Tea Leaves and Gold Pins


Match Four: Willow:

Alfred leaned against the wall in the hospital hallway. It's been close to a month since Kiku was admitted here after he collapsed. He gave everyone quite a scare on the eleventh of March during the World Conference. They all quickly phoned the ambulance. Everyone thought it wouldn't be a long stay, but the damage turned out to be much worse than first believed. Kiku had a tumor and holes in the organs. The doctors were successful enough to clean him up internally, but then there came another problem.

On the day he was to go home, Kiku felt really sick. The doctors examined him and discovered that he had blood poisoning from the last surgery. As a result, he ended up staying longer in the hospital. His wife, Sena, didn't enjoy this one bit.

"They said that it wasn't a major thing!" she shouted loud enough to wake up the elderly in the hospital. Arthur patted her on the shoulder to calm her down.

"Come on, love," he said. "Kiku's going to be fine. He's stronger than this." The young Japanese woman clenched her fists by her sides.

"I will sue this fucking hospital," she muttered under her breath. The countries all had to keep an eye on her to keep her from doing anything rash to any of the doctors in the hospital. She could be a nightmare when in a foul mood.

Back to today.

Alfred looked up at the ceiling. Dude, why didn't you say something!, he thought. Kiku wasn't supposed to be sick like this. He was supposed to be the strongest country next to Alfred himself. It wasn't supposed to turn out like this. Alfred shuddered to himself. Almost mind him question his own health and strength.

What does that make me?, he thought. He shuddered again. The young man paused when he heard bells jingling. He turned his head to his right. Red-honey hair drew his attention deep into the owner of it. His eyes followed the hair to the woman's small pale shoulders. Alfred stared about her for a good moment.

Who is she?, he thought. Alfred didn't even try to debate whether or not to talk to her. He walked up to her with pride in his step. The woman turned to him with no emotion on her face. Alfred froze in his tracks.

"Hi," he said. The woman blinked at him.

"Can I help you?" she asked. Alfred cleared his throat.

"Are you visiting anyone here?" he asked.

"Not really," she said. "You?" Alfred nodded.

"My friend," he said.

"Is he okay?" the woman asked. The young man shook his head.

"That bad?" she asked.

"Yeah," Alfred said. "Pretty bad." The woman pulled her dark blue shawl tighter around her pale thin body. He noticed her tiny fingers. That guy had never seen hands so small in his life. They were like kid hands on a grown woman. Alfred looked at the shawl oddly.

"Are you cold?" he asked. The woman shook her head.

"No," she said.

"Then why do you have on a shawl thingy in April?" Alfred asked. The woman tossed about her honey-red hair.

"I like the way to feels," she said. Alfred stared at her like a lost idiot. The woman turned her whole body to him.

"What is your name?" she asked. The young man stood up and smiled in pride.

"Alfred F. Jones!" he said. "And you are?" The woman gave him a gentle smile.

"Florence," she said. Alfred stood there staring at her, grinning.

"Florence…" he repeated. For the first time since they spoke, Florence gave him a little smile back. Suddenly, they heard someone clear their throat at them. Alfred and Florence looked up to see a young girl about fourteen looking sharply at them with a soda in her hand. She sighed as she blew the stringy dark brown bangs from her face.

"Can we go yet?" she complained. Florence gave the young girl a little smile.

"Sure," she said. The woman turned back to Alfred.

"Alfred, this is my younger sister, Lydia," she said. "Lydia, this is my new friend, Alfred." The young man smiled and waved at the girl.

"Hiya," he said. Lydia still frowned at him.

"Whatever," she mumbled. Alfred tried to smile and keep face in front of the woman he just met.

"Lydia!" Florence whispered. "You could be a bit nicer." Lydia groaned aloud.

"I want to go home," she complained.

"Okay, okay," the woman said. "We'll go now." She and the girl turned to leave. Alfred held up his hand.

"Wait!" he called. Florence and Lydia turned to him.

"Yes?" the woman asked. Alfred straightened himself up.

"When can I see you again?" he asked. Florence completely turned to him.

"See me again?" she asked.

"Yeah," Alfred said with a nod. Florence gave him a little smile.

"Soon," she said. "Real soon." Then, she turned and left with her sister. Alfred only stood there, blinking.

"Okay…" he mumbled.

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