Ch 10: Hemoglobin
The weather had finally begun to get warmer, something Alfred was really happy about. Of course Matthew knew what would happen because of this: it'd start to get warm in the spring, but by summer his older twin would start complaining about the heat. He hoped that this year the sun would be merciful during June, July, and August. For now though, the younger twin decided to enjoy the wonderful spring weather of April.
"Man I'm so excited!" Alfred said as he put away his books before lunch.
"Why?" Matthew asked.
"Spring break is next week! Five whole days without school! I can finally rest!"
"Well it's going to be a bit boring, don't you think Al?"
"Nah, we deserve it bro!"
Kiku walked up to them after returning his things to his own locker. "I assume that you love spring break Alfred-san?"
"Yep! I love any vacation because I can do whatever I want! I don't have to worry about homework or anything!"
The three began to walk to the cafeteria before it started to get crowded.
"So Alfred-san, what do you usually do on your spring break?"
"Oh well Matt and I go camping with mom for an entire week, and even our other friends come along too! Everyone who hangs out at the table joins us during spring break up in the mountains so we can all have fun!"
"Ah, I see. So that is why Yao and the others were never home during that time."
"What do you mean Kiku?" Matthew asked. "You don't go anywhere during break?"
"No, I stay at home. My uncle doesn't like to go, so he stood at home with me, but we hardly ever talked. I was in my room and he was at work, and he'd go have dinner at a friend's house, so I'd be by myself."
"Well this year Kiku," Alfred said as they headed toward their table with trays of lunch. "You're going camping with us too!"
"You really want me to go?"
"Of course! You should enjoy the outdoors and not always be holed up in your room! It'll be fun. I promise!"
The three were the first to arrive at the table, and shortly the rest of their friends gathered. Feliciano was the first one to greet them. "Good afternoon everyone ~ !"
"Hey hey heyyyy Alfred, we're going camping again right?"
"Yay! Well I already made a list of what I'm going to take. See?"
Feliciano handed him a wrinkled paper. His writing was neat and small, so it was easy to read.
"Feli, a lot of this is pasta…"
"Yeah I know!"
"…so where's everything else?"
"Oh well…I haven't decided on everything else… I just wrote down the kind of pasta we might need!"
"Feliciano," Ludwig began. "Don't you think we should eat things other than pasta at the trip?"
"…but pasta is delicious…"
"Yes I know, but it isn't exactly campfire food."
"Don't worry Ludwig," Alfred said. "We're going to bring burgers and hot dogs! And then we can make smores and we'll catch fish and then we can cook those too!"
"Well good. I'd hate to have to eat those blasted burgers again." Arthur said.
"Then you can starve Arthur. It's not like you bring anything anyway, so you shouldn't complain!"
"What are you talking about? My family is the one who brings the tables and chairs! Without those, you'd be eating standing up you know."
"Yeah yeah." Alfred turned to Kiku. "So Kiku, since this is the first time you're going to go camping with us, is there anything you'd like to do?"
"Oh…uhm…" Being the center of attention made him flustered. "W-Well I have never been camping, so I don't know what there is to do over there…"
"You've never been camping?"
"Man Kiku, you really were deprived of a life! Well buddy, don't you worry." He slung an arm over his shoulder. "I'm the one who plans out what we're going to be doing, so I'll talk to mom about it. You're going to have a lot of fun!"
"I-I-I hope so…"
"As a change of topic," Francis said. "Is anybody donating blood tomorrow? We're having a blood drive you know."
"No, not me," Ivan replied sadly. "I don't like donating blood, because it puts me on edge and…doesn't allow me to think straight."
"I can never donate because I'm always underweight," Yao said in annoyance. "I have been trying to load up on pounds these past couple of weeks so I'm allowed inside this time!"
"Well I like donating blood, because then they give you free food after and a big sticker!" Alfred exclaimed. "So I'm gonna do it tomorrow. I think I'll get out of math class again. Kiku are you going?"
"Uhm…I don't know…"
"You should try! Go during the time when I'm going: math class! It's a good strategy since then you'll need energy, which is what lunch time is for, which is why I'm going during Mr. Jenkins' class! It's not like I want to skip on purpose."
Matthew was going to say something but decided to keep it to himself. "We'll have to skip baseball practice too though. The nurses always exempt the athletes from practice after school because they donated blood, and it could be dangerous if they exercise."
"Damn I forgot about that… Do you think Coach will get upset?"
"No, I don't think so since she donates blood too."
"Great! Then there is no problem! Alright Kiku, so what do you say?"
"Uhm…w-well I don't know…"
"You'll be doing a good thing for humanity and it feels good to donate too!"
"W-Well alright then. I guess…I shall try it."
It took a while for Alfred to convince Mr. Jenkins to let him leave class for the blood drive, but in the end he gave in, seeing as how, "I don't think you'll pay attention today anyway so don't disrupt my class and leave instead."
Matthew and Kiku followed Alfred since they were in the same class, and then Arthur decided to leave too. The four of them walked to the gym where the donations were being held.
"There are a lot of people here this time," Matthew said. "I wonder how long this will take?"
"Who knows?" Arthur said, sitting down on the bleachers. "The good thing is that we had filled out our paperwork in the morning and handed it in to the volunteer assistants, so we shouldn't have to wait as long."
"Ah I see you came after all mon cher ~"
Francis walked up to them, his left arm wrapped in blue bandage.
"Francis you donated already?" Alfred said. "Why didn't you wait for us?"
"Alfred, these things you can't wait for. The sooner you donate blood, the sooner somebody's life can be saved."
"You have a point…"
"I see Arthur decided to donate this year."
"Of course I did. I wasn't about to let you guys rub it in my face that you donated blood and I'm a horrible person because I didn't help save a life."
Alfred laughed. "Some imagination you have! Anyway, I hope Kiku gets to sit next to me!"
"Uhm…it looks painful though…" he replied timidly. Looking at the students donating blood on the stretchers, he felt a bit light-headed.
"Hey Fran," Gilbert said walking up to his French bestie, a red bandage around his arm. "You wanna leave now or what?"
"No, I'll stay here and keep our little English friend company."
"Sweet I'll stay with you!"
They both sat on opposite sides of Arthur, who looked displeased. "You guys can leave. I don't need you around."
"Nonsense. I have a feeling you might. Oh Gilbert, how is Antonio?"
"Ah, well he's still fussing over Manny."
"Manny?" Alfred said worriedly. "What happened?"
"Well you see, after Manny donated blood, he felt faint so he had to lie down, and then Toni got all concerned so he's over there yonder by Manny's side, as if he were at his deathbed. I swear, Toni is too motherly sometimes…"
"What about Lovino?"
"Oh, Lovino is over there at the table pigging out on the snacks like Feli is. Surprisingly neither of them felt faint when they donated, and I was sure they'd be the first ones to knock out. The nurses took great care of them and made sure the needle hurt as little as possible. I think it's because they have some like magic charm shit that makes women like them in an instant."
"Gilbert-san, there is no such thing as magic though," Kiku said, not noticing how appalled Arthur's face looked. "I think it's because Feliciano-kun and Lovino-san are…well just good with talking to women."
He shrugged. "Maybe."
One of the nurses called Matthew and he walked over to the front table, where he was led away for a questionnaire with a doctor. Alfred couldn't sit still and wanted to be next already. Unluckily for him, Arthur went next, Francis and Gilbert betting that he was going to be the next one to faint from blood loss. They then went over to Antonio to see if he wanted to join in. The American was left with Kiku.
"I really hope we get placed next to each other…"
"I-I-I do too… Uhm, I have never done this so…I don't know what to expect and…"
"Aww Kiku, are you scared?"
"Wh-What? N-No I am not afraid!"
"It's okay if you're scared. I was a little scared the first time I did this too. Well with my charms, I'll see if I can sweet-talk the nurses into letting you lay beside me."
Kiku watched him as he got up when his name was called. He was then left alone to wait for his turn. He looked around the gym and hoped he wouldn't be one of those people who fainted.
After such a thought, his name was called and he was escorted by one of the nurses to what seemed like a booth.
"Hello!" she greeted warmly.
"H-Hello. Good afternoon."
"Good afternoon to you too." She looked at his application and then said, "Okay Mr. Honda, now if you'll just step on this weight scale, we'll get started."
Kiku stood on the scale and was afraid to look down. The nurse recorded the number on his application and then said, "You're in luck. You just barely made it past the weight requirement for the blood drive. You're sure a light boy!"
"Yes, I figured as much. It is because I have a small frame…"
"Well you're still cute nonetheless."
"Now then, I'll just check your blood. Give me your ring finger. That's the one I like to use. This might sting for a second."
Kiku flinched when a needle hit his finger. The nurse checked his blood on a small machine, while he covered his 'wound' with a piece of cotton.
"Okay your blood is good too! Now I'm just going to have you answer some questions on this little computer here, and then you're all set!"
The nurse left the booth and Kiku sat down in the seat in front of the computer. It asked him questions about his health and he answered all of them honestly, for this was a serious matter and he didn't want to end up being a person who was the cause for another's demise.
"Question eighteen. Skip if female. Have you ever had sex with another male before?"
He stared at the question and blushed. "S-Such a thing to ask a student… I-I-I would never do that, even though…my romantic preference…" He shook his head and clicked "No."
The nurse came back just as he finished answering the last question. "All done Mr. Honda?"
"Yes, I have finished answering everything."
"Good good! Now follow me please."
She led him to a stretcher that had been vacant, and he nervously lay down on it. "Another nurse will be right with you, okay?"
He stared up at the ceiling, feeling as if he was going to be operated on. A voice called out to him from his right. "Don't worry Kiku."
The Japanese boy turned to the voice and was surprised that it was Alfred. "Alfred-san?"
"Ha ha, surprised? See, I told you I'd work things out!"
"But how did you-"
"The Jones Charm! Nobody can resist that!"
"Oh, I see…" He looked closer and saw that Alfred was already in the process of the donation. "Does it…hurt?"
"Huh? Oh, no it doesn't hurt. I might have a sore spot tomorrow though, but it doesn't hurt. I just don't want to look at the bag of blood otherwise I'll scream ha ha!"
Another nurse came by and told Kiku what she was going to do. He tried not to look as she set the needle on his arm, but once everything was done, he managed to glance at his arm which was wrapped, holding the needle in place, the tube leading down to the bag of blood at the bottom of the stretcher.
"See, it wasn't so bad right?" Alfred said. "And then when you're done, you can choose what color bandage you want! Are you going to get pink?"
"Uhm…they have that color?"
"W-Well I don't know since…"
"It won't look weird. Besides, other guys are wearing pink bandage. They don't care. I'll even wear one so you don't feel weird."
"N-No that's fine Alfred-san."
"Are you sure?"
"Well okay then."
Kiku lay in silence, noticing Alfred occupied himself with his iPod, his eyes closed with a smile on his face. He wondered what he was thinking about, if the lyrics weren't getting to him that is. He also wondered what it'd be like to go on a camping trip. He didn't like being out in the wilderness, but he was sure there were campsites or some places where it was mostly safe to stay. The small young man was drifting off to sleep after a while, until somebody tapped his shoulder gently. He opened his eyes and looked up at the nurse.
"Okay, you're all finished!" Carefully she took out the needle and gave Kiku a piece of medicated cotton, telling him to put pressure where the needle was so he didn't continue to bleed. He watched as the nurse took the bags of blood and handed them to another nurse. He couldn't believe he donated so much, and wondered just exactly how much blood the human body was capable of holding.
"So which color would you like?" she asked. Kiku looked at the selection and hesitantly said, "Pink is fine…"
After his arm was wrapped, he turned to his right to see if Alfred was there, but noticed he was gone and instead had left to the table with snacks. Kiku slowly got off the stretcher and headed over to him, but not before receiving a small paper from the nurse.
"Hey Kiku!" Alfred greeted, cookies in his mouth. Matthew was sitting right next to him. He noticed that the twins got their favorite colors, white and red, for their bandages.
"Hello Alfred-san, Matthew-san."
"So how was it?" asked the younger twin.
"Uhm, it was okay I suppose. I feel a bit…frail though."
"You need to eat. Here." He pulled up a chair and Kiku sat down next to him. Alfred handed him some snacks, which Kiku ate timidly.
"Alfred-san, do you know what this paper is for?"
"Huh? Oh, that you give to that guy over there, and he'll give you a sticker and a free movie ticket!"
"Yeah, and something about a scholarship or whatever."
Kiku walked over to the man, who handed him everything Alfred said he would. The boy didn't care so much for the sticker or the movie ticket, but was interested in what the scholarship offer had to say. He put all three things in his pocket and sat back down.
"So, where is Arthur-san?"
"Ha ha, well guess what? He did faint after all! He's over there on the floor, cussing out Francis and Gilbert."
Sure enough, Arthur was lying down, looking exhausted, but apparently had enough energy to shriek profanities at the French and German student. Gilbert just laughed and told him to get over it, and Francis merely smirked.
Kiku saw Antonio walking over to the table, with Manuel by his side, the Spanish boy supporting his cousin by the shoulder. The latter sat down and groaned, his head in his hands, Antonio pulling up a chair and babying him like he always did.
"Manny here, drink this juice. Oh and here are some cookies! You'll feel better if you eat something!"
"But you fainted and I don't want you to faint again later! I'll cry if you do!"
"Idiota, didn't you hear me? I said I'm fine…"
"Manny…why can't you love me?!"
"Don't start that again!"
Alfred laughed and said, "Come on Manny, don't be mean to Antonio."
"I don't like that he's treating me like a baby though!"
"But you'll always be my baby cousin Manny!"
"Pendejo, I'm only a year younger than you are!"
"I still count that as being my baby cousin."
"Today when we get home, I'll make you something healthy to eat, and I'll bring it to you in bed. You should go to sleep early today, okay?"
"Why…?" Manuel asked looking up at the ceiling, shaking his fists.
Matthew smiled. "Antonio is just being nice Manuel."
"But I really don't want to deal with him when I don't feel good…"
"That's why I'm dealing with you, so you can feel good later!" Antonio hugged him. "I wouldn't want my Manuelito to go to the hospital or anything."
"Damn it don't you know when people don't want you around? Go hang out with Lovi or something!"
"But you're the one who needs attention right now, not Lovi."
"Oh, so then if both of us fainted, you'd be with Lovi instead huh?"
"No I see how it is. History repeats itself." Manuel looked away and crossed his arms, obviously upset.
"You just said you didn't want me babying you, and yet you come out with this?"
"Because you know it's true."
"Manuel, first you don't want me to be around you, but whenever it deals with Lovino, then you become hurt. Why?"
The Mexican boy stood quiet and continued to sport a frown. Antonio was silent and seemed sad yet a bit frustrated at the same time. He sighed and got up, walking over to the Vargas brothers.
"See? I knew it. You always prefer him. Things are never going to change."
Antonio looked back but Manuel just glared at him. Kiku could see the genuine sadness in the Spanish boy's green eyes, but he said nothing in return and sat down to join the Italians.
"Manny, what was that all about?" Alfred asked.
"I mean…usually Toni is happy but…I think what you said really hurt him this time."
"Manuel, why are you so harsh with him? He really does love you, you know…" Matthew said with sadness in his own expression.
"Tch. No he doesn't. He's just trying to make up for back then."
"Manuel-san, I think that…when it comes to Antonio-san, you are basically a tsundere."
He looked at Kiku with a raised eyebrow. "…the hell is a tsundere?"
"Oh…uhm, well you see…"
"A tsundere is like a person who's a dick but at the same time can be super nice genuinely too. Basically, a tsundere is a person like Arthur!" Alfred grinned, Kiku shocked that he actually knew what that word meant.
"But I'm not like Arthur."
"Oh, yeah you're not, except the tsundere part when it comes to Toni. So then…you would be a Type B tsundere! Right Kiku?"
The Japanese boy still couldn't register what was happening. "Uhm, y-yes."
"I have no idea what the hell a tsundere Type B even is you two…"
"Uhm, w-well let me explain it further Manuel-san. A tsundere is a type of person who has a tough outer shell but a soft center. They alternate between being harsh or angry, and gentle and sweet. There are two types of a tsundere. A is the type where they are tsundere all the time and switch from harsh to sweet repeatedly, like Arthur-san and Lovino-san. The B types however only have their harsh side triggered when they interact with those they hold affection for, and can be sweet to them too under the proper circumstances. You tend to fall under this type. So…a tsundere is basically a bitter-sweet person I suppose."
"Well I don't hold affection for that estupido Antonio, okay?"
"See Manny you're doing it again! Denial of feeliiiiings ~ !"
"I am not denying anything Alfredo!"
The Jones Twins and Kiku felt a bit exhausted because of the blood drive, so they were quiet during the ride home on the school bus. In fact, most of the students were feeling tired.
"I think I'll go job hunting after spring break," Alfred said to Kiku.
"Yeah. Summer's coming and all, so we need to get summer jobs. I really want to get a job like, at the movie theaters! Matt wants to get a job at a bookstore. Pfft."
"Hey I'll get discounts and then you can buy your…comics or whatever for less!"
"Oh yeah that's true."
"So you only look for employment in the summer?"
"Yeah. Mom doesn't want us loafing around at home doing nothing for like two months, so she says summer is the only time when we can get jobs, which is good I guess since I don't have to worry about schoolwork or anything. You still going to work in the summer?"
"Uhm, yes I think so."
Kiku heard a moan from behind his seat so he turned around and asked, "Are you alright Arthur-san? You had fainted at the blood drive."
"I'm fine Kiku. It's just that now I am going to bloody murder these three buffoons over here…"
"Oh now don't blame this on us. You were the one who wanted to donate mon cher. We did not force you to do anything."
"But you bet that I would faint, so you jinxed me!" He held his head. "Anyway, I think I'll sleep when I get home or something…"
"Now don't be mad with us Artie. You didn't die or anything."
"That still does not help your situation Gilbert." Noticing the Spanish boy out of the trio hadn't said anything, Arthur asked, "No commentary from you Antonio?"
Instead of making a smart remark, Arthur looked genuinely curious. "What's wrong? Usually you'd join these two in making my life miserable, and yet today…you seem spacey."
"…it's nothing." He gazed out the window, paying no mind to his surroundings in the bus. Arthur noticed the tiniest hint of sadness in the boy's expression, so he decided to drop the argument.
Whispering to Francis, he asked, "What's wrong with him?"
"Manuel said something that really hurt him, but he won't tell me what."
"What is with those two anyway?"
"Nobody knows. I've asked Antonio about it, and even Manuel, but they never give me an answer or they change the subject. I'm guessing it's a highly sensitive topic, whatever it is."
Kiku didn't like to be an eavesdropper, but his curiosity kept growing and growing, the boy dying to know just what exactly had happened between the Spanish boy, and his Mexican cousin.
When the Jones residents and the Sanchez family walked home, Alfred noticed Manuel was unusually quiet, which greatly concerned him. "So…you feel better now Manny? Like, you don't feel faint anymore?"
"No, I don't. Thanks for asking."
More silence between the friends.
"…gonna go home and eat?"
"Probably. I don't feel like doing homework so I'll just do it in the morning. All I want to do right now is rest."
"Okay." He looked at the ground and then said, "Toni's a good guy you know."
"Yeah I know."
"Then…why is it that there's always a negative atmosphere when you two are together?"
"Because he's not always nice to me."
"I find that hard to believe. Toni practically adores you. I always see him doting over you and saying how cute or handsome you are."
"Yeah well that doesn't make up for what happened."
"What exactly DID happen?"
"Alicia, Eva, tell mom I'm gonna take a drive."
"To where?" asked Alicia.
"Just around town, maybe to the grocery store. I sorta need to be alone right now."
When they reached home, Manuel immediately got into his car and drove off. The two sisters looked concerned. Eva turned to the Jones and said, "I'm sorry he gets like this, but you have to understand that what happened isn't something that a person can get over."
"That's the problem," Alfred said, sounding a bit frustrated. "I don't know what happened and he never tells me when I ask."
"Well, he will when he's ready. Don't badger him about it, because if you do, it'll come out in the worst way possible."
The two sisters walked into their house, leaving Alfred, Matthew, and Kiku to stare. The Japanese boy noticed Alfred still looked very concerned about what just happened, and now he too was beginning to worry.
Friday had approached, and as soon as Alfred got home, he rejoiced, tossing his backpack on the couch.
"YES. Spring break at laaaast!"
Matthew laughed. "I guess this means it's time to pack for our camping trip."
"Why is Jones-san's car still in the driveway? Didn't she work today?"
"Oh, no she didn't. She went to go rent an RV for our trip."
"An RV? You mean those huge trailer-like vehicles?"
"Yes. You're coming with us this year, right Kiku?"
"Y-Yes I am."
"That's great! You'll have a lot of fun then."
"C'mon Matt we gotta start packing! You should too Kiku!"
Alfred pulled his brother by the arm upstairs, and while Matthew was protesting, Kiku gave a chuckle. He walked upstairs to his own room and set his school accessories down on his desk.
Looking at the newly painted green walls, Kiku smiled with contentment. He picked up a photo of his late parents that was by his bedside, and he smiled a bit sadly.
"I really am having fun here living with the Jones family. They've treated me with much kindness and hospitality. I'm sure if you were both still alive, you would like all three of them very much."
"Boys I'm home!" came Emily's voice from downstairs. Kiku set the photo back on his bedside table, and walked out of the room.
"Jones-san, welcome home."
"Hello Kiku! Look look! I rented an RV! Surely my boys have told you what we do every year for spring break right?"
"Yes, you all go on a camping trip."
"And you're coming with! Do you have your bags ready?"
"What? Oh, uhm, n-no."
"Well you should start gathering all your belongings you want to take with you because we leave at three in the morning tomorrow!"
"Wh-What? Why so early?"
"It's a long drive to where we're gonna go camping! Plus we want to make the most of our trip! I can't leave you at home by yourself, nor do I want to, because you're a part of this family now, so you're gonna have fun with us too!"
Kiku could not say no to a grinning face from Emily. He smiled and said, "Alright, I shall go pack then."
"Good good! Now I'm going to go run to the supermarket to buy our food. I'll be back in a while. Make sure to tell the boys. Oh, and here are the keys to the RV if you want to check it out."
She handed the boy the new keys and then dashed to her own car, driving down the street to the market.
"Jones-san is very hyper like Alfred-san. I can see why they are related."
Kiku turned to his side and noticed Alfred had been staring out the window.
"This RV is bigger than last year's! Matt let's go look inside!"
"Okay I'm coming!"
"You too Kiku!"
The tall blonde dragged his brother and friend to the driveway to check out the large vehicle. Opening the door and stepping inside, Alfred's eyes sparkled, and so did Kiku's.
"I-I-I have never been inside such a place."
"Dude, RVs are awesome. It also beats sleeping in a tent."
"I wonder if more people are going this year?" asked Matthew as he stepped inside. "This one is much more spacious than the one we rented last year."
"Well, the more the merrier! Geez I'm so excited for tomorrow! I should start putting stuff in here! C'mon Matt!"
Once again, he dragged his brother, except this time it was across the lawn to their house. Kiku decided to wander around the vehicle, looking at all the nooks and crannies.
"It even has a toilet and a shower. This is an amazing thing. Perhaps camping will be a good experience for me after all. I shall do my best to make this trip worthwhile for myself then!"
Suddenly, he didn't care anymore that he had to wake up at such an early time in the morning on Saturday.
A/N: The title for this chapter is so lame I can't-anyway, yes I have returned! It's been about three months since I last updated this story. I swear I planned to get a new chapter out much sooner but college really sucks because you have so much school work that you can't really do anything but study. The good thing is that finals are this week, so I'll have all of the summer to write! Though, I might focus on just getting my older fics done, so I can have more time for this one. I wrote like the first chapter to three new Hetalia fics I want to post up, but I'll need to flesh them out a lot more. One is a FrUK AU story and the other two are general AUs, one consisting of a historical society with a time period like the 1900's, while the other one is set in the far future, but I don't know if I'll ever write them out in full. The FrUK one though I might...
You know what I've noticed? It's really hard to finish fanfics of fandoms you're not that in to anymore, like the Naruto one that I started writing since like four years ago. It's still not finished. This is very sad... *sigh* I must finish it, the Bleach one, and Pokemon one soon... Then I can fully focus on getting this one done.
Sorry if this chapter seemed sorta choppy or like, short...or like a filler LOL. The blood drive thing I did experience though, not the fainting part thank God. And yes, questions like the one Kiku got do exist on those surveys. One even asked me "Have you ever had sex with a male who has had sex with another male in the past?" and I'm sitting there like, "Wtf." It was hilarious omg. But I finally understand why they ask such intimate questions. Anyway, the next chapter, everyone will finally get to know just what exactly is fueling Manuel's hate toward Antonio. Not sure if I'm going to make a flashback scene or just have Manuel describe it... I think I'll do a flashback. Yeah.
Thanks again everyone for your wonderful reviews! They always drive me to continue writing! ;w;