Hospitals weren't exactly Alfred's favourite place. No matter what he did, where he went, there was always a cold, lingering feeling of dread that crawled up his skin the moment he found himself trapped in those walls. He could have been promised the most amazing and fun time ever in a hospital and he was still very sure he would escape as soon as he could.

The few days he had spent captive in one of them five years ago had been enough for him—when they let him go, Alfred told himself he never wanted to see another hospital ever again. It would only bring up those despairing feelings of sadness and loneliness again, remind him of how he waited and waited in that bed as the doctors told him what had happened for someone to jump out and say it had all just been some sick joke, answering question after question for the police and slowly realising he wasn't going to wake up from what had to be a nightmare...

But that was then, and Alfred was hurrying down the corridor of another hospital; it wasn't the same one, of course, but the smell and colours and atmosphere were similar enough to almost make him turn and run back outside—back to safety. He continued on, however, Gilbert at his side and wearing an uncharacteristically concerned expression as he held a bundle of clothes.

According to Gilbert, the two of them had been instructed to go back to the house and collect some spare clothes for Arthur. His clothes were ripped and bloodied so he needed something to change into (Alfred paled significantly when he heard this). Thankfully, the house wasn't too far from Buono Tomato; they made it there in no time at all.

Francis and Kiku were found lingering around in the living room, the Frenchman looking more than a little annoyed. He grumbled something about Arthur leaving him with a crazy cross dresser who had actually only left a few moments ago, though Alfred was only half listening.

When he told the ghosts about the phone call, both showed varying but definite levels of distress. Kiku put his hands to his mouth and gasped, "What? Why is he—? I-is Arthur-san all right?" while Francis shook his head, looking almost faint if possible, and said, "How? He… he's only been gone for a few hours! How did he manage to end up in a hospital in such a short amount of time?"

Kiku and Francis were to stay at the house, though both seemed almost reluctant. They wanted to go and see if Arthur was okay, of course—something stopped them. Maybe it was the fact they didn't know what state they would find Arthur in, or maybe it was something completely different, but when Francis said he would prefer to stay home Kiku agreed with only slight uncertainty. Alfred didn't press the issue.

A few seconds after picking up a set of clothes, Alfred realised they had a problem. The hospital was about half an hour from where they were on foot, and that was if they hurried. He started panicking slightly at this thought, and Gilbert wasn't exactly calm either.

It was actually Gilbert who came up with a plan. Since it was still in front of the house, couldn't they just use Arthur's car to drive to the hospital? Alfred had no problem with this idea, and he even pointed out that Arthur had a spare set of car keys for emergencies because he always ended up misplacing them.

The clothes had been grabbed, the keys collected from their place on top of the doorframe, and they jumped inside the car. Gilbert was the one behind the wheel, and when Alfred questioned whether he had a licence or not he retorted with, "Does that really matter right now?" Alfred decided it didn't, so they continued on to the hospital.

That was what led to Alfred marching down the hospital corridor. A hurried exchange between Gilbert and Ludwig over the phone told him that Arthur was in the minor injury unit—the name alone was a bit of a relief, though Alfred still found himself worrying. He could only hope his anxiety was unneeded.

He stopped suddenly, backtracking a few steps. The two of them had passed quite a few open doors now, but something had caught his attention out of the corner of his eye. In the room he looked into were a couple of chairs, what looked like a sort of bed to Alfred, and shelves holding bandages and painkillers; none of this was important, however. The actual person in the room was what he saw.

Arthur was a mess, his hair unkempt, his face pale and what looked like rather sore stiches down his arm, but his defiant scowl was still there. They had dressed him in a hospital gown, which Arthur would give a miserable tug at every now and again, and a dark angry bruise peaked out from under the fabric and the occasional bandages. None of that mattered to Alfred—the fact that Arthur was alive and obviously not dying was enough to make him run forward and wrap the frail blond in a hug.

"Wh—? Alfred?!" Arthur blinked. He hadn't seen Alfred in the doorway and this hug had come out of seemingly nowhere. He flinched suddenly. "Ah, Alfred, my arm—!"

Alfred immediately let go. By this time, Gilbert was visible at the threshold.

"What happened?" Alfred asked, barely even registering the fact that Gilbert had stepped into the room and spoke to someone else.

"He jumped out of the window." This was said before Arthur had time to answer. Alfred glanced to the side to see Ludwig sitting in a chair by the other end of the room. Huh. He hadn't even noticed him. Feliciano was there too, sitting close to the German, and though he looked a little upset he gave Alfred a smile.

Alfred's thoughts flew to the broken window at Buono Tomato, and he swallowed and turned back to Arthur. "Gilbert said you were attacked."

"I suppose I was." Arthur sighed.

"You 'suppose'...? Were you or weren't you?"

"Yeah, man," Gilbert chimed in, "you totally look like you were on the losing end of a fight."

Arthur shot him a glare. It was Ludwig who answered.

"His injuries are actually from the fall and glass. A few hours ago now, he was in... that room in Buono Tomato, and he was locked in suddenly and attacked. He smashed the window to escape, and the glass cut him when he jumped out. Most of the cuts weren't too bad, but a few of them needed stiches. He landed in the bin next to the restaurant, thankfully, and that was mostly filled with old food so that cushioned his fall, but he hit his arm on the side and that bruised it quite badly. The doctor said his injuries aren't too bad, though it was suggested he should relax for a few days."

"Got it," Alfred said, while Arthur muttered, 'I could have told him that.' "Did you catch the guy who attacked him?"

Ludwig suddenly looked uncomfortable. Feliciano shook his head sadly. "No. We went to find Arthur straight after we heard the window break, and then we focused on getting him to the hospital 'cause he was bleeding lots and he was mumbling all these weird things so we thought he might have hit his head or something. He only said something had tried to hurt him after we brought him here, but..."

"I went back to the restaurant after we took him to the hospital," Ludwig explained. "When I checked the room, no one was there. They must have escaped while we were gone."

"We wanted to call the police, but Arthur said we shouldn't, for some reason."

"I told you why," Arthur said, looking rather irritated, though not with Ludwig or Feliciano. "There would be no point. I couldn't see what attacked me. I couldn't see anything..."

"Even so, I still suggest we go to the police," Ludwig added firmly. "You might not have seen your assailant, but they could still find something, and what if whoever this is goes after you again or attacks someone else?"

Arthur didn't answer.

"Um... We'll, er, talk about it later," Alfred said, "but we should probably take Arthur home. We're allowed to do that now, right?"

It all passed with surprising ease. The doctor said Arthur was safe to go home; he just needed to avoid anything too strenuous or he might pull his stiches. Gilbert handed the blond his clothes with a grin and a, "Good to see you're not dead, man!" and Arthur went to get changed—after repressing the sudden urge to punch Gilbert, of course.

Alfred was now stood near the entrance, waiting for Arthur. Ludwig had said that since they didn't seem to need any more assistance he and Feliciano would go back, and the Italian added that if they needed help with anything they just had to ask. He also mentioned that Arthur had apparently promised to pay for the broken window, but he quickly reassured that this wasn't necessary. In fact, Feliciano was only telling Alfred this because Arthur was unable to take 'no' for an answer.

Currently, Alfred was alone since Gilbert had decided to stay in the car. He had to admit, he looked a lot calmer than he actually felt. Arthur suddenly ending up in the hospital had shook him quite badly, and Alfred told himself he would question Arthur about what happened relentlessly after they were home. The worry had passed and now he was angry. Someone had attacked Arthur, his friend, the man he owed a lot to. The idea of some maniac coming out of nowhere and trying to kill Arthur when Alfred couldn't do anything him made him feel helpless, and he hated it.

The wide room wasn't very full—a new set of footsteps could easily be heard. Alfred lifted his head expectantly, but it wasn't Arthur.

Almost mirroring his look of surprise, Ivan Braginski stopped and blinked at him.

"Ah, hello," Ivan said, quickly smiling. He walked towards him and Alfred ran over a number of excuses in his mind to leave. "Alfred, right?"

"Yeah, that's right. Er, hey." Alfred nodded to the Russian awkwardly.


Silence fell on them, and Alfred asked in hopes that Arthur wasn't going to take too long, "So, why are you here?"

Ivan put his head to one side. "Oh? I would have thought that was obvious. I'm visiting someone. I suppose you are doing the same?"

"Picking someone up, actually."

"Who?" The question seemed a little too direct; Alfred hid his frown.

"Arthur," he said simply.

"Arthur… Arthur…" Ivan hummed to himself thoughtfully. "Arthur, huh? He wouldn't happen to be an Arthur Kirkland, would he?"

Alfred looked at him. "So what if he is?"

"No reason, no reason…" Ivan's smile wasn't very reassuring. "How did he end up in the hospital?"

"I don't think that's any of your business."

Anything that would have been added to this conversation was lost. Footsteps sounded, and there was a call of, "Alfred!" Both turned to see Arthur walking towards them slowly, a little pained, and his expression turned blank when he noticed Ivan.

"Arthur." Alfred hurried to him, dodging past Ivan with some enthusiasm.

"Dude, you took way too long! Do you know how freaky having to deal with this guy is?" he muttered under his breath.

"Sorry for having some trouble! Besides, there was this ghost and I—… Forget it. Isn't he that police officer from…?"

"Yep. Can we go home now? Gilbert's in the car and I'm pretty sure Kiku and Francis are super worried by now. By the way, you've got a lot of explaining to do."

"Yes, yes…"

Alfred grabbed Arthur's arm and practically dragged him to the door, lessening his grip very slightly when the blond flinched. He glanced back as the door swung shut, and he almost shivered at the sight of Ivan staring after them intently. He wasn't smiling.

Chapter end.

Updates just take me the longest time, don't they? XD I wrote this one pretty oddly—I started one part of it at some point and then another about a week later. If some parts seem to be worded a little… oddly, that could just be me trying to join those parts together XD

But yeah, Arthur's alive! :3 Now then, to plan the next chapter… Then again, I really don't do much planning with these things; I just plan half then make up the rest as I go along XD

Well, please review and tell me what you think ^_^