Chapter Thirteen: Feeling Good
“Birds flying high,
You know how I feel,
Sun in the sky,
You know how I feel,
Breeze driftin’ on by,
You know how I feel.
It’s a new dawn,
It’s a new day,
It’s a new life,
And I’m feeling good. . .”
_____ hopped out of bed the next morning and sang to the tune of “Feeling Good” on her way down the stairs to the kitchen. She beamed at Feliciano and Ludwig. “Morning, ya’ll~!”
“I take it you are feeling better this morning, Fräu?” said Ludwig as he carefully flipped a pancake in the skillet on the stove.
_____ nodded happily. “Oh, yeah. I’m ready to get out and fool around.” She smirked at the German. “And not pass out.”
Ludwig glared at her. “Ha ha. Very funny.”
“I’m kidding, Lud. I know it wasn’t your fault.” She walked over to the refrigerator and took out the little bear-shaped bottle of honey. “Hey Lud, where are the spoons?”
“In the drawer to the left of the dishwasher.”
She got a tablespoon and squirted a good amount of the honey onto it, putting the spoonful of the sticky substance into her mouth. Licking it clean, she put the honey bottle back into the refrigerator and the spoon into the dishwasher.
“Wasting mein honey, are you, Fräu?”
_____ looked at Ludwig. “Actually, I did that just in case I still had some coughing left.”
“That’s just an old wives’ tale, Fräu. It doesn’t work.”
“Yeah, it does. It even works better than most over-the-counter cough medicine. The high viscosity helps with the cough, and the antioxidants help with the healing process.” She smirked. “Get your facts right before you start saying stuff you can’t prove.”
Ludwig rolled his eyes. “If you’re going to talk like that, then you won’t get any breakfast.”
_____’s eyes widened slightly, and she pursed her lips. She pretended to zip her lips closed, lock them, and hand the imaginary key to Ludwig. She walked over the bar counter and sat down next to Feliciano. “Morning, Feli.”
“Ciao, sorella!” said Feliciano, hugging her tightly.
She sighed. “It was only a few days, but I missed this kitchen.” She lay her head on the granite countertop in front of her. “I missed you, counter!” She wiggled her bottom on the stool she was seated on. “I missed you, stools!” She tilted her head back and laughed. “I never thought I’d say it, but I’m so glad to be out of bed!”
Feliciano laughed. “I’m glad you’re out of bed, too, sorella.” He kissed _____ on the cheek.
“You get better, und mein bruder gets sick,” said Ludwig, who placed the last pancake on a platter.
_____ snorted. “Oh, my gosh, he’s sick?”
She laughed. “Oh, man, that’s great!”
“It is not, Fräu!” shouted Gilbert as he stomped into the kitchen. His eyes were red (redder than usual), and he was clothed in his long pajamas and robe with tissues sticking out of the pockets. “You had it first! You gave it to me, you bitch!”
_____ laughed again, this time harder and louder. She lowered her head and banged her fist on the countertop. She managed to calm herself enough to speak. “You brought it on yourself, gutter-mouth!”
Gilbert glared at her. “Oh, shut up! Thanks to you, I can’t go out to town with you guys!” He would have said more, but he was interrupted by a heavy cough.
“Aw, I’m so sorry,” said _____ sarcastically. “Maybe next time, you’ll keep your little boy hormones under control. Are those pancakes done yet, Lud?”
“Ja.” He carried the large platter of pancakes over to the dining table. “But you can’t eat until everyone is here.”
_____ groaned. “But Lovino’s probably still sleeping!”
“Not, I’m not, idiota!”
_____ looked in the doorway to see the cranky Italian, who had one hand on the middle of his back while the other was scratching the back of his head.
“Buongiorno, amico mio!” said _____ as she plopped into a chair at the dining table.
“You got the grammar right, but your accent needs work.” Lovino sat down to the left of her while his brother sat to the right. He reached his hand out toward the platter of pancakes but was smacked with a spatula by Ludwig. “Ow! What the hell was that for, you damn potato-eater?!”
“We’re not eating until everyone is here.”
Lovino grunted and attempted to reach again, but Ludwig smacked him even harder. “Ow!!”
“He said not to eat until everyone’s here,” said _____. “You should’ve known he was gonna smack you again if you tried it.”
Lovino grunted again, this time in submission, and sat back in his seat with his arms crossed. About a minute later, Kiku walked into the kitchen. “Ohayou,” he said, taking a seat at the dining table.
“It’s about damn time!” said Lovino, who stretched toward the pancakes––only to be smacked by Ludwig again. “OW! DAMN YOU!”
“Calm down, Lovino,” said _____. “You’ll get your beloved pancakes soon enough.”
He growled, rubbing his hand. “Damn. I think the stronzo broke a bone or something."
“Let me see.” _____ took his hand gently, causing a light shade of pink to dust his cheeks. She examined the outside first before feeling the bones and joints under the skin. Lovino flinched when she pressed down on the middle of the back of his hand. “That hurt?”
“What the hell do you think, ragazza?”
_____ ran her fingers lightly across the sore spot, then smiled a little. “It’s just bruised. You’ll be fine.”
Lovino sighed in exasperation. “It still hurts, ragazza.”
_____ thought a moment. “I know.” She got up from her seat and quickly ran out of the kitchen, returning a few minutes later. “Here. Use this.” She handed an item to Lovino.
He looked at in slight confusion. “What is it?”
“It’s a wrist guard. Here, you put it on like this.” She wrapped the guard around his wrist, fastening it snugly. “Ta-da.”
Feliciano looked over at his brother’s hand. “Why do you have that, sorella?”
“Hm? Oh, I have trouble with my wrist sometimes. Carpal tunnel, that’s all. Nothing major.”
The Italian brothers blinked. Lovino sighed softly. “Grazie, ragazza.”
_____ smiled. “Prego.”
“Fräu, why are taking so many pictures?” said Ludwig as _____ took a picture for the umpteenth time.
“Because I told your bro I’d take pictures,” she replied simply, then turned back to snap another picture of the canal near them.
Ludwig sighed and sipped his beer. He and the others were all seated at tables at an outdoor restaurant, _____ and Feliciano standing at the railing by the water. _____ would take a picture every now and then when a gondola rode by, causing various––and amusing––reactions (some were a smile and a simple wave while others were basically death-glares).
“Hey, guys,” said Alfred. “Look over there.” He pointed to an old karaoke machine in a nearby corner of the restaurant.
_____ looked at the machine then at Alfred, unimpressed. “And?”
“And you should totally go up and sing, _____! You used to sing all the time.”
“That was ten years ago, Alfie!”
“That’s no excuse!” Alfred immediately got up and began to drag _____ by the hand toward the karaoke machine.
“Is puberty an excuse?!”
“Nope!” He pushed _____ onto the platform in front of the machine and inserted a few coins into the slot. He handed her the microphone from its stand and gestured to a touch screen. “Pick your song.”
_____ gulped. “Alfie, I don’t think this is such a good idea––”
“Trust me. You’ll do great.” He jumped off the platform and walked over to the group. Feliciano, Yao, and Kiku all got out their cameras while the others just watched and waited for her to begin.
_____ sighed and sorted through the list. Most of the songs she had either never heard of or were in Italian. Then she stopped when she came across a song she knew. Oh, she knew that song, alright. Her brother loved that song. She picked that song and the instrumental began to play. She cleared her throat and started off with a bang.
I treated you bad,
And wrong my dear,
Since you went away. . .”
Everyone was paying attention now. Eventually, the began clapping.
“Don’t you I,
With my head hanging down,
And I wonder,
‘Who’s lovin’ you?’
“All my life,
All my life, yeah!
I’ve been lost to you only,
Come on and take it, girl. . .”
_____ giggled and glanced at Alfred, who was smiling.
“Come on and take it!
And I wonder,
‘Who’s lo-. . .”
_____ took a deep, shaky breath for the big finish.
“‘-ving you. . .?’
‘Who’s lovin’ you?’”
The restaurant erupted in applause, and Alfred ran back onto the platform and turned _____ around to see the crowd that was giving her a standing ovation. Her face heated up, and she shakily handed the microphone to Alfred. “Your turn!”
Alfred laughed. “No way, José!”
_____ said goodbye to Alfred, Arthur, Francis, Ivan, and Yao and followed Feliciano into the house with Ludwig, Kiku, and Lovino.
“Wow, sorella!” said Feliciano. “I didn’t know you could sing! Well, I knew you could sing, but I didn’t know you could sing like that!”
_____ laughed sheepishly. “Oh, I’m not that good.”
“You’re not good at what? Being nice?” Gilbert stumbled into the foyer, still looking as sickly as he did that morning.
“Sorella can sing! Kiku and I got it on camera, too!”
“Is that so?” Gilbert smirked. “I’d like to see that.”
_____ sighed, walking past them. “Well, you can do that later. It’s late, and we all gotta get to bed.” She stopped at the doorway. “Oh, and Gil?”
“There’s some chicken-noodle soup left in the fridge.” She walked out and up to her room. “Night, ya’ll!”
“Buona notte, sorella!” said Feliciano.
Gilbert smiled warmly where _____ had been standing, then replaced it with a smirk and called after her, “So you can be nice!”
“Good night, Gil!”