Chapter Seven: A Tour Through Town
“C’mon, Ludwig! You’re slowing us down!”
Ludwig sighed in exasperation as he quickened his pace to keep up with the others. That morning, _____ had suggested that the group––being Ludwig, Feliciano, Lovino, Gilbert, and Kiku––all take a mini-vacation through Venice. They all accepted, except Ludwig. He had only decided to go when _____ reluctantly agreed to go training with him, Kiku, and Feliciano the next day.
“I don’t see what is so exciting about going around a city that I live in for eight months out of the year,” he remarked as he began walking beside _____.
_____ frowned slightly. “Hey, lighten up. It’s kind of apparent that you never really took a trip around here except for necessities. This could be good for you.” She patted his back, causing him to scowl.
“Hey, sorella,” said Feliciano. “How about we take a ride on the gondolas?” He pointed to the canal nearby.
_____ smiled and nodded. “Sure. Everyone okay with that?”
The only one who flat-out protested was Lovino, only because he knew that he was going to be stuck in a tiny boat with someone he didn’t like (he naturally assumed _____ would sit with someone else).
They all piled into the gondolas, Ludwig and Gilbert in one, _____ and Kiku in another, and Lovino and Feliciano in the third. The Italian brothers had given directions to the men steering the boats, and soon the six were off down the various canals. _____ stuck her hand in the shimmering water, her hand immediately cooling as it cut through the water.
“I wouldn’t do that if I were you, _____-san,” said Kiku. “The water is not very clean.”
_____ smiled, taking her hand out of the water and wiping it on her shorts. “I know. I just wanted something to cool off. It’s hot as blue blazes out here.” She began fanning herself with her hand.
_____ turned her head just in time for it to be splashed with canal water. Feliciano giggled as she crinkled her nose and spit out what little water went into her mouth. _____ smirked at him and sent a wave toward his gondola, splashing water on him and his brother. Lovino glared at the two through his sopping wet hair, and began cursing like a sailor at them. The pair only laughed more and started an all-out battle splashing water at each other. Lovino let out an even louder and more explicit string of curses at them while Kiku made a quiet fuss to shield himself from the attacks.
“WOULD YOU TWO CUT IT OUT ALREADY?!”
_____ and Feliciano immediately froze when they saw Ludwig’s and Gilbert’s gondola pull up, revealing that he was a bit wet as well. Ludwig was glaring daggers at the two by the time he reached them, and his usually slicked-back hair was falling piece by piece into his face. _____ made a quick mental note on how hot it looked.
_____ smirked. “Oh, c’mon, Luddy. It’s not like you got as wet as we did.” She gestured to her now soaking wet body and then pointed out Feliciano’s.
“And us?!” shouted Lovino. “You’re forgetting that you got us wet, too, ragazza!” He directed his glare at his brother. “This is all your damn fault, you idiota! Next time you want to start a water fight, make sure the people who aren’t in it are out the way, butt-crotch!”
Feliciano began to whimper. “Mi dispiace, fratello! I didn’t mean for you to get all wet!”
“Come on, Lovino,” said _____, pulling back her wet hair. “I think you’ve made your point.”
Lovino paused, then sat back down in his seat in the gondola, glaring at the water with his arms crossed.
_____ sighed, leaning back in her seat. “You alright, Kiku? Nothing get damaged?”
“Hai. I am fine,” he replied. “I was able to shield all the electronics in the boat before any water could get on them.” He looked to be only slightly wet, and practically dry when compared to his gondola partner.
“Man,” breathed out Gilbert loudly, “I wish I could’ve gotten in on that action. I wanted to throw water at you guys, too.”
The group rode along through the canals for another ten minutes as the gondoliers (who managed to stay completely dry) pushed the gondolas along. They eventually reached a lagoon where _____ caught sight of a small island further out in the water.
“Hey, guys,” she called out to the Italian brothers. “Where exactly are we going?”
Feliciano pointed to the island warily. “There.” He began to shake, which _____ realized was not from the fact that he was cold, but that he was afraid.
“What’s the matter, Feli? Is it haunted, or something?”
“That’s Poveglia Island,” said Lovino. “It was where the Romans left plague victims to die a long time ago. And when the Black Plague hit, the Europeans did the same thing again. But when they did it again, they raised the stakes to bury the bodies on top of other dead plague victims and set them on fire. Then in 1922, a mental hospital was built on the island, and a crazy doctor worked there and pretty much did shits for giggles to the patients. Some say that he used to torture his patients in the bell tower of the hospital. Then one day he died, but people don’t know how. They found him lying on the ground by the bell tower.” He made a mischievous smirk. “Maybe the ghosts of all the victims of the island killed him.”
“Or maybe his patients-slash-victims threw him off the bell tower,” chided _____. “Besides, who thought it was a good idea to build a mental hospital on an island, especially one that no doubt still smelled like rotten flesh and charred bone?” She blinked. “Whose idea was it to come here, anyway?”
Lovino smirked again. “Mine. And I hope you packed a good lunch, ragazza.” He spoke in Italian to the gondoliers then turned back to _____. “Because we’re going to be there for a while.”
The six made it to the island about a half hour later, at about three in the afternoon, carrying their bags with them before the gondoliers pushed the gondolas back out into the water.
_____ kept her eyes on the disappearing gondolas as she tried to grab Lovino. “H-Hey, Lovino? They’re coming back, right?”
“Hm?” Lovino glanced out into the water as well. “Oh, yeah. They’ll be back.”
“At eight tonight.”
“WHAT?!” She twirled her head to face him. “What made you think that eight would be a good time to pick us up?!”
“What are you so worried about, ragazza?” He smirked and patted her head. “I thought you were the one who didn’t believe in ghosts.”
She rolled her eyes. “I don’t. Ghosts aren’t real––”
“But you said they were yesterday, sorella,” Feliciano interrupted.
“That’s spirits,” _____ corrected. “They’re two different things. Anyway, it’s not ghosts that I’m worried about.” She pulled on Lovino’s collar to bring his head down. “It’s your brother,” she whispered into his ear. “What if he has a panic attack or something?”
“Just smack him across the face and tell him to man up,” he replied simply. “It always works for me.”
She raised an eyebrow, then shook her head in an attempt to drop the subject. “So, what’s the plan?”
Lovino grabbed the picnic basket his brother was carrying and sat down on the ground. “Right now, lunch. We can discuss what to do while we eat.”
“Okay,” said _____ as she finished her lunch and glanced at her watch, “it is now five after four. We have a little less than four hours to do whatever. I think we should split up into groups and meet back here at around seven-thirty? Sound good?”
Surprisingly, everyone agreed. _____ continued. “Okay. Now that that’s settled, we should be in groups of two. So who wants to be with who?”
Feliciano raised his hand immediately. “Oh! I want to be with you, sorella!”
_____ grinned. “Sure, Feli. And everybody else?”
“I call Kiku,” said Gilbert, patting the Asian on the head. Kiku flinched, and he and _____ both looked at the albino, a bit confused.
“Okay, then,” said _____. “And I guess that just leaves Ludwig and Lovino.” She breathed in through her teeth as she realized that putting those two together was a very horrible idea. She pursed her lips. “Sorry, guys.”
“Dammit!” shouted Lovino. “Why do I have to be stuck with the potato bastard?!”
Ludwig sighed in exasperation. “Well, who would you have picked to be with?”
Lovino opened his mouth to yell out his answer, but snapped it shut before he could say. He looked at the ground, his face turning a bit red. “I would’ve picked ragazza. . .”
_____ furrowed her brows in thought, then sighed quietly. “Alright. How about we switch partners? Feli can go with Ludwig and Lovino can go with me.”
Lovino nodded and stood up. Ludwig rolled his eyes, but accepted. Feliciano, on the other hand, was not so happy. “What? But I wanted to be with you, sorella.”
“Sorry, baby,” said _____, patting him on the head. “It looks like your brother really wants to be with me on this one. Just this once, okay?”
He looked down, but nodded. “Sì, sorella. Okay. . .”
“Okay.” She looked up at the other five. “Now, let’s break up~! Meet back here at seven-thirty tonight.”
The groups split up and went in opposite directions to explore the island. _____ and Lovino, however, stayed back at the meeting spot a little longer.
“Come on, ragazza,” Lovino chided. “We should be going, too.”
“Okay. So, which way is the old hospital?”
“This way.” He took ______’s hand and pulled her along as they made their way through the brush.
A few minutes into their walk, _____ decided to break the silence. “So, why did you want to be with me?”
Lovino looked back at her, an eyebrow raised. “Because I didn’t want to be with either one of the potato bastards, I don’t really know Kiku that much, and I always get stuck with Feliciano just because he’s mio fratello.”
“Oh. Okay.” Shortly after, a new thought came to her mind. “But you barely know me, too.”
“Sì, that’s true,” he admitted. “But you’re. . .different.”
The two came to a stop half an hour in to rest and rehydrate, then continued walking. About forty-five mintues after that, they arrived at their destination. The abandoned hospital was a large, two-story building, and the exterior walls appeared to have been whitewashed. Vines hung from several windows and cracks in the walls. The sun had begun to set by the time _____ and Lovino got to the hospital, and the orange and gold rays gave the old building an elegance about it.
“Oy,” said _____ as she looked out onto the horizon. “The sun’s gonna set soon.”
Lovino looked at her. “What’s the matter, ragazza? Scared?”
She glared at him. “There’s nothing to be scared of. The only thing that makes it scary is your stupid imagination. There are no ghosts haunting the place.”
Lovino smirked. “Well, if you’re so confident, why don’t you go first?” He pushed _____ forward, causing her to give him a dirty look. She looked at the old building, sighing then shrugging, and walked toward it.
“Come on, Mr. Smart-Ass,” she called behind her. “Let’s see if this insane asylum actually has anything interesting.”
Lovino crossed his arms and held his chin up in triumph, and then quickly caught up to _____. The horizon slowly consumed the sun as Lovino shut the front door of the asylum behind him.