"Oui! We are on the role." France leaped in excitement, punching the air in an almost out of character way that still seemed very stylish.
The monster fell through, disintegrating before their eyes after the onslaught of their combined attacks.
China slid his sword into it's holster, smiling down at the dispersing remains. "How many is that now?"
"I don't know." Russia commented, putting his pipe/sword back together. "I never keep track of these things."
There was an odd click, and Canada spun around to see a shadow sliding from the room.
"There's one getting away." He cried, taking off after it as he pulled the bow from around his shoulders.
"Attendez-moi!" France called after him. "You shouldn't go alone." However, Canada had already swung the door open and followed. He stopped short, upon entering the next room. It was a long narrow hall, with only a small lamp on the wall for light. His eyes narrowed to try and search for any sign of the shadow, heart pounding from the stress of fear. A hand came up to search for an arrow to procure to his bow. There didn't seem to be anywhere for it to hide, but that still didn't mean it couldn't show up. One thing they've experienced within this house is that nothing should be expected. Canada reached the end of the hall to find another door. He spun around to give another brief scan of the room, and checked the door to find it locked. A bit surprised, Canada checked it again, turning the brass nob harder.
Canada had just taken his hand off the handle to head back, when there came a soft click in the door. Canada looked back down at the nob, and cautiously tried it again. The tumblers seemed to shift into place and the door swung open. Bow firmly in hand, Canada jumped back watching the door open completely. This room was dark as well, a soft glow, from an unknown source, permeating the room.
Slowly stepping through the entrance, Canada had the sinking feeling that someone else was in the room. His hands gripped ready to his weapon, ready to draw at the slightest sign of movement. He nudged the door, with his foot, checking behind to search for further movement. Seeing nothing, Canada closed the door, locking it back. He proceeded to venture further into the room.
There were shelves of books, along this portion of the room. Multiple places for that Thing to hide. However, the further he ventured in, sliding along the bookshelves, the more that threatening presence seemed to disperse. Canada spun around the next row, drawing his bow in to check the area. Nothing.
He settled down a tad further. "Are the clocks still messing with the continuity of this time-line?" He sighed, moving to make his way between the rows of shelves. His un-easyness may have settled, but he still maintained a firm grip on his bow. "If so, then that Thing isn't going to be here."
A soft moan caught his attention, towards the other side of the shelves. Canada slid closer, inching along the books, until he got to the end of the row. There was a distinct shadow surrounded in what looked like a small halo of light. "(Maybe I was mistaken.)" Canada thought, peering around the end of the shelf.
He lined the arrow up with the sting of his bow, and swung out to get a better view of the shadow, drawing his weapon back to full length. Narrowing his eyes to better focus on the target, an odd sense of familiarity washed over him. Without lowering his bow, just in case, Canada set his mind more to identifying the shadow in front of him. Further speculation told him it was a human form, far too small to be the Monster. The figures head was buried in his arms, a mop of blonde hair hanging down over his face. The torn sleeves of his jacket were sickeningly familiar.
Canada's face fell, along with his bow. He stared down at the figure, the sick feeling growing with how fragile he looked. "America?"
He saw his brother's head pop up, but that was about it. A pair of hands dragged him back, one snapping over his mouth. Canada looked sideways at his assailant to see the profile of France's shadowed face. He shushed him, as they heard a chair slide.
America picked up the lantern at his feet, and stood, with noticeable effort. His other hand pulled the pistol from it's holster and cocked the hammer. The hand holding the lantern came up to better illuminate the area. "Who's there?" His voice sounded a touch horse, but it was still very firm.
Canada chanced a look back at his twin, not liking what he was seeing. He was favoring his left leg, which had the bottom half of his pant leg completely torn off to make room for the blood stained bandages. He still had his flight jacket, but the rest of his clothes were also replaced with heavy bandages all the way up his torso. Blood covered a good portion of his clothes, and even his hair. A blotch on his face was undetermined as an actual wound or just more blood smearing. Despite the strong tone of his voice, his expression seemed to completely counter it. There was an uncharacteristic hopelessness in his eyes. He'd even looked like he had been crying.
Canada could feel his heart clenching the more he watched him. America was always so strong. It was hard to see him like this. What all had happened?
America slid the gun back into its holster, with a heartbreaking sigh. "Yea, as if anyone's left to answer." He waved the lantern over something. A figure laying on a bed next to him. "I think I'm starting to hallucinate." America then turned to the bed on his right, tears glinting against the soft glow of the lantern. "I could have sworn I heard your voice."
Canada could feel a chill run through his body when he saw the lamp-light fall across his own features.
America set the lantern back on the ground, and sat down, looking down at his twin's docile face. He took his hand, not even seeming to care that it was cold, and laid his head down against the mattress.
"Oh mon Dieu." France gasped over his head. "It is you and England." He let out a small snort. "What does that idiot think he is doing? He's barred himself in this room alone, with that Thing on the loose. Does he really think he can protect you?"
Canada could feel heat touching his cheeks. "He's hurt." He stated a lot calmer than he thought he would, cutting France off. France glanced down at him to see the pained glint in Canada's eyes.
"He's covered in blood, and doesn't seem to be able to move too well." His fingers gripped the edge of the bookshelf, feeling a stinging push against his eyes. "He probably didn't think he'd make it out anyway, so just decided to stay behind." Canada swallowed at a lump collecting in his throat. "To stay with us, even though we're-we're... gone." His restraint broke, and Canada's tears started tracing down his cheeks. His voice refused to stay steady as he spoke. "He even gives us the beds, when he's the one who should be laying down to rest." Canada buried his face into the side of the shelf, trying to stay as quiet as he could, so America wouldn't hear him, when he sobbed. "He really is an idiot."
France slid a hand over his shoulder, pulling him back so he couldn't see America anymore. "When you put it that way, it sounds more like love."
Canada fell back against the books. He breathed in to attempt to steady his voice, trying to brush the tears from his face. "I just can't imagine how scared he must have been. All alone like this."
"It was his choice." France slid closer, helping to dry his eyes. "Come on, Mon fre`re. There's nothing we can do for him. Let's leave before America realizes we are here."
Canada sighed again, peering back as if seeing through the shelves to his brother. "Kay." France helped him to his feet, and they started off along the book shelves.
America had started to doze off, when a soft shuffle caught his attention. His eyes drowsy, he peered up to try and see what was making the noise. He started on seeing a pair of piercing red eyes glowing down at him from a sunken gray face. America jumped to his feet, in shock, trying to back away, and completely forgetting the chair situated behind him. He tripped, falling backwards, knocking his head against the wall. There was barely enough time to register that it hurt as the Monster closed in on him. A wave of fear washed over him from shock. How could it possibly get in? Italy locked him in, he was sure of it.
His hand snapped to the gun on his hip, taking aim on the approaching threat and screamed in a dead panic, tears streaming from his eyes. "GET AWAY FROM ME!"
Canada spun around from the sound of his brother's pistol. His face fell in fear. "It's here." He started to run back towards America, when France grabbed his arm.
He tried to pull his arm free, but France wasn't relenting. "What are you doing? Let me go." The shots continued to ring through the air, inciting Canada's urgency as if each bang was a cry for help from his twin.
France pulled him back, shaking his head. "We can't interfere."
"Why not? It's gonna kill him!"
"Shh." France snapped a hand over his mouth, pushing him back against the bookshelves. "Listen to me. This is not our time. If this is how America dies, then there is nothing we can do."
Tears streamed from Canada's eyes again in panic. "I can't just leave him there. He needs me."
"We have to let it play out. He can never know that we were here."
Canada was about to retaliate but was interrupted by silence. His brother was no longer shooting. The bangs now replaced with the hallow click of an empty barrel. His heart leaping into his throat, Canada tried to run to him again, but France held him fast against the books.
America's chest felt cold with each dull click of his gun. His mind went blank for a moment, before remembering that he had another clip, and started digging in his pockets. However, before he could actually reload, the Monster crossed the last few feet towards him. America let out a strangled cry as a large gray hand slammed into his head, crushing his glasses back into his eyes. He pulled at the hand, feeling himself being lifted from the ground. His feet kicked out frantically, trying to hit the Thing to let him go, but the reach was too far.
Warm streaks of blood slid from under the gray palm, and America hissed against the pain pressing into his eyes, and a dull pressure against his skull. He had to get it off of him. He didn't want to die this way. No matter how hard he thrashed and pulled, the grip was far too tight for him to even loosen it. Soon, the pressure against his skull started to sharpen, and he began to realize what was happening to him. The pain intensified, and America could no longer hold back his screams, his legs curling in on himself for some sense of security.
Canada's face went completely pale. No matter how much he wanted to run to his brother's aid, France wasn't letting him. "Please, I can't bare this." Tears streaked faster, down his face. "Just one quick shot to the back of that Thing's head. America will never know I was here."
"No. Come on." France tried to drag him along, but Canada fought, and was able to remain where he was. "Then let me put him out of his misery." He cried, nearly falling to his knees, if he hadn't been leaning back. "Please, France. My brother's suffering, I can't just abandon him!"
The pitch of America's screams went up an octave, and Canada felt his entire body go numb. Even France's chest seemed to close in, and his grip loosened to allow Canada to fall to his knees. "America."
It soon became clear that France was not getting Canada to leave, but he couldn't let him go over there either. Instead, when he tried to get up to run to America again, France dropped to his knees, pulling Canada tightly into his arms. "No, please." Canada cried, but most of the fight was gone from him. "Please, let me go."
"I'm sorry." France sobbed. His hands clamped over Canada's ears, trying to block out the sound of his twin's torturous screams, wishing that he didn't have to hear them himself. "I'm so sorry."
Canada clung to France, as if he was the last thread of his sanity, and cried into his shoulder.
America could feel his nails digging into the alien skin, but it didn't seem to effect it any. His screams seemed distant even to his own ears. Mostly out of disbelief that he was even making such a horrible sound. One sound in particular broke the cries of pain. A loud crack was the last thing he heard, everything else fading away. His reddened vision swirling into black just as he felt the pressure against his head leave, and his limp body collapse to the ground.
Both France and Canada looked up from the lack of sound.
"No." A heat started to spread though Canada's chest, making it's way up to his head. "No... he can't be."
"He's dead." The heat filled his brain, pushing his set of sorrow aside to make way for a different emotion. One he wasn't truly familiar with. "America's dead. That Thing killed him."
"Canada?" France brushed a hand against his cheek. "It's ok. We already knew he-"
"No, it's not ok!" Canada cried, shoving France away as he rose to his feet. "That sonnuva bitch killed my brother!" He took off back towards the Monster, setting an arrow in place. "I'm gonna fucking kill it!"
Canada whipped around the corner, drawing his bow back with almost enough force to break it, and screamed as the arrow ripped through the air into the back of the Monster's head. It let out an odd roar, and whipped around to its attacker, but Canada had already released another arrow into its left eye, then almost immediately into the right. Just for good measure, a forth launched itself straight into it's screaming mouth.
His eyes nearly glowing, Canada dropped his bow, and tried to focus his energy. It erupted around him, and he opened his eyes to see the monster running blindly towards him. "Kumajirou!" Canada cried, thrusting his hands forward to focus a torrent of hell-fire at this horrid beast.
By the time the smoke cleared, and his energy dissipated, there was nothing more than a smoldering pile of ash laying on the ground, a few feet away. Canada's breathing was harsh, nearly seeming to come out in desperate gasps. His eyes searched around the small area, following the light until the found the limp body of his twin. America lay against the wall, his head lolling uselessly on his shoulders, blood further tainting the golden hairs.
The heat in Canada's head started to fade away, making room for his sorrow to move back in. Hot tears cut the cold of his face, body suddenly feeling very drained. Too much heat left, and Canada felt light headed, overwhelmed with the desire to sleep. He started to fall forward, when France rushed over and caught him. "Easy now. It's gonna be ok." France crooned, guiding the distraught nation to his knees. He traced a hand through his hair, letting him cry against his shoulder.
"No, it's not. America's dead, and I didn't do anything to stop it." Canada sobbed, letting himself curl into France's embrace, but never took his eyes off America. "How could I let this happen?"
"Canada, listen to me. There was no way for you to stop this."
"I could have tried."
"We're in the past, remember? This America was supposed to die here. We could not interfere. Would you rather him continue to just stay here, all alone like this?"
Canada sniffed, wiping his eyes. Not wanting to speak, he shook his head. "But." His voice was hindered, so he had to clear his throat to try and talk right. It wasn't completely successful. "But why this way? Why did he have to suffer? How could I just let America die?" He finally tore his eyes away from America, and buried his face in France's shoulder.
France was tempted to point out that America had apparently let him die, but bit his tongue on the thought that it was inappropriate. "I know it hurts, and may be a bit confusing, but you have to remember. No matter how much he looks like him, that is not our America." France looked over at America, as if trying to convince himself as well. "This is all in the past. He most likely doesn't even remember any of this happening to him. You'll see." France cupped Canada's head in his hand, pulling his chin up to look at him. "We can head back and you'll see that America is just fine." He tried to force a smile. "He'll probably have one of those idiotic grins, that we've all grown to hate, plastered on his face."
Canada managed a short strangle laugh. "Yea, I bet he will."
A clamber of footsteps sounded from behind them. "What goes on?" Russia asked, looking around at the scene. Both his and China's eyes finally landed on the three bodies, over by the wall. They both at least had the decency to look concerned.
"What happened here?" China inquired, walking over towards them, his face uncharacteristically pale.
"Just a glimpse into the past." France answered, seeing as how Canada didn't seem to want to even look at them.
"Oh, Canada, don't cry." Russia knelt in front of him, giving one of his sweet smiles. "Now that Russia's here, I make it all better, da? You have no reason to be so sad."
Canada just closed his eyes, clinging tighter to France.
"Perhaps we should head back now." France ran a hand over Canada's head. "We can return to our own time, and you can see America. See that he's ok."
Canada sniffed again, and nodded as he let out a small, "ok."
"Good." Russia stood, clapping his hands. "I was getting bored with this time anyway."
France helped Canada to his feet, and they started off. Soon, Canada's eyes couldn't help but fall back towards America, and he stopped.
"What's wrong?" France asked, still having a hold of his arm.
Canada just stared quietly for a moment, before turning towards France. "Can you give me a minute?"
"What? I don't know if that's such a good idea."
"It's fine. I just need a moment alone with him."
Canada started to walk away. "I know he's not mine, but it's still America. Just go ahead. I'll meet you three in there."
France agreed, albeit reluctantly. "Just don't take too long." The three of them took off, as Canada made his way back over towards his deceased twin. He picked up the chair that America had tripped over and set it up. His gaze fell back down towards America, soon kneeling in front of him. He lifted his head in his hands to try and better see his face. There were bits of glass coating his face, as well as blood streaks from under his hair. Canada pulled the shards off, and used the hem of his coat to try and clean the blood staining his face. Texas has caused small cuts around his eyes, as well as distinct bruising. Apparently the mark on his cheek had been an injury after all. Demonstrated but an ugly purple bruise against his skin. After a short while, he paused to look at him. If it wasn't for the cuts and the subtle glint of his eyes, in the lamplight, it would almost seem as though he were sleeping.
Canada made another futile attempt to dry his face, then wrapped his arms around America's body. Despite the fact that he seemed much heavier now, Canada managed to pull him up and set him back in the chair. He tilted the chair back for balance and dragged him off to the side. After another futile attempt to stop the stubborn tears, Canada made his way around one of the beds. He stared down at England's face. The color of his features had been replaced with an almost waxy blueish white, and it was a bit more obvious that he couldn't lie to himself about this one.
He closed his eyes, and started pushing the two beds together. Canada attempted to see if his shirt would have more success against the stubborn tears than his hands. Experiment was a failure. He made his way back over to America, and just spent a few more moments staring at the deceptively peaceful look on his face. Forcing his gaze away, Canada pulled him from the chair, and managed to slide him into the bed, between the other two bodies. America may have still been warm, but England's hands made him feel as though he was going to break the finger's off, as he settled their hands into each other. Canada let out a small sobbing sigh, running his fingers through his hair. He had been trying to avoid looking at himself, but his curiosity finally overtook him. There was a touch more color to his own face than England's, but a sheet was pulled up to his chest. He was almost tempted to see why, but determined his curiosity wasn't that strong. The blood soaked into the sheet was enough for him. His hands shook harder as he leaned over to join their hands as well. His fingers didn't feel quite as rigid as England's, but there was a definite feel of fake to the cold hands.
Canada stepped back to look over the three figures. They looked as though they were sleeping together. It was only a shame that they didn't really get along this well out in the real world. His mind started to wander, questioning what had happened to the others. America had mentioned that there was no one left to answer him. Was he really the only one left here, just waiting to die? What had happened to everyone else? How did they die? How did he die? Was it as painful as this?
Canada pulled at his hair, his eyes obstructing his vision. Soon, he collapsed to his knees, on his side of the bed, and leaned over the mattress, sobbing unhindered. Why was this happening to them? Why did they have to go through all of this? How many times would they have to go through this, until they finally made it out? Was there even a way out anymore? None of it made any sense.
After what felt like an eternity, Canada finally dragged himself away from them, and found the other three gathered around the portal. "There you are." France exclaimed, crossing over to him. "I was just about to come get you. What took you so lo-" He stopped short, his shoulders drooping when he saw his face. France felt as though he wanted to cry himself. "Mon fre`re." He crooned, drawing Canada into his arms. "It will be alright." He nudging him back, running a thumb under his red swollen eyes. "Je promets." Canada tried to smile, but all he could manage was a half bemused grimace. France gave him a timid smile, kissing him on the forehead. "Now, let's go see that pain in the ass brother of your's."
Canada let out a genuine, if not small laugh, and they headed over towards the portal.
"Japan!" China cried as they came through the portal to the other side.
"Whoa! Y-you're back." Japan responded from where he stood with England and Italy, by the door. Canada's spirits lifted a bit at seeing England alive and well, but he didn't see America anywhere. France noted the worry on his face, and slid an arm around his shoulders.
"Ja-" There was an almost desperate glint in China's eyes as he stepped closer to them. Had he seen something too?
"We went through a lot." France started, giving Canada's shoulder one last squeeze before stepping away. "But we killed them all right. All of them. Nothing has changed in the past." He chanced a quick glance back at Canada, his expression falling. "Nothing."
"What about you?" Russia chimed in.
"America got injured." England explained, seeming a bit terse on the subject. Canada's face went white, feeling his heart sink into his feet. Injured?
"He's sleeping now." England continued. "Because of that, far from exploring the annexxe, we couldn't kill the enemy." He folded his arms across his chest in a huff. "And now I feel like we're under house arrest here."
Canada's eyes started to burn again. "America?" He took off over to where Germany was standing next to a bed, where a shag of blonde hair was poking out from under the sheets. "America?" He settled down on the bed, shaking the lump under the covers, tears pushing from his eyes. "America, please, wake up."
"Now, now." Germany reached a hand over, and placed it on top of Canada's. Canada looked up at him, his face glistening with tears again. "He's just had a trying experience. It's best to let him sleep for a while."
"But, but is he?"
"He's fine. It's just the shoulder."
America let out a soft moan, and rolled over onto his back. His face squinted, as if in brief pain, or discomfort, then settled back into a soft haze of sleep. The slight rise of fall of his chest was a great comfort. To see breath in his body. Canada brushed a few stray hairs from America's face. His hand came to rest against the side of his neck, and he had to bite his trembling lip. He still had a pulse.
Germany smiled, patting a hand on Canada's shoulder. "I'll let you look after him."
Canada drew in a shaking breath. "You're alive." He took America's hand in his, holding it against his face to feel the warmth still spreading through his skin. Even though he was asleep, and unaware of his presence, the hand clenched in his own still held so much more life than the one he had previously held. Canada sobbed, clinging to America's hand as if afraid to let it go. "I promise I won't let you die again." He stated in a dull whisper. "I swear I'll protect you. You may be a pain in the ass, but you're still my brother. And I don't know what I'd do if I ever lost you again."