Chapter 5: Those Dearest to Us
Never before in his entire life had Germany heard Italy scream like that. Sure, he'd been there to hear Italy crying for help before, usually over something pointless or completely non-threatening, but this time was different. This time was very different it was a sound of pure fear and terror. Germany wasted no time running over to Italy and the fallen Japanese man.
"Germany...! Germany!!" Italy gasped, unable to control his voice as he tried to give Japan any sort of support. "Please help him, Germany! I think he had a heart attack!! He tripped on the stairs and fell down onto the floor and he's not getting up and he's not breathing right and please help him Germany!!"
Japan was in horrible shape, and Germany knew it simply by glancing at his body, which was curled up on the hardwood floor. He was most likely still breathing only because he was a country - if he had been a normal person, there was no way that he could have lived through this much.
Country or not, Japan needed help, and fast.
Germany knelt down next to his Japanese friend, looking at his pained eyes and the way he clutched the robes around his chest. He gritted his teeth and his hands flexed into fists as he stood back up. There would be no time to wait for an ambulance to get here; this house was relatively far from the nearest hospital. Japan would surely die during that wait. Germany winced.
"Germany, PLEASE, do something NOW!!" Italy cried, noticing the twinges of helplessness in Germany's blue eyes.
In a flash, Germany raced for the nearest telephone and dialed a number. "As much as I hate to say it, there's only one person that I think can help..."
France was the only one who heard the phone ringing. China and England were upstairs playing with little America now that their nerves were settled down a bit. No one expected anything to this extent to happen.
Smirking at the laughter coming from upstairs, France picked up the phone, a glass of red wine in his other hand. "Hello," France said in a laid back tone of voice, "You've reached the house of fools, may I take a message?"
"We don't have time for this, France!!" Germany's voice boomed from the other line, "Put England on the phone NOW!!"
It was one thing hearing Germany speaking normally, but now that he seemed to be in a panic? Germany was LOUD when he needed to be. France shakily pulled his ear from the receiver and darted upstairs. "Y-Y-Yes, yes, hold on!!" he stuttered out as he bolted up the stairs.
Being careful not to drop the phone, France bursted into the room, looking shaken. His face scared America into hiding behind China and burying his face in his robes.
"France? What do you want?" England said, taking a step forward. "You're frightening America again"
"Just take the phone!!" France yelped, throwing it at England from across the room.
After fumbling with the telephone for a few seconds, England placed the phone to his ear. "Yes? Huh? Germany? What do you want now!?" The three other people in the room could hear Italy and Germany frantically yelling in the background. Germany was shouting something about keeping Japan awake. He finally give his attention back to England.
"England, listen to me!" Germany stated as calm as he could, "You're one of the only countries I know that can use black magic. We're on our way to your house; we need to borrow that magic of yours to help Japan! He's had some sort of heart attack and fell down a flight of stairs."
"He what!? B-But Germany--"
"I don't care what you do, but there's no time to call an ambulance, and we need your help! Just think of something, alright!?"
And Germany hung up, a sure sign that they were on their way over.
Only seconds afterwards, the phone slipped from England's fingers and he took off down the hallway. China quickly stood up with America, following England and demanding explanations. "England, wait!" China called to him, America holding onto the Chinese man for dear life. "What happened!? What's wrong with Japan!?" China had heard Japan's name being shouted from the other line.
England shook his head quickly and stood in the doorway that led to the basement. "Please! There's no time to explain; Japan's dying and Germany demanded that I help!" he shouted, and slammed the door shut behind him.
China felt his insides turn to ice. His face fell, and he almost dropped the tiny and crying nation from utter shock and disbelief. France had been following the two, and took the moment to gently urge China down the halls and away from the entrance to the basement. He also took the child from China's trembling arms.
"W-What's happening?" China whispered; his voice barely there. "J-Japan is--!!"
"You have to calm down, Yao," France said in the gentlest voice he could muster, "Angleterre knows what he's doing, I'm sure of it! Let's go downstairs and wait for the Axis to show up, alright?"
China clutched the front of his robes as he walked; each step he took becoming heavier and heavier.
The second he got off the phone, Germany scooped up Japan into his arms and ran for the front door. He briefly looked back at Italy once he opened the door, took a double-take over his shoulder to look back at the Italian, and froze halfway out the door.
Italy hadn't budged from the spot on the floor where he'd just been holding Japan. He was fighting back tears for both Germany's and Japan's sakes, and now he had no energy left to stand up.
"Ju-Just go, Germany!" Italy said in as stable a voice as he could, "...I can't...I don't wanna see! I don't want to..."
It hurt to leave him in such a state, but the German knew that this was a matter of life and death, and he could not stay to help Italy. Italy did not want to have to go all the way down to England's house if Japan wasn't going to make it back; he couldn't bear to watch. With a small nod, Germany ran out the door with Japan.
"I'll be back soon, Italien!!" he called back before shutting the door.
It would have taken less time to get to England's house by car; however, there were two problems that prevented him from doing so. Considering Italy had crashed into a tree recently, their car was rendered useless until it was fixed. And even if he had a car that was drivable, Germany was mortified that if he laid Japan down in the back seat while he drove, he'd pass away without Germany even noticing. Carrying him was his best option right now.
Germany never once stopped during his long sprint to England's house; he hardly slowed down at all, and he only did so to glance down at Japan's shaky form from time to time.
"Japan, hang on! Don't you fall asleep on me!" he said firmly, forcing himself to stay calm. It honestly scared him that this had happened to his friend, and he was doing everything in his power to stop this from worsening any more than it already had.
"...I should ha...have...been more careful..." Japan coughed a few times and took a shallow breath, grabbing Germany's sleeve with one of his cold hands. Germany's mind was going crazy right now, thoughts becoming clouded by the emotions banging around in his head. It was incredibly upsetting to know that everything could end just like this; any second, Japan could be gone.
"Don't talk right now!" Germany hushed him, trying to silence the black haired man in his arms. His tough exterior cracked after hearing Japan's words. He couldn't risk it being broken. Not now.
"Germany...?" Japan groaned, ignoring the German. Germany's blue eyes met Japan's brown ones. "...No matter what ha-happens...we're sti-still...the Axis powers," he paused to take a few breaths, "I'm...still the Axis...and I always will be..." He smiled tiredly.
Germany's eyes were misty. He quickly nodded and continued running, unable to look at Japan anymore at the moment.
France skittered down to England's basement and headed inside the dimly lit room, wondering what was taking him so long. "Angleterre! Allemagne will be arriving any minute! What have you been--"
With a scream of frustration, England threw few books from his shelves, knocking over and breaking a few glass bottles in the process. He shot a weak glare back at France, his hands gripping at his messy blonde hair.
"Angleterre...?" France spoke carefully, taking a few steps into the room. England pounded a fist down onto the nearest table in the room, shaking his head in disbelief.
"What does Germany even expect me to do!? I'm not a doctor!! Damn it all...If I can't save him, his body may be already broken beyond repair!!" he said worriedly, pacing around the room, "If I could just find a spell to reverse the damage for a while, that wouldOW!!"
England whacked his knee on a nearby cauldron, which still contained a bubbling (but not hot) orange liquid from a previous incantation. He quickly braced himself and peered into the cauldron. A gasp escaped his throat as he staring into it; remembering what he'd just used this for not too terribly long ago.
"Are you alright?" France asked, helping him stand up straight.
England slowly turned to face the other man in the room, and spoke in a very grave tone. "France...I think I have an idea...but it's our only chance. If this fails, Japan will die."
It did not take long at all for Germany to arrive, and once he did, he shouted at the door to be let inside, since Japan was taking both his arms to carry, and he did not intent to knock down the door on his way in unless there was no other option. Germany practically trampled down France after being let inside, but he didn't look back as he dashed inside.
Japan's eyes were shut tightly as he lay in Germany's arms, one hand still holding onto his chest. China and France followed Germany as soon as they could, and the first thing China heard coming in was his "eldest son's" unsteady breaths. Even for an incredibly strong country, Japan had very little fighting spirit left in his body. The weakened Japanese man was finally lied down onto a nearby couch and made as comfortable as possible by Germany. China promptly ran over and dropped down on one knee beside him.
"Japan!!" he cried, holding onto one of Japan's hands, the other placed on his sweaty forehead. "Please...Please Kiku...! You can't just leave us like this!!" China's voice was trembling, and Japan opened his eyes slightly and stared tiredly at his old father figure. Germany stood back and gave the two much needed space for the moment.
Both Asian countries were on the verge of tears after seeing each other. Japan's coughing had ceased for the moment, and he tightened his grip on China's hand. Both nations were scared; both nations were searching for comfort in the other. Japan was the first to speak.
"...After...After everything I've done to you...I still wish...that we could h-have another chance..."
Japan tilted his head towards China, which seemed to take all the energy he had left. He gave his father-figure a sad and afraid look, one China had never seen before on Japan's face.
"I don't want to die, China..." Japan whispered, his voice barely there, "Not now..."
China could feel his grip growing weaker. His eyes stung with tears that he could no longer hold back. Japan's eyes were starting to close. Everything was happening in slow motion to the Chinese man Japan's mouth was moving, but China couldn't hear any words. He was slipping away. His oldest 'son' was dying, right in front of him, and he couldn't do anything about it
A bright burst of orange light shot down from the halls at that moment; a frazzled but determined England following shortly after the blast. He called out to China, shouting frantically at him to move away from Japan.
China obeyed and quickly jumped back from the Japanese man. Japan looked back over, barely moving his head, just as the orange light contacted and surrounded his body, the bright light filling the space where Japan once was. The silhouette of his body began shrinking down until it was less than a quarter of its original size.
"Kiku!?" China shouted worriedly, "England, what did you do to him!?" China began to panic, quickly shuffling through Japan's pile of clothing until his hand came into contact with skin. China hesitated for a second, and slowly revealed the tiny, infant face of what had to be Japan from that bundle of clothes. "...K-Kiku..." China's eyes widened, a tiny smile appearing on his face.
England had used the same spell on Japan that he had previously on America, and was surveying his work from across the room at the moment. He kneeled down to catch his breath before speaking.
"Sorry, but his body will have a chance to grow strong again by doing this. It was the only way to save him...but he's alive," The proud gentleman smiled, "...He's alive."
Germany stood there in mild shock, watching China pick up and cradle the tiny baby in his arms. Japan was fast asleep; tired from the near-death experience he went through previously as well as the transformation of his body. But with China there with him, he smiled, feeling safe and warm and comfortable there in China's arms. And, like America, he was slowly forgetting his adult memories and knowledge.
China slowly turned his head and gave England the sweetest smile that the gentleman had ever seen in his life, an act that was very rare for the Chinese man. His cheeks were tinted pink and his eyes were brimming with tears. He couldn't thank England enough with words; in fact, he couldn't even bring himself to speak.
"Well, it looks like Amérique will have a playmate his own age now," France quietly laughed, noticing Germany starting head out of the house. "Hey," he called to Germany, reaching out a hand towards him.
The German, though inwardly thrilled knowing that Japan was going to be alright, seemed to also be a bit depressed to realize he would have to return home without Japan. Was Italy even going to believe him when he explained what had happened? Turning to the others, Germany gave a small nod of his head in a sort of salute. "I guess we're stuck in a temporary truce until Japan is back to his normal self. ...Take care of him for me and Italy."
"We will, Germany," China sniffed, drying his eyes with one of his sleeves, standing up with Japan in his arms, "Thank you for being such a good friend to him, as well as a partner. And thank you for trusting us to take care of him."
"Ja. Anyway, I'm going back home. Gute nacht."
And Germany left the house. Finally, once he was outside in the darkness where no one could see, Germany finally succumbed to the cracks in his defenses, and let small tears run down his face as he made his way home.
Italy was still sitting in same spot on the floor that Germany had left him in. He was curled up, hugging his knees and shivering there in the dark. He was chewing on his lip, willing himself not to spill any tears.
Once Germany came in and saw the Italian still unmoved, he decided that he had to do something to calm him down. Carefully, Germany sat down beside him and draped his arms around Italy's upper torso, pulling him close. Italy gave a tiny gasp and, after realizing that Germany was back, shifted his body and threw his arms around Germany's neck.
"Italien..." Germany whispered in a very quiet and calming voice. Italy immediately noticed that Japan wasn't there with him, jerked his head back and stared at Germany's blue eyes in fear. Italy's teary hazel eyes were threatening to spill over any second now. Germany swallowed his emotions and quickly continued explaining.
"It's going to be alright, Italy. Japan's going to be just fine, but he'll have to be gone for a bit longer." Italy's body continued to tremble. He buried his face back into Germany's shoulder.
"I-I was...so scared," Italy groaned into Germany's shirt, "B-But...I stayed st-strong for you, for once...See? I'm...I'm not gonna cry!! See, Germany, s-see??" His voice cracked as he sputtered out his words. Germany smiled, gently rubbing the back of Italy's copper head of hair.
"Maybe I train you too hard sometimes," Germany mumbled. Italy's head shot up again and met Germany's eyes. "It's fine to cry when someone you care about is hurt or in danger. That's perfectly alright."
"No!! You don't cry...so I don't need to either...! I'm strong; I'm not going to!!" Italy shook his head quickly and gritted his teeth, burying his head into Germany's chest. In response, Germany leaned down and gently pressed his lips to the Italian's forehead.
"Italy...I was so happy knowing Japan was going to be fine. We all slip up sometimes."
"You-You actually...?" Italy's voice was shaking, and it was filled with surprise.
"Yes, just a few minutes ago, when I was walking back home, to tell the truth," Germany admitted. He rubbed a hand over Italy's back gently as he spoke. "So don't hold back, alright? It's perfectly normal to be upset; especially after what you've been through...I don't mind."
And just like that, big tears welled up in Italy's eyes, his breath hitched and he began crying into Germany. It was his usual childish crying, but Germany was used to it by now, and he was honestly surprised that Italy waited for this long to do so.
But...on a different note, he hadn't been this close to Italy in a long while. Italy seemed so helpless; it was even cute in a way. Germany's cheeks began to heat up as he held the Italian close.
"Would Italy mind if I...?"
Taking this opportunity and all that came with it, Germany leaned forward, tilted Italy's chin upwards with his thumb and forefinger, and kissed him.
Italy's eyes shot open, and a tired smile spread across his face. The Italian reached his hands up and cupped Germany's cheeks, tilting his head and kissing back for a moment before finally separating and leaning against Germany's chest again. Germany, once he recovered his bearings, realized that Italy had fallen asleep there.
Too tired to go all the way up the stairs and put Italy into his own bed, Germany took them into the spare bedroom, tucked Italy in, and slipped into bed right next to him. He was asleep in minutes.
The next morning rolled around, and Italy found himself cuddled up against Germany's torso. His blond haired friend was still fast asleep. Smirking, the Italian thought of getting up and starting to make breakfast, feeling loads better after a good night's sleep.
But something wasn't right, Italy quickly noticed. Something was rubbing against Italy's thigh; something that he knew shouldn't have been there.
Italy's eyes trailed downward, and they shot open when he figured out what it was.
"GERMANY!!!" Italy screamed, pushing Germany away from him and skittering out of bed and across the room. Germany woke up with a start and sat up, staring at Italy, his face pale.
"Germany, I'm not ready for THAT much!! I'm still a virgin!!" Italy shouted, his facial expression looking a strange mix of scared and angry and flustered.
Germany's mind went from groggy, to confused, and finally to completely embarrassed; he had forgotten the events of last night up until this moment. He quickly realized what Italy was screaming over, and rigidly turned his body away from him. He craned his neck and gave Italy a flustered death glare.
"Look, I-I can't help these sorts of things!!" his face reddened with every word he spoke.
"You just don't understand!! I can't do it, you're scaring me! I'm not ready, Germany!!" Italy shouted as he ran out the door of the bedroom.
Germany slammed his fist into a wall as he got up, shouting back angrily at the Italian as he ran out of the house and down the street, heading who-knows-where. Germany swore.
He could hear Italy sobbing hysterically as he ran down the street the window was wide open and he could faintly make out the words "big brother" from inside the bedroom. Germany grumbled tiredly, knowing he was going to regret that later, and headed upstairs.
The overly-cheerful Spaniard was humming from the kitchen as he was preparing himself and Romano something to eat. The entire kitchen smelled of stewing tomatoes. Anything with tomatoes in it sounded good no matter what time of day; that was pretty much the only thing he and Romano agreed about. Romano, in the meantime, sat on the couch and munched on a fresh tomato, getting tired of waiting for the food to be ready.
"Could you possibly go any slower?" Romano grumbled, licking the tomato juice off his lips, "And stop your stupid singing before it gets on my nerves."
Spain merely laughed in response. "Don't be silly, Romano. You know you like my voice!"
Romano choked on the tomato. "Don't push it, bastardo!!"
Suddenly, Italy's voice chimed in from outside the front door, the younger Italian pounding on the wood to be let in.
Cramming the remaining bits of the tomato into his mouth, Romano walked over and leaned his forehead against the door. "Ah. It's my idiot brother," he sighed, finally opening the door, "Italy, what is it? What's--"
In an instant, Italy had dashed through the door and tackled Romano, hugging him tightly from on the floor. Romano shouted some choice swearwords before sitting up and regaining his balance.
"Big Brother Romano, Romano!! It's awful; It's really, really bad!!!" he screamed.
"Whoa...! Calm down!! D-Dont make me start crying now, get ahold of yourself!" the older brother awkwardly patted Italy's head, "What's the matter, Feli...? Shh, you're okay. You're fine."
It took a few minutes, but he finally calmed down, feeling safe with his older brother, as he always did, even when Romano wasn't the best as far as brothers go.
"Romano, Germany, he...he just...I...I was so scared, then he started yelling at me!! I think he tried to take my virginity...and I don't know what to do...!" Italy babbled out.
There was a long pause.
"B-Big Brother Romano...?"
Italy could feel Romano's iron grip on his shoulders tightening, and he looked up to find fire dancing in his older brother's eyes. Italy gasped and wiggled out of his grasp. Romano looked downright furious.
"That potato sucking bastard just ate his last meal!!" Romano shouted in anger, looking at Italy with an expression that would be best described as insane. "No one messes with my brother's virginity!!" In full rage mode now, Romano marched upstairs and grabbed an armful of various weapons and threw them in a bag slung over his shoulder. "He's a dead man!!"
Spain simply watched with a confused expression while Italy chased his infuriated brother out the door.