3: Shots, Thus Felled
France preceded to sputter the tea he had been drinking, choking on the mouthful he had swallowed and Lithuania paled, turning as white as a sheet. Russia’s serene expression and vacant smile indicated he was far from joking.
Italy jumped to his feet. “Well, this has been a party! Definitely one I'll be posting about on all my accounts, right? But, you know, it's so sad - I just remembered I promised Romano I’d help him with dinner tonight! Oops! Guess I can’t stay!”
He charged towards the door and his fingers closed around the handle.
“But I thought you were so enthusiastic?” Russia turned in his sitting position and met Italy’s gaze with a hollow stare and stretched smile. “I hope it’s not too cold outside…”
Italy was rooted to the spot. His instincts were, for once, telling him to remain closer to the danger rather than flee from it. Possibly because he had knowledge of the terrible storm rising outside; the slight moans of an outside breeze indicated the wind speeds had rapidly increased. There was a big chance the weather would prevent him from flying away anyway, and once he left, he had a feeling Russia wouldn’t let him back in. Italy turned on his heel with a grimace.
“On second thoughts, Romano doesn't need my help – I am, um… enthusiastic,” he said and seated himself once more, although his tense position was enough to tell everyone else in the circle he remained terrified.
“Now, Russia, I want you to put the gun down,” America warned.
“Put the gun away?” Russia appeared confused. “We haven’t even started the game? Not all clips contain bullets. Want to go first?”
America stood and reached for his jacket pocket, where all but Lithuania and Russia were aware the gun remained. Germany tensed, and England threw himself at America, the pair of them crashing down in a heap, pinning America’s arms away from where the gun rested. A moment’s silence ensued as England wondered if that was best way he could've handled the situation, but then went on to deliberate if it had been the only way to solve it. Germany was right. The instant Russia saw America’s gun, it was over.
Russia coughed. “If you were eager to go first, England, you could've said… but you realise this is all just a joke, da? We’re not actually going to use a gun…”
England leant away from America. “We’re not going to use the gun?”
Russia pursed his lips. “Um, no. Otherwise someone might actually put a bullet through their head, and if it was America, I couldn't count that for suicide… It would cause complications for me, so instead, I've made an alternative!”
Simultaneously, their faces slackened, and Lithuania blew out a quiet breath as Russia set the gun aside – although America continued to cautiously watch it. From behind the sofa, Russia pulled out what looked like the most vicious of concoctions – a clear white liquid that could've been VX, hydrogen peroxide or plain water. England, who was always cautious when it came to chemicals, regarded the small glass.
The next thing he did was whip out a spinner and a chilled bottle of vodka. A stunned silence filled the room as he clunked the bottle before his guests with a wide smile.
France started laughing. “Let’s hope England doesn't have to drink that!”
“Hey, what’s that supposed to mean?” he glared at France, who only offered a shrug and a smirk.
Russia ignored their comments and pushed the spinner towards England. “From the way you all reacted, you must know how to play Russian roulette. In this version, we’ll have vodka shots instead of gun shots. I understand a lot of you associate vodka with parties, rather than special occasions like I do, da? If you spin the spinner and it lands on the bullet, you have to take a shot. Since you were so eager, England, you can go first!”
Reluctantly, England pulled the spinner closer to himself. He needed to keep reminding himself that it was purely down to luck, that there was no possible way Russia (or France) had rigged the game in order to see what drunk England was like. With trembling hands, he laid his index finger upon the evil red spinner. There was sweat on his brow; everyone was watching him. He inhaled deeply, and twisted the spinner round, watching the wheel of fate pass over that one icon that had a bullet on it. He watched it pass again, slower, and again, even slower. Then it stopped.
Everyone stared at the spinner, and then Russia laughed.
“Take the first shot, England,” he extended the little cup towards England.
The spinner had, somehow, landed on the bullet icon. England raised his head to see the devil reaching out towards him, smiling menacingly, the cup of poison in his hand. England took the tiny glass and held it in his hand. All eyes were on him.
“You just… swig it in one, right?” England asked, wearily. “And it’s not poisoned?”
America snickered. “You don’t know how to take a shot?”
Indignantly, England straightened his back. “Of course I do.”
“Go on, then,” France taunted, propping his elbow on his knee and putting his head in his hand, watching England.
“I will,” England looked uneasily into the little glass.
It was only a little thing. It wasn't like there was even that much alcohol to consume. It would be one, long swallow and then his duty would be done for the night; that was betting he didn't get the bullet icon at all throughout the rest of the night.
England raised the glass to his lips, tipped his head back, and downed the contents of the glass. There was a sudden burning in his throat, a fire that made his eyes water and his brain to consider retching the horrendous liquid back up. However, that would've been highly inappropriate, considering he was both at a party and at someone else’s house. He wouldn't want to be sick at his own house, either, though. England blinked back his tears and put on a shaky smile, head swimming from the burning and held the shaking the glass towards Russia, who carefully pried it from his hands.
France looked astonished. “You really have never taken a shot before…”
“I've taken shots,” England huffed. “I just did. Let’s play on.”
The game commenced, and England’s luck didn't seem to improve. Whilst everyone else was reduced to performing shots as well, he seemed to always be landing on the bullet icon, and each swig of vodka burned his throat and eyes. His head was swimming and sometimes, his head felt so heavy he had to support it on America’s shoulder. Twice he was informed by Germany that he couldn't take his liquor and should quit, twice he was urged on by Russia who believed he was doing fine, so twice was Germany ignored.
The evening progressed, and before long, it was just everything England could do to keep his eyes open. The world was spinning, and everything Japan said was hilarious. The door suddenly opened and Ukraine peered in.
“Russia!” she beamed and embraced him (for some reason, England couldn't help but notice her chest). “Dinner’s ready.”
“Oh, good,” he looked mildly pleased and set the vodka bottle aside. “I don’t think England will be joining us. He seems very tired…”
“That’s because he’s completely wasted,” Italy observed, as they all looked at England leaning backwards on the sofa, already asleep.
Ukraine blinked, but seemed unsurprised that this had happened to England, of all people. As a group, they travelled down the hallways of Russia’s exquisite house, and whilst Germany was reluctant to leave England alone, he was also desperate not to allow Italy roam without his firm instruction. He had to keep telling himself that, as long as Russia was within view, everything would be OK.
They arrived in a dining room. There was a long table, decorated with a snow white cloth that wasn't marred in the slightest. Candles were placed along its surface, flickering lazily. Estonia was currently in the process of lighting the last candles at the end of the table. Already laid out on the table were small little baskets filled with rye bread. A chandelier hung from the ceiling, although it was currently off, the curtains hung in drapes across large windows, blocking all view of the outside world, and a crackling fire filled the room with a homely warmth.
“Did I forget to mention my sisters would be here?” Russia explained, approaching the table.
Beaming, Ukraine seated herself beside Russia’s other sister, Belarus. “Usually, dinner is a more casual thing, however we all wanted it to be special for our guests!”
Germany's cultural expertise was limited, but he had heard usual Russian dinners were spent as a family, sitting at the couch and discussing the current news. That could possibly be because dinner was considered only the second most important meal of the day. It consisted of two appetisers, a main meal, and a drink afterwards, usually tea. It was lunch that was the most important meal for Russians, and it included a first course of soup, a second course of meat accompanied with potatoes, porridge or pasta, and then finished with a non-alcoholic beverage with additional cakes or chocolates afterwards. When a family, or host and guests, were seated at the table, it was always expected that rye bread be served, being a traditional Russian food. Considering his stature and the extreme weather, it made sense to Germany that Russia ate a lot...
“Why don’t you all take a seat?” Russia offered, and his guests seated themselves.
He himself took the end of the table, Germany and Italy on either side. Japan seated himself beside Italy, with France next to Ukraine. China had found a seat comfortably between both France and Japan, a safe distance from both Russia and Belarus, where he could critically assess all the food served to his heart's content.
“Help yourself to the bread,” Russia announced, gesturing towards the baskets.