Tea Leaves and Gold Pins


Match Seven: Cedar:

By nine in the morning, Alfred returned to the hospital. This time, he had a motive. Sure, he was there to Kiku, but he also hoped to see Florence again. There was just something about her that made him want to find out more. Who exactly was she?

Alfred walked through the halls, looking for her. He spotted a nurse leaving a patient's room. He hurried over to her.

"Hey!" he yelled. "Hey!" The nurse turned to him with a sharp look on her face. Alfred made it over to her.

"This is a hospital!" the nurse barked. "Keep your damn voice down!" America just ignored her rant.

"Where's Florence?" he asked. The nurse gave him a puzzled look.

"Who?" she asked.

"Florence!" Alfred repeated. "Where is she?"

"Sir, who are you talking about?" the nurse asked.

"A red-haired woman with a kid!" he yelped. "Where are they?" The nurse suddenly understood what he was talking about.

"Oh, you mean Ms. Florence and Lydia," she said.

"Yes!" the American man yelled. "Where did they go?"

"To radiology for tests," the nurse said. Alfred didn't stick around for the rest. He took off in a blinding lighting speed.

"Wait, sir!" the nurse called. "Don't you want to know where radiology is first?" Alfred spent twenty minutes looking for the radiology lab. Would have been better if he had stopped and asked for directions. But knowing him and his personality…

He finally spotted a breakthrough in the hallway. Lydia leaned against the wall, drinking a Pepsi through a straw. A little relief crept into his soul. Not who he wanted to see, but she was a good lead. Maybe she could tell him where her sister is. But yet…

The girl turned and looked at him. Alfred in his tracks. Lydia narrowed her bitter grey eyes at him.

"What?" she asked. He gave her a quick wave.

"Hi," Alfred said. "Is your sister inside?" Lydia's frown only deepened as she walked on past him. The young man blinked in confusion.

"Hey! Wait!" he called. "Where are you going?" The girl didn't answer him as she kept walking away.

"Wait!" Alfred yelled as he ran after her. The girl didn't even bother to look back. Alfred did his best to stay civil during the power-walking chase.

What is with this little bitch?, he thought. They came all the way out into the back hospital garden. Lydia just stopped in her tracks. Alfred stopped just a few steps behind her, blinking.

"I hate it here," Lydia spoke up.

"Huh?" the American man asked.

"I hate hospitals," she repeated. The girl clenched her small fists together. "Every time we come here, it reminds me that it could turn worse for her!" Alfred didn't seem to quite follow.

"What do you mean?" he asked. "Is she sick or something?" Lydia pressed her lips together. She opted against not telling him everything, at least not yet. He didn't really know Florence enough to tell him at this stage of the game better give him a lightened version and see how things would turn out between him and her sister.

"You can say that," Lydia said.

"Is it bad?" Alfred asked.

"No, but we have to be really careful and that's why we have to come here," she summed up.

"Why did you run from me back there?" he asked.

"I had to get out of that stupid hell hole!" Lydia said as she fought to keep down her bitter mood about the hospital. She turned around to him. "This garden is the only thing that keeps me from going crazy."

Alfred nodded. Maybe she wasn't a little snort after all. Maybe she could be a nice girl in a difficult situation with her sick or dying older sister.

"Isn't there anyone else to help you?" he asked. "What about your mom and dad…"

"They don't exist!" she barked.

"What?" Alfred asked.

"She only has me to rely on," Lydia said as she felt herself trembling. "Why do you care so much? Can't you just leave me alone?"

"Well, no," he said.

"Why?" she snapped. Alfred went quiet there. Why did he care? It wasn't the usual noisiness either. He just had to see Florence again, but couldn't piece together for himself. Why was he doing this again? He was supposed to see Kiku here. Maybe run into Florence while he was at it. She just took over the whole visit. Alfred lowered his head.

"I don't know," he groaned. Lydia clutched her empty can.

"Don't get any deeper with her," she hissed.

"Now look here!" he barked.

"You can't even tell me why you care about her so much!" she barked. "That's not good enough for her!"

"And I suppose you know what's best for her?" he shot back.

"Yes!" the girl yelled. "I am her sister after all!" Both silent as they tried to dial it down. I take back my original thought, Alfred thought. She's still a spoiled little bitch!

"Oh, that's where you disappeared to," a woman's voice spoke up. Both the American man and the girl looked up to see Florence walking out to them. Lydia blinked at her.

"How did you know to find me out here?" she asked. The woman gave her a little smile.

"You always come here when you can't take it," she said. Lydia gave her a nervous chuckle after giving it some thought.

"Oh yeah…" she mumbled. Florence turned her attention to Alfred.

"Hello there, Alfred," she said. The American man stood in price and gave her a little wave.

"Yo!" he said.

"So," she said. "What brings you by?"

"Just visiting my friend," Alfred lied. "Speaking of which, I should see him now. Bye!" He took off in a power walk. The sisters looked on, blinking.

"What was that all about?" Florence asked. Lydia shrugged.

"No idea," she lied. "Are you done yet?"

"Why, yes I am," Florence said.

"Finally, can we go now?" her sister asked. The older one chuckled.

"Sure," she said.

"Good," Lydia replied. "I hate this place."

"Yes, I know," the woman said. However, another thought filled Lydia's mind as she and Florence left the hospital for the morning.

What does this Alfred person want with my sister?, she pondered. I can't have her getting so close to her until I figure him out for myself. She resolved to observe him closely the next time the three of them crossed paths.

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