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Kiss Me Before I'm Gone

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Chapter One

Kiss Me Good Morning

               

                If Gilbert was being honest, this wasn’t the first time he had woken up naked, or nearly so, in bed next to somebody unfamiliar. That being said, there were a couple differences. First of all, there had been absolutely no drinking involved, and in some sort of conjunction with that, no sex. Second of all, the boy sleeping soundly next to him wasn’t completely unfamiliar. He couldn’t exactly count him as a friend, but at least he remembered the conversation they had last night that led to the current situation.

                The boy’s name was Matthew and had somehow found his way to the party Gilbert had been hosting with his roommates. Nothing too crazy and they were all of age so nothing super illegal, still, Matthew didn’t seem like he belonged. He had been wandering around, sticking to corners with an unopened beer bottle that somebody had evidently shoved into his hands. In an attempt to get him to join the party, Gilbert had approached Matthew and struck up a conversation. Matthew seemed surprised to be spoken too but friendly enough. By the end of the night, Gilbert hadn’t had more than a single beer and they had moved to the couch where Matthew admitted that he usually didn’t like parties but he had had a fight with his brother and needed the distraction. He hadn’t elaborated on what the fight was about but had admitted to not wanting to go home.

                That was when Gilbert offered up his bed. He told Matthew that he could stay for as long as he wanted and the boy admitted that a short nap would be nice. He apologized and Gilbert lead him up to his room and moments later Matthew was sleeping soundly.

                Gilbert had cleaned up the apartment and when he checked on Matthew and still found him sleeping, knew he couldn’t bring himself to wake him. So, stripping down to his boxers as he usually did when he slept, he grabbed a blanket from the closet and curled up on the floor.

                Now, how he had ended up on the bed anyways was the mystery.

                Looking down at Matthew, the feelings Gilbert had started to feel the night before started to resurface. Matthew was calm, a little flushed in the cheeks and, Gilbert realized as if he hadn’t thought so the whole time, extremely attractive.

                Gilbert had had crushes before and he had pursued many of them. This one he knew he had to take slow. Matthew seemed so fragile, ready to fly away at any moment and disappear, much like a bird.

                Slow or not, the urge to kiss the boy was as strong as it was last night and Gilbert quickly realized that his body was defying his mind as he leaned in and pressed his lips to Matthew’s cheek.

                He quickly pulled back quickly and shuffled from the bed as Matthew sat up and rubbed his eyes.

                “Good morning, Birdie,” Gilbert said, pulling on pets and praying that his voice sounded as steady as he was forcing it to be. Birdie? Where the hell had that nickname come from?

                “Birdie?” Apparently Matthew had the same question, grabbing his glasses and pushing them onto his face as he brushed hair out of his eyes and looked a little lost for a moment, taking in the unfamiliar room.

                Fuck, that’s adorable. Gilbert cursed himself and quickly searched for an excuse for the nickname.

                “Yeah, Birdie, that’s what I’m going to call you now because… you’re free-spirited! Or at least that’s what I think. Plus you’re cute like Gilbird,” he said, referring to the yellow canary sitting in its cage in the corner of the room. God, he needed to stop talking now.

                Matthew stared at him, blinked and much to Gilbert’s relief, started to laugh.

                “That’s very nice of you too say,” he said, sliding from the bed and grabbing his shoes from the floor to pull them on.

                “Are you leaving?” Gilbert asked. He wondered why this was such a surprise to him, of course he was leaving, there was no reason for him to stay.

                “Yeah, Al’s gonna be wondering where I’m at.” He pulled out his phone and visibly flinched, apparently it was as bas if not worse than he thought.

                “Yeah, of course sure.”

                “Thank you for letting me stay the night. I’m really sorry that I stayed longer than intended.”

                Gilbert waved his hand dismissively in the air. “Nah, don’t worry about it, if I wanted you out, I would have woken you up. There is some way you can make it up to me thought.”

                Matthew frowned slightly, though it seemed more out of curiosity than disappointment.

                “What’s that?” he asked.

                Gilbert held out his hand. “Give me your phone.”

                The blonde looked highly unsure, but eventually handed his phone over anyways.

                After navigating through to find out how to put in a new contact, Gilbert entered in his name and cell number before handing it back to Matthew with the contacts still open.

                “There, you have my number now. Give me a call or a text when you feel like it, yeah? I want to hang out more.”

                Matthew stared at his phone, but couldn’t hide the blush that crept into his cheeks. “yeah, okay,” he said. “Good-bye Gilbert, see ya.”

                Gilbert watched Matthew scurry from the room. “See ya,” he called after him. He had a good feeling about this. Now all there was left to do was wait.

Chapter Text

Chapter Two

Kiss Me Where My Thoughts Form

 

                When Gilbert’s phone buzzed later that evening, it didn’t surprise him. He was used to getting texts from various friends, not to mention he was expecting a call from his brother tonight. But when he went to answer, the number was not one saved to his contacts.

                He frowned. Surely, Matthew couldn’t have texted back so fast. He hit opened and scanned the message.

                From: 555-078-9898

                                Hey, this is Matthew. I’m sorry if I’m

                                texting too soon, but I didn’t want you

                                to worry.

 

                Oh God, it was actually him. Gilbert quickly sent a reply.

                To: 555-078-9898

                                Nah man, you’re great! I’m glad you

                                decided not to toss my number.

 

                He quickly saved the number under in his contacts and at last minute went with the nickname he had ended up giving the boy, rather than just using Matthew. Moments later his phone buzzed again.

                From: Birdie

                                No! I could never do that! You seem

                                like a really nice person and I don’t

                                think I ever thanked you for letting

                                me crash on your bed last night.

 

                Gilbert couldn’t believe his luck. Usually he was the one to take numbers and work up the conversation towards a date of some sort. He had really taken a chance with this one and it was paying off. Not to mention he used proper grammar and spelling when he texted, how mature. Normally Gilbert resorted to chat speak when he texted, much to his brother’s annoyance, but this was all about impressing Matthew and he wasn’t going to scare him off with the use of numbers and abbreviated words.

               

 

 

To: Birdie

                Hey! It wasn’t a problem man!

                You’re welcome any time! I mean

                it. Besides, who wouldn’t want to

                sleep in my awesome bed.

               

                He grinned as he hit send and anxiously waited a reply.  It took several minutes longer than the last couple, but finally it came.

               

                From: Birdie

                                Lol. It was indeed a very nice bed.

                                Still, I want to make it up to you,

                                would you mind going out for

                                ice cream? I would pay of course.

                                Also, I can’t believe you saved your

                                name in my phone as ‘The Awesome

                                Gilbert’.

 

                So that’s what took so long. While the text was made to sound confident, Gilbert had a feeling that the man behind them was completely flustered and nervously waiting for a reply. Well, this was an interesting turn of events, usually Gilbert was the one asking them out, not the other way around. Not to say it was unwelcomed, he actually rather enjoyed it. Perhaps Matthew wasn’t as meek as he thought.

 

                To: Birdie

                                I only put the truth. ;)

                                Ice cream sounds great! When

                                do you want to meet?

 

                Gilbert had barely sent the message when his phone buzzed again. This time it was from his brother. He already forgot that they had arranged to talk tonight.

               

               

From: Lud

                I can skype tonight. I will

                be on in about 10 minutes.

 

                Gilbert grinned and pushed off his bed to start up his laptop and send his brother a quick reply. Phone calls were rare, video calls were even more so, so it was always great news to hear he was going to be able to see his brother’s face again for a bit.

                As he logged into the computer and watched as it brought up the background picture of him and his brother just before Ludwig was shipped off, he received another text from Matthew.

                From: Birdie

                                I don’t know when you’re

                                free, but I have this Tuesday

                                off, so about how about then?

 

                To: Birdie

                                Sounds great! This will be awesome

                                How does 2pm work?

               

                From: Birdie

                                That’s perfect. I’ll meet you at the

                                place on the corner of Carter and

                                5th.

               

To: Birdie

                                Awesome! I’ll totally see you then.

                                I gotta go for now though, skyping

                                with the bro.

               

From: Birdie

                                That’s fine! I’ll see you Tuesday!

                                Enjoy talking to your brother!

               

Gilbert left it at that as the skype ringtone began to play. With a grin, he clicked answer. Boy did he have exciting news tonight.

 

~~~

 

                As Gilbert walked into a quaint little ice cream shop on the corner of Carter and 5th called ‘Chill Me Sweetly’, he half expected Matthew now to be there, but sure enough, a man in a hoodie with glasses and slightly shaggy blond hair sat by the window, clearly not noticing Gilbert come in.

                “Hey,” Gilbert said with a grin once he reached Matthew’s table.

                Matthew looked over and smiled lightly. “Hey,” he replied. “I’m glad you came.”

                Gilbert scoffed slightly. “Did you think I wouldn’t? That would totally not be awesome.”

                “No, no, that’s not what I meant at all, just… oh never mind. Should we order?” he asked.

                Gilbert smirked, a flustered Matthew was a cute thing to see and he had a feeling that it wouldn’t be getting old any time soon. He just hoped that he had more opportunities to see it.

                Matthew ordered first, a simple sundae. Meanwhile, being polite, Gilbert ordered a root beer float.

                Once Matthew had paid, they took their respective ice creams and returned to the table.

                “So, you mentioned having the day off, do you work then?” Gilbert asked, licking ice cream and foam from an elongated spoon.

                Matthew nodded. “I help my papa out at his hair dressing shop,” he said with a smile.

                “So you’re dad’s a hair dresser?” Gilbert asked.

                Again the blonde nodded. “Has been since Arthur left.”

                “Who’s Arthur?”

                “Papa’s ex-husband. Now it’s my turn to ask some questions.”

                Gilbert grinned and leaned back in his chair with his float. “Shoot,” he said.

                Matthew took another bite of ice cream as he thought for a moment. “How old are you?”

                “Twenty-three, my turn,” he said, leaning forward again.

                “Nuh-uh!” Matthew cried with a sharp shake of his head. “You got three questions, so I get two more.”

                Gilbert smirked. “So there’s feistiness in you yet,” he said.

                Matthew blushed and changed the subject. “Are you working?”

                Gilbert nodded. “I’m a totally awesome aide at a daycare not far from my apartment.”

                “You work at a day care?” Matthew asked, clearly shocked.

                “You bet, I take care of kids anywhere from two years old to about eight. They’re totally awesome and you can bet that they love me,” he said. “It’s only part time though. I also study pre-med at the local college.”

                “Pre-med, eh? What do—“ Gilbert raised a hand, cutting him off.

                “Now way man, it’s my turn now. How old are you?”

                “Twenty-two,” Matthew answered, taking another bite of his slowly melting ice cream. “So, I’ll try my question again. What do you want to be?”

                “A Pediatrician,” Gilbert answered confidently.

                “Guess that makes sense, seeing as you just told me you work at a day care. Your turn.”

                “Your brother, older or younger? I couldn’t tell when we were acting the other night.”

                “Same age actually, but we’re not twins. We were adopted when Papa and Arthur were still married and we were just babies. When they divorced, Papa got me and Arthur got Alfred. We kept in contact but I was too young to really remember the divorce. Arthur moved to New York shortly after that but we still kept in touch somehow. And you, what about your brother? Older or younger?”

                “Younger by about two years, he joined the army and now he’s fighting in the war over seas,” he said.

                “Oh, I see, I’m sorry about that,” Matthew said. “I hope he comes home soon.”

                “Yeah me too, but he calls and skypes whenever he can, so it’s not all bad, he’s been keeping out of the main fight at least.”

                “I see, that’s not too bad then,” he said.

                Gilbert nodded. “So, what about you? Are you going to school?” he asked, quickly changing the subject in an attempt to rid them of the dark mood that had fallen on the conversation.

                “Sort of,” Matthew answered. “I’m taking a couple classes online, but I just don’t know what I want to go to school for yet. I was going to be a teacher, but decided I didn’t like it so now I’m trying to decide again and finish up my generals.”

                “Cool. There’s no need to jump into anything after all. It’s pretty awesome that you realized teaching wasn’t your thing. Too many people go into the wrong careers nowadays, I think.”

                “You think so?” he asked, finishing up the last couple bites of ice cream.

                Gilbert nodded and drank down the last of his root beer.

                Matthew glanced at the time and frowned. “I’m terribly sorry, I know I said I was free today, but Papa really needs me at work today,” he said, standing from his chair and grabbing his garbage from the table.

                “Not a problem Birdie. Do you mind if we meet again?” Gilbert asked, standing as well.

                “Yeah, sure, I would like that, can I text you later?”

                Gilbert grinned. “That would be awesome.” They threw their garbage into the trash and headed out the door together.

                “Well I go this way,” Matthew said, a little hesitant.

                “Yeah, cool,” Gilbert said, realizing he didn’t want to go either.

                Matthew turned to leave but Gilbert caught him by the wrist and the man turned around with a puzzled look. “What is it Gilbert?” he asked.

                “Nothing, just… I…” I want to kiss you. With those words in mind, he leaned forward but changed his mind at the last second and pressed his lips briefly to Matthew’s forehead.

                Matthew stood there frozen for a minute as his whole face turned a bright shade of red.

                “I just… you’re very cute and awesome and… I’ll text you, bye,” he dropped Matthew’s wrist and turned around to walk back home. That was such a stupid move, he had ruined it for sure! He kicked a crushed can on the sidewalk in frustration and never turned around to see Matthew smile.

Chapter Text

Chapter Three

Kiss Me While I’m Drunk

               

The next couple weeks passes with Matthew texting Gilbert almost every day. It took a little prompting, as Matthew admitted he didn’t want to be a bother, but Gilbert constantly assured him that if anything, he looked forward to his messages.

It had been a little embarrassing to admit, but Matthew seemed to always take things in stride and it made little things like that easier. That and Gilbert got pleasure out of the fact that he probably made Matthew blush on the other end of their conversations.

It was late on a Saturday night when Gilbert texted Matthew with a request to meet up.

 

From: The Awesome Gilbert

BIIIIIIIIIIRRRRRRDDDDDDIIIIIIIIIEEEEE

                CME OVER HERE AND PLAY WITH ME.

 

Matthew was a little shocked by the message, while Gilbert was generally an outgoing person with an overall loud personality, this was the first time Mathew had received a message in all caps.

 

To: The Awesome Gilbert

                Are you drunk?

 

The reply was a little slow in coming and Matthew got a few more pages in his book read before his phone buzzed again.

 

From: The Awesome Gilbert

                ONLY A LITTE

 

Matthew chuckled, he should have known.

 

To: The Awesome Gilbert

                I think you can take off the caps Gil.

 

 

From: the Awesome Gilbert

                Oh rite ya srry. But will you come over?

                Toni’s makng otu with his boyfriend and

                Feli is playing with the cat in teh corner

                wich is pretty cteu but I’m boooooored.

 

Matthew chuckled again at the message, Gilbert could be amusing when he was drunk. He knew Antonio, his boyfriend, Lovino and Lovino’s brother Feliciano were all roommates of Gilbert’s and as far as he could tell, pretty good friends, even if Lovino did seem to come off as a little bitter whenever Gilbert talked about him.

 

To: The Awesome Gilbert

                Yeah, sure, I’ll come over, at your place

                right?

 

The response came quickly and he could almost feel Gilbert’s eagerness.

 

From: The Awesome Gilbert

                Yeah! Totally! You are the moset

                awesmeness person ever Birdie!

 

To: The Awesome Gilbert

                I’m sure. I’ll be over in a bit.

 

Within 15 minutes, Matthew was knocking on the door, but when no one answered, the music obviously a little too loud for his knocking to be heard, Matthew let himself in with quiet apologies.

It didn’t take long for him to find Gilbert. The white haired man was in the kitchen leaning against the counter, beer in hand as he played games on his phone.

“Hey,” Matthew said, wondering if Gilbert could hear him over the music or even notice that he had shown up.

Gilbert looked up immediately and grinned brightly.

“Birdie!” he cried, stepping over to Matthew with a slight sway to his step and wrapping his arms around the blonde.

“Hey Gil, how much have you had to drink exactly?” Matthew asked.

“I don’t know, enough, not enough,” his words slurred slightly as he shrugged. “Come drink with me, everybody here is old enough so don’t worry. We have to turn the music down by midnight though, so you’re just in time for dancing!”

Matthew was about to protest, but soon a beer was pressed into his hand and Gilbert took his other hand and drug him into the living room.

Matthew didn’t recognize the song that was playing, but he found the beat easy enough. Gilbert was fun to dance with, even drunk he knew what he was doing, though the drunkenness didn’t help with his balance. Matthew allowed himself to relax and while his movements were not nearly as bold as Gilbert’s, he had fun and Gilbert seemed to at least be happy with the effort.

Soon the music was turned down to a more reasonable level and chuckling lightly, Matthew and Gilbert fell onto the couch. Matthew finally opened the beer bottle and took a drink and watched as people started to leave.

“You’re good you know,” he said.

“I know. But Good what?” Gilbert asked, finishing off his own beer.

“Dancing. You’re a good dancer, even if you’re drunk.”

“Yeah, I danced a little back in high school, as a sort of hobby,” Gilbert answered, frowning at the empty bottle. He stood from the couch and headed to the kitchen before returning with two more, handing one to Matthew, even though he was barely even half way through his first one.

“Do you still? Dance I mean,” Matthew asked. He finished his bottle and started the second as Gilbert answered with a shake of his hand.

“Sometimes, if I feel like it, but that’s how it’s always been. I was super competitive when I was younger, but I’m not like I used to be in high school. I like to just do things because I like to do them now, winning and losing isn’t as important, you know?”

“Yeah, I get that,” Matthew answered.

“That’s what makes me so damn awesome Birdie. I’m like, really awesome. People don’t realize that and they’re stupid. Luddy doesn’t realize it. He doesn’t realize how awesome I am, and that’s why he’s left. That’s why he’s out there getting himself killed, because he doesn’t realize the awesome he’s leaving behind.”

Gilbert’s tone grew quiet, and Matthew was silent, unsure how to respond. He wasn’t expecting the conversation to take such a sudden and depressing turn. He went to take another drink only to find his bottle empty, he looked over and noticed that Gilbert hadn’t even opened his. It was probably for the better.

Still, he felt the need to comfort the man. Reaching over and gently taking the bottle, he was a little surprised when Gilbert didn’t protest.

He popped it and took a deep drink. “I was scared of losing my brother too, you know.” He said. He wasn’t sure what made him say it and he was worried that Gilbert would think he was trying to one up him, but the way the white haired man looked at him was with curiosity and understanding and so Matthew continued.

“When our parents got divorced, I was really afraid that I wouldn’t get to see him, and as the years went on, we kept in touch, but I still didn’t get to see him until years after the fact.”

“It’s not the same,” Gilbert said.

“I’m not saying it is. I’m just saying that you’ve got to keep hoping. Ludwig loves you and he’ll come back. He’s doing his best over there and I’m sure he misses you very much. He’ll come back.”

Gilbert didn’t say anything for the longest time and Matthew slowly finished off his beer as they sat in silence, only a few people remaining in the apartment, chatting and drinking.

“I’m really tired Birdie, can we go to bed?” Gilbert finally asked.

Matthew noted the use of ‘we’ but didn’t say anything about it, only nodded. “Yeah, sure,” he said.

As he pushed up from the couch, a wave of dizziness passed over him. Three beers wasn’t much, but it was certainly a lot more than he had had in a long time.

He held out a hand and helped Gilbert up, the man swayed a bit and leaned into Matthew a little for balance, but other than that seemed steady enough on his feet. Matthew took him up to his room and into the room he had slept in the last time he had been at Gilbert’s apartment. There was solid, rhythmic thudding and moaning coming from the room next door, but Matthew chose to ignore it as he got Gilbert into bed. Turning to leave, Matthew was shocked when Gilbert reached out and grabbed the back of his shirt.

“Stay,” he muttered into his pillow.

Matthew looked back at him and sighed. “Alright,” he said, crawling over Gilbert to the other side of the bed.

“I really like you Birdie. You’re really awesome,” Gilbert said as Matthew settled, turning over the face the younger man.

“Yeah I know, you’ve told me.”

“No I mean it. I really really like you. And I want to kiss you.”

Matthew froze, he had had suspicions that Gilbert had a crush on him, but still, this was unexpected.

“What?” he asked. His voice gave an embarrassing squeak. “You’re drunk Gil, you don’t know what you’re saying.”

“I’m not that drunk. I’ll remember everything in the morning. I know what I’m saying, Matthew. I’ve wanted to kiss you since that party a couple of weeks ago.”

Oh god, he was serious, at least if the lack of nickname was any indication. Matthew’s breath stuttered as he racked his brain for an appropriate response.

He likes me. Oh God, he wants to kiss me. Should I let him? Do I like him? I think I do, I mean maybe. He’s really nice, he’s funny and fun to be around, I get excited whenever he texts… oh, God, I do like him. I really do.

Finally, Matthew let out a slow breath and nodded.

“Alright.”

Gilbert blinked. “What?” he asked.

Matthew found it kind of funny that Gilbert had admitted to wanting to kiss him and now seemed shocked and confused that Matthew agreed.

“You can kiss me. I want you to kiss me,” he clarified.

“Oh, right, of course,” he said and without another moment of hesitation, leaned into press his lips to Matthew’s.

Matthew couldn’t help but chuckle as Gilbert’s warped perception caused him to miss a couple times, causing them to bump noses and Matthew to receive a couple kisses to the corner of his mouth and his cheek.

Finally, he felt a little bad for laughing and gently took Gilbert’s face in his hands and pressed their lips together.

He tried to be gentle, but the kiss still turned out slopping. Matthew was a little drunk himself, though nothing compared to Gilbert and he could taste the beer on Gilbert’s breath. He couldn’t say it was the best kiss he had, but he could tell that Gilbert meant it and moments later it was over.

“Thanks Birdie,” Gilbert muttered, resting his head back on the pillow. “You’re really awesome.”

Matthew smiled. “I know,” he said softly and watched as Gilbert drifted off to sleep.

Chapter Text

 Chapter Four

 Kiss Me Awkwardly

 

The next morning dawned much quicker than Matthew expected. He was tempted to just go back to sleep and wait for the hangover to pass, but there were things to do, like get back home and finish his homework. As he sat up, Gilbert still sound asleep beside him, he groaned softly. It was becoming rather evident that there wasn’t going to be any homework done for the next couple of hours at least, not until this hangover went away.

“Shit.”

Matthew looked over his shoulder as Gilbert rolled his face into the pillow in an attempt to block out the light.

“I think we both drank too much last night,” Gilbert said into the pillow.

“It wouldn’t be so bad if we had remembered to drink water, the hang over is usually due to dehydration,” Matthew responded with a small smile.

“Ug, whatever Birdie, I just say we go get some coffee,” Gilbert grumbled.

“You really want coffee?”

“I always have coffee with a hangover,” Gilbert replied. He finally sat up and ran a hand through his hair, causing clumps of white to stick up in different directions.

“Alright, coffee it is. You should put pants on though before we head out,”

Gilbert looked down to find he was only wearing a pair of boxers and a tshirt. “Shit, when did that happen?” he asked.

Matthew chuckled. “No clue, you fell asleep before me and had them on when I put you to bed,” he said.

“Yeah, well whatever,” Gilbert slid from the bed and tossed around a pile of clothes until he found a pair of pants and with a bit of effort, pulled them on. “Now where’s my wallet?”

“On the dresser,” Matthew said. “I pulled it out and your keys before bed,” he said.

Gilbert stepped over to the dresser before turning to him with a small smirk.

“Hey now, don’t look at me like that!”

“But they were in my back pocket.”

“And you were so drunk you could barely make it up the stairs.”

“But you had to reach into my back pocket to get my wallet and keys.”

“Oh my god Gilbert you are ten, get your wallet so we can get your damn coffee,” Matthew said, sliding from the bed and slipping on his shoes.

Gilbert laughed and slid his wallet and keys into his back pocket and headed downstairs.

Matthew followed after him and climbed into the passenger’s side of Gilbert’s car. It was a short drive to the coffee shop and minutes later they were seated across from each other at a back table, Gilbert nursing a steaming macchiato and Matthew sipping at a tea.

There was a silence between them, an awkwardness that had been building since they sat down.

“A penny for your thoughts?”

Gilbert looked up in mild shock. “Huh, what?” he asked.

“You seem distracted,” Matthew replied.

“Oh, yeah, well, I was thinking about… I wanted to ask you something.”

Matthew wasn’t sure where this was going, but it was clear that it was something that made Gilbert go quiet.

“What is it?” he asked as casually as possible.

 “Last night, I… Well, I said some things, about my brother and it wasn’t really something that I really wanted to confess, something I’ve never really even admitted to myself,” Gilbert replied softly.

“I see,” said Matthew, staring down at his tea, unsure about how to reply. “But really, Gil,” he said after a moment. “It’s okay, I’m sure your brother will be fine, it’s okay to feel that way.”

“Yeah,” Gilbert muttered, clearly not sounding convinced.

Matthew watched Gilbert for a minute before sliding his tea to the side and standing to lean across the table and press his lips to Gilbert’s.

It was brief, but it got Gilbert’s attention. “Everything will be alright, Gil, Ludwig will come back, you can talk to me any time,” he said with a small smile.

Gilbert couldn’t help but smile back. “Yeah, thanks Birdie.”

Matthew nodded and leaned back, but in the process knocked over Gilbert’s coffee, spilling it onto his lap.

“Ah, fuck!” Gilbert cried, causing the few people who were in the café to turn and look at him in slightly offended shock.

“Ah! I’m so sorry!” Matthew cried in mild panic. He rushed over to the counter and grabbed handfuls of napkins. He handed several to Gilbert who was now standing with coffee staining the front of his pants. Taking the rest he quickly mopped up what had spilled on the table and floor.

“Damn that’s hot, you’re fine Matthew,” Gilbert said, using the napkins to soak up what he could from his pants.

“I’m really sorry though, you didn’t get burned, did you?” Matthew asked.

“Nah, I’m good, I’m going to go home and change though,” he said.

“Right, I have to get home as well unfortunately,” Matthew said with a small frown.

“Yeah, of course, when do you want to meet again?” he asked.

Matthew thought about it a moment. “How about this Friday? We can go out to a movie. No drinking, no parties, hangovers or unwanted confessions, just a nice action or comedy or something. Maybe ice cream afterward.”

Gilbert grinned. “Sure Birdie, that sounds great.”

Matthew nodded. “See you then?” he asked, picking up his tea from the table and following Gilbert out the door.

“Yeah, see you then,” Gilbert said, turning and heading home, feeling lighter than he had in a long time.

Chapter Text

Chapter Five

Kiss Me While I’m Angry

 

Matthew’s day couldn’t possibly get any worse. The power had gone out in the middle of the night while he was sleeping, so his alarm didn’t go off and he overslept. After skipping his morning shower as well as breakfast, he was still late to work and received a rather stern talking to from his father. Of course, given his continuing luck, his phone died before lunch and he didn’t have the chance to charge it, his lunch was rushed because Francis needed his help about half way through his break and didn’t slow until closing. His father had him close the shop and clean up as punishment for being late and Matthew knew he was going to be late for his date with Gilbert. He knew his boyfriend would be upset, but he didn’t have the man’s number memorized and with his phone dead and his charger at home, there was no way to contact him and let him know.

Matthew locked up the salon as quickly as possible and with one last tug at the door, he turned and ran for his car, digging around in his bag for his keys.

“Shit,” he cursed, stomping his foot as he realized that he had left them on the counter inside. Turning back around, it took only a couple minutes to pull out the salon keys, unlock the door and rush inside, but it was more time wasted when he was already at least half an hour late to his date.

He had fully expected his car not to start when he turned the key, but much to his relief, it purred to life and he was pulling out of the parking lot much too fast to be safe.

Of course it took another half an hour to reach the theatre due to construction he had forgotten about, and when he finally came running up to the entrance, he was relieved to find Gilbert sitting out front.

“Gil!” Matthew cried with a smile.

Gilbert looked up and stood abruptly, rushing towards Matthew.

“What the hell, Matthew!” he cried.

Matthew blinked and stepped back in shock, not quite expecting this amount of anger.

“You’re angry Gil….” Matthew said softly.

“Of course I’m fucking angry Matthew! I don’t even know why I waited! It’s been over an hour!  The movie’s half-done already! I cannot believe you would try to stand me up like this! Why did you even come here? IF you didn’t want to see the fucking movie just say so, if you think you’re too good for me, just call this whole damn thing off. I don’t appreciate being led on Matthew, I don’t—“

Mon dieu, Gilbert! Shut up!” Matthew grabbed Gilbert’s face and pressed their lips roughly together.

Pulling away, the both stared at each other, wide eyed and panting slightly. “Let me explain,” Matthew said softly.

Gilbert still looked rather upset, but he pressed his lips together and finally nodded.

“So many things have gone wrong today Gil, I know it’s not an excuse, but trust me when I tell you my phone died and I did everything I could to be here on time,” Matthew said, pulling out his phone to prove that it was indeed dead.

Gilbert frowned and after a tense moment, he sighed. “Fine, but we missed the movie and you owe me. Big time.”

“I’ll make it up to you, I promise.”

Gilbert nodded and shoved his hands into his pockets and headed to the crosswalk.

“You’re still mad,” Matthew observed.

“No, well, yes, but not at you, more at the situation. I was really looking forward to tonight, you know? Just, I can’t help but be a little upset, even if you tried your best to be here on time.”

“I understand, will ice cream help?” Matthew asked as the light changed and they crossed the street.

Gilbert tried to hide his smirk. “Maybe a little. But it’s going to take more than just a couple scoops of frozen milk product to make up for this.”

Matthew chuckled, “Fair.” He smiled and slid his hand into Gilbert’s.

And though it wasn’t as strong as usual, Gilbert smiled back.

Chapter Text

Chapter Six

Kiss Me An Apology

 

Gilbert could tell that Matthew was still feeling guilty by the time they had finished their ice cream, and while he was still a little upset by the man’s tardiness and lack of communication, he knew there was more to it than that. There was some personal stuff that he shouldn’t have been taking out on Matthew. And so, with that in mind, he invited Matthew back to his apartment to play video games as a way of telling him it was alright and to get both of their minds off the incident.

It wasn’t until about three in the morning that they finally turned off the gaming system and headed to bed.

When Gilbert woke again several hours later, rolling over and checked the time on his phone. It was nearing noon, a strong sign he should be getting out of bed.

That could wait a few minutes.

Rolling back over, it came as a slight relief to find Matthew still sleeping beside him. He wasn’t sure where this irrational fear of him leaving came from, but, at least for now, he was choosing to ignore it.

Propping his head up on his elbow, Gilbert stared at Matthew for a moment as he debated whether it would be okay to kiss him awake.

That question was somewhat answered as Matthew’s eyes fluttered open, forcing Gilbert to look away quickly in mild embarrassment.

“Mornin’,” Matthew mumbled, sitting up slightly. “So how long were you watching me sleep?” Matthew asked, a small smirk to show he was teasing.

A blush lit up Gilbert’s cheeks. “Ah, uh, only a minute! Not long at all, really,” he stuttered.

Matthew laughed. “I’m sure, creeper,” he replied, crawling over Gilbert to get out of bed.

“Am not!” Gilbert cried, throwing back the blankets and following.

Matthew only laughed again.

Gilbert frowned in annoyance and grabbed Matthew’s hand to turn him around.

Matthew barely had time to blink before Gilbert was kissing him.

“What was that?” Matthew asked once they had both pulled back.

“An apology,” Gilbert answered.

Matthew chuckled. “What? For being a creeper?”

“No. Well, yes, but mostly for yesterday, for losing my awesome cool like that on you.”

Matthew frowned. “It was somewhat deserved, besides, I thought we were past this, we both apologized already and moved on…” He looked at Gilbert uncertainly.

“But it’s more than that Birdie. I wasn’t just angry at you yesterday, it was just a build up of things going on in my life and then yesterday was just… I was just…”

“Afraid,” Matthew finished. “Afraid that I was going to leave you too.”

It wasn’t what Gilbert was planning on saying, but it was more of the truth than he could ever admit to even himself, and it was painful having it laid out like that. And Matthew, it was both terrifying and comforting to have the boy see through him so easily.

Realizing he didn’t have a response, Gilbert simply nodded and Matthew took his hands.

“Gilbert. It’s alright to be afraid, all of us are. It’s how you handle it that makes you so amazing. You’re brave and optimistic. I could only hope to be more like you. I’m not magic, I can’t know what will happen in the future, but I can tell you on thing for absolute certain. As of now, I have absolutely no intention of ever leaving you.”

Gilbert couldn’t help but smile a little at Matthew’s attempt at comfort. While the words did hold a mild sense of foreboding, Gilbert pushed it aside and clung onto the hope he found there. Hope for not only them, but the future as well.

 

 

 

Chapter Text

Chapter Seven

Kiss Me On My Return

 

Gilbert couldn’t believe it. It was far too good to be true. All this hoping, all of this waiting and he was finally coming home. He read the letter over several more times, just to make sure he had it right. At first he was sure he had it wrong, he tried not to smile, tried not to get too excited or hopeful, but as he read it through the second time, he let every happy and pleasant emotion build. It was true, there was no doubt about it.

Ludwig was coming home.

When he was finally able to put the letter down, the first thing Gilbert did was pull out his phone and call up Matthew. 

“Hey Gil!” Matthew chirped happily. “What’s up?”

“The most awesome news Birdie!” Gilbert said, his excitement and relief pushing him to the edge of tears.

“Really? Are you sure Gil? You sound like you’re about to cry,” Matthew said.

“Ludwig is coming home Birdie. He’s coming home. He’s safe and healthy and he’s coming back.” Gilbert collapsed on to the couch and shook his head, his voice now in a tone of disbelief and awe.

“Oh my God Gilbert! That’s wonderful! When does he come back?” Matthew asked. Gilbert appreciated how excited he sounded, he knew how much this meant to him.

“Next Thursday. Do you want to come to the airport with me?”

“I would love that, what time?”

“He lands about three,” Gilbert replied.

“I’ll be there,” Matthew said.

~~~

The next week passed in the slowest blur Gilbert had ever experienced, but sooner than he realized, he was pacing the area next to the baggage claim.

“The plane is late!” he grumbled, glancing at his watch as the minute hand neared 3:30.

“He’ll be here, calm down Gilbert,” Matthew said with a small chuckle. “Look, there’s a group of people coming now, maybe he’s with them?” he asked.

Gilbert paused to watched the rush of people coming down the ramp. He scanned the faces, standing on tiptoes to see over heads. There were several men in army greens coming towards him in a group. And there on the end, with his carry on bag tugged over his shoulder, was a blond haired young soldier of German decent.

“Ludwig…” Gilbert whispered, freezing a moment as he stared at his younger brother. Ludwig had yet to see him, engrossed in a conversation with the soldier next to him, but when Gilbert said his name again, this time yelling it across the open room, he looked up.

Blue eyes met the red of Gilbert’s and Ludwig’s mouth formed Gilbert’s name. It was only moments before his bag was on the floor and Gilbert had his arms around his brother. He cried shamelessly, smiling brightly through the tears.

Gott Gil,” Ludwig muttered with a light laugh of near disbelief.

“I can’t believe it Lud. You’re here, I was… I….” Gilbert pulled away from the hug, held his face and pressed his lips firmly to Ludwig’s forehead. “I missed you,” he said softly. His face hurt from smiling, but he couldn’t care less. His brother was home, his baby brother was home and safe and he would never leave again.

“I missed you too Gilbert,” Ludwig said, he was much more resigned,  but clearly just as elated. “I’m happy to be home.”

“I’m happy as well. Oh! You have to meet Birdie!” Gilbert said, taking his hand and pulling him out of the crowd and over to the young Canadian standing by the doors.

“Matthew, this is my brother, Ludwig. Ludwig, this is my boyfriend, Birdie,” Gilbert introduced.

“Nice to meet you Birdie,” Ludwig said, holding out his hand to shake.

Matthew took it with a small chuckle. “It’s Matthew actually, Matthew Williams.”

“Ah, I see, sorry about that,” he said with a smile.

“It’s not a problem. I’m happy you’re back, Gilbert has missed you greatly.”

Ludwig smiled. “I need to grab my bag and then we can go.”

Gilbert nodded and took Matthew’s hand as Ludwig went to retrieve his bag.

“I told you things would be alright,” Matthew said softly. “Everything works out in the end.”

Gilbert smiled, for the moment he was content with his life. “Yeah, it really does.”

Chapter Text

Chapter Eight

Kiss Me Seductively

 

                It was a little strange but now that Ludwig was back, Matthew felt much more relaxed. He hadn’t realized how much Ludwig had been on Gilbert’s mind and how tense he had been these past few weeks Matthew had known him because of it. But now that Gilbert had relaxed, Matthew found himself relaxing as well.

                They spent a quite a bit of time with Ludwig and while it was a little annoying to not have any time with just Gilbert, Matthew couldn’t complain. He didn’t have the right too, his boyfriend’s brother had just come back safe from the war and it was only reasonable that Gilbert would want to spend time with him. Really, Matthew was happy enough to just be remembered enough to be invited along.

                So weeks passed and with Gilbert’s worry about his brother now gone from his mind, his relationship with Matthew had only grown stronger. Matthew found they balanced each other rather nicely, while Gilbert was loud and spirited and a touch obnoxious, Matthew was more quiet and reserved and a little more polite. While Gilbert helped to bring Matthew up and out, Matthew did his part to tone Gilbert down when necessary.

                It was a great relationship, Matthew believed, still, Gilbert standing on his front step late Saturday night was rather unexpected.

                “Gilbert? And Ludwig’s not with you.”

                “C’mon Birdie, I don’t drag him with me everywhere I go. He’s too serious sometimes, needs to get out more, let loose have some fun, maybe air out that stick he likes to shove up his ass sometimes… I swear that’s why he joined the military.” The white haired man stepped past Matthew and into the house, allowing Matthew to shut the door behind him.

                “Did something happen, are you alright?” Matthew asked.

                “Yeah everything’s fine, Ludwig just… he went to bed early and I had to get out so I thought I would come see you. Is there anything wrong with me making a surprise visit to my boyfriend?” he asked, giving Matthew a quick kiss.

                “No, of course not, I just thought… the way you were… ah, nevermind, can I get you anything to drink?”

                “Beer!” he called, heading into the living room. He could hear Matthew chuckle from the kitchen with a barely audible ‘of course’ as he grabbed two beers from the fridge before joining Gilbert on the couch.

                “Thanks Birdie,” Gilbert said, taking the cold bottle from the man as he gave him a quick kiss on the cheek and started searching the tv for something to watch.

                “Anything you’re in the mood for?” he asked.

                Matthew shook his head and leaned against Gilbert’s shoulder, his unopened beer sitting between his legs.

               Gilbert continued searching, but Matthew could feel there was a tenseness about him, a kind he hadn’t felt before, almost a nervousness. Matthew frowned and sat up, setting his beer on the table. “Gil, look at me,” he said. He waited for Gilbert to obey before continuing. “Are you sure everything is alright?” he asked.

                Gilbert blinked a few times. “Yeah, of course Birdie, why wouldn’t it be?” he asked, seeming genuinely confused.

                “Well it’s just that… you feel really tense,” Matthew replied.

                “Oh… well… it’s just that…. I’ve been thinking a lot about something… about you and me and… Gott, this is embarrassing….” His face flushed as he looked down at his lap, setting his own beer and the remote aside for the moment.

                Matthew waited for him to continue but when he didn’t, he reached out and took Gilbert’s hand. “It’s fine Gil, you don’t have to tell me if you don’t want to,” he said gently. “As long as you’re sure there’s nothing wrong.”

                “No, of course not,” Gilbert stated, waving his hand dismissively. “But I really think I should I mean… well, as I’ve said been thinking a lot… about us… and we’ve been dating for a couple months now… and we’re both adults, you know?”

                “Yes Gil, but I’m not quite sure where you’re going with this,” Matthew said with a confused  frown.

                Gilbert huffed. “I’ve decided I want to have sex with you!” he finally blurted. He quickly laughed it off, loud and forced as he clapped Matthew on the shoulder. “You should be honored to be allowed to sleep with someone as awesome as me!” Even his words did little to cover up his embarrassment.

                Matthew’s face had turned bright red by this point, though he should have expected it really, Gilbert wasn’t anything if he wasn’t blunt. He was silent for a moment, his mouth gaping open as he tried to find the words to answer. Finally after a hard swallow, he slowly nodded. “Alright.”

                Gilbert paused. “What? You mean? Ah man Birdie, you don’t… I mean—“

                Matthew only sighed and leaned forward, pressing his lips against Gilbert’s and cutting him off. Talk was getting them nowhere and only making things more embarrassing. They were already in this deep so they might as well go for it.

                As the kiss deepened and grew more heated, they let their hands roam and soon clothes were hanging off the back of the couch and sprawled across the floor. It wasn’t a first time for either of them, but that didn’t make a difference. It was passionate, it was awkward, it was a little bit hesitant and unsure, it was a time that both of them would remember for years.

                When they finally finished over an hour later, they laid tangled together a few moments, Matthew resting his head against Gilbert’s chest, listening to the racing heartbeats as the gradually slowed.

                “Not bad Birdie,” Gilbert teased, twisting a lock of Matthew’s hair around his finger.

               “mmm shush,” Matthew replied, letting his eyes close. Despite the cries that had filled the house moments before, everything was peaceful now and relaxing, Matthew hadn’t felt so calm in a long while. “We should do this again sometime,” he said idly.

                Gilbert smirked and gave Matthew’s hair a playful tug. “Are you saying you’re up for another round?” he asked.

                Matthew chuckled. “No, no, I’m beat, I’m just saying that I would like to do this again with you. It was… nice.”

                Gilbert scoffed. “I just rocked your world and you’re saying it was nice?

                “Mmhm,” Matthew said with a soft nod. “Very nice.”

                Gilbert gave Matthew’s hair another small tug before letting his fingers tangle in the strands and  come to rest there. “Yeah, it really was. I would love to do this again with you Birdie. Maybe even for the rest of our lives.”

                Matthew had to pause. He hadn’t really thought about it. They had only been together for nearly three months and while he had never really seen them breaking up, he hadn’t thought about them staying together, it was more of just, as the time comes sort of thing. He was with Gilbert now and that was all that mattered, who cared what came in the future? Still, the more Matthew thought about it the more he liked the idea and with a small smile, he hummed in approval.

Chapter Text

Chapter Nine

Kiss Me At War’s End

 

                If one thing was clear, it was that Gilbert was not happy. He stared down at his food, not responding as Ludwig and Matthew shared slightly concerned looks.

                “Gilbert did you hear me?” Ludwig asked, looking across the table at his brother.

                “Yeah, I heard you,” Gilbert muttered, scrapping his fork across his plate until Matthew placed a hand gently over his.

                “Do you understand? I’m not saying I’m going back…” Ludwig said softly.

                “But you could!” Gilbert looked up sharply, and Ludwig was surprised to find fear hidden behind the anger in his eyes.

                “It’s only a possibility until the war is over. We don’t even know if it will happen, I just wanted to make sure you were prepared—“

                “Why prepare me for something won’t happen? You already went overseas! You already fought, already did your time! They can’t call you back!”

                Ludwig sighed. “As long as the war keeps going like this, they can call me back over there whenever they need me. While it’s not likely, I just wanted to warn you—“

                “This isn’t fair,” Gilbert growled. “They can’t do this. You already served over there for two years! You barely just got back.”

                “Gilbert, you are being irrational!” Ludwig said sternly. Matthew found it interesting that often times it was Ludwig that acted like the older sibling, this time was no exception. If he didn’t know better he never would have guessed at this moment that Ludwig was actually two years younger than Gilbert.

                Taking a deep breath Ludwig continued. “First of all, I’ve been back for five months already. While that’s nothing compared to the two years overseas, that’s not just barely back. Gilbert, I love you, you are very dear to me, but you are over reacting. I only told you this to inform you of the possibility. It’s likely that it won’t even happen. You know as well as I do that they’re starting to pull people out, why would they send someone back in if we’re trying to wind this whole thing down?”

                Gilbert turned his hand over and tangled his fingers around Matthew’s. Finally he sighed, relaxing. “You’re right, besides, why would anyone want to take you away from someone as awesome as me?” he asked, a bright grin spreading across his face.

                Ludwig smiled back but Matthew saw a hint of sadness in the corners.

~~~

 

                Almost a month passed and there was no news. Still, the idea lingered over their heads. Matthew could tell that Gilbert worried endlessly about it and frankly, Matthew didn’t want Ludwig going back either. Not only because he had become rather good friends with Ludwig over the past few months, but also because he was afraid of what it would do to Gilbert.

                It was the start of September when Matthew got the news.

                The ringing of his phone with a German ringtone Gilbert had downloaded a few weeks after they had met caused the blonde too look up from his book. He pulled his book mark out of the back pages and closed the book before answering.

                “Hello?” he asked.

                “Birdie! Mattie! Birdie! Get your ass over here!” There was laughter in his tone and following the command, but still, a command like that often led to at least some kind of worry.

                “What? Why? Is something wrong? Are you okay?” Matthew asked, setting his book aside and standing quickly, darting across the room to find his shoes.

                “What? Yeah! I’m freaking awesome! Now just get over here so I can kiss you!” Gilbert cried.

                Matthew was more confused than ever. “What is going on Gil?” he asked, slipping on a pair of sandals despite the chill outside.

                “The war is over Mattie! Luddy is home for good! We’re going to go out and celebrate!”

                Matthew nearly dropped his phone. “What? Actually I’ll be right over, just hold on.”

                He grabbed his keys from the counter and his wallet from the living room before saying a quick bye to Gilbert and hanging up. Rushing out the door he sped a little more than necessary and was at Gilbert’s apartment a lot quicker than usual. He was barely able to get out of the car before Gilbert had him around the waist swinging him around before kissing him deeply and excitedly.

                “Can you believe it Birdie?” he asked.

                “But… Gil, wouldn’t something like this take time? I know things were slowing down overseas but…”

                “No, they’re pulling every one out, the war is over Birdie! My brother is safe!”

                Matthew grinned. This was the best news he had heard in months and he had never seen Gilbert so excited, so happy since they had met.

                “This is wonderful Gilbert! This is great!”

                Gilbert simply grinned before kissing him again and then dragging him inside. Music, drinks and cheerful celebration followed as everyone took part in the excitement of a wars end. Matthew watched as Gilbert laughed the loudeset, smiled the brightest and all over radiated the most energy keeping everyones excitement at a peak.

                And when they finally went to bed tonight, forced to cram together on Gilbert’s small twin, Matthew could still feel the relief and the energy buzzing through the air. As he drifted off with Gilbert already dozing peacefully beside him, he wished that they could be this happy for the rest of their lives.

Chapter Text

Chapter Ten

Kiss Me Goodbye

 

                Gilbert frowned at Matthew across the table. He was a little annoyed with the way Matthew was reacting. He was seemed okay with the news but, Gilbert had known him long enough to know when he was brooding.

                “Birdie, stop acting like you’re okay with this,” he said in slight exasperation.

                Matthew sighed and looked up from his coffee. “What else can I be Gil? I will admit, I was really looking forward to spending Spring Break with you, I had ideas for things we could do, but I’m not upset that you’re going back to Germany for the week.”

                “Then-“

                “I’m upset that you waited until the day before you left to tell me!” Matthew cut in.

                Gilbert leaned back in his chair slightly, taken back by the way Matthew raised his voice.

                “I already apologized Birdie. This is something Lud and I have been discussing for a while, we weren’t even sure we were going to do it until a few days ago.”

                Matthew stood. “And you couldn’t discuss it with me?! I thought I was your boyfriend, we’re supposed to talk about decisions like this.” He grabbed his empty coffee cup from the table and took it to the sink.

                Gilbert groaned silently and followed after him.

                “Birdie, Birdie. You’re right and I’m really sorry for that,” he said, placing his hands on the blonde and turning him to face him. “This was a cruel thing to do to you and I….” he trailed off, not sure what else to say.

                Matthew pulled off his glasses and rubbed at his eyes, chuckling lightly. “We’re fighting like a bunch of fools,” he said softly before looking up at his boyfriend. “Look Gil, like I said before, I’m not upset about you going to Germany. It’ll be good for you to see your grandfather again, this might be your last chance, and it’s always good to go home once in a while. But if we’re going to make this relationship work, we have to learn to communicate better. No more waiting until last minute to drop bomb shells that I should have been included in on in the first place, deal?”

                Gilbert gave a small smile and ruffled Matthew’s hair. “Deal.”

~~~

                For five in the morning, the airport was surprisingly busy. To be fair, most of the people there looked about as dead on their feet as Matthew and Gilbert felt. Unsurprisingly, Ludwig seemed as awake and alert as ever as if he had no concept of what time it was and what time they had gotten up in order to be at the airport.

                “Fuck it’s way too early to be doing this,” Gilbert groaned, running a hand through his already rumpled hair.

                “It’s the only time we could get a flight that would get us to Germany at a decent time. And it’s always good to be here early.”

                “Lud, our flight doesn’t leave for three hours.”

                “Which gives us plenty of time to check in,” Ludwig responded firmly.

                Gilbert rolled his eyes and decided not to argue it any more. Instead he turned to the blonde standing half asleep beside him.

                “You know Birdie, you didn’t have to come to the airport with us to see us off.”

                Matthew yawned, sliding his fingers into Gilbert’s. “You keep saying that and yet here I am,” he said.

                Gilbert chuckled, leaning in and kissing his cheek quickly. “You know you’re cute when you’re really tired,” he whispered.

                Matthew flushed a bright red and rubbed at his eyes in order to hide it. “Shuddup,” he muttered.

                Gilbert laughed and kissed his cheek again before moving forward in the check in line.

                As they moved through the line, finally checked in, Gilbert never let go of Matthew’s hand. In fact as they neared security, his grip only tightened. They both knew that Matthew wouldn’t be allowed beyond this point without a plane ticket and it didn’t take long for either of them to realize that they had started walking slower and then eventually stopped, allowing Ludwig to get several strides ahead of them.

                “Birdie…. Matthew…” There were tears in his eyes as he took a deep breath.

                Matthew smiled at him. “It’s only a week Gil. You’ll be back before you know it. We’ll skype and everything, it’ll be like you aren’t even gone.”

                Gilbert couldn’t help but smile back, what could he say, it was infectious. “Yeah, totally.” He pulled Matthew into a bone crushing hug, causing the man to squeak. “I love you Birdie.”

                “I love you too Gil,” Matthew replied, pulling back to press his lips to Gilbert’s. “Come back safe?”

                “Always. Make sure you stay awesome.”

                “Always,” Matthew replied, kissing him again before pulling back and finally letting their hands slip apart.

                Gilbert took a step back, resisting the attempt to grab Matthew’s hand into his, to bring him back into his arms and never let go.

                Matthew smiled and waved as Gilbert started turning to catch up with his brother. “Bye! Have fun you two!” he called.

                Gilbert put on his biggest smiled and waved back. “See you!” he called, before rounding the corner and disappearing.

~~~

                “So how are things over there?” Gilbert asked from the computer screen. Matthew sat at his desk, twirling back and forth in his desk chair as he munched on the bowl of cereal he had poured only moments ago.

                Gilbert had been gone two days already and had finally gotten the chance to get on his computer to skype Matthew. They had spent the first hour and a half discussing his time in Germany, which Matthew honestly didn’t mind, he liked hearing about Gilbert’s life.

                Matthew shrugged in answer to the question. “They’re quiet for the most part. Which is weird, I used to like the quiet, but now it’s almost lonely.”

                “You just got used to my awesome energy!”

                Matthew chuckled. “Yeah, that’s what it is. I just can’t handle being alone without your ‘awesome energy’ to keep me going.”

                “You know it,” Gilbert replied with a grin.

                “Though, Feli does keep stopping by. I think he’s lonely since his brother went on a road trip with Antonio.”

                Gilbert chuckled. “He would be, that kid would go crazy if left alone for too long. He totally has a thing for my brother though.”

                “What? You think so?”

                “Totally! Haven’t you seen the way he follows him around like a lost puppy going ‘Ludwig this, Ludwig that’?” Gilbert asked, raising his voice to a higher pitch to mimic the Italian’s.

                Matthew thought about it a moment. “I can see it, he did seem to take a liking to him ever since Ludwig came back from the war.”

                “Exactly, though Ludwig looks like he could crush the poor kid by accident. I just hope they’re both careful.”

                Matthew nodded chuckling lightly. “I’m sure they’ll both be fine.”

                Gilbert glanced off screen and frowned. “Ah shit Birdie, I’m sorry, but I have to go to bed, it’s late and Ludwig has all this shit planned for tomorrow like we’re damn tourists,” he grumbled.

                Matthew chuckled. “Alright Gil, get some sleep, you can talk to me all about it tomorrow.”

                Gilbert smiled. “Of course, I’ll see you then. Night Birdie. I love you.”

                “I love you too. Good night Gil.”

                As the call ended, Matthew sat staring at the screen for a minute. He loved talking to Gilbert, loved seeing him, but he was quickly realizing that once the call ended, he was left feeling lonelier and missing him more than ever before.

~~~

                Grabbing his baggage from the belt, Gilbert was more than relieved to be back home. He had somehow convinced Matthew not to meet him at the airport, saying he would be home shortly after and he would bring him a gift. Matthew wasn’t too happy with it, but eventually caved and agreed to stay home.

                Following Ludwig out to the car, he grabbed the driver’s seat before his brother had a chance to protest and moments later they were pulling out of the parking garage.

                “Mind if I make a stop, I want to get something for Matthew,” he asked as they pulled on to the busy road.

                “Didn’t you buy him enough in Germany?” Ludwig asked.

                “Yeah, but this is something that couldn’t fly with us, it’s better to buy it now, while they’re fresh.”

                Ludwig sighed. “Fine, but make it fast, I want to get home.”

                “So you did miss Feli!”

                Ludwig frowned and turned to look out the window. “Feliciano is a good… friend.”

                “Sure,” Gilbert replied with a smirk before Ludwig turned up the music, silently cutting off any further conversation on the matter.

~~~

                Call him a hopeless romantic, but Gilbert always thought flowers were great. Simple, romantic, friendly and natural. The easiest way to show expression when you couldn’t find the words. And seriously, who wasn’t happy receiving a bouquet of flowers? No one, that was who.

                Climbing out of the car and jogging over to the shop, he entered, the bell ringing as the door closed behind him.

                “Welcome!” called the friendly florist from behind the counter as Gilbert began looking around. He had no clue as to what any of the flowers meant. Well beside roses. Red roses meant love and romance, anyone knew that. Decided to play it safe, he grabbed a bunch that was already wrapped in decorative plastic and took them to the counter.

                “Will that be all for you sir?” the woman asked.

                Gilbert nodded. “Yes please.”

                “Alright, that will be $15.92.”

                Handing over the money, he took the change and left the shop.

                The first thing that caught his attention after the bells were silenced by the closing of the door was a man yelling.

                Gilbert looked up and turned towards the sound. Not a man, two. And a woman who sounded hurt.

                Without another moment of hesitation he headed around to the back of the flower shop where a man had a woman pinned to the wall and another had a knife to her throat.

                Gilbert didn’t take any more time to take in the situation before calling out. “Hey assholes, leave her alone!”

                The men’s attention quickly shifted to him and dropping the roses carelessly to the ground, he took up a confident stance.

                “What the hell do you want?” the man holding the woman called.

                “Yeah, get out of here!” the man with the knife added.

                “I said to leave her alone!” Gilbert didn’t give them a chance to respond as he raced forward and punched the guy holding the woman hard in the jaw.

                “Fuck man!” the man with the knife cried, backing away from the woman as Gilbert shook out his throbbing hand. The man turned the knife on Gilbert but Gilbert didn’t hesitate as he swung his leg at the man.

                “Get out, call the police,” Gilbert growled to the woman. He didn’t check if the woman did as he said as he was slammed into the wall by the first man.

                Gilbert grunted, going dizzy for a moment as his head hit hard against the brick. He swung a leg out, throwing the man off balance enough to get out of his grasp only to have the man swing at him with the knife. He managed to dodge, stumbling back slightly into the other man who grabbed him in a choke hold. Gilbert swung arms and legs to get free, gripping the man’s arm and trying to push it away from his throat, only to have to the man’s grip tighten.

                “Check his pockets!” the man cried.

                “He’s moving too much! Hold him still!”

                “You’re the one that has the knife! Make him hold still!”

                Through bleary eyes, Gilbert could see the man smirk. He held the knife dangerously close to Gilbert’s face. As if this didn’t get the point across, he flicked a quick cut across Gilbert’s cheek, causing him to flinch and the man to laugh. “You’ll hold still now, yeah?”

                Gilbert fell still and the man’s hand slid into his pockets, pulling out his wallet and house keys.

                “Not bad,” he said flipping open the wallet with one hand.

                “What the hell! Let go of him!”

                Ludwig’s voice might as well have been an angel’s and Gilbert had never felt so relieved and ashamed at the same time in his life.

                “Shit man, let’s get out of here!” the man holding Gilbert cried. The man with the knife dropped the wallet out of shock but didn’t move as they all stood there frozen.

                “Let’s go!” The first man called again, letting Gilbert go. He stumbled forward, towards the man with the knife who had started to back away towards Ludwig.

                “Stay away!” he cried, swinging the knife back and forth between the brothers.

                Gilbert tackled the man in an attempt to get the knife out of his hand, but froze and stumbled to the side, his hand covering the spot where the knife had entered his side.

                The man stood there panicked and shaking, blood dripping from the blade in his hand.

                “Fuck man! You weren’t supposed to stab him! Let’s get out of here before the cops show!”

                The man could only nod, dropping the knife and running off after his partner.

                Ludwig didn’t bother chasing after him as he dashed over to his brother who had fallen to his knees with a gasp.

                “Gilbert! Gilbert! Shit!” He pulled off his shirt to press the cloth to the wound. “Stay with me, don’t you fall asleep on me! I’m going to call an ambulance.”

                He turned Gilbert over and holding his shirt to the wound, rested Gilbert back against his shoulder and pulled out his phone.

                “Yes, I have a stab victim here, behind the flower shop on Trent Avenue.” He continued to give information as he did his best to focus Gilbert and keep him awake, but it was clear that the man was losing blood faster than what was comfortable.

                “Hey Luddy?” Gilbert said softly.

                “Yeah Gil?” Ludwig asked, happy his voice came off a lot calmer than he felt.

                “Do you think that woman’s safe?”

                “Yeah, I’m sure she is, I saw her run by the car, that’s how I knew to come back here when you took a long time in the shop.”

                Gilbert swallowed and nodded. “Right. Awesome. I think I’m going to sleep now. I’m really tired.”

                “Gilbert, no. Stop, you have to stay awake, the ambulance is almost here,” Ludwig said firmly, almost angrily, but Gilbert had already drifted off.

                Ludwig nearly crushed the phone pressed up to his ear as he yelled into it.

                “Hurry up dammit!” He knew it wouldn’t do any good, but he was terrified. This was like being back in Iraq all over again, but without all the screaming and explosions.

                “Gilbert? Gilbert. You had better be okay, alright? There are people who need you,” he took a deep breath and swallowed his tears, pressing the shirt harder into the wound as he leaned down an pressed a desperate and shaking kiss to his brother’s forehead.

                Of course, Gilbert didn’t answer and moments later flashing lights and sirens filled the back of the shop and Ludwig felt limp as his brother was pulled from his arms. His eyes followed the white haired man as he climbed into the ambulance behind him. As the ambulance raced away from the scene, the doctors working quickly to get Gilbert oxygen and to staunch the bleeding in his side and a blanket was wrapped around Ludwig’s shoulders, the world around the German fell silent and all he could hear was the hopeful beeping of the heart monitor.