In my defense, I had just watched The Hunger Games and it was past three a.m. when I started writing this and it just snowballed.

Disclaimer: I do not own anything. Hetalia and The Hunger Games and its related franchise belong to their respective owners.


01.
Panem was small. But that was okay, he wasn't the only small one. He wasn't the only one that could tag along to a world meeting but could never enter the meeting room. Sealand was also small. Sort of. In a way. Maybe.

Panem was small, smaller than Sealand. For now.

He was going to be big, he was sure of it.

Panem wasn't going to stay small.

02.
Panem was still small.

But it was okay.

He was friends with Sealand, little guys have to stand together, no?

So it was okay. For now.

Panem was still going to be big one day, he was sure of it. Panem was going to grow, be assured, it was going to happen. For certain. Absolutely. No, seriously. Don't let what Prussia say get to you, Panem was going to be big.

But for now being small was enough.

Canada gave you free pancakes when you visited when you were small.

03.
America wasn't sure he was cut out to take care of kids. Panem wasn't a state. Nor was he as small, as tiny, as he used to be.

But he was still sort of small. America could still take care ofhim.

Besides, this kids business was fun, too.

04.
Okay, so Panem wasn't that small anymore. Well that was still workable.

Sort of small Panem could still keep up with America when they talked about the newest technology while they played sports or went fishing.

Panem liked sports. America smiled. Sports were good. Sports made you strong and taught you how to work in a team and think strategies on your feet.

Sports were good for growing bodies.

America taught Panem sports and they had fun every game.

Panem was clever; he always knew how to make a game interesting.

05.
Of course England visited sometimes. Often. A lot.

England would watch Panem and America and shake his head, but he always smiled when he shook his head. He was remembering sunlit days of long ago.

Panem was doing America good.

06.
Other nations would also visit. For various reasons.

Panem didn't think he had ever seen America as horrified as the time he discovered that France and Panem had been left alone for a decent amount of time together.

France.

And Panem.

Little, almost not so little Panem.

With France.

France was banned from talking to Panem alone and Panem didn't quite see America and England together the same way again.

France had his laugh.

07.
Panem wasn't small. Panem also wasn't big. He was kind of smallish medium.

America and Panem still played action video games and sports together.

It was okay.

08.
Panem liked America's Rocky Mountains. They made he feel safe. Safer there than anywhere else.

But America and Panem still lived together, away from the mountains that made Panem feel safe. They still lived together. Toasted bread breakfast and TV entertainment and sports.

England still visited.

They still visited England.

Canada still gave free pancakes.

Panem was still growing.

09.
Admittedly, America was worried. Panem was growing.

Panem was growing.

America's people were getting worried and restless.

America sat behind wood desks with tablets and holograms and important things to deal with but he wasn't paying attention to that, he was sitting worried, biting fingernails trying to remember century old lessons taught by remarkable men. Lessons engraved into his bones.

Panem was growing, America was worried, but he never stopped caring for Panem. He never let Panem see his worry. A hero has to stand tall and be larger than life after all. And America was a hero.

10.
Panem would look at himself in the mirror, every morning, first thing in the morning routine and yes, he was past sort of medium sized. He had grown. And would still grow.

He felt the blood in his veins shifting and the skin deep restlessness of his people.

His people.

11.
Fashion was a weird thing. Panem made this point very clear to France.

12.
Panem was approaching America's shoulder height and felt a crack growing between America and him every day.

He also noticed how America bit his fingernails when he was worried, even when the older nation tried hiding the tick from Panem.

America's fingernails had been gnawed almost to the flesh.

13.
If America didn't want to make his fingertips bleed, he was going to have to find a different nervous tick.

14.
Panem didn't see England that much anymore.

Or anyone besides America.

No more free pancakes from Canada.

The whole world was in trouble and finding time to visit was hard.

15.
Panem went on a road trip. Of sorts. Not really. Road trips were an old concept no longer said.

Basically Panem just went on an exploration of his land.

His land.

16.
America tiredly bandaged yet another finger, head pounding to the rhythm of a migraine and a split people. He felt like he was slowly falling and crumbling, a few dust particles at a time.

Panem was reaching his nose, a far cry from the small size he once was, a far cry from the height of America's mid-thigh.

17.
Panem was more independent and was living by himself more. He still watches action TV and still smirks at America's fear of ghosts, though.

He doesn't notice America's bandaged fingers anymore.

Or how America worried. What mattered to Panem is the hum of his people and how America still cares about him.

Let your people be free, Panem, America tells him. Freedom is precious.

Okay, Panem says back.

Okay.

18.
Panem wants to live by himself. It's an experiment. Experiments are okay.

America understands and claps Panem's shoulder with his bandaged hands and yeah, it's okay.

Just call, alright? Let me know you're fine.

Yeah. Don't worry America. I'll call.

America still worries.

19.
England noticed what was happening between Panem and America a long time ago. Panem wasn't tiny and laughing and playful anymore. Panem was. Panem was bigger.

Panem was bigger.

England worried but didn't say anything.

America would figure this out.

England trusted America.

America was going to be okay.

And the sea levels kept rising and it was harder to find time to talk.

20.
Hey. How have you been Panem?

I've been great. Oh, you should see this view, the mountains and the trees and it's all so beautiful. I love it. How have you been America?

I'm good. Busy, you know, with stuff.

Yeah.

You still watching your TV?

Oh don't knock TV. You love watching your TV too.

Ha, yep.

Have you been visiting England again?

Huh? Oh, yes. England says hi.

Tell him I say hi too.

Panem, did you dye some of your hair red?

Huh? Oh you mean this? Yeah, isn't it cool? I've seen some of my people, and you should see them. They spend so much on fashion and makeup and hair. They look like a New York runway. I've always told France fashion was weird.

Ha ha, yup.

And what does England call France again, frog? Why?

21.
America called Panem.

And Panem called America.

They were in touch.

And Panem enjoyed his mountain, his heart happy with the high elevations, nestled safely and content.

But he was growing, and his people were moving and spreading ideas past the mountains.

Growing restless.

22.
America stared at his phone, a slim device, so easy to snap in his hands but not really. It was his connection of Panem. Panem, who he cared for.

Panem, who wasn't answering his calls.

America buried his face in hands and breathed. In. Out. In. Out. In. Out. In. Out. In.

His gut felt sick.

His people were divided.

Again.

In. Out. In. Out. In. Out. In. Out.

Divided again. He wasn't sure if he was going to survive this time. Not when Panem was also alive. And America couldn't kill Panem, America was a hero and heroes saved people, not kill.

America worried, just as he had for decades now, but he was sure that he could save the people. He wasn't going to let down his people.

Why wasn't Panem answering his calls?

23.
Years passed. Land was going underwater. Other countries were collapsing. The people were restless and more prone to violence. Panem tried shutting them out with fleeting entertainments. He didn't know how to deal with the stirring violence. Sure, America said he was clever, but he didn't feel clever when he had to deal with the growing number of people that were his.

His people.

They wanted more.

More violence, more land, more resources, more power.

24.
America threw the news tablet against the wall. It bounced off with a crack and thudded to the floor. He flopped into a chair, eyes closed and tired, breathing. In. Out. In. Out.

Fighting had started. Between his people and … and … Panem's. Panem's people.

Panem.

America was beginning to feel the first tendrils of frustration and fear.

Please, please, please, please don't let there be war.

25.
A war was coming. Panem was sure of it. Just like he had been sure long, long ago that he was going to be big.

And he was big now.

And he was clever.

He could take this on.

26.
There was fighting, all out fighting, war was declared, and Panem had never felt so worn before.

27.
In. Out. In. Out. In. Out. In. Out.

America opened his eyes and looked at an old picture sitting on his desk, so old now, decades old.

Panem smiled at him from the picture.

In. Out. In. Out.

A tear trailed down America's face.

28.
Panem was winning. Sort of. These few months he had been pushed back, but he could still do this.

See, he was clever, he could do this.

29.
Panem shot his gun with practiced efficiency, not wasting a single bullet.

His body had cuts and bruises and his muscles creaked with soreness he hadn't faced since that one time Prussia decided to train him how to do sports.

But his heart was still nestled safe in its nest in the mountains.

30.
Panem was winning, spreading across the continent, winning against America's people.

America.

They stood under a sooty grey sky, guns pointed at each other, equal height. This wasn't a toy gun fight anymore. This was sick, twisted parody of a scene years, decades, centuries ago.

I'm winning. You know that.

Yes.

Then stand down, surrender.

I can't.

What? Why?

I can't surrender.

Why not? It'll be easy. Besides, you've already lost! My men are taking over your capital! Can't you feel it?

Yes. I feel it. But I won't surrender.

Why not? America, it's easy, just surrender.

No.

America –

Panem, no. I won't surrender. A hero won't step down. A hero doesn't surrender.

Hero? Hero! America, this isn't a TV program. This is a war! There are no heros!

I know.

Then, step down. Surrender. Your time is up. It's mine now!

I won't surrender.

Then you leave me no choice.

Oh don't say that, that's so cliché. You've watched too much TV.

America.

31.
Panem stood in the ashes, head buried in bloody hands, gun by his foot and a dead man several feet away.

He won. He was clever. He won.

Then why, why did he feel so torn open? Why was he crying so much? Why did his body feel sick? Why did he scream and sob and why did tears run down his face and why did his shoulders shake with grief and why?

He won.

So why did it hurt so much.

32.
Panem stared at the mirror, blank eyes and messy hair. The dye had been washed out of his hair long ago. Now it was just plain brown.

He didn't even think about dyeing his hair again.

33.
Panem woke up, screaming, alone in his bed. Slowly, he calmed down his breath. Eyes blinked in the dark, lashes wet with tears.

America was haunting his dream again.

34.
Panem wanted to forget America. He didn't want the nightmares anymore. So he did, he forgot as much as he could. He removed everything that reminded him of America. That or he changed America's old things, changing them to be Panem's. For example, he kept America's eagle. America's proud eagle.

Well, not America's proud eagle anymore. Panem's proud eagle now.

35.
The government was a pounding headache of paperwork and debates and Panem groaned. He slumped back in his chair, two legs up, and groaned.

What a mess.

36.
While the government was a mess, it still worked. It still worked well enough.

But it was busy and Panem was stuck in his heart in the mountains, his Capitol. He didn't have time to visit his Districts anymore, didn't have time to walk through the land and see the faces of all his people.

At the end of the day though, it was still okay. Panem was busy in the Capitol because he was busy making sure his people would be happy.

They were happy.

They had to be happy.

They had to be happy after everything Panem went through to make sure they were happy.

They had to be happy.

Happy.

37.
The years passed. The nightmares stopped. The humans that once remembered a different land, a different country were growing old and dying with their age. Little humans dying like the little mortals they were.

38.
As much as Panem tried to forget America, he still remember the blond man.

Let your people be free, Panem, this memory of America tells him. Freedom is precious.

Okay, Panem says back.

Okay.

39.
Panem tries. And he's clever. And his people live. And he tries to give his people the best he can give, the most he can give as a nation.

He gives his people everything he's got.

He loves his people so much.

His heart sits warm and content.

40.
More decades pass. America is a ghost long ago forgotten. Panem was good at getting rid of America, getting rid of the memories, getting rid of the nightmares.

41.
Panem's older and big now. Truly big now. Panem still works with the government. Still worked to make his people happy.

See, Panem was going to be big someday.

42.
Something in Panem was aching. He couldn't figure out what it was. His heart was still fine, but something ached.

He read a news tablet and bit his lower lip.

He can't understand what is happening exactly.

There's trouble in the Districts but he can't understand why there would be trouble.

Weren't his people happy?

They were happy.

They were happy.

43.
Panem didn't touch the news tablet in a long time. He was fooling himself, he knew it. But his heart was happy and he didn't want to … didn't want to … didn't want the bad emotions, the disappointment, the restlessness. He had finally had peace and stillness and his heart was happy as it was. His heart.

44.
Something was gnawing at his bones. Hunger and strife and anger. Burning away in his gut and his bones.

His heart kept beating, happily. Satisfied. Posh. Rich. Dunked down into fashion and gossip and simple lives of gluttony.

Something was gnawing at Panem's bones.

45.
District thirteen, oh proud, proud, proud District thirteen erupted first. They screamed and threw weapons and stirred the other District into a boiling pot, threatening to overflow any second.

And the pot overflowed.

And the government, the Capitol, wasn't fast enough to turn down the flame in time.

Panem threw up and stayed in bed, gasping.

46.
The land was at war again. This time it was Panem against himself.

Panem was confused. He loved his people. He cared for them from this nest in the tall mountains. Why were they fighting? Why were they doing this? Why were they doing this to him? Why were they fighting?

Why?

Panem had to stop this.

47.
Panem stood tall before the holograms, enclosed in the white walls, and the leaders pulled their hair, trying to figure out what to do. The President turned to Panem and asked what to do. Panem, who had been silent so far, pushing down the pain, trying to keep his happy heart floating.

Panem smiled.

It's simple, Mr. President. We just have to be clever.

48.
Oh, they were clever. Panem's people were always clever.

They were clever with their weapons.

And among those weapons, were the mutations.

Panem visited some of the labs. He didn't know what to feel exactly when he left. But there was no doubt, Panem's people were clever.

Panem helped out the war in every way he could. His people was clever and he couldn't just stand aside while there was fighting.

50.
Panem had to stop this.

51.
There was more blood on Panem's hands now. He had even killed some of his own people. In battle.

This had to stop.

Panem had only wanted to make his people happy.

Why was this happening?

52.
Panem's heart was safe in the mountains.

Panem's heart was still happy.

Panem had never felt so sick before.

53.
The rebels were failing.

They had fought for a long time, several years, even with their disadvantages. Because they were Panem's people and Panem's people were clever.

In the end, the Capitol had more they could spend and an advantage.

The rebels were falling.

54.
The Hunger Games.

They were going to start next year.

Children.

Children going to fight.

Not that the concept was new, children had fought in the war that was just over.

The Hunger Games.

55.
Freedom is precious.

The people wanted their freedom and held it close.

But the war needed punishment. The people weren't supposed to rebel on the heart. So the freedom was taken away.

Panem threw up.

56.
Panem shook and swayed, standing, watching the processions, the flair of the trains pulling in. He was curious. Morbidly curious.

Twenty-four were chosen. Randomly. Chosen and then they were brought to the Capitol, the city largely untouched by the Rebellion. The city filled with posh hearts and sick gluttony.

Large televisions were set up.

Panem saw the Districts, still scarred by war. He had walked that ground once upon a time. Once upon a long, long time ago.

57.
Panem excused himself from the party of excited Capitol citizen and threw up.

58.
There were sick things and then there were sick things.

This.

This was sick.

People had started setting up betting pools a few days into the Game. The Game.

The Game was simple, take twenty-four people – no children – train them for four days, then throw them to the arena to fight on TV. Twenty-four confused and terrified children, who didn't understand. Didn't understand that twenty-three of them were truly going to die. Then one child snapped. And people were betting on who would win. The Capitol people in their bars and pubs and offices and schools were betting on who would win. They didn't realize what was going on. That this was real. That the death was real, not some scripted death like in their other TV action shows.

Or maybe they did know it was real.

Panem took his green glass of alcohol and knocked it back quickly.

This.

This was sick.

59.
The Games came every year. Like clockwork. Simple games, take children and throw them into the arena.

Then.

Well.

It was TV.

Someone saw what could be milked from the Games.

So Sponsors were introduced into the bloody cocktail.

Panem downed another techno colored glass.

60.
The year after the Sponsors were introduced, people in the Capitol started submitting suggestions.

Why don't we see the tributes before the Games begin.

Why don't we let them also enjoy the beautiful Capitol life. They'll love it.

Let's make them pretty.

Let's make them desirable.

Let's make them compelling.

Let's make them characters in our show.

Let's make them all dressed up.

Let's make them celebrities, interview them.

Let's make them objects to bet on in the pubs and the gambling halls.

Let's make the Games more graphic.

Let's make it so that the older age groups had a higher odd of being chosen, they could fight better.

Yes, let's.

The rates went up.

People made money.

The public loved it.

Panem threw up.

61.
Sports were good for the growing body.

Originally the Districts cried in rage and helplessness, unable to cling onto their children as they went and became show pieces and temporary celebrities for the Capitol.

Then the years kept going on. Time didn't stop. The people grew with the Hunger Games.

Well, if the Capitol was going to spice things up, make a show out of us, then let's give them a show. The wealthy Districts started creating the Careers.

It was illegal. Yeah. But the Careers, when they finally showed up in the Games were so desirable. They gladly provided the gore and the bloodlust and killing the Capitol lapped up greedily. The Sponsors loved them. The public loved them.

Sports were good for the growing body.

62.
Panem blinked at the news tablet. This year was going to be the twenty-fifth Hunger Games.

He sucked in a breath. In. Out. In. Out. In. Out.

The President promised the Capitol, Panem's sick, twisted, dark, happy heart, a good show. Something special this year, to mark the occasion.

Panem's people were clever, they could think of something.

63.
The Cornucopia. The Horn of Plenty.

Oh, what irony.

America's ghost flickered in Panem's mind and Panem calmly downed the last bits of alcohol in his glass.

64.
Tributes came. Tributes died. Victors left. Victors changed. Victors woke up from nightmares, panting or screaming.

Panem buried his head in his hands, his body a mess of emotions and people.

65.
Years past. Tributes died. The Capitol kept festering in its sickness.

66.
Fashion was a weird thing. When in the Games, the fashion designers had to be careful with what they did when they dressed up the tributes. The public could love the dresses and the suits as much as they wanted to, but the President and Panem were still watching the reactions tucked in the hearts of all the people.

Hope was a phoenix, revived and then crushed year after year. A reminder of the control the Capitol had on the Districts.

But this year, hope was different.

Hope was a burning Mockingjay.

67.
Panem's people were rising again. He could feel the anger burning under his skin once more.

The Victors were brought back to the Capitol.

The sick, sick, sick Capitol.

68.
Hello War. It seems we meet again.

Panem laughed and drank his alcohol.

Another Rebellion.

Panem had been sick of the Capitol, his heart, for years. He just needed an excuse to leave.

Well here was his excuse.

Time for a road trip, whatever that term meant.

69.
Panem hadn't walked this land in decades. Yet he still was able to navigate the land with steadfast assurance.

Time to visit proud, proud, proud District thirteen.

Panem easily dealt with any obstacles in his way. He could heal quickly even with the turmoil and knew how to use any Peacekeeper's weapons against themselves.

He kept walking, away from the high, sheltered, sick nest of the Capitol and over the soil and straight to proud, proud, proud District thirteen.

What a problem child.

70.
District thirteen didn't trust him. He didn't need them to trust him. Panem had his plans and he was clever. He could work even without Districts thirteen's full trust.

71.
They kept fighting. Fighting for people, fighting for life, fighting, fighting, fighting.

72.
So maybe District thirteen had an unfair advantage with Panem. Maybe. A little. Sort of.

Panem lead them back to the sick nest in the high mountains and the rebels claimed the Capitol.

73.
Panem laughed in Snow's face.

74.
Panem stood under the clear blue skies, gazing over the green treetops, standing on the cold summit of the mountain.

Staring and taking the scene in.

Breathing.

In. Out. In. Out. In. Out. In. Out.

75.
America's ghost still haunted Panem.

Let your people be free, Panem, America tells him. Freedom is precious.

Okay, Panem says back.

Okay.

76.
Panem tries again.

Panem was big now. He can do this.

Panem was big, be assured, don't let what the ghosts say get to you.


This took a surprisingly long time to write.

~dorandsugar