Once, Rome had told him, "a nation that rises is bound to fall."
At the time, they were both in the mood for psychological musings; Wang Mang the usurper had recently taken control of the Han Dynasty, while Emperor Augustus had died an unfulfilling death, poisoned by his own wife. The world was in turmoil, and with it, following close behind, were themselves — unwillingly dragged into the chaos of their countries — until the only feasible option they had left, really, was to drink themselves into a stupor.
China had laughed, back then, his face flushed with alcohol. He liked to fancy himself as something of an intellectual drunk, although really he was more like a sober drunk, the kind that ruined everybody else's fun at parties. "Do you think you're smart when you say that?" he drawled, and then downed an entire cup of expensive grape wine that was probably worth more than all of his developing cities combined.
"Probably," Rome replied, sounding confused. "Have you ever wondered about it, though? I mean, look at the age difference between our bodies—" he paused, meaningfully glancing between China's slender, childlike stature and his own broad, well-muscled frame, "—and you're like, what, three thousand years older than me? Don't you think that that's some guy up there's fucked up way of telling us you'll live way past me?"
"Three thousand and five hundred," China corrected automatically. "You should respect your elders, brat." He tried to slap Rome in a teasing fashion, although his sense of balance was skewed and he ended up hitting himself instead.
Rome snorted. "I'll respect you when you hold down your liquor better than me." He wasn't in much of a position to be saying that himself, his speech slurred almost to the point of incomprehensibility. "Fuck, I miss Achaemenid. He was wrong in the head, but damn if he couldn't beat Bacchus in a drinking contest with both hands tied behind his back."
China remembered Achaemenid as well, although he didn't hold quite as much fondness for the other country as his companion. Achaemenid had been a narcissistic, money-grubbing fool, alcohol tolerance or not, and his death at the hands of Macedonia was welcome news any time.
"What do you think he's feeling right now in the Underworld, listening to us talk shit about him behind his back after he's dead?" Rome said, after China proceeded to voice his opinion out loud.
China smiled. "He should just be grateful that somebody remembers him after all this time."
Rome poured more wine into his cup, staring into it mulishly afterwards. "Do you think anybody will remember us, you know, after we're gone?" he asked, his voice softer. He took a hesitant sip, his hand unsteady and staining his toga with a sickly purple shade. "Will they talk about the great military achievements of the Roman Empire, or will they remember me as just another empire among many?"
"You're drunk," China told him brusquely. "I'm drunk. Why are we talking about this?"
"Please," Rome said, "everyone knows that drunk people have this best conversations." He downed yet another cup of wine. "You know what? I've decided I'm going to live forever. I'll be the one laughing when you get mauled gruesomely by Hunnic, that little shit."