Most nations, or people, or anything really, seeing Greece would have come to the reasonable conclusion he was relatively carefree; he would rarely be found doing anything other than napping, or if he ever spoke or bestirred, it would be to philosophize or juxtapose his thoughts, or pose his own. And in the remaining time he possessed, he could be found seducing some pretty thing and luring them off for an afternoon of lovemaking in some field or out-of-the-way farm building.
In the slow, languorous way he spoke, moved, and made love, one could find the inevitable march of seasons; there was no contemporary rush about him, as one might find in a neighboring Balkan nation, nothing urgent, nothing that screamed to the autumn sky that he was living and struggling to live. In fact, a passing glance would have bestowed the onlooker a sense of older times, out-of-date, some might say, and, upon closer consideration, one would find that still, breathless quality of timelessness.
Turkey knew better. He knew better, because, in times far older and more complicated than these, he had known another just like Herakles, a woman who would sit, shiftless and impassive as the divine inspirations modeled after her, as her house was destroyed about her (and Turkey swore, with tears of rage streaming from his eyes, that he would never miss those signs again, those subtle shifts that he had just missed), as she slipped into the oubliette of history (and he was chilled when told, even by a child such as France “It’s a place where you put people you want to forget”) and was lost to him forever. He could look at Greece and see those subtle shifts younger and more impetuous nations would have missed.
When he was particularly troubled, he would wear a faint frown, but in the worst situations, he would be completely stone-faced. He could become quite expressively angry, but it was harder to tell when something preyed on his mind; one of the first things Turkey had taught him (inadvertently, along with culinary tips, Arabic, and how to give a good fuck) was that a man never troubled other with his problems.
As if in some vast collective consciousness, he would look to the West as the sun set, watching it as if was his very first or very last (and Annan knew, because the same woman had told him probably the very same thing a hundred years before Herakles; “You must never let the day pass without realizing it could be your last.”).
He would also not drink, and he would not eat, thus making himself even sicker with worry (and there had been times where he and the kid had fought to feed him, before there were times when Herakles simply didn’t have the energy to resist at all), and would thus languish on the nearest supportive surface, his fingers twining in his komboloi (which he wore more often these days; Annan knew they generally simply hid in the kid’s pocket, unbeknownst to the world at large, as ironically symbolic as the fact that the world at large didn’t know Greece had much to worry about) as his body wasted away.
Which was why, on one day, when Herakles was looking off into the last rays of the setting sun, and his fingers endlessly turned his worry-beads, Annan sat down at the wrought-iron café table across from the youth. “What’s wrong?” He asked this flatly, knowing if he allowed any intonation to his voice, the youth would have swung away from him. Either his ploy worked, or Herakles missed it, for he simply looked at Turkey for several beats (and he felt his stomach sink abruptly; the kid had rarely looked this haggard, his eyes shadowed with bad sleep, his skin wan, and his eyes murky) before speaking so lowly it was as if he was simply voicing his inner stream of consciousness to Turkey, the beads providing an eternal beat.
“The Euro is failing because my bosses are irresponsible, and no-one wants to work. I have a huge GDP deficit, and every nation in the continent of Europa is jumping down my throat because I’m pulling them down too. I’m sicker than I have been in a long time, and I have no idea how I will recover. Mother always told me we don’t last forever, but I didn’t think I’d end this soon.” Once again, it was as if a sucker-punch had been delivered straight to Turkey’s abdomen.
“Da fuck?” He asked, stunned by the depth of such worries (though, honestly, he’d known the brat for centuries now, and this sort of still-water philosophy was hardly uncommon- a lot of stuff was usually going on behind that impassive face), drawing straight unconsciously. “You ain’t gonna die. We can’t letchou. Like ya said, you’d really pack us a punch by goin’ out like dat. So, if nothin’ else, you’ll stick aroun’ a while longer. Jus’ so we can make yer life miserable fer makin’ our lives miserable.” Turkey was further stunned by the lack of life in Greece’s eyes when he finally turned them from the sky to regard the man.
“Turkey” He said, softly and deliberately, and it was as if the entire world had just suddenly stopped. “I’m just too tired to do this anymore.” For several seconds, Turkey couldn’t breathe. Couldn’t even think of what to say. So, wordlessly, with six-hundred years of shit they’d done to each other he suddenly couldn’t let go, he rose to walk around the small, circular table, and took the youth in his arms, and felt every shudder, every hitch of illness in the brat’s body. And Greece, like it was six-hundred years ago, simply let his head rest on the man’s shoulder, his fingers finally lax around the komboloi.