☆ j u b i l e e 。 (calavasas) wrote in estorias,
☆ j u b i l e e 。
calavasas
estorias

☆ [Hetalia]: Time of Your Life - Ch 9

Title: Time of Your Life [FF.net]
Author: Jubilee
Characters/Pairings: In this chapter: America, Japan, Canada, fanon!Mexico, fem!America, fem!China, fem!England
Rating: T
Genre: Romance + Friendship + Family + Drama
Warnings/Notes: AU - High school.
Summary: A bond broken all because of a stupid fight, and then renewed with a simple "sorry". Now bffs, Alfred enjoys Kiku's company, and the latter realizes that his friendship is much more than he could ever ask for. To Kiku, he was a hero.

Chapter List

-----


When Emily had returned home for the day, it was already evening and past dinner. She felt bad that she didn't come to the house early enough to cook for her boys and their guest, but she needed time to think.

Flashback

"You want to adopt him?" Mr. Wang asked, clearly baffled by what Emily had said.

"Yes, I do."

"Why would you ever want to adopt him? He ran away!"

"Because he wasn't being treated well!"

"We housed him ever since he came here to this country, and we provided food for him, clothes on his back--"

"But that was before you found out he was gay, right?"

Mr. Wang stood quiet. Emily's expression did not falter, nor did she back down.

"What right do you have to speak to me that way Emily?"

"What right do you have to kick out your nephew just because he's attracted to the same sex? You obviously don't want him in your home, so I'd be more than happy to take him into mine."

"And how are you going to do that Emily? Have you forgotten that you're a single mom? You have to put two boys through college, and I doubt you'll be able to afford a third one!"

"Matthew is bright and he already has scholarships waiting for him. Alfred is a genius when it comes to sports, and he already has scholarships too. I'm not worried at all about them. They know that college is expensive, and they've been trying to do whatever they can to help me out. I know Kiku is a very intelligent boy and I'm sure he won't have any problems getting scholarships either."

"It would be a lot easier if you had assistance. If only your hus--"

"Don't you DARE start talking about that son of a bitch. I'm better off without that asshole! And he has nothing to do with this situation!"

"But what about your boys?"

"What about them?"

"Aren't you afraid what might happen to them if Kiku stays with you?"

"Are you suggesting Cheng that my own sons will turn gay because of Kiku?"

"Yes."

Emily gave an incredulous smile and shook her head in a disappointed manner. "No, I am most certainly not afraid at all. I know for a fact that my boys are heterosexual and it IS possible to stay that way even if you have a homosexual friend you know. Ha, I know my boys are incredibly handsome, and yeah, maybe they also attract gay males as much as females, but I'm positive they won't play for the other team just because of Kiku."

"But what if--"

"I said I'm positive they WON'T."

"But what if they do? Think about it Emily. Have your boys ever had a girlfriend before?"

"Alfred has had about two girlfriends in the past and Matthew has had none, but that's simply because he's very shy when it comes to things like that. I don't doubt that sooner or later he'll find himself a girl, whoever she is. I hope it's that Russian girl…the one with the huge rack. She seems nice and compassionate. They would be so adorable together! I hope Alfred finds himself another girl too because then--"

"You're going off on a tangent Emily."

"Ah, well anyway, no, I don't think my boys will turn gay or whatever you want to assume Cheng."

"What if Kiku falls for one of them? Emily, what are you going to do then? Like you said, your boys are handsome, and I know this for a fact since my daughter happens to be infatuated with one of them and won't stop talking or daydreaming about him."

"If Kiku happens…well, if he happens to like one of my boys…I'd have no problem with it."

"What if it escalates to them liking him back?"

"Why are you so sure of yourself?"

Alice and Chun-Yan just stood quiet, the latter because she was worried and the former because it was amusing. They made no effort to interrupt them.

"Emily, we have gone places with Kiku--"

"I would sure hope so lest that poor boy feel even more neglected and unloved!"

"—and other people have mistaken him for a girl on first impression, especially when he doesn't speak to show that he is in fact a male."

"Well…I will admit he does look very much like a chick…"

"You see?"

"But my boys KNOW that Kiku is a GUY. Look, you shouldn't even care about what happens between my boys and your nephew. They'll be fine, I can handle it, and there is no need to worry, okay? You obviously don't want him in your presence anymore, so just let me take care of him from now on okay?"

"Why do you want to do this Emily? I'm lost at everything by this point, mainly because you haven't even told me your sole reason for wanting to adopt Kiku other than you wanted multiculturalism in your family."

"You want my reason?"

"Yes that's what I've wanted ever since you brought it up!"

"I hate remembering it, but because you're forcing me to give you a 'valid' explanation, fine. Prepare yourself for a life story. My sister and I had a cousin whom we loved very much. He was a bit of an odd ball, but nonetheless we liked him. However, when he started entering his teen years, he was made fun of because he didn't have a girlfriend, he still hadn't had sex, nor did he knock up the first thing with breasts and a nice ass. He of course felt that those were completely idiotic and pointless 'reasons' to be made fun of, but he soon found out why he was this way.

He wasn't attracted to girls at all. Yes, he thought they were pretty or cute, and he did have female acquaintances, but he was never attracted to them sexually. When he realized that it was actually guys he was attracted to, he became scared because he just knew he'd receive nothing but bullying from his peers and criticism from his parents. He wasn't a very good liar though, which was why he got in trouble often, ha ha. It…it soon became known that he was homosexual and his parents were not happy, his father especially. They ostracized him and there was so much hostile tension in his household, that he needed to get out, in fear of doing something drastic to himself.

That's when he came to my sister and I. Our own parents knew of this, and they too were a bit…well they were a bit insensitive, but we begged and begged our parents to house him because he had nowhere else to go. Finally they gave in and he stood with us for a while. My father was the one that was the hardest to crack to try and understand, but eventually after about a year and a half, he got over it, so our cousin basically became like our brother.

Ha, of course…with the way my family gossips…his parents found out we were taking care of him and they became furious for no reason. His dad and my dad got into a huge fight over it, which even led to a physical thing. To this day, none of us understood why his parents were so against it. It's not like it was something new and he was the first child ever to be attracted to the same sex. This led to my cousin eventually running away from our home after he found out what happened. He didn't say a word to us when he left. About a week and a half later after calling police all over the state to find him…he was eventually found."

"Then what did you do?"

"Organize a funeral."

Cheng stood quiet as well as Chun-Yan and Alice. They were afraid to hear the rest of Emily's story.

"What do you mean…a funeral?"

"The police found him in an alley. He had been beaten and stabbed from what they told us. He bled to death, but it had already been hours since he was attacked." Emily's voice began to break but she continued speaking. "There was…a very pink and frilly blouse near him that by that point was already ruined with dirt and blood, and there was a note stapled horribly on it that red 'Clothes for fucked up guys like you. Go to hell you fag!' and the police said that this was a form of a hate crime after finding that evidence… He…he was killed…just because he liked guys instead of girls…because he had no home to stay in…because he just couldn't find a place to stay!"

"…why didn't he call for help--"

"He COULDN'T call for help don't you get it?! We didn't have cell phones back then and when you're being brutally beaten, clubbed, whacked, WHATEVER, your voice can't possibly reach the ears of people willing to help you out of a fight by who knows how many enemies! Don't you get it?! He was helpless! Nobody was there for him! He was lost and he didn't know what to do!" Emily had already started crying but she didn't stop her tale.

"My cousin…was treated extremely unfairly in his life…all because he was gay. He was nice and funny, yes a bit odd, though a good guy overall. But no, nobody was willing to actually look at his personality. All they saw and all they wanted to see was that he was gay, he was 'different', he wasn't 'normal'. That apparently gave practically everyone a big enough reason to hate him, and eventually murder him. He only lived seventeen years…seventeen…and he was alone and lost…and I just…"

Emily stopped talking and tried not to sob because she had already attracted enough attention from other people eating lunch around them. She covered her face with a hand and tried to cry silently. Alice looked at her, clearly shocked at this story. She had never known this about Emily's past. The British woman looked over at the couple, and Chun-Yan was already in tears, Cheng's face still plastered with shock and disbelief.

"…that's why…" Emily tried again. "…that's why I want to take Kiku into my home. I don't…I don't want him to risk ending up the same as my cousin. Kiku is such a well-mannered and intelligent boy…and he doesn't deserve that. Nobody deserves what happened to my cousin… I don't…I don't want to see another young life taken all because of a sexual preference. If I don't take in Kiku…I don't know what will happen to him if he just roams the streets…" She wiped away her tears and then looked at Cheng.

"I've always had a theory about my uncle and why he hated my cousin so much after he found out he was gay. I believe that…my uncle probably felt like he failed raising him or something because he turned out to like guys instead of girls. Maybe that's how you feel also Cheng. I know Kiku isn't your son, but Chun's sister left him in your care to raise him as your own…so maybe you feel like you failed her and yourself because of this. Please…even if you won't let me adopt him…at least let him live in my home. My boys already got attached to him and I'm sure they'd be disappointed if he left so soon, even though it's only been a day."

Cheng looked at Emily, who still looked a little sad from telling her tale. He looked down at the eating utensils on the table, and then he looked back up at her. "If Chun-Yan is fine with it…then I will allow Kiku to live with you, but only under the condition that he continues to remain as part of my family, since Yao and my other children are already upset with me from last night, and would be even more enraged if I disowned one of my own."

Emily smiled and Cheng continued. "I will admit that I don't like that fact that Kiku chose the lifestyle he did at all, but…after hearing your story…I don't want something horrible like that to happen to him. If it did, not only might he lose his life, but I would have failed my wife, her sister, and myself. I won't allow that to happen. Therefore…even if you can't adopt him…it's perfectly fine if he stays with you as long as he wants, since it's become apparent he no longer wants to live in his original house."

The blonde woman sighed in relief and smiled again. "Thank you so much Cheng. I guess this means Kiku needs to change his home address then at school. Well, that will be taken care of later I guess."

"Good, now that everything is settled," Alice began. "May I please get out of here?"

"Don't you want lunch?"

"Not if it's with you."

"What about you Chun-Yan?"

"We were going to take our children out to lunch."

"Oh… Well I can have lunch by myself then."

"You should think about what you're going to do," Alice said. "Mr. Wang is right you know. You already have two boys. Emily, I know you make a good amount of money right now, but please understand that over time it's going to get costly having a third child. Trust me, I would know since I have six children, and it gets rather expensive."

"Yeah but you see, that's your own fault. It's not like I planned to have two kids. I didn't know I was having twins until the doctor told me. You and your husband on the other hand seemed to go out of control or something with so many kids. It's your own fault and that of your husband's for being so horny."

Chun-Yan laughed and Cheng shook his head. Alice blushed a deep shade of red and she bolted up out of her seat. "Mr. and Mrs. Wang, this meeting is over and I'm glad everything has been settled out. And YOU Emily need to think before you speak! Good day!" With that, she left stomping out of the restaurant. Emily chuckled.

"I agree though with her," Cheng said. "Please think about your financial situation, and more about other scenarios too. Now that Kiku will be living with you, you'll have to take him with your family everywhere to whatever gatherings or problems you may have."

"That's fine, I don't mind."

"But what will you tell your relatives when they ask about him? Nobody wanted him because he was gay and you felt pity so you took him in?"

Emily's eyebrows furrowed. "That is not the reason Cheng. I already told you why."

Chun-Yan decided enough was enough. "We're sorry Emily, but we must get going. Come on dear."

"I'm not finished--"

"I said come on."

His wife hardly raised her voice at him, but when she did, he knew he was in the red zone and that was never a good sign. "Well then Emily, we need to get going. Our children are waiting for us to take them out to lunch. We'll see you around."

"Okay then, have a nice lunch."

The Chinese couple excused themselves and Emily sat alone at her table. She thought about everything that had happened, and now was faced with yet another problem: what would her family say when they found out? They had family reunions out of nowhere when somebody decided they wanted to hear relative gossip, and she'd have to bring Kiku with her, who would be the odd one out. "No…I'm sure everything will be fine…"

"Excuse me miss?" a waiter asked.

"Hmm?"

"You've been sitting here for a while. Would you like something to eat?"

"Oh, yeah I guess. Uhm, just give me a few minutes please."

"Okay, I'll be back then."

"Thanks." She sighed and knit her fingers together, propping her arms up on the table and resting her chin on her hands. "I can do this right? It won't be hard… I'm definitely not going to let poor Kiku wander the streets either… I…I can handle this. I'm a Jones! Jones can do anything!"

End Flashback

She set down her purse and keys on the counter. Emily walked over to the living room to see if the other three persons were in the house, which they were. The television was on some late night comedy, with her boys and Kiku fast asleep on the couch. Matthew's head hung as he slept with the remote in his lap, Alfred had his head leaned back with earphones on, connected to his PS3 which had been paused, and Kiku was in the middle of them both, his head resting on Alfred's shoulder. Emily smiled at the scene. She wondered if they waited for her. Looking over to the other couch, she got a blanket and covered them, not wanting to wake them up. She turned off the TV and then the kitchen lights, making sure the bottom floor was secure. Then she proceeded up the stairs to her own room to sleep.

--

Matthew opened his eyes and yawned. He was a bit drowsy, but noticed that his twin and their new friend had crashed on the couch. "What time did we go to sleep?"

"Who knows?"

The boy looked over the coffee table and saw that Manuel was lying down, watching TV. "Manuel, how'd you get there? Ah, well actually, the bigger question is, how'd you get in our house?"

"Oh, you guys forgot to lock the door when you returned from Yao's place. Like after I got home, I didn't wanna be there because that estupido Antonio decided to stay yet again, so I snuck in here and watched movies on that portable DVD player of yours in the hallway closet. I slept in there too."

"Ah, I see. Does Alfred know?"

"Alfred would tell you if I were here, so no."

"Manuel, uhm…don't you have to get home?"

"Eh?"

"Doesn't your family go to church in the mornings on Sundays?"

"Oh, that. Yeah see, Antonio is going too, and I don't wanna be around him because he's too clingy. Besides, I'm not really a church person… Ha, my abuela scolds me for that though."

"Well, okay. I just would hate it if you got in trouble."

"Nah, it's fine. My mom likes you guys too much. She said she wants me to be more responsible like you guys…or…well at least YOU Matt."

Matthew chuckled. "Thanks."

"So, is Kiku staying here then permanently?" He pointed his thumb at the couch where Alfred and Kiku were still sleeping.

"Yes, he is. Hopefully he's happy here."

"I hope so too. That guy needs a break from life it seems."

"Yeah…"

"Your mom walked out earlier this morning. She told me to tell you guys to eat cereal or something."

"Oh, that's fine. I would have preferred her cooking but…"

"Cooking? Ah amigo, then I can cook for you!"

"Really? I didn't know you cooked Manuel."

"Yes! See, my sisters and I, and that nimrod Toni, had to learn how to cook and do lotsa stuff when we were kids. All four of us know how to cook really well, even if we're better at some other recipes than the other three."

"Oh, I see. Well then, I'd love to see you cook!"

"Great! Hey, you don't mind if I play music while I'm cooking do you? I get bored with everything being silent and all."

"Ha ha, no it's fine. Al's a heavy sleeper, so he probably won't even hear it."

"Okay, thanks!" Manuel jolted up from the floor and walked into the kitchen, preparing to cook.

"Hopefully Alfred doesn't get upset that Manuel is here again… I wonder if I should wake up Kiku?" He looked at his brother and new resident sitting next to him. He smiled and stood up. "No, I think I'll leave them like that. They're probably tired. Ah! I wonder if Hero and Maple have been fed yet? I gotta check!" He quickly ran outside to the backyard where the dogs were whining from being hungry.

--

Kiku slowly opened his eyes, and noticed he had been leaning on Alfred. He quickly stood up, and looked around. "Oh, I suppose I fell asleep here…" He stretched and then took the dirty cups of soda into the kitchen, where he was greeted with a wonderful smell.

"Manuel-san?"

"Kiku!" Manuel turned around from the stove, wearing an apron and a spoon in his hand. "¡Buenos dias! Did you sleep well?"

"Yes, thank you. Uhm, I don't mean to sound rude, but what are you doing here?"

"I avoided going to church so I hid here last night. My family always rushes on Sunday mornings, so they always forget things and remember when they're already in the parking lot, so I'm safe. Ha ha! Plus that moron Antonio is there…"

"Uhm, why do you have so much resentment towards Antonio-san?"

"There's a lot of reasons. My parents say it's jealousy, but…eh." He shrugged. Kiku wanted to know what he meant by jealousy, but he didn't want to pry. "Anyway, are you hungry?"

"Oh, yes…a little."

"Great! I'm making breakfast, so I hope you enjoy!"

"What are you cooking? I have never smelled anything like that before."

"Oh, well since you're going to be my new neighbor, I decided to cook Mexican food, since that's what my parents always cook for special occasions…well at least for other people. I hope you don't mind."

"No not at all! I have…just never had Mexican food before…"

Manuel gasped dramatically. "NEVER?!"

"N-No…never…"

"Hijo de su madre then you're gonna taste everything I make okay?!"

"Y-Yes…I will Manuel-san."

"Let's hope Alfredo doesn't eat everything first though, that fatass." He chuckled as he continued to cook. "He seems to get annoyed with me, but I'm his best friend. He can't help but like me and my Latin charm."

Kiku wondered why Manuel always denied he was related to Antonio if he acted similar to him. "Okay. I appreciate you cooking breakfast Manuel-san."

"It's no problem dude! Señora Emily left this morning, and she didn't tell me much, so I'll take over the cooking." He stirred the Spanish rice with the large spoon. "…she looks bothered."

"Huh?"

"I mean…when I saw her, she looked like she had a lot on her mind. I asked if she was alright and she said she was fine. I didn't ask her anymore because I don't want her angry with me or something. She looked stressed…"

Kiku put the dirty cups in the sink and began to wash them. He stood quiet as Manuel continued to cook. He wondered if it was his fault Emily's mind was clouded. "Hey Kiku."

"Yes Manuel-san?"

"It's not you."

It was as if he read his thoughts. "What?"

Manuel smiled gently at him. "She's not upset about you living here. Señora Emily can get angry at times, but it takes a lot for her to be genuinely angry. You staying here is not counted in that 'a lot' part. If anything, she's happier. She likes to be surrounded by diversity, so that's why she moved here."

"How do you know?"

"She and my mom talk a lot, and the Jones always get invited to our parties since we're just right next door, so we know a lot about each other. We're pretty close. Ha ha, wanna hear something amusing?"

"Uhm, okay." Kiku sat down at the island since he had finished washing the dishes. Manuel continued to cook as he spoke, trying not to break his concentration.

"One time when both of our mothers were in the kitchen, they were talking about what charmed them about the other's family, and then somehow Alfred and I came up in the conversation. My mom said she wished I was taller like Alfred and more muscular…" He turned around. "I'm not short okay?! It's just that he grows too much! And I'm perfectly fine with being scrawny! It's not like I don't have muscles! That Alfredo probably takes steroids or something to make himself get those biceps and abs!"

"Uhm, how do you know this Manuel-san...?"

"That's not important. What IS important is that I AM NOT SHORT OR FRAGILE."

"I believe you whole-heartedly Manuel-san."

"Thank you Kiku. You're the only one who understands. Anyway," he turned back around to continue cooking lest he burn something like Arthur. "then Señora Emily said she wished Alfred was more suave and talented like me." It's as if Kiku could hear his ego inflating. Perhaps Gilbert-san needs to have a different homeroom or ride on a different bus… His ego seems to be contagious...

"But of course, this is true. I mean, Latin lovers are the best you know, and we've all got it."

"Uhm…"

"That's why that stupid Antonio has so many girls stalking him because he is THE Latin lover of our school, when he is a clueless and clumsy imbecil!"

"Uhm…"

"He doesn't notice girls stalking him or Francis trying to grope him in public, but he somehow notices when I try to avoid him. How is that possible?! I'm sure he won't notice if an anvil came outta nowhere and slammed onto his foot, but he'd notice me sitting as far away from him in the classroom as possible. Why damn it?!"

Kiku assumed Manuel forgot the entire point of his conversation as he continued to rant about his Spanish cousin.

"Uhm…Manuel-san…"

"Yes?"

"I think he just really cares about you. Antonio-san hasn't been one to care about himself before other people. He's a very family-oriented person from what I've heard."

"Yeah, maybe a little too much…" Manuel huffed. "Well, at least he has Lovino to keep him distracted." He stood quiet and then asked, "Is Alfredo still asleep?"

Kiku looked over to the living room and noticed Alfred was indeed still in a slumber. "Yes…he is… How can he sleep that much?"

"He's lazy, even more than me. If we eat breakfast before he wakes up, he's going to complain and blame everything on me. This can be fixed!" Manuel turned up the radio and nearly blasted mariachi music in the house, and smiled as he began to sing along to the words in Spanish.

"Won't he get upset?" Kiku tried to shout.

"He'll forgive me! He always gets angry but then calms down with my food! You'll see! Three, two, one…"

Sure enough, Kiku heard another voice angrily yell, "MANNY!"

"There he is," he said with a smirk.

Alfred barged into the kitchen like an angry bull as he glared at Manuel. "What the hell do you think you're doing blasting that sombrero music, IN MY HOUSE nonetheless?! What are you even doing in my house?! How'd you get in here?! Why do you have to be so Mexican?!"

"Good morning! And it's mariachi music by the way. Oh, and bato, I'm proud of my culture alright so don't hate. I don't ask you why you're so American, now do I?"

"You didn't answer my ques—are you cooking?"

"Oh, yeah I am." He placed pots on the island. "It's nearly finished."

"Sweet, Mexican food for breakfast!" Alfred ran around looking for Matthew and found him outside. "Matt! We're having Mexican food for breakfast! And Manny made it!"

"Yes, I know--"

"Well come on don't just stand out there!"

"Alfred, I'm putting away these--"

"You're gonna miss out! Stop being so slow!" He ran back inside and Matthew sighed.

"You're the more mature twin. Remember Matthew remember."

--

"Manuel-san, I have never tasted something like this before," Kiku said with his eyes lit up.

"Ha ha! I take it you like what I made?"

"Y-Yes!"

"Thanks! Everybody loves Mexican food! Some of the best damn food in the world!"

"You should have made more," Alfred said with his mouth full.

"Nah, you just need to stop eating like half of what I cooked. There are three more people sitting at this table who are also hungry you know!"

Alfred ignored him as he continued to indulge himself in breakfast. Matthew looked at Manuel and asked, "How'd you make this?"

"Hmm? Oh, well I actually had to go back to my house to get some of the ingredients. My parents are gonna want to know what happened with the missing items though…"

"Manny, why are you always over here?" Alfred asked a little annoyed.

"My mom bought some freshly made pan dulce last night."

"Make yourself at home bro!"

Manuel winked at Kiku, and mouthed the words, "I told you." Kiku chuckled and continued to eat his food.

"Kiku, for such a skinny dude, you sure do eat a lot!"

"I…have a large appetite…and this is the first time I have eaten this kind of food…"

"Ha ha, I'm not complaining! I'm glad you like my cooking!"

The four boys heard the door unlock and Emily came inside with bags of groceries. Instantly she began to sniff the air. "What is that smell?"

"Oh, hello Señora Emily," Manuel greeted. "I hope you don't mind, but I started cooking since these three guys looked hungry and--"

"Cooking? Like Mexican food?"

"Yes, I made--"

"Can I have some?! I'm hungry!"

"Oh, well sure! I actually saved some in case you came home early enough--"

"Yay! Manuel you're such a sweetheart!" She hugged him like a bear and then said, "Al, why can't you be charming like him?"

Alfred glared at Manuel who gave him a smug look in return. "I hate you."

"You'd die without me Alfredo."

--

"Well, this is the room you'll be staying in," Emily said as she opened the door to the fourth bedroom used for storage. "Er…it's messy…and we haven't cleaned in a while…b-but we'll get it done in no time! Uh, do you want a specific kind of paint for the walls?"

"It's fine Jones-san. White walls are fine, and plus, I don't want you spending that kind of money on me."

"Nonsense! White is boring! That's why I made Matt paint his room red! Al's is blue, and mine is yellow. Hey, how about green? Would you like that?"

"Green is a nice color."

"Great! Green it is! We'll go to the Home Depot this Friday for some paint. Hmm…you're gonna need a bed too and some other furniture…"

"N-No please don't trouble yourself! I can just bring the furniture from my aunt's house!"

"Are you sure?"

"Yes!"

"Oh, well okay then. We're still gonna need somebody with a truck… Oh, I'll figure that out later." Emily smiled at Kiku and then brushed his bangs away from his face, placing her hands on his shoulders. "I hope you're happy living here Kiku."

"Jones-san, the fact that you merely wanted to take me in made me very joyous to begin with."

"It was nothing Kiku. I hate to see kids sad and distressed, and I didn't want you to feel like that, or be in danger because you don't have a home." She kissed the top of his head. "I may not be your legal guardian, but I'll still love you like you're my own son. To my boys, especially Alfred, you're very important, so they care a lot about you too. Ha ha, and Manuel is practically like my other son, so eventually…you two will get closer, and have yet another friend to count on. I'm sure Ludwig and Feliciano love you very much too, and I definitely know your cousins love you just as much. We won't let anything bad happen to you okay? We're here if you need anything."

Kiku's eyes began to water and Emily smiled sympathetically. "J-Jones-san…"

"You can cry if you want Kiku."

"N-No…I-I-I have finished m-my crying…" His shoulders began to shake, tears slowly falling from his face. Emily embraced him and pet his hair. "Like I said, we're here for you. Just because you made a choice that your uncle frowned upon, and some of your peers harassed you with, that doesn't mean everybody is like that. I could care less about your sexual preference, the color of your skin, your country of origin, if you think a tomato is a vegetable…it doesn't matter to me."

She let go of Kiku and he looked up at her gratefully. She wiped away his tears with her thumbs. "I hate to see this cute face so sad." She ruffled his hair. "I'll…try to be the best mother possible."

"I…already know you're a good mother. Alfred-san and Matthew-san always speak so highly of you."

"They do?"

"Yes, they are always saying how their mother is the best in the world and then Arthur-san comments that he can't see how Alfred-san is related to you, since he feels he is unpleasant at times."

Emily chuckled. "Now isn't that Arthur a sweetie. I wish I could say the same for his mother but that woman is hard to get along with often…" She pouted but then continued to smile at Kiku. "Love conquers everything Kiku. Remember that." She kissed him again on his head and then walked down the steps.

"For the time being, you can sleep in Alfred's room until your room is all fixed up. He doesn't mind being on the couch anyway."

"Thank you Jones-san."

She smiled and descended from the staircase, leaving Kiku to look at his room. It sure was big enough, just like his old room. He ran his hand along the door frame and smiled. "I hope I can get along with everyone here, and whoever else of their family and acquaintances I happen to meet. I will do my best."

"MANUEL!"

Kiku jumped and hid behind a wall near the staircase. He saw a woman come in from the front door. She was very beautiful and her long dark hair curled here and there, her red nails visible from where Kiku was at. She must have just gotten back from church by the way she was dressed.

"Ah Maria!" Emily said happily.

"Hello Emily. Is my trouble-maker son here?"

"Oh, yes, he's in the kitchen."

The woman by the name of Maria walked into the kitchen. "There you are!"

"M-Mama!"

"Why weren't you in the car this morning?!"

"I-I-I slept in?"

"¡Mentiroso! I can tell when you fib!"

"Okay…but mama I just--"

"Do you know how sad your abuela is? She thinks you hate her because you're always disappearing on Sunday mornings! You know she's happy when she goes to church, but she's not as happy if her grandson isn't there!"

"I-I-I know…"

"Then why don't you do something about it?!"

"But…it's just…it's kinda boring…"

"Excuse me?"

"Uhm…" Manuel was at a loss for words. Alfred was sitting in his chair in the background, his arms crossed and a smirk stretched out on his face. He loved to see Manuel get scolded by his Amazon-Spartan mother.

"You know…it's very embarrassing to be yelled at in somebody else's house…"

"Would you rather us go back to ours so there are no witnesses?"

"¡Ay dios mio! Why are you so angry?! Didn't you just get back from church?!"

"Manuel Antonio De la Cruz Sanchez, don't ever use that tone of voice with me. Do you understand?!"

"Y-Yes mama…"

"Whatever happened to that adorable little boy who would pick me flowers from our own garden? Now you're a punk! Why can't you be more like Antonio?"

"Because he's stupid and oblivious and just STUPID. He is too clingy and affectionate! And he always wants to be around me!"

"And what is wrong with wanting to be around you?"

"Nothing! It's just…it's just HIM. And if you like him so much, then you should take him into our household instead! He's always visiting us anyway!"

Maria looked like she wanted to blow a casket but she took a deep breath and calmed down, and then said, "Next time, don't skip Sunday church."

"Mama, if you force people to do stuff, they're going to eventually hate it. I think it's better if I go when I feel like it, because I know abuela will be sad if I end up hating it."

"Yes and when you feel like it, she'll already be on her deathbed I bet."

"Don't say such morbid things!"

Maria shook her head and then turned to Emily. "I'm so sorry. I didn't mean to cause a scene or anything…"

"Ah, no it's fine."

"You're probably already used to it huh, since I always come over here and find Manny slacking off…" She looked over to the table and saw Alfred sitting down. "Oh, good afternoon Alfred!"

"Hey Mrs. Sanchez, good afternoon! You look hotter today than usual. Did you buy a new blouse?"

Maria laughed. "You are so sweet Alfred! No, I didn't. I just haven't worn this one in a while. But my, it seems like you have grown again!" She turned to her son. "Manuel, why can't you be tall like Alfred?"

"Dang you're the one who made me! Why don't you and papa tell ME the answer?!"

Kiku had moved to hiding behind the wall near the kitchen and chuckled at Manuel's response. Maria turned around and said, "Is there somebody else here? I thought I heard something like giggling."

"Oh, yes!" Emily responded. "He's probably just hiding since he's shy. You can come out now!"

The Japanese boy was surprised that Maria could hear him from where he was standing, but he came out nonetheless, albeit a bit sheepish. He was afraid he'd get the same treatment as Manuel, but Maria smiled warmly at him. "Who is this adorable child Emily?"

"This is Kiku Honda, Alfred's friend from school."

"Well it's nice to meet you Kiku!" She held out her hand. "I'm Maria Guadalupe De la Cruz Sanchez, and I suppose you already know my rambunctious son Manuel. You're such a cutie! Alfred seems to be lucky with his friends!"

"H-Hello Sanchez-san. It's a pleasure to meet you." He shook her hand in greeting.

"Oh! So you're…ah I apologize!" She became flustered.

"Uhm, did I do something wrong?"

"No I'm the one who did!" She blushed out of embarrassment. "I-I-I thought you were a girl!"

Kiku's eyes widened and Emily looked concerned, remembering what Cheng had told her yesterday. Manuel raised an eyebrow while the Jones twins stood quiet in the background.

"Mama how could you think Kiku is a girl?!"

"H-He is just so cute I-I-I thought—oh I'm so sorry! ¡Perdoname!" She looked stressed. "Wow my first impression was horrible! I will never be able to get over this!"

"Please Sanchez-san, calm down! I forgive you! It's an honest mistake!" He himself looked stressed trying to calm down an even more stressed woman.

"But…I called you a girl!"

"Yes but you didn't know! It's fine!" He smiled. "I accept your apology. I'm used to being mistaken for a girl on first impression, but even if it wasn't something considered the norm in my life, I'd still forgive you."

"Oh, you're too kind Kiku. I'm terribly sorry. I'll make you some flan as a gift and I'll bring it over later okay? You'll like flan. It's good."

"Can I have some flan?"

"No Manuel, you're punished today. You're going to clean the entire kitchen."

"May I have some flan?" asked Alfred.

"Of course you can guapo. I'll make some flan for you too, and your brother! Speaking of which, where is he?"

"Uhm, Mrs. Sanchez I've been sitting here the entire time…"

"Goodness I didn't see you there! Matthew, you're so quiet. It's a nice change from my son's loud way of speaking. Emily would you like some flan?"

"Yes I'd love some!"

"Great! I'll go home and make it then."

"Hey why does Alfred get flan but not me, your own son?!" Manuel complained.

"Because he is a young man who listens to his mother, unlike some other sons I happen to know of."

Manuel glared at Alfred, who only waved mockingly. He turned back to his mother and said, "I already cleaned the entire kitchen here!"

"And why did you do that?"

"He made breakfast for us," Matthew said. "It was very delicious."

"Manuel you cooked?"

"Yes. I then washed everything I used and cleaned up where I had cooked and eaten, even the floor too!"

"Did Emily ask you to do this?"

Emily smiled. "No, I didn't. He asked if he could do it actually."

"I am impressed Manuel. Fine, you're not punished then, but the next time you pull this stunt, there will be consequences." Maria turned back to Emily. "Well I must get going. Things to do around the house you know, plus I got to make that flan! I'll see you all later! Come Manuel."

"Yes mama…"

As she walked past Kiku, she said, "It was a pleasure meeting you. Are you visiting on the weekends?"

"Uhm…n-no…"

"Oh, so do you come by on Sundays?"

"Actually…I live here…"

Maria raised an eyebrow and looked at Emily. "Did you have another child with a Japanese man years ago and if you did, why wasn't I told about this?"

Emily laughed heartily. "No, I didn't. Kiku is going to be living with my boys and me from now on. He's Chun-Yan's nephew from Japan."

"Oh so this is the cutie I heard about! But why is he living here now?" The room got quiet and then Maria frowned. "It's not…for a good reason is it…?"

"No…" Emily responded. She looked over at Kiku and he gave her a reassuring expression, letting her know it was fine if she told people the story.

"Kiku…was kicked out of his home by his uncle…"

"What? Why on earth would he do that?"

"…because he found out Kiku was homosexual."

Maria had a shocked look on her face and Kiku looked at the ground, rubbing his arm out of nervousness. He was afraid of what Maria would say since Manuel had told him the Sanchez family was Catholic and how more severe it'd be if he were taken in by that family instead by some miracle.

"A parent or guardian should be arrested for doing something like that."

Kiku looked up at Maria and saw that her face had turned serious. She continued to speak. "A relative should never turn away from a child because of something like this. It's very dangerous to the child because so many things can go wrong, usually ending up with the child's life expiring. I'm sorry Kiku…"

"It's…fine. Uhm, but thank you for…saying that Sanchez-san."

"It's true though. Emily, it's very amazing what you're doing. I really respect that."

"Thank you."

"Well Kiku, I guess this means you're our new neighbor. Now I have to make flan for you!" She chuckled to herself. "Emily is a very kind person, so you're in good hands here. Plus, Alfred and Matthew are pleasant young men too. If Manuel gives you any problems, let me know and I'll punish him accordingly."

Manuel's eye twitched. "Mama, I am not going to harass him. I knew about this since yesterday! And I have nothing against homosexual people okay?!"

"Then you should be nice to poor Antonio! He really cares about you and wants to become closer to you too!"

"Antonio isn't gay, even if it seems that way! He's just overly affectionate and too touchy-feely!"

"Then like him!"

"Every time I compliment him or show him even the slightest way of caring about him, he gets all giddy and makes that face and says 'Buhyoo ~ !' and then starts hugging me and cuddling me in his arms! Do you know how embarrassing and weird that looks?!"

"You know Antonio really loves you, right? You're his favorite cousin."

"Yes mama…I know… I just wish he wouldn't be so open about it…"

"Manuel…hijo, you need to stop being so bitter about what happened."

"I'm over it okay? It's just that everybody else isn't."

"Mijo…nobody could ever get over what happened to you…even those who know… And if somebody else were in your situation…they'd never get over it for as long as they live…"

"…well I am alright? What's done is done, and I'd rather not remember it…"

"Antonio just--"

"Antonio just feels guilty because he wasn't there for me when it happened, but was instead with Lovino and Feliciano. Now he can't live with himself. That's why I believe now at this age, he's being a lot more in my face and affectionate with me because he's trying to make up for what he didn't do back then. Well I'm not gonna have any of that. I'm sorry mama, but I'm not."

Kiku noticed that Manuel sounded highly upset and there were probably very dire secrets about him he didn't know. He looked over to the Jones family and they seemed just as baffled as him.

Manuel looked serious as he spoke. "That Spanish idiota was my favorite cousin too mama, and I did really love and care about him. Why did that change? Antonio said he'd always be there for me, but when he met the Vargas brothers, it was like I didn't even exist, and then that happened. Now he feels like crap because of what happened to me so he's trying to make up for it at this age, but I already lost faith in him a long time ago. Nothing he can do will ever make me believe in him again, like I used to when I was little."

Alfred was dying to know what event Manuel was talking about. Yes, it was a true and known fact that the Mexican boy was Alfred's best friend, but there were a few things Alfred tried asking about, and Manuel would always give him a vague answer. He didn't want to pry into his friend's past, because whenever he'd ask what exactly happened that made him dislike Antonio so much, or when anybody asked him really, he'd first have a horror-stricken look, probably from remembering what happened, and then he'd get upset and defensive, so nobody ever found out, not even the American.

"Manuel," Maria began. "I didn't know you felt that way…"

"Well now you do mama… I may have gotten over what happened to me, but not what Antonio didn't do."

"Why don't you talk to him about it?"

"What good will that do? He's tried talking to me about it, but I won't hear it. Call me a stubborn jackass, but I don't care what excuse or reason that cabrón tries to tell me. I'll never forgive him, and nobody can ever make me forgive him."

"Manuel, don't use such language!"

"Sorry, I'm just in a bad mood now…" He looked at Emily and said, "Thank you for letting me cook here."

"You're welcome. Your food was delicious."

"Thanks." He looked at Alfred and Matthew and said, "I'll see you guys tomorrow at the bus stop, okay?"

"Okay Manny," Alfred said gently.

"We'll be there when you are."

He nodded and then looked at Kiku, with a small smile. "And I guess I'll see you too there now huh? I look forward to it. You'll be one of the first people on the bus. See you tomorrow Kiku."

"Yes, have a nice rest of the day Manuel-san."

The teen walked out of the house and to his own home, Maria watching him enter their abode. Kiku noticed she looked very sad and very maternal as she sighed. "Mi pobre hijo…" She turned to the Jones and Kiku, and said, "Well I better get going. I'll bring that flan over okay?"

"Okay, I can't wait to eat it," Emily said.

Maria managed a smile and then closed the door softly. Kiku looked at Alfred and asked, "What happened to Manuel-san? I have never seen him so…hurt. He's usually a happy person."

"I wish I knew Kiku," Alfred responded. "Every time I ask Manny, he changes the subject and if I go back to my question, he gets upset. I guess it's just one of those things that, when he feels ready, he'll tell me."

"Oh, well I hope it's nothing too severe."

"Me too."

Kiku knew he was going to see a lot more of Manuel since he lived in the Jones residence now, but that only made him even more curious for the story of the boy's past that he refused to tell anyone about. It's best if I not pry or ask Antonio-san to tell me either. Like Alfred-san said, when he feels ready, Manuel-san will let his friends know about this thing that happened to him. I just hope it isn't anything serious.

--

It felt weird getting up early in someone else's home. Kiku made sure to be the first one dressed on Monday morning so the other residents of the house could have the bathroom to themselves.

He decided to cook breakfast since he had time. He heard Emily come down the stairs.

"Oh geez late again! I need to go to sleep earlier!" She passed by the entrance to the kitchen already fully dressed and noticed Kiku setting the table. "Kiku you're up!"

"Yes, I was the first one awake. I made breakfast for everyone."

"You're such a sweetheart! Unfortunately I'm late as it is, so I won't be able to eat! It smells and looks really good though!"

"Oh! Uhm, well I thought about that scenario, so I made you lunch instead." He handed her a bag and she looked inside.

"Kiku this lunch looks delicious too!"

"Yes uhm, I wouldn't want you to go hungry and I know that over time eating out can get costly, so I made you that lunch which…uhm, I hope tastes just as good as restaurant food, and I mean, now I'm living here so you have another expense to think about, and I wouldn't want you to stress over financial issues and--"

Emily kissed his forehead and smiled. "Thank you Kiku. I'll eat every last crumb. You're so thoughtful and kind!"

He blushed. "Uhm…thank you."

"And don't think you're just another mouth to feed. You're family now, and I don't think of my family that way." She grabbed her coat and her purse and picked up the keys from the tray on the hallway table.

"Well I'm off to work. I should be home around five-thirty or so. If I'm not, Matthew will usually start dinner. Oh, and I fed the dogs already too. Have a great day at school Kiku!"

"Thank you Jones-san. You have a great day at work as well."

Emily grinned and then stepped out the front door. Kiku smiled, feeling welcomed and loved in his new home. "I could never be grateful enough for what Jones-san did for me. Even though I am family to her and she tells me not to worry, I must still do my best to help around the house however I can, whenever I can."

"Kiku, you cooked breakfast?"

The boy turned around and saw Alfred standing in the doorway, dressed already for the day. Kiku smiled at him. "Good morning Alfred-san. Uhm, yes, I cooked breakfast. I thought that you would be hungry, so I made some since I usually wake up very early. Please, eat. Breakfast is important, especially when one has school. I have already eaten, so this is for you and Matthew-san."

"Wow, this looks great and smells great too!" He sat down and served himself. "Mm, and it tastes great, just like I thought it would! Wow, two good cooks in a row! Thanks Kiku!"

"You're welcome Alfred-san. It's my pleasure."

--

The Jones twins and Kiku walked to the bus stop and sure enough, Manuel and his sisters were already there waiting. The Mexican boy smiled when he saw them walking in their direction.

"Hey guys! Good morning!" His sisters also greeted the three as they met up.

Kiku was relieved to see Manuel happy again, as if what happened yesterday was erased from history.

"Morning Manny!"

"Good morning."

"Good morning Manuel-san."

The bus came shortly and the six students got inside. It also felt strange riding the bus when it was nearly empty.

"Hey Kiku!" Alfred said. "Want to sit next to me?"

"Uhm, but Matthew-san usually sits next to you."

"I don't mind moving Kiku," Matthew said with a smile. "I'll sit next to Manuel, if that's alright with you Alicia."

"Oh go ahead!" she responded. "Manny's annoying me anyway."

"Yeah, he's annoying me as well," Eva said.

Manuel sat down in his usual seat, hands behind his head. "Be nice to your big brother who drives you around to get your damn nails and toes done, your eyebrows and mustache waxed, and suffers through Antonio's non-stop blabber mouth while you go shopping at Target to pick up your feminine pads or whatever when you're on your rag."

"MANNY!" his sisters shouted with red faces as Alfred and Matthew stared at the girls, a bit embarrassed themselves. Manuel gave a hearty laugh.

"Like I said, don't be mean to your hermano!"

The sisters went to their seat grumbling while Matthew sat down next to Manuel, and Kiku joined Alfred.

"You can sit on the window seat side Kiku. That's the best seat!"

"Oh, thank you Alfred-san."

The bus began to drive away and Kiku fidgeted with his fingers. Alfred looked at him. "What's wrong?"

"Everybody is going to ask why I'm here… They're going to want to know the reason for me being at that bus stop. I don't know what to tell anyone if they ask. I mean…I know that…my secret was revealed, but they don't know the situation I'm in and--"

"You don't have to say anything. I'll take care of it, don't worry."

Sure enough, he did. As the large yellow vehicle picked up the rest of the students, whenever somebody would ask Kiku why he was there so early, Alfred would change the subject to a topic so indulging that they forgot to re-ask Kiku the initial question. Yao smiled as he observed Alfred throwing everybody off with other things whenever they asked Kiku why he was sitting there. "Thank you Alfred," he said softly to himself in his own seat.

Kiku smiled as others around his and Alfred's seat struck up conversation, mostly Arthur and Manuel since they were closest. Francis would look lewdly at Kiku and comment on how adorable he was and other things it was best not to mention, which ended up with Arthur's fist connecting with the French boy's gut and a long lecture about keeping perverted thoughts to oneself.

The short boy felt happy then, as he sat next to his American friend who would always include Kiku in whatever conversation he had with others around him. He would call him his buddy or his pal, and that made Kiku happy. He felt wanted, he felt comfortable, and he felt loved.

He smiled as he looked out the window at the passing cars. Even though what my uncle did to me wasn't the right thing to do, I'm glad he did, because now I'm someplace where I feel genuinely happy even after two days, and I'm with people who accept me for who I chose to be.

Kiku glanced at Alfred who was busy speaking with somebody from the back, and the shorter of the two looked admiringly up at the other. He turned back to the window and watched the scenery pass by.

Thank you Alfred-san.

-----


A/N: In case nobody noticed, I changed the layout to my writing journal, so I hope it wasn't too difficult to read with the small font and all. ^^; Mm, and sorry this chapter came out later than I had planned... Ffff the new college semester started for me once more...and yeah. Plus I don't always have internet access because my brother is greedy. Story of my liiife. Ah ha, sorry that this chapter was more...Manuel-centric. Lawl I also added another surname to his full name, so instead of it being "Manuel Antonio Sanchez", it's now "Manuel Antonio De la Cruz Sanchez". Yep. xD I feel like I'm forgetting to mention something... Ah well, here are the translations:

estupido: stupid
abuela: grandmother
amigo: friend
Hijo de su madre: Literally is "son of a mother". LOL It's used sometimes in place of "Ay dios mio" which is "Oh my God". It does not mean "son of a bitch". That one is "hijo de puta". Yay for learning Spanish curses
imbecil: imbecile
bato: The literal translation is "simpleton" but I heard it meant "dude" also... Either way, it works when Manny is speaking with Alfred ha ha!
mentiroso: liar
Perdoname: Forgive me
guapo: handsome
mijo: son or my son. I think it's actually supposed to be spelled "m'ijo" since it's short for "mi hijo" but...eh.
idiota: idiot
cabrón: fucker (Note: I learn a lot of Spanish curse words from peers.)
mi pobre hijo: My poor son
hermano: brother

Anyway, hope you enjoyed the new chapter! And today is February 11th so...Happy Birthday Kiku! Oh, and I hope all of you have a nice Valentine's Day too! Until the next update ~
Tags: !fanfic: time of your life, »type: slash, ↳length: multi-chapter, ☆fandom: hetalia, ♥pairing: alfred x kiku
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