They were coming closer. He could already hear them crawl up the stairs and sneak down the hallways. He could sense their aura of blood thirst. The massive stone walls separating them from the gathering creatures felt like thin sheets of paper now. It would likely be minutes until they were here. The Italian was staring at him, his features vague and pale in the dim light of the plain white candles on the ground. America didn't mind him. He was kneeling down among the two make-shift biers on which the bodies of his brothers had been laid to rest.
He turned to his twin brother.
Canada, his name was. His always shy, always calm brother, who had always been the complete opposite of himself. If it hadn't been for the deep scratches on his face, the broken glasses and the blood-soaked bandages around his arms and chest, one could have thought he was just sleeping. His mien was peaceful and soothed, and his right arm was wrapped around a white polar bear, a stuffed toy he had been carrying around since childhood. The other hand was hanging limply towards the ground. America grabbed it. He didn't care that his fingers were cold already.
It was no use talking at him. He had made his decision.
"... Yeah, we'll be fine", he said in a blank voice, "So just get outta here and get us... reinforcements or something."
He didn't have to look up to notice Veneziano's concern for he could feel his glare like a heavy burden on his shoulders. It was not the answer Italy had wanted to hear, but America simply wished him to go without another word.
"Wait~!", Italy cried, his eyes open wide with fear and shock, "In the meantime, even you will get hurt beyond help...!"
"It's fine", America dismissed with a soft smile, gently stroking small strands of hair out of the Canadian's face. "Besides...", he turned his head to catch a short glimpse of his elder brother, "I wanna do these two a favor and stay with 'em."
Veneziano was gasping for air. "America~..."
"No, that won't do", he said with a sigh. He reluctantly stopped caressing his brother's face and looked up. It was the first time that his gaze met the Italian's, his steel blue eyes still glowing in their usual distinct and self-confident manner, even now.
"They can't hear me anymore, so I tell you in all honesty...", he slowly pulled himself to his feet, "I wanna stay with 'em. Till my very last moment. 'Cause they're both very important to me."
"And because you're going to... protect me~", Italy whispered, realization hitting him even worse than any grenade or missile could have done. America laughed hesitantly.
"Yeah. Even though I can't even move anymore", he said, pointing at his right leg where one of the beasts had wounded him, "But I'm not making a mistake. And I regret nothing..."
Veneziano was stunned by this sheer amount of strength and at the same time he was silently cursing at him for making a sacrifice such as this his own life, the life of a friend.
"Go for it. Wish you luck", America said, smiling brightly. He tilted his head in the direction of the door that was connecting this room to the next. On the other side of it there was a hidden staircase that led directly to the floor underneath, a shortcut past the creatures. The frail Italian nodded, tears running down his cheeks, and left the room without looking back.
The door clunked shut. America closed his eyes and tried to focus. He was listening to the noises of the beasts outside, their scratching and scraping on the planks and walls. They were there.
He took a deep breath and dropped his gaze to the inanimate body of his twin brother. He gently let his arms slip under the Canadian's back and knees and lifted him up, careful not to put too much weight on his injured leg, and carried the corpse into a darkened corner of the room, where he laid him down with caution. He limped back to the other bier.
The Englishman's wounds were hard to miss. Bandages had been wrapped around half of his head to veil the horrible injuries, but even so one could tell by the unnaturally flat parts in his face that he had been hurt really badly. His left hand was covered in burns. America bit his lip. England had fought with all his force, and in the end, his own demons had swallowed him. It had been like everytime before, no way to help, no way to rescue him. It made him forget about his own powers and sent him back to his childhood days, back then, when he had been admiring the older nation silently, for his strength, his independence. But no matter how strong and impressive America had become, he had never managed to get through to England to support him. It was frustrating and almost made him come up in tears.
He laid his elder brother down next to Canada and took a seat between the two of them, back rested against the wall. He pulled the two bodies up to himself and held them in a firm but gentle embrace. It was a moment full of warmth, a loving touch in a place filled with death, pain and darkness.
A thud was sounding from outside, like a heavy weight being thrown against the door.
They wouldn't get him. Not if he could avoid it.
He reached into the inside pocket of his jacket and pulled out a gun.
Another blow against the door and big scales of wood were hurtling around.
America opened his mouth and put the muzzle between his lips.
He pulled the trigger without any regrets.