us/uk, japan tags along for the ride
summary To Kiku, they were only transfer students.
~1400 words, rated pg, written as a birthday gift for a great friend of mine. c:
warnings for ginza style & suicide clubs (drafted most of this during the summer, when referencing gangnam was still acceptable h-haha)
"a caravan for two"
The two transfer students were introduced to them at the end of summer, between two days of heavy rain and a single piece of blue sky. The piece of blue sky was perfectly blue and perfectly circular, unobscured when viewed from behind the railings of the rooftop at the high school. There were no paper planes, no implicative images and reflective surfaces and smoky ideas, only the clouds and only the piece of blue sky, perfectly blue and perfectly circular. Kiku thought about it years later, and concluded that this was the only way he could begin to describe the year he turned seventeen. Had he attempted another ridiculously lyrical metaphor, the results simply would not have been the same.
"But that's just your Gangnam Style," said his classmate Fujimoto, and of course he was completely shameless about it. "That's what Gangnam Style is fucking all about."
"Do excuse me," Kiku replied. "But in this country, we call it Ginza Style. Try to remember that, next time you want to hit on a pretty girl."
Laughs were had at Fujimoto's expense, and there was the end of his 20 years of sunshine, Kiku could already smell the footsteps eating away into the dusk.
One of the boys called himself Alfred, as in iPrufrock, J./i; the other one introduced himself as Arthur, as in iAnd His Knights of the Round Table, King/i. They spoke differently and dressed differently and it was quite clear that the one called Arthur thought he was better than his fellow transfer, but it remained that the color of their hair was the same and that the the tones in their skin would have made Kiku's mother jealous and that they both spoke better English than the English teacher from Italy. Under the guidance of Yamato-sensei, Kiku's class stood for a uniform bow, and as the two students waded their way through the rows of pupils, a ripple of polite nods splashed across to the end of the room and the transparent noose tightened itself around Kiku's neck.
That made three of them.
"It's nice to meet you," he mumbled, stumbling over his words and only halfway apologetic. "My name is Honda. I've been assigned with the task of being your host, as well as your guide."
"Why is this necessary," said Arthur, the same time Alfred exclaimed in wonder, "Hey, your English is pretty good!"
He bowed his head. "It is our hope that you, as our guest students, are treated with utmost respect and given the most comfortable learning experience, in the eight months that you have transferred here."
Arthur stared at him, a small frown on his face. Alfred spoke for him. "Are you really seventeen? You sound like an old man."
"The foreign language program here is slightly antiquated, as it should be," Kiku shrugged. "I pick up most of my slang from American cinema. Additionally, I confess that I have no prior experience in being a guide. I was merely selected for this job because I had the highest marks in English."
"I suppose you'll do, then," said Arthur, the same time Alfred exlaimed, "Hey, Honda, teach me how to pachinko!"
"Pachinko is for old people," Arthur rolled his eyes. "Can we agree right now that we won't take any of your suggestions seriously? Also, I kind of came here to learn Japanese."
But see they weren't eating melons and Kiku wasn't really wondering about what they were writing about in their journals and he hadn't really come up with the proper answer to any of Alfred's questions besides a response with zeroes in it, maybe it was the beginning of the end, after all; the summer had been long and moist and full of unnecessarily energetic love songs and hyperbolic references to cheap economic exploits. That wasn't even counting the pixelated images in the pornographic teasers, and Kiku had no idea what he had in mind, either.
"We will complete homework for Humanities, first," was all he said. "And perhaps visit a place with pachinko machines on Saturday."
Having had none of the freedom delivered in a portable fashion to their area of residence, the film festival at school was similarly uninvigorating. There were many videos of domestic animals speaking French, probably egged on by enthusiastic movie editing inspired by overexposure to natural gas. Somebody's grandmother had submitted a poorly-cut home video of family dinner-the realism earned surprising points from the judges, and it ended up with a second place trophy. What was completely morally-inhibiting, however, was the arrival of a fan video that was so cheaply and obviously ripped off of Hollywood. The half-eaten schwarma was enough evidence of that.
"Hey, do penises really get pixelated in the AVs?" said Alfred. "But that's such a cheap trick. Total big fucking waste of time, isn't it? No pun intended."
"This question is a total big fucking waste of time," Arthur muttered. "Pun intended."
"I-I don't have a lot of experience in that area," said Kiku, because that was probably the safest response. "You can see for yourself, maybe. But only after you turn twenty. Please don't get me in any trouble."
"D'you hear that?" said Arthur. "Don't get him in any trouble, he said."
"Fujimoto-kun is starting a suicide club," said Arthur, changing the topic. "He told me about it yesterday and invited me to join. I declined the offer."
"That's good of you. Suicide clubs are not very safe, I'm afraid," said Kiku. "It's best not to watch any Sion Sono films, as well. Please don't get me in any trouble."
"D'you hear that?" said Alfred. "Don't get him in any trouble, he said."
Kiku overheard them on the stairwell after the second midterm. Alfred's voice was frustrated and fearful and perhaps a bit too fixated upon something more intangible than he'd initially believed it to be. Arthur's was calm.
"I don't know why you came here with me," said the frustration and fear and fixation upon something more intangible than was initially believed to be, "I really really don't."
"Alfred, let it go, it's only an English grade," said the calm.
"I can't do that! I know I'm better than you, I just know it," protested the frustration and fear and fixation. "Or at least you don't have to keep telling me that you're better than me."
"Please listen to me, I'll say it just once," said the calm. "I don't want to win anymore. I don't want you to lose to me. Do you understand?"
"Why would you do that?"
"Is it because...ah."
Kiku heard the embrace before he saw it, and he understood that he'd been kind of wrong, about school and subjects and AVs and perhaps even about love, he'd been kind of wrong until the very end. At the moment, the stairwell stretched ahead of him endlessly, presence and potential and pitters of pixelated thoughts etched across the ceiling for all to see, a vineyard of lost love squeezed into an unmarked cardboard box. The transfer students heard none of the whispers in the hallways that week, and neither did Kiku.
Pachinko ended up being a lot of fun.
Alfred and Arthur left them at the end of winter, between two heavy days of sunshine and several hours of clear skies. The skies during that time were bright and uncharacteristic of the regular winter season; there was no snow, and only a small pile of frost that blew around the sidewalk chalk. Similarly and maybe coincidentally, they'd opened the windows after class that day and left it the same way overnight, but nothing peculiar had happened. Fujimoto's suicide club disbanded as quickly as it had sprung up and the broken pieces of his Ginza Style flew into the history books.
"I feel like I'm stepping forward," Alfred told Kiku at the gates. "I'm really glad we got to know you, Honda!"
"It's been a real pleasure," Arthur nodded. "I am afraid that I have to agree with Alfred this time. Farewell for now, Honda. I hope we shall meet again."
"I wish you both the best of luck," said Kiku. He bowed, and did not lift his head until the two transfer students were gone.
- the end -
and that's it! unfortunately, i cannot see myself writing for this particular fandom any longer, so you can think of this as my last fic for hetalia. i hope you've enjoyed it! thank you for flying with me, and all the best to you in the future.