Chapter 13: Uccidere
The nations were treated to a montage of Feliciano returning to the United States and tracking the men from the organization. One by one, he picked them off, each time, checking off a name on a list in his little black notebook.
“Mind giving us some context? I thought you were going home to get help from your brother?” France asked, worried for the little Italian.
“Er… I tried going home, but I ended up chickening out. I couldn’t face Fratello for more than a few minutes.” Italy looked down at his shoes. “It was too hard. Every time I looked in his eyes, I saw my own mistakes thrown in my face.”
“Veneziano…” Romano looked at his twin with a heavy gaze.
“I lied and said I was going to say at Germany’s place, only to head back to America. I spent months on the streets of New York City tracking the movements of the group and how many members there were.”
“You lived on the streets of New York? Dude, you mean you stayed in a hotel, right?” America hoped he’d just misinterpreted that.
“No. I learned pretty quickly that this group had connections. They were tracking me, so I had to hack a few systems and lay out a fake trail that showed myself in Germany. That meant laying as low as humanly possible. I couldn’t risk anything—not even word-of-mouth. So I lived on the streets.”
“Not like it’d be the first time.” Romano sighed. “Though I wish you’d have told me, you fucking ass. I would’ve helped, even without you explaining shit.”
“Let’s see if this works.” Feliciano took a deep breath as he sat beneath a bridge, out of sight of any pedestrians. He said a few words in that strange, rolling tongue, and England quickly whacked Italy upside the head.
“You twat! Are you messing around with time?!”
“Not exactly. I wanted to see if I could retake my older form. Sort of, gain back my own time.” Italy explained sheepishly, as his memory-self grew a little taller. His hair grew longer, stopping at the small of his back, and silver-grey streaks formed in the auburn locks. His golden eyes became framed with light wrinkles, and his skin gained a bit of a darker tone, like he’d spent far too long in the harsher rays of the sun. His chin formed thick stubble that was bordering a short beard that was also speckled with grey.
In all, he looked just as he had before going back in time. “Perfecto.” He smiled at his own reflection in a broken mirror.
“But… why?” Romano tilted his head, concerned.
“Two reasons, fratello.” Italy explained. “One, this organization knew what I looked like, and I couldn’t risk them connecting my face to yours—beyond that, I’d only managed to pick off their helpers at that point. I had only managed to kill one member of their Inner Circle, of which there were five people. And the last guy sent a photo of me to the others before he died.”
“So it’d be easier to kill them if they didn’t know what you looked like.” China nodded along as he listened.
“Und the other reason?” Prussia pressed, curious.
“So we wouldn’t recognize you.” Germany was the one who spoke up. “I’m right, aren’t I?”
“Si… I didn’t want any of you involved. Canada showed me just how terrible I’d become at human interaction over the millennia, and I couldn’t risk the mission. I had to disappear.” Italy sighed. “I’m sorry.”
“Wait… but I thought your brother said you were just busy with work?” Germany tilted his head.
“I covered for him, the idiota.” Romano shook his head. “We’ve had to vanish before, but usually we let the other know at least some of what’s going on. When I realized he wanted to disappear, I covered his damn ass because I’m a good brother.”
“Si. You’re the best fratello~” Italy smiled at Romano, who flushed and looked away.
“What about me, Feli-nii?” Japan tilted his head. “Aren’t I a good brother, too?”
Italy laughed, ruffling Japan’s hair, causing the Asian nation to startle. “Si, si. You’re both the best brothers.”
“You are not looking good.” Russia pointed towards Feliciano, who was rather pale as he sat back against the underside of the bridge.
“Were you hurt, aru?”
“Fucking assholes. Goddamned guns.” Feliciano cursed under his breath as he lifted his shirt to show a bandaged torso, which was bleeding red at the side.
“W-wait. That isn’t where I elbowed you, is it?” Canada paled a little.
“What? No, that was months ago. I got shot and stabbed on the same side about a week before this memory.” Italy explained.
“A week? Sh-shouldn’t it have healed by now?” America looked distinctly worried.
“If I were a nation at this time, then yes.” Italy answered simply.
“Hold up, if you were a nation?!” Canada shared a horrified look with his brother.
“Technically, I’m not allowed to fully join the past until I can prevent the future I came from.” Italy sighed. “So I can’t connect to my people and nation until every one of those cult members are dead.”
“So you were mortal until you killed them all?” England pinched the bridge of his nose. For once, he was glad that he hadn’t jumped back in the same manner as his friend.
“Woah, no. Hold up one fucking minute.” Romano put a firm hand on his twin’s shoulder and forced him to look him in the eye. “Are you still mortal?”
“I mean, not technically, but I haven’t exactly been keen to test it. I’ve only recently begun to hear whispers of my people again, but my healing factor is mostly back, so I think I’m immortal again? But I’d rather wait until the connection comes back completely.”
There was silence among the nations. “You mean you could still potentially die, die? Like, for real?” America echoed.
“Yes?” Italy answered it like a question.
“Okay, so that’s two down, and three to go.” Feliciano cut through their conversation. Apparently, while they’d been talking, the memory had decided to continue.
Feliciano stood above the body of a man with the Cursed Tattoo on his upper arm. From the looks of it, the Italian had tortured the man first. A moment later, the body disintegrated until nothing but a pile of ash remained. Even the bones were gone.
“I’ll never get used to this bullshit.” Feliciano shook his head. “Jarvis.”
“I need to know where the other three are… and hack the security systems in this country, too. Keep an eye out for the remaining targets, but don’t let the government find or trace you.”
“Of course, sir. And might I suggest you get a good meal in you? May I remind you that you are mortal, sir, and require food to survive. You haven’t eaten in a week, and that injury is only going to get worse the longer you deprive your body of nutrients.”
“Ancients, you sound like my mother.” Feliciano sighed, shaking his head, even as his hand went to grip his side tenderly. He peeked under the bandages to show a badly healing and rather infected stab wound. “Fine. You win, I’ll go steal some food or some shit.”
Feliciano made his way through the back alleyways of New York City, strolling through the filthy grimy shadow of the underworld like it was a stroll through the park. Perhaps the most unnerving thing for the nations was the fact that the shady characters in the crevices of this domain watched Feli with a wary eye, and stayed their blades.
They didn’t attack. They were almost afraid of the older man. Like they knew he’d show them no mercy if they were stupid enough to stand in his way.
Feli went right into a grubby looking bar, and sat down on the stool. “Jerry, it’s been a while.”
“Ah, Rogue. I haven’t seen you in here for a bit.”
“Rogue?” Romano asked, raising an eyebrow. “Like that X-Men character from Alfred’s comics?”
“I couldn’t very well go by my name. They knew that. And as far as anyone knew, Feliciano Vargas was in Germany, about to take a plane to Japan.” Italy shrugged. “Plus, I didn’t want to paint myself as Italian, here. Hence the Japanese accent I’m using.”
“Japanese… Tch. You’re just speaking in the same dialect we used in the future.” Japan pointed out. “Yes, it’s technically Japanese, but in this time, it sounds too strange to really pin down to any one nation.”
“Which is why it’s perfect! Nobody would be able to tell where I’m from, or when I’m from.” Italy grinned.
“You’re unbelievable.” England shook his head fondly.
“More information?” Jerry asked, setting down the glass he’d finished drying.
“No, actually, I’m here for food, this time.” Feli rubbed the back of his head sheepishly. “My friend finally convinced me to put something in my body.”
“I’m surprised you actually have friends, Rogue.” A woman with long wavy black hair said as she took a seat beside Feli. She had dark red eyes and beautifully tanned skin. She wore a knee-length black dress that showed off her assets nicely. It was just long enough to hide the pistols Feliciano knew she kept strapped to her upper thighs.
“Ah, Desiree, I haven’t seen you for a few weeks. Where’ve you been?” Feli ordered a couple of drinks and slid one to her.
“Oh, I’ve been around. A model here, a politician there, you know how the business is.” She smirked, accepting the drink.
Jerry set down a plate of food for them both, and raised an irritated eyebrow at Feli. “Your tab, again?”
“I swear I’ll pay it.”
“That’s what everyone says.” Jerry sighed. “You swear you’ll pay by March, so if you don’t, then I’ll freeze your tab.”
“Yeah, yeah.” Feli waved him off. “Thanks for the food.”
“Business?” Germany tilted his head.
“You were a mercenary?” America gawked, finally recognizing the place.
“Yep. It was the best way to get the information I wanted, and kill people without having to explain myself too much. Plus, it gave me connections that helped me keep a low profile.”
“So you weren’t sleeping under bridges anymore?” Romano asked hopefully.
“Not usually.” Italy shrugged. “I didn’t go back to Jerry’s place often, though.”
“You need a room for the night?” Jerry asked.
“And some medical supplies if you can spare ‘em.” Feli winced, and Desiree looked at him with narrowed eyes.
“I swear you’ll get yourself killed one of these days. For someone who’s so damn informed, you’re too reckless.” She scoffed.
“Unless you’re going to help me, shut the fuck up.” Feli glared.
“Well, since you’ve so kindly given me the invitation, I think I will. Damn old man.”
“Respect your fucking elders.” Feli barked out, angrily stabbing his steak with his fork.
“Maybe when they’ve earned my respect.”
“I’ve got many times more kills than you, child, so watch it.”
“Tch. Throwing around your goddamned kill count.”
“Just because you’re jealous.” Feli teased, a smirk gracing his features.
“You know, if you were just a decade or so younger, I might actually find you handsome.” She mused.
“Sorry, sweetie, but as beautiful as you are, my heart belongs to someone already.”
“Shame.” Desiree shrugged and finished her drink.
“Hey, Rogue~! You’re still kickin!” A younger man grinned, wrapping an arm around the disgruntled Italian.
He was on the shorter side, probably around five foot six or so, with short spiky blond hair and bright shining green eyes. He wore a suit and bowtie, which was lightly splattered with blood.
“Oh, so you’re here.” Feli deadpanned.
“Come on, is that any way to speak to your friend?” The man ruffled Feli’s hair, causing said brunette to shoo his hand away with no small amount of irritation.
“We’re not friends.” Feli corrected. “We’re coworkers.”
“Yeah, well this grouchy old man is going to shove a 22 up your—”
“All right, boys, that’s enough.” Desiree interrupted. “Rogue is hurt, so we’re going to treat the injury that he’s likely let alone for too long upstairs. If you’re coming, Falcon, then make yourself useful and grab that first-aid kit in the corner.”
“Geez, you were a dick.” America noted.
“I was trying not to let anyone close to me. Mortal or not, I still don’t age like humans. Plus in this line of business, they could drop dead any day.” Italy shook his head. “I was being an ass to try to keep them away from me, but it had the opposite effect with those two.”
“We could tell.” England responded dryly, though he’d admit it was fairly interesting to watch the normally friendly Italian act so coarsely.
The memory faded to show Feliciano sitting on the edge of the bed. He held up one side of his shirt as Desiree looked at his infected wound with a sour face. Falcon winced at the injury.
“Geez, man. You’ve gotta take better care of yourself!” Falcon commented.
“I don’t want to hear that from you of all people.”
“Okay, so I drove the car off the cliff one time!”
“And you crashed that fighter jet you stole. On purpose.”
“I mean, we had to kill the guy!”
“We could’ve just poisoned him, you know! No need to steal a fucking plane and crash it into him!”
“I wanted to make sure he was dead.” Falcon defended.
“Then stab him, or something. Watch the life drain from his eyes and feel his pulse stop beneath your fingertips.” Feli smirked as Falcon paled a bit. “You’re such a kid.”
“Is that a bad thing? He’s not as deep into this as we are.” Desiree commented casually as she cleaned out Feli’s wound. The older man didn’t even wince.
“Doesn’t that hurt?” Falcon looked green.
“I’ve had worse.” Feli shrugged, only to get whacked on the shoulder by Desiree.
“Stop moving or I’ll fuck this up. I need to stitch this bitch.”
“Sorry.” Feli sighed.
“Take off your shirt.” Desiree ordered, getting out the needed supplies.
“You won’t like what you see.” Feli warned.
“Like I give a damn, Rogue. Stop being a bitch about it, and take it off.”
“Spicy~” Feli teased before taking off his shirt.
Falcon stared at the hole in his side, where the damage from the Initial Blast had been done with a pale greenish face. Even Desiree gasped.
“Holy shit… what the hell happened?” She breathed, eyes taking in countless scars, though the one to his side was undoubtedly the most horrific.
“None of your goddamned business.” Feli replied tersely. “Now are you going to stitch me up, or make me do it myself?”
“I’m getting to it… Jesus. Just give me a minute to process this, would ya? Even in our field, people don’t usually survive… that.”
“I’m just unlucky, I suppose.” Feli shrugged.
“I… damn.” Falcon was sitting in a chair, now. “How the fuck did you survive that?”
“How did you survive a twenty foot fall off a goddamned cliff?” Feli raised an eyebrow with a bland expression. “I don’t ask you personal shit, so don’t ask me personal shit.”
“Go easy on him, Rogue. He’s just a baby.” Desiree smirked as she teased Falcon.
“I’m nineteen!” Falcon denied.
“Baby~” Feli and Desiree cooed in sync.
“You’ve only been in the business for a year and a half, kid. Don’t rush it—the goal is to eventually get out of this kind of work.” Feli advised. “Tch, ow.” Feli shot Desiree a glare as she pulled the stitches too tight.
“Shut up, it’s just a little blood.” She rolled her eyes. “He’s right, though. We’ve all got our reasons for being here, but it’s not a career. This is rock bottom, kid. You don’t want to stay here. If you do, you’ll die young, or end up on death row.”
“I have reasons to be here, too.” His eyes shone with determination. “I’m not here for fun and games, you know.”
“Revenge isn’t all it’s chocked up to be.” Feliciano’s voice was quiet and carried a weight of experience.
“The fuck do you know.” He glared. “What have you lost?!”
“Falcon!” Desiree’s tone was sharp, and the kid instantly realized he crossed a line.
Feliciano, on the other hand, looked down. His bangs shadowed his eyes, making his expression unreadable. Then, he gave a low, humorless chuckle. “What haven’t I lost? Family. Friends. Loved ones.” Feli looked back up, golden eyes swimming in shadows of grief and loss and anger. Falcon was momentarily taken aback before he regained his spark of anger.
“Don’t you want vengeance, too?! Isn’t that why you’re doing this?”
“No. I’m angry, yes. Of course I want revenge. But I’m doing this for an entirely different reason, kid. Because they don’t deserve to go through what I went through. Nobody does. Maybe when you’re older, you’ll understand…” Feliciano sighed, putting his shirt back on with a nod of thanks to a surprisingly quiet Desiree. “Word of advice from an old man, kid… Don’t let your anger consume you. Whatever you’ve lost… Whoever you’ve lost… Once you give in to that anger, you lose whatever it was that made you… you. And in doing so, you lose the last connection you have to them—yourself.”
Feliciano sighed as he flopped back into the mattress. “Now get. I’m going to bed, and I am not sharing this room with either of you two.”
With that, the scene faded away.