Title: Till We Meet Again
Character(s) or Pairing(s): Canada, America, England, France, Hungary, Liechtenstein, Netherlands, Cuba, Prussia, Germany, Ukraine, Russia, Belgium, Australia, General Winter, Egypt, Italy, OC!Scotland, China, Japan, Iceland, Kumajirou, Hong Kong, Denmark and South Korea.
Warnings: Violence, blood and imagery
Summary: Twenty five secrets that they kept from Canada. Always had and always will.
France could sense Canada fighting by the Normandy beaches along with America and England, fighting to get to him as he was imprisoned in his own country by Germany. The child he once raised and knew was no more. Instead, it was replaced by this determined, young man.
In some ways, this stranger scared him.
Canada's position erupted with artillery fire from his own planes by Canada's own orders. Australia violently swore, leaping over the ditches and bushes, lashing out at any Chinese soldier who dared to stop him, to where the Canadian soldiers were slowly rising and groaning, shaking off the dust and dirt that blanketed over them.
He found Canada lying against a gnarly tree, still clutching the radio with disheveled fingers. " Did it worked?" he asked with a weary smile.
Australia then punched him. " You idiot! Were you trying to get yourself and your men killed?" he snarled, grabbing Canada by the front of his dirtied uniform (damn Canada's injuries because if Australia had anything to say about it, he was going to get a whole lot more) with all the intention to throttle him.
Canada's eyes were frightfully calm. " I had no choice."
" Bullshit!" Australia yelled, giving him a shake hard enough to rattle his teeth.
Canada didn't know how he was an inch away from explaining to America that his brother had killed himself in a desperate attempt to stop China. Or how his heart stood still for the past few minutes, thinking one of his friends was dead.
When Canada was younger, Scotland was amazed by his tiny hands.
They were untouched by wars, famine, disaster, pain or sickness. There was no hint of scars or any injuries marked on those smooth palms. They were the hands of a baby. The hands of an innocent. And they were always content to hold Scotland's rougher, callused hands.
He treasured these hands, cradled them to his chest and kissed every fingertip when he had the chance, sending Canada giggling and dancing to a music that only they could hear.
Which was why Scotland never hated England more when he found about little Canada growing up, a cruel gun shoved into those once chaste hands and forced to bathe in the blood of the battlefield.
Italy thought Canada looked oddly beautiful, surrounded by the blood-soaked poppies brushing against his soles of his boots. Beautiful but terrifying at the same time.
After all, this was war and there was a thin line between beauty and insanity.
The United Nations had a nasty shock when they saw Canada, looking exhausted but otherwise unhurt, chained to a lightning rod, sandwiched between the distressed UN observers who were inevitably taken hostage as well.
When talks with Serbia didn't go as planned, Kumajirou destroyed half of the chairs and tables in the meeting room. America promptly destroyed the rest.
France threatened to pull out of his troops, demanding for efforts to protect the captured soldiers. England was tethering on the edge of his self-restraint and was found drinking every night. Russia sat silently during the meetings, a dark aura pulsing in his surroundings. Netherlands grew particularly irritable and snapped at anyone who talked to him.
When an unharmed Canada came back, the first thing he said to them was jokingly ask them how they managed without him.
They all lied and said that they managed fairly well.
By pure accident, Liechtenstein was the first nation to hear Canada play the violin with such grace and majesty it might have made Austria weep in joy.
Its soft melody tinkled over Canada's house, flowing from the study he was in to every stretch of the hallways and every corner of the rooms. She bathed in its sweetly soothing music, content to remain here forever.
But she was gone by the time Canada had finished packing his violin and left his study to grab his electric guitar and head out for band practice with America.
When sometimes China looked, he swore he could see a little part of his siblings inside of Canada.
Same tenacity as Japan that sometimes got him into trouble. The way Hong Kong softly smiled, a rare sight to see. The same kind of laughter like South Korea, as he wordlessly danced. How Taiwan held his hand when he needed it.
Maybe that was why he loved nothing more than to spend time with Canada. It was like being with his siblings again, even when they had drifted so far apart.
Netherlands fell in love at first sight when he first met Canada in the 1600s after he was greeted by a suspicious France, who felt threatened by his presence. Bobbing behind France, a silent figure wordlessly staring up at him. The child's hair shone like spun gold and his amethyst eyes were unlike he had ever laid eyes upon. He was pure as any child, untainted by war or afflictions in his lands. And the shy smile alight on his face when he quietly greeted Netherlands was enough to rival the morning sun.
He wished to speak to the child, wanting to know his name. But France ushered the child away and he could only watch with regret as the child disappeared out of his sight.
It would be many years and years before he would be able to see that child again. Only when he and his people were suffering from the cold and starvation in World War II that he would see the child - no, young man, rushing to his side, his beautiful purple eyes swimming with worry.
And his love had not changed one bit.
It was still a marvel to Germany that Canada had gone from lion to lamb over the last few decades.
What happened to the monster he had seen during Ypres? Where was the beast who chased him away from Vimy Ridge? Why did the fiend disappear while haunting him at Juno Beach? In the present time, Canada was meek, quiet and friendly, content to let America, him and the others take the spotlight in the world and in the meetings.
But sometimes, he would catch Canada watching him with those eyes of his, with a calmly barren expression that he could not read. What it meant, Germany didn't want to know.
It was shortly after Ukraine's independence and after Canada had happily recognized her as a country, inviting her to formally meet with the others as an independent country. She felt overwhelmed with giddiness and Canada never left her side throughout the night.
Now that the party was over, Ukraine, exhausted, went to the parlor to finish the last of the cleaning. There, she found Canada sleeping in one of the chairs as he waited for England or France to come get him (presumably the two of them had gotten over a fight to who got to bring Canada home and promptly forgot Canada again).
There was no other word for it. She was grateful to him and perhaps there had been the indescribable emotion racking her heart since she first met Canada in the golden wheat fields of the Prairies. And at that moment, she simply couldn't resist.
She had been the first one to claim Canada's lips.
As a creature like the nations, Kumajirou never aged. The many packs that he had traveled with had long perished or had abandoned him. To them, he was an abomination, an oddity among them. He was their kind and yet he wasn't.
It was terribly cold as he wandered the icy landscapes, simply waiting. What he was waiting for he wasn't sure.
But on this particular day, as he breathed out a steam of frosty mist, a child appeared from the horizons.
And it all began with this little question.
" Who are you?"
" I am Canada."
He repeated his question many, many times, despite knowing Canada as well as the palm of his paws, despite already the answer he would be given, despite confusion from Canada's part.
Because what better way was it to remind the person just who it was that had saved him on that day?
Russia liked Canada best when they were playing hockey, locked in a heated match, smashing each other against the boards, breaking bones and drawing blood. More than once, they were so close that he could feel Canada's hot breath and see the sweat dampening his hair and the wild emotions burning in his eyes.
It was exhilarating and magnificent to feel the pumping of blood through his veins and to be hit by the force of the adrenaline and the opponent. He felt alive. He felt free.
Only Canada was able to bring out this hunger for more hockey and more games and more competition.
Maybe Canada did know, which was perhaps why he invited him out for many friendly games on their free time. Maybe he didn't, which was perhaps why he looked so bewildered when Russia cornered him after a G8 meeting, demanding for another hockey rematch.
Either way, he didn't want this obsession of his to end.
Canada sipped the tea, savouring the taste, gently rocking the cup in his hands. Japan watched from the corner of his eye, pretending to be preoccupied with carefully stirring the tea.
It amazed him that every little movement that Canada did was able to speak to him. A flick of his eyes upwards. A tap of his finger against the china. A soft sigh of contentment. A slight shift to his right. Canada did it all precisely and easily, while barely making a sound.
It wasn't that Japan didn't mind the hubbub and rowdiness of America or Italy. But sometimes it was nice to simply communicate with someone else who knew of the art of speaking without moving their lips.
When Iceland stepped onto this strange new land, he first laid eyes on the child.
He was small, helpless and asleep, for it was not yet his time to awaken and open his eyes to the world. He seemed so tiny that Iceland almost hesitated to hold him, afraid that he might shatter the child.
The country that would later be known as Canada shifted in his arms, a soft yawn whispering from his lips as he instinctively curled close to Iceland's warmth. At that moment, Iceland wanted nothing more than to take the child, bear him away from this frigid land and bring him home.
But he could not and he would never get that chance.
Hong Kong had a habit of watching Canada breath.
His habit began when Japan invaded and Canada was among those who came to his aid. In the midst of the battle, they raced quickly and quietly along his roads to reach England, just before being intercepted by Japanese soldiers. Canada hauled him into the nearest building, shoving him down to the dirt, screaming something in his ear just as a barrage of bullets and bombs erupted around them. He couldn't reply due to the dirt lodged in his throat. Stained with blood and deafened by the bombings, all Hong Kong could do was remain where he was.
Finally, after a lifetime, Hong Kong raised his head. The building they were in was on the verge of collapsing, bodies were littered everywhere and it was all silent. Swallowing, he turned to Canada, who laid beside him.
China and England had mostly shielded him for the horrors of war and battle, so Hong Kong wasn't ready to see the bloodied and battered body of Canada, whose eyes were still open in surprise and his mouth slightly agape, bullet holes piercing into flesh, to smell the sickening burning of hair and skin. His chest wasn't moving and no matter how hard he tried to find a pulse, there wasn't any to be found.
He was still shaking Canada, calling for him to wake up, even as Japan appeared and took him away.
From that day on, he never failed to silently count the breaths that Canada took or if he got the chance, to press a slim finger to Canada's wrist, just to feel the steady thump thump of a beating heart, just to know that Canada was still alive and well.
Everyone inquired of the gold snake amulet that coiled into a series of spirals dangling from Canada's neck. He happily told them he got it as a birthday present, finding it laid across his desk with nothing but a brief note.
But no matter how Canada tried, he couldn't find the sender, whoever he or she was.
" If only I knew who it was, I could thank them properly," he told Egypt many times.
Who did not tell him that there was nothing Canada needed to thank him for.
Cuba didn't tell Canada how when he found France trying to get access to see the sickly Canada, he promptly threw the Frenchman out of the building with a string of curses and a volley of well-aimed punches.
The image of a raving, delirious Canada becoming frightfully emotionless before suddenly shrieking in French haunted him for many nights. And for that, he never quite forgave France for being the cause of it.
It was to Denmark's pleasant surprise that Canada memorized poems by heart. He found out when they were at his house late at night and after more than enough drinks (with a healthy dose of joint secretly delivered), Canada's eyes were glazed over with a peaceful look and he was smiling at Denmark with such a silly, nonsensical smile as he began to slowly recite them.
" She walks in beauty - like the night/Of cloudless chimes and starry skies ... You are not wrong, who deem/that my days have been a dream;/Yet if hope has flown away/In a night, or in a day/In a vision or in none/Is it therefore the less gone? ... Not marble, nor gilded monuments/Of princes, shall outlive this powerful rhythm;/But you shall shine more brightly in these contents ..."
He thought he had never heard anything more beautiful than Canada's voice.
Boy was Hungary turned on by the fact that handsome and cute men slammed each other against the boards and broke every so often into fistfights in the game of hockey.
And to her surprise, it was Canada who did most of the shoving into the boards and incited most of fighting with his opponents, swearing at them and shaking his sweat-soaked bangs from his eyes.
He had no problem dominating over Germany, Russia and even America, flaunting his superiority, smiling a bit of a psychotic smirk as he skated away from their beaten forms, an arrogant step in his stride. It was a far cry from the nice, friendly nation who remained hidden in the background.
She would later save those pictures of an unsettled Canada shoving a shocked America onto the board on her desktop for later use.
" South Korea, you'll get soaked!" Canada called out, waving him over as heavy drops of rain poured over them both.
With the yippy excitement of a puppy, he immediately latched onto Canada's arm, hoping to steal a hug.
Only to realize he was standing underneath an umbrella.
" Is something wrong?" Canada frowned.
He didn't say anything. Instead, South Korea smiled and led him to his favorite kimichi restaurant.
There was once a nightmare England had when the American Revolution had ended.
He saw America standing in the distance, glorious and tall, smiling at him, waving at him. In his dream, he raised his rifle and fired multiple times towards the still smiling and cheerful figure that mocked him so.
When he reached the now bloodied and fallen country, ready to taunt the one who betrayed him, it was not America he had just killed.
It was Canada.
Who no longer carried a smile on his face but a twisted frown with the desperate question of "why?".
He woke up at that moment, sweating and gasping. Unable to sleep, he went to Canada's room across the hall. Through the darkness of the room, England could spot a shadowed figure with a mess of blond curls flattened on the pillow fast asleep, oblivious to the outside world. The Canada in this bed was still small and a fledgling country unlike the one he saw in his dream.
Quietly, he reached out and touched Canada's cheek, sighing at the thought that Canada would one day grow up and become so much in appearance like America that he wouldn't be able to tell the difference anymore.
New Prussia squealed in delight as he was hoisted up onto Canada's shoulders, urging him to run. Which Canada did and they both tumbled onto the grass, laughing.
Standing not too faraway was a strange man, faded and pale. His red eyes, the only brightly color marked on his ghostly body, were gleaming with a sense of pride and peace.
He was gone before New Prussia or Canada realized he was there in the first place.
His skin burned underneath Belgium's hands. The chlorine gas took its toll on Canada as he laid in the nearby hospital, blinded and choking on his own blood. " Belgium! I have to help her! She needs help - I have to - Let me - I don't - No!" Canada yelled, thrashing violently and screaming curses as the nurses tried to restrain him.
She wasn't sure if he knew that she was there. " It's all right," Belgium assured him, as another nurse quickly injected morphine into the struggling nation. " I'm fine. You saved me. Remember? You saved me." Her voice dropped into a hushed whisper at the end.
He blinked at her. " I - I did?" he whispered.
She forced a smile. " Of course you did," she brightly said, trying to ignore the deepening trenches that ruined her lands and the cries of her people suffering.
Finally, he relaxed, mumbling " I did? I did?" and fell into an uneasy sleep, much to her relief.
General Winter was rather envious of the child-nation called Canada.
The child would always run to the south when he got cold to his brother who was happy to give all the sunlight and heat he had. Unlike him, the child would always be somewhere warm and away from the frost, wind and snow.
It didn't really bother him. After all, he was a creature who had haunted and maimed many nations for centuries and he had built up a reputation as an unfathomable, cruel monster who ate the hearts of unwary little ones for dinner. No country wanted to come near him and those who were under his cloak wished desperately to escape.
And yet, for many years, General Winter whispered, longed and hoped to feel the comforting warmth that rose from the south that would not burn his hands if he tried to get too close.
Until on a bitter winter day, while he wandered under the frozen crystallized branches, General Winter was approached by the child himself, wrapped up in a thick jacket and holding a container of something steaming.
" H-h-hello, Monsieur Winter," he stammered. " I was wondering if you would like some hot cocoa. I made it myself and I was thinking how you might like some. Only if you want to," he added, fidgeting nervously and a slight tinge of pink blushed his cheeks.
He gazed scrupulously at the child. It was the first time that a country had come willingly to him and it confused him at what to do. Finally, with a hesitant rumble, he took the hot cocoa from Canada's hands, brushing lightly against Canada's exposed, pale hands, feeling a comfortable warmth that came from both the child and the hot cocoa spread from the very tips of his fingers and settling in his chest.
Canada was both just cold enough and warm enough for him to touch.
If someone were to ask, the country that America trusted the least was, of all people, Canada.
It wasn't that he didn't trust Canada at all. He would willingly and unhesitatingly leave his life, his boss's life and his people's lives to Canada, knowing they would be well-protected in the safe haven of Canada's hands. In battle, there would be no other person other than Canada he would rather have watching his back. When disaster struck, the one person he could rely on when he couldn't take the choking terror and despair was Canada who would be there without question and give everything that he had to help him.
But he knew that Canada was the one person he couldn't trust because Canada knew everything about him, inside and outside, his strengths and weaknesses, and he knew how to use all of that against him. Canada could be unpredictable and dangerous as the winters that brew in his lands. One moment he would be shy and friendly and offering pancakes. The next, a snarling, swearing beast that shoved bullets down his enemy's throat.
He did things that were unexplainable, unreasonable and unexpected that left him wondering just what Canada was thinking and why he did the things he did. If America asked, said country would simply smile sweetly and only led him deeper in the mystery that was Canada.
The quotes of the poems that Canada recited was from Lord Byron's She Walks in Beauty, Edgar Allen Poe's A Dream Within a Dream and William Shakespeare's Sonnet 55.
In South Korea's part, sharing an umbrella is a romantic gesture in Japanese culture.
During the Korean War, Canadian and Australian soldiers took part in the Battle of Kapyong, where they defended the valley of Kapyong which lead to the city Seoul against the Chinese communist army. At one point, Canadian soldiers had to call down artillery fire on their position because they were so overwhelmed by the Chinese soldiers.
In Cuba's part, he was so furious at France because of the French president Charles de Gaulle declaring in 1967 "Vive le Quebec libre", hinting his support in Quebec separatism, which would eventually lead to the October Crisis and the Front de liberation du Quebec kidnapping of British trade commissioner James Cross and Minister of Labour of Quebec Pierre Laporte. It was here Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau re-invoked the War Measures Act and it caused controversy.
Bjarni Herjolfsson from Iceland was reported to be the first European country to discover the Americas and later, another Icelander Leif Ericson founded colonies in what is now known as Newfoundland and Labrador.
There is a town in Canada called New Prussia, Ontario. My guess is this is where all the PruCan comes from. XD
Despite Scotland not officially showing up in the strips or any drawings, there are plenty of fanart of him going around and many interpretations of his character. And since there was quite a strong impact of Scotland on Canada, I couldn't resist adding him in.
In World War 2, Canada fought in the Battle of Hong Kong against the Japanese. The battle lasted 17 days before the British colonial officials surrendered Hong Kong to Japan.
Patrick Rechner, an unarmed Canadian military observer of the UN during the Bosnian-Serb war in 1995, along with two Russian military observers, were taken hostage and used as human shields by another Canadian Nicholas Ribic, who had joined the Bosnia-Serbian army. The picture of Rechner handcuffed to a post with Ribic reportedly threatening NATO to stop their air raids on Bosnian-Serb positions spread worldwide and highlighted the UN's incapacity to deal with the Serbian aggression. The hostages were released after 24 days, unharmed.
I was delighted to find out that violinist James Ehnes, considered to be one of the most dynamic classical performers in classical music, is Canadian.