"Say, are we going to eat pasta after this?"
Kiku laughed nervously at his Italian best friend. He couldn't quite believe what he was hearing. He crouched down to take his black tea from the dispenser: it was still hot, so he held it with only his thumb and forefinger on each side of the can. They were planning to go somewhere together with Ludwig and Feliciano to grab some lunch, since they only had one lesson for the day. They arranged it together so that they could have some free time together once every week.
"Feliciano, I think you've already eaten too much pasta."
"Veee~ but they are delicious, Kiku. So, are we going to?"
"I don't know, I'll ask Arthur-san once we get there. Hey… isn't that… Heracles-san?" Kiku stopped and saw his former roommate sitting sleepily in front of the classroom where he was supposed to meet Arthur. Heracles looked up at the sound of his name being called.
"… Kiku… don't come in…" he said as he stood up, all traces of drowsiness suddenly gone. Kiku couldn't help but chuckle at him.
"What's wrong with you? Don't tell me you just fell asleep here, in front of the classroom…" Kiku said while Feliciano opened the classroom door, only to give a surprised squawk.
Kiku started at the sound of Feliciano's voice and peered into the classroom, wondering what caused his friend to exclaim at such a high pitch. The image of his boyfriend being marked on the neck by Alfred made him drop the black tea he had just bought for Arthur. The two broke apart as the sound of the full can hitting the floor reverberated across the room. He watched Arthur pushed Alfred off himself, face aflame. Kiku's eyes move down to Arthur's opened buttons, about three of them. Arthur tried to make himself tidy, wiping his wet mouth with his sleeve. He kissed him back…?
"Kiku—" Arthur began feebly. Beside him Alfred was also staring at Kiku, but his expression was somehow… unreadable. Kiku hated it: he clenched his fists, enough to make his palms bleed.
"So, this is why you called me over?" Kiku's smile was pained, sarcastic, false. Arthur flinched: he had never seen Kiku this angry. Before Arthur could stop him, Kiku turned around and walked away. After a few composed steps, he broke into a run. His face felt so hot, burning with humiliation and betrayal, but even then Kiku refused to break down in front of his boyfriend.
"Kiku!" Feliciano shouted. He looked back at Arthur in panic. Heracles was already running after Kiku though, surprisingly faster than his usual slow pace.
"You are not going to chase after him?" Feliciano cried, making Arthur cringe. He quickly looked at Alfred.
"You, this is your fault!" Arthur declared, grabbing Alfred by the collar. Alfred, in turn, struggled to free himself.
"You kissed me back, I couldn't help it!" Alfred said. "How can it be entirely my fault?" The British stared at him, guilt creeping into his bones. How could it turn out like this? He let go of Alfred when he noticed Feliciano already running after Kiku.
Lovino Vargas, Feliciano's twin brother, was scowling at his Spanish boyfriend as he walked toward his next class. He was searching for his brother actually, whom he thought was probably with that potato bastard again. He had never like that Ludwig: the German guy irritated him to no end. And Antonio would never stop talking and apologizing while tailing him to his next class.
"Get away, you tomato loving bastard! Can't you head to your own class and stop following me?" His Italian accent was much deeper than Feliciano's. He slowed down when he spotted Kiku running toward their direction.
"Kiku, have you seen my stupid brother? I need—" Lovino stopped when he saw the state of Kiku's teary eyes. As he ran past him, Lovino was even more surprised when the Grecian ran up after Kiku.
"What? What the hell is going on here? Is he…"
"… crying, Kiku is crying just now," Antonio said as he watched the two disappear at the next turn.
"Who's the jerk who dared to make him cry? Wait until I tell his over-protective brother!" Lovino hissed, continuing his march with renewed gusto. He stopped yet again when he saw his brother running toward him, out of breath.
"Veee vee…. Ah fratello*… have you seen Kiku? I lost track of him."
"Stupid brother! You lost track of him. Can't you run faster, slowpoke? He was crying darn it! Are you the one who made him cry?" Lovino accused immediately.
"Vee! Not me, fratello!"
"Now now, Lovino, it's no good jumping on your brother like that," Antonio quickly defended as soon as he saw Feliciano nearly in tears himself.
"Stop crying, you big baby! Where is your potato bastard at a time like this?"
"It's not meeeee.. It's.. It's Arthur!" Feliciano half-wailed.
"Arthur?" both Antonio and Lovino exclaimed at the same time, surprised.
"Feliciano, don't go telling the entire campus!" Arthur shouted before the Italian could speak much further. Alfred wasn't far behind. Lovino noticed Alfred immediately and regarded him with a disapproving 'tsk.'
"Feliciano, what's wrong with these two?" Lovino demanded, sending Feliciano a death glare. Feliciano whimpered. To his right Arthur was also landing him with his best glower, daring him to say anything more. Feliciano swallowed nervously and chose Lovino; denying him answers now would probably grant him beating at home.
"Arthur kissed Alfred!" he blurted out, while Arthur tumbled over. Not again! That mouth of his…
"What? Hey, you are not gentleman at all, do you know that? Fake gentleman, you just made your boyfriend cry!" Lovino jabbed Arthur's chest with his forefinger. Arthur hissed at him. It didn't help that they were attracting attention as two other friends came walking by.
"What's wrong?" Francis asked Lovino. He eyed Antonio, who just smiled at him.
"What? Is there some news here that's more awesome than I am?" the Prussian guy asked out loud.
"No, don't say anything!" Arthur pleaded in panic while he tried to shove away Lovino's finger, which was jabbing him harder and harder.
"Tell me. If something's happened with Arthur, I would like to know," The French man brushed his hand across his hair gracefully, making Gilbert and Antonio snicker.
"Arthur kissed Alfred," said Antonio lightly, getting odd glances from both Gilbert and Francis, before they both laughed out loud. Arthur stared at them hopelessly, suddenly feeling so small. Damn that bad-trio!
"Can you guys quit it!" Arthur said before turning to Alfred, who had remained silent the whole time, not like himself at all. "Say something, idiot!"
"What can I say, it's the truth. Anyway, isn't there something you need to do?" Alfred asked, reminding Arthur of Kiku. Arthur felt the weight of their stares weighing down on him, as well as the mocking face of Lovino.
"That's not awesome at all, you know. You ought to make up your mind," Gilbert added, waving his hand and ushering him to just go and search for Kiku. Arthur growled at him.
"I know! I know! I should be chasing after Kiku!" Arthur finally snapped. He quickly ran past them to the direction of the rooftop. He knew Kiku loved to be there when he was troubled or wanted to relieve himself from the lessons.
Kiku looked up at the sky before emitting out a loud sigh. He gripped the bars of the rooftop barrier tightly and scanned the school grounds. Lots of students were outside, and the noise of their laughter filled the air. Kiku stared at them, wondering if they had problems in their life, just like he had. As complicated and as harsh as he had… Someone put his hand on top of his head. Heracles was staring at him intently, before giving a small rare smile.
"Are you alright? Don't think of jumping off from here," he spoke every word slowly. Kiku couldn't help but be amused.
"I'm not going to. It's just that… I don't understand anymore what I'm fighting for…" Kiku pressed his forehead against the cool metal bar in frustration. He stifled a sob, biting down on his lower lip until it bled. Seeing the blood droplets dripping down, Heracles quickly pulled his head up, forcing Kiku to face him. Kiku couldn't help his grunt of surprise.
"Don't hurt yourself. You can cry if you want to…" Heracles began, but Kiku shook his head.
"No… No… I can't cry anymore because of love… I don't want to… I have had enough… I thought I would never love anyone else other than him… I can't… I never thought that things would end up this way… Had I known, I would have let Arthur go back with Alfred from the beginning. I should have closed my heart to everyone… How could I let my barrier down and show my weakness like this…" Kiku clamped his hands over his mouth; he tried to breathe evenly between the tears. Heracles stared at him sadly. He allowed Kiku a moment to take his breath back and compose himself.
"I'm sorry…" Kiku muttered after a few minutes of calming himself down. Heracles shook his head. He knew the story between Kiku and Yao when they were still in Junior High School. He found Kiku in his worst condition, unresponsive and overall mournful of his own problem. He had refused to meet lots of people and avoided the welcome parties held for the new students. Often he locked himself in their shared room. It had taken a lot of effort to encourage him to socialize, and it was finally with Feliciano's naturally charming demeanor that they succeeded. As it happened, it all started with allowing Feliciano the time to play with a cat Heracles had secretly taken in their room. Gradually Kiku grew accustomed to Feliciano's friendly attitude, and allowed other people into his life. First, Ludwig, and then Lovino, his twin, and then Arthur, who had begun to send the letters from his brother in England. Kiku started changing a lot after that, but now Heracles hoped that after this incident, the whole process wouldn't be repeated.
"What are you going to do after this…?" Heracles leaned back onto the barrier, eyes still on Kiku.
Silence. Both of them were in a deep thought, unable to notice someone approaching the door to the roof. Arthur tried to see what was happening, but it was quite a far stretch to the entrance.
Peering into the narrow crack of the door, his eyes never left Kiku, staring at his defeated figure. His hands clenched painfully. He watched as Heracles' hand stroked Kiku's head. He wanted to shove that hand away, but he couldn't move from his place.
Arthur hung his head in shame. He shouldn't have allowed Alfred to get to him: just one kiss, but it had hurt Kiku tenfold. Lust had taken over him. Deep inside he was glad that Feliciano had opened the classroom door. Arthur looked away, pressing his back against the wall. A headache was starting to form.
"I wouldn't hurt you if I were Arthur…"
Kiku looked at Heracles questioningly, who was staring at the sky.
"Have you ever… felt like this…?" Kiku's question made Heracles stare him straight in the eye. Their gaze met for a moment before Heracles' lips drew into a smile.
"Never… but… I love someone right now…" That made Kiku blink. "He… was hurt right now, because of his boyfriend cheating on him with his ex… So I tried to comfort him by staying by his side." Heracles gave a small nod.
"Ohh I see… eh?" Kiku was immediately flustered, finally realizing what—who his friend was talking about. His face fused into a nice pink color before he managed to look away. How could he not know…? Heracles had always acted so naturally towards him, like a friend. Maybe he was distancing himself since he knew that Kiku loved Arthur…? Kiku chanced a sideways glance at Heracles who was looking skyward again, as if unperturbed that this revelation was adding to Kiku's troubles. You just made my problem worse…
"Don't worry about it. Don't mind what I just said. Take it slowly." Heracles turned to him fully, supporting himself on his feet. He stretched and yawned a little.
"Do you want to go back? I hope you are alright with meeting the others…" he added, motioning towards the entrance. Before Kiku could answer, Arthur stepped out of the doorway and revealed himself. Kiku stopped cold; he seemed to be contemplating something, then gave up with a half-hearted shrug.
"You can go ahead before me, Heracles-san," he said. Heracles nodded and walked past Arthur who had run up to meet them. Heracles scrutinized the British before proceeding to the class. Arthur wasn't even out of breath, although he had been obviously searching for Kiku; he had known Kiku would be here, but didn't present himself until now. He had been watching them.
"Arthur-san…" Kiku slowly stepped back from him when Arthur tried to approach. He didn't want any physical contact right now. It would be the final blow to killing off his heart. He looked away from those green eyes. He didn't need to be weakened.
"Kiku, I'm so—"
"I don't want to hear any of your 'sorries', Arthur-san. Saying sorry will not solve anything. What's done is done… I've seen it with my own eyes. You kissed him back..." Kiku whispered in anguish. Arthur felt worthless. It was back to that harsh Kiku, the one who hardly reacted, the one who had torn that envelope back then.
"No, I mean… let me explain…"
"There is nothing to be explained, Arthur-san. I know and understand fully your feelings right now," Kiku said, raising his eyes to Arthur's shocked face.
"No, wait… That's not what I'm here for…"
"I'm tired, Arthur-san. I'm tired of being blackmailed by them. I tried to save our relationship, but now it looks like it's impossible for us to keep going on like this. So… it's over… I think he needs you a lot. Why don't you go back to him?" Kiku's eyes were gleaming with tears now, but he held himself back. He wasn't going to cry in front of his now ex-boyfriend.
Arthur was speechless. He did not know what to say. His mouth had gone dry and his heart dropped to his stomach. Kiku was glaring at him; how could he make things whole again? Arthur blinked when Kiku suddenly bowed to him.
"Thank you for taking care of me until this day. I'm glad you didn't laugh at my feelings when I confessed to you, Arthur-san, even if your heart was still with Alfred. Thank you," Kiku said, and straightening himself again. Arthur stared blankly, immobile, even as Kiku walked away. He turned around, hoping that Kiku would at least look back, but no, he didn't. He just left and walked downstairs into the building. Arthur could feel himself trembling.
"Bloody…. Shit…" He face-palmed and crouched down to keep himself from shouting. He angrily got up and kicked a nearby barrier, before yelping in pain a few seconds later. He cursed loudly, wondering what else he could be mad at, other than himself. He limped towards the door with a scowl.
Yao stared at Kiku who was closing the door behind him with a sour look on his face. He raised an eyebrow. Did something happen, aru? Deciding to ignore that fact, Yao gave him a smile.
"Welcome home, aru. Do you want to eat something? It's unusual for you to be home this soon, aru." Yao followed him inside. Kiku only shook his head.
"It's alright, Yao-san. I'm not hungry."
"Err… you okay, aru?" Yao asked him, earning another shake of the head from his brother. Yao watched him walk inside his room in silence before placing a finger on his chin. Frowning in thought, he wondered what could have happened in the university; he hadn't been there to hear any of it, having had no classes to teach for the day. A sound from the front door made him notice Hong just coming home from the university as well, probably around the same time as Kiku.
"Hong, welcome home, aru. Did something happen in your university, aru?" Yao immediately asked while Hong slipped his shoes off. He hoped his brother knew something even if he was taking a different major. Hong raised his head to meet Yao, as if to organize his words. He stood straight.
"Bad news or good news?" he asked him.
"Err.. bad news, first?"
"Yong Soo is planning to create some game to win over your heart."
Yao reacted by spluttering. "Wh—, okay, good news is?" He looked away, trying to compose himself.
"Kiku just broke up with Arthur. That's good news for you, Gege…"
Now Yao's eyes goggled.
"WHAT, ARU?" His screech made Hong jump.
"HYUUUNG! Come and play with me! I have a tricky game for you!" Yong Soo's shouts were thrown inside the house at around the same time he slammed the door open. Yao did not know what to do first: escape Yong Soo or comfort Kiku.
*fratello - brother