11: A Little Sentiment
America had managed to get the ladder down, at the cost of Russia’s toolbox, which finally collapsed when he went on tiptoes to get the last of the ladder down. The ladder had slid down, almost taking England’s eye out, which had not made him happy in the slightest, only to clatter to the ground. Panicked, the pair had fallen silent, not wanting to speak or do anything. There seemed to be no noises afterwards to indicate that anyone was out there.
Carefully, a two man team, England and America handled the ladder through the corridor. It was suddenly strangely quiet, all sound having vanished. The moans or creaks were gone. Beforehand, England would have found the silence comforting, but right now it was deafening.
“Dude, we’re seriously late,” America commented, as they walked, and England checked his watch.
It read ten thirty five. “You’re right. We were supposed to meet the other three at the meeting point by now.”
“You don’t think Belarus would have gotten them?” America sounded scared, but he was faced away, so England couldn’t see his expression.
“I don’t know if Germany would… really, and truly, America, I don’t think they’re there…” England sighed.
America stopped instantly in his tracks and turned to England, blue eyes wide and strangely blazing with sudden anger.
“What do you mean?” he asked.
England met his gaze levelly. “I mean, we should have seen them. In about the space of forty minutes, we’ve covered both the bottom and top of the east wing. The east wing was supposed to be where Germany and the other two were looking. We’ve encountered none of them since the moment we split up. They’re not here, America.”
“What if they went to the west wing?” America asked.
“Would you just listen to me, dammit?” England laid his half of the ladder down and glared at America. “Germany would have purposefully sought us out. He would have called us. He wouldn’t have listlessly wandered down the hallways in search of us. Germany is competent, and so are China and Japan. They’re gone, America. It’s just us.”
America’s face was ashen, and he suddenly turned and strode down the hallway.
“Where the Hell are you going?” England demanded, following after him. “We can’t split up, and we can’t leave the ladder.”
He watched America crouch beside the curtain and lift his phone. England frowned, and watched America call Germany’s number, his brows furrowed and his face determined. They both stood in horrible silence as the phone called… and called… and then suddenly disconnected.
“He hung up?” America whispered.
“Did you hear a phone ringing down the corridor?” England questioned.
“No,” America lowered the phone and stared at it in his hands.
“Then, Germany’s not there,” England frowned. “America, I’m sorry, but-”
“We should’ve just stayed as one big group,” America ranted, clenching England’s phone in his hand. “Why the Hell did we split up in the first place?”
“To cover more of Russia’s house,” England muttered.
“Whose idea was it anyway?” he demanded. “Because it was a pretty crap decision.”
“It was your idea,” England snapped, and watched America’s face fall. “It was your idea and- and the rest of us just went with it.”
“You should have stopped me like you usually do!” America blurted out, his voice echoing down the hallway. “You should have done something. You should have told me I was being an idiot. You should have rolled your eyes and rallied public opinion against mine. You should have-”
“Yes, I should’ve bloody ignored you, but I didn’t, did I?” England said, frustrated.
“They’re gone, England,” America held up his phone in front of him. “They’re gone. Someone has Germany’s phone, and I can tell you that it’s not Germany. And whose decision was it to weaken our numbers? It was mine. And why did I do that? Because it sounded like a cool horror film. My own decisions have caused the deaths of some of our closest friends. How can I live with that?”
“W-well, you can’t kill yourself,” England said, unsure but recalling America still had his gun on his person.
“No, and I’m not going to,” America shoved the phone in England’s hands and strode past. “I’m going to make things right. I’m going to make the change that counts. I didn’t earn my freedom just to send the people most important to me to the grave, I earned it to show my strength as an independent nation and now look at me.”
England turned, the phone still in his hand, to see America standing in the middle of the hallway, facing away, his hands clenched in tight fists.
“You’re not getting left behind,” America said. “A hero never leaves anyone behind. Especially not the first person in his life. The teacher is always valued, and you’ve taught me so much I know, England. You raised me up, and although you didn’t have the strength to put me down when we fought, we’ve had highlights and you’re the one in my childhood memories. If there’s anyone I need at my side at the moment, then it’s you, because that’s what I’ve always wanted. I’ve always wanted to stand side by side and see the world you viewed, and I want to keep seeing that world with you. It doesn’t end here. We’ll take the ladder to the attic even it means using force to get Belarus out of the way, we’ll get a signal from the highest point of the building and we’ll get every freaking nation we know to come here and get us the Hell out!”
Suddenly, he turned towards England with a grin and a spark in his eyes, new life rejuvenated.
“I might be headstrong with all this talk,” he beamed. “But I don’t just look the hero, I am the hero. And the hero always wins.”
“America,” England swallowed, trying not to feel touched. “America… I… let’s just do this.”
He strode past the idiot and lifted his end of the ladder. He waited, but nothing happened. He raised his head and saw America smiling at him.
“What?” he said indignantly.
“Nothing, dude,” America smiled, and lifted his end of the ladder. “Let’s just do this.”
They both froze at the sound of a distant squeaking, like the sound of a crowbar being dragged across the floor. America’s eyes widened, and he looked at England.
“We’ll hide for now,” England returned his previous smile. “Belarus should check the garage. That’s when we make our-”
“Oh, hello you two,” Ukraine walked out the bathroom. “What are you doing with the ladder?”
“We’re hiding from Belarus,” England said, an idea forming. “Is it possible we could hide in your room with you and you could send her to the west wing?”
Ukraine rubbed her chin, and then smiled mischievously at them both. “Sounds good to me…”
Russia held the faucet in his hands. He had been checking every room thoroughly, just to make sure no one was hiding in them. There appeared to be no signs of anyone crouching, and he also encountered no one in the hallway. He desperately wished Lithuania was there. He hated being alone. It was just so… lonely?
Russia paused before the last room of the west wing, and pushed open the door with fond familiarity. He entered into the lounge where everything had gone wrong. It was exactly as he’d left it when he’d locked them in.
“I was only trying to do the right thing,” he murmured, as he walked into the room.
He saw the gun and vodka bottle from when they’d played Russian roulette. Sighing, he seated himself on the floor and picked them both up. Everything had been so wonderful then.
The gun reminded him of their instantly horrified expressions when it had seemed he was going to have them all killed in a dangerous game. The vodka? He laughed out loud a little when he recalled how pissed England had become and how he’d missed dinner because of it.
“I miss them all,” he realised, and put the gun down, frowning.
Each of them had their own special quirks, and whilst they sometimes irritated him, there were times when they were the most wonderful people he knew.
China could sometimes annoy him with his constant self-serving business nature, but when he dived from the plane believing the snow would cushion his fall and broke his back as a result, it was China who had stayed with him, had made sure he’d reached safety, and had even stayed at his house to make sure he lived, as well as helping Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania recover his health when he had that tragic fever, just because he’d been passing by at the time. China, beneath the layers of business, was a really nice guy.
Germany had no sense of humour and could be brutally harsh, but Russia could understand his present nature, since he’d been entirely blamed for World War One, when actually, by the time the whole thing had become a blown out mess, it was everyone’s fault. Germany was also sensible and rational, and it was nice that he hadn’t wanted to think that he, Russia, had abducted Italy when the horrors began.
Italy was a pathetic little so and so, but he was too scared to not be Russia’s friend, and he had never caused any harm to him.
Japan was quiet and rather reclusive when he didn’t need to be, but Russia couldn’t blame him because of his hatred of physical contact. His love for cats was also endearing, and although 1905 had been a rough year between the two of them, Russia honestly thought there was nothing seriously wrong with Japan.
France was weird and perverted, and whilst Russia wouldn’t leave him alone in a room with his sisters, he was funny and daring, and his confidence was something Russia admired. France had given him the adrenaline rush and strength to actually knock of Belarus’s door in the first place, but he’d also had the responsibility of having caused distress, and had been adult enough to take the blame. Russia missed his odd habits and comments, as well as the well behaved figure he could sometimes look up to.
England was the worst cook Russia had ever met and would probably ever meet, and whilst every time he served you a meal it was the equivalent of an attempted assassination through poisoning, Russia couldn’t blame the man for being a hopeless chef. His rude cusses were always placed at the right time, and although Russia felt he laughed at England rather than with him, there was just that level of amusement that brought him certain joy.
And then there was America. America, Russia’s greatest enemy, and the only person he hated hearing being mentioned. The very sound of his name sometimes reduced him to enraged silence that he had to bottle up in desperation not to do something crazy, and the guy himself drove him round the wall with his constant hamburgers and democratic republican views. He was obnoxious and acted like a child, and also never invited him to his amazing Christmas parties, which Russia pretended never bothered him, but actually, sitting in front of the fire alone without even having received an invite really hurt, because America purposely excluded him. He was the most annoying person Russia had ever had the grace of meeting; he was the only person Russia didn’t mind being on bad terms with.
However, he was also the hero character. He was ‘Murica! The life of the party! The get-go, outgoing, lively, laidback, slightly naïve, constantly jovial, confident guy who could always be relied on to make the mood more comfortable if things became awkward. He was one of the strongest of the nations, and although he was never shy to execute his strength, his closeness with a nation was really emphasised when he was friends with them. He was Russia’s antithesis; he had all the friends, he had the wonderful sunny weather, he had the ability to speak out and say exactly what he was thinking and he had normal siblings and people he considered family. He had a community that he was part of, and there were times when Russia was able to work alongside him perfectly fine, especially when they were against the Axis Powers. America was that one guy that you couldn’t always hate. He was America, the USA, and right now, he was probably long gone, wiped out like a candle at the hands of Ukraine.
Russia downed the rest of the vodka bottle and stood with newfound determination. This needed to end and it needed to end now.