Okay, I would like to apologize for the time it took to write this chapter. I started before my vacation two months ago and finished the first third of the chapter then, but due to working quite literally every day since I returned from vacation, I did not have the time to dedicate to this chapter what it really needed. Rather than force it out, I waited until I could really get into the groove again. While I'm still not totally satisfied with this chapter (it was originally going to be much longer) I feel like it is enough to publish. So I'm sorry for the wait to all of you who have almost given up hope!
Special thanks to Axxi, Fuyukaina Baka, Butterfly Ichihara, l Shadow Bard l, Deikuru, .X7, Blind Squirrel and MeltingMetal315 for their great reviews.
Characters: (Human Names Used - More May Be Added/Cameo In The Future) America, Canada, England, Prussia, Hungary, Poland, Switzerland, Ancient Rome, France, OC!Historical Figures, OC!Civilians
Warnings: Angst, Drugs, Substance Abuse, Religious Overtones, Child Abuse, Rape, Swearing, Violence, Mentions of Suicide
Disclaimer: Hetalia: Axis Powers © Himaruya Hidekaz, this is a fan created story.
Chapter Sixteen: Plans Change
The day I handed back The Count of Monte Cristo, Mr. Kirkland gave me a bit of a proud smile and returned the old book to its place on the oak shelf.
It was a bit emptying. For the first time since I had gotten the book it was no longer within reach. It had become my bible in a Catholic school.
Afterwards, my brother and I headed to mass and I finally asked Alfred what he was looking forward to each time we went to chapel. He smirked and told me that God was going to get revenge for all his little children.
"Well," I said, "I don't know about that."
He would have to wait in line if that was true.
There was one week left before the Christmas break. There were no classes scheduled but there were allotted times for semester exams.
The exams for our elementary grades were not supposed to be hard but I noticed that the students who were not on scholarship were attempting to study.
I didn't even know how to study for regular tests, let alone a semester's worth. I wasn't really feeling like talking to anyone to figure out what to do either, though I was fairly sure Gilbert wouldn't have minded all that much in helping us out.
Alfred might've asked if it had occurred to him, but I wasn't going to bring it up with our sometimes mentor. Likewise, I don't think he was all that aware of what was going on.
Perhaps this would have bothered me more if my concerns had still been strictly academic, but they weren't. I didn't owe anything to St. Francis deSales.
"What are we going to do for Christmas?" Al asked. "Are we going to walk to the city?"
I kept our brisk pace up, which was admittedly quite a feat considering how Al would pause every couple of steps to scoop up some snow and hold it in his hands to see how long it lasted.
"We'd never make it," I replied simply. "That was a long drive."
"Well, we can take our time," Al continued. "It's not like we're coming back."
I blinked a few times and looked to him. He seemed utterly unfazed by his own words.
"I guess you're right," I said. "But what are we going to do?"
"Give Grandma Jonesie a ring," he said. "And use the left over money to buy a house. And a farm."
His words were dreamy and his gaze far off. He didn't believe his own words so I didn't shoot them down. There was nothing wrong with fantasizing.
Art was an interesting exception to the semester exam issue.
Miss Hedervary felt that it was a little less than necessary to evaluate her elementary students on the color wheel and so told us to draw one picture for her.
Then, as the students finished and made their way to her desk, they exchanged their paper for a homemade cupcake.
"I drew a cow," Al informed me as we walked up together. He then flashed the chocolate cow at me before hiding it against his chest again.
I… wasn't really surprised. But I let Al enjoy his moment in any case.
Miss Hedervary smiled at us, a bit of something uneasy in her eyes. The more I looked at it the more her smile seemed awfully forced.
"Oh, and what do you two have for me?" she asked with her normal tone.
"A cow," Al informed her shortly before slapping the picture on the desk and holding out his hand expectantly for a cupcake.
It was received.
Then she smiled at me and I faintly recalled a terrible portrait of her at the beginning of the school year. "What about you, Matthew?"
I turned over my sheet and frowned at the gray mass with white squares.
"Oh? What is this?" she asked as she took the paper into her hands.
"The city," I replied. "I don't need a cupcake, Miss Hedervary."
We went back to our seats and sat down.
If one were to judge by the day's events up until that point, Miss Hedervary would've given us a Christmas goodbye with all the conventions.
Gilbert was never a student that took conventions to heart, though.
In his one last true chance to do so, he tore into the room in the last fifteen or so minutes of the period and turned quickly to Miss Hedervary's table. He looked at her behind thick, black-rimmed sunglasses and held out a bouquet in a display that would've made Paul Newman jealous.
"I might not make it through the winter without you, Miss Hedervary," Gilbert announced in that lofty voice only he could manage.
The entire class laughed awkwardly and looked to our teacher. Those of us who knew Gilbert best, however, did take a moment to examine how he looked.
It might've been the first time I noticed that he had, in fact, lost some weight in the past week.
I only noticed due to the fact that he had disappeared to "study" and we hadn't seen him much over the week save for a casual wave when we crossed paths.
Miss Hedervary smiled thinly at him. "Shouldn't you be in a class right now? Taking an exam?" she asked him severely.
He laughed and shook his head. "You know better, Miss Hedervary! I'm a super test taker! Now… about marrying me…"
Alfred and I were still caught in the dangerous spot of not knowing where to go next.
The only concrete thought in Alfred's mind was that we were not staying at St. Francis.
I wasn't so sure anymore.
After all, I had yet to tell my brother that there was no where else to go.
We were leaving Miss Hedervary's class for the last time when we were stopped in the hall by Feliks.
"Hold on, Broskis," he said. "We have like a special announcement."
I inquired who "we" pertained to only for the door behind us to open again.
"Who else feeds you brats?" Gilbert soundly answered before wrapping the toothpicks he called arms around both our shoulders. "Feliks and I are arranging a Christmas smash for the gang before everyone heads out for the break. You two are going. No excuses."
Al looked at me, though I had no idea what for.
It wasn't like either of us had any say when Gil got like this.
When you're a kid it always seems like you have all the time in the world.
There's never a rush on much of anything.
Years later my brother once asked, quite eloquently I might add, "what the fuck" was I waiting on if I was going to blow the whistle anyway.
I'm still not sure.
I think maybe "time."
There was no way I could've known that "time" was actually running out.
The breaking of our door's lock wasn't actually what woke us up. Al said it was but he was wrong.
I know because he woke up the exact time as me. When the door was rammed into.
We had still been in the habit of shoving the chairs of our desks against the door but apparently it didn't work as well as it had in the movies.
The two of us were tangled up on the bottom bunk, pressing ourselves as much against the wall as possible. We were still dazed, still confused over what was going on and whether or not it was actually a dream.
I was hardly able to catch my breath when the two silhouetted guards neared us.
They were saying something as they came over but the only thing I could hear was their footsteps hearing us and Alfred's hitching breath.
My mind was blank and my body numb until I felt myself be jerked away from my sibling.
I told myself that if this happened again I would have to end everything because no single-minded pursuit or revenge could help me get past a third round of my body's abuse or a second round of watching it happen to my brother.
I closed my eyes as a hot mouth closed on my collar bone and languidly moved its way up.
Then Alfred snapped.
After Al's meltdown with Tweed I had all but forgotten the knife from Ivan Braginskaya.
Until Al plunged it through my assailant's hand.
Somewhere between the forceful kiss and the guard's scream against my lips I got the idea of biting his tongue until my mouth felt like it was filled with copper pennies.
Then Al grabbed my hand just before he was punched hard enough to rattle his brains. We went tumbling to the ground.
I took the moment that the second guard used to check on his fallen comrade to pull my brother to his feet and take off with him down the hall.
It only took a minute or so before we ran into Vash.
For as fast and frightening as the moment of calamity had been, our troubles seemed to both begin and end in the instant that we ran into our Hall Brother.
Vash must have heard the commotion and been on his way toward our room already when we bumped into him.
The instant I felt our frames collide with his and knew who it was, though, I took to clinging.
To feel someone, anyone, who was even partially in our circle of trust after almost reliving our personal Hells was more of a sanctuary than any forced service we had been made to sit through.
We hid ourselves in Vash even as he barked at us and demanded to know what was going on.
"What exactly is going on here!" he demanded from us yet again.
Then the two guards made their way, one bloodied and battered, from our room.
This was the beginning of our first battle of redirect.
Alfred had somehow managed to catch his breath since we grabbed onto Vash and was suddenly between me and the guards. Meanwhile, I was preoccupied with grabbing onto the back of his nightshirt with one hand and pulling down on Vash's sleeve with my other.
I stared straight into the eyes of our would-be attackers. And they stared straight back.
When I had seen them before, I had seen nothing but evil in them. When I saw how their eyes darted from us to Vash, I saw something else.
I saw their fear.
Vash must have saw something too, because the moment the guards began to talk, our Hall Brother's hands clasped our shoulders and he shook his head at their demands for him to hand us over.
"These boys are on my hall. If they were pulling pranks or causing mayhem, it is my business to deal with them. You should go back to making sure the grounds are safe for the students," he said lowly.
There was a certain amount of distrust in Vash's eyes.
The guards looked to each other, then back to us.
"We were attacked," the guard with a bleeding hand explained quickly. "As soon as we entered the room—"
Vash's eyes narrowed.
"Why were you in their room?"
The voyage from the hall to Vash's room was a blur.
At the end of it all, the only thing that mattered was that Vash had, in his own way, sided with us. And, somehow, as a boy no older than sixteen himself, he had frightened the guards enough to keep them from pursuing us further.
"Those guards are shiftless," Vash announced as he returned from assessing the damage to our room. "That was an expensive piece of school property, that door, and if the Headmaster expects me to report damage the students do, he can be sure I will tell him what these thugs are doing to our campus."
We sat, Al and I, huddled on the foot of Vash's bed. We met his aggravated speech with utter silence.
He looked at us seriously. "We will be meeting with Headmaster Vargas first thing in the morning. You'll tell him everything that happened tonight, no exceptions," he explained.
My brother looked at me, as unsure as I felt.
Vash caught this exchange and rubbed the bridge between his eyes, sighing lowly.
When he looked up, something about his glance seemed more genuine than we had expected. "Are you both alright?"
I didn't answer. Al did.
For "safe keeping" we slept on the unused bunk in Vash's room. It was the deepest rest either of us had had in a long time.
It was also the first night that we didn't need the moon to shine through a window to assure us it was still there.
And it was also the first time we didn't even mutter a good night to each other.
I felt secure that, whether by my design or not, the plan was taking off. There would be no way it could fail.
As usual I woke up before Alfred, my chin resting on his head while his arms curled around my waist.
When I woke, my eyes were met with Vash's, who was staring at us intently.
He was in his desk chair, facing the door to the hallway. I figured he hadn't moved once the entire night.
Headmaster Vargas was older every time we saw him. He was tired, his once proud smile seemed wrinkled and damaged. He seemed to be accutely aware of an anvil hanging just above his head.
I stared at him silently the entire time we were in his office that morning, Alfred seemed to look at anything but.
Vash also sat with us.
There were two extra seats for this report, they were never filled.
"This is bizarre," the Headmaster muttered as he looked to the clock on his shelf.
"It's a sign of men with something to hide," Vash hissed.
Alfred and I had yet to tell our story, we hadn't said a word.
There was a knock on the door and we turned to look, half anxious and half petrified.
M. Bonnefoy walked through the door. Tweed was behind him.
The atmosphere was thick enough to be cut with a knife and nothing more than formal introductions had been said.
Then it was silent.
Tweed was occupying one of the available chairs. M. Bonnefoy was standing in a far corner, out of my line of sight.
Headmaster Vargas looked wearily to my brother and I.
"Boys," he said lowly, "the two of you have caused quite a ruckus since I admitted you to our school."
I turned my eyes just slightly to look in Tweed's direction after I heard the strike of a match. He lit the cigarette between his fat lips.
"It's to be expected," he said lowly, "from boys from Hell's Kitchen."
I heard Al grit his teeth. Then I heard, "We're from Clinton."
Vash explained, in great detail, about his patrol the night before and about the strange behavior of the two guards who were not present. Headmaster Vargas listened with his fingers steepled before his face. Tweed puffed without any acknowledgement of my brother or myself.
"Where are these guards?" the headmaster inquired when Vash finished.
"Gone," Tweed answered. "I could not seem to find them. Their resignation papers were on my desk."
He nodded and then looked to the two of us. I suddenly felt Alfred's hand grip my own.
"The only side there is to hear then is from the two of you," the aging man explained as he looked at the two of us expectantly. "What happened last night?"
Alfred looked at me, desparation in his eyes and his cheeks paler than paper.
I suddenly understood why.
In that moment where the whistle could be blown, where I could get everything out right then, I realized I couldn't say a word.
Because Head Guard Tweed was sitting three feet away from us, smoking a cigarette and puffing his smoke.
And I had never been more afraid in my life.
When I couldn't answer, the opportunity quickly became lost. It was ceased instead by our mortal enemy.
"The boys obviously are frightened, Mr. Vargas," he said, snubbing out his cigarette in the ash tray on his employer's table. "The actions of the night guards are ineccusable but what can I do other than fire those that have already quit? We should get the janitor to fix the door before the night's end."
I looked to my shoes, Al's hand trembling in mine.
"I would like to hear from the Jones twins, Mr. Tweed," the headmaster said firmly before sighing. "Though you raise an excellent point."
"Of course," the slob chuckled. I felt a burning in my face and I just knew if I was to look up for even a moment I would be looking into his black eyes. "I do my best to be aware of the students, Sir. I know everything that's going on and I fix what needs to be fixed."
We were prodded by Vash and Mr. Vargas for at least another hour. Then they gave up.
M. Bonnefoy did not speak even once.
We, along with our Hall Brother, were excused so a conversation could continue between the adults present.
I felt only numb, even as we walked past M. Bonnefoy and he gave me a reassuring smile.
"I would like to keep the two of you somewhere safe until the door is fixed," Vash explained. "Is there anywhere you feel like you can go until I come back for you?"
There was hardly a hesitation.
"Mr. Kirkland's," both Al and I said at once.
Vash studied us for a moment, assessing whether or not we were serious. Then he nodded in agreement, but I already had an amendment.
The plan wasn't completely lost yet.
"Vash, could you take Al?" I asked, actually surprising both of my counterparts.
"M-Mattie, what about you?" Al asked, taking my hand again.
"I'm going to sit out here," I said, facing one of the waiting chairs. "I'm going to talk to Monsieur Bonnefoy when he comes out. He'll walk me over to Mr. Kirkland's."
It made sense. Enough to where they followed my request.
I took my seat politely.
Al and Vash had been gone maybe five minutes at the most when our would-be attackers entered the hall to Headmaster Vargas' office.
An entire summer later, we're progressing forward again, at long last. I apologize to all my readers if this update was not quite up to your expectations. I hope you don't mind hearing, once again, that things will start to get better ^^;