapter in your book." Then he kissed her on the forehead and shoved her out the door. She had never expected to see him again. But here he was, dead, another person had died for her.
A tear fell. But she remembered him. She remembered him. And she realized that her life was not her own, they had put a value on it. One that she could not afford to waste. The time for mourning was later, the time for action was now. She would make them proud, and one day, someday, she would see them again in a world where Rin would call her "私の妹" (little sister) and Romano would cook for her and call me his "Principessa". But for now, that could wait, it was show time.