What's in a Name
The sky was clear as he stepped out of the removal van, carrying an overly large cardboard box. "So much for rain." Alfred laughed, hauling the box under one arm so as to rummage through his pocket and find the keys to his new apartment.
It was the first time the nineteen year old had properly been away from home. He'd been on holidays, of course, and had stayed round at his friends' houses, but this was his first time actually living alone.
He turned the key in the lock and kicked the door open, looking on a rather crumpled piece of paper for his room number and then checking the floor plan. Top floor. Typical...
Alfred dumped the box at the bottom of the stairs and returned to the van to get another, before picking both up and beginning his trudge up the four flights of stairs.
The apartment building was new and he'd been lucky to get a room. The housing agent had told him that the area was popular and flats were selling out fast, so he bought one quickly while he still could. At least, that's what he had been told. From looking around, he could tell that barely anyone was living there. Only two other cars were parked outside, out of the twelve spaces available, and there were still 5 flats up for sale out of the 8 that were in that particular building.
Never trust an estate agent... Alfred sighed to himself.
He pulled the same trick on his door that he'd done on the front door. Fumbling with the key and kicking the door open when he heard the lock click. He shoved the boxes on a table that had already been delivered and descended the stairs again to bring up the rest of his belongings, thanking the stars that he didn't have much.
On his fifth trip up the stairs, Alfred noticed that one of the doors had opened on the forth landing, opposite his own room. He smiled at the knowledge that there actually were other people living in the block and turned to walk through his door, only to walk straight into another man. He dropped the boxes he was carrying, swearing loudly at the resultant smashing noise that came from within one of them, and turned to see what damage he'd done to whoever he'd bumped into.
The smaller man had fallen backwards into Alfred's room and was hurriedly picking himself up off the floor, his black hair slightly out of place, the surprise of being knocked over still present on his face.
"Oh my god! I'm so sorry!" Alfred rushed to help the man up, "Are you okay?"
The man smiled up at him, "I'm perfectly fine, don't worry." He straightened his shirt, and returned to looking at the flustered teen standing in the doorway. "Sorry for entering your room without permission. I was curious as to who was moving in." He was overly polite, considering how young he looked, Alfred thought. He didn't appear to be much older than himself.
Alfred started when a hand was held out in front of him, he'd been too busy thinking to realise that he was being spoken to. "Ah, right!" He hurried out, "I'm Alfred. Alfred Jones." He took the man's hand and shook it.
"Kiku Honda. Pleased to meet you, Alfred." He replied, shaking Alfred's hand in turn. "I live in the room opposite."
"I guessed." Alfred said, finally relaxing into the situation, and picking up the damaged boxes. "Your door's open."
"Ah yes, well, as I said, I was curious as to who was going to be living opposite me. There has only been myself and one other person living here until now, not counting the landlord, of course."
Bloody estate agents... Alfred frowned inwardly at the lie he'd been told when he'd bought the room.
"Who's the other person?" Alfred asked, tilting his head to one side in a very child-like manner, something that he had a habit of doing unconsciously.
Kiku's brow furrowed slightly. "To be honest I'd avoid him if I were you. His name's-"
"Avoid who?" A long drawling voice emanated from the man who now had his arm drooped around Kiku's shoulder. His blonde hair hung around his shoulders and his smile was like a Cheshire cat's. "Were you talking about moi, Kiku?" The smaller man squirmed slightly, "That's not good, now is it? You should introduce me properly, like any friend would, non?"
"No, I wasn't talking about you, Mr. Landlord." Kiku sighed, shifting out from under the blonde's arm.
"Alfred Jones, oui?" The landlord smiled over at the stunned Alfred, "I've been expecting you."
"Uh, yeah." Alfred stammered, "I just got here. You're Mr. Bonnefoy, right?"
"Oui, that is me, but none of this 'Mr. Bonnefoy' nonsense, you may simply call me Francis, mon cher." The Frenchman winked over at Alfred, who didn't appreciate the gesture wholly, and Kiku sighed an exasperated sigh.
"Mr. Landlord, shouldn't you inform your new tenant of your household rules?"
"Ah yes! A most excellent idea, Kiku!" Francis clapped Kiku on the back, "However, I am meeting with a most enchanting lady soon, and so I must dash. I hope you would be so good as to give young Alfred the general idea for me." He winked at Kiku this time, and dashed from the room, laughing.
"I didn't expect the landlord to be so..." Alfred began, not finding the right words to describe the man who was now in charge of his accommodation.
"So lewd?" Kiku suggested, rolling his eyes. "You'd best get used to him. His only rule is not to disturb him after nine o'clock in the evening, in case one of his 'lady friends' is staying with him."
"Oh." Alfred was feeling even more angry at the housing agent by this point for convincing him to buy the apartment. He shuffled his feet, and moved towards the table where the boxes were stacked up, waiting to be unpacked. "So, the other guy living here?" He continued their previous conversation.
"Ah yes, that would be England. That's what he goes by, anyway. He lives downstairs with his younger brother. He has the foulest of tempers, so I'd do my best to avoid him, if I were you."
"I didn't see anyone down there when I got here."
"His brother's only twelve, so he'd be at school at this time. England himself, I don't know what he does. He's out during the day and doesn't come back until late at night on some days."
"Hmm." Alfred motioned, "Sounds like quite a character."
"Yes, well, just knock if you need my help with anything." Kiku smiled, and then proceeded to show himself out of Alfred's room.
Alfred didn't finish unpacking most of his belongings until later in the afternoon. He'd left the discarded boxes in a pile in the corner ready for him to take downstairs later on. He left a lot of things wrapped up in paper at the bottom of the chest of drawers that had been delivered the previous week. They were things his brother had packed for him, things he didn't particularly want to look at.
He heard a door slam downstairs, and, figuring that it was just Francis returning from his meeting, decided it was a good time to head out to the store. His refrigerator was unwelcomingly empty and he hadn't eaten since before he had left.
Grabbing his wallet, keys, and the empty boxes, Alfred shunted the door open with his hip, closed it again with a kick, and headed out of the building. As he dumped the boxes by the dustbins he noted that there was now a motorbike in one of the parking spaces. Must be that 'England' guy, Kiku was talking about, Alfred thought to himself, and headed off down the street.
It was a good opportunity for him to explore the area a bit. Yes, he'd been told that it was a good area, but he'd been told that by the same estate agent who had told him that the apartment building was almost full. One thing was apparent. The 'shop just around the corner' was also a lie, because it took Alfred nearly half an hour to find a corner that sold anything useful. Before then, all he had seen was a bar, post office and the train station which he had passed in the removal van.
It was at this point that he saw that same motorbike pass him. He glimpsed that man riding it. He looked to be shorter than himself, and quite skinny, but was wearing a helmet so Alfred couldn't get a good look at him. He was driving faster than he should've been down the road and was followed by another three bikes, which were going equally as fast.
Looking around, Alfred could see a number of other bikes parked outside the surrounding houses and shops, but thought nothing much of it.
Must be the fad or something...
It was getting dark by then and, not really knowing his way around yet, Alfred decided it best to buy what he needed and head back to the apartment.
"Crap." Alfred kicked the pavement.
The streets looked different at night, and he's inevitably gotten himself lost in the maze of roads he'd previously taken. Not only that, but most of the roads didn't have streetlamps, which left him wandering around in what was nearly complete darkness.
It was almost eerie, and Alfred hated it. He'd always been terrified of things jumping out from alleys and the like. It came from watching too many horror movies late at night with his brother and it was about all he could actually be teased for.
Every now and then he'd hear the revving of engines or a car would drive past. He nearly walked into people several times, who merely grumbled to themselves and continued on their way, while Alfred carried on wandering around in his hopeless attempt to find his new home.
Eventually, and thankfully, Alfred came to the end of a road the he recognised. The road itself ended in three separate alleys which forked off in different directions. "Finally." He breathed out slowly, his jumpiness starting to subside, replaced by his usual self-confidence.
He headed for the left-hand alley, remembering that it came out a couple of streets away from the apartment block, stopping only to praise himself for his 'amazing memory skills'.
That's when he heard it again. The revving engines. Only this time they were getting louder. Alfred turned on the spot as four sets of headlights turned on him from down one of the alleys.
The bikes screeched out of the narrow pathway, which they had all somehow managed to drive down much too fast without crashing spectacularly, and stopped in front of the surprised teenager, backing him into the corner.
"Hoh?" One of the riders chuckled, lifting his visor to reveal very slightly red eyes, "Now what do we have here?"