Now He Can See
Alfred began to wonder what it was Tony did.
He was in charge. That much was obvious. But what did a ma– guy in charge actually do? Keep everything working, he supposed. But Alfred did not understand what went on that needed some random guy to make sure it worked smoothly.
"I met Tony here," he told Xiu one day, wondering if she understood what he was saying.
From looking at the cupboard, she turned her head toward him and stared at him quizzically before taking the dish in his hand so she could dry it. "Tony?" she repeated. "In the Chinese Sector?"
"I know!" Alfred blew his bangs out of his face. He really needed to get his hair trimmed. "What were the chances?"
"No person sees Tony."
"That's what I thought too," Alfred agreed. "Yao wouldn't believe me, either. Probably because of my description. He doesn't look like the type of guy to be in charge. Or maybe he does, because it's so unexpected. Yeah?"
Alfred paused, giving Xiu a chance to catch up. He needed to remember to keep his sentences a bit shorter and slower. It was not as if Xiu placed prime importance on learning English or anything. Not like Alfred with Mandarin. Not that it was helping any. Yao said the reason it was taking him so long was because he kept talking in English to Yong Soo and Maddox – plus the fact Yong Soo translated for him. Alfred did not see what the problem with that was.
"You cannot judge a person by their appearance," she finally said, drying another plate. "You did not finish cleaning this."
He took it back and scrubbed (carefully) at its surface again. "I know that," he replied, "but I still mean it. I'm not sure he acted like a guy who's in charge either. Like a combo of the two."
Eventually, Xiu nodded.
"Ha!" crowed Yong Soo from the doorway. "Kitchen duty."
Xiu frowned, but stayed calm. "Yao wants to talk to you," was what Alfred managed to translate her sentence to.
"Dude wants you and Maddox to clean the bathrooms," Alfred said.
Yong Soo was no longer as thrilled at their position. "Trade?" he asked, glancing back between both him and Xiu. Alfred and Xiu both shook their heads. With dread, Yong Soo left the kitchen.
"I've never actually seen Maddox do any chores," he told her.
And that was all she said on the matter. Alfred supposed there was no point in her lying about it, even if Alfred had yet to see it. He turned his attention back to washing the dishes as Xiu handed him back another one. Why did Yao not want them to put these dishes in the dishwasher again?
Today I washed dishes. So much for a day off school.
Oh, like Kiku would want to hear about that.
Do you like the fact Arthur only has us put dishes in the dishwasher, rather than washing them ourselves? I can't believe I miss something like that. This is taking a long time.
He had not been putting off the letter because he did not want to write to Kiku. He got Kiku's letter three days ago. He needed to respond soon. It was just that he could not think of what else to write about what was going on here when not too much seemed to have happened since his last letter. He could just respond to what Kiku said, but he did not want to seem like he was skimping out on the conversation.
Yeah, that was the only reason. Not because of the headaches or anything. He did not remember ever getting so much headaches. Was it something in the air here? Could he bring it up without seeming like a total wuss?
Have you tried Cookies 'n' Cream? Oreos are the best. Did you know ice cream is its own food group?
He wondered if Kiku would think that was funny. It was not like he would ever know what made the other laugh.
I tried to tell Xiu about Tony today. She was nice and listened. I don't think she believed me, though. I decided not to mention that he was an alien, because then she totally wouldn't believe me anymore. She told me I shouldn't judge people by their appearance. I wasn't trying to judge him by what he looked like. I judged him by the fact he was not human and he talked about us like we were some sort of animals.
He did it nicely, though. Like we were some favored pets. Which still pisses me off if I think about it too much.
He put the letter aside and went to get Yong Soo to look over his homework. He could have gone to Yao, but for some reason he preferred going to Yong Soo. Probably because he was in the same class. Of course, that meant if Yong Soo got it wrong Alfred was going to get it wrong, but it was not like Yong Soo had terrible grades or anything. Everyone in this house seemed to get really good grades.
It did not stop Maddox or Yong Soo from getting detentions though. Alfred could only just imagine what would happen if Maddox was a bit older and in the same grade.
"You okay?" Yong Soo asked.
Alfred blinked. "Yeah. Why?"
The other teen shrugged. "I don't know. You look like you're in pain or something."
"Homework?" Alfred reminded him jokingly.
"Other than that!"
"Homework is headache inducing?" Alfred pointed out.
Yong Soo blew some of his bangs out of his face. "I know!"
He said that. He looked like he believed it. Yet Alfred found himself face to face with Yao later asking about his headache.
Traitor, Alfred mouthed at Yong Soo, who was now pretending he had nothing to do with the conversation. Unhappily, Alfred turned his attention back to Yao. "I don't have one," he said.
Yao had the amazing ability of looking incredulous without moving much of his face. Then he asked one of the strangest things Alfred had ever heard.
"Alfred. Without moving, point out which of the books on that shelf are in English."
Yao gave him this look and Alfred just decided to do it, no matter how strange of a request it was. He stared over and the backs of all the books and squinted, trying to pinpoint which ones Yao was referring to.
"I think you need glasses, aru."
"What?" Alfred exclaimed, more loudly than previous.
"Glasses," Yao repeated. "Frames that hold lenses you place in front of your eyes. I will set up an appointment to make sure. Arthur will need to know as well."
"But... wait!" Alfred protested. "I don't–"
"You do." He wheeled about to see Xiu standing behind him. "The dishes," she explained, miming the washing motion.
"You really do," Yong Soo agreed, suddenly paying attention. "You don't only have headaches when doing homework, da ze!"
Spluttering did no good. Three days later Alfred wore glasses.
And that's why it's taken me so long to finish this up. Stupid glasses.
People are people, no matter where they are.