England danced away from Russia just as the door flung open and America jumped in, firing the gun. He stumbled backwards and fell into the bath, bashing his head on the wall behind. The helmet took the impact, so England felt surprisingly OK for once.
He scrambled out of the bath in time to see Russia jam his faucet into the barrel of America’s gun just as the moron fired. The gun, unable to handle the bullet’s passage being blocked, imploded from the force, sending the two staggering away from one another.
England winced as he saw blood spatter across the wall and America howled in pain. Russia shoved America aside and ran from the room. Seeing America turn towards Russia, England hurried forward and grabbed him by the lapels of his jacket.
“You wanker,” he snapped and brought his forehead towards America’s.
There was a loud crack as America’s glasses split from the helmet and clattered to the ground in pieces. England was also sure he had broken America’s nose, because a lot of blood gushed from his former ally’s nose.
“Where’s Belarus?” Russia demanded. “What happened to her?”
“Bitch got away,” America said and spat blood that had run into his mouth. “I saw the light was on and decided to take down the orchestrator and the traitor instead.”
“Traitor?” England sputtered indignantly. “I am no such thing. Just the only normal one around here.”
“You broke the magic metal pipe,” Russia glowered. “Usually it settles disputes, but your thick American skull seems to not have realised that England is still here and therefore I can’t be the attacker.”
“You’re in on it!” America concluded. “I should’ve known there was a reason British actors are always the villains in my amazing Hollywood films.”
“You’re bloody stupid if you think I’m behind it,” England snapped.
“There are two of us and one of you,” Russia said. “Give up.”
“You’re injured and I could beat England any day,” America boasted. “Besides, I’ve got a weapon.”
“Your gun was destroyed when you tried to shoot with it blocked,” Russia replied. “You don’t have a weapon – unless you smuggled more arms inside my home without anyone realising?”
“The only person this gun belongs to is you, my dear Russia,” America pulled a familiar gun from his jacket. “I found it in the lounge where you’d left it from the lovely Russian roulette surprise you tried to give us. I took it, because you never know when you need a spare gun.”
He clicked the gun and faced it at Russia, who raised his hands. England didn’t blame him. From this distance, there was no chance of America missing. England thought they both made a sad sight… America looked dishevelled and was covered in dust and scrapes, presumably from the library, and Russia looked on the verge of collapse. England lowered his head, hoping this wasn’t the way it ended.
Russia watched the point of America’s gun that was aimed at his head. He didn’t dare move an inch, or lower his hands, no matter how much his arm was hurting.
“I never would have thought it would come to this,” America said gravely. “You know how much damage this has caused and will cause? It’s a never ending war between you and I for as long as we exist, I suppose.”
“You’re right about that,” Russia murmured. “Belarus is OK?”
“For now,” America shrugged. “She can probably live from this. For years she’s been manipulated by your terrible ways. Once she has a better influence, things should improve.”
“Mmm,” Russia didn’t know what to say to that. “As long as she lives…”
“So, you see?” America looked smug. “The hero always wins. I guess you picked the wrong side, Russia, and whilst you had a good run what with picking off powerful places like Germany, it’s the end. I don’t have to shoot you. You can surrender and pay for your crimes. I actually don’t want to shoot you. I’m not a killer, just a much needed bringer of justice. A hero.”
“I surrender,” Russia replied. “But why did you try to shoot Belarus without offering her justice? Are you really going to let me live? Or is my death just going to be added to the list of accidents America has committed across this world.”
“Your death, even if accidental, won’t be too missed, Russia,” America sighed. “You and that trai-”
England brought the ladder down on the back of America’s head. He fell to his knees and England jumped over him with sudden energy. Russia started, surprised, but England tugged him along and they hurried down the hallway.
“I’m not a bloody traitor,” England scowled.
Despite his injuries, England’s sudden act of heroism was enough to keep Russia going. He felt his feet suddenly moving and raced down the hallway with England.
“To the loft?” he asked, and England nodded in response.
They turned the corridor, just as a gunshot was fired. They heard the rapid sound of America’s feet pounding against the floor as he went in full pursuit.
Just then, Russia’s injured knee buckled and he fell down.
England stopped instantly in his tracks, and turned, hauling Russia back up. Russia glanced over his shoulder as England helped support him as they ran to see America rounding the corner. He wasn’t wearing any glasses anymore, so all three of the shots he fired missed, flying past them and heading down the west wing hallway.
England sharply turned towards the staircase and they fled up the stairs. Russia worried, as he knew America was moving at a faster pace than them, but he didn’t want to let England down. They reached the top of the stairs and turned to the right, where the loft was.
This was the moment England had been waiting for, and now he was unsure whether they’d make it to the loft and survive. They hurried past Belarus’s room, Ukraine’s room, and the moment when he and America first discovered the loft suddenly seemed long ago.
They charged down that last bit of hallway, and reached the loft. England swung the ladder in place, and they balanced it before the loft. He could hear America thundering up the stairs. Russia hurriedly climbed the ladder, and whipped the key to the loft from his other glove. Just then, America skidded round the corridor, took a rushed aim, and a fired.
England dropped to the ground, but watched the bullet graze the side of Russia’s hand. He ignored the thick, red line that formed and swung the loft door open. He scrambled up into the loft, and England started following, his heart racing from sudden terror.
He turned on the ladder, to see America reaching for his foot. Russia pulled him into the loft and reached for the door to close it. America was just there, taking aim once more, when suddenly, a crowbar connected with his temple and sent him sprawling across the floor. There was a moment of silence. America didn’t move, and he appeared to be unconscious.
Belarus appeared within sight, cautiously walking into view and looking up at them with wide, fearful eyes.
“Big brother? England?” she said, eyes wide. “What’s going on?”
Germany was still in the same position. His arms ached from being tightly wrapped behind his body, and his eyes were beginning to grow heavy from being exhausted. Somehow, Italy had managed to keep up consistent chatter, talking about where he thought Japan, England, America and Russia were. There had been an alarming moment when Ukraine had been brought into the room, panicked and unsure of what was happening.
“I bet Japan is fine, aru,” China worried. “I usually don’t care what he’s up to-”
“Oh, that’s a lie!” France exclaimed. “Face it, China. You still see Japan as a younger brother after all these years.”
“No!” China protested. “Well, maybe… a little. Look, he can be such a prick at times and he definitely doesn’t treat me with the type of respect I should get, aru. However, yes. In him, I still see the little boy that I first met when he was wandering around alone, and he still has a certain naivety to him. War changed him, and that makes me sad, but… I don’t really know, aru.”
“That was very sweet,” Ukraine commented.
“I'm usually not,” China coughed. “But I think it’s finally safe to say that I miss him and am worried about him, aru. It’s just strange that he’s not here with the rest of us.”
“I agree,” Italy said cheerfully.
“I just wanted to sleep,” Estonia said. “I can’t sleep sitting up like this. I kind of wish Mr Russia would hurry and take this attacker down.”
“I hope Mr Russia’s OK,” Lithuania sighed.
“My poor little brother and sister,” Ukraine sobbed. “They’re still out there!”
“Oh, please don’t cry,” France sympathised. “They will be fine.”
“I-I know,” Ukraine sniffed. “But I get so worried about them! They’re so innocent and young and I always worry they won’t get by if there’s the knowledge that big sister Ukraine has been attacked…”
“I don’t think they’re as innocent as you see them as, aru,” China replied.
“Whenever I see their faces I feel the love of an older sister and I just want to pull them into the biggest hug ever,” she sighed. “I always see them as little children, and it hurt me so much when my boss fell out with Russia’s and we could no longer see one another! I think of Belarus and I see the little girl with her hair still short and her inability to separate herself from Russia – she’s always been so fond of him; it’s adorable.”
“I suppose that’s one word for it,” China muttered.
“Shut up,” France hissed.
“And then I also think of little Russia and the day I gave that scarf to him,” she sighed. “He loves it so much that I don’t remember a time when he didn't wear it. He just had a cute little face whenever he’d run up to me and cry and tell me he was being bullied, and although my advice could never work out for him, he pulled through completely unscathed!”
“Physically unscathed rather than mentally unscathed, aru?” China resumed, and then there was faint pained noise and the sound of someone, presumably France, digging their elbow into someone else’s, likely to be China’s, ribs.
“I just miss them,” Ukraine finished hopelessly. “I missed them back then and I miss them now. I don’t know. I don’t want to have lost the little siblings I love so much.”
“You won’t,” Italy said soothingly. “We've all got at least one person out there who are concerned for us. China has Korea, Germany has Prussia, Lithuania has Poland, Estonia has Finland, Latvia has Sealand, Ukraine has her siblings, France has England and I have Romano!”
Germany was sure there were some names in there that had less concern for them, but he chose not to say anything in order to spare Italy’s feelings.
Footsteps filled the room and Germany turned his head towards them.
“Who’s that?” he demanded.
For some reason, the blindfold was suddenly lifted from Germany’s eyes and he was face to face with Latvia.
“Latvia?” he looked surprised. “How did you escape? This is excellent. Unbind my hands and we can get everyone out of here and find out who is responsible.”
“Mr Germany, I wish I could give you a straight answer in response,” Latvia answered.
“What do you mean?” he looked quizzical.
“You’re all being released,” Latvia said, unbinding Germany’s hands, and then going around to remove the blindfolds from everyone else’s faces, as well as their hand binds. “But there’s a little more to it than you think.”
“Latvia,” Germany frowned. “I don’t think I fully understand.”
“There is a lot of explaining that needs to be done,” Latvia replied anxiously. “But there’s also a lot of apologising that will be accompanying it.”
“You’ll understand very soon, Mr Germany.”