Even here, after almost half a year since the bomb had been dropped, Kiku could smell the remnants of the explosion. It permeated the air: a thick, patent odor that reminded him uncannily of blood and rotting corpses, a harsh reminiscence of why the choices he made were not always right.
He kicked at the ground emotionlessly, watching as white flakes of- dust? Decomposed substances? Did it even matter?- floated aimlessly in the air, revealing the black substance underneath. It seemed impenetrable and parched, and he wondered briefly if Hiroshima and Nagasaki would ever recover from their injuries to grow vegetation ever again. Probably not.
("Spring is sooner recognized by plants than by men," Yao says, a touch of amusement underneath the all-knowing tone that he uses whenever he recites a proverb. Kiku glares angrily at his older brother, carefully caressing the small cherry blossom tree as he prays to whatever ancestors he has to please, please make it grow faster-)
There was something among the endless expanse of ruins. Kiku blinked as the scorched remains of a burlap doll grinned up at him with button eyes and a stitched mouth, carefree and unknowing of its owner's fate. How ironic, he thought bitterly, that people still smile and keep faith in me even after all the deaths I have caused, all the blood I have spilled.
(His brother's lips are smiling now, even with all the blood over his face and the gore and death on his shirt. "I'm proud of you, Kiku," he croaks, and there is a strange twinkle in his eyes that has never been there before. "You will definitely surpass me..." And then he slumps to the ground limply, like a puppet with broken strings, and the light dwindles rapidly until the pupils are blank and cold and dark and most of all empty-)
"-are you done yet?" Alfred drawled, his hand dangerously near the pistol attached to his belt. "I thought we agreed that you would get five minutes to repent on whatever suits you before the trial. You're lucky we even considered letting you come back to your own country because…" The words stopped abruptly, but they both knew what the American had left unsaid. You killed Yao, it's all your fault he's never coming back your fault your fault your entire fault…
Kiku's lips pursed tightly together until he was certain that the blood flow was cut off entirely. "I am armost finished for tonight," he acknowledged stiffly, glancing at the musty golden horizon with glazed eyes. "Just give me a rittle more time and I wirr be-"
"No," the younger country snapped angrily, eyes blazing with fury. "When we oh-so-generously gave you a few minutes to see the state of your country, we actually meant it. Don't think you can overstep your boundaries, Jap, because Yao was the man whom we Allies relied on the most out of all of us even if we never realized it-" he choked, as if the words were hard to get out, "-and because I'm the hero and I'm supposed to protect the people that are close to me, but then you filthy, stinking Jap had to destroy him because you wanted more power! Fuck you to hell!"
("Yao!" somebody screams, and Kiku realizes that it's himself only afterwards. He's begging his brother to stay alive, not to leave the world, not to leave him, but the body is stiff and rigid and unmoving and there's no pulse and then there's a gun to his forehead thanks to one Ivan Braginski but he doesn't care because Yao is dead and that's the only thing that matters as the rest of the Allied Powers stare at the corpse with horrified expressions and pain and grief-)
The Japanese nation stood stock-still. "Fine," he whispered, an unreadable expression plastered on his face. "But I wirr onry go wirringry with you if you arrow me to bring frowers to my brother's memoriar at the very reast."
"…" Alfred glared at him as if that was the last thing he would allow him to do, but there must have been something in his expression that caused the American to sign resignedly. "Then go and visit the brother that died all because of you. Remember, flowers from scum are scum themselves, no matter how expensive or beautiful they may seem."
Kiku stared into the sunset. "I know, Arfred. Berieve me, I know."
(The funeral lags on and on for what seems like eternity but Kiku wishes it would take more time. He sits among the front row of mourners, his arms handcuffed behind his back, and he watches Mei sobbing loudly and Yong Soo's pale complexion while Jung Soo pretends there aren't tear tracks under his eyes and Lien hiding her face behind her hands and Chuan frozen with his dark eyes wide and accusing. There's also an empty space where Jia Long and Andre are supposed to sit but it's unoccupied because he killed them too-)