Ivan gazed absentmindedly at the wood of the table, polished to a pristine quality, as was commonplace in Arthur's old palace. He could see his reflection, his own violet eyes staring almost eerily back through the glazed brown surface. They were void of feeling.
Of course, the entire U.N had made an enormous fuss over Alfred's injuries, mostly due to shock. It was a truly rare thing when Alfred Jones entered a meeting covered in bandages and bruises, after all. This particular meeting had accomplished absolutely nothing, as Arthur was too busy grilling his younger brother as to the circumstances of his wounds with a chorus of Francis, Yao, Toris, and a very quiet Matthew, while Kiku dazedly examined the American for himself, eventually producing several antibiotics and pain medications from seemingly oblivion. The others, including Ludwig and Roderich, discussed quietly amongst themselves, eyeing Alfred's body and trying to deduce what manner of weapon had broken it. This lasted for all seven scheduled hours of the gathering, and when the clock finally chimed in at eight-thirty in the evening, they'd reluctantly stood to leave.
Now, the room was empty save for himself, Alfred, Arthur, and Kiku, both of the latter offering profusely to accompany Alfred home and spend the night, Arthur more forcibly so; Alfred's trademark, his cheerful grin, never left his face as he denied them both, insisting he was alright.
Of course he was alright. Alfred had sustained those injuries two weeks ago, he just wasn't supposed to remove the wrappings for another week. Ivan would know that, since he'd been there only moments after the attack occurred.
Finally, Kiku stood to leave, wishing Alfred a safe trip and reminding him to call if anything was needed. Arthur followed shortly afterward, reprimanding the American for being so stubborn and telling him not to die on his way home. Now the large banquet room was empty of anyone except Alfred and himself, exactly as he wanted.
Alfred spoke first.
"You never told me, you know."
Ivan lifted his gaze from the table, meeting the burning blue of the younger man's eyes. He'd always loved Alfred's eyes, as they unsettled him more than anything else.
"Told you what, da?"
He tried to act cheerfully oblivious, as always, but even before he spoke he knew Alfred would have none of it. His expression was too serious, too out of the norm. It was becoming more unsettling than his eyes.
"Why you rescued me, when you found me after this
" he gestured to the bandage around his forehead, "
happened. I was bloody and half-conscious. I couldn't move; I was completely helpless. Isn't it your trademark to overpower countries in that state and make them a part of you?"
"That it is."
He answered slowly, his eyes narrowing and his small smile growing sinister.
"So why did you save my life and let me go? You would've enslaved anyone else."
"Indeed, you're right. Considering both my record and my temperament, I really should have made you join with me. It seems that I went against my own soul, doesn't it?"
"Hell yes it does!"
At this, Ivan stood and walked briskly toward the American, backing him up against the wall. He placed his hand on the wall near the side of Alfred's head and leaned on it, dipping his face closer toward Alfred's. He chuckled quietly as Alfred flinched; easily from feeling the Russian's cool breathe on his skin.
"Do you truly wish to know why I saved you, da? You think you can handle my reasoning? Well, here it is
He leaned almost impossibly close, positioning his lips just millimeters from the American's ear, their skin brushing against it as they moved.
"I've been waiting far too long for someone like you."
He heard Alfred's breath hitch in his throat, and pulled away slightly to see his face. It was shocked and puzzled-looking; a typical response he had been expecting.
"You became strong quickly, a large nation that became independent through violence and continued to live in violence. You always try to be kind and helpful to others, but you cause great pain and destruction for almost everyone you ally yourself with or fight against. You probably don't notice it, but you intimidate many of the men and women who met in this room today
exactly like I do."
Alfred paled at these last words and attempted to stutter something out, but a gloved finger to his lips silenced him.
"It is cruel to say this," Ivan continued, "but I do truly wish for you to break, just like I did. To break in here," he poked Alfred's forehead with the silencing finger, "and snap the boundary to delirium, exactly like me all those centuries ago. So you must understand that I couldn't possibly let you die so soon."
Alfred's face was no longer scared; he looked accusatory, his breathing becoming ragged in his attempt to calm himself and look strong. Still, not a word left his lips.
"Someday, I hope it happens, so we can stand as true equals in a place all alone, and perhaps
" he leaned forward, matching their lips in a mirrorlike stance, "
something miraculous will happen."
He leaned another centimeter closer and closed his eyes.
"WHAT IN GOD'S NAME
He heard a shout to the right of him, and Alfred pushed him away roughly, sending him backing into the table. Arthur stood in the doorway; face beat red and fuming furiously. He marched over to the two and stood protectively in front of the American, who seemed to be in a daze.
"For bloody's sake, Ivan!" he shouted, "I always knew you to take advantage of the weak, but to go after a man who's practically your equal?! That's pushing it, you bastard!"
"Practically my equal, but not yet," he replied under his breath, straightening himself. Utterly calm, he walked toward the exit, feeling eyes on him; a befuddled blue pair and an infuriated green pair, to be exact.
"Please be safe on your way home, da!" he called back to Alfred, slipping back into his childish personality, "and don't forget what I told you!"
And he was gone.
"That sick old
ugh! Well, I'm not letting you take yourself home. Let's go, Alfred."
Arthur tugged his ally's jacket sleeve and began to walk out the doors. Alfred followed, his mind trapped in a haze, hearing echoes of Ivan's words.
so we can stand as true equals in a place all alone
something miraculous will happen
He felt the heat rush to his face, and he hurried forward so that he was in front of Arthur and half-ran from the meeting hall.