16: Little Bird

England watched as paper, pens, pencils, make-up, a desk light, a photo of Russia, a flower in a delicate, pink glass vase and a book tumbled to the floor, snapping, breaking and smashing as they made impact. He retracted the ladder, but he knew it was too late.

“What was that?” Belarus said from the wardrobe.

“It was nothing but the wind,” Russia said edgily.

“That was more than the-”

“Wait!” Russia cried. “Belarus! Do you hear that?”

“You’re scaring me, Russia,” Belarus said. “Get out of the way and let me see what’s happening.”

England dived under her bed just as she stormed out of the wardrobe. He heard her shriek in dismay and saw her fall to her knees and lift the photo of Russia. He saw Russia’s boots as he joined his sister as she lamented over her precious brother’s portrait photo.

“Oh, dear,” Russia sighed. “Maybe it was the wind…”

He crouched and started brushing up the vase into a pile with his hands. That was when he made eye contact with England. His eyes widened in horror and he glanced towards a sobbing Belarus who was slamming the window shut.

“Never mind about the photo frame,” Russia said anxiously. “We can just get you a new one.”

“And the vase, Russia?” she sniffed.

“We can also get a new one,” he said. “Or one of the Baltics can hand-craft one for you, da? It’s not the end of the world, that’s what I'm-”

England watched him gag as she grabbed the collar of his coat in a balled fist. She reached round and unclasped his coat, throwing it to the side. Russia frowned, turning his head to where she cast his coat.

“What are you-”

Belarus grabbed his scarf and tried wrenching that away.

“No,” he protested, clinging to the garment. “I’m fine-”

“This is why you’re so hot, Russia,” she growled. “If you hadn’t opened the window, then my precious photo of you would be intact.”

“This is a paradox,” Russia choked, persisting with the scarf. “You hate on me for breaking the photo of me you love?”

“That’s what love is, big brother,” she murmured.

Do I really want to see this? England wondered, and glanced towards the closed the door sheepishly.

Russia tugged his scarf out of his sister’s hands and held it protectively around his face and neck.

“Belarus, I’m sorry, but please calm down,” he begged.

She walked round and crouched before him, dark eyes intense.

Russia looks just about ready to piss himself, England thought, and his sympathy towards Belarus started to ebb away.

“Do you know what night it is, big brother?” she reached out and held his face in her hands.

“No, but I really hope that bird survives despite my efforts,” Russia muttered, and started crawling away from his sister, moving backwards.

A grin spread across her face and followed him, crawling forwards on her hands and knees. England glanced towards the door again, and wondered whether he could get away, knowing that Russia’s comment was meant more for him than Belarus.

“It’s Halloween, big brother,” Belarus said, and England saw her leaning over Russia, who had hit the wall and looked horrified. “It’s the night when the spirits are the most unsettled. My spirit is restless, big brother Russia, and I need you to calm it.”

Russia met England’s eye briefly, and England knew it was now or never, whilst she was so distracted. Carefully, he angled himself to get out of the bed safely and silently. He met Russia’s gaze again and offered an encouraging smile.

“Big brother, you keep looking towards my bed,” she whispered. “I realise now. You’re too shy to say you want me. It seems the Westerners are long gone and Ukraine isn’t here. That’s what this is, isn’t it? You want my attention.”

Russia shook his head, turning his head away from his sister, looking on the verge of tears. England, who was out from under the bed and had the ladder in his arms, knew he couldn’t leave Russia like this.

“I’m not shy, big brother,” Belarus was saying as England approached the shelf where she kept her Russia photo album. “I really want this. I don’t care how you treat me tonight. You can finally look upon me as the one you want without hesitation.”

England reached up and pulled the photo album down, balancing the ladder on his back, which he’d quickly tied to his bungee cord suit. He could feel Russia’s questioning gaze on his back.

“I want you to touch me, big brother,” Belarus murmured to an uncomfortable Russia. “I want you to kiss me; I want you to make me-”

“Hey,” England said feebly and swallowed when she turned in horror to look at him.

“What are you doing in here?” she hissed. “I thought you were gone.”

“Same,” Russia said meekly, but there was gratitude written across his face.

“As Russia’s... friend, I can’t sit here and watch you… defile him,” England said awkwardly. “Therefore, I am going to burn all these-” he opened the book and flicked through. “-horribly suggestive photos of your brother.”

“There’s no fire nearby, English bastard,” Belarus faced him aggressively as Russia cowered in the corner. “How are you going to burn it?”

England snorted. “Every good spy makes sure they have the smallest items with them to get them out of any unpredicted scrape.”

He pulled a lighter from his pocket and held it before her, feeling the heat of the flame. He lingered it close to the photo album. With sudden speed, Belarus pulled a knife from the folds of her dress and hurled it at him. England jumped aside, flicking the lighter off, and watched the knife pin into the wall where he’d stood. When he turned, he saw a furious Belarus with a crowbar heading straight towards him. He leapt aside again and watched her splinter the bedroom door from the force.

England ran across the room just as Russia was getting to his feet and pulling on his coat. He swung out on the rope.

“Russia, hold on!” he yelled, offering more rope and Russia methodically slipped through the window whilst Belarus struggled with the crowbar behind them.

“I can’t,” he said with a smile. “I’m too heavy, England. I’ll just pull you down. We’ll meet at my study, if you can.”

England watched in horror as Russia pushed off from the window ledge and fell down in the snow below. He watched him struggle to his feet and offer the thumbs up from down below.

“I’ll see you there!” Russia waved cheerfully and started clasping his coat back.

“You bastard!”

England turned his head to see Belarus glaring at him from her window. The crowbar was held in one hand and her other was on the window ledge. Russia’s face fell, and England started levering himself along the rope that held him between the two rooms. The fall looked too horrible to take, and England was certain only Russia could survive something so extreme.

He glanced over his shoulder to see Belarus had returned to the window, sawing at the rope that held him in place with her knife. Frantically, he started pulling himself along.

“England, let yourself fall!” Russia called from below.

“You’re no better!” Belarus screamed. “With your English slut!”

“What?” they both glanced at her, but there was no discussing anything with her. The rope was almost giving way.

“Unbuckle yourself,” Russia glanced back upwards, and took a couple of steps forward. “I’ll catch you.”

“I-I can’t,” England grimaced. “I don’t… I don’t really want to.”

“I wonder how hard your head will impact with the building when I get this rope gone,” Belarus laughed menacingly. “I wonder if you’ll die instantly or bleed out of your head for the rest of the night…”

“England, I’ll catch you,” Russia insisted. “I’m your friend. You even said so yourself.”

England looked down at the Russian, his scarf flapping in the wind and coat billowing. His hair was sort of blowing in his face, but his eyes were sincere, and although he’d always thought he was a complete and utter psychopath, as well as evil incarnated with enough demon within him to break Busby’s chair just by sitting on it, Belarus was worse. He glanced over to see the thick rope almost completely sawed through from her dagger, and her wild eyes trained on him.

Usually, he would never do anything so risky. He would leave that to America. He would leave that to anyone else so long as it wasn’t him.

Breathing in deeply, England untied his bungee suit from the rope holding him in place and let gravity take control. His stomach lifted inside of him as he dropped down. There was a loud protest from Belarus as he fell.

“Oh, wait a second…” he heard Russia say from below as he fell.

England fell on Russia. Russia’s knees buckled and they collapsed in the snow.

“I thought you said you’d bloody catch me!” England hissed.

“That’s what I said,” Russia groaned. “I forgot you had the ladder. When combined, you’re not as light as I’d thought you’d be…”

“You bastard!” Belarus screamed and lobbed the knife at him.

England rolled to the side, screaming as he did so, and lay on his back in the snow. Belarus’s face was a mask of horror. England glanced and saw an ashen expression on Russia’s face as the knife stuck out of his leg.

“I… honestly don’t know what to say,” England winced. “I… suppose… this is meant to be a comedy?”

“No, England,” Russia planted a hand on his head and used him to pull himself to his feet.

England rubbed his head and neck from the force Russia had pushed down on him, but also stood. He glanced over his shoulder and was glad to see that the ladder was OK.

He heard a sickening noise as Russia yanked the dagger from his thigh and chucked it into the snow.

“Big brother, I'm sorry!” Belarus gaped from above. “I-I meant to hit him instead! I'm sorry!”

“No, Belarus,” Russia said with gritted teeth as he started walking, tugging England along with him. “I'm sorry. I'm sorry I ever decided to throw this party in the first place.”

“This is all your fault!” Belarus yelled at England. “If you weren't such a bastard, I wouldn't have thrown the knife.”

England chose not to reply to that, and hurried after Russia, who was moving awkwardly and stiffly. Belarus shrieked in frustration from behind, but there were no noises to indicate she was coming down. England walked beside Russia, amazed he hadn't collapsed at this stage.

Blood was staining his trouser leg from where the knife went in, but he continued to stride along.

“Won’t she wait for us at the front door?” England asked fearfully, deciding he never wanted to encounter Belarus ever again.

“That’s where we’re one step ahead,” Russia muttered. “I left my study window unlocked and slightly open. We’ll get in through there.”

England had never seen him do that, but after being told the crazy plan, he had been preoccupied with many other thoughts and observations.

“Is your leg OK?” he asked awkwardly.

“Of course not.”

“Oh, yeah,” England glanced at Russia, who had a clear limp at this stage. “Thanks for… taking a knife as well as potential sexual harassment for me.”

“No problem,” Russia seemed a little calmer at this stage.

England nodded just as they reached a window that was slightly open. Russia opened it wider. England detached the ladder from his back as Russia climbed in through. They passed the ladder between one another, and then England hauled himself through the window. Russia closed it behind him and they both sat down in the study, which was freezing with some snow blown inside.

“Where’s that photo album?” Russia asked after a pause.

“The photo album?” England frowned. “Oh, right, that. You know, I think I dropped it when she came at me with the crowbar. I think I dropped my lighter as well.”

“Shame,” he sighed. “I wanted to burn it.”

England glanced at him with a frown.

“I didn't realise she took photos of me without me realising,” Russia worried. “I always try to forget she’s completely obsessive.”

“Russia, we need to do something about your leg,” England sighed.

Russia frowned. “I’ll be fine.”

“No, you won’t,” England turned to him. “You’re still bleeding from the leg shot, your arm is broken, and that knife wound is bleeding a lot. Use your scarf or something to slow the blood flow.”

“I can’t use this,” Russia tightened the scarf around his neck. “But I do know where some bandaging would be.”

“Well, we need it before you pass out from blood loss,” England said, strapping the ladder to his back again. “Where is it?”

“The east wing bathroom.”

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