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For His Happiness

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            Mr. Jones Can’t Take His Eyes Off A Honda

     

            The Gang read the headline in unison. It was one of those rare times when these scallywags along with Matthew and Kiku met in the lobby, waiting for someone to pick them up or hang out when they have a free time, which didn’t happen too often after they all took different classes and their after school activities diverse based on the clubs they joined in.

     

            Lately, the school newspaper, headed by Mrs. Elizabeta Edelstein, released the latest issues. Almost immediately, most of the students grabbed an article each and proceeded to flip to Page 10 where the Promposals were featured. As far as most everyone (and everything) knows, Mrs. Edelstein was and still had an obvious obsession when it comes to romances, hence there was no doubt why she ended up placing the promposals in the paper, with a notice at the front, advertising teenagers which page to flip. And so, there they were, The Gang, in the school lobby, sitting on a long bench; Gilbert had just been dismissed from his detention (only two weeks left and he’s done!).

     

            They scanned the page. So far, as much as there were more than a hundred students who proposed to their respective partners, only five people took the courage to make their own proposals a little bit more… extra, as they were featured there on the school paper. Both Alfred and Kiku kept their copies years later and they let me lend one. Two of these five people used the traditional “poster proposals” with catchy quotes from movies and whatnots. One surprised his girlfriend with a teddy bear, and another one took it to another level where he decorated her locker with metallic confetti. But nothing could compare to Alfred’s efforts that marked on that day, which was (no surprise) not on Page 10 where the promposals should be, but on the front cover!!!

     

            “’Mr. Jones Can’t Take His Eyes Off A Honda’” Gilbert reread the headline. “Kesesese! Boy, this is false advertisement, but then again it’s true!”

     

            Matthias snorted. “Couldn’t agree more! You got to admit; whoever wrote this is a god. Not being sarcastic here.”

     

            “On Friday, June XX, XXXX,” Matthew read, “popular star student, Alfred F. Jones, made a surprise Promposal via Heath Ledger style with the help of his brother, Matthew, well known as a saxophone player, and a “seemingly support” from the School Ratboy, who disrespectfully disrupted the announcer without further notice.”

     

            “Give me that!” Gilbert ripped the paper away from his boyfriend’s grasp and read that part. “The Fuck! She’s trying to wreck me! I didn’t even do anything (yet)! And I believe that Ratboy has a name called ‘Awesome’. Holy Fucking Maple, they only featured me in sixteen words but this is sacrilegious!!!”

     

            Matthew patted his shoulder, trying to calm him down. “Well, at least they don’t say it is you. I mean, look: they didn’t even mention your name.”

     

            Alfred made a “pfft” sound and said, “Oh Matt, bro, do you actually think people are that stupid to think that this is not Gilbert? Seriously, even a bird knows whom they are referring to. Plus, Mrs. Edelstein runs the school paper and I’ll be damned if she doesn’t complete her day without giving him an insult, like that one time when he barged into Mr. Edelstein’s office and she called him ‘Crotch-Face’.”

     

            Matthew glared at him after Gilbert twitched an eye. “Alfred Fucking Jones, I’m trying to resurrect his self-esteem but you just back-stabbed him and pulled my nerves with your logorrhea and overstatements!”

     

            “Oh, he had a lot of self- esteem alright,” Alfred said, “And if you think Mrs. Edelstein doesn’t complete her day without giving him an insult is an exaggeration, then I have to question if you were there for the past ten years whenever Dad and Pops do their ‘daily routine’.”

     

            Matthew gloomed out.

     

            “Alfred, exactly why you're my friend?” Gilbert asked.

     

            “Dude, I am your friend,” the blond answered, “It’s just that you’re so confident that you’re setting yourself to go to hell, and I’m trying my best to stay away so you won’t drag me with you.”

     

            Matthias intervened. “Alfred, that attitude is completely unacceptable, especially right in front of Kiku.”

     

            Immediately, they all turned to the Japanese, who was sitting there in his usual deadpanned look.

     

            Kiku crossed his arms and said the “four magical words of chaos”: “I agree with Alfred-san.”

     

            “SERIOUSLY?!! YOU’RE KIDDING, RIGHT?!”

     

            “WHY DO YOU ALWAYS SAY THAT?!!!”

     

            “ALFRED!!! WHAT DID YOU DO TO HIM?!!!”

     

            “THIS IS NOT KIKU, THIS IS ONE LUKAS’ TROLLS! (Ow! Aahh! Aahh! Lukas! Stop choking me!!!)”

     

            For a while, this conversation went out of hand for ten to fifteen minutes (as what I was told). Kiku and Alfred then told me that they never recall how did they stop fighting, except that they just decided to “calm down for a little bit.”

     

            Lukas read one of the paragraphs. “It said here: ‘Alfred’s Promposal to Kiku became one of the most celebrated prom-invitation-attempts, which of course, ended with success as Kiku accepted his proposal via text (in Japanese) under the school’s Dogwood Tree. In other words, Alfred F. Jones and Kiku Honda, as well as those who supported them, made another memory at Romulus High School in which students would never forget. Although as previously stated that two parties confirmed they don’t have any romantic intentions, their relationship is still considered by many as ‘a better love story than twilight’, making this duo legendary and part of this high school’s history.”

     

            “Well, you did a great job, Al,” Matthew said, placing a hand on his twin’s shoulder. “You’re plan worked perfectly this time.”

     

            “Yeah, man,” Gilbert agreed, “It’s like you took it beyond the level of twerking your ass in front of the class.”

     

            “What kind of an asshole would even do that?” Lukas asked in disgust after a censored image of what the albino had said crossed his mind.

     

            “I don’t know! Why not ask the person on your right?” Which was Matthias (unfortunately for him), Lukas turned, just in time the Dane gave him an apologetic smile as the Norwegian gave him the look that said “I don’t think you’ll be good for my sister, you imbecile” and “We’ll discuss this later.”

     

            “Thanks, guys,” Alfred said. “But I couldn’t have done it without you. And Keeks, once again, thank you for accepting my offer.”

     

            Kiku smiled. “As long as it’s you, Alfred-san.”

 

*          *            *

 

            Time skip: Prom Night.

 

            Alfred buttoned the last button on his shirt just in time his brother knocked on the door before coming in.

 

            “Hey!” Matthew called from the threshold. “Ready to go?”

 

            The latter looked at him and observed that he was wearing his old black tuxedo and a black bow tie, the same attire he wore in one of their Homecomings. His hair was neatly combed back except for the single curl that loyally stood out on his forehead. Alfred could also smell the lingering rose perfume once his brother stood beside him. Of course, that was no surprise.

 

            Mr. Bonnefoy had been very excited for his kids to have a good time, and as much as Mr. Kirkland was complaining about his overly reacting character, he willingly supported them and even provided them with little trinkets such as the perfume for Matthew and the suspenders for Alfred. The only thing Arthur could give was his usual advises- no, nags: “Don’t do drugs!” “Don’t consume alcohol, your underage!” “Matthew, control your brother and don’t let that bloody wanker boyfriend of yours contaminate your morale.” “Alfred, if you make another move of your stupidity, you better stay away from anyone including Kiku.” So then, there they were.

 

            “Hold on a sec, let me fix my hair first,” Alfred answered.

 

            “It looks good though, don’t over do it. Just tie your bow tie,” Matthew suggested.

 

            “Fine,” he moved his hands to his bowtie. “But do me a favor and can you clip the suspenders?”

 

            The other twin sighed but did the job anyway as he took the suspenders from Alfred’s bed and adjusted the buckles. Meanwhile, they observed each other through the reflection in the mirror.

 

            The louder twin sniffed and commented, “You smelled like Pops.”

 

            “Mmm. And you look like a hitman.”

 

            “How do I look like a hitman?” Alfred asked, more to his self than to his brother, and scrutinized the way he dressed for the evening: unlike Matthew, he was wearing a white simple dress shirt with rolled up sleeves, a black bowtie, suspenders, black pants, and shoes, as well as black gloves. Probably because of the black thing that made him look like a hitman, but still, aren’t hitmen supposed to wear tuxes?

 

            “Well not all of them wear tuxedoes,” Matthew replied, “But your gloves say so, the only thing missing is a gun.”

 

            Alfred looked down at the cloth covering his hands. “But they look cool on me.”

 

            “Yeah unless you’re a punk (in which you are, unfortunately), but I won’t let you wear them,” the rather mature blond crossed his arms.

 

            “You’re not my mother! I’d rather wear these than Grumpy Cat’s (Arthur) top hat that makes me look like an old man! Plus, Heath Ledger went to his prom without a tie and one of his friends wore a costume for fuck’s sake!”

 

            “That’s from a movie, Alfred! But I’m more concern of what would Father say about the way you dressed.”

 

            “I say he would be happy that I wouldn’t leave any fingerprints on his steering wheel.”

 

*          *            *

 

            Ten minutes later…

 

            Francis showered Matthew with kisses on his face while saying “Be good, okay”, “Say my regards to Gilbert” and “Have fun” in between pecks. The younger blond wiped his face as the Frenchman moved to Alfred, kissing his cheeks while telling him to take care of himself and Kiku.

 

            Arthur watched his companion and creased his nose. “Frog, save your gunky snogs for the future, please! It’s repulsive!”

 

            Francis finally lets go of Alfred but proceeded to walk in Arthur’s direction. “Awww~ Does Young Master want a kiss, too?” he puckered his lips as he was attempting to kiss him as the Brit tried to push him away while shouting various profanities.

 

            The twins would usually cringe at this image, as they would demand them to get a room or close their eyes. But not that time, they watched their foster parents with nostalgic smiles, remembering the good old days when they were young. Alfred and Matthew were so small back then, and when they grew up, their bodies changed: they grew taller, stronger, and more aware of their lives. Damn, even Arthur and Francis changed for the past ten years. The children remembered the first time when they saw Arthur: there was still a quality of youth left on his façade, and when they met Francis, they almost mistook him as a girl, especially that he never had a beard back then, as opposed to then when he formed a slight stubble. And yet, there were some things that never changed: Francis never lose his passion, Alfred had always been the lively summer’s child. Matthew is always the shy and gentle angel. And Arthur is still the strict father figure as well as maintaining his big eyebrows. So when the twins observed the little moment between their foster fathers, they were brought back to that sepia memory and realized that they were living in that same nostalgia.

 

            When the Brit finally managed to escape from the Frenchman’s grasp before his lips could touch his cheek, he moved to the boys and said, “Anyway, you boys should go now. And remember what I told you!” he pointed at Matthew, “You, stay away from trouble,” and then at Alfred, “And you, it is not a norm to drink a barrel of beer and bust it on somebody’s head because you are underage! Understood?”

 

            “Can we go now?” Alfred asked annoyingly, not wanting to hear any of Arthur’s naggings. And why was he (Arthur) accusing him with one of his regrets when he and Francis were drunk one time?

 

            “Yes,” Arthur answered. “Yes, you may. But call us once you’re returning home.”

 

            “We will!”

 

            They proceeded to get in their cars: Matthew was using Francis’ car, while Alfred took the liberty to use Arthur’s Buick. They waved at them one last time and went in separate directions.

 

*          *            *

 

            A few minutes later, Alfred pulled in across the street from Kiku’s house. He went out from the vehicle and pulled back his hair. The summer air was warm at night, a breeze passed by as the leaves slightly rustled in respond. He checked his watch and read 8:20 pm. The street was dark except for the light posts, lanterns, and other lights from homes. The prom already started five minutes ago, but there’s no trouble. In fact they were welcome in the prom before midnight; in other words, they still have more time.

 

            Alfred walked up and knocked on the door, the same familiar knocks he conjured for the past years, it rings a bell to whoever lives in that residence. He heard footsteps from the other side, exciting him a little bit, but, unfortunately, he met face to face with Yao’s blank stare.

     

            “Oh, hey, Alfred,” he said.

     

            Alfred suddenly (and reflexively) felt his wallet from his back pocket once he saw the man in front of him. “Hey, Yao. Is Kiku there?

     

            “Upstairs.”

     

            “Can I come in?”

     

            Before Yao could answer, he disrupted by a presence coming from behind him. They looked and the blond twitched his eye. Ivan Braginski.

     

            “Oh, Privyet, Alfred,” he said in a palpable Russian accent.

     

            Alfred only nodded, “Ivan.”

     

            “Ready for the prom, da?” Ivan started with a nearly closed-eye smile. The American knew enough that behind that smile, he was actually planning to make his death look like a suicide.

     

            “Yeah,” he answered, “But I’m waiting for Kiku.” For a moment, this slight conversation with Ivan was giving him the chills, making him shiver internally and externally, “Is it ok to come inside and wait for him in there instead?”

     

            Right on cue, Mrs. Honda appeared on the scene. “Alfred-san! It’s nice to see you, again! Please, come in.” she urged him to the living room. “I’m so sorry, but these boys are very stubborn at times-“

     

            “No, it’s fine, Mrs. Honda,” no it’s not! Help me! “I can handle it,” he said while glaring at Yao and Ivan, but especially Ivan!

     

            “Kiku is still in his room. You can come up if you want to,” she suggested.

     

            “No, I’m good. I can wait here. Let him take his time.”

     

            “Alright, ok then. But I’ll tell him that you’re here, alright?” and with that, she exited the room.

     

            Alfred sat on one of the couches while his friend’s evil brother and Satan sat beside each other a few feet from him. As the awkward moment began, Alfred discreetly peeked at them and told himself, for the millionth time, that they do look perfect for each other. Panda Craze and Commie, A Love Story. Someone should make a book about it. Yao already hated him ever since they met on that fateful day, and he hated him, even more, when he found out that Alfred was the one who proposed to his brother, resulting to sending him death threats involving chopping his guts and serve them for dinner. Ivan, on the other hand, no doubt, hated him more than the devil. There was nothing to say, not a single word to describe perfectly his loathing for the American. Let’s just say, from the moment Alfred breathed, everything went to hell. Alfred, as much as he’s “patient”, couldn’t wait to get out of the house and go to the school, or basically, anywhere, so long as these devil’s advocates were out of sight.

     

            “You do look nice, Alfred,” Yao finally said, breaking the dense silence.

     

            “Thanks,” Alfred responded with a small smile.

     

            “But where’s the suit?” the Chinese asked with a slight frown.

     

            “Oh! I intended to wear like this. The prom is themed in the 1950s and I tried to dress in that time era.”

     

            “You know, you look like a punk,” Ivan commented. “Seriously, aren’t you supposed to be a gentleman?”

     

            “I am a punk and a gentleman at the same time,” Alfred said proudly. Although he admittedly claimed that the original punk/gentleman was Arthur, he was inspired by him and stated that he’s the next heir of the style. “And what about you, Ivan? What’s with the scarf? It’s like more than 86 degrees outside, considering the global warming that’s been happening recently.”

     

            The Russian instantly blushed and shifted his beige scarf around his neck while Yao took a quick glance at him and cleared his throat.

     

            “Yes, it was hot” Ivan answered, “But didn’t you feel cold when you were out there?”

     

            “It was not the wind,” the blond insisted. “It was your gaze that caught me frozen because I thought at first I saw Frosty the Boogeyman.”

     

            Then the latter cheerily said, “And I believe that Boogeyman will watch you in your sleep until nothing is left but a bloated corpse ranked with cholesterol.”

     

            “’Watch me in my sleep’ of course! Why not?” Alfred taunted. “No freedom from government interference. Isn’t that what they do in Soviet Russia? ‘You don’t see them, but they see you’?”

     

            Ivan’s face then hardened, and yet, he remained “calm”. “For your information, even your government interferes with your personal data. Secondly, the Soviet Union is long gone, stupid American!”

     

            “Yeah, but communism still exists, right?” Alfred spoke back, ignoring the fact that he’s starting to cause another fight.

     

            “It exists in the first place first because your capitalist economy is too free to create social divisions and encourage monopolies, as well as doing an excellent job on exploiting their workers,” the Russian said formally, not moving a muscle with an exception of his fist that was ready to beat someone to the pulp.

     

            Alfred snorted. “Yeah! And Russia has a backward economy!”

     

            “True,” he smiled. “But last time I checked, the Soviet Union went down after they decided to let a teensy bit of capitalism in the economy.”

     

            Yao, after noticing Alfred cracked a smile, decided to intervene. And as much as he was obviously on Ivan’s side, he would rather end this without further trouble. He cried, “Perestroika! Perestroika!”

     

            The two rivals turned to him. Knowing that it’s the secret warning code, they relaxed their muscles, drew out their breaths, and sat back.

     

            “Anyway, on another matter, why is your hair standing like that?” Ivan asked, pointing at Alfred’s curl.

     

            “It always stands up,” he answered. “Are you saying that all of this time you never noticed this hair before until now?”

     

            He frowned and said, “I’ve seen it a million times. It’s just that it would be awkward if I ask you, but I couldn’t help but seeing it with your annoying face.”

     

            “Wow… that is so blunt, dude.”

     

            Ivan sighed exasperatedly and stood up from the couch. “Here, let me fix that.”

     

            “No, wait!” Alfred tried to dodge him as he saw a pale hand trying to grab his hair. He slapped his hand away but he was, like him, impulsive and persistent. Ivan had been telling him to stop squirming and said he “wouldn’t bite”. Alfred, on the other hand, kept demanding that he’d file a restraining order against him, and perhaps, if possible, boycott him. “Ah~!” Oops! Too late…

     

            The room went still. Ivan backed out and stared at him wide eyed. Yao didn’t move as his jaw dropped and stared at him. Alfred breathed heavily and stared at them.

     

            One second later, Kiku appeared in the doorway… and stared at them.

     

            “Minna-san, is everything alright in here?” he asked.

     

            “Yes!”

     

            “Everything is fine.”

     

            “We were just talking.”

     

            “I see,” Kiku said suspiciously before he immediately cleared that thought. “By the way, I deeply apologized for making you wait, Alfred-san.”

     

            “There’s no trouble, Keeks,” Alfred said sincerely, he saw Yao rolling his eyes on him and Ivan draped his arm around his boyfriend and squeezed his shoulder reassuringly.

     

            “Although, you really look good in that suit,” the blond complimented. He was wearing a black tuxedo with a matching vest, a black tie, white dress shirt underneath, black pants and shoes, and of course: white gloves to sum up.

     

            Kiku’s face pinked. “Thank you. And I like yours, too. It does look like from the 1950s.”

     

            Alfred nearly cried. “Really? I’m so happy you noticed.”

     

            “Why wouldn’t I? It’s pretty obvious.”

     

            “Even so, you’re making me happy.”

 

*          *            *

 

            “Have a safe trip, you two!”  Mrs. Honda called at them while they were walking to Alfred’s (or Arthur’s) car.

 

            They waved back at them before the older woman disappeared through the door.

 

            “Seriously, Al. What happened back there?” Kiku asked as soon as he went in the passenger’s seat and buckled his seatbelt. He watched his partner turning on the engine and putting on a smooth jazz music in the station.

 

            “I’ll tell you later, darling,” Alfred answered with a slight mischief. Kiku hid his smile.

 

            Finally, they drove away.