As normal as these meetings could ever go, it was, by all means thankfully, quieter than usual. This change was brought on by a certain bubbly Italian's disappearance halfway through the conference. While some of the others were looking for the missing country, the meeting had to keep going; all meetings earlier in the month had stopped hours before they were suppose to, so Germany tried to make this one count.
Strangely, it was during Japan's speech (where Italy was normally attentive out of respect for his long-time friend) that the Italian shot up and out. Japan kept going on, ignoring the dropped jaws and loud bang of the door when it closed. Truly, it was not even close to the weirdest thing his old ally had ever done. Still, Romano refused to let the matter drop, as did Hungary, Switzerland, and England to name a few. Germany, while in the same mindset, just groaned before waving to Japan; hoping to at least hear what the man had to say.
So on went the meeting, some countries going out to help find North Italy while some countries came back tired and exasperated. Romano did not return once and yet still interrupted the meeting with frequent calls to Spain, wondering if his brother came back yet. They were always quick as Romano would end the call once "no" crawled out of Spain's mouth.
While during the commotion, as odd as could be, the meeting went smoothly. People went up and presented, sat back down after questions, and another one went up. If they were out, Germany shifted the papers until he came across one who was still in the room until the absent country came back, and then they were to present.
An hour passed, then two, then three; until almost all hope in finding the missing North Italy was gone.
When the clock struck 9 o'clock, Germany finally let the others go. With most tired from hearing every presentation or by a fruitless effort of searching, they weren't too quick to move. Most, like Austria, used their chair for leverage to stand. A few, like America, jumped up, only to stretch and pop a few bones into place or roll the knots out of their necks. Some of the more attentive countries made sure to organize their papers, such as Japan was doing when the main doors banged open for the last time.
In ran Italy, who was dirty from head to toe; sweating something fierce, as if he actually ran the laps Germany set for him. Behind him was a screeching Romano, determined to put the fear of God into his brother for making him worry (though, of course, he would never put it like that).
However, it seemed like Space Cadet Veneziano was on Earth for once. He searched the crowd of dumb-struck countries until he zoned in on one: Japan.
Rushing towards the Asian man, many sharper eyed nations (Netherlands and Turkey in this case) noticed a bundle of something in his arms. He clutched the yellow bundle tightly, as if his life depended on getting them... somewhere.
Apparently, that somewhere was more of a someone.
Coming to a jolting halt right before Japan, Italy panted, "Ah, Japan! Thank goodness you're still here, I wanted to give these to you!" Thrusting the yellow bundle to the shorter man, Italy grinned brightly. "I never knew you were named after your Royal Family seal!"
Japan, a confused look hidden in the tilt of his eyebrows, inclined his head upwards. Brown eyes moved swiftly from Italy to the, now confirmed, flowers in his grip. Clearing his throat, Japan calmly turned to finish packing his papers back in their case, giving himself some much needed stalling time. Every nation stared at him, making him uncomfortable under their curious eyes; he would need to defuse the situation at hand quickly.
One hand on the case that sat atop the table, Japan read Italy's eagerness and sighed. Turning back to the Italian, Japan inquired, "What do you mean, Italy-kun?"
While, yes, the former Axis did know each others names, they were sparingly used. Italy used them in expressing his love, Germany used the names when he was proud, and Japan... just didn't use them. Improper, he would tell them. That he had more respect for them when referring to their country rather than themselves. Never were they used in a public setting; such a thing would be maddening.
Italy never saw it that way.
With a beam, all teeth, Italy chirped, "When you were presenting, I saw that your Royal seal was the same as your name, Kiku - I just had to go and pick some for you!" He thrusted the bundle of bright yellow chrysanthemum to his friend again; the delicate petals inclosed on themselves softly, as they did.
In a normal setting, Japan would have reached out to the flowers, graciously thanking his friend for the observant notice all the while, and carried them while he walked out the door. That is what the other countries thought what was going to happen and if they were any other flowers, they would have been right.
Japan, proclaimed now as Kiku, stilled. Emotion robbed his breath as he struggled for air, his eyes blown wide in shock. Wave of toiling thoughts jolted Japan from his calm exterior and a tremble to his lips betrayed him. Confused, Italy returned the sacred flowers to his chest, head tilted in concern. Other countries leaned in, whispering among themselves at Japan's reaction to such a nice gesture; if they were in his position, they would have been happy to receive them.
The only country whom was not in question was China; he knew. Surrounding nations could see it in the tense line of his shoulders, the A form of his legs, as if he were bracing himself. The old country looked like he was ready to face a war and his eyes were trained on his destruction - Japan.
Japan could feel the stare as if it were weighted with all the things they've seen; as if all his history was measured and placed upon Japan's spine. He would not dare look back. Japan swallowed harshly as the nape of his heck beaded with sweat, pure physical forms of his stress wetting the tops of his collar. Gulping down a breath of air, he steeled himself against the onslaught of memories and bowed.
Stepping backwards - Bright eyes opening for the first time - bowing low in thanks - the bright petals surrounding him - murmuring a soft gratitude - reaching out and petting the sloping flowers - slowly rising back into a straight position - plucking one of the many flowers from the great field - his face falling into calm happiness - taking the flower with him as he made his way through a forest of green - reaching towards the bouquet - hearing a rustle behind him - the chrysanthemum now cradled in his grip - a soft gasp of surprise when he turned...
Japan wondered who the person before him was for a fleeting second. The pretty man, China or Yao, introduced himself and he did the same. China asked him if he had a name, one like his people, and the little nation shook his head; no, he did not. Kneeling down before the new country, China noticed a bright flare tucked into Japan's pocket. Japan noticed his stare and plucked it from where he had kept it on his journey through the bamboo, holding it out to the elder.
China chuckled before he reached out and tucked the bloom behind his new ward's ear. "I see you've found the chrysanthemum. You know," he leaned in to whisper, "your people have a special name for that flower."
Wide-eyed, Japan gazed up at China, the question plain to see. China pursed his lips in deep thought before nodding, "Yes. Since you seem to love it as much as your people do, that would make a great name for you. Kiku." China reached out to hold the newly christened Kiku. "I think it fits, don't you?"Determined not to let the memory get to him, Japan nearly crushed the flowers in his hand before picking up his case and mumbling a jumbled excuse peppered with apologizes. As he made his way out the door, delicate in making sure he did not cross the line of walking and running, Japan made sure to keep his back to the Chinese man he knew was watching his departure.
Too many wars and too much bloodshed stood in between them for Japan to ever feel comfortable around his namesake again; even though it was stamped on all his official documents, Japan simply called it "chrysanthemum". For the most part, many were ignorant to the Japanese name of the flower.
He wished he was ignorant also. That Kiku did not mean chrysanthemum and that it did not remind him of China, somewhere in the back of his mind, every time.
No, it was simply a flower. That is all it ever could be, that is all Kiku ever could be.