"Guess who… guess who…!" an Italian accent asked in an excited tone. Kiku sighed.
"Arthur-san…" The hands let go of him, and as he turned around Kiku came face to face with bright emeralds orbs.
"How did you know it was me? It's Feliciano who was asking. You are no fun…" Arthur stretched the back of his head looking disappointed. Kiku smiled at him before resuming his work.
"I'm used to your cold hands, Arthur-san. Now if you don't mind, I have to finish this group assignment," Kiku said, adjusting his glasses and beginning to type.
"What are you working on, Kiku?" Feliciano looked over the screen.
"It's an assignment for the group in the English class I took."
"Ooh I see. If it's you, then it'll be alright. I'll let you pass," Arthur suddenly said with a big grin. Kiku snapped his head at him, looking shocked.
"That's favoritism! If you are the leader of the group, you shouldn't do something like that!" Kiku scolded him, much to Arthur's amazement; his eyes were glaring at him while his hands unexpectedly continued to type on the keyboard.
"It doesn't matter; you can let it pass and relax a little. I know you're always working hard, Kiku, while the others slack off." Arthur sat on the desk, his smile still present on his face.
"I couldn't possibly do that! Besides, I'm almost finished." Kiku looked back at his laptop and noticed that his fingers had just pressed the wrong buttons. He immediately deleted the last few letters and corrected it.
Someone opened the door of the classroom and both Feliciano and Arthur looked around to see the newcomer.
"Ludwig! Here, we are sitting over here!" Feliciano waved at the tall blond man who had just come inside the classroom. It was actually ridiculously obvious where they were sitting since the classroom was empty except for the four of them, including Ludwig. Said newcomer was about to walk toward the trio when Feliciano launched himself toward him, accidentally smacking his head on Ludwig's nose. Arthur snickered, watching from the sidelines.
"Fe-Feliciano. Didn't I tell you not to jump on me like that? My nose…" the blond lamented, as he rubbed his red nose. The Italian meanwhile, was caressing his head.
"Sorry, Ludwig. I'm hurt too…" Feliciano mumbled pathetically. Ludwig sighed and patted his head.
"You should drink milk to make yourself tall, Felici," Arthur teased. Kiku smiled at the words.
"Is that directed at me as well, Arthur-san?" he asked quietly. Arthur quickly waved his hands at the inclination.
"No no.. not you.. geez don't get offended…" He leaped from the desk and wrapped his arm around Kiku's shoulder. Kiku jumped at the sudden close contact and his face instantly burned red.
"Do you have free time after class?"
"Uhhmm I don't know… but… maybe…"
"Great! Let's have dinner together! It's on me! Don't worry about anything. See you then!" Arthur quickly ran toward the entrance of the classroom, not even bothering to hear Kiku's reply.
"W-Wait, Arthur-san!" The British man was gone in a wink and Kiku sighed. Pulling off his glasses, he clicked the 'save' button of his finished document and closed his laptop.
"I'll have to rearrange my schedule then…" he muttered, leaning back.
"Isn't it okay?" Feliciano smiled at him. Kiku only looked at his carefree friends with a frown.
"You should take a break sometimes, Kiku. You've been working yourself too hard lately. Go on a date!" Feliciano spread his arms and waved them up and down in enthusiasm.
"It's just a dinner. It's not a date. What are you talking about…" Kiku mumbled. His statement didn't seem to match his red face though. Ludwig smiled at him.
"Feliciano's right. You should relax a little bit. But… it's been almost a year already hasn't it?" Feliciano gave Ludwig a simpering look.
"You are right… I'm glad he recovers pretty quickly." Kiku looked at both of them for a moment before gathering his things with a quiet sigh.
"The break is almost over. We should go to our next class," Kiku said to both of his friends. He stopped for a moment and before Feliciano and Ludwig had the time to wonder he faced them with that blush still present on his face.
"I'll spare my time for him…" Kiku said in a small voice. The two smiled at him, Ludwig a little discreetly and Feliciano decidedly less so.
"That's great! I'm sure you will have lots of fun, Kiku!" The pasta lover quickly followed the Japanese man out the room, closely followed by Ludwig.
Kiku gazed at the sky, which had begun to get darker and darker the longer he looked at it. He laid his hand on the window pane, staring blankly at his own reflection. He still had time for that dinner with Arthur.
He remembered looking outside a window that time… approximately one year ago… He saw a blond man soaking in the rain.
Kiku grimaced at the thought.
"You… you're kidding, right?" Arthur stared at the taller man in front of him, eyes searching for some kind of lie that he was dismayed not to find a trace of. The man affirmed his worst fear.
"I'm going back to my homeland. Can you let me go, just this once?"
"Let you go…!" Arthur clenched his fists.The rain began pouring, soaking them. A yellow taxi stopped not far from the two, waiting for Alfred to get in.
"I want my freedom. You have to let me go, Arthur. If you love me, then please let me go. Just this once…" The man name Alfred said solemnly. Arthur stared at him with wide eyes and disbelief, paying no heed to the gradually increasing rains. He watched anxiously as his boyfriend took his luggage and turned around, just about ready to leave him alone.
"Wait!" Arthur cried desperately, holding onto Alfred's wrist before the American left him for good. Alfred stiffened and slowly faced him,only to see the other's face in anguish and dripping wet. It wasn't because of rainwater.
"Can't you please consider my feelings for once, stupid…?" Arthur bit his lip, ashamed at the tone of his own voice. He tried to hold back the rest of his tears as his now ex-boyfriend smiled at him sadly.
"I'm sorry…" he said, but his tone was resolute. Alfred gently twisted his hand out of Arthur's grip and walked away. Before opening the car door, he continued.
"I love you. I really do. But… You don't love me, Arthur. You just want to own me." Alfred mumbled.He got on the taxi and Arthur watched helplessly as it drove out of sight.
He couldn't believe it. It hurt so bad… After more than two years together… all of those times instantly vanished just like that. His body shook, overtaken by sobs and his legs gave way beneath him.
A shadow loomed over him,so suddenly that it made him stop crying. He was confused when the rain suddenly stopped falling on him, and as he looked up he saw someone standing behind him with an umbrella.Arthur quickly looked away in embarrassment; he had just shown unusual weakness to some stranger.
"Are you alright?" the person spoke, and the voice made Arthur blink. He recognized that voice.
"Kiku… Honda…?" he tried guessing. Kiku nodded at him even if Arthur hadn't raised his head yet.
"Do you need help standing up?" Kiku offered, but the British quickly crawled and got up on his own, which made Kiku barely suppress his amusement despite the situation.
"What are you laughing at me for?" Arthur cried indignantly, still keeping his head down. Kiku only shook his head and smiled.
"Come on, get inside; you are soaking wet."
"Uuh… Okay…" Arthur finally turned around, and noticed Kiku wearing a yukata. He wondered if he had just come back from somewhere or was just coming out of the dorm. Both were silent as Kiku led Arthur to his room.
"Come in. I'll get you a towel. You can also take a warm bath if you want to…"
Arthur looked around the room. It was neat, and wonderfully warm.He settled down and made himself comfortable. Kiku reappeared a few seconds later and put a fresh set of clothes and a towel in Arthur's hands. The latter stared at him for a few seconds.
"Why are you being so nice…?" he asked quietly.
"Just dry yourself. I'll prepare some tea," Kiku said. As he fetched a thermos from a nearby cupboard, Arthur continued to stare at him, unmoving, before rousing himsef and entering the bathroom.
Kiku had just finished setting the tea on the small table near the large glass window, when Arthur came out fully dressed. Kiku turned around to ask if the clothes fit… only to freeze at the scene before him.
"You body is so small…" Arthur murmured, as he tried to button up the shirt that was none too tight around his waist. Kiku noticed that his pants were too small for Arthur as well.He averted his eyes timidly from the Englishman.
"I've prepared your tea…" Kiku mentioned meekly, sitting on the chair. Arthur sat down next to him and took a sip of his hot drink. Both fell silent for a moment, until Arthur clutched his cup and stifled a sob. Kiku raised his head, looking at him sympathetically.
"It's alright to cry," Kiku said gently. Arthur sobbed again, unintentionally, once he heard him, but he tried not to make himself look even more pathetic in front of the Japanese man. He wasn't even that close to Kiku, due to their different departments. Despite this, Arthur's tears fell down his cheek and he quickly brushed them away.
"I'm sorry… I shouldn't have… I'm so stupid, coming here and crying like a baby…" Arthur forced a chuckle and inhaled loudly. He leaned back and let his breath out, blinking his tears away.
"It's not a problem at all, Arthur-san…" Kiku offered him a smile, which he was glad to have returned, even if it was a small one.
"Kiku, are you from the Music department?" Arthur suddenly asked.
"No, I'm not. I'm from the Art department, although I remember being in the same class with you for two semesters. That's why I still remember you."
Arthur nodded slowly. "I… I see…" Arthur set down his cup and leaned his elbow on the table. The first time they had met, it had been related to Kiku's brother, who was studying in England. He had known Kiku because of Hong. They had sat side by side when they were learning Japanese.
Arthur put his chin on the back of his hand while he stirred his tea with the other. He looked outside;it was still raining hard. He wondered what Kiku had been doing outside with an umbrella. Arthur suddenly realized that from here, one could see everything clearly down the entrance of the dormitory.
"I was heading back from the school building when I saw you in the rain, Arthur-san," Kiku explained when he noticed Arthur staring out the window.
"So… you saw the whole scene?" Arthur asked, without looking at him. Kiku closed his eyes and wrapped his fingers around his cup, bringing it closer to his mouth for a sip.
"Yes…" he said as he put the cup back on its saucer. He didn't usually drink western tea, but it wasn't as if he disliked the taste either. Besides, he was not sure if the British guy in front of him liked Japanese tea. Kiku glanced up to see Arthur looking back at him.
"Is it wrong to want to own someone, as well as loving them?"" Arthur gritted his teeth. Kiku blinked at the question. He had expected him to say something along the lines of 'Forget what you saw' or 'I look so pathetic,' or anything else of the sort.
Kiku shook his head. "No… I think Alfred was just looking for an excuse to break free from you. I think he just wanted you to chase after him to the airport. Why don't you do that, Arthur-san?" Kiku answered.
"What? I… I can't possibly do that… besides… I know… about him and Ivan… He… He…" Arthur bit his already abused bottom lip. He frowned as he tried to hold back tears he didn't know he could still manage to cry out.
Kiku knew that by 'Ivan' he had meant Ivan Braginsky, the Russian who had been hanging out with Alfred lately. Kiku stood up, and reached for Arthur's lip. The other flinched at the touch. "Don't do that. You are hurting yourself," Kiku admonished lightly, brown eyes meeting green.
Arthur gaped at him for a moment before looking away, embarrassed. "Sorry… Uhh… I think I better go back to my own room…" Arthur muttered.
Before Kiku could reply, someone knocked on the door. A tall man with dark brown hair and a curl on top of his head slowly poked his head through the doorway, and Kiku permitted him to come inside.
"Heracles-san…" Kiku greeted, walking toward his roommate when Heracles closed the door.
Arthur got up from his seat and strode past them both. "I'm going back to my room now."
"Is it okay for you to go back alone? Shall we accompany you, Arthur-san?"
"No.. no, it's.. It's fine. Thank you, Kiku."
The Grecian blinked upon the sight of Arthur; more importantly, the blond was wearing Kiku's clothes.
"I will return your clothes tomorrow," Arthur mumbled in thanks before smiling politely, hand on the open door.
"Don't worry about it, Arthur-san," Kiku replied. Then the door closed.
"What happened to him that he had to wear your clothes?" The Greek man walked toward the small table and took the seat Arthur had previously occupied.
"Do you know about Alfred-san?" Kiku began suddenly. Heracles listened to him carefully while he took a sip from the new cup Kiku prepared for him.
The next day, the whole class wondered why Alfred had suddenly returned to America. They began asking Arthur, but he had only shrugged and given them a rather melancholy smile. They knew then... Alfred and Arthur had broken off and were no longer together. Even if the Englishman had acted as if it was none of his concern, they knew he was broken from the inside. That was… until Kiku had stepped forward and decided to become someone Arthur could confide in. Kiku listened to every single one of his words, his tears, his laughter and his heart.
Kiku walked outside the university building and waited under the roof for Arthur. He stared at the dormitory not far from the building. If he hadn't come outside the dormitory that time, he might not have been able to be as close to Arthur as he was now. He gazed at the stars, and was glad that the sky was clear of rainclouds.
"You should have seen Roderich's face when Gilbert pinched his cheek. It was so funny, I wish you were there. If only I had taken a picture of them!" Arthur laughed at the memory as Kiku chuckled with him.
"Really? I wish I was in the Music department at that time," Kiku remarked, taking a last spoonful of hot fried rice into his mouth.
"Oh come on, you belong to the art department! Sure they might look a little… anime-ish, but I can't even draw anything properly." He mulled a bit, and added as an afterthought, "If I'm not mistaken, Feliciano is going to have an exhibition for his painting isn't he?"
"Oh yes, he will. His paintings are amazing." Kiku nodded. News across the campus sure flew fast.
Arthur poured himself some more ale. He hummed at his favorite drink. Kiku grew amused, putting his spoon down and pushing his empty plate away as he took his own drink of water.
After chatting for a while, they both decided it was time to head back. Arthur, as he had promised, paid for the bill. They both exited with enthusiasm.
"Is all your work done?" Arthur asked as they began walking home. Arthur's direction though, was toward the dormitory.
"Ah, yes. I've done the preparations for my report. We can present the complete document on Monday," Kiku answered with a slight smidgen of pride in his voice. Arthur chuckled in amazement.
"You work too hard, Kiku."
"I like working. You shouldn't slack off too much, Arthur-san," Kiku returned almost playfully. Arthur just shook his head and laughed.
"Anyway, what time is it now? I think it's about time for you to go back home. Your brother is pretty annoying, isn't he?"
Kiku tried to hide a sigh; Arthur was obviously changing the subject. He went with it anyway.
"I know, he is too over-protective…"
"Weren't you living in the dormitory before? Why did you go back home?" Arthur couldn't help grinning at Kiku's mad face. He was pretty cute when he pursed his lips together like that.
"That time I was having a problem with Yao-san. But we are alright now, so I promised to go back home. It's not like I don't like it at home, though. I just find myself concentrating better at my studies in the dormitory instead. My siblings are sometimes too noisy," Kiku explained.
"I see… You should have told your brother about that earlier then. But I'm glad that everything went alright," Arthur commented. "Oh, I have to turn this way. See you tomorrow." Arthur waved as Kiku bowed at him.
"Alright. Thank you for today, Arthur-san." Kiku became confused when Arthur froze for a while, and then suddenly began shaking his head.
"Geez Kiku, we've been friends for so long now. Quit with that polite attitude!" he exclaimed, grinned at him.
Kiku smiled, blushing a little. "Sorry. Thank you…"
Arthur nodded brightly and began heading back to his dormitory.
Kiku watched him for a moment; he brought his hand up to his chest. His heart wouldn't stop beating even after the person had gone away already. He sighed and made for home.
Kiku smiled wistfully… he wished he could have shown more affection toward the British man, but he knew it was not yet the proper opportunity to reveal anything. The blond still needed time to forget about his ex-lover.
The night was still clear with stars, even if Kiku had doubted that its good weather would continue.
Maybe… his chance to become more than friends would never come… And he was certainly not willing to be hurt again…