Author/Artist: chromatic_coma @ animusia
Character(s)/Pairing(s): (in this chapter) Prussia, Austria, Hungary, Spain, Germany, Italy ;; Austria/Hungary, Germany/Italy, mentioned Spain/Romano, past Prussia/Hungary
Genre: Friendship, Romance, Slice-of-Life, Angst
Warning(s): Kissing, Swearing, Homosexual Relationships, Original Character, YMMV Characterizations, Angst
Summary: A lot has happened in the past ten years, and for some it was impossible to keep promises that were once so central and vital. As their high school reunion captures them all by surprise, the Bad Touch Trio will have to re-learn the meaning of friendship and love.
x-posted @ hetalia, inthreesome
Part I Chapter I - Part I Chapter II - Part I Chapter III - Part I Chapter IV - Part I Chapter V - Part I Chapter VI - Part I Final - Part II Chapter I - Part II Chapter III - Part II Chapter IV - Part II Chapter V - Part II Chapter VI - Part II Final
Scarred Heart in Hand, Part II Chapter II
Once Gilbert had gotten out of his car, after parking it in the teacher’s parking lot, the first thing he did was take in a deep breath. The air still smelled the same, like burnt pizza and mystery meat and stale bread, and suddenly he was taken back to his youth. Specifically, to the day when he had convinced Francis and Antonio to sneak into the kitchens with him and slip fake plastic spiders into the sloppy joe.
He chuckled at the memory, locking his car and taking a deep breath before walking up to the school’s entrance. It was going to be the first time he had seen most of these people since Antonio and Lovino’s wedding, some of them even longer than that. And while he knew that he was still as awesome as ever and had absolutely nothing to worry about, he wanted to brace himself before finding out how much everyone else had changed.
Gilbert strode up to the front door; sitting at the desk in the entrance was the same principal’s secretary that he’d gotten to know very well during his four years in that school.
“Hey, Mrs. Parker, it’s been a while,” he greeted with a smirk, and she seemed delightfully surprised.
“Gilbert Beilschmidt, is that you? Oh my, you look so handsome.”
He grinned. “You don’t look so bad yourself. What’ve you been up to?”
“Oh,” she giggled, “you know, this and that. And what about you, are you still wreaking havoc?”
“You bet,” Gilbert answered, and she laughed again.
“Glad to hear nothing’s changed. You can go right into the gym, and have fun, alright?”
“Will do,” he decided, nodding and strutting down the familiar hallway, his feet leading him to the entrance of the gym.
“Go time,” he murmured, and then he strode in with all the pride he could muster.
Looking around, Gilbert found that, for the most part, everyone that he remembered should have been there was. His brother was spotted standing by the bleachers, Feliciano at his side as expected, as the sweet brunet was busy doting upon his niece. Well, at least he’d found Antonio too, then.
In another corner was the small group of Asian siblings and cousins, talking animatedly amongst themselves. In the center of the gym, which for the evening was a makeshift dance floor, Matthias was trying to revive the dances of their high school days to no avail; off to the side, Gilbert could see Eirik shaking his head in embarrassment, and Ari, Berwald, and Tino all acting as if their Danish friend did not exist. The former was sipping a drink, and the latter two, Gilbert noted, were wearing wedding bands and holding hands. Gilbert grinned, making a note to go congratulate them later on.
“Excuse us-… Gilbert…?”
That voice. Even before he turned around to see whose way he was blocking, he knew exactly who to expect; it took him a split second to brace himself before he turned around.
Roderich and Elizaveta. He had received an invitation to their wedding six or seven years ago, and after leaving it out on his table to be dealt with at a later time, he decided to stop letting it torment him by burning it and flushing the blackened remains down the toilet. Which, in retrospect, was a stupid thing to do, because there was a permanent black spot in his toilet bowl…
“Gilbert?” Elizaveta murmured, and the albino was snapped out of his thoughts. He laughed sheepishly,
Roderich raised his eyebrows, “Well, you obviously haven’t changed at all. Would you be so kind as to move out of our way?”
That was all it took for Gilbert to recover, sneering, “You haven’t changed either, priss.”
“Yes, well, as much as I would love to stand here and argue this with you for old times’ sake, I’d like to get Elizaveta inside so please move.”
“Roderich,” Elizaveta cut in, “I’m not an invalid. Don’t worry so much.”
And that is when Gilbert noticed that Elizaveta had put on weight.
In Gilbert’s moment of shock, Roderich gently pushed him aside, and with a tight grip on his wife’s arm he led Elizaveta inside. She turned around, and when she caught Gilbert’s eyes she rolled her own with a laugh.
‘Elizaveta is… pregnant?’
Gilbert finally went inside. Bypassing the groups of people with whom he had not associated much, he sent straight to the back of the gymnasium, where Roderich was easing an amused Elizaveta down onto the bleachers, only to have Feliciano start doting on her. But all the while his mind was buzzing,
‘How do you start conversation with someone you haven’t spoken to you in years? And how do you do it if that someone is your brother?’
“Gilbert!” Antonio called out, and suddenly he was engulfed in the tightest hug of his life, senses overloaded with the smell and feel of Antonio in his arms.
But even as familiar as those sensations were, they were not exactly the same; now covering the other’s natural musk that reminded Gilbert of earth and spices, Antonio smelled like formula and baby powder, and the arms that were holding him now were more toned than they had been, presumably from all the carrying and playing and nurturing he was now doing.
Gilbert hugged him back, not letting go until Antonio pulled back and ruffled his hair, smiling at same bright beam.
“It’s been too long,” he said simply, and Gilbert found that all he could do was nod. It took him a moment to find his voice to agree,
“Yeah. So, uh, how’ve ya been?”
“Amazing! Bella started talking a month ago, she calls me Papa and it’s so cute!”
Gilbert laughed; he should have expected that Antonio would talk about his daughter. Speaking of which, “Where is she?”
“Lovino’s got her. She fell asleep on the way here and still hasn’t woken up.”
“And things with you and Lovi, they’re going alright?”
Antonio’s smile mellowed, but Gilbert thought he saw it become even warmer, if that was even possible.
“They’re perfect,” he replied softly, looking back to his husband, who was trying to convince Feliciano to lower his voice as he squealed over Elizaveta’s pregnancy stories. Elizaveta…
Gilbert shook the thought away and grinned, punching Antonio lightly on the arm, “You’re still a pansy, huh?” His grinned softened, “Good. It works for you.”
“I missed you, Gilbert.”
Gilbert’s lips quirked upwards, “Yeah. Yeah, who wouldn’t miss me?”
“Come on,” Antonio started, after he chuckled at the other’s vanity, “Knowing you you’ll waste the whole night away standing way over here and not speak to anyone.”
“Hey, we’re only two feet away from them.” Gilbert pouted, and Antonio rolled his eyes.
“Which are two feet too far,” Antonio insisted, tugging on the other’s arm. Gilbert allowed himself to be pulled into a walk, but took his arm back as they approached the group.
For a moment, there was silence; Gilbert was looking at Ludwig, and it was only because he knew his brother so well that he knew Ludwig was trying to look anywhere but at him and failing miserably, making perfect eye contact with him. Everyone else was silent, Gilbert figured, because they were waiting for them to say something.
When the silence started to become painful, Feliciano cut in. “Gilbert! How are you?”
Gilbert was relieved, to say the least, though he refused to let it show, “I’m fine. How’s my awesome little brother in law?”
Feliciano giggled, “Ludwig and I aren’t married…”
The brunet surprised them all by looking to Ludwig and giving him a very pointed look, to which Ludwig flushed and cleared his throat. Gilbert laughed, wondering how often they’d had this fight before.
“Not officially, but you’re as good as,” Gilbert countered. Lovino huffed, and Elizaveta giggled.
Feliciano smiled, “We’re doing well. And you?”
“Of course,” Roderich commented dryly; Gilbert glared.
“Now, boys, behave,” Elizaveta chided teasingly, standing up from the bleachers and wagging her finger at each of them.
“Elizaveta, dear, are you sure you should be standing…?”
She gave him a look that flitted between amusement and annoyance, stretching a bit and patting her stomach.
“Roderich, I’m fine. I’m pregnant, not dying.”
“Pregnant,” Gilbert repeated softly, catching himself only after the word escaped from his mouth. He managed to check the ability to clap his hand over his mouth, but it was too late; everyone was already giving him odd looks.
Everyone except for Elizaveta, whose look was full of understanding; Gilbert wasn’t sure if he should be more unsettled by her stare than by those of the other men.
“Gilbert, I think we need to talk.”
“Sh, Roderich, it’s fine. Gilbert and I just have something we need to discuss.”
Without letting Roderich continue, Elizaveta looped her arm with Gilbert’s and gave her husband a smile; Gilbert, who normally would have been gloating, was too disorientated by the realization that he was about to be pulled into a conversation he did not want to have. And yet, he could not resist; he could never resist Elizaveta.
She had ended up pulling him back out into the frosty night’s air, a puff of warm breath coming out of her mouth when she spoke softly, “Gilbert.”
Wordlessly, he removed his jacket and swung it over her shoulders.
Elizaveta sighed, slipping into the sleeves and muttering, “You and Roderich are exactly the same, aren’t you?”
Gilbert snorted, “As if. He and I are nothing alike.” His voice was hard and caustic, which was totally not awesome, but he couldn’t help it.
“Gilbert,” Elizaveta snapped, “I am five months pregnant and God help me, I’m going to do my best not to smack you in the face so can you please be cooperative?”
“I haven’t done anything wrong!”
“Insulting Roderich and ignoring your brother aren’t exactly the right things to do, either.”
Gilbert frowned, sighing heavily, “It’s not like I meant to ignore him, it’s just… I don’t know, okay? I don’t know what to do. He probably hates me, or something.”
“Oh, please, Ludwig could never hate you.”
“He has no reason to like me, considering I’ve all but ignored him for years!”
She huffed, shaking her head and taking a step closer to him, “And that is no one’s fault but your own. So now it’s up to you to rebuild the connections that you let fall apart.” Elizaveta paused.
“If you think we’re worth it, that is.”
“Of course I do, Liz!”
She shrugged, and in the darkness Gilbert could make out a frown on her face.
“You know,” Elizaveta started quietly, “I still haven’t forgiven you for not coming to my wedding.”
“No, Gilbert, I know you’re not. I know-”
“No, Elizaveta, you don’t know anything! You have no idea how much I regret it, not being there for you when he took your hand in marriage. You’ve got no idea how bad I feel for missing that…!”
Now he could feel Elizaveta’s warm fingertips brush lightly along his tight jaw, the slight bump in her stomach pressing into his own gently.
“What has gotten into you? Is all this just because I’m pregnant?”
“That was supposed to be my baby,” he muttered, taking a step back and trying to find her eyes in the darkness. “I was prepared to give everything up for you, and he was the one who’d left you behind.”
She sighed, tucking one of her long russet locks behind her ear.
“It’s funny how things change, isn’t it? Because right now, you’re the one who has left us all behind.”
“Tch, it’s not like you missed me.”
“How can you say that!?”
“Easily. One of the things that I learned, Liz, is that an argument is never just one party’s fault, and neither is a falling out.”
“You know what? You’re still as selfish as you’ve ever been, Gilbert Beilschmidt- no, you’re even more selfish than you were before! I did need you; I needed you when my application to work for Home and Garden magazine was rejected, to remind me that I took the best fucking flower shots no matter what some stuffy old man in a big chair said. I needed you there when Roderich proposed, to that someone could share my joy, and when I was going to be married, so that you could walk me down the aisle and be my Sir of Honor. I needed you when I found out I was pregnant, because you were the only person in the world I could have trusted to keep me level headed and to reassure me that I’m going to be a kickass mom.”
Before Gilbert could even begin to formulate a response, he heard a sniffle, and then a muffled sob. Unconsciously he wove his arms around Elizaveta’s waist, pulling her into his chest and letting her cry, without shushing her or coaxing her to stop, because something told him that she needed this.
The same something told him that he needed this, too.
Elizaveta did not take long to regain control of her emotions, sniffling and looking up at Gilbert, even with her head still nestled against his chest.
“I remember the last time you held me like this,” she murmured softly. “It was sophomore year, and Roderich and I had just broken up because he felt like he needed some time and some space of his own. I agreed because I knew that was the right thing to do, even though it wasn’t what I wanted to do, and when you found me crying you comforted me and told me he was a waste of my time, anyways.
“And then you made a point of spending time with me, to ensure that I was okay. But I could tell that you liked me, and I started to wonder if maybe I could like you back, because it would be easy and it would be fun and school was being ungodly stressful. And that’s why I let you have sex with me… let myself have sex with you…”
“You missed a period.” Gilbert continued where she trailed off, hugging her tightly, “And you flipped a shit because you thought you were pregnant…”
“Mhmm,” she agreed. “I was so convinced that I was, too. No condom, too much stress from school and depression from the break up, I hadn’t been eating well at all; it was not a good combination. And when five and six weeks passed and nothing came, I thought my life was over.”
Elizaveta hugged Gilbert more tightly, “But it wasn’t over. Because after I found the courage to tell you, you didn’t act at all as I thought you would. You were prepared to drop out of school and find a job to start supporting us.”
“Yeah. What else could I have done?”
“I don’t know. I was expecting you to abandon me…”
Gilbert scoffed, “I guess you didn’t know me well at all, then.”
“I didn’t. But I learned, and I realized that past all your fronts and masks you really are just a big softie.”
Gilbert snorted, and Elizaveta giggled, pulling away from his hug and finding his crimson eyes with her olive ones, giving him an intense look, visible even in the darkness of the fallen night.
“But you’re not that Gilbert anymore. Because that Gilbert would have been there at my wedding, helping to adjust the train of my dress and worrying me needlessly about potential sabotages, and that Gilbert would have given Ludwig a good hair mussing once he entered the gymnasium.”
He licked his lips, completely at a loss for words. Then:
“Is it a boy or a girl?”
Gilbert chuckled softly, “He’s lucky to get to have a mom like you.”
“I hope so. But I think he’s even more lucky to have a father like Roderich… and, a godfather like you.”
When Gilbert looked back up, awestruck, Elizaveta had moved into the light beside the school’s entrance, and she was smiling at him warmly.
“Surprised?” she giggled.
“Yeah… but I can understand why. With a father like Roddie, he’ll need an awesome guy like me to teach him all the cool stuff.” Gilbert waggled his eyebrows, and Elizaveta laughed again, grabbing his hand gently.
“Exactly. Now, care to share more of your awesomeness with those less fortunate?”
“Alright,” Gilbert consented, and he allowed Elizaveta to lead him back inside the warm gym.
The first thing he did was grip Elizaveta’s hand tighter and give Roderich a devilish smirk.
Then he leaned in and ruffled Ludwig’s gelled back hair.
Ludwig started to protest, but the syllable died on his tongue and he froze. Gilbert waited a moment for the other to collect himself, and when Ludwig muttered, “It’s been a long time, Bruder,” Gilbert did not even try to keep the grin off his face.
to be continued
A/N: Looking back, I think this is the weirdest chapter in this entire fic. Probably relates to the fact that, when I was writing this, more than half of November was finished and NaNo was starting to become a struggle. Some of the choice I made are admittedly very strange, but I hope you don't mind them too much. I promise the rest of this part is just as insane ;)
But yes, the reunions have started, and it only gets more awkward from here :D Thank you all for reading!