Characters/Pairings: A lot of characters, but the main focus is America and Japan.
Rating: T+ (this chapter)
Genre: Romance + Friendship + Family + Drama
Warnings/Notes: AU - High school. As for warnings, there are vague descriptions of a form of child abuse in this chapter...which made me sad writing it in all honesty. I left it vague enough for the readers to understand the situation without being detailed...
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.
Lovino's face froze with shock, and caused the rest of their group to turn deathly silent. Feliciano held his hands over his mouth, while Antonio said nothing.
"How would you feel at that age, huh? An innocent little boy having his virginity taken away from him forcefully by a sick fuck, knowing that his cousin was watching from afar? That same cousin who told him over and over that if he ever needed help, he'd always be there for him, and yet the moment he actually cried out for him, he didn't do anything about it?"
Lovino stood quiet, shock now turning to sympathy on his face. Manuel turned to the rest of the group scornfully and said, "So you wanna know what exactly happened do ya?"
"Manuel, don't do this!" his mother cried.
"No! I'm tired of people asking me why I can't stand Antonio so much!"
"But you'll only remind yourself of that horrible day!"
"At this point I don't care anymore alright!"
"Yes you do otherwise you wouldn't still hold such bitter feelings about the whole thing! It wasn't Antonio's fault—"
"Tell that to the seven year old me who had so much trust in him then!"
He ignored any other protests from his mother and said, "I don't care what you guys think after I say this, just as long as you don't pity me for what happened. I don't need a damn pity party alright?"
Flashback- Nine Years Ago
"Antonio, take your cousin to the sandbox to play, okay?"
"Yes Tia Maria! Come on Manny!"
It was another normal Saturday afternoon in the woodland-like park Maria and her kids usually frequented. She decided to take Manuel out today to buy him some new clothes since she had recently gotten a raise at work, and Antonio's mother had errands to run, so she left him in the custody of Maria for the day.
Manuel enjoyed being with his cousin. He was nice and friendly and was always wanting to play with him. They always had a lot of fun, even doing something simple like being in the sandbox.
"Hi Toni! Hi Manny!"
But there were also times where he just wanted it to be the two of them, without the company of others.
"Lovi! Feli!" Antonio said cheerfully. "Hi!"
"Hi!" Feliciano plopped himself down next to the Spanish boy. "What are you guys doing?"
"We're building a sand castle!" he said, handing a colorful shovel to the little Italian.
"Why are you here?" asked Manuel, trying not to sound jealous.
"Mommy and us were shopping," Lovino said. "But then she saw your mommy, and then told us to come and play in the sandbox with you."
"Where's Tia Maria?" asked Antonio.
"She and mommy are over there sitting down on the bench. I think they're showing each other what they bought. I don't like my clothes…"
"But I think our clothes are nice Lovi!" Feliciano responded.
"Then you can wear them Feli."
"But mommy bought them for you!"
"Tia Maria bought Manny and me some clothes too!" Antonio said. "I like them! Aren't they nice Manny?"
The four started to build the sandcastle, but Manuel didn't like how Lovino was building his side.
"No, the castle needs to have four towers."
"But I want to build the water around it."
"But first we need to build the towers!"
"But I can build the water around it while you do that!"
"Well then you need to wait!"
Lovino huffed and took the pail that came with the colorful plastic set, and went the water fountain to fill it up a bit. He carried it back to the sandbox. "Then use water so we can build faster!"
"No that will make a mess!"
"It's okay Manny," Antonio said. "The sand will turn into mud and then it will be easier to make everything stick together! Like at the beach!"
"But we're in a sandbox not the beach!"
"Manny don't get mad…" Feliciano said quietly. "Uhm, Lovi just wants to help!"
"No he's just being dumb."
"You're being dumb, you taco face!"
"You're a pasta face dumbo!"
"Don't call me names!"
"Well you started it!"
"Okay stop it!" Antonio said getting in between them. "We don't need to fight! Manny using water will make this easier!"
"But you said we were going to try it this time without water! Only because Lovi is here that you're saying this!"
"No! I think it's a good idea!"
"You always think whatever Lovi thinks is a good idea!"
"I like your ideas too!"
"But not when Lovi is around! You like him more than me!"
"No I like both of you! I just don't see him a lot like I see you!"
"Then you can play with Lovi! I'll leave!" He stomped out of the sandbox but kicked the sand onto Lovino's clothes before leaving. Though it didn't get in his eyes, he still started tearing up.
"Nobody likes you Manny!" the little Italian shouted.
"Nobody likes you either pasta face!"
"Well you're a stupid taco face!"
"A pasta face is worse fathead!"
"My head is not fat!"
"Please don't leave Manny!" cried Feliciano. He looked at his older brother who was trying to withhold from crying in front of Antonio. He liked to prove he was strong even though he wasn't. "N-No don't cry Lovi!" he said as he hugged him. "Manny didn't mean it!"
"He's a jerk!" He shouted out toward Manuel. "I hate you!"
"I hate you too!"
He stomped away angrily, trying not to cry himself. Antonio called after him but Manuel just ignored him and stormed off.
Antonio sighed. "I wish Manny didn't get mad all the time… Lovi, he didn't mean it."
"Yes he did!"
"He'll say sorry when he comes back."
"Toni you're not going to follow him?"
"Tia Maria said that if Manny gets mad, I shouldn't bother him because then he'll hit me."
"Oh…okay. I hope he comes back."
"Yeah, he will. Lovi please don't cry! L-Look we can use the water now! I know Manny won't be mad anymore when he comes back! And when he does, you need to say sorry to him too okay?"
Lovino sniffed. "Okay…"
"That dummy head," Manuel grumbled to himself as he picked up rocks and threw them at a tree. He didn't care if he was alone. He didn't want to let other people hear the mean things he was saying about the Italian.
"Who is a dummy head?"
He turned around and saw a man standing a few feet behind him.
"Nobody," he said, afraid this man would tell his mother about the mean things he said about Lovino.
"But you sound angry."
"No I'm not…"
"You know, somebody told me that if you're angry, it's better to talk about it."
"Well there is this boy and his name is Lovi. He's a dummy head because all his ideas are stupid and he doesn't listen to me."
The man laughed. "Really?"
"Yeah. Like today when Lovi, Feli, and Toni and me were playing in the sandbox, he wanted to use water to make the pieces of the castle stick together! That's dumb!"
"Yeah, it does sound dumb!"
"But Toni always agrees with Lovi because he likes him more than me…"
"Oh, I'm sure that's not true."
"Yes because whenever Lovi comes over to our house and Toni is there, he pays more attention to him!"
"Hmm, is that so?"
"Well I'll let you in on a little secret."
"Yes." He looked around and whispered. "But it's so secret that we have to go someplace quieter so nobody can hear us."
"My mommy says I can't go places without asking her permission."
"Oh that's okay then. We'll just stay here since this place is pretty quiet with all these huge trees, but you have to promise not to tell this secret to anybody okay?"
"You see that tree over there?"
"There's a marble underneath the leaves. If you find it, then I'll tell you the secret."
"But what if I can't find it?"
"Then I'll have to tell Lovi this secret."
"No! If you tell him then Toni will listen to him a lot more! Okay I'll go find it! Just don't tell Lovi!"
The man chuckled and nodded. Manuel ran over to the tree and got on his knees, looking for the marble, but no matter how many leaves he overturned, there was none.
"Hmm? I can't find it…"
"You can't?" the man asked, now crouching behind him.
"Yeah I…I can't. But I won't give up!"
He chuckled. "It's okay. I'll tell you the secret anyway, because you tried so hard!"
"By the way, what's your name?"
"My name is Manuel, but everyone calls me Manny!"
"Oh, it's nice to meet you Manny. I've never heard a name like that. Where are you from?"
"Yes. My parents wanted us to get out of there though, so we moved here."
"Oh I see. Your parents must be proud."
"Because you can speak English well."
"Oh, but sometimes people can't understand me and I can't say big words in English, but I'm practicing every day! Can you tell?"
"Yes I can. Good job, and keep on practicing. You know, I'm sure your parents are proud for something else."
"They have a cute son. Has anyone ever told you that you're cute?"
"Mommy's friends always tell me that when they visit, and my family does too."
"Well they're not lying. You really are cute Manuel."
He felt weird when the man began to pet his head. "Very cute."
"Uhm… I think Toni might be worried so I'm going to leave. It was nice meeting you mister," he said as he got up.
"But I haven't told you the secret."
Manuel's arm was grabbed almost forcefully, causing him to become scared. "You're hurting me! Let go of my arm!"
"Don't you want to know the secret?"
"Not if you're going to be mean about it! I don't like mean people!"
The man grabbed Manuel's other arm, causing the little boy's eyes to widen in fear.
"You look even cuter with those big eyes of yours. So innocent."
"Let me go! It hurts!"
"You said you wanted to know the secret, so I'm not going to back down on my word."
When Manuel felt his back slam onto the leafy ground, he gave a cry.
"Stop it! ¡Me estas lastimando!"
"I don't speak Spanish, so I don't know what that means. You're out of luck."
Manuel couldn't comprehend what was happening to him after that. All he knew was that he was in pain and he was cold. His cries were muffled by his own sock being shoved into his mouth. But he wouldn't give up, because Antonio had told him that he needed to be strong all the time so nobody can pick on him, but the more he trashed about, the more pain his body was in.
Through the shedding of his tears, he could've sworn he saw Antonio from a distance, staring and not moving a muscle. Manuel tried to call out for him, but his pleas for help were muffled by the fabric. No matter how hard he tried to get free, he couldn't. Eventually he gave up and just cried.
The Spanish boy stood frozen on the spot. He had been searching for Manuel everywhere, but when he found him with this man, he didn't know what to think. His first reaction would have been 'Leave my cousin alone!' because he had saved him from bullies before. But what he was witnessing was not mere bullying. He actually did not know what to think of it. All he knew how to do when he finally saw the man stand upright, was run.
He ran as fast as his legs could carry him. He didn't look back, and tears filled his eyes in fear. All he kept thinking was if Lovino and Feliciano were safe. But even when he reached the sandbox, he didn't calm down. He grabbed their hands and made them run with him to their mothers.
When Maria saw how panicked he was, she asked him to calm down, but he wouldn't stop crying. He told her he saw a man hurting Manuel, and that he was doing "weird" things to him and touching him places that he knew weren't supposed to be touched because his aunt and his mother had told him this before.
Maria looked horrified and called out her son's name, demanding Antonio to take her where he saw his cousin. Margarita held her two boys close and dialed frantically on her phone, trying to get in touch with the police as fast as she could, her own voice shaking. By Antonio's descriptions, she knew what was going on, and she held her boys closer, ignoring their questions about what was happening.
But by the time the police came, nothing could be done. It caused a scene at the park, the other parents wondering what had happened. When they found Maria, she was holding on to her son as tightly as possible, Manuel crying into her chest. Antonio stood there sobbing, trying to wipe his tears away. The officers tried to question Manuel as softly as possible but he didn't stop crying and he never tore himself away from his mother.
Antonio tugged on their shirt and said to catch the man that hurt his cousin. He shouted at them what he saw, and he cried all the while. They couldn't get down a description through his sobs until one lady officer tried to soothe him, telling him everything was going to be alright, and that they'll catch the man that did this to his beloved cousin. Antonio tried to stop crying, still sniffing his tears and mucus away while the lady asked him kindly about how the man looked. He tried to remember as best as he could, even if he only caught a glimpse when the criminal stood up and turned around.
He heard them say something about this not being the first case they heard from the suspect, but he had no idea what that meant. All he did was ask them frantically to find whoever did this. They tried to reassure him that everything was going to be fine and that justice is always served.
Manuel never saw Antonio the same way again. He would ignore him when he'd come over and stay quiet whenever he'd ask if he wanted to play. Feliciano and Lovino never knew what had happened. They asked their mother countless times but she always changed the subject. It wasn't until when both Manuel and Antonio were old enough to understand such a concept that Maria explained to them what happened. This made Manuel even angrier and caused him to dislike Antonio further. In addition, he began to resent Lovino, because if it hadn't been for him, Manuel would have not gotten angry and he would not have wandered off by himself. They suggested therapy for him when he reached his teenage years, but he said he didn't need it.
He felt ashamed, and decided it was best to forget about it and move on with his life since nothing could be done except to wait for the police to catch the offender.
End of Flashback
The Italian brothers stood there in shock, not sure how to respond. The rest of the group stared at Manuel. He didn't care what was going on through their minds at this point. He was just satisfied that they all knew the truth so they didn't bug him about it ever again.
"Are you happy now?" he asked. "After so many of you asking why I'm so bitter toward Antonio?"
"Manny…I'm…I'm so sorry," Feliciano said.
"I don't need your pity. What I need is for everyone to get off my back about my feud with Antonio. It happened to me, not to anyone else, so I don't know why people still give a shit about this."
"Manuel, I can't tell you how much I regret not doing something instead of just staring…" Antonio said. "But please…understand that…I was just as young as you and I had never seen that—"
"You knew that if anybody were to touch you in certain places, it was a bad thing."
"But you also knew this too, so why didn't you run before it got worse?!"
"How the fuck was I supposed to escape?! That guy was bigger than me! For crying out loud I was seven years old!"
"You know you're not supposed to talk to strangers! So even if I did witness this, it's not my fault, nor is it Lovino's fault that this happened to you! If you ask me, it's more like this is your fau—"
His jaw met with Manuel's fist, causing blood to drip down the side of Antonio's mouth. He saw Manuel trembling, looking enraged. Antonio realized his mistake and said, "I'm…I'm sorry. I didn't mean…I didn't mean to say that!" He cringed at the pain throbbing in his jaw, trying to wipe the blood off.
"My fault? So you're telling me it's my own fault that happened to me? Oh yeah, like I was asking to have some random guy's dick up my ass. What the hell is wrong with you?!"
"Manny, I said I was sorry—!"
"Sorry doesn't cut it Antonio! I was little! And you said you'd always protect me! You know kids believe anything at that age! I looked up to you! I depended on you! But when I saw you stand there and do nothing…I knew you were a liar."
"You know, that's why I don't have somebody who I would consider my hero, because the first person I tried to see that way, ended up failing me when I needed him the most. You play the favorite game Antonio, and that's one of the things I hate in the entire world."
He shook his head at him and then said, "So I hope you all never bother me again about this. Now you know, so just drop it. I'd like to get on with my life if that's alright with the rest of you. Any objections?"
Nobody said anything in response. "That's what I thought."
The teen sat on a large rock a distance away from the rest, his back towards them. He didn't need to see the pity written clearly on their faces because he would have none of that. What good would that do anybody? He didn't need sympathy. What he needed was for that man to be caught and sent to prison. Then perhaps other children would be spared from such an atrocity.
The atmosphere changed with the large group after hearing about such an account. Manuel noticed and said loud enough for them to hear him, "If you guys stay quiet and look all sad and shit, you're going to ruin this vacation for yourselves. I could care less in all honesty. You'll get over your shock within a few hours. Go back to whatever you were doing before I started venting."
Eventually after murmurs from his friends and the parents, they managed to continue on with their business, though that didn't make Antonio feel any better, nor did it make Lovino or Feliciano satisfied knowing the truth about that day.
Alfred wasn't sure how to feel about the whole thing. Manuel was his best friend, and now that he knew what happened to make him so rude toward his cousin and Lovino, he regretted ever desiring to know the cause for the tension. Kiku felt the same.
Francis and Gilbert tried to cheer up Antonio over their lunch, but he continued to be a sad sack of potatoes, which was rare considering he was always one of the most optimistic people in their year.
"Alfred, you already ate three sandwiches," Arthur told him as he saw the blonde preparing another.
"It's not for me. It's for Manny. He's been sitting over there by his lonesome ever since he finished venting."
"He's just trying to calm himself I believe."
"Well he still needs to eat."
"Lovino already beat you to it."
Arthur pointed at the Italian who was making his way over to Manuel, a plate of lunch in his hands.
"What's he doing?"
"I think he wants to reconcile with him. Both Lovino and Manuel are hotheads, a known fact to all of us here, but considering that he's older, I suppose he's trying to act as the mature one."
"Oh. Well I wish him luck then…" Alfred really wanted to be the one to talk with Manuel since he felt like a bad friend if he didn't, but he decided that it was more important for the Italian to make amends with him.
Manuel heard somebody approach him, but he didn't turn around from his spot. Lovino wasn't sure what to say to him. He could say "Here's your lunch" but that would sound a bit insensitive in his opinion.
"...hey," he said plainly.
"…well…everyone is eating lunch now. You didn't come over to get anything so…I figured you might be hungry. Ehm, here's a plate for ya. It's a turkey sandwich with some chips, and then your mom wanted me to give you this tuperware of mangos since you like those… Ah, and here's a soda. Just make sure to either throw it away in the trash inside the bathroom or bring it back to us since we're taking all the cans down with us. There's a recycling bin near our campsite."
He still didn't turn around, but this didn't make Lovino angry. If anything, it made him more eager to speak with him. He sighed and walked around to face the other. He held out the plate and the square plastic box.
"You eat a lot like Feli and myself, so I know you're hungry. You're gonna need energy when we hike back down y'know."
"Yeah…" He took the food. "Thanks."
Manuel didn't care if Lovino stood in front of him, still watching while he ate. He expected as much after what he revealed to him.
"Can I sit down?"
"It's not my rock. Go ahead. I don't care."
Lovino sat down next to him, looking in random directions while the awkward silence still floated in the air.
"I really am sorry for what happened. I-I-I know you don't want to hear sympathy or whatever, but I truly am sorry Manny…"
"…it's not your fault. All these years, I blamed him and you for what happened that day, but…I shouldn't have. We were all kids. Of course we wouldn't understand what was happening, so how can it be the fault of either one of you?" He gave a short laugh, a somber smile on his face. "Maybe Antonio's right. I probably caused it."
"No…no you didn't. Like you said earlier, nobody asks for r—things like that to happen to them."
"I don't care if you say the word 'rape'. Doesn't bother me. Like I said, it happened years ago. There's nothing that can be done about it."
"But that doesn't mean you can pretend it didn't happen."
"I'm not pretending. I'm just choosing to ignore it. I can't do anything else about it except wait for the cops to say they found the guy…" He sighed. "But who knows when the hell that'll be anyway."
Manuel looked at him, and tried not to get upset. "You know, when you look at me with that face full of pity, it makes my blood boil."
"Well I'm sorry, but how do you want me to feel? Happy that it happened to you instead of me?"
"No. I'd hate you forever if you actually felt that way."
"I don't, so you can rest easy knowing that much." He scratched the back of his head, not sure how to carry on the conversation.
"Why are you still here Lovino? Is there something I can do for you?"
"If you're gonna ask me how it felt to have that shit done to my body, go ask another rape victim 'cause I'm not about to reenact what happened."
"I wouldn't ever ask that Manny."
"…I know it won't be easy for you, but…forgive Antonio. I know he's an idiot and that he can be annoying, but he's not a bad person… The guy is near being clinically depressed because you won't forgive him."
"There're pills for that," he said nonchalantly as he stuffed his face with chips.
"No, you're missing the point of what I'm trying to say."
"Then what is it?"
"…Antonio really does care about you a lot you know. He honestly does love you Manny."
He stood quiet and switched to drinking his soda.
"Whenever he and my brother and myself hang out, he always asks us 'Hey would Manny like this if I bought it for him?' or 'Do you think Manny would like to come here one weekend?' and just things like that."
"He feels guilty. That's the only reason for him saying such things."
"No it's not."
"And how would you know this as a fact?"
"…I just do."
Manuel did not look impressed.
"What I mean is…" He gave a heavy sigh. "…well the truth is…there were a lot of times…when I'd get jealous of you."
"Well I know I'm handsome and everything but—"
"No not about that! I'm being serious here! Don't make a joke outta it!"
"Okay okay. Sorry…"
"Even though…Antonio hung around me more…he'd never stop talking about you."
Manuel stood silent and waited for Lovino to continue.
"He'd always tell me of a time when you guys took a family vacation or when you did something that he thought was cute…" He huffed. "B-But the point is…there was never a day, since I first met him, that he wouldn't mention you in one of his sentences."
"Yeah. Remember that day in ninth grade when you skipped school because we had an English essay due?"
"…I didn't skip. I was…sick."
"Sure. That's the same excuse I used when I missed a huge math test because I didn't study. But anyway, do you remember what was the topic we had to write about?"
"It was about the most important person in our lives. A lot of people wrote about their parents and then the deluded guys with chicks or the chicks with guys wrote about their 'honey' or some shit, which is funny considering about half of them broke up by this point!" He laughed, but Manuel stared at him with a straight face.
Lovino cleared his throat and his cheeks reddened out of embarrassment. "Anyway, do you know what Antonio wrote about?"
"You and your brother I'm sure. Or maybe just you."
"No. He wrote about you actually."
Manuel looked at him in surprise. "Seriously?"
"Yeah. He said that you were the most important to him, because he could tell you anything and you would keep it, and that if he needed somebody to play with, you were always the first to offer to keep him company."
"That's not enough for somebody to be an important person. And it sounds more like I was convenient for him when he needed it."
"Wh—well it's not what he meant! When he spoke about you…well he said it with such happiness and said some other sappy stuff I forgot. You know how that pansy is. But…I haven't ever seen him talk about somebody with so much vigor before. It made me…jealous."
"Jealous because…I was hoping that I would be the important person to him, since I'm his...closest friend, at least that's what I think. I mean…I thought he was going to name his parents or somebody who was an authority figure, but instead it was you, his little cousin Manuel."
"I'm sure he only said that because he feels—"
"Stop it with the guilty routine already! That's not why he wrote it! My God you're even more stubborn than I am! Don't you understand? Before anything else, family is the most important to him, with you at the top! He adores you Manny! He'll I'm sure if you two weren't related he'd be after you!"
"Yeah that's the kind of mental image I want right now."
"Look, the point I'm trying to make is that he sincerely cares about you. If he didn't, he wouldn't try so hard to gain your forgiveness, nor would he even feel guilty as you say, about what happened."
Manuel looked at his shoes.
"If you're unhappy, then that makes Antonio unhappy. I don't…like to see him like that. I'd rather him be his happy annoying self than all sad and mopey…"
"You care about Toni more than just a friend, don't you?"
His face flushed pink. "N-No! It's just…h-he's more annoying when he's sad than when he's happy!"
Manuel chuckled. "Your face says otherwise."
"Look are you gonna forgive him or not?"
"…I will eventually. Just not today."
"When I do, you'll be the first to hear it from him."
"You're difficult to get along with, taco face."
"You're not a walk in the park either pasta face."
The two smiled a bit, not having called each other by those childish names for a long time.
"But…I will promise you that I'll try to get along with him poco a poco."
"What does that mean?"
"It means 'little by little' in Spanish. I thought you knew the language?"
"Only the curse words."
"Ha ha! Same with Alfredo."
"…so are you going to come join us?"
"No. I actually want to sit here and think things out. But I won't be all mopey the entire week. You can be sure of that. I can feel sorry for myself anywhere at any time. But that won't help anybody either, so there's no point."
"Thanks for the lunch though. I was getting hungry."
"It's your own fault for being stubborn. I didn't want you complaining."
"Why, because then Antonio would be all over me or what? You gonna get jealous again?"
"No that is not why! Look, I actually care about people other than myself Manny."
"Aww, you care about me? Really? I'm touched."
"Tch. Don't flatter yourself too much."
"You know, Toni is right. You are pretty cute when you blush."
"Okay now you're being just creepy!"
Manuel laughed. "And your face got redder! You like compliments huh?"
"Be quiet! You like to troll me don't you?"
"But you can't live without me, because then you wouldn't try so hard to gain Antonio's affections and ultimately make him fall in love with you and share that passionate kiss under the sunset of the beach on a horse."
"What the hell? You watch too many of those Mexican dramas!"
Manuel laughed again. "They're entertaining!"
"Man you are related to him! You act just the same!"
"Except I don't do that 'buhyoo' thing, unless you want me to?"
"Oh we're just an affectionate family is all," he said with a shrug.
"Yeah I can tell! But at least it's good to see that you're back to normal, even though I'm not sure if that's a good thing."
"Ha ha, well it is! And now you can brag about how it was you, Lovino Vargas, who was able to bring me, Manuel Antonio de la Cruz Sanchez, out of my pool of self-pity."
"Why would I brag about that?"
"Because nobody likes to see me sad."
"Takes one to know one."
Though Lovino was angry on the outside, he felt relieved that Manuel had turned back to his normal self on the inside. Though he wasn't as close to him as Antonio was, he was still a person the Spaniard held dear, so if he was that important to him, Lovino figured he might as well try to get along. He had to show everyone he was the bigger individual.
"You see Toni?" Gilbert said, pointing toward the two. "Look, Lovi and Manny seem to be on laughing terms again. Everything's fine!"
"Yes don't beat yourself up about it so much," Francis added. "Manuel seems to have calmed down and gotten over the argument."
"I'm glad that Manny and Lovi are friends now, but that still doesn't change how he'll act toward me!" he cried.
His two friends sighed and patted his back.
When everyone returned to the campsite, they had the fish they caught for dinner. Nobody brought up the argument from earlier, and they tried not to show too much sympathy for Manuel by offering him first picks of everything, lest he blow up again.
Kiku tried not to ask too many questions about it either, but when it was time to sleep, he brought it up with Alfred. "I didn't think something like that could have happened to Manuel-san. He is usually a very happy person."
"Sometimes the happiest of people are the saddest on the inside," Alfred responded. "Manny is just a person who hates it when people feel sorry for him. He thinks it's a form of them looking down on him, which is another thing he really dislikes."
"But that is not the case at all! It is just them showing that they care!"
"Well Manny's always been a prideful guy. That's how he thinks. But not to worry. He gets over things pretty quickly, even if he can't forget them. At least now we know why he acts that way toward Toni, though I do wish he'd try to get along with him…"
Matthew smiled. "Who knows? Maybe now that he's gotten this off his chest, Manuel will attempt to make amends with him."
"I hope so. Well, we better get some sleep. Tomorrow is another day of fun!"
"What are we going to do Alfred-san?"
"Mom hasn't told us yet, so we'll just have to wait and find out!"
"Good night Matt and Kiku!"
"Good night Alfred-san."
When the lamp was turned off, Alfred seemed to fall asleep immediately. What he had told Kiku about the happiest of people made the boy wonder if Alfred was actually hurting on the inside over something. Aside from Antonio and Manuel, Alfred was one of the most cheerful and optimistic individuals he had ever met in his life.
But taking Manuel's situation as an example, if Alfred really was keeping something to himself, Kiku wasn't sure he wanted to know what the matter pertained to. He would hate to see his blonde friend with anything but a smile on his face.
A/N: Updating the story on LiveJournal takes a while since I have to manually add in italics and things like that, since I have this thing against using the Rich Text tab. But anyway, I'm hoping that the flashback scene wasn't too brutal. I tried to make it as vague as possible, but descriptive enough for the audience to understand what was going on. Rape is not a subject you should take lightly or even joke about, because you never know. The person you could be conversing with could of had the misfortune to be a victim of it. Therefore, I hope this chapter wasn't too offensive... It actually made me sad writing it, but this needed to be included because it ties in to a very important plot point in a later chapter.
Dihydrogen monoxide is H2O by the way, which is water.
I liked the fluffy scene I wrote for Lovino and Manuel. It almost makes me ship them. Almost. I also got asked this on FF.net if Manuel liked Antonio more than a friend/cousin because they thought it was cute. Considering they're related in this story, I couldn't respond with a definite answer, so all I'm going to say is, depending on what the readers think of their relationship will determine what I do with them in future chapters.
But anyway, yes I am aware Alfred and Kiku's relationship is progressing a bit slowly, but be aware that Alfred is straight in this
Thank you for reading this story! I hope future chapters will also be enjoyable!