Chapter 1: Chapter 1
Ludwig turned the key in the lock of the apartment he shared with his brother. Stumbling in, he placed the shopping bags onto the counter. “Bruder, ich bin zu Hause,” He called.
“...Bruder?” Normally Gilbert would answer immediately, over the sounds of the videogames he so enjoyed to be immersed in. But lately, Gilbert had seemed...distant.
Ludwig walked down the hall and rapped his knuckles on Gilbert’s bedroom door. Upon opening it, he saw it was empty and lightless. The living room and his own room were empty too. Finally, getting nervous, the tall German swung open the bathroom door, flicking on the switch.
A pale body was illuminated by the bright light. Dark, crimson liquid pooled.
Three Months Later
12th February, 2014
So, here goes diary entry number sieben… I wish I knew what to say.
A page, to me, is like a blank canvas. It is art. But lately, since therapy started, it’s become a chore. I feel...annoyed that I have to write this, that I have to document my feelings to assure people I’m improving.
I am starting to calm down. I mean, I still….sometimes...cut. Verdammt, I know Bonnefoy’s gonna be pissed about that. I did convince him I’d stopped.
I should be fine. I’m fucking awesome, so why do I have to do these sessions? Yeah, I know you’ll read this, Bonnefoy. Fuck you. Slamming the pen down onto the wooden desk, Gilbert Beilschmidt gritted his teeth, dragging his pale fingers through his layered white hair. He couldn’t continue this. His next session was in an hour, and he hadn’t properly finished his weekly entry.
Gilbert took a few shuddering breaths. He watched in horror as his sleeves slipped down his arms, revealing brand new cuts, recently scabbed over. He pushed the sleeves up again with a wince, standing and grabbing his car keys and diary.
The room was plain, with no plaques or boarders; the familiar smell of dry paint and fancy perfume hung tangibly in the air; Gilbert’s throat was dry and he gazed into the cream carpet rather than at his French therapist sitting opposite him: Francis Bonnefoy.
“Good afternoon, Gilbert,” Francis began, a pleasant smile glowing behind his platinum locks. “How are you feeling today?”
“I’m alright,” Mumbled the German as he completed the well-known action of passing his diary to him.
“Bon, merci,” Francis carefully leafed to the most recent entry, reading it thoroughly with an unreadable expression.
Cautious glacial eyes locked with Gilbert’s unusually ruby ones. “You have not expressed clear emotions, Gilbert,” Francis closed the book. “Well, apart from your obvious dislike of me.” He turned serious. “Would you like to end our sessions?” A shrug. “Nein, I need to...Get fixed.” That caused Francis’s plucked eyebrows to raise. “Do you believe you are broken?”
“I….I don’t feel complete.” Gilbert hated admitting he was weak, not himself, but he’d come to accept that things weren’t going to change otherwise.
“...Well, I will do all I can to help you feel complete again. Now, I’d like to discuss a particular sentence you wrote.”
“Toll, shoot.” The therapist steepled his slender digits. “You compared writing to an art form. Do you like to draw, or paint?” Gilbert thought about this for a moment. “I tried to draw und paint, als ich junger war. But….Vater didn’t like to see me doing it.”
“Have you any idea why that was?”
Nein, I have no fucking clue why that bastard was so shitty to me. “He probably believed it wasn’t a very masculine thing to do. Call me Billy Elliott.” Francis crossed his legs, his crimson suit creasing. “That is something we can work with. What if you tried to rekindle your passion for art? Perhaps that could bring back another piece of you, supposing we are continuing with the broken metaphor?”
“Ja, let’s. But I can’t...it’s...difficult for me to just pick up a pencil or paint brush.”
“So go to a place where you won’t be the only one doing it,” Upon seeing the German’s confused face, Francis explained, “you know, an art class.”
Gilbert sat up a little straighter. “Oh. Right. That….could be ok, I guess.” His therapist smiled. “I will arrange one for you, and then phone to check the date, time, et cetera. Will that be ok, Gilbert?”
“Is there anything else you’d like to talk about today? Anything urgent?”
Gilbert stood to leave, his baggy commando trousers hanging on his thin hips, his oversized white hoody insulating him.
“Gilbert, one last thing.” He turned, expectant. The Frenchman’s expression was clearly one of concern as he got up to return his diary. “About the cutting….you do know your limit, oui?”
He blinked once. “I know my current tolerance.” With that, he left quietly.
Valentine’s day. Bonnefoy had sent him to an art class on fucking Valentine’s Day, of all the days in the year!
Gilbert swallowed thickly as he approached the Arts & Crafts centre, his large feet dragging on the ground. He was so unsure about this. What if they didn’t like him? What if he found himself unable to socialize? What if they saw the cuts on his forearms?
Bonny probably thinks I’ll meet someone. Fuck, he’s so stupid! Firstly, I don’t need a partner, and secondly, these classes are full to the brim with couples on days like this anyway!
The anger weighed on his shoulders like a crouched tiger, it’s claws digging into his neck and making his muscles tense.
His knee-high buckled army boots clunked on the spiral stairs to the room he’d been told to go to: Room A3. He’d tried with his appearance today - long-sleeved black Tee, tattered navy waistcoat, cloudy grey frayed skinny jeans and naturally his boots. He’d even tried to style his hair, so that his fringe didn’t cover one side of his face and made him look more approachable. As for his red eyes….the blue contacts he’d put in turned his irises purple, so he knew they couldn’t look stranger.
Opening the door tentatively, he scanned the room to see who else was there. A table with a vase of flowers, a polar bear teddy, and a glass of water. There were several easels set up around the room with different vantage points. There were also other tables at which couples sat and did separate drawings.
“Guten Morgen,” A pleasant-looking brunette came up to Gilbert. She wore fancy clothes covered by a messy apron, and her spectacles gave her that businesswoman kind of look. Gilbert thought she was German at first, but her dialect indicated she was Austrian.
“Morgen,” He mumbled, shaking her paint-covered hand.
“Sprechen Sie Englisch? Ich habe Englisch Teilnehmer so muss ich Englisch sprechen. ”
“Ja, I can speak English.” He offered a small smile, which she returned. “Gut. You’ll need to find an easel overlooking the specific object you’d like to draw today, ok?”
Nodding, the albino moved away from her, trying not to catch the eyes of curious couples. A burly man wearing a scarf looked at him with burning purple eyes - he decided to avoid his vicinity, and chose an easel allowing him to focus on drawing the glass of water. The chatter died down as the instructor decided that most of the people who’d signed up were here. She closed the door of the art room.
“Now, good morning, everybody,” She rubbed her hands together. “My name is Sophia Edelstein, welcome to art class. Now, today we will be drawing either these objects on the table, or….” Gilbert’s ears picked up another sound: someone was knocking on the door. Quiet, but definitely there. He looked at the others in the room, waiting for someone to let them in, but after several moments nobody had moved.
Ignoring Sophia’s words, he marched across the room and yanked the door open, to see a shocked face staring back at him. The younger man on the other side of the door pulled his hands towards his body, as if intimidated by Gilbert’s appearance. Gilbert saw he had shoulder-length wavy blonde hair, with one curl spiralling out of the other strands. The man’s silver-rimmed glasses slid down his nose; he pushed them up with a thin finger. Trying not to scare him further, Gilbert stepped aside to let him in.
“T-thank you,” Mumbled the blonde as he shuffled in.
When the German turned around he noticed the entire class had been watching him, and were now watching the blushing boy scramble to an easel.
“I’m so sorry, I didn’t hear you knocking,” Sophia said to him as he passed, to which he replied with a sympathetic nod. Normally Gilbert would’ve savoured the attention from people, but today he wanted to be invisible. Silently, he moved back to his place, which was right next to the newcomer’s.
They had been instructed to paint or draw what was in front of them, but to make it depict their current emotions too.
Gilbert realised he had no pencil; before he could go ask for one a pale hand held one out in front of him. He took it, looking at the young blonde’s violet eyes. “Danke.”
“S’ok. Thanks for...noticing me.” Gilbert got a good look at him: he wore a white hoodie with a red maple leaf in the middle, and light blue loose-fitting jeans with sneakers. The younger turned back to his canvas, gently pinching his paintbrush between his fingers.
Taking a calming breath, Gilbert touched pencil to paper. The scratching sound it made comforted him, and the dusty trails of graphite left on the paper looked to him like jigsaw pieces, all fitting together to solve a problem.
Having drawn the basic outline, Gilbert paused to glance at the blonde’s work. He was painting the polar-bear teddy, and rather beautifully, too. The way the light had been painted caught the bear’s fur and tinted it purple, green and gold. The deep black eyes had perfect captured reflections in them, and the paws were spotted with delicate pink pads.
“It’s wunderbar…” The blonde looked up from his canvas, instantly blushing. “O-oh, y-you really think so?”
“Ja, I like the way you’ve painted it. So many different colours you’d never normally see.”
Looking down and dipping the paintbrush into the water pot, the blonde man said, “...I do. I see these kinds of things all the time. I seem to pick up on what most people ignore.”
Gilbert tilted his head. “You do it well. Ah! Sorry, my name is…” He extended a ghostly pale hand, “Gilbert Beilschmidt.”
Warily shaking the German’s hand, the blonde replied, “N-nice to meet you, Gilbert. I’m Matthew Williams.” Matthew...Why do I feel like I’ve heard of him before?
“Do you come to these classes often?”
Matthew continued painting whilst speaking, “Mm, only when I can afford to. It helps me to...practise painting better.”
“And socialise, right?” Matthew swallowed. “...Actually, a lot of people don’t notice me. That’s why I was glad you opened the door for me- sometimes no one hears me, and the door locks from the inside so I can’t get in. I-I’ve tried t-talking to people before, but…” He trailed off. By his accent, though hardly distinguishable because of his soft voice, Gilbert thought he must be American, or -what was the other one? - Canadian.
The two-hour class progressed, and Gilbert was putting the finishing shading to his drawing when a quiet voice spoke again. “W-why did you draw the glass of water?” Facing Matthew, Gilbert gave a soft smile. “I, uh...The feeling of drawing water...calms me down. It’s really difficult to draw at times, but...I like challenges.”
Matthew timidly peered at the water more carefully. “What’s the reflection you’ve drawn, in the water? I-is….is that a skull?”
Gilbert blinked - he didn’t think it was that easy to decipher. “...Ja.”
After the class the two men took their drawings and left the building, still exchanging bits of conversation. The clouds promising rain hung dense in the air. “Seems like a storm is coming,” Mumbled Matthew as they crossed the path leading to the car park.
“Mm. Hey, do you live far from here?” Gilbert blurted. Idiot, you sound like a stalker! Matthew clutched his art to his thin chest. “Uhm...No, no not far.”
“C-cool.” Droplets of cold water began to fall from the sky. “Still, I could give you a lift if you’d like?”
Matthew wasn’t sure what to make of this. He’d never talked with a person this long before! Well, besides his brother and fathers. It wasn’t a bad feeling, but he was new to it. “W-well, if it’s no t-trouble….”
“Nein, no trouble.” Gilbert led them to his silver Volkswagen.
The German opened the car door; the timid Canadian slid into the seat and buckled up. As Gilbert sat down and reached for the heater, his sleeve rolled up to reveal three vertical slits along the flesh.
After hearing a soft gasp, Gilbert noticed and yanked the sleeve down, trying not to look at Matthew.
“Y-your…” Offering a friendly smile the albino interrupted, “Hm? Oh, I have a cat, it’s vicious. So, uh, where was it you live?” Matthew directed him to his apartment. Climbing steadily out of the car and shielding his painting from the now heavy rain with his hoodie. “T-thank you. A-are you going to another of those classes?”
Gilbert was taken by surprise, he really hadn’t thought about it. “I….I might. Are you?” A nod of a blonde-haired head. “You should,” Matthew blurted suddenly, his cheeks burning. “I- I mean, y-you’re really good at art. The next one’s on the 23rd.”
Gilbert looked at him, comforted by his words. “Danke. I might see you soon then.”
15th February, 2014
Diary entry number acht. So I went to the stupid art class yesterday. It...wasn’t too bad, I guess. Managed to get a nice drawing done, if I say so myself. I liked drawing it, it...felt natural. I haven’t drawn in years.
I communicated with another human extensively, too, so I can cross that off my bucket list. He’s nice, and wirklich shy. He wanted me to go for another class, so….I don’t know. I might.
Sighing, Gilbert got up to make some coffee. He called to his blonde brother sitting on the couch, “Hey, Lud, you want coffee?”
“Nein, danke. I’m going out for a bit.”
“Oh?” He boiled the water as Ludwig stood. “With...with Feliciano. Is that alright?”
“Ja, of course! Go, I’ll be fine.” Stepping closer to him, the tall blonde narrowed his glacial eyes. “Are you sure?” I don’t like leaving you alone, not after…
“Do you want to take me with you?” Silence. “Thought not. Lud, I’m good. Go and chill for a bit, you can call me if you’re worried.” I’m worried every single minute you’re alone. With a look of defeat, Ludwig grabbed his car keys and left Gilbert to his business. Opening a cutlery drawer, the silver-haired man picked up a blunt dinner knife. No sharp knives or utensils were allowed in his presence- hell, he was lucky Ludwig allowed these knives to be kept.
He looked at his red-eyed reflection in the stainless steel. It reminded him of his drawing, of the skull reflected in the water. His skull. He whispered gently as he cradled the knife between his fingers and thumb, “Hallo, old friend.”
Yay, clinical depression! Nah, I'm sure I'll pick up the mood. Probably. Maybe. Correction of any foreign language phrases I use is welcomed.<br />
Bruder, ich bin zu Hause - Brother, I am home
Sieben - Seven
Verdammt - Dammit
Bon, merci - Good, thank you
Toll - Great
Als ich junger war - When I was younger
Vater - Father
Chapter 2: Chapter 2
Managed to update fairly quickly, yes! Anyway, read. No, shh, listen: read.
17th February, 2014
Diary entry number neun. I know I’m supposed to update every day but I haven’t been doing much, so I never bothered. Listened to Rammstein. Talked with mein Bruder. I even went shopping, bought some stuff we needed. I’m just so...unawesome. I don’t even know what happened, I….I used to love being the centre of attention. Craved it. I had many friends, and a few enemies. People either wanted to be around me, or were too scared to approach.
I used to be able to make people laugh. I used to feel like my heart was beating.
I don’t know what happened.
Forcefully pulling the biro away from the diary paper, Gilbert saw droplets of water run down his nose, felt them travel down his cheeks. When did he start crying? His runny nose told him at least a few minutes ago. One could get so lost in artwork sometimes.
I have to write. It’s all I have, I have to write!
Gingerly touching the pen down again, wiping his face with a concealing sleeve, he continued. It felt strange, falling into this pit. All feeling was lost - every single day I am numb. I’m fucking sick of it. I want to be able to feel happy, to feel sad, to feel anything.
I guess it almost change when….at the class. I was talking to someone, and I felt almost human again. Just a spark of something. I felt a heartbeat.
Gilbert snorted in spite of himself. I sound like a fucking pansy.
What the hell was Bonny gonna think of this sappy shit? Well, it wasn’t like he cared. Lying back in his chair, he sat and thought and waited for his session on the 19th to roll around.
“Morning, Gilbert.” The ever-smartly dressed Frenchman welcomed him as he sat himself in the usual chair, which was so puffy it felt like he was being eaten by it.
“How are you feeling today?”
Without thinking, the German replied, “My arms are sore.” Shit. A pause. “May I see your arms.”
Francis leaned forward, elbows on his knees. “Gilbert, I need you to show me your arms.” Sighing, brow furrowed in shame, Gilbert rolled up his sleeves. Francis sat back, a hand over his chin. “Ok.” He couldn’t think of anything else to say.
He was rather shocked, for this...method of self harming was unknown to the therapist. Gilbert had not only cut, but attempted to make small holes in his arms. It looked like both arms were diseased. Reaching into his briefcase, Francis took out a small pack of alcohol wipes and handed a few to the German client. “What are these?” Gilbert asked, taking them.
“Wipe your arms with them. When did you do this?” Gilbert touched one of the damp wipes to a wound, then pulled it back harshly, “Damn, that hurt!”
Francis tried to be patient. “Yes, it will sting. But you have to make sure that if you do this you at least reduce chance of infection. Now, when did you do this?”
Gilbert hissed as he cleaned the wounds. “Argh, about two days ago.”
The Frenchman nodded. “Can I see your diary please?” He handed the little black book to his therapist to read.
“So, you would like to become popular again?”
“And awesome.” Nodding, Francis muttered, “Oui, and awesome.” He looked up from the book. “What led to you becoming unpopular, by your definition?”
Gilbert thought back. “Uhm….Probably...when Vater kicked us out.”
“Oh? When was that?”
“About seven years ago, so I’d have been sixteen then. Ludwig would’ve been...about thirteen.”
“Why did your father kick you out?” Gilbert sniffed, looking at the floor. “...Mutter died when she gave birth to Ludwig. Ever since, Vater had blamed him for it and ridiculed him. I always stepped in to protect him.” Francis tucked a silvery strand behind his ear. “Did you not blame him also then?”
“Nein, of course not!” Gilbert blurted, much to Francis’s surprise. “I mean...I’d never blame someone’s death on a newborn baby. That’s ridiculous.”
“I see. And you father became tired of you both, so he threw you out?” Gilbert nodded.
Francis consulted the book again. “And here, you say you felt a bit different, when you were talking to another person?”
“Ja, it was...nice.”
Francis smiled softly. “Good. If you liked it, why not invite them to have coffee or something?” Noticing Gilbert’s unsure reaction, he amended, “Or, I can arrange for you to go to another class?”
“That...Yeah. I mean, he told me the next was on the 23rd.”
“Alright, bien. I’ll see what I can do. But, Gilbert…” He hesitated. “I’m going to have to mention this cutting to your brother.”
“Was? Nein!” Gilbert scowled.
“Oui, I have to. You know that if you’re posing a threat to yourself I have to-”
“Not Ludwig! You can’t tell him, it’ll put more stress on him and-”
“Gilbert, calm down.” The hardened tone shut him up. “Imagine this situation reversed: Ludwig now sits in your chair with your difficulties. Would you want to know if he was hurting himself again?”
Gilbert shrugged. “Well, yes, but-”
“He is the only close family you have, and I have to tell someone. Otherwise I will have to give you a referral to a more specialised care centre.” Snorting derisively, the German muttered, “The nut house.”
“Non, I said no such thing. I mean people who can help you to stop this before it becomes life-threatening.”
“No, just, wait. Bitte, don’t tell him yet. Let me go to another class, maybe I’ll feel even better. I promise I’ll try really hard to stop-”
“I cannot bend the rules on the basis of a promise. I am going to at least warm him, and you can still go to the classes.”
Putting a palm to his cheek, Gilbert mumbled, “...Ich verstehe.” I have to stop.
I have to try.
Leaning on the front door to close it behind him, Gilbert sighed when he saw his brother’s stern face as he sat on the sofa, thick arms folded. “Show me your arms.”
“Warum? You know what it is.”
“Lass mich deine Arme sehen, Bruder.”
“Nein.” Ludwig stood up, the bulking man he was, and stormed over to his elder sibling. He took Gilbert’s left elbow and lifted his arm, moving his sleeve down. “Goddammit, Ludwig! Leave-!” The state of his arm was revealed and Ludwig stumbled away. “Mein Gott…” He murmured in disbelief. “Wh-when did you do this?”
Gilbert tucked his arms behind his back. “...Two days ago.”
“I knew it! I knew I couldn’t leave you alone! And now…” The brothers’ gazes locked. Gilbert saw that Ludwig, the brother he’d always been bested by, was on the verge of tears. Weine nicht, Brüderlein.
“Ludwig, bitte…” Moving toward him, Gilbert pleaded with his brother. “Don’t, don’t...It’s all right…”
“Nicht wahr. I thought I’d helped you! I thought you were….getting better…” He angrily swiped his eyes clear of tears. Gilbert moved to put his hands on Ludwig’s broad shoulders.
“Look at me. Bruder.” Reluctantly, bloodshot ice-blue eyes met his. “I appreciate your help. It...it is helping. But I...I need to do this. This helps too. It’s as essential to me as breathing.” His younger brother pushed his hands off of him. “If you keep doing it you won’t be breathing any longer!”
“Oi, beruhige dich-”
“Nein! Look, I knew you were cutting again! I knew!” That shut Gilbert up. “It didn’t look too bad, so I didn’t say anything,” Ludwig continued, “but this...When I got the call from Bonnefoy today, I...I really wished it wasn’t true. For your sake.”
“If we cannot help you, we’ll look into more serious ways of treatment.” Ludwig deadpanned. Gilbert backed away, “You’re...gonna send me away. Just like Vater. You’re-”
“I would never, Gilbert. I would never send you away or kick you out. But I can’t help you by myself.”
“I didn’t want to tell you because you’d get worried, and you have enough stress from work and Feli and-”
“Ruhig sein, I will always worry about you, no matter where you are or what your mental state is,” Ludwig clenched his jaw.
Gilbert buried his face in his hands, knowing tears were overspilling, “I want this to stop. I want this to stop.” Muscled arms held him close as Ludwig hugged his shaking form. “It will, Bruder. Me, Bonnefoy and whoever else you need will help you. You know that.” As his older brother sobbed into his chest, Ludwig placed a hand on those layered locks to calm him. “But you have to let us help.”
After a few silent moments Gilbert uttered, “...You should be the older sibling.” That earned a soft chuckle from the buff blonde. “...Ja, vielleicht.”
Gilbert turned on his lamp. It was the only light, and cast a hazy glow which darkened the shadows of his room. He took off his night shirt and looked down at his body. Skinny, I’m too skinny. But I don’t want to eat. Holding out his torn arms, he examined the abrasions. The outlines of the cuts and little holes were like ruffled fabric, dyed pink. Doilies of contusions marbled the white skin and the scabs looked plastic under the yellowish light. I promised Ludwig I’d stop. I have to try and-
No, I am going to stop.
Looking back to his arms, he realised something was wrong: the split skin was rolling into itself, curling back up to his shoulders like bloody bandages. They moved and writhed, unravelling, licking along his neck. They lapped at his ears, leaving crimson slashes.
As he began to whimper and groan at the pain, more of the flesh became animated, peeled painfully from his collarbone, wrapping around his throat as spindly tendons poked his eyes, reminding him of the fake blue contacts he wore. Where are your real eyes? They whispered inside his brain. Why must your skin control you?
“Ich weiss nicht! Ich weiss nicht!” He screamed, feeling the wet, blood-smattered skin drag over his cheeks.
Dein Name ist noch Einsamkeit!
“Unrecht, das ist falsch!” Screaming it at the top of his lungs, the albino twisted and turned in the sheets, soaked in his blood, wet cloth sticking to the fresh cuts. “NEIN!” The door to his bedroom flew open, and in burst Ludwig, “Bruder! Was ist los?”
Sitting up and clawing at his upper body, Gilbert was shocked to see that his skin had no more lacerations on it than earlier that day.
Ein Traum….gerade ein Traum. Panting and covered in a sheen of perspiration, the white-haired German looked to his brother. “Ein Albtraum,” He explained. Letting out a long breath and wiping his eyes, Ludwig went over and sat by him, flicking on the light. “You didn’t take your sleeping pills again,” He stated bluntly. Gilbert wore a pitied expression. “Figured you wouldn’t want me taking pills.”
“It’s not about what I want, it’s about what you need. You need a good night’s sleep, without the nightmares.”
“They’re not that bad.” Gilbert tried, to which his brother gave a skeptical expression. “You were screaming. Now put a shirt on before you catch a cold and try to sleep,” He advised, standing.
“You put a shirt on before you poke someone’s eye out,” Rolling his eyes Ludwig left the room.
Four days went by without much fuss, (His arms were hurting less as Ludwig had forced him to get them treated and bandaged at Casualty.) and Gilbert was becoming ever more excited and nervous about going to the class again. Could he manage to get back into art again? What would he create? Would Matthew be there?
Shut up, he thought to himself, it’s not important whether he’s there or not! I go there to do art, not talk to random people I don’t know!
Nevertheless, when he walked into Room A3, he couldn’t help but smile when he saw a head of wavy golden hair standing behind an easel. Moving to the unattended one next to him, the German whispered, “Hi.”
Matthew spun, eyes wide. “You came! I-I mean, I thought you might not…” He blushed as he trailed off. Gilbert let out a soft chuckle. “Well, I didn’t have anything better to do.” Matthew looked at him, seemingly hurt, and he blurted, “Ah! Or rather, this was the better thing to do! I did want to go,” he rubbed his hands anxiously.
“O-ok,” Replied the Canadian in his ever-soft voice, and turned back to setting out his supplies: pencils, stencils, water paints and a sponge. Gilbert noticed he’d set the teddy up in a different position on the nearby table. “You like drawing that bear, huh?”
“Hm? O-oh, yeah I guess,” Matthew offered a small smile, “I’m really fond of polar bears.”
They stood in silence for a while, listening to Sophia’s exaggerated introduction of, ‘artistry with no strings attached’ - basically, Gilbert summed up, they had no particular criteria to follow and they could paint/draw whatever they’d like.
“What are you gonna paint, Gilbert?” Matthew asked. “Another skull?”
He looked at the smaller blonde. “Hey, I don’t always draw skulls. I might draw a whole skeleton today.” He moved off to get a set of water colours, when he accidentally bumped into a small woman wearing a kimono.
“Sorry, Miss,” He stuttered as he began to move away.
“Miss? Miss? How dare you, you rat!” The woman - man! - turned around, his long brown hair pulled into a ponytail swinging and his Oriental face red with humiliation. Well, fuck. “I’m sorry, I wasn’t looking-”
“That’s no reason to mistake my gender, stupid German!” His accent informed Gilbert that he was probably Chinese. An angry Chinaman, great. Suddenly, a large gloved hand tapped the Chinese man’s slim shoulder and the equally proportional owner of said hand, in a long grey trenchcoat, stood behind him. “нет, don’t bother the poor man, Yao. He is merely confused, yes?”
Strong, intimidating sapphire purple eyes glinted at Gilbert through short strands of pale pair. The Russian’s thick scarf would around his neck loosely and flowed like water. Internally, Gilbert pouted. I’m not sure if he’s attractive or scary. Eh, both.
Meanwhile, Yao was still angry at him, now directing lines of aggressive and probably offensive Chinese at him, which he ignored.
He’s staring at me. Don’t be creepy, buddy. Just blink. Do you know how to blink? ...No, no he doesn’t. Should I just….run? Walk. Walking might look less cowardly. Turning abruptly, the albino briskly made his way back to Matthew with the paints.
“You t-took your time,” Greeted the Canadian man gently. Gilbert nodded, “Got told off for calling Yao a woman.” He gestured to point out the still-fuming Chinaman, currently being soothed by the bulky Russian.
Matthew giggled (And Gilbert had to wipe the word adorable out of his head), “Yeah, I’ve done that. But I don’t think he heard…”
“You got away lightly, then.” Gilbert decided to focus on a vase of flowers - in particular, one single flower: a yellow lily. As he sketched and painted it, exploring it’s every minute detail and splash of colour, he thought of the Japanese style flower-arranging, where they typically only use one flower. They focus on the perfection of a single bloom, the very representation of mortality.
“You should roll up your sleeves or your shirt will get m-messy…” Matthew spoke quietly. Gilbert swallowed thickly as he swept the brush over the paper. “It’s ok, this is an old Tee.” He reached for the paint; Matthew glimpsed bandages underneath.
“C-can I talk to you a moment? Outside?”
The corridor was empty and cold as they stood on the linoleum tiles. “What happened to your arms?” The Canadian asked softly. Gilbert refused to meet his violet gaze. “My, uh...My cat got mad at me,” He replied in his thick German accent.
I think you made the cat mad, thought Matthew as he took in a calming breath. “W-why don’t you just get rid of the cat, if it’s hurting you?”
Gilbert leaned against the wall, making the paintings rattle. “I can’t. It...makes me feel safe.”
“Gilbert, there are ways to feel safe without hurting.” A sun-kissed hand reached out for his shoulder, but the German turned away, scowling. “Do you have any better suggestions.”
Letting his hand fall to his side, Matthew whispered, “I can’t think of any right now, but let’s start with a coffee.” Hesitant, Gilbert turned his head, the pale strands falling over his purple eyes. “...Das ist eine gute Idee.”
It was relatively quiet in the chosen Costa cafe; they set down the newly finished paintings in their booth while Gilbert went to order.
Returning minutes later the albino set down the coffees. “Thank you,” Matthew slid his coffee closer to him, took a sip, and cringed. “Something wrong?” Asked Gilbert as he drank his.
“Uhm, no, it’s just…” Matthew pulled out a small bottle of maple syrup from his jacket, and poured a generous amount into the dark liquid.
“...You’re a proper Canadian, eh?” Gilbert teased, mimicking the ‘eh’ so commonly associated with Canadians. “That’s right, Hoser. Hockey, maple syrup and moose all the way.” That earned a joined laugh and previously unknown warm smiles.
But Matthew still had a more serious topic reserved. “...So, that cat. How long has it been bothering you?”
“‘Bout seven years,” Gilbert looked into his cup as he stirred it with a spoon.
“That’s a l-long time...Maybe that means it won’t live for much longer,” Matthew tried, knowing full well that they were not talking about a real cat. The taller man sighed, cradling the warm cup in both pale hands. “It’s still got eight lives left.”
“How did you take the first life?”
“I...cut it. I hurt it, and that stopped it for a while. But it came back with another life.”
I want to help him, thought Matthew as he watched the German answer his questions. I don’t know him, but I want to help him. “Do you want to hurt it often?”
“Ja. Every day is a battle.” He waited a few moments patiently. “...D-do you want an ally in the battle?” From behind a silver fringe Gilbert’s purple eyes widened. “Why would you help me?”
Matthew tilted his head, the long locks framing his round face. “I want to. Plus, I don’t like cats either.”
“Mm, birds are better.” Gilbert pulled a smirk. “Hey, say ‘get outta my house’.”
Matthew laughed, flushed. “No.”
“Bitte, go on.”
The Canadian sighed. “...Get ooutta my house.” Gilbert chuckled, feeling a little bit lighter having had a laugh. “Well, Mattie, I accept your help.”
“M-Mattie?” He tried it out: it sounded a little more like him.
“Ja, klein Mattie. Is it ok if I call you that?” Mattie buried his hands in the pockets of his puffy jacket, smiling abashedly. “Oui.”
Reviews, bitte? Evaluations? Death threats? I'll read 'em all~
Neun - Nine
Mutter - Mother
Vater - Father
Bitte - Please
Ich verstehe - I understand
Warum - Why
Lass mich deine Arme sehen, Bruder - Let me see your arms, brother
Mein Gott - My God
Weine nicht, Brüderlein. - Don't cry, brother dear. (There's much controversy about the meaning of Brüderlein, it can mean: little brother/ brother dear/ sweet brother)
Nicht wahr - Not true
Oi, beruhige dich - Hey, calm down
Was - What
Ruhig sein - Be quiet
Ja, vielleicht - Yeah, maybe
Ich weiss nicht! Ich weiss nicht! - I don't know! I don't know!
Dein Name ist doch Einsamkeit! - Your name is still Loneliness!
Unrecht, das ist falsch! - Wrong, that is wrong!
Was ist los? - What's wrong?
Ein Traum....gerade ein Traum. - A dream....just a dream.
нет - No
Das ist eine gute Idee - That's a good idea
Ja, klein Mattie - Yes, little Mattie
Chapter 3: Chapter 3
Apologies, I understand this is a bit late...However, I've been rather busy. Please review und let me know your wonderful thoughts~
A phone number. Mattie had given him his phone number. Willingly.
Upon arriving home, Gilbert took out his Iphone and literally just stared at the string of numbers. A simple sequence of digits, set out and coded in a particular way, so that he could reach a particular person if he ever ‘wanted to talk about the cat’.
So, Mattie was just another person he couldn’t talk to about ‘the cat’. Everyone he knew was special to him: too special to bother them with his problems. They were his, and his alone to sort out. Well, and Bonnefoy’s, but that Frenchman was paid to help, he didn’t count.
Mattie was...a lovely new person he’d met, and Gilbert didn’t want to ruin any chance of friendship by coming out with something stupid like, “Hey, so, I’m a cutter, but just ignore it”.
It was a paradox; Mattie was offering his help, but Gilbert’s stubbornness of heart refused to let him be helped.
Stupid fucking feelings. It was true: he’d felt...happier in the little blonde man’s presence, he’d laughed, made him laugh. Mattie had made Gilbert feel a little bit more human, even if it was only for a short while.
The next morning, Gilbert was already tiring of watching TV and playing his videogames - especially as he’d agreed to play multiplayer why was his team so stupid.
Ludwig made them breakfast, which Gilbert only picked at, before getting ready for work. “I can get a day off if you-”
The younger of the two sighed, tightening his tie. “Alright. But I’m sending someone over to check you while I’m gone.”
“Was?” Gilbert turned on the sofa, setting his controller down. “No, you don’t question this,” Snapped Ludwig, “I can’t leave you alone anymore. Not yet, anyway. Just think of it as company.”
“Yeah, bribed company.” That earned a chuckle from the blonde. “He doesn’t need payment.” Styling his hair once more he left, the front door swinging shut quietly after his giant frame.
Who the hell did he...oh. Realising who it would be, and content with that choice, he leaned back in his pyjamas, carrying on with the game, finding new ways to kill pixelated people.
Knock knock knock. Half an hour later, when the knocks sounded, Gilbert was fast asleep.
The knocking came again, harder this time.
Knock knock knock knock knock knock.
A chirpy voice followed too, “Vee~ Gilbert, it’s me! ...Gilbert?” Silence. Hazel eyes widened and the newcomer banged frantically on the door. “Gilbert? Gilbert!”
“Oh mein Gott, WHAT?” Came the frustrated reply pf a sleepy German. Rising from his comfortable position on the sofa, Gilbert mussed his hair into it’s usual style as he opened the front door.
“Waah! You’re ok!” He was hit full-on in the chest as his brother’s ‘friend’ Feliciano Vargas threw his arms around him, squeezing.
Gilbert’s sour expression didn’t change. “...Hallo, Feliciano.”
Kissing him on both cheeks in greeting, the energetic Italian man beamed. “Just call me Feli, I’ve told you before!” Why does he have to shout everything.
“Fine,” Gilbert pried himself from Feli’s hug and went into the apartment kitchenette. “Want anything?”
“No, I’m fine, grazie.”
Having made himself a coffee, Gilbert sat back down onto the furniture, with Feli doing the same. He switched his game off in favour of some crappy American soap opera. About ten minutes later the Italian brunette spoke up. “S-so...how have you been?”
Well, I haven’t tried to kill myself in a while. “...I’m alright.”
“Ludwig said you’d say that.”
“Was?” A head of silver hair turned to the tanned Italian, who for once looked deadly serious. “I know you’re not fine, Gil.”
“Ok, great, then you can join the rest of the people I know. Even strangers can see I’m not right.” Especially Mattie.
“But we’re here to help you! Anything you need-”
“I need a damned blade, Feli,” Gilbert snapped hotly, scowling. “Everyone spits out the same crap as you, but they can’t really help. I’ve been doing therapy for two months now. Nothing’s changed. I still can’t change anything. There’s nothing left for me here.” He put his face in his palms, biting his lip to keep from sobbing. “I want to d-”
“Shut up.” The unusual hard tone made him look at Feli in shock. Feli folded his arms tightly- a telltale trait of his big brother, Romano.
“I knew a woman once. She was a friend of the family, and she had a little girl,” the tone softened as Feli continued. “...Me and mio fratello used to babysit her. She was pretty and really smart.
“By age eight she had decided she wanted to be a dancer. This wasn’t a little girl phase: she’d been saying that for a couple of years now and went to ballet practice often. She put on shows for our families...I remember how graceful she looked when she danced. Bella.” Gilbert noticed that Feliciano was looking away, out the window, as if watching her again.
“When she was fifteen she twisted her ankle while practising. In hospital, she got so sad that she tried to make herself walk around before she was healed,” Feli cleared his throat. “She fell down some stairs, and the doctors said she’d fractured her spine. From the waist down, she couldn’t feel her legs.” Now the Italian’s bright eyes were watering.
“She began to cut her legs, to try and feel something. She was put on anti-depressants to help her deal with it, but...she was so stubborn. So determined.” Snapping out of the trance, Feliciano’s gaze locked with Gilbert’s. “They found her, a week before her sixteenth birthday, dead.”
Gilbert swallowed. “...Why are you telling me this.”
“Because there are hundreds of people who gave up their life because their dream was taken from them. You have the chance to find a dream, pick yourself up, and follow it.” Feli put a soft hand on Gilbert’s shoulder. “Don’t waste your life.”
Pale hands rested on fragile knees. “...I don’t want to. But dying...ending it...wouldn’t be a waste of my life. It would be a cure,” Watery purple eyes lowered, but Feli moved and took his hands, clasped together.
“I don’t think you need to be cured,” The Italian smiled. “I think you just need some guidance.”
Gilbert studied the man’s face intently: his rounded cheeks, smooth honey-brown skin; wide, interested auburn eyes that matched his hair colour shone brightly. He’s….kind of attractive too.
The albino was leaning closer to him, gently, subtly, without realising what he was doing.
Their lips touched.
Gilbert heard a soft gasp. I...I can’t feel anything. It doesn’t feel like I’m kissing him!
Leaning further forward, Gilbert put a hand on the back of Feli’s head, pressing his lips onto his, trying to deepen the kiss. “Mm,” Feli moaned quietly, eyes closing slowly, soft lips parting to allow the invasion of Gilbert’s tongue.
Suddenly, the albino’s eyelids snapped open. What am I doing?!
Pulling away, Gilbert leapt up and headed for the door, grabbing his keys, wallet and phone on the way out of his apartment. He heard the panicked voice calling after him. “Gilbert! Gilbert, wait!”
He stormed to the car’s parking space, only to remember that Ludwig had taken it to work. Verdammt! Turning, he sprinted to the only other place he managed to find peace: the park. Feet pounding the concrete, wounded arms throbbing with each step, he was through the main gates and onto the green within minutes.
Now running on a concrete cycle path, Gilbert’s lungs began to burn. Man, I gotta sit down. Where’s a bench? Turning a corner of a flower bed, he stopped and bent over, hands on his knees, panting.
When he wearily lifted his head, he saw a bench about a metre away. On that bench, sat Matthew Williams.
Gilbert’s chest was heaving, throat parched, and his eyes were stinging. “...H...Hey, Mattie,” He breathed, wiping his brow.
Mattie looked like he’d been frozen after recoiling from the German’s sudden appearance. Adjusting his rounded glasses, the petite Canadian replied, “Hello, Gilbert.”
Gilbert straightened and shuffled over to sit next to him. Mattie had a pile of papers on his lap and a Biro clutched in his right hand. “So, what you up to?” Mattie swallowed, his violet eyes still wide. “Gilbert, why are you in your bed clothes?”
Gilbert looked down. How had he forgotten? His baggy chequed bottoms and oversized Tee with bleach stains couldn’t be mistaken for any other kind of wear. “I wanted to go for a run and didn’t have time to change.”
“It was a snap decision.” Mattie put his hands into his pockets. “What were you running from, the cat?” Gilbert put a hand on his other forearm, squeezing the flesh under the bandages, reminding him. “N-no, an Italian.”
Matthew pulled a face. “Do I want to know?”
“Nein.” Gilbert let out a soft chuckle. “Are you doing college work or something?”
“No, I don’t go to college,” Said Matthew. “I work in a coffee shop. This is just...recreational.”
The albino leaned over to see the work. “It’s all in French.”
“Canadian French. I lived in Quebec for a little while.”
“Psh, same thing.”
Mattie laughed, “No, it’s not.”
“You both say bonjour, don’t you?”
“Aren’t there different dialects of German too?” Gilbert became silent. Mattie had no idea what to say to him. He’s just….I don’t want to know where he just ran from, but perhaps I should make sure he’s alright, maybe even invite-
His words were ahead of him. “D-do y-you wanna come over to mine for a b-bit? I c-could lend you some shoes...perhaps?” Mattie internally cursed his nervous stutter. How is it humanly possible to be this nice, thought the German as he hesitantly accepted.
Receiving many an odd glance as they set about walking to Mattie’s house, the smaller man suddenly remembered something. “A-about my parents…”
“Are they overprotective?”
“N-no, well….kind of, but,” Mattie stopped and looked tentatively up at him through waved yellowing locks, “they’re also gay.”
Gilbert tilted his head. “Are you expecting me to care?” Mattie cringed slightly. Shit, too harsh. “I-I mean, I do care, b-but homosexuals don’t bother me.”
“Oh, right. T-that’s good, then.” The Canadian blonde smiled, and Gilbert’s heart fluttered - a feeling he was very much estranged from. I feel….well, that’s it, I guess. I feel. But that’s good enough for now.
They reached the cosy-looking apartment a few blocks away from the park, and Matthew let them in. Travelling down the short hallway with Gilbert at his side, he called, “I’m home!”
Silence. Mattie called again, as if no one had heard.
This time, a cheerful answer was heard, “Welcome home, Matthew!” It was an unmistakably British accent, and Gilbert smiled. Of course. Of course one of his parents would be English.
Leading the way, Mattie stopped in a room which appeared to be a kitchen. Honey-coloured wooden cupboards and surfaces took up most of the room, naturally a fridge, a small dining table and a short blonde man stood behind the island.
He had short straight hair which Gilbert found extremely similar to straw, wore simple clothes (including a pink apron) and HOLY HELL the guy had eyebrows. Those were some pretty thick eyebrows. Looking up from his baking, the man’s green eyes widened. “Ah….hello,” He muttered, wiping his hands on the rosy fabric.
“Dad, this is Gilbert. I h-hope you don’t mind me bringing him over….” Mattie flushed, his rounded face turning bright crimson, making his dad chuckle. “No, no of course not.” He looked at Gilbert, who now felt embarrassed at his state. “However, you do look as if you could benefit from a cup of tea.”
“Uh, nein, danke.” English, dummkopf, speak English! “It’s nice to meet you,” He managed, feeling the cold tiles under his bare feet.
“You’re German? You really do know how to pick them, Matthew.” The British man commented with a grin as he poured water into the kettle.
Mattie’s fists clenched by his sides, “Hey, that’s not-!”
“What does he mean?” Asked the German albino inquisitively.
“He’s not your first catch?” The Brit looked puzzled as he poured the now-boiled water into a teapot.
Mattie gave a facial expression akin to a scowl. “Dad, shut up.” It was the most heated Gilbert had ever heard his voice sound - that is to say, it sounded mildly bemused.
Mattie’s dad raised one very comical eyebrow. “Alright, alright. I was wondering why you’d bring him over in the daytime anyway…” Approaching the duo he held out a hand to Gilbert. “How do you do, I’m Arthur.”
Gilbert nodded, shaking his hand.
Back-tracking to behind the island, Arthur pulled on oven gloves and reached down to pull out a tray of lightly burned scones. Setting the tray down, he beamed with pride at Gilbert and Matthew. “I made scones! Here, have one.” The older male threw one to him.
Gilbert stared at it for a few seconds, then glanced at Mattie, who shook his head slowly. Nevertheless, he took a bite.
“A-are you ok?” Asked a panicked Canadian as he hurriedly passed the choking German a glass of water, closing his bedroom door behind him. Gilbert had, as expected, almost thrown up after eating the scone, and Arthur had gotten stroppy - the safest move had been to retreat.
Gilbert chugged the glass of water, coughing as he sat on the single bed. He let a couple of moments go by. “Am I gonna die now?” He managed a small smirk.
Relieved, Mattie returned the smile. “I don’t think so. It will probably test your immune system, though.”
“Ah, great, as if it isn’t struggling already.” Gilbert looked around the room: white walls with red borders on the top and bottom around the room, red carpet, a couple of shelves filled with geographical books, maps and French fictional novels; the bed was plain and covered with a maple-leaf print duvet. The whole room screamed Canada, and it made Gilbert grin.
“Well, at least you don’t have a hockey rink in here.”
Mattie blushed, pushing his glasses up again. “You don’t have anything typically German in your room?”
...Nothing that is acceptable to tell you about. “Ah, apart from myself? Nein, not really.”
They sat there, quietly existing. “So, uh, where’s this brother I’ve heard about?” Mattie looked at him. “Oh...He doesn’t live with us anymore. Dad and him...kind of fell out. But I guess that happens when people adopt children, too. He still comes over to visit, though. I mean, he’s old enough to live on his own.”
Sounds like a familiar story. “...And your, uh, other dad?”
“He’s at work, but he might be home soon.”
“He a Brit too?” Mattie shook his head. “He’s French, actually.” That explains a lot.
Gilbert pulled his knees up, shuffling back to lean against the headboard, his arms hugging his shins. The sensation drew a sharp intake of breath from him.
Matthew didn’t meet his gaze. “...How are your arms today?”
“And yourself?” Arms tightened their hold, linking like chains. “....Also better.”
“Will you stop lying, please.” It wasn’t a question, nor a demand. It was simply a plead. Mattie tucked a curl of golden hair behind his ear, his elegant hands pressed into the sheets around them.
Sighing, the albino muttered under his breath, “I was going to text you.”
“...So why didn’t you?” The tone was numb, limiting.
“I...didn’t want to bother you. You might’ve been busy.”
Mattie let out a snort. “Gilbert, do I look like I live a jewel-coated life? I work three days a week, and the rest I spend alone or with my parents. I’m not my popular brother, but I don’t mind. I would’ve liked it if you’d texted or called.”
Rolling his eyes, Gilbert retorted, “Well, I didn’t know that. I was just trying to be considerate, I- ouch!” His eyes began to sting again, badly. He put his hands over them.
The Canadian seated next to him got rolled onto his knees. “Gilbert, what’s wrong?”
Pain….burning pain. It felt as if someone had poured lemon juice in his eyes, and - shit, my contacts. “C-can you show me where the bathroom is?” He blurted, blinking furiously.
Guiding him by the shoulders, Matthew opened the bathroom door and stepped away from him. “I-if I upset you, I’m sorry-”
“Nein, it is my contact lenses…” Rushing to the sink, Gilbert splashed cold water onto his eyes, gently using his fingertips to squeeze out the blue lenses. Nein….he’ll see, he’ll see!
But I can’t keep them in any longer, I’ll go blind!
My secret….or my eyesight. Which do I value more….I want to….see his face, I…. Both contacts were out, lying in a pool of liquid on the basin. Gilbert didn’t face the mirror, but he didn’t face the blonde either. He didn’t know what he would do if Mattie saw his eyes, the eyes which had previously caused him so much trouble.
Mattie looked down at the lenses. “Are your eyes alright now?” Gilbert nodded, his clipped hair bobbing. “A bit sore, but I can see more.”
“How long did you wear them?”
“...Three days longer than I should have.”
Mattie stepped closer, “Gilbert, you could’ve been blinded!” He tried to see his face, but the taller man turned away quickly. A ringing sounded from Gilbert’s pocket, and he was thankful for the interruption as he answered the inevitable call. “Ja, was.”
“Oi, Bruder! Italy just called und said you’d run off. Where are you? I’ll come get you.”
“Nein, don’t worry. I-I’m alright,” Matthew narrowed his eyes and tried to spin Gilbert around. “Oi, let me go-”
“Bruder? Was ist los? Are you with someone?” Gilbert planted his feet, firmly facing a tiled wall. “Ja, ich bin. Look, I’ll be back later. Auf Wiederhören.”
“Wait-” He hung up and put the phone back into his pocket, turning it off with a strong exhale.
“...You ran away from home.” A quiet voice behind him stated.
Gilbert looked over his shoulder, his fringe covering the shocking orbs. “Ja, so what? Everyone does at some point. I-” Mattie moved quickly, pulling Gilbert’s shoulders so he fully faced him, catching a glimpse of his eyes.
“Your eyes….they’re….” Mattie couldn’t even finish his sentence. Gilbert’s eyes were black circles of rock floating on a sea of crimson lava, speckled with sparks of scarlet. They shined, wet with tears and water, so clear he could see himself in the reflection.
“I know, I know, they’re red, I look demented - do you have some shades or something-?”
“You don’t look demented.” Gilbert still shut his eyes, gritting his teeth. Mattie wore a pitied expression as he whispered, “Gilbert, you don’t look demented at all. I like your eyes.”
Bang. Gilbert felt as if a blade had pierced his heart, there was that much emotion flowing through it.
All those years of being teased, taunted, bullied, but worst of all, hated for his eye colour were all swept away.
All those children who used to shout: You’re inhuman! You’re a monster! Evil! Fiend, you’re the son of-
I like your eyes. I like your eyes. No one had ever said that before. Gilbert himself had never been able to think it, let alone say it. “Y-you do?” He despised how weak his voice sounded: it sounded like the tortured child within his memories, calling out for comfort, even if it was nothing but a beautiful lie.
“Oui,” The shorter man offered a soothing tone. “I really like your eyes.”
Gilbert’s throat was tightening. Why is it-? Oh no. Nein. Don’t cry don’t cry don’t- Clearing his throat loudly, the albino managed to conceal a runaway tear, passing it off as irritation from the lenses.
“People hate them,” He muttered, looking at the floor. “Everyone has always hated them. Even I did. You are the first person to say otherwise, Mattie.”
The Canadian was speechless. What could be said, in answer to that? “I-I’m just saying the truth,” The words felt so soft leaving his mouth it was as if they were feathers following air currents.
“Don’t be such a girl,” Gilbert mumbled, but it was evident he didn’t mean it.
They heard the front door open and close, and a familiar voice floated into Gilbert’s ears, “Bonjour, Arthur!”
Oh Scheiße. This is going to be interesting.
Translations: (open for corrections)
Grazie - Thank you
Mio fratello - My brother
Bella - Beautiful
Dummkopf - Idiot (Literally 'stupid-head')
Was ist los? - What's wrong?
Ja, ich bin. - Yes, I am.
Auf Wiederhören. - Goodbye (This phrase is used when on the phone)
Scheiße. - Shit.
Chapter 4: Chapter 4
Hey, guys! Thank you for your kudos and comments, sorry I don't have time to reply to them. Anyway, I wrote this up pretty fast so I thought I'd post it early :3
Mattie opened the door, his other hand shoved into his hoodie pocket. “Père is home,” there was relief in his voice as he went to greet him.
Gilbert listened as his quiet footsteps left, and voices rose as the Frenchman greeted his son gleefully.
“Mon Matthieu! Have you had a nice day?” Conversation and the like flowed easily, and the German found himself resenting their kind of relationship compared to that of his family’s.
He knew the voice well, because many a time he’d heard it whisper false comfort into his ears. Paid comfort. Bonnefoy. Only now did he realise that Matthew actually did resemble his French father a bit, but mostly because of the hairstyle.
Arthur chuckled and was saying something about a guest.
Mattie’s face appeared at the doorway to the bathroom. “Come on, Gilbert-”
“Uh, I-” The white-haired man was tugged down the hallway and into the kitchen.
“Ohonhonhon, what’s this I hear about a friend-” Francis Bonnefoy, in all his platinum glory, let his jaw drop upon seeing who his son’s new friend was.
And what state he was in.
“Gilbert….what are you…” He couldn’t get the words out.
Mattie looked to his father abruptly. “You know him?”
Sparkling crystal blue eyes looked to him. “Oui, he is one of my clients.”
Mattie’s violet eyes widened and he faced Gilbert. “Is this true?” Gilbert remained silent, too exhausted to be shocked.
“Gilbert, why are you here?” Asked Francis.
“I was invited.” The attention of the Frenchman turned back towards his son. “Matthieu-”
“I didn’t know!” Blurted the Canadian defensively. “We met at an art class-” Suddenly Francis realised. Mon Dieu….Matthieu is the boy Gilbert mentioned…
“Francis, what on Earth is going on here?” Arthur asked from behind his eyebrows.
Francis took each younger man by the shoulder, leading them away. “Worry not, mon cher, I will sort this out.”
The room Francis introduced as his study took Gilbert by surprise: antique furniture, regal carpets, floral and Renaissance patterns adorning every inch. Mattie sat stiffly on an ancient armchair, whilst Gilbert slumped onto a small sofa. Francis remained standing. He sighed. “So you met on the day I sent you to art class.”
“And are you in a re-”
“Nein,” Snapped Gilbert. “If that’s all you’re worried about then I-”
“We’re just friends,” Matthew’s quiet voice strained to be heard. There was nothing but quiet as Bonnefoy assessed the situation. Finally, he spoke up, “If you are friends, I have no problem with that. But-” the Frenchman glanced at Mattie, “-I’m going to have to stop being Gilbert’s therapist.”
“Was? Why?” Gilbert’s angry tone pierced the air.
“Because it will interfere with our professional client-therapist relationship,” Francis explained simply. “I do not mind you being friends with my son but it means you will, to some extent, be involved in my personal life. I will no longer be able to keep an unbiased perspective to help you with your therapy.”
I knew it, thought Matthew. I knew he was getting help.
“I-if it will help Gilbert, we could stop being friends.” The suggestion left his lips reluctantly, surprising both his father and friend.
“Non, it is a bit late. I can simply give Gilbert a referral but-” He carried on quickly after catching the albino’s glare- “you two shouldn’t throw away friendship. Don’t ever do that to yourselves. Now, if you’ll excuse moi, I have a phone call to make.” With those words, he left.
“I-I’m sorry, Gilbert,” Said man looked over to Matthew, who had his knuckles over his mouth and appeared tearful. Suddenly guilt flowed into him, and his thin eyebrows sunk in pity. “N-no, it’s not your fault-”
“It is. Because of me, you’ll have to see a new therapist and start therapy all over again a-and I just wanted to h-help you.”
Shaking his head, Gilbert got up and knelt by the blonde man, sternly meeting his eyes. “Mattie, Mattie, listen. You are helping.”
Purple eyes drowned in red. “How can I be helping, especially after how I found you today.”
Gilbert exhaled quietly. “You’re helping, just by being a friend to me. I feel...I feel a bit better around you, like the world isn’t such a bad place.”
Mattie let out a sniffle, pushing his glasses up to catch the premature tears. Without warning, the fragile Canadian slid down to the floor and wrapped his arms gently around Gilbert’s broad shoulders, laying his head on his collarbone.
“...” The German was unable to think; his arms moved of their own accord, encircling the blonde’s skinny waist.
For the first time in years, Gilbert hugged someone back. He felt Mattie’s head on his shoulder, his soft breathing tickling the sensitive skin on his neck, his limbs wanting to hold him, both in apology and gratitude.
Their heads turned at the sound of a door opening. “Boys, Ludwig is here to collect you, Gil- ohonhonhonhon, only friends hm?”
Mattie quickly relinquished his hug, blushing brightly.
Gilbert, meanwhile, was scowling. Bloody pervert. “Oi, I don’t need picking up, I’m the older brother!”
“Mm, well he’s come all this way so might it not be courteous to go with him?”
“...Whatever,” He dismissed as he rose to his still-bare feet. “Bye, Mattie.”
“B-bye, Gilbert.” Blonde strands danced around the timid Canadian’s face as he also stood, watching as Gilbert passed Francis, his nostrils flared at the humiliation of being collected by his little brother. Well, as Francis so often thought, not so little now.
Strolling over, Matthew glimpsed a grin on Francis’s handsome features. “Quoi?”
Arms unfolded. “You like him.”
“Oui, comme un ami.” Resorting to the language he spoke when he was very embarrassed, Mattie looked away. His father laughed again, blue eyes sparkling. “Ohonhon, c’est vrai!”
“La ferme, it’s not true. Anyway, he’s n-not...I mean, I don’t think he’s…”
“You’ll have to ask him.” Straightening, Francis put an arm around Matthew. “Mais, Matthieu, please be careful around him. He is, after all, recovering.”
“R-recovering? F-from what?”
“I cannot divulge that information, cher. But I can say he really would appreciate a friend right now.”
“...He said I’d helped him, since we met. That I make him feel a bit better.” Mattie bunched up his sleeves into his fists and pressed them between his face and Francis’s chest as he leaned into him.
The Frenchman tutted as he rubbed one of Mattie’s red cheeks with a soft thumb. “However did I raise such a cute son, hm? Come on, I bet Dad’s made a really nice meal for us.”
The engine purring smoothly under their bodies, Gilbert chewed his lip, refusing to look at his brother as he drove them home.
“I get a call from Francis telling me you were at his all along.”
“Na, not all the time. I ran around the park first.” Ludwig rolled his eyes as he turned the Volkswagen into a lane.
“Und why were you at your therapist’s house?”
Gilbert rested his chin on his bony knuckles, staring at passing buildings, all different shades of grey and brown. “Es ist nicht wichtig.”
“Ja, es ist.” When Gilbert still didn’t answer him, Ludwig decided to focus on driving and carry the conversation on when they arrived home.
The door clicked shut. quick steps were heard as Gilbert attempted to make his escape to his room.
“Guh!” He was yanked back by Ludwig pulling his Tee collar. “Oi, why did you run off heute?”
“My feet are cold, Bruder,” Gilbert remarked, struggling.
“Das ist mir egal. Warum haben Sie laufen?” The albino’s bright ruby eyes met the pale blue of his younger brother’s. He’s never had any fucking trouble with his appearance, other than too many Italians fighting over him.
“Don’t you care about big brother’s feet, Lud? I need them you know.”
Ludwig maneuvered him to a wall, using his forearm to pin him. Gilbert winced, “Alright, alright! I-I was running from Feliciano.” The blonde’s attractive face scrunched with a frown. “Wieso?”
Gilbert swallowed, feeling Ludwig’s hold loosen. “..Ich….Ich küsste ihn.”
“Was?” Ludwig didn’t sound angry as he’d predicted, only shocked. Pushing him away gruffly, Gilbert stormed a few paces, his back to him. “I fucking kissed him alright! I didn’t mean to, but….I couldn’t, and he was so nett, und-”
“He didn’t say anything about that,” Mumbled Ludwig.
Gilbert’s hands gripped his own hips. “Of course not, he’s probably ashamed that he kissed me back!”
“He...he did?” Ludwig’s voice was quiet behind him. Oh….I forgot. Whirling round, he said, “Jeez, why don’t you just ask him out already?”
The buff blonde went crimson. “H-hey-! I-I’ve already said, I’m not-” He took a calming breath. “...Look, this is you we’re talking about, not me. So you ran because you kissed Feli.”
“Ja, but I found Mattie in the park,” Gilbert pulled on some slippers as he spoke, “He invited me to his house, and I didn’t know that Bonnefoy was his Vater.”
“Mattie? Is he from your art classes?” Gilbert nodded.
“Do you like him?” Red eyes momentarily closed. “What do you mean by that.”
“I mean, do you like him?” Ugh. Stupid meathead Bruder. “I don’t know!” Gilbert admitted frustratedly, “I don’t know what I feel. I mean, I thought I was straight! Today I find myself kissing a guy! I can’t….understand this, it’s….intangible.” He wrapped his arms around himself. “Oh, and another thing. Bonnefoy said he-”
“I know, he told me. We’ll just find you a new-”
“New therapist. Got it. Ludwig, I’m really tired.” Pushing back his hair, Ludwig sighed. “Denn schlafen. I’m sorry for asking so many questions, I didn’t want to bother you.”
“It’s ok, I know you’re...you’re just worried.” I’m so sick of people worrying about me.
Thank you for reading, feel free to correct my foreign language snippets.
Père - Father
Mon Dieu - My God
Mon cher - My dear
Quoi? - What?
Oui, comme un ami. - Yes, as a friend.
c’est vrai! - It's true!
La ferme - Shut up
Mais - But
Es ist nicht wichtig - It's not important
Ja, es ist. - Yes, it is.
Heute - Today
Das ist mir egal. Warum haben Sie laufen? - I don't care. Why did you run?
Wieso? - Why/How come?
..Ich….Ich küsste ihn. - ..I...I kissed him.
Denn schlafen. - Then sleep.
Chapter 5: Chapter 5
Sup. - IsThisNameTaken
Finally putting his phone down after twenty minutes of staring at it, Gilbert removed his filthy pyjamas he’d been wearing all day and walked over to his full-length mirror. He remembered how much he’d liked that mirror, when he was younger. He’d been so vain he refused to go out without checking his appearance every morning.
The weak wreck of a man reflected back into his vision now was not the same Gilbert he’d been years ago.
No, what he saw now was merely a skeleton wrapped in skin of similar design to latex: it was smooth, breakable, unbearably thin. His feet were sore from running, but he relished the feel of carpet under them. His legs, long and thin, were ones he was sure most girls would kill for. So damn skinny. Everyone thinks it looks sexy, but I know the truth. He’d never known the feeling of heavy flesh on his bones and he regretted that; he’d do anything to put on some decent weight. It would stop people staring at his bony joints, would’ve stopped his previous bed-partners from staring at his almost visible ribcage and his caved stomach.
Ludwig’s a fucking beast compared to me. Nobody knows we’re brothers on sight. It’s like….it’s like we’re two different sides of the same country. I’m East...and he is West.
His collarbone was so prominent, Gilbert wondered how Mattie hadn’t cut himself on it earlier. Turning around, he saw that his back was straight and his vertebrae looked like fins making a dotted line through the middle. Even his arse was flat. His arse was as flat as cardboard.
Speaking of arses, Gilbert pondered who Bonnefoy would send him to. He’d never particularly liked the Frenchman, but that wasn’t to say he hadn’t helped him a lot.
For example, suggesting the use of a diary-
He looked over to the little black book sitting on his shelf. He then looked at his phone, and then finally back to himself. Specifically, to his eyes. They’d been feeling much better since he took out the blue contacts earlier that day, and they were no longer bloodshot. Psh, my eyes always look bloodshot. Bloodshot and bruised.
But then Gilbert heard Matthew’s soft voice in his head: I like your eyes.
Admittedly, if the albino met someone with red eyes, he’d be a bit wary of them. But, unlike the bullies of his childhood, and his father, he wouldn’t revile them for something they couldn’t change. He wouldn’t call them a demon.
For all we know, demons have blue eyes. That would turn the tables, now, wouldn’t it?
More people have blue eyes than red. An image of Matthew’s face appeared in his mind. Maybe angels have violet eyes.
The bandages were still on his arms, freshly changed yesterday evening. As he pulled on clean boxers Gilbert made his way quietly to the bathroom, sneaking past his brother’s closed bedroom door.
The apartment was dark, but he knew the layout like the back of his hand and arrived on the cold tiles in no time. A light was switched on, casting the little room in a pure glow.
Gilbert slowly took off the tape sealing the bandages, and tentatively unwrapped his forearms. The skin was healing perfectly: the scabs were less heated, the surrounding skin atoning to it’s usual milky colour, and all the dried blood had been wiped away.
His arms were beginning to look like they had before, before he’d broken down.
As much as Gilbert liked seeing his arms recovering this well, and as much as he wanted to continue getting better, he….wanted to cut again. He was so bored of seeing the same white skin, not so much as a birthmark to marr it. His skin was another thing he’d been teased about, considering the fashionable skin tone now was tan.
He wanted to pick up a blade, a thin silvery blade, and mould it into his arms. There would be pain, and blood, but the colour mesmerised him. It wasn’t green, like the trees and fields he saw every day; it wasn’t blue like the sky or the eyes of his golden-boy brother; it wasn’t yellow like the sun which damaged his fair complexion.
It was red, a colour he’d always hated and loved simultaneously.
Gilbert jolted when he realised something was digging into his arm: his fingernail. He’d been unconsciously scratching the surface of the wounds with it. I need to do it. But maybe, maybe there’s a way to do it and make everyone think I’m better. Perhaps then they won’t pity me. But not now, not tonight.
Redressing his arms and brushing his teeth, Gilbert sleepily made his way to bed and was fast asleep in seconds.
Gilbert…..Gil…..Oi, Gilbert. The soft, deep voice of Ludwig brought his consciousness back slowly, as Gilbert opened his eyes to the darkness of his room. Reaching for his Iphone, he used it as a torch. There was no one else in the room, and the door was closed. So how had he heard Ludwig calling his name?
Meow. The remainder of sleep drained from his brain, and he scoured the room once more. Nothing. Meow. It echoed inside his right ear, and he spun to look behind him.
“Ah!” A tail, long and furry and black, was curled around one of his bedposts. Scrambling out of the bed, Gilbert got into a protective stance, muscles tense.
A large paw reached over his left shoulder; long, uncut claws raked over the joint, leaving red scratches. “Fuck off!” Gilbert put a hand over the scratch, panting softly. Pressing his frame against the cold door, he paused. Waited. Listened.
Meow…. A pair of bright eyes opened, each one with a feline-like black vertical slit. It was perched on his bed, whatever it was.
Gilbert was surprised when he saw the colour of those eyes: they were blue. Not like Ludwig’s, or Bonnefoy’s; around the pupil was a deep navy, which bled into a royal and then a sky blue. They held his crimson gaze for a few minutes, each pair of orbs trying to understand the other.
Gilbert couldn’t take it much longer. His door had been closed, his window had been closed, so how had this animal gotten in?
His pale hand rested on the door handle. Cold fingers gently applied pressure. Just a little more….slowly….then I can get out-
HISS! The loud hissing startled him; the door was yanked open and he burst out, feet slipping on the floorboards, toenails clicking.
….Clicking? Was it his nails that were clicking? He risked a glance behind him as his steps slowed. The clicking had stopped too; looking down at his feet, he yelped when he saw sleek brown claws puncturing through the skin where his nails had once been.
No. No no no. His hands grabbed one of his feet, pulled it up for a closer look. He had claws. Claws dripping with blood….his blood most likely.
How? These weren’t the claws which got my shoulder….are they?
Meow. Meow, the rasping mewling sounded again, somewhere in the distance. Another hiss brought him to his knees in the middle of the living room, tears running down his cheeks. Bitte, bitte nein. Nicht du. You weren’t real, I knew you weren’t real….
He couldn’t see anything now, and he didn’t want to. Gilbert pushed his layered hair to the sides of his face, brushing away the salty trails of water. I gotta get up. I have to see this thing, if it’s here. Feeling his way along the walls, he got to a switch.
Yellowish light pooled in the room, illuminating the well-known furniture, and a new figure.
His eyes narrowed as he spotted the blue-eyed cat sitting upon the table. It was a thin being, with jet black fur and long silver whiskers. Relief flooded through Gilbert. It’s just a cat. Just a normal cat. He stole a glance at his feet again, to discover that they looked normal too.
Feeling a bit stupid for panicking, Gilbert held out a hand to the cat. “Here kitty, it’s alright. I don’t know how you got in but I guess I startled you.”
The cat didn’t move and it didn’t blink.
Stepping closer to it, Gilbert continued, “Come on, I have to put you outside. We’re not allowed animals in here.” Plus we don’t like cats.
The cat’s eyelids drooped, as if it was outright rejecting his words.
“Come on!” Stupid cat!
Suddenly the cat let out a warning hiss, standing up, it’s back hunched. Gilbert lunged, hands out, trying to grab the ferocious feline, but it dodged and pounced. His head turned too fast; he felt the cords in his neck strain as the mammal-like shadow cleared his shoulder, it’s oversized claws cutting into his jugular.
“Nngh, God damn!” Slapping a hand over the deep incision Gilbert’s eyes followed the cat’s movements as it headed for- ah, fucking stupid cat!
He could feel the blood draining from his throat, every single heartbeat now a threat rather than an aid. His thin body made contact with the floor again as he collapsed, blood making the boards slippery.
It was going to Ludwig’s room. He crawled at a desperate pace to his younger brother’s bedroom, his one free hand shoving it open violently. It was at the exact point when Ludwig was awakened and called his brother’s name that Gilbert lost consciousness.
Gilbert’s eyes fluttered open; hazy blue light filtered in through the curtains. Hang on, he thought. This isn’t my room.
He felt warm blankets covering him, and he sat up to better see his surroundings.
From the amount of books on history and a picture of Feliciano taped to the wardrobe, he knew it was Ludwig’s room. Well, that and the fact Ludwig himself was asleep, sitting upright against the headboard. Gilbert leaned over and tapped Ludwig’s arm lightly, waiting as he woke up.
“Bruder…?” Muttered the brawny German. “Are you alright?”
“Uh, ja, but...why am I in your bed?”
Ludwig tilted his head. “You don’t remember anything?”
Well, I know I didn’t have alcohol. “Nein, am I going to want to hear this?”
“I heard some noises during the night, but ignored them,” Ludwig explained. “Then at around 3am you burst into my room, hysterical, and passed out.”
Suddenly it all came back to him: the noises, the cat, the...injuries. His hand flew to his neck, expecting pain to signal the wound caused by the cat’s claws, but...there was nothing.
Not even a scratch.
“L-Ludwig, was there anything else in the room last night? Or...was there blood or something on me when you found me?”
“I couldn’t see very well, but I don’t think there was anything on you. And I’m sure there wasn’t anything else in the room other than us. Warum?”
Oh fuck. Oh, holy fucking shit. It wasn’t real. It wasn’t real!
Gilbert began to shake, staring at his hands as if they belonged to someone else. “A-are these real…?” He whispered, facing Ludwig with a pained expression on his face. “Are you? Is any of this real?”
Ludwig held his gaze intently. “Bruder, what happened last night?”
“I-I found a cat, in m-my room. I chased it, and i-it cut me. But it was a nightmare, Lud.” Gilbert paused, his red eyes wide with fear. “Nein...nicht ein Albtraum, a hallucination!”
“Calm down.” It wasn’t a shout, but a strict command.
Ludwig gently put his hands on his brother’s shoulders. “This, right here, now, is real. Verstehst du?” The albino nodded slowly. “Verstanden. I….I need help, Lud.”
“I will talk to Francis today, tell him it’s urgent. Come here.” He awkwardly put his arms around the shaking elder sibling.
He’s been through so much, Ludwig thought silently, it’s a miracle he’s coped with it for this long. But now….now it’s getting to him.
Bitte, bitte nein. Nicht du. - Please, please no. Not you.
Nicht ein Albtraum. - Not a nightmare.
Verstehst du? - Do you understand?
Verstanden - I understand (It's more of a military phrase but I thought it fitting.)
Chapter 6: Chapter 6
Here's chapter six for you all~
“Maybe you should call someone, just to talk,” Suggested the younger of the two.
“Like who?” Gilbert’s tone was derisive.
“Nein, I’m not...I don’t want to bother him.” Ludwig looked at him. “So he’s given you his contacts.” Gilbert blushed. “Ja, so?”
“So, he did that so you could communicate. You don’t even have to mention what happened last night, just….talk.”
“But I only saw him yesterday! How freaking desperate would that make me look?”
“From what I’ve heard, Mattie’s not the kind of person to perceive people as desperate. Am I right?” From under the diagonal silver fringe frowned his older brother. “I have you to talk to. And whenever I can get a referral, the new therapist too.”
Ludwig pinched his brow in frustration. “Ja, but you need to be more social than that. It might help you feel better- you said talking to Mattie made you feel better und that’s good, Gilbert. It’ll be fine: go find your phone and call him or something.”
His tone is...strange. “....Wait...I’ve never heard you be so encouraging, Bruder,” Gilbert’s eyes narrowed.
Ludwig looked nervous. “...Was?” He hesitated! He doesn’t think that….I’m….
“You think I’m gay for him!” Gilbert climbed out of the bed, hands on his hips. “Du denkst dass ich schwul bin!”
“Nein, was? Das ist falsch. I just think having a friend would help you.”
Fucking emphasis on that fucking word. Fucking fuck fuckity- Gilbert’s thoughts were nothing but profanity as he went into an embarrassed rage. “Oi, you’re no better!” That caught Ludwig unawares. He folded his arms. “Woher weißt du?”
“Naja, you have such a boner for Feliciano and you won’t admit it! Hell, everyone else can see it, it’s a wonder Feli can’t!” Ludwig squeezed his eyes shut, grinding his teeth. “Bruder…”
“Halt die Klappe, I know this! I’ve seen how you look at him! Things could be better with him, Lud, you know-”
“BE QUIET.” Ludwig’s deep voice thundered through Gilbert’s ears, quieting him. Sighing, Ludwig swung his legs over the side of the bed. “....Fine. I do...like….him. BUT-” He projected before Gilbert could interrupt, “I don’t want things to change between us. He’s a good friend, one of my first and- I just don’t want to ruin everything.”
Looking at his little brother’s tomato-red cheeks made the albino smile. Kyaaaaa, he goes from powerful to cute in seconds!
“....He might feel the same way, you know.”
“After you said he kissed you back? Ich glaube dir nicht.” Gilbert’s pale shoulders sagged. “Aber-”
Ludwig seemed to relax a bit, letting out a long breath. “I don’t hate you for it, and I do not think you are gay. Bitte, talk to him. I’ll go and make breakfast, you need to put on some weight.”
And you need to lose a few brain cells holy shit when did you get smarter than me. However, their heated discussion made Gilbert feel more light-hearted. He hadn’t acted like his old, childish self in a long time.
He was taking this step-by-step. So far, it was two hours after Ludwig had suggested talking to Mattie, and he’d managed to pick the phone up, scroll through the contacts, and stare at his number.
….Should I call him, or text him? He might be busy. At least if I text his ringtone of like the Canadian anthem or whatever won’t go off. Plus, my voice sounds even weirder over the phone.
His fingertips hovered over the touchscreen, illuminated by the fluorescent lights. He was almost shaking as he tapped the ‘send text’ icon, and while trying to compose said text his brain threw nothing but random words at him.
Face house phone flowers buildings apple I’M NOT GAY.
Gilbert pouted at the half-sentence he’d just typed. He deleted all ramblings apart from the last three words and snorted. At least, I don’t think so.
His bedroom door rocked open; in came Ludwig with a mug of coffee. The sound was so sudden that when Gilbert twisted to see who it was, the hand holding the phone slipped...and…
Gilbert’s nostrils flared in anger. “Verdammt, Bruder! You made me send a weird text! Now he’ll think I’m crazy!”
Ludwig, stunned, set down the mug slowly, apologised and left.
For half an hour, there was no reply. For half an hour, the albino checked his inbox every two minutes. Just when he decided he would never text anyone ever again, his phone beeped.
Kill me. He opened the message.
Um...Alright. That’s a strange thing to say :3 Are you ok?
Yes. No. Maybe. He wasn’t sure; he felt as if he knew nothing about himself. Acting quickly, he typed a reply: Haha, ja I am ok. I was just playing around with my phone and pressed send by accident. Sorry :/
A few seconds passed, then - beep: It’s alright, we all make mistakes. I would’ve replied earlier, but I was working~
Working? Oh yeah, the coffee shop, Gilbert reminded himself. Sorry to interrupt. Working at a coffee shop must be cool :)
Beep. Well, if you like coffee I guess. Fingers typed without direction. Yeah. I like coffee, it’s nice. I’m drinking coffee right now. After pressing send on that one he mentally slapped himself. Fucking retard! ‘I like coffee’? What are you, twelve?!
Beep. Me too! Snap :3
Ja, snap :) Uh, so...I was wondering if you wanted to hang later? Beep. I’m sorry, I can’t. I have work and then Père wants to take me shopping. :$
Gilbert’s mean inner voice sung the word ‘rejected’ inside his head, and he didn’t know how to respond. Minutes later another text from the Canadian came: But I can see you the day after tomorrow, if you want?
This time he was quick to answer, almost too eagerly, Ja I’d love to! I, uh, we could arrange details a bit later? Nice one, jackass. Balance out the desperation with vague comments.
Beep. Oui, alright. I have to go, my break’s over, but we can talk soon ok :)
Ok, bye :) Gilbert felt the tension drain from his body, and his heart rate slowed down. At least I got the ‘sound-like-a-stalker’ bit right. Ludwig knocked on the door. “Have you talked to him?”
“Yes but the idiot part of my brain did all the typing. We’re meeting up on Donnerstag.”
“Gut,” Replied Ludwig, genuinely pleased that his brother had salvaged the remainder of his ego and talked to the Canadian. Through the door Gilbert’s playful voice rang again, “Hey, you should arrange a meeting with Feli, see if you can get a taste-”
“SHUT UP.” Now thoroughly displeased, Ludwig stormed off in a huff.
12th March, 2014
Diary entry number zehn. I don’t know why I’m still doing this diary thing, seeing as I no longer have a therapist right now. Maybe I just want to write.
I managed to keep Mattie as a friend, which is great. But Bonnefoy decided he had to go, on the grounds of being professional I guess. Dummkopf Frenchman, like he classifies anything as professional.
Gilbert pressed his lips together. It’s not like I’m gonna miss him as a therapist, he thought bitterly. The pen kissed the paper again. My arms are healing, really well. Feels like….I’m more stable.
Lie, lie, lie, lie. Gilbert spilled out white untruths and tricks, knowing that anyone who happened to read this would believe that he was healing. Why would someone unstable record these kind of thoughts in their own private notebook, truly believing no one else but their therapist would see it?
Logic dictated that they wouldn’t, and pointed out that by this logic Gilbert was regaining his hold on life.
Just because I’m unstable doesn’t mean I’m stupid. In fact, surely the scarier thing about patients is that the more intelligent they are, the more they can manipulate. Gilbert honestly didn’t want to manipulate anyone - especially not Ludwig, or Mattie, or even Bonnefoy. But he needed an escape from reality and if he had to lie for that to be possible, he would.
Tucking the pen into his jeans pocket, the albino strolled into the kitchen. Ludwig looked up from his book he was reading on the sofa. “Are you ok?”
Why does everyone keep asking that! He turned, bearing a small smile. “Ja, just looking for a snack.” He turned his back and began searching through drawers.
“I’m making lunch soon.”
“Well, this is just a small imbiss.” A little drawer was pulled open; inside was a selection of cutlery. Bingo. Reflected in his crimson orbs was blunt dinner knives and forks, newly washed spoons, whisks, other various cooking utensils and….
Having found something useful to him, Gilbert pocketed it and also got a packet of crisps to remain inconspicuous.
His room seemed too bright. He closed the curtains, locked the door, set up one of his violent videogames as background noise, and gathered up a large wad of tissues. This would be so much easier to do in the bathroom, but Lud would get suspicious. He removed his jeans; they fell to the floor in defeat.
Pale digits sweeped back his uneven, spiked hair as he held the tool in his hand. It wasn’t much; he hadn’t used one to do this before, but it was the only really sharp thing he could find: a pizza cutter.
Placing a fingertip on the smooth edge, he flicked the wheel and watched how it spun.
It was sharp and simple, just like his mind.
Opening his legs, keeping the wad of tissue under his left thigh, Gilbert let out a long breath. I should start by doing it quick, I’ve never cut here before. He made the blade spin again, very fast. Scrunching his eyes shut, he scraped it vertically downwards on the inside flesh.
Fuck, it didn’t cut. Maybe I need to… He held the blade still between forefinger and thumb, and repeated the action.
The flesh was separated smoothly, cleanly, the blood welling and drooling down onto the tissue, staining it. An eruption of relief flooded Gilbert’s head: he felt like the pain trapped inside his body had been bled out, if only a little. Such a sweet escape.
The next day Gilbert woke early, took a trip to the bathroom and cut his legs again. He only cut the insides of his thighs because the hot weather would be coming soon and he wanted to be able to wear shorts. The extensive wounds he inflicted also made him grateful for his skinny legs: it meant the damaged flesh didn’t touch when he walked. He remembered what Bonnefoy had said about infection, and so tried to put various preventative ointments on the cuts as well as bandaging them.
He was able to wear a genuine, relaxed smile that day, because the outlet he’d found allowed others to believe he was getting better. Hell, Gilbert felt so numb and content that he even managed to text Matthew again, during his break. Morning :) Nice day isn’t it?
Beep. Sure is, I’d love to be out at the beach or something…Oh, almost forgot to tell you. I have work again tomorrow but we can still meet up, is that alright?
Ja, it’s fine. What time do you finish?
Beep. 5pm. I know that’s a bit late, but I’m sure we can find something to do :) For some reason that reminded Gilbert of his starting sentence of ‘I’m not gay’, but he didn’t know why. An idea hit him and he quickly typed, Ooh what about a cinema trip? I’ll pay
Mattie’s reply was also fast. That’s a good idea, but don’t worry about money. I’ll have my paycheck by then anyway. So, uh, meet in front of the cinema tomorrow then?
Sure. See ya, Mattie :) As it turned out there was another text from him. But, Gil, can...can I ask a favour about tomorrow?
Gilbert frowned. What was this about? Um, ja, ok. What?
The beep came a few minutes later. Could you not wear the contacts, s'il te plaît? The albino didn’t like the sound of this favour. Naturally Matthew didn’t know what turmoil he’d been put through because of his eyes, but he must understand that many people are scared of the unique. But maybe it was just because, as Gilbert remembered him saying, he liked his eyes.
Sighing in defeat he sent a message back. ...Fine, I won’t. But can I wear shades?
Of course, I know how stupid some people are when they see uncommon features on a person. See you :3
“Lud!” Gilbert yelled, and his brother poked his head around the door. “Was? I have to go to work-”
“Can I use the car tomorrow? You know, me and Mattie are meeting up.” Ice blue orbs narrowed. “What are you going to be doing?”
“Fucking,” Gilbert replied, the word laced with sarcasm. “We’re going to the cinema. I’m meeting him there.”
“I’ll drop you off then.” He was gone before Gilbert could launch a protest. Stupid overprotective Bruder.
Du denkst dass ich schwul bin! - You think I'm gay!
Nein, was? Das ist falsch. - No, what? That's wrong.
Woher weißt du? - How do you know?
Halt die Klappe - Shut up (Literally 'hold the flap' but I have heard Germans use this phrase.)
Ich glaube dir nicht. - I don't believe you.
Zehn - Ten
Imbiss - Snack
Donnerstag - Thursday
Warnings for an ickle bitta violence and language in this chapter.
With a violent shove, Gilbert’s wardrobe was yanked open, the door crashing against the wall and drawing a GODDAMMIT BRUDER BE QUIETER shout from Ludwig.
“But I don’t know what to wear~” He whined, pouting. The frustrated blonde appeared, arms folded over his black vest top. “Kleider.” Gilbert shot him a glare, and began fishing through his stash of clothes on hangers.
“Why don’t you just wear jeans and a hoodie, like normal?”
….Yeah, why don’t I do that? He asked himself. Why am I treating this like it’s a date?
Did I just think of this as a date?
Date. As his thoughts deteriorated, the pale-haired older brother pulled out a couple of items of clothing. “You’re right, it’s no big deal.”
And it is certainly not a date.
When he was finished dressing himself, it was 4:45pm. He figured he looked alright: red hoodie with white bands around the hood and cuffs over a long-sleeved black Tee, skinny jeans which had been deliberately frayed to show some patches of skin, his black Converse and a tatty black-and-red chequered scarf around his neck. He’d used gel to style his hair into a spiky, punk design and almost forgot to put on his sport-shades before they left.
There was but one exchange of words between the brothers during the short drive, which consisted of Ludwig commenting on how available Gilbert looked, and Gilbert retorting with a phrase that, when paraphrased, went something like: ‘please be quiet or I shall acquaint your rear with my shoe’.
“You have your phone on you,” Ludwig said as Gilbert climbed out of the car. “Call me when you need picking up.”
“Ja, Mutti.” Gilbert rolled his eyes as he waved him off. The cinema was a rather grand one, lit up brightly with blue neon lights. Already it was getting dark as he waited for Mattie to show up. It was another ten minutes before he caught sight of the petite Canadian, calmly walking towards him. He looked, to say the least, adorable.
It had been a very cold and cloudy day, evidently shown by the huge thick brown fleece Mattie wore - it was so oversized the poloneck came up to his nose, and the sleeves were rolled up several times before his gloved hands were visible. Walking boots could be seen under the long baggy navy jeans and a scarf with maple leaves draped over Mattie’s thin shoulders.
The bespectacled blonde looked up at him. “Hey,” His soft voice greeted. Gilbert was speechless. He looks so much like a damn woman, he’s so cute! “H-hey.”
“Aren’t you cold?”
“Aren’t you boiling? Come on, how many sheep were put into that sweater?” Mattie chuckled softly as they entered the cinema. “It’s not that huge, and it was almost as cold as Canada today.”
“Good thing I’ve been inside, then. How was work?”
Mattie put his hands into his pockets that looked bottomless. “I-it was alright. That guy from our art class turned up and we talked for a bit.” Gilbert paused. “Which guy?” Matthew’s cheeks were tinted pink. “You know, the tall one who hangs around with Yao. His name’s Ivan Braginski.”
That Russian with the purple eyes. For some reason, the mentioning of him made Gilbert feel uneasy, especially knowing that Matthew had been talking to him. “What, Yao wasn’t there too?”
“Non, he said Yao had to go back to China for a bit.” They looked at surrounding adverts for the films being shown. Mattie pointed out a poster advertising a very action-packed and aggressive film, to which Gilbert reacted with, “I thought you’d prefer to see something like Frozen.”
“Don’t be silly,” Mattie laughed as they went to buy tickets. “I saw Frozen ages ago.”
Of course you did, Gilbert thought endearingly. Having bought tickets and snacks, the shy duo took their seats near the front if the cinema. A few taller people came in and sat in front of them, which greatly displeased the short blonde man. Smiling, the albino offered to switch seats so that he could see the large screen. “M-merci,” The Canadian muttered as he shuffled into Gilbert’s seat.
The film began rather quietly, then exploded into violence and well-constructed fight scenes laced with gore- despite that this film was his choice, Mattie still cringed and avoided looking at the bloody scenes, favouring instead to watch Gilbert’s face as he watched men brutally kill one another- and finally ended with the main protagonist getting the girl he loved in an exaggerated setting. During the film Gilbert had to remove his shades so that he could see, and noticed when Mattie looked at his eyes when he thought he was being discreet, not that he minded.
By the end of it they had quite enjoyed the film and stopped to take a bathroom break. As they strolled down the hall and out of the building into the dark carpark, however, Gilbert spoke up. “Hey, wanna go for a walk?”
Mattie tilted his head. “Where? It’s dark.”
“So? It would just be a stroll; I feel like I haven’t gotten out much.” The younger man gave a cheeky smile, “What, you don’t take random jogs around the park anymore?” Gilbert nudged him playfully. “Oi, I did say it was a snap choice. So, wanna walk?”
Mattie pulled his fleece tighter around him. “Oui, ok-”
“Hey! Hey baby, wanna have some fun?” The taunting remark was followed by a wolf whistle, clearly aimed at Matthew. “Who said that,” Muttered Gilbert as his ruby eyes turned back towards a trio of guys, whom he’d seen in the cinema room with them, now hanging around under a streetlight but a few metres away.
Their ringleader, a tall rough-looking shrug of a man, pulled his cigarette from between his yellow teeth, grinning. “Not you, skinny, your chick.” My...chick? Gilbert looked down at Mattie, who was equally confused, with a questioning look. “I don’t know them,” The blonde muttered in response, and they tried to walk away.
The three gangsters were having none of it. The first one got within touching distance of them. “Why don’t you let us have a go with her tonight, for a change?” Gilbert looked frustratedly over his shoulder, stepping in behind Matthew. “Go away.”
The man pulled a crooked smile, his buddies chuckling behind him as they walked. “Gee, I only want a taste, dude-” He reached out his hand to grab Mattie’s shoulder, and spin him around in front of Gilbert. “W-wait!” The man cried, the shocked looks of the other two matching the man’s face. “Y-you-you’re a guy!”
Mattie went bright red as he tried to scowl at them. “Leave us alone,” He said as sternly as he could, Gilbert clenching his fists as the guys backed off a few paces.
“Haha, you wanted to fuck a dude, Craz,” A second man leered, tapping ‘Craz’ on the shoulder. He retorted with a curse and shoving his friend away. “It’s not me who wants to do him, “ Craz gestured to Gilbert, his face illuminated by the yellow streetlights around them. “It’s him.”
“Ok, we’ll be going now,” Matthew dismissed as he pulled on Gilbert’s tense arm, trying to get him to move from his protective stance. “Gilbert, let’s go,” He whispered harshly, finally getting the albino to move with him.
“What are you, two fuck buddies?” Craz called after them.
“Who the fuck lets faggots into a cinema with normal people.” The third groupie commented, loudly for both scarpering men to hear. Gilbert stopped dead. I’ve had it with these jerks.
“At least I’m not the one behaving like a bunch of twats,” He shouted over his shoulder.Craz and the others stopped laughing. “Say what, bitch?” Turning fully, Gilbert marched right back up to them, until he was face-to-face with Craz, looking into his dull eyes. “I said,” He growled, “at least I’m not behaving like a bunch of twats.” Craz snarled, but his attention was caught by something else. “You wearing contacts?” He asked gruffly.
Fear replaced the previous feeling of anger. Shit, my shades! I forgot to put them on!
“Yes.” Craz peered closer, his eyes narrowing and his friends moving closer. Suddenly he recoiled. “Nah, those ain’t contacts! You’ve got red eyes!”
“Bet he’s higher than a plane,” Muttered the second. “S’probably why he wants to act like a homo,” The ever-antagonistic third guy added.
Craz looked disgusted. “I’ve been high,” He whispered, “My eyes wasn’t like that. Them your normal eyes, huh?” Gilbert was starting to shake, ever so slightly. I have to get away from them. Now. Silently he turned back to a worried Canadian, but Craz wasn’t finished yet. “Holy shit!” He cried, slapping his buddies to encourage them, “He’s not just gay, but an albino too!” More leering.
“Fucked-up red eyes, man, fucked up.” Second guy.
“Gilbert, listen, ignore them, come on,” Mattie’s soothing Canadian accent.
“You sure he’s just an albino? Looks a bit more...demonic, to me.” Third. The men were still following them, still close.
Gilbert didn’t know what to do- moreover, he didn’t know whether he would lash out or fall to the floor and sob, but he wanted them to say anything other than that. Gott, please, stop it….
Mattie felt Gilbert lean on him more, and put an arm around his waist. “Block them out, Gil. Block them-”
“Demon!” All three men yelled directly to the white-haired German, and he snapped.
Tear rip shred wound maim break KILL! Aggressive words rolled around Gilbert’s head like bowling balls as he pushed Mattie away and launched himself at Craz, his pale fist colliding with his cheekbone.
“Fuck!” Craz shouted, stumbling back under the force of Gilbert’s attack. “Gilbert, stop!” Cried Matthew as the other guys advanced.
A fist caught Gilbert’s stomach; he dropped to his knees. Reacting quickly, he headbutted his attacker’s crotch. That is the closest I have ever been to another man’s genitals, and it was not nice.
The guy whimpered as he, too, hit the floor, his hands cradling his crushed manhood. Craz planted a thick boot into Gilbert’s side, making him choke on his own spit. “Filthy fuckin’ queer,” kick, kick, “you should just die.”
Mattie had no time to react before he was seeing Gilbert being beaten before him. He saw the second guy preparing to punch him, and rushed in. His thin arms locked around the man’s neck, squeezing, but it didn’t hold: the guy’s elbow rammed into his ribcage and Mattie stumbled away, pulling out his phone.
“Back off right now, or I’m calling the police!” He summoned as much volume as he could, barely stopping the conflict. Craz winced as he turned to him, Gilbert spluttering on the concrete below. “Really, you gonna do that, fag?”
“Watch me.” his gloved fingers tapped in 911, but he didn’t see the third guy charging him until he’d rugby-tackled him to the hard ground, his skull bouncing off the stone and his phone sent flying.
“N-no, Matt…” Gilbert wheezed as more punches and kicks were rained down on his fragile body.The pain meant nothing now: not the cuts on his skin, not the blows, not the bootprints left on his chest, none of it. Uncurling onto his feet shakily, he faced the two men he’d been hit by.
His fist went into the first guy’s throat. His right leg came up into a vicious roundhouse kick which met the chest of the other man, causing both to collapse.
The third guy and Mattie were rolling, wrestling, fighting for power.
“Woah!” He was tripped by Craz’s upshot leg, and fell fast. “You little shit,” Gilbert cursed as he straddled Craz, pounding right and left hooks to his face, shattering his nose. Blood sprayed onto his muddy clothes. While moving around, his Iphone had been dislodged from his pocket, only to end up under the boot of the second guy, who crushed it with ease.
Mattie realised that he’d rolled them close to the edge of the empty carpark, where there was a line of trees. He held the offender at bay as his other hand searched for something, anything...aha! Mattie pulled a thick branch from the undergrowth, and hit the man savagely over the head with it, freeing himself.
Now up and on his feet, he kicked the guy for good measure and set upon the second thug, using the stick to choke him and try to pull him to the ground. The man broke the branch and flipped Mattie over his hip, grabbing his left arm and twisting it behind him painfully. Mattie let out a shrill scream.
“Fuck off! Let him -go!” Gilbert yelled protectively, as Craz spat, “Pathetic faggot, maybe we’ll knock some sense into your boyfriend! You make me sick-ah!” He was silenced by Gilbert’s solid left cross. His knuckles were burning and his arms were aching, but he wasn't done just yet.
As soon as he’d knocked him out, Gilbert went straight for the only man left, holding Matthew down. Upon seeing Gilbert, he promptly pulled Mattie’s head back by his hair and punched his eye socket, catching his nose and drawing a yelp from the terrified blonde.
Gilbert was scared too, he was so scared, but more than that, he wanted to stop this. He was running purely on adrenaline. Jumping behind the last guy he put him in a chokehold, tensing his biceps as much as he could, depriving the man from oxygen. He was unconscious within seconds.
“M-Mattie, Matthew!” He called, scrambling over to him as he lay on the floor. Tucking an arm under his head, Gilbert sat him up gently. “What did they do? Wha…” Tears were streaming down the petite man’s face, his golden wavy hair plastered to his face and neck by dirt and sweat. His glasses were broken and his nose was bleeding.
Why….WHY did they hurt him? Why did they hurt us? W-what did we do? We didn’t do anything! A raging voice screamed mercilessly inside his head, one which was lowered with a hiss.
“Don’t fucking say that. Don’t lie…” Gilbert pressed their foreheads together, fighting his own tears coming forth. Pain wracked both of their bodies as they cradled the other’s shaking form in the darkness.
“D-did you call the police?” Asked Gilbert, his arms still holding Matthew. He shook his head. “Non, I….he broke my phone, I think,” He gestured to the third unconscious man lying a distance away.
Fuck. FUCK. Damn it! “Same happened to mine…” Gilbert muttered, sighing even though it hurt. Gott it hurts to breathe. He brushed a strand of hair from Mattie’s eyes. “We’ll have to walk, huh?”
“Y-yeah….Ah,” Mattie winced as they both struggled to get up, constantly looking around them to see if the guys were awake. “M-my home is c-closer than the hospital; we ca-can get a lift.” Gilbert nodded, and they wrapped an arm around the other’s waist to support them as Mattie led them home.
It was a strenuous journey. What took 10 minutes in a car took them 40 minutes because of their injuries, their fatigue, the lack of daylight.
The time was midnight by the time they knocked on the door to Mattie’s apartment, only to both collapse after a mortified Francis answered the door.
The wounded pair were taken straight to hospital, where the doctors immediately treated their injuries as best they could and left them in their hospital beds to rest. Francis and Arthur, having no idea what could’ve happened, stayed awake all night to watch over them. It was 4am before Francis finally gave in and called Ludwig to tell him (He’d been battling the decision ever since both men had come back) and the blonde arrived spectacularly quickly after picking up.
“Why didn’t he call me,” He growled, angry that he hadn’t been able to help his brother. Or protect Matthew.
“I don’t know...they didn’t have their phones on them, maybe they couldn’t call.” Francis whispered, an arm around Arthur as they watched both males sleep fitfully.
“God, I hope they’ll be ok,” The British man prayed as his lover planted a kiss to his forehead. Ludwig’s thoughts were much the same. Bruder, please be alright.
Kleider - Clothes
Ja, Mutti. - Yes, Mum.
Sup, guys! I hope you all enjoy chapter 8~
White eyelashes parted as Gilbert’s eyelids fluttered open slowly. He was blinded by bright white light, and it didn’t take him long to figure out where he was. Hospital, I’m in hospital. He realised that he was wearing a hospital gown, and the cuts on his legs had been treated and bandaged.
Crap, the doctors saw. Hope they didn’t tell Ludwig. His arms too, up to the elbow, were wrapped in white cloth.
Panic flooded through him; he sat up straight, looking around for - Mattie. He was fast asleep in the hospital bed next to his, the curtain partially drawn. Seated next to Mattie’s bed, clutching one of his hands, was Arthur. His bright green eyes flicked over to the albino. “Oh, thank heavens,” He breathed, standing. “You’re awake. H-hang on, I’ll get Ludwig.”
Once he left, Gilbert tried to sit up, but there was a throbbing headache and a wave of dizziness, so he lay down again, watching Matthew’s sleeping form as if he were a guard dog.
Thundering footsteps could be heard coming down the hall, and Ludwig stepped quickly into Gilbert’s ward. “Bruder! Are you ok?” His deep voice sounded so concerned, Gilbert hoped he hadn’t put him through too much stress. “Ludwig, I’m alright.”
Ludwig bowed his head as he sat next to the bed, putting a hand onto Gilbert’s arm -which, he noticed, had been redressed because of the wounds- and let out a sigh.
Then, the inevitable questions came. “What happened to you?”
“We...we were beaten up, by a group of homophobes.” As blue eyes widened, Francis and Arthur had entered the room also.
Homophobics? Thought Ludwig, But Gilbert’s n….oh, right. Matthew. “Where did they get you?”
Wheezing, the albino replied, “O-outside the cinema, in the car park. B-but, I...I started the fight. I got Mattie dragged into this, I’m sorry,” earnest red eyes looked at the couple before his bed.
“What do you mean?” Asked Arthur, brow furrowed.
“Well, the guys were mouthing off and stuff, but I was the one who...who hit first.” A look of understanding passed between the three adults.
“What set you off.” Ludwig’s hand tightened. Gilbert sagged. “They thought Mattie was a girl, and went after him. Found out he was a guy and called us faggots,” Both Francis and Arthur flinched at the last word, “then the ringleader, he-” Gilbert looked at Ludwig, “-saw my eyes.”
Ludwig nodded slowly. Oh. So that’s what happened.
“So, were they attacking Matthew, too?” Another question from the Brit. Gilbert shook his head. “Nein, only after he tried to help me.” Francis folded his arms. “Then you didn’t drag him into this, exactly: he knew what he was going to do and he did it.”
“We should call the police,” Stated the muscular German.
“Why? They won’t be able to do anything.” Gilbert’s tone was dismissive, but Ludwig kept on. “That may be so but they’ll need to know what happened. Those guys...it wasn’t just a playfight.”
Damn fucking right. If I could take them all on again I would, and I’d be sure to kill them before...before Mattie got hurt… Gilbert forced himself to sit up properly, crying out at the burst of pain from his chest. “Bruder, don’t-” Began his younger brother.
Strained against the railing, Gilbert continued. “H-has Mattie woken up yet? What did they do to him?”
Francis looked mournful. “Non, he hasn’t awoken yet. We don’t know about his injuries either-” Just then, a short nurse trotted in, clutching her clipboard tightly to her chest. She said in a whisper, “Mister Gilbert Beilschmidt, is it?” Gilbert nodded.
“We have your report. It appears you have a couple of cracked ribs, but no other serious injuries.” Gilbert let out a breath. That explains why breathing hurts. The nurse added, “It is advised that for the next three months you do not participate in too much exercise or operating heavy machinery, and you will need to rest and relax until your ribs are completely healed. Feel free to take any painkillers needed with caution and seek more medical advice if the pain gets worse or other symptoms arise. Now,” She faced Francis and Arthur. “You are the parents of Mister Matthew Williams, yes?”
Nods. “We’ve checked him for serious injuries and we haven’t found anything other than a few bruises and pulled muscles. I would recommend the same advice for him, nothing too stressful mentally or physically. We gave him a sedative just in case he’s shaken up, alright?”
“Did you do that to me, too?” Gilbert asked, and received a firm nod.Making her excuses, the nurse left abruptly. Well, at least I know he’s not badly hurt, Gilbert thought as his gaze once again settled on the sleeping Canadian.
Matthew woke up an hour later, to be surrounded by his fretting parents and worried friend. The police arrived soon after, the officers taking down the men’s details, what exactly happened and where, and recording what the gang members looked like.
After the officers left Gilbert commented, “They could still be unconscious in the car park.”
“Nein,” Said Ludwig, “I drove there before I got a call from Francis; the car park was empty.” Mattie hadn’t said anything since the police had gone. He sat huddled in the sheets of his hospital bed, his hands linking his arms around his knees.
Ludwig, Arthur and Francis left them to get some more rest.
“Mattie? You awake?” Said Canadian rolled over to face him, and Gilbert was still shocked at how swollen his face was after being hit. “O-oui.” His voice was so quiet, so shaky...Matthew’s eyes began to water.
No, no don’t cry, Mattie, bitte… Grunting with the effort, Gilbert pushed himself out of bed, gripping the curtain railing for support.
Mattie mumbled, “Gilbert y-you should stay in b-bed, your ribs…”
“Move over.” Reluctantly, he did, and Gilbert lowered himself down next to him on his bed, the pain coursing up his body. “A-ah, I think they should’ve given me more morphine,” He joked. Mattie used a bare forearm to wipe his nose. “S-sorry, I’m all snotty,” He tried to manage a smile but it didn’t hold.
“I don’t mind, everyone has snotty moments.” He looked down at the smaller man, who was growing so shaky. “Matt, come here.”
“No, you’re badly hurt, and-” Before he could say anything more Gilbert put an arm around his shoulders, pulling him close. Sighing, secretly grateful, Matthew rested his head on Gilbert’s shoulder, his messy blonde hair falling around his face.
They rested quietly for a while.
“Gilbert, why don’t you seem...shaken up?” The German thought about it. “...Because I’m used to being beaten up.” He said finally.
“T-that’s horrible,” Mattie whispered, balling his fist and putting it over his mouth. “Especially for….someone like you.”
Gilbert frowned. “What do you mean?”
“W-well, you’re a really nice person, and….I can’t see why anyone would feel the need to hit you.” That made the albino smile. Despite the pain, despite the exhaustion, he still felt happy to have Matthew at his side. The blonde man began to sniffle again, and Gilbert said softly, “It’s alright. They won’t ever touch you again.” Small smiles were exchanged.
“G-Gilbert, can I….ask you something?”
“Sicher, shoot.” Mattie looked away, twiddling his thumbs. “Um…would you...maybe….stay w-with me, for a bit? You could come b-back to mine.”
White eyebrows rose. “Like, to stay over? It’s your parents' apartment….would they mind?” He’s so nervous, it’s almost like he’s in shock. Then again, he’s never been hit before.
“W-well, it was actually their suggestion, when they saw how….You don’t have to, I’ll understand if you feel like you want to go home.”
Gilbert looked at him, blinked once. Mattie’s confidence crumbled. “N-nevermind, just forget I said anything-”
“I’d like to.” A head of golden hair turned back to face him. “R-really?”
Anything to make you feel better. “Ja.”
“A sleepover?” Ludwig echoed as he handed Gilbert his day clothes and pyjamas he’d brought him last night.
“Well, not a sleepover exactly...It was suggested by Francis and Arthur, and Matthew wants me with him…”
“Why?” The blonde’s huge frame was situated on a chair next to Gilbert’s hospital bed. Aforementioned albino scowled at the question. “Because, he’s just had the shit beaten out of him, and he’s not even used to being noticed! I can completely understand why he wouldn’t want to be alone-”
“Alright, beruhige dich. But he does have his parents with him-”
“Lud, do you remember when we were little?” Blue eyes averted to the floor. “Don’t…”
Gilbert continued nonetheless, “When Vater tried to hit you, and I always stopped him? I don’t regret doing that, never will. But who did you want to be with after his attacks?”
Sun-kissed hands clenched. “...You.”
“Ja, because I went through it with you. So...can you see, now? About Mattie?” Ludwig nodded his head, his styled hair shining. “It’s strange when you act the age you are.” That got a smirk from his older sibling. “Don’t worry, I won’t act like this for long.”
Just until Mattie’s feeling better, I guess.
Bags and boots rested on the floor of Francis’s and Arthur’s apartment.
“Shall I make you boys some tea?” Arthur was already making his way to the kitchen as Francis left to go and set up an air mattress. “Ja, bitte, Mr Bonnefoy.” Gilbert replied, getting Mattie to let out a giggle.
“You are sorely mistaken if you think I took his last name,” The Brit stated proudly as they waited for the kettle to boil. “I kept my own. But please just call me Arthur.”
Each man holding a steaming mug between their hands; Gilbert and Matthew sat on the sofa. Seeing as he didn’t get a good look around the first time he’d come here, Gilbert noticed the finer details of the living room: a small flatscreen TV, cabinets full of ornaments, nice furniture, and a few photos hanging on the walls. One imparticular caught his attention: a school photo taken of Mattie and another boy next to him, who had shorter hair with a cowlick, and looked exactly like the blonde Canadian.
“Is that your brother?” He gestured to the painting. Matthew nodded, sipping his tea. “Yeah, that’s Alfred.”
“He looks just like you.” In response to this comment the petite blonde shook his head. “Non, he’s older than me so, technically, I look like him.” Gilbert tried to give a skeptical glance, and stuck his tongue out. Smartass.
And so the silence descended again, neither bothering to continue the conversation. What the hell can I say to make him feel better, Gilbert thought as his brain savagely attempted to think of cheerful things to say.
Cheer up, at least they didn’t kill us! ...Nein, too dramatic.
You looked pretty fucking badass out there! ….Too overwhelming.
Tell me what I can do to make you feel better. ...Too flirty! Verdammt, brain, I’m done with you.
“W-wanna watch some TV?” Mattie’s tone was soft, still jittery.
Gilbert sat forward a bit, gripping the tea mug. “Ja, ja sure.” After scrolling through endless channels, they ended up watching some flog-it business show, neither of them paying attention.
“Mattie, how are you feeling now?” Tell me the code word. Violet eyes, uncertain and chilled, met his. “I-I’m...fine.” That’s it. That’s all I need to know. Internally, the albino sighed. So he’s still pretty shaken up.
Francis strolled into the kitchen, shutting the door so the younger men wouldn’t hear. “I’ve set up the mattress,” He stated, “but I don’t know where to put it.” Arthur, leaning against the sink, set his mug down. “Why not just put it in Matthew’s room?”
Francis tongued his cheek nervously. Arthur tilted his head, exasperated. “Oh, you don’t really think that they’re going to do anything, do you?”
“Je ne sais pas,” The Frenchman muttered, long arms folded against his lean body. “Matthieu’s just been through a traumatic experience, I doubt he wants another so soon.”
The blonde Brit fought a chuckle. “That was terrible.” His lover flashed a smirk. “Look, love, if you think it’s better to have him sleep somewhere else then we can put him in the living room.” Arthur amended, putting the empty mug into the sink. Francis’s arms wrapped around his waist from behind, and his long silvery hair spilled over Arthur’s left shoulder as he pressed back into him.
“J'espère qu'il s'en remettra,” Whispered Francis. “I hope Matthieu will recover.”
“He will. He’s got all of us to help him, and Gilbert knows what they went through, even if he did say he started it.”
“I cannot blame him,” Francis pulled away to look into those jaded orbs. “I may have done the same thing, if they were saying those horrible things about him et Matthieu.”
“Mm,” Arthur pouted, “Hang on, I thought Gilbert was straight? If he is why are you worried anything will happen?”
“Because have you seen how cute our son is? He’s adorable!”
“Stop saying that, dear, it’s creepy.”
Eventually it was decided that Gilbert would be allowed to sleep in Matthew’s room. Gilbert, having had no participation in this decision, simply accepted it. Much of the day passed quietly and calmly; by the evening everyone was grateful for the darkness, and the reason not to talk much.
It was getting late, and Mattie had gone into the bathroom to change while Gilbert used his room. However, as soon as he was changed he turned and he caught his reflection in the bathroom mirror. Aside from the scrapes he’d suffered, the black eye was the worst thing: the imprints of knuckles circled the socket, and the flesh around his left eye was covered in shades ranging from purple to blue to yellow. He really didn’t like the fact that part of his face was the same colour as his irises.
Tears welled and were running down his cheeks before he could comprehend it. It wasn’t because he had been beaten up necessarily, it was because he didn’t understand why.
Mattie closed his eyes. Upon opening them again, he saw Francis’s tall reflection in the mirror, and turned slowly.
“Papa…” He didn’t care that he was 20 years old, or that he was a guy, he was hurting and he wanted his daddy. Sobs breaking through the silence, he huddled into his father’s opened arms.
Francis wrapped his arms around Mattie’s body, covered in his two-piece baby blue pyjamas. “Shhh, it’s alright, cher,” He cooed, swaying gently like he used to when Mattie was a baby.
“I-I don’t get it,” Mattie whispered into his chest. “I didn’t do anything. I just told them to leave us alone. D-do they hate me because I’m gay?” Wide violet eyes met pale blue, and Francis licked his lips. “...There are some people in this world who are, very stupid. Like homophobic people. They’re not going to accept homosexuals, so they attack them.”
“B-but ‘phobia’ means fear. They didn’t look scared, they were angry.” Images and memories of the scuffle ran through his mind as he spoke.
“Oui, it does, but that’s the trick. Anger is a mask of fear, it almost always is. They were scared because they couldn’t accept it, so they tried to put you down.” Matthew’s brow creased. “They called Gilbert names, too, but he didn’t fight back until they…”
“Until they what?” Francis tilted his head.
Soft hands clenched. “Until they called him a demon.”
No wonder he snapped, thought the Frenchman, remembering how upset Gilbert had been talking about his past and the bullies who’d called him just that. “That’s disgusting behaviour,” Francis’s tone was firm. “I think they deserved what you gave them, Matthieu.” Mattie smiled a little, “It was mostly Gilbert, I just tried to help him. I-I know I should’ve called the police right away, but I was stunned and then they-”
“Shh, I understand. Maybe your ice-hockey self wanted to see some violence, eh?” His father winked and it earned a small chuckle. Francis used a slender digit to wipe away his tears. “Dry your eyes, sweetheart. Go get some sleep.” Nodding, Mattie sniffed and began to walk away.
Just to be a tease, Francis called, “When I say sleep I mean sleep, though.”
Gilbert was sat still on the air mattress, dressed in his usual long-sleeved black Tee and jogging bottoms, barefoot, when Mattie came in.
Holy shit, he looks adorable. Are those baby blue PJs? ….Ja, ja, sie sind.
“....bert….Gilbert?” He blinked. “Was?” Mattie lowered himself onto his bed. “You alright? Your eyes were glazed over.”
“U-uhm, ja, I’m fine. What about you?”
“F-feeling a little better that you’re here.” A blush adorned both of their faces. “I-I mean-”
“Nein, that’s good.” Gilbert offered a soft smile.
Mattie pulled the covers over himself. “Y-you ok if I turn out the light?” A sudden panic went through Gilbert’s being, as he thought about his hallucination. Could that happen again? I wouldn’t want to put Mattie in danger. Even so, he replied with, “Ja, it’s fine.”
I’ll just have to hope it doesn’t happen tonight.
They lay there in his room, breathing softly, when Matthew’s quiet Canadian voice rattled into the darkness. “Hey, you awake?”
“Am now.” Was something wrong, was he alright?
“Désolé,” Came the reply, “I was just wondering.” I wonder if I’ll get any sleep, Gilbert thought in a moment of sleep-deprived bitterness. However, questions started to flood his mind. “Oi, Mattie?”
“...The other day, with those guys…” He began softly, “how come you didn’t react to the names they called you?” Wish I could be that calm around idiots like that.
A rustling was heard as the smaller man sat up in bed. “Oh...I guess I get used to the names, so I ignore them.”
Gilbert, too sat up. “Really. You don’t mind people calling you a….” No. He wouldn’t repeat it. But Matthew did. “A faggot?”
The blonde cleared his throat. “Well, I...I’m not used to people noticing me, so I always expected people to not care that I’m gay. B-but, every so often someone sees me, and they find out, and I…” He sighed. “Sometimes I’m just grateful for the attention.” That shocked the albino; his eyes widened in the dark. “Mattie, there are better kinds of attention to have than idiots mobbing you,” Gilbert stated. “I wouldn’t let anyone call me that, if I was gay. You have to start standing up for yourself-”
“But I’ve never needed to,” Interrupted Matthew, “everyone ignores me or forgets me. What’s it matter if a few homophobes stop and jeer for a minute? They’re not all like those guys at the cinema, it’s best just to ignore them.”
“You can’t let them ridicule you for who you are,” Gilbert growled. “I stood up for myself when they...called me a…..But, you also need to be proud of yourself. Take them down a peg.” Mattie’s voice was also stern now. “There’s no point in taking them down a peg, they’ll never learn. It’s a waste of my time and energy.” Footsteps sounded walking past the door.
Voices now turned into whispered shouts. “ So it’s a waste of energy trying to be strong?”
“It’s a waste of energy trying to be strong all the time!” Matthew sighed, calming down. “No one is perfect. Homophobes are just pathetic, scared people who aren’t worth my time. That’s all I’m saying, Gil.”
The albino’s arms were unfolded slowly. “...I know. I guess I’m just an aggressive person.”
“You’re not aggressive, just defensive.” Red eyes narrowed. “What’s that supposed to mean?”
“It means you’re always expecting someone to criticise you or hurt you, so you try to be hostile.”
Ouch. “Do I really do that?” Mattie’s reply was hesitant. “...Yes?”
“Are you asking me or telling me.” Another pause. “...Telling you?”
Gilbert chuckled, even though the action made his ribs hurt.“You’re cute. Sorry for arguing, I didn’t mean to stress you out.”
Silence for a few minutes. Then, “I’m not a complete wimp, you know.” Mattie’s voice was resigned, calm. “I did used to be on an ice-hockey team. I can still remember getting pretty beaten up on the ice, but it was fun. It was just a game. I only….I only seemed shaken up because t-those guys took me by surprise when they hit back worse.”
Gilbert smiled. “Yeah. Glad I managed to cave a few faces in. I can’t believe they thought you were a girl.”
Mattie bit his lip. “Do I really look that girly?” Well, you do have Francis’s hairstyle. “Uh…Nein.”
“I didn’t.” More rustling as Mattie moved around. “You did.”
“I didn’t mean to! It’s just...nevermind.”
“What? Do I look like a girl?” Queried the blonde, almost as a warning to Gilbert. Treading on thin ice here. “You , uh, well you have long hair, so….stereotypically if you were wearing baggy clothes….”
“So I do look like a girl.” He’s angry, he’s getting pissed at me. Gilbert moved back into the mattress in the dark room. “N-no, but you do have a, sort of….feminine face.” There. He’d said it. Now he just prayed his death by hockey stick would be quick and painless.
But nothing hit him around the face; instead, Mattie turned on the little desk lamp again, sitting cross-legged on the bed. His eyes met Gilbert’s. “How is my face feminine?”
“I- uhm...Can’t see your face very well from here.” Mattie hopped off his own bed and onto the air mattress, getting it to bounce as he sat close to the albino. His blue PJs were ruffled and his hair hung loosely around his shoulders. He repeated his question.
Gilbert tried not to meet his gaze. “Maybe it’s just the glasses, I mean, you don’t look feminine now.” Did I save it? Mattie sat back on his heels. “I don’t?”
Goddamn it why do you sound disappointed make your mind up!
“W-well, perhaps...your face is sort of round, and...your lips are sort of girly.” WHAT ARE YOU SAYING GILBERT, YOU CREEP. He cringed internally.
Matthew pouted, touching his face with his fingertips. “Uhm...ok. I know the black eye must make my eyes look bad now though-”
“No they don’t.” That made the Canadian stop, and look up to the white-haired German, who smiled at him. “It’s a bit weird to see you without glasses, but your eyes look fine.” Gilbert’s tone had gone into a hush again, and even though he could feel himself drifting towards Mattie’s face he didn’t stop.
Mattie looked genuinely flattered by the comment, and gave a return smile, his cheeks tinged pink. Gilbert whispered, “I like your eyes, too, Mattie.” Their faces drew closer together, Matthew unsure of whether he wanted to close his eyes, neither knowing how long until their lips would meet-
“Ah!” Gilbert pulled away, the sharp stab of pain from his ribs sending shocks along his spine. “A-are you ok?” Matthew’s concerned face was still coloured red, as he tucked his hair behind his ears.
“J-ja, just a bit sore,” He managed through gritted teeth. He wasn’t sure what to say now as the tension rose between them. I...almost kissed him. I almost kissed Mattie!
Both unwilling to make additional conversation, Mattie returned to his bed and lay with his back to his friend, his friend who had just been about to act on the thought of kissing him. Silently cursing his impulsive actions, the white-haired man also turned his back to Matthew and drifted slowly into a light sleep.
The room was unbearably dark and shadows seemed to move in the peripheral field of Gilbert’s vision. Sitting up, bracing himself in his palms, the albino’s eyes scanned the nothingness before him, wondering if it was going to happen again.
Surely enough, perched in the corner of Mattie’s room, next to the wardrobe, sat the black feline. Meow.
He watched with wide eyes as it’s headlight-pupils lit up it’s surroundings as its pink tongue rasped along its upturned paw, watching him. It was cleaning blood from the claws.
A blood-boiling anger flowed into Gilbert’s veins and he snarled, his eyes darting to Mattie’s sleeping form. His chest puffed out protectively. “Nein,” He whispered harshly. “Not tonight. I have someone to protect tonight.”
With a hiss of resentment, the cat stood and slinked back into the shadows of both the room and his mind.
Sicher - Sure
Je ne sais pas - I don't know
J'espère qu'il s'en remettra - I hope he will recover
Ja, ja sie sind. - Yes, yes they are.
Désolé - I'm sorry
Chapter 9: Chapter 9
The next day proved to be a rather awkward affair between the Canadian and the German, for example, the embarrassed glances the pair shared at breakfast. However, now that Matthew had officially stabilized, and calmed down, Gilbert made his excuses and had been collected by Ludwig before lunch.
It was a miserable, rainy day; the humidity hung thickly in the air and put pressure on Gilbert’s skull, giving him a thundering headache. His cracked ribs were throbbing and even taking deep breaths was painful - this meant that Gilbert often only took shallow breaths, which made him feel faint. He was so drained, so mentally exhausted and physically strained, that he headed straight to his room once he’d arrived back home, collapsing on his bed.
“Bruder,” Ludwig whispered before he could go to sleep. “Was.”
“I talked to Francis, and we've managed to get a referral for you, but the earliest appointment is on Montag, at 11am. Is that alright?”
“Provided I can sleep between now und then, ja. Who’s the new therapist?”
“Uh...Doctor Kiku Honda, I think he said.” Kiku? Thought Gilbert, frowning. Sounds like an interesting person already. “Ok, now lass mich schlafen.” With a nod, his taller brother left.
Gilbert’s eyes, half-closed, wandered to the window as his face and body rested on the bed covers. He watched the rain pour down outside for goodness knows how long, picking out two raindrops at random and supervising their race down the glass, feeling a small amount of victory for the winner. He didn’t know if he was awake, or dreaming, or even alive.
He could see the outside world, and that was all he knew for the rest of that day.
The next time Gilbert’s brain engaged he let out a long breath, sudden pain sparking in his ribcage. The clock read 21:05. Damn, I’ve been asleep for that long? However, he recognised the feeling of soreness in his eyes, almost the same as when he’d worn his contacts for too long.
My eyes are dry. I haven’t been asleep, but...I haven’t been awake either. His vision went blurry as a wave of dizziness overcame him. If felt like he had no bearing, no mass. The raindrops were still falling onto the window and they twinkled in the street lights like stars.
The more he tried to focus his vision, he more those raindrops melted together, swirling, pulling him into the navy blue sky blocked only by a glass pane.
Meow. Gilbert was still sleepy, and bordering on REM* sleep, but his ears picked up that dreaded sound easily enough. Not happy that I managed to fend you off last night, huh, kitty? I knew you would make sure I paid for that. Fucking bring it, you pathetic furr-filled sack of-
HISS! A sleek black paw slid from apparent thin air, to become mortal within the tense atmosphere of his room. Gilbert wanted to turn his head, to watch the beast as it slinked towards him. But he couldn’t.
The dizziness wore off. Red eyes focused. Muscles tensed. Gilbert realised that he could not move his body.
An incredible feeling of inertia hit him: it felt like his blood had turned to concrete and was weighing him down from the inside.
He couldn’t blink, or yell, or even take a breath. The silence of his internal screams scared him just as much as this unknown paralysis.
I can’t move. I can’t breathe. I can’t breathe! Hilf mir! Jemand, bitte, hilf mir!
The corner of his bed dipped as the black cat stepped lightly upon the sheets, and Gilbert’s watering eyes swivelled in their sockets to see. Much to his horror, he noticed that it had grown in size. Since he’d seen it last night, it had enlarged to the size of a lynx, it’s bold blue eyes looming over him.
Gilbert felt his lungs burning, he couldn’t speak either, but he could glare holes through this apparition strolling calmly across his chest, its unsheathed brown claws pinpricking the skin beneath fabric.
Glaring will do you no good, Gilbert. This is no time to act childish. That voice. It was Ludwig’s. However, it was like the voice was coming from the cat, only it’s mouth didn’t open when it spoke.
Still struggling silently against the unknown weight, Gilbert shouted back with his own thoughts: How dare you use my brother’s voice to taunt me! Vile creature, I’ll kill you! The lynx-like feline bared it’s long canines and let out a growl low enough to shake Gilbert’s intestines.
He needed to get away. He wanted to breathe, the fire in his lungs was threatening to consume him and he would NOT be left unconscious with that malicious thing perched on his unmoving body! Looking to the ceiling, Gilbert felt something: a floating sensation, similar to that one feels when on a roller coaster, flying, drifting…
His arms lifted, and his legs. Gilbert’s hair began to wave and flow as if he was underwater, as did his clothes. He gulped in air, wondering what was going on; suddenly he saw he was centimetres away from the ceiling and-
Wait. What the fuck is happening to me?! He looked over his shoulder, down onto his bed.
The bed, on which his body still lay.
Gilbert felt panic rise in him again, squeezing his throat, binding his thoughts, making him want to throw up.
He was floating. And looking down at his own body….Looking down at the lynx, still sat on his body.
The body’s eyes were closed, and it’s chest was rising and falling, yet the breaths were out of sync from those the awake Gilbert was taking.
This can’t be real, this isn’t real. Another hallucination. Another…. He watched as the cat placed both forepaws on each of his shoulders, hissing at the form. He tried shouting at it, but he couldn’t move very far and the cat could not hear. Instead, it dug its claws deep into his collarbone, pulling downwards, tearing his shirt and flesh, the black fabric stained darker by red.
Nein! Halt! Gilbert screamed, as he felt a pulling sensation, like this ghostly form of himself was being dragged, as if by those claws, back into his corpse, back into the mutilation-
His real body bucked with the return of his consciousness, barely having time to comprehend the blood pouring onto his chest and stomach, the lynx making one final slash downwards into his abdomen before hissing and leaping to safety.
Standing up, unsteady and heavily bleeding, Gilbert staggered to turn on a lamp, then opened his wardrobe door, staring at his reflection in the full-length mirror.
The cat had cut a ‘Y’ incision from his shoulders down his stomach...just like they do to prepare bodies for embalming.
The albino slapped a hand over his mouth, wanting to scream. It’s real! It’s…. He put his other hand onto the cut; the flesh was frayed, the blood pouring over his hand, warm and wet.
He narrowed his eyes in suspicion. Nein, this looks real. It appears real and terrible and painful but- He tried to push his hand through the cut, inside his own torso cavity- in reality, this is just a hallucination, isn’t it, kitty. His hand hit his thin body, where there was no longer a great big gash nor any blood in sight.
It had turned out to be a pretty strange night for Gilbert Beilschmidt.
A month passed. A month in which both men recovered from the little fight they’d been involved in, even managing to get new phones out of it. Matthew and Gilbert texted and talked on Facebook, with art as their main choice of conversation topic.
Gilbert had started taking sleeping pills again; they worked a treat, fending off the miscreant feline with the only side-effect being the fact that the pills made him drowsy in the day, too. Matthew learned to cope with Gilbert’s tiredness, and they supported each other in times of hardship and happiness alike. Not that there was an overwhelming amount of the latter. They had been to a couple more of the art classes, each time seeming to draw to themselves more attention from one Mister Braginski, who had a passion for painting sunflowers.
The therapy, Gilbert found, was also helping. Doctor Honda was an incredibly serious and intense man, though small in stature. Instead of initiating conversations, he simply waited until Gilbert decided to talk about his problems. After all, this was paid time the German couldn’t afford to waste, so why not let it all out?
His father, his healing ribs, his lack of a job or life in general - all of these topics and more were discussed, with Honda suggesting solutions to each.
Gilbert had been advised to rest until his ribs were better, polish off his CV, and prepare to find a job when he was better. He’d replied with, ‘But I have no clue what job I’d like to do, the last job I had was a paper round at age 16.’ Honda had pondered and suggested he write down what his talents were, to give them a head start.
This, a whole week later, was what he was doing now.
What am I good at, the albino thought seriously, tapping the pen against his teeth. What could I do for a living.
The pen shakily stroked paper, his messy handwriting scrawling the words, Could probably learn how to use a till. So shopwork.
And again. I like singing but Ludwig says it sounds like cats fighting to get out of a bag. I think he’s jealous. He firmly told himself to focus, despite his internal agreement that Ludwig was totally in envy of his singing talent.
I’m good at lying, so maybe a Member of Parliament job would be perfect. His hand hesitated as the last useful idea came to his head. ...I can draw. Technically. Sometimes.
That’s it, I’m leaving this list for now. It’s making me sad. Getting up, he winced as the sliced skin on his thighs caught the fabric of his trousers. I have to stop moving too quick.
Naturally, as it was his coping method, the cutting had continued. However, due to the pills he sometimes didn’t have the energy, so his legs actually healed a fair amount. But last night the pills had taken a while to work and...he’d...already found a blade.
Everyone else thought he was recovering remarkably well, especially Ludwig. The blonde German was shocked to see Gilbert wearing short sleeves for the first time in seven years - it was true the scars were plainly obvious on Gilbert’s pale skin, but he only wore that shirt inside the apartment. If he was honest, Gilbert admitted he liked being able to show his arms again, if only in front of his brother.
Gilbert wasn’t ready to show Mattie yet. Sure, the Canadian knew about his ‘former’ self-harming, but they spoke very little about it. And that was fine, because right now there was no reason to.
Right now, as he felt his heart pump blood fiercely around his body, Gilbert was content with life again.
I forgot what the feeling felt like. Being able to look at your life and smile about it, be glad that you have it. Things are improving, and...It’s like a dream.
Crisps were opened; a Cola can was popped; Gilbert checked his Facebook to see a new message from Matthew.
Hey, how are you? It had only been sent seconds ago, so he typed back fast. Hallo :) I’m gut, danke. Und du?
He’d only had the chance to teach Mattie bits of German, courtesy of his habit of returning to his mother tongue when he was comfortable with someone, but he picked it up fast.
Alles ist gut bei mir, auch. Uh...was that right?
Gilbert chuckled softly. Ja, da hast du recht. Wanna come over later? I have this new Xbox game
He was always nervous when it came to inviting him over, or when Mattie invited him over, because every time he looked into those eyes he saw the night they almost kissed, and it made him feel uncomfortable. Regardless, he wanted to spend time with the petite blonde, who replied with, Oui, sure. About 6? Red eyes glanced at the time: 6pm was four hours away. Mm, 4pm He joked.
Non, I have work! ...5:55pm.
Fingers typed fast. Nein, 5:30pm. He could practically hear Matthew’s playful sigh of exasperation, and see his look of defiance as his reply came. ...5:45 and I’m not changing it :P
Done. See ya!
Gilbert knew not to panic. He knew. Ludwig had left for work, he had his own keys, and their apartment was fairly tidy.
Oh. OH. Was that an empty crisp packet on the floor, centimetres from the bin? And were those crumbs on the kitchen island? Why were his boxers thrown over the back of a chair? Cursing himself for being a lazy bastard, Gilbert pulled out a wet cloth, rubber gloves, cleaning spray and got to work.
Mattie knocked on the door at 5:46. Not that Gilbert had noticed; he’d still been busy cleaning. Opening the door he let the twitchy Canadian in, hiding his gloves and cloth behind his back. “Hi,” Gilbert greeted with an embarrassed grin, ashamed to have been caught doing what he perceived to be his brother’s job.
“There is no need to look so shocked.”
Mattie hesitated. “But you were cleaning.” Hitting him playfully on the shoulder, the albino placed the cleaning things under the sink, and gestured to the sofa situated before the TV. “I was just as shocked to know you played video games,” He stated bluntly.
“Well, yeah, of course I like them. They’re violent.” The cute smile offered with this somewhat surprising comment gave Matthew a Chuckie-like aura which quite frankly scared Gilbert. Nevertheless, they seated themselves on the sofa, each holding a controller as the game started. It was something of a futuristic sort, all about aliens and space ships and big-ass Weapons of Mass Destruction.
Gilbert’s character also got to run around shooting things with a bazooka, so that made him happy. Mattie’s character, decidedly the sidekick, followed him up on missions and took out anyone he’d missed with a crossbow. Both of them ignored facts like there was no gravity in space, so technically they shouldn’t be able to shoot anything.
For the fifth time in this new mission, Gilbert’s character was killed, this time decapitated by a rough-looking alien.
“Damn stupid frickin’ broken game!” He spat, infuriated that he couldn’t even get past the second checkpoint to save the game and he’d been so goddamn close-
“Calm down, it’s just a game-” Mattie began, only to stop when his own character was killed by the same creature. A look of dark anger swept over his face. Gilbert let out a laugh, “True, but it’s a game I really want to complete.”
That is the most angry I’ve ever seen him, haha! Guess we do have a lot of similarities.
Getting up, setting his controller aside the white-haired German asked, “You want a drink or something? I’m having a Coke.”
“O-oh, I’ll have the same, please.” Mattie’s face was creased in concentration, trying to figure out how to kill the obstructing alien, in the most violent way possible. This consisted of attacking it with a hunting knife, gutting it on the spot. Mattie was incredibly proud of his achievement, and when Gilbert came in he commented, “Holy shit you killed it? How?”
“He has a blind spot. I found it.” Mattie’s cheeks were tinged with pink, though from frustration or determination it wasn’t clear.
Gilbert, without thinking, leaned backwards over the sofa, so his head rested on the cushions beside Mattie’s hip. “Ooh, it looks cooler upside down.” He handed Mattie a can of Coke.
“What are you doing?” Queried the smaller blonde.
“I have no idea.” Suddenly his spine made a cracking sound, and he took a sharp breath which aggravated his ribs. “AH, that hurts!” Mattie jumped up, moving around the sofa, trying not to roll his eyes. “That’s what you get for-” Mattie’s hands grabbed Gilbert’s arms to pull him upright, “-being so weird.”
“I’m not- ow!” The force of Matthew’s pull was more powerful than he’d expected; Gilbert tumbled forward with the momentum and Mattie fell onto the table behind the sofa, his back pressed against the polished wood and Gilbert’s body millimetres from his, the pale man’s hands either side of his head. “D-danke,” He muttered, Mattie’s wide eyes staring into his. Gilbert noticed something. “You wearing new glasses?”
Mattie gulped. “Of course. I’m not going to keep wearing my broken ones.” These glasses were also oval-shaped, with blue frames, but the lenses were thinner. “Is your eyesight getting better?” Gilbert asked, peering closer at Matthew’s violet orbs, unaware that doing so brought their faces closer together.
“N-no, b-but-” Small, clear circles could be seen in Mattie’s eyes. “Are you wearing contacts and glasses?” A crimson blush travelled up the Canadian’s neck and onto his face as he lay on the table. “...M-maybe.”
But why would he need to wear both? Gilbert remembered something: he’d once said that the glasses were responsible for making Mattie look more feminine.
“My Dad suggested I try out contacts, b-but I’m wearing glasses incase they don’t work.” Carefully, Gilbert reached up and removed the glasses with slender fingers. “How clear can you see now?”
Mattie could see really well. He wanted to say so. But he got distracted looking at the shape of Gilbert’s face: the low, sharp cheekbones, his flawless white skin, layered and styled white hair framing his bold, bright ruby eyes. His nose was straight and elegant, and his lips were thin but a nice pink hue. Gilbert licked those lips just then; Mattie really wanted to kiss him.
Someone cleared their throat loudly, deliberately, startling both men into standing up straight.
Ludwig put his briefcase down gently by the front door, one blonde eyebrow raised in suspicion.
“Hallo.” Gilbert returned his greeting, while Matthew nodded. Ludwig’s serious face frowned, and when Mattie wasn’t looking he beckoned his brother into the hall to speak. “Bruder, you didn’t tell me Matthew was coming here.”
“I texted and said I was meeting up with him!” The taller man’s eyebrows twitched, a common sign of his irritation. “Ja, but I thought you were going to his house, not-” A blush darkened his face. “I-I have made plans for later on.”
Large hands buried themselves in pockets. “I...I invited Feliciano over for dinner.” He could see the wheels in Gilbert’s head turning, and waited for the inevitable-
“Awwww, Ludwig~!” Thin hands gripped his shoulders as the younger looked away from his teasing brother. “You’re finally making a move!”
“Ruhig sein, Dummkopf!” Gilbert laughed, his fingers pinching Ludwig’s cheeks adoringly. “Kesesese, Bruder you're so cute sometimes! So when’s he coming over?”
“Um acht Uhr, and you can’t be here.” Gilbert stopped laughing, and bit his lip. “Is it just dinner you’re planning?”
“Bruder-!” More uncontained laughter from the albino. A glance at the clock told Ludwig it was already quarter to seven, he had to get the food done! Removing his suit jacket, he addressed Gilbert firmly. “Can you just, be gone before seven bitte.”
Gilbert hung on the doorframe. “Aw, but we were playing my new Xbox game,” He whined, swinging the door. Ludwig’s thick arm stopped the door and cold blue eyes glared. “Then take the game to his. I know how much you love to embarrass me, so-”
“Damn right I do.”
“-there’s no chance this will go well if you’re here. And by extension, Matthew.” Gilbert pouted, but he understood Ludwig’s concerns. How many times had he asked his brother to leave because he was having a girl round? Lots. And some of those times weren’t even dates.
He’s growing up. I don’t want to ruin his chances with Feli, he’s such a good guy. Gilbert tapped the buff blonde on the shoulder. “So Feli’s not attracted to me?”
“What is that supposed to mean.”
“Did you clear up the kiss thing between me and him? ‘Cause I don’t fancy him and-” Ludwig put up a hand. “We talked about it. He said it was a mistake, and that he hopes he didn’t mislead you.” Mislead me?! Him? Thought Gilbert angrily. “Well, alright. Gut Glück, Bruder,” With a mock salute he raced into the living room where Mattie was still playing the game. “Oi, Mattie, can we go to yours for a bit?”
Mattie frowned in confusion. “Quoi?” Saving the game and putting it in the case, Gilbert threw his hoody around his shoulders as he unlocked the front door. “I’ll explain on the way.”
“A date?” Mattie laughed quietly as they strolled to his apartment.
“Ja, I know! I am proud of him.” Gilbert seemed to walk with a spring in his step, but that might have been because of his ribs. The Canadian shook his head, smiling. “Who’s he inviting over?”
“Ah, this guy he’s had a crush on for years. Feliciano.” Mattie adjusted his glasses. “Your brother’s gay? Really?”
A smirk was sent his way. “You sound hopeful, Matthew.” The blonde’s cheeks turned bright red and he balled his fists in front of his mouth. “I- I, uh, I didn’t mean-”
Gilbert put a reassuring arm around his shoulders, laughing, “Kesese, I was joking!”
“O-oh…” Mattie giggled nervously, lowering his hands.
“Unless you do actually fancy him.” His friend’s blush deepened and he refused to meet his gaze. Gilbert stopped walking, spinning Mattie around. “Oh mein Gott….you have the hots for Ludwig!”
“I do not! I hardly know him!”
“So? I’ve had crushes on loads of girls I never got to know.” Mattie gave him a skeptical look. “I don’t fancy Ludwig.”
“He talks a lot about you when you’re not there.” Purple eyes widened. “Really?”
Gilbert clapped once, that cocky grin plastered to his face again. “I knew it! I knew-” Mattie threw a soft punch to his shoulder. “Ow! Don’t hit me I’m fragile.” Mattie offered his best scowl, but it turned playful. “Then stop trying to tease me.”
“Ok, ok. Sorry. I know you can’t help going after my gay brother who looks just like me but blonde.” Mattie’s jaw dropped. “What are you insinuating, Gil?”
Both with blushes, now it was Gilbert’s turn to falter. Oh God, what DID I just insinuate? “N-nothing, nevermind.” He clicked his fingers. “We should so spy on them and see how it goes!”
“Non, we’re not doing that,” Mattie dismissed, walking ahead of the taller man. “That’s disrespectful.”
“Not if they don’t know we’re there. I have no idea when to go home!”
“W-what do you m-mean?” Mattie raised an eyebrow, as Gilbert replied shyly, “Well...Lud, uh...d-didn’t say what exactly his plans were…”
“Oh, you think Feliciano’s going to sleep over?” Gilbert snorted, “You make it sound so innocent,” he muttered. “Ja, I think he might. So, let’s go spy!” He turned to go back but Matthew grabbed the sleeve of his jacket, yanking him back. “You’re not like this when one of your friends goes on a date, are you?”
Friends? He’s using the plural, but he’s gotta know he’s like my only other friend from Ludwig. “Why do you ask?”
Mattie seemed to shrink a bit. “W-well, like….Say if...I was going on a d-date would you spy on me-?”
“You’re going on a date?” The German blurted. “With who?” He didn’t mean to sound snappy, but this was a total shock to him.
Mattie recoiled slightly, looking away. “I-I wasn’t going to say anything, b-because well it never came up. B-but I’ve been hanging out with Ivan a lot lately.”
Ivan Braginski. Matthew is going on a date...with Ivan Braginski. Gilbert felt uneasy hearing that name. He didn’t know the man well; something he was glad to say, as the Russian had an aura about him both terrifying and intriguing. Evidently Mattie had thought the same thing, but acted upon his impulse.
The albino tried not to show as much emotion on his features as compared to the concatenation of feelings lashing his mind. “When is it?”
“Tomorrow.” Tomorrow? He wanted to yell at Mattie. Thanks for the warning! I could’ve just gone without knowing. Instead, Gilbert just echoed the word, ‘tomorrow’ aloud, and they continued walking.
At Mattie’s, neither of his parents were home and they set up the game again in his room, but Gilbert wasn’t really focusing on it. He’s going on a date, with Ivan. So what? I should be happy for him, he’s...found a guy who is probably normal and who likes him in that way.
“You’re annoyed about Ivan, aren’t you.” It wasn’t a question, it was a statement.
“Nein, ich bin glücklich für dich.” Mattie asked him to repeat it in English. “I’m happy for you, Mattie.” Mattie put the controller down and faced him, cross-legged. “And we agreed to not tell lies.”
A sigh leapt from Gilbert’s throat. “I just have a bad feeling about him. There’s something...foreboding about the way he speaks and moves. It’s like he’s stalking you.” That got a cringe from the Canadian. “Gilbert, that’s a horrible thing to say-”
“Well, sometimes the truth about what I think is horrible, Matthew,” He snapped, his lips pulling back in a snarl. “And I don’t want you to be in danger. I wish I could like the guy, for your sake, but I can’t.”
“He might not be a bad person. I’ve met up with him alone before and he’s never done or said anything weird.” Gilbert’s eyes widened. He’d already met up with him, alone? After all the shit they’d been through with strangers? “Maybe you don’t know him well enough yet. He could be planning something-”
“That’s why people meet up, Gil, so they get to know each other better!” Mattie’s face was flushed, his hair curling like golden snakes over his shoulders.
Gilbert gritted his teeth and dug his fingers into his thighs, using the pain of the cuts to calm his mind. “Ngh...I wouldn’t say these things, if...If I wasn’t certain he’s harmful.”
Matthew folded his arms and spat, “Really? Because if anything you sound-” He stopped himself, his expression falling.
The albino raised an eyebrow. “I sound what, Matthew?” The blonde man bit the inside of his lip. Instead of finishing his sentence, he whispered, “Why did you suggest that I liked you on the way here?”
“Was?” Mattie scowled. “You heard me. You suggested that I liked you and it’s not the first time you’ve done that. You tease me, and you flirt with me, knowing that you’re doing it. I know it’s playful, but...I almost believed it.” His purple eyes now looked watery, and he focused his gaze on the carpet floor. Gilbert watched him intently, silent, hanging on his every word.
Mattie jumped up, his fists balled and arms tense. “Do you know how you sounded after I mentioned Ivan?” Red eyes pleaded with him to share the answer. “You sounded jealous.”
Gilbert wanted to tell him no, no, that Mattie was being ridiculous. But he didn’t.
I...He’s right. He’s right, I…did sound jealous. But I wanted to protect him.
With a stifled sob, Matthew sat heavily on his bed, feet touching the floor. He covered his eyes with his palms. “It’s true, I did like you, Gilbert. I...I really liked you.” The happiness Gilbert thought he would feel at hearing those words didn’t come. Did. He said did. Past tense. “But you don’t now.”
“Non, not like that! Because-” Teary, bloodshot eyes glared at him from behind parted fingers. “I didn't want to scare you away. You were the first person to talk to me aside from my family, in years! You were really nice to me, helped me, gave me friendship...And when I found out you were straight, I felt guilty for liking you. I felt ashamed, because I knew it was hopeless and unrequited but I couldn’t stop.
“So when Ivan started talking to me, inviting me out, openly showing me he liked me, I decided to bury my feelings for you. I believe Ivan is a good person, who’s good to me. I’m not used to putting myself first, but it feels damn good. If you’re straight, and if you’re my friend, why do you seem so conflicted?”
“Because I am!” Gilbert was on his feet. “I am conflicted, about everything! My whole fucking world has changed so much since I met you! I don’t know what my mental state is, I don’t know what my sexuality is, sometimes I don’t even know who I am.” He felt a tear run down his cheek, but left it on it’s journey.
Mattie was looking up at him through equally angered eyes. “Are you saying I’m to blame, for that? Am I the cat?” He hadn’t mentioned it in a while but clearly he hadn’t forgotten.
That was it, those words tor Gilbert’s defiance apart. More tears joined the first , soaking his face and blurring his vision.
He sat down on the bed, a distance from his friend. “Nein, nein you are not the cat.” An idea came to mind, the perfect representation of Matthew Williams. “You’re a bird. My birdie.” Mattie sniffled, again putting one fist to his mouth. “What use is a bird when there’s a cat around.”
“Birds can fly. They can make people feel like they’re flying, too,” Gilbert said.
Matthew used his sleeve to clean his face up a bit, but his lips still shook as he spoke. “Y-you’re my best friend, Gilbert. I don’t want to ruin that. I n-never wanted to, I just wanted to help. I wanted a friend and I know that sounds selfish but-”
Gilbert moved forward, cupped Mattie’s face in his hands and kissed him.
It was a fierce touch of lips, lasting only seconds because Mattie pushed him away. “What are you doing?” He asked incredulously.
Gilbert stepped back. “I’m sorry I-”
“Go. Just go.” The broken tone of the Canadian’s voice, the hurt in his eyes already had him heading for the door.
He shut it quietly behind him.
Translations: (Open for correction or improvement)
Montag - Monday
Lass mich schlafen - Let me sleep
Hilf mir! Jemand, bitte, hilf mir! - Help me! Somebody, please, help me!
Nein! Halt! - No! Stop!
Alles gut bei mir, auch - I'm fine, too
Ja, da hast du recht - Yeah, you're right.
Ruhig sein, Dummkopf! - Be quiet, idiot!
Um acht Uhr - At 8 o'clock
Gut Glück - Good luck
Chapter 10: Chapter 10
I am sorry it took me longer to update. The Internet crashed for a week (again) and I cried. Warnings for this chapter: This chapter contains scenes of a discomforting nature that some viewers may find disturbing. Please read with caution.
He wandered, seemingly lost in the streets so close to his home.
Fuck it, I’m going home.
Stepping silently into the living room, Gilbert listened for sounds which would tell him Feliciano was sleeping over. No such sounds were heard, but he did hear two sets of breaths as he tiptoed his way past Ludwig’s room and into his own.
Lying again on the sheets, curtains drawn, Gilbert was too annoyed with himself to be scared. By the time I admit I like him, it’s too late. I always fuck things up. He fell into a deep sleep, his argument with Mattie having exhausted him beyond the reach of the cat.
The morning, however, proved to be slightly more uplifting. Gilbert was eating a bowl of cornflakes when a barely dressed Feliciano stumbled into the kitchen, limping and putting a hand to his forehead.
“Hey, sleeping beauty.” Upon noticing him, the little Italian blushed and turned away, pretending not to hear.
Next came the lumbering, sleepy form of his brother, dressed only in boxers, his hair mussed and eyes squinting at the morning light. He saw Gilbert, who grinned like a cheshire cat. He looked at Feli, who was preparing pasta. He blushed.
Jumping up, the albino bounded over to him. “Guten Morgen, Ludwig.”
“...Morgen.” Ludwig reached up to take two cups from a cabinet. “I see you didn’t stay over at Matthew’s.”
Gilbert leaned against the wall. “I see Feli did stay over. Rough night?” Feli whirled, his eyes wide and eyebrows raised, as Ludwig blushed a deeper red.
“G-Gilbert!” Feli whined. “Please don’t say things like that.” A pang of guilt came with the vision of those honey-coloured orbs. “Ah...you’re right, sorry.”
After a few moments of utter silence, he caught his younger brother’s eyes and whispered, “You dog, you!”
It was at this point he received a backhand to the face, and was ordered to leave the room before he caused any more trouble.
In his room he stole a glance at the calendar, Damn. I have my meeting with Honda today.
He pulled on some loose navy jeans, after checking his legs weren’t too bad - using rubbing alcohol wipes was proving to be a bitch- and wrapped his torso in a chequered blue long-sleeved shirt over a white vest. His trainers completed this ever-simple outfit and when 10:45am rolled around he shot out of the door. Typically he now had his meetings with Honda every Saturday, and seeing as Ludwig would need the car he’d have to walk.
Having arrived at the centre, Gilbert checked himself in and was moments later called into Doctor Honda’s office.
“おはよう ございます, Gilbert-san,” Greeted the small Japanese man as he sat in his large desk chair, hands folded neatly in his lap. Gilbert held back a chuckle: because of his accent, Honda said his name as Gi-ru-bert and it always made him want to laugh.
“Morgen, Doctor Honda.” Ever since he’d become comfortable with his new therapist, Gilbert stil felt they had this unspoken formality between each other. Certainly different to the relationship he had with Bonnefoy.
“What would you like to discuss today?” The black-haired man asked, a peaceful smile on his face.
“...” Mattie. I want to talk about Mattie. “I...have a friendship predicament.”
“Please be aware that this therapy is for your benefit alone, Gilbert.”
Pals hands clutched on another over bent knees. “Ja, I know, but...this is affecting my life, and I...don’t know how to deal with it.” Kiku tilted his head. “Very well.”
Shit. Now I have to explain it. “My friend, who I’m quite close to, is going on a date tonight. A-and I know I should be happy but I think the guy they’re meeting up with is...strange.”
“How is he strange?”
Red eyes blinked repeatedly. “I’ve met him a few times, he’s...odd. He acts like a predator; like everyone around him is inferior and he seems to want to manipulate my friend.”
Gott, this is so embarrassing. A hiss sounded in his brain, distant but not inconspicuous... Gilbert felt claws, like tiny needles, being dragged across his mind, penetrating his thoughts as he spoke. “But my friend only sees the best in him, and tonight they’re meeting up. I’m just worried.”
Taking in the limited information he’d been given, Kiku sat back and let out a breath. “This friend of yours….do you like her?”
Oh….I forgot to tell him…. “Um, actually, it’s a guy.” He stated shyly, gaining a slightly shocked look from the Oriental man. “A-ah, I am sorry-”
“Nein, it’s...wait. Why are you sorry?”
“I did not realise you were attracted to men.”
“I’m not!” Blurted the albino, getting the older man to recoil once more. Gilbert sighed. “I mean….I don’t know how I feel about him.” He looked up to Honda, determination in his eyes, “But I know how I feel about the guy he’s meeting, he’s trouble.”
“Gilbert, you say that you don’t know how you feel about your friend,” Kiku Honda began slowly, his serious gaze never wavering. “Could it be that you are making yourself think he is a bad person, to take the attention away from yourself?”
Gilbert scowled, annoyed. “Why would I do that? I know he’s a bad influence.”
“Let us assume you do like your friend. You might want to create an...excuse to stop him from dating other people.”
“But it’s not an excuse, I told my friend he was dangerous and that just made him push me away!” Gilbert’s tone was heated, the anger barely contained. I’m not imagining this! I’ve seen the products of my imagination and Ivan’s behaviour isn’t one of them. He was so certain. Carefully, with precision, Honda straightened and squared his shoulders. “That is a typical reaction. From his point of view, I can imagine you sounded-”
“Jealous. So he said.”
“大丈夫. Then you know there isn’t much to be done about this.” After moments of contemplation, the white-haired male nodded in understanding. “So...so if something happens, I have to be there and say, ‘I told you so’?”
Honda frowned. “いいえ, I wouldn’t recommend such an action. If something were to happen he would appreciate gestures of comfort. Now,” He looked at his watch, noting the thirty minutes they had left, “is there anything else you would like to speak about?”
Nein, Gilbert thought. I have nothing more to mention other than the fact I think Mattie’s in danger.
“Papa, I am not wearing that.” Mattie deadpanned when he saw the pink V-neck sweater Francis was holding aloft gracefully.
“Aw, come on, it’s your date night!” He draped the clothing playfully over his son’s shoulders. Francis was unnerved by the fact that he hadn’t met Ivan, but from what Matthew had told him, he seemed like a gentleman.
“I already put on my outfit,” Mattie sighed, gesturing to what he was wearing: a pair of baggy pale jeans, blue thin jumper, black converse and nervous smile. Francis pouted, lowering the pink fabric atrocity. “Not what I would choose to wear on a formal date, mais, I am not you, Matthieu.”
Matthew raised his eyebrows in agreement and put his wallet and new phone into his pockets. He checked the time. “Still fifteen minutes.”
“He’s picking you up at seven?”
Mattie blushed. “O-oui.”
“That’s a bit early, non?”
“H-hey! I decided the time, Papa.” Lightly tanned arms folded as he scowled at his father, who pouted playfully. “So he’s invited you out before, and you didn’t tell your Papa anything?”
“W-well, I- It was only coffee. This is a ...uhm...” Proper date, he had wanted to say. But if he let those words leave his lips it seemed to him like a crime.
More than that, those words somehow…..sounded like a goodbye.
Ivan collected him briefly, offering only a wave to Francis and Arthur, and a pleasant smile. Waving gently in greeting, Matthew jogged between the falling raindrops to Ivan’s silver Porsche, climbing in and shutting the door.
“Bonjour, Ivan,” He smiled sweetly, and Ivan replied with, “Здравствуйте, Мэтти,” which mesmerised the petite blonde as they drove off.
Russian was an incredibly strange language, according to Mattie, but he loved the sound of it. It sounded bold, confident, and, well….a little intimidating, too. But Ivan always spoke it with such a gentle expression he felt it was nothing more than a comfortable whimsy Ivan made a habit of.
Just like Gilbert.
No. Don’t think about him. Don’t think about what he looks like, or about his red eyes, or about…
“Are you alright?” Asked Ivan as he drove.
...the kiss. Mattie snapped back to reality, his wavy hair stroking his cheeks. “Oui, I-I’m fine.” Don’t think about him. Especially not the fact that he stole my first kiss, and I bet that kiss was his hundredth…
The car parked beside an Italian restaurant, and they climbed out; Mattie noticed that Ivan was wearing his signature trenchcoat and scarf, but thinner jeans and classy dress shoes. Ah….I must look too casual, he thought sullenly.
The restaurant was incredibly welcoming, with bright yet sophisticated colours and decor; the tables were of varying sizes and all had small vases of flowers centred on them. A waitress met them and escorted them to a two-seated table.
Sitting opposite Ivan, Mattie found it hard to focus on choosing his order. Ivan had such an interesting air about him, he didn’t know whether to look away or stare: his round face was framed by short pale hair, much like the sideburns of a tiger; his nose was prominent and blunt; his smile looked nice but clearly hid something else behind it; and his eyes...they were the deepest shade of sapphire, tinted with lilac-much like his own.
“How are you feeling today, Мэтти?”
He jolted, caught unawares. “O-oh, I’m fine. G-great, actually,” A small smile graced his features. “You?”
“I am also well, спасибо.” Ivan paused, his eyes scanning Mattie’s face as the waiter approached. After their orders had been taken he commented, “I was so worried to hear you had been in a fight.”
Mattie looked down. “I didn’t really get hurt, but…”
“Ah, да,” Ivan’s expression softened. “How is brave Гилберт doing?”
“Uhm, he’s...he’s recovering.” Mattie had no idea what to say, he hadn’t planned on discussing the albino on his date. Another uplifting grin was offered by the bulky Russian as he reached over and subtly took Mattie’s hand, holding it firmly. “Xорошо.”
Even though he didn’t know what it meant, Matthew smiled. “What does that mean?”
A look of surprise reached Ivan’s eyes, as if he hadn’t realised he was speaking Russian. “So sorry, it means ‘good’. I am glad you were not badly hurt, but I would rather you were not injured at all.”
“T-thank you, Ivan...that’s really sweet.” Their hands clenched tighter, hidden behind the vase of roses.
“A black eye does not suit one so attractive as yourself, anyway,” Another mysterious grin.
…..I’m sure he only meant it as a joke, Mattie assured himself. Or as a compliment?
The dinner went smoothly: they exchanged interests and were generally conforming to stereotypes of a modern date. The kiss they shared outside the restaurant persuaded Ivan to invite Matthew back to his place, to which the timid Canadian quietly accepted.
Gilbert was stressed. He paced the floor of his bedroom, the bathroom, the living room and even outside for a bit. He couldn’t think clearly and he couldn’t coordinate himself properly.
Something’s gonna happen, I know it!
He felt it in the marrow of his bones, in every one of his nerves, every muscle. They all screamed that Mattie was in trouble and also were a constant reminder that he could do fuck all about it.
The cat had been bothering him for a couple of hours, since seven. It also paced his mind, darkening the corners, it’s bright blue eyes narrowed in anticipation.
The German sat down in a kitchen chair, his elbow on the island and his fist buried into his cheek. He closed his eyes and saw the beast walking around his head, it’s claws unsheathed and sharp. It’s fur was still black, but it shone as if it were wet. As if it was perspiring.
You’re nervous, too, kitty. At least we agree on something.
He had made two cuts on his leg in an attempt to sate it, but clearly it wasn’t looking for his blood this time. Did it want to hurt Mattie instead, and it was annoyed that he wasn’t here to hurt? Was it angry that Gilbert had ruined their friendship? I shouldn’t have kissed him, Thought the albino for the thousandth time that day. Now he’s never going to want to see me again.
Gilbert looked at the plain wall opposite him, and saw Mattie’s face as it had been yesterday: hurt, tear-stained and flushed. For the first time in weeks the blanket of numbness consumed him.
Ivan lived in a huge house on the outskirts of town, which seemed fitting as he drove an expensive car and had solely paid the bill for their food at the costly restaurant he took them to.
It loomed, a great white-and-black structure, away from neighbours yet seemingly not alone. Ivan took his date’s hand and led him into the darkened hallway, where the only light was a lamp he switched on when they reached the barely-decorated living room.
Mattie was ever more anxious. He rubbed his hands together, fingers cold.
He felt rather than saw Ivan approach him; the man’s presence was so contained he could sense the strength held within that body.
However, he wanted to feel it more, in reality.
Wordlessly, Ivan’s gloved hands turned his blushing face towards his, and their lips met again.
Already a soft moan was drawn from the Canadian; this kiss was very different to the butterfly one at the restaurant, it was more intense, rougher. Pressing him against the door shutting off the hallway, Ivan broke the kiss for breath, and invaded Mattie’s mouth again, his tongue darting in to explore the salivating cave.
“I-Ivan…” Mattie groaned, his frail arms wrapping themselves around the Russian’s neck, the scarf a soft contrasting feeling to the fierceness with which his tongue was caressed.
Ivan’s hands removed Mattie’s arms from his neck, sloughing off his trenchcoat and helping Mattie out of his jumper. Before Mattie could say anything Ivan had his arms pinned by his sides, on the wall, as he kissed along his jawline and thin throat.
Mattie panted, he had never felt so wanted, so alive, so noticed.
The sensation of Ivan’s lips on his sensitive skin made him shiver. The Russian bit his neck, then, and Mattie cried out.
“Ah! I-Ivan, t-that hurts…” The biting wouldn’t stop, teeth dug deeper. Mattie head a click as some punctured the skin, felt trails of blood running down his throat. He struggled, but to no avail. The sheer brute force kept him pinned, paralysed. Suddenly one of Ivan’s large hands cupped the blonde’s crotch.
I don’t want this. He’s too rough. “Ivan, p-please stop.” He tried softly, but Ivan captured his lips again, the kiss deep and overwhelming.
Mattie struggled more, “Ivan, stop!”
“But Мэтти is liking this play…” Fingers massaged Matthew’s growing erection, though he willed it away. “Non, I-ah!” Hard pressure was applied between his legs, making the smaller man gasp, his eyes watering. “Stop….” Finally, Ivan’s glowing purple eyes narrowed and he softened his hold.
“W-why are you s-so rough, Ivan?” Mattie demanded, shocked.
The shark’s grin appeared again; Ivan put his lips next to Matthew’s ear. “I also have a pet.”
Pale lilac eyes widened in horror. Mattie’s breaths became faster, more shallow. No. No….
A soft chuckle made his skin prickle. Ivan pulled back to stare into his eyes. “Y-you mean, like Gilbert?” Asked Mattie, frightened.
“нет. There is a difference. Gilbert is being kept as a pet. I,” He whispered, “am keeping one.”
Another gasp left the Canadian’s ravaged lips.
“It’s insatiable, Мэтью...it wants you.” Gloved hands now grabbed thin hips and pulled their abdomens together. “I want you.”
“You’re insane,” Breathed the smaller male, a hint of disgust in his eyes.
Ivan’s expression hardened. “I am not. I am the master of my pet, I control it. Unlike your precious German friend,” He spat, his teeth glinting with Mattie’s blood. “Gilbert is the ladder his pet will climb to hunt you. He will hurt you.”
“You’re hurting me right now. He’s...never hurt me.” Mattie held his ground, his bare chest protruding.
Ivan licked his lips. “Not physically.” That got Matthew to flush and look away, but he continued, whispering sharply, “Gilbert is unstable. I know what I want.”
“I don’t want this...Ivan…” Two crystal tears ran down the blonde man’s cheeks; Ivan caught one on his fingertip and licked it. “My pet and I can become one,” He explained. “When we do…” A sigh escaped his mouth, “I feel so good. There is a quiet sense of power when I find my prey, Мэтти. Become one with me.”
Exhaustion overcame Matthew. He was tired of fighting, of struggling uselessly. When he gave no answer, Ivan snarled, picked him up and threw him down onto the black leather sofa in the dim light, gaining another yelp of fright.
Ivan was upon him, tearing off his shoes and jeans, leaving him cowering in boxers, shivering. Those manipulative purple eyes sparkled with excitement.
The massive, toned man hovered over Mattie’s weakened body. “I see betrayal in your soul,” Ivan opined, his left hand stroking the skin of Mattie’s thin stomach, chest, neck. “I know you have passion for the albino.”
“L-leave Gilbert out of this-” The Canadian snapped, but was silenced by a bruising kiss.
“Be mine. Be my new toy, Мэтти, and I will not hurt him.” Ivan flipped Matthew onto his stomach, then lifted his body up and wrapped a thick forearm around his chest to hold him close. Mattie’s blood was boiling, his mind confused, his exposed body trembling as Ivan’s hand once again slid down to his crotch. He whimpered. I can’t escape this. He could injure me. Worse, he could injure Gilbert. How did it come to this, to surrender….I…
“Fine,” The soft voice broke the dangerous silence. “Promise me. Promise me you’ll leave him alone, Ivan.”
He was pushed onto all fours atop the sofa, presented before his captor like a sacrifice.
“да, as long as he does not interfere,” Ivan’s tongue trailed across the back of Matthew’s neck, heightening his arousal. Grinding against his prey the Russian let out a gentle laugh. “Don’t you know how much cats are attracted to birds?”
By the way, I never wanted to make Ivan the bad guy. I like Russia. But there must be an enemy. Also, if anyone wants to correct my Japanese or Russian, feel free, they're not languages I am very educated in right now.
おはようございます (Ohayōgozaimasu) - Good morning
大丈夫 (Daijōbu) - All right
いいえ (iie) - No
Здравствуйте Мэтти (Zdravstvuyte Metti) - Hello Mattie (Formal greeting)
спасибо (Spasibo) - Thank you
Гилберт (Gilbert) - Gilbert
хорошо (Khorosho) - Good
Мэтью (Met'yu) - Matthew
Chapter 11: Chapter 11
Terribly sorry, guys! This is a relatively short chapter BUT I promise to you all, a longer one tomorrow! For now, enjoy~
It was morning when Mattie opened the door to the apartment, to see both parents watching some soap on TV. Arthur whirled around, “Ah! You’re home - are you alright?” Mattie looked alright. In fact, he looked better than alright. He stood tall, his posture proud, and he seemed to glow with a newfound confidence. He beamed at them as he crossed the room, “Oui, Dad, I’m fine.”
Francis bit his lip, trying not to smirk. He called after his disappearing son, “A warm shower is advised, it will make the pain go away-”
“Francis!” Arthur hissed, swatting his arm as the Frenchman chuckled.Mattie shut himself in his bedroom, locked the door, and slumped. He couldn’t sit down; it was a miracle he could appear that healthy.
His first time was nowhere near as pleasant nor romantic as he’d imagined…..neither was his second time, or the third.
Ivan was about exerting power over him. He didn’t have sex to gain pleasure, he only did it for dominance. Pain, Mattie realised, was much better at dominating people than pleasure ever could be, even just the few moments of it reached during coitus.
The blonde’s bruised shoulders shook as a sob escaped his throat, followed by a river of tears and self-loathing.
He had heard Francis’s teasing advice; after the night he’d had with Ivan, he would jump into a bath full of boiling water if he could.
He clenched the Iphone so tight in his palm it left red imprints in the flesh. He stared at the screen. Mattie’s Mobile Number so the letters said.
God, Gilbert wanted to call him so badly. Would his phone be on? Would he reply?
What if he’s...at Ivan’s. Gilbert gulped. He’d avoided thinking that such things might go on between Ivan and Mattie, but...well, it had been a date. And it’s not like they were two 15 year-olds in the light of puppy love. The albino hadn’t been able to sleep the previous night, knowing that Mattie was with that creep, but not knowing what they were doing.
He tricked himself into believing he didn’t want to know. For some reason, he felt burning hatred at the thought that Matthew could be sleeping with someone….
Nein, he corrected. I feel angry at the thought of Mattie sleeping with someone else.
Does this mean I really do want to sleep with him, or is it more than that?
He was so protective of the Canadian, sometimes treated him like he was made of glass. Maybe that was it, he was just being overprotective. Someone holding Mattie, being able to kiss him, touch him, knowing he wants it too. I...I want that. He’s my best friend! I shouldn’t be thinking of him this way! A loud hiss echoed inside his skull, and he quieted down.
Ivan might have done something to hurt him. Something might have happened. Fuck. FUCK. I have to know! Reluctantly pushing the ‘call’ icon, Gilbert held the thin metal to his ear.
The beeps seemed to last forever.
“Allo? Gilbert?” Gilbert was surprised to hear Francis’s voice. “Hallo, Francis. I, uh...I was ringing to check on Mattie.”
A sigh from the other end. “He is taking a shower right now, but he’s fine. Do you want me to give him a message?”
“Nein, I was just….Nevermind.”
“Gilbert,” The Frenchman’s voice sounded firm. “Why do you sound so concerned.” The white-haired German chewed his lip, thinking of an appropriate response. “Ich dachte dass….I thought Ivan might….Ich weiss nicht….Do something to upset him.”
The tone grew more suspicious. “Like what.”
“I don’t trust Ivan, okay!” He confessed in a huff. “Every time I’ve met him, spoken to him, he...seemed strange. A bad kind of strange.”
“This is a gut feeling, you have no evidence to prove he is strange?” Mattie would be the evidence in this case, he thought angrily. “...Ja. I have no evidence. It’s probably just stupid, but I had to check. Tut mir leid.”
“...I understand. Merci for making sure he was alright, au revoir-”
“Wait,” He blurted hastily. “....D-did he...stay at Ivan’s?” He received another soft sigh. “You will have to talk with Matthieu about that. Goodbye,” The other line clicked off.
Panic and worry flowed into Gilbert upon hearing those words. He did. Francis would’ve outright told me if he hadn’t. Oh Gott, Mattie…. He growled, angry that he couldn’t know, but even more because if Ivan had done anything, if he had so much as laid one finger on Mattie, he’d make sure the Russian could never touch him again.
The cat stood up abruptly, fangs bared, hackles raised. Gilbert felt goosebumps prickle his skin, and waited there, paused, for an unknown amount of time.
Uncertainty had blurred his link with reality, with time; it was almost 1pm before he thought to move. He looked down at his phone again. Unlocked it. Looked up Mattie’s number again.
Come on, come on, be ok. Shaking fingertips typed a text.
Hi, Mattie. Are you ok?
Time passed. Two minutes, five, ten, twenty. Gilbert found himself addicted to checking the screen, to imagining he got a text which would either put his worries to rest, or confirm his fears.
It would be late into the night before such a reply would be sent.
Matthew Williams stood naked in front of the full-length mirror on the inside of his wardrobe door. His hands, trembling, hugged his strained body.
From the small of his back to his shoulders, there were bruises. Some small, some large, caused by pressured fingers or palms, sometimes hickeys. Only the hickeys had scabs on them, from where the Russian’s teeth had filed away the skin until he bled. His hips had clear cuts on them from Ivan’s fingernails, his hair was scruffy because it had been pulled and knotted between frantic digits and every single muscle felt weak.
Hell, he had been weak. Ivan had taken him like a dog, and made him stay in that position. Even when Mattie had hoped to salvage a caring relationship and suggest he turn around, he was punished.
Ivan only liked to be kind when he was...hunting, so he’d put it.
Mattie gingerly touched his backside, to see if it- Damn! I-it hurts. The stabs of pain shot up his spine, making him cringe. Merde.
Ivan hadn’t prepared him properly, had put it in too quick. He remembered how loud his scream had been, how Ivan had seemed to soak up his pain with a scary serenity.
Now he could still feel how big, how intrusive the Russian had felt inside him. True, he’d had some pleasure, but that was not one of the memories etched into his brain.
I...I did it to protect Gilbert. I’m...with Ivan now, to protect my friend. I can’t guess what exactly Ivan would do to him if he ever captured him, but if it’s anything like how he treated me… A look of determination crossed his face, and the one in the mirror. Then let it be me suffering rather than him.
A familiar buzz sounded on his desk; Mattie hobbled over and picked up the device, staring at the text from Gilbert. What the hell was he supposed to reply with? Could he lie to his best friend, even after swearing to Ivan he’d tell no one?
The stress of deciding what to say put him off replying completely. He was so lonely, so battered and tired, that the only benefiting thing he could think to do was carefully manoeuvre himself into bed and try to sleep.
Nightmares and vivid memories soon enveloped him.
Shocked awake, whimpering, sweating, Mattie hugged his body and tried to calm his twittering heart. He’d kept seeing Ivan, feeling his threatening touch, looking into those pitiless poisonous purple pits of his…
Non, it wasn’t real. Not this time. Not tonight. I have to be strong. Grabbing his phone and seeing no new messages, he stared at the one from Gilbert. It was just a few letters, that could help make many other sentences and words….yet the albino had structured them carefully, fearfully, to make sure Mattie was alright.
He’d give up what was left of his pride to help him.
With shaking breaths the Canadian quickly sent a reply, feeling as if Ivan was watching him even now.
Oui, I’m fine.
Something simple. Couldn’t easily be misread, and was a sign that on some level their normal friendship had been preserved. I wish it hadn’t come to this, to me being kept away from him. Dammit, Ivan.
Ich dachte dass - I thought that
Chapter 12: Chapter 12
Warnings: violence, swearing and scenes of an uncomfortable nature (non-con.)
Two weeks went by, in which Gilbert and Matthew had little contact - if they did talk it was via text - and the Canadian continued to visit his Russian captor, each time feeling like he’d crawled into a spider’s web, only to be bitten and have his insides turn to mush before being cast savagely aside once more.
It was during the third week, on the second visit to Ivan’s house that week, that things began to change.
So soon into this pathetic excuse of a relationship, Mattie’s anger had been rising. With every thickly-accented word Ivan spoke, with every thrust into his supple body he became closer and closer to exploding.
Mattie was escorted into the large house, where he began to walk to Ivan’s dark bedroom; his feet stopped. I have to say something to him.
“I-Ivan.” The burly Russian turned to him, as unpredictable as an unexploded grenade. “Mm?” Cold, chafed hands gripped the fabric of his hoodie. “I d-don’t want to do this today.”
“Why is that?” His voice was so cold, colder than any Russian winter.
Mattie couldn’t meet his glare. Not yet. “I’m sore, I’m exhausted...We’re supposed to be in a relationship. Can’t we just...relax for a while?” He gestured to the small TV in the corner of the spacious living-room.
Heavy footsteps made their way over to him and Ivan looked down at the blonde. “Нет, we are only doing what I want to do.” Ivan whispered into Mattie’s ear, “It appears as if we are in relationship. Really, I am your jailor.”
“C-can’t we just relax-?” Mattie was interrupted by a harsh slap to the face, one which brought tears to his eyes.
The beating was a new addition to this twisted agreement - though Ivan only ever slapped his face. The punches, bites and scratches were reserved for less visible body parts.
“Bedroom, now.” Ivan’s eyes were colder than any Russian winter, his tone sharp as a blade. It was the first time he’d ever commanded Matthew do this so soon after arriving.
Non, I will not conform to this. Hesitantly, the Canadian backed away, shaking his head. “Non.”
Russian eyes widened.
“I will not. I can’t take this anymore.” The door, get to the door- a gloved hand gripped his shoulder. “Then you no longer want to protect Gilbert?” Mattie swallowed. “...I’ll still protect him, but not like this. Not with you using me this way.”
Suddenly he was in Ivan’s strong arms again, fearful, with hands crushed to his chest. “Мэтти likes it rough. I hear him scream but it is not from pain.” That got the blonde to blush slightly. I don’t like it with him. I don’t. I… Soft lips kissed his neck tenderly, and he melted into the touch.
“See?” Whispered Ivan, softening his hold on his prey. "See?"
“Y-y-you’re not n-normally l-like this, Ivan…” Ivan’s fingers stroked along Mattie’s jaw, his chest, and down to his hips where they lifted his clothes and rested on bare hipbones. Mattie mewled softly, much to Ivan’s delight.
Turning him around, Matthew’s hands were placed on the wall, as the big-built man overpowering him slid the younger’s trousers down partially. Just enough to get what he needed. "I-Ivan-” Stutters escaped the blonde, but Ivan was still being gentle. Still careful, as he released his own and then Mattie’s member, palming it softly.
“Shh,” He murmured to him as he aligned his hardened organ, covered in slimy fluid. Ivan gave an abrupt thrust into Mattie, directly hitting his prostate.
“Ivan!” His legs almost buckled, but the smaller man held on.Tears fell in pleasure and agony as his erection throbbed. Stop! Make it stop! I can’t- I hate this! Pushing off the wall, Mattie pulled himself free of the Russian, his arm moving, fist curling - landing a right hook into Ivan’s cheekbone.
He could feel his knuckles rattling and cracking, heard clicks as Ivan’s teeth smashed together and his cheekbone bruising. Ivan didn’t have time to register shock, only anger, as he saw his toy fix his trousers and make a beeline for the front door. Staggering after him, Ivan’s hand clasped Mattie’s sleeve.
The person who turned to him was not the Matthew Williams he knew. This one was stronger, determined, powerful - and more importantly, pissed off.
“Bastard!” Yelled Mattie as he swung his leg up, kicking Ivan’s groin so hard Ivan could almost taste his testicles.
Mattie took his chance as Ivan crumpled to the floor, throwing open the door and his body through it, running, running, desperate to get away.
He felt like he was being chased by a cheetah, feet pounding the ground as if he was a jet on a runway. Home. Home is safe; he wouldn’t dare get me at home. Mattie’s body was still aching, the promise of ecstasy still lingering in his veins.
Arriving home, teary-eyed, clothing ragged, Matthew didn’t see the white-haired man walking the opposite direction he was jogging -
“Oof!” He collided into the man, knocking them both down.
“O-oh! I-I’m sorry!” Yelped the blonde as he climbed to his feet, looking down hastily at… Gilbert. Gilbert’s wide red eyes focused, and took Mattie’s proffered hand to help him up. “Mattie? What’s wrong?” His tone, the one portraying his concern since they had stopped hanging out, made the Canadian want to cry.
In fact, no, he did cry. Out in the open, careless, fearless. Through blurred vision he saw arms enveloping him. “Oh, Birdie….Let’s get you home.”
“N-not yet,” Mattie decided, but they began to walk that way nonetheless. “I- I can’t go home yet, I look…” Oh God, how did he look? Terrified? Traumatised? He felt that way.
“...Wo dann?” Asked Gilbert, worried. “Ludwig and Feli are hanging at mine...Ah, how ‘bout a cafe?” Balled fists covered Mattie’s mouth. “...Just until I can get cleaned up.”
The cafe they’d visited had a bathroom, and now they were on their way back with Mattie feeling just a little bit more human. Looking like it, too. He smoothed down his hair hastily with water, readjusted his clothes and washed his face, making his bloodshot eyes less noticeable.
Warily, Gilbert stole a glance at him. “Matthew…”
“I don’t want to talk right now, Gil.” He couldn’t bring himself to sound firm, but he hoped it was enough.
So no words were spoken until Mattie rapped his knuckles on the familiar door of his home. Idiot, he cursed internally, leaving my keys at home. Arthur opened the door, thick eyebrows raised at the miserable duo.
“Oh, hello, lads. You alright, Matthew?” Mattie put on a small smile and nodded. “Oui, I was coming back from Ivan’s…”
“Ah, Gilbert was just asking if you were home,” The older blonde chuckled. “I see he found you. Are you coming in, Gilbert?” Aforementioned man caught Mattie’s lilac eyes. Discreetly, the Canadian sent a nod his way. I need to talk to you, Mattie. I’ve missed you.
Mattie left the bedroom door open, as per his parent’s agreement, while Gilbert stood awkwardly in the centre of the Canadian-style room. They were both thinking the same thing: that the last time they’d been in here, almost three weeks earlier, Gilbert had kissed him.
“Uh...so, how’s Ivan?” Bad question, you dick, don't make the situation worse!
Mattie looked tearful again. He remained standing, his hands clasped together. “A-actually….we broke up.” Shock registered on Gilbert’s unnervingly pale face. “Just now?”
Gilbert’s brow creased in frustration. “What did he do.” Screw the facade, the protectiveness in his tone was undisguisable.
“What happened!” Moving closer to him, Gilbert gently but firmly held Matthew’s shoulders, as the blonde tried to stutter something about a mutual agreement-
A whimper escaped Mattie’s throat, and he cringed. No, no, he’ll find out! Cover it, cover it! “Please, I don’t want to talk about Ivan...Gil, I let you come in because we haven’t seen each other for a couple weeks, so just…”
The albino seemed to relax a little at that, but was obviously still irritated about Ivan, wondering what had gone on. “Ja….Es tut mir leid, I only wanted to make sure you weren’t hurt.” Embracing his friend softly, they stayed like that until the blonde moved his head, resting it on Gilbert’s thin chest, exposing a portion of his neck.
There was a love bite there, picked out by Gilbert’s ruby orbs. He ground his teeth and clamped his jaw. Then, he looked at it again. That’s not a normal love bite. The skin was clearly punctured deeply by teeth, the scabs fresh and the bruising surrounding it dark in colour. That was more like a hallmark.
He placed a white fingertip near it, and Mattie jumped back.
“Was ist dass, Mattie?” His eyes were flaming again, nostrils flared in anger. Said man jolted, pulled his hair over it once more. “I-i-it’s just a h-hickey, Gilbert-”
“Like fuck it is!” Came the heated response. “What else has that fucker done?” Mattie’s eyes watered. He wouldn’t show him, not now. He was tired of taking his clothes off for another person’s benefit.
But Gilbert stepped closer, slowly. Matthew wouldn’t meet his eyes and he felt like his heart was going to rip down the middle. Who in their right mind would want to hurt him? ….Maybe a person has to be crazy in order to do so.
“Mattie...please tell me I’m overreacting…” The white-haired man swallowed the lump in his throat, the distance between them but a few centimetres, yet it felt like miles. The petite man said no words.
“T-then, let me know for certain it was Ivan…” Unexpectedly Matthew lifted his head, jaw clamped, eyes seemingly swollen after crying so much before. His pupils dilated.
Holy shit, it really was him. Braginski’s been beating up Mattie, and Gott knows what else he’s been doing to him.
Inside his head, the cat awoke. It licked its lips, along it’s fangs which grew in size. This was a bigger cat than the norm.This was a sleek black lioness, bare of mane yet cold in heart. She stood on the crevices of Gilbert’s tortured thoughts and roared, pristine claws desperate to tear flesh.
The albino began to laugh. Not his mocking cackle, nor his sweet chuckle. This was the manic laughter of a madman drowning in the lust for revenge.
Mattie backed away, almost terrified. “G-Gil.”
Blonde eyebrows furrowed. “What?” Gilbert had laughed so much he was bent double, thin hands clamped onto his knees; slowly, his head of layered white hair turned upwards, those red eyes practically sparking. “I’ll kill him.”
The Canadian took shuddering breaths, “Non, Gilbert, you can’t-”
“I’ll kill him!” He was making for the open door.
Mattie raced to it, shut and bolted it, as Gilbert loomed over him. “Open it, Mattie.”
He shook his head. “I won’t do that.”
The lioness crouched, her blue eyes glistening in their black-lined sockets, ready to pounce. Wrong target, kitty.
“Matthew, open the door.” Still the blonde refused, his voice growing firmer. “He’s out of my life now. I have no reason to see him again. You don’t need to do this.”
“Ja I do!” His hands hit the door, either side of Mattie’s head. “That bastard deserves death! Open the door!” Matthew was very aware of whom - what - he was dealing with. This wasn’t the normal Gilbert; this was a wild animal on the verge of escape, and it was his job to keep the gate closed. He could see the hairs on Gilbert’s hands stand up, like fur.
His nails were digging into the wood.
Hold him off until he’s stable. He’ll come to his senses soon, Mattie tried to reassure himself. He’s got to.
“Why...why did you let him…” Those red eyes now looked lamenting. Gently, Mattie put a hand to the side of Gilbert’s face. “I thought I loved him,” He lied uncertainly. “I thought if I let him do that, then I was helping him. But I couldn’t take it anymore.”
“You shouldn’t have taken it in the first place…” Gilbert leaned into the touch, calming down for a minute. I need to get his other hand off the door, he thought.
Softly, Gilbert pressed a kiss to Mattie’s cheek, and then, sensing no refusal, planted another on the Canadian’s lips. Mattie was stunned, but kissed back after a few seconds, his other hand leaving the door and wrapping around-
Thin air. Gilbert moved, unlocking and opening the bedroom door, snarling as he sprinted down the hallway and to the front door.
“Gil...GILBERT!” Mattie yelled after him, trying to catch up. His voice was so fucking quiet, why couldn’t he make his voice loud enough?! “Gilbert, stop! He’s after you, he’s after you! This is what he wants!”
A startled Arthur, the only parent present, appeared. “What’s all this commotion?” Gilbert was oblivious, opening the front door-
“Don’t do it! Please!” Screams left Matthew’s throat and followed him, but he was too far gone to hear.
Unable to chase him, too weak, too abused, Mattie sunk to the floor just inside the doorframe. He was talking about murder. I don’t know what he’s capable of in this state. He...he manipulated me.
I could’ve just released a killer.
Arthur stood behind him, utterly confused, as his son cried and the form of Gilbert Beilschmidt raced into the concrete jungle.
Thud, thud, thud, thud. He didn’t know where he was running, only that he was on the hunt. He started to run in the direction he’d seen Mattie come from, eyes clenched open, darting around to get the best view of his surroundings.
A blinding darkness was descending onto the town, layering everything in black, some parts only kept at bay by petty lamp posts or house lights.
Luckily for him, Gilbert had cat’s eyes: he felt people’s presence before he saw them walking down the streets; he sensed where to run before his mind agreed. Past the coffee shop, past the local library, scanning over little alleyways and along roads. Eventually his legs had carried him to the edge of town, near to the multistory carpark.
Gilbert’s feet tread lightly, like paws, making no sound as he approached another alleyway, the smell of rotting garbage strong as it had been left in wheelie bins for foxes to ravage. Steam coiled up from drains and the walls were lined with slime mould. His head was spinning after running for so long; it seemed like the walls of the buildings housing the alley were breathing. In, out, in, out. Rein, raus. Verdammt fiesling, Ivan!
Looking down at his feet, he noticed that the brown claws had grown from his toenails, puncturing through the rubber soles of his trainers. His hands, too, looked odd: the claws had replaced his fingernails, the blood dripping off of them from where they’d broken through the skin.
The lioness let out a mumble of a growl, but her attention was taken by another sound. Gilbert looked around as the sound came again: a malicious chuckle, wrapped thickly in a foreign accent.
Hiss! He moved too late, the lioness dug her teeth into his thoughts; a cold metal bar was placed over Gilbert’s throat and he was yanked into the wall. A large body pressed against his, preventing any movement. He suddenly felt incredibly stupid. Dummkopf, running off with murder on the mind, and no fucking WEAPONS!
Out of the corner of his eyes, Gilbert could see two shadows. They looked like a man engaged in combat with a beast, though which one he was, Gilbert didn’t know.
“Привет, Гилберт,” Greeted Ivan in that thick mother tongue of his.
“Bastard,” Retorted the albino, barely managing to breathe as the pipe was pressed into his jugular. Ivan pulled them away from the wall as Gilbert struggled, panting, feeling his head lighten.
“Disorientated prey cannot run,” Commented the Russian, long trenchcoat flowing around his body. “Shame.”
He wants a hunt, the German realised. He scowled. Then I’ll give him one.
Throwing his head back in a sharp headbutt which caught Ivan’s nose, Gilbert was subject to a few terrifying seconds of complete asphyxiation before the pipe was removed. Ivan cursed, already swinging the weapon back to the white-haired male.
Gilbert ducked while his head cleared, dodged another swing by millimetres.
Sucking in lungfuls of air he ran out of the alley, onto the empty street. As he ran, he saw his faint shadow in the darkness. With wide red eyes he observed it’s transformation into a cat’s shadow.
I can’t turn and fight just yet; he’s weakened me. Gott verdammt!
Gilbert couldn’t hear another set of feet. In fact, other than his breathing and footsteps, everything seemed too quiet. Passing the library, next to the coffee shop, there were a couple of large skips. Darting behind them, he sat and listened.
The only sound he heard was a growling deep inside his mind, that of a bloodthirsty mammal which shook his skull. Not yet, kitty. A stone bounced off the side of the skip, drawing a frightened yelp from the albino.
Dark laughter followed, and the massive frame of Ivan Braginski split the scene before those red orbs. “Are you not going to fight?”
“...” Getting to his feet, bracing his muscles, the albino replied darkly, “Nein. Ich werde dich töten.” He launched himself at Ivan, the lead pipe deflecting off his forearms, as he gripped the pipe.
They pushed and pulled, Ivan trying to trip him but Gilbert was too fast; trying another tactic, Ivan brought his knee into Gilbert’s stomach.The hit knocked him down, his healing ribs having also been aggravated. He lay on the cold concrete, gasping, his head pounding.
“Pathetic boy.” The words came from Ivan’s lips, yet Gilbert heard two voices. One carried on speaking, echoing into his brain. So weak. So unstable. Let me take care of this. It was Ludwig’s voice again, the perfect little brother he’d been overthroned by.
He could see the cat, lurking behind Ivan’s silhouette. It grew again, it’s fur seeming to mould into the Russian’s, his pale hair mixing with the black. A dark lioness seemed to perch on his shoulders, both her paws draped on his chest and her head on top of his. Her long tail curled round his neck, the scarf turning obsidian.
Gilbert’s blood turned cold as it locked gazes with him, the blue eyes like ice. It spoke inanimately, through Ludwig’s voice again. Come on. Rip this monster to shreds.
Light drops of rain fell from the Heavens and tickled the skin of Gilbert’s face as Ivan loomed above him, expectant. Cliché.
“Your move.” The thick Russian accent bought his anger, his determination to the surface. As the rain steadily grew heavier Gilbert moved; he pushed himself backwards through Ivan’s legs, feeling the concrete scrape his back as he rolled to the side, sprang up, ran again. With a shout the Russian rushed after him. Gilbert worried Ivan would throw his pipe at him, but amended that he wouldn’t want to lose his weapon.
Beside him ran the lioness, her preened fur glinting under the streetlights, her claws clicking in time with Gilbert’s heartbeats.
Higher ground. I need a place where I can see him but he can’t see me. Ich brauche…. His eyes snapped to the colossal building to his left, a few metres away. The multistorey car park, which was surrounded by many rubbish skips full to the brim with trash bags and clutter.
He veered, his feet taking him over the ground floor, to the green door marked stairs.
As he bounded upwards, cursing that he hadn’t taken the elevator. Faster, verdammt! 3rd Floor. 4th Floor. 5th Floor, putting him tens of feet in the air.
Gilbert paused, breathless, behind a stone pillar. It wasn’t as good a vantage point as he’d expected. Yes, the staircases overlooked parts of the levels but there were still plenty of hiding places among the cars. He had to be careful: he was dealing with a hunter.
His ears picked up no stray sound, above the sound of clashing rain outside. “Come out, Ivan, you coward!” He yelled, fighting to keep his voice even.
A footstep was heard. Then another, coming from his right. Gilbert whirled, eyes wide, the pipe crashing into the side of his face, drawing a mangled scream from a tightened throat.
“You are the one who is running.” Another blow landed on Gilbert, this time hitting his upper arm. “Gott dammit, you prick!”
He rolled, came up and tried to throw a left hook at Ivan’s head but it was weak; Ivan sidestepped easily. The pipe swung again, hitting the pillar and making an echoing crack as it snapped under the force. The 5 metre metal length was now in two pieces: the 3 metre bit, and the 2 metre part Ivan was holding.
Sensing opportunity the white-haired man lunged across the blacktop for the 3 metre part, ignoring the throb of his bruised skull. His pale fingers grabbed it just as Ivan threw himself down, onto Gilbert, attempting again to suffocate him.
Evidently, there was something about this intimate modus operandii that called to the monstrously strong Russian.
Gilbert, now glancing into the heartless orbs owned by Ivan, immediately realised something: Ivan’s killed before. He’s lured people to his home before. He hurt Mattie.
It was no longer another man trying to kill him, oh no. A Siberian tiger, 4 metres long and weighing 300kg, was now wrestling him, it’s massive paws holding down the pipe fragment to his jugular.
It was as white as the driven snow, a pure beast created for destruction. No...Gilbert thought, it didn’t just represent chaos, it represented Ivan’s insanity. Man and beast had merged, become one. At least Gilbert was still keeping his under wraps. As his body began to feel more distant he heard a snort of hot air, brushing his face.
The lioness was prowling, judging, snarling at Ivan. It’s a much bigger cat, more powerful. I can’t...I’m not strong enough… Gilbert understood why the black lioness hadn’t attacked; she cared for her own safety more than his.
The purple eyes were the same, but sharper, concentrated on watching the life drain from the albino’s devilish eyes, eagerly awaiting the thrill of the kill. “W-why...why do you want to kill me?” Choked Gilbert, wheezing heavily under the cat’s weight let alone the pressure applied to his throat. The tiger bared its four-inch canines, reverting back to Ivan Braginski. “Some cats are territorial, Гилберт. It is only natural.”
“Nein!” Gilbert coughed, saliva running down his mouth. The lioness hissed. “I’m n-not some prey! Y-you won’t kill me-”
“Нет? But you came to kill me. And I don’t want to die yet.” Cold metal bit into pulsating flesh like the jaws of a rabid hound.
Now. Now, you stupid cat! The lioness jumped onto them both, her claws ripping Ivan’s body - not that he felt anything - and melded herself to Gilbert’s being, back inside his head. The albino blinked. When his eyes opened again, his eyesight seemed impeccably clear.
He could see Ivan’s perspiration, the grains of gravel on the blacktop, the lattice of cracks in the storey ceiling, a solitary spider hanging from a delicate thread in the yellowy light.
Gilbert Beilschmidt had cat’s eyes.
For the first time since they’d met, Ivan looked scared. All traces of glacial fur and tiger-like prowess disappeared to the aura of a common house-cat. Gilbert snarled, feeling fangs instead of human teeth scrape his lips, pushing the Russian off and away from him, crouching on his legs, shoulders hunched.
Ivan jittered to his booted feet, fear now obvious on his rounded features. He sprinted for the sixth Floor.
Gilbert didn’t say anything; after all, cats didn’t talk, did they? At least not to humans. His footing was sure and light as he chased after him, running up the car ramp into a fairly empty level. Still, Ivan was far ahead, whimpering, using his hands to grip railings to stop his shaking legs from buckling. Somehow, he’d seen that Gilbert wasn’t himself right now: he was simply a predator looking for his hunter.
And that realisation shook him up more than any earthquake could. He’d hunted before, hurt before, captured many a snivelling homo sapien, but never had one turn the tables on him.
Now such a rebel was hot on his heels, a shadow filled with physical matter.
7th Floor, 8th Floor, 9th Floor and Ivan’s breathing was thin, his huge body burdened with carrying its heavy weight at a high speed for so long. Something caught his eye; he spotted Gilbert running silently on top of car roofs, watching him, gaze calculating. Gilbert jumped off a green Clio’s roof, his leg stuck out - his foot smashed into Ivan’s side, jostling his balance. But he couldn’t stop, he couldn’t, he’d be killed!
A vicious roar, erupting from a human mouth, rang in his ears as he tripped, fell, onto the final Floor of the car park, completely open to the elements, the rain soaking him instantly. There were only two cars parked here: a Kia Rio and a 4x4. He dived behind the larger, uncaring of how pointless such a move was. Out of the dingy glow of the inside car park, footsteps deliberately slow and loud, came the albino. His eyes shone with a savage excitement as he advanced to the large vehicle.
His perfected sight picked up another detail: there was a slash in the fencing around the open top level, next to the 4x4, from where a car must have reversed into it.
That gash is wide enough to push a human through. That idea brought Gilbert back to his senses. Had he really just contemplated actual murder again? And - Wait, how did I get up here? I was on Floor 5…
Looking over the high bonnet of the car, he saw a cowering man. He hurt Mattie. He beat him up, scarred him, bit him. Death is a blessing for him.
Jumping over the hood, he hauled Ivan to his feet, kneeing his stomach and elbowing his back when he sank to his knees, spluttering. A punch to that oversized nose. Punch, punch, punch, Ivan yelping and mewling, his face caving in. “Нет! Нет, пожалуйста, не-” Gilbert growled and shoved him against the 4x4, panting heavily into his bloodied face, his grip tightening in rage.
“Armselig Drecksack!” (Pathetic shit!) Screamed the younger man, slamming Ivan’s body into the metal. “You fucking hurt Matthew! You beat him! He didn’t fucking do anything and you scarred him!”
I’ll tear him apart, body and soul. Unexpectedly, a low chuckle escaped Ivan. “You are too protective of him. He was merely a toy.”
A toy? Thought Gilbert, nostrils flared. A TOY?! He delivered another bone-shattering punch to the Russian’s sturdy face: it was now hardly recognisable as human. “I’m protecting Mattie’s innocence, his being! I’m defending it right now, you Schwanz! Ich-” Ivan began to chuckle again.“What’s so fucking funny?!”
A pause. Then, “Mattie has no innocence anymore, Гилберт.” It was a sentence Gilbert never wanted to hear from this man, this monster. It was obvious he’d hit his best friend, but anything beyond that...had been shut out of his thought spectrum. He’d refused to believe it.
Oh, Gott, Mattie….my little Birdie…. He felt like blood was running into his eyes, adding to the sting of the lashing acid rainfall.
“I’ll kill you, you worthless, savage sack of shit!” Gilbert went to shove Ivan to the hold in the fence, but a loud ssshick sound stopped him. He looked down.
Ivan had opened the hatch used for inserting oil to the 4x4, and was holding a lighter to it. The flame flickered like Gilbert’s anger, but was fragile like his mentality.
“Вы не будете,” Whispered Ivan just above the deluge, “because I will kill us both first.”
“You wouldn’t.” It was clear Gilbert was afraid. If Ivan dropped it into the hatch…
“дa, I would.” Fingers clenched the trenchcoat. “You s-said you didn’t want to die.” Smiling a bloody smile, the Russian whispered, “I said I didn’t want to die yet. That was a few minutes ago now.”
….Gilbert’s shoulders slumped and he shut his eyes. It was a stalemate.
But not for long.
“Aaah!” He grabbed Ivan’s shoulders, spun him a metre away and to the hole in the fencing, Ivan spreading his limbs at the last second to prevent his body falling through it. His back facing open air, his angered, cut-up face glaring hatred at the man trying to push him to his death. But Gilbert hesitated. He….couldn’t. He couldn’t kill him. Even after all he’d done, all he would probably do, he couldn’t make himself take a life. I’m not...a murderer. I’m not the demon people think I am. He sighed. Ivan deserves death; that doesn’t mean he’ll get it. At least not by my hands. “I leave you your life,” The German decided, his grip loosening. “Get out of this place, Ivan. Never come back. If you do, Mattie will turn you in to the Police, or worse,” He leaned in. “I’ll make sure you die.”
Grinning like a madman, Ivan hissed, “до свидания, Гилберт!” and freed his arm holding the still-alight lighter over Gilbert’s shoulder, pushing him away to sprint back into the car park. Within seconds, he was gone.
It was as if in slow-motion: Gilbert twisted his body, a shout of terror leaving his throat as he saw the lighter fly through the air, accurately aimed into the open hatch of the 4x4….
Nein. NEIN! He had no time to pause, no time to think. Gilbert stepped forward to the gash in the wire fencing, and looked down. He jumped as the two cars exploded.
A shockwave of heat enveloped him as fire spiralled upwards into the night sky, defeating the rain; Gilbert fell, the effusion of fire curling in his wake.
Both men had murder on their minds that night, but as it turned out, only one of them had ever had the courage to try and carry out the act.
Wo dann? - Where then?
Was ist dass? - What is that?
Rein, raus. Verdammt fiesling, Ivan! - In, out. Damned git, Ivan!
Привет, Гилберт (Privet, Gilbert) - Hello, Gilbert
Nein. Ich werde dich töten - No. I will kill you
Ich brauche... - I need...
Нет! Нет, пожалуйста, не- (Nyet! Nyet, pozhaluysta, ne-) - No! No, please don't-
Armselig Drecksack! - Pathetic shit!
Schwanz! - Dick!
Вы не будете (Vy ne budete) - You will not
до свидания, Гилберт! (Do svidaniya, Gilbert) - Goodbye, Gilbert! (I am aware this is formal)
Fire destroys and it creates. What emerges from an explosion may not be the same thing as it once was. If you are a fuel, you have to burn. If you are already burned, then does that make you immortal?
It was early morning, 2am to be exact. It was not the drizzling rain and cold gales which caused pale eyelids to wince open, no, it was the blaring sounds of a firetruck and several Police cars. The man who’d fallen from the roof of the structure, fallen from his bloodlust revenge, now lay in a skip, deeply buried and covered with filth.
The force of the landing had made sure he was invisible to most eyes, as garbage bags obscured his figure. Carefully, Gilbert Beilschmidt looked around, amazed, at the scenery lit by flashing blue and yellow lights.
I survived. Oh mein Gott, I survived. He’d honestly been expecting to meet his maker after jumping, but evidently his life was not destined to be over just yet. Gilbert had noticed the skips below, of course, but he still thought the force of his landing would kill him.
He’d felt completely free as his body plummeted, believing there was a death waiting for him. He had no idea what came after death, but as long as it was different from this world, he’d figured he wouldn’t care.
So maybe it was natural that a sense of disappointment washed over him as he slowly sat up and examined himself. No bones broken, a few scratches and bruises. How is it possible that I have no serious injuries, he wondered, refusing to blame it on something as relative as luck.
Not even his Iphone had been broken - the screen was mildly scratched if anything. He made sure no Policemen were doing a round search and hopped out of the skip, feeling light-headed and disgruntled.
He unlocked his phone: 23 texts and 5 missed calls from Matthew, along with 8 missed calls from Ludwig. Verdammt.
Gilbert didn’t want to talk right now: his throat was immensely sore from screaming, shouting, and the strangulation. He was pretty sure half of his face was bruised, too. Bits of shrapnel and melted metal lay on the ground, all around the building. Civilians had come to investigate but the Police had placed yellow tape to block them while the firefighters put out the remainder of the fire. There was an ambulance present, but it didn’t look like there were any casualties. Not yet, anyway. Ivan, you murderous terrorist.
He took off again, jogging lightly back to his apartment, fishing his keys from his jeans pocket and turning it as quietly as possible in the lock. Closing the door, he removed his shoes and tiptoed over the wooden floorboards…
Click. Bright light filled the room, and Gilbert looked over by the light switch, next to which, stood Ludwig. “Bruder.”
“Don’t start, I’m going to bed.” He resumed walking but Ludwig bisected his path, turning on the TV. “What happened to you?” He asked.
Gilbert folded his thin arms, sighing. “I fell down some stairs.” Ludwig nodded in understanding, then commented, “Were those the stairs in the multi-storey car park, by any chance?”
….Well, shit. Ludwig had turned the channel to show a live new coverage of the scene, where reporters were yapping about there being two car explosions but as of yet - “No casualties.” Gilbert was relieved to hear that.
“What were you doing up there?” His brother queried.
“Nothing that interests you.” Gilbert opted to move closer to the hallway to his bedroom. Ludwig scowled. “Eigentlich, ja, das interessiert mich. Two cars exploded. You were there. What happened?”
“Verdammt, Bruder. Look, I….I was chased up there, and that’s all you need to know-”
“Do not limit this for a need-to-know basis!” The blonde retorted frustratedly, “Tell me why you look like you’ve been beaten up and thrown into a fire!”
“I had a fight with someone, ok?” Gilbert snapped, managing to shut his little brother up. “....Me and this guy had a fight. He chased me onto the roof and then threw his fucking lighter into the fuel tank of a car. You wanna know why I look half-incinerated? I had to jump off the fucking roof before my guts were toasted!” This yelling was not helping his vocals.
It wasn’t a complete lie, Ivan really had tried to kill him. He’d tried so hard.
Unfortunately for you I’m tougher than that, Braginski.
Ludwig’s bright blue eyes were wide with shock, his mouth slightly open. “You….Mein Gott...Are you alright? Are you hurt? I’m sorry, I was just…” Sometimes it really made Gilbert smile to see how quickly Ludwig went from big and scary to concerned and cute.
The albino smiled softly, glad that he was still alive to witness such a cute version of Ludwig. “I’m alive. Which, by the way, ist gut.” He turned to head for his bedroom. “Gute Nacht, Bruder. Get some sleep.”
A fast rapping of knuckles against the apartment door brought a drowsy Ludwig from his sleep, dressed only in boxers and his black vest, lumbering to open it. Why am I such a light sleeper. He looked surprised when he saw who was responsible for this 8am wake-up call after such a late night.
“Oh, Matthew. Morgen.” The blonde Canadian looked like he’d been strapped to an electric chair, he was so jumpy. “I-is Gilbert here? D-did h-he come home last night-?”
“Calm down, he’s here, he’s fine.” Ludwig answered quickly. What does Matthew know about last night? “He got into a bit of trouble, but-”
“What?” Mattie blurted, eyes wide. “Is he hurt? What happened?”
Ludwig folded his arms. “Matthew, I don’t know. I don’t think he’s badly hurt, though.” Purple eyes blinked and Mattie seemed to shrink back from the German’s firm voice. “S-sorry. I just….please can you ask him t-to call me?”
“Ask him yourself.” Gilbert’s voice carried to Mattie’s ears. Ludwig stepped aside, approaching his brother. A conversation in German followed, ending with Ludwig stumbling back to his room for more sleep.
Gilbert walked up, slowly, to the door. His bruised face was in clear view, and the Canadian’s lips tightened when he saw it. Then, Gilbert glanced down the hallway. “Are those cops?” His voice was unsteady, hoarse.
Mattie looked down. “Uhm...y-yeah, but they-”
“You got the cops on me?” Gilbert accused, his red eyes narrowing. Mattie shook his head frantically. “Non, non! They just wanna talk to you! I...I filed a report last night…”
“O-of….domestic abuse…” The blonde swallowed. “Against Ivan. I figured if the Police got him first you wouldn’t….make a bad decision. But I had to tell the Police why Ivan was dangerous, a-and that he was after you…”
Gilbert clenched his jaw. He wasn’t sure if this felt like betrayal or an act of protection. Mattie rushed on. “B-but I didn’t tell them anything bad about you, Gil! T-they just wanna ask you a few questions at-”
“At the fucking station,” Gilbert spat, turning around to go and dress. “I got it.”
They suspected he was involved in the car explosions the night before, Gilbert could see it on their faces. Naturally, he had been, but that didn’t mean he wanted to tell them.
There were two officers sitting opposite him in the interview room. Both men. The short one had black buzz-cut hair and the other was a tall burly man with short blonde hair.
Gilbert secretly named the blonde one Officer Lennie and the shorter Officer George.
“Mr Beilschmidt,” Officer Lennie began, “would you mind divulging where you were on the night of the explosions?”
Ja, I would. “I was out getting groceries.” He tried not to hesitate, and was surprised at how well he was lying.
“Can you tell us between which times you were out?”
“From about 7pm to half eight.” Lennie frowned. “Seems like a long time for a little grocery shopping.”
“I walked, and of course I saw Mattie and helped him out.” Officer George spoke up. “What exactly did Matthew say had happened to him?” His voice was firm, hostile.
Good cop, bad cop, huh. Ok, I’ll play. “Well, he didn’t want to tell me anything at first, naturally.”
“Naturally.” Repeated George. Damn he was really getting on Gilbert’s nerves. Nevertheless, the German continued, keeping his posture relaxed. Just tell the truth for this bit, Mattie wouldn’t have needed to change anything. “...I took him to a cafe to get him cleaned up and calm him down. Then we...went back to his parent’s place.”
“You didn’t think to come straight to the Police?” Lennie this time.
“Nein, I still didn’t know what had happened to Mattie. I just thought it was a fallout between them.”
“Aren’t fallouts typical signs of an unhealthy relationship?” Queried George, his facial expression blank.
Gilbert’s jaw tightened. “...I don’t jump to those kinds of conclusions, Officer.” He had to restrain himself from growling the last word.
“Ok. We understand - or have at least been informed - that Ivan Braginski was attempting to hurt you. Can you confirm this, and if so, have you any ideas why he might have been after you?”
Gilbert licked his lips. “...I can’t confirm whether he was after me, no. However, I trust Mattie’s word as I know Ivan was one to brag about his plans. I only met him a couple times at art classes.” Officer George stirred again. “Nice, kid, your stories are matching up so far. Damn lucky no one was killed or hurt in those explosions.”
“Calm down,” Warned Officer Lennie, as he spoke then to Gilbert. “Again, can you fathom why Ivan might have wanted to hurt you?”
Yes, oh yes, he definitely could. “...Ivan was jealous of mine and Matthew’s friendship.”
“Understandable,” George interrupted. “You and him seem quite close - a partner would no doubt envy that. Can I ask, did you say Ivan hadn’t actually hurt you?”
Red eyes met narrowed gunmetal grey. “No, he’s never touched me.” George leaned back. “Then you must have hit a lamp post really hard.” He gestured to the fresh bruising on Gilbert’s face. I knew he was waiting to call me out on that. “Ja,” Gilbert replied carefully. “It’s amazing what happens when you’re not paying attention.”
Silence. Nobody moved in the room.
Officer Lennie’s thick eyebrows sunk. “Did you witness the car explosions?”
“Nein, I told you, I was taking care of Mattie.” Shit, I’m not convincing enough. “You can ask Arthur, Mattie’s dad, if I was there in the time slot I stated.”
“We might very well do that,” Mumbled Officer George. “‘Kay, Beilschmidt, thank you for your time.”
“We’ll be in touch if any other information arises.” Agreed Officer Lennie, both giving Gilbert cold, wary looks as he left the room.
“They think I blew up the fucking cars,” Gilbert snapped, his ruby glare focusing on the Canadian sat in the hallway of the Police Station. He arose, hands clenched together. “What-”
“They just want to find some evidence to get me locked up, for fucking terrorism!” His accented voice carried loudly as he stormed past the blonde, into the open air. Mattie hurried after him, his too-big sneakers tapping as he jogged. “T-they don’t think that! L-look, just calm down-”
But Gilbert wasn’t done, even as he power-walked. “No? I have this stupid mark on my face, caused by your psychotic ex-boyfriend! Think they won’t put zwei und zwei zusammen?”
Matthew stopped walking. “Gilbert.” The tone of his voice, quiet yet commanding, got the albino to face him. The Canadian had already been filled in vaguely by Ludwig.
“You were going to murder him.” Mattie continued. “You manipulated me and said you were going to kill him. I knew he was after you, so I got the Police involved before you did something you’d regret.”
Oh, trust me, I wouldn’t regret it, Gilbert thought. Even now, I wouldn’t regret it. Then suddenly he saw it. He saw doubt and uncertainty and worst of all, fear, in those softly lilac eyes.
“You think I did it.” The words leapt into Mattie’s ears, soft and true. Despite his anxiety, Mattie stepped closer to the white-haired man. “Did you.” It was more a demand than a question, the sort you would ask if you already knew the answer.
He couldn’t believe this. Mattie really thought he could….. “Nein! I didn’t murder the fucker!” He spat, lips curled in a snarl. “I had the opportunity, but you know what? I figured why should I sacrifice my liberty for his life? I can’t believe you thought I’d murdered him.”
Mattie looked disgusted. “Do you not remember the things you said to me before running off? You said you were going to kill him and I’ll be damned if you didn’t look sincere! You had murder on your mind.” Another step closer. “And you knew it.”
They both knew he was right, Gilbert had planned to carry out a murder. “Mattie, bitte, glauben Sie mir...I did not kill him. I told him to leave this place and never come back.”
Mattie’s bespectacled gaze bored into Gilbert’s, searching for confirmation of hands unwashed with blood. After a few minutes, he looked away and began to walk home, leaving the albino stranded and longing.
May 5th, 2014
I gave this up for a while. There was other shit going on. But I...picked it up again because it’s easier to wield a pen than a blade, richtig? I’m reading my last entry….ha, I wish things were as back then. When Mattie still trusted me. When he was still...my friend. Just my friend.
I fucked up again. Gott, I’m so useless. Pointless and pathetic. I almost…..and Ivan….Mattie, why would you put yourself in danger like that? Pulling back from his writing, Gilbert pinched the bridge of his nose and sighed. Everything was going wrong.
But then, how exactly would things have gone right after he’d run off with a plan to murder his best friend’s ex? Was this the soppy point in the story where Gilbert was just supposed to crawl back to Mattie in tears, for Mattie to forgive them and a new relationship blossoms?
Nein, I think not. He doesn’t want me now, and I….have no idea what to feel. I can’t believe I ever complained about feeling numb.
An inexplicable bout of anger surged through him, and he threw his pen across the room, the ink cartridge smashing and creating a splodge of black on the pale paint. The shape it made, seemed to Gilbert like a maple leaf. Canada. Canadian. Matthew Williams.
He bit his trembling lip as he reflected on the past few days. He’d alienated both his brother and Mattie, and he’d almost committed murder - or could’ve been a murder victim.
The ink ran down in trails, forming three marks which looked like scratches. The scratches made by a cat. Ah, yes. There she was. He looked to the beautiful black feline enchantress as she lay on his bed. She paused in the cleaning of her fur to stare at him. Should’ve killed him, she voiced.
Gilbert never saw the black house cat anymore. He didn’t see the lucrative violent lynx, either. Now it was only her, the lioness, who dared to haunt him like some kind of plague. “If I had killed him, I would be in worse trouble now.” He responded.
She scraped her long claws across the bedsheet, making a low zipping sound. If you had killed him you would have felt powerful.
“Nein, you would have felt powerful. I always feel weak. Weak…” Speaking of weakness, Gilbert removed his trousers and pulled his boxers up a bit to see the mild scarring of the cuts on his thighs. He hadn’t made any for a while now, the cat had overtaken his attention.
It made him recall a memory of his childhood, when he and Ludwig were still living with their parents.
It was Christmas morning. An eager pair of brothers bounded down the stairs, aged 5 and 8 respectively.
“Kommen auf, Bruder!” The younger yelled in glee as they reached the living room. Under the tree sat but a few presents, yet they excited the boys nonetheless.
Gilbert swallowed as he heard his father’s domineering footfalls, and looked down as the massive outline of their father overshadowed them. On the mantelpiece sat a photograph of their mother, beautiful, slim, and angelic. She had always respected their father, but she had been by no means a submissive woman around his presence. That was probably why he’d fallen for her: she had been one of the few people not intimidated by him.
“Guten Morgen, Vater, fröhliche Weihnachten,” They boys greeted calmly. He nodded and took his seat in his large armchair, toned muscles visible beneath his nightclothes.
Gilbert could feel his father’s green eyes on him as they reached to give their presents to him, then reach for their own. Gilbert and Ludwig had made their father a small statue of him - or at least, how they saw him - out of clay, a strongly built warrior of a human. He unwrapped it, looked directly at Ludwig and thanked him, but to Gilbert he said nothing. It had always been this way. Silent rejection of the weaker older one.
Christmas had always been this way. Ever since....Ludwig's birth, and their mother's death. Naturally, the family did not tend to celebrate the youngest sibling's Birthday, however Gilbert had always tried to do something to make each yearly passing special.
Within seconds Ludwig had grabbed his present with a childish hurry, using his chubby fingers to unwrap it. His icy eyes sparkled at the sight: it was a toy train. A beautifully decorated, hand-painted toy train. Looked like some kind of ancient Steam Train, with working wheels and even a little whistling exhaust. His younger brother loved it, and raced it across the carpeted floor underneath the Christmas Tree. Gilbert’s hands found his present: it was a thin package covered in coloured paper. His heart began to race, maybe this was what he’d been wanting!
The shiny plastic confirmed it. There was a coloured pencil set! And a little sketchbook! For the first time in ages a genuine grin appeared on his features and he giggled, looking to his parent. “Danke schön, Vater! Danke, danke, danke…” He hugged the set close to his heart.
Their father’s long blonde hair, straight and Viking-like, brushed his thick arms as he crouched next to Ludwig, a smiling softly. “Ludwig, wie magst du dein Spielzeug?”
“Ich liebe es, Vater, danke.” The younger blonde replied. The man grabbed the train and pulled it from Ludwig’s small hands. “Wie magst du jetzt es?” Ludwig’s wide eyes looked watery, and he slumped.
“Lass ihn allein.” Gilbert snapped, standing and approaching his father. He knew it was a bad move, but his little brother didn’t deserve that. He met a challenging green gaze. “Gib es zurück,” The albino demanded.
Now his father stood, an impressive 6 feet tall even without the boots he usually wore. Gilbert knew he thought of him as weak, pathetic, useless. Hell, even sunlight could bring his albino son to his knees, and their father sought only strong men as his kin.
His father’s hand shot out; Gilbert cringed, expecting a slap, but instead felt the pencil set being ripped from him. His father chuckled lowly as he gave Ludwig back the train. He bent down until he was face-to-face with Gilbert. He took out something from his pocket, placed it in Gilbert’s tiny palm. His red eyes opened.
Coal. There was a piece of coal in his hand. He clenched it and glared at his sadist of a parent.
“Erfüllen nicht mein Blick.” Growled the blonde as he arose again. He spoke to him again, once he’d lowered his head of white, white hair. “You should not be disrespectful. Bad children get coal for Christmas.” With that, he stroked his coal-coated fingers down Gilbert’s white cheek, leaving smudge marks. After this motion he left the room.
Ludwig crawled over to Gilbert, holding the train close and muttering, “B-Bruder...bist du-”
“Geh weg!” Gilbert yelled, getting Ludwig to flinch. Ludwig was so clingy sometimes! It wasn’t like he was a baby anymore!
Gilbert hadn’t understood all of what his father had said, he hadn’t perfected his English yet, but he understood ‘bad children’ and ‘coal’. Was…..was he a bad child then? Had he done something wrong? If only his father would correct him, show him how to be better, maybe he’d gain his approval. Or even better, his respect.
Of course, now, Gilbert did understand what his father had said. All of it. It was annoying, actually, how he used to insult Gilbert in English so he couldn’t comprehend it. His father must have loved the confused look on his son’s face as he called him an idiot or a nuisance.
When their father had passed away neither of the brothers were sure how to feel. Sadness was an inevitable part of it, but for Gilbert there was a massive amount of guilt there, too.
Why? Because when he’d first heard the news he’d been happy. So, so happy and free. And people were not supposed to have that reaction when a parent dies.
Ludwig had taken care of their mother for a time after the awkward funeral, and Gilbert had never even thought to visit the old man’s grave. He wouldn’t be strong and scary now, Gilbert consoled himself. He’d be a pile of decaying bones just like he deserves to be. Me and Lud never did anything wrong. He told me to defend myself but got angry when I fought at school against bullies. He would kick me down and tell me to stay down, then mock me for not getting back up.
Ludwig was always luckier than me, he didn’t hurt him as much. Not while I was around, anyway.
“Du bist schwach, Vater,” A pale hand pushed back short strands of hair from his sweaty forehead. “Schwach und tot.”
*Throws open door* I'm BAAAAACK! Have you missed me? Of course you have.
Translations: (Mwahaha all German)
Eigentlich, ja, das interessiert mich. - Actually, yes, that interests me.
Zwei und zwei zusammen - Two and two together
Bitte, glauben Sie mir - Please, believe me
Kommen auf, Bruder! - Come on, brother!
Guten Morgen, Vater, fröhliche Weihnachten - Good morning, Father, merry Christmas
Danke schön, Vater! - Thank you so much, Father!
Ludwig, wie magst du dein Spielzeug? - Ludwig, how do you like your toy?
Ich liebe es - I love it
Wie magst du jetzt es? - How do you like it now?
Lass ihn allein. - Leave him alone.
Gib es zurück - Give it back
Erfüllen nicht mein Blick. - Do not meet my gaze.
Geh weg! - Go away!
Du bist schwach, Vater, schwach und tot. - You are weak, Father, weak and dead.
Chapter 14: Chapter 14
Thank you to all my readers for your support, I'm glad you are enjoying the story.
Disclaimer: I do not own any of the characters used in this story; Hetalia belongs to Hidekazu Hiramuya.
“Matthew, are you feeling alright?” Arthur’s concerned green eyes landed on the form huddled up on the sofa. Matthew nodded - he had not told his Dad about the Police report, only Francis was to be burdened with that information. However Arthur did know something had gone on - he wasn’t stupid - he just felt that his son was entitled to his privacy. And if he wanted to tell Francis, then so be it. At least he was talking to someone about it.
Francis and Matthew had always been closer, but then, he and Alfred had once also been…. Wiping his watering eyes, Arthur set about making tea.
“Can I have a cup of tea, please?” The quiet voice made him feel pity for the boy. What had happened to, well, make him more quiet than usual?
“Of course, love.” Arthur placed the cup down on the coffee table and seated himself next to the petite blonde. He was watching a documentary with dull, blank eyes. “Matthew, I know you’ve been going through some stuff lately, and...I don’t mind that you don’t feel like talking about it. But please, please promise me that you know I’m here and I will help you if you ever need it.”
Silence. Thin, fabric-coated arms hugged knees closer. “...R-really?”
Arthur smiled softly. “No questions asked.”
To this, Mattie felt he had to give the man some leeway. Sighing gently he replied, “...I did something, and it’s kind of put some distance between me and Gilbert.” Arthur remembered the day he’d gone charging out yelling something about Ivan while Mattie broke down.
“Are you no longer friends?”
The Canadian swallowed. “I...He wants to be, but I’m- I’m scared of him. Scared of what he’s capable of.”
Arthur frowned slightly. “You think Gilbert would hurt you?” That made Mattie stop and think. It was all his mind had been focused on lately. Not intentionally, he wanted to say. But he knew how terrible he’d feel if he did. “He said he would never hurt me.” But he has. Can’t he see? He has hurt me.
“Perhaps you should talk to him,” Suggested his Dad. “It doesn’t have to be the end of the friendship. You do need to be careful around him though, Matt, he’s….”
“He’s what?” Suddenly Mattie was feeling defensive for Gilbert. Noticing this, Arthur chose his words with care. “He is...unique.” He saw Matthew look away, flushed. That he was. Thoughts of how strong, weak, funny and unpredictable Gilbert was filled the blonde’s head, recalling days and days of treasured memories.
He still remembered how speechless he’d felt seeing him open that door to the art class. He still remembered how his knees had almost buckled and how his heart had beat like a jackrabbit’s.
Thanking Arthur and taking the tea to his room, Mattie hunched himself onto his bed, knees drawn up tight and the tea pouring into his mouth. Glancing at his phone, he saw he had a text from Gilbert, dated two hours ago.
Mattie, please, phone me. It wasn’t exactly pitiful, but the Canadian was not easily swayed by imperatives. Begging, on the other hand…
Stupid stupid stupid man. The dial tone was cataphonic sledgehammer on his skull. Beep beep. Beep beep. Beep beep. Beep- “Mattie?” Gilbert’s voice sounded shaky.
“What do you want, Gil.” He hadn’t intended to sound hostile, but his quiet voice held a certain poisonous tint.
“I didn’t kill him,” Came the immediate reply. Gilbert, it seemed, was rather bad at taking hints. “I didn’t kill Ivan. The Police never found a body, I let him go, he’s alive please believe me-”
“...Ok, ok! I believe you,” Mattie blurted before Gilbert had a heart attack. “But it’s not just about that, it’s about…” He couldn’t say it. It. It’s about whether I can trust you.
“It’s about what?”
“Doesn’t matter. Look, I’ve gotta go-” A whimper from the other line. “Wait! Are we still friends or not?” But it was too late, Matthew had pressed the ‘end call’ icon.
What the hell?
With a growl Gilbert threw down the phone, falling against the wall, sliding to the floor and resting his forehead on his knees. So, they couldn’t even try to salvage the friendship?
Dammit! I...I was just getting to really like him. I don’t want to lose him as a friend. Fuck no. In fact- He stood up, chest heaving and a clear plan in his head.
Well, not clear per say, but definitely something worth an outline. Marching towards the front door, Gilbert had one thought: Plan Get Matthew Back.
The Arts & Crafts Centre had not long been closed after a busy day. Gilbert had a black bandanna hiding the bottom half of his face - not that there would be an overwhelming amount of security - and a metal pick. Placing the metal in the lock to the building, he opened the door once a satisfying click had been heard.
“Please don’t let anyone be in here.” Not with what I’m about to do. It wasn’t that the act he was committing was horrible, but that it was….embarrassing.
Room A3 was deserted, like the rest of the structure. Picking the lock again, Gilbert snuck into the room. He stared straight into a security camera. Shit. He ducked and began looking what he was here risking his arse for.
His ruby eyes scanned under tables, around corners, next to easels until - There you are. Tucking the object under his arm, Gilbert placed a small amount of money on the desk unless anyone was caused distress at the loss of this item. Making his way back out the albino pushed against the front door again, but pushed too much: an alarm started blaring.
Laughing nervously, he decided to correctly open the door by pulling it, and sprinted through the doorway, his prize clutched tightly to his chest.
“Just a minute!” Matthew called as he slipped off of his bed, trotting to the front door where a persistent knocking could be heard. It didn’t occur to him that the man he’d not long been talking to would dare to-
Purple eyes widened. “Seriously, Gilbert? I said-”
“I know what you said,” Gilbert spoke fast, as if he were a time bomb. “But I had to talk face to face.” Mattie put a hand up to his forehead, brushing away some of the golden strands. “I am too tired for this.”
Stepping up into the apartment, forcing the blonde back a few steps, Gilbert held the stolen gift behind his back. He paused, noticing how quiet the place seemed, “Where are your parents?”
Mattie looked nervous. “A-at work.”
How can I start this without sounding desperate. “Ich...ich brauche dich.” Upon seeing the look of confusion on the blonde’s face, he started over, in English. “I don’t want to lose you as a friend, Mattie. I’ll, I’ll tell you what happened. All of it.” Cue the puppy-dog eyes tinted in crimson.
Silence. Mattie’s bespectacled eyes bored into his own. “...That’s fine, then.” Don’t code word me, Birdie. That hurt.
They sat on the sofa, Gilbert still concealing his gift, and the albino explained everything that had happened on that night, down to the last detail. Well, almost to the last detail. He left out the whole black-out psycho part.
It wasn’t that he didn’t want Mattie to know the truth, he just...didn’t want to further tarnish the Canadian’s view of him.
Mattie soaked up the retelling with awe and horror. “So he found you? And he tried to k-kill you?” In response, Gilbert could only nod. “We fought and...you know he got me with a pipe,” He pointed to the now fading bruise on his face, “I know I sounded murderous, Mattie, but...when I had the chance to kill him…” Red eyes met soothing lilac. “...I couldn’t.”
Mattie bunched his hands together, the sleeves wrung tightly to his wrists. “You did t-the r-right thing,” He mumbled softly.
“Fucking hope so,” Cold hands clenched. “Or else I passed up a great opportunity.” Mattie’s brow creased. “Well you didn’t miss out on manipulating me.”
“Huh…?” It took him a few minutes to remember. Oh, right….I kissed him. Why can’t any of my kisses be genuine? “I’m sorry, Matthew.” He wanted to say something like, ‘wanna have a rematch?’ but his tongue held firm, much to his gratitude.
“This is why I have problems trusting you,” The Canadian commented. “You’re jumpy, unpredictable; you say you’ll remain calm and then run off to fight. You say you’re straight but then you kiss me. And in apology for leading me on you buy, no...steal…a gift for me,” He reached around Gilbert’s back and pulled out the polar bear teddy with a look of frustration on his face. “This? Really?”
“I remembered how much you liked it, and...I didn’t think a different one would please you as much.” Despite the Canadian’s momentarily rough exterior, he could see the joy hidden in those purple pools at getting the teddy. So cute.
Mattie got up from his seat, arms folded and hidden by that huge hoodie he always wore which reached to his knees. “I want to trust you, Gil. I want to be friends like before, but...The way you were acting….I’ve never seen anyone act like that.”
“What, Ivan didn’t pull the psycho act too?” The tone he used was angry, defensive because he was trying to MAKE THINGS BETTER and why the crap couldn’t he just give him another chance?
Blazing violet eyes scarred his pale face. “Oui, oui he did.” Gilbert could sense something, a poison in the air, as Matthew continued to talk. “It’s remarkable, really. Who would have thought there would be so many similarities between you both.”
Nein. Oh Gott, nein. Er sagte dass nicht. Bitte, sag mir es ist nicht wahr. Gilbert stood, shoulders squared. “I was trying to protect you! I wanted him to stop hurting you, I mean, I’d never even realised he’d started hurting you!”
“I allowed him to!” Mattie retorted hotly. “We made and agreement, I knew what I was getting into, Gilbert!” His shoulders slumped as the other man breathed a shallow breath. “But...I don’t understand, I-”
“It was for you.” The blonde bit his lip. “I did it to protect you.” Unexpectedly the albino let out a light chuckle, which turned heavier.
At Mattie’s expression he explained, “We were trying to protect each other, and we both failed.”
Damn him. Il est ennuyant. Somehow, I cannot stay angry with him. Soon the Canadian also began to laugh softly along with the albino, putting a hand to his face. Both were wrapped up in the annoyed grins of the other.
Mattie looked up into Gilbert’s crimson irises. “It’s settled, then. Don’t protect each other.”
I will always protect you, Matthew Williams. Even if it makes you hate me. When the blonde man frowned again, Gilbert realised he had said his thought aloud. “Uh…”
Matthew flicked his forehead, a small pout on his lips. “I don’t hate you, Gilbie. Mais parfois, tu es un idiot.” Oh, man, how that language made his ears sing. Even though he only understood ‘idiot’ (and therefore concluded it was an insult) the way his friend said it made his grin widen. Gilbie? …..’Gilbie’? Even I have to admit that sounds sweet.
“Are we friends again, then?” In response to the hopeful question, a blonde brow rose. “We never stopped being friends.”
Two weeks later
“So, you say things are getting better?” Kiku Honda’s dark eyes lit up with the freshly delivered news.
Gilbert rolled up his long sleeves, to reveal...faint, faded scars of blades past. Slowly, a smile appeared on Kiku’s rounded face. “This is very good progress.”
Pale cheeks tinted in a blush. Things had indeed been going very well, to say the least. He and Mattie went back almost to normal, hanging out every couple of days. They would watch movies, play board or video games, practice their art skills, or maybe take a trip out.
He’d cleared things up with his brother, who was now happily in a relationship with Feliciano Vargas. He’d managed to find a small job at a department store shortly after his ribs had healed over and the pay wasn’t too bad. In fact, Gilbert was even contemplating to look for a flat of his own.
And the cat….he hadn’t seen it since Ivan’s hunting game. No such feline presence had invaded his dreams, or his vivid daytime experiences. Nothing so much as a black paw even seemed to exist anymore. Now that it had disappeared, Gilbert no longer craved the feel of steel slicing his flesh; his legs had healed, his arms were fine and his head felt clear. Gilbert Beilschmidt could breathe easy again.
The sessions were simply a precaution.
“Ja, I know! They look great, huh? Won’t be long before I can wear short sleeves again.” He practically sang, getting his therapist to chuckle. “Just in time for the summer weather.”
Summer. Technically it should’ve already started, what with it now being early June, but the weather just hadn’t wanted to give up spring. Until recently it had been constant downpours, hail, thunderstorms and general coldness - but the past few days had been calmly pleasant.
“Ja, summer…” He had hoped to do something nice with Mattie during this season, but had come up with no ideas. Something like a picnic appealed to him, or a bike ride, or…
Shut up, brain! Even now, with things going so smoothly, he couldn’t get rid of his feelings for the smaller blonde man. Naturally, topics such as relationships and the like did not come up in their conversations, what with both having bad memories of them. Especially Matthew. Just thinking of that goddamned Russian made his blood boil, even though there was a search out for him.
But Gilbert knew he wouldn’t be coming back. Not to this town.
A joking thought formed in his head. I am the hero this town needs, but not the one it deserves.
“Gilbert-san? Are you ok?” He blinked and focused his attention on the black-haired therapist, “Uh, yes, sorry. Lost in my own thoughts.”
The Japanese man smiled. “It is perfectly fine to voice them here.” Gilbert analysed his thoughts of Mattie once again. Nein, Herr Honda, it’s really not. He rubbed his hands together, clenching the long sleeves.
Honda spoke again. “Gilbert-san, would you perhaps like to end these sessions? Only if you feel comfortable.” The German pondered the question.
I do feel more stable now, and more independent. Gott weißt mein Bruder would be happy to know some of his money isn’t going towards sessions. Perhaps I….Vivid memories of the cat came back to him, along with all the damage it had caused. But who would I go to if it…..came back? “I would, but I fear my problems might come back. Although it would save money…”
Honda crossed his legs and suggested calmly, “You could quit the sessions for now, and if your problems begin again then we can resume your therapy. But I have seen massive improvement over the last few weeks, Gilbert. If it is helpful in your decision, I would give my professional opinion that you are mentally stable and capable.”
The albino hummed in agreement. “Doch….Alright, let’s call of the sessions for now.” Kiku took out a slip of paper, wrote down some numbers on it. He handed the paper to his patient. “This is my work mobile number. If you have any problems and need to talk, call me day or night, お願いします.”
So that day Gilbert walked out of the centre with his own therapist’s digits. Boy, he internally teased, you really know how to pick ‘em.
“Are you guys fucking?” Gilbert called into his shared apartment as he entered, wearing a cheeky grin.
“WILL YOU STOP ANNOUNCING YOUR PRESENCE LIKE THAT?”
“Hey, Bruder!” He greeted the sudden appearance of the blonde German, who glowered back. “Can you not just say ‘I’m home’?”
A hoodie was carelessly thrown onto the back of a chair. “Nein. Anyway, it was a genuine question! Knowing you, Feli might as well buy a chastity belt.” More embarrassed German spluttering as Ludwig blushed, desperate to change the topic. “H-how did your session go?”
“It was alright.” Gilbert folded his arms lazily. “I’m quitting them for now.”
“Was?” Blue eyes narrowed. “I thought these sessions were to prevent more-”
More craziness. “Yeah, no, I talked with Honda and he agreed I am,” He mimicked the Japanese accent. “Medicarry stabruh.” With a chuckle he waved the piece of paper in front of Ludwig’s face, “Oh, oh! Und he gave me his number.”
The younger man attempted a smirk. “Yet you claim to be heterosexual.”
“A-haha, be quiet.” Light footsteps were heard as Feli came charging out of the living room to attach himself to the German brothers. “Heeeeey, GilGil!”
Said ‘GilGil’ let out a cackle as he patted the Italian’s back. “Feli! Kesesese, you ok?” Large hazel eyes twinkled. “Sí! Me and Luddy were just going to start cooking dinner~!”
Cue another blush from the burly man. Gilbert smiled childishly, “Aw, Luddy, that sounds great!”
“Be quiet, go play some videogames or something.”
Gilbert threaded his pale arm through Ludwig’s. “But Luddy~”
“I SAID BE QUIET.” Laughing at his little brother’s outbursts, Gilbert pranced to his room, fishing out a few Xbox games.
Hmm, which genre of game should I play? He perused the contents. Violence, violence, horror and violence. He was aggressive to say the least when it came to videogames.
Hanging his lame work uniform up for tomorrow, Gilbert pouted at it. It was a dark evergreen colour, trousers and boots. The shirt sleeves had yellow bands around the cuffs and collar. Yellow. What was he trying to look like, the Grinch as a traffic warden?
You’re a safe one, Mr Grinch.
In the end Gilbert chose a game about a zombie apocalypse, which sated him for around an hour. However he had to stop playing once he’d thrown a fit over a level he couldn’t complete (It wasn’t his fault, that stupid zombie kept chainsawing his character’s head off!) and went to have dinner with the happy couple.
At 5pm his phone rang, spouting out Broken Glass by Three Days Grace as loud as it could. Seeking and answering it, Gilbert was glad to hear Mattie’s voice again. “Sup, Birdie?” Ah, yes, the nickname. He’d been calling Mattie it for a while now and it….just stuck.
“Ah, not much. Home from work. How was your day?”
“It was fine, mostly filled with random acts. Are you ok?” Gilbert picked up a strange tone in his friend’s voice.
“Oui, it’s just…” He sounded worried - but then he often sounded worried.
Gilbert frowned. “Is something wrong, Mattie?”
“W-well, non, not technically. I didn’t want to bother you with it anyway-”
“I’m going to come over there if you don’t tell me what’s wrong,” The albino threatened playfully. “I’ll tickle the answer out of you!” A soft chuckle on the other line. Gott damn, is that laugh illegally cute or what?
“Alright, alright. I’m just worried because….my brother’s coming to stay.” Gilbert paused. “No offence Birdie, but…..that’s it? That’s what has you worried?”
“My brother and Dad have conflicts. They don’t really get along anymore, and it annoys me when they won’t sort things out.” Mattie’s pronunciation of ‘out’ made Gilbert smile, but he remained focused. “I am sure it will be fine. He’s your Bruder, so he wouldn’t make things difficult for you.”
Mattie gulped. “....M-my brother is quite….strange. He’s got ADHD and always has to have attention. He was super popular at his school in America, probably still is. He messes things up b-but he doesn’t mean to.” Oh, Thought Gilbert, so we’re dealing with a Dummkopf.
“Oh...well I am always here if you need to have a break from him, ja? Or I can beat some sense into him.”
“Um, I don’t think I like the idea of you beating up Alfred…” Gilbert smiled. “Joking! I would never hurt your family.” ….Technically I only count Francis as an ex-therapist…
Even so, he could sense Mattie’s hesitation to believe him. “I know. G-got any plans for this week?”
The albino’s red heart jumped. He always misunderstood when Matthew asked him his plans. Hmm, this week, let me see….nope. Nope it’s pretty much just longing to be with you. “N-Nein,” He stuttered, “apart from work. I don’t like work. Man, why did I ever choose to go back to work…”
“Haha, everyone has to work. Besides, it gives people something to do and think about, right?”
“I suppose you’re right. Oi, wanna meet up tomorrow? We could take a walk or something?” Please don’t sound like a douche please don’t sound like a douche - oh, well, too fucking late now, Gilbert cursed himself. He’s right. I am...desperate. I’m desperate to see him.
“Oui, sure,” Came the positive reply. “Meet me at the park, at 10am?” So, so early….but it wasn’t like he was going to pass up the opportunity to see the Canadian. “Yup, awesome. Bye, Birdie.”
Ok. Alright, The albino thought as he combed his styled hair. I managed to keep him as a friend. Now I just have to...well...not eat the forbidden fruit. To him, Matthew was still the innocent, strong man he’d met earlier that year. He wasn’t tainted, or impure, or unwanted just because of the ordeals he’d been put through.
Unwanted. Oh, no. If anything, he was craved. Body and soul. Gilbert wanted to keep him safe, to hold him, be with him. His feelings were beginning to scare him now because he knew as soon as he caught sight of that thin frame, or looked into those lilac eyes, his knees felt weak. Sometimes he felt like he’d collapse just from hearing the Canadian’s voice, or his laugh.
That laugh. That adorable laugh would probably be the end of him one day, not that he minded.
Gilbert would sacrifice everything to have his feelings reciprocated now. By Mattie’s previous words it was too late, but that didn’t stop his heart wrenching the feelings from him. Stupid, stupid feelings. Love, lust, hate, I want nothing more of it. It’s too much. Getting up from his bed, the albino searched through his desk drawer, gritting his teeth, hating himself already.
Fuck. Oh, fuck. Things were going so well….I mean, they ARE going so well….they are…
He yanked up his shirt sleeve, staring at the milky, weak flesh. His eyes glanced at his scars. They were almost faded, almost gone, almost buried beneath a new layer of skin…
UGH. FINE. Instead he tore off his trousers, exposed his right thigh and put the tiny blade to the skin.
It was a silver blade taken from a pencil sharpener. His fingertips were already bleeding from where he’d pryed the thing out. Now, the familiar sting of metal slicing skin made him gasp softly.
The pain, it’s strength, the responses of his nerves….it was all so beautiful. One could mistake pain for pleasure, and Gilbert understood why. Yes, things were still going well. But he’d stopped cutting for a while now - perhaps he had needed to wean himself from the habit. This was a result of a subconscious build-up of withdrawal tension.
Amidst his relief, watching the little ribbons of red run down his leg, Gilbert froze. He had heard something.
What was that sound? He had heard it before, but couldn’t place it… it was such a soft noise…
There. It came again. Just a whisper, barely audible.
I have an announcement: this story will not have a happy ending.
Ich...ich brauche dich - I...I need you
Nein. Oh Gott, nein. Er sagte dass nicht. Bitte, sag mir es ist nicht wahr. - No. Oh God, no. He didn't say that. Please, tell me it's not true.
Il est ennuyant - He is annoying
Mais parfois, tu es un idiot. - But sometimes, you can be an idiot.
Gott weißt - God knows
Doch - Still
お願いします (Onegaishimasu) - In this context it means 'please'
Chapter 15: Chapter 15
Here's the next installment! Wishing everyone a Happy New Year.
Stay away stay away stay away GO AWAY-
Those words swam around Gilbert’s brain as a torrent of shivers wracked his body. He knew that sound, that fucking sound.
It had only been gone for a few weeks, yet he’d almost completely forgotten its existence. He dropped the tiny blade and dragged his nails across the new cuts, mumbling incoherently.
What have I done? I awakened it. It was never gone, it was always there.
A knock came at his door, but Gilbert didn’t hear it - didn’t hear Ludwig telling him he and Feliciano were going out and did he want anything? Only mumbled noises reached the albino’s ears, and he hugged his body to himself.
Leave me alone. I’m better now. He scowled. Go away, go away, GO AWAY! Worried, Ludwig opened the door. “Bruder! Was in der Welt-?” He saw the trails of blood on Gilbert’s leg, the blade on the floor, the demented look in his eyes.
The blonde advanced slowly, trying to keep his deep voice steady. “Gilbert, calm down. Gilbert…”
That voice. Which one was it? Was it his brother? Or… Hiss….
“GO AWAY!” He yelled, backing up onto the bed, against the wall. His vision was blurred.
“Brother, it’s me. It’s Ludwig.” Ludwig stopped walking, blue eyes serious. He doesn’t understand.
Oh Gott, why now? He was doing so well...Bruder… He spotted Gilbert’s Iphone on the desk, decided what to do. Gilbert panicked again as he moved to pick up the phone, but he couldn’t unlock it. Verdammt. Ludwig took out his own phone, praying that he had Honda’s number...aha. Calling him, the German was all too glad when he picked up.
“Doctor Honda,” Ludwig began. “Gilbert’s having some sort of attack.” A pause. “Have you called an ambulance?”
“I don’t know how serious it is. He doesn’t recognise me, and he was cutting his thigh with a piece of metal.” Ludwig didn’t like asking for help but he had to save his brother.
Before Honda could reply Ludwig had told Feli to phone for an ambulance, which he hurriedly did. “You need to make sure he cannot hurt himself. Take the metal away. Talk to him carefully but do not move too quickly. It could make his attack worse.”
Ludwig took another step, the phone to his ear. Gilbert shuddered. “Don’t hurt me, please! I can’t...I can’t….I’ll fucking kill you!” Launching into a fear-induced aggression he lunged at his brother, managing to scratch his features with uncut nails.
Ludwig yelped, Honda telling him to leave the room before they both got hurt but he wouldn’t listen. His face stung. Blood welled.
Gilbert was his older brother. He would never hurt him.
So this wasn’t Gilbert.
“You won’t hurt me! I’ll, stop you from hurting anyone!” The albino swung a punch at Ludwig, but he ducked, dropping the phone, spinning. He got behind him, grabbing Gilbert’s right arm and twisted it behind his back. As the Gilbert snarled Ludwig tripped his left leg, bringing them to the floor.
“Gott...damn…” The buff blonde grunted with the effort. Gilbert was ridiculously strong when he wanted to be.
“Gilbert, bitte, beruhige dich. Calm down…” Slowly, slowly, the man beneath him calmed. His breathing slowed and he thrashed less. Ludwig felt hopeful. He was coming back. “Gilbert, can you understand me? Verstehst du?”
“Ich...ja. V-verstanden.” His voice sounded weak, strained after shouting.
Feli came into the room as a siren was heard. “The ambulance is-” The colour drained from his face as he saw the state Gilbert was in. “GilGil, what…”
“Let them in, he needs to be checked over,” Ludwig commanded as he helped his brother stand, a thick arm around the pale waist to hold him up.Gilbert swayed against Ludwig’s chest, listening to his blood drip to the floor.
Drip, drip, drip…
“Bruder, I feel faint.” Upon seeing the scratches on Ludwig’s face he was overcome by dizziness. The concerned expression of his little brother faded as his world went dark.
“Sir, do you have any idea what could have caused this attack?” A female doctor addressed Ludwig outside Gilbert’s hospital room.
Said man looked, to say the least, like he might have a haemorrhage at any moment. “Nein. He has had a history of mental problems but...he’s been doing really well for the past few weeks.”
The doctor took down notes. “Had Gilbert been diagnosed with a specific kind of illness or has he shown symptoms like this before?”
“Not to my observation. He has never been tested for illnesses - the doctors concluded only that it was psychological and he attends weekly therapy sessions.”
“Is he on any kind of medication?”
Ludwig thought hard. “Mild sleeping pills, and on rare occasions a painkiller. Only the pills are prescription.” He paused. “Is there a logical cause for this outburst, Doctor?”
He saw her dark eyes look away as she clutched her clipboard. “...Most likely, it was some kind of panic attack caused by stress. However, due to your description of his behaviour and his past of self-harm it could be more serious.” She noted the burly man’s sullen expression and quickly amended, “But we have not done tests yet, sir, so please don’t quote me on it. At this stage we will do all we can to ensure Gilbert’s health and safety.” She offered a small smile which was returned.
“Danke, Doctor, but know this: I always prefer to hear the truth rather than assumptions.” With that, she left.
Ludwig turned his head to look into Gilbert’s form on the bed. For the time being he was stable. He recalled Gilbert’s earlier repetition: mentally stable. Ironic, if not tragic. Seeing him hooked up to all those machines brought back painful déjà vu,of another time he’d watched over his brother.
That day had only been last year.
The day Gilbert Beilschmidt decided to attempt suicide.
No, he would not think about that now.
It had been such a vast change in behaviour. Within the space of a few months when Gilbert was sixteen, he’d gone from attention-loving party animal to an antisocial self-loathing ghost. It was something the thirteen-year-old Ludwig, even with his intelligence, couldn’t understand.
Well, he knew it had something to do with their father...Gilbert was physically weak in his teens, as a child, and therefore (by his father’s logic) not worth his father’s time or attention, unless Gilbert was to be penalised and bullied for his appearance.
At age twelve Gilbert even dyed his hair brown in an attempt to impress his father. He had gotten a beating soon after.
Gilbert tried to join sports teams. Football, rugby, tennis, boxing. He’d proved too weak for all. He had the spirit but not the strength, so his teachers had said. The guilt Ludwig felt when he got into the football team was immense, but he knew Gilbert had been proud of him. Or he at least pretended, for Ludwig’s sake.
Ludwig suddenly remembered the argument which had gotten them thrown out of home. Oh God. It had been him. It really was his fault, all along. At age thirteen, Ludwig had fallen in love. Or at least that is what it had felt like. Love.
With a boy.
Yes, he remembered it now! The boy had been his friend for many years, they were very close. His name escaped him.
On that day, a summer day, he’d confessed. And the boy had accepted - reciprocated, even! He’d invited the boy to dinner at his home. It had been amazing, but….he’d kissed the boy, and his father had seen.
“Filthy, dirty behaviour!” He recalled his father shouting after the boy had been forced to leave. “Kissing a boy? It’s sick, it’s unnatural!”
“Leave him alone, Vater,” Gilbert had snapped, ready to defend his sibling. “Let him love whoever he wants. Love is love, right?”
“It’s not love, it cannot be love! Love doesn’t exist between two men!” He remembered his father hitting him, hitting Gilbert, cursing them. “Out! Out, both of you! I will not have a weakling and a queer as my kin!”
Pulled from his memories, Ludwig rushed into the room, sitting in the chair by the bed and taking Gilbert’s pale hand in his. His brother was not weak. Far from it. Gilbert was the strongest man he’d ever known.
Then, the boy’s name flashed into his mind, and ice-blue eyes began to water. Feliciano Vargas.
Everything...everything had gone well for him, but his brother….
“Oh, Bruder,” He mumbled, touching those thin fingers to his lips in a sign of respect, of gratitude. “Danke schön, for everything.”
Beside him, the heart monitor beeped steadily.
He wasn’t here. It was half past eleven, and he still wasn’t here! Mattie refrained from yelling his anger to the Heavens, but who could blame him? No one likes to get stood up. Especially not by their best friend. Where are you, Gil?
Gritting his teeth, the Canadian turned and marched - actually marched - to the German’s apartment, clutching the polar bear teddy tight to his chest. Kumajiro, he’d named him. He’d only brought him along to show Gilbert he...admittedly...really loved this gift!
This wasn’t like Gilbert, though - he’d seemed so eager yesterday. But then, the man was unpredictable, wasn’t he. Still….Reaching their apartment, Mattie sensed something was off. Knocking on the door, he waited. Waited some more. Considered leaving but then knocked again just to make sure.
Footsteps sounded, and a concerned Feliciano appeared as he opened the door. “Ludwig, wha-” He looked Matthew up and down, just to be certain it wasn’t his partner. “Who are you?”
“I’m Matthew Williams,” He stated nonchalantly. “Do you know where Gilbert is?”
Was this man prone to hospital visits?
Jogging into the lobby, Matthew Williams asked after him and was subsequently told to be quick because they had to run a lot of tests on Gilbert. “Merci.” He entered into Gilbert’s assigned room, only to come face-to-face with Ludwig. A teary-eyed Ludwig.
“W-what are you doing here?” The German man stuttered, wiping his eyes.
“To see Gilbert...are you okay?” Ludwig froze. I’m not the person he’s here to see, yet he is concerned with my wellbeing. “Ja, I’ll be alright,” He gestured to the sleeping albino. “He is recovering and the doctors are beginning tests as we speak.”
Relief flooded Mattie’s body. “Oh, bien, I….I just wanted to make sure he was safe. I-I’ll go now…” With a small smile the smaller blonde turned to leave. Ludwig caught his arm. “Wait,” He sighed. “You can go und sit with him, if you want.”
The Canadian beamed, clutching his teddy - Why does he have a teddy? Wondered Ludwig, but he let it go as he went to the refectory.
It was quite cold in the hospital room; Mattie was glad he’d wrapped up well despite the sunny weather. Sitting on the chair, he observed his friend as he slept.
You are just a magnet for trouble aren’t you.
Translucent white lashes rested like feathers on roughly sculpted cheekbones. Narrow shoulders were concealed under the sheets like the rest of his body, but Mattie could tell just be his outline how thin he was. Dangerously thin. Gilbert’s baby-pink lips were slightly parted in his slumber; Mattie noticed how chapped they were.
He had kissed him two times. Each time had been desperate, and each time he’d wanted more.
If he was being completely honest, Matthew was officially done with feelings like lust. It was too tempting, too powerful; lust led to nothing butt pain.
Despite that, the Canadian wondered what different kisses they might have shared. Butterfly kisses, hickeys or - he blushed when this came to mind - French kisses.
The past couple of weeks had been fantastic: both men carried on their friendship, in spite of everything. All Mattie wanted was to discard his feelings for him. He didn’t feel stable enough to cope with attraction, or compassion.
And Gilbert needed someone strong in his life, to anchor him. To help him. Mattie knew that role was his, so in order to focus on healing his friend he had to make sacrifices.
He wanted his friend to remain as his friend. But looking down at that body, that expressionless face, he felt his heart beat faster.
To his heart, he said, “You’re not going to give up, are you.” Leaning over, the blonde placed a soft kiss on Gilbert’s cheek.
Gilbert wanted to wake up. He needed to. He needed to open his eyes, wrap the blonde in a tight embrace and kiss him back.
But he was chained to the darkness by the sedatives pumping through his system. He cursed his weakness - there was always something keeping their affections apart.
Gilbert knew he was in hospital, again, but beyond that his memory was clouded. At least Matthew was alright.
Mentally he was awake, he just couldn’t move his body. If it weren’t for the IV tube in his wrist he would have panicked. He’d heard Ludwig’s kind words, had struggled to comprehend that his perfect brother was crying. Gilbert had wanted to hug him, too.
Fuck, he just wanted to hug everyone! Even Francis Bonnefoy.
I’m so lucky to have you guys. I won’t give up, Birdie...I promise.
Two days later, Gilbert was still resting, and the results of his tests were coming back. It was during one of Ludwig’s frequent hospital visits that he was confronted by a doctor - Doctor Lukas Bondevik.
After being invited to his office, Ludwig sat down stiffly. Bondevik sat opposite him, arms resting on the desk, his creamy blonde hair combed into style neatly.
“As you know, I’m here to talk to you about your brother’s test results.” The muscled blonde nodded.
“Well, obviously we’ll have to wait until Gilbert is awake before running psychological tests but-”
“If it is psychological, if you have even the slightest suspicion, please tell me-”
“Mister Beilschmidt,” Doctor Bondevik warned. Ludwig calmed, noting the doctor’s accent. Finnish? Nein….Norwegian.
Lukas Bondevik continued. “While there are no confirmations on the possibility of Gilbert having a mental illness, his blood tests came back positive.”
Blue eyes widened. “Entschuldigung?”
“The results suggest something is causing this behaviour. We’ll need to do a CT Scan amongst other tests to be sure but this could mean,” Bondevik paused, “that it’s physical, not psychological.”
Ludwig’s breath caught in his throat. “Are you sure?”
“We cannot say specifically what the cause is, yet. But yes, it is likely to be physiological.”
This was...an interesting discovery, to say the least.
The German cleared his throat. “I...have reason to believe there is a psychological consequence, Doctor.”
Doctor Bondevik’s eyebrows rose. “Pray tell.”
“...For seven years, Gilbert has been suffering from depression. Over this year improvements were seen, but last year the depression got so bad that he….uh...he…” He couldn’t say it. Luckily the doctor understood. “And in the years leading up to that?”
“He was isolated, kept to himself. He had a very bad self-harming problem. Medication was given to help him overcome it but that made him act stranger.”
“An allergic reaction?”
“Nein...he became aggressive. He also had terrible headaches - doctors prescribed pills which seemed to eradicate them, and he hasn’t had bad headaches since.” Ludwig took a deep breath. “He has suffered from hallucinations, since four years ago.”
At this point Bondevik was taking notes. “How bad?”
“He would scream, and panic, and run away from home for hours on end. Used to think something was chasing him, wanting to harm him…” Hands clasped together, knuckles turning white. “Gilbert blamed these hallucinations on a cat.”
“A cat? A pet cat?” Ludwig shook his head. “He never specified, but generally he doesn’t like cats and we’ve never kept one.”
Bondevik frowned. “I see. So his depression somehow manifested itself into a form Gilbert believed was real.”
“...Ja.” Was there anything he’d forgotten? “Six years ago we tried to get medical help, to see if there was an internal cause such as a virus, but doctors turned us down after labelling Gilbert as mentally unstable. Lately, he’s had a couple of traumatic experiences. He’s started cutting again and I believe he has been hallucinating recently, too.” The man remembered Gilbert running into his room, hysterical, screaming something about a cat.
No. Not a cat. The cat.
“Thank you for this information, Mister Beilschmidt. We will monitor his condition closely. As soon as his new test results come back , we’ll be in touch.”
“Danke, Herr Doctor.”
Matthew placed Kumajiro next to Gilbert on the bed. He’d been asleep for three days now, and every hour he didn’t wake up was another hour Mattie spent thinking he never would.
Which was, he realised, absolutely ridiculous, but he’d allowed his concern to grow anyway.
The Canadian had come to visit him straight after work today, not even bothering to change out of his uniform before going to the hospital.
“Come on, Gil…” Mumbled the blonde, his face set in worry. “You’ve slept long enough. Time to wake up.” He placed his tanned hand on Gilbert’s right forearm. “Wake up, s'il te plait…”
Against the pale blue sheets, Gilbert’s right hand twitched.
The action didn’t go unnoticed. “G-Gilbert?” Anxiety bloomed like a rose in Mattie’s heart. Would he be alright? Would he panic? Those snow-white eyelids fluttered open, and between the slits revealed hazy red orbs. His head swayed towards Matthew and those orbs widened. “B-Birdie…” He croaked, his voice hoarse.
“Y-you’re okay!” Blurted the blonde, mostly out of surprise than anything. With a shaky laugh and a smirk, Gilbert propped himself up lightly on the pillows. He was going to speak but he saw his arms - the many scars were sickeningly visible on his pale skin. He covered his arms with the sheets. “It’s good to be back,” He commented as he met Matthew’s gaze.
Said gaze followed his covered arms. “What happened, exactly?”
What had happened? “I….uh...I remember feeling stressed and I-” Discreetly he pushed up the gown under the covers to see his legs.
“And I….” Damn, why couldn’t he say it? ‘I was cutting’ wasn’t difficult to pronounce, and Mattie already knew he self-harmed.
To his surprise, the Canadian leaned forward. “What about after that?” He’s so kind to me. “I blacked out,” Gilbert stated. “I can’t remember anything after that.”
He became startlingly aware of a migraine coming on - short, sharp pinpricks of discomfort. Looking up, he noticed sparkling tears in his friend’s lilac eyes, a little smile curving his lips. “You gotta stop scaring me like that, Gilbert. I didn’t know what had happened so I thought it was really serious and that you wouldn't-” He sniffled as Gilbert grabbed his sleeve. “Come here.”
The albino pulled him into a tight hug, his body leaning over the paler one in the bed. Strong, thin arms pressed their chests together. Mattie bit his lip before he started crying. Oh, man up, he scolded himself, he is fine, you don’t need to cry! My Gilbert is alright.
He stopped. No. Gilbert is alright. Just Gilbert.
The click of a door opening shifted them back to their normal positions. A tall man with light blonde hair and serious eyes entered, a fake smile on his face. Or maybe he just wasn’t used to smiling. “Good afternoon, Mr Beilschmidt. One of the nurses informed me you’d woken up,” He stepped closer, nodding a greeting to Matthew. “How do you feel?”
“Like I was eaten by a shark and then defecated onto an iron maiden to be run over by a monster truck.” The doctor’s face frowned, so Gilbert elaborated, “My head hurts.”
The doctor’s eyebrows rose. “Ah, alright. Well after you’ve had something to eat, medication can be given for that. We have to run a few more tests, if you don’t mind?” Gilbert put a palm to his throbbing forehead. “Nein, that’s fine. Danke, Doctor….”
“Bondevik,” The foreign man stated frustratedly, before leaving.
Wow. What crawled up his ass and died?
“I’d better be going,” Mattie said, standing. “Alfred will be over in two days - stuff to prepare.” Like a padded cell by the sounds of him, Gilbert thought bitterly. But then, I suppose I deserve one of those myself.
“Ja, ok.” The German smiled softly. “Thanks for watching over me.”
The Canadian chuckled. “O-oh, t-that….Ludwig did most of that. A-anyway, I’ll see you soon.”
As he turned to leave Gilbert called, “Hey, Birdie.”
“Quoi?” Gilbert grinned. “Your uniform looks adorable on you.” Mattie blushed, sticking his tongue out playfully before heading out. Running his fingers through his frosty locks, Gilbert hissed as a new wave of migraine hit. Somehow, the hiss didn’t sound...human.
Verstehst du? - Do you understand?
Entschuldigung - Excuse me
Chapter 16: Chapter 16
It was Friday. Which, to Matthew Williams, only really meant one thing.
Alfred’s coming back today. Yes, Big Brother Al was staying for two weeks as was the agreement between him and their fathers.
The news had surprised him greatly; the way things had been left between Alfred and the rest of the family suggested they would never have this kind of contact again. He hadn’t stayed with them properly after...well, after everything had taken a turn to Shitville. Perhaps, the Canadian thought, his brother had finally seen sense and had decided to patch things up himself.
But then, knowing Alfred, he was just coming to stay so he could mess with Dad’s head a bit more. Those two used to be so close….I can’t believe Al did that to him. Trying not to focus on the past, he got up and took a shower before dressing.
He was just sitting down to a breakfast of maple-syrup-drowned pancakes when his parents stormed into the room.
Arthur led first, shoulders squared and cheeks flushed. “He can’t just - that - ah! That wasn’t fair of him!” Francis, ever the sympathetic one, placed a calming hand on his husband’s shoulder. “I agree, cher, but maybe he...really did forget to tell us.” His tone sounded fake.
Mattie watched on in confusion. “Uh...Dad? Papa?” But they didn’t seem to hear him.
“Like Hell he did!” Arthur yelled, placing a hand over his brow, mussing the combed yellow hair. “Now we’ll have to set and extra space, and another bed, and-”
“I’m sure they can share Alfred’s, I mean, he’s not a child anymore-”
“Hey!” Mattie shouted as loud as he could to be heard over his parents’ discussion. “What’s going on?”
Francis bit the inside of his cheek, and was about to answer when Arthur interrupted him. “I’ll tell you what’s going on, your brother has literally just phoned to say he’s off the plane and he’ll be here soon. Oh, and he’s bringing his GIRLFRIEND WITH HIM, BY THE WAY!” Mattie knew he wasn’t shouting at him, but he recoiled nonetheless.
“Arthur, calm down. Shh…” As the Frenchman guided his partner into a kitchen chair, he explained, “Dad’s upset because we didn’t know he was bringing someone, so we don’t have time to set up an air mattress or something-”
“We don’t even have an air mattress,” Sobbed Arthur. Looking down at his food Mattie sighed. So it was already becoming stressful, and the American Idiot hadn’t even arrived yet.
If any tune needed to be played as Alfred F. Jones unpacked his luggage from the rental car and strode side-by-side with his girlfriend into the apartment building, Mattie decided, it would be Who Let The Dogs Out.
Not because he thought his brother was a dog, he - he just tended to be a bit -
Mattie opened the door. “HEY LITTLE BROTHER!” - overexcited. Thick, beefy arms clutched him tight, even picked him up and whirled his body around before setting him down again, Alfred laughing all the while.
“H-hey, Alfred…” Mattie tried to stop his eyeballs spinning in their sockets. “H-how w-was your trip…?”
“IT WAS AWESOME, I -” Suddenly someone cleared their throat behind the jock’s shoulder, and he stepped aside, pink dusting his cheeks. When his big brother pulled faces like that Matthew understood how much they looked alike. Well, apart that Alfred’s hair had a cowlick and his had a long curl, and apparently he was cuter, but…
“Ain’t you gonna introduce me, Al?” A strongly Southern American accent caught the Canadian’s ears. Jeez, he’d never heard someone speak like that before! Well, he had, but….maybe only in American ‘hillbilly’ movies.
“Uh...s-sure…” As Alfred spoke, Francis appeared behind Matthew. “Bonjour, Alfred!” He stepped forward to give his son a kiss on the cheek, as he felt was customary. Alfred smiled brightly, hugging his father and again turning to the feminine figure still mostly blocked from Mattie’s view.
“Papa, Matt, this is-” He gestured to the woman, “-Amelia. My girlfriend.”
Now, considering how both Francis and Matthew were homosexual, they were still of French descent and culture. Both men’s jaws dropped upon seeing her.
She was quite tall, very thin, and tanned. She wore a raggedy punk miniskirt and tan cowboy boots, complete with spurs. A brown cowboy hat sat atop her head, and shoulder-length golden wavy locks spilled out from under it, framing her gorgeously made-up face. She had eyes just as blue as Alfred’s.
Not that her eyes were the most striking thing about her complexion, taking into account the tiny bikini top she wore - patterned with the American flag - which exposed her midriff.
By any man’s opinion, straight or gay, she looked like she’d just walked off the set of Baywatch.
She blushed, pretending to be shy. “Hi!” Her arms were around Mattie’s shoulders before he could blink, her hair mixing with his, and - Oh, God. Oh dear Lord. Boobs. There were boobs in his face. Turning crimson, the smaller man attempted to greet her back but was too scared of getting a mouthful of her personalities to open his mouth properly.
“It’s so nice to meet you! I’ve heard so much!” The Canadian nodded, breathe, breathe he needed air - Jesus Christ, were they double Ds?!
Finally she let go, only to give the same treatment to his father. Alfred blushed deeper, perhaps mentally apologising to them. Entering the apartment, Francis offered to take their stuff to Alfred’s old bedroom while they settled in. Matthew was still worried, though - his Dad hadn’t shown his face yet. Maybe he wouldn’t. Maybe he couldn’t.
“This hospital food tastes like shit.”
“Gilbert, you need to put some weight on,” His younger brother sighed. “You’re underweight.” The alcino put down his fork. “So? Most girls would kill to be my size.”
If you don’t eat properly, your size will kill you. “Well, you are not a girl and your health will be in danger if you don’t start eating proper food again.” With a grunt of dissatisfaction, the older brought more food to his lips.
As he ate, Ludwig wondered if he’d heard his words while...no, he had been sedated. “Ugh,” Gilbert exclaimed as he swallowed the meal, “would it kill them to actually cook the food?”
“Seien Sie ruhig und essen.”
He still couldn’t comprehend the fact that his brother had made sure he’d ended up with Feliciano Vargas. Like Gilbert was in control of his fate. What a terrifying thought. But then again, looking at how compassionate his brother could be, Ludwig decided he didn’t mind.
“Maybe you could bring me one of Feli’s meals,” Suggested Gilbert pushing his half-empty plate away. “I’d love some pasta right now.”
“I’ll see what I can do.” Now, thought the blonde, you have to ask him now. “Hey, Bruder?”
He cleared his throat. “About Feli…” Gilbert’s red eyes looked at him intently. “...How long have you been trying to push us together?” Ludwig finished, blushing slightly. A grin spread over Gilbert’s pale face. “A long time. Didn’t think you’d remember.”
“I am glad I did.” Sitting side-by-side, both brothers wore different expressions: Ludwig’s of gratification, Gilbert’s of embarrassment.
“Aw, getting all soppy like a girl, eh, Bruderlein?” Ludwig let the nickname slide. He knew Gilbert’s way of expressing affection was to brush it off, throw a casual insult. Gilbert wore his feelings on his sleeve, whereas Ludwig kept his locked away.
The atmosphere was so thick it could be cut with a knife.
Or maybe a chainsaw would be more effective.
Francis was serving his well-made food, while Alfred sat mercifully silent next to Amelia. Matthew was seated by Amelia, and then Arthur sat a distance from his sons next to his partner.
The Frenchman was desperate to make some kind of breakthrough. “Ah, so, Alfred, how is your life in America?”
At this, Alfred lifted his head, grateful to be given a chance to talk. “Oh, it’s great! I’ve been working at this big company for three years now, it pays really well - me and Amy share a house in Florida.”
“Ohonhon, already living together?” Francis commented playfully, winking. “Why, Amelia, however do you cope with him?” Amelia giggled at his pronunciation of her name. “Well, it does prove to be a challenge but it’s worth it.” Her hand clasped Alfred’s.
Francis sighed, a twinkle in his eye. “I do treasure young love. How did you two meet?” The couple looked bashful but Alfred continued, “Actually, we met at the cinema. Seeing the new Spiderman movie…”
“He offered to buy my ticket for me and I offered him my number!” Amelia joked, getting a small round of laughs. Mattie giggled; at least they were making an effort. But he couldn’t tear his eyes away from the sullen-looking figure of his Dad, whom refused to meet eye contact and picked at the meal before him.
“So how long have you two been dating?” Asked the Frenchman, his platinum blonde hair swaying.
“Uhm….about two years.” Alfred looked at his girlfriend, maybe to confirm his answer. She nodded.
“I-I’m sorry, I can’t do this...” Arthur stood slowly, not looking at his family. “Please excuse me.”
He headed quickly towards his and Francis’s room, closing the door abruptly.
“What the fuck?” Exclaimed Alfred. “I’m trying to fix things and he-”
“Fix things?” Mattie ventured. “You left for America at 17; you broke Dad’s heart. You can’t ‘fix things’.” Alfred looked borderline tearful upon seeing how his little brother spoke to him. “I didn’t mean to, I - I…” His head tilted down. “I wanted freedom.”
“All the same, this is unfair to Arthur,” Francis explained. “First you announce that you are coming to visit, after staying out of contact for five years, THEN you say last minute that you are bringing someone-”
“WHUT?” Amelia turned to her boyfriend. “You didn’t tell ‘em in advance?” She faced Francis. “I am so sorry, if I had known I would’ve called myself-”
Francis held up a hand. “It’s alright. Alfred, he was doing fine before you decided to visit. So why now?”
“...I...I miss you guys,” The American admitted finally.”I didn’t want to ruin things between us forever, so I came back to apologise.” The Frenchman sighed, “Désolé, you are apologising to the wrong person. What you did hurt me, et Matthieu, but it shattered your Dad.”
With cheeks red from shame, Alfred stood, wringing his hands - a habit Mattie had obtained from him, long ago. “I’ll go to him.”
As he left the other three sat in silence, cautiously listening to their voices.
Alfred’s voice first, growing louder already. “I only want to make things better, Dad!”
“You pushed me away, Alfred! For freedom, for complete independence! I would understand if you hadn’t done it with such malice!” A sob. “Calling me those names...Wishing for my death…”
“I DIDN’T MEAN ANY OF IT! Please, forgive me!”
More sobs, from two throats. “Pushed us away...your own family! Your own brother!” Mattie flinched. He hated it when they yelled about him. Of course he’d missed Alfred, he loved him. But he had to admit things had been so peaceful with him away in America.
“I take back those things I said about you, Dad. But I was growing up. I wanted my own independence and you treated me like a child!” The American’s voice grew more intense. “You couldn’t see it!”
“You did not have to tell me in that manner,” Retorted the Brit. “And what’s worse, Mattie even thought it was his fault. You made him think he’d pushed his older brother away. That was despicable.”
Mattie began to panic. Too much stress. Too much yelling. Too much conflict. He knew Amelia and Francis kept stealing glances in his direction. He and Mattie had always been the calmer ones, as was in their blood.
But now Mattie began to shake, burying his hands in his oversized hoodie. He felt Francis slide closer to him. “Calme-toi, mon Matthieu,” He whispered, a sad smile on his thin lips.
“So what…” They heard Alfred say. “You don’t….love me, anymore?” The voice was soft, childish...scared.
“Of course I bloody love you, you’re my son!” Thudding sounding in the room, making the three witnesses jump. Mattie concluded that Arthur was probably hugging the blonde American. “I just...wish you hadn’t been so hurtful.”
“I was young and stupid, but, but, I’m older now! I’ll never hurt you again I promise!” Suddenly Arthur appeared angry again. “How can I trust you on a promise! You also promised to look after Matthew when he was younger-”
“I’m leaving. I need a walk.” Matthew got up from the table, met Amelia’s apologetic electric blue eyes, looked away again.
He didn’t have time for pity right now.
“We can’t all start running off, cher,” Francis put an arm around him.
“I-I know, b-but I...I need to clear m-my h-head.” Stutter, stutter, he always began to stutter when his nerves got fired up!
The Canadian made for the door, but his father caught his shoulder. “Matthieu,” He warned.
“Père, I need a walk.”
“To where, I wonder? To see Gilbert?” A platinum coloured eyebrow rose. “You need to be careful with him.”
“I know, Papa! That’s all a-anyone says w-when I m-mention him!” Mattie lowered his lilac gaze. “S’il te plait…” Eventually, the Frenchman sighed, muttering something incoherent in his native tongue. “Fine. I want you home before sundown, oui? We all need to discuss this.”
“Oui. Merci, Papa.” And he was gone.
The hospital. Merde, I keep forgetting. It was one of those times when Mattie wished he could drive as he trudged to the hospital Gilbert was being kept in, his mood dragged down by the day’s events.
He arrived at 2pm, heading straight to the room.
The door was open. Gilbert lay reading some kind of gossip magazine, pouting at some of the images. Mattie rapped his knuckles on the glass of the door. “Knock, knock.”
Red eyes widened. “Hey, Birdie! Long time no see.” Mattie chuckled as he sat down next to him. “Try two days.”
“That’s a long time. Plus, my perception of time has been changed since I’ve been given morphine.” He looked at the Canadian, a serious expression on his features. “I’ve done some weird stuff, but a morphine high is the best yet.”
The small blonde giggled. “I-Is it that strange?”
“Oh, it was. Apparently I ran around the hospital screaming, ‘will somebody get that unicorn off of my bed’ because it was ‘threatening to eat my IV tube.’ Then I asked Doctor Bondevik why we were on the Titanic, and could he spend the last few minutes with me? Kesesesese!” Gilbert began to cackle, and Matthew found himself blushing. “Y-you made a pass at your doctor?”
“Probably, I don’t remember!”
“Not even when you woke up?” Gilbert wiped a tear from his eye. “Nein, but when the nurse told me about my hallucinations and about the unicorn I did make a joke about being horny.” Mattie blushed deeper, shaking his head. “You just love to flirt, don’t you.”
“Hey, it’s an interesting pastime,” Gilbert put a thin arm around the smaller male’s shoulders - why was everyone doing that today - and grinned, still a little out of it. “Did you know that all the female nurses that I’ve seen are in relationships?” The blonde raised an amused eyebrow. “And the male nurses? Did you ask any of them?” The albino laughed again, “Nein, haven’t got round to it. Perhaps you can find out yourself.” He prodded Mattie’s side, getting him to jump.
“G-Gilbert! A-are you still on the morphine?”
“Nope, just glad to see you. I’ve been so lonely since Bruder had to go back to work,” His pale lips pouted and Mattie would have sold his soul just for one kiss.
Matthew snatched a glance at the IV. “Gil, you’re lying,” He chuckled, “you’re still on the morphine.”
“Oh! That would explain why you are wearing a nurse’s outfit.”
Gilbert frowned again, playful. “Aw, don’t look at me like that. It suits you! You look really cute!”
Those lips. Gilbert licked them, his dark pink tongue swirling over the soft surface, eyes pleading with Mattie to relax, because everything was okay. He was fine. They were fine.
But holy crap on a cracker if that stupid albino didn’t stop pouting…
“Birdie, you’ve been looking at me for a long time.” The Canadian's gaze snapped away, embarrassed. “S-sorry, I…”
He felt a cool hand atop his on the sheets. “It’s ok,” Gilbert reassured him. “I don’t mind if you stare. I don’t like other people staring, but...you’re not other people.”
He’s pulling that face again! Why does he have to be so...oblivious? “Stop pouting,” Mattie insisted. “You’ll wear out your facial muscles.”
Another hissing laugh left the German’s throat. “Oh, I can think of much better ways to do that,” A wink was shot Mattie’s way, getting him to shiver. He can’t mean….Non, he’s practically high. Mais…
Playing along couldn’t be so bad. Especially since Gilbert probably wouldn’t remember anything. “Really? What ways?” His voice sounded so innocent compared to the thoughts he was thinking.
Surprised at the comeback, the white-haired man faltered.”U-uh…..like, uhm…”
“Like kissing?” Matthew’s eyelids lowered, making his irises looks darker. “Is that what you were thinking of, Gilbert?”
“I- uh…” Once coaxed out of his shell, he was confidant he could do almost anything, indulge his feelings for just a few seconds...the blonde wore a little smirk as he commented, “I’ve been told I’m quite the good kisser, you know.” By the one person I’ve ever properly kissed. Those thoughts of the Russian were swept away by the look of curiosity on his friend’s face.
What am I saying? I never act like this! WHAT IF HE REMEMBERS - the voice of reason screamed in Mattie’s mind but he ignored it, allowing his….French side to appear. Before a very speechless Gilbert could say another word, he leaned in and captured those tempting lips with his own.
So. That was chapter 16. By the way I will not apologise for Amelia - Fem! America's - portrayal here. I always see her as a Southern redneck girl and I love her that way. - NameTaken
Seien Sie ruhig und essen - Be quiet and eat.
Calme-toi - Calm down
Merde - Shit
Chapter 17: Chapter 17
Your skin is crawling on you,
There's shadows on the ground,
And now the room is spinning,
Oh God what was that sound?
The fear is paralysing,
Trapped here inside yourself,
Your will to live is dying, is dying,
A gentle peck turned more serious, tongues timidly probing, neither man pulling away. It lasted mere seconds, before Mattie decided he should stop. This was, technically, some form of taking advantage. Curse my morals, thought the blonde man, sitting back.
Gilbert, face flushed, looked about to say something, but he simply smiled as his eyelids drooped lower.
Is he….is he falling asleep?! Mattie tried not to be incredulous; the man was on drugs after all. So he allowed the white-haired German to lie against the pillows, drifting off into a haze. Only ten minutes later did his younger brother arrive. It was only because the larger man tripped over Mattie’s ankle that he noticed him. “Ah, hallo Matthew, I didn’t see you there,” He greeted, nodding his head. Matthew, accustomed to being invisible, simply waved off the incident.
“It’s alright. Gilbert’s, uh...just gone to sleep again. But he’s fine.”
Ludwig looked exhausted, and even more relieved to know nothing had happened while he was away. “Gut. It was just going to be a quick visit, really…”
“Are you ok, Ludwig?” The German’s face returned to the stoic expression he always wore. “Um, ja, I’m just...a bit tired.”
The Canadian tucked strands of hair behind his ear. “You can go and rest, if you want; I-I mean, I c-can w-watch him.” Hell, Mattie wanted to stay with Gilbert for a bit longer, just a bit longer… And it wasn’t like he would prefer to go back home yet. Not with Arthur and Alfred still locked in battle.
Ludwig hesitated, ice-blue orbs focusing on his brother for a minute. “Ja, ok. If he wakes, please tell him of my visit.” His bulking form, dressed in a smart suit, plodded back down the corridor. This must be taking quite a toll on him. But the Canadian knew he would manage - he sensed Ludwig was a strong man, and not just physically.
It was strange, how the brothers had turned out so different. Only three years between them, yet anyone might think it was ten. Gilbert looked younger than Ludwig, and acted younger, too. Of course their looks were different, but they had basically suffered similar trauma, from what Gilbert had previously mentioned.
Gilbert had probably suffered more, being the eldest, but that couldn’t be the only reason why he was in his current situation, while Ludwig was able to function as a normal human being. No, it must be something else, something more. Maybe the albino really was born with a predisposition for mental illness. But seeing him lying on the bed, peaceful, albeit drugged, Mattie wondered if he actually was insane, or at least mentally ill. He cut, he had depression, he hallucinated...All the telltale signs were there, signifying that Gilbert Beilschmidt wasn’t all there.
Maybe everyone has a ‘mental problem’. But because it’s not seriously effecting anyone we never make note of it. Until it becomes a threat, we’re ignorant, Matthew contemplated. That’s the way it always is.
Gilbert seemed so….so….lonely. Yes, that was the word.
Seul. Il se sent seul, tout comme moi.
Mattie remembered all those days throughout school, nobody noticing him, always bumping into him. The only times he was noticed resulted in bullying for his femininity or sexuality.
He used to curl up at night, especially after Alfred left, and thought about how the world was against him. He’d pull his arms tight to his chest, fists balled under his chin, legs folded neatly under the covers. He would remove his glasses, and cry.
Crying was all he did some days. Crying was all he could do. The tears wouldn’t bring Alfred back like old times, or make people notice him, or make him more resilient.
But they did let him make room for better feelings. Not loneliness, or sadness, or loss. He just wanted some happiness - it had become obvious that no one could be happy with their life all the time, but one could be content with it. Content like he was nowadays when he made pancakes, or had a nice time at work, or helped his Dad cook dinner.
Happiness, like he felt when he was around Gilbert.
Gilbert pushed away the loneliness. Matthew hoped his presence had the same effect for his friend. Sometimes, the petite blonde felt he could empathise so well with Gilbert’s isolation; he understood it more than most people would.
It was...a mutual loneliness, which could be harmful and destructive of the mind if left untreated. It was something only these two men could understand. It was unique. It was esoteric.
Rearranging Gilbert’s upper body to prevent his discomfort, Mattie placed another soft kiss to Gilbert’s forehead.
He is alone, and I am alone, he concluded. But we don’t have to be.
“Il va bien, et il se repose,” Replied the smaller blonde to his father. He always preferred their conversations in French; it just flowed more easily.
Francis crossed his legs, leaning back in his chair and taking a delicate sip from his glass of wine. When it came to cultural stereotypes, it appeared his father took the biscuit.
The evening became more peaceful: Alfred and Amelia had retreated to their room for the night, Arthur was busy reading on the sofa while Francis and Mattie sat watching an old French movie on TV.
Arthur had voiced his annoyance at not being able to understand the language, that it was putting him off Wuthering Heights, but neither man paid attention. Francis had, on many occasions, offered to teach his partner French, but he’d never gotten beyond ‘Je m’appelle Arthur’.
“You two talking about Gilbert?” Both men nodded. “Matthew, are you two dating yet?”
“H-huh? N-non! W-w-what do y-you mean ‘yet’?” Mattie exclaimed, his glasses almost falling off his face. Francis looked to his husband, expression serious. “Perhaps it’s better they remain friends.” He opined.
“But they get along so well,” Arthur reasoned, a thick eyebrow raised, “and if that boy isn’t attracted to Matt at all then I’ll eat my hat.”
“Would you like me to cook that hat for you, cher?”
“G-Gilbert is just a friend, Dad,” Their son insisted. “He is also straight.” Arthur put his book down, folding his hands in his lap. “So? Why should we have to label everyone’s sexuality? Maybe he likes you for the person you are, not for your gender.”
“That was very philosophic, darling, I’m proud.” The Frenchman blew his love a kiss, at which the Brit gave a skeptical look.
“Je vais me coucher, bonne nuit.” Leaving his parents to squabble over his love life, the Canadian made his way to his room.
All night, he couldn’t stop thinking about how he’d kissed Gilbert - without his permission. Oh Dieu, if he remembers...if he remembers, he’ll be angry, Mattie worried. He’ll call me a hypocrite, or be disgusted. I know he has kissed me before, but….that was just to manipulate me.
Perhaps it was better if he focused on making sure his friend became well again.
The hospital sure was empty this morning. Gilbert kinda missed the weird things he’d seen in his hallucinations and dreams. At least they were good company, unlike the silence and beeping of the monitors around him.
Now, every single beep reminded him of how weak he was.
Beep - His body kept failing him.
Beep - He didn’t know who he was anymore.
Beep - The cat wasn’t going to wait much longer.
Beep - He was involved with a guy he really didn’t want to hurt.
Shaking his head to rid himself of the morphine-hangover, he jumped when a nurse entered carrying a small tray of food.
“Good morning, Mr Beilschmidt,” She announced, smiling. Her strawberry blonde hair was pulled back tight into a bun and her round face sported kind blue eyes. Gilbert gulped when he ‘accidentally’ looked at her chest. Needless to say, she was well-endowed. “M-Morgen.”
He felt his nether-regions stir to life and prayed she didn’t notice. Today is going to be a strange day.
“OW! That hurt, Alfred!” Mattie rubbed the spot on his head where the baseball had hit. Damn those things were tough. What were they made of, cement? They feel like cement.
“Lighten up, Bro!” Alfred laughed as his brother rolled the ball back to him. “You just need some practise.”
“We are practising….” Baseball really wasn’t his thing. Alfred, on the other hand, practically lived for it. Baseball, girls, and American Football.
For once Mattie was wearing a tank top, plain, red, and with knee-length shorts and sneakers. They were in the park with Amelia - who looked ready to fall asleep in the bright sunshine.
Mattie held the hand with the glove steady. “Ok, go.”
“Don’t miss my curveball!” Before Mattie could comprehend it a flash of red was before his eyes, and pain exploded between his eyes. Mattie felt himself falling backwards but was powerless to stop; he grunted when his head hit the grassy field. He felt something hot and warm running down his face - or rather, up his face, pooling around his glasses.
Blood. Oh, crap. Sitting up, he felt Alfred’s sweaty form crouch next to him. “Dude, I’m so sorry! I didn’t mean to hit your face!”
So he did mean to hit me somewhere?! “I-I’m fine, Al, really.” He put a hand to his bleeding nose.
“Oh mah gawd, are you okay?” Amelia gasped, sitting up, removing her sunglasses. Matthew chuckled because she had white patches on her face where her sunglasses had been. “Oui, I think I’m alright.”
“Still, it might be broken,” Alfred put a thoughtful hand to his chin. “Better go get it checked out.”
“Hm. Well, I was going to the hospital today anyway, so...I’ll ask someone there.” Alfred and Amelia looked confused. “Why were you goin’ to the hospital, Matt?”
The Canadian held up his hands in defence. “Uh, I h-have a f-friend there, a-at the moment,” He smiled softly. “So I’m going to visit him.”
“Is that where you went yesterday, too?” Alfred asked, clearly upset at bringing up that evening. It had been awkward as ever between Arthur and the American, with both refusing to even look at each other. They’re being so stubborn, Mattie remembered thinking. But then - like father, like son. He knew he could be stubborn sometimes, too.
“Ah, y-yeah. H-he gets pretty lonely...A-anyway, I’ll be off,” His older brother fixed him with a pained gaze. “I really am sorry about your nose, Matt.”
He began walking away, calling over his shoulder, “It’s fine.” Even though you could try to throw the ball a little lower. Thoughts of the ball hitting his groin at 70mph made him cringe and his knees go weak as he approached the hospital.
“S-sir, please calm down, I-I’m a nurse,” The woman panicked, backing up after dropping the tray. It had happened so fast. One minute he was flirting, the next….he asked her if she’d heard that sound.
But there hadn’t been a sound.
He began to shake, clutching at his own scarred skin, whimpering about….some kind of animal. “N-nn…..D-don’t….Go away…” Gilbert muttered, eyes looking around but not….not seeing.
The nurse backed up, afraid of getting hurt. She was trapped - Gilbert’s bed was before the exit door. “Mr Beilschmidt, please…” He got up from the bed, kicked the tray aside, getting the nurse to jump. He advanced, tearing out his IV tubes, those red eyes full of dangerous fear.
She didn’t understand. He was scared of her? He was going towards his fear? “S-sir, I am not going to harm you.” But her voice cracked. He lunged.
Gilbert heard the cat. It meowed. It hissed. But the woman said she hadn’t heard. How could she not have heard? It was so loud!
Suddenly it was there. In broad daylight. It’s fur was slicked back and beautifully preened, claws clicking on the linoleum, crouching behind the nurse - no, was the nurse real? She looked like she had cat’s eyes.
The smack of the tray on the ground caused him to react out of pure terror, deciding that if he had to get rid of her, to get rid of the cat, to prevent it hurting somebody else….then he’d fucking do it.
He’d rip her to shreds with his fingernails if it meant this beast left him alone. It wouldn’t be long before others came in to take him down, he had to act while he could. His hand was raised, his teeth bared in a snarl above the cowering nurse -
“GILBERT NO!” He froze. Didn’t turn around, because he couldn’t look at the owner of that voice right now.
Gilbert couldn’t bear to see the shock in those lilac eyes, tinged with blue. But, he lowered his hand, his vision cleared, and….
The cat was gone. It was like it had never appeared in the first place.
Sensing her chance, the nurse whimpered and ran out of the door. Matthew couldn’t believe what he had just witnessed. Did….had Gilbert known she was just a nurse? Did she provoke him?
No, it…. It must have been the cat. That….that Goddamned cat. Or at least, that’s what he’s called it.
His suspicions were clear: Matthew did not believe there was a cat. It was an incredibly painful thought, but it was the truth. It was painful because...because if there was no cat, then that meant there was no real threat except in….
“Your head,” The Canadian began, “does it hurt?” Slowly, Gilbert nodded. “I -I didn’t mean to….” He whispered, sounding like a child.
Warily, Mattie put a hand on Gilbert’s shoulder, turning him to face him. “I know, Gilbie. Shhh…” He moved his hand to Gilbert’s cheek. When the albino’s ruby eyes finally lifted, they widened at the small gauze patch on Mattie’s nose, which was a lovely crimson shade.
“Holy crap, what happened to you?”
Mattie chuckled. “Baseball practice with Alfred. Didn’t move fast enough so my face caught the ball. Come on, sit down.” He guided him to the hospital bed, putting an arm around those thin shoulders. Immediately Gilbert swallowed and his lips began to tremble. “I-it was the cat, Birdie….I-it’s back...Oh Gott….” Mattie pulled him closer, trying to transfer some of his own stability to Gilbert if he could.
“...I know,” His soft, soft voice soothed. “But it’s gone for the moment. I’m here. It won’t get you while I’m here, I swear it, Gilbie. Ok?”
Gilbert nodded, putting his palms in his sockets. He would not cry. He would not.
The monitor alarms continued to scream in protest, and Doctor Bondevik stormed into the room. “What is going on here?” Several nurses came in and crowded around the Gilbert, asking him to calm down so the tubes could be reinserted.
When he was in the bed and settled again the nurses left, leaving a very frustrated Bondevik with the two men. He put his hands on his narrow hips. “Well? Did you attack a nurse?”
Gilbert nodded, ashamed. “I….I didn’t….I thought she was….” He sighed in defeat. “I was hallucinating, I guess.” At that the doctor seemed to relax - at least he knew Gilbert hadn’t done it on purpose. “Aren’t you both lucky I was not very busy this morning,” The Norwegian commented, pushing a hand through his waxy hair.
“I -I’ll apologise to h-her later,” Stuttered the German, surprising Matthew with his nervousness.
With a curt nod and a glance at his clipboard, Doctor Bondevik cleared his throat. “Also, your scan results have come back, Gilbert. Would you like to hear them, or wait until you feel better?”
There was a hesitation before Gilbert replied, “...I’ll wait until Ludwig gets here. I’m tired.”
When they were once again alone, Matthew looked at Gilbert’s mournful expression. Those lips which were the softest shade of pink, the very same ones he’d kissed yesterday….he recalled seeing them pulled back into a feral snarl just a while ago.
He changes so quickly. He’s dangerous. All the words people had used to describe him rang loud in his skull. Unpredictable, unstable, insane, harmful…..I haven’t known him for very long. A few months at most, but….
Matthew looked away, his loose blonde hair tickling the edges of his face.
...But I love him. With all of my heart.
“You attacked a nurse?” Ludwig repeated, mortified. Gilbert’s eyes were hidden behind his diagonal layered fringe. “Nein, not an attack persay. I scared her a bit.”
“You threatened to beat her. What on Earth has gotten into you?” Gilbert cast a wistful look outside his room, to where he knew Mattie was waiting to be let back in. The Canadian had spent most of the day with him, in this room, whispering sweet nothings about how it will all be fine.
But Gilbert felt that one day he’d go to attack a person, and Matthew wouldn’t be there to stop him. And then nothing would be fine.
His brother snapped his fingers in front of his face. “Gott verdammt, stop zoning out! What exactly happened, Bruder?”
The less gruff voice of the albino shattered the seconds of silence.“...The cat. I saw the cat. A-and then I thought I needed to hurt the nurse if the cat was going to go away. It’s back, Ludwig. It’s really back. It is just waiting for -”
“Don’t. You’re stronger than this, you, you can fight it off. Or ignore it. Show it that it doesn’t mean anything to you.” The hopefulness in his brother’s eyes scared Gilbert, because he had no idea how to properly be rid of the feline.
It does mean a lot to me. Not in a good way. It means that if I can’t defeat it, my whole world will crash and burn.
Getting up and muttering something about needing the bathroom, Ludwig let Mattie in on his way out. It was coming up to 3pm so they couldn’t stay much longer.
“What did he say?” Asked the blonde man. Gilbert responded by giving himself a slap on the wrist and saying, “Bad Gilbert.”
Mattie chuckled as he sat next to him. A few minutes later Ludwig came back, Doctor Bondevik in tow. The doctor straightened his pristine tie and looked at the three of them. “Would you like to hear your results now?”
Slowly, Gilbert nodded.
“Very well,” With his ever-serious expression the Norwegian began, his accent clipped. “From the results, the CT Scan and whatnot, we can determine that you have a cerebral aneurysm.”
Ludwig’s brow furrowed. Matthew bit his lip, unsure. And Gilbert? Gilbert just sat there, a confused smirk on his features. “What the fuck is that?”
Lyrics are taken from Monsters by Sick Puppies.
Seul. Il sent seul, tout comme moi. - Alone. He is alone, just like me.
Comment va-t-il? - How is he?
Il va bien, et il se repose - He is alright, and resting
Chapter 18: Chapter 18
All my life, they let me know
How far I would not go
But inside the beast still grows
Chewing through the ropes
Bondevik sighed. “It is a weakened artery in your brain. When your blood pressure increases, this area can….’balloon’ and become harmful. This has been the cause of your headaches and migraines.”
Slowly, Ludwig and Matthew turned their heads to Gilbert, whose eyes were darting around as he tried to comprehend the words.
The silence was so deafening, even an exploding bomb could not have penetrated it.
Behind that ivory fringe, Gilbert’s eyes closed. “You….you mean, I - I’m not insane?” At this question, Doctor Bondevik bristled. “It is interesting how people perceive insanity to be a cause in itself. Insanity, like depression, can be a consequence of multiple factors affecting a person. Now, while you do appear to express symptoms of schizophrenia -”
“Which is a type of crazy-”
“-and PTSD,” Bondevik’s voice became more powerful, “those could also be the results of this aneurysm.”
“What?” Ludwig asked, baffled.
“Well, the aneurysm is located near the right temporoparietal cortex - this area of the brain creates and memorises hallucinations. When the aneurysm expands, this would have a knock-on effect to the visual system such as macular degeneration or lesions to the central nervous system pathway between the eye and the visual cortex. The sense of proprioception would be incoherent and often misleading, plus the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex may provide a sense of the voluntary versus involuntary nature of auditory awareness -”
“In English!” Snapped Gilbert. Mattie, also, felt like his brain was going to have an aneurysm from all those scientific words.
Bondevik shook himself from his information-spouting trance and cleared his throat softly. “What I am saying is, different areas of your brain are affected by the aneurysm, so you begin to mishear and missee things - hallucinate, have vivid nightmares and so on. It’s all caused by a weakened section of artery, and its occasional expansion.”
It’s all a dream. This has to be an elaborate dream. I….This can’t be real. Gilbert’s muscles froze up. His breathing slowed. He couldn’t meet anyone’s eyes, not with his own pair stinging so much.
“This cause is in your head, Gilbert,” Bondevik concluded. “But it’s not in your mind.”
“Bruder…” Ludwig began, but felt his voice would fail him. What could he say, what could he say? He, who had but a few days prior insinuated that Gilbert was in fact mentally ill. He, who had done nothing after the doctors had turned them away six years ago.
His brother could have gone without this, would never have had to suffer like this.
Mattie said nothing. He wanted to grab Gilbert, to laugh, scream, cry with him. “I-is there a cure?” He asked the doctor in his quiet voice. Doctor Bondevik, much to the relief of the others, nodded. “It is called an endovascular coiling. It will stop the aneurysm from ‘ballooning’ and-”
“Is this….anni-thing fatal?” Gilbert finally spoke, his red eyes deadly serious.
This time the Norwegian hesitated. “...Ja, er det. If it were to burst, the leak of blood on the surface of the brain would cause septicemia, which is fatal. However, considering how long you’ve had it and nothing has happened, I would opine that it’s not going to burst.” The doctor shot Ludwig a look.
Gilbert didn’t see it, but Matthew did. What’s that about? Ludwig’s eyes darted away, a sullen expression on his face.
“S-so, when will I be able to have this operation?” Mattie knew Gilbert wouldn’t last longer. Out of sheer shock, joy, perhaps even sadness, he would break down soon. Whether they were with him or not.
“The waiting list is rather long, but it’s a simple procedure so we’ve arranged an appointment for next month, roughly four weeks away.” With a curt nod of understanding from his patient, Doctor Bondevik bid them farewell. “Please contact me if there are any changes, you are free to be discharged if you wish.”
They sat in a blissful silence for a few minutes, none of them wanting to disturb the...the shock of discovering that there was a physical cause, and that there was a cure for it.
“I have to go,” The burly German stated, standing. He looked at Gilbert, “I have a meeting to be in. I am so, so relieved that this...this can be helped. Are you alright?”
The albino hadn’t spoken much, his jaw clamped tight and his eyelids twitching with unfallen tears. “J-ja, I’m...I’m awesome. I just...can’t believe….”
“I can imagine. Matthew, I’ll see you another time. Auf Wiedersehen.” As he left Mattie called an “Adieu” to him.
The Canadian turned to his friend, who had swung his legs over the edge of the bed, the IV tubes long removed. Between that hospital gown Mattie admired the milky flesh. So smooth… But his eyes wandered to the man’s thighs and arms. Smooth and broken.
“Come on, Gil…” He placed a gentle palm on that exposed back. “Let’s get you home.”
“I-is it o-ok for me to p-put your stuff in your room?”
“Ja, it’s fine. Danke.” With a slight nod the smaller man took the little bag of things back to Gilbert’s room. He hadn’t needed much at the hospital: some books, clothes, his phone….But still, it would give Mattie something to do other than try and make conversation with the shocked German.
How did one go about soothing a person who has just found out that their illness is not their fault, after so many years of being told it was?
He couldn’t even begin to imagine what Gilbert was feeling now. Anger, stress, joy, maybe-
“YES! OH FUCK, JA! I WAS FUCKING RIGHT!” The shouts caught him off guard and Mattie stumbled, exiting Gilbert’s room. “Wha…?”
Gilbert was facing the living room wall, both fists cracking against it, his forehead touching it. He was crying, eyes staring at the floor. Saliva ran out of his grinning mouth. “I told them,” He began, his accented voice unnaturally sure. “I told them I told them I told them. That there was….something something something else.”
Matthew readied himself. Oh no. He’s losing it again….Ok, Matt, be strong… “Something else apart from what?” He asked, trying to get his friend to focus.
The head of white hair turned to him, fast. “Other than that fucking kitty. I TOLD THEM AND I WAS RIGHT ALL ALONG!”
“Calm down, Gil.”
“FUCKING….THEY WOULDN’T HELP ME! I WAS ASKING, FUCKING BEGGING AND THEY REJECTED ME!” Gilbert’s frame seemed to weaken from his voice; he tripped, caught himself on the back of a chair, snarled at nothing. “They could’ve gotten rid of the cat, too,” He spat.
Mattie edged closer, jumpy as a doe. “B-b-but…” Stupid! Don’t stutter, you’ll give your fear away! The Canadian took a deep breath. “Look on the bright side - now this can be cured. The...the aneurysm will be sealed, and the cat -” The cat which isn’t even real - “will be gone. It is alright now. You are going to be ok.”
Suddenly, water-filled red eyes glanced at him. “How the fuck do you know? Have you experienced what I have? Have you felt the pain I have, Matthew?”
He hardly ever called him by his full name. “I know because I know you can beat this. I’ve seen you do it before. You pushed the cat away, and this time…” Warily he walked over to him, taking one of Gilbert’s pale, pale hands. “...You’ll erase it.”
Erase it from your mind, Gil. Destroy it, forget it, abandon it. Just please...don’t lose yourself. Don’t...don’t forget me.
Gilbert’s shoulders began to shake. His throat tightened and his eyesight blurred. He felt the first of the hot tears fall, tasted an acidic flavour on his tongue.
But those tears kept coming, and those sobs became louder. He knew he should be glad that this was out, he would be cured, but….all those years, those years that kept coming, bringing more depression and nightmares and sharp blades...and….the cat.
Nein, he remembered, there is one good thing these horrid years have brought to me. Matthew Williams.
Said man was softly embracing him, allowing him to cry against his narrow shoulder, having wrapped his arms around Gilbert’s waist. It seemed awkward because Gilbert was taller but - wait. They were on the floor. When had they sunk to the floor?
Fuck if I know. All these stupid feelings. But I was right. I was so right. Another look at the blonde hairs near his eye stabilised him, and he began to act more like Gilbert.
“Hey Birdie…” He pulled back, wiping his face. “Es tut mir leid, I snotted on you.” Mattie’s eyes lit up at his nickname, and he smiled. “I don’t mind. As long as you feel better.”
Shifting to sit beside him, leaning against the wall, Gilbert nodded. “Ja, ich fühle mich besser. Danke.”
Gilbert’s head snapped round to look at Matthew. The German sounded so weird coming from him, yet...it really, really, really pleased the albino. In fact, he decided to bring up a long held-off topic. Well, he’d only remembered this morning, but hadn’t said so.
Pause. Breath. “Why did you kiss me?”
Gasp. Falter. “I - I don’t know what you’re -” Gilbert turned. “Yes you do. You kissed me when I was on the morphine. Why?”
He couldn’t believe how red the Canadian’s face had become. It was adorable. “...Je ne sais pas. I just...You were flirting.”
“So? I do that a lot. But you never kiss me. Did you think I’d forget?” After a minute, Mattie replied with a nod, eyes downcast behind his round glasses. They were quiet for a bit, sorting out sentences in their heads.
“You seriously think I would forget the first time you kissed me?” Gilbert’s throat was raw from screaming and crying and being honest. His voice was scratchy, hoarse. To Mattie it kind of sounded hot.
“Well, it would be a lot less embarrassing if you hadn’t remembered.” The albino chuckled. “I don’t mind. By the way, I can understand why people say you’re a good kisser.”
Mattie bit his lip in shock. “S-s-shut up! I - I didn’t mean to say-” But Gilbert just cackled and pulled him closer. “Kesesese, stop being so shy! I know what you’re really like so you can stop hiding. Jeez, you’re more French than Canadian!”
Blush, stutter, blush. “I-it wasn’t like that! I - I’m sorry...Please forgive me…”
At this, the German stopped teasing. “Forgive you?” The Canadian wrung his hands. “O-oui...You were drugged and I took advantage of that. Sorry.”
“...Mattie, if you kissed me like that when I was drugged, then I’ll try to buy more drugs.” Now the smaller man wouldn’t even look at him, probably couldn’t, because…
….He likes me a lot. Gilbert sighed. “Do you still like me?”
“Of course I like you, Gilbert.” Don’t play innocent, Birdie. You’re not flying off today. “You know what I mean,” He pressed. “Birdie, look at me. Bitte.”
Mattie lifted his head. Lilac orbs locked with ruby. After another speechless nod, Gilbert let his lips hover over his, tantalisingly close. Too close too close too close….Oh Dieu why is this guy so strange?
“I still like you, too.” With that, their lips met once again.
Matthew’s taste was sweet, his lips warm and soft. Gilbert wanted to pin him there and then, claim him, mark him. Slowly, their arms encircled each other, Mattie letting out a breathy gasp at Gilbert’s kisses.
I shouldn’t let him do this, Mattie’s voice of reason interrupted, I’m supposed to be helping him recover, not this!
“Mpf, Gil…” The blonde began between each kiss, his brow furrowed. Red eyes snapped open and the white-haired male pulled away. “S-sorry-”
“Non, I...didn’t mean it like that.” Mattie sighed, still in Gilbert’s lap on the floor. “I’m….I’m s-supposed to be your f-friend, and, just your friend.” Can I continue? Can I tell him how risky this whole thing is?
Or does he already suspect me of thinking him unstable….
Gilbert’s pale face hardened. “So, you, don’t want this? At all?” The albino’s mind was racing, scared, unsure. He just told me he still likes me and now this what is he playing at Gott this is frustrating!
Mattie’s violet eyes were downcast. “It’s not about what I want, it’s...just, making sure, you feel….better, first-”
“You think you’re my carer.” Nostrils flared, eyes serious and mouth in a tight straight line, Gilbert pulled back further, but Mattie gripped his shoulders. “No! That’s not what I think, I-I’m j-just looking out for you-”
“Because you think I can’t do that myself,” Gilbert stood, seemingly miles above his so-called ‘friend’.
Wringing his hands, the Canadian shuffled onto his knees, pleadingly staring up at the German. “Non, I know you can. But Gilbert, this could be risky, this sort of, relationship, between us-”
“How?” Come on, Birdie, Gilbert dared, a hiss between his open lips. Fucking say it.
“B-b-because…” Matthew began to shake, his bare arms missing the comfort of his hoodie, his legs unused to the cool, tense air.
Still Gilbert persisted. “Because, what? What, Matthew?”
Eyes closed. Brow scrunched tight, the metal of his glasses poking into his temples. “Because you’re unstable.”
Silence. A silence so powerful even the sound of Gilbert’s tears falling to the rug could be heard.
Gilbert couldn’t focus. He knew what Mattie thought, of course, but now it had been said. Now that belief had been placed into words, placed into the atmosphere for anyone else to hear, and to share. Maybe that is what everyone thought. Not just his ‘best friend’, not just his brother.
Everyone who knew Gilbert Beilschmidt believed in his madness.
The madness, caused not only by himself, but something beyond his control as well.
Unstable. A man predispositioned for causing damage wherever he went.
The silence continued - it was a silence well-known to the albino, as he knew what would happen next. Mattie shouldn’t be here to witness it.
Inside his mind, something growled, long and low. Dark bronze talons raked with a throbbing pain onto his brain.
“Mattie, you should go.” In shock, the Canadian’s head lifted, his wavy locks swirling about his neck. Slowly, the other man stood. “Quoi?”
Gilbert’s head was bowed. “Bitte, go. Now.” Meow. On thin legs, the Canadian moved a couple steps closer, but the German flinched back. “Nein! Gehen Sie weg, jetzt!”
“N-no! I said I was going to help you, I’m not running away.” Before Gilbert could react he felt a warm hand clutching his arm.
Silver hair bounced as Gilbert felt a familiar presence enter his peripheral vision. Meow… A snarl was directed Matthew’s way, startling him. “Why would you want to be around an unstable person, huh? I mean, I’m probably dangerous for you.”
“Oh, stop it!” Mattie’s quiet voice spat, his cheeks turning red with frustration. “I will help you deal with this, Gilbert. But I need you to cooperate, eh?”
The albino scoffed. “Tch, blutig Kanadier-” He stopped. It was here, it was definitely here. Hiss… From the hallway, into the room, padded his mind. The cat this time was the lynx, pausing to rub its head against the doorframe, short tail twitching.
Blue-bled eyes bored into Gilbert’s and he felt faint, felt himself disconnecting from everything.
Mattie still gripped his arms. “Gilbert,” He said firmly, shaking him slightly. “Gilbert.” The man in his arms backed away from something, something near the doorway.
Red eyes glazed over. Muscles tensed. Hearing became muffled because it was here to kill him. “N-nein….You’re not real…”
“Huh?” But Matthew realised he wasn’t addressing him. Hell, probably couldn’t even see him, despite him being so close. Gilbert was talking to….
Must think the cat was….right here.
Oh, God, Mattie shivered, feeling the hairs on his arms, legs and neck stand on end. Then he internally sneered at himself. He would not be afraid of a delusion. Why? Because that’s all it was. It was not real, it was not harmful-
“Fuck off!” Gilbert yelled as he hurled Mattie aside, his head hitting the wall harshly. Before the bespectacled Canadian’s own eyes, Gilbert lunged for something that wasn’t there.
Merde...He rubbed the sore spot on his head, trying to will away the pain behind his eyes. The cat is not harmful, but the man deluded by it is. Gilbert, please…
“D-don’t l-look at it, Gilbert,” His soft voice rang out, “I-it’s n-not real…”
The lynx bared its dagger-like incisors, a thread of hot air escaping the narrow cavern of its mouth, where a pink tongue coiled. It dodged Gilbert’s first lunge, retorted with a swipe to his left knee, thick claws tearing flesh - with a cry, the German fell to his knees, watching as blood seeped onto the floor from his wounded kneecap.
Ruby eyes glared into the face of his attacker. “Goddammit!” His right hand shot out, grabbed a palmful of black fur and yanked, sending the beat rolling as it screeched. He got in another two punches to its lean body before it clawed him away, bones snapping and growing in size.
It wasn’t done with him yet.
What can I do?! He’s going to injure himself! Words and pointless plans circled the blonde’s brain as he scrambled to his feet.
He heard a cry as he watched Gilbert stagger over a chair, it clanging against his left knee in the process. Apparently very angry with said chair, the albino picked it up in his right hand, throwing it across the floor.
I have to stop him, restrain him somehow! But… But how did one go about restraining people? Mattie had never been taught such a thing.
Thankfully, he had a strong sense of logic. Pin his limbs. Moving fast, he pushed Gilbert to the floor onto his stomach, straddling his legs and back. He wrapped his bare arms around to pull the man’s forelimbs behind his back, pressing Gilbert’s hands together with one hand.
Next, while the man beneath him continued to struggle and curse, he wrapped his free arm around Gilbert’s throat, pulling his neck back to stretch him upwards. This way, Mattie had better access to his ear. “Gilbert-”
“Get off me! I’ll kill you, you pathetic, sadistic beast-!”
“G-Gil, stop! You’re having a hallucination, I need you to calm d-down.” Naturally, his voice disappointed him, being so soft and the very opposite of intimidating, so he tightened his grip on the white-haired man’s jugular.
No longer able to yell, Gilbert focused solely on breathing.
When all was still, the Canadian dared to speak again, concentrating on holding Gilbert’s body down and making his voice steadier. “You are having a hallucination. Gilbert, the cat is not real. It isn’t-”
Now Gilbert began to thrash again, more determined. “It is! It is it is it is! I have to get rid of it, I have to kill it! It’s over there, look! Look, goddammit!” His chin gestured to the corner of the room, where Mattie’s eyes found nothing but empty space.
Gilbert’s eyes, though, no longer saw an ordinary cat. Nor was it a lynx, or a lioness. It was a full-grown male lion, with a mane of obsidian twice the size of its head. Long strands of fur dangled like black icicles. He sat, calmly observing the scene before him, his royal blue orbs focused on his prey.
The mind of Gilbert Beilschmidt was truly confused. If it’s over there, then who is holding me? Who else? What else is here?
“Whoever you are, get-”
“It’s me, it's Matthew! I’m here, Gilbert, and the cat isn’t! It’s not real!” Gilbert felt a drop of something wet lend on his back. On his neck. Little droplets of water, slowly rolling over his skin, soaking through fabric.
His friend’s tears.
Everything halted. The cat, the lion, disappeared into the thin air it was accusedly made of. Everything…..Gilbert thought angrily. Everything can just go to Hell, as long as I can protect Mattie. My Birdie.
“Matthew….I hear you. I see you.” It was all he could think to say. Gently, the arms holding him loosened; the body above his own moved away, allowing him to sit up. Outside, the night was approaching fast - orange sunset was fading into navy darkness.
Not that darkness exists, he thought hopelessly, it is just the absence of light.
Water was running from his eyes like they were faucets. Because now he knew. He could see it in Mattie’s posture: Mattie had never been scared by the cat, but by him.
So that’s it, then. I can’t protect him if he’s terrified of me. “Why are you still here?” Shuffling away from the Canadian, against all his instincts, Gilbert turned away.
Eventually the soft voice replied, “Because I want to help you.”
“At your own risk? At your own fear?”
A sniffle. A lick of lips. “Friends help each other. I expect you would do the same for me.”
“Of course I would. But friends don’t terrify each other. They don’t….I hurt you, didn’t I? Mattie?” Again, there was only a sniffle as an answer.
“How bad was it?”
“Y-you didn’t...not really...it was just an accident.” It was true, in a sense; Matthew forgave him for it. Not like I can hold him to his actions at the moment.
White locks of hair fell in front of Gilbert’s red irises as he turned to the smaller man, giving the impression that his eyes were hidden by thin mist. “I don’t understand why you stay by my side. Through everything. No matter what I do.”
Mattie’s blonde hair, tousled and knotted, curved about his neck like rope as his head lifted slightly. Stupid German. He has to ask, AGAIN. Je t'aime de tout mon coeur, Gilbert. “I -”
The front door opened. A large, brawny form dropped a suitcase at the sight of the two men in tears on the flooring. Ludwig supposed he shouldn’t have been surprised; he was expecting his older brother to go through some kind of attack again, but - not so soon. Not twice in one day.
As they looked to him like lost children, he gulped. Poor Matthew, what had he just dealt with? He didn’t seem to be hurt. Physically.
I can deal with this, he assured himself. “Come on, get up. I’ll make you both some coffee.” They didn’t need to know that after the meeting he’d gone back to the hospital. No, they didn’t need to know he’d been talking with Doctor Lukas Bondevik about Gilbert.
And his brother most certainly didn’t need to know what the doctor’s leaving words were.
“It is highly likely that Gilbert is schizophrenic. Do your best to keep him calm: coupled with the aneurysm, he is looking at fatal consequences.”
Lyrics are from Carnivore by Starset.
Ja, er det. - Yes, it is.
Ja, ich fühle mich besser. - Yeah, I feel better.
Willkommen - Welcome
Je ne sais pas - I don't know
Nein! Gehen Sie weg, jetzt! - No! Go away, now!
Blutig Kanadier - Bloody Canadian
Je t'aime de tout mon coeur, Gilbert. - I love you with all my heart, Gilbert.
Chapter 19: Chapter 19
Warning: this chapter contains gore, a suicide attempt memory scene, and general psychological trauma. Please read with caution.
“Is there….anything you would like to talk about in particular, Gilbert-san?”
Yeah...let’s start with my medical problems, which bleed into my apparently psychotic, unstable mentality and we’ll end with a conclusion that I didn’t try hard enough when attempting suicide. Gosh, it was hard trying to stay positive.
Story of my fucking life. “Nein, but don’t you think it was ironic of me to have a breakdown just after you pronounced me ‘mentally stable’, Doctor Honda?”
The Japanese man looked uncomfortable. “I do not blame anybody, if that is what you mean. However, I am concerned about your behaviour both at home and at the hospital.”
“You and me both.”
Neither man spoke for a few awkward minutes. Then, Kiku sighed. “Gilbert, would you consider…”
Said man looked up, meeting those dark, dull orbs as passively as he could. “....seeing a psychiatrist, also?” Finished the doctor.
White hands clenched. “Do I actually have a choice in this?”
“It would be safer for you.”
“Because I’d be drugged up to my eyeballs,” Spat the German, his accent curling his lips further into a sneer. “You all just want me kept down until the operation. All against me.”
Kiku gave no visual response. “Would you say that about your friend?”
Who, my friend who I have mutual feelings for and tried to pressure into a relationship before almost attacking him? That guy? “I don’t deserve friends.”
“Why is that?”
“Because, I’m fucked up!” The hoarse shout got Kiku’s face to harden. Gilbert scoffed, “None of these people should have suffered they way they have. Ludwig, Matt, Feli, Arthur and Francis…..They all wanted to help me. But I wouldn’t let them, and now, it’s too late! I’m losing losing it a-and I can’t just-”
“Gilbert-san, please calm yourself. If you feel you are becoming less stable, then it is highly recommendable that you consult a psychiatrist as well.”
Closing his eyes, battling the sight of fur, teeth and claws, the albino nodded slowly. “Sicher. I understand.”
“You will not see that man again, Matthew.”
He couldn’t argue with his parents. Not really. Not without sounding childish. ‘But Dad, I love him! You’ll never understand what we have!’ Mattie allowed himself a chuckle at that. Yes he’d been frustrated to hear that from his Dad, but...he could understand their view.
He was their child, who had been subjected to panic and delusional attacks from his unstable best friend - why wouldn’t they be concerned for his safety?
But in truth, he was more focused on how Gilbert was doing. He would have to see him again; that was non-negotiable.
As he stared at the wall like some kind of Twilight reject, Mattie felt his heart strings pull, stretch, contract for his friend. As soon as he’d arrived home he had changed into his usual attire: baggy red hoodie and loose-fitting faded jeans. He felt more like himself dressed this way, not like the man who had needed to restrain his closest friend from beating up inanimate objects.
A knock sounded on his open door. He didn’t even look to see who it was. “Leave me alone.”
The person did not, instead moving to come and sit on the end of his bed, with Mattie’s back to them.
“Chill. I only wanted to make sure you were ok.” The American accent easily gave away Alfred’s identity if it weren’t for the muscled Jock-boy frame.
“I don’t want to speak to anyone.” Yeah, like THAT’S gonna make him go away, the Canadian’s bitter inner voice spat. As expected the American shuffled closer, arms resting loosely by his sides. “Brother, please...If you don’t wanna talk about it, at least let Big Bro Al cheer you up.” There was a sad smile in his voice, Matthew could hear it.
Bless his free little heart.
“Alfred, it was nothing, I-”
“It was not nothing. Not from what I know. He - he could have really hurt you! This friend of yours, you gotta be more-”
“More careful.” Snapped the smaller blonde. “I know. But considering all the stuff you’ve done in this family, Al, I really don’t think you’re the person to be giving me advice.”
Alfred’s bespectacled face cringed. “That was uncalled for-”
“Non, it was very called for,” Mattie retorted as he faced his older brother. The one who’d ditched him when he was younger, after promising to be there for him.
“No contact for five years, and now this? You left me! You left all of us.” He wanted to stop, could see how much this was hurting Alfred, but goddamn the brat needed to hear this!
“Do you remember what you said to me literally three weeks before you left? ‘I’ll always be here for you, Matt’. What complete lies. I understand you wanted to go, but I at least expected a fucking phone number! Or an occasional postcard! Or, hell, even a visit! But no. No you left me behind with our parents. How on Earth could you think that was an alright thing to do?”
“I thought we were discussing your little Exorcist experience, not my decisions!” Alfred’s fists clenched. “I had to leave - Dad was smothering me! He wouldn’t leave me alone to grow up, was so stubborn!”
“Because he loved you so much, he only wanted to show it! You were both in the wrong!”
“I’M SORRY! I’m sorry, ok? I Never meant to hurt you little bro-”
“No that doesn’t make it ‘ok’! And you don’t even know what happened with Gilbert so stay out of it!”
“I was only trying to help!” A slender figure appeared in the doorway, wearing a floral two-piece pyjama set.“What the Hell is going on here, boys? Or do you think it’s fine to jus’ wake ever’one up at 11pm every night?”
Both brothers pointed at the other, yelling, “He started it!” Marching into the darkened room, Amelia’s eyes glittered as she folded her arms tightly. “Explain. Now.”
“I was just trying to help Mattie, but he started -” Alfred began.
“I didn’t want to speak to anyone, but he-” Matthew started. They glared at each other again, until Amelia swiped both of their heads briskly.
“Ow! Swiper no swiping,” Alfred grumbled as she took his arm and hauled him up off the bed. Turning to Mattie, she said quickly, “You both need to sort things out, but maybe at a better time. Like in the morning. Ok, we’re all jus’ tired, nunight now-” The door closed quietly, leaving a very flustered Canadian glowering at the place where Alfred had been sat.
Why did everyone treat him so delicately, like he was a vase made of sugar glass? Jeez, they weren’t so protective when he was out on the ice in Canada, challenging the opposing team to a violent ice hockey match. Perhaps that was it: he needed to start carrying his hockey stick around with him again.
Hell, Gilbert was more freaking fragile than he was! But because he was also unpredictable, everyone left him alone.
He used to hate being left alone. Hated being lonely. Hated being ignored or even worse, forgotten. Mattie only wanted to be alone now because Gilbert wasn’t here. Plus, it was his job, as a friend, to help him. And if he wanted something done right he’d always had to do it himself.
Maybe I need to be more unpredictable. Not like Gilbert, just enough to put people off interfering with me.
A few days passed, in which Gilbert did indeed visit a psychiatrist. He was prescribed ‘antipsychotic’ drugs (the name of which did not amuse him in the slightest) which drastically improved his behaviour - if only because the main side effect of the drugs was extreme drowsiness.
However, with the excess sleep came more terrors.
Gilbert’s eyes snapped open, staring at the glow in the dark clock hands. 1:15 am. His hands felt uncomfortable.
Using his bitten-down nails, Gilbert began to scratch his palms under the bedsheets, biting his lip at how ticklish they seemed. A small, burning pain emanated from the flesh around his hands, drawing a hiss from the albino. “Shit, why are they…” Suddenly, the itching stopped.
Pulling his hands out into the darkness, Gilbert examined them closely. He’d scratched them enough to turn them crimson, and - Nein. Fur? There were thick little hairs sprouting on the backs of his hands, his palms, his fingers. The wiry material poked out of his skin painfully.
Why do I have fur? What the fuck? Sitting on the edge of his bed, Gilbert closed his eyes tight. His nails were itchy now. Why were his nails itchy?
Actually, no. He thought he’d just stick with the general ‘WHY?’ about everything.
Trying to scratch under his nails, the German whimpered in shock when he felt something ...moving under his index nail. Digging harder, blanching at the squishing sounds of his flesh tearing, Gilbert pryed the nail off his finger. And threw up on the floor.
Maggots. There were maggots under his nails.
Panic burning his veins, Gilbert rushed out of his room and to the kitchenette.
I have to get. Them. Out! Fuck fuck fuck! FUCK! His unfocused mind repeated curses as his hands scrambled through drawers in the dark. Gilbert pulled out a long bread knife; the serrated edge reflected his wide red eyes and the desperation in them.
The little white insect larvae still writhed under - inside - his flesh, covered by the skin of his hands. How had they spread to his hands? God, his palms itched so much!
It was too quiet. He could…..fuck, he could hear them munching! Eating their way through his fingers!
Muttering incoherently, Gilbert pressed the tip of the knife into his middle finger, trying to dig out one of the maggots there. With a wince, he watched as the blood welled around the intruding blade. A squelching sound was heard and the maggot was split in half, yellow substances leaking from its body.
Again he dug into his fingers. Again the silver metal scraped away little white bodies with their chewing mouths, his skin being stretched to shreds.
His palms, next: thrust the blade in, kill as many as possible, pin them onto death. Gilbert was crying, whimpering with the pain and effort as he switched the blade into his other hand to de-infest that one too. His bloody hand could hardly grip the wooden handle but he had to get rid of them, fucking HAD to!
“Rrgh…..f-fuck…I can do this…” He only managed one more scrape across his pale surface before the pain became too much. Collapsing on the floor, his body flush against the icy boards, hands spread out before him like he was some kind of sacrifice. A deep-gutted growl swirled into the darkness. The albino heard a series of clicks as unsheathed claws announced the cat’s presence once more.
Half-lidded eyes watched as the black lion, bringer of misfortune, levered his heavy body into the room. He stopped before the lamenting snow-white figure, starkly contrasted to his own coal coloured fur.
“J-just kill me….I….” The German coughed, tasting copper in his mouth and the sight of his hands threatened to make him lose his stomach lining. “I cannot….kill you.”
And so the truth emerges, the lion communicated. Gilbert gasped: this time it spoke not with Ludwig’s voice, but with one much softer, lighter in tone.
“Have you no voice of your o-own? Or do you s-simply seek to mock those I love?”
The lion snarled, his thick brow furrowing. Do not ask such pathetic questions.
“Why not kill me now, kitty?”
I enjoy your suffering. To hover just above death, to me, is like heaven.
“How poetic,” Gilbert deadpanned, pushing himself into a sitting position, leaning heavily against the kitchen island.
You have no one. Pathetic boy, Insulted the giant black feline. As more blood was pumped out of his weakening body, Gilbert Beilschmidt swallowed the lump in his throat. Held back the painful tears. Shakily drew in air.
“I have m-more than y-you ever will…” Sleep disguised as unconsciousness claimed him, but not before his eyes caught the old scars on his wrists. They were the boldest, thickest, most important scars on his skin.
They were almost the doorways to his demise, he recalled, as the memory arose strongly inside his mind.
Today was the day. It had to be; he knew it.
This morning, he could barely will himself to move out of bed. Eating had proved nothing but a chore, something he hated doing but had to nonetheless. It became known to Gilbert that he’d lost all control of his life now. He had been told to sit down, told to eat, told to drink, told to shower and TOLD to stay home and rest while little brother went to work.
His important work at his important company, having to leave his unimportant older brother at home. Gilbert didn’t care anymore, and that was the worst thing. He no longer had his spark, his determination, his ridiculous tendency to rebel against rules. He was….hollow. Empty. Emotionless.
So why bother? He thought to himself. I am a bother, a burden to everyone I know. Everyone who knows me believes I am a lost cause anyway. Hell, even Ludwig thinks it sometimes, I know he does. Aber ich liebe ihn, mein kleiner Bruder. I am proud of his achievements, but…..if I cannot make any myself, I have no purpose here.
That was the final strike to his mental stability. He had already drank a small bottle of Desorino along with popping half a dozen sleeping pills. Gilbert travelled to the bathroom, almost in a trance, floating above sanity. The razor he used for shaving would do: it was brand new, with an almost untouched set of blades on it. After checking he’d shut the bathroom door and that the light was off, Gilbert stepped into the shower. There was no shower curtain, so alas he could not hide the body in any way.
Surrounded by gripping blackness, the albino was grateful for the lack of sight. He felt he might have stopped himself once he saw the blade cutting into his soft wrist.
No, it’s better this way. Ludwig can finally live a life on his own. It is what’s best. And I….I will be at peace. Wherever the fuck I end up.
The first cut, on his left wrist, hurt like a bitch. He could hear the metal grazing the vein; he was almost sick. The feeling of warm liquid running down his arm, the strong smell of copper, the thoughts of Gilbert’s brother, family, old friends circling his mind as he felt himself lighten. As if all his worries, all his regrets and all his guilt were following the blood out of his being.
Another two cuts on the left wrist; a quick, deep slash on the right from which he could not hold back the cry of pain. Tears obscured his now useless vision, and he slipped down to the floor of the shower, the coolness a comfort to his raging distress.
Perhaps just the pills and alcohol might have done it, but he wanted to be sure. He really, really wanted to get this right. It would be the first thing he’d get right in his whole life if this went to plan.
But when do plans follow instructions?
Gilbert could feel his heart slowing, knew his organs were shutting down. Pale eyelids closed just as the man sensed a light. Could this be, The Light? The one signifying The End?
Hopefully he would know soon, because he couldn’t wait much longer…
Just as a cold realm stole away his consciousness, a frightened, male voice spoke. “Gilbert…?”
“Gilbert…?” Ludwig had gotten up at 6am. Gone to the kitchen.
Found his unconscious bleeding brother on the floor, his hands ripped to shreds and his body covered in sweat, vomit and blood.
He’d rushed to his side, checked his vitals: alive, but traumatised. Even in slumber, Gilbert’s body twitched and shook.
So Ludwig had done the only thing he could think to do. He’d found the number given to him not only by Doctor Kiku Honda, but by Doctor Lukas Bondevik.
It appeared they knew each other.
“Hello? This is Ludwig Beilschmidt, nearest relative to a patient discharged about a week ago: Gilbert Beilschmidt. I need Doctor Bondevik.”
He was put onto the phone minutes later. “What is it, Mr Beilschmidt? What’s happened?”
Ludwig didn’t want to say these words. He really didn’t. But his brother needed this. “I need an admission.”
Bondevik faltered. “Are you sure? By when?”
“N-now. He’s...he’s cut up his hands with a blade. He is unconscious and I….I don’t know what to-”
“Bring him to the hospital. Can you do that?” Ludwig hesitated, another glance at his older brother. “Ja.”
They hung up, and at the hospital Bondevik was already preparing things. “Nurse Angela!” He called, and said nurse approached him.
“Get me a hospital room ready. Standard procedure. We’re putting a patient under Section 4.”
Gilbert had been immediately sedated, for the risk of him awaking in hospital and having a panic attack was too high. Sitting once again in Doctor Bondevik’s office, Ludwig accepted the hot coffee given to him by said Norwegian, whispering a quiet, “Danke,” in return.
Bondevik was also quiet for a few minutes, organising the information in his head. “Gilbert has been placed under Section 4 of the Mental Health Act of the UK.”
Ludwig’s head lifted so his eyes could meet the doctor’s. “What is Section 4?”
“It means he has an emergency admission into the hospital due to the state he was found in. It clearly shows his mental health is deteriorating and it could put him and those around him in danger,” Bondevik took a breath, “so for his own good he will be detained in hospital for 72 hours. We will need to run tests and determine if he needs to be placed under Sections 2 or 3.”
Ludwig was struggling to keep up, what with his exhaustion having caught up with him. “Please elaborate.”
“Section 2 is an ‘assessment’ order. It allows for someone who is unwell to be admitted to hospital so health professionals can find out what is wrong, recommend how to help and start treatment. This would mean he stays here for up to 28 days.”
“You have the professionals here able to help him?”
Bondevik nodded. “I believe so. We have Section 12 rated doctors to assess Gilbert, and approved mental health professionals to try and...bring him back to reality.” At these words he could see the blonde German frown, and tried to press further.
“Ludwig, you understand that he will, eventually, have to face his demons. He will have to listen to reason, but it will be up to him whether he accepts it or not.”
Ludwig looked to the floor, his blue eyes overshadowed. “I...understand, Doctor.”
“Now, I have filled out a Section 5 form myself along with two Section 12 doctors. This Section is for informal patients, until other forms are completed for his further inkeep. Are you alright to give your signature as well?”
The burly man’s brow crinkled. “He is under two Sections at once?”
“That is correct, because their duration is identical.” Taking the form from Bondevik’s hand, Ludwig perused it quickly and, finding no catch to it, willingly gave his signature.
Sitting back in his chair and straightening his tie, Doctor Bondevik thanked him. “He shall be kept safe, worry not. But if he poses a threat to anyone -”
“Ich verstehe, you will act accordingly.” Ludwig watched as the doctor bristled at being interrupted. “Exactly. If it is correct that he does suffer from schizophrenia, then we have treatments and therapy to help Gilbert cope with it.”
“Then there is no definite cure for schizophrenia?” Asked the buff blonde, concerned. Bondevik sighed. “Everyone is different. Some can grow out of it, some can never escape it, and others can seem to do both. They live normal lives but have the occasional episode. Schizophrenia typically affects young adults and the elderly so it is possible for your brother to overcome this. With our help, naturally.”
Yes, Ludwig thought, thinking back to how he’d found his brother lying in his own blood for the second time in two years. Naturally.
“Hey, the water park was fun, huh?” Alfred laughed as he wrapped an arm around Amelia’s shoulders, who’s wet hair still clung to her face as she giggled. “Sure was. I didn’t think you were such a good swimmer, though, Mattie.”
Mattie looked up and blushed. “O-oh, I...yeah. I mean, when I lived in Canada I went to the local pool between hockey matches. It helped keep my fitness up, s-so…”
Amelia smiled kindly. “Hope it was an indoor pool, Canada’s cold.” The Canadian glanced at his brother. “You’ve been to Canada, then?”
“Well,” Amelia began, “I have, when I was younger.” All tension in the air dropped. Matthew would have hated it if Alfred and Amelia had gone to Canada, but not come to visit them before.
It had been a nice day trip for the summer, though, going to visit a water park. He’d had the chance to relax, forget about life and delve into the cold depths of vast pools, water slides and jacuzzi’s. Mattie admitted he wasn’t keen on the chlorine smell, but had forgotten about it. Now they’d arrived home, the day spent swimming reminded him of how tired and hungry he was, not to mention how stiff he’d be tomorrow.
“Oui, I...Yes, I know. What happened?” The sound of his father’s accented voice drew Matthew to the door of Francis’s study, inside which the man could be seen holding a phone to his ear as he took notes with his other hand, seated at his desk.
“Non,” Gasped the Frenchman. “Did that really happen? He’s there again? ….Right. Ok. Oui, I will give my approval for them to do that. Well, yes, Honda, I mean...it’s best for him. Gilbert is -”
Mattie jumped as soon as he heard the name, moving into the small room. “What’s happened to Gilbert?”
Francis looked up, startled. “Matthieu, I have told you not to eavesdrop-”
“What happened to him?” The threat in his own voice surprised them both, an underlying challenge for the truth. With a sigh of defeat, Francis licked his thin lips and said goodbye to the person on the phone. “Gilbert...is being detained at the hospital.”
Mattie’s hands began to shake. “D-detained? On what grounds?”
“On the grounds that he is a potential threat to himself and those around him. They are keeping him for 72 hours for assessments.”
Stepping closer, balling his fists the Canadian’s eyes darkened behind his glasses. “Assessments? Are they going to hurt him?” At this, his father looked quite shocked. “Non, certainly not. But it is the safest option for Gilbert -”
“I have to see him.” Matthew turned, but not before Arthur’s frame appeared in the doorway. “We have told you to stay away from that man,” The Brit reinforced. “We meant it.”
“I am 20 years old, I am not going to deliberately put myself in danger,” Snapped Mattie, his anger building up. “If it is true he is being detained, and sedated, then he won’t harm me.”
Francis stood up. “Why bother going to see him, cher, if he is sedated? The doctors will not disclose further information; you’re not the nearest relative. Believe me, Matthieu, they will work to help him.”
But I...I need to be with him. I need to see Gilbert, even if it’s only for a few seconds. “Then one of you can come with me,” He suggested determinedly, “if it will make you feel better.” He watched as Arthur and Francis exchanged a glance. “You know where he is now,” Francis began. “You know he is safe. A visit to him is not necessary.”
“It is!” Retorted the petite blonde, whirling to face the platinum-haired man.
“Do not raise your voice to your father,” Arthur said, just as yet another silhouette came into view. “What’s going on here?” Alfred queried loudly, getting the British man to cringe. “Alfred, you stay out of this, please.”
“I’m just asking-”
“Well don’t,” Snapped Arthur, moving out of the doorway and looking up to his son. “It isn’t your concern.”
Stop. Just stop and listen to me. I have to see him, I have to know he’s really safe! Mattie felt crowded, outnumbered, overpowered; there was no way he could convince them to let him go, was there? It was already late afternoon, but if they hurried…
“S’il te plait,” He mumbled when everyone had stopped talking, “let me see Gilbert. I…” I can’t say this in front of everyone! My whole family,but...I….I have to say it!
“...I love him.”
Everything slowed down. His heartbeat, time, even the reactions of those around him seemed to slow down.
Except Alfred. “You’re gay?” The genuinely confused and surprised expression of his fuelled Mattie’s frustration. “Yeah, Alfred, I am. If you’d stayed in contact you would know that.” Alfred scowled, his golden layered hair framing his handsome face.
Once again, the Canadian turned to the Frenchman. “Père...if it was Dad instead of Gilbert -”
Francis shook his head, “Do not-”
“- you would want to see him. Alfred,” Lilac orbs met bespectacled blue, “if it was Amelia, you would want to see her.” Matthew never had imagined guilt-tripping his family into helping him, but Hell was going to freeze over before they stopped him from at least seeing Gilbert again.
Francis folded his arms, tonguing his cheek. “...Very well, I shall go with you to visit him. Demain.”
With a curt nod, Mattie straightened his back. “Merci, Papa.”
As the night clawed itself into the sky, knocking away the sun and replacing it with the ominous crescent moon, Ludwig Beilschmidt climbed out of his car and approached the small house in the centre of town. He’d had a stressful day, what with calling in to cancel work before an important meeting, then spending the day discussing forms and laws with Doctor Bondevik and Doctor Honda, just to mention a few.
He really needed to see him. Knocking on the door, his eyes lit up when the small form of Feliciano Vargas opened it, smiling gently at him. Evidently he’d just been about to retire for the day, as he was dressed only in boxers. “Hey, Ludwig. Are you alright? Come in-”
Before he could say anything else Ludwig cupped his face in his palms and kissed him. “I apologise for visiting so late, but…”
The Italian blushed, but focused on his words. “What happened?”
Ludwig sighed. “I’ll explain later. For now, I would simply appreciate your company.”
It was dark. And cold. And clean.
Gilbert had stopped counting the number of times he’d awoken in a hospital room, and didn’t even want to think about how many more times such an event would occur.
“Fuck…” He whispered to the darkness, listening to the heartbeat of the building as the night workers strolled around. “Hospitals are so last year.”
I have a Tumblr now, guys, so please feel free to message me. I hope this chapter did not freak you out too much.
Aber ich liebe ihn, mein kleiner Bruder - But I love him, my little brother
Demain. - Tomorrow.
Chapter 20: Chapter 20
Arms wide open, I stand alone
I'm no hero, and I'm not made of stone
Right or wrong, I can hardly tell
I'm on the wrong side of Heaven,
And the righteous side of Hell
“Who the fuck said you could fucking detain me here?” Gilbert yelled at the Norwegian doctor, who recoiled along with Ludwig.
“I did, Bruder,” Retorted the German, clenching his jaw. The albino’s expression dropped in shock as his little brother continued. “All these hallucinations, delusions...they’re putting you in danger. And by extension, those around you,” Gilbert remembered how guilty he’d felt after shoving Mattie into the wall, or scratching his brother across the face during one of his episodes.
Panting heavily, pausing, Gilbert looked away. Maybe it really is best that I am in here.
After he’d woken up it had been hazy image after hazy image. Gilbert had been drifting in and out of reality, into and out of consciousness - especially when the pain from his overly bandaged hands began to kick in.
The painkiller they’d given him wasn’t morphine, so he didn’t act strange, just tired. Thankfully he was not, at the moment, able to feel the state of his mutilated palms. And he did not want to be conscious when the painkiller wore off.
“Sections 4 and 5 of the Mental Health Act allow us to keep you here for 72 hours until psychological tests are run,” Doctor Bondevik explained. “In a few hours’ time we will send two professional mental health doctors to examine you. Alright?” The white-haired man nodded dejectedly. It wasn’t like he had a reason to say otherwise: everything he did pointed to a serious mental illness as well as the -
“Will the operation still go ahead?” Gilbert asked, to receive a nod from the doctor. “Hopefully, ja. It does depend partly on these results, Gilbert. But we will try to do all we can to ensure this aneurysm is….deactivated.”
“Fine,” Gilbert glanced into the blue eyes of his brother, seeing the guilt and fear in them. Stupid idiot, he chastised himself. I’ve hurt him so fucking much.
With any luck this damn aneurysm will burst before we all suffer more.
Francis hopped out of the parked car to stand next to his son, whom was looking upon the hospital as a prisoner would the electric chair.
“We can go home,” The Frenchman began softly, “if you would like.” Mattie shook his head defiantly. “I want to see him, Papa.”
Strolling inside, both men approached the reception desk and asked to see Gilbert Beilschmidt.
The nurse nodded, gave them instructions on where to go. “But we are running tests at the moment so you might not be able to actually go into the room,” She warned as the pair headed off.
When they reached the room doctors and nurses were pouring in and out like some kind of humanoid liquid; Mattie doubted they’d be able to actually visit the white-haired man.
“U-um, e-excuse me,” The Canadian muttered to a passing nurse, who didn’t seem to notice him. He repeated the phrase again to a different doctor. This time the man turned around. “Can I help you?”
“Y-yes, uh…” Don’t panic don’t panic just talk normally, “we were just wondering if we could visit Gilbert,” Mattie blurted, pushing his glasses further up his nose.
The doctor looked down his nose at them, looked to Gilbert’s room, back to them, and sighed. “Please wait a moment.” As Francis nodded the man went back inside the room and asked all nursing staff and doctors to kindly leave.
The doctor nodded for them to enter as he left.
Mattie’s eyes began to water as he looked upon the slumbering white form on the hospital bed. Again there were IVs going into his arms, but they had to go in at the inside of his elbows because….well, because of his hands.
Bloody bandages. Concealed self-harm. Painfully obvious wounds.
Discreetly, Matthew felt his father’s comforting hand on his shoulder; he moved away to sit in the chair, with Francis leaning against the wall.
“I don’t understand,” Whispered the petite blonde. “He said he didn’t want to do that again…”
“He has, a lot of problems. You know that and still you’ve decided to help him,” Francis spoke softly, “so you must be prepared to face this kind of happening.”
“You were his therapist before,” Began Mattie, not taking his eyes off Gilbert’s form. “I’m not going to ask e-exactly what he went through, b-but, well….was it traumatic?”
Francis turned his head. “The experiences themselves sounded unpleasant. Normally I would consider them to be traumatic, oui.”
Finally, Mattie faced the Frenchman, his wide lilac eyes betraying his fear. “I’ve seen it.”
Francis’s face contorted in confusion. “Quoi, Matthieu?”
“I’ve seen the monster inside his head.” Wringing his thin hands, the Canadian glanced at the floor while letting out a long breath. Francis waited for him to continue.
“When I was at his apartment, a-and he had the episode, I…” Mattie gulped. “I thought I saw something in the room with us, in the doorway where Gilbert pointed. And when, when he was throwing furniture around or yelling I felt its presence. Just f-for a s-second, it seemed like the cat was real.” Oh God what have I just said? What must he think of me...am I going mad as well?
“Matthieu, look at me.”
“I-I can’t, Papa.” I cannot lift my head, my gaze. I don’t want him to see what I’ve become. I’m his son, I…
Francis went over to the bed, crouched in front of Matthew as he brushed a few strands of hair away from his son’s tearful face. Gently, Francis placed a kiss on his son’s forehead. “This kind of illness corrupts, dear. It always does, especially if Gilbert suffers from schizophrenia. Sometimes, people closest to them are...wrapped up in their delusions because it’s too much for them to keep fighting it,” Ocean blue orbs looked intently into light purple. “You are not mad,” Concluded the Frenchman, “merely stressed.”
Sitting like this, with Francis before him, Mattie felt five years old again, waiting patiently as his father explained something to him. His vision travelled to Gilbert’s face, slack as he slept, and spoke again. “He calls me Birdie sometimes.”
“Is there a reason for that?” Mattie gave a sad smile. “Birds are hunted by cats, but can fly away if they need to.”
Both men stayed silent for a few minutes.
“What if the bird is in a cage,” Francis contemplated aloud, eyes downcast.
“Then that cage also protects it from being hurt. Maybe the cage feels like home.” Mattie moved, taking a piece of paper from his pocket. “That reminds me, actually...Here, Gil.” He rested the paper on a nearby vase of flowers.
On the paper, was a drawing of a bird. A little chick, with wide black eyes and skinny feet and fluffy feathers. It was titled, ‘Gilbird’ and signed by ‘Birdie’. Francis chuckled when he saw it. “You are very good at art, you know. I bet he’ll love it.”
Mattie tried not to cry, which was successful. His nose, however, did not follow the pattern and began to run.
He saw Francis press a clean tissue into his hand. “Merci, Papa.” The Frenchman stood, folding his arms. “If it is schizophrenia, or paranoia, what will you do?”
Matthew went to put his hand on Gilbert’s bur remembered he couldn’t. Instead, he rested his palm on the bed railing. “I’ll stay by his side.”
He could sense his father’s concern building. “How long will you stay by his side for?”
Until it’s too much. Until he pushes me away. “Until he’s better,” The Canadian stated firmly.
Nodding, perhaps trying to understand his son, Francis smiled. A sad, confused, proud smile. “Me and your Dad will always be here for you, cher. As well as for Gilbert, if you really want to stay with him.”
Mattie nodded his understanding. Papa, Dad, Alfred. Even Amelia, I love all of you. I’m lucky to have you, because if it was just me and my feelings for Gilbert, I wouldn’t know what to do.
The news had come as no great shock.
“Mr Beilschmidt, you’ve been diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia.” He hadn’t even been surprised. Ludwig had been. Despite everything his little brother had witnessed he still wasn’t prepared to hear the truth of it.
Understandable, I guess. How many times do you get to hear about a sibling going crazy? He thought. So I’m….officially...crazy.
It was a beautiful June day outside, one which consisted of burning sunlight, glowing plants and people barely dressed to the dignifying degree.
Gilbert counted himself as one of those people, wearing an open-back hospital gown. More than once he’d been tempted to get up and bend down, try and see how many nurses he could make faint.
It was then his red eyes picked up something foreign sitting on the bedside table, resting against the flowers Feliciano had brought him.
A picture? He reached over, then winced as he tried to move his fingers. Well using my hands isn’t going to work. Damn. Instead he tried to move the arm closest to the table, making the IV tube in his arm jump up and down.
After a few swings, Gilbert managed to loop the tube wiring over the paper, and with a quick pull the picture was yanked onto the bedsheets. Bingo!
Sitting himself up gently, Gilbert yawned. He used his palms to bring the paper closer, and beamed when he saw the image drawn upon it. His heart fluttered at seeing the chick, as it did when he saw any kind of bird.
But this one...created by Mattie...it was special. My Birdie. There was a shadow of writing on the other side; Gilbert flipped it.
I came to see you but you were asleep - sorry I couldn’t stay longer. I will see you soon,
Hope you liked Gilbird!
“Gottverdammt Drogen,” Muttered the German as he craned his head back on the pillows. Maybe I’ll be awake for Birdie’s next visit.
Minutes later, Doctor Bondevik strode in, papers in hand. “Morning, Gilbert.”
Gilbert grunted in response.
“How are you feeling today?”
“Well, you know how you told me yesterday that ich bin verrückt? I’m really feeling that afterburn now.”
Bondevik’s expression hardened. “I did not say you were verrückt , I said you have been diagnosed with schizophrenia.”
“Ha! You can’t even quote yourself,” Gilbert sneered. “It was paranoid schizophrenia.”
“We are detaining you under Section 2 for a good reason, Gilbert. Please consider that before mouthing off to those charged with your medical care.”
“Was that a threat?”
“Paranoid indeed,” Muttered the doctor. “I have been talking to some fellow Section 12 doctors I know, and we have a suggestion to help you deal with this.” Gilbert didn’t even need to look at him to know what the answer was. “It’s therapy, isn’t it.”
“Ja. With professionals who have experience with schizophrenic patients. Would you like to try it?” This couldn’t be real, he was being given an actual choice? “If I were to say no, would you accept that?”
Bondevik lowered his head. “We would. It is entirely your choice, Gilbert.”
It felt good to have a little bit of control back. But he wanted it all back. He wanted to be able to leave the hospital in a stable mindset, to be able to be at home alone and not commit suicide, to not have nightmares or delusions and to be with Matthew Williams, in peace.
So really, he didn’t have a choice in this. Because to throw away this opportunity was to throw away his future - the one he’d longed for.
“...Ja, dann, Herr Doktor. I will try.”
The antipsychotic drugs were proved insignificant after several days of monitoring behaviour and results concluded Gilbert was still suffering symptoms of schizophrenia. He would awaken screaming from vivid hallucinogenic nightmares or talk himself into fits of extreme anxiousness.
Doctors decided that given the possibly fatal side-effects of antipsychotic drugs, he should stop being administered them.
So the therapy was their main last hope. Every day Doctor Bondevik and his fellow helpers - Doctor Berwald Oxenstierna, Doctor Tino Väinämöinen and Doctor Mathias Køhler - became more nervous as to how he was reacting to therapy sessions.
One wrong question, one wrong word could set him off into delusions none of them could cure.
Bondevik knew they were on borrowed time: if he became too stressed, the possibility of the aneurysm bursting became more likely.
However, there was still a few weeks before that operation, and more time to try and help the suffering albino.
For the last three days he’d been involved in individual therapy with the resident Section 12 Approved Mental Health Professional also trained as a therapist, Erzsébet Héderváry.
“La oss håpe det går bra i dag,” Bondevik said to his associates, whom nodded solemnly in response.
“Om hon är försiktig,” Added Doctor Oxenstierna, his normally stoic face betraying his concern as they watched Gilbert being led into the therapy wing of the hospital.
“It would help if you’d say what is bothering you.” The strongly Hungarian accent on her high-pitched voice made Gilbert’s ears hurt. He’d never really been bothered by women but this one was particularly persistent.
And also, really pretty. Gott, it never helps when I’m attracted to my therapist. Even if she does sit like a guy.
Sitting opposite him in her desk chair, clothed in a light grey suit with black heels, her mousy brown hair falling in waves over her narrow shoulders. Her professional yet relaxed green-eyed gaze got him to relax a bit. “...I’m just...scared.”
If she was surprised or shocked to hear that from him, she didn’t show it. “Scared of what?”
“Of not being able to live with this. Of letting everyone I know down. Of….” He took a shuddering breath. “...The cat.”
Erzsébet leaned back in her chair, scribbling notes on a pad. I wonder if she’s just doodling or something, Gilbert thought. Yeah. She seems like the kind of person who’d get pissed off, make a note of your name on a pad then go home and microwave her hamster. He chuckled as he pictured her doing just that.
“Something wrong?” She asked, clearly trying not to snap. Gilbert shook his head, “Nein, my mind was just being weird.”
“Alright,” Erzsébet said disbelievingly. “Gilbert have you ever had a phobia of cats?”
“Perhaps you were attacked by one when you were little?” He searched his memories. “Nein, I just don’t like cats.”
Erzsébet looked at him questioningly. Sighing, the white-haired man elaborated, “They’re arrogant, selfish and cruel,” he chuckled, “kesese, you want to know why I hate cats?”
She didn’t answer; her wide green eyes did not blink.
“Because they are just like humans.”
Hiss…. Gilbert felt his muscles twitching against the restraints, felt his teeth chatter (He also felt the dry feeling of fabric being placed in his mouth to prevent him biting his tongue) and wondered how he had gone from a therapy session to a seizure.
His eyelids fluttered and his body writhed uncontrollably upon the bed, as nurses held him down while doctors figured out how to help.
He was pretty sure he’d wet himself.
T-this d-day is fucking GREAT so far! Inside his mind he knew the black lion was prowling, grinning with those stupidly long canines, his tongue lolling out of his salivating mouth as Gilbert drew closer into the fear.
Into the dark.
Into the madness.
One minute, I am talking about...cats. The next, I...Nein, was ist passiert? His mind was blank, like all memories had been erased.
Struggling in anger, in fear, Gilbert snarled. Oh, gut. Now the cat can reboot my mind.
Finally, after what seemed like hours, his spasms ceased. Gilbert was drooling, shaking, lying in a pool of his own fluids. This was, he concluded, the true feeling of disgust.
“Mister Beilschmidt? Doctor, he’s back. Mister-” Doctor Bondevik overtook the nurse, checking his vitals before speaking. “Tell me your name, age, and what day it is.”
Does he think he’s on a reality TV soap? “Gilbert Beilschmidt, 24, probably Tuesday.” Satisfied with the answer, Bondevik backed off a bit. “You gave us quite a scare.”
“I do that a lot.”
“And you almost bit your tongue off.”
“Good thing I didn’t,” Gilbert propped himself up a bit, waiting for the nurses to clean him up. “I wouldn’t be able to mouth off to you.”
“Faktisk.” Gilbert wrung his hands, suddenly aware of the shock he’d been in. “I...the cat…” He began feebly, his accented voice sounding weak.
“Jeg vet, you saw the cat again. Is there no way to rid yourself of it, do you think?” Gilbert allowed himself to be moved so the dirty sheets could be taken away. “There is, I just haven’t found it yet. I don’t know how to beat it.”
Bondevik looked at him thoughtfully, one slender finger wrapping over his chin as he spoke with his Norwegian accent. “I have a suggestion for you to try.”
Gilbert tried not to look at him skeptically, but failed monumentally. “Wirklich. Sag mir.”
Doctor Bondevik stepped closer, cold eyes narrowing at fiery red. “Next time you meet this cat, ask it why it does not kill you. You say it tries to, yet never succeeds. There must be a reason for that.”
Spinning sharply on his heel, the doctor strode out, and Gilbert admired how his slicked back hair never fell out of place as he walked.
Actually, Doktor, that’s not a bad idea.
“Gil! You’re awake!” Mattie couldn’t stop himself running up to and hugging the German when he saw him, looping his arms around the pale man’s neck.
Gilbert chuckled as he gently hugged the Canadian back. “Ja, I’m awake. I loved your drawing, by the way.” Mattie pulled back, his cheeks tinged pink. “Oh - cool.”
“Thought you weren’t allowed to see me?”
The blonde man shrugged. “Not alone. Père is in the corridor. How’ve you…” That question is pointless, Matthew corrected himself. He’s being detained in hospital, of course he’s not been doing good.
“I’m...fine,” Gilbert said softly, and he looked down at his still-bandaged hands. He closed his eyes whenever they changed the fabric because he didn’t want to see his palms, or his fingers, or his wrists.
He didn’t want to know how bad the scarring would be.
At that moment, Matthew picked up on of Gilbert’s hands in both of his, holding it as if it were made of glass. He wrapped his hands over the covered, healing flesh and hummed. “Do they hurt a lot?”
Gilbert shook his head. “Painkillers. Would not want to be me when they wear off, though.”
“How’s the therapy?”
“It’s...working, to some, degree I guess. I mean, my therapist’s kinda hot.” Mattie giggled and Gilbert’s heart wanted to melt to the floor. “Not cute like you.”
Again, the Canadian blushed. “I-I’m not-”
“You so are, don’t deny it!” Suddenly Gilbert became serious. “I am sorry, Birdie. For all the shit I’ve put you through. I-”
“I forgive you, and I want to help you, Gil. I promised I would.” With a sad yet hopeful smile, Mattie placed a kiss on Gilbert’s forehead. Silence enveloped them for a few minutes.
Gilbert had to fight tears as he broke the quiet, “Es tut mir leid. I am indebted to you, Birdie.”
A new sense of hope and determination flowed through them both at that moment; something to keep them both focused as obstacles arose, both mental and real.
We can do this, Gilbert. I’m here with you. Mattie wanted to say that so much, but kept it to himself - perhaps now wasn’t the time to be making unsteady remarks.
Lyrics are from Wrong side of Heaven and righteous side of Hell by Five Finger Death Punch. Swedish and Norwegian are not languages I am very familiar with, so corrections or improvements are welcomed. I hope you enjoyed this chapter, it is one of The Remaining Few. This post was totally not to distract me from my upcoming German speaking exam...
Gottverdammt Drogen - Goddamned drugs
Ich bin verrückt - I am crazy
Was ist passiert? - What's happened?
La oss håpe det går bra i dag - Let us hope it goes well today
Om hon är försiktig - If she is careful
Faktisk - Indeed
Jeg vet - I know
Wirklich. Sag mir. - Really. Tell me.
Chapter 21: Chapter 21
So what if you can see the darkest side of me,
No one will ever change this animal I have become,
Help me believe it's not the real me,
Somebody help me tame this animal
The days grew shorter; the nights grew longer. Gilbert, while desperate to face reality and the cat, could not always resist the pull of his delusions.
Currently here he was, alone, in the same hospital bed he’d been occupying for a week now. Only 23 more days in here. Wonder if I’ll feel any better after my stay. Sighing, the albino reached over to the bag Ludwig had brought for him, looking for a book or a magazine to read; his eyes glanced at his legs under the thin blue sheet.
His legs, which were both bent at impossible angles.
“Aaaaagh!” Throwing off the covers, wide blood-red orbs stared down at the broken limbs, bones snapped and attempting to pierce the skin, kneecaps imploded, lilac bruising all over his thighs and shins.
It’s not real! Not real! NICHT ECHT! In a vain act to prove his thoughts Gilbert slammed a bandaged palm onto his right leg, knowing that it wouldn’t hurt, couldn’t possibly hurt-
“WHAT THE FUCK!” He screamed again as searing pain shot his nerves to shreds, skin shivering, breath quivering, mind raging out of control -
“What is going on?” Doctor Bondevik entered his room, looking dishevelled to say the least, his normally narrowed eyes widening at the sight before him.
The German was trying to clutch his leg with his bandaged palms, no doubt causing himself distress. Quickly the doctor approached him. “Stop! Gilbert! You’re-”
“MY LEGS,” The white-haired male yelled back, incredulous. “Look at them! Broken! Kaputt!”
“...There is nothing wrong with - no, Gilbert, look at me - there is nothing wrong with your legs.” Bondevik’s voice was soft, soothing, firm. Gilbert turned his tear-stained face towards him again, taking shallow breaths.
Nodding, Doctor Bondevik grabbed his radio from his belt. It crackled to life. “Yes, Doctor?”
“We need nurses here in the Section 2 Unit.”
Slowly the doctor placed a pale hand upon Gilbert’s forearm, and Gilbert glanced warily at his legs.
The legs, which were completely unharmed, just as they had always looked. Gilbert’s shoulders sagged. I can’t do this anymore. I….my legs were….
Doctor Bondevik risked a look at the face of his most troublesome patient yet. The image he was greeted with was one he’d seen before.
He’d seen it in the eyes of his fellow doctors when they’d lost a patient. He’d seen it on the faces of people when they were told they had cancer. But the most memorable time, was when he’d worn that look himself when he attended his little brother’s funeral: the look of hopelessness.
Deep caverns of stress under the eyes; sunken cheekbones from involuntarily sucking in air; lips dry and cracked from screaming and crystalised pathways down the cheeks from constant tears. Yes, it really was a look nobody should have to wear or witness.
And yet there was something else Bondevik saw in the crimson pools which were the eyes of Gilbert Beilschmidt: anger. Anger, which meant determination - determination, which meant he hadn’t given up yet.
After this, after everything this man had survived he would still not be defeated. Such a stubborn man, the doctor thought to himself.
This was definitely not the same guy who had attempted suicide last year. This man was a veteran of his own madness, who would use his experience to destroy himself before he hurt anybody else.
Now that is a dangerous power. I never would have thought it possible that a broken man had enough strength to eliminate anyone he wants to.
Gilbert was aware of the doctor looking at him, silently judging his behaviour. He didn’t care. Something was fucking around inside his head and he needed it gone: that cat had to die.
In the distance, accompanying the sound of nurses’ feet on linoleum flooring, was the unmistakable growl of his enemy.
He’d been on his way home from work when he’d seen a large blonde male walking down the street, no doubt on his way to the hospital again.
Mattie immediately forgot about his plans with Alfred and chased after him, his feet tapping lightly on the concrete.
“Ludwig!” Naturally, said German didn’t hear him. Cursing, Matthew ran faster, getting close enough to nudge Ludwig’s shoulder. The man turned around, brow furrowed. “Matthew?”
Pant, pant, Mattie got his breath back. “W-were you going to see Gilbert?”
“Ja. Do you need me to tell him something for you?”
That I love him. That I’ll be here for him. The Canadian steeled himself. “A-actually, i-it was you I wanted to talk with. B-but I was going t-to visit him soon…”
Ludwig looked at him, brushed his already slicked-back hair with his large palm. “It is not far from here,” He stated, “you could accompany me.”
With a quick nod, Mattie fell into step at the side of the bulking blonde - and holy shit he really was muscled! What did he do for a living, cage fighting?
Minutes went by before Ludwig spoke up. “What is it you wanted to discuss with me?”
Mattie looked up at him. He’s so formal. “Uh...I w-was just wondering…” Ludwig’s blue eyes glanced at him, “...what you think will happen to Gilbert.”
“You’ll have to specify.”
“U-uh, well, what with his illness and the aneurysm...do you think he can recover from it?” At this the German sighed. “I’m afraid I don’t know. I have...never seen him this way before.” Gilbert’s never been one to recover from experiences.
“This way?” Asked Mattie. “You mean with the hallucinations?”
“Nein, well….ja, but, I meant…” He looked at the smaller blonde. “...I have never seen him this strong before.”
Strong? Mattie couldn’t understand - this must have showed in his expression because Ludwig explained as they walked, “After he...after last year, I thought it would only be a matter of time before he tried again. And maybe this time I wouldn’t get to him in time. But...even though he has schizophrenia, und he harms himself still...he no longer wants to die.” Ludwig looked ahead, as if seeing his brother before him. “I can tell he wants to live now. And the reason for this is you.” Matti’s head snapped to face Ludwig’s. “Q-quoi?” He spluttered.
Ludwig’s eyes were downcast for a second. “He wants to live so that he can be a normal friend to you. He doesn’t want to hurt you-”
“I know that,” Matthew interrupted. “I- I mean, he’s told me that before. Lots of times.”
“Then you know it’s true.” Sighing, Ludwig managed to look into the purple eyes of the Canadian. “I am...grateful to you, Matthew.” Mattie’s heart swelled. “W-why?”
“You made my brother's life worth living again.”
Don’t cry, the smaller blonde told himself. Oh mon Dieu I’m going to cry… “...I’m sure you have, too, Ludwig. You’re his brother.” Ludwig offered a gentle smile. “I do believe that, but, Gilbert views himself as a burden to me. I have told him he’s never been a burden but he won’t believe me.”
Mattie’s brow furrowed. “Oh…”
They continued walking until the outline of the hospital building became visible.
“Do you love him?” The question caught Matthew completely off-guard; he stuttered and turned the colour of a ripe tomato. “H-huh?”
Icy blue eyes locked onto his again. “Do you love him? My brother?”
He didn’t even hesitate. “Yes.”
Suddenly the German’s expression turned from serious to hurt. “And you intend to stay with him.”
“That will cause numerous problems in your relationship, with Gilbert’s...illness.” Matthew took his hands out of his pockets, ready to give the warning sign of folded arms. “We’ll cope. Every relationship has it’s problems.”
Ludwig backed up. “My apologies, I did not mean to offend you. I’m merely considering the unique difficulties you may experience. That Gilbert will experience if this isn’t helped.” Looking sullenly at the smaller man, the German continued.
“There are two fates possible if you stay with my brother: you can either be submersed in his illness, and live a happy life. Or, you can face the reality with him, together, and live a life of despair. I don’t know you well, Matthew, but I know which one you will choose. Can you live with that choice?”
Mattie squared his shoulders, took a subtly steadying breath. “Oui. After all, you’ve been able to cope.”
Ludwig almost snorted. Coping. So that is what it’s called. Oh how he wished he could agree with Matthew right then, but, in the end, there was only one truth: Ludwig hadn’t coped with Gilbert’s problems very well at all; he’d been focusing on surviving them.
I should just cut my head open. I should just - AAAAGH STUPID BRAIN GIVE ME A BREAK! Pale eyebrows knitted above clenched eyelids and a vicious scowl.
All day he’d had this fricking migraine! All day! And the medication he’d been given wasn’t doing shit to quell it. He felt like his temples were being squeezed in a cold metal vice - or maybe, he thought, that might feel better than this cerebral hell.
Wave after inevitable wave of pain surged like a tide in his head, so bad he was grinding his teeth just to feel a different sensation. Doctors and nurses had been around him all day, all but helpless in their efforts.
He’d asked Doctor Oxenstierna The Question. Is this it? Has the aneurysm burst? But with a face carved from stone the Swede had shaken his head and said it was “Jus’ on’ of thos’ things.”
Just one of those things? The, the things that make you want to scream? Yeah I’ve seen a lot of those lately.
A nurse came in with a syringe - she told him what it was, some seriously strong painkiller, but Gilbert really wasn’t paying attention as she stuck the needle in - after which he rested his head back on the fresh pillows, staring up at the soft blue ceiling.
Baby blue. That reminded him of Mattie’s PJ’s, the night he’d stayed over.
The night he’d stayed over, which reminded him of the fight they’d gotten into.
The fight they’d gotten into, which reminded him of how cute the Canadian had looked that evening, all wrapped up in clothes.
Just like when he’d first seen him. In fact, Gilbert thought, he’d never seen Mattie in different types of clothing, it was always the same. Well, excluding the PJ’s and the time when he’d been in a tank and shorts, the day - the day I pushed him into a wall.
Gilbert sighed. Thinking was distraction from the pain, but it wasn’t doing much for his sense of morality. Minutes later, the pain FINALLY started to subside, and the albino was contemplating tears of relief when another nameless nurse announced he had visitors.
When his younger brother and best friend entered the room, he couldn’t stop the waterworks.
The clouds rolled into the sky, children of the coming storm like they were. The visit had been swift, filled by Gilbert’s unhelpful sobs and the glances between his brother and Mattie.
He was facing the reality, taking it by the horns, yet his grip was loosening. He could feel those barbed horns slipping from his fingers, being replaced with the velvety softness of the cat’s paws and the foreboding sense which accompanied it.
Therapy’s not working. There was never any guarantee, of course, that it would work, but...Gilbert was kind of desperate for help now. Therapy didn’t always work for people, yet, other solutions were so hard to find.
A male nurse came and delivered food to the albino. He really didn’t like hospital food; he would much rather be allowed to visit a restaurant for a takeaway order before returning here. That’s when he realised: he would always return here. From now on his years would be specked with tiring hospital visits and checkups, whether or not he wanted them.
But if there was any place with treatment provisions, any place willing to help it would be a hospital. This is one of the safest places for me to be, I guess.
A complete sense of exhaustion enveloped Gilbert, but he was wary of letting his eyelids fall. What if I can’t wake up? What if the cat comes in and tries to hurt me? ...Fuck, it was gonna hurt me anyway, real or not. Pseudo-feline.
His dreams began kinder to him: Gilbert’s red eyes were focused on the image in his head, of Matthew Williams sitting comfortably on the sofa at his apartment, games console in hand and a look of concentration on his cute face.
In the dream, Gilbert allowed himself a smile. Birdie always looks so sweet when he’s concentrating.
The Canadian was playing the same game they had a few months ago, actually. Same chainsaw-wielding psychos and everything.
It was with wide-eyed horror that Gilbert noticed one of the characters emerge behind Mattie, his long silver machete branded to the side, ready for a killer strike.
“Nein!” Shouted the German as the figure crept closer and Matthew kept playing. “Mattie! Behind you, look, Birdie!” But Matthew did not, could not hear him as the armoured character swung his blade wide, the force of the cut enough to severe head from body.
Screams of anguish tore out of the albino’s throat as he watched Matthew’s smaller form tumble back onto the cushions, the game still playing on TV.
When Gilbert’s orbs looked at the flashing screen, only two words were seen: Game Over.
Scrambling over to the decapitated body, the German’s layered silver hair fell in front of his eyes, strands stuck to his face by fresh tears. God, he was so sick of tears.
The game character, faceless and bloody, warped into the lion’s form once again, only those pitiless blue eyes capturing his resolve. The cat let out a dark chuckle in Mattie’s voice. Spiel ein Spiel mit mir, Gilbert.
“FUCK YOU! Ich werde kein Spiel spielen!”
“Nein! I’ve HAD it with you!” Launching himself at the beast, fear shot through Gilbert’s being as his arms, legs, actually wrapped around the thick body instead of falling right through it.
I am no apparition, I am as real as you. The lion spoke as if he knew something Gilbert didn’t. Was...was this real? Was any of this real?
Ein Traum? Wirklich? Wieder? Throwing in kicks, punches, bites, the albino and the big cat wrestled ferociously.
Terribly aggressive, yet neither went for the kill.
Gilbert jabbed at the lion’s mouth, knuckles grazing teeth; the lion bit down on his shoulder, tearing ligaments and dislocating joints as the man screamed.
Tearful, angry, desperate, Gilbert thrust his fingers into its eyes - its eyes, so fucking BLUE like his brother’s, so fucking PATRONISING in the way they looked down on him! - and grinned like a madman when the obsidian-coated lion screeched, its eyeballs popping and fluids oozing out of the sockets, red blood mixing with black fur.
You’ve made me bleed before, kitty, Gilbert shouted mentally, his thoughts piercing into its brain, NOW IT’S YOUR FUCKING TURN! BLEED! Be blinded!
He felt the gigantic body buck, throwing him off, his body slamming into a wall of his apartment. As the white-haired man tried to breathe again, he glanced into the hallway, into -
- into Ludwig’s bedroom, the door wide open -
- to reveal….NEIN NEIN PLEASE NEIN! A body, suspended from the ceiling light, a chair kicked out from beneath it, the belt deathly tight around its jugular.
“Ludwig!” The name broke through shaking lips, as the lion threw its head back and roared, a wonderful keening howl. Almost like it was...mourning.
The sound caused Gilbert to whirl back facing the cat. “You did this.”
That chuckle again, so dark yet innocent because it was Matthew Williams’ voice. No. Your mind conjures up the most spectacular sights, doesn’t it?
Gilbert was yanked out of the dream by the breaking of the storm outside. Rain pelted down onto the building, the windows, and its acrid smell calmed his thumping heart.
Calm down. Breathe. Just breathe. It’s fine, everything’s fine, Ludwig is….he’s alive, he’s-
A soft growl penetrated the air, and though Gilbert couldn’t see in the darkness, he knew what was sitting metres from him.
“Why,” He began, regaining his senses, “why can’t you, kill me? Huh, kitty?”
The cat had its eyes closed; Gilbert couldn’t tell exactly where it was. Claws clicked as it came closer, and pain blossomed in his skull again - courtesy of his aneurysm, no doubt.
Lightning flashed, and big glacial orbs were inches from Gilbert’s face. Hot air hissed from the creature’s mouth and onto his chin, the long mane of black fur tickling his neck.
Words were forced into his mind, echoing into his consciousness. You, yourself, cannot commit suicide. What on Earth makes you think a part of your unconscious can?
Apologies for the short chapter but my finals are very demanding at the moment. Lyrics are taken from Animal I have Become by Three Days Grace. - IsThisNameTaken
NICHT ECHT! - NOT REAL!
Kaputt - Broken
Spiel ein Spiel mit mir - Play a game with me
Ich werde kein Spiel spielen! - I won't play (your game)!
Ein Traum? Wirklich? Wieder? - A dream? Really? Again?
Chapter 22: Chapter 22
And every demon wants his pound of flesh
But I like to keep some things to myself
I like to keep my issues strong
It's always darkest before the dawn.
White eyelids opened slowly, greeting the morning with a gradual realisation.
The cat wouldn’t kill him, because it couldn’t. Nobody’s mind had the power to kill someone as the primary perpetrator. Gilbert thought back to that day last year. Was it possible that, somehow, he’d subconsciously planned when to do it?
Was it possible, that he’d...heard his brother’s footsteps coming down the outside corridor, and rushed to get it over with? Gilbert’s face slackened in amazement.
Some part of me knew when Ludwig would get home and made sure he’d find me in time. Some part of me really doesn’t want to die. I cut my wrists open to see if I COULD! Yes! Just like...the cat haunted me, to see if IT could. I’m….I am…
“I am exactly like that damned kitty.”
Immortal and sadistic.
“I told you not to call me that!”
“Vaffanculo, potato bastard!”
“Just hand the phone over!”
“What, so you can perv on mio fratello again? No, bastardo!” Ludwig sighed, holding his phone away from his ringing ear. “Lovino, do not make me come over there.” The silence at the other end betrayed the Italian’s fear. Allowing himself a private smirk, Ludwig spoke again. “Put Feliciano on the phone, bitte.”
There was grumbling and angry footsteps to be heard, along with, “Phone for you, Veneziano. Potato bastard.”
Suddenly a bright, chirpy voice spoke into the receiver. “Ludwig! Buongiorno! Are you ok?”
“I am well, danke. I was...thinking about going to visit Gilbert today, actually. Would you like to come?” More silence. Damn! He’d forgotten that Gilbert and Feli had kissed. “O-or, you don’t have to-”
“No, no. I, uh, I’d like to see him. Maybe a visit from us would cheer him up a bit! Sí, let’s go.”
“Go where?” Lovino asked in the background.
“To see Gilbert.”
“Another potato bastard? If you keep hanging around them, they’ll corrupt you! Soon you’ll be into beer and BDSM and -”
“Fratello! What do you mean, corrupted? Ve?” A hesitation. “I see the way he looks at you! He wants you to sit on his puny, German -”
“Ohhhhh I see! No we’ve already done that.” Blood rushed to the poor German’s face so fast it almost split an artery.
He did not. Just. Say. That.
“WHAT?” Lovino snatched back the phone and screamed strings of aggressive Italian, no doubt accusing Ludwig of all manner of atrocities. Feliciano’s worried voice momentarily carried over his older brother’s. “Stop, Lovino! Those are horrible things to say! Besides, I wanted it too!”
Oh, Gott. “I’ll meet you at two, Feli.”
“Dickhead, I’ll kill you-!” Hanging up, the blonde let his shoulders sag. Maybe it wasn’t a good idea to contact his partner when he was with his brother.
“What would you like to be the topic of today’s session?” The Hungarian accent ploughed into Gilbert Beilschmidt’s skull, and his headache sent forth a new ripple of pain. He winced. “How about my operation.”
Erzsébet nodded, her wavy hair pinned back with orange flower pins. “Igen, that is coming up, isn’t it. Are you worried?”
“Nein. Why would I be? It’ll get rid of all these verdammt headaches.” The albino sighed. “There is one thing it cannot cure, though…”
Erzsébet tilted her head knowingly. Gilbert’s ruby eyes flicked to the large black shape curled in the corner of the therapy room. “Schizophrenia.” Bold blue eyes shifted to glare at him, the cat’s hackles raised in warning and its claws raked over the fine carpet. No clicking this time, then.
He had never really focused on its form very much, but now that he was looking….those claws were always covered in grime. Whether it be dirt, saliva or most frequently, blood, that cat could never manage to clean them.
It can’t clean itself because to do that it would actually have to have saliva. It isn’t real so all of it’s original imperfections stay put. At least I can clean my wounds, kitty.
In response, the cat hissed, baring its bloody canines.
“WHAT,” He barked, making his therapist jump. She fought to keep a patient expression. “Are you feeling alright?”
“Nein, I am not.” Trying to stand, Gilbert clutched the back of his chair with a bandaged, frail hand. He hissed at the pain and pulled away. His clothes suddenly felt too tight; his skin felt too stretched; he knew what this was, any time now he would - Yep, here comes the violent spasms. And falling to the floor, now, well done, Gil, he spoke to himself as he writhed and convulsed on the carpet, his mind overloading with stress and panic and illusions he didn’t want to see.
Through closed eyes, he was hearing the sounds of Erzsébet and nurses helping him to a gurdy.
F-fuck, this wasn’t how it was supposed to go today! They told me that….Mattie, and….Ludwig would…visit….
Hiss. The black lion narrowed its eyes and a growl stirred under its breast. Gilbert knew his limbs were being held down, his reflexes checked; the seizure was over within minutes.
Doctor Lukas Bondevik’s deep voice rocked him to consciousness again. “Gilbert, can you hear me? Kan du høre meg?” This foreign language sounded so close to German, Gilbert’s ears sang with recognition.
“Ich...ich kann.” Groaning, the albino allowed himself to be steadied by trained hands, now again in his own hospital room. Apart from the nurses, the first thing Gilbert noticed was the look of worry on Bondevik’s usually stoic face. He never looks like that. “W-what’s wrong?” He asked, still weak after the attack.
The doctor’s pale eyes glanced away. “...Nothing. I think we shall have to inquire about moving forward your operation. You were scheduled to have visitors today, will you still accept? Perhaps it is better you rest -”
“Nein,” the German insisted. “I will be fine. Just...ja, I just need to chill for a bit.”
“Is the therapy becoming too much? You’ve only participated in five sessions.” Bondevik pinned Gilbert with a raised eyebrow - a look which the white-haired man copied just to piss him off.
“Therapy,” Gilbert amended, “is not for me.”
Mattie wasn’t sure if he should be thinking this, but Feliciano Vargas was most of the cultural Italian stereotypes personified, in his opinion.
This spritely chestnut-haired man would not shut up about pasta and cats and pretty women and sex - the sex topic was perhaps the most awkward, especially as Ludwig was driving the car, ears tuned out.
“Oh, oh! And then sometimes we use -”
“WE’RE HERE,” Announced the blonde German as he put the car into park, ignoring Feli’s look of shock and Matthew’s of embarrassment. All three piled out of the silver Volkswagen quickly and began towards the hospital.
Doctor Bondevik greeted and escorted them to Gilbert’s room, mentioning about his brief attack this morning.
“No more than two people at a time visiting him. And if he begins to convulse,” The Norwegian turned to them, expression blank, “just flat smack him.”
The Canadian’s eyebrows knotted above his glasses. Surely he’s joking? But the strange doctor gave no confirmation to that thought, and stepped aside as Ludwig alone went in.
He heard muffled voices, those of Gilbert and his brother. Feliciano turned to him, eyelids lowered. “Are you good friends with Gilbert?”
Internally, the petite blonde scoffed. Good friends. Oui...you could say that. “I’ve known him for a few months, yes.”
“Oh. It must be difficult…”
“Being close to him. To Gilbert. He’s been through so much.” Mattie’s throat tightened. “I want only to help and guide him to health. He has become the best friend I’ve ever had.”
A bright smile was directed his way as Feliciano took his words to heart. “I understand, I’d do the same for Luddy! I mean, I do know Gil a little, and he did kiss me, but -”
Suddenly Feli slapped his hands over his own mouth, shocked. “Uhm! W-well, he didn’t mean to, he was tired, I think, and lonely, but we talked it over I forgave him he didn’t -”
Puffing out his chest Mattie stepped closer, his slight advantage in height being put to good intimidatory use. “When did this happen?”
“I - I don’t - perhaps four months ago?” At that moment Ludwig appeared, closing the door behind him and looking quizzically at the two younger men, the smaller of which who seemed to be being interrogated.
“What's going on?” Mattie shrugged back, a pink tinge to his cheeks. I shouldn’t have tried that, but...if it’s true, did Gilbert really kiss Feliciano? Why, when he...had me.
Shaking his head, clutching his fists to his chest, the Canadian brushed past the buff German and into the hospital room. Gilbert rested under the milky white sheets, bandaged hands on his abdomen and his ruby orbs locked onto Matthew’s velvet ones.
Glistening teeth were glimpsed behind that trademark smirk. “Birdie.”
“Did you kiss Feliciano?”
Gilbert froze. Shit. How does he - Feli. Dammit, Feli, can’t you keep your mouth shut! “...I did.”
He couldn’t read the Canadian’s expression. “W-why?”
Suddenly a feeling of spite, anger, welled up inside the albino. “Because I felt alone,” Gilbert stated, “Feli was there when no one else was.” Mattie frowned. “But you’d met me, you could’ve called or -”
“Or what? I hardly knew you! I didn’t…..I didn’t want to burden you!” Sitting up straighter, the German winced as he reflexively clenched his hands. The blonde man ran a hand through his shoulder-length hair, the strands fluttering. The motion reminded Gilbert of Francis. “You’ve never burdened me, Gilbert. Ever. I told you, I want to help-”
“I DON’T NEED YOUR CHARITY!” Gilbert yelled back. “I don’t want your pity, or your promise of protection because if anything, it’s you who needs protection from me!” Matthew was backing up now, breathing shallow. Fear. That’s right, be scared of me, Birdie, Delusional thoughts spiralled into the man’s brain. He could hear a growling in his mind. My Birdie, my catch. Mein Vogel im Käfig.
“Gilbert, please, it’s not charity-”
“LIAR!” Gilbert was trying to move out of the bed, his limbs stiff. Gilbert's dark, uncontrolled glare made Mattie's breath hitch and tears welled in his eyes. “I love you -”
“Lies! You think you do, but really I’m just a project to you, aren’t I? Try and help the crazy self-harmer back to sanity, make him your little pet-”
“N-no! Non, I would never do that!” Ludwig stormed in, Bondevik at his heel. “What’s all the shouting?” Bondevik simply eyed his patient as a poacher would his prey.
Gilbert had fallen to the floor, too weak to stand. Too weak, I’m always too fucking weak! What am I? Who am I now? “Geh weg, Bruder!” Ludwig replied with quick-fire German. “Nein, beruhige dich und sag mir warum-”
“Kesesesese, you all think I’m nuts!” Ruby eyes sparkled; chapped lips parted to allow the flow of viscous words. “Maybe I am! But I can cope on my own, I am awesome just by myself!” In the doorway, he caught sight of a quivering figure. “Feli’s got the right idea, why don’t you all piss yourselves and leave me alone! I….don’t, I can cope….” Salty droplets ran down his flushed cheeks and down his neck, wetting his T-shirt. His chest cavity felt too small.
In the corner of the room, that lion sat hunched, hackles raised, grinning blue eyes fixated on the situation before it. For the first time ever, Gilbert considered himself lucky: many people didn’t get the chance to see their illness before their own eyes, in its own breathing form.
Nurses arrived, but Doctor Bondevik told them to wait. He wasn’t going to risk his staff being hurt when Gilbert was in one of his hallucinations.
Besides, any casualties would come out of his paycheck.
He spoke softly to the three men beside him. “We should leave, he cannot calm down unless we go.” Now with a nod of the doctor's head, two male nurses set about restraining and calming Gilbert.
Moving away as the nurses took over, Matthew was aware only of his feet carrying him down the corridor; his mind was overflowing with Gilbert’s harsh words.
Bondevik’s office door shut with a distinctive click. Ludwig took a seat next to the Canadian - Feliciano had gone to get some water while he settled down.
Like his own hair, Ludwig noticed that as the uptight doctor moved his hair did not fall out of place. The little curl at the nape of his neck was hidden as Bondevik turned to them, leaning on his desk menacingly. “Now,” He began, pale gaze fixed on Mattie, “I am going to assume you provoked Gilbert.”
“I didn’t mean to. I just asked him a question.”
Doctor Bondevik held up a slender index finger. “Ah, but you see, there is no ‘just’ about it when it comes to schizophrenia sufferers. Anything is capable of setting them off.”
Gilbert’s younger brother frowned. He’s making Gilbert sound like a bomb. “Set him off, Doctor?”
“Induce a seizure, a hallucination, a bout of severe aggression,” Bondevik explained, “the list goes on.” Matthew put his hands into the large hoodie pockets, having only just noticed how much they were shaking. He’s never been like that before; he’d never said those things….before…
“H-how can we talk to him if anything can trigger an attack?” Mattie asked, to Bondevik’s chagrin. “You do it with care, not bluntly interrogate him.”
Ludwig looked to Mattie as he shrank back. “I - I wasn’t-”
“Here is the danger of these attacks happening.” Doctor Bondevik started as he pulled out some large-screen prints from a filing cabinet. They were marked Aneurysm Scans.
Each picture, to the visiting men, appeared as nothing more than black-and-white blurred images, but Bondevik pointed out a round structure attached to a blood vessel in the brain.
“These were taken from a patient two years ago. He also had a cerebral aneurysm, and this is what it looks like when it balloons.” Mattie pushed his glasses back up his nose. Oh God….Gilbert is suffering from that? It looked no bigger than a marble but for it to be inside his head….the pain must be terrible.
Bondevik switched to another set, again of the same thing but from different angles. This time the aneurysm looked...deflated. “This is what it looks like after it’s ruptured. You can see the blood leaking onto the surface of the brain.” The doctor met Ludwig’s and Mattie’s eyes. “The patient died two days later, of septicemia.”
“Why are you telling us this?” Ludwig questioned warily.
“Because the more stress Gilbert is put under, the more his blood pressure increases. Increase it enough, and the aneurysm could rupture,” Bondevik seated himself in his large desk chair, steepling his fingers.
A feeling of guilt washed over the Canadian. So if the aneurysm ruptures...it would’ve been my fault? Mon Dieu….I never should have asked him, I shouldn’t have angered him! If only for his own good.
But the good doctor carried on. “Statistically, 4 in 10 people with a ruptured brain aneurysm die as a result. We’re stopping therapy for now in order to keep Gilbert as calm as possible before his operation. Though, by the amount he gets himself wound up, sedatives are another possible method.”
Ludwig folded his arms. “How long before his operation, Doctor?”
Bondevik tapped away at his keyboard, scrolling through documents. “Hm….should be some time next week. I shall have to check with my fellow doctors, though.”
Mattie nervously chewed his lip. “A-and there’s a chance of Gilbert being able to cope better afterwards?” Pale fingers stopped typing. “I cannot predict the outcome, sir, I can only do my job to the best of my ability. Now after today’s events I suggest you both seriously reconsider visiting him in the next few days.”
“You are suggesting we are winding Gilbert up,” The blonde German practically growled, to which Bondevik responded with an equally icy look. “I am advising you based on observation, Mr Beilschmidt. If you’ll excuse me I have a meeting with Doctors Oxenstierna and Väinämöinen.”
Both men thoroughly frustrated, Ludwig and Matthew took leave of the doctor’s presence.
“Ludwig….could it be true? Did I stress him out?” Mattie’s soft voice sought the opinion of the buff man walking beside him.
Said man sighed. “I do not believe you meant any harm, Matthew. But I think if we all gave my brother some space he would benefit from it.”
I hope so, thought the Canadian as Feli joined them. I never would’ve thought that staying away from him would be the best way to help.
Lyrics are taken from Shake it Out by Florence and the Machine.
Vaffanculo - Fuck off
Igen - Yes
Kan du høre meg? - Can you hear me?
Ich kann - I can
Mein Vogel im Käfig - My bird in a cage
Nein, beruhige dich und sag mir warum- - No, calm down and tell me why -
Chapter 23: The Last Chapter
The Last Chapter
I cut you into pieces, searching for your imperfections
I had plans to make you whole
But all my threads couldn’t stop the bleeding
There’s nothing left but I’m not leaving
When all I know is you
It was close to midnight. A pale, thin form writhed upon a hospital bed, pushing away pillows and balling sheets up in bitten fists. Behind tightly closed eyelids eyeballs moved rapidly, trying to keep up with the vision in the mind, frantic as it was.
He was running, running, buildings and roads blurring around him. Feet burning, muscles screaming, oxygen intake increasing. Passing the main street shops, multi-storey car park in the skyline, he skidded to a halt. In his hand, a knife was clenched. Why did he have a knife?
A large, serrated cooking knife.
Eyes locked onto the entrance of the park. A thick black paw disappeared into the pathways, hidden by hedges. A burning sense of hatred, of determination, set fire to Gilbert’s veins as he tore after the beast under the yellowing sky. Sprinting, hazy green foliage surrounding the pale figure; a helpless white pawn hunting down the black king as they played hide-and-seek on the chessboard of insanity.
One step at a time, the man advanced to the centre of the park. The grassy grounds felt slippery with dew under his feet. Gilbert stood still, the epitome of chaos. Opposite him, stood the epitome of destruction, in its final, magnificent form.
The obsidian-coated Bengal tiger pulled back its muscled lips to reveal pearly daggers sticking from its rosy gums. As the jaws parted, so did the long, salivating tongue unfurl like a pale constricting snake. Its coat was thick, oily; the stripes were barely visible but had a raven-feather blue sheen to them which rippled over the sinewy body as it moved.
Gilbert was static. The tiger advanced.
“Hello, kitty.” He held up the knife protectively in front of himself, gripping it two-handed. He saw it’s reflection in the oceanic turquoise of the cat’s eyes.
Its response was a simple growl of anticipation, its bulking form challenging him to the final battle. The final game.
I cannot lose. I cannot afford to lose, not now. He thought about Ludwig, and Feliciano. He thought about his parents and his friends from years ago; he thought about Matthew Williams.
HISS! With a snarl the tiger threw him to the ground, jaws going for his jugular. In the movements Gilbert’s knife hand had become trapped between their two bodies. If he stabbed now he wasn’t sure where the blade would go.
His legs were pinned at the kneecaps by the Bengal tiger’s heavy feet, unsheathed claws scratching at his jeans. Its front paws clawed also, trying to remove any clothing: the less clothing he wore, the more vulnerable his body was to the onslaught of animalistic attacks. The gaping feline mouth rested by his ear.
Between the grunts of his own and the sounds of their fight, Gilbert wasn’t sure he even heard the words it spoke. Schwach. Nur ein schwacher kleiner Junge.
“Ich bin stärker als dich!” With his free hand the German punched, pinched, writhed against the powerful animal, his own strength growing. With a yell of anger Gilbert bucked, throwing the animal’s feet off balance; as it struggled he pulled his legs in and up to his chest, pushed with his shins until the tiger fell onto its back.
Kicking its hind legs, the man clambered atop the beast’s stomach and pinned down one of its forearms, while his knife hand was raised, silver blade pointed at the thick throat.
You would kill your own creation, Gilbert? Still Mattie’s voice pierced his mind with the cat’s words as barbs. He hated to admit it, but it made him hesitate to kill.
But that was the main reason he was still alive right now. This had been his goal all along: to kill the cat. His mind had become corrupted and he wanted revenge for all the suffering he’d been put through.
But fuck, that voice. Gilbert knew that if ever Mattie asked him to do something, he would obey without question.
“Shut up,” Gilbert commanded of the tiger; his hand came down again-
NO, NO! No, please! Please please Gilbert don’t hurt me! Aaaaagh! Aaaaaagh ah!
It was Matthew. It was Mattie’s voice, screaming, squealing like a slaughtered pig, his vocal chords tearing with the pain. Suddenly, as Gilbert pushed the knife deeper into the artery, into the throat, it was -
HIM pulling back Mattie’s hair to punch his face, to give him the black eye, it was -
HIM threatening Mattie, throwing him against walls and cursing him, it was -
HIM pushing Mattie onto a sofa, beating him into submission, tearing off his clothes and taking him roughly, selfishly, as he cried and screamed and begged for this to end.
“I’M SORRY!” Gilbert wailed to the Heavens, as hot blood poured onto his hands, splashed onto his torso and the cat’s, red running into black, red running into white.
Red running into red.
“I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry…” Gilbert chanted as he sat astride the black tiger, who’s body now twitched in death throes. Its guilty heart slowed and so did Gilbert’s. Taking up the knife again, he dragged it across the creature’s abdomen, gutting it, leaving it an empty sack of fur and teeth and bones. Gilbert took one bloodied palm, swathed his forehead with the cat’s blood.
The fabric covering his body was shredded, his skin decorated in lesions. He hissed as he felt a pulsating pain in his own abdomen. Looking down, he saw that there was a deep wound in his gut, probably inflicted during the fight.
His consciousness bled into black. Dark, crimson liquid pooled.
Sitting. Standing. Walking. Seeing. Close eyes. Blind is better.
Pale fingernails scratch tender white skin. Scrape. Drag. Deeper. Deeper, until red is reached.
Breathing. In. Out. In….Out. Temples pounding with shattered nerves. Pain for a weakened body, for an exhausted mind. Eyes as red as the blood on his arms noticed lined paper and a pen lying atop it. He didn’t recall asking for it; maybe Honda had insisted he have paper should he wish to write. How right he had been.
An empty vessel of a body carried him to the paper. He sank down onto the sheets of his bed, gripping the Biro as if it was his entire world.
For the moment, it was.
Pen touched paper for the first time in months.
A page, to me, is like a blank canvas. It is art. I will never forget that. Words, if put together properly, can turn into something life-changing, life-saving, or life-wrecking. He took a deep breath, watery eyes blinking to clear his vision.
I have to write. It’s all I have, I have to write!
Things have changed. I’m still in hospital, but I’m not the Gilbert from last year. I don’t even know who I am anymore.
With every new thought he wrote on a new line.
People around me have changed, for that I am responsible. Mein Bruder, mein kleiner Bruder….Danke, für alles du für mich getan hast. Ich hab dich lieb. Und Matthew Williams, my Birdie, I cannot thank you enough for being by my side, when I have treated you like dirt. I don’t think I know….wait I know this in French. Je t'aime. Oui, Je t'aime.
My cuts are healing. Like I have a choice. This is the clearest I’ve ever seen my skin.
I am no longer Gilbert Beilschmidt - I have lost myself, I can’t think through the pain but I will fight. This sounds like a suicide note. It is not; everyone knows I wouldn’t bother with one. If I had to name this, I...I think it is a goodbye note. I will not die but I will never be the same again, not after this operation. Not after I kill the cat. For better or worse I can’t say.
I imagine noises and figures. I make up my own horror. That’s pretty fucking awesome, huh? Well it was until it affected me and...and everyone close to me. As soon as my demon is dead, I will take back my name, and my life.
Whoever the fuck ends up reading this, understand something: I will destroy the cat. I will do it if it means my self-destruction. So, I will try to do it before my operation.
Each of us is given a little spark of madness, I heard someone once say. I think I may have been given a whole bonfire.
With his words fully outed, the pale man set down the pen. He stood up, his makeshift PJs hanging loosely from his thinning frame. He gently, gently pulled out day clothes from his limited selection. Today he decided he would wear his long-sleeved steampunk Tee, with a design of internal organs made from cogs and wheels. With it he wore skinny black jeans, and grey running shoes. The sight of the running shoes brought back memories of racing into town with friends, or sprinting to catch the bus.
Or forgetting his shoes to run around the park after the incident with Feliciano.
His dream was still achingly fresh in his mind, powerfully painful. He went to his en suite bathroom, washed his bony face, wished he had his blue contacts. Purple eyes didn’t look so bad on him, though he figured they suited Mattie better.
He tried to smile, but it didn’t reach his ruby orbs. Another headache stirred and he sharply took a breath. Must be the aneurysm ballooning again or some shit. The sooner it’s fixed, the better.
A sigh escaped his parted lips. The sooner I’M fixed, the better. His thoughts turned again to the petite Canadian. I wonder if he’ll wait for me.
He would wait for Matthew. If the situation was reversed.
Birdie won’t have to wait for long. The doctors had unlocked his door at 10am, as per every morning, so before daily analysis tests he was free to wander about the hospital and it’s limited grounds.
He thought about his dream. It was a plan, Gilbert was sure of it. He needed a knife.
Here was the problem: he was already considered mentally unstable. To be looking for a large knife within a hospital didn’t bode well for him if he was caught.
A surgical knife, or scalpel, would be too weak. Too pathetic. He needed a hunting knife, or a...cooking knife.
“Hello, Mr Beilschmidt, what can I get you today?” The cook’s name was Siobhan. She was at least mid-sixties and took no crap from anybody. Generally Gilbert got on alright with her - plus he didn’t have to show her his wristband confirming he was a patient.
Almost everyone in this hospital knew of Mr Beilschmidt.
“Uh, can I have a tuna sandwich please?” His voice was hoarse. Damn he needed to start speaking more.
Siobhan shook her head. “Sorry, we don’t have those on the menu today. We have…” She began to list off other types of sandwich but Gilbert was focused on something else: a knife rack, round the corner of the serving window. I just need her to move to the back of the kitchen. “I got a real hankering for tuna.”
The woman’s eyebrows furrowed under her hairnet. “Gilbert.”
Time for puppy eyes. “Please? I do have an operation coming up soon….” He swayed in that childlike fashion, hands clasped together. With a grunt, Siobhan shuffled off to make his sandwich, muttering something like, “I’ve had six operations in the past 4 years and not one time did I get a specially made sandwich.”
As soon as she’d disappeared, Gilbert reached an arm to the knife rack, sorting through various utensils. He finally pulled out a 9 inch butchering knife from the slot, quickly hid it under his shirt and scarpered.
Doctor Lukas Bondevik opened the door to Gilbert’s hospital room. The nurses had already changed and made his bed.
But he was nowhere to be seen. On his bedside table where the wilting flowers and bird drawing lay, there was a long hand-written letter. Bondevik picked it up with a swipe of his wrist, his dark navy eyes skimming the writing. He only needed to read one sentence for his heart to sink. I will destroy the cat.
“Dritt. When will you stop, Gilbert.” He spun on his heel, paper clutched in his fist, already speaking into his radio. “Security, there is a patient missing who is believed to be unstable. He has albinism, about five nine in height. Do not let him leave this hospital.” The people at the other end were already on the move.
“What’s the danger?” Asked the receptionist once she noticed the flustered state of the doctor. His bottle-blonde hair seemed messy for once and his heart was beginning to race.
“The danger,” He began, “is that one of my patients is on the run, planning to kill something which isn’t real. Now get me Ludwig Beilschmidt on the phone.”
Actually, that may have been a lie. Who knows how real this thing is for him.
Ludwig Beilschmidt was at work when his phone rang. In the middle of a meeting. As his colleagues looked displeadingly at him, he was grateful he didn’t let Feli change his ringtone.
When he saw the hospital’s number, blue eyes widened. “Please excuse me, I have to take this.”
He pressed ‘answer’. “Hello?”
“Ludwig, there’s been a problem,” Came the panicked voice of Doctor Bondevik.
“W-was? What’s happened?”
Bondevik sighed, unsure of how to explain. “Gilbert’s gone missing. I’ve sent security to search for him but I no longer think he’s on premises. You need to get home in case he goes there.”
“I am at work! I cannot just up and leave.”
“Your brother is mentally unstable and he is missing, Mr Beilschmidt. Tell me that is not a good reason to miss a day.”
Ludwig put a hand to the side of his face, feeling a headache coming on. Gilbert, what have you done now. He only wanted protection for his brother, but it appears even Gilbert was too stubborn to his old ways. “Give me an hour, he cannot have gone far.”
Bondevik’s tone hardened. “He left a note in his room, which I found after he’d left.” Ludwig’s breath caught in his throat. Surely not…
“It was not suicidal, but he said that he was going to destroy the cat. Do you understand? He is hunting something created in his head. He could even be armed.”
“Armed? With what? He was in a hospital!”
“Determined people make do,” Answered the doctor heatedly. “At least if he returns home we know where he is.”
A pause. A hard blink. A decision. “Fine.” Tucking his phone into his pocket Ludwig shouted an excuse to his colleagues as he jogged out of the building, car keys in hand.
The sound of the ignition made this situation all too real all too fast. Strong hands gripped the steering wheel. Hang on, Bruder.
The knife was wrapped in the fabric of his shirt, so as not to accidentally cut himself. As he jogged, Gilbert restrained a laugh. Ironic that now I’m trying not to cut myself, when a few months ago I was aching for a blade.
He stuck to the edge of the hospital car park, skirting round ambulances and practically dived onto the cycle lane out of the hospital. A migraine rolled onto his temples: a conscious nightmare armed with undulations of pins.
His mind twisted again like the sensitive snake it was. His eyesight blurred as he picked up the pace, his body now feeling the real stress of the sensations in his dream.
Panting, sweaty, Gilbert locked his tunnel vision onto the path which would undoubtedly take him to the destination of his battlefield.
Bondevik stormed into the hospital lobby to meet with a couple of security guards. “Anything?”
“No, sir.” Replied one of them, a large tanned Turk by the name of Sadiq. The second, a muscled, forlorn-looking Greek, also shook his head. Bondevik rubbed the back of his neck where beads of perspiration were forming. I’ve never been this stressed before. Dritt. Gilbert you had better not harm anyone. “What about the other officers, have they found him?”
Sadiq again spoke. “Nope, we been looking all over the site. We no think he is here anymore.”
The Norwegian thought meticulously through their limited options. Allowing Gilbert to boycott the Section 2 would not be accepted within the medical field, let alone a safe choice after he’d been announced a schizophrenia sufferer, to an unknown level. Letting civilians like Ludwig go after him could be dangerous, especially if Gilbert was hallucinating.
So, the final option, then.
“We need to call the Police.”
Ludwig had gotten to the apartment door, and sagged with disappointment. Gilbert was not waiting for him.
Of course not. Sure his brother was childish at times, but not childish enough to crawl home to his younger brother.
But for once, just once, Ludwig wished he was.
So, he was home. Gilbert wasn’t here. What the fuck was the Little Brother supposed to do now?
As the blonde-haired German sunk into a chair, he toyed with the idea that Gilbert might have gotten too scared to stay for the operation, too scared of having schizophrenia, and had run away. Maybe he’s going to stay with our relatives. I should probably phone cousin Roderich, or Vash and Lily. A heavy fist was placed under a chin as Ludwig’s mind focused on what Bondevik had said: he said he was going to destroy the cat.
He placed both his previous thoughts together. “Oh, Gott!” He jumped up, grabbing his phone from the counter. He didn’t have the number he wanted in his contacts, but at least he hadn’t gotten around to deleting Francis Bonnefoy’s therapy number.
Matthew Williams’s face turned bright red after he pulled a bra out from behind the couch cushion.
Arthur peered over the couch at what was clearly Amelia’s bra. “Ooh, I sense a scandal. Batting for both teams now, are we?”
Having just got home from work, he was too tired to reply. Some people thought working in a coffee shop was boring; Mattie had been so busy he hadn’t had time to get bored.
Alfred and Amelia went home a couple of days ago, due to Amelia having some sort of sporting thing she had to get back and train for. It was a shame they wouldn’t be here on his birthday. Huh. Already reaching early twenties.
His birthday was tomorrow, and his parents had insisted he take a day off for some kind of treat.
Seeing as Mattie never really made close friends to ‘party’ with, he’d settled for attempting to drink his French father under the table last year. He didn’t want to admit how badly he’d failed at that, though he couldn’t really remember much of the humiliation.
He got up to make some coffee, saw Francis leaning against the counter in what could only be described as a ‘French’ way, sipping delicately from his sauvignon blanc. When Mattie was in range, he pulled his son to him in a friendly hug. “Tired?”
Mattie flicked the kettle on. “Oui.”
“Ah, mon Matthieu is growing up so fast. Vingt et un, demain.” His son gave him a sweet, almost smug smile. “I plan to out-drink you for sure.”
A phone began to ring. Francis took out his Iphone, frowned at the number. “Hang on, I have to get this.”
He strolled into the hallway but not before the Canadian could hear him blurt, “Ludwig? Why are you calling me?”
Matthew sneaked over to the doorway, empty mug in hand.
Francis was biting his lip. “What? Are you sure?” A pause. “Well, non, I know you’re not...certain, but - Wait. Could he have returned to yours?”
Another hesitation. “I see. And you think he might….To be honest I thought they had fallen out again. Ah. No, I understand, you simply wanted to warn us. Look, we will keep an eye out. If he comes by I shall call. Have you called the Police? Oui, that would be a good idea, if they can find him before he -”
“Is this Gilbert again?” Mattie’s voice made his father jump. “I told you not to eavesdrop,” Hissed Francis, phone still to his ear. Ludwig said something. “Oui, c’est Matthieu. Should I -? Calm down, Gilbert will be fine -”
Without warning, the petite Canadian snatched the phone from his father, talking fast. “Ludwig, what the Hell is going on.”
“Matthew, I - I don’t want to worry you, I was just -”
“You answer me, and you answer me right now,” Mattie growled. “Where’s Gilbert, is he ok?”
Ludwig hesitated, then sighed. “I don’t know, he’s run away from the hospital. I thought he might go to yours, but -” Again Mattie interrupted. “He isn’t here. When did he run away?”
“Not long ago. He….He said that…”
“What? What did he say?” He felt like his heart would give out as Ludwig finally mumbled, “....He said he was going to kill the cat.”
Mattie dropped the mug, and flinched as it smashed into a million pieces on the floorboards.
He hung up the phone, checking he had his own on his person as he headed for the door. Francis grabbed him, pulled him back. “Stay here.”
“I have to find him!”
Francis’s grip grew tighter. “The last time I let you run off to find him it didn’t end very well. Mattie, non, Matthieu will you listen to me!” Mattie had never been manhandled by his father. Never. Until now.
Blue eyes bored into lilac. “Ludwig is going to call the Police; the hospital probably already have. They will find him, it’s safer this way.”
His back against the wall, the smaller blonde tongued his cheek. Francis had a point, of course. But that didn’t mean Mattie agreed with him.
Relaxing his hold, the Frenchman smiled softly. “He will be alright. Now, help me clean up this mug.” Francis kissed his son’s forehead before heading back to begin picking up the broken shards of pottery. Sighing, Mattie followed suit, being careful not to cut himself on the pieces.
One piece. Broken, he said he was broken. Two pieces.
Francis’s thoughts were similar; they went back to one of his first sessions with Gilbert. I….I need to….get fixed.
Do you believe you are broken?
I’m not complete. Yes, that man certainly had felt shattered. His mind was splintering, splitting into a million different pieces and he knew it. He wanted to stop it, probably still did.
Matthew had around five pieces of pottery in his palm. While his father went to get the dust-pan and brush, he began to clench his hand. Tighter, tighter. He felt the shard dig into his skin, and wondered how Gilbert had come to derive relief from this pain.
Fingers now curled in a fist, the Canadian winced as he saw blood running down his wrist. It would hurt a lot more to cut there.
Before he knew what he was doing his bloody hand was opened, and his other hand was holding a sharp shard to his wrist, pushing against the vein. Mattie gasped and dropped the pieces. What was he doing? Stupid, stupid, STUPID! He cursed himself as he stood up, faced the front door.
Bespectacled lilac orbs glanced backwards, but his feet moved his body forward.
Minutes later, Francis returned. “Ah, here we are -” The hallway was empty.
There were crimson-stained shards on the floor.
The Frenchman looked at the closed door with a look. Not quite a look of anger, not quite a look of acceptance.
Running, running, got to keep moving.
Tired? He asked himself.
Tired, so fucking tired of this, of all of this. It’s gonna end, though, after today-!
I meant physically, but alright. Feet hitting pavement.
Do you reckon talking to yourself makes you crazier?
I don’t know, why can’t people have a decent conversation with themselves?
Answer the fucking question! Lungs heaving.
...Well, it’s not like you could get more insane.
Head feeling heavy, arms hanging limply as one hand held the knife from sight, legs moving, numb sensations. Gilbert ran past people on the street, but they didn’t look like people. They didn’t have time to form in his mind; they were colours, emotions, voices. Ghosts.
The air froze his exposed face and hands as he passed shops, trees, with the hazy outline of the multi-storey car park oh his far right.
Just like my dream, I’m reliving it. Except, something wasn’t right -
A large black creature ran alongside Gilbert, paws thudding on the ground. It leapt over cars and swerved round corners, seemingly racing the albino. There were a few people on the street the cat was running on; Gilbert contemplated shouting a warning to them, but…
The sleek feline simply passed through them, not so much as a scratch on the people. The man stopped running: they’d reached the park.
“Sir, technically Police are only called when there’s a significant danger to civilians.” One of the two detectives said.
Doctor Bondevik stared incredulously at the short and tall officers. It was the blonde who had spoken; he had at least 7 inches in height over the Norwegian but that wouldn’t stop him from insisting. “Officers, there potentially is a significant danger to people. There’s a schizophrenic out there hunting imaginary cats. That sound safe to you?”
The shorter one, the one with the bored expression and buzzcut black hair, scoffed. “Not unless anyone is dressed as a cat.”
“We have had about three phone calls to ask us if we’ll find this man,” Blondie added, “but there’s a good chance he’ll turn up at a friend’s house or something.”
If these two weren’t members of the Police Force, the doctor surely would’ve patronised and dismissed them. But, as corruptly influential as they were, he had to take this easy. “Please, officers, just-”
At that moment, one of the lunch lady’s working in the hospital burst into the lobby, her silvery hair falling out of its net, her grey eyes wide. “Doctor!” She hurried over as he asked what was wrong.
“Well, I - why are they here?” She gestured to Tweedle Dum and Tweedle Dee.
“Gilbert Beilschmidt has run off,” Bondevik answered, and the lady, Siobhan, went white. “He was at the cafeteria this morning, I spoke to him.”
“Did he tell you anything? Say where he was going?”
Siobhan rubbed her hands together. “N-no, but I’ve just discovered that one of the kitchen knives has gone missing. No one else could have taken it, I have asked all the other cooks.”
This got the officers’ attention. “What kind of knife did he take?” Asked Shorty.
“...A butchering one. I - I only left for a minute! If I’d have known, I…”
“Shh,” Bondevik hissed. “Let’s get this sorted.” He turned again to the Policemen, his darkened eyes stone cold. “You might want to call for backup now that you know he’s armed.”
The officers didn’t need to be asked twice.
“Ich kann nicht einfach hier sitzen.” Ludwig Beilschmidt turned off the TV. He’d phoned and warned Francis, and naturally panicked his son.
Ich hoffe Matthew ist in Ordnung. He fears for Gilbert. Hs stood up. Made a coffee. Stared at a table for 5 minutes. None of it was very interesting.
He was about to doze off when a rapid knock at the door awoke him. Behind that door, was the person he least expected to see right now.
“You’re still here?” Asked Matthew, confused.
Mattie folded his arms, no longer scared of the burly German. “Gilbert could be in danger! And you’re just sitting here?”
Ludwig was taken aback. “I am….in case he shows up here-” Mattie reached toward him, pulled him out of the apartment by his arm. “Come on, we have to look for him while he could still be in the area!”
“H-hang on! Let me at least lock the door!”
Sitting on the wall by the park, partially hidden under the shade of branches, was a cat.
It was, to all other people, an ordinary cat. It’s fur was of a blend referred to as ‘tortoise-shell’ and was in fact a very docile, shy creature.
But not to Gilbert.
To Gilbert, it’s fur was black as a winter night sky, and was the most ferocious thing he’d ever dealt with. He didn’t stop to realise that the cat, his cat, was not real, would never be real, but he had found something real on which to base his mental manifestation.
The park was virtually empty from what red eyes could see; as he approached the cat, however, it scarpered into the hedges of the pathways.
“Nein, du wirst kein mehr laufen,” Whispered the albino, steadily pulling out the knife, bent knees creaking as he swiftly stepped after it.
Through the green looking-glass Gilbert glimpsed a tail, a paw, a glimmering blue eye. He thrust one hand into the greenery, cold fingers wound into the animal’s fur; he pulled it up by the scruff of its neck. He wasn’t even thinking now, he was acting on rage. The knife was slashed at the cat’s front paws but failed to harm it.
Before he knew what had happened his cheek began to sting, and he felt something watery on his skin. The cat had scratched him! Growling, he threw it to the ground, going in for another stab - the cat twisted, a sleek shadow gracefully deceiving his blade.
The cat caught the man’s red eyes. Pupils dilated. Gilbert felt his heart speed up with the fear of this, this thing - the monster who ruled his life like a cruel puppetmaster. A taunting hiss escaped between the feline’s jaws, those jaws which had whispered poison into his ears for many years. Gilbert lunged; the cat bolted.
Can’t lose it can’t lose it can’t lose it run run RUN! Left, take a right, follow the shape. Eyes blurry again, tears beginning to fall. I will not lose my way. A chessboard of a landscape: no pawns, no knights, no bishops, just two kings.
On a pathway, Gilbert passed a few surprised people; involuntarily, he threw one man aside, a man with dark curly hair and bright green eyes. “Oye, eso duele!” He called after the pale German.
Finally, Gilbert had cornered the cat in the park’s centre, which was backed by a large wall. Hedgerows surrounded them, silent spectators. The cat was hunched in the middle of the clearing, head down, eyes closed.
Gilbert was barely aware of the state his body was in: weak, breathless, covered in sweat. He stole a glance at the cat’s claws. Red. Scarlet spears dug into the ground. Blood dripped down its obsidian breast, behind which beat the same heart it shared with Gilbert.
The cat bled from a cut on its cheek, just as he did.
On trembling legs the white-haired male advanced across the plain to the creature, knife held aloft in his hand.
You would kill your own creation? Asked the cat, in Matthew’s voice. Gilbert winced, closing his eyes. Not this...not his voice again. I will not let...that happen as it did in my dream.
Hesitantly, the cat walked forward, probably because it realised that was the only way to get away from this madman. Said madman opened his eyes, and new tears started to fall.
Es passiert wieder, He thought as he gaped at the Bengal tiger striding fearlessly towards him, sapphire orbs ablaze.
With a throat-tearing scream he attacked his enemy, his prey, the knife striking down repeatedly.
Finally, finally. Vibrant, hot red liquid running into green grass…..Red dripping onto white, pink pooling onto black, oil pouring into snow...
“Where would Gilbert go?” Mattie’s panicked voice rang out in the street they were stood in. Ludwig’s brow furrowed. “You didn’t already have an idea? I - look, I am not sure where he would go…”
So far they had exchanged phone numbers and were trying to work out where the albino had run to. That way when they split up contact could be kept.
The Canadian closed his eyes. Gilbert, Gilbert...where have you gone? Where do you think the cat is…? Wait. A memory came to him. Gilbert, rushing past him, out of his house to chase after Ivan….Ivan who also had a ‘pet’....Gilbert obviously associated the car park with the cat! “Ludwig, the multi-storey car park.”
The German’s eyebrows rose. “Richtig, the explosion...A-and he mentioned the park, too, a while back…”
Mattie was already on the move. “You take the multi-storey, I’ll search the park!” A nod from Gilbert’s brother and he was sprinting down the road. His giant hoodie slowed him down; Mattie wished he could take it off but his mind was too focused on finding the pale-skinned German before something awful happened.
S'il te plaît, Gil, don’t do anything stupid, He begged as he ran, breathing heavy and light-headed; wait for me.
Wait for me. Mattie brushed his blonde hair out of the way as he cleared the entrance of the park. Suddenly, his feet stopped. The sun was setting, its lazy golden beams piercing the thick clouds to set fire to the landscape around him.
No one was in the park. Or, at least -
A scream sounded; Mattie flinched. A terrible war-cry. “G-Gil...bert….Gilbert!” He knew that voice anywhere!
Before he could blink he was racing through hedges, along paths, past the bench he’d been sat on when he saw Gilbert in the park months earlier. His trainers slipped on the grass, wet with dew.
Mattie followed the sounds to a clearing. In this clearing, under the vermilion waterfall of sunset, sat Gilbert Beilschmidt.
He had his back to him, didn’t see him. Mattie guessed that he probably couldn’t see him, from the state he was in. Again and again the albino reared up, bringing a silver blade down into a carcass.
The mutilated corpse of a house cat.
Bespectacled eyes began to water as the Canadian put a balled fist to his mouth. “Oh God…” Creeping closer, he saw what had been done: Gilbert had pinned it, gutted it and laid the organs around the body in a circle of intestines and gore. The animal, now long dead, had dull grey eyes and tortoise-shell fur, matted with blood.
It looked like some sick sacrifice ritual. Gilbert himself appeared demented, muttering timidly, the cat’s blood smeared all over his front, all over his face.
What happened next was unexpected indeed: the albino first rolled up his sleeves, but Mattie couldn’t see that from his angle.
Trembling, Mattie pulled out his phone, texted Ludwig: He’s here, park centre. Call the police.
Grunting and squelching sounds made the petite blonde look up again; Gilbert was -
“No! Gilbert stop! Stop!”
- Gilbert was cutting into his arms with the knife, drawing it across the flesh, stabbing into the opposite arm then switching hands to repeat the ministrations. The pale skin on Gilbert’s arms was split, but not smoothly. Not the typical angry red slashes of a self harmer. No, these were...gouges. He’d made craters in the flesh; the layered skin was stretched tight over the wounds like latex. Dried blood trails left untouched created thread-like patterns over them.
He’d even tried to dig out the veins in his wrists.
Gilbert did not seem to hear his friend. He was...gone, the Gilbert that Mattie had known for this time had disappeared. Rushing over, Mattie grabbed the knife hand, holding it back as he pleaded with him. “Gil, please, think about what you’re doing, stop-”
Gil? Who was that again? Oh God, Gilbert was so confused. His brain wouldn’t work normally, his pulse was galloping and his head pounded with a migraine. His body was wet with some kind of liquid….blood? His mouth was dry.
Someone was stopping him from enjoying that delicious pain, pain which brought him out of reality, out of depression and into insanity.
Gilbert shook Mattie’s grip off. “Leave me alone!”
The Canadian shook his head, returning the grip as Gilbert protested. Though his hand tightened around the knife handle he was weak from his endurance, weak from blood loss as it was pumped out of his wrists. Eventually Mattie wrenched the knife free, tossed it on the ground.”Gilbert,” He said, trying to keep his voice steady, “look at me.”
Gilbert did so, his violently ruby-toned orbs staring into calming, mild purple. His….his eyes. I like his eyes.
They sat there, panting, blood-splattered. Mattie had both hands either side of Gilbert’s face, blocking out complex sounds and soothing his headache.
Gilbert chewed his lip, drawing more blood from his body. His mind began to function again. Blood. Blood, his, the cat’s. So much BLOOD WHAT WAS GOING ON -
“Aaagh! What- what have I done?” Gilbert pushed Mattie away fiercely, stumbling, staggering to his feet. Mattie was close behind, moving towards him, arms extended warily. His soft, quiet voice with its Canadian accent spoke again. “C-calm down, y-you just...you didn’t mean to.”
Anger boiled inside Gilbert. His bloody fists clenched. “...Ja, I did, I did, I - I DID mean to do this! This is - this is what I was fucking WAITING for! I killed it!” He began to laugh, pointing at the cat’s body. “I KILLED IT! I did it! Kesesesesese, blood! Blood, because it’s dead! I -” He suddenly fell, knees buckling; he felt the blonde’s hands on him but shoved him away again. “Go away! You - wait...”
He took another look at Mattie, crouched near him on the grass. There were crimson stains on his maple-leaf hoodie, on his skinny navy jeans...even a few drops on his trainers. Dirt was smudged on his cheeks, his rosy cheeks. His glasses glinted in the sunset but his eyes now looked...they looked….
“Blaue Augen,” Whispered Gilbert, fear rising in his heart. Mattie had blue eyes, and now he had black fur, and claws -
“Fuck off! Filthy, pathetic animal!” He screamed, moving back. “Y-you’re not real! You never fucking were what the fuck are you!” Blood veiled his lips, blood drawn from the vile words he’d spat. Liquid-filled lacerations caused by a lethal lexis.
Mattie was shaking so badly, his nerves were torn to shreds. What was Gilbert saying? Had he truly gone mad? “Non, Gilbert I’m real, I’m REAL -” Both men stood up, Gilbert backing away slowly, one hand tucked behind his back.
Still the blonde advanced. “I am real, I always have been.” I am so scared, but I know him, I know this man, I - I LOVE this man. I swore to help!
“S-stay b-back,” Mumbled Gilbert, his silvery hair framing his wide, frightened eyes.
The albino whimpered when Mattie placed a hand gently, so gently, onto his shoulder. “Shhh, it’s alright,” He whispered, pulling him closer, uncaring of the gruesome mess.
Of course it wasn’t fucking alright, but Gilbert wanted, he needed someone to tell him that.
Mattie embraced him, tears running down his own face even as he heard Gilbert sob into the crook of his neck.
“I am so scared,” Gilbert breathed. Mattie smiled into Gilbert’s shirt. “I know. We’ll….we’ll be okay now.”
“Yes….I will.” Gilbert pulled back a bit, looking into Mattie’s soft lilac eyes under the auburn hue of the evening sky. “Ich liebe dich, Matthew.”
Mattie’s heart leaped.
Gilbert’s expression was opaque. “But I don’t think you’re real.”
Pain shot up Matthew’s spine. Gasping, he looked down. The knife was buried deep into his gut, Gilbert’s pale hand holding it there.
“...G - Gil…” He couldn’t speak. Could barely breathe, as the agony intensified. Suddenly the knife was yanked out; Mattie yelped, falling to his knees.
Gilbert saw Mattie fall. He saw the blood soaking through his clothes, and - wait, he’s bleeding? He wasn’t lying? He - he’s real? The cat just faded away, but….he’s real! Horror washed over him. What had he done, WHAT HAD HE DONE -
“MATTIE!” Gilbert knelt by him, pulling his upper body onto his lap, arms loosely holding his chest. He was still breathing. Still awake.
“I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry…” He moved Mattie’s head to rest against his own chest, looking down onto his paling face. Gilbert tried to cup a hand over the wound but his arms had lost too much blood. “Tut mir leid, tut mir leid, I can’t stop it, I can’t stop the bleeding!”
His head was really agonising now, blood vessels pulsating. It was all he could do to hold him, his many tears falling onto that adorable face he loved so so much.
“...S-sorry i-it ended up...like this…” Whispered the smaller man, his eyelids fluttering.
“N-nein! I s-should be apologising...I, I never wanted to hurt you!” He began to cry harder, all kinds of thoughts about Mattie coming to mind, how amazing he was, how kind he’d been. “W-we’ll be okay,” Gilbert mumbled hopelessly.
“T-the Police will b-be here s-soon…” Mattie stated. As if on cue, both could hear loud sirens in the distance, getting closer. Gilbert smiled. “I r-really do love you, Birdie.”
Despite the pain, the Canadian still beamed a little. “I know...I love y-you t-too, Gil.”
Gilbert blinked as more tears fell. “A-and I always loved how you painted. The colours, the patterns...especially on th-that polar bear drawing.” God, his head hurt so badly.
Mattie managed a brief chuckle. “...T-took me ages t-to get the colours r-right,” He winced, took shallow breaths. “I-I’ll teach you...someday…”
With one last shy smile, Matthew Williams’s body stilled.
“B-Birdie?” Gilbert heard shouting, and footsteps. Still he couldn’t wake him. “MATTIE!” Several Police officers burst into the clearing as Gilbert’s head turned to them. He recognised other people with them. “Ludwig,” He breathed.
Behind his younger brother stood Francis and Arthur. All looked mortified, they were so frightened. He was too. Arthur saw Mattie and collapsed, Francis dropping to his knees, tearful, holding his partner as paramedics followed the officers to the couple lying in their own blood.
Ludwig went to run to his brother, but officers held him back as he struggled. Gilbert’s vision doubled, tripled as he shouted to the paramedics, to the Police, “Help him, help him, HELP HIM PLEASE!” Police officers parted their bodies, Gilbert yelling but too lethargic to fight back. He felt sick.
A final thunderstorm of pain broke in his head, like axes being hammered onto his skull; he screamed, cried, spasmed with the pain.
Sounds. Paramedics. Panic. Pain, so much agony. Mattie. Wet blood. Fresh wounds. If I die, it will be no less than I deserve. Birdie, my Birdie, I will see you again. I will wait for you…
Evening turned to night. Gilbert faded into the unknown.
A/N: There will be an epilogue after this. Huge thank you to all my readers for your support! Lyrics are from Let It Die by Starset
Schwach. Nur ein schwacher kleiner Junge. - Weak. Only a weak little boy.
Ich bin stärker als dich! - I'm stronger than you!
Mein Bruder, mein kleiner Bruder….Danke, für alles du für mich getan hast. Ich hab dich lieb. - My brother, my little brother...Thank you, for everything you've done for me. I love you.
Je t'aime - I love you
Dritt. - Shit.
Vingt et un, demain. - Twenty-one, tomorrow.
Ich kann nicht einfach hier sitzen - I can't just sit here
Nein, du wirst kein mehr laufen - No, you won't run anymore
Oye, eso duele! - Hey, that hurt!
Es passiert wieder - It happens again
Blaue Augen - Blue eyes
Ich liebe dich - I love you
Chapter 24: Epilogue
Four Months Later
Flowers lined the field. Roses, tulips, primroses and daffodils. They crowned hundreds of stones. Stones, which lay in organised rows: monoliths charged with the purpose of representing lives.
A figure stands amongst the risen granite. His fists, clenched. His eyes, red. His hair, blonde, unusually untidy as a soft breeze musses it.
The fresh flowers he brought just a few days ago still guard the particular stone he stands before. White lilies. Traditional, beautiful, fragile. They wilt because of the frequent downpours.
The man feels several droplets of water roll down his cheeks. He lets them fall.
Again and again, his glacial-blue eyes read the words inscribed upon the smooth marble surface.
Here lies Gilbert Beilschmidt,
24th January 1990 - 1st July 2014
Loving brother, caring son, and compassionate friend.
Rest in Peace.
Simple, elegant. He still doesn't fully accept it, even now that it is in writing. It begins to rain softly, the raindrops mixing with his tears as they hit the grass near his feet. His heart blossoms with unimaginable pain and anguish, every pump of his heart amalgamating the emotions into a great storm, crashing waves of lament wracking his mind.
The fact that his beloved brother is dead is not the sole cause of his mourning.
It is because this gravestone has a twin.
The engraving even contains a similar memorandum:
Here lies Matthew Williams,
July 1st 1993 - July 1st 2014
Loving brother, caring son, and loyal friend.
Rest in Peace.
A sob escapes from between the man's lips. It should never have been like this. The agony he feels is sometimes, to his guilt, replaced with relief on his brother's behalf. He would never wish such a terrible fate for his sibling, but...but at least, now, Gilbert is...Gil is…
"Free," He breathes. Brave until the end. Tragically dangerous.
Matthew, a man with a lover's heart, by Gilbert's side even in death.
Finally, his tears subsiding, the man - Ludwig - sighed. These things happen, people have said to him. But not this, he had wanted to reply. Never this.
The actions made by his brother, whether with malice or not, reminded Ludwig of his own mortality. Life was so delicate, so innocent. Even the smallest of occurrences could corrupt or damage it. As he had witnessed, a corrupted life could be quick and brutal: a bomb with a short fuse attached. Black ink exploding into white paint.
Gilbert, for all his flaws, had died knowing that Matthew was real. Matthew had died wishing that their pain was a delusion. At least, that was Ludwig's perspective.
He intended to recover. To be successful. To love, and get married. He would fulfil his life as much as possible. For Gilbert. For Matthew.
Slowly, Ludwig turned to leave the cemetery. Over his shoulder, he whispered tenderly, "Auf Wiedersehen."
This story has taught me so much. I understand that many of the problems faced in this work can be very close to home - some of you may very well have experienced them. If any of my readers are experiencing mental difficulties or have a hard time dealing with aspects of their lives, I urge you to talk about it. I know it's what everyone says 'oh just talk to someone about it', and I know it's not that easy, but - try. Please. For yourselves. The message of this story is that not all tales have a happy ending. However, even if you've lost someone very dear to you, or if you feel like you've been to Hell and back, you can still make the most of your own life.
Thank you very much for your time, your support, and your thoughts. - IsThisNameTaken
Side Note: This story has contained rape, mental illness, self harm and other issues. I included these because it fit the plot, not in order to commercialise or downplay them. I do not condone or advocate acts such as sexual assault, or the shaming of mentally ill people, and so on; I wanted to draw attention to them as serious issues which, if given assistance, can be treated, overcome, or dealt with.