Chapter 1: A Normal Day
It was just a regular day like any other. The sky was blue, with only a puffy white cloud or two. Birds chirped and flew around; squirrels ran around, digging and climbing up and down the trees in Hell's Kitchen park; dogs barked; cats meowed; and sirens sounded as police made their way to another crime scene.
Seventeen-year-old Ludwig Beilschmidt and his best friends since infancy, Feliciano Vargas and Kiku Honda, sped through the streets of Hells Kitchen, angering and irritating people who were trying to get to their destinations.
"Are we gonna make it, Kiku?" Ludwig said in a panicked voice.
"I don't know, Lui," Kiku replied, trying like hell to remain calm.
"The pizza's getting cold!" Feliciano cried.
"Almost there…WE'RE HERE, GUYS!" Ludwig exclaimed. He stopped the car that he and his friends were driving to their destination: the police station. "Come on, guys, I think we're on time for once." He and the others rushed into the station, carrying three boxes of large pizza pies, then placed them on the secretary's desk.
The secretary, a girl by the name of Serena, was chewing a piece of Bubble Yum and stared at the trio and the pizzas. "You're five minutes late."
"That can't be," Ludwig said in surprise. "We're right on time."
"Take a look at the clock, you dummies!" said Luna, Serena's cat. She gestured towards the analog clock on one of the walls with her paw. "You were supposed to be here at two o'clock. Now it's 2:05, and you just got here."
"You're late," said Serena. She blew a bubble, then kept chewing. "I'm not paying for these."
"What?" Ludwig, Kiku, and Feliciano exclaimed.
"Please, Miss, just pay us," said Kiku.
"We need the money!" Feliciano said, giving Serena the puppy eyes that usually won irate customers over. Not this time.
"Sorry, no," said Serena.
Ludwig sighed in disappointment. "Come on, guys. Let's go." He and his friends walked out of the station, leaving Serena with the pizzas. Then all three of them got in the car and headed back to the pizza place where they worked.
"What's going on, you guys?" Ludwig, Kiku, and Feliciano's boss, Teuchi, asked. "This is the twentieth time this month. Now, you know I only kept you three on the job because of your situations, right? Like you, Lui." He looked right at the blond young man. "You have your little brother, Gilbert, to raise, correct? Along with going to school and helping your sister and cousin with the bills, and putting food on the table?"
"Yeah," Ludwig replied.
"Same goes for Feliciano and Kiku," said Teuchi. "But, if this keeps happening, I don't know if I'll be able to keep you on any longer."
"Please, sir," Ludwig pleaded. "Please, don't fire us! We'll do better!"
"Okay, I'll give you one more chance," said Teuchi.
"Yes!" the trio said and smiled.
Teuchi then glared at the trio, which scared them. "Oh, and one more thing: Don't either one of you think about hitting on my daughter. Got it?"
"Y-Y-Y-Y-Yes, s-s-s-s-sir," Ludwig, Kiku, and Feliciano said, shaking in their shoes.
Ludwig, Kiku, and Feliciano headed to PS 51, the elementary school where their siblings, seven-year-old Gilbert, eight-year-old Savio, and ten-year-old Yong Soo, went to school. They waited while the children filed out of the building, ready to go home after a long day of school. Finally, Yong Soo came out first, followed by Savio, then by little Gilbert, who was trying to keep up. He had a black eye.
"Guys, over here," Kiku called, motioning for the three boys to come to the car. The kids got in, and Kiku started the car and drove away from the school.
"Gilbo, what happened to your eye?" Ludwig asked.
"Anton Krum did it," Gilbert replied. "He beat me up and called me a freak 'cause of my hair and eyes. He said I was a demon. Then he took my lunch, so I had nothing to eat!"
"That's horrible!" Ludwig said. "I'm so sorry, little bro." He gave Gilbert a warm hug and let the boy use him as a pillow during the ride home.
"Am I a demon?" Gilbert asked.
"No, of course not," Ludwig replied. "You're not a demon. Anton Krum's just a little bastard, that's all."
"'kay," said Gilbert. He closed his eyes and fell asleep against his big brother.
Kiku stopped the car in front of the public housing building where he and his friends lived, then got out. Yong Soo, Feliciano, Savio, and Ludwig (who was carrying a still-sleeping Gilbert) got out as well, and they all went inside, making their way to their apartments.
"Well, see ya," Ludwig said. "I've gotta put Gilbo to bed."
"Ciao!" Feliciano said cheerily as he and Savio went into their home.
"Later," Kiku said and lead Yong Soo inside their apartment.
Ludwig sighed, shifted Gilbert to his other arm, and then opened the door to the apartment he and Gilbert shared with their cousin and sister. He stepped inside, expecting to find the apartment quiet and empty, as Liesel was still at work, and Roderich was supposed to be at some kind of music gig. But, instead, poor Lui was faced with…
"Oh, hey, Lui," Ludwig's twenty-two-year-old cousin, Roderich, said. He was making out with a bunch of girls, including Lenalee Lee, Sakura Haruno, Haruhi Suzumiya, Mikuru Asahina, Nami, Nico Robin, Blair, and Alexis Rhodes, Elizabeta Hedervary (Roderich's fiancée), and a waitress named Yoko, who wore a headband with fox ears on it almost all the time. Lenalee, Haruhi, Mikuru, and Alexis were all eighteen, and went to Hetalia Academy with Ludwig; Nami, Robin, Sakura, and Blair were all nineteen and went to NYU with Liesel.
"Uh…hey, Roddy," an embarrassed Ludwig replied, trying to cover Gilbert's ears due to some sexy music playing from Roderich's stereo. Ludwig face palmed when Gilbert stirred slightly and woke up. 'Oh mein Gott, he's awake,' he thought.
"West, what's going on?" Gilbert asked. "Big bro? I can't see!"
"Trust me, Little Prussia, you don't wanna see what's going on," Ludwig said as he rushed to the room he shared with Gilbert and their sister, Liesel.
"Hey, Lui, you wanna join the party?" Roderich called.
"NEIN!" Ludwig called back. "I'm not an orgy guy, Roddy McPimp!" He gave Gilbert his teddy bear—which was named Prussia—then tucked the child in bed. "Stay here, and I'll call Lise and have her pick up some McDonald's, okay, Gilbo?"
"Okay," Gilbert said, perking up.
"My name's not Roddy McPimp, and you know it," Roderich said over the music as Elizabeta and Lenalee ran their hands through his hair. "My official name is Roderich 50 Cent Big Pimpin' Chopin Beethoven Edelstein!"
"That's a dumb name!" Ludwig said back when he exited his, Liesel, and Gilbert's room. Then he went to the kitchen, got out a small saucepan, and proceeded to warm some milk in order to make his baby brother hot chocolate. While the milk was warming up, he went to the kitchen phone and dialed the number to Liesel's cell.
"Yello, Liesel speaking," Liesel said. Ludwig could hear the clatter of dishes either being set down or picked up from a table in a restaurant.
"Hey, Lise, it's Lui," Ludwig said. "I picked Gilbo up from school. He got beat up by Anton Krum, so I'm making him some hot chocolate to make him feel better."
"Aw, poor Gilbo," Liesel said sympathetically. "Yes, sir, I'm coming," she then said to a customer who was calling her over.
"I was gonna ask you if you could pick up some McDonald's on the way home, after work," said Ludwig.
"Sure," said Liesel. "Yes, I'll be right there," she said. Then she spoke again to Ludwig. "Listen, Lui, I've gotta go; some guy needs his food. Talk to you later. Bye." Ludwig heard her hang up, then put the kitchen phone back on the hook. He walked back over to the stove again, watching over the milk until it was warm enough to be removed and poured into a mug for hot chocolate. He added Nesquik , stirred it in, then walked back to the room. "Here, Gilbo." He handed Gilbert the mug of hot chocolate.
"Thanks!" said Gilbert. He happily took the mug and sipped the warm drink. "Lui, tell Roddykins to turn that stupid music down."
"Roddy, turn that down!" Ludwig yelled.
"No way!" said Roderich. He and his girls went back to their fun time.
Later, nineteen-year-old Liesel Beilschmidt—who was in her first year at NYU—stepped inside the apartment after her waitressing shift, carrying four bags of McDonald's meals. One of them was a Happy Meal for Gilbert. "Hey, everyone, I'm back."
"Lise, Big Sis!" Gilbert exclaimed, smiling. He ran to his big sister and jumped into her arms.
"Hey, Gilbo," said Liesel. She ruffled her youngest brother's hair, then set him down. "Look what I got." She gave Gilbert the Happy Meal, which the boy took with glee.
"Thank you!" Gilbert said. He took out a couple fries and bit into them.
"I heard that mean boy Anton Krum beat you up," said Liesel.
"Yeah," Gilbert said. He frowned at the mention of Anton. "He's mean. He called me a freak, just 'cause of my hair and eyes."
"That's not nice," said Liesel. Then she turned off Roderich's stereo and glared at her cousin and his women. "Alright, all you girls out! Except for Lizzie, she can stay. But the rest of you get out right now. Fun time with Roddykins is over."
"Aw, man!" Nami, Lenalee, Robin, Blair, Sakura, Yoko, Mikuru, Alexis, and Haruhi moaned and left, pouting as they did so. Liesel closed the door on them. "Roddy, here. I picked up some McDonald's for you."
"What about Lizzie?" asked Roderich.
"Don't worry, we'll share, Roddykins," Elizabeta said sweetly.
"Okay, Lizzie," said Roderich. He smiled and shared his Big Mac and fries with Elizabeta, letting her have the soda, since he didn't like soda anyway (what was wrong with the guy?). Everyone else dug into their dinner, and Gilbert only stopped for a second to unwrap a toy he got with his meal.
It had been a normal day like any other in Hell's Kitchen. Little did the Beilschmidt siblings, Roderich, Elizabeta, and their friends know that life for them was about to change soon.