Two For Joy

Alfred was not the best of students, he had to admit. He was smart, sure, and he took great pride in that matter, just as he did with everything else about himself. But, in the words of his teachers he "didn't apply himself." Blah, blah, blah. In the simplest of terms, he was just plain lazy. Why do homework if he already knew how to do it? He didn't need to know what the length of side B of triangle ABC was. Hell, if he really had the burning urge to know such a thing, he'd get out a fucking tape measure for god sakes. And he didn't see the point in explaining in a six page essay the way Shakespeare uses the "power of words" to express the point of Romeo and Juliet. The deceased playwright would probably only laugh at such absurdity and say that any such thing was a complete accident. And if he ever had an inclination to find out how so many different whale species can occupy the same water around Hawaii, then he'd just use the internet. Duh.

Basically, Alfred was horribly sarcastic when it came to school. He did just enough to get by, as he didn't really care enough to do anything more. History was one of the only matters he excelled in without trying, as he just had to know the basic pattern on history, and the fact that it tends to repeat itself. Colonization, war, overpopulation, drought, trade, disease, more war, death, explode, the end, and all that was what usually happened. There wasn't much thinking involved, just the way he liked it.

The blond held out a hand as he sat with his elbows resting on the round turquoise lunch table, raising an inquiring, pleading eyebrow.

His gaze was met by another, much shorter blond with emerald eyes, who merely glared in reply for a few moments before speaking. "Math homework again, is that what you're asking for? Do it yourself, dam it."

Alfred smirked, "Oh come on, Arthur, you know I hate that. And besides, it's not like I'm cheating, exactly. I get B's on the tests and quizzes without your help. I just can't have my grade drop lower than a C because I don't do the homework."

Arthur glowered in annoyance, "Then do the homework, and you won't have to worry about it, idiot." He looked away as quick as he could, but was still unable to avoid the blue puppy-eyes that followed him. Damn that kid, how did he know that Arthur was unable to resist when given that look? Growling in frustration, he flung the papers at the other teen, "Don't ask for them again, you bloody wanker!"

"Sorry, I don't speak Harry Potter," Alfred replied instantly at the British insult, looking over the loose-leaf papers appreciatively. 'I'll give these back in a bit, it'll only take me a minute to copy them."

"It's not 'Harry Potter,' it's the English language you twit," Arthur said, rolling his eyes.

"Yeah, sure. Maybe in England, but you live in America now, Iggy. A-mer-i-ca. When we want to call someone a penis, we say 'dick,' not 'wanker.'"

Arthur blushed a violent shade of scarlet, "Wh-what?! don't be absurd! It's completely fine to say-"

"Penis," came a voice from above Arthur's head, strong arms wrapping around his shoulders.

The English born teen looked up with a groan of defeat, catching sight of the shoulder-length blond hair, blue eyes, and light stubble. "Oh good lord, not you too . . ."

The newcomer merely grinned in response before turning his attention to Alfred, who had tossed the papers back at Arthur a moment before, "Mon ami, are we playing that game again?"

Alfred chuckled, receiving a bemused glance from Arthur, "Sure, let's. we seem to have found a new word to make our bestest buddy uncomfortable." He smiled wryly, chin resting on his palms, "Peeeenniiisss . . ."

"Stop that!"

"Penis," Francis chimed in, enjoying the look on Arthur's face. When the blond chose to say nothing at this second offense, the older leaned down and put his mouth right up against his ear, "penis."

"Aaaaahhhh! Shove off both of you!" Arthur screamed, flailing around and managing to successfully dislodge Francis from around his shoulders. "You're both a couple of perverts!"

"And proud of it," Alfred smiled, shaking hands with Francis, another game of "make Arthur flip out" won in record time. "So anyways, Francis, what are you doing here?" he asked, directing his gaze to the oldest of the three of them.

Francis's smile fell slightly, "Erm, well, I bring bad tidings?" He shrugged, "I just saw the Arts teacher, and she says you're failing, ami."

Alfred pointed at himself "Me?"

"Yes," Francis muttered, "You, Alfred F. Jones, are failing Arts class."

There was a loud snort, followed by a burst of laughter from Arthur, "F-failing Art? Oh my god, that's hysterical! Of all things you can fail, it's that?"

The taller blond stuck out his tongue, "So what? It's just Arts Class! I don't need to know how to paint or write pretty poems or sculpt thing to survive in the world!"

"Except that you do need to know them to survive high school," Francis pointed out mildly. "If you fail, you can't graduate, remember?" He grinned as Alfred smacked his palm to his forehead, "But the teacher says she's arranged for you to work on the final project with the best kid in the class. So you're sure to at least get a C- then. I think."

Alfred looked up, "Best kid in the class?"

"Kiku Honda, I think is what she said. Aren't you two friends or something?"

The blond slammed his head against the lunch table, "No, we're not. I beat him up freshman year, remember? After he and his two buddies tried to gang up on us?"

"But you're friends with Ludwig though, right? I mean, shouldn't Kiku be okay with it now because-"

"I think you forgot exactly what I did to him," Alfred whispered, still facedown on the table. "Ludwig got off with a bruise and a black eye after he knocked you out, Francis. And Feliciano kinda just got a sprained ankle, or something like that. But Kiku . . . He wouldn't back down . . ."

"Alfred got hit really hard, Francis, after you got knocked out. Kiku kicked him in the stomach, he had internal bleeding," Arthur glanced between the two of them, feeling just as much unease at the memory. "And I was beat too, crouched down next to you. And then Alfred . . . He knee'd Kiku in the ribs, broke a few of them, and then grabbed him by the arm and snapped it."

Francis looked confused, and a tad mortified, "Ami . . ."

"They hurt you," Alfred muttered simply, still refusing to look up or meet their eyes, "I couldn't let them do that." He sighed, "And the reason we got into that fight at all was because they hurt Yao, and Ivan got pissed. But Ivan had already been suspended twice, he couldn't fight them without being expelled. It was for me to do." He looked up finally, a false smile in place, "But, they're not the rough and tough bullies of the school anymore, are they. Well, Feliciano never was . . . But you know what I mean."

"The teacher set up a meeting for you two," Francis said uncertainly, "You can go change it quick, there's still time. I'm sure she'll understand . . ."

Alfred shook his head, "Nah, I'll be okay. Besides, it's about time we forgive and forget, right?"

Arthur lowered his gaze, "He's the only one of the three of them that hasn't talked to you this whole time though . . ."

Alfred stood up, ignoring the remark, "Well, better go home and clean up then, if I'm having a guest over. See ya."

Francis took his vacant seat as the younger teen left, reaching out a hand to pat Arthur's back comfortingly, "Hey, I think he'll be okay. Don't look so worried, cheri."

The younger blond leaned into the touch, "Yeah . . . I know."

"Je t'aime," Francis whispered near his ear, to which Arthur rolled his eyes, but smiled anyways.

"I'm sorry, I don't speak French."

"You're in French year four, cheri. Don't make up merde," Francis chided.

^-^ ^-^ ^-^

"You're really going to let him come over then?" Matthew asked uncertainly from where he was perched on the edge of his older twin's bed, stuffed polar bear in his arms. "You're not scared he's going to-"

"Mattie, I'm the hero, I'm not scared of anything," Alfred interrupted, "now go somewhere else, or he'll think I'm trying to gang up on him or something."

"Like I'd hit anyone," Matthew muttered, raising from the bed, "And anyways, I'm calling Ivan if I hear anything weird, just to let you know. I don't need you in the hospital again. Or Kiku either for that matter, he was really busted up that time."

Alfred rolled his eyes, "Yeah, yeah, now shoo," he said demandingly, shoving his brother from the room just as the doorbell rang. He bit his lip and hurried to the front of the house, swinging the door open as though he was excited to see the visitor, which he wasn't. But might as well be polite.

Kiku stared up at him with dark eyes as the door opened, "You don't have to overdo it," he deadpanned, "You'll break the door like that. And besides, I know you can't possibly be excited to be in my company. So cut it out."

The blond scowled, "Fine, have it your way." He led the other into his room, where he'd set up the easel and canvas they needed for their final project. He sat down on the bed, glaring at his visitor with everything he could muster. It would almost be worth an expulsion just to punch the guy again. Almost, but not quite. Plus, he was sure Ivan would kill him if he did get expelled, and that would not be pleasant.

"Have you made any sketches for the project?" Kiku asked, looking over the papers on the desk by the window absently, but not finding anything of the sort. Just silly doodled cartoons and a couple of photos. He blinked in surprise when he saw one, with Alfred and Ludwig at some sort of theme park. It sparked a bit of jealousy in him. Yes, he knew that they were friends now. And yes, Ludwig and himself were still close friends as well, but still . . . It unnerved him to see his "enemy" and one of his closest companions having fun together.

"No, I didn't make any sketches," Alfred said, watching the progress of Kiku's eyes over the pictures. He saw them halt again over a picture from freshman year, of Francis, Arthur, Ivan and himself sitting around Yao's hospital bed playing cards. That was right after Yao had been hurt, by his own brother no less.

Kiku's gaze lingered on the photo a moment, something almost like regret in his eyes, before he turned his full attention to Alfred, "All right then, do you at least have any ideas?"

"No." The dark haired man sighed, "We're supposed to create an abstract piece, you really have no ideas at all? It's not that hard."

"Oh yeah? Let's see your idea then," Alfred retorted.

Kiku rolled his eyes and swung his bag over his shoulder, rifling inside it until he pulled out a box of water colors. "We'll paint it together, obviously. Don't paint shapes or items, just lines and colors. Start in the top right, and I'll take the bottom left, we can meet in the middle."

Alfred raised an eyebrow, "What? That's not much to go on, what am I supposed to paint exactly? Lines don't make art."

"You'd be surprised," Kiku said in slight annoyance. "Just paint what you feel, okay? Will that work for you?"

The blond narrowed his eyes, but stood up, taking a brush from the other, "Fine, let's just get it over with then." He waited as Kiku set the watercolors and a cup of water down on the desk before running his brush across the red. He liked red, it was a strong color.

"Don't just choose a color because you like it," Kiku said quietly, as if he could read his partner's mind. "Choose the color for the feeling it gives you. What it makes you think of. Close your eyes and just let your mind wander, and paint the colors you feel, not what you like."

Alfred closed his eyes, thinking of the color red, since he really wanted to use it just to be ornery at this point. Red was the sunset, and the color of seven of the stripes on the American flag. Red was Gilbert's eyes, and Russia's overbearing protective personality. Red was . . . Blood. All of the blood that had spilled from Yao, the transfusions he'd had to go through. Blood that he himself had coughed up for weeks after the blow to his stomach. Blood that had splattered his shirt when he'd broken Kiku's arm, the bone piercing the skin. There was still a dark stain on his favorite bomber jacket, it wouldn't come out. He raised the brush and lashed an angry stroke of red across the top right corner. Then another, and another, over and over. One stroke for each person who'd been hurt. Francis, Arthur, Ivan, Yao, himself. He hesitated a moment, making another mark for Ludwig, and then one more for Kiku.

He opened his eyes briefly as he pondered the next color, glancing at Kiku's right arm. The teen's sleeves were rolled up, and Alfred could see the puckered, shining pink skin of the scar on his arm, a gash-like hole that had long since healed. He closed his eyes again, raising the brush to replicate the mark across the canvas. A short pink line, marking the ends of it like an indentation.

The next color was blue, shifting across the canvas toward the center. Blue for the regret he'd secretly held these past three years. For the sadness he'd seen in Arthur's eyes every time the event was mentioned. For the loneliness in the way Kiku walked as they passed in the hall.

Kiku started with red as well. Red for the hatred he'd felt towards his sibling, because they were half brothers. Because he was not his mother's real child, and how she paid more attention to Yao than him, and he was lucky to get a "hello" on the best of days. Red for the people he'd hurt, the same number of strokes Alfred applied on the opposite side. But he continued to stain the canvas crimson long after Alfred had stopped with that color. One stroke for every day that the blond had been in the hospital, struggling to survive the internal bleeding. One long stroke for how long he himself had stayed, only two rooms over.

He shifted to purple next, swirling it around the top. The turmoil in his mind every time he saw Alfred. The urge to hit him, and the urge to . . . Well, he wasn't going to even think that. It wouldn't happen anyways. He smile slightly, washing the brush out to take up the gold instead. Gold for the pride he felt when he said that Ludwig and Feliciano were his friends. Gold for the bond between him and his brother after the entire incident, the forgiveness that had been mutual. Gold for Alfred's hair.

The blue and the gold splashed together in the center of the canvas, startling both boys out of their thoughts as their brushes crossed. Without realizing it, they'd filled up almost all the space, save for the still white middle. Kiku blushed and took a step back, finding that Alfred was shoulder to shoulder than him. "Looks good," he mumbled softly, "What were you thinking of with the blue?"

Alfred chewed at his lip, "It's stupid, really . . ." He smiled a bit as Kiku simply stared at him in reply, demanding an answer with his dark eyes. "I was thinking of you, actually."

"Huh?"

"The way you're always by yourself, except for when Ludwig and Feliciano are with you," Alfred contained. "I've . . . Always thought it was my fault. Because everyone knew what you did to me, but not vise-versa. You got the butt end of the situation, because of me." He shrugged, "Anyways, what's the gold for? I get a question too."

Kiku closed his eyes, taking a deep, hesitant breath, "Pride, my brother, you." He didn't wait for the inevitable question, "Because I admire you. You're one of the most popular kids in school, and everyone looks up to you. I'm just the one they look down on. The quite boy who hurt you. I'm nothing."

"Hey, I don't-"

Kiku smiled, running his brush through the blue and gold, merging them together across the center of the canvas, filling up the empty space. "You don't need to apologize, I'm the one who was wrong, and we both know it. I went too far." He started as a hand rested on top of his, Alfred taking the brush and carving a heart in the gold and blue. A green heart.

"Then can we just start over?" the blond asked quietly. "I know, neither of us can forget, but . . . Can't we forgive. I mean, I can't exactly say I'm mad at you about it anymore. When you look . . . Lonely like that . . . I can't be mad at you." He smiled slightly, "But I can't say the same for Francis and Ludwig. I'm just waiting for them to rip each other's throats out any day now. Yeesh." Turning, he held out a hesitant hand, "So, what do you say?"

The shorter teen blinked, taking the hand, "But a heart isn't a sign of friendship . . ."

"I know," Alfred cast a nervous glance at the ceiling, "But, I don't know, this is going to sound really stupid. And perverted probably. Blame Francis. But isn't there like, some sort of magnetic attraction between enemies, or something like that?" He kept his eyes trained on the ceiling, biting his lip again.

"You mean love-hate sex," Kiku said bluntly.

"Something like that . . ." Alfred muttered, "But let's start out slow." He looked at Kiku again, "Hello, I'm Alfred F. Jones, and I like you, Kiku Honda."

Kiku smirked, "How slow is slow in your terms?"

"Kiss tonight, sex after finals," Alfred answered, leaning down to give the other a small chaste kiss on the lips. "On winter break maybe. Because then I don't have Ivna and Francis running in to purposefully try and interupt."

The other boy smiled, "That will do, Alfred-san. But no more hitting each other."

Alfred laughed, "No, never again."

One For Sorrow

Two for joy

Three for a girl

Four for a boy

Five for silver

Seven for gold

Eight for the secrets never to be told

RANDOM AUTHOR RAMBLE

This was the one shot requested by Empress Ran after wining the 100th review on Little Drop of Healing, more or less. I decided art would be the "studying," since other subjects hurt my brain. But it turned out to be more of a Forgiveness fic a Fluff, sorry sweetie, the paint thing was stuck in my head. Probably because I made a Hetalia pot for my final in Ceramics. It has twelve world flags, I'll take a picture for u all some day, it's really cool. But I coordinated it for each flag to connect to another that they were close to. So Japan's touches America, Germany, and Italy. Anywho, I gave Alfred my attitude towards school, except I wold never fail art. But we know Ameri-tan sucks at drawing. :]

The huge fight they talk about represents WW2 by the way. How China, France, and England got the worst of it, until awesome America stepped in to help. The internal bleeding is Pearl Harbor, and the hit to the ribs and arm for Kiku is the atomic bombs. The poem is something I read in a book a long time ago, but have remembered word for word. I thought it fit Japan and America a bit, sorrow and joy, boy and er . . . Boy. Gold for Alfred, silver for Kiku, and the secrets and lies, and pain between them.

Finally, I plan to do a Christmas oneshot too, in the same setting as this one is. With different characters though for the focus. (You'll see America ad Japan's relationship a bit more in it though). It's going to be a Christmas party, maybe held by France. He throws funny parties. Hope u all liked! (cuz I'm supposed to be writing my essay for finals right now. Me and Alfred, we fail together cuz we really don't care. Oh well, all nighter here we come. :D )

Review or author shall be killed by finals and Christmas cleaning. D: