Alright, I lied. I was too impatient to wait until autumn, so HERE WE GO!
With a grand symphony going and a drum roll playing in the background, I present to you Alleluia's sequel, Memoire! This takes place three years after Alleluia.
Since this is summer and it has mostly consisted of me being bored at home, I'm going to try and update this every week while also working on Illusion and The Truth About War.So, yeah. Busy. Well, I hope everyone enjoys this!
"Is it on? Is it on?"
"Well, if you'd move your fat butt out of the way, Gil, maybe we could tell."
The seventeen-year-old Gilbert Beilschmit leaned away from the video camcorder, bringing a large house and several other teenagers, lit by the various flashlights being held by each, behind him into view. The albino grabbed the camcorder and swung it wide, panning across the scene. "Alright! Awesome! Your crusty old camcorder does work, Lizzy!"
Ignoring her demands to be handed her camcorder, Gilbert zoomed in on the blonde at the end of the line. "So! Here we have my bruder, Brandon! We kidnapped him since he's heading off for Germany tomorrow morning to go to icky, unawesome college. Buuuuuut, to make his trip AWESOME, we're throwing the best party ever and recording it, so he can watch it over and over and OVER AGAIN in Germany!"
The blonde boy scoffed, but couldn't hide his smile. He was thin and lithe like Gilbert, but much taller, with the same messy mop of hair they both claimed was awesome. Brandon gave a theatrical sigh. "You credit yourself too much, Mini-Awesome. What makes you think I want to watch you and your friends get drunk all night?"
"Pfft, we won't all get drunk. Antonio probably doesn't even know what drunk means."
"Qué?" the Spaniard in question asked.
Gilbert zoomed in on his clueless face. "Give it up for Antonio Fernandez-Carriedo, who somehow survived his first year in America without knowing English!"
"I know some English!" he argued in a heavy accent. "Just… not much."
A beautiful Italian girl put her chin on his shoulder, wrapping her arms around him with a smile. "It's okay," Aria said. "We are learning."
The camcorder bobbed, and Gilbert's maniacally grinning face was back. "Exactly. And tonight, they're gonna learn a very important American tradition: HOW TO T.P. A HOUSE! Operation Awesome part one! Okay, Francis, you got the toilet paper, right? Sammy! You brought the eggs?"
"This is hardly legal, Gilbert!" Roderich Edelstein's voice cut their respective shouts of assent. The dark-haired boy sprang into view, glaring behind his large glasses. He jabbed a finger into Gilbert's chest. "You told me we were simply hosting Brandon a party. I did not come to deface someone's property with you!"
The camcorder lingered on him a moment before turning to a sighing Elizabeta, her frizzed hair pulled back into a messy ponytail. "Why did you let my unawesome cousin come, Lizzy? He's going to be such a party-pooper and ruin all our fun."
"It's not like I came to desecrate a house either, and-" Elizabeta was cut off when Gilbert swung the camcorder back to his motley group. Francis wiggled his eyebrows and held up two plastic bags stuffed with toilet paper. Samantha did the same, lifting her cartons of eggs.
Gilbert handed the camcorder back to Elizabeta, who muttered some no doubt dirty words in Hungarian. He then pranced over to Antonio and threw an arm around his neck, slowly explaining how this was all going to play out. While Gilbert talked, Aria hesitantly helped Francis and Samantha unpack their supplies. Yao Wang, who thus far had stood glaring at the house behind him, walked over to the group and demanded he be able to throw the first egg.
The camcorder was turned to face Roderich's uneasy face. "Elizabeta, look at whose house this is."
With slow dread, a mailbox came next into view.
In large letters read KIRKLAND.
Elizabeta openly cursed, this time in English. She violently faced the German perpetrator, screaming, "GILBERT BEILSCHMIT! WHAT THE HECK ARE YOU THINKING? YOU IDIOT!"
Gilbert turned his grinning face back to the camcorder and flipped it off. "That's for you, Artie, if you ever watch this! Maybe next time you'll remember not to tattle!"
"Uh, are we doing this because he saw you trying to steal Herakles's report?" Antonio curiously asked, slightly muffled in the headlock Gilbert still had him in.
Aria indignantly raised her head, rounding on Gilbert. "You! It was YOU! My fratellino worked on that paper all night!"
"It's not my fault your brother is a freaking history book!" Gilbert cried in his defense. He finally released Antonio and threw up his hands. "If you had forgotten to do yours, you would have taken his paper too!"
"Gilbert, the upstairs light just came on!"
The kids went dead silent, each looking up in fear. Elizabeta angled the camcorder up to catch a sleepy Arthur peering through his curtains. His face suddenly became more alert as he mouthed something in confusion. As full realization hit him, Arthur slammed his window up and snarled, "WHAT ARE YOU SODS DOING?"
"NOW!" Gilbert yelled, shoving the box of eggs in Yao's face. He grabbed one and chucked it upwards, sending it sailing through the night air into Arthur's face. Gilbert crowed loudly, ruffling Yao's hair. "Direct hit, Wang! That was AWESOME! My turn! Francis, throw the first roll!"
Eggs and toilet paper rolls began flying everywhere. More lights turned on as Arthur flailed around, wiping egg off his face while simultaneously pushing his window back down and yelling for everyone else to wake up. Gilbert turned back to the camcorder, getting up close. "Operation Awesome part one: an awesome success!" he announced with a cackle. Grabbing Elizabeta's wrist, Gilbert ran off, yelling for everyone to follow him.
By the time they had escaped across the street and took a sharp right to another, even larger and older house, sirens could be heard in the distance. The camcorder was lifted once more to face a panting group of teenagers soon to be in a lot of trouble. Of course, that wasn't according to Gilbert's Operation Awesome. Antonio worriedly hovered by Gilbert as he withdrew a key from his pocket.
"Alright, everybody. Part two: avoid the cops by spending the midnight hour in a haunted house."
"L-los fantasmas?" Antonio stuttered. Elizabeta aimed the camcorder at him, catching his terrified face. The Spaniard frowned into it. "Mama, if I die tonight, know that I love you, sí? Ah… y lo siento for eating all the tomatoes ayer. But they were muy bueno! And I am very sorry for-"
Brandon jerked the camcorder to finally face him, his bright blue eyes vivid even in the night's darkness. "Since this is my video, I hereby declare there shall be no unawesome crying for any Mamas. I now return this production into Lizzy and Mini-Awesome's capable hands."
No doubt with a roll of her eyes, Elizabeta faced the youngest Beilschmit brother, beckoning Yao and Samantha inside. He smirked at her. "I already went and stocked the place with beer, cheetos, and popcorn. Vati, if you ever get possession of this video, I am not your underage son Gilbert Beilschmit, but someone who looks just like him and has the same friends."
Brandon and Elizabeta were pushed in next. Once everyone was safely inside, Gilbert locked the door after him and peeked out the window to laugh at the police trying to talk to a screaming Arthur and his siblings, who were also fighting to keep their laughter in check.
"G-Gilbert," Antonio started again, nervously wringing his hands, "I really can't get into trouble. What if the police find us here? Mi madre thinks I'm in bed."
Sadly, Gilbert shook his head. He called to Francis, "We haven't corrupted him enough."
"And you've been with us an entire year already, Antoine!" Francis gasped in mock horror. The blonde threw a comforting arm around his Spanish friend, who stuttered that his name was "Antonio", not "Antoine". "Don't worry, mon ami! We'll have you officially initiated into our crime ring tonight. Brandon can have the honor of swearing you in."
"I don't want to be a criminal!"
True to Gilbert's earlier accusation of him being a spoiler-sport, Roderich cleared his throat once again, gaining Antonio's attention. He helpfully peeled Francis's arm off his shoulders. "Don't listen to them, Antonio. They're terrible influences on you."
"Qué? What is an 'influence'?"
Everyone but Aria, also wondering as to what this new English word meant, shared a collective groan. Looking hurt, Antonio sighed and wandered over to the dining room where several bags of cheetos sat on the grand table. There was a jostling of the camcorder as it returned to Gilbert's possession. His grim face took the view once more. "Legend has it that a man was killed in this very room, in the very chair Antonio is now sitting in."
Antonio choked on his cheetos. "QUÉ?" Even though his freaked-out Spanish went against Brandon's earlier awesome decree, the blond German burst into laughter, mussing up Antonio's curly hair. With that, Antonio put a hand on his heart and went to stand in the corner of the room with Aria.
The camcorder settled on Yao a moment, who was looking quite bored. "Oi, Wang! Why aren't you laughing, man? Way to be unawesome!"
Yao sighed. "I only came out tonight to throw a raw egg in Arthur's face. I could really care less about your silly party."
"Aww," Gilbert taunted, "does Yao want his mommy, too? Is he afraid he'll get caught?"
"As soon as the police leave Arthur's house, I'm going back home."
Gilbert's cackle was loud and obnoxious, cuing Yao to huffily walk towards the window and spy, muttering Chinese under his breath. "I knew it!"
After his giggles died down, Gilbert cleared his throat and began his story again. "So. Old dude named Steven died in the house. Stories from the awesomely creepy four-year-old kid who always comes to our bakery with his mom claim that this place is super scary. I respect this Tavian kid, and thus decided we would spend tonight here. Now then! I propose a toast to Brandon, most awesome big brother in the world!"
Francis steered the laughing blonde to his seat. Elizabeta and Samantha presented him with a bag of cheetos and some popcorn. Next, Yao and Roderich, both complaining loudly, carried in the cooler. "Alright, guys! Party and do whatever! We do have to make it home sometime tonight, so don't get too drunk, okay? Lizzy! Remember, you gotta drive Francis, Antonio, and Aria home. And Roddy? You're taking the rest of us back. You two will get twizzlers in exchange for beer."
Before Gilbert turned the camcorder off, he winked a scarlet eye and quietly said, "I'm gonna miss you, Big-Awesome. Ich liebe dich."
Feliciano and Ludwig both sat on Ludwig's couch, gaping openly. When Antonio and Gilbert left to do… whatever, Feliciano had popped up, promising to spend the day with him so he wouldn't be lonely. Ludwig, however, had every intention to spend his Saturday of freedom picking up around his house. Not long after putting Feliciano to work, the Italian had tripped into Gilbert's closet (Ludwig still had no idea how he could trip out in the hall and somehow roll into his father's room and crash into his closet). In a fast attempt to clean everything up, the two had found a box of camcorder cassettes.
Overwhelmed with curiosity, Feliciano had rushed back downstairs, calling for Ludwig to turn it on.
Both boys were now sure their minds had imploded. As usual, Feliciano was the first to speak. "Woooooow!" he drawled in sheer amazement. "Everyone looked so young! Even Papà and Mamma!"
Ludwig cleared his throat, regaining his composure. "Yes, well, this had to be while they were still in high school, if Vati was underage and Antonio didn't know much English. I figure they were… seventeen or eighteen?"
Feliciano hopped up. "That's amazing!" the boy burst, waving his arms. "This is proof that the dinosaurs existed! Did you see how old everything looked?"
"Feli, it was the late eighties-"
"And this is 2012! That's been… OVER TWENTY YEARS! Ooh, Luddy, I have to go tell everyone about this! Come on, Luddy, you can come home with me! Mamma is fixing pasta tonight, and she'll be glad to have you over!"
Ludwig blinked at the rapid words spewing from Feliciano's mouth. Luckily, he'd had three years of practicing how to decipher his manic speech. However, that didn't mean he was going to attempt to keep up with him. With a polite smile, Ludwig declined, and slipped the cassette back in its case.
He ignored Feliciano's "Wow, and I haven't seen a cassette in forever, either!" and hefted the box up. Ludwig really shouldn't have gotten it out of Gilbert's closet in the first place. Gilbert had already shown him countless videos of himself as a kid, gushing over how cute and awesome he had been. But this box…. Ludwig had never seen it before. Now that he thought about it, he really hadn't seen much about when his father was seventeen. It was almost as if there was a gap in Gilbert's life he didn't want Ludwig to know about.
And this Brandon person….
Gilbert didn't have any siblings. So why on earth would he say this Brandon was his bruder? Although he certainly looked like every other Beilschmit in the family, Ludwig had never heard of a Brandon, nor had he seen any pictures of him. It was certainly puzzling. He made a mental note to ask Gilbert about it when he and Antonio returned from… wherever they had gone.
"Luuuuuuuddy!" Feliciano called from downstairs. In just a few seconds, he was upstairs, jumping up and down in the doorway. "Lovi called and said he's taking Lili back home since it's starting to rain and it ruined his date, so he's going to come pick me up. Are you sure you don't want to come over and eat delicious pasta with us? It's really good~!"
"As much as I appreciate the offer, your brother doesn't seem like he's in a very good mood. Having to drive me home with you two will certainly make him even more sour," Ludwig explained, pushing the box back to its original place. Instead of facing the massive pout he knew Feliciano had put on, Ludwig shook his head at the box. "Antonio and Aria have never said anything about Brandon, have they?"
When Feliciano didn't immediately answer, Ludwig looked back at him. The boy tapped his chin in serious thought. Seconds later, his moment was over. He perkily shook his head. "Not that I can remember! I can ask later, though, if you want me to!"
"Danke. That'd be nice."
An angry honk sounded from outside. Feliciano's face lit up. "That's Lovi! Grazie for having me over! It was a lot of fun. Tell Astro I hope he feels better, okay?"
With a wide wave, Feliciano skipped downstairs, shouting a goodbye to his dogs at the top of his lungs. Ludwig fought to keep the grin off his face, but it was always impossible when Feliciano had been the one to make it pop up. With a roll of his eyes, Ludwig made his way back downstairs. The silent walls were both a comfort and a nuisance- although Ludwig was finally able to relax a little without Feliciano and Gilbert, it was awfully lonely.
"You don't think something happened to Brandon, do you?" he quietly asked, sitting in the floor next to Astro. The German Shepherd let out a tired huff, rolling over on his side to have his belly scratched. "And I have the worst feeling Vati will do something crazy to grate my nerves and make me forget about the issue."
Astro remained silent.
"…They won't be back for another hour or so. It's not even dark yet."
The dog's eyes flickered to meet his.
With a groan, Ludwig ran his hand through his hair. "He is going to kill me for this…. Let's watch one more video. They've got dates on them, so we'll find one that happened after Brandon went to college. Maybe it will explain why he disappeared off the face of the earth."
Ludwig blamed Feli for making him succumb to curiosity like this.
"Monica, where are you hiding? We have to pick up Matthew at the airport! And where did you put my wallet?" Francis burst, ducking under the dining table to see if either his daughter or his wallet were hiding there. Finding it empty, he moaned in exasperation. "Monica Jeanne Bonnefoy! We honestly do not have time for this!"
Therese stuck her head in the doorway, anxiously biting her lip. "Found her yet?"
"She's not in here," Francis sighed, standing straight. He sighed, rubbing his forehead. "Honestly, why do two-year-olds have to be so hard to manage? And why does our two-year-old have this strange obsession with money?"
She shrugged hopelessly and frantically resumed her search.
The Frenchman looked through all the bottom cabinets in the kitchen, looked behind the couch, and even went outside to look under the car.
"Uh… Mr. Bonnefoy?"
Francis scrambled to stand, knocking his head on the side mirror. He quickly combed his hair back to its perfect position and swung his head around to come face to face with Patric Ardensil, their mailman, holding Monica's chubby hand. "Monica!" he sighed in relief. "Where on earth did you find her, Patric?"
The blonde boy nervously laughed. "She was trying to stuff a wallet in the mailbox."
"Again?" he asked, staring at the child incredulously. Monica merely smiled and hugged his neck. Francis picked her up, reaching behind him to take his wallet back. "Merci beaucoup, Patric, for finding her. You're a wonderful mailman."
Patric smiled. "Thank you, Mr. Bonnefoy. And, um, didn't you say Matthew was coming back today?"
Francis cried out in shock. "I forgot! We're late! THERESE, MICHELLE, I FOUND MONICA, LET'S GO!"
"…Mattie, I'm bored."
"I know, Alfred."
"I'm really, reeeeeeally bored."
"WOULD YOU SHUT UP?" Raymón finally burst, rounding on him with a fiery glare.
Alfred returned it full force, leaning over Matthew to snarl, "How about you shut up, Fatty? You're complaining just as much as me!"
Raymón shoved him out of his face. "Me? You're the annoying burro! You're the reason we couldn't get any sleep on the plane! Why the heck did you come with us, anyway?"
"'Cause I couldn't let you get Mattie get corrupted by your stupid Cuban ways!"
"BRING IT ON!"
Completely ignoring Matthew sitting between them, Alfred and Raymón began their cat fight, arguing in a mash of English and Spanish while hands pulled at hair and ripped at glasses. Matthew forced himself between the two, shoving them apart from each other. "Geez!" he burst, scowling at his friends. "Can't you two just sit and wait for a minute without trying to kill each other?"
"But he star-" Alfred swallowed his whine when Matthew turned his gaze on him. He looked down at his shoes. "Sorry."
Matthew looked to Raymón. The Cuban also sighed, "Fine, I'm sorry too."
"Good," Matthew nodded, creaking back to rest against the back of the bench. He winced at the contact. Breaking up the fight had made his sunburn hurt again, and Matthew was back to being miserable and blood red. He didn't know how he'd managed to get such an awful burn. Matthew didn't leave their cabin without three layers of sunblock on, and even then took care to keep out of the hot Cuban sun as much as possible.
Of course, to make matters worse, Alfred and Raymón didn't get even a hint of a sunburn. They were nicely tanned and pain-free.
Matthew was beyond exhausted. For a month, he'd helped build a church while breaking up Alfred and Raymón's spats and dealing with the local children who found poking his sunburn to be hilarious. And after Alfred blabbed to the other workers about Matthew's amazing pancakes, he had also been charged with breakfast duty.
He couldn't wait to graduate and get to McMaster University in Ontario. Two more weeks, two more weeks….
"Hey, Francis is here!" Alfred suddenly burst, jumping up to wave.
"I'm so sorry, Monica ran off, and- what happened to your face?" Francis screeched, staring in horror.
Matthew scowled. "Bad sunburn, Papa. Thanks."
Swallowing the urge to cry, Matthew stood, thankful no one but Monica moved to give him a hug. He patted her head, wincing. Michelle gently peeled her little sister away, fixing the clips in her hair. "Well, did you have fun in Cuba? You did take pictures, right?"
"I did!" Alfred crowed. "The church looked awesome when we were done! They still have to put in the windows and put the stuff inside, but we got the walls up. I also took before and after pictures of Matthew."
"Alfred!" he yelled, punching his shoulder. Alfred merely laughed it off, completely unfazed. Suddenly, he stopped laughing, meeting Raymón's scowl. Matthew growled and pushed Alfred along. "Don't. Even. I'll tell you guys all about it when we get these two a good fifteen miles apart from each other."
"But Mattie! He started it!"
L-los fantasmas?- G-ghosts?
Y lo siento… ayer… muy bueno… - And I'm sorry… yesterday… very good…
Mi madre- my mother
Fratellino- little brother
Ich liebe dich.- I love you.
Merci beaucoup- Thank you very much