Disclaimer: There are many reasons that I don't own Hetalia. The primary being that I...don't. Really.
Yao is asleep when it happens. Lying in bed and dreamless, not dreaming of the cool air of yaodong and evenings. Peaceful, in the only time he is finally dead.
What should he dream of? He shifts in his bed, undead. His body is hard and tired, and his bones are weary. Hebei is cold in general, so he wonders why he is here. But none of that—he likes this building, likes hearing the wild children of Shijiazhuang. Children have changed since at least the Qin, but children will still be children.
At first his bones rattle. He wonders little at this as he stirs—the trembling is then violent, and he recognizes the tremors at once. With mouth open wide, he stumbles out of his room, scrambling into his clothes as he goes—"Dizhen!" he screams, with a voice sonorous enough to rattle the earthquake down. "Dizhen! Dizhen!" He knocks a door down, and then the building is alive with alarm as people run and cry out. "Dizhen!" he screams, and flies down the stairs, flinging the door open.
There are other cries, too—wide-eyed, he feels the ground buck and shake beneath his feet—and more and more people are emerging from their doors. And others too, they take up the cry, screaming that there is an earthquake, and he gazes about him, almost dumbly, as the buildings shatter where they stand. Families, with a few possessions and the clothes on their backs, their feet skip against the trembling skin of the earth, and disaster crackles in the air like thunder.
What is he to do?—in an earthquake, there is no organization.
Chaotic thunder—he looks about still, stumbling without moving, then runs with them. The last thing he does is pluck a teenager from a collapsing doorway; and, following the people, he jumps into a car and slams the door.
He watches through the window as the teenager gasps aloud in the passenger seat. The glass breaks; the shards bury in his arm. With a flinch, Yao watches as a family snatches a bus, jumping in and slamming the doors before anyone else can; some pound on it before looking for another vehicle to occupy. By then, it is too late—the wide-eyed people huddle in their cars, looking outward at what was their home. They are lucky. In their cars, they are safe.
Or at least, it appears so.
The teenager gives a small cry; Yao's gaze shifts downwards, and the youth mouths something, pointing at another building that crumbles, a school, then at the building behind it, which follows suit. It looks like a village turning into ash in the sun, a town melting dry; but there is no sun, because the air is chilly and it is still early in the morning, the moon set at that certain angle in the sky. And the young adult's arm scrapes against the broken glass, eyes two stars that are dying. "My family!" is the shriek, and under regular circumstances, Yao would wonder what he was doing outside of home at such a time of day.
Instead, because the world is shaking and Yao can hardly hear him, he only stares in horror as the dust flies in his face, as his hands hold the teenager down, to keep him from escaping, because the earth is still shaking, the crust is still peeling.
There is no end.
And, three days later, he will still stare in wonder at the sobbing youth curled up in the backseat, withdrawn from the world. He will look, and somehow catch wind of the news—the worst was in Tangshan. And how many people have died?—how many?—how many?
The yaodong collapsed, someone will whisper, and Yao will wonder how he came by such news.
At the present, however, he is trapped in the car, staring at the dead world.
He is watching, laying witness as the earth crumbles into bits, unknowing that this is one of the greatest dizhen of all time; nowhere is safe, nowhere but the car, and the children look at him from bus windows with wondering eyes.
PT: The Tangshan earthquake. Nineteen seventy-six. In Hebei province. Y'know, that long one that's almost entirely wrapped around Beijing. That one. Statistically, it has the highest death toll as an earthquake in the twentieth century. Although this is the Tangshan earthquake, I had this take place in Shijiazhuang, the Hebei capital, which it definitely reached despite being so far. Oh yeah, and did I mention that my maternal family lived through this? Yeah...that's how I came to learn of it. It occurred at about four in the morning. According to my mother, her home was destroyed, and she was the first in her house to notice the quaking and yell that there was an earthquake; she also said that people lived in cars for several days because they were considered the safest places to be in, and that her family in particular snatched a bus in a scramble for it. From Wikipedia, I learned that earthquakes apparently weren't known to happen there, and the buildings went down like tofu dregs; also, yaodong—homes in caves—contributed to the death toll as well. Everything else in this fanfic came from my own guesswork and need for drama. Wrote it to acknowledge this event in history, to say HAHA I HAVE A PRIMARY SOURCE, satisfy my imagination, and spit at the fact that for some reason people have a penchant for undermining and ignoring Chinese earthquakes no matter how high the death toll. Critique will be accepted with love. Thanks for reading.